weekend free-for-all – February 2-3, 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: The Darlings, by Cristina Alger. I’ve been reading obsessively about Bernie Madoff (and eyeing everyone I know with suspicion), and this is a fictionalized account of a couple whose lives intersect with a similar scandal. If you, like me, start to feel like you’re living in the world of the book you’re reading, you will feel very, very rich while you read this.

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

{ 1,272 comments… read them below }

  1. TL -*

    Anyone have a good gumbo recipe? My friend wants to try it so we’re cooking some tomorrow and I haven’t picked a recipe yet.

    1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      My prior comment got eaten probably for containing a link.

      My big tips:
      * Alton Brown’s oven roux recipe – it’s much less likely to burn and it’s hands off
      * I buy frozen chopped okra – it’s cheaper and easier to find than fresh and does the same thing in a stew

      If you search Art of Manliness (and I’m not a man) + gumbo, it has a good article and recipe.

      1. TL -*

        Ooh thank you! That’s the one I’m using – his explanations were very good. We’ll see how it turns out!

    2. I Work on a Hellmouth*

      What kind of gumbo? My brother has a killer turkey gumbo recipe I could try to beg off of him.

      1. TL -*

        Seafood. Turkey is expensive and hard to find here (new zealand). but I want to make turkey gumbo next black friday as a way to beg off shopping!

        1. CJ*

          That’s so bizzare because in the US turkey is relatively cheap, especially if your buying the whole turkey and not just the breast.

    3. RG*

      Let’s assume you’re just making chicken and sausage gumbo. First, you’ll want to start with boiling the chicken and sausage – maybe 30 or 45 minutes or so. Then, once that’s cooked a bit, you’ll add the roux and stir, stir, stir. After the roux, add your trinity of onion, bell pepper, and celery and seasoning salt. You can also add some green onion, bay leaves, and gumbo file. Let it com for about another hour, until the chicken is just about falling off the bone.

    4. SpiderLadyCEO*

      I make Rachel Ray’s Jambalika/Jambalaya recipe every year for Mardi Gras – it’s super easy, and super delicious. We’ve also found that it’s easy to modify – add peppers to turn up the spice, remove shrimp if a friend is allergic, add okra because you’ve found them fresh.

    5. ArtK*

      My wife makes some killer gumbo. It’s mainly improvised now, but her source was the recipe in the Commander’s Palace cookbook (“Commander’s Kitchen” is the one.)

      Our two favorites are gumbo ya-ya (chicken) and a duck gumbo. We buy whole birds and she cuts them up, freezing most, including the carcasses. When we have enough carcasses of one type, she makes stock, which is also frozen. With the ducks, she’ll also render the fat. Duck fat makes a fantastic roux.

  2. FalafalBella*

    Wow, I can’t believe I am the first person to write in. I loved “The Darlings.” I do need a good book for the weekend in case “the game” is boring and would welcome any football-related books! What are some favorite game day rituals? I live in New England and no can can escape Pats fever!

    1. The Messy Headed Momma*

      I like football, but this game is going to be a boring blow out so we are going hiking someplace where the devices just don’t work….although, maybe since you’re in that Polar Vortex, that’s not such a great idea…..
      I bet some of those “lovely restaurants I can never get into” will probably have lots of tables open on Sunday, so maybe a long, leisurely repast?

    2. Cafe Au Lait*

      Do you like YA novels? The “Dairy Queen” trilogy is a youth-based football story. Sixteen year old DJ wants to play football. Training the rival high school’s quarterback shows her how badly she wants to play. Only there’s the farm, her Dad’s hip and the “f” she earned in sophomore English getting in her way. Not to mention getting onto the team in the first place.

    3. Iris Eyes*

      Hometown Legend is the only football related fiction I can recommend. High School football, local football factory shutting down…good times. There’s also a movie adaptation.

    4. Pam*

      If you can find Lonesome End by Stephen Meader. A good YA from the days when they were called boys’ books.

    5. Le'veon Bell is Seizing the Means of Production*

      I’m given to understand that Friday Night Lights is one of the best sports books ever written. Expanding from football, Andre Agassi’s autobiography is supposed to be extraordinarily good, and Slouching Toward Fargo is a fun book about a baseball team and Bill Murray is involved somehow.

    6. Andrea Stevens*

      I highly recommend The One and Only, by Emily Giffen. VERY heavy on the football, but the twist is that the football fan and main character is female.

  3. Kali*

    Ugh, I have a cold so this is going to be a boring and uncomfortable weekend. :( How’s everyone else doing?

    1. Slartibartfast*

      Also nursing a cold. I have no plans beyond laundry. After the holiday season it’s nice to have down time.

    2. SigneL*

      I have a cold also, thanks to the woman on my flight from Orlando to Dallas who coughed the whole way. I’m sipping Chinese hot and sour soup.

    3. Lena Clare*

      Just getting over a chest infection! Finally able to sleep and been back at work for a week, but also still coughing a lot – seems to be hanging around, nasty thing.
      Other than that, I’m well.
      Hope you fell better soon and can stay in bed with a hot water bottle (or a hot person!) :)

    4. Asenath*

      Busiest day in the year at what must not be mentioned, including Saturday. I’m looking forward to putting my feet up at the end of the day, counting down to retirement, and doing NOTHING I don’t want to on Sunday. I’m not sports-minded; it took me a while to figure out what sport was meant with all the ads for Game Day.

      1. Forking great username*

        Same here. Well, chilling out as much as I can – I have a 4 and 5 year old who make that a bit more difficult. We’re all going a bit stir crazy from being stuck in the house together all week, so I think tomorrow I’m going to go see a movie with friends and finally get out of here for a bit.

        I’m assuming your work was also cancelled due to the polar vortex? Although weirdly, it’s supposed to get up to 50 here on Monday!

        1. Need to think of a name*

          I just had time owing for working over Christmas, am in UK and weather not so bad where I’m at.

    5. Mimmy*

      Ugh I’ve got bronchitis and almost no voice. Completely ruined my post-conference stay-cation! Back to you-know-where on Monday…hopefully my voice will be back by then! (Mr. Mimmy is getting my meds now as we speak).

    6. Nicole76*

      Same. It started last night with a stuffed nose and excessive sneezing. I don’t really go out during the week so I was looking forward to getting out of the house this weekend but now I don’t feel like doing much. I don’t feel too bad at the moment but want to rest in hopes it doesn’t get worse. Just had a cold two months ago so I’m annoyed. I don’t typically get sick often so I’m not sure what’s going on this season.

      Hope you feel better soon!

      1. AnnaBananna*

        I have found that I get sick from the grocery store. Legit, if I look back at the possible precursor to an incubation period, it’s ALWAYS been a day I went food shopping. I now get my groceries delivered and I rarely get horribly sick. Also, ZINC. Seriously, that ish is a total cold fighter.

    7. SheLooksFamiliar*

      I’m in Chicago and went to the office yesterday for the first time all week. My company told us to stay home unless we HAD to be in the office, and I didn’t have to. I caught up with my colleagues, did some grocery shopping last night, enjoyed the warmer air temps., and thought all was well…

      …and now I have a sore throat, runny nose, and coughing fits. I think I’ll watch TV and order in hot and sour soup, thanks for the idea, SigneL.

    8. Need a Beach*

      There is a really weird cold/sinus infection combo going around here. Several of my friends and colleagues have been on 2-3 rounds of antibiotics since Christmas, but just can’t seem to kick it. Several of them reported a burning sensation in the sinuses, instead of the usual pain/pressure. Doctors are saying to expect a hoarse, wet cough to last up to SIX MONTHS after symptoms recede.

      I am nervous about having some throat and ear pain, so I’m having a lazy weekend to attempt to fend off any possible germs.

      1. AnnaBananna*

        “expect a hoarse, wet cough to last up to SIX MONTHS after symptoms recede.”

        Jeebus, Mary and Jose, that’s nuts!

    9. Elizabeth West*

      Soooo much better than last weekend, when a UTI showed up. And then right as I began antibiotics and started to feel better, cramps showed up. OH WELL LOL

      I’m sorry you’re sick. A good weekend to snuggle under a blankey and binge-watch something. Feel better soon.

    10. PhyllisB*

      We’re heading up to see our son in recovery after church. (Three hour drive, ugh!!) He is doing well. I’ve mentioned him a few times and his struggle with addiction. Now he needs to go for “step 3” recovery where he spends 3-6 months in a half-way house learning sober living. The problem is his girlfriend doesn’t want him to be gone so long so he’s feeling conflicted. He is a people pleaser and doesn’t want to disappoint anybody. I guess it’s going to be up to me to have a TALK with her. Not an unkind one, but just to remind her he has to do this if she wants to have a future with him. I’ll keep y’all posted.

      1. CJ*

        As someone struggling with addictions myself, I hear ya. I’ve been able to snow people so far, but it’s getting harder.

        Do you think treatment works, or can people just stop. (Dr phils go to, even when he sends people to treatment).

        1. Kat in VA*

          I think treatments do work, but the affected person has to really WANT the treatment to work. Just like quitting anything, honestly. If you’re doing it to shut up your family or friends, or because you want people to stop hassling you, it will fall apart. You have to be committed to making the treatment work.

          1. PhyllisB*

            I’m happy to report we had a very good visit yesterday. I was beat yesterday after such a long day, and was too tired to update. He says he is committed to doing the “next step” and that he’s told his girlfriend that she’s just going to have to accept it.
            Do “cures” work? I can’t really say. My oldest daughter has been sober for three years now, and she still doesn’t call herself cured. I’m hoping my son will stay sober. I really think there’s a better chance this time because he’s doing this of his own free will. Yes, I did tell him if he didn’t do something he was going to have to live somewhere else, but he could have decided to just leave instead of asking for help. Also, last time he just got rehab and 60 days aftercare, AND he submitted to that because he was going to prison if he didn’t. He didn’t get the type of care he’s getting now, and this stage 3 program will last 3-6 months depending on how long he’s willing to stay. Plus, they are insisting on him making a Life Plan this time. I don’t know all the details, but basically how he plans to live a sober lifestyle going forward. This was not stuff he was tasked with last time.
            I have learned a lot, but still got a lot to learn. We are supposed to go for a family weekend soon where we will learn a lot about how we can help him. (The program he was in before didn’t do that.) Also they didn’t have him make his amends. The more I’ve learned the more I realize this is an important step, too. All we can do is be supportive without being enablers.
            I am really proud of my husband, too. Any of you who have read my other writings know that he was not facing any of this. I believe he’s finally GOT IT. This family weekend will help him learn even more. Stay tuned.

    11. Cherry Sours*

      No cold here in Ohio, but nursing a broken leg I acquired about 10 days ago. Rod and screws used in the repair: hope the swelling has receded enough for an actual cast at my follow-up later this week. Off (you know what) for a total of three months, oh joy!

  4. Slartibartfast*

    Anyone know of any good Spanish language advice columns or Internet forums? I used to be conversationally fluent but dang it I’m rusty and I’d like to be able to remember the words when I’m trying to speak. Still have good comprehension and it would be something I could do from my cellphone on breaks or. when I’m waiting. Thanks.

    1. Shirazer*

      That’s a good idea… I need to poach it… OK? I also need to seriously brush up on my skills. Headed to Central America soon!

    2. ElspethGC*

      Quora has a Spanish-language version – you don’t have to write answers, but if you put Spanish down as a language that you speak you’ll be able to browse that version. And it does have an app, so you can do it fairly easily on your phone.

    3. Have dragon, will quest in exchange for hummus*

      I think the Spanish-speaking subreddits could be a good place to start, if you want to practice online chats in Spanish.


      and other subreddits for individual countries. (The pages for Latin America, South America, and Central America all seem to be in English though.)

      IIRC WordReference was the online dictionary I ended up using in Spanish class, so that’d be a good resource if your looking up definitions and such.

      Buena suerte!

    4. CTT*

      How do you feel about fashion? I’ve been reading French Vogue online and it’s been a fun way to practice my comprehension.

    5. ATX Language Learner*

      Recomiendo que visites esta página de internet – http://www.italki.com (también es una aplicación). Puedes encontrar gente de países hispanohablantes que quiere aprender inglés y hacer intercambios. He hablado con mucha gente de varios países y por lo normal nos charlamos por whatsapp o skype y nos enviamos mensajes de texto y grabaciones. Es una buena manera de practicar.

      No hay un gran secreto para aprender como hablar un idioma con fluidez fácilmente y rápidamente. El único consejo que te doy es que tienes que practicar mucho para que no pierda lo que has aprendido. Empecé a estudiar español hace 2 años y medio y logré un nivel avanzado porque estudié muchísimo por mi propia cuenta, tomé muchas clases con profesores nativos, y hablé con mucha genta nativa.

      No pierda tu tiempo con blogs! Empieza a hablar (y por favor, no utilizes duolingo….)

      1. Slartibartfast*

        Thanks everyone! I actually studied from 2nd grade all the way through high school, but unfortunately I have nobody IRL to converse with anymore, and I’m losing it from not using it. I also don’t have a whole lot of free time these days. I’ve tried reading novels, but it’s not the same thing as speech, so I think blogs and advice columns would be more in line with how people actually talk. And ATX I will definitely be following that link! :)

        1. Copenhagen*

          I speak three languages. The best way to keep them, is using them actively. Watch TV/movies and listen to music. It’s pretty easy for me to keep my english fluent, since I use it all the time. But my german keeps “slipping”, since I’m not bombarded with german all the time. So I have German Movie Night with one of my friends, once in a while, just to make sure it doesn’t dissapear completely.

      2. Need a Beach*

        Oh, no! I’m a beginner but I’m seeing you don’t recommend DuoLingo…are there any apps of that nature that are worthwhile?

        1. ATX Language Learner*

          Hi there! Unfortunately no app is going to teach you how to speak a language. It can help reinforce vocabulary (like duolingo) but there are limits and really I wouldn’t waste your time with it. You could do duolingo for 5 years and never be able to speak with a native person. I recommend immersing yourself. If you have the extra money, take classes! The website I listed (www.italki.com) has a ton of teachers from different countries and the classes range from 10-30 dollars. At one time I was taking 4 classes a week! I probably took an average of 2 a week for a year and a half and felt like my level was good enough to have conversations with native people. Each class I took was only in Spanish, ever since the beginning. There are great teachers and there are bad teachers. If you end up taking classes, I recommend finding a teacher who has done a ton of classes (1000+) and one who has studied teaching Spanish as a second language. There is a big difference!

          Now that I don’t take classes anymore, I am more so “perfecting” my fluency through reading, writing, exchanging voice messages with friends, and doing language exchanges. I know a few people who speak Spanish where I live and I met up with one and we spoke in Spanish for 3 hours! Of course I make silly errors and forget words but it’s part of the process :)

          Once you learn the grammar, sentence structure, and have a good level of vocab to be able to have a conversation, you will quickly advance. Unfortunately all of the grammar learning is very boring but necessary to be able to construct sentences that make sense. I will say I would get very frustrated, fail, advance, fail, advance again… but you just have to keep going. One hot tip is to not analyze the small things. For example, a phrase that literally makes no sense to you. It doesn’t matter why it doesn’t make sense, it is how it is, you learn and move on (for example.. a friend of mine kept trying to figure out why “que tal” means how are you because it doesn’t directly translate to that. There is literally no point in wasting time trying to figure out why. Just accept that it means how are you and move on. Over-analyzing will keep you from becoming fluent).

  5. StellaBella*

    Happy World Wetlands Day! :) 2 February. This weekend I am finishing painting the small toilet only bathroom (was a dull pale tan gross colour, it is roommate’s flat, she is traveling so said I could paint!) – it will be a bright white and have a lot more light due to this colour reflecting the lightbulb – no window in the toilet. Going to the market to get food, one more small can of paint to wrap up trim and corners, and walking the doggo in the snow to play ball – she loves this game and loves snow. It is very foggy where I live and we have a couple of inches of snow only but enough for fun for the doggo. Am really hoping for spring to come soon. To everyone who is in the very cold parts of the USA – I hope you can stay inside, warm, and that soon the cold front breaks. Cheers all.

    1. CJ*

      As someone struggling with addictions myself, I hear ya. I’ve been able to snow people so far, but it’s getting harder.

      Do you think treatment works, or can people just stop. (Dr phils go to, even when he sends people to treatment).

  6. MaybeBaby*

    My partner and I have recently decided that we’re ready to have a baby so I’ve come off birth control and we’re just seeing what happens… My question is, those of you raising your family away from your parents, how did you cope? Particularly for people who are close to their parents. I now live in a different country and the thought of raising my child without my parents there is bothering me. We will eventually be moving back (in the next 3-4 years) but I worry about them not being a constant in their life in the early development years. Does anyone have some insight they’d like to share?

    1. Harriet M. Welsch*

      I know this is not helpful, but the way that I coped is … we moved back home. Had no plans to ever do so, but everything shifted in the weeks after my daughter was born. Everyone was shocked!! I wanted my kids to grow up near their grandparents and I wanted to work less hours. Moving from the large city where we lived back to our small hometown gave us the opportunity to find less demanding jobs in our field. Having young kids is hard, and the support that comes with being near family (for us) has been priceless. I guess my point is – keep an open mind and give yourself a lot of grace, because the way you feel now may be different than how you feel when pregnant which can also be different than how you feel postpartum. Best of luck!

    2. Namey McNameface*

      My husband and I had our first child in a similar situation. The grandparents visited as much as possible and we Skyped almost on a daily basis. Even as a baby my son knew his grandparents well.

      We decided to move when I was pregnant the second time. Being closer to our families contributed about 97% to this decision. It made a huge difference having them near by. When we lived in a city without any other family we developed close friendships with people who were in the same boat as us, and helped each other out with babysitting….but it was never the same as having family. If I wanted to do a quick dash to the supermarket nowadays I can easily drop off my kids at my parents’ place for an hour or so. Or if I’m running late from work I can call my parents to pick them up. With friends I would only ask them for babysitting favours if it was necessary (e.g., doctor’s appointment).

      I also think it’s been nice for our children to see their grandparents frequently – it just wouldn’t have been the same with regular Skyping. My son was discussing a ‘safe place’ at school and the first place he mentioned was his grandma and grandpa’s house. I love that my kids feel like that is their other home where they build childhood memories and know they are always welcomed.

      Sorry, that’s probably not that useful to hear my answer, which is essentially “we managed without grandparents – but having them nearby is a hundred times better for you and your future kids!”

    3. Putting Out Fires, Esq.*

      Friends. We had to expand our friend network to include people with kids (who are generally more understanding of the needs of new parents) so that we had some local support. When we had our second baby, the network brought us food, when I got in a wreck and needed help getting myself and older child to the rental place during work hours, a mom with a car seat came to the rescue, and I got great babysitter recommendations from them.

      For grandparents, it’s all about FaceTime and videos and pictures. My older son recognized his grandparents when he finally met them in person solely through the time he spent with them on facetime. Another thing, they make baby family picture books so you can show the baby her family during regular book time.

      Finally, if you have the financial means, outsource any mundane tasks you can. I give this advice to all new parents, you don’t want to spend your precious cuddle time scrubbing toilets if your finances allow (I like it so much that my baby gift these days is a few sessions of a maid service). But it’s especially important if you don’t have local family because you want to give yourselves as much of a break as possible.

      Yes, they change a lot in the first 12 months. But unless the alternative was seeing grandparents every single day, the children wont miss out much bonding time, since it takes a bit (18 months?) before they start remembering people they hadn’t seen in a while. My two-year old son knows the names of all his grandparents and recognizes them and talks about them. That’s the best we can do in our family, and if you mean to move in a few years, it will be plenty of childhood ahead. Good luck!

    4. Sled dog mama*

      Visiting lots and lots of FaceTime for us. I was also traveling for work when my older daughter was 16 months to 3 years so I did a lot of FaceTime with her.
      Make certain to be present during those times you do get with the grand parents.
      For us moving “back home” isn’t really an option since our parents live 600 miles apart. We’ve been lucky enough to land about halfway in between so visiting each side is equal.
      The thing we’ve made a point of is having little one spend time with her grands without us. When I was traveling for work I would often have a layover at the airport closest to my parents house. I would bring little one (she was 18 months at the time we started doing this) in arms for the first leg of the flight, leave her with my folks during the trip, then pick her up on the return.

    5. Overeducated*

      Nothing too unique here, just Skype and visiting as much as we can. We haven’t used a day of vacation since my kid was born that wasn’t to visit family, or go on a trip with family. Now that we are house hunting, we really want an extra bedroom so family can visit more comfortably and for longer, which has been an issue with apartment living.

      Of course, it would be great to be close, but they still have a strong relationship and it hasn’t been unmanageable logistically either. Just chiming in because moving isn’t an option for us either and I want you to know that’s not the only choice.

    6. Crooked Bird*

      I’m from an expat family from way back, and it was kind of subtly felt-hammered into us from childhood that it was *normal* to see extended family only every few years (but every few years we had a 4-day sleepover reunion and everybody talked for hours with everybody else) and to go “back to the States” for college and not see your parents for a year, or the place you considered home for two. I now live a continent away from my parents, with my husband and 5-year-old, and in about a year my parents are moving HERE when they retire, which was a flabbergasting bit of news for my well-trained expat-family self (and yes I’m happy about it!)

      Honestly, I am super happy for you that you will be near your parents by the time the kid is 3 (or less! it can take awhile to get pregnant sometimes) and I really think you will be fine. A 3-year-old is very openhearted and if your parents are warm friendly people who give her delighted attention she will take them to her heart immediately (and keep them there forever if they stick around), even if they didn’t hold her every other day when she was an infant. Honestly I think the hardest part will be for you–it’s HARD to care for an infant with only one person’s support. (See if you can find any slightly older moms around you who could offer advice & understanding at least.) The parent/caregiver bond is beautiful but so demanding, but the grandparent bond is lovely and easy, and it’ll happen.

      If you want to start the child out knowing your parents as soon as possible, 2 is not too young for a screen call of some kind, and I have some great tips from my MIL for connecting with a very young child on-screen:

      – Have rituals. Do the same thing, play the same game, every time. Young kids love this, it feels both comfortable and fun.
      – Use the screen as a peekaboo game, though not mostly with your face. MIL used to bring objects & pictures slowly into Child’s view as he tried to guess what they were.
      – Have a stuffed animal that you bring into the call. Play it as a character if you can, your friend the bear who is so excited to see the child. Bring him in every time, play little games with him and the kid, have the kid share toy food with him through the screen… Grandparent could give Grandchild a birthday present that’s somehow connected with this & that he can use in their on-screen game.

      All this is exciting to a very young child and will keep their attention much longer and make them feel connected to the grandparent. It worked for us (even for my mom, who’s not skilled in this area and who got the suggestions without my admitting they were what my MIL did!) and our kid loves both his faraway grandmothers very much, but I did have to curate those early screen-calls like CRAZY and it was tiring. Still, worth it. Now my kid asks for alone time on-screen with his grandma & tells her all about his astronomy obsession.

      I really, truly think you’ll be fine.

      1. Sled dog mama*

        Oh I totally forgot we used to have grandparents read books over FaceTime. My parents also would do things like let her talk to their dog.
        When she was going to visit them on her own the first time my mom set up a bedroom for her and used FaceTime to show her that she had her own space and that it was close to grandma and granddad’s room so they could hear her at night. This got her really excited about visiting them.

    7. Not A Manager*

      If you get dual copies of the same book, Grandparent can read the book to the child while you turn the pages on your own copy. I had friends who used to do this.

    8. Epsilon Delta*

      So for some advice from the kid’s perspective: my grandparents lived far away for my whole life. I saw each set of grandparents just a few times a year, but I still had a very strong relationship with them. I was always a bit shy around both my grandfathers, but I loved spending time with the grandmas. So living far away doesn’t mean your kids will not have a good relationship with their grandparents.

      1. JKP*

        Agree. I live far from my grandparents, but always had a close connection with them. What really helped is every summer from the time I was potty trained all the way through high school, I would go visit them without my parents. When I was small, it was a long weekend, and eventually it was for a few weeks at a time.

        I have friends whose family is in another country. When the baby was born, the grandparents flew in to visit for about a month, then regular visits every year after, and lots of skype.

    9. Parenthetically*

      We skype/video call a LOT. My mom came for a month after my son was born, they visit as often as they can, and we talk to them 3 days a week, probably. It’s been hard in a lot of ways, but it’s made us really self-reliant and we’ve learned how to say no to stuff (while still being social — we’re just always the hosts!) that doesn’t fit our lives right now.

    10. Falling Diphthong*

      Useful advice: Do not wait until everything is perfect before you start trying to have kids. You have a partner, you both want kids, you seem to be at an okay stage in your life to add a small helpless and irrational person–as someone who conceived easily in my mid 20s and only after years of trying in my 30s, if the pieces are mostly in place I say go for it rather than wait.

      Other advice: That kids won’t remember their first few years, and who was or wasn’t around how often. They respond to the stability of that time, knowing that the adults caring for them are reliable people, but it’s not like the babysitting aunt when they were 2 is going to always have a special one up on the drive-to-gymnastics-class grandma when they were 8. They could meet your parents for the first time in their teens and still form a close bond. If you were talking a decade I’d have some advice to foster closeness, but I think that works more for older kids who handle the abstractness aspect better. For small children their grandparents will be the special people in stories you tell them, and that’s a fine way to form a lasting emotional attachment to these important but invisible people.

      (I usually come across this problem from the other direction–one of my pet peeves re childcare is the assumption that everyone is issued young healthy retired grandparents who live around the corner, are physically etc capable of babysitting, and have oodles of free time. So just call them whenever you need a sitter!)

      1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

        I like your last statement: My husband and I don’t have kids, but my parents live 800 miles away in one city, and my in-laws are divorced, living 1000 miles away in separate cities 200 miles apart. My parents are retired and my in-laws are both still working. From a financial perspective, my in-laws will likely need to work until they physically are unable to. (Divorce is…not the best financial situation.) My sister lives nearby but she’s still on the fence about staying here permanently, and my husband’s brother is settled into his city 3,000 miles away.

        If we had kids, babysitting and building family relations would be tough…and that’s only including our immediate family members. It gets incredibly more complicated if we include our aunts/uncles and cousins, who are scattered across the country themselves. It’s hard.

      2. Lilysparrow*

        Yes, my parents had me later than average, and I had kids later than average. There was never a time when my mom could have babysat, even if we lived close. She was in poor health, and had difficulty holding my squirmy firstborn by the time she was 3 months old.

        And my dad, bless his heart – he would let a baby eat, play with, or shove anything up their nose they wanted. He would hand tiny babies full-size forks if they pointed at it. He literally let my secondborn eat gravel and didn’t try to stop her.

    11. Jack Russell Terrier*

      Mum’s a Londoner, I was born in NYC. My first trip London (and then Dublin but that’s another story) was when I was six weeks old. This was 1967. You should see my baby passport – so many trips across the Atlantic. Mum and I spent a lot of time with my grandparents in London. Admittedly mum didn’t outside the home, so it made it easy for us to go over for a month or so at a time. I was very close to them. We also spent my father’s sabbatical in several different countries and traveled a lot when I was a child. I loved it – I’m very gregarious. So – it really can be done as far as the child being close to their grandparents and also – it’s such a fabulous experience for a child to live in different countries. It might not always be what you picture or what you want but it’ll work out well. I’m sure my mum didn’t really want to move to Dublin for the academic year six weeks after giving birth to me … ! I had a great, rich childhood.

    12. Phoenix Programmer*

      Telling stories with pictures, FaceTime, annual visits all really help. I’m very close to my nephew despite the distance and it is in large part of because my sister talks about me and shares pictures.

    13. Lilysparrow*

      I made a little photo album with pictures of everybody – one person or couple to a page, along with other cute pictures of things that appeal to babies (herself, puppies, kittens, flowers, etc etc). This was “her own book,” and it got regular rotation at storytime. By the time she was old enough to show a preference for one book over another, she would pick it frequently. And when she started talking, I would sometimes find her turning the pages on her own and naming everyone.

      Whenever she got a gift, we would talk frequently about who gave it to her. So Lovey Bear was “Lovey Bear that Nana sent you.” And sometimes she would go get her photo book to point out Nana.

      This was before Skype was in common use (and my folks would never have figured it out). So it was really nice to have faces to go with voices on the phone. And it helped her “know” them when we did get a visit.

      My folks would also draw pictures or write little stories for me to read to her. If they’d been tech savvy enough, I would have liked to have them record themselves reading to her.

      1. Susan Ryan*

        One thought is to have Grandparents take pictures of each other and make a book. Out front of the house with both arms up game show style. Picture in car with window open waving wildly. Coming home from grocery store with lots of bags. Pictures of pets. Picture of them brushing their teeth. Take pics up close and write captions in a simple few words. I laminated my pages and put them in a binder. Was a great hit!

    14. Mother of one dragon*

      I live in a different country than my parents and have done for nearly 15 years. (My husband is from this country. I am from the US.) Our son is 8 years old. Starting when he was about 8 months old, my parents would do a weekly Skype call with him. I’d strap him into his highchair and put the laptop on a counter that was parallel to the highchair tray, so he could see them well but couldn’t wreck the laptop.
      My parents would spend 30-60 minutes singing and trying to make him laugh. We called it “old people TV”. When we went to visit when he was 13 months, he recognised them immediately and was very at ease in their house, since he’d seen part of it every week. (My husband’s sisters live in the US and my son would always make strange with them at first before warming up. But he treated my parents like anyone he’d see on a regular basis.)
      So, my insight is that thanks to the wonders of modern technology – your parents can be at least a little involved in your child’s life.
      (Also, the APA guidelines on screen time have been revised recently to distinguish between video calls and passive programming. When our son was small, it was “no screen time for kids under 3” …. or maybe 2. Which we mostly followed until our son was 3.)

    15. Gloucesterina*

      I was not able to have regular contact with my overseas grandparents due to a mix of factors, geopolitical and others–relationships between relevant countries were not normalized until the 1990s such that travel was not possible for many years; cost of travel; and their subsequent difficulty living in our country for lots of understandable reasons, such that they went back home and stayed until they passed away.

      I still have a lot of wonderful memories of my grandparents, and I’m proud to be their grandchild. I wouldn’t be concerned in your situation, as it sounds very different. Wishing you and your family well as you navigate this!

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I’ve never seen a kitten grow so quickly! His vet gasped when he came out of the carrier because three weeks before he’d been so much smaller. I think it might be that he’s still getting breast milk. (Is that a possible explanation?) I think he’s going to be a giant.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Oh, ha, from his mom, not from a human. We adopted him and his mom at the same time and he is STILL nursing, even though he’s about 7 months old now, which is way too old for it. She’s stopping him more and more often, but I still see her allowing it periodically.

            1. Need a Beach*

              I’m imagining a cat version of the scene in Grown Ups where she’s nursing a four-year-old.

              Seriously, though, considering how difficult human babies can be to nurse once teeth start coming in…can you imagine Wallace’s wicked canines?

            2. Tempest*

              I have a 7kg male cat. Big cats rock. Every time I look at him I start to sing that 90’s song I like big butts with ‘I like big cats and I cannot lie’ in my head. I’ve had people look at pictures of him and say that’s not a cat that’s a f-ing lion. We had to buy a cat tree designed for Maine coons because he literally cannot fit in their standard size one anymore. He’ll be three in July and will grow until he’s around five so we’re not sure he’s not going to top out around 7.5kgs. He’s pretty thin for all so he should fill in if nothing else. He has a ‘brother’ who is a feral I literally adopted from under a rubbish bin at 6 weeks old who is now 18 months and weighs 4.1kgs and won’t get any bigger. They look comical beside each other. The sister of the big one is 5.5kgs but she just doesn’t look huge even though that is quite heavy, even for a female Norwegian Forest.

              Wallace may have something in his background like Siberian, Norwegian Forest or Maine coon. The Forest type cats are all on the larger end and he looks like he’s got a large bone structure and long tail.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Interesting! I like big cats so I will be delighted if he turns out to be huge. His mom, Sophie, is tiny and he’s almost bigger than her already.

                1. Tempest*

                  I’m not thrilled when the Horlicks (the biggest one) sleeps on top of me, but otherwise the bigger the better :) Wegies are known for their longer than average tails as well as bigger than average size.

                2. Elizabeth West*

                  My friend just got an orange Maine coon. He is just a kitten but already bigger than her grey tabby and her full-grown Cornish Rex. The tabby is less than thrilled, but the other kitty is now playing with him. He has such a surprised little face, and tufted ears like a lynx–he’s so cute.
                  We get lots of pics and videos on Facebook. :)

                3. Tempest*

                  Horlicks is cream, so the dilute of red or more commonly known as orange tabby. He’s kind of sandy coloured a bit like a tabby lion. He has lynx tips too. And really heavily furnished ears and feet. His sister has hair in her ears that practically curls down to her ruff.

                  Forest type cats are more known for lynx tips, your Siberians, Norwegian Forest and Maine Coons. Wegies look like wild cats in the face. They were living wild on farms in Norway right up until the 1930’s and are a totally natural breed. They only became a recognized breed in most of Europe and America in the 80’s and 90’s. Wegies and Siberians are theorized to be the likely ancestors of the Maine Coon.

                  I’m friends with their breeder on Facebook and it’s one of the worse things I’ve ever done as every time she shares pictures of her cats or a new litter I get broody for another one and my husband says four is the absolute most cats, no debate, no talking about it, no way around it cats we’re ever going to have. I could win, but he’d be genuinely unhappy with me so I have to keep looking at all the cats I want and not having them lol :(

                  Our three youngers all play. The fourth one is 13 and she doesn’t want to know. My husband and I call the cats our kids and our Facebook has more pictures of them than the average person has of their kids. We’re those sad cat people.

                4. JamieS*

                  I’d expect him to over take her within a month or two. Bit surprised he hasn’t done so already TBH. I’m curious if the vet said anything about trying to encourage/force weaning? Never heard of kitten’s nursing this long so rather interesting.

              2. Not a cat*

                I had a female maine coon. They are the best, talkative, loving, floofy and bonus foot feathers!

        1. MsChanandlerBong*

          We have a ginger cat who was super tiny when he was a kitten. He was eight weeks old, and the vet kept asking if there was any chance he was six weeks old instead–nope, we knew the exact date of his birth. She said he might only ever get to be 7 lb. Fast-forward a few years, and now he’s a 19.4-pound whopper.

        2. Phoenix Programmer*

          Any tips for keeping the kitties thin? One of my Tom’s is ballooning up and I’m afraid it’s going to start causing health problems for him.

          1. Slartibartfast*

            Feed him from a toy instead of a bowl so he has to work for it. Google feeder toys, there’s lots of styles. Super high protein/low carb works for a lot of overweight and diabetic kitties. A Catkins diet, if you will.

          2. Tempest*

            Feed them food designed with feline dietary needs in mind. IE not full of corn, maize, grain or basically carbs. Cats are obligate carnivores so no matter what anyone says they’ve done to the corn, cats were not made to eat it.

            Even when ours could free feed on Orijen dry food none of them had weight issues. When I really started researching it we started to limit the dry intake as much as possible and feed them a high meat content tinned food. They eat MACs and Granadapet mostly. I want to transition to raw feeding but the inconvenience of a freezer for cat food, and remembering to take enough out, and bringing it up to ‘mouse body temperature’ every meal time has stopped me so far.

            1. fat kitty mom*

              That’s definitely a YCMV situation – my cat has limited intake from Orijen, and is still overweight.

          3. Cat o' Long Tail*

            In my more-flush-financially days I looked at my ballooning half-grown kitten (a fur-covered basketball– couldn’t pick her up from her chest without the excess weight pulling her out of your grasp), and since I also noticed a lump of fat on her shoulder blades (making me wonder about endocrine imbalance), I decided to share my dioscorea-based natural supplements with her to support her. Based on some advice from a vet who was using these in his practice, I ground them up and added an amount appropriate for her weight to her food. It was a miracle!
            Don’t go by me; by all means use your personal vet’s recommendations if you have the funds, but the supplementation I used had just come to market and was probably better than anything my small town vet would have known about. Pricey for supplements, but way cheaper than endless appointments for lab tests, meds, etc. You could ask at health food stores or online pet care forums moderated by vets who knowledgeably use such things. I kept her on the vet-recommended high-fiber food, and separated her from her skinny littermate’s food dish.
            (Cat is long gone, but I still take it myself…)

        3. Minocho*

          I have two cats from the same litter. As of this month, they weighed in at:

          Little Bit: 5.8 lbs
          Fat Bastard: 12.1 lbs

          The vet is convinced they have different fathers, which is evidently a thing. I agree, there was another black cat like FB in the litter, and she is large, and there was another black and white (mostly white) cat in the litter like Little Bit, and he never got very big. But it’s a huge difference. I had a dickens of a time getting Little Bit spayed, because the vet wouldn’t believe she was old enough until he saw her teeth! And I’d waited until she was 6 months old to get her as big as possible before surgery!

    1. Forrest Rhodes*

      In my house, that pose usually means, “Human! Something is amiss. Figure out what it is—and FIX it!”

  7. Lena Clare*

    I watched Russian Doll (yes, all of it!) yesterday and it has profoundly affected me. I think it is utterly, soul-devastatingly, hopefully, brilliant.
    Anyone else seen it?

    1. Novocastriart*

      I watched two episodes today and gave up. May return to it, but it is just so…bleak. Have to be in right mood to watch stuff like that. It is beautifully costumed/set designed though, so I enjoyed that element.

    2. Kali*

      I watched the first episode, mostly because it reminded me of Happy Death Day, and I’m excited for the sequel to that to come out. It feels really old-fashioned, don’t you think? Like it’s from the 60s, in a weird way.

      1. Lena Clare*

        I haven’t seen Happy Death Day – I don’t do horror, and it looks like a horror film!
        Yeah, stylistically it is really retro, and the soundtrack is amazing.

        1. Kali*

          It’s comedy horror, which is quite a hard genre to do properly. This one avoids jump scares and gore, which are my personal dislikes. I’m not trying to persuade you, just trying to accurately categorise it. Comedy-horror might not be for you at all, which would be fine.

          1. Need a Beach*

            In case you aren’t aware of it, there’s a database that lists where jump scares occur in movies. Google “Where’s The Jump?” and it comes up first.

            Just wanted to share in case anyone finds it useful. A horror-loving friend with a congenital heart condition told me about it.

          2. Wondering One*

            Thank you for writing that. I was going to watch it because the actress appears to be the same actress from OITNB, “Nicky”.

            I need to steer clear of that sort of film because it could trigger my ptsd. Less likely when viewing on a tablet or laptop, but still a chance it could get triggered.

    3. Shirazer*

      I almost turned it on last night…. kind of glad I didn’t if it’s bleak. I definitely need the right mindset for that.
      I just finished season 1 of Get Shorty. Loved it!!!

      1. HarveyW*

        Yeah? was Friend from College worth your time? (It doesn’t have to be epic, just fun or interesting.)

        1. WellRed*

          It’s definitely interesting and kind of fun. I sometimes have a hard time believing how much these folks are each other’s business (they are 40). I just started watching an Australian show called the Offspring which is entertaining.

          1. The New Wanderer*

            I’ve binged both Friends From College and Offspring and enjoyed them. Started Get Shorty, planning to finish soon.

    4. Melody Pond*

      Mr. Pond and I binged the whole thing last night. We loved it! It was right up our alley, it had existentialist elements, rom-com elements, some drama and horror at the end, and in general just very funny, sharp writing throughout. And I can’t stop thinking about it since watching it – it’s definitely one to make me think.

    5. alex b*

      I’m on ep. 3 and liking it. Natasha Lyonne rocks, and I work at an nyc Yeshiva school, so there’s that.
      If Oatmeal the Cat doesn’t show up happy and healthy, I’m gonna be upset.

    6. Buona Forchetta*

      I just finished bingeing it and now I can’t sleep. I loved it. I used to go to the bar a lot that’s featured in the show so I liked recognizing places around the East Village/LES.

    7. Eleanor Shellstrop*

      Planned on watching a couple episodes on Friday, but ended up watching all 8, it was incredible! Definitely planning a rewatch at some point.

  8. LDN Layabout*

    Big trip to the US upcoming! I’m very excited! I realised when looking at the calendar at work that while I’m ‘only’ taking 2.5 weeks I’m basically out for a month! The last long trip I took was to visit family and I love them but it is not an actual holiday in any meaning of the word! My last job didn’t have cover for an essential process I did so I could never take decent chunks of time off!

    So, questions:

    1) Favourite US-based plus-size shopping? A lot of places do ship to the UK now but I’m wary of buying things from a new source without at least shopping there once.

    2) I have a slightly weird fascination with US chain restaurants and part of the time will be spent on a road trip so favourite chains that are found in MS/LA/TN?

    I’ll probably be asking other questions as time gets closer because I am far too excited.

    1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I think I actually buy most of my clothes in the US from Ross and Marshall’s, but I don’t know if they exist where you will be. JC Penny, Kohl’s, and Macy’s often have good stuff, or at least my mom gets a lot of things there. I used to shop at Lane Bryant semi regularly (similar to Yours or Simply Be) but I’m a cheapskate so I never did buy much and I haven’t been to one for years.

    2. TwistedCilantro*

      Torrid can be good, it’s kinda like New Look would be, the ‘young and cool’ kinda vibe if you know what I mean. Lane Bryant would be similar to Evans and then lots of the ordinary stores do larger sizes too. I get a lot of stuff in Target when I visit, and old navy for basics etc.

      1. Emmie*

        I recommend Lane Bryant. If you’re looking for professional clothes, I recommend calling a Lane Bryant in the area asking for the nearest Platnium store. Those stores have more clothes, and you’re likely to find better quality professional items. Good luck!

      2. JKP*

        I like Dress Barn, which is an awful name for a store, but they have clothes in all sizes, with half the store plus size.

        Even if you don’t want to buy stuff online, you can check out each store’s online inventory to see where you want to shop.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Actually, they’ve changed their name to Rox & Ali, although I don’t know if that was across the board. IN my area they’re all now Roz & Ali.

        2. Kuododi*

          I have good luck with Dress Barn, Kohl’s, but I have the best results at Catherine’s. I find Catherine’s to have a better selection of petite length- plus size garments. (Lane Bryant has cute stuff however as a short woman I find their clothes to be way too long.).

          On the subject of restaurants…Olive Garden, Famous Dave’s BBQ ( Try their family size sampler served on a trash can lid. Good deal for the $$ and the best way to get a broad sample of menu offerings) and Paneras are all good choices. If you have any type of food restrictions I’d avoid Cracker Barrel like a plague. ( Good food but impossible to eat vegetarian/vegan bc everything is prepared in lard/animal fat. I have additionally never found anything on the menu friendly to gluten free, nut allergies etc). Have a great trip!!!

      1. Parenthetically*

        Came here to say this! If you can find a corporate-owned one (rather than a franchise — surely this info would be available online?), apparently those are reliably cleaner and nicer, according to the waitresses at our beloved local Waffle House.

      2. SheLooksFamiliar*

        I don’t know why I love Waffle House and Cracker Barrel as much as I do, but I can’t take a road trip without stopping at each of them at least once.

    3. Loopy*

      People rave about Chik-fil-a but there are a whole host of issues some people have with them for ethical reasons. If you just care about the food- it’s very popular but my dad did NOT get the hype (I dont eat meat so can’t comment). I’ve been told a wafflehouse is a must but it’s best when drunk.

      IHop is definitely a very American chain breakfast experience. So is Cracker Barrel. Cracker barrel might bemore interesting as they have a country store attached and definitely a southern vibe for sure.

      1. Anoncorporate*

        I love Chick-fil-A and stopped eating there after the LGBT issues came out into the open. However, I can’t lie – every time I pass a Chick-fil-A, I still feel tempted!

    4. Nancie*

      You may see Bojangles in that area. Their egg biscuits are my favorite fast-food breakfast.

      iHop has been a favorite of mine since childhood, they’re all over the US.

      My newest favorite is Alpaca Peruvian Charcoal Chicken.

      1. Le Sigh*

        +1 I will eat the Cajun Filet Biscuit (get the biscuit, not the sandwich) anytime of day. Esp. with a side of Bo fries.

    5. Jane*

      Depending on exactly what size you are looking for, I would definitely try to hit up an outlet mall if you want to do some serious shopping. A lot of the “regular” brands have expanded sizes in outlet malls. I’m a size 14-16 (US) now, but I used to be more of an 18-20(US), and I could find those larger sizes in brands like Ann Taylor (which runs large anyway), Gap, etc. when shopping in the outlets.

      I think if you want to try the ultimate American chain restaurant, you must go to the Cheesecake Factory. Yes, each dish is about 1500 calories, but you burn half of that picking up and putting down the menu!

      1. Old Biddy*

        Agreed re the outlet malls. I’m also a US 14-16 and get a lot of clothes at the Columbia outlet, Ann Taylor /Ann Taylor Loft, Eddie Bauer outlet and Van Heusen (for boring work clothes). The bra/underwear outlet stores are a great place to get bras with largr band sizes. The non-outlet versions of these stores are ok too but sometimes it’s hit or miss whether they keep many L/XL in stock.
        If you like workout clothes, try Athleta or REI.

    6. MissDisplaced*

      Plus size: I sort of get them from all over and so shop more for brand than place, but Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Macys, Dress Barn, Talbots,and JCPenny are all favorites. I’ve really been a fan of the Liz Clairborne line at JCPenny for workwear, which goes to size 18 and into plus.

      Chain restaurants: I’m not as familiar with the South, but Cracker Barrel, Waffle House, Golden Corral are all fun. Chili’s is a lontime fav. Maybe Texas Roadhouse or Franciscos for steaks. Panera Bread for healthier fare. I’d seek out some of the more regional ones other than Chick-fil-a (there’s got to be something other than Chick-fil-a, right?).

      1. So long and thanks for all the fish*

        Bojangles is a good Southern chain somewhat similar to chick-fil-a, but more regional. They’re worth checking out!

    7. RunnerGirl*

      Whataburger and Waffle House are the two chains to work your way through the menu in those states.
      I don’t understand the hype with Olive Garden (the one in my town is always SLAMMED on the weekends)
      I also like Moes.

      1. The Messy Headed Momma*

        I agree wholeheartedly on Waffle House (smothered, covered & chunked please) & again on Olive Garden – it’s the worst variation of Italian food!

      1. silverpie*

        That’s actually only in Georgia and Alabama. Memphis is the place for BBQ out of the states listed—Corky’s, Rendezvous, and Germantown Commissary are the classics in that field.

        1. Texan In Exile*

          Non-chain BBQ in Memphis that is delicious: The BBQ Shop on Madison and Central BBQ on Central.

          (Also – The Cupboard on Union for meat and three.)

    8. K. A.*

      Dress Barn may sound super casual, but it actually has lovely blouses, adorable dresses, and nice business suits.

      Panera Bread and Ruby Tuesdays are great chains restaurants.

      Regarding all the people mentioning Chik-fil-A and JC Penney’s, be advised that Chik uses peanut oil (allergies), and JCP is on the verge of going out of business — what’s left is not up to par.

      Have a great trip!

    9. Blue_eyes*

      Waffle House. Steak ‘n Shake (burgers). Applebee’s.

      Clothing: Lane Bryant, Target, TJ Maxx, Marshall’s. Also, I think J. Crew just added extended sizing in a bunch of their lines.

    10. Short Time Lurker Komo*

      For plus size clothing, I shop at Catherine’s. It’s devoted to plus sizes and goes far larger (5x in all clothing options) than any ‘normal’ brand. They also are consistent in sizing, so if you shop online, if their X fit you, that size should always fit.

      Chain stores – I dunno if they are down there, but try Famous Dave’s BBQ! It’s delicious with a lot of options in terms of flavor and spice!

    11. Emmie*

      Of you’ll be in Nashville, TN, Inrecommend Loveless Cafe and The Pharmacy. Neither are chains, but both are yummy. Loveless has classic old southern style cooking, and is essentially widely known. The Pharmacy has great burgers, soda, beer, and a nice patio. Have fun, and welcome to the US!

    12. Anono-me*

      I mainly shop at Dress Barn (despite the name), TJMaxx and Nordstrom’s Rack for plus sized ladies clothes. Target has started carrying some stuff that I like but it is hit or miss. I go to Maurice’s for jeans.

      I don’t like many chain restaurants. But I do love Olive Garden and Cracker Barrel. And it is a little more casual but Panera is wonderful. Down south they tend to have a restaurant called Big Boy. If you see one stop and get a pizza burger flying Style with a purple cow.

      I hope that you have a lovely visit.

      Also the times I was in Florida, the last day or two we spent just relaxing at a quiet little beach on the Gulf side. It was probably the best part of the trips.

    13. Parenthetically*

      Cracker Barrel for sure. Weird Americana. But I tell you what, don’t neglect little independent joints in that part of the world, especially if you’re a meat eater. You can get heavenly, heavenly barbecue from the most unassuming little roadside places if you’re willing to do a little internet sleuthing. Look for a full parking lot and smoke coming from an outdoor smoker and ignore the shabbiness of the building.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        I mentioned Cracker Barrel because it’s got such a quirky Americana country store vibe. I’m sure there are more authentic places, but when you’re visiting from another country they can be hard to find unless someone tells you. Plus, OP did say they liked chain restaurants! Ditto with Waffle House! But I’d recommend fried chicken & waffles from probably anyplace in those states…Ummm!

    14. KR*

      Oh eat at a Cracker Barrel and a Dunkin donuts at least. People from the south will say you have to eat at Waffle House but personally I’ve never eaten there when I’m in the southeast. It doesn’t look like amazing food but there is literally one everywhere in the south east. Try some good barbeque. The southeast has good freshwater fish too. Have fun!

      1. Emily*

        Or a Krispy Kreme, if there’s one nearby. I grew up in NC and always felt like Krispy Kreme was a much bigger deal than Dunkin Donuts. (We definitely had Dunkin Donuts in my area, but I remember being amazed at how many Dunkin Donuts there were when I went on a high school trip to Boston – I think it’s much bigger in the Northeast.)

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Yes, DD is The Thing up here in the Northeast, followed by Starbucks. DD was where many people in high school hung out on Friday and Saturday night. That and McDonald’s.

        2. Cherry Sours*

          I grew up in Massachusetts, and hear that even nowadays it is not unusual to find 2 Dunkin Donuts on the same side of an intersection, one on each of two corners.

      2. nonegiven*

        FEMA decides how bad the weather disaster is by finding out if the local Waffle House is still open.

    15. Rick Tq*

      I don’t know if this is a US vs Australia quirk or US vs world, but your size here may be different.

      I’m a heavy-chested guy of about 225 lbs at 5′ 10″ and reliably wear a US Large or rarely XL shirt. In Cairns I had to go all the way to XXXXL to find a long sleeve shirt that fit…

    16. MsChanandlerBong*

      The Croft & Barrow brand at Kohl’s is one of my favorites. I also like Christopher & Banks and Dress Barn’s plus-size clothing. I have found that Calvin Klein’s plus-size items are well-made and fit perfectly, so I recommend that brand as well. I save money by buying CK tops on Poshmark.

    17. Lilysparrow*

      Our favorite chain restaurants are Five Guys Burgers, Zoe’s Kitchen (Greek/Mediterranean) and Panera Bread (closest facsimile around here to Pret a Manger)

      I don’t think Zoe’s is in Mississippi, but the others have good coverage in larger metro areas.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        They only do burgers, fries, and hot dogs and they do them VERY well. It’s peanut oil so if you’re allergic, stay away. But hands down, the best chain burgers around.

        I also like Culver’s, but I’m really trying not to eat that stuff anymore. All chain food is crappy for you. (says the person who stuffed her face with chicken fingers and fries last night at Alamo Drafthouse, LOL)

      2. Chip*

        I like Five Guys but I have a semantic pet peeve about them. What they call a “little” burger is actually a regular hamburger with one patty, not a truly small burger like they have at McDonald’s. (Five Guys’ “regular” burger has two patties, which everywhere else is a double burger.)

    18. acmx*

      I’m going to disagree with everyone and say stay away from Waffle House!

      Maybe try Sonic, Krystals (these are fast food), Cheddars (sit down), maybe try a BBQ place (there’s regional variations so not a chain)

    19. Seeking Second Childhood*

      All clothing comments assume you’re shopping for women’s clothing. For men’s look for DestinationXL (formerly Casual Male XL).
      The TJMaxx chain here has an equivalent in the UK. Here in Connecticut at least they do tend to carry some larger sizes, but it’s erratic and you’ll never find the same thing again.

    20. Grace Less*

      Sonic Drive-ins are pretty fun for southern American fast food (Recommending a corn dog and cheesy tots with a Route 44 cherry limeade).

      Raising Canes was founded by Louisiana State University students. It serves chicken fingers. That’s it. Make sure to eat them with the Caniac sauce. If you only want to eat chicken fingers once, Zaxby’s is similar, and has more menu options, but my vote is for Canes!

      1. Wired Wolf*

        OMG I love Raising Canes. There’s one in the nearby college neighborhood; bit of a hike, but it’s on the way to my local computer store so I can always come up with an excuse to trek over there :) (like chicken fingers aren’t enough of a reason)

    21. Anoncorporate*

      I love Waffle House.

      Other Very American food places to go to are BBQ restaurants and ’80s style diners. (I can’t think of a particular chain, but if you find good quality versions of either you should be well off!)

      I also really like Red Lobster from the chain restaurant category.

  9. Sam Sepiol*

    I have come to realise that one of my friends is a bit of an apologist for abuse.

    Recently we were talking and a pseudo-famous person (PFP) came up in conversation. She told me PFP had been accused of some abusive behaviour related to BDSM but that having spoken to someone involved she believed it wasn’t as bad as reported. I looked it up after talking to her and she REALLY minimised what’s been said about PFP (don’t want to go into potentially identifying details but trust me on this).

    A friend of hers has been accused of domestic abuse and she also told me that although initially she believed the accusations she no longer does. However… I’ve lived through an abusive relationship and (even without knowing about the accusations) when I saw the person in question interacting with their partner, I saw some red flags and didn’t like the way the person spoke to said partner. On hearing they’ve been accused of abuse I felt absolutely that this is true.

    Here’s the kicker: friend’s husband treats her like dirt and I think is emotionally abusive to her. (Especially because if he speaks to her in front of friends like that, I shudder to think what he says in private.)

    This is a really good friend. I feel like I can’t say anything but I also can’t say nothing.

    I don’t think she really believes me that my ex was abusive.

    If anyone has any thoughts about how to unpick this I’d love to hear them :-(

    1. Asenath*

      Well, I’d let it go, maybe with a comment that there are always two sides to a story, and no one really knows what’s going on in an intimate relationship except those directly involved. You’re not going to convince her, and in the case of any PFP, or even a really famous person, actual evidence probably isn’t readily available. You aren’t necessarily going to convince her of what went on in your own marriage, or that of the friend. All you can do is point out that maybe, given that evidence is often not available and personal reports are necessarily one-sided, it’s not really possible to be so certain as to the falsehood or truth of accusations.

      As to her own relationship – she’s got to decide herself when/if it’s so bad she will leave. As you probably know, it’s easy for someone on the outside to decide a relationship isn’t worth keeping, but it’s much harder for someone on the inside to make and act on such a decision. I’ve had to tell myself that many times over many different situations – it’s so easy for me to try to fix a bad situation, but if those involved don’t agree with my views or aren’t ready to accept them, nothing will change, and all I can do is be sympathetic and supportive and help pick up the pieces when the person is ready to move out.

      1. Shirazer*

        Maybe just somehow let your friend know that you are always her friend…. she may realize what you mean someday and need to know that.
        Perhaps she is downplaying it so she can rationalize her own situation.

        1. Curly Sue*

          That sounds exactly right. If she acknowledges some things as abuse she would then have to apply the word to her own circumstances. That’s a really rough place to be in, and there’s no way to convince someone for whom denial is a form of self-protection.

          1. Sam Sepiol*

            Yeah. And TBF I’ve been there myself. I dropped a friend when she left her husband because if I acknowledged that her ex was abusive I’d have to start asking myself some very painful questions.
            (I’ve apologised to her since. She understood.)

          2. Minocho*

            I have a friend, and rather than an abusive relationship, she had an abusive father – and she absolutely could not see it. She was the problem. Her father loved her – he loved her so much he forced her stepmother to let her eat food.

            I could see it was absolutely no use to try to get her to see her father clearly. So I just focused on being a good friend, and building her up when I could, and interrupt her self sabotage / self loathing when I could.

            Then she had children, and seeing her childhood through the eyes of a parent, she realized she’d been gaslighted. When she talked to me about it, I let her know that I had known her father was not a very good father, and I was really glad she could see it now, and work her way through it. It’s been tough for her, but it’s so good to see her break the cycle with her own kids, and I’m glad I stuck with her.

            Maybe you can focus on helping her keep up her self esteem, so hopefully she can realize she deserves better sooner rather than later.

        2. Parenthetically*

          “Perhaps she is downplaying it so she can rationalize her own situation.”

          Yep. See also: women saying things like, “Oh please, that happened all the time when I was in high school/college, it’s not really r*pe.” Whenever I see that, I translate it to, “That happened to me, and I’ve created a narrative around that event that I’m comfortable with, and I’m unprepared to think of myself as a victim of r*pe, so I have to do something to ensure that narrative goes unchallenged.”

      2. Sam Sepiol*

        @anesath: True; I think with PFP the problem was that she implied he’d only been accused of fairly minor things and I was horrified when I heard what the accusations actually were. Whether they’re true or not (and I tend to think they are) what she told me had been said was nothing even close to what the accusations actually were.

        Wrt her own relationship: that’s true but really hard for me to accept. I know I need to though. The vast majority of people I know seem to be in relationships with at least a modicum of abuse and it’s highly disturbing. I have very few friends where I don’t see RED FLAGS EVERYWHERE OH GOD and it’s hard because having ignored them in my own life for so long they’re utterly overwhelming.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I am in favor of taking each issue separately. There are other people’s relationships that is one issue. Then there is her relationship that is a separate issue.

      I have a male friend who seems to be pretty confused about what abuse looks like. There are some things that are clear cut abuse. For example, if one person takes away another person’s credit card and won’t give it back so they can control the cardholder’s ability to do things. This is pretty clear cut, it’s abusive. With my friend I go over these things that are generally acknowledge as abusive actions. I talk about why people consider them abusive. It’s up to my friend to sort out his (past) relationships and look at them from a different angle. I don’t talk about his personal choices in his relationships.

      I think it would be good to steer the conversation toward the general discussion of what abuse is and what abuse looks like in action. I watch my friend and he genuinely does not know some of the stuff is now considered abusive. It was normal stuff in our younger years and we just put up with it. Society has grown more sophisticated and we now openly accept that certain things are wildly unfair to the point that we now define these actions as abusive.

      When I was really young I remember Dear Abby taking letters about “funny uncles” but we now call them what they actually are and that is “pedophiles”. I think it was Abby and she just said to stay away from that person. How times have changed for the better. My friend does not read advice columns so he does not have the chance to see how society is evolving and how we have grown more open and more articulate on such matters as abuse and what constitutes abuse.

      1. Sam Sepiol*

        I suppose so, yes they are separate issues but they are very bound up together in my head so it’s hard for me to keep that in mind.

        Thank you NSNR

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Once you got to the part where she is also in an abusive relationship, it all makes sense to have this outlook. She’s probably using these opportunities to downplay abusive partners so she can minimize what she’s going through. Some people do not want to ever be viewed as a victim, it makes them think they’re then viewed as weak. so instead you stiffen your lip and you act like abuse doesn’t even exist or “it’s not murder, come on guys, I’ve never had a broken bone, jeez.”

      So I would just stay away from the topic and change the subject if it comes up, you will only hurt yourself more if you dig into her skewed belief system. It’s like when someone believes the garden gnomes are real people with lives, you just smile and shake your head internally. You cannot change their mindset but you can stay gentle and try to coax them to rethink their ideas over the long run but it’s not likely.

      1. Sam Sepiol*

        Thank you.
        Depressing but i think you’re right.
        No one could have told me my ex was abusive before I was ready to accept it :(

    4. Indie*

      Yeah I know what you’re talking about as a fellow experience-gave-me-x-ray-vision-for-relationship-red-flags person. Those leeetle tell tale signs that others can’t see.
      I wouldn’t call her an apologist as much as ‘someone who can be gaslighted into convenient beliefs’ and then I’d replace ‘can be’ with ‘is strongly gaslighted on a daily basis by someone highly dedicated to doing so’.
      I’d cut her some slack on her ability to see straight right now. I guess the real question is how triggering these conversations are for you and if you need to ditch the topic or the entire friendship. Captain Awkward has some good tips for holding up when your friend is being abused, if you can still hang with her.

      1. Sam Sepiol*

        I guess the real question is how triggering these conversations are for you and if you need to ditch the topic or the entire friendship.
        Yep, that’s the question I don’t want to ask. “Very” and “Probably/possibly”. I don’t have many friends left these days, and she’s my ‘go out and have fun’ friend, and I REALLY don’t want to lose that, but at the minute the cost of entry is pretty high.

    5. Jersey's mom*

      Sam, I recommend you go to Captain Awkward dot com, scroll to the bottom of her blog and look and some of the q/a about abusive relationships. She provides a lot of insight, suggestions and scripts for working through difficult relationships like this. Best of luck and zen hugs.

      1. Sam Sepiol*

        I spend a lot of time there but that’s still a good suggestion, I haven’t read through with that mindset. Thank you.

  10. WWYD- sick on vacation*

    My family and I flew across the country to visit my in laws in CO. Our flight home is in 7 hours (10MST).

    My 2.5 year old has been vomiting since
    Midnight, hourly. She’s seemed to move to every 90 min.

    There is only one flight home on our airline today. The next flight is 6MST tomorrow night.

    Fun twist: also have 2 other kids, 8 months and 5. Guarantee at least one of them gets this bug, esp since the 5 y/o was sharing a bed with her all trip.

    What do we do? Take puked toddler on 4 hour plane ride and hope for the best? We have 6 seats (we booked 4 and the middles are open- the plane is only half full) so she could lay down the whole way.

    Stay until tomorrow night, take a 4 hour flight that gets in past midnight on super bowl Sunday knowing full well we might have a healthy/recovering toddler but a puking baby, preschooler and parents?

    There are no indirects at all. The airline we are taking apparently has ONE flight per weekend day. There is another airline we could fly but tickets are $$$$ AND the seating stinks- we couldn’t sit together (so…potential pukers sitting solo).

    Our tickets are of course non refundable, but we are OK paying if the airline doesn’t take pity on us. There just don’t seem to be any good options here. Camp out here until next week when the bughas passed (timeline tbd)?

    1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      Ooh, tough call. You don’t want to be that person spreading norovirus or what have you on a plane, but I’m sure you’d also be more comfortable recovering at home. How feasible is it to stay put? I might be tempted to do that if possible.

    2. This*

      Can one parent fly home with the still-healthy kids as planned, and the other parent stays in CO with the toddler a day or two until the bug passes?
      Regardless, don’t travel with an child who has an active stomach bug. That is going to be miserable and potentially disastrous for everyone involved and also could likely infect fellow travelers. It is just not worth it.

      1. WWYD- sick on vacation*

        So far that’s the only thing we’ve come up with that might be possible. I have to fly with the baby (nursing), so it’s either me + baby + preschooler today and DH and toddler….TBD…. or all of us together.

        DH of course has a huge work meeting Monday. Of course.

        And if we just stayed out, we’d be vomiting all over the in laws place all week as we all got sick (them too…).

        1. only acting normal*

          You and nursing baby are one unit. If husband needs to get back for work sounds like he and preschooler could go home, and you+baby stay with sick toddler at in-laws?

          1. WWYD- sick on vacation*

            I can’t stay and then fly back solo with toddler and baby (presumably after all 3 of us have a stomach bug!). Simply too much to get through the airport and 4.5 hour flight alone.

            This is the world’s worst SAT question!! Now Husband thinks him staying is a bad idea because he’ll have to stay through whenever he gets this stomach bug. Which could be like, Wednesday.

    3. Samosay*

      Wow. I’m so sorry. This is not a good position. Hubby once took a sick baby on a plane (we didn’t know he was sick when he got on the plane) and it wasn’t fun. But it was a much longer flight too.

      I think, given the seating arrangement, I might risk it. She might be through the worst of it by then. Don’t let her have anything to eat and just frequent, small sips at a time of liquid to keep her hydrated. And hope no one else gets sick before you land….

      If you decide to risk it, make sure you take plenty of clothing changes for everyone since you never know who will get puked on.

    4. Namey McNameface*

      Oh man, that sucks. We had to take a puking, coughing, nose bleeding (our kid used to get nose bleeds whenever he got sick), crying baby on a long haul flight and it was the worst. There is no advice except to say it’s going to be hard but time doesn’t go on forever and you will eventually get off the plane. And your kid will eventually stop being sick.

      Just remember to pack lots of tissue, wipes, and vomit bags and ensure they are all within easy reach.

    5. LibbyG*

      What a toughie! Another secondary consideration: if it is norovirus, then the diarrhea starts as the vomiting stops. So some good, accommodating pull-ups might help in managing this situation. Best of luck!

      1. So long and thanks for all the fish*

        I’m pretty sure what I had over Christmas wasn’t norovirus because only about 1/3 of the group I was with got it, but the same was true for whatever that was. It was not a fun experience.

    6. Pippa*

      Please, please don’t knowingly expose other people to an illness like this. It’s not a cold, it’s the kind of thing that will make someone sick enough to miss work, miss their sister’s funeral, spend their honeymoon vomiting. You know things like this are very contagious, and on a plane, once other passengers notice, all they can do is wait in dread to find out if they’ve picked it up. And the consequences for someone else could be really serious.

      1. Sick Too Frequently*

        What Pippa said. Please, please, please do not expose your fellow travelers to this. If someone is elderly or immunocompromised, it sounds bad enough to put them in the hospital and be really dangerous.

        I’m mildly immunocompromised permanently and I do all I can on planes — I wear masks, I drink lots of water, I wash my hands frequently, etc. I still get sick after about half the flights I take. I completely understand that other passengers can’t cancel their flights over something like a cold, and don’t expect people to. But something like this, and where you have other options, I beg you to think of the other passengers. An illness like you describe would likely put me down for over a month and my income would take a hard knock.

        If Husband absolutely must travel home for work, I suggest getting a surgical mask for him to wear on the flight in case he’s already contagious (sometimes the days right before showing symptoms are the most infectious). This is very commonly done in Japan by sick people in order to be considerate of the people around them, and you should be able to pick up a pack at a drugstore. It would be a very considerate move.

        1. Kat in VA*

          I have to also chime in. Husband spent a very scary few days in the critical care unit recently due to something called DKA brought about by a stomach bug* – that a work colleague knowingly came to work with and knowingly exposed his coworkers to.

          “Just stay away from me and you’ll be fine.” Jerk.

          I feel like sending him the bill, which is north of $15,000. Fortunately I have good insurance. But we will now forever live in fear of coworkers who casually mention having “a bit of a stomach problem”.

          Most of us can shrug off a stomach bug as an unpleasant, but for some people, even “just” a stomach bug can be truly life-threatening.

          *the stomach bug wasn’t the diabetic ketoacidosis itself – the vomiting and dehydration from the stomach bug brought about the DKA. In my mind, close enough. Diabetes sucks.

    7. Christy*

      I’d just fly home. I’ve flown as an adult with untreated strep throat and with digestive *ahem* issues and it sucks but the only thing worse is still being sick not at home. You aren’t gonna get a better seating arrangement than what you have so I’d just bite the bullet and do it.

    8. Anono-me*

      Is driving an option?

      I think most rental places to offer car seats. That way you can power through and take breaks as needed. And if you really have to you can stop at a hotel.

      (This advice only is if you don’t think anyone will go beyond miserable to needing a doctor.)

      1. WWYD- sick on vacation*

        CO to Rhode Island… so, not really. Were on the plane. Ugh. No puke since 6am and keeping her empty. This sucks all around. We warned those in seats near us amd anyone who wanted to was bumped into extra roomy seating.

        1. Ned*

          Please be sure to get travel insurance next time you travel so it is easier to reschedule your trip. There is a high likelihood someone on that plane (or the people who sat in your seats afterwards- they barely pick up the trash between flights let alone sterilize anything ) will become ill as a result of your choices. For immunocompromised people, this could be deadly.

          1. Christy*

            Travel insurance makes it easier to reschedule the travel part, but not the rest of life that takes place after you return home. I agree that it’s awful that someone else might get sick, but travel insurance wouldn’t have solved any issues except cost here.

        2. Anon airliner*

          You’re looking for absolution because you’ve already made your decision. Sorry, you don’t get it here.

          With your decision you’ve just given up any rights you may have to complain about sick people/kids on airplanes, school, theatres, etc in the future.

          I understand you have a lot of personal reasons you want to get home. An entire flight of people is now exposed, and may either catch the virus or give it to their family members. Air is recycled on planes, so while it may be more likely that people nearby may get sick, everyone on the plane is exposed.

          No sympathy. My husband is immunocompromised, and wears a mask, uses hand cleansers when we must use a plane. Your decision was made for your convenience with a thin veneer of concern for others.

          If I saw your sick kid headed on my flight, I’d immediately speak to airline authorities about contagious diseases.

          1. Need a Beach*

            Agreed. There are people in my family that would not survive exposure to something like this.

            1. Kat in VA*

              This reminds me of when I was flying home from a funeral out in California last year. There was a man in his 30s next to me who was so ill he was unable to stand. He was crouched over, leaning against his carryon bag, moaning occasionally. Everything about him screamed THIS DUDE IS WILDLY SICK.

              Incredibly, at some point he got up and was arguing with gate attendants (who noticed how sick he was and likely told him, yeah, no, you’re not getting on) that he needed to get home, he just needed a row to lay down on, he wouldn’t bother anyone.

              Right before we boarded the plane, he was being loaded onto an ambulance.

              1. OP*

                Ok, that’s awful, but NOTHING like a toddler with a 24 hour stomach bug. It wasn’t the flu or norovirous. Run of the mill daycare pukes.

        3. Anono-me*

          With little kids that would probably need to be a three-day drive, so your husband would still miss his Monday meeting. (Plus it would probably wind up costing about 1k.)

          1. Sammy pants*

            As bad as it is to miss a critical work meeting, it’s more important to protect the health and safety of hundreds of strangers, some of whom could literally die as a result of their irresponsible actions. Or the other passengers could carry the illness to their immunocompromised loved ones with deadly results. If the work meeting is so crucial, they shouldn’t have traveled right before it since so many other factors could also delay travel.

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      When we did this flu carousel on a trip to Florida, moving the return flight a few days was the logical thing to do. At that point we’d all finished having the flu and could venture away from a bathroom. So that would be my first answer.

      I’m mildly astonished at the open empty seats, and correspondingly leery of a travel plan that relies on them not becoming filled with an angry passenger. But if that’s a pretty good bet based on your travel experience, then it might work. However, odds that the 5 year old will be coming down with it argue against that plan B. (If you got this and the baby is nursing, baby is probably okay. Though if you get sick as a dog and can’t do anything other than nurse, you need some adult on hand to watch the 3 kids.)

    10. Mrs. Fenris*

      This isn’t what you’re going to want to hear, but I would take her to urgent care where you are, then fly home later. Small creatures that are vomiting frequently lose a LOT of fluid. She could get extremely ill. And you just can’t risk spreading a norovirus on the plane.

      (I’m a little biased. An older relative of mine became ill in another city once, and her traveling companion made the decision to fly home with her in that condition. She became critically ill on the plane. She had to be taken off the plane by the EMTs and taken straight to ICU in the university hospital in our city. Her health has never really recovered. I still struggle with holding a grudge against her travel companion.)

    11. Nellie*

      Don’t expose everyone on the plane to your child’s illness because it’s inconvenient for you to reschedule. This is what travel insurance is for, to help with these inevitable situations that will arise, especially with three small children. Your child’s illness could kill someone on that plane.

    12. nonegiven*

      I’m not sure the airline will let the kid stay on the plane if they find out she is puking before takeoff.

    13. Lilysparrow*

      You’re in the air as I’m reading this, so I just hope everything goes as smoothly as possible and the rest of you don’t catch it.

      Also, protip: if the baby catches it, the best thing to do is frequent small nursings, just a few minutes, whether she can keep it down or not.

      I unfortunately took advice from our HMO’s after-hours hotline, and the RN on call knew squat about breastfeeding. Told me not to feed until she’d gone 45 mins-an hour without puking, because she shouldn’t have “dairy.”

      Poor baby almost wound up in the hospital. Don’t mess around with the eyedropper full of Pedialyte. The antibodies in your milk will get her well quicker.

    14. LibbyG*

      For what it’s worth, I really don’t think choosing to fly today put other passengers at unreasonable risk. If you took common-sense steps to contain any body fluids and could sit tight in your little zone then I don’t think you have appreciably made the risk any higher tha it would be with 100+ people in a metal tube this time of year.

      You and your husband were the ones with all the info ready to make a game-time decision, and this internet stranger trusts that you made a good one.

      1. Sammy pants*

        But they likely used the restroom on a four hour flight. And their zone isn’t really their zone. Dozens of people likely sat in those rows and nearby rows on later flights that day. They did expose many, many people.

        1. OP*

          Actually, we told the flight attendants what was up in advance. They were nothing but kind and didn’t even give us the “you brought a WHAT on the plane?!” look. We disinfected our whole area before and after the flight (and did an amazing job, since kids find wiping things endlessly entertaining…) so I think all things considered it was fine. In the same situation, I’d do it again. If we had a later in the day flight, I’d pay to switch but that doesn’t make our entire group any less contagious.

          So far nobody else (in-laws, 4 other family members) is sick so I’m crossing my fingers!

    15. WWYD- sick on vacation*

      Update: we flew home on our original flight. Kiddo last threw up at 5am, flight was at 11aM. She didn’t have anything other than a few sips of water until 3/4 through the flight when she started to nibble the baby’s puff cereal.

      We ended up with the entire row (6 seats) for the 4 of us, as we’d hoped (I know it’s unlikely but I’d been keeping an eye on the seats and the flight was only about 2/3 full.). We told the people in front of us that she’d been throwing up last night and the flight attendant bumped the person that wanted to move up to the extra legroom seats.

      Kiddo played pitifully for 20 min, then fell asleep with her head in my lap curled up on the seat for about 90 min of the flight. When she woke up she was in a great mood and played happily until we landed. She had the best flight of her life (most of the others have ended in tears for everyone!)

      Anyway, not ideal. We got lucky. The guy behind us even told us on the way out he’s never have believed she was sick if we hadn’t said anything but he appreciated the heads up.

      We really had no other options. Even driving was out because we expect someone else to come down with the bug so now we are just a vomitorium on wheels. DH got his work thing moved (this was not about making the meeting- just a note that of all the trips…).

      And now we are home and exhausted and preparing for one of the other two tonthrow up.

      FWIW we did have trip insurance for part of the trip. As I said above, cost isn’t really the issue here (though I wasn’t ready to spring for first class tickets home)- we were just stuck.

      1. Anon airliner*

        Still no absolution.

        You did what you wanted for your convenience – and you had trip insurance! Cost was not an issue! You had choices, and you chose the best thing for you, and are trying to justify that there was minimal risk to others on the flight.

        You are wrong. Did you announce to the entire flight that you had one sick child and two who were likely in the infectious stage of the virus? Of course not.

        In the next two weeks there will be people getting sick because of your bad decision.

        You are yet another example of why I scrutinize all young kids getting on my flight and bringing up any possible viral /bacterial symptoms to the gate personnel. This is exactly why people traveling with kids get a lot of side eye.

        1. Plant_Mama*

          Agreed. I just flew out of Denver today and I’m praying these people weren’t on the same plane or anywhere near me.

        2. Lilysparrow*

          How exactly would the OP personally inform all the other passengers? OP informed the flight crew. It was the crew’s job to announce or not. Apparently the policy of the airline is to inform those who sit close by, not the whole plane.

          If you are concerned about flying with sick people, you should ask the flight crew.

          1. Anon airliner*

            OP informed the people in the row in front of them. Not the flight crew. One person asked for reseating. No evidence that the flight crew or other passengers were aware of the sick child (children).

      2. Gatomon*

        I’m disappointed in your choice. It reads as selfish, especially since you admit cost and the meeting weren’t that big a deal in the end. I understand it’s a rough position to be in, but please take a minute to reflect on what could’ve happened and what the potential ramifications are for everyone who was on that plane and will be on that plane later.

        Your child could still be contagious (and the rest of your family is possibly infectious and not symptomatic yet). 2.5 year olds aren’t great with hygiene (that’s part of why they get sick) and airplanes are just not sanitized often at all. You probably just gave a bunch of passengers and crew something to look forward too.

      3. Ned*

        You made a selfish decision that endangered many, many people. People could literally die because of your poor choices. You don’t seem willing to listen to what people are telling you, but I hope you take it to heart that your actions have consequences and your selfishness could mean people do die.

      4. Sammy pants*

        That your kid had the best flight of her life and played happily is irrelevant. It seems like you’re missing the point that the well being of the other people on that plane matter just as much as your family’s well being, and other people’s health matters a million times more than your personal convenience.

        You had plenty of other choices and you selected the selfish and irresponsible one that was most convenient for you. You are not a victim of bad circumstances. You are a person who chose to disregard other people’s safety because it was convenient for you.

        People could still get sick and even die as a result of your actions, and you will never even know.

      5. sore toes*

        I know you’re getting a lot of hate here, but honestly, I would have done the same thing. I hope the rest of you manage to avoid the sickness.

    16. Not A Manager*

      It’s completely unreasonable for anyone to expect to get on a plane and NOT be exposed to someone who’s contagious with something. I’m not saying that the poster made the most socially-responsible choice, but in terms of actual risk to other people, if she hadn’t flown all those other flyers still could have been exposed to that OTHER kid who was just coming down with flu, or to that guy who doesn’t have any symptoms YET.

      If flying, or being in public, is actually a life-threatening event for someone, that’s terrible, but the poster wouldn’t be reducing their risk in any significant way by choosing not to fly. I say this having had a close relative whose immune system was severely compromised during chemo. We took a lot of precautions, and we also knew that when we chose to go outside, we were incurring a risk. The greatest risk was probably all that time spent in doctors’ waiting rooms.

      1. catsaway*

        Yes, and not to mention that there isn’t a perfect correlation between showing symptoms of an illness and being contagious. You can be sick and not realize it or throwing up but not contagious at all.

      2. Anon airliner*

        Yes, people who are pre-symptomatic, who are at a high level of spreading infection fly all the time. That is a risk that anyone takes when they leave their house; that they will come into contact with such a person. Immunologically compromised and elderly people make and take certain precautions to minimize their risk in the everyday world.

        But that’s not what the LW wrote in about. She made a selfish choice to take her sick child (and other child who she admits was likely in the infectious stage of this nasty virus) on a plane, which recycles air, and deliberately exposed an airplane full of people to the virus -without informing all of them. She states that she had partial insurance, and cost was not a significant factor. It appears that the only major factor was her convenience.

        I stand by my comment. She is looking for absolution for her very poor choice – she knowing put people at risk!!! I will not provide absolution for her incredibly self-centered choice.

        1. Don't Fly Then*

          Oh for the love of Pete, Anon Airliner. You’ve made your point – you don’t believe she made the right decision. I don’t think continuing to harp on the poster serves any purpose. She did what she thought was best. As others have mentioned, many people are contagious without realizing it and it’s scientifically shown that if you have the flu (which the tot may or may not have had) you are contagious up to 3-4 days prior to being sick and up to 5-7 days following. I can assure you that the likelihood the child/family were the only ones potentially contagious in the airport and on the plane that day is very, very unlikely. Things happen and you can’t put life on hold for a week on the off chance that you or your child may be contagious. If you’re that concerned about it, then I’m sorry, but airline travel is simply not for you. Humanity spreads germs – unintentionally and without malice.

          1. Anon airliner*

            Meh. OP responds to posts in this thread and I also respond to her updates. If comments in this thread upset you I suggest you concentrate on reading other threads.

            1. Don't Fly Then*

              Hmmm, upset? Nope, not in the least. Feeling as if you are “beating a dead horse.” Most definitely. I was merely commenting that you made your point in your first post. I can understand a follow-up, reiterating your point, especially because the OP continued to engage and add details. However, saying the same exact thing another two times? It simply felt like overkill.
              You’re also assuming the OP is looking for “absolution” and are quite adamant in your multiple posts that you aren’t giving it. Again, saying it once or twice? Understandable. More than that, it felt as if you were on a mission, yelling into the void about something you had already made more than explicitly clear. Certainly your prerogative, as is my opinion…

      3. OP*

        I ended up speaking with my ped about this, who said we were more infectious on the flight out thanfhe flight home. Would have been different if there was active vomiting but we were so precarious. We weren’t disinfecting seats on the way there!

        1. Sybil Fawlty*

          My goodness, I am so sorry you had to go through all of that! How terrible and stressful! So glad all worked out well.

          I would have done exactly the same as you did. People are biological organisms and germs are a fact of life. You have no way of knowing who else was sick or not on any flight you went on (or restaurant, movie theater, church, etc.) You have to get through life the best you can.

          I hope you all get well soon and hang in there.

  11. coffee cup*

    I went to Morocco! Some of you might recall I posted about going and being a bit apprehensive, including about the flight (hate flying).

    I shouldn’t have worried: it was awesome! I loved Marrakech, with all its crazy noise and colours and stuff going on constantly. It was fascinating, and I mean that in the best way possible. The people were friendly, the food was fab and the weather was just the right level of warm. The flights were even smooth and non-eventful (and I got to see the Pyrenees from the air, which was pretty cool even in my anxious state!). The only downside was the endless comments/harassment from men on the street, which by the end of the week had become utterly exhausting. Some of it was funny and good-natured, like the guy who shouted ‘hey Spice Girls’ as we went past, and another guy who asked me to marry him as I was buying a scarf from him. It was the leering and occasional following that got on my nerves, although in a way I think it made me more assertive. I wouldn’t let that stop me going back and it didn’t ruin the trip – just a thing to be aware of if anyone else is thinking of going.

    I even had a Moroccan fling… hah!

    I miss it already and am trying to decide where to travel to next. If only I didn’t mind flying…

    1. Sammie*

      Hi coffee cup – I hear you on the flying and the love of travelling. I HATE flying, almost as much as I LOVE being able to go different places (to see family, to explore, to have a fun getaway with my wife etc). If there is any turbulence on a flight, I grip the seat and will lapsed-Catholic pray and even sob (quietly – don’t want to be the person who freaks out the whole plane) until it’s stopped. I am thankful that because of where and how I grew up that traveling was almost a non-choice and I just suck it up basically. Otherwise I might not be so brave as you! I just wanted to let you know that and wish you the best in all your future travels.

      1. coffee cup*

        Ha, I do the seat-grip too, even though I know it makes zero difference. I flew with my friend this time, so it was much easier, although she had to keep me distracted most of the time and didn’t get much chance to relax… poor her, I did feel bad about that. I will get on the plane because I want to go somewhere, but it’s just really exhausting for me because of all the anxiety. I hate it, because I want to visit really far-away places, but at this rate I will never manage to.

    2. Mrs. Fenris*

      That’s so great to hear! I would love to go to Morocco. I even have a place in Marrakech saved in my favorites on VRBO.

      1. coffee cup*

        I have that for other places on Airbnb! I just have to get up the courage to go on a plane again…

    3. I Work on a Hellmouth*

      How awesome! I’ve always wanted to go to Morocco–whenever life is peaceful, that’s actually what I (literally) dream about. Can you tell me more about the food and the markets? I need more dream fodder.

    4. Sparkly Lady*

      Yay! I’m so glad you had a great time!

      Did you end up staying mostly in Marrakech, or did you go to some of the other places, too?

      1. coffee cup*

        Thanks! We stayed in Marrakech the whole time, at the edge of the medina, so we were nicely placed between old town and new. We did a couple of day trips: one to Essaouira and one to Ourika Valley for a hike up a waterfall and to see one of the Berber villages. I loved Essaouira (I less love trying to remember how to spell it…), which was much more chilled than Marrakech, and because its on the coast we were able to go to the beach! I would have loved to have spent more time there, but maybe next time.

    5. Cherry Sours*

      Travel is an amazing hobby…so far, my international travel has taken me only to countries in Europe, but have several other destinations planned for the future. Am also not a fan of flying, but if it gets me where I want go go, I will do it! Have you traveled much within the U.S.? I love our national parks, especially Zion, Bryce Canyon, Mese Verde and the Grand Canyon.

      1. coffee cup*

        I’m not from the US, so to get there requires a decent flight, too! (I’m in Scotland.) I lived in New Hampshire for a summer, not very exciting, but I’d love to go back and see some of the parks!

    6. Violetta*

      I had the same experience in Marrakech. It’s beautiful and for the most part the people are lovely. But the sheer amount of comments (we were two women travelling together), ranging from mildly annoying to straight up scary harrasmment, got really old by the end of the week.

      1. Violetta*

        We also took a two day trip into the mountains and got no comments there whatsoever. So maybe it’s a city thing.

      2. Eleanor Shellstrop*

        Came here to say this! Out of everywhere I went in Morocco, Marrakech was the worst in terms of harassment. It feels like a lot of men just can’t let you walk past without saying SOMETHING, especially if you’re by yourself, or accidentally make eye contact. It’s a shame, because many Moroccan people are so wonderful and friendly, but you have to have your “walls” up while walking around.

        1. jolene*

          Take Dramamine on the flight, or another strong, dozy antihistamine.


        2. coffee cup*

          Yeah, and a lot of it is funny, but some of it isn’t, and it’s ALL tiring. We couldn’t pause for 10 seconds to browse or look at something without a man descending from thin air to make a comment.

  12. Lena Clare*

    How do I add a link to my username? I’m sure I had seen it in the commenting guidelines, but now can’t see it! TIA.

    1. Kali*

      There used to be an option in the comment form to add a website to your name, but that seems to be gone now. I do recall Alison asking people not to do that any more, because she’d prefer links went through moderation, so perhaps that’s why.

    2. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Huh, just now noticed it’s gone. It used to be there for people to link to their personal sites but a lot of people began using it for other links to avoid going into moderation.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      Thanks for asking the question, because I was wondering if it was a browser issue for me.

    4. Forking great username*

      Yeah, people were using it to get around one of the rules about links and ignored Alison frequently asking for it not to be used that way. Seems safe to assume that’s why it’s gone since it has come up recently.

        1. OlympiasEpiriot*

          Oh my. I missed those requests and did it a few times. I apologise. (I wasn’t terribly good about checking in daily. There’s a lot I find I misses when I have time to read in the archives.)

  13. Kali*

    I got my coursework grades for the semester back! Now, bear in mind that a rough rule of thumb for translating UK grades to US grades is to add on 25%. With that in mind, my lowest grade was 63%, two were 75%, and one was 90%! Plus, that 90% was an essay for one of my optional modules, outside of my degree area (it was an amazing module called ‘Are We Alone?’, discussing extra-terrestrial life from a physics, philosophy, history, and evolutionary point of view). In our grading scheme, 100% is literally “the professor could not do better”, so 90% is amazing! :D

    1. ElspethGC*

      Hell yeah! I’m still waiting for my grades, but I need a 65 on the one exam that I sat to end up with a 1st overall in that module, and I’m pretty sure I can do that. I thought the exam went pretty well. 90 is insane for an essay-based subject, congrats! My highest has been an 87%, and that was an optional as well. The way our lecturers have explained it is by saying that 90%+ on a single essay means it’s an essay that’s worth submitting to a journal, so that’s a thing to consider!

  14. Namey McNameface*

    Every time I watch The Office I cringe whenever I get to the Jim/Karen relationship. He treated her like crap. He clearly has strong feelings for Pam throughout his entire relationship with Karen. He even admits this openly to the latter. He gets iffy about her even moving closer to his neighbourhood.

    He knew Karen cared for him a lot. She was even willing to move for him to NYC if Jim got that job at corporate. I judge him for leading her on for that whole time when he was just one nice note away from dumping Karen for Pam.

    If Karen was my friend I would tell her to DTMFA. Seriously, he was a dick to her.

    1. HarveyW*

      That arc really bugged me too. When you think about it, Jim was kind of dick in general. He was that kid the teachers all found endearing for some f-ing reason but that treated the other kids horribly… and then smiled his smug little smirk.
      And to be clear I liked The Office but binge watching it made it clear what an ass he really could be.

      1. Namey McNameface*

        Oh yeah. Jim as a fictional character is entertaining. As an actual human I would dislike him immensely.

        Maybe the show’s writers wanted to make Pam and Jim’s relationship more romantic, like, Jim is a dick to all women except for Pam because THAT’S his one true love! In reality I don’t think relationships really work like that. If you’re a person who is callous with other people’s feelings that doesn’t bode well for any relationship you have, even if you love the other person intensely.

        1. HarveyW*

          You nailed it! Fictional=entertaining; Real Person=horrible.
          There were times when I thought he was going to be a selfish prick to Pam too but he wasn’t, thankfully!

        2. Temperance*

          He’s actually pretty horrible to Pam once they get married and have their second kid. He gets to do his fun Philly job while she parents.

          1. Gatomon*

            Pam was pretty into Jim’s dickish behavior though and helped Jim pull of pranks and pulled a number of cruel pranks on Dwight herself (the faxes from future Dwight, for example). I sort of think they deserve each other in the end.

            I feel like Jim is what happens when you mix a horrible, corrosive atmosphere and someone inclined to pranking that lacks self control. Would Jim have been a different guy if he worked in a normal workplace, or would he have been that jerk who set the record for fastest firing? I’m torn.

    2. Forking great username*

      Yeah, this dynamic makes me happy to be more of a Parks and Rec person, because Ben > Jim. Although if I’m being 100% honest, Leslie would get kind of exhausting in real life, haha.

    3. annakarina1*

      I wasn’t a fan of The Office, and didn’t like how Jim and Pam had a bit of a superior attitude to others in the office, like feeling better than them in some way.

    4. JKP*

      I think that’s a little unfair. He had feelings for Pam, confessed his feelings, and was shot down. If this was real life, what would he be expected to do? Never date anyone else ever because he had feelings for Pam? He tried to get on with his life, actually moved to a different city and job, which is where he met Karen. I thought they were very cute together and had a lot of fun dating. Maybe if the branches hadn’t merged and Pam had actually married Roy, then Jim might have ended up with Karen instead. I don’t think he was leading Karen on.

      1. Namey McNameface*

        Would you want to date someone who had strong feelings for another person, who toyed with the idea of leaving you for them?

        1. JKP*

          He didn’t toy with the idea of leaving Karen for most of their relationship. For the first half, they were both together in a different city, and he avoided interacting with Pam. After the branches merged, he still tried to keep up boundaries with Pam. As viewers, we saw Pam upset about them dating and having feelings for Jim, but he didn’t know that. Only after he figured out that Pam returned his feelings did he toy with leaving Karen.

          There are different guys I’ve had strong feelings for who didn’t return my feelings. That doesn’t mean I can’t move on and date other people or that I’m leading those people on. I’ve also dated guys who had feelings for an ex, but were moving on with their lives. Once you’re out of high school, it’s unrealistic to expect to be your partner’s first love.

    5. Plain Jane*

      I agree. We never really get the story of their break up in NYC, either. I hope he broke up with her and she made the decision not to ride back with him, because the story makes it looks like he might have just left her there.

      1. RestlessRenegade*

        Are you talking about Jim and Karen? Pretty sure they broke up in Scranton, although it’s offscreen. Jim recounts that she said she wouldn’t jeopardize her career over him but then left the next day. Later we find out she moved to another branch and became a manager, so good for her.
        I probably should hate Jim more than I do, but for me John Krazinski really sold the character. I don’t really hate anyone on the office except maybe Packer. Or Ryan at his worst. Or Andy in the last season…okay, there’s a few :)

      2. RestlessRenegade*

        Wait, you’re right! I think because we see them argue in the office in season 4 I assumed that was them breaking up, but that was AFTER he asked out Pam, so I agree, I hope Karen didn’t want to ride back with him after he dumped her.

    6. Maya Elena*

      Like think it’s much more just a basic mismatch in personalities rather than Jim being a dick. Karen was much more of a straight and narrow person and Jim a prankster type; the former tend to disapprove of mischief and the latter revel in it (also most of Jim’s mischief was so funny because his subjects richly deserved it, IMO). These types can get along they like each other enough and can change their views enough….. But not being able to do that is not dickishness on anyone’s part, just difference.

      The main scene of alleged dickishness I can think of is the Andy phone scene, where Jim and Pam hide Andy’s annoying cell phone in the ceiling after Karen opts out of the prank.

      But Ok – if Pam had married Roy by this point, and she and Jim had performed this trick, and there was some residual sexual tension, would it have been wrong (from a relationship perspective, not whether the prank was appropriate perspective)? If Karen had let it slide as a prank she didn’t want to be a part of but not gotten a bit jealous and confront Jim about it (which it is implied that she did off camera)?

      Lots of ifs. But – if that scene is taken as illustrative of the Jim Pam Karen dynamic as a whole – this is all in the realm of normal complex human interactions with no clear right answer, and no clear hero and villain.

  15. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    I don’t really have any fun questions or observations this week so feel free tot ask your own!

    1. BeanCat*

      I managed to do a bit this week and was proud. Lots of editing and scratching things out helped me start wanting to work on it again.

    2. Meh*

      Pretty good! I’ve been trying to write 50k words every month starting with last NaNoWriMo and have been successful so far. Though with the missing days, February’s going to be a challenge. But by switching to writing first thing in the morning, it’s gotten a bit easier.

    3. Lena Clare*

      I’ve started to write more on my blog (Lena Clare on WordPress) yay! although I’m struggling with my novel editing.
      I feel really down when people say it takes, like, 2 weeks to edit their novel.
      It takes me… months.

    4. Foreign Octopus*

      Since finishing my first draft, I’ve done nothing this week. I’ve been bingeing on Netflix instead but I’m getting back to it this weekend.

    5. Anononynony*

      I’ve been reading The Fifth Season by NK Jemison and I am simultaneously jealous and enthused, since it’s pretty similar to the book I’ve been putting off editing, so I’m going to a coffee shop as soon as I finish this comment and getting some chapters done. I have some feedback that I suspect will be both helpful and disheartening, and I’ve been down a hole about it for months because someone else volunteered to read <100 pages and hadn't gotten it back (she promised it in September) so I just have assumed it was terrible.

    6. OyHiOh*

      My long form work is still more or less on hiatus due to ongoing medical crisis with spouse. However, I am writing some monologues and that’s better than nothing :-)

    7. Elizabeth West*

      Sloooooooowlllyyyy. In revision mode, while trying to job hunt, though I think about it a lot. Right now, I’m reading through and re-outlining Book 2, with notes.

      I’m letting my friend beta read Tunerville post-restructure. I told her about it and she thought it sounded cool. Nervous that she won’t like it, haha. D:

    8. RestlessRenegade*

      I missed a self-imposed January deadline of beefing up my NaNo novel so it’s a complete draft, but I’m going to try and finish that this week. I was struggling with a short story but the novel is going to be my focus for a while…
      I also haven’t told anyone IRL yet but supposedly I’m getting another story published in July, and another journal advanced me to a second round of review! Guess all those submissions I made last fall might pay off after all :)
      Hope everyone else is doing great!

    9. Claire*

      I’m supposed to be working on my pirate novel, but I’m indulging myself this weekend by writing chapters for a third book in my Janet Watson series (near future SF/Mystery). No guarantee if the publisher will buy it, but it’s enormous fun, and I love my characters to pieces.

    10. Liane*

      Still a couple of weeks ahead of deadlines for Gaming Blog, although that won’t be for long, if I don’t finish this one piece. That’s not counting a couple I finished and put into the Reserve queue, so 4-5 pieces, 2,000-2,500 words total. This is on top of copy editing and proofreading 4-5 other articles for the week, mostly in the 500-1,500 words each.

      Plus I will be gamemastering for the roleplaying game group next month, so I have to finish that prep. That counts as writing doesn’t it? Since I have to write everything down because I don’t handle winging it nearly as well as many GMs.

  16. Loopy*

    Any less common tips for staying healthy (like avoiding colds)? My wedding is in three weeks and this whole planning process has been so hard for me, I don’t want to be sick the day of on top of it. We have older people, babies, etc. coming and there’s so many pictures and hugging, I’m as concerned for guests! So far I have the obvious:

    -remember to take my multivitamin
    -get enough sleep
    -hydrate better (admittedly terrible at this)
    -wash hands properly/frequently
    -stay away from sick people (near impossible in an office though)

    What do people do? Even if it’s possibly just superstition, I’ll take it. Throat is feeling a bit scratchy and I’m like no, no, nooooo. I’ve been super stressed too, so that’s definitely not helping!

    1. Shirazer*

      I have been told elderberry syrup is good for colds, so if you are feeling a bit scratchy what could it hurt to start it now and nip it in the bud?
      Personally, when I feel it coming on (especially when I am in no position to be sick), I start treating with NyQuil right away.

    2. Anonanon*

      I start drinking lemon and ginger tea (bonus points for honey and chunks of raw ginger you can chew on) when I start feeling ill and especially for sore throats.

      1. HarveyW*

        I forgot about the honey cure! Chew on raw honey and the comb. That was one of my mom’s remedies. Or honey and lemon as a hot drink.

      2. Eleanor Shellstrop*

        Absolutely this! Honey, lemon, and ginger are my holy trinity when getting sick, plus maybe a splash of rum…

        1. Eleanor Shellstrop*

          Oh, and if your throat is feeling scratchy – hot water, honey, and apple cider vinegar. Tastes weird but will get your voice back.

    3. Claire (Scotland)*

      I start using ColdZyme mouth spray the minute I feel a cold might be coming on. I managed to fight off the cold that tried to start on Hogmanay that way.

    4. Quandong*

      What I do as long-term prevention is different from when I feel run down and as if I may be getting sick.

      As soon as my throat feels scratchy I:
      – take a vitamin C and zinc supplement at a high dose
      – drink lemon and ginger infusions with extra grated ginger, and more water during the day
      – use a warm salt gargle
      – go to bed earlier
      – make sure I keep warm, especially my chest and neck
      – stop eating and drinking things that make my symptoms worse
      – eat soups with ginger and chili, and warm foods rather than cold foods
      – reduce stress as much as possible and leave non-essential activities until after I feel better

      Good luck!

      1. SpiderLadyCEO*

        I’m seconding all of this. I actually drink vitamin C every day, in those little emergen-c packets, mostly because I love it. Warm salt gargles are disgusting but will save your life.

        For when the cold does hit you: hot toddies! Bourbon, tea, honey, lemon. I”m sure there is a way to make this more palatable, but it has honestly saved my life more times than I can count. NyQuil screws me up (and the rest of my family) so hot cocktails tend to be the only cold medicine we take anymore.

        I also wash my hands every single time I enter my apartment. Go to the gym? Come home, wash hands. Immediately upon entering the house. And then I moisturize, because I know this is awful for my skin.

    5. Marion Ravenwood*

      My wedding was in November, and I am notorious for getting every single cold that comes my way. I was determined not to have a streaming red nose in my wedding pictures, so I got one of those nasal sprays that supposedly ‘traps’ the cold virus and used it every day for a couple of months. It worked! The one I had was a Boots (UK chemist/drugstore) own brand one, but I’m pretty sure Vicks and other brands make something similar.

    6. Sutemi*

      The studies supporting echinacea and zinc are stronger than the evidence for vitamin C.
      Stay hydrated! I like hot tea and hot water with lemon, but drink a lot.
      Wash hands with soap diligently, like for 30 seconds while scrubbing under the nails and between fingers and stuff. Most of the time when people wash hands it is too brief.

    7. AnyoneAnywhere*

      I don’t believe that supplements help one stay healthy- like zinc or vitamin C- the research just isn’t there. Use hand sanitizer and wash your hands frequently. If you are comfortable doing it, wear a face mask- the vast majority of “office borne” diseases are transmitted by respiratory droplets. You can say that you are the sick one and are trying to keep it to yourself to explain the mask.
      Eat as healthfully as possible, definitely hydrate. Change your clothes when you get home so that you don’t transmit any infectious particles onto your furniture, food, etc.
      Do what healthcare providers do!

    8. Lena Clare*

      Apple cider vinegar (1 spoonful in some water) with a pinch of turmeric in to drink every morning.

      For a scratchy throat, a friend of mine said her oncologist simply recommended gargling with salt dissolved in boiled, cooled water to help prevent infection and soothe redness and soreness.

      Hot drinks with a spoonful of local honey in is also effective and protective.

      Good luck and congratulations!

    9. Theguvnah*

      Agree with lots said including stay so insanely hydrated you are peeing every hour AND keep your nasal passages moist with Vaseline or aquafor.

      Also I swear by oil of oregano. I buy it in carrier oil already from amazon and take a few drops under my tongue every night followed by tons of wate, oregano is strong! It’s a natural antibiotic. Also if you have an oil diffuser get five guards or thieves oil.

    10. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I’ve never done any research into the legitimacy of this, but very hot drinks. As close to scalding as you can stand. Supposedly they kill off the germs in your throat. Make that hot drink echinacea tea with honey and you’ve got triple anti-cold.

      Maybe a Netipot too? I’ve never tried it, but I’d think it’d help keep your sinuses clear.

    11. Parenthetically*

      – thieves spray or another clove/oregano oil throat spray — this is my absolute go-to. Every time I get a tickle I start spraying regularly with thieves spray. Haven’t gotten one cold all winter. Clove oil has quite a bit of good research behind it, so it may be woo or it may be science, but I swear by the spray.
      – a daily, high-quality probiotic
      – elderberry tincture or syrup
      – zinc
      – magnesium, either in the form of Natural Calm (a very absorbable type of magnesium — careful with your dosage at first) or, better yet in an epsom salts bath
      – FRESH FOOD and not too much sugar. I’m not a sugar-phobe by any means, I just find my body needs a little more nutrient density when I’m stressed. A big scramble every morning with eggs, spinach, sweet potato, black beans, and sausage (if you’re a meat eater)? That kind of thing.
      – hot toddies (which are also just really lovely). I do one with ginger tea, lots and lots of lemon, honey, and bourbon.

      HAPPY WEDDING! Sending you peaceful vibes and good health. I remember the frantic pace of those last few weeks. Take care of yourself! :)

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        I’m delighted to see that there is a modern version of thieves spray. One of my favorite recipes from a 1820’s cookbook is Vinegar of the Four Thieves, which has lavender, rosemary, sage wormwood, rue, mint and garlic. I love the description of what to do with it, “This vinegar is very refreshing in crowded rooms, in the apartments of the sick, and is peculiarly grateful when sprinkled about the house in damp weather.”

    12. Melody Pond*

      Possible substitution for your regular multi-vitamin, at least temporarily – an immune support supplement called Wellness Formula by Source Naturals (you can find it on amazon; I prefer the capsules over the tablets).

      It smells so, so, so horrible, I don’t recommend smelling the pills or the bottle directly. Also, if you’re taking the capsules, I highly urge you not to take them unless you can immediately “chase” them with a few bites of food. Because if they get stuck in your esophagus and break apart, you’ll probably be able to taste it (I can), and it’s disgusting and gag-inducing.

      But man, they freaking work. With the capsules, I think the dosage is six of them – but normally, if I take between 2-4 every day, I just don’t get sick.

    13. Canonical23*

      My big thing to avoid illness is to clean, clean, clean. Keep dirty dishes and laundry from piling up; make sure animal hair is minimized; vacuum/sweep/mop a little more often than I normally do; wipe down everything in the house like toilet seats, cell phone and keyboards; open the windows for a few minutes for fresh air; make sure plenty of sunlight is coming into the house; change pillowcases every two or three days. Obviously don’t go wild and overexert yourself, but when you spend the majority of your “recovery” period from work and outside life in the house, keeping things clean can help in terms of minimizing stress and preventing the growth of germs.

    14. Not I said the fly*

      DH and I actually took the week prior to the wedding off from work, because we knew that was the place most likely to expose us to germs. I worked with the public, and DH was in an open office that constantly had viruses run rampant through the floor.

    15. Indie*

      I hit alllll the garlic and take a bath with some (oil diluted) drops of tea tree oil. when I get scratch-throat. Usually works. I take echinacea in emergencies.
      -Chuck handfuls of spinach in everything.
      -Spice things up. Turmeric, black pepper, Clove, cayenne etc.
      -Drink hot water with lemon slices (crazy good for you and you’ll end up drinking more water).
      – Get brothy. Whether meat or vegetable based, soups have more concentrated nutrients.
      -Take a steam or sauna.
      -Cut down on stress a.m.a.p.

    16. Lilysparrow*

      Take plenty of Vitamin D.

      Make a strong ginger tea from fresh ginger root by just rough chopping it and boiling it for about 10 minutes. Have it with honey as much as you can. It has antiviral properties.

      Chicken broth or soup with lots of fresh garlic (put the garlic in at the end so it doesn’t overcook).

      Whenever you get home from work or being in a crowd, use a saline rinse in your nose – you can get the spray bottles in the drugstore for like, a dollar.

    17. Need a Beach*

      Stop touching your face, and especially keep your hands away from your mouth. I tried to crack down on this to help with acne, and it’s amazing how often I was absent-mindedly resting my chin on my hand, picking at my dry lips, chewing on a hangnail…

    18. CrazyPlantLady*

      High dose of vitamin C pretty much constantly. Get those Halls vitamin C lozenges and just keep going through them. Vitamin C is water soluble so you pee out any your body can’t use right away. So you want to keep yourself constantly at the vitamin C max. It won’t completely prevent you from getting sick, but it will help a little.

      Also, wash your hands as often as you can. (But lotion afterward because it’s winter and you don’t want crackly hands for your wedding.) Any time you touch anything, wash your hands afterward. Especially if you shake someone’s hand, immediately wash your hands. Or better yet, avoid shaking hands whenever you can.

    19. SaaSyPaaS*

      Other than general hand washing/hand sanitizing/keeping surfaces clean, I use Airborne tablets. The second I feel that itchy/tingling feeling by my ears or if I’m around someone who’s sick, I use Airborne. The Airborne Effervescent tablets that you drop into water are (IMO) way better than the chalky chewables. I know it’s not clinically proven to do anything, but it does seem to help me avoid coming down with stuff. My coworker this week stayed home one day due to a cold, but when she came back she was still coughing. We sit pretty close to each other, so I used Airborne twice during each workday.

    20. rear mech*

      Don’t eat food with your hands unless you’ve just washed them like a surgeon. If you have to eat on the go, eat your snacks with a utensil or choose something like a protein bar that you can unwrap and eat without ever touching the food itself. Trail mix, pieces of fruit, burgers etc – just avoid them or eat with a spoon.

      I used to take a 28 hour greyhound bus trip every xmas. I used to get sick every time until I started following the advice above.

      Also sanitize computers and phones

    21. The Gollux (Not a Mere Device)*

      Try to eat what’s generally healthy for you–for example, if you know you need protein early in the day, don’t skimp on that. Also, you might want to be careful about food hygiene–in addition to washing your hands, wash your fruit and vegetables, and cooked vegetables are less risky than raw greens.

      If it’s winter where you are, a bedroom humidifier is probably a good idea.

    22. Susan Ryan*

      Take zinc. Use Zicam nose swabs if you can get them. Zinc will keep you from getting a cold or keep the duration very short. Zinc also cures smelly feet.

    23. Solidus Pilcrow*

      Clean/disinfect frequently handled items:
      Work: Keyboard, desk, and mouse *
      Home/personal: Remote control, phone, tablet/computer
      Car: Steering wheel, door handle (interior and exterior)

      * I use a Clorox wipe (or similar) once a week or so. Just a quick wipedown and no spraying chemicals around a shared space. I credit surviving a couple rounds of the office creeping crud to this.

  17. Putting Out Fires, Esq.*

    What are people’s solutions/ approaches/ tricks to the Dinner Issue?

    Two full time employees, gone from home 10 and 9 hours a day, two young kids with 7:30 bedtimes. How do people feed themselves?

    1. HarveyW*

      We use Instant Pot a lot! Or I do some cooking on the weekend and we can reheat on those especially crazy days.

    2. Galfromaway*

      Crock pot or instant pot. And planning out meals in advance. Once you get in the habit, it’s fantastic!!

      1. Glomarization, Esq.*

        YES to planning, even if it’s just the night before. While I’m prepping dinner, I’d maybe put something in the fridge to thaw for the next night, or I’d chop stuff for the crock pot so all I’d have to do is dump it in before leaving the house the next morning. I liked to prep my own sack lunch every day while I was already in the kitchen making dinner, to save a few minutes in the morning.

    3. Kimmybear*

      Crock pot and one baking sheet meals. For example, cut up some small potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and carrots and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper (for easy clean up) with some sausages and bake. You don’t have to do anything and it’s not super time sensitive…one minute here or there won’t matter.

    4. JediSquirrel*

      Cook huge amount on the weekend, freeze in vacuum sealer bags, and you have instant, cheap, and healthy frozen meals. Chili, tacos, lasagna, all work well this way. I just don’t feel like cooking during the week, even though I love it, and this is really useful.

      Also, Iove my slow cooker.

    5. Slartibartfast*

      Batch cooking on the weekends, heat and eat during the week. If I’m making a lasagna, I make 3 and freeze 2. Big batches of chicken for Mexican dishes or pulled pork for sandwiches in the crock pot. Also semi homemade soup and stew, start with a dry kit and add fresh ingredients. Stir fry and pasta are fairly quick. I like recipes that are 5 ingredients or less (not including spices)

    6. Nerdgal*

      I love all these suggestions.
      When my kids were little we would do Breakfast for Dinner once a week or so.

    7. Overeducated*

      Working an early schedule – I have a long commute so getting home at 5:30-6 and not an hour later is key.

      Dividing up the week – 3 nights from scratch cooking, usually weekends or work from home days; 2 nights leftovers; 1 night frozen homemade food; 1 night premade food like frozen pizza. It’s not exactly that every week, but generally close. One of us does dishes while the other covers bath time. It’s hectic some nights!

    8. Call me St. Vincent*

      We cook something that can be put over salad after the kids are asleep and eat it for dinner the next night. Also we ended up pushing bedtime later because we just don’t get home early enough to make 7:30 bedtime. Ya gotta do what ya gotta do, you know?

    9. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Solo parent for many years, including when I was in law school. Our go-to meals during the week were:

      – Something in the crock pot.
      – Pasta with sauce from a jar, with a side of frozen veggies.
      – Casserole made from crock pot or pasta leftovers.
      – Sandwiches.

      I always kept some fresh fruit and vegetables on hand as well, apples and carrots and stuff like that. Then on the weekend we’d do something more elaborate, like home-made pizza, or a soup that needs more attention than a crock pot mess.

    10. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Bear in mind I don’t have kids yet, but you and very young children don’t have to eat the same food. Kids can have an early simple dinner and then get put to bed by one parent. Parent not on bedtime duty makes dinner for both partners meanwhile. You can then have a nice adult dinner at 730 when kids are in their rooms. If the putting to bed or making dinner are considered unpleasant activities by you and your partner, then you can alternate who does which.

      1. DreamingOfCheeseburgers*

        This may be something to do once in a while – however, on a daily basis it is beneficial to kids to have the family eat dinner together every night and it is a good habit to get into when the kids are young.

        1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

          I’m sure it’s beneficial to kids to eat with parents but depending on the age. If it’s a kid <5 which the 7:30 bedtime seems to imply, it would likely be a struggle to get them to eat lasagne or chili unless you have an unusual toddler/preschooler. So if the kid is eating a piece of cheese and a few peas anyway, the parents can eat later.

          Family dinners can be introduced as the kids’ palates expand, which would also likely correspond to them having a bit later of a bedtime.

          Not sure it’s worth driving yourself nuts to eat at 6 pm when you get home at 530 just to eat at the same time as a toddler.

          1. Parenthetically*

            There are some pretty prominent child dev experts that recommend very young (<5) kiddos have simpler dinners and that major food introductions happen at non-dinner times because tiredness contributes to food rejection. So that's a factor too.

            When our kids are older, we'll have family dinners. I'm not going to bust my ass to get dinner on the table at 6 (and STILL have to deal with an angry toddler who was ready to eat an hour ago) just to continue dealing with an angry toddler while we scrape our food down our necks so we can get started on the bedtime routine.

          2. Putting Out Fires, Esq.*

            Unfortunately family dinner is how the palate expands. Monkey see, monkey do. Our toddler eats our dinner regularly. Plus I’m breastfeeding the younger one right now, so I’m the one who’s starving.

          3. L on vacation*

            I have a 2.5 and 5 y/o. They arent crazy adventurous eaters, but they’re not picky. Ask them what they want and we’d have noodles with butter every night. But we don’t. Good hits:

            Salsa “dump” chicken with either tortillas or over rice. Spicy salsa added for grown ups. Add guac if you like.

            Smitten kitchens sausage risotto. Not fast but tastes awesome reheated so make ahead.

            Chili (we make it fairly mild and add -gasp- beans bc the kids like them)

            Any kind of noodle + cheese casserole (lasagna, stuffed shells, what have you).

            Homemade chicken pot pie (make on weekend in triple batch because the whole thing is a production but a net extra pie isn’t hard-and I buy the crust). Extra veggies.

            I am pretty flexible on veggies in that the kids are offered what comes with the meal but I do allow them to swap for cucumbers, carrots, corn or broccoli- all of which I know they like and we typically have one around. They like things like asparagus if chopped up into rice, but notnstand alone.

            I’ve done some sheet pan dinners with success- one has me smiling a packet of ranch dressing mix on a sheet. Hi

    11. Anono-me*

      I try to make a big thing of rice and a big thing of beans on the weekend. I also get a lot of bags of salad. And I usually make extra when I make meet on the weekend. Add in a rotisserie chicken and we’re in pretty good shape.

    12. Parenthetically*

      Plan and shop on weekends. Prep on weekends as much as you can, even if it’s just washing your veggies and doing a bit of peeling/chopping.

      Also, this may be controversial, but we don’t eat dinner with our kid. He eats a VERY simple dinner — toast, cold cuts, cheese, an omelette, fruit, yogurt, leftovers — as soon as my husband gets home from work, goes to bed early (7ish), and then WE eat dinner when he’s in bed. We tag-team dinner prep and kid-bed-prep and sit down to eat between 7:15 and 7:45. Dinner is our time together after the chaos of the day and we really cherish it.

      This is obviously more of a long-term goal for most people, but I think one of the most important things people in a bind can do is work on building up a repertoire of 15 or so quick (or crockpot) meals they don’t need recipes for. If you can just walk into the kitchen and start cooking without having to be constantly reading/scanning/measuring/following in addition to cooking, you’re using less of your brain so getting dinner on the table is less stressful.

      I teach classes on this, and I always urge people to start by sitting down and writing down EVERYTHING the adults who cook can make without looking at a recipe, even if it’s mac and cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches and canned soup, tuna salad, spaghetti and jarred sauce, scrambled eggs and toast, etc. Start there with your meal planning.

    13. Ranon*

      We cook on weekends, leftovers during the week, eat out/ take out once a week. We eat a lot of repeat leftovers too- so weekend cooking is just three big batch meals. You can freeze and eat other week’s food from the freezer if you need more variety, or throw a pasta + sauce meal in mid- week.

    14. My Brain is Exploding*

      Agree with crockpot, planning, set aside prep time. Also we would have a meal of leftovers every once in a while (kids are grown now). Finally, we had one meal that was THE SAME every week…something everyone liked – we had Taco Tuesday for a long time. Also did pizza on Monday nights (a nearby place had a special) with salad for quite a while.

    15. CatCat*

      Meal plan and prep in advance. When we’re on top of it, we prep on Sunday (e.g., chopping things, making any dressings), which drastically cuts down on the time it takes to cook.

    16. Nita*

      Cooking on the weekend, and sometimes dinner is just a hearty soup – no main course. Also, my kids hate sleep so their bedtime routine starts at 8 PM if I’m lucky, but usually closer to 9 PM. Just enough time to eat, bathe everyone, and do a bedtime story.

  18. Shirazer*

    I have been told elderberry syrup is good for colds, so if you are feeling a bit scratchy what could it hurt to start it now and nip it in the bud?
    Personally, when I feel it coming on (especially when I am in no position to be sick), I start treating with NyQuil right away.

    1. Agnodike*

      FYI, cold remedies like NyQuil don’t treat the cold, they treat the symptoms. You’ll feel better, but since each of those symptoms is an immune response that’s helping you heal, you can get a nagging cold that drags on and on and on. Best is to use medication to help you function if you need to/rest when you can, and otherwise let your body do its work.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Is this true? I avoid taking medicine except when I absolutely have to because what you’re saying here has always been my instinct, but my husband tells me I’m wrong and that I will be happier if I spend the entire duration of a cold medicated. I need a source to show him!

        1. Parenthetically*

          The exception is mucous thinners which make it easier to cough out congestion and thus can speed recovery. Apart from that, they suppress symptoms (which is why my personal philosophy is to take them at night so I can sleep but not during the day).

          1. Actuarial Octagon*

            This was my respiratory-therapist-mother’s opinion as well. I wasn’t allowed cold medicine unless the symptoms were keeping me from sleeping. But that was in the 90s so things could have changed.

          2. Jack Russell Terrier*

            They do only treat the symptoms – but sometimes that helps you stop coughing all the time or be up all night unable to breathe. I use them to help alleviate symptoms that stop my body – and me – from getting the rest it needs to heal. I think the problems arise that people use them to *suppress* the symptoms so they can push ahead.

            I’m a great believer in what Brits call ‘inhalations’. Adding mental or something like that to hot water – I use tea tree oil. You put a towel over your head and breath in the steam / vapor. I do this for about five minutes. I do it before bed because a. it regulates my breathing and helps me relax (it’s very meditative) and b. it cleans out my sinuses (have tissues handy) and helps open out my lungs. Both of these help me get a good night’s sleep and set me up to kick the cold the curb.

        2. Agnodike*

          The following is of course not medical advice. It’s hard to accurately measure the duration of a minor viral illness, because it’s very common for some symptoms, like cough, to linger for as long as two weeks afterward, and most studies on duration rely on self-reported data. There are some studies that show that using fever reducers prolongs the duration of viral illnesses like flu, but not enough large studies to have a high degree of certainty. Basically, the hard data are inconclusive and it’s a difficult question to answer quantitatively. But we do know that fevers, runny noses, etc. are actually doing something to help the body get rid of the virus, and my own anecdotal/observational experiences support the “feels better, lasts longer” theory. Your mileage may vary, but I think with this as with all medical treatment it’s best to use cold medications sparingly, thoughtfully, and when needed only.

        3. Nita*

          Hmm. Maybe it’s individual. I don’t usually take anything other than lemon, honey and onion,, and get well very fast. Maybe staying away from fever reducers does improve my immune response. But. My husband has a weaker immune system and actually needs anti-symptom meds to get well fast. Every time – if he takes them he’s OK in a couple of days, but if he doesn’t he has a hard time getting well, often to the point of bronchitis or other complications. Either it’s placebo effect, or the meds help him rest so he can recover.

        4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          By suffering through the symptoms, it adds more stress to your body. Your body heals fastest when you’re sleeping, when you’re not TRYING to use your limited energy to do life things.

          Clear liquids and rest is the way to push it out of your system faster. Meds are good if they’re assisting in your resting. But Dayquil to power through work will just make it drag on. Nighttime cold meds are much better.

          My colds rarely lag and are few and far between and I’m a huge cold meds fan.

      2. NP*

        Yes to this! This is not official medical advice and you should speak to your own provider (must always insert this disclaimer haha), but as a provider who myself works in primary care, all cold medications are simply treating symptoms. They do not shorten the course of anything. Cough suppressants in general can lengthen symptoms when a cough is still junky because as much as it ruins your day, you need to coughing and clearing out that mucus rather than letting yourself be set-up to have a lingering viral cough for ages or pneumonia. I would not prescribe any cough suppressants until a cough becomes dry and hacking or has lasted greater than 2 weeks.

        And to answer the original question, outside of a balanced diet, rest, adequate hydration, getting your flu vaccine, and washing your hands, and limiting contact with those that are sick, there’s nothing, including supplements that have shown in any study to prevent getting sick during cold/flu season.

      3. Indie*

        Yeah when doctors reach for a
        prescription pad I now say “Will this heal me faster?” More often than not they have just assumed I don’t have time to be sick or I don’t have the patience to be even a tiny bit uncomfortable. Usually it’s a symptom masker, and a lot of the time we have symptoms linked to healing or accurately marking our progress. I did say ok to this practice though when I was generally well except for dizzy spells as it allowed me to drive safely. Otherwise, I’d rather have symptoms than side effects.

  19. The Other Dawn*

    This will be long, so I’ll post the TLDR up front: My friend–I’ll call her Mary–is someone who always puts everyone else’s needs before her own and is a giver, often to her detriment. She always feels like she needs to rescue people. She’s nearing 50 and feels very stuck in her life, both in terms of work and home. How can I help her with making an action plan to finally feel free from everything, and free to focus on herself? She has depression and is taking meds for it.

    The context: When Mary was about 20, she met a guy. He was basically homeless, but had a job at the same store she worked at. Very quickly she moved him in with her and her parents. He didn’t have a car, so almost immediately he took over her brand new car. (This happened in a span of about two months.) He was always the one who got to take it and she’s the one who got dropped off. She got pregnant about six months later and they got married before her daughter was born. They had a boy a year or two later. She always thought he was cheating, she eventually had a few affairs since she wasn’t fulfilled. The unhappiness went on for years. Finally they got divorced about three years ago. The marriage was a mistake from the beginning. She knows it, he knows it, we all know it. In fact, I tried to talk her out of it the night before her wedding. I knew she was settling because she was pregnant and felt like he’s the best she could do (she always has self esteem issues).

    Over the last few years she’s been living on her own, but in the last year her daughter, daughter’s boyfriend and the new baby moved in with her. BF is on workers’ comp and has been for most of the time he’s been living there. Daughter has a job, but it doesn’t pay well and now she’s decided to go to school. As one can image, Mary is often the live-in babysitter. Although she loves spending time with her grandson, she really just wants to go home to an empty apartment and relax for an hour after work. Most times, as soon as she gets home, BF wants to borrow the car to go get cigarettes or whatever. Daughter is still at work. And now, the ex is living with her, too. (He’s been homeless off and on since the divorce. Too much to write, but this guy cannot survive on his own, makes no effort to better himself or situation, and is always hoping for a woman to save him, Some of the situations he’s gotten himself into because of this could be the makings of a fiction novel.) And she doesn’t have a lot of help with rent and expenses right now. Oh, and she continues to keep a very toxic friend, which she’s had for 35+ years. (Mary is the giver and the friend is a the taker. They’ve done some awful things to each other over the years and I don’t know why they’re friends. Co-dependent, I guess. Had either of them done to me even one of the things they’ve done to each other, they’d had have been kicked to the curb many years ago.)

    Last night we were texting and she said she’s having a hard time with moving onto a new job (she works at the same company as me, which was acquired; she got a job with the new company and I didn’t). She said it’s not just the long commute, but that she feels stuck and doesn’t want to do what she does anymore. I get it. She’s been doing the same type of work for the same amount of time as me and her type of work can get very boring because of the same daily routines. She wants to move into something new, but salary is an issue since she needs to pay her rent and be able to live. She also hasn’t been able to find another job, so she’s stuck going to the new company in a couple weeks. She then starting saying things like, “I just want to be free of everything. I sacrifice all the time for other people, but they don’t do it for me. First Ex-husband and now the kids, when will it be my time?” I said the things I’ve been telling her for years, that she’s the only one that can change things. No one forces her to make these sacrifices, she forces herself. I said it’s her time when she decides it’s her time. There’s no magic formula and no one is going to do it for her. She has to make the effort and flip the switch in her mind. I also told her she needs to sit down and make a plan to get to where she wants to be. She agreed and said I’m absolutely right, and that she needs to stop feeling bad for people because no one feels bad for her. I also said maybe she could check into going to school and getting financial aid, downsizing her rent, things like that.

    I was thinking this morning that this is going to be like every other time. She listens to what I say, agrees and then nothing changes and she’s still feeling stuck. (And I get it, It’s so hard to just flip the switch and finally put things into action when you’re feeling so stuck all the time.) So, it occurred to me that she’s feeling so stagnant that she likely doesn’t even know how to start an action plan, or even have the motivation to make one. Rather than continuing to tell her the same things over and over, I should help her with a plan. So how do I go about doing that? I’ve always been someone who decides I want something and then I just do it. I have tunnel vision while I’m working on it and I don’t let things get in my way. I just decide, “Ok, X is going to happen” and then I make it happen. I don’t usually have any doubts that X will happen. So I’m struggling with how to help her since I know it is much more difficult for her given her nature, her confidence and self esteem issues and depression.

    1. Agent J*

      I think Mary could use help setting and keeping boundaries. No one is helping her because she doesn’t require it and she’s waiting for the family to do it for her because she’s done it for them…but if that was going to happen, it would have happened by now.

      If she wants free time after work, she should have it. If she doesn’t want the ex-husband living with her, she can ask him to leave. I know everything isn’t that simple but sometimes we deny ourselves what we want because of what we feel like we need to / should do for people who are depending on us.

      I feel for Mary as a person who had trouble establishing some similar boundaries with my family. There are some great books out there that can help. (I really like Boundaries but it skews toward Christians as it was written by two Christian psychologists. There are others that aren’t faith-based.)

      You sound like a caring and compassionate friend. I wish you both the best.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I think some book recommendations would be really helpful. We’re winding down our departments at work and have a huge amount of downtime, so she could read it at work without interruption. I’d love to buy one for her.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I have read boundaries books by the two Christian psychologists. I found them very helpful in learning to describe where my boundary line is. If you google boundaries books, you find dozens, I think that if you pick with your friend’s situation in mind your choice will probably be the best one. They usually let you read a snippet from the book, too.

          I had a friend who joined an alcoholics support group, she pointed out to me that you don’t have to have a drinker in the house in order to have a similar family dynamic as the family of an alcoholic. I never thought about that but I read some and this made so much sense to me.

          For yourself, please decide on your own boundaries. I had a family member who would tell me about X problem and all the different problems it caused. I noticed after a few years that FM never did anything about X and the resulting problems kept multiplying like bunnies. Now this is a highly educate person who reads everything all the time. FM reads to exclusion of living life, just my opinion and that is a comment on my story not yours. However, nothing changed. One morning I woke up, got out of bed and realized I had been listening to complaints about X and sub-Xs for 30 years. I decided I was done.

          FM misses me and tells me that. “No doubt in my mind. I was your enabler for decades, now you have to face the music.” At some point we stop helping people and we are unwittingly allowing them to remain in their situation.

          I learned my lesson. Your friend will have to learn her lesson. Because of the extent of the problem here, this might involve a professional to actually help your friend. My husband and I used to refer to it as “people who collect birds with broken wings”. Sometimes, not always, what is running in the background is that the collector is hoping to heal the bird’s wings and then expecting the bird to rescue the collector in sheer gratitude. Very seldom does it play out that way in real life. The raw truth is she is the only one who can rescue herself. And this how life actually works. No one can help us until we start to help our own selves.

          1. The Other Dawn*

            I’ll admit that last night when she said that she has to stop feeling bad for people because they don’t feel bad for her, I told her I’m at the point where I don’t feel bad for her anymore. I empathize, but I’m beyond feeling bad for her. I’ve listened to this for years and I’m so, so tired of it. Not so tired I’d dump the friendship, but I tend towards not really giving her advice anymore. There’s only so many times I can say what I said above.

            1. WellRed*

              Bravo for saying that to her. That must have been hard. The thing is, Mary doesn’t actually want your advice. She wants to vent and she probably wants you to wave the same magic wand the others in her life seem to think exists and make it all better.

    2. Shirazer*

      You could be right… she doesn’t know how to break the cycle. Tell her how you do it (as you illustrated in your post). Buy her a book if you think she might read it.
      I wasn’t like Mary but my issue was I didn’t really know how to make big changes in my life when I was younger. I would often just dive into whatever presented itself. Fortunately, it worked out, but there were times it could have gone very astray. Part of why it worked out is I figured out (from listening to other people) that I needed to make a plan instead of just jumping in. Or at least make a plan once I got there!
      You are a good friend… please keep encouraging Mary.

    3. WellRed*

      Other people will have better advice but I am so struck by how her daughter is following the same pattern modeled by her mother. At the absolute very least (after telling the ex to move out), Mary should stop loaning her car to the slacker. If he crashes it, who will pay for the damage? I am assuming her insurance is good enough to cover him as a driver. Maybe she should just not go home after a work a few nights a week for an hour or so and leave them to fend for themselves (and break the car borrowing cycle). I realize none of this is simple.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yes, her daughter is completely following the same pattern with her boyfriend and Mary followed with her ex husband. Daughter and BF have been on again off again for several years, he’s a recovering drug addict and Mary doesn’t think he’s quite sober at the moment, and daughter is settling just like Mary did when she got married all those years ago. A few weeks ago I was talking to Mary about the toxic friend and I pointed out that they’re the poster children for a co-dependent relationship. She wasn’t quite sure what that meant so I sent her a link. She came back and said she definitely sees herself in that–she’s the giver and toxic friend is the taker. She also said she realizes the daughter is in a co-dependent relationship with BF and is following in Mary’s footsteps. It seemed to be a light bulb moment for her, but these light bulb moments always happen and then…nothing.

    4. fposte*

      I think you’re at high risk of Marying Mary here. You can’t want this more than she does.

      Mary is doing a very human thing. She’s making the choices she believes to be right and loving, and when they don’t get her what she wants, she doubles down, excuses, and blames rather than making different choices. Why she’s making those particular choices is individual, but there’s a huge cultural (and, of course, religious) strand that says self-sacrifice, especially female self-sacrifice, is noble and it will make everyone love and admire you. (When you get sucked into that it’s easy to miss the part where everyone only loves and admires you after your violent death.)

      I would give it one more explicit go. “Mary, I feel for you; I know even if you’re unhappy with your life and relationships it’s hard to change what you’re doing. But right now all we talk about are things that make you unhappy but you won’t change, and I’m talked out on that. I will give you my full support whenever you make a change, and here are some resources that you might find helpful in doing so. But the conversation cycle we’ve been in isn’t good for either of us, so we’re going to need to find other things to talk about than the unchanging situation.

    5. Aphrodite*

      It sounds like when you set a goal that you internalize the steps needed to get there. Not everyone can do that, and Mary hasn’t apparently had any experience breaking a goal down into concrete steps. So rather than let her agree with you, ask her what she wants. While you are with her and with your encouragement, but not your help, let her create 1-3 goals under certain categories like work, savings, travel, home and list those. She may have more but I’d suggest she start with no more than three in each category. Pick one and only one to start. She then needs to list the steps she needs to take to get from where she is now to where she wants to be. You can agree or point out issues that might make a certain step impossible to attain but you should not suggest any or come up with any ideas. Mary needs to discover her own. For example, if she wants to live alone so she has a nice quiet place to come home to after work then she might decide she tells her ex-husband that he needs to move out in two weeks. Give him a firm date and ignore all whining. He also needs to have his stuff packed two days before that date. Then once he is gone she can choose another step like cutting off the car use to the kid. And so on.

      Now this won’t work if she can’t make herself do this, but that’s her problem. She’s the one creating the problems (well, not entirely) and she is the only one who can come up with the solution/steps she needs and is able and willing to do to get beyond them. You play the supportive friend but don’t help. Her agreement with your suggestions means for her that it’s (again) giving over control to another (you).

      It’s not easy and it sounds like it might be very, very difficult for her. Maybe even impossible unless she gets professional therapy. But at least you can step out of the role of solution finder which is where you are now and into the role of supportive friend. I wish you and her luck!

    6. Koala dreams*

      Sometimes people just like to daydream. You seem to be a very “just do it” kind of person, but other people might want to just dream a bit. Maybe the dream will change into a plan in the future, but not right now. It sounds like your friend is just in the daydream stage, not the planning/doing stage, and the nicest you kan do for her is just to listen, say “that sounds nice” at the right moments, and show your interest by asking her questions, such as “If you had an empty apartment, what would you be doing?”.

      Later, when she has started planning (if she does), you can offer to help by asking more targeted questions. “What could you do to get an empty apartment?” “Which is the first step?” “What do you want to say to your daughter?”

    7. Not A Manager*

      I’m sorry to say this, but this is Mary’s circus and Mary’s monkeys. I think you really need to keep that in mind.

    8. ..Kat..*

      I don’t think you can do this for Mary. She has to do it for herself. Instead of listening and then giving opinions and advice, try asking her what she is going to do to better her life and solve her problem. She has a routine of being a martyr/doormat, and then complaining to you. (She is also a huge time suck for you.) I know that this sounds harsh, but Mary has to want to make the necessary changes AND actually make the necessary changes. A therapist may be able to help her.

    9. Wishing You Well*

      Stop trying to rescue Mary. You already know what her pattern is. Assume NOTHING will ever change and act accordingly. You can ask her to stop complaining to you, if you choose. You can limit your time with her, if you choose. You’re in a never-ending cycle yourself and it would be healthier for you to change YOUR behavior.
      It’s sad, I know.
      I have relatives who will never help themselves. I love them dearly, but it’s best to acknowledge what I cannot change and work from that reality.
      I am sorry.

    10. Amerdale*

      I don’t think you can help her much more than you are already doing; and you are already a great friend to her.
      The only possible thing that I can think of might be to encourage her to seek out therapy / professional counseling. But she is the one who has to become active to change the situation.

  20. Agent J*

    What are some of the unofficial rules of the AAM commentariat? How would you recommend a new person to join in commenting?

    I recently discovered AAM a few months ago and find the threads and content super valuable. As a younger professional and new to AAM, I sometimes hesitate to offer opinions for fear of not jelling with the group or knowing established norms by long-time readers and commenters. I also know Alison works hard to moderate the comments and want to help others without causing her a headache. :)

    1. Not So NewReader*

      You could preface a few comments with, “New to commenting here…..”. I have seen people do that and I did my own version of that.

      Try to keep in mind that many people read here because they can learn about other people’s experiences and their opinions in a community where basic respect is of top importance. This means that people can talk about difficult subjects, remain respectful and learn from each other. In my mind the “jelling” is the respect, it’s the glue that holds everyone together and keeps us reading.

      It’s interesting to watch. I have seen people ask what they felt were pretty basic work or life questions and it ended up being a very long thread of discussion with several people commenting, “Oh I did not know about A or B! I am so glad this person asked this question, I thought I knew about this topic and I don’t!” I think after respect the next common characteristic people have here is a sincere desire to learn.

    2. Washi*

      Based on this comment, I don’t think you’re likely to do my pet peeve, which is respond snarkily to a genuine question without even really answering it :) I think as long as you’re trying to be thoughtful and open to learning, as Not So NewReader says, you will do fine!

    3. Blue_eyes*

      As posts have garnered more and more comments, it’s more important to stay on topic. Often there are lots of fun digressions to be had, but Alison has been asking people to keep it on the topic of the letter.

      I think as long as you are sincere, offering advice in good faith, and willing to admit when you’re wrong, you’ll be fine. The fact that you even thought to write this comment tells me that you’re probably fairly self-reflective and unlikely to make rude or snarky comments. It’s fine to disagree as long as you keep it respectful and assume best intentions from other commenters.

    4. Glomarization, Esq.*

      The thing I try to avoid doing is to chime in with what’s essentially a “me, too!” comment, whether it’s something that repeats what’s already very clear in Alison’s answer, or which a million people (or even just a couple of people) have already said.

    5. fposte*

      While there are definitely things commenters can do to rile people, I think there’s less of a cohesive group to jell with than it may feel like. Some people comment occasionally, some people comment late, some comments develop into exchanges, and a lot don’t.

      I think “be kind, stay on-topic, and follow the site’s commenting rules” are pretty solid as guidelines. And generally, even if you misstep, a quick apology or an acceptance of a comment prune (I’m a sucker for digression, so when a thread is deleted for doing off topic, I’m often right up in there) are sufficient to mollify people.

      I’d also consider “assume good faith” and “don’t take things personally.” Those are good both for responses to the OPs and discussions with commenters.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes, this is great.

        I’d like to avoid cliquishness here (it’s one reason why lengthy diversions about insider-type jokes make me uncomfortable; they’re fun for the people participating, but not a great signal to newcomers), and I don’t want you to feel like you have to jell with the group. Contribute your thoughts, and as long as you’re kind, on-topic, and following the commenting rules, you’re fine. Don’t feel like you have to agree with what others are saying, either. People might disagree with you, but that’s okay (assuming people are polite about it). It’s pretty boring when everyone agrees.

        I guess one “unofficial” thing that I can think of beyond that is — if you’re not speaking from a place of expertise on a particular topic, it’s good to flag that. Definitely still contribute your opinion, but be cognizant of stuff like this:

        Not great: “Of course you can drink at work as long as your work is still getting done.”
        Much better: “In the two offices I’ve worked in, it was okay to have a drink at work.”

        (Silly example, but basically that.)

        1. Lost*

          Captain Awkward has a link to a fan-made glossary of terms from her blog (like “Jedi Hugs” and “Darth Vador boyfriend”). Maybe you could add a list of insider-joke terms somewhere for the newbies.

            1. Sled dog mama*

              See that’s one of the things I love here. You can, as a new person, say I don’t understand the Hanukkah Balls reference and you’ll six links to the post explaining before Alison approves the first one with a link.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                I love watching that. People want others to feel included. This is nothing that a person could make into a website rule, it’s something people do voluntarily because they want to do it.

    6. Eleanor Shellstrop*

      Thanks for asking this Agent J, I’m new to commenting as well and would love to hear these answers! :)

  21. Goose Lavel*

    I’m in the bay area and it is currently raining like a mofo at 4am. Who else is currently getting pounded?

    1. Have dragon, will quest in exchange for hummus*

      Got 6 inches of snow earlier this week in upstate NY. Going to warm up into the 40s and 50s this weekend tho.

    2. CAA*

      Here in the farthest corner of So Cal, we have some breaks in the clouds where the sun is peeking through. I guess the storm either slowed down or shifted to the north because the current forecast is for a dry morning after they said all week that we’d be drenched all day today.

    3. New Bee*

      Also (East) Bay, and it woke me up around the time you posted, but I was able to do my grocery shopping at 3 stores and go for a walk with minimal rain, so I’ll take it (especially after talking to my parents in Chicago!).

      1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

        Also East Bay. It was rough – I was praying that the wind wouldn’t tear or wreck any part of the storage tents where the remnants of part of hubby’s hoard live.

        Was gratified to see them still standing this morning. (Last winter had tears in the roof and end wall of the big one, so El Nino did a number on them). Plans progress to divest.

        1. New Bee*

          I’m glad it was OK! The last big storm a few weeks ago knocked down a small (but not that small) tree in front of our building…right on top of two cars.

          1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

            UGH! In the far corner of the back yard is a >80 year old tree…. it loses limbs but I have nothing parked near it. Fear it coming down entirely, though, as it would take out part of the garage….

            So I hear you. Every time the wind is horrible, I think about the trees uprooting. So many dry years, and now saturation….

  22. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    Mattress migraine/offgassing help needed!
    The Tulo memory foam mattress we ordered arrived noon yesterday we slept on it 10 pm. I woke up with a terrible migraine (from mattress being new?) and had to sleep on the couch for the rest of the night.
    Should we:
    1. Return the mattress immediately and get a spring mattress instead?
    2. Not sleep on the mattress for a week then try again once new fumes are gone?

    It’s a really comfy mattress, but I’m getting migraines from the fumes :((( Also, I just read about memory foams being potentially carcinogenic…eek!

    What would you do? Hubs slept fine but I had to move to the couch.

    1. Quandong*

      I’m very sensitive to offgassing from lots of things, I’m very sorry your new mattress triggered a migraine for you.

      My suggestions are to check whether other people have discussed this in their reviews of new memory foam mattresses before you decide whether to return it or not. Then compare with reviews of new spring mattresses too.

      If you haven’t looked at websites for people with chemical sensitivities, allergies, and migraines, you might like to see if any have recommendations for products to buy and which products to avoid.

      I hope some other posters have more concrete advice. Best wishes!

    2. Pharmgirl*

      It doesn’t sound like it had much time to air out. Were there any instructions? I ordered a foam mattress topper which they recommended airing out for 24-48 hours. I would imagine you would need to air out an actual mattress even longer. I would try option 2 and see how that works.

      1. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD*

        It had 10 hrs to air out. After some discussion, hubs and I decided we’re returning it and getting a spring mattress and bedframe sometime. (I woke up 3 am dizzy with a bad headache from fumes and if we open our windows in this weather to air out the mattress, our pipes will freeze.)

        1. Not All*

          10 hours isn’t nearly enough IME. I’ve never ever seen one that recommended less than 24 hrs, and most recommend a couple days. If the room itself isn’t well ventilated, then it needs even longer.

          (Not trying to talk you out of returning it…personally I hate sleeping on memory foam & only have them in guest rooms because that’s what family requested…just letting you know that if you thought it was comfortable one day of off-gassing isn’t anywhere close to enough to judge.)

          1. tangerineRose*

            Yeah, I bought a mattress topper, and it took a long time to air out. I ended up mostly keeping it in the guest room until it no longer had that “lotsa chemicals” smell.

        2. Lilith*

          We had to let our memory foam air out for a month. It was recommended to air for a week or 10 days but it was so stinky –ugh! We put books between the mattress & box spring in order to get air flow. It was May/June so Windows were left open. A week just would not have been enough. That’s a lot of surface area to offgas.

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I’d leave it longer, and in fact wouldn’t have slept on it after 10 hours. I’m considering a similar mattress, and if I do get one I plan to let it off-gas for 2-3 days before I sleep on it (assuming instructions aren’t for longer).

    4. Ranon*

      If you’re that sensitive, I would return and shop for a mattress that is green guard gold certified, green guard is a third party certifier that measures voc content in lots of things, including mattresses. Something that thick could be off-gassing for a while and if it’s really bothering you it’s not worth keeping.

      1. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD*

        Thanks–this is super helpful!
        Yup, we decided if it was creating this much of an issue (me waking up 3 am with a severe migraine, and dizziness) it just wasn’t worth keeping (plus it was really frightening, I felt like I was poisoned in my own bed). We’re going shopping for a mattress tomorrow and testing them in person so we’ll definitely take note of this!

  23. BeanCat*

    I had my first MRI yesterday and discovered yes, I am definitely claustrophobic. I’m 90% sure what they were looking at will turn out to be nothing, but I was really scared and uncomfortable. It’s frustrating that I generally take care of myself and my body still decides to do what it wants.

    1. Rosie M. Banks*

      Oh man, I had to have an MRI some time ago, and I couldn’t get through it at all. I had to reschedule at a different hospital with a bigger/more open MRI, and I did manage to get through it the second time. I had no idea that I had any kind of claustrophobia! While waiting for the second appointment, I read up about the issue on the internet, and discovered that lots and lots of people have similar problems. I hope your test turns out well!

      1. BeanCat*

        The only issue I had with closing my eyes was if I did open them again, I’d get disoriented. The line down the middle looked to be moving. But I hadn’t tried before; maybe I’ll try that if I have another. Thank you!

      2. Its all good*

        Ask the techs for a washcloth or eye mask. No matter how much I try my eyes will open unexpectedly and then I freak (only happened once).

    2. Enough*

      I had to take medication. And definitely can’t go in head first. And as I am overweight I need a machine at least large enough I don’t touch the sides. For me the big issue was having no space above my face.

      1. Jaid*

        Ask around for an Open MRI. I know that are Upright MRI’s around, too, ones that you can sit up in.

    3. CurrentlyLooking*

      taking Valium or other anti anxiety meds is really common for people getting MRIs. Just tell doc you have clausterphobia and would like a pill.

      1. BeanCat*

        The problem was I had told my doctor and he said they’d be able to do that. But when I arrived for the test, they wouldn’t give me anything because my doctor hadn’t prescribed it. There was a disconnect somewhere, but I think it would have helped me.

      1. BeanCat*

        I wish they had been able to give me something – I guess my doctor and the hospital didn’t talk, and I couldn’t come back if it meant more time off work. I definitely know to request it earlier next time!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Yeah, they have those big open ones. I looked them up for something I was writing and they were pretty cool. It looked like you still have to put your head in something if you’re having a brain scan done, but the sides aren’t closed in.

        1. dawbs*

          I’ve had both, and my docs say the picture quality is the same.
          But instead of a coffin sliding into the escape pod/stasis chamber of bad sci fi, it’s more like a gurney going through a stargate.
          It’s stillaround you, but you never feel trapped.

    4. Bluebell*

      I’ve been prescribed Valium before and they put a cloth over my eyes. I did a lot of practicing yoga breathing and they gave me nice calm music to listen too. Hopefully you won’t need another MRI for a long time.

      1. BeanCat*

        They let me listen to music – “soft rock”, they said. “My entire middle school playlist,” said I. It did honestly help even if I could barely hear it over the machine.

    5. LadyGrey*

      Not claustrophobic myself, but one thing that helped me when I had to be MRI’d was meditation/ mindfulness, either when you get worried or the entire time.
      I hope your results are good news!

      1. BeanCat*

        That’s also a good idea – I think if I had to have another now that I know what’s coming I could focus on doing mindfulness. Thank you so much!

    6. Windchime*

      I was very surprised to find out just how claustrophobic I was when I had an MRI last year. They started putting me in and I was overtaken with an animal panic and said, “Get me out! Get me out!” It was really awful. The technician was really understanding. I got some xanax and was sent to a different facility that had a bigger MRI machine. Even so, I still felt panicky and my sister had to come in with me and hold my hand during the whole thing.

      1. BeanCat*

        Oh, I’m so sorry. That sounds so awful, but I’m glad they were able to help you at least a bit. Your technician sounds awesome!

    7. Kuododi*

      Oh feeling your pain!!! I have had MRI a handful of times in the past for various reasons. Typically I haven’t had any problems with anxiety, however the most recent time I lost my s**t. Fortunately where I live, there’s an open air MRI available. I was put through that machine and it was like night and day!!!! For me it also was helpful that the technician would come over the speaker and tell me what he was doing throughout the process. (“Ok ma’am I am scanning X area and it will take approximately 3 min”). Hang in there!!!

    8. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I listen to a lot of experimental electronic music and was oddly soothed by the sound the machine was making. I thought the technician was pumping the music in but guess not! My shoulders are quite broad so I was a little afraid I wasn’t going to fit, or have a panic attack as I had heard other people having in the past, but it seemed tolerable.

      1. BeanCat*

        The sounds of the machine actually reminded me of Atari games after a while! Experimental electronic sounds interesting too.

      2. Jaid*

        I just about fell asleep in the MRI when I had to go! My only discomfort was the cheap crunchy foam earplugs they give you…it was irritating my ears and making me cough. We ended up using torn-up Keelenx instead.

    9. Middle School Teacher*

      Interesting. I’m having one in about six weeks and I didn’t even think of that. I’m more worried about having to remove my piercings (I’m nervous about one in particular… I might have to go to a pro shop) and what they might find.

  24. Kate Daniels*

    I finished watching all of Marie Kondo’s Tidying Up episodes and really hope there will be more to come! I wish I knew where to find cute boxes of all different sizes like she’s always bringing as gifts. Does anyone have any recommendations for other good cleaning/organizing shows?

    1. DreamingOfCheeseburgers*

      I think she recommends reusing boxes (ie: free ones) when you can like shoe boxes. Especially when you are first tidying up – you try out the organization techniques and how to implement them before you buy anything.
      Some of the boxes she uses on the show (at least in the first couple of episodes) look like they may have been boxes that something like perfume or other gift type items come in.

      1. Parenthetically*

        We definitely make every effort to reuse boxes we already own. Sometimes just not having the budget for a “fancy” box can be the one thing that stops me from finishing the task of organizing!

        1. LadyGrey*

          I’m reorganizing on a budget, so I’ve been repurposing old boxes and decorating them with wrapping paper or magazine cuttings- it’s definitely helped me clear out my paper stash!

          1. Parenthetically*

            I do have a container of mod podge, so wrapping paper decorating is not out of the question!

    2. OperaArt*

      Decluttering shows were popular in the early-to-mid 2000s, with maybe 5 or 6 of them airing at the time. I watched all of them. Peter Walsh, one of the hosts, is easy to find on YouTube. Mostly short videos.

      I’m hoping that the popularity of Marie Kondo’s show will spark new shows in this genre.

      1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

        Second this, particularly Dollar Tree. They sell lots of cute gift boxes and home organizer bins, for $1 each, as well as gift wrap and gift bags.

        For home organizing, Home Depot sells a lot of the same brands/styles of bins as The Container Store, but cheaper.

    3. Ron McDon*

      I bought some ‘boxes’ from Ikea last year.

      They are just the right depth to go in a drawer so it still closes (very important), but what sold me on them is that they fold flat.

      They are made of a canvas type material, have a zip on the bottom, and are folded flat when bought (i think it was a pack of 6, in various sizes).

      You open it up, close the zip, and then they are sturdy little boxes. They don’t have lids, but have been great for keeping my drawers organised.

    4. Ann O.*

      Doesn’t she sell a line of boxes?

      I’m slowly shifting towards a more KonMari inspired approach to clutter, and I found some cute boxes and baskets just at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      How about related books? For self-help, “Decluttering at the Speed of Life” by Dana K White. For a description of life with hoarder parents, “Coming Clean : A Memoir” by Kimberly Rae Miller.

    6. Jane Matthews*

      I like ClutterBug on Youtube. Her talk about different organisation styles really opened my eyes!

  25. Thrown into the fire new manager*

    Seems like a good place to ask. I had my gall bladder removed and gained some weight really fast and unexpectedly. I never thought about my wedding ring and don’t take it off but now that i notice it, I am wondering how I can get it off? Does anyone have experience with gaining weight around a ring?

    If I cant slide it off, who do I go to to try to have it cut off? I thought I could lose the weight but that isnt working so well!

    1. Llellayena*

      A doctor’s office or ER might have the tool to cut the ring off. Before that you can try sliding it off with oil/butter or something. I’d try near the end of the day, I’ve noticed that my fingers tend to swell a little overnight (oops, left a ring on) and it might be harder to get the ring off on the morning. Once it’s off, you might be able to get it resized at a jeweler.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I’ve noticed it definitely helps if your hands are cold. When my hands are cold, my rings can easily slide right off. When they’re overly warm, or when I wake up, I have to tug to get my rings off.

        1. Rebecca*

          I was just going to suggest this. I really have to watch my rings when my hands are cold as they almost drop off. In the summer, sometimes I don’t wear them at all because they’re uncomfortably tight. Maybe soak your hand in cold water, then use a lot of hand cream and you’ll be able to work it off?

    2. ADKay*

      I know this sounds weird, but spray your ring finger with Windex, then try sliding the ring off. That was a tip I learned from a jeweler.

    3. Lcsa99*

      Dental floss. Wrap it around the finger as tight as you can stand up till about the knuckle, then you should be able to pull it off

    4. chi chan*

      Also try holding your hand above your head for a few minutes, this will cause blood to drain from the limb and the ring will come off.

    5. Blue_eyes*

      Get your hand cold to reduce swelling. Try lubricating it with oil, soap, or windex as others suggested. If that doesn’t work, wrap dental floss around your finger a bunch of times fairly tightly. Keep wrapping until you are close to the ring – the wrapping compresses your finger and forces fluids back into your hand long enough to get your ring off. If none of that works, go to the doctor’s office or ER.

      One of my coworkers is pregnant and she forgot to take off her rings as she started retaining fluids and she got to the point that none of the home remedies would work. Our handyman was in the office one day and he cut it off for her with a Dremel drill! Right at our desk!

    6. GeekMom*

      Most jewelers should be able to do this. I had mine cut off by a jeweler and then left it to be resized.

    7. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      Do a youtube search on ‘removing ring with string’. I gained a bunch of weight and this was how I was able to remove my ring. I think that i used thin yarn or embroidery floss, but I don’t remember.

    8. Old Biddy*

      Try the soap or lotion/cold tricks, then put your hand down by your side with your hand and fingers loosely bent but relaxed (imagine reaching into the cupholder of your car) – that’s when my rings tend to slide off most frequently. My wedding band is currently stuck somewhere underneath the seat of my car for this reason ;-) (Cold night, carrying cold soda, got into car and put cold soda into cupholder…) Good thing hubby bought me an anniversary ring that actually fits.

    9. LadyGrey*

      Use the thread trick- use a needle carefully to get funded the ring,, then use that to slowly slowly spin the ring around your finger and off. It may take quite a while to do- be patient and take breaks if you get impatient. Good luck!

    10. Thrown into the fire new manager*

      Thank you everyone! I used cold, raised my hand up, my thumbnail helped move it up. Pain and a purple finger later, my ring is off! For now on, I will recommend to every one to remove rings monthly. I was really worried about finding how to cut it off if needed

      1. Marthooh*

        Thanks for the update, new manager! I was getting worried as I read through some of the more drastic-sounding remedies. A Dremel drill, yikes!

      2. Wishing You Well*

        Now that the ring is off, I recommend getting a stretchy silicone ring. I wear one to avoid the possibility of cutting off my original ring. The silicone rings are safer when working with power equipment, also.
        Glad you’re free!

    11. Mephyle*

      Whether you use the string trick, cold, or lubrication, or some combination of these, relax your finger. It’s natural to be tense when you’re concerned about getting the ring off, but tense finger muscles make your finger stiffer and wider. Sometimes relaxing your finger can make the crucial difference when you’re almost there but not quite.

  26. Rebecca*

    Wow, it’s time consuming to go through all these name changes! It wasn’t so complicated back in the mid 1980’s, that’s for sure!!

    Still slogging through the name change morass, one thing at a time! This week, I managed to update all but one medical office, got a new passport photo and mailed my passport book plus name change request to the State Dept (via 3 day letter service with tracking, and yes, they got it), car insurance, Triple A, and remaining credit cards. I already received one new credit card in the mail, awaiting the others. Now I’m working on store loyalty cards, things like that. I hope by the end of February the last vestige of my former name will be a bad memory.

    Had an issue with my bank; a week ago Friday I “faxed” a scan of my updated DL and SS# card through our virtual fax number at work (who has a machine any longer??), no updates this week, I got busy, and when I checked yesterday and they hadn’t received it. I asked a trusted coworker to look at it, and she said I didn’t put a “1” in front of the number, so she tried it with the “1” and my bank got it. My other option was to mail the documents and I didn’t want to do that as I’d have to pay for tracking at the very least. Not really keen on sending docs like that through normal mail. I’m going to suggest they update their site to accept uploaded documents securely. **it’s a credit union, the main branch is nearly 2 hours away, so I didn’t want to drive to there either :) Saw an email on my account this AM & they said it should be done by Tuesday, so I can order checks and put that behind me, too.

    I talked to my sister in law this week. She has leukemia, and was in remission, then not, now is again, but her blood results were marginally better this time. I don’t understand it totally but wow, she told me how expensive the chemotherapy and meds would be without insurance, and I was stunned – $13K/treatment for chemo and the prescriptions – I think she said $7K/month (?). She’s not able to work, but her husband has insurance through his job, and the deductible isn’t too bad, so they’re doing OK. I worry about her. And yes, we stay in touch, she said she always will think of me as her sister in law regardless of what an idiot her brother is.

    And I noticed my Comcast bill went up – again!! Backstory: when I left my husband and moved in with my friend, I ordered cable again in Oct 2017. I signed up for Xfinity Triple Play, at the introductory rate $99/month plus all the fees, so around $118/month with a 24 month contract, and if I canceled within the 24 months, I’d owe a fee based on how many months early I canceled. Fast forward to Sept 2018, 11 months later, I moved to my Mom’s. Called Xfinity, arranged the move, they hooked it up, etc. and I noticed I had different channels and fewer channels than the day before. I called. They told me the package no longer existed, so to get the channels I actually wanted to watch, I’d have to pay more. I brought up the whole 24 month contract, and they said, oh, that doesn’t count…package doesn’t exist, so we don’t have to honor it. I was fuming. I am still not happy about it, but football season is over, so now I’m going full tilt into finding streaming options for sports and I’m going to get this bill under control. It’s now almost $140/month, and I watch literally 5 channels tops. The big problem is my mother. She watches TV a lot, and can’t understand even the basic Xfinity remote, so streaming with a smart TV won’t work for her. We also have Verizon here, so I’m going to investigate their choices.

    Major gripe here is that Oh, here’s a contract, and if you cancel, we can charge you, but you moved 6 miles away, so we can hike up the price and not honor the contract. This is why people don’t like cable companies!!

    And our Punxutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow this morning, so early Spring everyone! Once the ice goes away here, I have a 6 mile hike planned through the state forest that I can see from my bedroom window :)

    1. KR*

      Ugh that so stinks with the cable company. They’re such rip offs – I’m so glad streaming services are starting to put them on their toes.

    2. Gatomon*

      I still have a few things that I need to change my name on! It’s been almost a year for me. I took half a day off right after to start changing things, but vastly underestimated how long it would take, even with the places I knew I would have to go in person. I didn’t think I’d still have stragglers at this point. My passport is a big one since it’s expired and I have to go get new pictures taken.

      Does Comcast/Verizon still offer a basic cable package? I know Charter still has it on their rate card, but I’m not sure how on earth you go about getting it. Probably involves ritual sacrifice under a full moon while the planets are aligned or something.

      Maybe you could teach her to ask Alexa to “play HGTV” or “open X app,” but you’d need to invest in Fire TV devices/Amazon for that and hope that Alexa is that smart since she might not be able to use the remote as a fallback. Not sure I’m keen on the idea, but tossing it out there.

      I think Roku is a lot easier to use overall compared to Fire TV though. I sent a Roku to my luddite parents years ago and they seemed to do fine with it, they even managed to get it set up again when they moved. They couldn’t figure out Xfinity either and were paying for a DVR that they couldn’t figure out how to use for years. I feel like the cable companies are just milking the less tech-savvy for every penny they have at this point.

      1. Rebecca*

        They do have a basic package, but the problem is my Mom (83) watches Hallmark, religious channels, QVC, and cable news. That’s about it. Once in a while she’ll watch a random movie, but not often. I like to watch NFL and college football, baseball, hockey, and Gunsmoke reruns on INSP. That’s about it, or some movies on Turner Classic Movies. I have Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, so I never run out of shows to watch. I can’t even tell you what’s on the other 100+ channels.

        I think what I need to do is figure out what channels she actually watches, then figure out what cable package or lineup I need to meet that, whether it’s Verizon or Xfinity. I can use internet to get mostly what I need, but the sports thing is a real challenge. And it wouldn’t be so bad, but we don’t get OTA signals hear due to being so far away from transmitters and the many mountains in the way. One of my workmates told me that Hulu has “channels”, but I haven’t taken the time to investigate it. I got it for $.99/month on Black Friday.

        Problem is, my Mother would not be able to navigate this. For reference, she has a flip phone and still doesn’t know how to make a call from the phone numbers I programmed for her. She carries around a piece of paper with handwritten numbers, and even at that, she seems flummoxed by it. After 10+ years.

    3. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      Keep slogging!
      + 1 on the Roku. I do have comcast for internet but dumped the $140 cable, and am doing just fine with a combo of the high def indoor antenna ($20 Amazon sale) for all the local channels, and Roku. I do have Amazon Prime and managed to snag Hulu for $.99 black friday. All in all, a good deal for the little I watch. And… I managed to figure out that basically I can stream the two stations that Mom watches non-stop, on the Roku. So… less than one month of cost and I have it free for years.
      Other hint? Check your bill…. I found the Comcast folks were charging me for the modem rental ($15/mo) . I bought one for $40 on Amazon (off the comcast list of compatible ones), and was able to hook it up…you have to be lucky in your customer service person (or firm); some will tell you it is not possible. So dropped the bill by that much for the internet. I’m still paying through the nose for that, but I have a pretty good rate compared to most and business level service (I work from home…).

      1. Rebecca*

        Good tips – I too got Hulu for $.99/month, and between Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, I always have something to watch. I usually watch the cable box if I’m watching sports, but I learned that there are Reddit streams I can pick up, and I did that last Fall several times when my NFL team was out of my area so I could watch the game.

        I need to sit down and really go over it. I have Triple Play, only because that’s what I had at my friend’s house, but I have no idea what the phone# is and I would never use it. I get random messages on the TV screen showing an incoming call from some phone# or another, scammers! I could cut back to just internet and get my own modem and that would save money. Last September I wasn’t up to fighting any of this but now I am.

        As far as Internet, Verizon has internet here, and I don’t do a lot of heavy duty usage, just normal streaming, so I might be able to pick up a total Verizon package and ditch Comcast all together. I really wish we had over the air signals here, but we don’t. And truly, they really have us in a corner with the whole sports thing. If it weren’t for that, I’d cut the whole thing, pay for internet, and that would be that.

      1. Rebecca*

        :) Thank You!! The weather is supposed to be crappy here again (SURPRISE!!) so I’ve started going through my “recipe box” of websites. I have everything documented, user names, passwords, etc. This is a good time to update my name or unsubscribe from things I haven’t used in a while. Once I have all my credit cards, I’m going to update my user names and passwords on their sites. Many times I used First Initial+Last Name +Numbers and I really don’t want that Last Name part any longer.

    4. Epsilon Delta*

      It seriously took a solid 3 months to feel confident that I had updated everything to my new last name. And for like a year I kept finding random one-off things that needed to be updated.

      If someplace is asking for a “certified” copy of your name change by mail and they’re not like the passport office or SSA, you could try sending a color photocopy (so non-certified but looks really similar). This worked for me when changing my car loan paperwork, and also my electric bill. The car loan was even super-specific when I talked to them on the phone to ask if it was really necessary to send the $25 certified copy, but I mailed the photocopy and they ended up accepting it with no issue. So either they meant that they just want a court document, or the person who did my name change didn’t catch that there was no raised seal on my paper. Worst they will do is tell you they need a certified copy not a photocopy, and then you apologize for the mix up and have to send the real certified copy.

      1. Rebecca*

        Good ideas! I noticed that the requirements for everything is different, from Oh, just call us to we need you to send every piece of documentation you have, and even then, we’re giving you the side eye.

        I’m finding the whole getting rid of my married last name has become really important to me. Now I want it gone, and I don’t want to be associated with him any longer.

  27. Washi*

    Hopefully this isn’t too work related, but my husband and I sometimes like to go to open houses for super fancy houses in our area that we have no intention of buying. Is that rude? Should we be up front with the realtor that we’re basically just looky loos?

    1. Jen in Oregon*

      Yes, tell the realtor that you are loony loos, that way they don’t waste time trying to follow up with you. We just bought a house seven months ago and we go to open houses in the neighborhood all the time. We discretely tell the realtor that we are just looking, we are new to the neighborhood and don’t put any time or effort into us. A good realtor knows that lots of people a open house creates buzz, so you being there is a good thing, especially if you parked a car out front.

      1. LCL*

        We did this too. As long as you are upfront and polite, and stay in the background when other potential buyers want to see the house it’s fine.

      2. Washi*

        Yay, glad this is the consensus! I’m pretty sure the realtors aren’t taking us seriously anyway, as a mid twenties couple looking at 10 bedroom $3+ million homes, but maybe when they ask us to sign in I’ll start letting them know explicitly.

    2. Enough*

      Did this, too. Also liked to check out houses as they were being built. When I was pregnant with number 2 I would take son to open house that the realtor we used was having and sit in a chair in the master bedroom and let him wander around the upstairs.

    3. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      This was practically a sport/weekend entertainment in the Vegas ‘burbs in the 1990s – my parents loved going through big show houses on gated estates. Hell, even I did that with friends in college in the 2000s :)

      We never said anything to anyone, and so long as we weren’t making a scene, no one minded. Usually the sales folks were more concerned with the family showing up with four screaming kids running around the place than if some college kids wanted to quietly check out some god awful McMansion before a brunch time.

  28. WellRed*

    I recently read “End of Normal” by Stephanie Madoff Mack.” She’s the wife of the son who killed himself. It was good if a bit surface level.

  29. Marzipan*

    I have just (like, half an hour ago) had embryo transfer for my double-donor IVF. One good-quality blastocyst transferred, one early blastocyst still in the lab, waiting to see if they can keep it going and get it to freeze. (This is good because I very nearly had a row with the embryologist on Thursday about why we weren’t just doing a day 3 transfer since there were only two embryos.)
    My epic inability to tolerate an even slightly full bladder was once again on full display, and I was literally hyperventilating, moaning and shaking throughout, which is deeply embarrassing. (To be fair, I did warn them; it’s just so ridiculous I don’t think they believed me.)
    Anyway. We’ll see!

    1. LibbyG*

      Fingers crossed! Oh, god. The full bladder. I was so uncomfortable once that they offered me to the chance to go to the bathroom just to let a little out. I couldn’t imagine myself succeeding with that, so I declined.

      1. Parenthetically*

        “to let a little out” HAHAHA who does that work for?! And yes, the agony of the very very full bladder!

    2. Come On Eileen*

      Good luck to you! My sister did IVF in November after being unsuccessful with artificial insemination. They implanted one embryo and it took, she’s now pregnant with a baby girl at 45 years old :-) Keeping my fingers crossed for you.

    3. Mimmy*

      Oh god, this brings back memories of when I had a transvaginal ultrasound a few years ago! They *told* me to drink a certain amount of water an hour(?) beforehand. But my appointment was delayed and I was DYING! They let me go to the bathroom halfway through, but my bladder was STILL filling up for the remainder of the test.

    4. Cat*

      Good luck!!! I’ll keep my fingers crossed and think sticky thoughts for you.

      I got my PGS results last week. Out of five embryos, two are normal – one boy, one girl. I’m really hoping one of them takes. It seems so precarious. Transfer is scheduled for March 20 and it’s a whole complicated medicated protocol. Not looking forward to the full bladder!

      Does your clinic have you do bed rest after the transfer? Mine wants 48 hours bed rest which seems like overkill to me but I don’t want to jeopardize anything.

      1. Marzipan*

        They do not, and if they ever attempted to I would be demanding peer-reviewed studies demonstrating a positive benefit before I’d agree to it. (I once spent the afternoon after transfer going around the Doctor Who Experience – the cycle was not successful but that had rather more to do with the not-great embryos. And it was certainly a better use of an afternoon than bedrest!)

        Best of luck for your transfer – and don’t let me freak you out about the bladder thing, most people are fine with it!)

      2. Valancy Snaith*

        There are several articles that actually show bed rest is counterintuitive and has a negative effect on embryos. My clinic, and most others, recommends maybe 5-15 minutes either lying or sitting down before going about your day. They do recommend you avoid work that day, but otherwise you are encouraged to go about your regular life. Walking and movement encourages blood flow to the uterus which has been shown to have a positive effect on implantation.

      3. DorthVader*

        Not a FET but an IUI- my first cycle I took it really easy for a week or so after (well, as easy as one can while nannying and caring for a brat cat). My second I went bouldering with one of my nanny kids a couple days after and was generally more active. The second is the one that resulted in my 3 month old. I’m not saying that made the difference, because there were a lot of changes between cycles, but it didn’t hurt at all!

        Best of luck to you and everyone else!!

    5. Jersey's mom*

      Marzipan, just to make you laugh- I had knee surgery a couple weeks ago. My leg is in a full length brace (like a cast) and I’m using crutches. So far, my complete awkwardness with trying to sit down has resulted in me breaking a toilet seat and the back of a recliner. My husband hasn’t replaced the toilet seat yet, so we have to warn visitors….

      Eh, this kind of body stuff happens. It’ll all make for funny stories in a few years :)

      I hope everthing goes well, and keeping fingers crossed for you!!!

      1. Marzipan*

        Ha! I once broke the toilet seat in my then-boyfriend’s shared house (I was trying not to put my feet on the floor while I was sat on it, because it was not the nicest shared house) and had to go into the living room and wait for a pause in the conversation to say “So…”!

  30. SemiRetired*

    Minor language question stemming from a recent dress code work thread. I had to look up “chinos” to find out what they are. Turns out they are what I would call slacks, or maybe khakis. Is this a regionalism? I don’t think I have ever heard anyone says “chinos” out loud…. it would be strange, like saying “dungarees” when you mean jeans. I am in the US Midwest. So is this a coastal term, or maybe I am just completely out of touch with men’s clothing? (Do women wear “chinos” too or are they just men’s pants?)

    1. WellRed*

      To me chinos are a certain style and fabric of pants and yes, I would probably say khaki instead of chinos. However, chinos are NOT slacks here in the east coast (where I am, anyway).

          1. Ann Nonymous*

            Here in California (where, of course there are a lot of Spanish speakers), the term “chinos” for that type of pants is totally used and acceptable.

          2. Ann Nonymous*

            Advice needed: a dear (but not long-term friend) is so kind and talented and generous. But her house is very messy (which is ok) BUT smells like pets. To the point that I don’t want to go over there. [Sidebar: I don’t get the nose-blindness thing once you’ve been out of the house and then return home. I mean, you can get used to a smell while you’re sitting in it, but once you’ve been out and about, can’t you smell the stench? I could always smell when the litterbox needed cleaning when I had a cat.] Anyway, now I have noticed the stink clinging to her. I would be mortified yet grateful if someone told me if I had this problem, but should I tell her? While she’s all the good things I mentioned above, she does have a few “issues” (like talking too loudly, talking about her illnesses and aches, etc.) that put some people off of her. I can only imagine the smell, which is fairly easily remedied, contributes to this. So, do I bring the bad smell up to her and if so, how?

    2. matcha123*

      I’m from the midwest and I’ve never used the word myself. I feel like it’s a trendy? word. Or, I think chinos hit you above the ankle, while slacks are longer? And slacks have a wider leg cut, but chinos are slimmer? Woman here.

      1. Marthooh*

        Chinos were trendy in the eighties, after the Preppy Handbook came out. I haven’t heard the word used much recently, but maybe they’ve come back around.

    3. Lady Jay*

      Literally the only place, besides that work thread, where I’ve seen “chinos” used was in old Lands End catalogues sent to our house. Given that Lands End is based in New England my guess is that yes, it’s a regionalism. I’m a Midwesterner & I’d call them khakis.

      1. Natalie*

        Lands’ End is actually a Midwestern company, based in Wisconsin and originally from Chicago. They probably just use “chinos” because they’re a bit of a throwback.

    4. ElspethGC*

      UK – maybe it’s my age (early 20s) but I’ve only ever heard people call them chinos. Slacks feels like an incredibly US word, and when I hear ‘khakis’ I think about the colour, not a style of trousers. (Apparently there’s a difference between chino fabric and khaki fabric.)

      1. Ron McDon*

        I’m also from the UK and when people on here talk about khakis I always imagine a green pair of trousers.

        Definitely always called chinos in the UK.

        1. Jemima Bond*

          +1 here also in the U.K. I’ve never heard them called anything else; khaki is mostly used to describe the colour of military clothing and (fun trivia coming up) although it is originally a Hindi word for “dust” (days of the British Raj) has come to mean a greener colour, conflated with what used to be called olive drab. Google images “British military number 2 service dress” shows you what I mean. Chinos are a light beige/stone colour; less brown and not at all green.
          Slacks is a word used by women over 70.

    5. Call me St. Vincent*

      I’m on the east coast and people definitely say chinos here as a synonym for khakis. I have always thought they referred to the lighter color khaki because o think khaki is actually a color itself but chino to me has always been the tan or bone colored khakis.

    6. Penguin*

      US Northeasterner here- I knew chinos were pants of some kind (thanks books!), but I’ve never actually heard someone call anything “chinos” in real life before. To me, “slacks” are any sort of dress pants while “khakis” are /probably/ tan dress pants but might also refer to non-jeans pants of a light brown color, including corduroys.

    7. gecko*

      It’s a slightly different fabric than khaki—lighter weight. Also chinos are usually cut slimmer than khakis so they’re more stylish and look more office-work-y. That said, afaik, in my region most people just call all khaki-colored pants “khakis”.

    8. CAA*

      Like Lady Jay, the word “chinos” makes me think of Lands End and I’ve also never heard anyone say it out loud. I wouldn’t call them slacks though. I think of slacks as being made from a softer fabric that drapes. Chinos or khakis are made from a cotton twill fabric. Twill is the same weaving pattern that’s used for denim, so both fabrics have a diagonal line if you look at them closely.

    9. OperaArt*

      Lyrics: “Iridescent socks with the same color shirt And a tight pair of chinos.”
      Now I’m going to have Billy Joel’s song Keepin’ the Faith stuck in my head all day.

      1. Bluebell*

        Can you replace it with Scenes from an Italian Restaurant? “Engineer boots, leather jackets, And tight blue jeans” :)

        1. Lilith*

          Midwesterner woman here, too. Chinos isn’t said around here but I’ve read it like the other posted mentioned so it must be geographically determined like soda/pop. But there is a fabric notion (ha!) to it also.

    10. Parenthetically*

      Oh huh! I guess it must be the southern influence where I live, but in my mind khakis and chinos are very much not the same thing! Khakis are in the tan family and casual, chinos are work-appropriate, come in many more colors (still usually soft or neutral), are cut more… business-y or dressy? and are made with a smoother, crisper looking fabric. But slacks would be made of suiting fabric rather than the cotton of a khaki or chino.

      1. Erika22*

        +1 As a NorCal commenter! Khakis are a heavier fabric and exclusively khaki in color. Chinos are lighter (often cotton I think), cut slimmer, and come in lots of colors. I love chinos for work as a compromise instead of wearing jeans, and they’re much nicer to wear in the summer.

    11. only acting normal*

      In the UK they’d usually be called chinos and they’re women’s trousers too.
      To be precise:
      Chino is the cotton twill fabric (originally made in China, hence the name via Spanish). Chinos are the smart-casual trousers made from the fabric.
      Khaki is the tan-ish colour common in military uniform. Khakis are (were originally) chinos of that colour, maybe more military style with lots of pockets.
      Now it seems in the vernacular (US especially) khakis=chinos.
      However, khaki (the colour) =/= chino (the cloth).

      Here endeth the etymology lesson. ;)

    12. CatMintCat*

      I’m in Australia and have never heard the word, or seen it before to notice or wonder about. I assumed it was some variety of trousers.

    13. SemiRetired*

      Later today, I remembered the term I’ve heard used for these kind of pants: dockers. Sort of like khakis but lighter colors, usually tan, not green. I think it’s a brand name.

      I realize I have heard that Billy Joel song, too, so apparently I have heard the word used. (I don’t think I noticed the lyric and if I did, I wouldn’t have been sure he meant pants.)

      And then just today, I heard it in the audiobook I am listening to. (“The Heist” by Evanovich and Goldberg…. a silly bit of detective/romcom crossover it seems, just entertaining enough to keep me awake while driving.) The bad boy protagonist is described as wearing chinos. It frankly added to my impression of him being a bit of a douche. Maybe I was better off not knowing what chinos are exactly. Can’t seem to get the image of those bright red ones from google image search out of my head. It was remarkably coincidental considering I just posted this question this morning.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        Yes, Dockers is a brand name (a Levi’s brand iirc). Bugle Boy was another popular brand back in the late 80s though I think they were mostly known for cargo pants.

        As far as I know these are all just different names for the same general type of trousers made of lightweight, mostly cotton fabric, often in some kind of beige or gray colour although plenty of other colours are available. They are the sort of casual/business casual pants typically worn by men when they don’t want to wear jeans or more formal fabrics.

    14. KayEss*

      Thirding that as a lifelong midwesterner, the only place I’ve ever seen the word Land’s End… so much so that I legitimately thought it was a brand name for their pants.

  31. cat socks*

    Sad kitty talk ahead…

    I’m at the point where I need to decide when to say goodbye to one of my cats. She’s a stray so I don’t know her exact age, but the vet estimates she is 13. A couple of years ago, she was diagnosed with kidney disease, but overall it has been well managed. The main issues were a decreased appetite and some weight loss. Last spring I enrolled her in a clinical trial for cats with CKD and was able to establish a relationship with a wonderful doctor. Her area of expertise/research is treating cats with kidney disease.

    In August, kitty got a dental cleaning and a few extractions. She did well after the surgery and even seemed to regain some of her appetite. At that time I also started her on high blood pressure medication.

    Then in October things started to go downhill. I noticed for a few days that she was acting withdrawn and had zero appetite. I took her into see the vet and it turned out she was constipated and had a kidney infection. She was hospitalized for a couple of days and put on IV antibiotics. I continued giving her antibiotics twice a day at home along with Miralax to help with her constipation issues. Unfortunately her appetite did not increase and she continued to have constipation issues. When I went to her follow up appointment, I was very upset that she was not getting better.

    The vet confirmed that kitty was constipated and would need a deopstipation procedure to clean out her colon. While she was under anesthesia, the vet suggested inserting an esophageal feeding tube. This would go into the side of her neck and down to the stomach. This would help me feed her the kidney diet prescription food to help maintain her weight while she finished up the course of antibiotics.
    It was actually a relief with the feeding tube because I didn’t have to stress about trying to get her to eat every day. And I was able to administer medications through the tube as well.

    Unfortunately after Thanksgiving she had another serious bout of constipation and was hospitalized again. They tried to use enemas and medication, but she needed another deopstipation procedure.

    After that they changed some of her medications and that helped with the constipation issues. I continued to feed her via the e-tube three times a day to help her gain weight. I tried to get her to eat on her own, but she didn’t have much of an appetite.

    Starting in January, she continued to decline. Not much of an appetite and she was not gaining weight. I had to board her while I was out of town last week for work and she was constipated again. They gave her an enema, which was successful and they increased her Miralax dosage. Unfortunately that caused diarrhea almost to the point of incontinence. I had to clean her multiple times and give her a bath.

    I went through with all those medical procedures because it seemed like they were treatable issues. The feeding tube was to help her while she was on antibiotics and the goal was to get her eating on her own again.

    All that to say that I’ve accepted the fact that she’s not going to get better. She barely eats on her own and I can feel her bones when I pet her. She spends most of her time upstairs in the bedroom and some days she definitely looks physically uncomfortable. But when she jumps only lap and starts purring, it feels like things are normal.

    I’ve heard people talk about waiting too long to euthanize an animal, but part of me is struggling with the fact that it feels too soon. I don’t quite know how to articulate it. I know her health is not going to get better. I’ve spent a lot of time, money and energy trying everything possible. She could have lymphoma, but I don’t want to put her through any more medical procedures.

    Last June, I lost my big tabby boy. He had a heart condition and passed suddenly, so I’ve never had to make this decision before.

    I’ve been in touch with her vet to let her know what I’m thinking. I want to do it on a Friday so I have a couple of days before going back to work.

    The thought of making a decision and saying “this is the day” fills me with panic. All I can think of is how everything I do with her will be the last time. How do I get through the week knowing I will be saying goodbye on Friday?

    1. The Messy Headed Momma*

      I had to make the decision to put my sweet 14 year old Lab down a few years ago. She & I were inseparable. She wasn’t suffering from anything other than just being too old. My vet helped me make the decision & when the appointed day came, that dang dog actually walked all the way around the block one last time. Talk about questioning whether or not I had made the right decision!! But, as a loving Cat Person, you know deep down that the kindest thing you can do is let her go over the rainbow bridge. The best advice I got was to stay with my doggo while she was being put to sleep. She fell into my arms & it was the greatest gift. SHeesh…I’m tearing up just writing about it 5 years later! The true beauty of pets is that we only get to love them, so intensely, for such a short period of time. I’ll be thinking of you this week…go love your kitty & then love her enough to let her go. <3

      1. cat socks*

        Thank you for sharing your story. I’m lucky to have a wonderful, compassionate vet who has given me advice and feedback. I’ve decided I want to hold her until the end. I’m planning on taking her into the office as well. She is a good traveler in the car and I would like her vet to be there. I’ve learned that an autopsy is included in the cost of the procedure and that may help bring some closure if we learn she does have cancer. I’ve also decided to donate her kidneys for research purposes. Thank you again for the kind words and support.

    2. Not All*

      I’ve had to make that call more times than I want to think about…4 times in the laat 1.5 years alone on pets I had for an average of a decade. I know one is approaching that has been sleeping on my pillow longer than my marriage lasted.

      I bawl the entire time, every time. I have never ever looked back and regretted making the call too soon…I have horrible guilt for the couple times I made the call too late. I have to remind myself that animals live in the now. They don’t look forward to tomorrow…they only know if they hurt or are happy now.

      Cats are extremely stoic about pain…as creatures who are as much prey as predators they are EXTREMELY good at hiding just how bad they feel. By the time a cat is showing symptoms, things (as judged by objective measures like bloodwork & other tests) are very bad indeed.

      I try to remind myself that it is hard on US but not on them. I just put my wonderful amazing devoted rottie down a couple months ago. I bawled, the vet cried, the techs cried. (Everyone loved that dog) But HIS experience was he got pets & lovins, fed an entire can of Cheeze Whiz & bucket of treats, got a shot, then went to sleep being pet by people he loved. I’m crying so hard typing this I can barely see, but I’m crying for ME not him…it was the best gift I could give him. Looking back at his old photos and video of him from even a year ago showed me justhow far he had declined…when you live it day-to-day you don’t realize in your gut just how bad things have gotten.

      I’m so sorry…it never gets easier.

      1. cat socks*

        I’m so sorry that you’ve had so many losses in such a short time. That is a lot to go through.

        What you said about your dog’s experience resonated with me. Thank you for sharing that. I’ve been crying every day thinking about this but my sweet girl has been as sweet and lovable as ever. I will spoil her as much as possible until the end.

        Thank you for your comment. It really helped.

      2. Wired Wolf*

        We’ve had to make that decision with our last two cats; one (McGriff) was nearly 22 years old and had been through everything with us. When he developed severe congestive heart failure (complication of diabetes) we decided that quality of life was primary–yes, we could keep him alive but if he was still suffering and not himself what was the point?

        The second cat (Murphy) was of unknown age and been rescued from a sad situation. He got left alone in the apartment when owner went into hospice, family convinced the cleaning woman to feed him but he wasn’t getting needed medication. (the 15-pound super-fluffy tuxedo kitty I’d taken care of less than two months prior was literally a sack of bones when a friend called us in a panic); ultimately everything–thyroid, massive tooth decay, etc–caught up with him but we gave each other two awesome years.

        Both cats’ ashes are in boxes on the window perch they both loved…and we swear they’re still around the apartment on occasion.

      1. cat socks*

        Thank you! I will definitely check out that other thread. I’ve found it helpful to read about other people’s stories and perspectives.

    3. Not All*

      It dawned on me that not knowing what to expect just in terms of logistics can be stressful. Here’s how it has worked at almost all the vets I have worked with.

      -Before you go, decide what you want to do with the remains. Depending on where you live, options can range fro bringing home for burial (usually only legal in rural areas) to donation to science school to group cremation (you don’t get ashes back) to private cremation with a myriad of container choices as well as options on do you want paw prints? (I personally do private cremation and a plaster pawprint but that’s just what I’ve decided for me and I admit some people find my bookshelf a little creepy with all the little boxes with pawprints…for me it’s a reminder of how lucky I’ve been to have had so many animals to love)
      -most vets will allow you to pay in advance so you don’t have to deal that day; if not, they will take your card while you’re in the private room so you don’t have to worry about standing at cashier bawling in waiting room
      -when you get there they will take you straight into a room where there is a soft clean blanket either on the table or floor (depending on size of your pet) They also always have a big box of tissues…they know we’re going to cry & a lot of them will cry too, especially if they’ve known your pet for awhile!
      -they will confirm what you want done and give you time to say goodbye, give treats, etc
      -they will usually take your pet briefly into the back room to put in a port & give the initial sedative (watching this part is usually stressful for the owners & since the pets pick up on the owner’s stress, it’s better to do out of sight)
      -they will bring your pet back into the room and let you pet them/say goodbye/do whatever you need to do
      -when you are ready, they will give the final drug through the port
      -your pet won’t even seem to notice that they got it…they will just fade out
      -some may release their bladders when they pass…this isn’t pain, just the muscles relaxing
      -they will let you stay in the room as long as you need…with one I ended up in there crying for 45 min before I felt okay to drive & no one minded at all
      -they will very gently wrap your pet in the blanket & take them to the back when you say you are ready
      -typically I get the ashes back in 5-10 days

      I’m so very sorry you’re having to go through this…it is definitely the hardest part of having pets we love! (Freely admit I cried typing this…I know my elderly cat is on borrowed time at this point too but I also know that when it’s time it will be the last gift I can give him)

      1. cat socks*

        Thank you! This was so helpful. I’ve discussed some of these things with my vet. I would like to have an autopsy done and will donate her kidneys for research. I think I can still have her cremated if I chose that. I will check with the vet because I would like her ashes back. My husband will be there with me and I’ve already asked him to drive back. I will be taking the day off work and will have the weekend also.

        Thanks again for all the info. It does help me to be prepared to know what to expect. I’m so sorry about your elderly kitty.

        1. Jaid*

          I got a paw print impression, which I later took to a ceramics artist. She then made a tile incorporating copies of the paw print and framed it for me.
          I didn’t want my Kittyboy’s ashes, but I like having his paw prints as art.

    4. Need a Beach*

      I’ve lost three cats to renal failure (which as you probably now know, really means losing them to hepatic lipidosis when they stop eating). The most recent time was just over a month ago.

      The first time I was young, inexperienced, and totally naive to how skilled cats are at hiding pain. I still regret all the unhelpful lab work/treatments I put Autumn through. The second time I kept that regret in my mind, and made the decision earlier than I might have if not for Autumn’s experience. It was the right move.

      This third time (right after Christmas), I put Greta down at home, and I cannot stress how much better it was. I felt a million times better about sitting on the couch holding Greta as she drifted away, versus dragging her into a cold office and watching her lie on a stainless steel table. Several people told me that they hate the association of knowing their pet passed away in X spot in their house, but I don’t see it that way. I lost Autumn in the living room anyway, because I let it go too long, and she started seizing in my arms. This time, I was comforting Greta in a controlled environment, managing her pain, and she knew she was safe and cared for. There was no panic or discomfort from being in a strange place. Plus, after Greta was gone, the other cats were able to sniff her and understand that she wasn’t coming back. When Autumn started seizing at home, we freaked out and ran to the car, frantically driving her to the vet. She didn’t come home. Greta never saw her again, and obviously grieved for about six months.

      I’m not saying it magically made everything easy–I still sobbed and snotted all over the place. You need a good reference for a compassionate vet who makes the process the best it can be, given what it entails. And handing her cash to do what she had to do, still felt gross. But, overall, it was by far the best of all three experiences, and I feel at peace with it.

      TL;DR: I highly recommend home euthanasia.

      1. Not All*

        Interesting. I did home euthanasia for one cat who didn’t travel well and I think it was actually the most stressful of all of them. Probably had a lot to do with my animals not being used to strangers at the house but being very comfortable with both car rides and my regular vet. I’ve also never, in probably half a dozen vets across the country, had a single one who just euthanized on the table as opposed to having snuggly blankets. It also didn’t help for my situation that the home euthanasia service had no relationship with either me or my pets so a lot more discussion was required and not only the cat being euthanized but all the other animals were very upset about her being handled by a total stranger.

        I really think it comes down to a “know your pet” situation…like so many other things! I’m glad you were able to find a situation that works with your family and I”m so sorry you had to go through so many!

        1. Need a Beach*

          I’m so sorry to hear that it wasn’t a good experience for you. None of my cats tolerate leaving the house well, so that was definitely a key factor, as you mention.

          I also did not have a personal relationship with this vet, but she came highly recommended by a colleague, and she’s the sort of warm-hearted person who just oozes goodness. If anyone in SE PA/NJ wants a referral, let me know.

    5. mac and cheese*

      I went through a very similar sequence last year with one of my older cats – kidney disease, then pancreatitis that never really got better, vomiting and not eating, suspected ibd, etc. We got into a groove with medication and fluids and he was stable for 4-5 months but then he started having bad diarrhea, losing more weight, barely eating even when on tons of meds. He was losing a lot of fur on his flank and petting him was like petting a warm skeleton. Of course, I had a big work trip shortly after he got more sick, which was stressful but also helped make clear that the worse state was going to be his new normal. I decided with the vet to try one last (strong) drug that had the chance of bad side effects or helping a lot. I tried the drug for a few days, and he seemed to be feeling worse if anything, so I called on a Thursday and made the appointment for Tuesday morning.

      Once I made the appointment, I was sad but I think things were easier to deal with because I wasn’t constantly anxious about how bad he was feeling and did I need to think about the decision, was the drug making him feel sick, etc. There were “lasts”, but we had little mini celebration for the last difficult things, like the last fluid treatment and the last pill. On his final day, he got to eat anything he wanted (tuna), and at night he came up on the pillow and slept for a while with his chin on my forehead, which was very unusual, but felt like he was saying goodbye.

      I have zero regrets about the timing – if I hadn’t had the work trip, it might have been a week earlier, but I don’t feel that holding out longer would have done anything but increase the chance of his suffering.

    6. Not A Manager*

      I don’t have any advice. I just want to say that I’m sorry you and your cat are going through this.

      Your cat loves you, and knows that she is loved by you. Everyone dies sometime – what a blessing to die in the arms of the person you love best.

    7. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      Take a friend. I am near the end here too with my beloved doggie girl, and that’s the wonderful gift a friend has given me – call her any day, and she will come drive us and stay with me or nearby, as I need, to make sure I have someone there and am not alone.
      The other advice I’m holding onto is that given to Allison (she references it above). I’m trying not to be a day too late.

      I am crying as I read the other stories as I know my girl is hanging in there, but I see more signs each week.
      You’ve had lots of good advice.
      On where…I found that the comfort of holding him in his favorite blanket, sitting in the chair at the vets with my last boy (two years ago) – was helpful. They knew me, knew him, and were great. But mine were all great in the car (he especially) and he enjoyed his last car ride and the “best dog weeks ever” leading up to it.

    8. The Other Dawn*

      I’m sorry about your kitty.

      I think everything you mentioned points to the fact that you’ve made the right decision at the right time. It’s so hard to know when the right time actually is, but I think the fact that she really won’t eat on her own and that she’s lost so much weight is a key factor. You’ve done all you can for your kitty. You didn’t make a hasty decision. You have to weigh her quality of life. Although she may not seem like she’s suffering, it seems as though it’s the right time. And I know how easy it is to swing back and forth between “she’s on Death’s door” to “everything is OK” because the little bugger decides to act normal for a few minutes; this is what makes it really difficult to know and it messes with your head.

      The first time I had to make that decision, I waited too long. I know that now, but didn’t at the time, even on the day we took him to be put down. He had feline Leukemia. We found out a couple weeks prior and it was surprising how fast he declined. I was incredibly bonded with this cat. I waited until he stopped eating and was so weak he couldn’t even jump onto a chair. He had tried jumping up one night and kept falling back onto the floor. I found him the next morning on the floor, laying on his side, meowing silently, no sound coming out. He couldn’t even move his head because he was so weak. I knew then that it was time. (I now know I should have done it a few days earlier, when he stopped eating. Instead, I went to bed every night hoping he would pass on his own so I wouldn’t have to make the decision. I really regret that.) UGH and now I’m crying…

    9. Twisted Knickers*

      I’m so sorry for the tough decisions you’re facing. I just went through this with my 7-year-old golden retriever who was diagnosed with lymphoma. My vet gave me some excellent advice: make a list of 5 things your pet enjoys (eating, snuggling, walking, playing, etc) and when they aren’t able to enjoy or manage 3 of them, that’s a good time to start making plans. I found that to be a very helpful tool. I was with him as he slipped away, and I appreciated having something “concrete” to use to make the decision. Warm internet hugs to you!

    10. Anona*

      I had a wonderful dog who we euthanized last April. Once we decided it was time I had the same experience of being sad over so many lasts. I still love her and miss her so much. I think it was the right time- she had medical issues and they were just getting worse and worse. She would sit on her bed and cry because of her lack of mobility. But she was still so loving, so it made it so hard. Her wonderful personality was still there. I think it’s the hardest thing about being a pet owner. We have such a responsibility to care for them, and sometimes that means saying goodbye when it hurts so much, just because it what is best for them.

      I’m so sorry about your kitty. We also did it on a Friday. I took the day off work. I gave her her favorite foods, and had a vet come to the house. I still miss my sweet Loretta.

      This essay is aimed at humans but it’s been true for my grief for Loretta. https://www.thelossfoundation.org/grief-comes-in-waves/

    11. Minocho*

      I recently had to make this decision for my youngest Japanese kitty. He’d been declining for a while. He lost his balance badly and couldn’t recover it – the vet said it was either an ear infection or a brain tumor. Two courses of antibiotics didn’t fix his balance, so I knew it was likely a problem in his brain.

      He was eating, his personality was the same, he wasn’t hiding. He was obviously frustrated at his poor balance, but I moved things around so he could get everywhere in the house safely, and I just decided to wait for a sign (decreased appetite, hiding, signs of pain, etc.).

      Then one night I noticed he hadn’t eaten. He was a pretty enthusiastic eater, so I was concerned. I came home from work the next day with kitten milk and other treats to tempt him. That night, he wouldn’t eat, he would only drink water, and then his front legs stopped working. He was obviously scared and confused, so I held him that night, and brought him in the next day to be put down.

      It was hard, but it was time. All you can do is make the best decision available to you, out of love for your furry friend.

    1. WellRed*

      I can’t speak for Alison, but I commented above that I read “end of normal” by Stephanie Madoff Mack.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The best one was The Wizard of Lies by Diana B. Henriques. Still interesting but not as good: Betrayal: The Life and Lies of Bernie Madoff by Andrew Kirtzman, and the Madoff Chronicles by Brian Ross.

      I think the Wizard of Lies was better in part because it was written much later than the other two, when more was known.

      1. Marthooh*

        I’m reading that now, per your recommendation. I’ve just gotten to the early part of his career, while he was building up his client list, and it’s so interesting to read about “stagflation” and this crazy new NASDAQ thing that I can dimly remember from headlines. And all the clever tax shelters that ended up not sheltering anybody when the Irate Revenue Service called for an audit.

  32. MDA*

    Some days I feel as though everybody else received a copy of “How to be a Functioning Person Who Interacts Successfully With Others” in college and you didn’t.

    That whole week has felt like that for me.

    Please tell me I’m not the only one who ever feels like this.

    1. matcha123*

      Oh, hai! Me, too!
      I grew up in a very small family and with a lot of pressure to get good grades. It’s not that I can’t interact well with others, but there’s a certain type that I have trouble with.
      Almost anyone with a strong personality who was raised in an upper-middle class home finds me to be incompetent. I assume that’s because I don’t have a strong aura and try not to make statements if I don’t have all the information I need to make an informed opinion.

    2. Call me St. Vincent*

      You’re totally not the only one!!! I always feel awkward and the truth is almost everyone does.

    3. Amber Rose*

      All the time. Most notably in groups, but also frequently at work.

      I am an only child and lived a sheltered life. So maybe I really did miss the instructions.

      1. Lost*

        I’m not an only child, but as the youngest by a big margin I was heavily sheltered. I missed the instructions too.

    4. Sammie*

      I have felt like that my whole life, so you have all my empathy. I did discover though that while a lot of interpersonal stuff does not come naturally to me I am actually a bit more successful now at navigating certain aspects of it than others for whom it was more natural. At a certain point, it’s an effort for ALL of us and I learned that lesson sooner. Now I can support my friends and loved ones when they’re struggling and feeling bad about it.

      As for the stuff I still suck at – it’s way easier when I don’t beat myself up over it. I have written off entire weeks as ‘bad peopling week’ and do something nice for myself to regroup.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I thought we were supposed to get that book from our families….Yeah, I had some disappointments there.

      Advice columnist thrive because actually very few people know what to do. Tons of people (raises hand) read advice columns even though they never write in for advice, also. It sells a lot of toothpaste/newspapers/etc.

      Rules of Etiquette came about so there would be guidelines to set expectations so people could interact with each other and not embarrass each other every three minutes.

      This is how big a subject this is. There are 4B people in the boat with you.

    6. Mimmy*

      Oh you are most definitely not the only one!! if you ever find a copy of that book, send it over to me :P

    7. Parenthetically*

      Oh hi, I’ve found my people.

      Actually, I think most people feel like this at least some of the time, and a lot of us feel like this… usually.

      I had a breakdown over finances this week and we’re making a budget for the first time. I am 37. *shrug*

    8. I don’t post often*

      Yessssss. Please send me a copy of that book! I’m an introvert. Frankly, I find 90% of the people I interact with confusing. I have a handful of people That I totally understand and understand how to interact with. I’ve know them all for 5+ years. Sometimes I think if I were born now instead of almost 40 years ago I would have been diagnosed with some sort of processing disorder. As it was my mom just said “eh both you and your brother were a little odd. You both are fine now.” No joke, true conversation. Know you are not alone!!

    9. Need a Beach*

      Hell yes. I find it hard, performative work to be sociable. It takes the kind of mental preparation and (metaphorical) mask that I imagine Broadway actors don before slipping out from stage left.

    10. Jaid*

      I dunno about that book, but there’s a 421 page book called “The Best of Ann Landers: Her Favorite Letters of All Time”. :-)

    11. Grace Less*

      You’re not the only one. And you’re probably doing a much better job than you give yourself credit for.

    12. Lady Jay*

      Thanks, all! Not sure I can say that I feel as though I’m any better at human interaction, but it’s nice to know I’m not the only one.

    13. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      Raising hand. I think the book was handed out in some families and not others… Families because both my sister and I missed the boat.
      And definitely not available in college, although the women on the floor in my freshman dorm kindly took me in hand and tried to help me learn how to dress the time we had an open house for our floor. (the one closest in bust size loaned me a sweater, another a scarf, etc… and one even helped me with a curling iron). I’m a little better on all fronts now, but… still feel awkward almost all the time. I just look for someone else on the periphery and try to make THEM feel less awkward. It’s helped.
      Only now, very few know I’m an introvert and socially awkward. But I dress a LOT better.

    14. Bewildered Lately*

      You are not alone. I never received a copy, either, and sometimes it doesn’t matter. However, having just begun a (daily activity where they pay you) for the first time after about 20 years of child rearing, I find that everybody Talks So Fast. And expects things to happen Very Quickly. Apparently this is normal?
      I’ve also always found paperwork and admin stuff… incomprehensible, and usually counterintuitive.
      I was an only child and spent most of my time daydreaming and reading, which, while pleasant, wasn’t exactly a great preparation for grown up life!

    15. Kate R. Pillar*

      I am reading the book at the moment: Lifeskills for Adult Children by Garner/Woititz. Advice columnist Carolyn Hax recommends it all the time.

  33. WellRed*

    My microwave unexpectedly conked out this week (It was sparking and flashing and making weird noises). So, making my simple breakfast is out and worse, can’t warm up coffee or tea, kind of crucial in February.
    However. My question has to do with cast iron skillets. Both roommates have them and use them frequently on the stove. I don’t like them because I think they make the burners dirty so when I use the stove (see: microwave died), the burners start smoking and I turn on the fan so I don’t set off the alarms. DO they make burners dirty? Is there a way to prevent this or clean the burners, which are coils?

    1. Kimmybear*

      I’ve never found that cast iron makes the burners dirty but the oil splattering from the pan might. Your burners probably pop out so when they are cool, take them out and use a damp (not dripping wet) sponge and wipe the burner down. When they are dry, you can pop them back in.

    2. Llellayena*

      Cleaning the burners is definitely possible. You should be able to unhook the individual burner from the stovetop (just pull). Then you can clean it with regular soap and water or scrub with baking soda if there’s anything stuck on. Try to keep the actual connector piece out of the water just to be sure. Rinse thoroughly and dry fully before reattaching (beacause water + electricity = bad). Can’t tell you much about cast iron though, I don’t use it.

    3. SpiderLadyCEO*

      I have never had this issue, but if it’s something you’re noticing, flip the pan and scrub the bottom of it with a steel wool pad, and that should take care of the issue. But like everyone else said, you can pop out the coils and clean the pans under the burners pretty easily as well.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yep, same advice!

        Also, not assuming that you aren’t, but double check to make sure you’re using the cast iron properly? I had a friend try to use mine when she was staying with me and when it wasn’t getting hot as quickly as a regular pan, she just kept turning the heat up and it screwed up the seasoning and (because it was on a too-small burner) even warped the pan.

    4. Not All*

      Cast iron doesn’t make burners dirty…though because you can cook so much hotter with it, sometimes you do get more spatter that goes onto the other burners. I use it a lot (only way I can get a good crusty sear on things like scallops or when I don’t feel like dragging down my wok).

      I agree that the burners themselves are probably just dirty & need to be cleaned. I consider cleaning the coils part of wiping down the stove…after all, the burners that don’t have a pan on them at the time are getting the same amount of spatter as the stove surface! I don’t actually take them off and soak them every time, just wipe them with the same dishrag I’m using for stovetop. I do the deep clean when either (a) something boiled over or (b) I’m doing the quarterly kitchen deep clean.

    5. Madge*

      If your roommates over-oil the bottom of the pan, the extra oil could get on the burners and cause the trouble you’re having. Otherwise, no, the pans themselves wouldn’t make the burners dirty.

      1. WellRed*

        This is what I am wondering. However, good to know I can just wipe the coils down with a sponge. I didn’t want to use cleaner on them.

  34. matcha123*

    Any tips for the following: Being, or at least appearing, more confident and making conversation with new people.

    I feel like some people are waiting to shoot down any and everything I say, regardless of whether or not the statement is on point or not.
    With new people, I tend to wait a long time and feel them out before speaking more openly and friendly. I am terrible at asking questions to new people, too. While some people are quite patient and understanding, others take it as a sign of my dislike of them…which is not what I want! I tend not to ask people what I consider personal questions: Anything related to whether they are partnered or have kids or family questions in general. I try to compliment what people wear when I can, but I am sure I sound insincere…the same goes for other kinds of compliments. When they have mentioned their family, I struggle to find questions that show interest, but aren’t prying.

    Any tips?

    1. LibbyG*

      Huh. I think the best ideas are probably situation-specific, like new people you meet through a mutual friend versus work people.

      Maybe, though, it would help as a first step to focus on your non-verbal presentation: relaxed posture, warm expression. That’ll invite people to start convos with you. And you might feel more comfortable if you take a good long break from trying to start a conversation, realizing you’re contributing to a positive social event just through a positive presence.

    2. WellRed*

      No one is waiting to shoot you down. What is the context here? Social gatherings? Can you come up with a list of real general no-brainer “openings”? Also, most people like to talk about themselves. As to some of your specific references here: for clothing: “I love that color!” “What a gorgeous ring!” For when people mention family, like if they say they went to their parents’ for Thanksgiving, say, “Do they live around here?” No, they live in totally different state. “Oh, I’ve always wanted to visit there and go to X” Or, they mention kids in some way (parents are gonna mention kids, trust me). “Oh, how many do you have?” Or, “Oh, how old is your son?” He’s four. “Oh, that’s such a fun age!”
      If you are at, say, a wedding or BBQ where you are sat with people you don’t know: “How do you know the host?” “Bride or groom?” The trick is to ask questions or make comments that provide an opportunity for them to respond, and hopefully, with room for follow up or they ask you something. Don’t overthink whether “The Statement Is On Point” what does that even mean?

      1. matcha123*

        Social gatherings, and others, but social gatherings are a big one.
        You’re right, new people are not waiting to shoot me down. That is something I experience with certain people I know and those memories lurk on the edges of my mind when I meet someone new, whispering that I should be on guard.
        Thanks for the suggestions! Following up with questions to continue a conversation on a topic I’m not too familiar with or don’t have much interest in always seems to stump me.
        On point would be, say, if I comment on how excited I was when my basketball team won a game X number of years ago, because [reasons] and the person responds saying that I am mistaken, as the team didn’t even make the playoffs that year. In a situation like that, I back down, rather than pull up a news article or get into a “you’re wrong” kind of back and forth.

        1. fposte*

          You can also just say “Was it? Well, whenever it was, I was sure excited!” Because that’s the real point, not the specifics of the event. It could be you’re talking to a jackass, or it could be that you really did misremember, or it could be that they misremembered. If they show further signs of being a jackass, move on, but this way you’ve preserved the point of the conversation without ending up in a tangent about the facts.

          1. WellRed*

            Agreed to this response. You’re making conversation, not proving who’s right or wrong. If you’re right, just smile smugly in your head.

          2. The Rat Catcher*

            This happens to me frequently and I’m usually (but not always) correct when I get that specific. However, my job is as a trainer and I do enough correcting in that role! I will usually just say “well, I might be wrong on that. I mainly remember (X thing I remember well).”

          3. matcha123*

            Thanks, I will keep this in mind! I get kind of thrown and then taper off when I get a comment like that. I’m not interested in debating people in general, but I also am offended that someone would want to go out of their way to make me look or feel ignorant.

            1. fposte*

              I would also default to assuming that’s not why they do that. (Kind of like the commenting discussion–assume good faith.) I don’t know many sports things and don’t correct that much in conversation, but if somebody said that they were really excited when the Indians won the 2016 World Series, I’d likely say “Wasn’t that the Cubs?” I also think that for a lot of people it wouldn’t be that big a deal–if I said “Oh, I remember that threepeat year for the Bulls in 1990” and they said “That was 1992” I wouldn’t care (and I just made up the dates because I still don’t know), so they’re quite likely people who don’t think you would care either.

    3. Parenthetically*

      Anyone who’s waiting to shoot you down is someone who doesn’t deserve to have a conversation with you. I’ve talked with people like that a lot in my life, and I know the feeling of dreading that they’re just waiting to pounce on something I’ve said rather than converse like a normal human being. That’s not something I want to have in my life.

      One of my most reliable conversation starters with new people — because you pretty much always talk about what people do for a living, right? — is to ask them how they got into their field. I find it truly fascinating to hear a little bit about people’s life paths, which are often so divergent from how they planned or anticipated, and I never don’t get an interesting story. Even if it’s “I majored in X and now I’m in X” there’s always a story behind why they wanted to be an X.

      You can also work away from personal to general topics if you play your cards right. So you start with questions related to family: age of kids –> where they go to school –> how do you like the school, how did you choose the school, what are their favorite subjects, oh I loved chemistry in middle school, etc. (wander off down the anodyne school stories path). Or how long they’ve been married –> everyone has a good story from their wedding *expectant look* –> the wildest thing I ever saw at a wedding was… (wander off down the wedding stories path). There’s a skill to it, but you really can guide a conversation away from personal topics to something that can turn into a really fun exchange, and can include other people who happen by. “Oh, hey Bob, have you met Steve? Steve’s from Alberta and he’s down visiting and saw a flyer for this art opening and just showed up! Bob’s married one of the artists, Joe. Steve’s been regaling me with hilarious stories from his wedding! What was that one you were telling me from yours, Bob? Didn’t Joe’s nephew refuse to carry the rings down the aisle?”

      1. Lilith*

        TV? Right now Top Chef is on & it’s shot in (mainly) Kentucky. So “hey, you’re from Kentucky? Been watching Top Chef?”
        TV can be an equalizer. Even if the other person doesn’t watch, you can offer how pretty the state is and ask about it.

      2. LibbyG*

        If I have to start cold, two of my go-tos are “What do you do for fun?” And “What’s keeping you busy these days?” Like you, I’m really reluctant to pry. What if their parent just died? What if they just got laid off? People may not return the conversational volley, but that’s on them. And thinking of follow-ups can be hard. But if someone says, “Oh, I’ve been helping my mom a lot since her stroke.” Then it seems fair, even kind, to ask, “What kind of help does she need?”

        Sometimes it helps me to pretend to be someone I know and admire for their social ease. What would Michelle say? That kind of thing.

    4. Indie*

      I just try to put people at their ease, ask if they are having fun, or what they thought of something at the event and that makes me forget about myself and what I am saying. If someone is trying to ‘best’ you in a conversation, it could be they’re a jerk but equally they could just be so nervous they are weirdly trying to be ‘correct’. Just say something about how they must be really into topic to know that and how did they first get involved? Why do they like it? They’ll either pick up the reassurance rope or continue trying to best you, at which point excuse yourself.

  35. OyHiOh*

    Spouse is still in hospital on ventilator this weekend. Conversation has shifted from “few days to a couple weeks” to “it’s going to be a long haul to get them well” and estimates of six to twelve months. We’re looking at shifting from ICU to long term care some time in the next week or so. Starting disability paperwork. I may try for a VA service related disability as well (spouse is more affected than expected given health and age due to a service related injury) but that’s a long shot. Working at getting a full time job. Got some good leads and have friends keeping an ear out as well.

    The facade I built the first weekend for our children, so they would have a strong stable presence at home, is crumbling. I have resources, friends and family, but I feel very alone and more scared the longer this goes on. There’s a line separating my spouse’s desires for a long, active live from my/their family’s desire to keep them alive at all costs. I don’t know where the line is and I don’t know if I’ll recognize it when we come to it.

    1. Call me St. Vincent*

      I’m so so sorry. If you can, it might be helpful to talk with someone for coping strategies and extra support. I think the VA offers social workers for this purpose if you need a resource. In the meantime sending you strength and internet hugs!

    2. fposte*

      Oh, Oy. I’m so sorry! What a bolt from the blue with this whole thing.

      A lot of hospitals have social workers for this kind of thing. Can you ask if they have that service? That might help you talk out your feelings about that line with somebody sympathetic but objective. That will also help you with figuring out practical details about transfers to a skilled nursing facility, etc.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Agreeing with fposte that this is quite a shocker. I am so very sorry that things have turned in this direction.

      They told me that my father would lay in a hospital type bed for the rest of his life. (He had a list of problems as long as your arm. There were initial problems and those initial problems set off other secondary problems.) It became very apparent to me that I was the only person who was satisfied by knowing he was still alive. But he wasn’t living life, he was laying in bed. The idea that he was “still alive” was an illusion in my head.

      I flashed back to ten years earlier when we had been talking about level of care for my mother. I remember telling him that one consideration I felt was important was to consider how much care would I want if I were in that condition? My father fell silent. This meant that I had stuck a chord here. He went on to write the docs a letter telling them not to do anything extra to save her life. (There were no DNRs in those days.)
      As I thought about this earlier decision, I realized he SHOWED me what he wanted for himself. And I signed the DNR for him.

      There’s no rule books out there and that makes decisions very hard. One thing you could decide is to just watch what it takes for him to get through the day. What is he going through and how often do problems come up. Each time my father had a problem his body became more and more damaged. You see how there were no positives here for him at all. This is what I watched and this helped to guide my decision to sign the DNR also.

      I don’t know your setting with family. You can include them in your thinking by sharing your thoughts and listening to theirs. I can tell you first hand that some of them will “get it” right away, some might understand later and some will never understand. So waiting for everyone to be on the same page probably won’t happen.

      Yep, it’s scary stuff. This is hard, hard stuff. Just do one day at a time. Do your best each day and know that some days you will do better than other days. This is pretty normal, too. Take things one day at a time.
      If you can keep posting, let us know how you are doing.

    4. Ktelzbeth*

      I’m so sorry about the direction this has gone.
      In addition to a social worker, the hospital may have a palliative care team whose job it is to help with care decisions and comfort. Palliative care sometimes (often) gets confused with hospice, but there is no assumption of impending death in palliative care done properly, whereas hospice is limited to people who are likely to pass away soon. It should be focused around whatever it takes to have the best life and make the best decisions. I work closely with our palliative care physician and he is really good at drawing out people’s hopes and goals of care for their children (pediatric palliative care) and helping them articulate them in a way the medical community can act on. I’d see if your hospital has a palliative care team and stress that you want palliative care in the sense that I just defined. I’ll reply with a couple links that make the distinction I’m trying to make as well.

      1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

        Thank you Ktelzbeth.
        We didn’t know at first the difference, everyone kept talking about hospice… and we finally got connected (after a bad hospice experience) with the pallative team. WONDERFUL people…and my husband had excellent pain control and treatment of the symptoms (not the cancer- we did not treat the last round as he was too far gone).
        AND the Pallative care doctor was the one who helped me understand that he was never coming back to consicousness, when the time came. (had the seven wishes, had the living will, had the POLST, had the DNR…).
        Crying as I write this. Hard, hard decisions.
        It did help that I had an adult stepdaughter who completely understood about not doing tubes. Contrary to my fears, she knew he would have hated it, and agreed.
        Difficult. Sending all my encouragement and thoughts to you.

    5. Need to think of a name*

      Had to make the decision for my Dad, sister just couldn’t. All I can say is when it was time I just knew.

      My thoughts are with you.

      1. WellRed*

        Same here for my Dad. Mom needed that backup. We knew, and it had to be about HIM. Tougher with young children. Please take care of yourself.

    6. NicoleK*

      Tomorrow, it will be a year since my dad passed. The last three years of his life were difficult. He was in and out of the hospital. Endless doctor appointments. The family also couldn’t agree on DNR/DNI. Most of us were for it while my two brothers were against it. When he was hospitalized for the very last time, everyone came to an agreement about the DNR/DNI. He went on hospice, we brought him home, and he passed two weeks later.

    7. it happens*

      So very sorry to read your update. Please remember to take care of yourself when you need to- try to enlist a few people to be explicitly “Team You” to call on when you need a break- to run away for a few hours or just to listen undjudgmentally as you try to process. Big internet hugs

    8. Book Lover*

      I am so sorry to hear this. No one here is in your shoes or knows your husband as you do. There is a big difference between a young person, previously healthy, who had a catastrophic illness and is expected to fully recover eventually and an older person with chronic illnesses who may never have a full recovery. Your physicians may be able to tell you honestly what is the expected outcome – that, yes, it will take a long time to recover but will happen, or no, the expectation is a gradual decline and never being able to eat, breathe, walk without being attached to tubes and machines. Larger hospitals have palliative care and ethics teams that can help with decision making.
      There is also a huge difference between disconnecting everything and signing a DNR. Many patients with chronic lung issues may agree to intubation but say that if things get critical they don’t want CPR, pressors, etc – sometimes patients don’t know that everything doesn’t have to be absolute with these decisions.
      I wish you and your family the very best.

    9. Wishing You Well*

      I’m very sorry you’re going through this.
      Each situation is as unique as the people dealing with it. A relative had to decide to decline extraordinary care to my elderly FIL, knowing FIL would pass away in the next 2 days. It was hard on everyone except FIL, who was more on the other side than here for a very long time.
      Be kind to yourself and ask for specific help when you want it.
      Jedi Hugs, if you want them.

    10. Sybil Fawlty*

      I am so sorry you are in this situation. I had to put my child on hospice, it was a very hard decision, of course. Unfortunately, you just never know for sure what would have happened, but you just have to make the best choice you can.

      Please do the best you can to take care of yourself during this terrible time. Call as much help in as you can. Sometimes the shock of the situation takes over your judgement, and you can’t see how bad it is from the inside. Use every available resource right now and until the situation stabilizes.

      You are doing a good job, just try to hang in there.

  36. Foreign Octopus*

    I know that I’m super late to the party but I’ve just spent the last week watching all four seasons that are available on Netflix of Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

    I love it so much! It’s such a healthy representation of friendship and romantic relationships: Jake and Amy are perfect, and Rosa and Charles handled their whole thing really well. I think the whole show is brilliant and I love how they all take their jobs seriously even in the middle of a comedy bit.

    Also – DOUG JUDY!!! He’s the best.

    1. Lady Jay*

      You got me all excited & then I realized you’re in another country than me . . . . Checked, and yup Brooklyn Nine-Nine is NOT on the US version of Netflix. Boooo.

        1. Lady Jay*

          Hey, I’m glad you enjoyed it–I am not trying to make you feel bad. :) One of these days I’ll sign up for Hulu’s free trial and binge it . . . I am just too busy right now to make that worthwhile.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      It is such a smart show.

      If you haven’t already, check out The Good Place. It’s the same creative team.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        I live The Good Place! Although, did they release an episode this week? I couldn’t see it on Netflix.

        1. Marion Ravenwood*

          If you’re in the UK, it might have moved to Channel 4 on demand – they were advertising it yesterday when I was watching 30 Rock. (Which I’m quite liking, seven episodes in, but not sure I love yet.)

    3. ThursdaysGeek*

      Super late to the party? It’s barely morning on the west coast. Well, for anyone who sleeps in on a Saturday anyway.

    4. stellaaaaa*

      I think I watched an episode or two when it first aired, but it didn’t really grab me. I gave it another shot recently, solely because I kept reading on the weekend threads here how much people enjoyed it, and because I signed up for hulu during their recent promotion for 99cents a month (which I also found out about here). So I owe everyone double thanks, because it’s been one of the few bright spots in my life lately. Some of the jokes go by so quickly that I know I’m missing a bunch, but I still laugh so much.

  37. Lady Jay*

    It’s supposed to rain for ten days straight in my part of the world next week. This whole winter has been so, so rainy already, and I am OVER IT. Rain is a depressant for me.

    Suggestions for surviving this? It’s not supposed to be too cold, just cloudy & rainy.

    1. Sammie*

      I bought myself an SAD lamp/alarm clock to make sure I get some proper light first thing in the morning. That might be overkill for you but rain and/or overcast as a depressant is a bitterly real burden. Other things that may seem obvious but can be worth repeating – be very kind to yourself, fill your downtime with as many of your favorite things and activities as is humanly possible. If that means cocooning yourself away from the world til the sun finally returns, then that counts. It’s also totally cool to enlist the help of others to help you past the hump.

    2. KR*

      If you like swimming can you go to a hotel or gym with a pool for a staycation to go swimming? That’s something that always cheers me up when it’s cold and wintery for too long.

      1. WellRed*

        Similar to this, is there a nice greenhouse nursery type place you can stroll through? They tend to be warm and full if light and earth smells and color.

    3. Rainy Days*

      I live in Vancouver and November/December are the Bad Months for me. I don’t have a SAD lamp but I probably should. I don’t always do these things but….eat your veggies! Comfort food may be the temptation but a balanced diet helps. Exercise. Again, I often fail but at this but at least a walk really does work. And if you are at work stick your nose outside at lunch time. Stay on top of the cleaning, if you are going to cocoon because outside is depressing it’s easier to thumb your nose at bad weather when you are happy with your inside space. Open all the blinds during the day to get the maximum possible natural light. Turn all the lights on when it gets dark and damn the electricity bill. The seasonal glums suck, hope this helds!

  38. Theguvnah*

    Appreciate opinions:

    I am moving from NYC to Denver in a couple months (!) and am in deep in the apartment hunt (renting not buying).

    For the same budget would you rather have
    – studio apartment in a fancy building with tons of amenities (pool, lounge and common areas galore, etc) or
    – full one bedroom in a building without those amenities

    The kicker is I work from home but also travel a ton and will stay at my boyfriends at least several nights a month. I currently live in a nice but not huge studio so I get studio living.

    I’m seriously torn. Thanks in advance.

    1. Call me St. Vincent*

      I would make sure wherever has at least a live in super. Elevator building is generally better than a walk up. If you get a lot of packages a doorman building is better. Keep in mind that you will need to tip at the holidays for doormen and super so that may affect the budget. Bottom line I think it isn’t as much of a binary as you have it laid out and remember you can find almost every amenity in a luxury building somewhere else in the city often with choices you won’t get in your building. For instance if you have a gym in the building but you end up wanting to join Equinox you will probably feel restricted because you’re paying more rent for the gym.

      1. Call me St. Vincent*

        Oh man I totally read this as you were moving TO NYC from Denver and not the other way around. Oops!! Sorry my comment is less helpful than I thought since I know NOTHING about Denver!

    2. Llellayena*

      Would you use the amenities? For myself I’d never use a gym or pool so I’d rather have a door to my bedroom. Amenities are only worth paying extra for if you use them (speaking as both a renter and a multi-family architect who designs those amenities). If the amenities building has a co-work space, that might be worth it for you so you’ve got an alternate WFH location. Other than that, think about what you would use.

      1. misspiggy*

        Absolutely – I was thinking how one likes to prepare food would be a huge factor. Do you like to cook for yourself? Would you rather have access to a full shared kitchen or a small private studio kitchenette?

        1. WellRed*

          Are there apartment buildings with shared kitchens? I’ve never heard of such thing. Also, if office kitchens are anything to go by, not sure I’d want to try that.

          1. Call me St. Vincent*

            Yeah a NY studio would definitely have its own kitchen. Kitchen size will vary and would be independent of whether the apartment is a studio or one bedroom.

          2. TL -*

            Studios in some parts of the world mean private room/bathroom and shared common spaces.

            In the U.S., it’s a one-room apartment, including kitchen and living space with bathroom (separate room).

    3. Emmie*

      Since your torn, I recommend thinking about your desired neighborhood, ideal apartment condition, safety needs, WFH needs (is a separation between sleep and work important to you), proximity to bf (would you like to have a place close to him, or one where you’re in a different part of town, or one close to the bar districts so you two can crash there after a night out), and budget. Will you have a car? Maybe look at both to see what speaks to you. Good luck!

    4. RMNPgirl*

      One of the things to keep in my mind with Denver is that it does not have great public transportation or is as easily walkable as NY. If those amenities are something you would use; it’s much easier to have them in your building in Denver then to try to get to them either by public transport or a car.

    5. Washi*

      How often do you have guests? My husband and I often have friends stay with us, so we have a 1 bedroom and even made part of the living room a permanent guest corner. I think it can be a little harder to host people in a studio, since there’s absolutely no privacy for anyone.

      Also, do you know if packages being stolen is a big problem? When I lived in buildings without a concierge, it was a pretty big issue that people off the street would follow residents in and then steal packages :( I’m really glad to not have to deal with that in our current building!

    6. it happens*

      Normally, I would say- DOORS are good (for a relationship and for work/life balance). In this case, I would say go for the amenities because of the WFH. Why? As long as your wfh is a little flexible, you could use the amenities while other people are at work, so they are less crowded. And use common areas to get a change of scene from your own place. As far as the work/life separation, a strategically-placed bookcase or Japanese screen can be helpful. Have so much fun in your new city!

    7. Reba*

      No amenities. I’m looking for apartments off and on, and I always click away when I see a photo of a pool — I just don’t want to pay for things I’m never going to use (or in the case of an outdoor pool, is only good a few months of the year even if I enjoyed apartment pools).

    8. schnauzerfan*

      I would look for a place with a garage. Parking outside in snow country makes the winters so much worse.

    9. ..Kat..*

      Did you work from home in your NYC studio? Do you need much space to work from home? Personally, I would go for the amenities, but many people need more space in order to work from home.

    10. Chaordic One*

      Personally, I’d go with the 1-bedroom, although I will agree that an apartment with a garage is highly desirable. Even if you have to pay extra for the garage it is worth it.

      I think your car is usually safer in the garage than on the street or in a parking lot. If you have a nice car that you care about you won’t have to worry about door dings. The car will stay cleaner than if it is left out in the open (or even if it is under “covered parking”). Finally, it is so nice to just be able to get in your car and go someplace without having to brush snow off of it, or to have to scrape the frost off of the windows on a morning when it is below freezing.

    11. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I think I’d go for the one bed. I used to live in an apartment (in Denver, even) that had a pool, sauna, etc. and I rarely used them. Hardly anyone did. I ended up using the gym at work.

      More recently I had a studio and while it was great in many ways I got tired of things like all my clothes and bedding smelling like cooking and being able to see the dishes in the sink while I was trying to relax. Moving to a dinky one bed was a big improvement, even though it is in a slightly less desirable neighbourhood.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I’ll throw in one additional thought from my rental days– does the building have secure storage areas for residents? And is it really secure?
          One apartment had wooden cabinets in the car ports, but the clasps and hinges were too flimsy to be a deterrent and anyone going in, your stuff was pretty much visible to the street. Another? Metal cages in an additionally locked basement along the hall the super used frequently. Very serious security!

  39. Myrin*

    Ugh, moving. My bedroom is basically ready but there’s still a lot of work to do regarding the rest of the flat, and since I’ve taken it upon myself to organise this whole kerfuffle, there’s just… so much brain work. I’m naturally really good at that kind of stuff and also just really like it a lot but some days (like right now) I’m just exhausted and want it to be over already. But there’s so much yet to doooo, ugh.

    Also one of the rare moments where not having a car is really disadvantageous. Several friends and neighbours have already very graciously offered their help and while I’m someone who always very gladly accepts help, I’m also someone who prefers doing stuff on her own so that I can do it in exactly the way that I want. But realistically, of course something has to give.

    Also, for literally the first time in the ten and a half years we’ve lived in this flat, there’ve been enormous problems with our bin collection. First we were so snowed in that the lorry couldn’t enter our little street (I live in one of the areas in central Europe which were basically submerged a few weeks ago), then, two weeks later, with everyone already waiting with bated breath because the rubbish had already started to accumulate in front of the bin, my stupid fucking neighbour had nothing better to do than to block off access to the bin with his family’s three cars. I saw the lorry driving away because they couldn’t get to the bin after having been in our street, ten metres from the bin, already, and I was about ready to murder my neighbour with my bare hands.

    (To add insult to injury, he then posted a sign on the front door saying how he’d graciously collected all the excess rubbish bags because the fox was getting to them and moved them into his garage. Like, great-fucking-job, mate, it’s your fault they didn’t get collected in the first place! Which he denied, by the way, but yours truly has lived here long enough to know that it’d be best to take photos of the scene, so there you go, sucker!)

    The binmen were scheduled to come in last Wednesday but couldn’t because they had personnel issues with a lot of people being sick and now the rubbish still hasn’t been collected and probably will only be collected on its regular day next Friday by which point it’ll have been six weeks without any kind of rubbish relief, of course exactly during the literally one phase in the past ten years where we’ve had more than one bag of rubbish a week because we’re freaking moving and need to throw stuff away and I want to explode into a million tiny pieces why are people like that

  40. Bluebell*

    Request for travel advice for two very different destinations. Santa Fe in late March–this one is already booked. please give me your favorite spa, margarita, and museum recommendations. Trip #2 is Iceland, and still very much in the planning stage. I am taking my 16-year-old niece, and we are are planning to go for about a week in the summer. Neither of us is super athletic, but she chose the destination and I’m looking forward to it too! Thanks all!

    1. The Messy Headed Momma*

      Cafe Pasquals for ANY meal. Totally worth the price. 10,000 Waves Spa is a dream come true…see if you can reserve the Moon Tub when the moon is rising. Also, they say the restaurant up there is amazing. The frozen margaritas at The Cowgirl Hall of Fame are stronger than on the rocks plus it’s super fun people watching. And The Pantry for breakfast with the locals. Second Street Brewery at the 2nd St location is a locals joint. The Folk Art Museum too!!

      1. Bluebell*

        Thanks! My friend and I were pretty sure that we were going to 10,000 waves, and Café Pascual’s was on my maybe list. I’m a rocks margarita person — appreciate the extra detail.

      2. Eleanor Shellstrop*

        Seconding Cafe Pasquales, that place is fantastic (especially for brunch), as well as 10,000 waves – haven’t been there personally but my family in Santa Fe loves it. The Shed is a Santa Fe classic, great margaritas and food (be sure to make a reservation). I’d also recommend the Folk Art Museum, and Meow Wolf!

    2. Extra vitamins*

      For Santa Fe, instead of museums, I recommend a walk up Canyon Road – it has an incredibly dense concentration of art galleries.

        1. Bluebell*

          Meow wolf is on my definitely list! We will try to go in the morning for a less crowded experience. And Canyon Road was on the list of possibilities. Any good lunch place as a break for that?

          1. Extra Vitamins*

            There are usually some food trucks in the parking lot at Meow Wolf – I thought the tortillas I got there were rather good, and definitely authentic NM food. There area also several restaurants of varying types on Canyon Road. I’ve stopped pretty randomly and been well satisfied. They generally have menus posted outside so you can see what they have and a price point (a couple are really expensive). I have not had a bad margarita anywhere in Santa Fe, but I usually get beer, so I can’t recommend any special margaritas. The local beer is good. If you want a view, there’s seating at the top of La Fonda. If you go to Museum Hill, there’s a restaurant up there right next to everything with a nice menu. There’s also a botanic garden up there, if you like those. (It was undergoing some “remodeling” when I was there, don’t know what it’s like now. Also March is pretty dormant for the plants.)

    3. Llellayena*

      Santa Fe: Take a tour of the Loretto Chapel. Truly awesome spiral stair to the choir loft with a great backstory. There are a bunch of bronze-work studios around, you might be able to get a tour. And expect to spend money at the Indian craft “booths” along the main square.
      I haven’t been to Iceland but I heard that whatever seafood they’re known for (I forget which) is actually not available on the island because it’s all for export.

    4. My Brain is Exploding*

      We went to Iceland in September. Of course there are SO MANY great things to see! We spent 3 days east of Reykjavik – Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, the Golden Circle, etc. We basically ate 1 meal a day out and bought lots of sandwich fixings, etc. from the Bonus grocery store (the cheapest grocery store). We brought a foldable cooler bag and froze ice in our water bottles at night to use during the day. Spent a couple of days in Reykjavik and highly recommend the food tour (thereykjavikfoodwalk.com), expensive but fun and lots of food; also spent a day west and north of Reykjavik. There will be a LOT of tourists in summer, so book accommodations asap. Also make sure you get some coins when you get some cash – you can use cards for almost everything except pay toilets at tourist attractions. You’ll have a wonderful time! (PS – Krauma spa looked fabulous and much cheaper than the Blue Lagoon…but right when we got there a bus full of students arrived, so we decided not to go.)

    5. only acting normal*

      Iceland is eye-wateringly expensive but *it is not a tip culture*, so don’t give US % tips, it would be odd.
      Been years since I went, but I fondly remember the soup in bread at the Svarta Kaffid. :-)
      Geysers, Gullfoss falls, the place where the tectonic plates meet – you can do them in one day on an organised trip.
      The Blue Lagoon is the famous spa, but there are others that may be less busy with tourists.
      24hr sun in summer can mess with your body clock, and it may be summer but it won’t be very warm – layers are a good idea.
      The hot water from the taps is extremely hot so don’t burn yourself (and it smells of sulphur because it’s geothermal heated).

    6. Pharmgirl*

      I went to Iceland alone and booked through Guide to Iceland – even if you don’t use them you can definitely get some good suggestions! I did the Blue Lagoon, Golden Circle, and Southern Coast. There’s also a free walking tour at Citywalk.is you could check out (book ahead!). I had a quick trip, but the walking tour mentioned a lot of areas around the city I would’ve loved to check out had I had the time. I also liked The Settlement Exhibition (about the first settlers).

      For food – I’d stick to breakfast in your hotel if they offer it, and bring some snacks (or buy in local groceries) lunch options. Save your money for dinner – I did one nice dinner at Food Cellar (fantastic meal) and one casual meal at Food Market (similar idea Faneuil Hall in Boston, but much much smaller).

      1. Bluebell*

        I’m thinking Airbnb instead of a hotel just because it might give us more space. Then we could mostly just eat dinner out. And we won’t be renting a car, so suggestions about that are welcome as well.

        1. Pharmgirl*

          The city is pretty walkable – and they’ve got a really great bus system for any day tours you might take. As long as you’re in the main part of the city, you should be able to walk everywhere. I think I was about 15-20 min walk from downtown, and able to walk everywhere pretty easily.

    7. Garland not Andrews*

      Sorry so late. If you want to stop in Albuquerque on the way to or from Santa Fe, Casa de Benevidez on 4th Street is totally yummy! And very reasonably priced.

  41. Ops manager*

    What does everyone else bring for work lunches?

    I’m running out of ideas – sandwiches are getting old, frozen food isn’t healthy. I’ve tried to make a separate meal to bring everyday. Last week I did buffalo chicken wraps. The problem was that all the separate containers were a bit much to lug around. I’m trying to find a receipt that will work well with meal prep.

    1. Blue_eyes*

      I like bringing left over pasta or casseroles. I find that they reheat well. Soup is also good if you don’t mind that it can be a bit heavy to carry because of the liquid. I have a full kitchen at work, so sometimes I’ll bring just two slices of bread and an avocado and make avocado toast for lunch. You could also try a “kid-style” lunch of cut up cubes of meat and/or cheese, veggie sticks, maybe a dip, crackers, and cut fruit. You could prep a bunch of those ingredients at the beginning of the week and use one of those lunch boxes with multiple little holes/containers.

      I try to bring lunch around 3 days per week and then have a frozen meal 1 day and buy lunch 1 day. It would be great to pack lunch every day, but this system is sustainable for me. I also get tired of any particular food/meal after about the 3 time of having it in one week, so variety is a key for me.

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

      I constantly make soup to take to work for lunch. Bean soups in particular are cheap to make, healthy, and reasonably filling.
      Unfortunately, it does weigh down my bag some.

    3. Texan In Exile*

      I eat a lot of beans. They are easy to cook and transport, cheap, nutritious, and delicious. I make a big batch and then freeze lunch-size portions. When I get home from work every day, I just load clean utensils, beans, and some fruit into my lunchbag and stick it in the fridge.

      I also usually take breakfast to work. Yogurt works very well for that. Also, I make and freeze big batches of venison bacon, which is also easy to transport and eat.

    4. fposte*

      Frozen food is *very* healthy if you’re the one who made it before it was frozen. Soups, stews, even some pasta dishes will freeze just fine in containers and then reheat nicely in the microwave, and you can do your prep on the weekends.

    5. WellRed*

      Containers with separate components? A larger container you can tuck a few smaller ones inside? I do lots of soups, chilis, stir fries, rice with protein,but like Blue Eyes, I get sick of something after 3, definitely after the 4th day. Also, frozen foods have gotten better if you haven’t checked them out. I don’t love them, but they do in a pinch.

    6. matcha123*

      I don’t bring lunch to work these days, but in the past I would cook some food in the morning and eat it warm later.
      My rice cooker had a timer, so I’d stick the rice and water in the pot and wake up to warm, cooked rice in the morning. Salmon cooks pretty fast, so I would then grill salmon in my toaster oven with a bit of soy sauce and wrap it in aluminum foil.
      Other times I would reheat mini hamburgers and wrapping them in foil or other similar things.

      I was working at a place that didn’t have a microwave, so cooking my food or reheating it in the morning and eating it warm later in the day was my best option. If you have a good lunch bag to keep in the heat, or thermoses for soups, you can keep “smelly” foods warm without needing to use a microwave. (Various types of fish or curries, if you eat those)

    7. ThursdaysGeek*

      I make homemade soups, and then freeze them in single serving containers. I bring them in an insulated lunch bag with fruit and a goody, and it keeps everything cold.

      I usually have 2-4 types of soup in the freezer at once, so each day can vary.

    8. Washi*

      I do a lot of burrito-type bowls: I bring rice and beans and an avocado from home, and I keep a thing of pico de gallo in the office fridge. I’m super lazy (and vegetarian) so the fact that I just have to make a big pot of rice on Sundays and can just buy everything else is a huge plus for me.

    9. HannahS*

      This week I had cabbage/carrot/tofu stir fry over rice with clementines on the side. Last week I had spinach/mushroom quiche with clementines on the side. This week I’m thinking pasta with white beans, kale, and garlic/parmesan…and clementines on the side. Basically, I cook on Sunday, making one thing for lunch that’s in a single container, and one thing for dinner that’s usually a soup or stew. I’m not a vegetarian, so I’ve also made sausage and roasted potatoes (which cook together in the oven) with sauteed kale. Or a breaded chicken cutlet (from frozen) with roasted sweet potatoes and green beans. Or pad prik king (chicken and green beans in Thai red curry paste) over rice. When I’m in my own kitchen, which I’m not at the moment, I look to take a single container with a protein, a green vegetable, and a carb. So other than the examples I’ve made above, I look online for “bowls” a lot. Like rice bowls, you know? They often have good inspiration. A burrito bowl and a miso tofu bowl are going to taste really different, despite being roughly equivalent in price and effort.

      I usually also take some kind of fruit that requires no prep, like clementines or apples, and maybe a snack with no prep like nuts or crackers.

    10. Middle School Teacher*

      I always bring leftovers. I find I function better if I have something hot for lunch.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Same here, when I was teaching. 99% of my lunches were leftovers. I absolutely do not have the energy, mental or otherwise, to come up with an ENTIRE SET of different meals for lunch — it’s making me feel stressed out thinking about it, haha! I worked in a place where no one cared about food smells, so regardless of what I had planned for dinners that week, some of it was coming with me to work.

      2. CatCat*

        I always bring leftovers too. We double our dinner recipes and BAM, two birds, one stone because that’s lunch the next day.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          That’s what I do, since I live alone and very few recipes are meant for only one person. If I just throw something together, I’ll cook two of everything. It was so much easier when I had people to cook for, but sometimes then you run the risk of there being NO leftovers if people are hungry, haha.

      3. The Original K.*

        Yep. I do some batch cooking and some one-or two-off meals. I freeze things in individual servings, e.g. if I buy a pack of pork chops, I wrap each chop in Saran Wrap and freeze it; that way I can defrost as many or as few as I like. I’m single, so this is crucial. I always plan and shop from the plan; I find that meal planning (including snacks – like this week I have extra carrots and bell peppers to cut up and have with hummus) means I waste less food and money. I’m doing a red lentil dal tomorrow!

        1. Middle School Teacher*

          I’m single too so planning is important. Batch cooking, wrapping smaller things to freeze, I do all the same as you! Plus I’d much rather grab lunch in the morning and sleep in than make a lunch in the morning.

    11. Ali G*

      Chicken salad (mayo, mustard, lots of crunchy veggies, roasted chicken breast)
      Tuna salad (canned tuna, quinoa, spinach, tomato, cuke, olive oil and vinegar)
      Regular Old Salad (veggies, smoked turkey breast, bring dressing in a small container and dress right before eating)
      —all of these can be prepped in a big batch. I make a week’s worth and then just use the same container all week to bring my single servings to work everyday.

    12. Earthwalker*

      Me too on leftovers. If there’s a freezer at home and a microwave at work, cook dinners in school cafeteria sized pans. Freeze the leftovers in lunch box sized portions for lunch and maybe a few bigger portions for busy night dinners. After a few big batches like that you build up a little variety in the freezer. If ther’s no freezer space, make a big pot of something Sunday, pack all the leftovers into five lunch containers in the fridge, and grab one each day. If you don’t have microwave access at work, a large mouth food thermos can keep food hot from a quick warm-up in the morning until lunch. Lasagna, spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, beef stew, meatballs, thick soups, and any number of veggie entrees are good for freezing.

    13. Teach*

      I have a weird job where I may not always get a set lunch time or access to a fridge or microwave, so I bring things that are easy to eat in stages and cold. Right now it’s kind of an adult Lunchable – whole grain/gluten free crackers from Costco, a serving of good cheese, and a “real food” type granola bar. I’ve been trying to get two servings of veg and fruit at lunch too, so maybe an apple, two clementines, grape tomatoes and sliced carrots or cucumbers. Swap out cheese for hummus depending on what I have.
      I used the divided lunch containers called Easy Lunchboxes on Amazon left over from when my kids were in grade school and a gel-lined lunch bag that goes in the freezer at night so I don’t have to remember ice packs.

    14. Jaid*

      Container of chili, topped with cheese and a packet of the Clubhouse crackers. A container of African peanut stew, with pumpernickel wrap or naan to use in lieu of injera.

      Look for bento boxes or meal prep containers with multiple compartments. Zojirushi SL-JAE14SA Mr. Bento Stainless Steel Lunch Jar, Silver is like a Thermos, but with four compartments that are individually microwavable.

    15. Ktelzbeth*

      I make more of whatever I’m making for dinner and pack it for lunch. I can stand repetitive eating, so my current plan is what I call “modular lunches.” On Saturday or Sunday night I make a big pot of something and parcel it out into 5 single serving containers. Then I put a handful of fresh veg in a bag and some hummus in another little container. Each morning, I can grab one main dish container, a bag of veg, a container of hummus, and a piece of fruit and, voila!, lunch. If the pot of something is big enough, the other half goes in the freezer and a container from a previous week comes out. Lunch and dinner all week with one night of cooking! As for what works well, soups and stews.

    16. Kimmybear*

      I like things to nibble on between meetings sometimes. Hard boiled eggs, hummus and cucumber slices, low-fat cheese sticks, carrots. Big fan of leftovers. Also try salads that marinate such as chickpeas, tomatoes, onion, olive oil & lemon juice in one container tossed over lettuce right before you eat.

    17. MsChanandlerBong*

      I don’t mind eating the same thing all the time, so on Sunday, I do as much salad prep as I can. I have six round Pyrex containers, so I fill them with 2 c. of spinach each. I like some crunch in my salad, so I measure out 1 T. of sunflower seeds, 1 T. of chopped walnuts, and 1 T. of dried cranberries for each salad and put them in small snack-size baggies so they are ready to go (I don’t like to put them in with the spinach until I am ready to eat it). I dice one bell pepper on Sunday and then the other on Tuesday night so that I can add some bell pepper each day. Later today, I will boil six eggs so I can have a hard-boiled egg in each salad. The only thing I have to do the day I eat it is peel and slice cucumber (I don’t do it ahead because it gets gross and soggy) and then mix everything together.

    18. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      Soup, salad in summer, slices of homemade frittata, assorted raw vegetables, crackers and cheese, trail mix. I have a couple of cans of soup stashed at work along with a microwave mug for an emergency lunch but so far I haven’t had the inclination to eat them.

    19. Indie*

      I am loving my soup thermos (I supplement whatever is in that with babybels, mini bars of dark chocolate and fruit) No more queing for the staff microwave and I can get a variety of soups, chilli, stews in there. Its also easy to add stuff to vary the leftovers; rice, sour cream, croutons, salsa,tortillas all make it seem a different meal. I’m adding spinach to tomato soup tomorrow.

    20. Anona*

      I bring leftovers, but Budget Bytes has a ton of meals that are specifically designed for meal preps. Google budget bytes + meal prep and you’ll find lots of yummy options. I love the herb butter chicken and the pork & peanut dragon noodles.

    21. Brandy*

      Chicken & Pasta salad:
      OrZo noodles
      Tiny tomatos
      Chopped cucumber
      Pieces of spinach
      Chopped up chicken (often extras made for a dinner)
      Onion & vinegar (sometimes)
      Add olive oil, salt, pepper.

      Enjoy like that or add balsamic.
      One container.

      I also make a veggie heavy chili (heavy on tomatos, peppers, and beans in addition to meat) which I completely recognize is not true chili but does a great job as a veggie vehicle for me and my kiddos). One container.

  42. DreamingOfCheeseburgers*

    Soy Sauce Replacement – Plant Based Food ideas – Low salt diets

    Last week I said I was trying out a recipe to make a soy sauce replacement (in the plant based food thread) and that I would share if it went well. I am happy to report that I really do like it – while it doesn’t taste exactly like soy sauce, it does add the same umami flavor to recipes that soy sauce does.

    Note 1: I replaced about 2/3 of the soy sauce in recipes with the replacement and used low sodium Tamari for the other 1/3

    Note 2: The recipe calls for beef stock. You can replace it with vegetable stock for vegans/vegetarians. I didn’t since I already had beef stock and I didn’t think health wise a tiny bit of beef stock would make a difference.

    I will link to the recipe in a comment – in the mean time, you can find it at hackingsalt dot com.

      1. Chaordic One*

        Thank you for listing this link. As someone with soybean allergies, these are definitely something that I will be trying. I’ve tried Coconut Aminos, and while I don’t think it tastes quite like soy sauce, I find it very good and now use it pretty regularly.

      1. SaaSyPaaS*

        I agree with coconut aminos. The bottle I have is “The Original Coconut Aminos” made by Coconut Secret, and I get it from GNC. It tastes just like soy sauce and has just 90mg of sodium.

  43. CAA*

    I have to bring dessert to a Superbowl party tomorrow. I know I want something that’s finger food, but can’t decide. Any ideas?

    1. Blue_eyes*

      Caramel corn
      Bite size brownies
      Rolo pretzel “sandwiches” (google these if you’ve never had them)

    2. Lcsa99*

      I agree with everyone that says brownies. They are rich, so they would be a good compliment to the likely salty foods you’ll have with it.

      But cookies are always easy too!

    3. Extra vitamins*

      Oreos. I don’t know if something homemade is the goal, but I’ve never brought leftover Oreos back home.

      1. CAA*

        Yes, I do want to do something homemade. It’s Girl Scout Cookie season here though, so maybe I can make something with Thin Mints or Samoas. I’ll have to google for some recipes.

        1. Enough*

          You can make “hamburgers” with the thin mints. Use vanilla wafers for the buns and colored vanilla frosting for the lettuce/cheese/tomato, and plain for mayo/special sauce. Or just lettuce with a few squiggles of red and yellow for ketchup and mustard.

    4. BRR*

      One recipe I do is lay out mini pretzels on a cookie sheet. Then I’ll place a Hershey’s kiss (usually a hug) on each one. Put them in the oven for a short bit on low heat to soften the chocolate, then place an m&m on top. I’ll refrigerate them before serving.

    5. Emily*

      If you want brownies/blondies/dessert bars of some kind, Smitten Kitchen has a large selection of sweets that would be good for parties. I’m partial to her favorite brownies (classic one-bowl recipe) and her swirled brownies (I’ve made the cheesecake-marbled brownies and peanut butter swirled brownies at least twice each), but she also has some enticing-looking recipes that I haven’t tried, including dulce de leche cheesecake squares.

      If you want something more “snacky” but still sweet, maybe you could make one of those snacks that’s just pretzel or cracker + chocolate? I’m thinking specifically of two snacks here: pretzel + warmed hershey’s kiss + m&m on top, and saltine cracker toffee, but I’m sure that there are others in this category.

    6. CAA*

      Thanks everyone, now I have so many ideas! I think I will try those chocolate peanut butter cookies from smitten kitchen. One of our friends is vegan, and I feel bad if I only bring things she can’t eat, so I’ll also make a batch of the “secretly vegan chocolate chip cookies” from Ovenly. I am definitely saving the pretzel sandwich ideas and that David Lebovitz brownie recipe for other occasions though!

      1. CrazyPlantLady*

        For next time you’re baking for your vegan friend, I highly recommend King Arthur Flour’s Vegan Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies. I just made them yesterday and everyone was shocked when I told them they were vegan. They were delicious! I substituted almond milk for the water since I had an open container in the fridge I’m trying to use up, but I’m sure they’re great as written also.

  44. Come On Eileen*

    This is a question that crosses the weekend and Friday open forums, so I wasn’t quite sure where to post it. Anyway, here it is: my friend/acquaintance “Betty” helped me get my job about 7 years ago. I was recently laid off and she knew of a contract position that I’d be a good fit for at her company. Fast forward, I got that contract position which evolved into a permanent position and I’ve been there ever since. She and I have always been what I consider “lite friends” — in the same friend circle, enjoy seeing each other when the group gets together, but we don’t hang out one-on-one. About six months ago, we had a structural shift at work, and now she’s my manager’s manager. Betty now has insight into my performance reviews, salary, and she assigns me work. Because of that, I don’t really feel comfortable spending time with her in this friend group anymore. It’s awkward for me.

    Important note: because everyone in the friend group is busy and generally gets together in smaller groups, I honestly rarely see Betty outside of work as part of the larger friend group – maybe two or three times a year tops? Nonetheless, a mutual friend recently invited all of us to see Cirque du Soliel. I had expressed to this mutual friend that I no longer really want to spend time with Betty outside of work because it’s uncomfortable to me with the new power dynamic. She understood. Betty responded yes to the Cirque invite, so I told our mutual friend I’d skip this one.

    With all that background, here’s my question: if Betty doesn’t gracefully back out of the next friend event, is it okay to say something to her along the lines of “hey, it’s awkward for me now that you’re in a management position for both of us to keep attending these group events. I’m happy to be the one who bows out on occasion, like I did for Cirque. Would you also keep that dynamic in mind and bow out yourself on occasion so that I can attend?” For what it’s worth, I don’t think Betty knows I bowed out because of her.

    Or maybe it’s worth a more general chat with Betty at some point, to say “hey, this new dynamic makes our friendship awkward now, yes? Can we talk about how to approach friend outings so that we know how to handle things?”

    1. Rhymes with Mitochondria*

      Maybe it’s not awkward for Betty. I feel like expecting her to bow out of events for your awkwardness is not realistic. A better approach would be for you to deal with your own awkwardness. Honestly I think that unless you’re in serious trouble at work, this is NBD and you should just go hang out with friends.

      1. StudentA*

        This is my thinking as well. No offense, but if someone asked me to spend less time in their friend circle, I would 1) be appalled at the gall and 2) question their maturity. And frankly, out of all the things that happen in friendship circles that cause awkwardness, from divorces to fallouts, this rates pretty benign.

        I can appreciate that it makes you uncomfortable, but consider this: is there a chance that by your request, you not only make her uncomfortable, but the individuals who are doing the inviting?

    2. WellRed*

      If you express this to mutual friends, expect it to get back to Betty. It’s too bad that, as the senior here, she hasn’t been more proactive about bringing this up. If it’s only two or three times a year, it doesn’t seem like a big deal to either go to the event or not attend. If you really want to go, like to Cirque du Soleil, I don’t think you should not go because Betty will be there. Just be on good behavior (not fair, I know) and, if it’s a larger group of people, socialize more with them.

    3. Blue_eyes*

      If it makes you uncomfortable, you can certainly decide not to see Betty socially. But I’m not sure you need to go that far. Since you’ve only ever been “lite” friends and maybe see each other 2-3 times a year in group settings I think it would also be fine to do nothing and continue as you have been. Being intimate personal friends with someone in your management line isn’t a great idea, but I’m sure many people have loose social relationships with their managers and that seems fine.

    4. Glomarization, Esq.*

      I think, yes, you should talk to Betty directly. Asking the mutual friend(s) who organize events for the group to sort of “keep track” of who doesn’t want to attend at the same time as someone else isn’t really fair.

      But asking Betty to trade off with you in bowing out of events? I don’t think that’s a good idea. Putting it in terms of “so that I can attend” implies that Betty is preventing you from attending, and that’s not the situation at all. You’re preventing yourself because of a perceived problem (that may not actually exist) in mixing your social and work lives. So why not just ask Betty, “Hey, checking in about going forward when we’re both invited to a group event like Cirque du Soleil. How do you feel about that?” Listen and follow her lead. But asking her to restrict what she does so that you never meet outside of the workplace will come across as a little weird.

      1. schnauzerfan*

        Yeah. I don’t think there’s a problem with attending a play/movie/concert/sports event as part of the same group. It’s the before and after activities that could get dicy and it matters how big the group is. Twenty people grabbing a bite before? No problem. 4 people spending several hours drinking after? Problem. Now going to the same swingers club or playing a 4 hour role playing game? Problem. Going pub crawling together? that’s a big nope.

        1. Washi*

          I agree. Just sitting a few seats away from each other watching a performance seems totally fine, and if it’s only a few times a year, I don’t see the problem with occasionally socializing in a big group. I would just avoid getting any closer than you already are, but otherwise this seems fine.

      2. Come On Eileen*

        Thank you for your insights, I like the approach you’re suggesting. I’m realizing that there’s another factor playing into my feelings of awkwardness, and it’s this: now that I’m on her team and interacting with “Business Betty” more than I had before, I’m noticing I don’t love her management style and it’s VERY different from what I’m used to and what works best for me. So I think my opinions about her as a manager are coloring my desire to want to interact outside of work. So, I need to marinate on all this for a bit. I don’t want to cause problems with our friend circle or at work, and the comments here are helping me realize I might do that if I say something I haven’t thought through.

          1. zyx*

            “Marinate on” is commonly used metaphorically to mean “think for a while about”—letting oneself absorb the ideas. Autocorrect does all sorts of strange things, but I bet this wasn’t an error.

            1. only acting normal*

              “Ruminate” is more common/older – meaning to slowly chew on something literally or metaphorically.
              I always think of someone “stewing” (overthinking vs thinking) if they say “marinate” – must be the cooking link.

              1. Come On Eileen*

                I did mean “marinate” ! Just as zyx mentioned above, I use it to mean “think on/absorb an idea.” To me, “ruminate” has a more negative connotation — it’s the word I use when I can’t get a bad thought out of my head. This is a wonderful side convo :-)

    5. Jen in Oregon*

      I would not do this. This person has helped you land a job not once but twice. If you are feeling awkward about seeing her in a big group, especially in this instance where socializing is actually minimal, you need to either find a way past it or stay home. I get your feelings, I really do, but she has been a solid friend and to ask this of her would be really rude and probably hurtful.

      1. Come On Eileen*

        Thank you. That’s exactly why I was asking — I needed a fresh perspective and to get out of my head and hear from others. I appreciate it.

  45. Cat Conundrum*

    Kitty experts: Acclimating a new cat into the household…right now new cat is in a bedroom and previous cat is roaming the rest of the house. We’ve switched bedding, switched territories, had them meet in person a few times, and previous cat still hisses angrily or tries to attack at any sight or scent of new kitty. Been a couple weeks.
    Is there any hope these two will get along? We love them both but this situation cannot go on forever.
    Should we throw caution to the wind and just let them work it out, even if that means a cat fight?
    Both are young female cats though they were adopted from a shelter so unsure of the exact age, vet’s guess is that they are both 2-3 years old.

    1. Not All*

      I’ve done hundreds of introductions at this point (I do a LOT of fostering!) and I’d just open the doors at this point and see.

      A couple things:
      -especially since it is your original cat (OC) who is upset, DO NOT PET THE NEW CAT. Give OC insane amounts of intention while ignoring NC. (This may seem unfair but it’s ok…NC won’t mind & it will help OC’s jealousy)
      -lots of catnip. Loose catnip everywhere that won’t be stained green.
      -if you have empty boxes, scatter them around. I know it’s an internet cliche, but cats really do love boxes & having a small space they can feel safe in but see out of makes a big difference
      -litterboxes everywhere in safe corners…there is likely to be a stage where OC gets territorial over NC using their litterbox so having multiples in safe, hidden locations can help prevent NC from needing to go in inappropriate places
      -if this doesn’t work out, some cats will accept tiny kittens but not adult cats. You could try fostering a litter that will stay in a cage where she can get used to them without having to interact with them. Kitten season is coming & every shelter will be overwhelmed with tiny litters needing to be fostered until they are old enough to adopt out.

      It may or may not work out…some cats just don’t like other cats. Some cats take a long time, and some are just picky. I had one cat in college who hated every cat I fostered (big enough space I could still do it), then for some reason decided she just adored one of the fosters from the beginning. I actually ended up adopting the one she adored & had them as an inseparable pair for nearly 15 years…she still disliked every subsequent foster though she mellowed as she aged.

    2. LadyCop*

      This is very very very normal. I totally envy people who bring home a new kitten and house cat starts snuggling it from the get go…but that’s the exception not the norm.

      Honestly, my kitten (now 3) got hissed at for a good 6 months. It declined as time went on. I would let them spend as much time in the house in general as possible, but -do not- let them get into a physical fight! I later learned that kitten is much more territorial, so it was important to give them each as many options to “own” space as possible. i.e. we got another cat tree, a few extra cat beds etc.

      It reminds me of the “Dear Kitten” videos Friskies put out where the narrating kitten starts out saying he hissed at the kitten the prerequisite 472 times… It’s a process. Hang in there!

      1. Cruciatus*

        This gives me hope. Older cat is still hissing and growling at the kitten 4 months later. There’s no physical fighting (there is some chasing and once in a while I think it’s actually a demented form of play). But he wants her to love him and she doesn’t. I think if he could just ignore her things would improve but he has to see what she’s doing. What she’s sniffing. Why she ran upstairs. She’s been spending a lot of time in the basement since she can’t get away from him outside (too cold). I don’t expect them to be best friends, but I’m just hoping older cat can eventually walk by the kitten and he won’t care, and that the kitten can dash past the older cat and she won’t feel the need to growl hiss about it. He was neutered on Monday and I had hopes that might help but so far…no.

          1. Cruciatus*

            Older cat is 9. She’s still pretty active but not kitten active. I know he’ll chill eventually, but I don’t think it’s just the activity level but just the fact that he exists. I’ve seen her relax(ish) more over a weekend when a dog was visiting than she has with this kitten. She was only a single cat for, like, 3 weeks. I guess she loved those 3 weeks.

            1. tangerineRose*

              Sometimes getting the kitten another young kitty to play with can help, but that does mean having 3 cats.

    3. Asenath*

      Mostly, I go by a vet’s advice when I wasn’t very familiar with cats – quit being a referee and let them settle their differences – although I have also used some of the ideas doing things gradually. Then I decided that it was time to get a new cat. I have never in my life had such problems introducing a new cat! I tried every idea I could find. Eventually, I essentially divided the apartment in two zones. When things calmed down (I’m talking months) I started leaving the bedroom door open when I was around, and then when I wasn’t. They still generally stay almost exclusively in their own ends of the apartment, even with the doors open, but they’ll occasionally share space. They’ll never be cuddly buddies, but at least there’s now a kind of workable arrangement. The situation improved gradually over a couple of years. I can’t decide why this introduction was so difficult. The older cat had lived with my previous cat (died too young of kidney failure) so she was used to sharing. The younger one came from a shelter, so she was used to sharing. She’s sort of play-jump the older one, who’d go under the loveseat and stay there as though she was terrified.

    4. tangerineRose*

      Sounds like you’re doing the right things. One thing that might help is to keep them in different territories but to feed them on each side of the door that separates them. That should help them associate the other kitty with good things.

    5. CatMintCat*

      Let them go. They’ll work it out. Our “new” cat that we got as a six week old kitten is now seven years old. She and the now 14 year old still have wild fights through the house. If you’re unsure, still separate them when you’re not home, but otherwise, let them work it out themselves.

    6. Need a Beach*

      I generally let them work it out, unless there’s a situation where one cannot fend for themselves (like when I had a cat who was declawed before I got her, and her bully wasn’t dissuaded by her soft swipes). Sometimes all you can hope for is coexistence. My senior cat and youngest cat hated each other up until senior cat passed.

      Adding more vertical space always helps, because of how cat social structures work. If you don’t want cat trees all over, Google will give you a lot of cute hacks involving stair-step-style wall shelves or drilled-hole bookcases.

    7. ElspethGC*

      Try some Jackson Galaxy advice (there’s a lot on YouTube, so you don’t need to buy his book). Give the whole house two levels so that the older cat can stay up high if she doesn’t want to interact with the kitten. Scent therapy such as Feliway or certain scented oils (but be careful, because plenty of essential oils are poisonous to cats).

      Look, some cats will never get on. They tolerate each other. I had two, both females, more or less exactly the same age, who lived together from the age of 1-ish onwards. The younger died a few years ago aged 16, the older last year a few days short of her 21st. And they never really got on. They tolerated each others’ presence, they agreed to lay on opposite sides of the bed and share a human, but they never cuddled or groomed each other or played together – and they were still perfectly happy living in the same house.

      Some hissing is normal. Kitten needs to learn where he is in the hierarchy of the house – back up Older Kitty in the sense of making sure you cuddle with her and give her lots of attention and don’t let Kitten distract you from it. With the two of mine I mentioned, neither were aggressive but they both hissed, hid from each other etc. The vet recommended putting them both in a single cattery enclosure for a day or so. Neutral ground for them to get their act together and learn that the other one wasn’t out to get her. May suit your situation, may not.

      Whatever happens, though, unless Older Kitty is genuinely attacking Kitten, not just hissing and swatting when he gets too close or too enthusiastic, I wouldn’t consider rehoming/returning. Especially not after just a couple of weeks. They’ll probably settle down and tolerate each other sooner or later – just don’t expect cuddling and grooming.

  46. Amber Rose*

    I hurt my back again. It’s always in the same place, right around my right shoulder blade, and the pain is incapacitating. I can’t move or breathe too deep or sit or stand or lay down too flat.

    Usually this takes weeks to improve, does anyone have ideas on shortening that time? It hurts so bad.

    1. fposte*

      Oh, ow, I’m sorry. Have you had a diagnosis for this yet? Pain around your right shoulder blade isn’t automatically a back thing. I get that with my thoracic outlet syndrome, for instance, even though ground zero for that is the front of the shoulder. What will help may depend on what it is.

      At home, I’d just start by seeing if there’s a genuine relief position and what it is (does it make a difference if your neck is arched back or to one side or another, for instance?), and by testing heat vs. cold. Then generously to go what works in there; if it’s a muscle overtightening, that’ll help break up the pattern, and if it’s a pinched nerve, that’ll help soothe it and thus give it a little room.

    2. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      This book – Pain Free by Pete Egoscue. Fantastic! My hubby’s back would go out semi regularly and it was horrible. Our neighbor lent the book and it really worked. Not exercises, but positions that you hold. Now when he starts to feel stiff, or the twinges of onset he does the poses for a few days and no more pain. I had my back go on me – first time and I was sure I wanted to die! – and I did the poses for a few days and no more pain.
      The book is broken up in sections – type/place of back pain. And the poses are all simple and easy to hold – except one, lol.

    3. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Get a referral for PT from your PCP.

      If you are able (no kidney or ulcer or bleeding problems), take an NSAID like ibuprofen around the clock for 3 days to decrease inflammation. You can also take it alternating with acetaminophen, studies show those two together are just as effective as narcotics.

      1. Windchime*

        I second the recommendation for physical therapy. And if one therapist doesn’t work, try a different one. The first one I went to just wasn’t effective, so I went to a different guy who was helping my son recover from knee reconstruction. This guy was fantastic and very hands-on. So don’t give up on PT (like I did for a long while); try a new therapist if the first doesn’t work out.

        Other things that helped were gentle stretching and heating pads. I can’t take Advil now so that was a true bummer because it used to really help.

    4. Wishing You Well*

      Yup, it’s time to go to the doc.
      If you get physical therapy exercises, keep doing them after you feel better to prevent another injury.

    5. Sybil Fawlty*

      Agree with all those who said to go to the doctor. However, if you can’t do that, I’ve found a heating pad very helpful. Hope it gets better soon.

    6. Dr. Anonymous*

      Doctor visit, definitely. When I hear “shoulder blade” I wonder about the neck. I hope you feel better soon!

  47. WellRed*

    One more question: I have been using Turbo Tax for several years, so it’s easy and all my info is there. This year, my bank is saying, try Tax Act and we’ll pay for it. Which is tempting, because TT is getting kind of expensive. Anyone have advice? What have you tried?

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Well, all of them are free for the EZ form. But go beyond that, and there is usually still a charge for long form filers. I’m sure TaxAct is fine, but be sure it’s really free.
      My TurboTax this year was $40. They wanted another $30 for state, but I don’t use it.

      1. Enough*

        There is only one form now and new schedules to handle stuff they took off the 1040. I’ve looked at the forms but haven’t started my taxes yet.

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I’ve used TaxAct, HRBlock, and FreeTaxUSA in the past. Never used Turbo Tax though. All 4 are decent, and will do fine. there’s differences in the interfaces, etc, so it comes down to preference.

    3. CAA*

      If your return is pretty straightforward, then TaxAct will be fine and it will import the PDF version of your previous year’s return. However, if you have things that affect multiple tax years, like: rental property depreciation, capital loss carryovers, non-deductible IRA contributions, foreign tax carry forwards; then you need to be more careful. Some of these things have background worksheets that don’t get filed, so they don’t appear in the PDF return that TurboTax creates, and therefore TaxAct wouldn’t know to import them. If you have anything like that, print out last year’s and this year’s returns and review each form side-by-side so you can make sure everything on it makes sense.

    4. acmx*

      I used to use Tax Act. I preferred them over TT. I used them when I had to file multiple schedules and even for two states. I moved from there to the free one (fillable forms) on the IRS site to now I pay someone.

    5. Overeducated*

      Don’t! I tried Tax Act 2 years ago and wound up making a mistake and having to file an amended return to pay back several hundred dollars plus interest when i discovered it. I do at least partially blame the software design, it was the kind of thing where you had to answer based on your answer in Box 10A or whatever, but they don’t even give you a screenshot of that question like TurboTax does, so we couldn’t cross reference and wound up misunderstanding. We saved like $50 up front compared to Turbo Tax but owed more later….

      1. Overeducated*

        PS the mistake was regarding the child care tax credit, and my spouse and i have both had really weird income types as postdocs, so that issue may not be a problem for you.

    6. Madeye*

      I have been using TA for the past couple of years and like it. This year my bank is offering the same deal on TA as well. However, the small print is that they’ll use and share information from your tax return with third parties. So I think I’ll just pay for it myself. Hope this helps!

    7. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      I’ve used TurboTax in the past, but now they want me to pay for the fancy version solely to deal with my IRA contributions… meh! So I used OnLine Tax instead. It doesn’t have the fanciest interface, but it was free for me to do both federal and state, including the Schedule 1 for the IRA.

    8. Rainy days*

      I used Tax Act last year. I have a pretty high tolerance for tax forms / fiddly paperwork and I still found Tax Act really tricky. The user experience is years behind Turbo Tax. I ended up being really nervous that I was going to submit incorrect tax info because it was so confusing. I’m going to cough up for Turb Tax again this year. I have a main income, side consulting business, and own property for reference on the complexity level of my taxes.