weekend free-for-all – February 9-10, 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: Late in the Day, by Tessa Hadley. Two close-knit married couples unravel when one of the husbands dies unexpectedly. That sounds horribly depressing but somehow it’s not? The Washington Post called it “romantic comedy pulled by a hearse” and said, “The whole grief-steeped story should be as fun as a dirge, but instead it feels effervescent — lit not with mockery but with the energy of Hadley’s attention, her sensitivity to the abiding comedy of human desire.”

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

{ 1,242 comments… read them below }

  1. LDN Layabout*

    Thanks to everyone last week who gave me advice on American chain restaurants/plus size shopping! (I didn’t have internet access unexpectedly after posting and came back too late to really comment :()

    And to put some minds at ease, definitely won’t be missing out on independent places along the way, but those are easier to judge with research (although at this point I feel like 99% of all my time in New Orleans needs to be spent eating…)

    1. MysteryFan*

      Oh yes on the eating emphasis! In fact, when most of our friends get back from a trip to NO, the first question is “What did’ya eat?” lol

      1. LDN Layabout*

        In my case, a lot of seafood. I’m ending the trip in Boston so I’ll be on shellfish overload by the time I’m done.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            Seconding this. Great for any seafood you particularly like, cooked simply. I like their fish stews.

            For children, the ravioli are shaped like fish! Which clearly makes them good.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I’ve heard good things about their Chinatown.
          And my family likes the Faneuil Hall food court for sheer variety in a single destination.
          (Just do remember as you look around that one of the moneymakers sold there was *people*. I was glad to hear there was finally serious progress on a memorial acknowledging that part of New England’s history. But I’ve heard nothing since summer 2018. If you go, consider asking where it so businesses there see there would be interest.)

    2. Parenthetically*

      Hahaha! Yes, anyone who goes to New Orleans will definitely be quizzed on what they ate! Yummmmmm!

      1. LDN Layabout*

        I’m really looking forward to trying the sort of Cajun/Creole food we really don’t get at all in the UK.

        1. Parenthetically*

          Crawfish etoufee is my ultimate favorite Cajun/Creole dish. It’s… gorgeous. Oh I’m so jealous of all the amazing food you’re going to eat!

          1. The Dread Pirate Buttercup*

            Southern Candymakers. They are brilliant. Try one of everything, they just keep surprising.

    3. Llellayena*

      I recommend one of the food tours by Tastebud Tours. You get a good overview of the local cuisine so you know what to order later!

      1. LDN Layabout*

        At the moment we’re torn between doing a food tour and putting together the research I did into an epic Happy Hour food trawl XD

    4. ArtK*

      We’re going to NOLA in March for our 10th anniversary. You can bet that we already have a food plan. It’s a foody’s paradise. It’ll be a combination of old favorites (the Gumbo Shop for our first meal and Commander’s Palace for the official anniversary dinner) with some new places.

      1. LDN Layabout*

        Commander’s Palace is definitely my ‘I really want to go’ on my list (I…was a teenage goth who mainlined Poppy Z. Brite) along with Toups’ Meatery (because I’m a Top Chef junkie).

        1. ArtK*

          It’s an amazing restaurant. We’ve eaten there several times over the years, both brunch and dinner.

          That’s not to say that there aren’t a lot of restaurants that come very, very close. Brennan’s is one (run by Ralph Brennan — one of the cousins.) Galatoire and Antoine’s are both classic, old school restaurants.

          We also love the Court of Two Sisters for brunch.

        1. ArtK*

          It’s ours, too. Our favorite on the West Coast (where we live) is Napa Rose — it has the same old-school level of service and fantastic food.

      2. WhiteWalkerOnTheWall*

        MoPho right on the outskirts of City Park is amazing! Creole and Vietnamese fusion…..yummy.
        Cafe Degas is also good, on Esplanade.

    5. Anonapixie*

      Can confirm, you will eat your way through NOLA. Source: Have been there three times, still eat my way through it.
      Highly recommend Saba if you can get into it, for lunch or brunch– it’s near(ish) to the zoo, so you can combine the two. That was my favorite day of my most recent (sept 2018) trip!

      1. LDN Layabout*

        Saba’s on my (very overlong at this point) list, but I think the focus is going to be the kind of food we really don’t get in the UK vs. I know places I can get similar meals to Saba? Even though it looks /really/ good.

      1. LDN Layabout*

        Not a beer person but I find stuff like this fascinating! Food/Drink history and development is always so interesting.

    6. socentury*

      A New Orleans recommendation, if you get tired of super cajun/creole food – Vessel NOLA. It’s not in the French Quarter, and is a little more off the beaten path. It’s an old church that has been converted into a restaurant and it was probably my favorite meal in NOLA. (We stumbled onto it because it was walking distance from our AirBnB.) I had a salad with a crispy poached egg (like, the outside was fried but inside it was still a poached consistency) that I’ve been trying to replicate since, and some amazing cocktails.

      1. LDN Layabout*

        Ooh, I do love a restaurant in a re-purposed building, one of my favourites in London for good trashy food is in an old Christian mission.

    7. Drago Cucina*

      Let me put in a plug for my favorite NOLA bar—Back Space. Everything is literary themed, the food is good, it has big, leather club chairs. It’s more a neighborhood bar feel than a Bourbon Street get wasted on $5 drinks.

    8. Suekel*

      In Boston, you must visit the North End for amazing Italian food. My favorite is La Famiglia Giorgio.

  2. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    My characters are such nerds and I love them but that won’t stop me from putting them through HELL.

    1. Lucy*

      A couple of weeks ago I asked the commentariat whether I should try converting a bit of writing that wasn’t working as a short story into a screenplay. Well, with your encouragement I asked a screenwriter friend for pointers, and now have The Best App. It’s flowing much better in this format and I’m excited to work on it now. Thanks everyone!

    2. Sapphire*

      Ugh, I have to write out my stand-up routine because I’m performing at an open mic this Tuesday. I’m very nervous that my jokes aren’t going to land, but I also know this is a kind crowd. I also got some new ideas for my Macbeth adaptation where no one will say his name, so I really want some free time to work on that, but stuff that has a deadline takes priority.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Oooooooh, do let us know how that went! I have no experience with open mics or stand-up comedy so can’t really offer advice there (anyone else wanting/able to weigh in here?)
        That Macbeth idea sounds pretty interesting!

        1. Sapphire*

          I’ll let you know during the next free-for-all how it went! It’s this Tuesday and my partner is coming to see it.

      1. WoodswomanWrites formerly Woodswoman*

        Sorry to hear you’re still in that situation. I’m rooting for you and hope the perfect job appears soon.

    3. Foreign Octopus*

      I’m starting the editing process on the very first draft of my very first novel this week and I’m both nervous and excited about it. At the moment, the manuscript stands at just over 50,000 words so I need to work on filling in the details and fleshing out the scenes and I know that one edit won’t do it, but I’m excited.

      How do you lot edit your work? Straight on the screen or do you print out and annotate?

      I’m thinking about printing out as it’ll be easier for my mind to focus on the overall story rather than chapter by chapter.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        I usually annotate on a hard copy too. Then again, I do tend to write first drafts by hand, so I don’t really have another option.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I do the big chunks onscreen. I don’t print it out until I’m ready to do a line edit and/or proofread.

      3. Bookslinger*

        I do very little editing as I write. If I can’t think of the word or phrase I want I put a note in brackets and fix it when I edit. The words won’t come if I agonize over each one. When it comes to editing, nothing works like reading aloud. A text to speech program helps, too. You’ll catch awkward phrasing that way. Some people swear by typing the entire novel word by word all over again, but I’ve never tried that. I like to do my first serious edit with a printout and pen. My mind works different once it’s away from the computer.

    4. The Brazilian Hobbit*

      I’m still in the ‘this is a huge mess’ outline process, and hoping it won’t make me fully insane by the time the outline is done.

      Happy writing, everyone!

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Considering I use sticky notes stuck around my desk for outlining (seriously, my desk space looks like I’m either a conspiracy theorist or a serial killer) I never really get out of that “this is a huge mess” process ^^’.

        1. The Brazilian Hobbit*

          Depending on what you research, you might even be on a list somewhere. I’m pretty sure I am. XD

  3. WoodswomanWrites formerly Woodswoman*

    My family and I have been incredibly fortunate to have our wonderful mother going strong for so many years. She has defied time, dealing with the kinds of things that come with being 91–creaky joints including two that have been replaced, vision challenges, and being wobbly and using a walker. But in the big picture, she has been so physically and mentally healthy with none of the big challenges that accompany aging. Although she lives in a retirement facility with life care in case she ever needs greater physical or medical help, she still has her own apartment, has a solid group of friends, and enjoys volunteering in activities.

    Until now. In the last couple months, her mental acuity is slipping. She is also coming down to the last of her money in about a year and a half, and that is causing her anxiety because she has the classic issue of not wanting to burden her children to support her. With me, she is typically smiles and laughter most of the time. I am the only one of her four children who lives locally, but on the phone she tells my sister that she’s ready to die and doesn’t want to outlive her money. Going with her to medical appointments, her doctor suggested she go on an anti-anxiety medication but she has declined.

    A couple days ago, she called my sister to tell her about an experience we had together. Then she forgot she had already done so, and called her back the next day.

    While I know this journey of accompanying parents through the aging parents is universal, it is hard. While every medical check-up determines that physically she is strong and healthy, I think she’s mentally ready to leave.

    On a recent visit, I walked through her apartment and surreptitiously looked around for hazards, and there are none. She has no stove since she eats in the dining room mostly, just a microwave and no dangerous electrical appliances to accidentally leave on, no throw rugs she could slip on. She is diligent about using her walker outside of her apartment, but I think it’s time to suggest she get something she can wear around her neck in case she falls.

    My sister and I are a good team. She is terrific at logistics and navigating the labyrinth of finances andavailable services, and I am here to take care of things in person. Next week I’m going to see if I can set up a visit with the local government agency for aging and check in about what financial services might be available.

    I appreciate having this site to share–thank you, Alison–and I welcome hearing from those who have been on this journey.

    1. Asenath*

      Much sympathy – I know this is hard. Perhaps you could remind her of the plans you have for her care when the money runs out? She might not remember, and even without dementia, depression is common in the elderly, so she may continue to obsess on not outliving her money anyway, but it’s worth a try. It is very difficult to go through the path of trying to decide at what point you need to take over more responsibility for medical care, especially for someone who has always been very independent. And it’s invaluable that you have your sister helping – I couldn’t have done it without mine. One could offer moral support due to where she lived and the other did the same and visited when she could, spotting things I missed. I believed my mother when she assured me of course she was taking her medications as prescribed, my sister didn’t think so, and was right.

      1. WoodswomanWrites formerly Woodswoman*

        Yes, we’ve told her about how we’ll help her. My brother put up his house as collateral when she moved into her retirement community, and recently went through her finances with her so we all knew where things stood. This is all transparent and she’s involved in the process. Thanks for your sympathy, I appreciate it.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Depression can actually cause delirium or mild dementia. While I would hope her regular physician is doing screenings at her checkups, you might want to ask for a referral to a geriatric psychiatrist or neuropsychiatrist to see what might be causing her memory issues. Many causes of delirium and dementia are treatable or even reversible, and memory loss and cognitive impairment are not a normal part of healthy aging.

          1. Venus*

            A lot of dementia, memory loss, and cognitive impairment is related to drug interactions, incorrect doses (based on weight or slower metabolism), or bad luck. I’ve had several people in my life whose elderly relatives were being diagnosed with dementia and yet some of it resolved with changes to drugs. This won’t be true of everyone, but it should be considered as an option.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      There’s that role reversal where we become our parents’ parent. I know I have seen the older ones comforted by their younger generation. They wait for the kids to show up or call so they can talk over x or y. It does comfort them.
      It can be unsettling to hear them say they are fine with passing on. I can only conclude, this will also happen to me. I will decide enough is enough some time in the future. When I say it I hope others around me are able to respect my words. In thinking about my own setting it becomes my stepping stone to understanding other people’s setting. I am not sure what will be my threshold of tolerance. I do think people have slightly varying levels of tolerance. Who am I to judge how much is enough for someone else.

      My friend just lost her 99 year old father. We chatted about having a full life, etc. Then I said, “All the logic in the world does not stop the tears.” She said, “I have a hole in my life.” Yep. That’s right. People whose lives have meaning to us, leave holes when they go. I think it’s a side-effect of a life well lived.

      I do believe that love is eternal and only bodies die. Love manifests as grief. If we could stop loving them we could stop missing and grieving them. I also believe that the ultimate loving act is to let them go when they feel it’s their time. This is because we are putting their needs ahead of our own, that makes it the ultimate loving gesture.

      It’s hard. It’s very hard. To illustrate how hard it is, there was an article one time that said, doctors know that in the lose of our parents we begin our own downward spiral that eventually causes our own death. The loss of a parent hits us that hard. I am a big fan of supportive nutrition such as B vitamins and I am a big fan of eating a lot of veggies. Looking at these types of things provide the body with physical energy so that our minds can work better and we can process better. We do need to do things to help our bodies as well as our minds as we go through their process with them.

      I love how you continue to honor your mother. She is lucky to have you, just as you are lucky to have her.

      1. WoodswomanWrites formerly Woodswoman*

        I agree it’s a positive thing that my mother is okay with her upcoming death, and she has mentioned that to me. What’s difficult to watch is the anxiety she has around it, which tends to leave her easily stressed about small day to day to things and disrupts her quality of life now.

        Your suggestions about self-care and navigating grief are great, and appreciated.

    3. My Brain is Exploding*

      Just a thought… It sounds like the mental decline was rather sudden and rapid. If that’s the case, please double check her health status. Things like urinary tract infections can cause those same symptoms in the elderly; so can med changes. This is so difficult, and I’m sorry all of you are going through it.

      1. Asenath*

        I can second this. I had no idea that so many things can affect mental and emotional status in the elderly until my mother started going through them. I panicked the first time she had a UTI as an old woman and never dreamed that was the cause of her worsening condition because I didn’t know about the mental effects. The doctors spotted it and treated it successfully, and afterwards it was the first thing I suspected when her behavior changed suddenly.

        1. WoodswomanWrites formerly Woodswoman*

          Interesting. I had never heard about that connection with UTIs. I know she has had them in the past, and has been told by her doctor for years that she needs to drink more water. I’ll look into that. Thanks for the info.

          1. Blackcat*

            This has been a problem for my (91 year old) grandmother. Her bladder control is not what it once was, so she drinks less to avoid going to the bathroom ALL the time. Then she gets UTIs. It causes all sorts of cascading problems.

          2. Celeste*

            My MIL had this problem. They don’t present with pain, and toxins from the bacteria get in the blood and cause brain effects. It happened so frequently for her that they just kept her on prophylactic antibiotics because over time, the brain can become permanently affected by the bacterial toxins. It reminded me of how pediatrics is different from adult medicine; it turns out that geriatrics has its own issues.

        2. Cheshire Cat*

          Seconding this — my mother recently started getting frequent UTIs, and every time she gets confused and forgetful. Sometimes that is her only symptom. After a day or two on antibiotics my mother is always back to normal.

          Also, be aware that the standard test for UTIs isn’t always accurate for older women. The results can be “mixed” (whatever that means) or negative, even if your mother does have one. Doctors who aren’t geriatric specialists don’t always know this, either. The first time this happened to my mother, my sister strong-armed the doctor into giving Mom antibiotics. Another doctor in the practice does specialize in geriatrics, and my mom switched to seeing him after that incident.

    4. Sled dog mama*

      This is so tough, my grandfather is in a similar place (health and living situation). It’s so good that you have a sibling willing and able to do things from afar. I know that has been a tough thing for my parents, their siblings all assumed that since they were local and good with money they could handle everything. I’m too far away to help with the in person stuff but every time I talk to my parents I make sure I ask if I can do anything to help them. If you have children don’t be afraid to lean on them, they care about you and your mom too.

      1. WoodswomanWrites formerly Woodswoman*

        I also have two other siblings who are farther away and a less dialed in to the day to day. I called them a couple months ago when this pattern with my mother first appeared and encouraged them to visit. One of them did, and I think I need to call them again and let them know how things are going so they’re back in the loop. My other sibling is planning to visit in coming months.

    5. Blue Eagle*

      Went through a similar thing. It’s wonderful for your Mom that you are such a help and comfort to her.

      Only thing I have to add is that if your Mom is ready to go, please support her in that by validating her feelings and ask her what wisdom she would like to pass along to you before she goes. I’ve seen friends disregard those feelings and tell their older relatives that they have to hold on and keep living and it seems to just cause more stress for the older person.

      1. WoodswomanWrites formerly Woodswoman*

        That is such good advice. It is not my role to decide for her, and I respect that. What is tough to watch is her anxiety that tends to compromise her quality of life now as she stresses about small things, which is why her doctor recommended medication.

        I accompanied my father through the last days of his difficult medical journey, and it was a real gift to be able to be there and share it with him. He and my mother divorced when I was very young, and we were never close my entire life. It was those last days together that brought us together, a real gift that I’m grateful for.

      2. Christy*

        I will note that sometimes the person is ready to go before it’s their time to go. My great grandmother was ready in 1998 but didn’t pass until 2008. And watching her continue to decline after she was emotionally ready was its own grief.

        1. WoodswomanWrites formerly Woodswoman*

          That sounds really sad. There’s a history in my mother’s family of people dying suddenly or in a few days from when they aren’t feeling well, which she’s shared with me in the context of telling me not to feel bad if that’s what happens. It would certainly be a blessing rather than the difficult, lingering illnesses so many people suffer from.

    6. Llellayena*

      If she’s in a continuing care facility, check what they can do when her funds run low. Some places can just transition into Medicare/Medicaid without interruption of services.

      1. WoodswomanWrites formerly Woodswoman*

        Thanks. That’s the kind of thing my sister is checking into. She has gathered lots of information and I’m doing the legwork to contact the agencies in coming weeks.

    7. Anonapixie*

      You sound like you’re taking wonderful care of her– but are you also taking care of you? Can you see someone just to talk about it? Care giver burn out is a thing, and while you do have professional help, “parental slide” can be draining and upsetting. Seek out someone you trust, maybe, so you can get reassurance that you’re doing all the right things to the best of your ability?

      1. WoodswomanWrites formerly Woodswoman*

        This is a good suggestion. I am blessed with a wonderful community of friends and I’m talking with them. I’ve also been thinking for a while that it would be good for me to find a new therapist. I have utilized counseling in the past for other difficult situations, and I’m sure it would be helpful. Your comment is reminding me not to keep putting that off. I appreciate it.

    8. Jean (just Jean)*

      Good wisdom here. It’s not an easy path you’re on but you sound generally well equipped for the challenge– grounded and supported in your own life. How fortunate you are to have good sibling teamwork and a good relationship with your mom.

      I share your belief that love continues beyond this world. It’s never easy to lose people but it’s comforting if their departure concludes a long, constructive life. (It’s much harder when people die as children, adolescents, young adults, or in mid-life adulthood, and/or when the surviving family includes young/dependent children. Okay, I’ll stop with the gloom and doom. Not trying to preach, just sharing the perspective of having seen too many die IMO too soon.)

      May your mother be able to live and die as much as possible on her own terms and may your other family bonds and friendships be nourished by and continue to hold strong beyond your mother’s life.

    9. Rebecca*

      Sending good thoughts your way. This is tough, and I’m glad your sister is there for you both. My mom won’t take anti anxiety meds either, and she really needs them, so I hear you! I suggested the alert necklace to my mom, as she’s fallen several times since I moved in, but she won’t agree to it. I think it’s a great idea. Local agencies are very helpful. When my mother in law needed help, they came to the house for meetings, thoroughly explained all the paperwork, etc. and made the whole process easy. They were good, patient people.

      Wishing you well as I know this is hard.

      1. WoodswomanWrites formerly Woodswoman*

        I know you are in the thick of your own journey living with your mom. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    10. Need a Beach*

      If you plan to rope in your government agency for aging, please make sure you have all your ducks in a row first. Have all her legal paperwork up-to-date and her estate planning complete, without any holes or uncertainties.

      We had a terrible experience in that my father denied how bad he was doing and refused to designate a power of attorney before his dementia became too advanced. The agency became involved when he had to go to a care facility, and before I knew it there were social workers demanding to see bank statements and asking why we thought we had the right to spend his money (for his own care). They tried to take us to court and assign him a guardian from the state, who would have had carte blanche to spend down his pension and bank accounts. It was an absolutely miserable experience in how corrupt the government truly is.

      1. Wishing You Well*

        This is a very tough thing to go through.

        Just a reminder: some states have filial responsibility laws which make close relatives (sometimes, not just adult children) legally responsible for older relatives’ care bills. If you have a elderly relative needing or getting care, please educate yourself on your state’s laws.

        And good luck to everyone. These situations are heart-breaking.

        1. WoodswomanWrites formerly Woodswoman*

          This is something I hadn’t thought of, good to know. I’ll check into what the law says here.

      2. WoodswomanWrites formerly Woodswoman*

        I’m sorry to hear about your experience. How awful for your family. Fortunately, this is one area where my mother excels. Years ago, she set up her legal paperwork–a will, power of attorney, a document with all her passwords, an advanced care directive, a do not resuscitate document that’s included in both her purse and her door at home. I’m a co-signer on her bank account. She even set up her own cremation.

    11. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      I just wanted to lend a supportive ear, not much wisdom here. Mom is staying with me temporarily, and it is likely to eventually become permanent.
      Gram, her mother, lived to 99.9, and died just 3 weeks before her money ran out (she would have only had to move down the hall to a shared room, sigh). But mom’s 90th birthday is just 2 months off, and I can see her cognitive decline (which did not start for gram until 3 weeks before her death).
      Mom and I had the discussion of moving her into a lovely apartment in a building that’s part of a continuum of care. Many of her friends are there. Mom has done the math (former bookkeeper), and her money will run out if she goes too soon. I offered to subsidize…. but that would mean I’d have to stop my (newly started) retirement contributions myself.
      And her response was so negative – you’d think I proposed her running naked in the street.
      I absolutely would do it – worth it to me to have her safe and not living alone (which she will be when I send her home). I think I’m going to have to move her in with me “temporarily” for very LONG stretches (ie, send her to visit various relatives for short stints, calling it “going home” from here forward.).
      She’s very stubborn.
      It sounds like your mom perhaps needs to have someone to talk things through with, to reassure her… kind of a counselor of her own with some phrases to repeat (like CBT). My kids love me, and I will be okay….
      Sending a hug.

      1. WoodswomanWrites formerly Woodswoman*

        Yes, one of the things I found online yesterday is a local agency that specializes in counseling for seniors. I am familiar with them and they have an excellent reputation in the community. They will come to her home and their rate per visit is low. My mom had therapy many years ago, and did a one-time visit a few years ago for a specific fear issue, so she’s bought into the concept of counseling. Because she’s worried about spending money, she likely won’t do it and might kick up a fuss if any of her kids offer to pay for it. I’ll see what I can do on that front. Thanks for the hug. I can feel it.

    12. Miles' Mom*

      I’ve read that urinary tract infections in older people can cause confusion. It couldn’t hurt to have your mother checked for that just in case. You are so fortunate to still have your mother. I envy that.

    13. Cherry Sours*

      My dad has been in assisted living, then skilled nursing, going on 7 years now, and it’s difficult watching the decline. So good to year that your mother is better healthwise. Depending on what state she is in, and the actual facility, she may qualify for a Medicaid waiver when her money runs out. Now would be the time to reach out to the upper management (executive director, marketing director, etc…social worker if there is one) to get details on this. At the assisted living facility where I work, 10% of our rooms are open to residents on waiver…suspect this will vary from one place to the next. Good luck with this, hopefully knowing she will be (hopefully) able to remain where she is will take a nurden off her shoulders.

  4. A bit of a saga*

    Running thread early start! I’m on my way to Barcelona for the half marathon tomorrow. I haven’t put in quite as many miles as I would have liked to but I am in good spirits! For one, there should be sun and a few more degrees than where I live. What running plans do the rest of you have for the weekend?

    1. coffee cup*

      Where are you travelling from? I’ve been thinking about running a 10k in Madrid, but I’ve been told it’s a bit strange to go all the way from Scotland to do that… But it’d be a fun way to see the city!

      I was planning a Park Run this morning with my friend, but the rain looks a bit much. Just waiting for him to respond to see if he’s still up for it. I didn’t run last weekend, so I could do with getting out.

      1. A bit of a saga*

        Belgium. But I don’t think that’s weird at all – it’s a great excuse for a trip and Spain makes a nice and sunny change for what I have at home (which is grey and rainy too)

      2. Marion Ravenwood*

        Do the 10k! Agrer with ABOAS that it’s a good excuse for a weekend break if nothing else. I know loads of people who’ve travelled internationally for runs – everything from parkrun to a full marathon – so don’t think it’s that unusual. (However, I say this as someone who lives in London and is planning to do the Run Disney 10k in Paris in September, so I may be a little biased…)

        1. A bit of a saga*

          …I have also looked into the Disney run but it’s pretty expensive and not officially timed from what I understood so I think I’ll give it a miss. But definitely want to hear all about it if you do it!

      3. LGC*

        Go for it! Treat it like a trip to Madrid, and the race is secondary. (A bonus is that you’ll be able to enjoy your trip after the 10k!)

        I’ve heard similar things myself (that it’s not “worth it” to travel for shorter races for most people), but…that’s more if you’re traveling specifically for the race and that’s basically the only thing you’re doing. On the other hand, like I said you can enjoy yourself more around shorter races! I’m done for a couple of days after a full marathon, and maybe the entire day of a half marathon. But a 5k or 10k is much easier to recover from.

      4. londonedit*

        Plenty of people in my running club travel abroad for half-marathons and marathons! I never have because of money, but in my world it’s a very normal thing to go to Barcelona or Reykjavik or Berlin to run.

        I did my local parkrun this morning – it’s nice to be back there after January’s chest infection misery! Also managed to run under 30 minutes for the first time since last November. My PB is 25:54 but that was in 2016 and I’ve been rather lazy since, especially last year, so I’m just trying to make 28-something my usual parkrun time again, that used to be my comfortable pace.

        Tomorrow I’m meeting up with some friends to run a new route – they’re marathon training so they’re doing 16 miles, but I’m hoping to manage 8.

    2. Marion Ravenwood*

      Good luck for tomorrow!

      I haven’t done any running this week – today was my week to be a parkrun tourist but I had a hairdressers appointment that meant I couldn’t do it (I am actually typing this from the salon chair!). Back to it next week though.

      I’ve also signed up for two more races – the Zombies, Run! Train To Oban virtual race in April and Run With The Ancestors at the Olympic Park in March (both 5ks). I’ve got a target time in my head but it’s more just to see how I go (and add some more medals to the collection) than pushing myself too hard.

      Also I’m volunteering at the Olympic Park Half Marathon tomorrow in London, so good luck to any AAM commenters running that one!

    3. LGC*

      Good luck! I’m really excited for you! Remind me, is this your first time going to Barcelona? (I’ve never been, although it is one of the places I’d love to visit!)

      I’m going to Central Park this morning (I live just outside of New York City, so we do that fairly often), and then doing my usual weekend long run routine of going to The Place We Don’t Mention On Weekends. (I like $$$, okay? Plus, I work just outside of the city, so it’s not that hard.) Not looking forward to the actual long run since the weather’s been insane the past week or so. (The joke I’ve made is that it’s been the same temperature, it’s just the temperature scale has changed – which is not that far off from the truth! A week ago it was 5F, then it spiked up to 65F, and this morning it’s 25F.)

      Finally wrote my pacer bio, which…this is going to be interesting! I’ll be pacing the 1:45 group for a half marathon in April. I’m easily able to run that pace (it’s 8:00 per mile, and my normal 15+ mile long runs are around 7:20-7:30 on average), but I need to actually run 8 minutes exactly. Most of my issues tend to be me gunning out too quickly – I can run pretty much anything for a quarter mile to half a mile before my body catches up and realizes that actually, I’m running way faster than I intended to. (I’ve gotten much better about this!)

      1. A bit of a saga*

        Thanks. Yes it’s the first time I do the race though I’ve been to Barcelona before – I’m excited, it looks like a nice course and the weather is perfect for running. I can imagine it’s not so easy to be a pacer, you really need to be constant!

      2. JobHunter*

        I practiced my pace on a treadmill (8:15). After several short races, I had other runners come up to me at the finish line and compliment me on my even pace!

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

        It’s interesting to think that if you were pacing 8-9 years ago, you might have been my pacer if you’re doing a 1:45 group. That said, I never once successfully stayed with a pacing group and I really admire the pacers that can do it with military precision. I hope you let us know how the experience is!

      4. CheeryO*

        On behalf of the 1:45ish crowd, thanks for taking it so seriously! I know you can probably say this about any race pace, but it really is a fine line. Even 7:50 pace is blow-up city for me in a half (ask me how I know!).

      5. LGC*

        Thanks for the support (and the tip, JobHunter – which reminds me, I really should sign up for the gym that’s literally down the block from me)! I’m hoping I’ll do fine – I really do want to get this accurate, and I’m a little nervous since it’s actually a bit slower than what I usually run on my easy days. From what I’ve heard, it’s often harder to run slower than normal because it throws your normal motions out of sync. I’m notorious for my ability to calculate time, though, which is a plus.

        And I’ll definitely keep you guys posted! (Who knows, people in the area might actually see me.)

    4. Lady Jay*

      Oh, fun! Enjoy Barcelona for us!

      I took my long-ish run (7 miles, I’m not training for anything rn) yesterday, because yesterday it was 40 and this morning it’s 30 degrees! Running is so much more pleasant when I don’t have to wear three layers. I’m looking forward to the return of some spring-like weather.

      1. A bit of a saga*

        I will:-) And yes, I specifically picked this race because it was a chance to enjoy some early spring, it makes such a difference

    5. Emily*

      Ooh, that sounds exciting. Good luck!

      I want to do my usual Sunday long run, but am not sure if I will – my right calf has been weirdly sore this week, and while it doesn’t bother me much when I run, ignoring the problem doesn’t seem to be making it better.

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

      Good luck, A bit of a saga! That sounds pretty amazing.

      My running plan for this weekend was a 10 mile run this morning in Liberty State Park, which was spectacularly beautiful but COLD!! Upper 20s F with what must have been a 20-25 mph wind. Oof. I’m not really feeling long runs in this winter weather — I’m doing them because the NYC Half is on March 17 — but I have to admit that today’s was good, even if it felt like my face was going to freeze off.

    7. CheeryO*

      Hope it went well! A half marathon in Barcelona sounds amazing.

      My running plan for today is a very easy 5 mile recovery run in the sun. I did a 10 mile race yesterday in some nasty weather – single digits with a horrible headwind for the last half. Good for getting back into running and building mental toughness, not so good for running PRs. But I came close despite not running much for the last few months, so I’m happy.

    8. A bit of a saga*

      Hi all, all your ‘good lucks’ worked, I beat my 1/2 marathon record by almost 4 minutes so very happy with that! Hope you got the runs in you wanted this weekend

  5. lammmm*

    What are you cooking this week?

    I have one day off then six days on, so I’m using the leftover pizza sauce I have for pita + cheese + sauce + snacks (apples and/or carrots + soybutter, and a babybell). Then half way during the week I plan on a quick chicken salad + crackers and the previously mentioned snacks.

    I’m planning on spending as little time in the kitchen as possible on that one day off.

    1. Kate*

      Once or twice a year, we have something that’ll “The Feast of Saint Duck”.

      It always starts on a miserable Saturday morning.

      I roast a duck, and inevitably wind up eating at least half of the crispy skin right off the bird, burning my fingers in the process.

      Then I use half the meat to make this divine duck pasta from one of the Jamie Oliver cookbooks. That’s dinner #1.

      I reserve the other half of the meat plus whatever skin hasn’t been scavenged, and make Peking Duck pancakes with hoisin sauce and fresh cucumbers. That’s dinner #2.

      I save the fat in a glass jar to roast potatoes with later in the week, and turn the carcass into a stock/soup base for French Onion soup. That’s dinner #3.

      The duck, she is waiting on the counter. I am excited! (And the dog is licking his chops)

      1. Parenthetically*

        We did a big roast duck on Tuesday for Lunar New Year! First time ever roasting a duck and it was BEAUTIFUL, and so simple.

        I’m filing away your dinners #1 and #3 for us for future reference! Thank you!!

    2. Lucy*

      I have a beef stew in the oven at the moment, and in a minute I’ll be mixing cheese scone dough. Fluffy scones with rich gravy is absolute heaven.

      We had a Thai dish this week for the first time in absolutely ages, and I’d forgotten how much I enjoy it.

    3. HarveyW*

      I have been no (refined) sugar-no grains for a couple of months so I am trying a couple of new recipes this week to add to the repertoire:

      2-ingredient pot roast (instant pot)
      Peach bbq short ribs (slow cooker)

      Also some trusty favorites:
      Tomato basil soup (you can do it in an instant pot but it doesn’t take forever on the stove top either)
      Thai chicken (usually then top naan bread to make pizza but this week it will be over cauliflower rice)

    4. Sapphire*

      I have some chicken broth that I’d like to use to make Greek avgolemono soup, and I’m going to make Indian butter chicken as soon as I replenish my spices.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I just made butter chicken last night! Big hit with the family (in that my husband loved it and kids didn’t immediately ask for cereal instead). Recipe was from yesterday ‘s Washington Post. Didn’t have fenugreek leaves so took the advice to add about a tsp of maple syrup to the sauce.

    5. What the What*

      Do you have a good chicken salad recipe? I make a menu at the start of each week and try to Instant Pot as much as possible to cut down on kitchen time. Turkey Sloppy joes, puff pastry chicken pot pie, teriyaki turkey meatballs and spiralized zucchini, Chicken enchiladas, minestrone this week.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Well, I don’t call it a “recipe” exactly, but I have several ways to fix chicken salad. First thing I do is mince or shred chicken (canned is fine if you don’t have any leftover chicken) and add mayo and a couple of minced boiled eggs. Not everyone likes boiled eggs with theirs, so don’t add if you don’t like it. Then when ready to serve, I add different things depending on the mood we’re in. #1 is add sweet (or dill) pickle relish, celery and minced onion (I don’t like onion in chicken salad so I don’t usually add it. But my hubby does so I’ll put some in his serving.) #2 Finely minced apple with the celery and relish. #3 Green or red grapes sliced in half and tossed with chicken/mayo and glazed pecans or walnuts. Sometimes I’ll add dried cranberries. Add mix-ins and let sit maybe an hour before serving. The reason for not mixing up a big batch of any of this except #1 is apples and grapes tend to break down in chicken salad and aren’t really good left-over. Another way to add chicken to a salad is shred and put over a bed of greens (we like raw spinach and romaine) with sliced strawberries and glazed pecans/walnuts and dressed with a strawberry or raspberry balsamic vinaigrette. This is my son’s favorite; I always get big hugs when I make this.

          1. PhyllisB*

            My pleasure!! We had a ladies’ night at our church a couple of years ago and I made the chicken salad with apple and one with green grapes and glazed walnuts. The ladies went nuts over both of them.

        1. Dr. Anonymous*

          I use chopped, defrosted frozan mango chunks instead of apple or grape and they seem to hold up for make-ahead.

    6. Parenthetically*

      Two meatball recipes this week — Poh Ling Yeow’s pork meatballs with rice noodles and herb salad, so flavorful and I want to be like Poh when I grow up. And buffalo wing meatballs — just ground turkey with garlic and chopped green onion and celery, browned then drenched in buffalo sauce.

      We haven’t done our meal plan yet but I want to do a beef massaman. Curries are perfect for this time of year when it’s cold and gray and stupid all the time.

    7. The Messy Headed Momma*

      Are you in the States? Trader Joe’s has a Southwestern Chopped Salad that is our go to for quick meals. Sometimes we add beans, sometimes we use it for tacos, sometimes I make soup & use the accoutrements for something else. It’s incredibly versatile!

    8. Midwest Engineer*

      I’m making a very Americanized version of Pad Thai, some tuneric curry sauce, and a salad of roasted root vegetables. And some chicken soup.

    9. londonedit*

      Tonight I’m making satay stir-fried veg with noodles. Then tomorrow I’m planning to make a batch of mushroom and spinach pasta for lunches, and a big pot of dhal for this week’s dinners.

    10. HannahS*

      Lunches this week will be breaded fish from the freezer section, with rice or barley or pasta (I’m using up ends of bags), green beans, and an apple. Dinners will be…ugh I don’t know. Scrambled eggs and toast, maybe. Feeling very uninspired. Breakfasts will be yogurt and granola and tea, as usual.

      1. lammmm*

        I’m feeling very uninspired as well as that’s why I don’t want to spend my one day off in the kitchen! Figured if I pack enough into the box, I can just graze on it all day

    11. Loopy*

      I have no idea but Aldi’s was practically giving away cauliflower and mushrooms so I will try something with those. For the mushrooms, I’ve got a mushroom marsala recipe I want to try but am hoping omitting wine won’t leave it too flat.

      Cauliflower leaves me a little more stumped to be honest. I’m trying of looking up some type of cauliflower bite recipe I can do in my air fryer. I’ so tired I dont want to take on anything complicated but omg, I have so much cauliflower to eat….

      Easy suggestions for either are welcome!

      1. I'm Just Staff*

        Cauliflower steaks! So simple. ..wash the cauliflower, then take a long heavy knife and slice right through the entire head to make slices about 1/2 inch thick. (as best you can; some will inevitably crumble off) Then fry the slices in olive oil in a heavy skillet on both sides until brown. Season however you like, with salt and pepper, herbs, curry powder, ground chile, whatever. You can add the crumbled bits to the pan or just eat them raw in a salad.

      2. lammmm*

        I just chop it up small, toss it with a bit of oil and a bunch of salt/pepper/garlic powder and roast the crap out of it til it’s brown and crispy.

      3. Jane*

        I made the “Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower Bites” on the skinnytaste website once. They were pretty good! I bet if you adapted the recipe to your air fryer they would be even better.

        That said I usually just roast cauliflower. I’ve also heard that it is good au gratin, like potatoes.

        1. Overeducated*

          I have done the lazy version of this and just roasted cauliflower and doused it with buffalo sauce. We eat it in buns as a buffalo chicken substitute and find one cauliflower feeds two adults!

    12. ThatGirl*

      I currently have stuffed shells in the oven for friends coming for lunch soon. Haven’t planned next week though :)

    13. Jane*

      I’m roasting a chicken and then making some chicken soup. I have a bit of a chest cold so I’m hoping that will help.

    14. Nervous Accountant*

      I’m working 60 hours/6 days a week too.
      This week’s menu is chicken burger patty with cheese and broccoli or bell pepper on teh side 2 days, beef burger patty with cheese and broccoli or bell pepper on the side the other 2 days. Eating out on Friday.

      Sunday I will steam broccoli and pan fry the chicken & beef patty. I’m keeping hte bell peppers at work to just cut and eat raw. For Wednesday & Thursday I’m lucky that my mom or husband can help out and make it for me, since it’s not very complicated and time consuming.

      Trying to do one-meal-a day/intermittent fasting and going light on carbs and not spend a lot of money.
      I’ll try to supplement with whatever is leftover in the office dinner (we order dinner every night and sometiems have leftovers).

      Keyword TRYING… i set up my meals and lose all motivation and will either order lunch or have last night’s. I can eat a healthy meal but then end up eating chocolates :( :(

    15. Nervous Accountant*

      I have no idea where my post went, I think I started typing but stopped and got busy.

      Menu is, chicken burger patty with cheese broccoli and cucumbers twice a week and beef burger patty with cheese broccoli and bell peppers the other two days. Friday, I will eat out.

      I work 60 hours a week too. My only day off is not going to be spent slaving over a stove. I’ll cook tomorrow for Monday & Tuesday, but luckily my husband & mom can help out by shoving the patties in to the tabletop oven and steam the broccoli (if they agree to it. If not, I can do it myself, its 10 min of prep work max).

      I’m also trying to do intermittent fasting & low carb. If i’m still hungry, II plan to supplement with leftovers. My office orders dinner every night and there’s usually leftovers of everything (here’s hoping I stick ot the salad/veggies/protein and avoid the pasta)

      I just hope I can stick to this :(

      1. lammmm*

        Yup. Normally I have two days, so one day is dedicated to meal prep/cooking. With one day off? I want to spend an hour in the kitchen max and I’m not very fast in there. Anything more complicated than throwing some ingredients together and mixing is going to get a hard pass. and I’m over regular and pasta salads.

    16. Mazzy*

      I tried pasta from edamame with pesto and some fried peppers and it was awesome. And that pasta is lighter than regular pasta, less carbs, very high in fiber, and kind of chewy, but in a good way. It was really good!

    17. Overeducated*

      Also uninspired. For dinners, last night I made a quick slaw, pineapple salsa, and guacamole to eat with tacos (using carnitas from the freezer). I’ll do black beans in the instant pot today, and picked up more tortillas, cheese, and sweet potatoes at the store, so we’ll mix and match those most of the week. Spouse will make meatballs tonight to split between spaghetti dinner(s) and the freezer.

      We are thinking of making something a little nicer for Valentine’s Day, maybe short ribs with port sauce, but haven’t settled on vegetable sides yet.

    18. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I always need creative things to do with ground meat from my CSA.

      Last night I made Cuban-style beer Piccadillo with green olives, capers, and raisins. I served it over mashed sweet potato with sliced avocado on top. Yum.

    19. Elan Morin Tedronai*

      I cook my own lunch about 3-4 days a week. I normally do grocery shopping for the week on Sundays, but because we’ve just finished celebrating Chinese New Year celebrations over here, I have a variety of, shall we say, esoteric ingredients I can use instead. Now the challenge is putting them together in some form of coherence… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    20. Adminx2*

      Salisbury steaks and chicken chimichangas. There’s just two of us so I’ve found two full size type meals carries us through a lot of the week and then I’ll do eggs or mix frozen stuffs together the other days. Plus Thur is always frozen pizza night.

  6. Jemima Bond*

    Morning all! OH and I are just having s bacon sandwich then going orienteering. On Horsell Common – vintage science fiction fans will know why I shall be keeping an eye out for any large metal cylinders slowly unscrewing themselves…

      1. London Calling*

        My ex had a tape (yes, it was that long ago) of the Jeff Wayne version of War of the Worlds and the one place I always needed a tissue and a handhold was listening to the fate of Thunderchild.

        1. GoryDetails*

          I listened to an audiobook of War of the Worlds recently, narrated by Simon Vance; the Thunderchild segment always makes me a bit teary too! (Did you know there’s a novel, The Last Days of Thunder Child by C. A. Powell? I haven’t read it yet, but was pleased at the idea of giving more page-time to the ship and its crew – even though we know how it’s going to end…)

        2. The Dread Pirate Buttercup*

          I think the Thunderchild is one of the best-written bits in the western canon, no joke. If a recounting of a battle can reduce an old hippie like me to sobs…

  7. Less Bread More Taxes*

    This is kind of work/school-related, but my actual question isn’t so bear with me here: I recently graduated from my masters program. Over the summer, when I started applying for PhD programs, I emailed a professor of mine asking for advice. He seemed genuinely happy to hear from me and offered to meet me for a coffee. We exchanged numbers in case there were issues finding the place or each other. Almost immediately, I realised he thought it was a date. I kept having to steer the conversation back towards college and PhDs and work, but it was effort. After an hour, he asked me to dinner and I politely declined. I didn’t say anything to him about being caught so off guard by the situation. I also didn’t say anything to the university because I didn’t see the point since I was then establishing a firm boundary.

    Unfortunately, he kept texting me. They were never work or school related. Always about what he was doing, the music he listened to, food he was cooking, etc. It was incessant. I decided to keep the channel open because I needed a reference letter from him (he was one of the professors that I’d had a few classes with a project with). He did write me a stellar recommendation and I ended up getting into a great PhD program that I’m starting in a few weeks. I would send one or two sentences back to each of his daily rambles. I admit that I’m at fault for not nipping that in the bud, but after a couple of months, I just didn’t know what to do.

    A few weeks ago, I went to visit home for three weeks. I told him this with the expectation that he’d give me some space. He didn’t… and I just stopped responding. Yesterday, I opened up his messages. I realised that it wouldn’t be good to just ghost a contact in the industry like that, so I wrote him something short saying I’d been busy, that’s all. You guys, he wrote me 14 paragraphs updating me on what he’s been up for the past month. What on earth do I do here? Do I just call him out on this? Politely tell him I’m too busy? If this were just some guy I’d met, I’d have no problem doing that. But he’s doing the exact same research I am and is going to be in my tight-knit community for a while.

    1. The Curator*

      Wow, this is tricky and more than work issue because , yes small world and academia. Don’t beat yourself up but also. Do not be alone with him again. Also, share the situation just the way you have here with a trusted colleague. Print out all coorespondence and emails . Thank him for the recommendation and say that you are busy and as he can understand and that you won’t be responding to personal emails. Colleagues are not ghosting when they are out of touch. Be out of touch.

      1. NonnyNon*

        “Hey, I am realizing you want this relationship to be more friendly than I was expecting, but I contacted you with a professional relationship in mind. I am sorry if it seems I misled you, I have been unsure how to tell you that I am not interested in a dating type relationship or daily contact. I am sorry I didn’t speak up sooner.”

    2. Lady Jay*

      You’re not in *his* program, right? You have a different set of professors? Obviously, maintaining good relationships with the professors at your own institution, who you literally see every day, is more important. And if there’s a professor on the faculty who you trust/who serves as the head of graduate studies, I’d start by asking that person; a more senior graduate student could also be helpful. Whoever you ask, they can probably provide a strong script & help you workshop it, for getting this dude to back off.

      If it were me, I’d probably just ghost him again, though you could also frame this as starting your program–“I’m sorry, I don’t have time to text, I’m busy with classes/research.”

      1. Less Bread More Taxes*

        We are at different institutions now, which are pretty far from each other, but I foresee running into him again at conferences and whatnot. Thanks for the script!

      2. Asenath*

        “you could also frame this as starting your program–“I’m sorry, I don’t have time to text, I’m busy with classes/research.”

        That’s an excellent response. And stretch things out – take a day to respond to a text with something like that. If he responds, wait a few days or a week, don’t apologize this time, and just say “Too busy to keep up; am fine” or something similar. If he switches to email, do the same. He should get the message without being literally ghosted, although you can still to that if you need to.

        Conferences are less worrying. There are groups there. Practice saying things like “Oh it’s been ages, hasn’t it? I really have to leave now, I’m running late….” and walk away. At a conference, you could be attending or leading a seminar, or see someone across the room you have been trying to get in touch with for simply days – there are lots and lots of reasons you can’t speak to someone, much less accept an invitation to coffee or dinner or something from him.

      3. HarveyW*

        Treat him like a friend who is too needy. (We all have them.) Respond if and as you are able, and as you CHOOSE to. Yes, keep the lines open but don’t get crazy and don’t allow him to dictate it…. just as you do with that friend that feels the need to overshare and can’t just let a text or email chain end.

    3. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I wouldn’t necessarily go off on him but you can politely cease contact. You’re just starting your PhD so I don’t think this guy is going to be necessary as a reference in the future since you will now have other, more significant references at your PhD program.

      And someone who wants to date you and has questionable judgement (hitting on a as good as student) isn’t the best professional contact anyway.

      Tell him you are too busy but thanks for the reference letter and work on your studies and contacts at your PhD program. Forget him.

      1. Less Bread More Taxes*

        You’re right, he can’t be that great of a contact if this is his idea of a professional relationship.

        1. Khlovia*

          Don’t professors get asked for advice and recommendations all the time? Wouldn’t that be his logical default assumption? He knew damn well you weren’t asking for a date. He’s playing fun games with your head. You have already spent more braintime on him than he deserves. Stop.

          1. dawbs*

            Yup. Pretending there’s plausible deniability when, really, it’s pretended obtuseness and take advantage of a position of power.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      You are probably not the first person he has done this to. You’re not the second person, either.
      Selectively talk to a few others. Someone will know and someone will be able to tell you how to cut loose here.

      1. Southern Ladybug*

        Agreed. And he knew it wasn’t a date. He manipulated that situation. And continues to do so. He knows what he’s doing. Don’t feel bad about doing what you need to do to protect yourself. And you don’t owe him ANYTHING for the positive recommendation.

    5. Reba*

      Ohhh noooooo

      I hope you have a great experience in your PhD program! While it’s true that you’ll keep running into this dude from time to time if you’re in the same field, keep in mind that soon enough, you’ll have lots more contacts and colleagues of your own, and this person does not have to loom large in your world. The future recommendations from your grad school profs will be more important than those associated with previous degrees, so don’t worry about needing to keep in his good graces indefinitely. (That is, in future you’ll be asking for letters from your PhD committee members or other faculty, because you’ll want people who know your current work and near term trajectory very well, not your past work. You won’t need to be reaching back to MA and undergrad people for recs.)

      1. Reba*

        meant to add, I know this kind of experience can be jarring emotionally and hit your confidence. I’m sorry this happened, it’s not your fault. You’re brilliant and this is already pretty much behind you!

    6. Alice*

      Yuck. He shouldn’t have put you in this situation.
      But – and of course it’s easy for me to say from the outside – I think that you would have been better off had you addressed it earlier.
      At this point, do you feel comfortable calling him and telling him that you value him as a professional contact but you’ve realized it’s inappropriate to have a personal relationship because of the power imbalance? I suggest calling rather than texting because that conveys that this is serious, and it’s harder for him to ruminate over exactly what you said. If you think that he’d be chagrined to realize that he was putting you in a difficult position, this could be a good way forward. Also, I used the word personal instead of romantic, so that you don’t get bogged down in an argument about him just wanting to be friends.
      If you think he would react inappropriately, you can also continue as you’ve been going. It’s just that he’ll probably keep going too, which is a hassle for you.
      If you think that he might harass you or that he would harass students, then you should consider reporting him to the title ix people at your institution. (Not necessarily do it, but consider the costs and benefits) Make sure you understand who is a mandated reporter and what would be private and what wouldn’t be private before you start talking to anyone official.
      There’s a lot of uncertainty in my advice…. From what you said I personally don’t get a predator vibe, just a lonely vibe, but you can make the best judgment knowing the situation.
      Congrats on starting your PhD.

      1. zaracat*

        “telling him that you value him as a professional contact but you’ve realized it’s inappropriate to have a personal relationship because of the power imbalance”

        I think that this is a really good approach, although I wouldn’t do it by phone – partly because I’d be too chicken but also because doing it in written form (text or email or even written letter sent by registered mail) provides proof that you’ve not only attempted to address the situation but done it in a way which isn’t accusatory or adversarial. Then you can go no contact and reserve the full-nuclear option for if he crosses the clearly set boundary after that.

      2. Doodle*

        NO, absolutely DO NOT call him. Send him an email (easier to keep a copy of it) in which you play dumb and say, Professor X (NO FIRST NAMES), I finally caught up with your recent messages and I think you may have gotten the wrong idea. I am very grateful for the recommendation letter you wrote and for your professional support, but I am not interested in a personal relationship. Please do not send me any more personal messages. Thanks so much for understanding! Signed, your name (first and last, it is more formal). [this is nicer than this turd deserves because he knows exactly what he’s doing, but if you’re concerned about him harming you professionally, it’s ok to give him a way to save face.]

        Block him on all social media and block his phone number [you don’t want any more texts from him]. Let all phone calls from him go to voicemail and then don’t open them. You can even just delete them, unless you think he’s stalker-y, in which case save them. If he emails, respond maybe once a month. Or less. Or never. You owe him NOTHING — you said thank you and that’s all you need to do. Writing recommendations is part of his job. It’s not because he’s an extra special swell guy.

        If he doesn’t stop, talk to a reliable faculty member in your current department. You can also talk to the folks in your current institution’s EEO or Title IX office.

        All this advice from many years’ experience as: a Ph D student, faculty member, University staff in student services offices.

        1. Doodle*

          Also, if you happen to run into him at a conference or other professional setting: Do not ever walk over to him to say hello. If he does speak to you, say something like, “Professor X! I hope you’re doing well!” or even just, “Hello, Professor X.” Nothing personal. Do not ask any questions. Do not say anything nice about his recent article in The Journal of Pointless Studies. I’d allow one or two sentences of pleasantries and then say, “Well, gotta go schmooze around. Good to see you!” and then walk away.

    7. Anoncorporate*

      This guy is taking advantage of the fact that you need him for professional purposes to continue harassing you. Don’t give him the benefit of the doubt, and it’s not your fault. From your accounts, you never said/did anything to suggest you were romantically interested in him. Asking former professors about PhD programs is a Normal Thing to Do, and I highly doubt when men do it, people don’t automatically construe it as an opportunity to flirt with them.

      I recommend ceasing all contact. You got what you needed from him (the reference letter), and you don’t owe him any personal favors in exchange. Don’t worry too much about the fact that your field is small. I know right now, you are dreading running into him and all, but the weight of the situation will fade with time. You will make contacts of your own, this guy will eventually age and retire. I want to reiterate that this behavior is Inappropriate. It is not okay to bombard a former student – or anyone! – with a ton of personal emails when they don’t reciprocate the interaction.

      1. Pippa*

        This is all good advice, and I’d also add that you should let a few trusted friends know about your discomfort with this guy. And keep an ear out for signs that he’s mischaracterised your relationship to others – suggesting that you and he “went out briefly” or anything like that. I’ve known some shady people in academia (as in any other profession, I suppose) and reputational costs can be real and unfairly distributed. If this situation continues, you might need to police that a bit.

    8. Lilysparrow*

      I am not in academia, but there is a relatively simple and polite way to clarify the issue that he might truly think you initiated a date with him. (He would be sorely misguided, and you certainly weren’t sending “mixed signals” or any nonsense like that, but I think you will feel more in control of the situation if you take that as a working theory).

      You can say, “Look, this is awkward, but I think we got on the wrong track and you misunderstood my intentions. I was hoping to get some professional advice. You have been giving me a lot more personal details than I’m comfortable with. Let’s stick to work only.

      “Good luck with (Project,) and I’ll see you at (Conference.)”

    9. deesse877*

      This sort of behavior is sadly common in the academy. But you don’t have to put up with it. Cut him loose. He is no real loss to you. Remember, also, that contacts go both ways, and he is missing out on knowing you as a colleague.

    10. Ann O.*

      If he’s just inappropriately chatty, I would ghost. He may think you’re interested in being friends, even if not a girlfriend, and have no conscious awareness of how weird his behavior comes across. It doesn’t sound like he was offended by your ghosting him for 3 weeks, so there’s some precedent for you doing that and being okay. Blame it on the Ph.D. program if asked about it, and it will probably be true.

      If these long messages are also inappropriately sexualized, though, you may need to proactively set boundaries. It is so, so hard to know what the right thing to do in those cases are because every personality is different and a lot depends on how much bandwidth you have for dealing with any negative fallout, as there’s likely to be at least some. But even if you still decide ghosting is the safest way forward, make sure you tell some friends… possibly even trusted colleagues. Save all messages–both text and email–so that you have documentation. If you have a good relationship with a mentor in the department who you trust enough to talk about what this professor is doing, talk to the mentor. The important thing is that you trust the mentor will guide you to making your own decision about reporting/not reporting and not force your hand one way or the other.

    11. BossAmy*

      First, good for you for settings boundaries. You should harden them even further as other commenters have said, with one last email saying thanks again for the recommendation and you’re starting your program so you’re sure you won’t have time for anything else.

      I’ve been in this situation and it’s fine to ghost him from them on. Once you start your PhD program your life will be completely separate from his and if you happen to run into him at a conference, you can make small talk for a minute and then peace out. Don’t be surprised if he tries again to make a move.

      Good luck with your new program!

    12. jamesriver & professor husband*

      My husband, a professor, says, “Just block his number.”

      If he’s a master’s level professor, you will have other professors and networking opportunities through your PhD, so we think ignoring his messages won’t hurt your future career at all. But at this point, there’s really nothing to report because he hasn’t propositioned you, or anything like that. And we don’t see what you gain by engaging or confronting him to explain that you just want a professional contact. We think it would burn that bridge, which you might find useful to you in the future. Whereas, being too busy to respond to his [inappropriate] overtures doesn’t burn the bridge in that same way.

    1. wingmaster*

      Almost 1am here, so I’m with you on being tired. I’m good though! I just did maybe 90% of packing for my Peru trip this Sunday.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I noticed a lot more birdsong in the morning the last two days, which is a sure sign. Haven’t seen any robins yet, but I’m watching for them. I don’t pay any attention to things like crocuses or trees budding since we’ve had so many warm-ups and they just get confused.

    2. anon24*

      I had off yesterday and it was a beautiful day, very warm for February. I walked to the park and couldn’t resist playing on the swings. For once the weather was stronger than my depression and I felt very happily peaceful all day. Today the cold has come back and I’m struggling a bit again, but I will be ok.

      I’ve been sleeping way too much the last year and initially I thought it was because of my new job but it’s been a year and I’m still constantly just falling over exhausted to the point that I have no energy for the things that I love so I think it’s time to get myself to my doctor.

      Anyway, this post sounds super down and depressing but I didn’t mean it that way! I’m still smiling and enjoying the beautiful things in life. May spring come early! Hope you all have a great weekend!

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        >I’m still smiling and enjoying the beautiful things in life.
        Back atcha and may you and your doctor find simple, effective solutions for your exhaustion.

    3. Jean (just Jean)*

      I’m tired but back in good spirits after feeling sorry for myself. I spent last weekend driving long distances. The reasons were happy (a friend of my young-adult child plans to graduate this spring from a nontraditional high school) but my lack of down time left me depleted for the week at [place not discussed here] plus the usual challenges of living with a spouse whose energy is blunted by chronic illness.

      Midweek I revived after attending a public event and shmoozing with people I knew through the sponsoring organization. For the program itself, a woman and her now-adult son discussed their experiences with raising their child/growing up with their sibling who had/has autism. The husband/dad wrote a book several years ago called “Life, Animated” and someone else did a documentary on their family (and possibly other families? I missed the introduction).

      The neurotypical son is launching an organization to support other siblings. He spoke about the benefits of “finding one’s tribe/others on the same journey.” It was fascinating and encouraging. The world needs more positive energy.

      Gaah…I always write a novel here! Maybe I should get my own darn blog instead of hogging the podium on other folks’ platforms?

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Stir-crazy over the snow storm we’re dealing with but otherwise pretty typical Saturday level of good. I slept well and still have power, so I’m staying busy enough!

    5. MsChanandlerBong*

      I’m having a tough time this week. I started a new medication, and I am having good results with it, but the side effects are getting bad. If I was just nauseous, that would be okay, but I will be fine and then all of a sudden feel like my guts are inside out. My skin also feels like I went outside and spent six hours in the sun with no sunscreen–an intense burning sensation, with some pinkness of the skin. And then I’ve spent the last few nights alternating between sweating to death and shaking with chills. I have plans tonight, and I spent big bucks on the tickets, so I better feel better before we go out!

  8. Lena Clare*

    I just went vegan! Finally.
    Been meaning to go it for ages. I’m really enjoying it.
    Anyone got any sandwich filling ideas? I can’t have cashews or peanuts.
    I’ve been eating tahini, tomatoes, and black olives on a whole wheat pitta (which is delicious btw) but that’ll get old pretty soon.

    1. Lena Clare*

      Also any creamy-type desserts that don’t use cashews would be good.
      I’m thinking I could substitute macadamias instead? Has anyone done this?
      I would LOVE a vegan tiramisu recipe :)

      1. Less Bread More Taxes*

        There are a lot of chocolate mousse things that are vegan. I think a lot of them use avocado instead of dairy. I love them and I’m not vegan.

      2. Emily*

        I haven’t tried this pie, but it looks and sounds good (uses avocado for the creaminess): https://www.autostraddle.com/femme-brulee-vegan-chocolate-icebox-pie-387775/
        (Depending on how strict you are, you might have to make sure to buy non-honey graham crackers and vegan chocolate chips, but that’s usually not too hard.)

        I’ve also heard of vegan cream pies that use silken tofu in the filling – no recipe suggestion for those, but I’m sure you can find a lot of options online.

        1. Lena Clare*

          This looks nice thanks :) I like the idea of silken tofu in place of cream and I am going to use it for other things for sure.

      3. Fellow Traveler*

        Have you tried chia pudding?
        A can of Coconut milk, 2 tablespoons chia seeds, 1/5 cup cocoa powder and some honey for sweetener. Shake well and put it in the ridge for a couple hours. The chia seeds make it gel to a pudding texture. Some people don’t like the texture of the chia seeds in it, but I like that it gives it a little crunchy

      4. PurpleMonster*

        I just made chocolate mousse yesterday with aquafaba (chickpea cookingwater)! You whip about 3/4cup of aquafaba for quite a few minutes until it’s thick and foamy, like when you do egg white. Gradually beat in 3tsp of caster sugar and keep beating until you get reasonably stiff peaks. Then melt 100g dark chocolate, carefully stir it in, and chill! It makes four small servings. I really didn’t know how it would go but it was surprisingly good and rich.

        There’s tons out there about aquafaba – I love that it’s a waste product you can put to great use.

    2. WoodswomanWrites formerly Woodswoman*

      Avocado and hummus is a good sandwich combo. Marinated tofu is good protein. If you prefer not to make your own and you’re in a relatively urban area, you can often find different flavored varieties in grocery stores.

      1. Lena Clare*

        Thank you! I made a really nice marinated tofu this week (based on a recipe someone posted last week on here!) so I’ll use that.

        1. Triumphant Fox*

          I love BLTs using “bacon” tofu – a tiny bit of liquid smoke, soy sauce, agave and sriracha if you want some spice.
          I find sandwiches to be the hardest – they take so much more work than slices of meat and cheese. I do a lot of hummus, cucumber, sprouts, tofu. Sometimes I do disks of sweet potato I crisp up on the stove or in the oven or spiced cauliflower. They do make vegan deli meats, but I’ve never tried them and don’t really feel a desire to.

    3. Nerdgal*

      Not a vegan, but I enjoy pureed Lima beans spread on cornbread. I assume it’s possible to make vegan cornbtead?

      1. The Messy Headed Momma*

        OMG….that sounds delish! And I am a carnivore through & through! @Lena Claire I also like tofu “egg salads”.

      2. Kittymommy*

        Huh, never thought I would have a vegan suggestion but this reminds me of a sandwich I make every new year: cornbread (vegan for op, of course), mashed up black eyed peas, and cooked cabbage. I cook the cabbage with butter or margarine. Salt and pepper for the l peas.

    4. anonagain*

      I’m excited for you! I know there’s a learning curve, but it is also a chance to try all sorts of new things.

      Do you like chickpeas? I like chickpea salad in sandwiches. There are many recipes that can be modified to suit your tastes and cooking preferences. One variation that I like is mashing avocado and chickpeas together with a fork, and adding lemon juice, salt, and pepper as the base. I don’t like onion, but I think the original recipe had that. You can really add whatever you think sounds nice.

      Are there other vegetables you like? Roasted peppers? Eggplant? Sauteed mushroom? Caramelized onions? Sweet potato? (I used to love this sandwich that was sweet potato and green apple.)

      I like the marinated tofu idea. Also, falafel or veggie burgers!

      I’ve not baked in years and the dessert references I have from back then were cashew heavy. So instead I’m going to suggest the blog and YouTube channel Gretchen’s Vegan Bakery, even though I haven’t personally tried any of the recipes. Gretchen used to own a traditional bakery, so you will notice that her desserts and photos have that old school look. (I love it, but it’s different from a lot of what you see on social media.)

      She has a tiramisu recipe that I think should be safe for you (apologies if I overlooked anything). She also has a lot of “building block” recipes — things like butter cream frostings and the like.

      I hope this helped!

      1. Lena Clare*

        So many great ideas thank you! And thanks so much for sending me to the Gretchen’s Vegan Bakery blog, it looks like something I will be able to dip into a lot! I really enjoy baking but for some reason I am nervous about vegan baking.

        I think some ingredients might be more difficult to source here (UK) unless I get them online, but I think I’m just going to spend some time getting the basics down before I try anything a bit more unusual.
        I tend to be ok cooking savoury recipes and have been trialling vegan things for weeks now. I’m also ok if I’m in work and can use the microwave (soup) or toaster (pitta breads) it’s just that sometimes I am out on visits all day and I have to take a sandwich with me to lunch otherwise I don’t eat and that is when I am more likely to lapse by buying something else (non-vegan) to eat!

        I have been kind of eating all kinds of unhealthy stuff too when I find it in the shops, going overboard like – “hey this is vegan I’m going to eat it!” so I’m hoping that’ll calm down soon lol. I mean, I had some vegan Rocky road this morning for my breakfast

        1. anonagain*

          Man, I wish I had rocky road for breakfast. :)
          It makes perfect sense to me that you’d want to try everything right now. You’re looking for your new favorite foods. I think finding foods you enjoy, including treats, is a big part of being able to stay vegan.

          I have a massive sweet tooth and so the first thing I did was learn to make a cake. This was in 2006 when the only way for me to get vegan cake was to make it myself. In those first few weeks, I made cake every few days. Then every week. Now I don’t bake at all. But at the time, I was overwhelmed at how much I was giving up, you know? If I thought I was looking at living the entire rest of my life without cake, I’m not sure I would’ve done it. That exercise was crucial for me to be able to envision being vegan forever.

          It sounds like you are doing really well so far!

    5. Reba*

      Seitan! if you can get wheat gluten (we ordered it online) it’s not hard to make at home. Great with barbecue sauce.

      1. Lena Clare*

        Yes I got something similar and made a kebab style pitta bread (I do eat other things apart from pitta lol) It was really nice.

    6. Ranon*

      I’ll second chickpea salad! I do chickpeas, lightly smashed, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, capers (or olives if you like olives better), something crunchy (usually radishes or celery), minced red onion/ shallot/ green onion, minced garlic, and tomato (if it’s tomato season). Pile that on bread with vegan mayo and lettuce and you’ve got a heck of a sandwich.

      We usually do this as tacos but it would make a good po-boy, too- blackened tofu w/ avocado crema. Crispy tofu planks cooked per the Cook’s illustrated salt water bath method, then fried a second time with the spices for blackened fish, with a vinegar cabbage slaw and avocado pureed with lime on top. It’s really incredibly good.

      1. LemonLyman*

        I third the mashed chickpea idea! Mixed with hummus, avocado, or a vegan mayo (Live the tang of vegan mayo!). And ins of your choice. There are some good suggestions here (I like a little shallots with mine).

        1. ..Kat..*

          The best vegan mayo that I have found is Just Mayo. It is also gluten free. And it comes in a few flavors, such as chipotle.

    7. Mephyle*

      You can make tofu “sausage” of many different kinds by varying the marinade. Look up recipes for homemade sausages and take just the herbs and spices, along with some vegetable broth. With this method, you can make Italian sausage tofu, Polish sausage tofu, chorizo tofu, frankfurter tofu, or many others.
      Fry the slices of tofu in a non-stick pan with a little bit of oil until golden, then add the marinade and cook until the marinade has boiled off.
      Another nice sandwich filling is leftover bean or lentil loaf of any kind, sliced.
      Another one would be chickpea cheese – there are a lot of recipes on the internet.

    8. The Gollux (Not a Mere Device)*

      Roast sweet potato, slices of apple, and greens. The cafe I go to makes that with goat cheese. so not vegan, but a bit of margarine should work to moisten it.

      1. Lena Clare*

        Is the sweet potato mashed and spread on the bread? And by greens do you mean green vegetables or green leaves for salad?

    9. Loopy*

      Most people have already mentioned my ideas but I’ll second avocado (mashed and creamy is really phenomenal), hummus, some carrots and veggies to give it some texture and YUM. I know there are some great chickpea salad recipes I’ve used and been thrilled to bits with. Those are my three go-tos for sandwiches. Avocado is most effortlessly filling, IMO.

      Instagram has so so so much good vegan food and recipes going on. If you use it I highly recommend following some vegan food bloggers there for both meals and desserts. I’m trying a recipe form elavegan myself this weekend and found her on Instagram!

    10. londonedit*

      I saw a recipe on Pinterest the other day for sweet potato and black bean burritos – they were vegan and sounded really nice. I’m sure there are plenty of similar recipes around!

    11. Annonymous*

      My Mom swore by cream cheese and green olive sandwiches. They’re delish. (There is vegan cream cheese, right?)

      1. Observer*

        Most of the vegan cream cheese is stuff I would go VERY light on – so much junk. But, the good ones really DO taste almost like real cream cheese.

    12. Mariella*

      the bbq place by us has a vegan “pulled pork” that uses jackfruit. not sure how easy it would be to make at home, but it’s really tasty!

    13. The Doctor is In*

      Jackfruit; pork-like consistency. You can get it already made into barbecue flavors. Good in wraps or on bread.

    14. Teach*

      At my house, crusty bread spread with pesto and topped with roasted or grilled veggie slices is a hit! Think red bell peppers, zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms. If vegan cheese is worth eating, something light and melty. If not, maybe a little vegan mayo for the creaminess?

      1. Lena Clare*

        I used to eat a version of this with halloumi from my local sandwich shop, I can ask then to just do the roasted veg and put vegan mayo on myself. Thanks :)

    15. Observer*

      Chumus (humus) is another good sandwich filling.

      Are you off all nuts or just cashews? Because there are lots of other nut butters to be had, if you can eat them. Mock chopped liver is often a good choice – and you can find ones that don’t use cashews, but you have to check carefully. (I see a lot that have eggplant and / or peas.)

      If you are ok with soy (doesn’t agree with everyone) it’s also very easy to make an egg salad look / feel alike filling.

      If you like sweet fillings, there are some good recipes for sweet tahini preparations. The one I use is whole tahini, a pinch of salt, carob powder (the original calls for cocoa, but my husband can’t eat chocolate in any form) and honey (about 2/3 the volume of the Tahini.)

  9. Marzipan*

    My official test date for my donor egg IVF isn’t for another few days but tests at this point should be 99% accurate and… yeah. Not pregnant. So everything is a bit rubbish really.

    1. Valancy Snaith*

      My beta was negative as well. I have one more in the freezer but it’s not great quality, so I’ve been down in the dumps all week. I feel you.

    2. Jemima Bond*

      I don’t know if it’s comforting or not (so sorry if not) but friends of mine went through a difficult time trying to get pregnant both in the old-school way and via IVF, but eventually it did work (the IVF) and now they have twin boys – as their dad says, it was literally “buy one get one free”! I hope it happens for you both soon x

      1. Valancy Snaith*

        I know you mean well and it is very kind, but it’s not a very comforting thought at all. We all know that IVF can work–that’s why we’re investing thousands of dollars, amazing amounts of time, and terrible amounts of stress on our body. To say that it worked for other people honestly just feels like rubbing salt in the wound.

      2. Quandong*

        Jemima, as a person for whom IVF did not succeed, please don’t retell this story in future to people who are having a really tough time with IVF or trying to conceive. It’s not comforting, it has the opposite effect, actually.

        1. Jemima Bond*

          Sincere apologies. I was thinking of a situation in my own life where hope helped but I should have been more sensitive to realise that wouldn’t necessarily be the case for others/other situations. Very sorry to have upset you and be reassured I won’t be making a mess of misplaced sympathy attempts in future.

    3. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      Hug . Take care of yourself and do something for “you” this weekend. Weary from this battle but not conceding the war.

  10. Cinnamon*

    If a child (around 11 or 12) goes from being fairly extroverted, confident and assertive to being very introverted, shy and insecure within a relatively short timeframe (less than a year), would you suspect something happened (or was still happening) or assume it’s them growing up and getting into typical teenager issues?

    1. T*

      A sudden change like that can be a big warning sign in a child. I wouldn’t make any assumptions, but it is not something to just ignore.

      It could be anything from bullying, to abuse, to developing mental health issues, to hormones and feeling uncomfortable in their own body, to something else entirely. It’s important to try and find out what’s going on, and make sure the kiddo has what support they need.

    2. WS*

      It could be normal teenage issues, but even normal teenage issues can be traumatic to some kids. And while getting more introverted around that time is normal, if people who see them frequently are noticing big changes (as opposed to people who see them every few months or so) it’s probably worth checking out.

    3. Asenath*

      It could be either – it’s worth asking if everything is OK, for sure, but not panic time. If the child is simply going through normal issues they might resent parental interference, but a check for trouble will make the parent feel better and cover that possibility.

    4. Thrown into the fire new manager*

      I would definitely keep an eye on it. Did they change to middle School? Friends change groups and jump ship around that age which can leave some behind and be really hard on a once confident kid.

    5. MattKnifeNinja*

      My niece did a turn like that and we all panicked.

      The transition to middle school is rough for almost all kids. Then she started her menses. Hormones plus a big change (middle school), made her a snippy, dodgy, less then sunny, I hate you mess.

      We checked for the usual suspects school bullying, internet history body cavity search, social media, friends, any drinking/drugging/boozing, self harm and depression.

      My niece has a GP who has known her since birth, and she adores him. Her mom took her for a physical. What the niece told him is not being a little kid anymore is hard, and being a teen is scary. It was a “new body” and new expectations at school that threw her. Mom stepped out of the room during the “Do you have anything you would like to ask?”. That’s when she told him. (Mom had told the GP about her worry with depression/anxiety before the visit.

      Her grades never dropped, but tween/teen girl drama is the worse!

      Watchful observing and more listening than talking. I wouldn’t panicked, but I wouldn’t write it off either.

      ETA: walking or talking in the car works with my niece. We have better conversation because we aren’t face to face. For her, it makes a difference.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Outstanding advice from start to finish. Cosigning on all of it as a teacher of kids this (very difficult) age.

      2. Anonapixie*

        Took a Tween/Teen Mental Health First Aide course for certification, and this is basically the playbook for it! Great advice!
        The only thing I would add is don’t pester– let them know that you are there and will listen. The biggest preventative for teen mental health crisis was having one adult that a child felt they could confide in. Be that adult, or know that adult in your child’s life and have the child in contact with them.

    6. Beth Jacobs*

      I went through basically the same thing in my early teens and looking back, I still can’t pinpoint what caused it. There wasn’t a single traumatic event. My home life had its issues, but that wasn’t a new development. I went from a happy extroverted eleven-year old to a socially phobic self-harming teen.

      I know what helped me get out of it was getting into a new social group that didn’t know about any of my issues and didn’t treat me any different for it. I joined a sports club outside of my school that really helped bring me out of my shell as I made some friends. Looking back, I really wish I had changed schools. Things didn’t really get completely better until college when I got a complete fresh start.

      The good news is that it probably will get better. I’m a well adjusted adult now and think my teenage depression has made me a stronger person.

      I would definitely recommend monitoring the situation closely and most importantly, try to give the kid some control over their life, as they probably feel like they have none. I’m not sure what the adults in my life could have done differently since I refused to tell anyone what was wrong (and didn’t really know myself), but I do remember that feeling of powerlessness and wouldn’t wish it upon anyone else.

    7. Teach*

      Our pediatrician screens for mental health stuff at well-kid visits. Maybe that’s an option? My son had the changes you describe at that age – he had undiagnosed ADHD (inattentive type) and OCD that had gone unnoticed because he was bright enough to keep up at school. When that tide started turning, he also became depressed and anxious from fighting his brain and feeling like a failure. And all of this with no words to express what was going on, just a great behavior change.
      If my blood pressure, weight, or vision changed rapidly, i’d Get a thorough evaluation. I’m now extending that thinking to mental health issues!

    8. Cartographical*

      As mentioned, even regular teenage issues can be really difficult. In my experience — outside of A Single Very Bad Incident — it’s been anything from grade anxieties (we started getting the Permanent Record/Good College threats in sixth grade), learning difficulties including change in eyesight or increased expectations illuminating existing problems, being in the closet (voluntarily or through ignorance) about sexuality/gender, not knowing how to navigate sexual harassment or just sexualized interactions, educational transitions are also where really bright kids flounder if they hit a rough spot due to poor coping and high expectations, poor reaction to alcohol or marijuana (especially the latter can exacerbate mood disorders even in intermittent use), and it turned out to be PMDD in my own kid which was totally off my radar until she was sixteen. These days, online angst is very real and worth discussing anyway, I’d expect.

      Kids are in a weird space at that age, with an ever-increasing imbalance between understanding and agency that can make them feel simultaneously overburdened and helpless. That alone is enough to make anyone withdrawn and anxious. Watchful waiting and demonstrated openness/flexibility is probably the right course.

    9. Adminx2*

      I think you’ve pinpointed the problem with stereotyping “typical teenagers” because it allows real issues to be ignored and wiped away. There’s so many amazing teenagers who are respectful, helpful, smart, attentive, trying their best- but why bother because the moment they try and assert any real independent thought, they just get tossed in the bin with anyone else?
      Yes I think there’s likely some real issue going on which deserves checking out.

  11. T*

    The spouse has been over in the US for about a fortnight now, not due back until June. So right now I’m living alone for the first time ever.

    Anyone have any tips for feeling comfortable in your own space when alone? Relatedly, we moved at the start of this year as well, so I’m feeling very dislocated.

    1. Lena Clare*

      Get to know your area – go on walking tours that you’ve arranged yourself and have a look around the local sites. Get to know the history. Walk round the parks. Say hi to people in coffee shops. Go to the local market.

      If you like volunteering and running join Goodgym in your area, get to know people. Or regular volunteering can help.

      Mindfulness meditation for acceptance of feelings in general is helpful for me – Google some guided ones or use YouTube. Jon Kabat Zinn is good but he talks too much for my liking ;) I prefer prof Mark Williams.

      And start up those hobbies you used to do on your own again, like reading, craft stuff (actually if you don’t want to be on your own you can join craft groups for crafting together, but I’m thinking of stiff you can do to help you feel more at home in your home), yoga, gardening, cooking… whatever you used to like in your old house that you can do in this one.
      Arranging your decor to make it more ‘you’ wool help the homey feeling.

      Routine always helps so it will get better over time.

      Sending you good vibes :)

      1. T*

        Thanks for the tips! I am heartened that a lot of them were things I had kind of planned anyway, so now I just have to actually do them.

        I keep hoping that things will just suddenly click into place, but in the end I guess you just have to do the things and wait for a new groove to form :).

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I love T’s idea of regular walks. The sooner the neighborhood feels familiar the better.
      Learn some of your neighbor’s names. If you like animals, learn their pets names.
      Lock up well at night. Have a routine of going around your house checking doors and window. You can also check the stove and coffee pot. Just do an all around safety check before turning in. I am not saying to be scared, I mean it in the context of take the steps necessary to remain safe and secure.
      Plan weekly activities. If you work, you don’t need to add a lot, perhaps have one day where you go to the library or something each week. Make that part of your weekly schedule.

      When I first moved away from home, my routines were very important to me. It gave me a sense of continuity for one thing, which I really wanted. So driving the same route to work, or shopping in the same grocery store were supportive activities for me because they started feeling familiar. Once I got used to those routines I started branching out, I would try a different store or a different route.
      Having family or friends you can check in with on a semi-regular basis is also good. One week you check with Cousin Sue, next week you check with best friend, Bob. It’s a good way to feel connected to others even though you are in the house alone.

    3. Earthwalker*

      Try scouting out fun places to go and things to do when your spouse is back. You could be his tour guide in the new place.

    4. Loopy*

      This is pretty specific to me, but nothing works like a routine to help me feel settled. Even if it’s something like: Monday night is Tea and TV night snuggled on the couch, Tuesday is gym night, Wednesday is cook a nice meal night, Thursdays stay open, and Friday is go out exploring night. the idea is pretty adaptable if you have a fair amount of control over your free time.

      1. JenRN*

        I agree. Whenever I’ve moved to a new area (alone or with a partner) I’ve found going to a local cafe at a regular time really grounding. You start to see familiar faces and the staff recognize you. It won’t turn into an episode of “Cheers” or anything, but just starting or finishing the day with friendly smiles or nods of recognition are helpful in getting settled and feeling like one belongs in a new community.

    1. Sad face*

      Yeahhhhh not a spoiler alert if you don’t mention what show you’re talking about before the spoiler… you just ruined the series for me :(

    2. Lena Clare*

      Why don’t you ask to have this removed then rewrite it as ‘spoiler alert for hell’s kitchen’… then put the spoiler in a reply to yourself so people don’t accidentally read what the spoiler is.

    3. Jean (just Jean)*

      The comment did begin with “SPOILER” but as a rapid reader I totally missed it.
      Not rude to me b/c I have no idea what Hell’s Kitchen is.
      I’m happy that Quake is happy, and sorry that for others the suspense just went slack.

    4. Need a Beach*

      That’s not how spoilers work. You say what they’re for, don’t just barf “spoiler!” into the universe. Otherwise anyone who cares about any show, movie, or book they haven’t finished will have to avoid what you wrote.

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This only works if you can write things in white text…there’s no way to avoid a spoiler if you just add a few lines to it. This is pretty tacky to say the least.

  12. Quake Johnson*

    Who are we rooting for on America’s Got Talent Champions? I’m a ride or die member of Team Shin Lim.

    1. Ann O.*


      Although I’d be happy with Kseniya Simonova as well. She has such a unique talent and she does it so well.

      1. Quake Johnson*

        Yes, she’s great too! I remember when her videos went viral the first time and was happy to see her again.

        Honestly just hope it’s not one of the many singers (except maybe Susan Boyle).

  13. Oxford Karma*

    I enjoyed the grammar discussion this week. I didn’t see any mention of my least favorite “incorrection” (as someone termed it), so I’ll mention it here. It’s the “good” vs. “well” debate. If you ask me how I am, I’ll usually say, “Good, and you?” It rolls off the tongue nicely, and it’s pleasant yet vague – maybe I’m in good spirits, or maybe good health, and I like not having to specify which of those is true.

    People usually say they’re “good” or “well” in response to the “and you?”, and I’m happy to hear either. What irks me is when someone decides to transform this exchange of pleasantries into a snotty-toned lesson about using an adverb to modify the verb “to be”.

    Next time it happens, I’m going to pretend that I’m soaking up their knowledge. “Oh, an adverb modifies ‘to be’, okay. How am I? I’m a little tiredly right now, but I’m cheerfully anyway — TGIF! Hey, your shirt is really cutely!”

    Adjectives are appropriate because I’m describing my condition (or the shirt’s condition), I’m not describing the way in which I’m performing an action (or the way the shirt performs an action). “Well” happens to be an adjective meaning “healthy” in addition to being the adverb form of “good”. So the adjective “well/healthy” is a great answer to the question, and the less-specific-but-it’s-nobody’s-business-anyway adjective “good” is also a great answer.

    Really, it’s just a pleasant greeting, and I don’t care whether either of us is grammatically correct or not – but I do care when someone gets preachy about grammar during a social interaction, especially if they’re the one who is wrong. Or maybe I should say: especially if they’re the one who is wrongly. :)

    1. only acting normal*

      English is defined by usage. It does not have a committee that determines “correct” like some languages (e.g. French IIRC?).
      New usage *does* take while to become mainstream enough that the majority of people understand, so you can’t go completely freestyle, and this evolution of language may lead to things that make me twitchy, such as “literally” now legitimately meaning “figuratively”. *twitch* But dem’s da roolz.
      Also formal written English is vastly different from spoken English (unless writing dialogue, obviously).
      Soz fellow grammar pedants, we’re on the wrong side.

      1. Asenath*

        Sure, usage eventually determined what is good English, but there’s a long period when many people will be comfortable with and use Usage A while Usage B slowly makes its way to the mainstream. So it’s useful to know that in formal situations, especially with acquaintances (eg at work), will use Usage A and to do the same, even if at home you use Usage B. So there’s still a role for pedants!

        A lot of my friends used to be essentially bilingual in English. They grew up in parts of the province where non-standard English was the norm. They learned standard English in school, and automatically switched to a more formal “standard” language and accent in school and other more formal situations, and spoke “normally” among friends and family. It’s not unusual at all to have access to more than one kind of English, to be used as needed and desired!

        1. All Stitched Up*

          Sure, people who know and can convey what the current grammar and usage in Standard English are useful, but I would disagree that “language pedants” specifically are useful. That may be because of the connotations I have with “pedant”—to me, it means someone who insists that the way they want to see language used is The One Correct Way. Someone who understands what the “rules” of Standard English are but also recognizes the validity of *other* dialects (because yes, Standard English is a dialect too! Just a higher status one than many others!) is not a pedant, and usually knows when it’s appropriate to “correct” “mistakes” (someone asked you to proofread for them, you’re a writing instructor, it’s your job) and when it’s not (a random stranger on the internet used a homophone or a non standard spelling or even a malapropism but their meaning is still clear, or you’re in casual conversation with them.)

          I have some strong feelings about this.

      2. Alucius*

        Slate’s language podcast Lexicon Valley had a pretty good discussion of the figurative use of “literally” a couple of weeks ago. I’m probably not remembering this exactly right, but I think the host suggested that literally is just the latest in a long line of words that started out signifying truth, but have morphed into emphasis. Real…becoming really, was another one he mentioned.

      3. ArtK*

        There’s a constant debate (war?) between the prescriptivists and the descriptivists. For a descriptivist — grammar describes what the language is. For a prescriptivist, grammar defines what the language is.

        Me, I’m a descriptivist. There are changes in the language that I don’t particularly like, but I recognize that change is inevitable.

        1. The Dread Pirate Buttercup*

          I waffle on the prescriptivist vs. descriptivist and issue and hence avoid the issue altogether by saying, “I’m happy to be here, thank you for asking! And you?” Which is true: I had some major health issues a few years back, and I am grateful to be alive and not in pain or physical misery, even if I’m in a situation that is generally considered tedious. (If the person to whom I am speaking is close enough to me to know that I had a close call, the answer is, “I am happy to see you!”)

          Which is to say, I am a craven, fence-sitting coward, but genuinely grateful to be alive and see my family and friends — none of whom would correct anyone regarding the “good” or “well” issue unless the target audience seemed genuinely interested in the nuts and bolts of language.

    2. MRK*

      I had a neighbor who would, to your face, correct you if you said “good” instead of “well.” Otherwise a nice woman but holy heck did that grate on my nerves.

    3. Hooptido*

      Who are these people? I have spent a lifetime around nit picky grammarians and have never heard anyone say that. I think I would just laugh and walk away.

    4. Marthooh*

      Thinking it over… when I say I’m well, I mean “healthy”; when I say “I’m good”, I mean something else: satisfied, cheerful, not in need of another piece of pizza, whatever.

    5. Mimmy*

      I had a teacher once chide me for that. I don’t remember if it was “I am good/well” or if it was “I did good/well on the test” but it was annoying nonetheless.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        The French have the Academie Francaise, which decides on whether a word is French or not. Its members are called “Immortels”.

  14. First Vacation*

    I’m turning a certain age this year, and I’ve decided to treat myself to my first vacation. Due to student loans and other expenses, I’ve never been able to afford a real vacation. I’ve got the hotel covered through points earned during business travel. I even know the particular hotel where I want to stay. I know where I’m going. I know the time of year I want to go. I have a good idea of what I want to do while there. Since last year, I’ve been saving money each week to cover expenses.

    But I haven’t booked my room yet because I don’t know how to pick dates! I know about how many days I can stay, but I’m completely frozen at choosing dates. I’ve narrowed it between a 2 month window. I shouldn’t have a problem getting the time off work (and of course I would do that before I book any travel). How do I do this? I’ve never had the financial ability to travel for leisure. The city I’m visiting is in a neighboring state, so I’m planning to drive. I was thinking a Wednesday-Sunday? I don’t know.

    There’s also the added complication that my mom will want to go. My dad had promised her that after he retired, they would do some traveling–but that hasn’t happened (it’s complicated). My mom really doesn’t have access to their money because he’s really controlling with it. If I book this trip and don’t invite her, she’ll have her feelings hurt and call me selfish. But if she goes on this trip with me, we’re likely to argue. She doesn’t have her own credit card and can’t afford her own hotel room, so she would be sharing mine and that would drive me crazy. I can’t afford to pay for her to have a separate room as well as cover my own expenses.

    I really want to do this for myself, but I’m frozen about booking the room because of the dates, but a big part of it too is do I book a room with 2 beds for the likelihood that my mom will be going with me (which I don’t want) or book a room with 1 bed (which is what I want), but face her hostility and jealousy later? She knows I’m planning this trip, which I get was dumb of me to mention to her in the first place.

    I’ve been dreaming of this particular trip for over 10 years, and I finally am able to make it a reality. I don’t want to screw it up.

    1. The Messy Headed Momma*

      You are NOT obligated to take your Mother. Take this one vacation, just for you! You earned it & you deserve it! Wednesday – Sunday is a great idea because you can spend the 1st few days checking out stuff while the rest of the city is working. Then, on the weekends, you’ll have a much better sense of the places you might like to return to. Also, try to pick one local restaurant/coffee shop/bar & go everyday at about the same time. It’s a fun way to see how a place lives & breathes without all of the touristy hype.
      Take your Mom on day trips instead. Get out there & have fun!!

    2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Let me decide the mom thing for you: book a room with one bed. You are going on a glorious solo first vacation, and you are not taking your mom along. Deal with the fallout as you have to (I’m sure other people will have great advice), but go by your self.

      For dates, is there any events happening that you would want to go to? Look at the calenders for the city and anyplace else you want to go. If there’s anything that makes you go “oooh, fun”, go then. Otherwise… second week of the first month of your window sounds pretty good. No reason why not, anyway.

      I’m leaving on my first post-loan vacation in 8 days, and starting to dream of the next. May we both have a glorious time!

    3. Bibliovore*

      Do not take your mother into any consideration. She is not joining you on this vacation. This is your vacation. Detach with love. Be matter of fact. Make your plans. Get one bed. Nearer to the time say- I will be gone for these days in this city. No explanations needed. Your mothers’ reactions and feelings are none of your business. Focus on yourself. Have a lovely time.

      1. Doodle*

        Right, do NOT tell your mother (or anyone who might tell your mother) until much closer to the trip. Like Monday of the week you’re going. Or even better, Monday after you get back!

    4. Koala dreams*

      Don’t bring your mum and book the single bed room. If she asks why she can’t come, just say “It’s a solo trip”. Repeat as needed. Good luck!

      It’s good to choose the dates so that you have at least one day at home before you need to go to work. You’ll want to unpack and unwind after your trip.

    5. Leonardine*

      I think you should feel absolutely free to go on this long-dreamed-of trip alone, without a shred of guilt. I know that’s easier said than done, but I’m willing to bet that nobody reading your comment is thinking “How selfish of her to go on her first vacation without her mother.” If you read over what you wrote, I’m sure you’ll see how much you’re deeply dreading the idea of traveling together, and how much it would hijack your own dream of a nice solo vacation. Will that make for a nice trip for either of you?

      I’m sure your mother is a lovely person, and I don’t mean you should be callous toward her – her situation sounds difficult. If it helps, you could start planning a (short) trip or experience for the two of you to share in the future, including her in the planning from the get-go (which is sometimes half the fun). It will be much nicer for both of you to intentionally plan a trip together, rather than your mother guilting you into including her in a very special plan you made just for you!

      If she brings it up constantly, I would make my responses brief and cheerful: “Oh, I’m actually doing this trip all by myself – I’m so excited to finally have a chance to do that!” “This one’s just a solo vacation, but I’d love for us to plan a weekend together soon! What about this summer?” “I’m so sorry you feel left out, Mom. Like I said, I’ve been planning this as a trip just for me, but I can’t wait to share my photos with you/bring you back a souvenir. Should we plan to get coffee when I’m back?”

      The less you act apologetic or guilty about this totally reasonable thing, the less entitled she’ll feel to guilt you, in my experience. Remind yourself that you deserve this break, and you aren’t taking a vacation *at* your mother. She’ll be ok.

      I hope you have a wonderful, luxurious time all by yourself.

      1. First Vacation*

        Thank you for the thoughtful advice. I feel badly for her not having any money of her own, but I’ve dreamed of this trip for over 10 years and I’ve worked very hard and done without things to get where I am. I work with a lot of people who travel frequently, and it’s hard to listen to the details about their latest cruise or overseas trip and not feel sorry for myself.

        I like your idea of bringing her back a gift or making plans for us to do something else together.

    6. WellRed*

      If you don’t want to screw it u p, stop talking about it with your mother. Make a plan to do something with her when you get back.

    7. Loopy*

      For booking advice: check out if there are any annual fun events that fall in your location that you’d like to hit. Or even seasonal foods. Alternatively, you could look up big events to avoid those weekends due to extra crowds/traffic/difficulty of getting prime accommodations.

      To echo others, it wont be easy to go without your mother but I think it will be well worth whatever difficult mitigation or consolation you need to do to stand firm.

    8. Thursday Next*

      Chiming in to agree with the chorus of people who say this is a trip for you, and that you needn’t feel bad about not bringing your mother. If it helps, don’t tell her you’re going on the trip beforehand. What she doesn’t know about, she can’t complain about.

      This has been your dream for a long time, and if doing it solo is part of that dream, that’s very important. Please don’t feel bound by a sense of obligation. Sometimes we really do get to do things for ourselves

      Regarding picking dates, if you’re not constrained bye work, in my experience, there’s always a point at which I just have to make a choice. Once you’ve considered any important work deadlines, personal commitments, dates you absolutely wouldn’t want to travel because of festival/large crowds (or maybe those are the precise dates you would want to be in that destination!), and weather concerns, one date is pretty much the same as any other. I do tinker around a little bit when flights are involved, to see whether leaving or departing a few days before or after a date I’ve chosen makes a big difference in flight prices.

      But at a certain point, you’ve just got to commit, and know that you will have a great time!

      1. First Vacation*

        You’re right–I’m just going to have to take the plunge and pick the damn dates already. I’ve narrowed dates way down. Weather is a concern in this city–summer is a no go because of the heat/humidity, for example. I’ve got a window. I just need to book the time off at work, and I don’t think it will be an issue.

    9. Bluebell*

      Agreeing with the rest of the crowd–a vacation with your mom won’t be that much of a vacation. Choose the room with the small bed, enjoy yourself, and do something with your mom afterwards. This summer I treated myself to a trip alone without husband or daughter– it was so worth it!!

    10. Annonymous*

      As far as the date to choose, I always chose a week that included my ”extra” pay. (If you are paid every other week like I am, there are usually a couple of times a year with 3 pays to meet monthly expenses, not just 2, thus a few extra bucks for vacation fun. )

      1. First Vacation*

        I wish! We get paid twice a month, not every 2 weeks. Sometimes it’s just under 2 weeks, sometimes just over. But it’s always twice a month for a total of 24 pay checks annually.

        Last year, I set up an automatic weekly transfer of a certain amount of money from checking into a special savings account for this trip. It’s not a ton of money, but it will help.

    11. Jane*

      You have every right to go solo. Your mother’s lack of vacation in her life is not your responsibility, and it will not be fun or relaxing arguing with your mother the whole time!

      Going on vacation alone as an adult is a 100% normal thing to do and if your mother tries to guilt trip you about it, don’t listen.

      (My mother guilt trips me every single time I go on vacation AND every single time someone she knows goes on vacation with their own child…but if I went on vacation with my mother, I’d need a vacation even more than before I went.)

      1. First Vacation*

        And that’s the thing–I wanted to do this trip 10 years ago for a different milestone birthday, but real life took a different turn and I didn’t have the money. So I’ve dreamed about it all this time, and decided this was going to be the year. I’m turning an age that is famously dreaded, and I’ve decided to make it a great year instead. I want to treat myself and do what I want to do and at my own pace. I love my mom, but if she went with me, we would wind up arguing.

    12. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      She can’t even pay for her portion of the trip and bickers with you! That makes it even easier to say to detach and go it alone. If it was only a financial thing, I would be far more kind about it all but no way should you ever travel for leisure with someone who is going to be a burden {financially and emotionally!}, that defeats the purpose of the vacation.

      I’m also assuming you don’t live with her. So the unfortunate fall out only means she’ll whine at you during family time? That’s her own nonsense, not yours. Avoid talking to her and feel free to cut a conversation short if she tries to guilt you about it. You deserve happiness and the enjoyment of your life.

      1. First Vacation*

        Yep, that’s my mom! It’s hard to live with, but I’ve come to realize she’s jealous of my financial independence. She’s basically on an allowance from my dad. I don’t think she has any credit cards in her name. If she went on this trip, I would likely be expected to pay for everything and then my dad would write me a check later for her portion of the trip.

        Correct–I live on my own.

        1. Venus*

          > If she went on this trip, I would likely be expected to pay for everything and then my dad would write me a check later for her portion of the trip.

          I think that this makes it even easier (because your father can help alleviate financial burden) to ask your mother where *she* wants to go for your trip together. A trip taken *after* your own. It might be best to talk less about your current plans, and instead come up with 2-3 places the two of you could go together (even if it’s an overnight down the street), and let her choose. If finances are an issue then maybe provide a financial estimate for your father, and he can pay for her portion ahead of time, with a post-trip adjustment done when all the receipts are finalised?

        2. JPlummer*

          Why does dad have control of all the money/credit cards? All things considered and if dad reneged on his promise of post-retirement travel, I’d be looking for accommodations for two and picking up the tab without complaint.

          1. First Vacation*

            Because my dad is really bad with money. He spends too much, and doesn’t want my mom to know how bad it is. When he worked, he had credit card bills sent to his office so she wouldn’t see them. Although they have a joint bank account (and she even has her own solo account), he won’t let her access the joint account and she has to ask him for money to put in her own account. She doesn’t have a debit card or any credit cards. Part of it is that she chooses to remain ignorant of their finances. She prefers not knowing. It’s terrible and sad, but I can’t change it.

            1. JPlummer*

              I was convinced by everything you wrote not that YOU need a vacation but that your mother does. That is probably a function of age more than anything else.

              Of course you deserve a solo vacation, without having to justify it to or get permission from anyone. And maybe your mother doesn’t need a vacation as much as she needs an ally. I hope you can find a way to achieve a healthy level of detachment while not completely withdrawing from her. And that, I promise, is all I got. Peace.

    13. StellaBella*

      Chiming in too. It is your vacation dream. Yours. There is no reason to feel guilty. Take the days off, turn off your phone ringer, and other ways you can be contacted, disconnect, and enjoy the vacation you have earned. Setting boundaries is a part of getting older and maturing. Learn that too as part of this milestone birthday, and it will serve you well. The issues your parents have are not your problem to fix. Also you can do things and go places alone without telling them.

      1. ..Kat..*

        I second turning off the phone ringer thing. You might need to block your mom for the duration of the trip if she decides to harass you with whiny/blamy text messages and phone calls. I recommend preempting this type of thing by telling her you will not be calling her or checking your phone for the duration of the trip (just call it a technology holiday!). (you don’t have to go technology free, just set the expectation that you will not be in contact)

        Also, your mom chose her husband and her life. She can choose to get a job or change her life. To push these things onto you, her child, is gross.

        Sorry if I am reading more into the situation than is there. I have a mom like this and I may be projecting my experience onto yours.

        1. First Vacation*

          No, it’s okay. She regularly vents to me about my dad, and every time I have to stop her and say some variation of, “This is my dad, and I won’t be put in the middle of this. I can’t listen to you vent about your marriage because he’s my dad. You need to talk to a friend or a therapist about this.” Lather, rinse, and repeat.

          He’s not a great husband–he’s never cheated or been abusive, but he takes her for granted–but he’s always been a very good dad to me. I’m an only child, so I don’t have siblings to help.

    14. Not A Manager*

      If you’re looking for scripts to use with your mom, check out Captain Awkward. I would suggest, “Sorry, Mom, that’s not possible,” “No, that won’t work,” and “This is my own private trip.” There’s absolutely zero way that you can convince her that you have a right to this experience, so don’t try. It will just frustrate you both.

      1. ..Kat..*

        Captain Awkward also has good suggestions for how to end the conversation, so that you don’t feel stuck listening to your mom for hours (until you captitulate).

        1. JenRN*

          Id make it all about the milestone and going solo:

          “Mom, I’m turning x years old and so it is important for me to do this trip solo”. Then I would turn into a broken record on the “it is important for me to do this solo” part until she goes away (of course I can also play peek-a-boo with a baby for an hour so some may not have the endurance for the broken record style approach).

    15. Anonymouse for this*

      Have a fabulous vacation – on your own. You can bring your mum a present back – maybe do a daytrip together at a later date. I know its easier said than done but have one conversation where you explain you simply can’t afford to pay for her as well. After that if she tries guilt tripping you then just change the subject or find a reason to to hang up the phone/leave the house to get away from the pressure.

      Try the tourist board website for the city you’re going to – they should have a calendar with theatre/museums/festivals/markets etc that are happening and you can see what jumps out at you.

    16. Adminx2*

      “This birthday signifies my independence from my parents issues. My mother may decide I am the bad guy but I know I am not. I am not responsible for her vacations. I deserve this for myself and to enjoy fully.”

      Make sure mom either doesn’t know any details about the trip or you give her fake ones.

      I assure you parents who use their emotions to manipulate their kids only get WORSE in time. The sooner you start removing their influence, the much healthier everyone will be.

      1. Test*

        Nope, no links or bad language or anything else weird I can think of. I even checked the Friday thread to make sure I hadn’t posted in there by mistake. I can’t find my real post anywhere.

        I thought maybe they weren’t going through because the system recognized them as duplicate messages, even though I tried to change them up (i.e. “Apologies if this comes through more than once.”)

        1. Eleanor Rigby*

          Sometimes moderation is odd though, it doesn’t have to be links or swearing that makes it go into moderation. Am sure Alison will approve it when she gets to it

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Yeah, Alison has explained this before some times really random stuff gets hung up in moderation for no apparent reason. And yeah, she will let it out of moderation when she sees it. So there is probably nothing “wrong” with your posts, OP, it’s just moderation being quirky.

            1. CAA*

              It would be helpful if the commenting system could tell you that your post is in moderation and will appear after it’s approved. I have seen several systems that do that. I don’t know if it’s something Alison could have implemented here, but I think it would help people understand what’s happening.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                For some reason it will only do that if you’ve entered an email address in the email field. No idea why or how to fix that, but you can enter even a fake email address there and that’ll fix it at the individual level.

                1. Test*

                  Thanks, Alison! I’m the poster with the name First Vacation above and it did show up eventually. So far, I don’t see any duplicate posts. Sorry in advance if duplicate First Vacation posts appear.

    1. Loopy*

      I think my posts my be having issues as well. I’m just replying as normal but not seeing anything appear when the page reloads. I will check back to see if they appear. If 6-8 replies got eaten though I will have wasted me time so maybe not the best advice, ha.

  15. Teatime is Goodtime*

    Hello Everyone!
    Longtime lurker here hoping to tap into the collective wisdom of the community.
    I am considering starting a blog with short, regular posts. I know many of you have blogs and the like, so I was hoping to ask for your opinions and advice on any or all of the following:
    – What platform do you use and are you happy with it? Any opinions about what I should pick?
    – How do you stay on top of posting regularly?
    – How do you interact with your readers? (And, if you feel like sharing, how big is your readership?)
    – What was your motivation for starting a blog? Have you fulfilled your goals?
    – Any other advice or things you want to share?
    Thank you so much in advance.

    1. Ange*

      I use WordPress (paid because I have my own domain). I’m pretty happy with it – it’s good if you don’t have any HTML skills.

      I have some posts that are on a regular basis (weekly/monthly) which I try to always stick to – what helps me there is to start the next one as soon as I finish the current one. Also, for some of them I can write them in advance and schedule them: that can give a little breathing space.

      I don’t have a lot of readers – partly I haven’t been doing this that long, and partly I don’t really make any effort to advertise. Also I guess my blog is not really themed, which doesn’t help.

      I mostly started mine to make me do more writing, and it’s definitely helped with that, so I’d call it a success.

    2. Louise*

      I use Blogger, which I think is a little less sophisticated than WordPress but I’m familiar with it and it’s free. I’ve also used WordPress and they are both decent platforms with fairly short learning curves. My blog is about my quilting, and I post when I finish a piece. My husband has a travel blog, and he posts every time he goes to a new place. I’m not sure how many readers I have; maybe 200? The quilting community is very chatty and interactive so I get about 15-20 comments on each post. I reply to each comment directly via email, unless they are a “no-reply” commenter, in which case I reply inline in the commenting section. I also make a point of visiting the blogs of my regular commenters, and leaving supportive comments there. (By contrast, my husband’s blog has twice as many readers, but almost no comments.) My initial motivation was to document my pieces with photos and descriptions, since I make charity and gift quilts and give them away. But after a few years, I’m more motivated by the community building aspect of interacting with my readers, so I try to post little tutorials and other helpful hints and tips. I can honestly say that my blog has deepened my commitment to my craft, and gotten me involved in some really rewarding charity projects. My online quilty friends are a fun and super supportive group. Best of luck in your blogging journey!

    3. Lilysparrow*

      I use WordPress for my own blogs and have used it for clients. I find it very straightforward, plus you can make it do nearly anything you can think of by adding free plugins.

      I do not stay on top of posting regularly for myself (see above: clients) and therefore my readership is fairly small.

      For my author blog that I use to drive book sales, I haven’t checked blog visitors in a while but I have about 2K readers on my email newsletter.

      I also have a niche topic blog linked to a YouTube channel that I am optimizing for ad revenue. I stupidly started it right before the holidays + flu season, so content and readership are teeny tiny.

      My motivation for both is financial. For the author blog, it’s indirect by cultivating a sense of relationship in my readers and giving potential book-buyers a feel for what to expect. I do see a bump in sales every time I publish.

      For the niche blog, it’s a topic I’m personally interested in and believe can be monetized.

      I have not fulfilled my goals with either one, but I am seeing reasonable results in proportion to the effort I’m putting in.

      The most important thing, I think, is to remember that writing stuff that’s worth reading is time-consuming. It has to be, because it requires clear, deep thinking about the point you’re making, plus the craft of getting that point across effectively.

      You will put in a significant amount of time before you see any results. Visitors can read a blog post in a tiny fraction of the time it took you to create it, and if they exhaust your content in one visit, you need to give them a reason to come back.

    4. Amerdale*

      I use wordpress (the free version) and I like it a lot. It’s very easy to configurate and has enough options for me.

      Posting regularly is sometimes a struggle. I try to write posts in advance and schedule them but sometimes I just don’t have the time and take a break from blogging (e.g. I didn’t post around Christmas last year).

      Not really that much interaction with readers – I blog reviews about books, movies and tv shows and most readers end on my blog after googling for reviews of a certain title. Most interaction is with other bloggers who talk about the same topics but that happens mostly over twitter and less directly on the blogs.

      My motivation was mostly to just have a space where I can easily write down my thoughts to the books I read (shows and movies came later), more or less like a digital journal.

    5. The Brazilian Hobbit*

      – I’m using free WordPress and considering going paid soon. Very happy with it;
      – I post on the weekends, and set up the themes for my posts in advance. Mine is a varied blog, so I don’t worry about fitting into a niche, that happens;
      – I always do my best to reply to comments, and always reply when someone hits up my contact page;
      – My motivation was part boredom part wanting to improve my English writing – it’s been a fun experience and I’ve met some really nice people during my time blogging;
      – I’d say always be interactive – your readership will be a great source of encouragement if you let them.

      Happy blogging!

    6. WoodswomanWrites formerly Woodswoman*

      As others have shared, I use WordPress for my blog. (It’s the same name as my handle if you want to see how it looks.) I had zero technical skills in setting it up and it’s really easy to use. I picked one of WordPress’s free themes and I’ve been using it since I started my blog years ago. Also, WordPress has a simple system for people to comment and follow your blog, and it’s easy to moderate comments. It’s also outstanding at filtering out spam comments.

      I posted regularly for a long time, because I enjoyed it, and then I took a hiatus for nearly a year with life going on. It was temporary, and I’m adding a new post this weekend. I’ve got a backlog of posts in my head, and now I’m getting excited about posting those.

      I interact with my readers when they comment. I don’t actively solicit a response and it’s no big deal if no one comments.

      My original goal was to share my nature photography from my travels because family and friends were asking me to share photos. I’m not on Facebook, so this seemed like a good way to stay connected. And to me, having a passion for the written word my entire life, I couldn’t just share photos without the accompanying stories. Over time, my blog evolved into an outlet for other writing beyond my travels.

      I figured no one would be interested in my blog who didn’t know me, and to my surprise over time I now have a bunch of followers who’ve found me on their own. I’ve never done any promotion and I have about 120 followers. I’m soon going to start linking my blog on Instagram, which I joined specifically to share more of my nature photography than can fit on my blog. Perhaps that will get me more blog followers, but that’s not my intention.

      My advice is to be clear about what your intention is for starting a blog. Is it for fun? For promoting a point of view? Finding like-minded people? Professional connections? Whatever you decide, I suggest you find a way to approach it that doesn’t make it feel like a chore.

      Hope that helps, and good luck!

    7. zaracat*

      I’ve used WordPress for multiple different blogs:
      (1) art/craft/historic research projects – this was originally a yahoo blog, but that didn’t have the features I wanted so I switched to WordPress and have been very happy with it. WP made it much easier to create tabbed pages with downloadable files of project documentation and notes from classes I taught (also, vast improvement over providing paper notes which always ended up being wasted by printing too many or people losing them). WordPress isn’t great for hosting large numbers of photos as there was no good way of organising them so I hosted them on Flickr, organised into albums, and provided a link from the WordPress site. This site was hugely popular but I have since taken it down after being bullied out of the group which was the original reason for creating the site – basically F.U. you don’t deserve this free stuff which is based on skills I’ve put huge amounts of time and money into learning, after the way you’ve treated me. I’m planning to eventually do a v2 of this site, personalised to my needs and stripped of the original context of the group.
      (2) one which was a place to write about contentious social issues without having to deal with trolling – comments were permanently disabled so I could write out my arguments, provide links to supporting information, and if people wanted to argue they could do it in their own space where I didn’t have to see it or deal with it. Way better than putting it out on FB or similar. Very few followers but did get a few things reposted by respectable people eg a post series discussing 1984 after I attended a series of festival events centred around the novel got reposted by a sociology professor
      (3) mental health blog, dealing with trauma including sexual assault – I’d found it immensely helpful myself to read about other people’s stories, and also to follow how things evolved over time – it’s a very different perspective from the tiny slice provided by a single article, or the “finished story” in a book. So I decided to start my own, and as I followed similar blogs and got my own followers it’s become a de fact support group. I write in quite a lot of detail, and it’s proved very useful to read back over my own stuff and see improvement, patterns etc. Because I have a health care background myself and like to have an intellectual understanding of things, similar to blog (1) I have fixed pages on the site (where I have book reviews, links to useful articles and other websites, support groups). This one is written under a pseudonym because of privacy concerns, and there is also content which is password protected – I only give out the password to people who I’ve interacted with enough to get a sense of who they are and why they’re interested in the blog content. Every now and again I’ll get a bit paranoid about vaguely creepy people following the blog and set the blog to private.

      I’ve never had a set schedule for posting – with blog (1) it was project-driven, blog (2) was whenever I felt the need to rant, and blog (3) has ended up being mostly around 2-3 posts per week mainly because I just love writing. I know other people deal with the issue of providing regular content in the face of varying enthusiasm is to have a reserve of content and schedule the posts to publish at fixed intervals.

      One thing I really like about WP is the ability to easily control access to content and commenting. I do also use Weebly for my business site, but it’s not really as well set up for blogging.

  16. Valancy Snaith*

    My mom has had severe abdominal pain since January, and tests have showed an unidentified mass on her liver and one on her lung. They are very carefully not saying cancer just yet, as they are sending the material off for testing, but she’s starting chemo on Monday regardless and hopefully it gives her some relief. She can’t walk or even sit up without being in pain, and the drugs are only just barely keeping the edge off. I’m worried and far away and can’t do much of anything. Did I mention my dad also has cancer and gets biweekly chemo as well? At least his is under control, but I am so helpless and far away that it’s killing me.

    1. Asenath*

      It is very hard being far away when your relatives are going through such situations. I think maybe you just have to do what you can and accept that you can’t do everything. If there is someone living near your parents you can liaise with, that can help you feel that you are making a contribution. I’m sure you’re in contact with your parents anyway, but what helped me enormously when I was going through cancer was that one of my sisters – they both live very far away and have lives and responsibilities that make it difficult to travel – decided on her own to call me every week at about the same time instead of waiting for updates. We didn’t always talk about my illness or her husband’s illness. A lot of the time, we chatted about normal things – work, hobbies (especially ones we share, like genealogy), our pets, books or shows we liked or didn’t like. That sort of contact was really helpful to me because it was normal life, and I wouldn’t have thought of asking for her to take the time to make the calls. I also told more people than I had initially planned to about my diagnosis and treatment, and their combination of enquiries about how things were going – and treatment of me as “normal” the rest of the time helped me. I was reminded of a good friend of mine whose cancer eventually killed her, who responded to urgings to use a wheelchair right after her diagnosis, when she thought she didn’t need it, with “I’m not dead yet”. Giving support that they want and need to sick people while remembering that they’re still the people they were and not their disease can be unbelievably helpful, and you don’t need to be there to do it. And you can get support for yourself that way too. Many people know what it’s like to be helpless and far away from sick relatives.

      1. Valancy Snaith*

        I’ve been in touch with my mom daily, whether on the phone or Facetime, and I try to chit chat with her about everything. It’s difficult, because she’s either in too much pain or too exhausted to really carry on much of a conversation, so I’m really just chattering on mostly to myself, but I wish there was something more I could do.

    2. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      Sending you a virtual hug. Is there someone locally going with her as a guide/support (take notes during visits, ask questions, remember details that your mom might be too overwhelmed to get the first time?). I know with my husband, he was not able to “drink from the fire hose” of information and so we always had someone (myself, stepdaughter) go to the major appointments to ensure he had support. If he glazed over, got overwhelmed, we’d slow the pace down. (He’d nod understanding just to not appear stupid, and then have not a clue what the doctor said later when asked).
      And lots more calls… facetime is good. Or set her up with Skype, so you can “see” how she is doing. (even my mom at 89 uses skype, nephew set it up for her).

      1. Valancy Snaith*

        My dad is well enough to be doing most of the legwork regarding insurance, doctors’ offices, etc., and he’s already very familiar with the oncologist, so he really has a leg up. Mostly I’ve just been calling or Facetiming every day just to check in, but it’s difficult when my mom is in too much pain or too exhausted to talk. Mostly just chatting and trying to check in daily.

    3. Not A Manager*

      You might think about collecting small things that your parents would enjoy, and sending them regularly. It could be a cute card, a photo of you and your pets, or a cute mug and some nice tea. My sister used to do that when my family was having a hard time, and we all appreciated getting actual items in the actual post.

      1. Valancy Snaith*

        I really like this idea, thank you. Some mail would definitely lift my mom’s spirits, I think.

      2. WoodswomanWrites formerly Woodswoman*

        I second this idea. When a relative had cancer, pre smartphone, she was too exhausted to talk on the phone. But she appreciated getting things in the mail. Sorry to hear about this and wishing healing for both of your parents.

  17. Part-Time Grinch*

    How do you guys feel about a mandatory shoes off policy for guests to your house? If you were a guest would you rather keep your shoes on or walk around sock footed? I ask because on roommate says she is uncomfortable with guys she doesn’t know well seeing her cocky feet. To her it is sort of like being in her underwear. Is this normal or part of her general anxiety?

    1. Navajo Rug*

      I appreciate a homeowners reason for no shoes in the house, or at least on the carpet… I hate walking around with freezing cold feet. I have adopted a friends trick of keeping a basket of clean socks for the guests next to where you take off your shoes. And there is another basket for you to put your used socks when done. I noticed people are far less hesitant to go shoeless when they can slip into something comfy, and clean!

    2. Aly_b*

      This is such a cultural thing. I’m from Canada, where I’d never been in a shoes on indoors household. It never even occurred to me that was a thing. Getting used to asking in the states was tough, and I can never feel comfortable keeping shoes on indoors. The opposite of your roomie but what I’m used to! I do know some people who keep guest slippers by the door in shoes off households so that those who would prefer not to just be in socks have an alternative.

      1. Valancy Snaith*

        Same. I don’t recall ever being to someone’s home where shoes were kept on. My boots are such a nightmare of slush and salt right now that I wouldn’t dare step out of the entryway with them on.

      2. Lissa*

        Yes, people get weirdly heated about this on both sides but it’s so cultural/regional. I’m a fellow Canadian and very used to the shoe pile when people come over! I didn’t realize for quite some time that Americans tend to keep them on. I don’t personally care one way or the other but I wish people would realize other people aren’t trying to be jerks.

        One thing I find absolutely fascinating though is every time this conversation comes up people from shoes-on places bring up how they HAVE to have shoes on for health reasons related to orthopedic issues. But surely that must also happen in shoes-off cultures too! I can’t imagine anybody who isn’t a jerk not being fine with “I gotta keep ’em on because of a bone issue” or whatnot. It’s weird though that I’ve never actually met in real life someone with this condition so I can’t say for sure.

    3. Nicole*

      I am very against shoes in the house, but I always inform new guests ahead of time so they can plan accordingly. My feet are always cold, so I bring slippers when visiting others in case they too have a no shoes policy. Maybe she can sweat slippers? I have a pair that almost look like boots.

      1. ..Kat..*

        I would love to know about a “no shoes” policy beforehand. I have a pair of shoes that I only wear in the house – like most people use slippers. I need these shoes for the support – otherwise I have severe foot pain. If you do not want me to wear these in-home-only shoes, I would like to know before I spend the time and effort to visit you. Because I will not be able to stay. So, please let people know in advance.

        For the Canadians and Scandinavians where this is common, do people in your countries just never have foot issues that need support?

        1. AcademiaNut*

          If the default is shoes off, then people know they should bring their house shoes with them if they’re visiting someone. This would only be a problem where the rules are variable, or mostly shoes on.

        2. Valancy Snaith*

          Everywhere is shoes off so if someone needs support they know what to do, whether it’s bring shoe covers or slippers or whatever. It’s not an issue because shoes off is the absolute standard. Someone who insisted on leaving their shoes on would be very much seen as rude and an outlier. To get into my house I have to either come through the garage (dirty, slushy) or the front door and the walk (ice, snow, salt) so no matter what, shoes coming into my house are going to be nasty. That is the absolute norm here.

        3. Curly Sue*

          Canadian with orthotics here – we have separate sets of indoor and outdoor shoes (They’re on the required list for school supplies for the kids as well – no snowy / salty boots allowed in classrooms or the gym floor.) I’m not at the point yet where I need the orthotics indoors, but my mother has a separate set of runners for indoors that she’ll bring with her.

          We’re all pretty much used to bringing shoes with us, though – it’s absolutely standard for fancy parties. You can get nice shoe bags for that, and my oldest made shoe bags for her sewing badge in Guides. It’s just the regional norm.

    4. Need a Beach*

      It’s your house, but it would be nice to be sensitive to peoples’ needs. Anyone with orthotics or foot pain that requires special shoes would be uncomfortable without them. Also, if you have pets or kids, keep their sharp toys up off the floor.

      We compromised by making the first floor all hardwood for ease of cleaning. Guests have no reason to go upstairs on the rugs.

      1. Pam*

        Yep, I wear custom shoes, which are difficult to put on/take off due to a bone disease in my feet. I even wear them to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

      2. Liz in a Library*

        Yep, thanks for thinking of this. Walking barefoot for even a short time can mean hours of pain for me later.

      3. WoodswomanWrites formerly Woodswoman*

        Another person here who wears shoes indoors because of a foot condition. And that’s after many years of having a shoes-off household.

        I also think it’s important to consider that if you have pets, some people may be allergic to them and it’s no fun to bring animal hair home with you on your socks. Plus I easily get cold feet. As others have suggested, I like the slippers idea. I either bring my own or borrow those that people offer for guests. That has worked well.

      1. Louise*

        Seconding this. I simply can’t walk without shoes on because of my chronic plantar fasciitis. I carry those shoe covers like they use in operating rooms to put over my shoes, but hate using them. Nothing like being the only person at a party with giant blue balloon shaped shoe covers on. If that’s my only choice, generally I’ll just stay home!

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. The doc says I have to have shoes on my feet at all times. No bare feet, no sock feet. I would probably feel very bad about the whole thing, but I’d have to leave. People can do as they wish. And I have to do what I have to do.
        I just wish people would tell me before I drive all the way over. I am trying to remember to ask more often.

        1. Rovannen*

          I also have to wear shoes at all times. I’m considering purchasing washable shoe covers found on Amazon. I want to use them in my own house and keep a pair for other houses.

        2. Blackcat*

          How would you feel about being told to wipe down your shoes?

          I live in an area with a lot of lead in the soil, and I regularly have friends with toddlers/babies over, who get their hands all over the floor. I view the no-shoe rule as partly a reduce-lead exposure rule. I’d be totally fine if someone agreed to run a wet rag over the bottom of their shoes.

          1. Liz in a Library*

            I think this is a good solution. I also always have to wear shoes, and I’d be fine with wiping them at the door.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            I’d be fine with wiping my shoes, no prob. And I would be grateful for the solution. Depending on how my back is doing I might need to sit on a chair or bench to wipe my shoes, though. I live in a rural/farming area, it’s pretty common for folks to have something to sit on by the door. They also are dealing with boots and muddy shoes.

            1. Blackcat*

              Thanks for replying! I do have a bench right by the door–don’t most people have a chair or bench by the door if they are shoe-free houses? That’s always been my experience…

          3. WoodswomanWrites formerly Woodswoman*

            That seems like a reasonable request, and I’d be happy to wipe off the bottom of my shoes.

      3. Annette*

        Instead of leaving – why not simply explain the situation? No need to assume the worst in others.

        1. Louise*

          I usually do ask, and often am given the answer that of course I can leave my shoes on. But at least twice I was told I couldn’t enter, even with the shoe covers on. WTF?? After a few humiliations like that, it can be easier for an introvert to just go home.

          1. Louise*

            To be fair, these were open house sort of situations, not visiting friends. But still, it’s not fun to have one’s hidden handicap revealed and reviled :(

            1. valentine*

              I’ve never heard of a need for shoes 24/7. Perhaps the agents or homeowners haven’t either. You could tweet the agency or some sort of realty body so they can change their practice.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Sorry, I could have used a few more words. I meant if the person is adamant and there does not seem to be any alternative solution then my only choice would be to go home. I won’t just walk in anyway, I mean, it’s their house. Some one suggested wiping my shoes which I would be happy to use that solution.

    5. Anoncorporate*

      You definitely have a right to require it, but you might want to consider if it’s worth making an exception for guests. I’m a no shoes off person generally for cleanliness reasons, but if guests come and they want to keep their shoes on (especially if it’s cold), I just let them keep it on. However, if you have carpet or something that would be an absolute pain to clean, you can definitely require people take their shoes off.

    6. The Gollux (Not a Mere Device)*

      I think that at minimum you should warn people ahead of time if that’s your policy, because it will be a problem for some people. My reasonable options are to dry my shoes off when I get to your house; bring a pair of sandals that I never wear outdoors (which means I’m not bringing dirt or mud in); or decline the invitation. So, I need to know whether to bring my indoor shoes. And if “no shoes in the house” is absolute, I’d like to know before I get there–missing a party isn’t fun, but traveling in the cold to miss a party and go right back out in the cold would be worse.

      In my experience, if the hosts’ shoes or boots are visible and they aren’t wearing shoes, most people who can go barefoot in the house will follow that lead.

      1. Lissa*

        I would say warn either way if you’re out of sync with the norms in your area. Where I’m from (Canada!) people don’t keep their shoes on inside, so warning would come off weirdly. I’m sure there are Canadians out there with foot problems that mean they need to keep them on, so I think because it’s out of sync with norms they would probably be the one to bring it up – but I don’t know because I haven’t ever seen this problem except online when shoes-on/off conversations come up. ;)
        I can’t imagine saying anything if a guest didn’t take them off, though. I’d honestly probably figure there was a reason because it’s just so uncommon here!

    7. Jemima Bond*

      If someone wanted me to take me shoes off visiting their house, I would. Their place, their rules. Also I spent a short time in Russia, and like the Canadians as mentioned ipthread, visitors always take off shoes (it’s a wet/muddy/snowy boot thing) and the Russians always have spare slippers. If casual visiting I’d probably take them off anyway for comfort but if it was a party and I had pretty heels on I’d leave them on unless asked.
      As a side question, what does “cocky” mean in terms of feet? To me it means over-confident, mouthy. But not for feet clearly – I’m guessing misshapen with bunions etc, or maybe sort of crusty/calloused?

    8. Maya Elena*

      If you don’t like shoes in the house and no carpets, consider stocking slippers in multiple sizes.

      1. Bigfeetz*

        I think the multiple sizes is extremely important. My in-laws insist on wearing slippers in the house, I am a no-shoes indoors Canadian, so honestly I hate wearing shoes indoors, and loathe slippers if they don’t fit properly. It’s also gross sharing unwashable slippers with people who use them barefooted.

        Add insult to injury, most of the out-law family has tiny feet, the largest is about size 8 men’s, most are closer to 5-6. I have size 10-11 mens feet. Yet they still insisted I wear their size 8 slippers and took personal affront complete with temper tantrums when I didn’t… 25 years later, they still haven’t bought slippers that actually fit me, and actually threw out a pair that I bought specifically for their house that do fit after I left them there one visit, because “they were ugly and too big”. I have never felt more like Cinderella’s stepsister than I did at that moment.

        I no longer go over to visit for many, many reasons.

    9. Aphrodite*

      My home has a “no shoes’ policy. And it’s strict. The reason is that while most of us wouldn’t think about walking barefoot on public streets or sidewalks I think that wearing the same shoes on those streets and sidewalks and then inside transfers whatever they picked up. And to me that is really, really gross.

      However, for people like your roommate who feel strongly about their shoes I keep disposable shoe covers ( https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01CRLCSOK/ref=s9_acsd_top_hd_bw_bQcDjn_c_x_1_w?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=merchandised-search-3&pf_rd_r=34QTQ2EHEA7MC7FNTVNY&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=e3f3ea2c-10e5-5141-9980-906490df4d60&pf_rd_i=393294011 ). We can both be happy.

      1. Courageous cat*

        Man, what a way to feel self-conscious at a guest’s home – either wear no shoes at all, or have to wear this terribly ugly scrub-like covering on them. If I had planned my outfit with any degree of intention, this would kill me.

        I get your reasoning and respect that you can do whatever you want in your home, but my reasoning for letting guests leave them on still always comes back down to “stop being a germaphobe”. There’s literally human shit on everything y’all touch already. No one’s gonna die from bringing in the outside world (which is already coming in on your clothes and in the air and everything else) in.

        1. Valancy Snaith*

          For almost everyone I’ve ever met, it’s not about germs, it’s about the actual dirt coming into your house. Living in a climate that’s slushy, snowy, muddy, and just generally dirty for 6-7 months of the year will take a toll on your floors, no matter how much you wipe your shoes at the door.

    10. Shrunken Hippo*

      I know a few people who have guest slippers. They just bought some cotton ones that can be thrown in the laundry after they’re used. They don’t take up a lot of space, are easy to clean, comfy to wear, and makes indoor shoe wearing people feel a bit better.

    11. HannahS*

      That’s kind of a two-part question. I’m a 100% let me take these uncomfortable things off the moment I get in. I know people with foot issues who need to wear shoes indoors, but they generally have indoor shoes that are clean that they’ll bring into other people’s homes.

      As for your friend’s particular objection–it’s unusual, and not one I’ve heard before despite being in and having friends in communities where dressing modestly is a thing. But I, personally, am uncomfortable walking around in bare (not sock-ed) feet because I’m a permanently-cold person living in a cold place and I literally only have my socks off when I’m in bed, so when I very occasionally wear sandals in summer, I feel oddly vulnerable, like parts of my clothes are missing. So I maybe see where she’s coming from? But I don’t think anybody’s sexualizing my feet, and I don’t feel differently around men and women when I don’t have socks on.

      I wonder if your friend has “thing” for feet? It’s really common–I don’t mean it as a weird accusation. There’s a theory that says, since feet and genitals are next to each other on the sensory part of your brain, sometimes your brain basically takes feet and goes, “Ah yes, these, the other genitals.” I’m not saying this is something you should raise with her (DEFINITELY NOT) but maybe that’s why she feels kind of in her underwear when she’s in socks.

    12. Asenath*

      I grew up with the “take off your shoes at the door” system – possibly because I grew up in an area where it was often wet, muddy, or snowing, so no one wanted all that tracked into the house. Because of that, I have no discomfort at all going around in my socks or even my bare feet (although I know people who always have those folding slippers with them so they can put them on when visiting). I did discover much later when I knew more people from different areas that not everyone is comfortable with either the idea of asking all their guests to take their shoes off, or going barefoot or in stocking feet. I’m not sure how you and your roommate can compromise on this – maybe insist on slippers?

    13. Lilysparrow*

      I think not wanting to go around barefoot in front of company is well within the norms of mainstream personal preferences. It sounds to me as if you are trying to push something on her that she does not like. Anytime you press someone to give logical reasons for personal preferences, it’s going to wind up sounding wierd. But that’s only because you’re overanalyzing something that just isn’t that complicated.

      I think the people who live in a house get equal say in house rules, unless they are merely boarders or short-term tenants.

      If your roommate is otherwise a good one, pays on time, is quiet, clean and considerate, and so forth, then drop it.

      Making someone feel defensive or losing a good roommate over an arbitrary rule is infinitely more irrational than wanting to keep your feet covered.

      1. Lilysparrow*

        TLdr: Your roommate isn’t a guest. She gets to wear shoes in her own home if she wants to.

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          I once went to somebody’s house and was told that I could keep my shoes on. Fair enough, but then another time I was told I had to remove my shoes. I said they would have to give me some slippers, which they did.

          Some other people arrived, and they were not asked to remove their shoes, which seemed a bit off to me.

    14. Hitori*

      Shoes off in the house is great IF there is somewhere to sit down right at the door. Some of us have trouble with balance, and being able to sit down to take your shoes off makes a huge difference.

    15. Paquita*

      I have a former professor who became a friend. His wife is Chinese. They have a no shoes policy. However, when DH and I have been to their house a few time, we were told please leave your shoes on. We usually removed them unless it was a quick visit. I think it was mostly just there own preference but not strictly enforced for visitors. I just always liked to conform to the house ‘rule’ to be polite.

    16. Jane*

      I always take off my shoes in my house, but I make it optional for guests. Not that I have a lot of guests, but when I do, it’s up to them. I take them off to prevent tracking dirt into my house, but I have guests infrequently enough that I can just clean up after they leave if needed and it isn’t going to make a big different in dirt in my house.

      I personally hate wearing shoes at all and am happy to take off my shoes anywhere and everywhere, but my mom is one of those people for whom shoes is a medical necessity so I get it that some people feel differently.

      1. Autumnheart*

        I have a similar policy. Shoes off for me. If a guest asks what I prefer, I’ll say something like, “I always take mine off, but you’re welcome to keep shoes on if you like”. I live in the North where there is frequently sloppy weather that leads to tracking, so it’s normal for people to take shoes off, but even shoe-wearers will typically be conscientious about not tracking crud in.

    17. AcademiaNut*

      I live in East Asia, so keeping shoes on in the house tends to make me uncomfortable (even repair people fixing stuff insist on taking their shoes off!). The key here, though, is that the hosts provide slippers so you aren’t walking around in your in your socks (unless you move onto tatami mat, which are socks only) and there are often separate slippers in the bathroom.

      Before that I lived in various parts of Canada, which were shoes off unless explicitly told otherwise – no one wanted dirty slush tracked across their carpets.

    18. Justme, The OG*

      I hate no-shoes policies but will abide by them if I am a guest in a house that has one. Your rommie’s quirk seems especially quirky to me.

    19. Courageous cat*

      It’s so, so regional. But I’m in the south and am a HEAVY advocate for letting guests keep their shoes on. I also tend to keep my shoes on in the house unless I’m in for the night. My arguments are:

      A: stop being a germaphobe
      B: shoes are part of an outfit, so this is especially egregious to me when I’m really intentionally dressed, like for a party, and
      C: yeah, having your feet out there (especially if unexpected) can feel kind of intimate, which is weird if you’re not around people you’re close with.

      Again though, this is heavily regional and seems to be a touchy subject for many, so there’s not going to be one right answer.

    20. KayEss*

      I grew up in a home culture of shoes-off indoors, but a “no shoes, ever” policy for guests still seems deeply weird to me. When I have guests over, I make sure to tell them that they can keep their shoes on if they prefer (unless they know their shoes are muddy/wet/etc.) because I will take mine off out of habit or they’ll see the pile of shoes by the door and wonder.

      I do kind of get the roommate’s position, though… there are situations that I wouldn’t want to have my shoes off in, or people I wouldn’t want to be without them in front of, because I would feel less put together. Like if I’m all dressed up and wearing my nice shoes I’ve probably got on a pair of those very shallow, thin socks designed to not be visible with most flats or pumps… and I don’t want to be seen walking around in just those, they’re ugly and fall off really easily.

    21. Roja*

      My husband and I are a mixed shoes on/shoes off household anyway, so our guests can do whatever they want. I do ask people to take off/clean their shoes if they’re muddy or really nasty, but that’s pretty rare. We live in an area with a lot of snow and salt/rain and mud, and I haven’t noticed anything on the floors. We do have anti-slip rugs so I think that takes off a lot of gunk.

      It’s really, really important to me as a host that my guests are comfortable. If they want to take off their shoes, they should! If they don’t, they shouldn’t! I’d HATE to know that my guests weren’t coming over or were here and unhappy because of a rule I’d put in place that wasn’t 100% necessary.

    22. Adminx2*

      I keep it optional. Which makes me cringe sometimes as they walk on the carpet with the messy shoes…but people feeling relaxed is more worth it to me.
      I prefer to keep them on because I tend to be cold and I don’t want to fish for them on the way out.

  18. The Curator*

    W thing today and tomorrow. Slept 9 hours last night. I am ready. Last big push for the big project. Taking care of myself and crew. Trader Joe’s for snacks and lunch. We can do this. Link in next post.

    1. The Curator*

      I guess what I wanted to say really was although this seems like a W post it is not. It is my reminder of the W/life balance. This is my life. This is my joy. Yesterday was my birthday. Growing up in a dysfunctional household, birthdays were not a celebration. They were violent, distressful days to keep your head down and get through it. I have no joyous memories of childhood. My birthday is a trigger. Yet, yesterday was a Good Day. We were crazy busy but seeing the fruits of our labors. I was surrounded by women and men who I trust and respect. Who model good sane relationships. They surprised me in a good way with snacks and a song. I realized that I am building good memories.
      And today- meeting friends for an early morning coffee.7:30 am my time. W. think at 10:00, a sane hour. Going to Trader Joes- some people like Disney World, I like Trader Joes.
      Today I feel confident and ready to face the day. What more can a newly minted 59-year-old ask for?

        1. Marthooh*

          (chimes in with a burst of hemidemisemiquavers)
          Happy day after your birthday to you!
          Happy Trader Joes day, dear the Curator,
          Happy new memories to you!
          (throws handfuls of internet confetti into the air)
          *.:; :*..:, ”*:;.. .’*’..; ::’*.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        May I steal your last line for birthday cards? It’s perfect!! –especially so because it can be adapted for any age.
        How do you want to be credited?

          1. Jean (just Jean)*

            >Today I feel confident and ready to face the day. What more can a newly minted 59-year-old ask for? [insert age of your choice]

            Thank you. I’ll probably credit with the current URL for AAM. Let the thievery begin!!

      1. The Curator*

        W. also know as “the thing that shall not be named” AKA the thing most people with jobs are doing Monday through Friday. On AAM “the thing that shall not be named” is not mentioned in posting because weekend thread is a “work free” zone. No school, no work. I find this helpful as a reminder that a healthy life has balance.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Work. It’s okay to say the word here, y’all; no need for the subterfuge. (In fact, I wish it would stop because it confuses other readers, as seen here.)

        1. The Curator*

          Work it is. I didn’t know where I got the idea that using “work” in a post causes it to be deleted.
          Sorry for being confusing.

        2. Someone Else*

          Alison, you have a FAQ that I’m missing? If not, have you considered one? Not the posting rules, but just the stuff that comes up all the time (although maybe this one could be added to the rules not to do that), people asking you to review their individual resumes, putting an email in if you want to be warned that your post went to moderation, other stuff…
          If there already is a FAQ maybe make it more prominent/as prominent as the rules page? I looked but didn’t see one. Thanks.

          1. Iron Chef Boyardee*

            I second the FAQ. A glossary would also be helpful. Some terms and abbreviations may be super obvious to most, but not everyone has had the same level of “w”– er, I mean, work experience. I, for example, am a college dropout with the bulk of my history (30+ years) being clerical/administrative support.

            1. The Curator*

              What if on the Friday thread we ask the commentariot to crowd source a FAQ and then you can link to that thread.
              Why Fergus?
              What are Hannukah Balls?
              Whats with the Tea Pot factory references?
              Why do we enjoy Game of Thrones so much?

              1. Iron Chef Boyardee*

                That’s a good idea. Perhaps submissions can be made via a wiki accessible only through this site (can that be done?), and Alison can vet the submissions, edit those that meet her approval so the finished entries all have “her” voice, and cut-and-paste those to an “official” AAM glossary.

                And it wouldn’t just be “fun” stuff like teapots, but serious things too. For example, it took me a while to figure out that “C-suite” refers to top-level executives. And I’m still not sure if “grandboss” refers to the person at the very top, Chief Executive Officer/Chairman of the Board, or just your boss’ boss (who might have people above him), or even if something like that would depend on the size and structure of the company.

                Please keep in mind that even if something is common knowledge to virtually everyone, that means there are still people who don’t know what it means, and I’m sure you don’t want to exclude anyone.

        3. Courageous cat*

          Yeah, this “thing that shall not be named” stuff has honestly gotten a bit ridiculous. Surely we’re all capable of understanding the nuances of the rule rather than following it to the absolute T.

  19. Loopy*

    A very quick but very grateful thank you to those with staying healthy tips in last week’s thread. It ended up being a craaaazy weekend and I couldn’t get back to comment but many of them were new to me! What a great resource to bookmark- literally forever.

    Unfortunately I need to be selfish and ask advice from the knowledgable people here AGAIN. For those who understand dresses/tulle fabric/alterations (apologies this is long and cross posted in one other place- is that okay? Are there rules against that?):

    So last night I went for my 7:30 fitting. The alterations guy (who I am obsessed with and think is amazing) said he had just left one minor seam to finish because he really felt he wanted to see the dress on me to be 150% sure before he closed it up. I’ve had excellent experience with him and trust him so I was fine with him being cautious. He also wanted to remove just a tiny bit of extra/long tulle in the front after seeing me in it.

    All minor adjustments and the dress looked great. He said he could finish it up in 30 minutes, put me back in it, and then steam it. Longer than we expected but fine.


    My future mother in law is an amazing, lovely woman but when she gets hungry she can be more vocal about it than she probably realizes. She’ll repeat how hungry she is. She was with me to make sure she knows how to bustle the dress since no one on my side is local. I appreciated it and generally adore her.

    It was taking a little longer than usual and she is saying how hungry she is to me several times (within earshot of the alterations guy working) and the guy comes out and apologizes and says we can go and he can finish up and steam it or we can wait and 20 minutes. But I know he heard my FMIL and I’m tired and getting annoyed and afraid he will subconsciously maybe rush it if we stay and wait.

    So I say, okay I’ll come back. He says I can just pick it up if I want since it fit great and the finishing up touches were very minor.

    Here’s the dilemma:

    He’ll steam it so do I just take the dress straight home to keep it perfectly steamed or do I try it on again for peace of mind when I pick up and lose that final steamed perfection by taking it out, putting it on and then putting it back in the bag? I’m two weeks out and anxiety brain says I need to try it on when I pick up since he did do some work with cutting a bit of tulle and sewing up something. Rational brain says the work was minor and I shouldn’t risk fussing with it so much once it’s steamed.

    Help! I’m so anxious about whether I try on or not when I pick it up again. Steaming takes a solid 20 minutes so I don’t know if they’d do it again after a quick try on (it might be understandably unnecessary, I don’t know). Does anyone have experience or knowledge that’ll help me decide one way or the other?

    1. Bibliovore*

      There is no perfect but. Try it on. one less thing to obsess about. You trust the guy. tell him your anxiety. they may be able to just steam one part instead of the whole shebang.

    2. Victoria, Please*

      (Not a fabric expert) Will it matter much? If the steaming is so fragile that the moment you put the dress on, it won’t be perfect, that is going to happen no matter what. Can you get a little steamer to use in the ready room for any small ripples?

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Ask him what he thinks.
      I do some sewing. I am not great at it. But I have nailed something perfectly, I do know it. Likewise with him, he will probably know if he has nailed it perfectly.
      I would frame it as, “So what is your standard operating procedure here? Do I try it? Do you have to steam it again? I don’t want to make unnecessary work for you.”

    4. Lcsa99*

      Well just think about it, if you DON’T try it on and it sits in a bag for two weeks, do you really think it won’t need to be steamed again anyway? I would try it on and let your FMIL practice strapping you in and bustling at the same time so you can just stop obsessing about it. You have so much to think about besides this.

    5. Dr. Anonymous*

      Try it on so you can quit thinking about it. Put it carefully back in the bag. No one who sees you in the dress later will have thoughts about the steaming. If it gets a little crushed in one place you can run a cheap home steamer over the one spot; you don’t have to re steam the entire dress because you touched it. Or it can have a wrinkle someplace and maybe somebody who’s bored can amuse themselves looking for it. But if you don’t try on the dress you’ll probably keep worrying about it, because you are a human.

    6. LilySparrow*

      Unless you plan to roll on the floor or go to the beach when you try it on, it isn’t going to make a whit of difference to the way the dress looks at your wedding. The “just steamed perfection” is not going to be there for the wedding anyway. It only looks that way while it is literally hanging on the steamer.

      It gets handled when it goes in the bag. It gets handled when you pick it up and transport it home. It gets handled when you transport it to the venue. It gets handled when you get into it. You have to walk from the dressing room to the ceremony, possibly have pictures in between, get hugged, etc.

      This handling will not ruin it. It will still look wonderful, but it will not carry some magical aura of being untouched by human hands.

      On the other hand, stressing about it is going to wear you out. So just try it on and set your mind at rest!

    7. Loopy*

      Thanks to everyone for the sane perspective! I’m definitely irrational about the dress. It’s definitely out of my comfort zone to have such a special and expensive outfit. I’m very casual and my clothes are comfy and inexpensive- so I have been paranoid I’d be careless and somehow ruin the dress the entire time I’ve had it- which is the past year.

      Frankly, I’m just not used to taking such care of a clothing item so I’m over compensating.

      1. Lcsa99*

        You’re not alone in being paranoid about your dress! I was the exact same way. I was so worried about it being in the bag so long that I took it out of the bag and hung it in a closet in the hall with the skirt spread out as much as possible (we had TINY closets) the issue with that is that out cat loved to open that closet and hang out on the clothes there so I rigged up bungee cords to pull the door closed as soon as he managed to get it open. It only closed on his head once before he gave up.

        1. valentine*

          Definitely try it on. I don’t think the bag will preserve the steam, but can you rent a steamer for the day and no one touches you once you’re dressed?

      2. Curly Sue*

        It’s totally normal to stress! One thing that can get your ‘just steamed’ look back if anything does get a little crumpled is hanging the dress in the bathroom while you’re showering on the day-of. That little extra steam exposure can often be enough to refresh it without going to the hassle of renting a steamer.

      3. CheeryO*

        My mom has an alterations business, and a lot of her customers are the same way with their formal dresses and wedding dresses. You’re not being irrational at all, just careful and thoughtful! :)

        I will say that my mom always has customers try on one final time to make sure everything is perfect. If you requested that, it wouldn’t be weird at all. It would only take a minute to touch up the steaming. Remember that he probably takes great pride in his work and wants you to be 100 percent satisfied and not anxious about the final state of your dress!

    8. Doodle*

      Not what you asked, but I’d start doing the mom-thing and carrying some snacks for your MIL whenever you go out (really, she ought to do that for herself, she’s a grown woman and knows she gets hungry!). Whatever she likes that is ok stuck in your purse (granola bars, nabs, small bag of nuts, a couple of mandarins…) LOL, I’m totally serious.

  20. Be the Change*

    I am turning 49 on Monday! A “square” birthday. For fun, I am going to write a list of 49 things I have learned. Trivial or important, all together.

    Trivial: if you’re doing a little fixit job, put both the Phillips head and flathead screwdriver in your back pocket. Important: it is a very wise thing to realize that you could be wrong.

    What would be on your list?

    1. Lena Clare*

      Ooo that’s such a good question!
      – People behave in ways that make sense to them
      – I’m not responsible for other people’s feelings (well, I mean, within reason. Just me behaving normally is ok.)
      – Don’t clean up cat pee with an ammonia-based cleaning product cos they’ll do it again ;)
      – I learnt how to do some Excel stuff straight from CRM which has made my job easier, but definitely not interesting in this thread!

      Happy birthday!

    2. London Calling*

      Trivial : Always open a yoghurt so it’s facing away from you. Especially if you are wearing a clean blouse.

      Important: telling people you love them is priceless. It was the last thing I said to my mother and we weren’t the sort of people who normally said stuff like that. It has always been a source of comfort that those were the last words she heard from me.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      trivial: Having a specialty tool on hand insures I will never need it.

      important: Long term working relationships with small companies pays off over time, such as an oil company or a professional practice.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Trivial, similarly: the best way to find something you’ve lost is to replace it.

        I once lost a book mid-read. Looked for it for a couple days, finally bought a “new” copy off the clearance rack at the used bookstore. I came home and found my missing copy square on my pillow. I lived alone in a 250 sqft apartment.

        1. London Calling*

          How do inanimate objects DO that? do they have secret powers and they aren’t inanimate at all, just pretending? because that’s the only explanation.

    4. Nerdgal*

      Trivial: rotate things (dishes, towels, clothes) by putting the clean ones at the bottom of the pile.
      Important: your notebooks should be dated and have a table of contents!

      1. Daphne*

        !!!!!!! at the table of contents – I’ve started 3 different notebooks by accident and can’t never remember which pad had which handy prompt/info!

    5. Foreign Octopus*

      Trivial: always carry chapstick on my person because I hate dry lips.

      Important: no problem is a big problem when broken down into its component parts (basically, solve tiny problem after tiny problem and then voila! The big problem is solved).

    6. Jean (just Jean)*

      Trivial: Always keep canned tomato products on hand. (Decades later, my acid reflux nixes this one. Today I’d probably recommend pasta or fresh fruits & vegetables.)
      Important: Always be kind to other people. (This was my friend’s response during our long-ago “rules to live by” conversation. I was being flippant; she, serious. Her comment was humbling and memorable.)

    7. Thursday Next*

      Trivial: you don’t have to finish a book that you don’t like, simply because you started to read it.

      Important: you’re never too old to try something new.

    8. Annonymous*

      Trivial: If someone offers you gum or a mint, always accept and use it right away.
      Important: Things can always be worse than they are.

    9. CatCat*

      On the sides of boxes of things like cling wrap, foil, and parchment paper are perforations in the box that you poke in. This holds the rolls in place.

      I believe this is both trivial and important. Makes kitchen life so much easier!

    10. char*

      Trivial: It’s okay to buy pre-sliced, pre-cooked chicken for use in recipes instead of having to spend a bunch of time preparing raw chicken.

      Important: Be as forgiving with yourself as you would with a dear friend.

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Many times you can fudge it and utilize an odd tool–hammer in a nail with the heel of a cowboy boot. But not always–don’t try to hammer in a screw. The difference is wisdom.

      1. LibbyG*

        Trivial: when you’re grilling or panfrying sonething relatively thin, it’s almost always 3 minutes per side.

        Important: if you act like a jerk, it’s unlikely that someone will call you out, but you’ll lose out on opportunities that you won’t even be aware of.

    12. Folkie*

      Trivial: don’t keep your deoderant bar and bamboo toothbrush in the same sponge bag without covering them, as the toothbrush will taste of deodorant.
      Important: it’s OK to find things hard, even seemingly trivial things. We are not automatically born with the skills to do everything.

  21. Be the Change*

    Also, could I get some advice? Maybe this is age related? I am waking up earlier and earlier. Today woke up at 4. This of course means I want to crash earlier. I’ve always been a morning person but this is ridiculous. I don’t want to go to bed at 8!

    1. Asenath*

      I think it’s normal to sleep less as you age, but I’m a morning person too, and don’t let it distress me much. I usually stay in bed until the alarm goes at 5:30 even if I am awake, which I very often am. I always have an audiobook on my phone to listen to. I haven’t found a solution to being sleeping in the early evening, though.

    2. Jean (just Jean)*

      Menopause? Peri-menopause? (No offense meant if this does not apply.)
      Stress? (No redundancy meant if the two above do apply.

      Nothing obvious, such as noisy neighbors or other sound-based rackets close to your bedroom?

      Can you get up for a few minutes and then go back to sleep?

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Sometimes if I drop my body temperature I can go back to sleep when I get back into bed. Worth a try?

    4. deesse877*

      Early rising is a depression symptom for me, but it could be other things too.

      Best sleep advice I ever got was, set the alarm for your wake-up time, but if you wake before that, DON’T LOOK AT THE CLOCK. Don’t count down the time and worry about getting enough sleep. Just do something else till you feel sleepy again, like read a paper book (not a screen). You’ll lose some time, but the worrying can make you lose more time than you otherwise would.

    5. Autumnheart*

      I’ve become the kind of person who prefers to get ready for bed at 8. But I also tend to suffer from early awakening. I personally find that a melatonin tablet helps me stay asleep, and that my sleep is sounder and more refreshing. If you haven’t tried it, give it a whirl.

      1. Be the Change*

        Thank you! I may try that. Thanks to everyone else as well. Peri-menopause is probably approaching. Stress, noise, etc., are not the issues. If I get up, I’m kinda up, unfortunately, but I could try maybe uncovering to get cooler.

  22. AnonForThisPost*

    This is going to be a long one – warning for mention/discussion of suicide, mental health problems and related triggers.

    So. When I was just turned fourteen, a friend committed suicide. Our entire friendship group really struggled with it, especially because we felt as though it was somehow our fault for not preventing it, even though we’d done everything that kids were told to (reported it to teachers multiple times etc). The inquest actually found a bunch of failings in CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) in our area, people highlighting concerns that weren’t escalated or passed on, and so on. In other words, it definitely wasn’t our fault. Hard to convince us of that, though, especially after the family put out an appeal for people to look out for their friends and notice things that were wrong so it wouldn’t happen again, as though we’d known it was going to happen and did nothing.

    I never actually had therapy or counselling afterwards (was offered it, chose otherwise) but I feel like seven years later, I’m…not over it, but fine. Don’t think about it on a daily basis or anything. No longer actually think it’s our fault.

    Thing is, I’m now housemates with someone who has pretty bad depression and anxiety, and I’ve kind of accidentally become her sounding board for pretty much everything. I’m the one that texts her going “That wasn’t a reasonable response to [you mispronouncing a word/dropping something on the floor/etc], have you taken your meds today?” and stuff like that. That’s fine.

    But somewhere along the line, I think I’ve become the impromptu therapist. If I’m the last one up to bed, I get cornered in the kitchen so she can vent about things and talk about her stress levels, which relatively often segues into her bringing up the fact that she was thinking over her suicide plan etc. (Sample conversation: we were mid-way through exams, I said something about her final exam being in a day or two so it wasn’t much longer, and her response was “Yeah, that’s why I was sat in the library coming up with seven different ways to kill myself today.”) She’s also struggled with disordered eating in the past, so there’s the occasional “Also I didn’t eat for five days over summer” dropped in there. She knows about my friend, and she’s said in the past “I hope you don’t think I’m joking or making fun when I talk about wanting to kill myself” (and I just want to scream “You telling me that you’re being serious is far worse than if you were joking!”)

    I know she was seeing a therapist at some point, and I’ve gently probed to find out whether she still is, and I don’t think that she is, not anymore. But I can’t do this. I can’t be a 2am kitchen therapist to someone. I help to the best of my ability, but I *know* that I’m not of any real help, I’m not a therapist, I’m not a psychologist. I’m the friend that reminds her to take her meds. I’m happy to be the friend that she vents to when something is particularly bad.

    But the suggestions I offer get turned down (pill boxes so she remembers her meds, going back to therapy, etc), and I just can’t keep doing this. It’s bringing back really painful memories and, frankly, some pretty damaging mindsets, where being the friend means that I’m single-handedly responsible for fixing this and it’s all my fault if anything, god forbid, goes wrong, because I should have done more. I’m not a professional. I’m happy to be here for her, but not to this extent.

    I just need some way to get across to her that I feel like I’m not equipped to be this sounding board that I’ve become and that I would feel a lot more comfortable if she could go back to a therapist and could talk this stuff out with someone who was actually qualified. But anxiety brain. And depression brain. I know that anything and everything I say will be twisted out of proportion by her anxieties. I’d rather not bring into it the fact that I’m not comfortable talking about this because of my friend, because then she’s going to start beating herself up over making things awful for me, but…it kind of *is* making things awful for me. But I don’t want her to start blaming herself.

    I don’t know. Help.

    TLDR; have accidentally become impromptu therapist for friend who really does need therapy, but I’m not emotionally equipped to deal with this given past experiences, but I can’t figure out how to say this without her anxiety brain telling her that I hate her etc and things spiralling .

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      Can you say it very gently, not “go see a shrink pronto!” but “I think this would be more appropriate for you to discuss with a therapist” or “I’m not comfortable giving advice here?” When a friend said this to me years ago it stung, but she was correct. I diverted the topic to a therapist. It helped our friendship.

      Short-term: You can have objective reasons to head off or wind down the conversation, such as “I realized that I have to go to bed by 11 (or whatever works for you) so I can’t keep talking at 2 a.m.” You can quietly rearrange your life so that you’re not around as much when she’s looking for a listener.

      Long term: I’d think seriously about moving when your lease is up.

      Depression and anxiety can spiral into dysfunctionality (despair, self-blame, frantic attempts to find external ways to soothe oneself when the problem has to be resolved internally)…but you are not required to destroy yourself just because someone else is, on some level, not choosing to taking constructive steps herself. I don’t mean to be harsh; I’m just saying that at some point, if one’s efforts are not helpful, one has to choose self-preservation.

      1. AnonForThisPost*

        “Long term: I’d think seriously about moving when your lease is up.”

        Not really an option given the situation. We’re all students, living in a student house – the way it goes is that you arrange a lease with your landlord generally before February for housing the following academic year. This is our second year sharing a house with the four of us, and we’ve already confirmed the lease for next year. The year after that, we’ll all be graduating and going our separate ways.

        But I agree with the short-term ideas – I think that framing it in a way where it’s not me going “Stop talking to me” but rather “I don’t think this is helping either of us, can you talk to a therapist?” is more in line with something that won’t trigger her anxiety as badly. She already has her subconscious telling her that everyone in this house secretly hates her and wants her gone; I don’t want to add fuel to the fire.

    2. All Stitched Up*

      Not coming up with any specific advice, but oh I feel for you. That’s so hard. If you’re not familiar with the Captain Awkward blog, I know there are several posts in the archives on how to avoid/extricate oneself from being an unpaid therapist for friends and partners. Using “unpaid therapist” in the search box on the blog should get you a bunch of hits.

      1. Epiphyta*

        Since the good Captain has been brought up, I’m going to open with this from one of her posts:

        Remember: there are limits to what friends, even concerned friends, can personally absorb when someone is in a down cycle. Therapists have set office hours, with fifty-minute sessions, and they have structure and boundaries and limits around how they do their work. If trained carers don’t think listening to someone’s complaints/worries for hours at a time is a best practice, then how can the expectation be that y’all can absorb that on demand? Caring about someone and taking on the full load of their emotional well-being in real time, for as long as they need to talk about it, aren’t the same thing; you’re not a bad or selfish person if someone else’s struggles make you feel like you’re in over your head.

        Please hold on to that. I used the bits below, adapted from the same post, with a friend whose sole topic of conversation for months was the horrible things her ex had done that week, her children’s reactions to it, and the awful state of her job:

        Hey, I know you are very resistant to the idea of therapy, but since you’re already talking a lot about all the terrible stuff that is happening in your life, can’t you try sharing all this with someone who can suggest some different coping strategies and knows more about what kinds of support and resources are available to you?

        You’re the boss of you, and whether or not you seek professional help is ultimately your choice. But I am reaching my capacity for how much I can listen and help, especially since I’m dealing with my own issues, so I need to limit the time we spend on certain kinds of conversations before I get overwhelmed.

        I know you hate this – I feel awkward as hell right now, too! But when I don’t like someone, I don’t bother to have super-awkward conversations with them about mental health or tell them ‘hey, my ability to engage with this is pretty small right now, I’m sorry’, I just disengage. I’m talking to you about this because I care about you and I want to talk with you; I’m recommending a therapist both because you deserve the very best care and because I need to be honest with you about my own struggles and the limits of what I can do.

        She may well be hurt or angry; my friend was. Eventually she concluded that it was hers to manage, and our friendship is slowly rebuilding. No one can give you a way to handle it that will absolutely not lead to hurt feelings – being compassionate and honest about your own limits is the best you can do.

        I wish you luck.

        1. ..Kat..*

          Captain Awkward has some good referals that you can give to your roommate for in-the-moment (at any time) therapy (including telephone hotlines, texting therapy lines, etc).

          Is there family of hers that you can alert?

          If you think she will try suicide when you stop being her sounding board, you can call 911.

          Please don’t feel guilty for not wanting to do this anymore. She is dumping an extreme amount on you.

    3. Weegie*

      I’ve had friends like this in the past (not, thankfully, suicidal, but definitely suffering from depression /anxiety/ other issue) and what I learned eventually – it took me a very, very long time – is that some people with issues, when they find a sympathetic ear, think this will solve their problems and they can stop taking their meds or going to therapy.

      I really had to learn the hard way that I could not be responsible for ‘saving’ them. A combination of making myself unavailable (‘sorry I can’t chat right now, I have [this other thing] to do’; not responding to texts for hours or even days) and responding to vents, rants, depressive outbreaks, etc with ‘that sounds awful for you – what will you do about [thing you’ve just been venting over]?’, or ‘please believe me that I’m not unsympathetic, but I’m totally unqualified to help you with this – I really think you should find a therapist’, followed by leaving the room/ending the phone call/changing the subject. This helped to make it clear that I wasn’t going to continue being an unpaid, unqualified sounding board. Repeat as often as necessary.

      It sounds harsh, but it actually isn’t helping a person with severe issues if they keep turning to you rather than getting appropriate help. And of course, these are not the things to say the first, second or third times, but only after it’s clear it’s never going to stop.

      Good luck, and look after yourself first!

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Tell her that you will help her when she wants to build a plan. But you are not qualified to fill in for a therapist.
      Probably as long as you listen to her she has no pressing need for a therapist.

      1. Wishing You Well*

        Yes, this.
        Shut down the therapy sessions and get out of there. This is not for you to handle.
        Call the suicide hotline for advice – for you.
        Good luck.

    5. anon for this*

      I am sorry to hear about what you’ve been dealing with. I will give you my honest experience having had such a friend, whether it is ‘correct’ or not:

      I had to move out and decrease contact.

      As long as I was around to vent at, drop sentences like, “Yes, I only ate 24 M&Ms yesterday,” tell about the abusive boyfriend who nevertheless needed her, etc etc, nothing changed for her or for me. I started to resent my friend and eventually become afraid of what she might do. Leaving and seeing how she dealt with things was the best thing possible: we are still friends, she found more constructive ways of coping, we both realized we couldn’t make anything better for each other, and she has a much more robust support network than before.

      I guess my realization was this: my presence *didn’t* seem to make anything better. Sure, being a friend/having friends is important, but this friend seemed to hold a feeling that I could fix her/save her/be a sink for her emotions, and not only was that false, but it actually seemed to make her life worse. I think I fed into a savior drama that subconsciously led her to escalate her behavior. Leaving broke that.

    6. LGC*

      I just need some way to get across to her that I feel like I’m not equipped to be this sounding board that I’ve become and that I would feel a lot more comfortable if she could go back to a therapist and could talk this stuff out with someone who was actually qualified.

      I think the answer’s right there. Just saying that would be perfect.

      I was reading your post, and…I’m really impressed with how caring you’ve been. And I know you really want to help her out. But also – you’re doing a ton for her, uncompensated! You’re basically taking care of her mental health right now. And that’s a lot to ask of any friend.

      If it makes you feel better, you can say that you’re telling her this because you care about her, and you can’t be her therapist (as opposed to that you won’t, even though I think both are justified). I mean, you could even offer to go with her as support to her first therapy session if that what she wants. But right now, she needs professional help if she’s not getting it, or her therapist to be made aware of how serious her behavior is.

      There’s one thing that’s especially alarming to me, though: not only does it look like she’s weaponized the threat of suicide, she’s also using your friend’s suicide to do so. (And…okay, you know her better than I do, but the way you described it came off like she was using the threat of suicide to get what she wants from you.) I’m not sure whether she’s actually at risk of committing suicide or just engaging in abusive behavior (or, most likely, both at the same time), but the suicide threats are something other people (like…let’s say, her psychiatrist) need to be aware of. And it’s even more reason to pull away.

      Also, from the top – I’m pretty sure everyone else has suggested this, but you should also consider going to a therapist, since you yourself have unresolved trauma. From the details you’ve given, I’d bet that you’re in college/university right now, so you might be able to access mental health services on campus if that’s the case.

      1. AnonForThisPost*

        Re your second-to-last paragraph – no, that’s not really how it’s going. My post focused a lot more on my past as an explanation of my mindset, but I didn’t actually bring up my friend in conversation for over a year; she had no idea about it. It was a couple of days later that she said that stuff about hoping I didn’t see it as making fun etc, in light of what I’d told her.

        I think that she sees it very much like black humour to help deal with something that she’s been struggling with for years (anxiety and depression run in her family in a big way, along with other mental health issues, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s been literally life-long) but I find it hard to treat it the same way, y’know? That’s why she said that she hoped I hadn’t seen it as joking – because it often *is* joking, in a sense, but only inasmuch as any black humour in that vein is joking. It’s a common coping method amongst people dealing with mental health problems, I know, but I find it hard to treat it in that way.

        But yes, I do plan on telling her next time it comes up that I really think she would massively benefit from actual therapy and that I don’t feel comfortable providing that service for both our sakes.

    7. misspiggy*

      I think you’re in the UK, so you could suggest she join the Elefriends online community, set up so people going through this stuff can vent and share.

      1. Roja*

        Or something like 7 Cups might be something she finds helpful–even if (hopefully when) she does get into therapy, therapists aren’t available 24/7 so she might want someone to talk things through with.

    8. KayEss*

      It’s probable that anything you do to break this cycle will cool the friendship, possibly permanently. Do it anyway. I had to do this with an online friend, and sadly we don’t talk as much as we used to… but I’m also not staying up until four in the morning listening to her talk about how much she wanted to kill herself but also how terrified she was that she would, which was ruining my daily life and my own mental health.

      It sounds like you’re both at the same school, and there may be resources there that you can access in terms of alerting someone in charge of student welfare that she’s not doing well and needs help. Also counseling for yourself, as others mentioned. Both for dealing with the trauma in your past and with being able to let go of trying to help your friend now–I poured so much into trying to help my friend that eventually I burned out completely, and found myself thinking ugly (but human) things like that if she’d finally kill herself I’d at least get some closure on how helpless I felt about her situation, and also be able to get an actual night’s sleep. I wasn’t able to trust myself to talk to her anymore, and I felt like a monster. Our friendship did survive, in a subdued form, but only because I set an explicit boundary of “no suicide talk unless you are in a literal crisis situation right this instant and need moral support while you dial the number of the hotline/hospital” and was able to just… walk away from the IM window without answering her in order to reinforce it.

      Also: maybe start feeling around for alternate living situations. Definitely do not plan to renew a lease or living arrangement involving this friend for another term or year.

  23. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    My very carnivorous anti-vegetable housemate just started dating a vegan lady, heh. I have my own set of hang-ups about Ways I Must Be Able To Treat Guests In My Home, and they include that if she is in my house at dinner time, she must be able to eat a reasonable portion of dinner and not go hungry. Collecting ideas for vegan dishes that are substantial enough as a main meal – I def don’t want to be like “we’re eating this big delicious cheesy meaty lasagne, your iceberg lettuce is over there,” or otherwise stick her with only a side dish as her option – but that will also be palatable to the omnivorous residents who actually pay for their food.

    1. GoryDetails*

      The Budget Bytes site just had a longish vegetarian thread, with lots of tasty recipes; that might give you some ideas. (I like the way the blogger posts step-by-step instructions, and have found some really simple but delicious recipes there.)

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        His rent includes meals and I do the cooking. If she starts being here at dinner time regularly, he and I will have that discussion – for now, I’m just trying to be prepared for an occasional thing, just in case.

        1. Move Over Thrawn - Florian Munteanu is BIGGER than you!*

          Meals for dates too? You are way nicer about it than I would be!!

          1. Traffic_Spiral*

            Yeah, I’d say if you want to pick up some vegan recipes just for general fun, go ahead (find a vegan online cooking community) but also his ladyfriend is sorta his business so don’t stress.

          2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            No, I mean, his rent includes room and board (I’m technically the landlord), so generally I cook dinner at night. If she’s going to be here at dinnertime every once in a while, I’d like to be able to provide her a meal, the same way I would if I or my SO or anyone else in the house had a friend over once in a while. If she starts showing up regularly, like multiple times a week, then he and I will have a discussion about if his lady friend is eating here regularly then some combination of the two of them needs to start chipping in, but for now, I just want a couple of options in my pocket for a one-off situation. (Also, he’s one of my dearest friends, so I don’t want to be like NO I AM NOT LETTING YOUR GIRLFRIEND EAT IN MY HOUSE BECAUSE MEAT, GO AWAY.)

            Plus apparently she’s bringing us two cakes today, so I think we’re all in “impress the friends” mode, haha.

          3. Annette*

            Red Reader is being taken for a ride. Something is amiss with this setup. Not your guest = not your mouth to feed.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              That seems unnecessarily suspicious. RR just explained that if the guest will be coming regularly, they will make an arrangement about chipping in. It hasn’t reached that point yet.

              RR wants to have recipes available for hospitality purposes for an occasional visitor, that’s all. Besides, she herself might end up entertaining her own friends who are vegan. So it’s nice to have alternatives.

            2. Courageous cat*

              I think the lede was buried a bit here: the thing that changes everything is that the housemate in question is not just a housemate, but an actual dear friend.

    2. Reba*

      These days I’m into mixed roasted vegetables. Whatever looks good at the store, olive oil, salt/pep, and some kind of herb-spice endealment. We got a bunch of indian spice blends as a gift and those make it easy to create something really flavorful without needing to think.

      A dish like shukshuka without the eggs (substitute baked tofu chunks, maybe?) is great for guests, as it’s not hard but I think it looks impressive. Side of chickpeas and good bread, there’s a beautiful meal!

      Mashed or roasted potatoes with vegan gravy is easy comfort food — roux with olive oil, plus vegetable stock (Better than Boullion) and mushrooms.

      You’re thoughtful, I’m sure your guest will appreciate it!

      1. Bluebell*

        I was thinking of roasted veggies over quinoa. And there is a shakshuka with chickpeas recipe- maybe on the Kitchn blog?

    3. Sapphire*

      This is more of an autumn dish, but cubed sweet potatoes, beets, turnips, and red onions tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roasted in a baking dish makes a lovely vegan side. It’s usually called “beets and sweets” if you want to look up a recipe. Serve that alongside some vegan protein and that would be a great meal.

    4. Kimmybear*

      Big van of vegan chili. Lots of recipes online but I’ve had some great ones with quinoa and sweet potatoes. Check out the Kate and Cookie blog as they have lots of good vegan recipes.

    5. Emily*

      It depends a little bit on what the omnivores will and won’t want to eat, but honestly, a lot of non-American/non-Western European foods are vegetarian- or vegan-friendly. A lot of Indian food (dhal, channa masala, various other curries, etc), Thai curries (though you should be careful to avoid fish sauce or shrimp paste), Mediterranean food (I really like hummus, falafels, baba ganouj, etc.), and probably more cuisines that I’m forgetting are either naturally vegan or easy to make that way.

      If you or any of your residents has an aversion to some of the cuisines I listed above, maybe things like roasted veggies, vegan soups and stews (Budget Bytes has a recipe for African Peanut Stew that I like), tacos or burritos (whatever combination people want of rice, beans, peppers and other vegetables, salsa, and possible dairy/meat for the non-vegans), or vegan pasta dishes might all be options.

      1. Personal Best In Consecutive Days Lived*

        Just make sure to substitute vegetable oil for ghee (clarified butter) in Indian dishes.
        As an omnivore I find vegan and vegetarian Indian dishes tasty and satisfying.
        You can also make ratatouille vegan by substituting vegetable oil for butter. This is what I serve for dinner when vegans are over.

    6. Mephyle*

      Do some searches for “vegan dishes for meat-lovers”, “vegan dishes carnivores will love” – there are a lot of collections of recipes online under headings like these.
      The idea is to flip the paradigm; instead of having a meaty main dish and a side dish for her, you could have a hearty vegan main dish that the housemate might even also like (because it’s designed to appeal to meat eaters, too), and housemate can have, on the side, a steak or chicken breast or whatever makes them feel complete.

    7. Maya Elena*

      Look into vegan borscht or beet soup. You can add eggs and sour cream to it for non-vegans.

      Really any veggie soup, anything with heavy root vegetables can be filling, even if it’s a side, and you can have non,-vegan dishes too for a non-mixed company. If she’s a reasonable girl she won’t demand everyone pretend that they don’t eat what she chooses to avoid.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Nope, I’ve already clarified that part for sure. I think if she was unreasonable in that fashion, she and the carnivore probably wouldn’t have gotten so far :)

    8. Jaid*

      African peanut (sweet potatoes or butternut squash or variant of orange veggie) stew with naan. Toss in some kale, maybe some tofu? I prefer crunchy peanut butter plus the peanuts.

    9. JediSquirrel*

      Make-your-own-burritos. Set out a variety of fillings, let everyone make their own, roll them up, and pop them in the oven. A pinto bean and Mexican rice burrito is wonderful.

      Oh, and there are some vegan cheeses out there that are better than dairy cheese.

  24. Not So NewReader*

    I got into my 30s and I learned it was super important not to feed into the highs and lows of my days. This meant going to bed on time, even if I was not that tired. I decided to read in bed until I felt sleepy. Waking up early did not mean I should get up. I could read, doze, cuddle the dog etc.
    If I followed my energy I would be cleaning cupboards at 2 am. Nice in the moment, but it really impacts health if done as a habit. I made a schedule for myself and followed it.

    1. Thursday Next*

      This is really important! I also force myself to stay in bed if I’ve awakened too early. A lesson learned the hard way…

  25. pugs for all*

    As I sit here with my gently snoring pug, I just wanted to share with you all an epic twitter feed about the ridiculous things people say to their pets. As I have (ahem) been known to call Mr Pugglesworth some highly silly names, I got a kick out of it. Link in username

    1. anon or this will out me to everyone I know*

      Hahahahaha! Why do we humans do this? I call my cat by her name (Katie), but also Kitty, Titty, Nipple, Turd, Turdbear, Furbear, Lovebug, Furbutt, Mi Gatita Bonita, Queen of the Castle, Sweetie-pie, Chairman Meow, Sweet Cheeks, Whiskers, Lovebear, Love-a-Muffin, Muffin, Sweet Muffin, Face, Baby Butt, Baby Bear, and Sweet Little Kitty Kitty Kitty. In the vast majority of cases she appears to know I’m addressing her, I presume due to tone of voice.

    2. SAHM*

      Lol, me too! I have several animals
      Bart(cocker): Bart the Fart, Bunny Butt, Whose Mommies Teddy Bear
      Ducky (cocker): Ducky Doodle, Ducky Doodle Dandy, Polar Bear, Asshole, and GET OFF THE COUNTERS (he likes to climb onto the counters and eat out of the sink, which is bad because he’s on a special diet)
      Gibbs (tabby cat): Gibblet
      Dexter (part Ragdoll?): Pig, piggy, Fluff, Furball, Attention Whore, Mr. Pushy, Dex, Baby’s Pillow.
      It’s funny bc when I start calling Bart Bunny Butt he immediately starts to wiggle his hind quarters like a rabbit.

    3. CatCat*

      My cat has an actual name on his collar tag, but by now, he probably thinks his name is Cat Butt.

  26. KLChica*

    My baby’s sick with her first cold….boooo…
    I’m watching lots of tv and snuggling this weekend. Does anyone else love the show young Sheldon? I laugh so much every episode!

    1. Ron McDon*

      Ah, hope your baby feels better soon.

      I LOVE Young Sheldon! I watch it with my 13 yo son, and we roar with laughter.

      I tell him if I am ever a granny I’m going to be just like Mee-maw…

  27. cat socks*

    Thanks to everyone for the kind and supportive comments on my post last week. We said goodbye to my kitty yesterday.

    I opted to take her into the vet hospital so her wonderful doctor could be with us at the end. I made the appointment on Monday. I was worried about having so much time before taking her in, but in hindsight I appreciated having the time to prepare. I spent a lot of time with her during the week and cried a lot.

    I’m an emotional person, but on the day of I was strangely stoic. But once we got there and started walking up to the building, I started to break down. They immediately took us to a special room so we could have privacy.

    I held her in my arms, wrapped in a couple of blankets and she passed peacefully. My husband was also there petting her.

    I was upset, but also strangely relieved and calm. I had worried about it being the right time, but I don’t feel like I let her go too soon. She was so thin and was having problems with incontinence. Her bladder was fine, but I would find pieces of poop around the house. She spent a lot of time on the bed and I had to wash the sheets multiple times and clean up her fur.

    Afterwards I didn’t want to go home right away so we stopped for lunch. My husband was more upset than he expected and had to leave and sit in the car. He grew up in the country with farm animals and barn cats and has seen those animals pass. He said it was different with a cat of his own. He also had a view of her face and it affected him seeing her eyes as she passed. I just felt her go limp in my arms, so it wasn’t as traumatic for me.

    There are three other cats at home, but the house feels different without her. It will take time adjusting to the new normal.

    It was a tough decision, but the right one to make. I’m glad she is no longer in pain.

    1. Shortie*

      Aw, I’m so sorry for your loss. That must be so tough. So glad you had the weekend to say goodbye. Internet hugs to you.

      1. cat socks*

        Thank you. It’s a mixture of sadness and relief that she is no longer suffering. It is nice having a couple of days to myself before getting back to work.

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      I’m so sorry. I dread this day coming for my cat, but she got to pass away in the arms of the people who loved her the most and that’s the best thing you could have done for her.

      1. cat socks*

        Thank you for the kind words. I’m so glad I was able to be with her at the end. This was my first time experiencing this, but she went quickly and painlessly.

    3. Move Over Thrawn - Florian Munteanu is BIGGER than you!*

      I so can relate to your pain and sadness; my heart aches for what you are going through. I lost my cat Leia on Jan 5 and cat Toby passed on Jan. 22; I’m convinced the disruption was more than he could bear. They were both 15.

    4. Not All*

      I’m so sorry for your loss but I’m glad you were able to do the right thing for her and that it went smoothly.

      It’s amazing how long the house feels “wrong” when one is gone…the cat pile still looks too small to me every time I see it & I catch myself waiting for the other one to come running up at treat time even though he’s been gone for months.

      1. cat socks*

        Thank you for the kind words. She was a quiet kitty, but I miss looking at the couch and seeing her curled up there. I fed her and gave her meds a few times a day, so it’s been odd not having that routine. It will just take some time getting used to it. I keep remembering that she is no longer in pain.

    5. Anona*

      I’m so sorry about your sweet kitty. It sounds like it went about as well as it could have. I hope you and your husband have a calm and restorative weekend and are able to find peace.

      1. cat socks*

        Thank you so much. It has been nice to have a couple of days off before heading back to work. There is definitely some sadness, but we are trying to remember that she was not doing well at the end.

    6. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      oh, my…. tears. My heart goes out to you. You loved her to the complete end, and I am so glad she had such a wonderful home with you. How are the other kitties with her gone?

      1. cat socks*

        Thank you. The other kitties are okay. She spent a lot of her time by herself in the bedroom so they didn’t interact a lot. The two boys are spending more time snuggling on the bed with us, which is nice.

    7. DaffyDuck*

      Condolences on the loss of your kitty. It is the hardest, kindest decision us pet owners have to make.

      1. cat socks*

        Thank you. I’m glad I didn’t wait any longer to say goodbye. I am trying to remind myself that she is no longer in pain and that brings some comfort.

    8. ..Kat..*

      I am so sorry for your loss. You are a good kittie mommy. I hope you can take comfort in knowing you gave a good life and a comforting death.

      1. cat socks*

        Thank you so much. It does help that her passing was so peaceful. It felt like she was just going to sleep.

    9. Kate*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. We’re saying goodbye to my 19 year old kitkat on Wednesday and even though I know 100% that it is the right decision for very similar reasons to yours, it is still so, so hard to think about.

  28. Teapot Translator*

    Anyon have advice for GERD?

    I’m on two medications. I have read that dietary changes are not proven to help, but I still don’t eat much of or at all the not-recommended foods (e.g. tomatoes, citrus fruits, alcohol), but I have been drinking tea. I stopped chocolate for February. And still, I sometimes get pain.

    I don’t feel like going back to the doctors though it may be inevitable. Should I try a nutritionist?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’m assuming those two meds are for the GERD? If they’re not, they might be contributing to your symptoms.

      It sounds like you should go back to the doctor. Sometimes it takes a while for GERD pain to subside, but if you’ve altered your diet AND you’re on meds, then there may be another issue. Have they ruled out a hiatal hernia?

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Yes, two medications for GERD (plus other medication for other stuff.)

        I’m not sure they’ve ruled out a hernia although we’ve ruled out ulcers.

        I’ve been on medication for years so this a new problem.

    2. My Brain is Exploding*

      Research online about taking melatonin at night for GERD. Sorry, can’t find a link right now.

    3. Kuododi*

      I’ve struggled long term with GERD as well. The one thing suggested to me by my MDs that I didn’t see you mention would be to sleep with your head elevated. I’ve found my nutritionist to be very helpful in managing food choices. ( I’ve been seeing my particular nutritionist for the past six months or so. She’s quite helpful.). Other than that, I would say go to the MD. It is time to get a consult by a specialist. Best wishes.

      1. BRR*

        Sleeping elevation helped my friend a lot. He said he placed something (I forgot what) between his mattress and box spring at the head of his bed.

        1. Jaid*

          I have an adjustable bed, and the head is elevated. Plenty of catalogs sell foam wedges for elevation purposes. Amazon has inflatables that go under the mattress and can be pumped up to elevate the mattress.

          My Mom has a hole in her esophagus that is too big now to be repaired. She eats some crackers and cheese when she gets up, something for dinner, and water/hot tea. She’s pretty cool with it, because her diabetes is gone with the resulting weight loss, but it’s a heck of a diet, not recommended 1/10.

    4. ArtK*

      Go back to the doctor. There may be some physical issues going on. When I was suffering from it, badly, my doctor ordered a barium swallow. That showed that there was a fibrous ring around my esophagus just above the stomach that was too narrow; this is related to the hiatal hernia mentioned by AvonLady. They went in with a gastroscope and stretched that ring wider and the symptoms dropped significantly. A proton-pump inhibitor is the only thing I take for it now.

      There are lots of other potential issues in that area, so a doctor that simply dismisses them with an antacid and no further investigation is not doing their job.

    5. fposte*

      I’m intrigued on the dietary changes–they make a huge difference to me. For me it’s not so much that I get GERD from chocolate as when I’m predisposed to GERD chocolate is going to tip me over. When things are settled it won’t.

      But dietary changes work *slowly*. It takes me a couple of weeks at least to see results. If you mean caffeinated tea, I’d definitely drop it.

      A dietician–not a nutritionist, which is an unlicensed term that could apply to anybody here–is a reasonable consideration in the meantime. A symptom diary might be worth trying until you get an appointment–it’ll give you a nice chartable pattern to work with.

      1. WellRed*

        I think also with the diet piece is that it can vary widely by person. There are obvious triggers, but also non obvious. I cannot eat cheddar cheese.

    6. Red Sky*

      I have GERD with a hiatal hernia and steadily had increasing pain over the years where they just kept upping the dosage of my GERD medicine, which did nothing to help. Unfortunately it turns out I also developed several different food intolerances which can mimic some of the symptoms of GERD. I only discovered this when I started having chronic diarrhea and it took a lot of testing and finally an elimination diet over several weeks to identify the main culprits (gluten, palm, anything in the allium family). Now, avoiding those foods has greatly decreased my GERD associated pain. I also no longer take proton pump inhibitors as I feel they might have been a factor in developing the food intolerances due to how they can inhibit/mess with gut bacteria. Now, when I have heartburn that isn’t due to inadvertantly eating one of these foods I drink baking soda water and that seems to help the most.

      1. Red Sky*

        Oh, I also found out that GERD can fluctuate in relation to my cycle. According to one GI doc I saw, apparently the increase in certain hormones can also cause an increase in stomach acid production, so I wind up drinking more baking soda water when I’m pms’ing.

      2. Business Librarian*

        It was only after I developed violent diarrhea in addition to GERD that I realized my problem was gluten sensitivity. I’d eliminated everything on the official GERD trigger list and still had pain so I eliminated dairy. I seemed to get better but then I started waking up 3 hours after dinner with awful …. symptoms. It turns out I thought it was dairy because I eat cheese with bread and crackers! Long painful story short, I’m thinking of going off the medicine now that I’m gluten-free.

    7. Mephyle*

      A lot of people say the Acid Watcher’s Diet helped them.
      Doctors tend to prescribe acid-reducing medicines, but in some cases GERD is caused or aggravated by too low stomach acid – a certain level of acid is necessary to stimulate the lower esophageal sphincter to close properly. In addition, insufficient acid can cause the food not to digest properly, also contributing to heartburn.
      Sleeping with the head and torso elevated (mentioned by Kuododi and subcomments) has helped me a lot. I have a wedge pillow.
      Two other mechanical things that can help: not to eat or drink within three hours before lying down, and to eat slowly: take small bites, chew them much longer than you would normally do, and space them out.

      1. WoodswomanWrites formerly Woodswoman*

        Echo a lot of this. I’m on medication and I have blocks under the posts at the head of my bed so the entire bed slopes a little. The recommendation is to make sure your head is elevated at least six inches. I also don’t eat too close to when I head to sleep. It’s definitely a good idea to talk with your doctor again. That said, my doctor told me that it could take a while for things to calm down. They have, and I’m not in pain anymore. I also take probiotics. For me, I find I can pretty much eat anything now, with only occasional minor discomfort if I use a heavy dose of butter on something I’m eating. Check back with your doctor, and I hope you feel better soon.

    8. Need a Beach*

      Typical GERD trigger foods are fine for me. My triggers are more unusual. I highly recommend a food diary to track what is causing issues. If that doesn’t help, escalate to a dietician.

      Also, while others already mentioned sleeping upright, I find it more important to stay upright within at least 3 hours after a meal–no gulping down a slice of pizza and flopping down on the couch. After a meal I have to stay standing up and moving, or sit in a chair that doesn’t recline.

      Maintenance medications for allergies or sinus issues give me flares–no Allegra, Zyrtec, etc. I muddle through with saline sprays and the like.

    9. ..Kat..*

      A registered dietitian (RD) has rigorous training (including a degree), has to pass a licensing exam, and must complete continuing education yearly. Anyone with any (or no) qualifications can call themselves a dietitian. I recommend consulting an RD.

      1. ..Kat..*

        Also, if you are being treated by a general practitioner doctor, I recommend a visit with a GI (gastrointestinal) specialist.

    10. StellaBella*

      My mom had GERD. A few things: do you smoke? If so, stop. Have you tried a diet that includes pre-biotics (vinegar, kim chi, sauer kraut etc – not pro-biotics, but the stuff that makes your gut habitable for the good bacteria)? Drinking decent amounts of water, eliminating caffeine helped my mom too. Also have your lipase levels checked for gall bladder and pancreas issues. Best of luck.

  29. Blue Eagle*

    Winter is a great time to read – forgetting the frigid weather outside with a warm snuggy and a fine glass of wine. I’m reading “A Bite-sized History of France: Gastronomic Tales of Revolution, War and Enlightenment” by Stephane Henaut & Jeni Mitchell. Chapters are 4-5 pages long and each delves into some type of food mixed in with a bit of French history. A fun read!

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Want a silly one for when you finish that? Someone reminded me of “Cooking With Fernet Branca” this week. It’s a parody of the “Year in Provence” style of book.

      1. Blue Eagle*

        Thanks for the recommendation. I just checked the catalog for the local library and they have that book. I’ll put a request for it tomorrow.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          My husband said to add…if you buy a bottle to try, make it a small bottle…it’s, er, medicinal.

  30. PhyllisB*

    I shared this last week, but it was late Sunday and may have gotten buried. Just wanted to let y’all know my son in rehab is doing great, and is ready to go to stage III. We were concerned his girlfriend was upset because she didn’t want him to be gone so long, and he was sort of wavering because he didn’t want to upset her. Well, when we went to visit him he basically said she was going to have to like it or lump it because he knew that was what he needed to do. Talk about a prayer being answered!! We are going for Family Weekend next week and may be late before I can update, but will keep y’all posted. Side note: have any of you ever attended a family weekend for someone in rehab? We’re not sure exactly what to expect. We didn’t have that opportunity when our daughter was in rehab. Anything special we need to know before getting there?

    1. Shortie*

      That is great news! I haven’t attended a Family Weekend, so can’t address your specific question, but I have a close family member who has struggled mightily with drug addiction and so just wanted to reply and let you know that I’m rooting for your son (and you, his girlfriend, and the whole family).

    2. anon24*

      Good for your son! I am happy for your family and hoping this all works out. I have been following your posts but don’t remember what he is in rehab for, either way addiction is hard and shitty and good for him for realizing what he needs and sticking to it. May his sobriety be long and happy!

      1. PhyllisB*

        Thank you, anon24. Well, to everyone who has been so kind and encouraging. He’s addicted to Xanax, but will take other things, too. What triggered this was taking Fenabut. This is “legal” and can be bought on-line for treating anxiety, but can cause paranoia and panic attacks. He was also taking an opiate based thing that can also be purchased on-line. The name escapes me at the moment. We had no idea what he was taking, but we knew something was terribly wrong. He’s doing well so far and I will keep all of y’all updated.

        1. PhyllisB*

          Okay, my Southern is showing. I meant to say all of YOU updated. I realize all of y’all is not proper English in other parts of the country. :-)

    3. fposte*

      I’m so glad to hear that he’s doing well, and that he had the health to push back on his girlfriend.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Us too!! About pushing back on girlfriend. He’s a people pleaser and never wants to let anybody down, but we have reminded him that he needs to think of himself first this time and do what he needs to do to get and stay sober.
        She’s a really sweet person and we like her, but she’s a lot younger than him, and very needy. Also she’s never dealt with anything like this before, so I understood her initial reaction. However, I have had to kindly let her know this isn’t about her and if she wants to have a future with him, she has to be supportive of his decisions to get sober, and stay that way. Luckily, she likes me and is willing to listen to me so if needed I will keep reminding her of this.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’m so relived that he’s in rehab and progressing well! It still worries me that his girlfriend is so…hm. Yeah. If you love someone who needs help for substance abuse, you don’t get to whine and cry about them being away…she seems like a bad seed and I hope that this is the end to that nonsensical stuff. Praying that everything continues to go this upwards direction.

    5. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      Good for all of you, and sounds like a super next step. No advice, just encouragement.

    6. Loopy*

      So much kudos to you and your son for the journey. And you have been so much more patient with the girlfriend than I would have been. I’m honestly flabbergasted that she doesn’t get what a huge deal this is and had the gall to even make it about her to any degree whatsoever, young or not. But I grew up with a severe addict so I guess I can’t see it through her eyes at all.

      Again, just so much credit to you, I would have truly gone off on her I think, partially out of fear that she would truly jeopardize such an important endeavor/effort. And I’m so thrilled your son is putting himself first.

      Best of luck with the next steps!

    7. WoodswomanWrites formerly Woodswoman*

      I don’t have any personal experience to share, just posting to say I’m really glad to see things moving in such a positive direction.

    8. LizB*

      A few years ago, I went to a Family Weekend for my dad that actually occured a few months after he finished his inpatient program (I don’t remember why we didn’t go to one during his stay). Every person and family is different, obviously, but I would bring tissues. So many tissues. The nice soft lotion-y kind. Also any kind of comfort/stress relief things that help you — bath bombs, fidgets, journal, etc.

      At our weekend, we first got an overview of the kinds of internal/therapy work dad & his peers had been doing, then we learned about communication strategies we needed to use (I statements, naming feelings, etc.) and got a worksheet to fill out individually to prep for family conversations. On the second day, each family got a chance to talk in kind of a fishbowl setup with the other families observing. The worksheets were super helpful so we could remember what we wanted to say, because the idea of saying that stuff out loud was so bizarre and scary. The whole experience was grueling but definitely good for us as a family.

  31. Porto/Spain question*

    Happy Saturday everyone! My husband and I are looking to move to Europe within the next 4-5 years and will be spending 3 weeks in Spain this fall. We went to Portugal in 2017 and absolutely fell in love with Porto – the vibe, architecture, great food, great wine/sangria, picturesque city. I would literally pack up my things and move there tomorrow if given the opportunity (definitely recommend you add this place on your bucket list!)

    For those you that have been to Spain and Porto – what cities would you recommend we go to in Spain that have a similar vibe as Porto? We are definitely explore-er type people and prefer to walk around, take in the sights, and enjoy the city vs guided tours and outings with groups.

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      I live in Spain and can recommend the must-see cities but, having never been to Porto, it might be hit and miss so others can weigh in here.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        Sorry, that posted without me wanting it too.

        1. Granada: this is at the top of the list because of the Alhambra but there is so much to see here as it has fascinating architecture, a rich history, and is close to the Sierra Nevada mountains with the city of Cordóba close as well so there’s lots to explore and loads of outings.

        2. Sevilla: larger than Porto and it’s got a slight desert feel from the architecture and, depending on the time of year, the weather. Super hot so be careful with that.

        3. San Sebastian: located in the Basque country and a very tourstic destination but it’s a must-see because of its excellent cuisine and old town. There are less guided tours here but, if you have a day to kill, this is the place to go.

        4. Santiago de Compostela: this is in Galicia in the north of Spain and famous for being the end of the Pilgram’s Walk that stretches from France to here. Very busy in peak seasons but loads to see and explore with guided tours as well.

        5. Burgos: also in the north of Spain with the best cathedral (after La Sagrada Familia) in Spain; great food and lots of cultural stuff to do.

        1. Porto/Spain question*

          Mil gracias!! Have you been to Nerja? It looks like a really cute beach town. Also looking into San Sebastian (not for the city Porto vibe but for beaches).

          Granada and Seville also look amazing.

          1. Foreign Octopus*

            I haven’t been to Nerja but I’ve heard good things about it.

            Most of my exploration of Spain has been limited to the big Southern cities and then all of the north where I live.

            Granada is honestly the best. The mixture of the religions and the history of it makes it my favourite city in Spain (plus the food of course!)

              1. Foreign Octopus*

                Never been and it hasn’t interested me but I think that’s more because of a snobbish reason than anything specific. I’ve always heard of Malaga as a place where people go, party, have lots of sex etc., and that doesn’t interest me. I’m sure it’s lovely but it’s not at the top of my list to visit.

        2. ..Kat..*

          My DH and I are also interested in Spain. One thing stopping us right now is food restrictions. Is it possible to eat vegan and gluten free in restaurants in Spain?

          1. Foreign Octopus*

            If you’re in the bigger cities, yes. Smaller, no.

            I live in the north of Spain and meat is the main ingredient here. My friend is a vegetarian and she’s always able to find something because she acts fish as well, but vegan and gluten free in my part is very difficult.

  32. Sapphire*

    Y’all, can I gush for a moment? I’ve been dating someone for two-ish weeks now, and it’s been going really well. He’s such a sweet person and wants to try all these new things with me, and it seems like most of the big deal breakers for us aren’t a problem. I’m so excited about this new relationship!

    1. Move Over Thrawn - Florian Munteanu is BIGGER than you!*

      Yaaayyy! All paws crossed that this continues to be a wonderful situation for you both.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This warms my cold snowed in heart. I hope this is the start to a wonderful fairy tale and continues to bring you joy!

  33. NewMom*

    My baby is two weeks today, and boy, I do not feel on top of things. I go through at least three outfits a day ( he pees when being changed and my attempts to catch it do not always work). Baths are a struggle. I feel like I keep poking him accidentally. Everyone kept saying how spouse and i would be good parents and I swear I took classes and read books, but I feel totally lost some times.

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      Hey, this is completely normal!

      You’re a new mum and there’s a steep learning curve involved in getting things right. These things will become much easier once you’ve done them a thousand times but, right now, you’re new at it and sometimes your baby is going to pee whilst being changed or you’re going to put the diaper on wrong or anything else. None of this makes you a bad parent, it just makes you a new parent.

      Take it easy on yourself because I guarantee that any parent you think is judging you has had exactly the same experience that you’re having right now.

      You’re doing a good job.

    2. Parenthetically*

      Yes! That is how I too felt.

      Three outfits a day is fine and normal! Pretty much every newborn pees while being changed. My son screamed through every bath (so we did weekly baths only until he was about 1). I felt like I was constantly doing something wrong in how I was holding him.

      It’ll start to feel less strange, and more normal. The biggest thing that helped for me was SLOWING THE HELL DOWN and talking my son through things in a really soft voice. “Ok, it’s time for a change. Mumma’s going to unsnap your onesie, one, two, three! Oh, that was a big kick! You love kicking your legs don’t you. You’ve been doing it since you were in my belly! All right, let’s take your diaper off, and give you a good wipe down! Doesn’t it feel nice to be clean? Ahhh, a clean dry bottom. New diaper time! Yep, cold bottom means you need to pee sometimes doesn’t it! Silly billy. Ok, let’s snap you up. Pants on too, where are your toes? Oh there they are! All right, now I’m going to pick you up again! All done with the diaper change. Mumma loves to take care of you! Let’s have a snuggle for a minute. It’s hard to have your diaper changed, isn’t it! It feels strange and you don’t know what to do. Tell me all about it.” Etc. etc.

      The thing about classes and books is that they can’t prepare you for the actual born human being with feelings and preferences and a personality that you’re taking care of. They can give you good and helpful strategies for dealing with things, but it’s up to you to try them out and figure out if they work for you and your kid or not. That’s why slowing down and making those little moments as calm and connected as possible was the most helpful thing for me. I’m not trying to rush through things that way, I’m trying to use these difficult moments to connect with this real live human being in front of me who’s having a bit of a hard time. I didn’t do it perfectly but slowing down really helped me connect.

      1. LilySparrow*

        The talking through everything also helped me keep track of what the heck I was doing when I was completely sleep-deprived. And it’s good for their brain & social development anyway.

        1. Parenthetically*

          Talking through everything also helped me see him as a full human being, an actual person, and not just a lump I was trying to stuff into a onesie! Caring tasks became something we did TOGETHER, not just something I was doing TO him, if that makes sense.

    3. legalchef*

      So totally normal. Mine is 20 months (today!) and I still don’t feel like I know what I’m doing!

      One tip for diaper changes – after he painted the changing table… wall… bookcase… and me a few times, I started keeping a washcloth on the changing table and when I wasn’t actively putting a diaper on him I’d drape the diaper over the “danger zone” to catch any errant pee.

      1. LilySparrow*

        When all my friends were in baby-shower mode a few years back, there was a product called the “pee pee teepee”. Basically a cute little washable flannel cone. I have no idea if they were more effective than using a washcloth or a burp rag as a shield, but they made a hilarious gift.

        1. legalchef*

          I definitely saw those! I just thought they wouldn’t be as useful as a washcloth, since I was getting so many washcloths anyway.

    4. Ranon*

      That early on they change really really fast- you get a new baby every few days! So there’s lots and lots and lots of learning to do, on their part with the whole existing in the world challenge and on your part both in basic caretaking and in getting to know this new person who is living in your house! Even if you had a new adult housemate two weeks in you’d be ironing stuff out, and your new housemate needs a whole lot more from you than an adult would.

      Three outfits a day is pretty good! The pee reflex does eventually calm down. I’m also pretty impressed you’ve achieved multiple baths! We…did not bathe our child that frequently early on. You’re doing great! Parenting at this stage is mostly inputs, outputs, and snuggles, and it sounds like you’ve got all that covered. The details will get easier with more practice.

    5. Rhymes with Mitochondria*

      You sound like you ARE a good parent, you just haven’t developed your confidence yet. That will come. No one feels on top of things when a newborn comes into the family and upends everything. Be kind to yourself as you learn and find your way. The learning curve is steep at first, but it will flatten out some over time.
      Hang in there!

    6. Enough*

      My son didn’t like baths either. He w you’d scream from the moment he went till he got out. He did outgrow this fairly quickly. But it did show up later in that he was not one to want to get in the pool. He did take swim lessons without any problem though. In high school he worked a half day kids camp. The last day they always went to the pool and the counselors were all expected to get in the water. Well he never did go in for 3 years running. And really you need to make sure at least one person was watching the children who were not in the pool.

    7. Shrunken Hippo*

      As someone without children but an aunt to my friends’ kids I just want to say that it is okay not to know what you are doing. Also it’s okay to ask others for help! Even if you just need someone to pick up groceries for you, ask your family and friends to help. If someone offers to do something for you say yes (unless it’s something you don’t need/want). No one can do it all themselves, so assemble your village and let them help you through the tough patches.

    8. Kimmybear*

      This is normal. If you had it completely together with a two week old, something would be off. Three outfits per day is a minimum (especially with boys). You are tired, you are getting used to a new routine (set by an 8 pound dictator), and if you gave birth (as opposed to adoption or a spouse giving birth) your hormones are a mess. Do not judge your parenting skills based on 2 weeks.

    9. Thursday Next*

      Two weeks is way too early to expect yourself to feel on top of things! Please give yourself a break. Everything you say sounds completely par for the course. Basically if you are keeping your baby fed and clean, and yourself fed and (Relatively) clean, you’re doing great!

      So for diaper changes, I would put a clean diaper underneath my son, then make sure that he was always shielded either by the dirty diaper, or the clean diaper. (I don’t think I’m explaining this well – basically, I would on strap the dirty diaper, but still kind of hold it above him while wiping, then deftly remove said dirty diaper, and quickly put the clean diaper over him and fasten it.) there are also pee guards that are made specifically for this purpose.

    10. LilySparrow*

      Normal, normal, normal! Being a good parent doesn’t mean you magically have the physical skills to deftly handle a floppy slippery squirmy tiny human who spews body fluids without warning. It comes with practice, and you are getting lots of practice!

      Have you had the moment when you are so tired and don’t know what to do and you think, “I should ask Mom,” and then you realize in a dramatic focus-zoom that YOU.ARE.THE.MOM.

      It’s a head-trip.

      Hang in there and best wishes on the 3 of you.

    11. Anona*

      You are brand new at this! There’s no routine, and you’re in the thick of it. I have a 5 month old, and it gets better. Right now it’s just survival. Hang in there!

      And don’t feel like you have to do baths too often. Like of course wipe your baby down if they’re dirty, but my daughter hates baths. Our pediatrician said once a week is just fine- they don’t play in the dirt yet, so they don’t need it more often.
      If you’re talking about your own baths, I made it a priority to shower. Sometimes she’d be crying, so I’d make it quicker, but I tried to got one in every day.

      Newborns are hard! Hang in there! The beginning is just survival. I remember constantly being covered in various fluids. That improves with time too. Hang in there! This is very normal and you’re doing great.

      1. Parenthetically*

        I just showered when my husband was home, or when the kid was sleeping. Sometimes I’d have to squeeze one in when he was awake, but before he was mobile, it was easy-peasy — I took the pad from the changing table and put it on a towel in the bathroom and laid him on it, and left the shower curtain open enough so I could see him. He liked the sound of the running water, and when he got older (but still was too little to “escape”) I’d give him a toy to play with.

        Being showered and in clean clothes was VITAL to my mental health in those early weeks.

    12. Leukothea*

      I don’t think I bathed my kid in the first few months at all. They don’t really get that dirty until they’re crawling around.

    13. Belle*

      We have an 8 month little boy. One trick that was passed to use was to open the diaper quickly to let the air hit below and then bring it back up and wait a few moments. The cold air hitting is often what triggered him to pee, so this got him to pee in the diaper and then we finished changing him. It works about 95% of the time for us. And making sure his pee shooter is pointing down when putting on the diaper.

    14. Clever Name*

      I’ve been a parent for 12 years, and I still don’t know what the hell I’m doing…. And don’t listen to those people who tell you to “cherish every moment”. Like sometimes being a parent royally sucks. Like truly awful. It’s okay to acknowledge that it’s hard and you don’t love every second of it. You and kiddo will get through it. You can be a good parent and still struggle sometimes.

  34. writing classes*

    What are your thoughts on poetry/fiction writing classes? I took some classes last year and while I learned some, I also found they were a bit of a waste of time in that we would end up spending 8-10 min a week on the piece you prepared in a 2-3 h class. Now there online classes so that would probably solve the problem of having to be physically present but I don’t know if that affects the total feedback time. The main benefit was having to have something ready for the next class. I’m a beginner writer, I want/need feedback but also need to write more in general. I’m also middle aged so kind of want to get going with this new passion but have constraints of work/obligations/money etc. Am I overlooking other options? Is there a way to hire a private teacher (and how does one find them?)

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      I’m not a huge fan of writing classes because it’s never focused enough for what I need and you have to split the time with other students. It might be better if you’re taking specific classes such as Character Development, Editing Your Work, etc.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        (This is so annoying! My comments keep sending before I finish them!)

        However, my brother did let me know about Masterclass. It’s an online course that seems to be more access to interviews, videos, recorded classes by authors such as Neil Gaiman and Margaret Atwood that seems more fitting to me. I don’t know if it is for you, but it might be worth checking out.

        It’s a little steep for me though ($100 for a class but $200 for a year’s full-access).

    2. Weegie*

      Look for a writers group instead! It might take a while to find one whose members will give good feedback and be patient while you learn to critique their work, but other than a small membership fee it won’t cost you anything.

    3. Loopy*

      Honestly I think this depends on the teacher, which isn’t super helpful. I was a creative writing minor in college and found one good teacher and stuck with him like glue. The actual helpful part of this was that in my setting I got one on one feedback and revision guidance over a period of time. That was the key part- that you can keep working with this person beyond a set class period of 1-3 months if desired. I think it really took regular work over a few years to really develop a sense of putting my finger on what wasn’t working and learn to revise like a professional.

      Not sure how feasible this is to attain outside of a traditional undergrad setting but if you do hunt for private teachers I’d find one that is open to longer on going arrangements if its desired.

  35. Allegra*

    I have a question for everyone! At the place-we-don’t-name, at the end of my weekly lecture to college students, I give them an “adulting tip.” Past examples have included “it’s your job to clean the lint trap AFTER your dryer load,” “here is how to register to vote online,” and sharing a link to an article about Ring Theory (comfort in, dump out.) This week might be how to peel ginger (with a spoon.)

    Do you have any other tips? What sorts of things did you need to be told about how to operate as a polite or efficient adult in the world?

    1. Traffic_Spiral*

      Hm… different laundry soap for front and top loading machines, and how to flip breaker switches?

      1. WellRed*

        Second the breaker switches. I have shown more 30 year olds that than I ever would have thought possible. Advantage of growing up in an old house, maybe.

          1. misspiggy*

            And when you go away for a few days – especially if you’re in a place where pipes might freeze and then burst….

      2. Not Alison*

        This is a new one on me. What laundry soaps are you supposed to use for top loaders vs. side loaders?

        1. Enough*

          And you want to use liquid not powder in front loaders. But that’s becoming more and more of a non issue.

        2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Mind blown…

          Thank God for pods because I cannot remember to check for symbols on the detergents!

        3. Traffic_Spiral*

          When you buy the box of detergent, check for a picture. It’ll have a picture of the type of washing machine it’s for (if it can be used for both, it’ll show both).

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Old-fashioned fuses too. Still in some older places.
        How about check the oil in your car frequently so your can top it off and identify a problem before your car burns itself up.

        1. LilySparrow*

          Oh, and speaking of older homes/apartments with outdated equipment: how to safely light a manual pilot light. I had a roommate blow her eyebrows off because she just turned the gas oven on and then lit a match.

          We were both extremely lucky it was just her eyebrows.