weekend free-for-all – March 30-31, 2019

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

Book recommendation of the week: The Italian Teacher, by Tom Rachman. It’s about a terrible, infuriating father and the mark he makes on the son who longs to connect with him. It’s also about art and legacy and rivalry.

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

{ 1,280 comments… read them below }

  1. Ayla*

    People who sleep hot: any ideas for staying cool at night? Fans make me too cold but then I wake up sweltering and can’t get back to sleep. Tried cooling sheets and a cooling mattress pad and didn’t find them helpful.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I have had luck with paying attention to my feet, if they are too hot or too cold, then I will not sleep well.

      1. valentine*

        Point a fan at your feet and stick them out when necessary. Use throws or lighter blankets you can layer/remove. I need a particular amount of weight on me and I adore a frozen room. My goal is 65°F, so I will turn off the thermostat/convector and crack the window or use A/C. Get up to cool down/let the bedding cool.

      2. AnonEMoose*

        This is so me. If my feet are not at a comfortable temperature, I’m not comfortable.

        I also prefer a cooler room to sleep. If the fan blowing on you is too cold, maybe have it on but not pointing right at you, or have it oscillate?

    2. Aphrodite*

      This is a fan so it may not work but it’s different. Have you tried the Bed Fan ) http://www.bfan.world/#how )? I bought one of these several years ago and love it. Note: I don’t work for the company or have any relationship to them.

      Now, I will say that it does keep you very cool but you can turn the fan on to any speed. In fact, even during the summer you may find yourself wanting to wear socks to bed. But it works beautifully. I combine it with a floor fan blowing on my face but I like it really cool, cool enough for two blankets and a bedspread.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I try to cool the room as much as possible before I go to bed. So if it’s fairly cool outside (but not in the apartment), I’ll leave the windows open all day and all evening, and then I’ll just close the windows right before going to sleep. If I’m in place that’s really hot, I’ll turn on the air conditioning full blast a couple of hours before going to sleep, and then turn it down a bit right before going to sleep.

    4. Parenthetically*

      We always have a fan but it rarely blows ON me. I find the fan just keeping the air in the room circulating makes a difference. Also just getting the room cool/keeping it cool during the day.

    5. Another hot sleeper*

      I don’t know if this is an option for you, but since heat rises I like to open all the windows on the floor below my bedroom so the heat escapes outside instead. Also, hang heavy curtains in the room to block the sun from coming in during the day will help keep cool.

      If it gets really bad, I sometimes wet a washcloth with cold water and put it on my neck. It’s a bit unpleasant in some ways but cools me down which is the most important thing. Once I traveled to Marakesh in August and sleeping in low-end hotel rooms without AC or even fans I had to sleep under a gigantic wet towel.

    6. Handy Nickname*

      Could you put a fan on a timer? Like if you’re usually cool enough when you go to bed, set a fan on a timer to turn on a couple hours after you go to bed. Depends on how light if a sleeper you are if the fan turning in would wake up you up.

    7. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Is your blanket too warm? Some materials also retain heat much more effectively.

      1. Liz*

        As do mattresses. Mine has memory foam and i cannot lie on it for long before I go to bed, or if i’ve taken a hot bath, and i’m not. it heats up the mattress and makes me cranky.

        1. AnnaBananna*

          Yup. Nobody really mentioned how stinkin’ hot memory foam gets when I bought it years ago. And how often you have to rotate it to stay comfortable. Ugh.

    8. Ann Furthermore*

      When I started getting hot flashes I was not sleeping at all. We have a memory foam pad on our bed which is really comfortable, but it traps your body heat and then becomes an inferno.

      I got this thing called a ChiliPad. It’s a mattress pad hooked up to a device that circulates water through it to keep you cool. It is amazing. It’s a bit pricey, but for me it was money well spent.

    9. noahwynn*

      Cotton sheets and duvet cover and a down duvet. Basically breathable fabrics over microfiber and polyester. I also agree with sticking your feet out when you get hot.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m told that linen is best at wicking away moisture. So if sweatiness makes the heat worse, it may be worth looking into. Linen sheets are extremely expensive though… I tried the idea out making up a twin bed with linen cloth I had bought for a historic costuming project, and a tag sale linen tablecloth as the top sheet. I loved the feel so I’m hoping for a Prime Day sale some year.

      1. WS*

        I have had good luck with low thread-count 100% cotton sheets as well – high count luxury cotton is a tighter weave so holds more body heat.

          1. Environmental Compliance*

            Especially if you wear floofy animal face socks. It’s like the butterfly-owl-eye trick.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        In my house, that’s the temperature control foot. Too hot, stick it out of the covers. Too cold, pull it back in. Even the dogs use temperature control paws. :)

    11. Tiny Soprano*

      This might be too extreme (an Australian who used to live in an unairconditioned west-facing sharehouse) but I used to keep a bowl of water beside my bed, and use it to dampen chux cloths throughout the night and then just sleep with those on me.

      1. c-*

        My tricks for hot summer nights are all very low tech but they work for me (and, like yours, are for high temperatures: 27-30º C at night), and some of them also involve water:
        – Atomizing water (cool, not freezing) on the sheets and pillow cover.
        – Wearing wet socks to bed or a wet t-shirt if it’s really hot.
        – Opening all the windows and setting the matress on the floor, wherever it’s breeziest/coolest (sometimes that’s a hallway, so let any housemates now where you’ve settled down to avoid any surprise trampling in the morning).
        – If it’s not that hot, changing your bedwear (light cotton pajamas and just a light sheet or a sheet and a light cover) often works.
        – The old trusty staple of periodically turning over the pillow so the cooler side is facing up.

    12. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Had another idea– in winter, I’ll go to bed with a hot water bottle so I don’t feel the need to put on so many covers that they get too hot later.
      Reverse…a cool- water bottle for summer.
      And is a waterbed an option? (I can’t do this because I get vertigo from the motion. Stupid inner ears.)

    13. epi*

      Change everything. And if you have a partner you sleep with, get separate blankets.

      My partner and I both sleep hot. We got lighter (mostly percale, not sateen) sheets, light all-cotton quilts, and each picked our own pillow that was supposed to not be too hot. We bought complementary colors of the same quilt, each the right size for our bed.

      You’d be surprised how much cooler it is to be even under the same bedding but have it all to yourself. Other than that, stock up on summer weight bedding and use it year round.

    14. Liz*

      I roast like a chicken on a spit when sleepting. no matter how cold I am when i go to bed, if i pile the covers on, i will wake up sweating. So i have cotton weave blankets year round, and sleep with the window open, unless the a/c is on. i turn the heat almost off too. But i will always wake up chilly, so what I do, sicne my lower half is always warm, is keep a down throw on the corner of my bed, so when i get chilly, usually in the wee hours of the am, i can pull it over my shoulders, and i’m good to go back to sleep.

    15. Checkert*

      A purple mattress was the answer we didn’t know we were getting for my husband and I! It sleeps so much cooler because of the material and make, is still comfortable and allows us to truly control both our temps (he runs hot, I run cold) by blankets/lack thereof alone!!

    16. Eleanor Shellstrop*

      Sooo this might seem counter-intuitive but I’ve been impressed with my glass-beaded weighted blanket as a substitute for a big pile of blankets/comforter. It seems like it keeps me cooler throughout the night than a comforter would, and it prevents me from tossing and turning. Might be worth a try!

    17. AnnaBananna*

      I’m the same, I hate feeling a breeze on me when I sleep. I find a really hot bath (I know, counterintuitive but it works) right before bed really helps. Also a down comfroter surrounded by a cotton duvee. The down acliumates to your body temp and the ambiet temp, keeping you cool.

      And then, you know. The foot sticking out, but by that point I’m already irritated and awake.

  2. WG*

    Shoe suggestions? My foot is healing from a broken bone, but very slowly. I’m out of the walking boot, but can’t wear my usual dressy heels for work. I need shoes with solid support to keep the foot from bending or flexing. Thoughts for flat but supportive shoes that would look good with dresses and business suits?

    1. CSI Tink*

      I started wearing vionic orthaheel after breaking my ankle turned into plantar fasciitis. If you don’t care about this season’s color, you can find then cheaper on Amazon or zulily. They’re like having an orthotic built into your shoe, but stylish!

      1. LKPNYC*

        I am a Vionic’s convert, too. My podiatrist recommendation after getting plantar fasciitis in BOTH feet (left first for a few months, THEN the right). I haven’t had foot pain or issues since, and I walk all day around NYC.

      2. Organized Curiosity*

        Another vote for Vionic Orthaheel. I have two pairs that I purchased in 2013 and have worn regularly ever since. Only recently have they shown signs of wear and were worth every penny I paid for them.

    2. infopubs*

      I love my Naots, but it took me a long time to find the brand that fit my foot. I recommend going to a store that sells supportive shoes, like The Walking Company. Try everything on until you find one that feels like it’s just part of your body. They are usually expensive, but the good news is that they tend to keep selling a style for many years. Once I figured out what worked, I started buying them gently used on eBay. 6pm.com is a pretty good source for past season styles, too. I think they are Zappo’s clearance division? Since comfort shoes don’t change much, “last season” usually just means different colors than this season. Good luck, and may pain free feet be in your future!

      1. foolofgrace*

        I second The Walking Company. I was just there this a.m. I have a fused ankle and very high arches and TWC is always my first, and often only, stop. Dansko. Naot, Born.

        1. AnnaBananna*

          Another high arch person here. Shopping for running shoes meant I absolutely had to buy super expensive ones since most don’t include a high arch (stupid majority!). I also include a Dr Sholls gel insert to double up on the arch. It really really helped.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I love Rothys, but they aren’t going to keep a foot from flexing for sure.

        1. Safetykats*

          They don’t look look like they have any support!! (Including arch support – the sole looks completely flat. Is there arch support inside?)

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Not really, I don’t think. They’re crazy comfortable – I’ve literally walked multiple 12 mile days around theme parks in them, as well as jogging in them on a treadmill – but I don’t particularly have any foot troubles aside from weird shaped feet. That said, the insoles are designed to be removable, so it wouldn’t be too difficult (I’d think) to swap in other ones?

            1. Call me St. Vincent*

              I just got and returned a pair of the sneaker Rothy’s (the kind that looks like Vans). I was super excited to try them but after trying two sizes, I didn’t find them very comfortable. They were really cute too in the sand color. I am sad about it. I am now trying All Birds in the same style.

              1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

                I haven’t tried that style or the points (too pointy for me) – but I love the regular round toe flats, and the loafers aren’t bad either.

          2. Bluebell*

            A colleague wears Rothys and slips her orthotics in them. But I agree that they aren’t the most structured shoes.

    3. Temperance*

      My ortho recommended Clarks to me. They have a few cute styles, but a lot of matronly ones.

    4. Notinstafamous*

      I have a broken foot that turned into plantar fasciitis too! Woo. I wear Sam Edelman ballet flats in a size up with a SuperFeet high-support insole or an orthodic. The flats alone have no support whatsoever but that means they’re perfect to slide something supportive and rigid into.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Munro American has some beauties that last for ages.
      Merrell if you’re not turned off by round toe. Their urban moccasins have been my casual shoe for years, and I found they make black leather slides too.
      Look for anything aimed at nurses.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      On the less expensive side, also check out Roz&Ali (the chain store formerly known as Dress Barn). They stock a small selection but there’s always been nice black flats, even in wide and narrow.

    7. MissDisplaced*

      Oh there are lots! Clarks, Naturalizer, Allegria, Vionic, Bass, Walking Cradles, Bernie Mev, etc.
      I’d also consider going with a black on black sneaker or walking shoe with that stretchy fabric that’s so popular. I use a version of this for trade shows, but they must be black w/black sole to give them a more faux-dress appearance.

    8. only acting normal*

      A broken foot is what inspired Dr Marten to create his boots. Maybe not ideal for work though? Bit 90s grunge with a dress?

    9. WoodswomanWrites*

      I had a comparable foot problem and had to get new shoes to wear for work. My podiatrist recommended Brooks Adrenaline shoes. The solid black version is great for wearing with pants to work. They are so comfortable and supportive that now I wear them as my everyday shoes. They are comfortable, durable, and have a good tread that’s good for wet surfaces in the rain. I couldn’t find them in a local store and fortunately they’re easily found online.

      A big plus is that Brooks has excellent customer service with a 90-day return policy, no mater how much you’ve worn the shoes. Because I wasn’t sure what size to order, I bought a couple different sizes and then easily returned the one that didn’t fit.

    10. What the What*

      Sorry about your broken foot. Danskos are my go-to, especially the ones with a “rocker bottom.” The rocker bottom helps with heel-to-toe transition and seems to require less “push-off” effort. They can look a bit clunky though. 6pm.com is a great place to find clearance Danskos. Another option might be Anne Klein Sport shoes with a small wedge. I found a brand new pair at Goodwill for $5 and they are (surprisingly super comfortable). I LOVE them for work and with jeans or capris. Good luck!

      Rocker Bottom: https://www.zappos.com/p/dansko-sophie-black-metallic/product/7894509/color/76
      Anne Klein Psort: https://www.dsw.com/en/us/product/anne-klein-sport-carvallo-wedge-pump/363118

    11. WG*

      Thanks to all of you for the great suggestions. Unfortunately, I’m in a fairly rural area without a great selection of shoe stores where I can try on a variety of brands and styles. But I’m been researching the suggestions made through online stores and see some possibilities to try. Thanks again!

      1. WrenF*

        You might want to check into Soles. I wear the Sole Softec Orthotic footbed. You can slip it into most shoes with backs, or tennis shoes. That has allowed me to wear a lot of shoes that wouldn’t have worked without them (read: cute & fashionable, not supportive ones). They are fantastic. And they make sandals with the footbed already added!

      2. Liz*

        If you check out 6pm, also look on Amazon, since if you’re a Prime member, you can find the same shoes, WITH free returns vs. 6pm which doesn’t have them. And many are sold on Amazon BY 6pm.

    1. Moosemonster*

      I’ve literally never commented on AAM before, but can’t pass an opportunity to say: bidet to you, too :)

    2. Smol Book Wizard*

      A lurker literally emerges sheerly for this comment. My natural habit, like that of a certain nervous wizard, is to stand ten feet back at least, but this time was just too perfect to miss.

    3. Aphrodite*

      AAAAAAARRRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHH! It’s spring and heading into my most hated season of the year–summer. I hate the heat. Give me snow, give me rain, give me fog, give me Winter, but not summer.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        Me too me too me too me tooo especially with humidity!! I’m miserable with any air moisture if the temperature exceeds 50 degrees F.

        One of summer’s few consolations is the annual revival of the old saying, “Satan called. He wants his weather back.”

  3. merp*

    Alison, I love all your cat toys/houses. Need to get some more for my cats and they’re good inspiration!

    On an excited side note, my roommate and I just got approved to rent the house we loved last week!! Looking forward to moving in. I was looking at the listing again and apparently it was built in 1917?! Gonna have to look up how to make a good impression with any potential ghosts.

    1. Valancy Snaith*

      It looks from the picture like one of those nylon tubes with holes in it–they’re available pretty cheap at Ikea (like $8 CAD?) and my cat goes INSANE over it. She loves it. It’s one of the best things we’ve ever bought for her.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m not a big ghost believer but when we first moved into our 1959 house, I had just learned it was built by the architect for himself and he lived here alone until the place was bought by the people I bought it from. I had one of those alone-in-the-house moments where I swore the rocking chair rocked. For some reason I said “Hello sir you built a beautiful house. You’re welcome to stay but please don’t scare us because I’d hate to have to sell it.” I at least talked myself out of being scared here again.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      My house was built in 1734 and supposedly realtors didn’t like being in the house alone when they held open houses. They said they saw a man in Revolutionary War-era military dress in the living room–several times.

      I can’t say I’ve seen anything; however, I’ve had several moments where I thought I heard a voice. It was like when you’re in bed, on the verge of sleep and a sound wakes you up. You can’t tell if you were dreaming, or if there really was a sound. When this happened to me I was wide awake, walking around the house, so I know it wasn’t a dream.

      My husband, however, says he saw something once. A couple months ago, actually. He was coming out of the dining room and asked me, “Did you see that?!” I asked what he saw and he said it was a wisp of smoke that went quickly into the dining room and disappeared. I didn’t see it, but he apparently did. Kind of creepy.

    4. ElspethGC*

      My last house was 1883, this one is somewhere in the 1910s. It’s all fine, no ghosts! If there were ghosts in every house built before the 1930s, every inner-city terrace in the UK would be rife with hauntings – it’s the most basic cheap starter housing for young families and students. No ghosts, just a lack of good insulation and double-glazing, so invest in a good duvet rather than an exorcist.

    5. Autumnheart*

      My house was built in 2008 and I’m the only person who’s ever lived in it. I’ve had weird shit happen. (It was built on a cornfield, no ancestral burial grounds or anything like that.) I’ve had weird shit happen every place I’ve lived since college, which was widely, if anecdotally, known to have ghost problems.

      The lowest-effort quick fix is to just tell them to quit it and leave you alone.

    6. merp*

      Just a note to everyone, I love your old house/ghost stories! I was mostly kidding but might say hello politely when I move in just in case :)

  4. Yvette*

    Hi, could someone please explain or link to the origin of the whole “full of bees” reference? I sort of know that it is something to do with the entire workplace being problematic, but I would love to know the whole story. Every time it comes up I feel like there is a cool joke I am missing out on. Thanks!

    1. Lilysparrow*

      It’s from Captain Awkward. She originally used it as a metaphor for a relationship/living situation where the LW was ignoring or beieving they could fix or negotiate around very obvious, serious problems when the only real solution is to get out ASAP. Then it became a catchphrase.

      Basically it means, “Run!”

      1. fposte*

        Marie was a commenter here, too, and she wrote some brilliant advice for how to handle situations where staff or co-workers might be suffering from domestic abuse.

  5. Marguerite*

    When you have to spend a lot of time on the computer, do you wear special glasses or use eye drops? My eyes have been really hurting- I have bad allergies, so that certainly doesn’t help, but I have been getting eye pain underneath my right eye. I’m planning on making a trip to the eye doctor, but I was just wondering if anyone experience anything similar.

    1. Yvette*

      I never experienced actual pain on my face apart from my eyes but I used to have a pair of very lightly tinted sunglasses that helped with overall strain. Absolutely worthless in bright sun, but very soothing for work. Also, looking up and focusing on something six or so feet away every 20 minutes or so seems to help as well.

    2. Karen from Finance*

      It’s very common that eyes will get tired after long hours in the computer. For me, my doctor gave me anti-reflective glasses and they help. I only use them for reading, being on the computer and sometimes for going to the movies.

    3. YawnYawnYawn*

      I use a free software called f.lux that gradually changes the color of your screen throughout the day (brighter in the morning to a warmer peach-y tint in the evening). I have it set to be a warm color for the whole day. I used to get a lot of eye strain/pain from being on the computer all day and find that f.lux has helped a lot. (And it’s easier for me than using special glasses since I don’t like wearing anything on my face.)

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      I try to blink a lot and look away from the screen from time to time. If you’re experiencing actual pain, definitely see that eye doctor, though.

      1. stump*

        The blinking thing is one my optometrist mentioned since people tend to stare blink less than they need to when they’re looking at a screen, so their eyes get all dried out and uncomfortable.

        Also YES on going to a doctor for actual pain, though. Since you mentioned allergies and that the pain is under your eye, maybe it’s sinus pain? (Don’t know if it feels like sinus pain or not to you, so, idk.) My allergies messed up my sinuses before I started taking allergy meds and getting allergy shots. But whatever it is, have a doctor check it out!

        Other general Eye Strain Reduction Tips that work for me are keeping my monitor about an arm length away from me (and keeping it roughly at eye/face height, though that one’s more of a Neck thing for me), turning the brightness way down on my monitor (although I have migraine/light sensitivity issues that play into that), and just making sure that the prescription on my contacts were up to date.

        But definitely do the Doctor Thing! All the eye strain reduction tips are good to do anyway, but a doctor can do concrete things to help with the face pain specifically.

    5. LCL*

      Before you go to the eye doctor, measure the distance from the bridge of your nose to your computer screen, if all else was ideal. Tell the eye doctor and the optician you need a pair of glasses for using the computer and you prefer to sit x inches away from the monitor. That’s what eye care professionals mean by computer glasses-readers that are made for this specific application. They aren’t that expensive if you get single focus readers. I tried progressive glasses, and they just didn’t work as readers for me, as my close vision is very bad. And yeah, my computer glasses are lousy for print reading, so I leave them at work where they are used. The eye drops help, too.

    6. Tech Anon*

      This happened to me – turns out my screen was way too bright. Try dimming it and see if it helps.

    7. dumblewald*

      You can set your computer screen to “Night Mode” under settings (both PCs and Macs should have this feature). This gets rid of the blue light in your screen, which is the usual culprit for headaches and keeping you up at night. I started doing recently and noticed my headaches have reduced significantly. I also lowered the brightness of my screen a bit. There is also an app called F.lux for this purpose, which I think someone mentioned upthread!

      1. Anax*

        I also like to use Darkroom Mode in F.lux when I’m experiencing eyestrain; that helps a lot, though it looks a little weird – it inverts colors and turns them to red on black.

    8. Sleepy*

      If I feel eye strain, I find putting a hot compress on my eyes relaxes the muscles. In a pinch I make myself a very hot mug of tea, heat my hands on the mug, and put them on my eyes.

      Your pain sounds like it could be more than normal eye strain so probably good to check with a doctor.

    9. spock*

      I was having eye strain from looking at a computer too much so I went to the doctor and turns out I needed glasses. I still look at screens too much but the strain is gone now, so definitely do make that appointment as well as the every screen health tips.

    10. I’m actually a squid*

      I got a pair of those tinted glasses that are supposed to reduce eye strain and it might be the placebo effect but I feel less fatigued on the days I use them. They’re literally the cheapest option on Amazon and I’m pleased.

      1. MintLavendar*

        You can also get cheap tinted prescription glasses on Zenni! Brown or orange tint is best to filter out some of the bright blue from computer screens.

    11. Safetykats*

      I wonder if part of the problem is dry eyes? I had problems with eye pain after long work days and in the winter; my optometrist recommended flaxseed oil supplements, and blinking more often and more completely – turns out I didn’t really close my eyes all the way when I blinked.

    12. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Pay attention to how much you’re blinking, that’s very important. Also, make sure that your eye line to the screen is down, just a bit. Our eye muscles are not designed to look UP all the time. The pain you reference seems like it could be strained muscles.

    13. Ann Furthermore*

      If you’re on long calls and using a headset, that might contribute to it too. I spent the first part of the week on a series of really long conference calls, and I was getting terrible headaches. I finally figured out it was from wearing my headset for too long.

    14. Lepidoptera*

      This may sound weird, but have you tried anchoring your monitor better? One of my problems with my cubicle set-up is that my Thunderbolt display has a stupid artsy-fartsy swan neck base, and the screen is constantly wiggling all over the place. Spending all day trying to read shaking type makes me want to claw my eyes out of my face.

      I wedged some heavy textbooks under the lower edge of the monitor to hold it still, and everything is so much better.

    15. doing things*

      I wear those trifocals progressive and was noticing enormous strain in my eyes like they ere about to pop out, and it turned out that one of the prescriptions had become too low so my eye was straining. I think because the other distances were ok (especially far away which is my weakest), it didn’t register as my needing a new prescription, which I would have recognized.

    16. CJM*

      By underneath, do you mean behind it, in your head? Could be a migraine. Mine started like this. Eye strain due to lighting can be a trigger.

    17. Autumnheart*

      Your sinuses are, in part, located underneath your eyes. If you’re experiencing bad allergies, this could definitely be a contributor to your overall discomfort. You’re probably already taking something, but if not, consider Zyrtec—it targets reactions that primary result in itchy eyes, sinus issues, running nose, etc.

      Anyway, I use the Blink brand of lubricating eye drops, which you can use as needed, they’re not a “get the red out” formula, so there isn’t an issue of becoming dependent on them. My eye doctor really turned on the metaphorical light bulb when he said, “You don’t just use them occasionally, you use them every day so that your eyes don’t *get* dried out. It’s the same reason you use lotion every day instead of *only* when your skin is very dry.” That was an a-ha moment for sure. I use eye drops morning and night, and my eyes do feel so much better.

    18. Nana*

      My doc said reading (book) distance is 18″ and computer is 22″. Get separate glasses (if you wear ’em). Made a great difference for me.
      Relieving eyestrain: rub hands together (to warm ’em up); please cupped hands over eyes. Do it a few times. And, of course, look away from screen regularly.

    1. SadMidwesterner*

      Hi! This is so sweet. I am doing ok. I had two interview offers this week which really turned things around mood wise and I had a lovely weekend of non-work things. Hopefully getting out soon.

  6. Saradactyl*

    I have a circle of girlfriends from college that I’m still close to. There are 5 of us that became particularly close through or sorority and have stayed friends. 3 of the 5 have moved out of state but we stay connected through a group chat and trying to see each other through holidays and other events.

    On Thursday evening at around 10 pm I was out at a bar with a completely separate group of friends and I got a text message from one of the girls in my circle completely out of the blue, without context or precedent, saying that she felt like I was an unsupportive friend and that it hurt her, she felt like I didn’t acknowledge her work and live in our group message but she tries to acknowledge mine, and she wishes we were better friends.

    I was completely flabbergasted and caught off guard – she and I have never been intimately close friends despite our shared circle, the last time she texted me individually was for my birthday a month ago, and she’s got the busies work life out of all of us (and travels a lot for it) so when she does participate in our group chat it’s very random and sporadic.

    That same night I sent her a long and hopefully sincere message back apologizing. She hasn’t responded to it or acknowledged it since. I have no idea what to do from here…? I almost thought I dreamed it because it happened so late at night and nothings happened since, but nope, the message is still there on my phone, she sent it to me only. Was she under the influence and didn’t mean to send it to me? Did I do something to provoke this? I have no idea, she didn’t respond. What do???

        1. Venus*

          I was wondering the same thing. Or was emotional late at night and regrets being critical? Either way, I would probably not push anything, but maybe make more of an effort to comment this month and see what happens

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Chance alcohol was involved? This sounds like exactly the sort of thing for which they make phone lock programs that require you to solve math problems before you can call your boss/ex/etc and share with them how you’re really feeling now that you’re on the 4th margarita.

      1. blackcat*

        I am always amused when people suggest those sorts of apps.
        As a STEM undergrad, I have seen and participated in plenty of very complicated mathematical efforts while inebriated with various substances. Booze will not stop me from doing math. Maybe it wouldn’t work that way now in my 30s, but in my 20s, even a lot of booze did not slow the math brain. It was actually odd–my verbal skills deteriorated much faster than the math ones.

        1. JanetM*

          I once managed to pull the exact right quote for the moment about math and alcohol.

          Person to her partner, an engineer: Someday I should get you drunk and make you do math.

          Me: No, no! Friends don’t let friends drink and derive!

          Person and person’s partner: You … wait … what?! That was perfect.

      2. SpiderLadyCEO*

        I have never heard of these! But wow that sounds like a great idea. I wish some of my male coworkers got them, so they would think before sending me a text…

        1. Marthooh*

          They might look at it as a challenge, though. “BEHOLD, MILADY, I HAVE SLAIN THE MATHEMATHICAL DRAGON!”

    2. Batgirl*

      I think you’ve acknowledged her complaint with concern and that’s a perfectly appropriate response.
      If you want to do more you could try asking ‘I can do what you’ve asked and I’m glad you did. Is there something the others do more of that you’d like me to do? I genuinely want to know.’
      But ask yourself if you’d want to do more before you offer. It sounds like she prefers other people to be the initiator and she will just respond to that. Ask yourself if you’d be ok with that; if so, great.
      Another possibility is she’s trying to ditch you and this is her ‘It’s not me, its you’ sign off message. Which, is a jerk move. She should just admit she doesn’t have enough spoons to maintain a distant-ish relationship/you two don’t have connecting styles/ignored you on group chat. If she’d just let this drift that would be a more natural ending.

    3. Lilysparrow*

      YMMV and it depends on your relationship and friend style, but personally, this message would not inspire me to put more effort into a relationship with someone I was never close to before.

      “You should feel guilty & obligated because I feel like I give you more attention than you give me” is not one of my love languages.

      If I truly felt connected & cared for by a friend, it would be different. But your head-scratching reaction makes me think you don’t feel that from her.

      You sent a nice apology. Let it lie. At some point, if she wants to pursue it, you can see what kind of effort she really wants from you & if you want to invest it.

    4. Cows go moo*

      Sometimes we can hurt people unintentionally without ever being aware of it. Although a text was obviously not an ideal way of raising this issue, I would give her the benefit of doubt and follow up. Call her and ask.

      As a side note I despise people raising personal grievances over text. It often catches the other person off guard (as it has here) and doesn’t give them the opportunity to ask questions to clarify and understand what you’re saying. This is a terrible method of communication and signals that person’s immaturity and poor conflict resolution.

      1. Tigerlily*

        I think this really depends on your personal communication preference and how you and your friends communicate, though! I feel the opposite way — an initial text gives me time to analyze the situation and think of the best way to respond, as opposed to a phone call or in-person confrontation when I don’t suspect anything is wrong. I also really hate being on the receiving end of a “we need to talk in person” text — it stresses me out so much waiting for the in-person conversation and wondering what I’ve done wrong without having the chance to be productive about it.

    5. Theodoric of York*

      Why would you automatically apologize? If you don’t know what’s wrong, you should ask for clarification, I think, not automatically assume you were a fault. As one of the other replies stated: what if she sent her message to the wrong person?

  7. LDN Layabout*

    Thank you to everyone who answered my questions about traveling in the US! I had a great time and discovered a love for biscuits…

    (I’m other news, years too late, I’ve picked up Pokémon Go if anyone wants to be friends: 4731 1511 6983)

    1. LKPNYC*

      LDN let’s be PokeFriends! 9272 8734 3597. Also hoping to get an NYC-based friend so I can trade some Pokémon and finish these challenges!!

        1. Bad Janet*

          <3 your PoGo name and just had to comment that I have a Ponyta that was 666 CP, so I named it Binky and will never upgrade it to keep that stat.

    2. MatKnifeNinja*

      Here’s my trainer code

      5364 2885 2834

      I don’t get a big list of friends, so every couple days you’ll get a present.

    3. curly sue*

      I’m at 1472 9297 6150 – northeast North America, if anyone’s looking for long-distance gifts. I tend to make it through my list every three days or so.

    4. Belle in HR*

      I sent you a request! It will be Divinah83 and my hubby is sending one as AstrisArgenti.

    5. Geezercat*

      I’ve sent friend requests to all of you – I’m Geezercat; friendcode is 1199 4305 0352. I have a large (and largely inactive) friend list, but I do return gifts as soon as I can.

  8. Alone anon*

    This is a question that is probably best to ask a therapist or someone with that sort of background, but any insight would be greatly appreciated.

    I’m in my early 30s and it seems like everyone around me is able to find someone, EXCEPT me. I dated a lot in my early to late 20s, but they were mostly set-ups or blind dates. They were sweet guys , but I wasn’t interested in them/it went nowhere.

    The guys that I *do* like are jerks. They’re emotionally unavailable, immature, manipulative, and not very nice. They’re cute and charming at first, but then they become emotionally abusive and act moody towards me. It’s very toxic. They convince those around me that it’s *me* with the problem, not them. So now I feel like the crazy person and they get away with it.

    The thing that I can’t understand is that those jerks go on to have girlfriends/wives….. HOW? Are they like that only with me? Do these women not see it/not care? Do the men act different with them?

    I just don’t get what I’m doing wrong. Plus, I think that if only I were “X” (prettier/thinner/smarter), then I could attract someone/keep them, but I know that it is not necessarily the case.

    So confidence is key, but what else? Why is it so easy for some people and so hard for others to meet someone? Is it bad to be honest and a good person? I just don’t understand what I’m doing wrong/how to fix things/how to get out of this loop.

      1. Alone anon*

        Variety of things- one wasn’t into me as much as I was into him; one wasn’t as nice as I thought; another is now in a ltr/almost engaged; one is married; another has a boyfriend.

    1. infopubs*

      I was attracted over and over again to emotionally unavailable partners, so I feel your pain. Time and therapy helped me understand my own patterns enough to break them. One of the ways I knew something big had changed was when I stopped telling “bad date” stories to my friends and to my mother. I was in my mid- to late-30s when it happened.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      awww. A friend and I were just having this conversation about his friend. His friend picks women who some how seem to be attached to one or more other people as well as his friend. It gets confusing and then it gets heartbreaking.

      We tend to go with what we know. I do think it takes deliberate actions to change a trend, so therapy to find out how to pick differently is a great idea. My friend says of himself, “I have to learn how to pick better.” My friend also has had his own run of bad luck.

      For me, putting the time in to find out who the person is, was critical. I knew my husband four years before I married him. I jump in too slow. My friend jumps in too fast. I have no idea why some people quickly partner up and others do not. I do know that almost every partnered person I know believes their relationship is a lot of work. So even when we find a good partner we still have work to do.

      I think it’s good to have boundaries. Know what you will not tolerate. My wise friend used to say if you see something three times you have a pattern and patterns need to be addressed in some manner. Let’s say new SO yells over simple things, I mean stuff that most people deal with and have no strong negative reaction. You don’t have to keep going through this. After the third time, you can encourage SO to use a calmer approach. If SO cannot do this then that is information for you. If Simple Thing makes SO lose their cool, then what will they do if something hard comes along?
      I actually read some boundaries books so I could learn to put into words what my deal breakers are. And to learn to put into words how to say no to the not-quite-deal-breaking stuff.

      A pearl of wisdom I wished someone had told me decades ago is, “It’s through our friendships that we learn what we want/value and what we don’t want in an SO.” I never thought of that. You can look at your good relationships- family or friends and make note of what is going right there. You can also make note of what is of high value to you. Much younger me used to visit my aunt. She always had something to snack on. It made me feel loved. The dots connected much later, the willingness to share is something that is of high value to me. It does not have to be food, it can be advice, time, books, whatever. If my SO was sitting eating french fries and offered me some, he’d get points for that in my books. Yes, french fries, it’s a little thing but it’s good to know ourselves and know what we place a high value on.

      1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

        So I appreciate that you share your wisdom so kindly and freely here… you share things of value. Another helpful comment for my needs, when I wasn’t even looking for it. (I just always read what you say!)

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          Same. I am also a fan of Not So NewReader. Consistently wonderful insights offered generously.

      2. spiralingsnails*

        “We tend to go with what we know.”
        It can be helpful to reflect on what your family of origin molded you to feel was normal. One of my longtime single friends had a father who was emotionally distant, depressed, and though he said he loved her he sometimes did things that showed she was not his real priority. It has been very painful to watch her repeatedly brushing off kind, decent guys because she “just didn’t feel attracted” to them (sometimes before even trying a single date!) yet she would carry a torch for years over guys who were only marginally interested in her. I’m pretty sure that what she interpreted as romantic attraction was actually just attraction to the challenge – that somehow this time she could be good enough, pretty enough, funny enough, nice enough to make *him* like her. :(

    3. Parenthetically*

      Your instinct to talk about this with a therapist is exactly right, IMO. Whenever there’s a repeated pattern in your life that’s causing you pain or difficulty, a therapist is going to be able to be that objective voice to help you pull apart the whys and wherefores and help you choose differently.

      I think most straight women go through a “charming jerks” phase. For me, it ended when I realized I didn’t WANT to marry someone “charming,” I wanted to marry someone who was fundamentally kind and decent. Charm is appealing, by definition, but kindness lasts — and it’s NOT the same as “nice” or “sweet” either. I think a big step you can take is to be specific about the essential character traits you value in a partner, and then date only guys who have those traits. So, from your post, your musts are: mature, emotionally open, straightforward, kind, honest, and a good person. Your dealbreakers are: manipulative, childish, moody. Things that make you suspicious are: charm, shallow “niceness.”

      I think the only think you’re doing wrong is continuing to date suspiciously charming hotties when that hasn’t worked out in the past, you know? You’re not marketing yourself as Generic Girlfriend/Partner Option #1007, or trying to find Generic Boyfriend/Partner, you’re putting your true self out there, knowing you’re a niche market just like everyone else, and trying to find your own unique folks you click with. And I dunno, call me a cynic if you like, but when I see people who always find it “easy” to find a partner, I often see people who have low personal standards for who they date, and are willing to put up with treatment I wouldn’t tolerate. There are those unicorns who seem to manage to date only genuinely decent people one after another, but the majority of people I know who just sort of fall from one relationship to another are more interested in avoiding singleness than they are in finding an equal to build a true partnership with.

    4. Lena Clare*

      Yes, can relate. You’re right a therapise will help.
      Attachment theory explains a lot – Google it :)
      I found a book called “Attached” helpful. It’s helped me make better choices and understand myself more, but I am single still (despite a couple of ltr in my 20s and then my 30s) and I’m 45 on Wednesday.

      I get down about it sometimes because we do live in a society that priortises romantic love above other types of love – and I feel lonely. I also feel it’s affected my ability to form relationships in w*rk which has damaged my career, but let’s not go there here :) and friendships have taken a battering over the years as I’ve struggled to form non toxic ones, but I’m getting there.

      Sending you good vibes.

    5. dumblewald*

      I’m working through a similar issue so I’m not the person to give advice. I definitely second therapy – I’m currently looking for a counselor as we speak. There are many factors that go into this. However, an insight I recently heard about people who have this issue, which I think sort of applies to me, is that going after unavailable partners is actually a risk-averse tactic. When you go after an emotionally unavailable person, you know on at least a subconscious level that it’s not going to work out. That’s because, to a relationship risk-averse mind, this is still better than actually falling for someone and then potentially getting your heart broken.

      Another factor, I think, is falling for superficial characteristics over important ones. Many people are superficially charming and attractive but not good people.

      I’m pretty sure the women who end up with these men are addicted to the same dynamics we are. It’s a matter of breaking the addiction.

      1. Parenthetically*

        “going after unavailable partners is actually a risk-averse tactic”

        Yep, same with intense crushes on unavailable men, as was my M.O. If you’ve seen To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, the main character IS ME. A perfect relationship is easy if it only happens in your head, but actually putting yourself out there risks it not going the way you planned.

    6. Auntie Social*

      You can find dozens of guys to love you. Find the guy who loves you the way YOU need to be loved. Make a list—honest, mature, straightforward, etc.—this is what I am so this is what I need. If you’re finding wrong guys then you’re forgetting to put your list first. And tell them, in a nice but no nonsense way. Or be funny–the last guy who lied to me is now part of the San Diego freeway.

    7. Not a doctor*

      Are you attracted to these guys because of their flaws or despite them? Can you rationalize why? (From ‘my dad was like that, and so that’s what I associate to manliness’, to ‘every book I read has sexy broody types turn out to be awesome if the girl puts in enough effort’ or even ‘yeah, I’ve see that youtube video about the brain being an addict to excitement that’s why toxic push and pull flirting can be mistaken for love’).
      Can you separate the symptom from the cause ? (for example, you want a protective guy, you associate loud stubborness to someone who’ll be protective, and so you fall for loud stubborn types that all too often end up being jerks)
      The point here is not to deny your attraction buttons, but to get more control over them.

      I think forcing yourself to give guys you aren’t attracted to a chance isn’t the way to go. You don’t owe a guy a date or sex because he’s nice, you deserve to be attracted to him. It’s a spectrum though, if you’re attracted *enough* even it’s not the passionate pull you’re used to, you might want to try it.
      And I also believe you can make your own attraction buttons evolve (change how/where you flirt, consume media which show how different types of men can be attractive etc.)
      It’s also important not to look desperate or too unhappy with being single : the kind of men who sniffs out fragility is not the kind you want to attract. It’s quite alright and common to figure you’ll be happier partnered, but it’s better if you work on making sure a good partner is a wonderful add-on rather than the missing piece to make you whole.

      To answer your “but the jerks are all getting married!” question : some jerks do grow up, all too many women marry someone who’s wrong for them for a whole lot of reasons (timeline, opportunity, self-confidence, they’re jerks too, they think the guy will change for them). Getting into a relationship isn’t hard : lower your standards until you have one. You want a happy relationship.

    8. fposte*

      In addition to what other people are suggesting you consider, it might worth thinking about that startup stage. The people who are “cute and charming at first” sound like they’re being very active in the early stage. Does that feel better for you than the uncertainty of the guys who are waiting to see more investment from you before diving in, or who just like things to build slower? I’ve seen this dynamic in both friendship and romance–that it’s really easy to prefer the person who initially brings the attention to you rather than following a gradual trajectory where you both build up investment, but a person who leapt on the relationship opportunity with unusual verve may not wear well.

    9. Dan*

      TBH, if the “chemistry” ain’t there, it ain’t there. That’s to say, I don’t think you can force yourself to make a relationship with a “nice” guy work if you’re not attracted to him, and I don’t think therapy can fix that.

      I met a girl online who as a marriage partner would have been a pretty good catch. We went out for a few months, and I have to be honest… I cut it off because the sexual attraction wasn’t there. I *wanted* the sexual attraction to be there, but it just wasn’t.

      Now, I do think that one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Not dating a cute and charming guy just because you think he might be a jerk later is as harmful of a stereotype/generalization as any. Dating them long enough to get a sense of who they are is appropriate. Continuing to date them after you figure things out and know it’s not right for you? That’s the unhealthy pattern that needs to be broken.

      As for how these guys end of with an LTR after you, and judging that as a success? What you won’t know is how that relationship will play out in the long haul. PLENTY of men and women end up in long term relationships that they shouldn’t have and finally break it off after the kids leave for college or whatever. I was married for 3.5 years, and couldn’t figure out how I was so foolish to have married that person. And then… I started going to support groups and meeting people who were breaking things off after 20 years and wish they had done it a lot sooner.

      As for why women settle down with these guys in the first place? I’m of the opinion that American society places a heavy emphasis on being in a couple, and that some are in it more for the social status of “having a boyfriend” rather than because they met a guy who was truly right for them. And TBH, some people (men and women) can be emotionally manipulated rather easily. Cute and charming guys know this, so if they’re the manipulative type, then those kinds of women are easy pickings.

      IMHO, the best thing you can do to attract a healthy partner (emphasis on healthy) is to get to a place where you’re happy with yourself, partnered or not. Happy, healthy people attract happy, healthy people. “Woe is me” attracts people willing to take advantage of that. It’s fine to *want* a partner, but your life is not a failure without one. If you believe the later is true, then *that* is an issue for therapy.

      1. Observer*

        I don’t think you can force yourself to make a relationship with a “nice” guy work if you’re not attracted to him, and I don’t think therapy can fix that.

        That premise is incorrect. It’s true that you can’t force yourself to attracted to someone. But attraction comes from a lot of pieces. And therapy can often help you identify and alter the pieces that keep you from being attracted to people who are not good for you.

        Therapy is also often helpful in changing how you view attraction and how you go about finding it, so to speak. For instance, do you need to feel instant attraction or can you go into a mode where you can develop a relationship that may come include attraction? That’s not to say that you are going to eventually become attracted to any “good candidate”, but that if you have the capacity to develop attraction that way, you have a better chance of developing a romantic relationship with someone who is a person you also like and trust.

        1. Autumnheart*

          But in the meantime, it’s better to stay single while exploring those avenues. It wouldn’t exactly be fair to a partner to be like, “Well, I’m not attracted to you, even though you’re a great person. Let’s see if therapy can fix me!” I don’t think anyone wants to be the partner that one has to learn to like.

          To be clear, I’m not suggesting that Observer is saying that, but having been on both sides of the “You’re cool but I’m just not feeling it” equation, I think that doing the therapeutic deep dive is best done when not trying to get a relationship off the ground.

          1. Observer*

            Oh, 100% Therapy is a long term investment, not a way to get a particular relationship going.

    10. Batgirl*

      Make your wish list before you go shopping. Before there’s a live person in front of you being all sexy. Stick to it religiously. My shopping list is:

      -Open and honest
      -Affectionate with gestures
      -Really good conversationalist.
      -Wants kids
      -Non smoker
      -Open minded
      – Doesn’t explain things to me
      -Has the same conflict resolution style (no yelling, no sulking, no sitting on problems)
      – Is hot.
      -Knows how to adult so I don’t have to be a caretaker.
      -Mutual interests

      I then went looking proactively. It’s not like every guy who pursues you is going to be a charm-school pressures-you-to-date-him jerk, but I feel like you have more chance of finding what you want if you go shopping for yourself. The gender reversal rids you of a lot of jerks outright

      I like dating sites for this purpose (so much is spelled out) but it doesn’t matter how you meet people as long as you’re moving through the numbers. It took me a little over a month to find my wishlist guy (who exceeded it) but I was prepared to date a different guy a week for a year or more and blog about the frogs. Even in a month I met mucho frogs.

      My friend and I were using the 30 dates philosophy (you typically date a cohort of around 30 people before finding a good match). She married no 15. Another two friends just moved in with number 20 and number 31.

      Stop trying to ‘attract’ a type of person and go find them!

      1. Parenthetically*

        “Doesn’t explain things to me” loooool yes, this was 1000% on my subconscious list but I didn’t realize it until I met my husband who assumes I am a genius and know everything, to a fault.

        1. Indie*

          Yes it’s good to pre-spell it out otherwise you end up in ‘oh they didn’t mean it THAT way’ limbo.

        2. HeyNonny*

          Ha ha yesssss. I’ll also add
          – is OK not winning games (doesn’t sulk and refuse to play Battleship ever again after I won, as a not completely random example)

    11. Wishing You Well*

      I wish, I wish, I wish I could tell you that you are perfect the way you are right now and have you believe it.
      Women don’t have to couple up anymore. Couples don’t have a monopoly on happiness, although it might look that way from outside. I assure you – it ain’t all hearts and roses.
      Give therapy a try, though. It might give you valuable self-knowledge and remind you of your personal power.
      Godspeed and Jedi hugs, if you want them.

    12. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      There’s a good book about the difference between pleasure and happiness called “Hacking the American Mind”.

      The reason I bring it up is I was into infatuation in my 20s: “exciting” guys who made the dopamine in my brain fire. I would seek them like a drug and be very into the *ahem* pleasure activities adults do together. But also miserable and lonely.

      Now I’m married – my husband was in my friend circle. And I love him. And he irritates the crap out of me a lot – any adult who’s not exactly like you that you live with will drive you mad sometimes. The pleasure seeking activities are less. But I’m content and we have a life together.

      The book would say that infatuation is all about dopamine and almost getting high. Settled relationships are more about being family and serotonin.

      So maybe the issue is you’re not looking for the right kind of love subconsciously or consciously?

    13. annakarina1*

      Everyone is giving such great advice! I don’t have advice myself, but a lot of this is helping me examine my own dating patterns.

      I went out on a lot of dates last year, and gone out with three guys this year so far. My problem is that I’m not attracted to anyone I’ve dated lately. I can have pleasant conversation, and I can have fun talking about sci-fi nerdy stuff with them, but I don’t feel anything more beyond pleasant company or friendship. It is very frustrating, as I just had to tell the last two guys I dated who were into me that I only had friend feelings for them. I’ve dated a variety of guys, and gone out on multiple dates with a few, but just felt pretty indifferent. I even was more affectionate with a guy on the last date, where we held hands and briefly kissed. It was nice to feel that comfort, but I didn’t have any more feelings beyond that. I would like to understand my own pattern, and why I don’t get attracted to most guys I go out with.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I placed a high value on comfort and security for [reasons]. The physical aspect to me was secondary. I had heard and agreed, “when the honeymoon is over, you have to be able to talk to each other”. The ability to talk to each other is something committed for life partners need.

        I believe for myself that attraction grows as opposed to just happening instantly. I am kind of wary of that instant attraction, I don’t think it’s an indicator of long term success. BUT. You can find other people who will tell you the exact opposite, so there is that.

        I’d recommend thinking about what you actually need vs. what you THINK you should need. It sounds like you might be looking for a combo of best friend and lover. Which is great, but it can take a minute to find that.

        1. fposte*

          What I like about Batgirl’s post is that she sets up a process that helps you know the difference between the things you think you want and the things you really want. It’s so different for different people, and you can start out by grabbing at generalities like “Must have a great sense of humor! Must love long walks!” and then realize that you’re happier with a serious person of immense kindness and you’d rather take walks on your own anyway.

        2. Parenthetically*

          Yeah, this is a great comment. I’m like you in that I believe attraction is best when it grows, because then it’s more complex and deep than just pantsfeelings. And I mean pantsfeelings are really awesome! But they also wax and wane, especially if you’re planning to add kids to the mix. At the end of the day, you have to enjoy this person as a person and want to spend time with them, not just feel fluttery and hope it lasts.

        3. annakarina1*

          Thank you very much! A combination of best friend and lover makes sense. My one serious boyfriend has become one of my best friends, we eventually became friends several months after the breakup. That does make sense. In my twenties, I had guy friends and hookups and a FWB, but not a serious boyfriend until I was 28. Then after him, I was busy with life stuff and didn’t date, but saw my FWB, and got back into dating last year. I don’t get very affectionate or romantic, and don’t get into guys much, so it does make it more difficult on my part than if I just fell in lust or love easily and was more romantic.

      2. misspiggy*

        I don’t get attracted to most guys, full stop. It’s hard to find someone that’s decent, available and fun to be with. I’ve also found that neither appearance nor kissing do much for me as an indicator of lasting sexual chemistry.

        So my personal approach has been to get to know someone well, to sleep with them, and then to judge the whole package. Easier to get away with as a woman without being seen as a jerk, perhaps. Risks and sometimes ruins friendships. But if the goal is to find a lasting relationship, finding out what you need and following through can work better than the wider social script.

      3. Ranon*

        If you like podcasts, Ologies did one recently called “Marriageology” with a scientist that studies relationships and he talked a lot about some of the science behind initial attraction (since the host of the podcast is in a similar position to you and had questions!). Might lead to some insights, and if not it’s still a fun listen.

    14. Cheshire Cat*

      Abusive men are very good at being charming–both early in a relationship, and in between abusive episodes. You are doing the right thing by seeing through them and getting out when they show their true colors. The women they marry are not so clear-eyed and believe that the charming side is the real man, while the abusive side is the aberration.

      I married one of these men a long time ago and it was very hard to get out of the relationship. Reading the book “Men who hate women and the women who love them” by Dr. Susan Forward is what gave me the strength to get out and not go back. I’m not sure if it’s still in print, but if you can find a copy I heartily recommend it: for the insight it can give into the way these men act (and why), why women fall for them, and how to recognize them before you get too involved.

      The two biggest takeaways that I’ve followed ever since: when a man is charming, *stay away*. And also stay away from men who don’t get along with their mothers. A surprising number of abusive men don’t. Not getting along with Mom doesn’t always mean that a man is abusive, of course, but it can mean that his relationship with you will be troubled. YMMV but it’s held true for me.

    15. Anon Anon Anon*

      Ooohh. I’ve been thinking about this too. I’ve dated some guys who were what I would consider abusive, but then they go on to have stable long-term relationships. A few themes I noticed:

      – Sometimes the other women are indeed being treated badly. One or two exes have wanted to cheat on their new partner with me – when they had young kids. Yuck. I imagine there’s more going on there.

      – I’m very outspoken, adventurous and intellectual. That stuff is seen as masculine. Some people are genuinely more compatible with someone who’s closer to the gender stereotypes. There has been a pattern of guys either preferring or having healthier-seeming relationships with women who are more traditionally feminine. Compatibility is a real thing. I’ve realized how important it is to be yourself 100% early on so you’ll attract someone who likes you for you.

      – I think sometimes people do change and work through their issues.

      Also, I wouldn’t worry about the nice guys who you’re not attracted to. For me, a lack of attraction almost always means that you’re not really compatible.

      But yeah. I’m in the same boat, waiting to find the right guy. In the meantime, I’m working on becoming a better person and sorting through my past relationship issues. Preparing to do better in the next relationship. And working to get out and connect with the right kinds of people. Thinking about who I get along with best and why and where to find people like that.

      There is hope for us!

    16. Isotopes*

      I’m super late to this party but I wanted to share with you because I have SO been there. I just got out of an emotionally abusive marriage with a guy who I thought was the greatest guy I would ever meet. It was such a slow thing, very much that “boiling a frog” situation. If he ever gets involved with another woman, I would imagine the same thing would probably happen. Abusers tend to be very good at what they do.

      I’ve learned that I tend to go for guys who aren’t as emotionally available because they’re safer. I know I don’t have to worry about getting attached. If things don’t work out, no harm, no foul.

      I think you might also want to just get out on a few dates. Like, low-stakes stuff. Not Tinder levels, but like, “Hey I’m interested in a casual thing, let’s go for coffee and get to know one another.” Sometimes it takes a long time. I know someone who’s a super catch (seriously, she’s incredible), and she’s never been in a long-term relationship. And the guys she picks tend to be awful. And she recently met someone great and is feeling really excited about it. Which is super.

      I met someone recently. And there’s a part of me that’s so excited because he seems wonderful, and there’s honestly another part of me that’s terrified I’ve just found someone else who is really good at playing that part. Which is something I’ll talk with my therapist about! I didn’t think I’d be dating any time soon. I highly recommend therapy. Also, remember that it can be really easy to meet someone, but it’s not always that easy to meet the RIGHT someone.

  9. Nicole76*

    My dog barks constantly at most items that make noise (except my hairdryer and electric toothbrush) – the vacuum cleaner, coffee grinder, blender, food processor, mixer, etc. It makes cooking and cleaning a bit stressful. If my husband or I pet her, or distract her with toys, when the offending appliance is running, she won’t continue barking, but we can tell she’s still worried/stressed about it. She’s pretty high-strung in general (she also doesn’t like when we use the oven and paces around the house as if it’s on fire if anything gets seared to the point where it creates a strong odor). We aren’t always both around when wanting to use our appliances, so are there any tips on how to get her to stop this behavior altogether? She’s a two and a half old Morkie, if that makes any difference.

    1. Yvette*

      I hear that Thunder Shirts are helpful for nervous stressed out dogs. But other than that maybe some sort of exposure therapy while one of you is holding her etc.

    2. Karen from Finance*

      I’d work with a dog trainer, I’m pretty sure this can be educated in the dog.

      Just this week we started working with a new trainer on getting one of our dogs to stop being angry all the time and what we’re doing is getting him to sit and give him a treat. Now suddenly the dog is more focused on getting the treat than on the thing that was stressing him out. Though we still have a long way to go, it’s been surprisingly effective so far.

      But I do think it’d be best if a trainer saw your dog in particular, as the way to train her may be a bit different.

    3. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

      First check with a vet. She may have something bothering her physically. The vet may prescribe some Prozac, a trainer, or more. Good luck!

      1. Nicole76*

        I meant to comment last night that I think that is really cool and wished you could buy one for real.

    4. I edit everything*

      We have a dog who hates thunderstorms. She gets really frantic. The best thing we’ve found that helps is Cani-bits, dogs treats with CBD in them. They’re not perfect, and they are very expensive, but they definitely help. I’m also trying this year a toy that doles out treats as the dog plays with as a feel good distraction. Good luck!

    5. Animal worker*

      One useful strategy is counter-conditioning, where you replace this reaction with a more desired one. In a case like this the goal would be to change her motivation/reaction in situations with the noisy appliances. The end result might look like one of these two scenarios – 1) the blender goes on, she goes and lies on a certain mat and gets a treat, or 2) you cue her to the mat, then run the blender, then she gets a treat. In both, the sound of the appliance means that a treat is coming, so there’s a positive association to the sound instead of just a negative one. Scenario one is more of an ‘advanced’ step because she’s got to already be somewhat desensitized to the sound more before this is as likely to be a positive situation, where as scenario 2 allows her to be given a reinforceable behavior to do before the sound occurs, which also serves as a warning to her that the sound will happen so that being startled by the sound starting unexpectedly is avoided.

      How to start this – first, teach the mat behavior. You can use an area rug, towel, pet bed, or other specific spot – using something tangible versus just a certain corner, can be easier to train because it’s clear what the animal needs to do. You then teach her to sit or lie down (I’d suggest lie down, which is a more relaxed behavior, and therefore more of an incompatible response to tensing up over the sound). Do this without the sounds happening, so that she learns that mat = treat in a more relaxed situation. Suggest working on extending her duration on it, with a ‘stay’ or ‘hold’ command and reinforcing longer durations lying on the mat.

      Then once the mat behavior is consistent for a duration, add the sound. I’d suggest sending her to the mat to lie down, giving the hold cue, then using a verbal cue such as ‘noise’ or ‘sound’, basically something you will start using any time you will be using an appliance so it serves as a warning that the sound will start. Then turn it on/off and reinforce her for staying lying on the mat. If needed, have one person work with her to encourage her to stay lying down and one do the appliance. Then you can increase the duration of the sounds, and types of appliances, and keep up the consistent reinforcement for the mat behavior while they are on. It’s important that the ‘sound/noise’ cue happens BEFORE the appliance is turned on so that she can process that something is about to happen before it does.

      If you can get her to do a behavior similar to this, it can – over time – change the meaning of the appliances in her life from fear to treat. It doesn’t always work, depends on where the fear comes from, but counter-conditioning can be a great tool to change an animal’s response/motivation to a situation or stimuli. Best of luck.

      1. Venus*


        I have also seen it described as exposure therapy.

        Also: Ideally you have a person with her when you first start with the noise, and give her treats just for staying on the mat and then for looking at the treat and then for sitting / laying, and finally treat only for staying. It will take weeks, but it builds a much better relationship and is best long-term.

        You can do shirts and meds and whatever, but when the noises are predictable (not like thunder) then conditioning is best. You can also play around with location if that helps (start outdoors, or in a room which is less stressful). Best of luck!

      2. Nicole76*

        We’re going to try this first, and if it doesn’t work, look at hiring a trainer like others have suggested. Thank you!

  10. Jessen*

    New kitty in the house here. Still hiding, and rather displeased at me for evicting her from her last hiding spot to go to the vet and get her shots and a chip. I managed to convince her to hide near where her food and water and litter are at least?

      1. Jessen*

        Oh yeah it’s been less than 24h. And getting dragged out to the vet was not pleasant either.

    1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

      Lots of time! I am doing similar things. It’s been almost eight weeks and she is slowly coming round.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      We were so lucky to adopt ours from a rescue group that knew their personalities, because one cat starts at “hide, after a few hours pop out for a few seconds, hide again” even though after she’s adjusted she is bold and adventurous and emphatic about turning on the water drops. The first time the fosterer let her out into the larger house she lost her, eventually running her to ground inside the grand piano.

        1. fposte*

          A friend’s cat found a secret spot into the springs of the couch through a hole in the back. We were only able to confirm her presence by sliding our hands under the couch and feeling the warm, slightly saggy spot.

          1. Frankie Bergstein*

            Mine too!

            But now – years later, she is very sociable with us and often demands pets/treats.

      1. Jessen*

        She managed to squeeze into the space between the stove and the counter. There’s one corner that’s just empty space, but the opening was super tiny to where I could barely get a hand in. And this is a full grown cat. I had not expected her to get back there!

    3. I’m actually a squid*

      Kitty! It took boy-cat a day or so to emerge from behind the dryer and hide amidst the clothes on the guest bed aka folding surface. He’s still a timid soul but his cuddles are the best.

      1. ScountFinch*

        I had a cat named Kenmore who hid behind the washer during daylight hours. He was feral when we rescued him. He turned into the sweetest kitty.

    4. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Just give her time and space. She’ll start coming out when she’s ready to, and probably long before you know she’s coming out!

    5. Jessen*

      A peace offering of a catnip mouse has been left for her. I will try back with treats in a while. I am trying to be the “person who brings good things and then leaves me alone.”

    6. Indie*

      There is supposed to be a plug in of cat friendly pheromones. My bf is a cat whisperer and he says it’s a smell issue a lot of the time, they are getting used to the scary new smell of the place. But generally he says it’s a time and patience game.

    7. Venus*

      It should be fine within a couple weeks, but options include Feliway (this does not work on ferals but is good with stressed friendly cats). Also put out stinky wet food (tuna? Friskies?) nearby and turn your back. See if she will eat behind your back. If that works then a few days later sit to the side. A few days later sit to the side but move your hand near and try to pet. Don’t look directly at the cat. This works to rehab feral and very skittish cats who are food motivated. You can also do the same with wand toys.

      Good luck!

      1. Jessen*

        Right now she’s not coming out when I’m up, but she’ll come out if I’m in bed (even if I’m just on my phone), and if I’m in the shower or out of the house. So at least I know she is eating and drinking, which is the big concern. I know rehoming is really stressful on cats, so I’m not worried so long as she’s getting food and water and using the litter box.

    8. Tiny Soprano*

      Cat behaviouralist Jackson Galaxy’s youtube channel is full of great cat tips. I found it super helpful when my easily-stressed deaf cat was moving back from my parents’ place interstate.

  11. YawnYawnYawn*

    I know there were discussions on situations where people typically yawn in a Friday post, but I was wondering if anyone has experience with excessive yawning that started out of the blue?

    For at least the past week, I’ve had to yawn for several minutes (and then intermittently), whenever I sit down to read, sit at the computer, sit to watch TV, or start to do my light exercise routine. It happens in the morning, afternoon and at night. I’m yawning right now! Since it’s so much yawning my eyes water and my nose runs. I hate it because it takes multiple long yawns to “satisfy” the urgent yawning sensation in the back of my throat, and then I immediately have the urge again. I’ve tried taking deep breaths in through my nose, and then breathing out through my mouth, but I either have to stop to yawn or start yawning as soon as I stop.

    I don’t normally yawn except on the rare occasion where I barely got any sleep, and even then it’s just a couple yawns that night. Nothing in my life has changed recently so I’m worried it might be a sign of a health issue. Even if it’s not a health issue, it’s uncomfortable and disruptive to me so I want to figure out how to stop it. Any thoughts would be much appreciated!

    1. Agnodike*

      Lots of things can cause excessive yawning, from fatigue (that you may not know you have) to anxiety and stress. But it can rarely be associated with serious medical issues so it’s worth getting checked out if it’s sudden in onset as well as severe. Don’t google, because you’ll make yourself anxious and stressed (which will probably make you yawn more!) but I would see a doctor if it were me.

      1. San Juan Worm*

        Me too! I don’t get aura, but I can tell when I’m about to get a migraine because I can’t stop yawning — even when we’ll-rested!

    2. Catherine*

      This happened to me when my doctor put me on Prozac–it was so bad I had to quit the meds. I’ve also experienced it as a symptom of iron deficiency. Have you had any changes in your medications or supplements or diet recently?

      1. Jaydee*

        I’ve had it as a side effect to sertraline (another SSRI). It eventually improves, but it was constant and annoying for quite a while. And I think the iron deficiency might have been a cause for me too. I tend anemic and would periodically have spells where for a day or two I would be yawning constantly. It hasn’t happened since I’ve been on iron supplements.

    3. Loopy*

      I had something similar to this and it was extremely frustrating and affected my quality of life. Unfortunately, I never did pin down what it was in any methodological way or via a doctor but I suspect low iron for myself. I started taking a multi-vitamin that had iron in it since that seems to be the safest way to test the theory (IM vegetarian so I couldn’t get enough iron through food).

    4. HeyNonny*

      Your username made me yawn! I notice I yawn more during allergy season, but I don’t know if it’s disrupted sleep or the allergies themselves.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, there are many kinds of crime with higher frequencies in the US than in Mexico. Maybe I should go to Mexico to be safer.

      1. I'm A Little Teapot*

        Also, you should never take a bath! The bathtub is soooo dangerous.

        Seriously though, great way to stereotype an entire country.

      2. Traffic_Spiral*

        Actually Mexico is a pretty large country, and Mexicali is considered reasonably safe. Just don’t be out in rough bars or dark alleys at night.

      3. Le Sigh*

        Oh man. Last year I went to Mexico City and let. me. tell. you. First my host just kept offering free breakfast at her cafe. Then some local folks helped us find this amazingly delicious restaurant. I had to wander the streets for hours looking at cool buildings. UGH, and THEN the bartender at this one place told me about a great place to get tortas and a cool museum to check out.

        Thank god I made it out alive.

      4. Sam Sepiol*

        This is one of the weirdest comments I’ve ever seen here.

        I used to live in an area of York, UK that was considered rough. It was nicer than some other “nice” areas I’ve lived in.

      5. Kimmybear*

        “Dangerous” is relative. I once walked alone late at night from a restaurant to my hotel in Edmonton, Canada. The next day my client said that was the most dangerous part of town. Seemed a lot nicer than other neighborhoods I’ve spent time in.

        1. TL -*

          There are parts of Mexico that are legitimately extremely dangerous. They aren’t generally the tourist parts, and visiting Mexico can be perfectly safe. But saying Mexico is dangerous isn’t at all the same as calling a neighborhood in a first would country rough.

  12. Something Blue*

    Hi! I’m having a problem with outlook mail on my phone. I have several email addresses for different tasks and suddenly Outlook , and outlook only, wants me to renter my password.

    When I do that, it now wants permission to access my profile , sync my contacts tasks etc (which I don’t use outlook for), and wants to maintain access to data I gave IOS access to.

    AND they’re NOT providing links to the terms of service. Instead I can go look it up elsewhere.

    This sounds like outlook wants permission to go snooping through my phone and won’t let me see emails on it until I do.

    I don’t want to do this.
    I also don’t need outlook for running my calendar tasks contacts etc. I have an app for all that. I just want the outlook emails.

    Is anyone else having this problem?

      1. Something Blue*

        Hi! I wondered about that but thought installing an app from scratch might automatically give them permission to rummage through my private info on my phone, whereas now they have to ask first.

        I’m especially concerned because I was about to start doing banking on my phone and really want to limit other apps accessing my info.

    1. Jennie*

      Are you using the email app on your phone or the Outlook app? The Outlook app is best. Also, do you have security questions plus a phone # set up? A lot of places are requiring mfa (multifactor authorization) for email now.

  13. CatCat*

    Any other fans of The OA on Netflix? I finished season 2 this week and my mind is BLOWN!

    *Spoilers may be in replies*

    1. Kiona*

      Me! Haven’t seen season 2 yet though. About to start! I should probably stay way from this thread then! :P

    2. CatCat*

      I’ve seen another show (Supernatural) where the characters on the show were thrust into an alternate reality where the characters are actually the actors on the show about the characters. This was mainly for comedic effect and was a one-off.

      The OA is a lot more serious about it and it looks like it will carry over for an entire season!

      I am actually most interested to see if they address Karim and Michelle dealing with what they know living in their own world that exists only in imagination in another world.

  14. Autoimmune*

    I know there are lots of folks with various issues on this site. A friend got diagnosed w an Autoimmune disease recently. I have questions so I can be supportive. So if you are in this group: what is your diagnosis? What meds are you on? How does this affect your daily life? What makes life easier?

    1. Karen from Finance*

      My mother has MS, so I’ve lived close to the disease my whole life. However, for your questions, it’s really going to depend on which disease you’re talking about as autoimmune covers a whole range of
      diseases with different impacts, treatments, and so on. If we knew what disease your friend has I think we can be more supportive.

    2. Reba*

      Agree with the others that the disease makes a big difference to the advice….

      Read up on “invisible” or “unseen” disability and “spoon theory” — these will help you with understanding life with chronic illness in general.

      1. Lilysparrow*

        Yes, spoon theory is important. It’s also difficult to come to terms, emotionally, with the fact that some days you have more or less spoons for no apparent reason.

        Self-care and staying on routine AMAP are essential, and you can often see a direct link between that bad night’s sleep or poor food choices and a bad day.

        But sometimes you do everything right and get a bad day anyhow. It’s hard to balance motivation & realistic risk management on one hand, with not beating yourself up on the other.

        Then there are the freaky things, like the fact that I often feel great and have loads of extra energy when I’m catching some kind of nasty virus.

        The illness itself is gonna lay me out and take longer to recover from than average. But those 1-2 days when my stupid immune system is otherwise occupied and leaving me alone, are awesome.

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Ask. “I’m so sorry that this is happening, it sucks for you. You’re my friend and I care about you, and I want to be supportive. If there are things that I’m doing that make it harder for you, please tell me. If I can help with something, please ask. And just because you have this thing doesn’t mean we can’t still do things together, but if you need to change up the types of activities, we can do that.”

      Just get it out there, and do your best. People can forgive a lot of missteps if they know that your intention is good and you correct the mistakes when you find out.

    4. Red*

      I have lupus, and I take hydroxychloroquine for it. Honestly, the biggest way it affects my life is fatigue, and it can be rough on my friends and family. If this is something your friend deals with, just try to be understanding and flexible. Movie nights in can be great when I’m exhausted, as can wandering around a thrift store (much easier than going to the mall). Get creative with it if you need to, because fatigue can be really isolating

      1. misspiggy*

        Yes – I have EDS and fatigue is one of the most difficult things to get past with friends/family.

        Take the most direct route to anywhere you’re going (whether walking or wheeled): noodling about wastes energy. Arrange get togethers which are flexible – only rarely book things that can’t be changed or cancelled. Offer to come visit for a little while at home rather than defaulting to going out/coming for dinner.

        Ask questions about how someone’s feeling, don’t suggest alternative treatments or management unless you are already an expert. Don’t be afraid to talk about fun stuff you’ve been doing.

    5. Lilysparrow*

      I have Hashimotos, which is autoimmune hypothyroidism. The only medical intervention is thyroid hormone replacement, since mine doesn’t make any anymore.

      There are two types of prescription hormone therapy, synthetic (Synthroid and its generics) and natural dessicated porcine thyroid (Armour, Naturethroid, and others.).

      My bloodwork was fine on all of them, but symptom control doesn’t always track exactly with blood work. I felt better on natural than synthetic, and the current formulation of Armour has had the best results for me.)

      Hypothyroidism slows your digestion (among other things), so a lot of fiber is helpful. I feel best on 30-35 grams a day, which is maxing out the RDA.

      Long -term direct health risks from Hashi’s are low, as long as you’re on the right dosage. The stronger risks are from inflammation, obesity, & sedentary lifestyle, because the pain, fatigue, and weight gain from Hashi’s makes it harder to keep up with healthy living.

      There are other general autoimmune effects like inflammation, stiffness, and muscle & joint pain. It helps me a lot to actively manage my stress levels, prioritize sleep quality, and eat a varied diet of minimally processed foods and lots of plants. Regular exercise and stretching.

      Autoimmune can make it harder over time for your soft tissues to adapt and heal, so you need to be considerate of your body’s state from day to day and not push through pain.

      On good days, I jog and do a machine-weight circuit. Lifting high weight, low reps (5-8 reps max) has really reduced the stress on my soft-tissues. On bad days, I walk and stretch or do low-impact exercise like swimming. On really bad days, I use heating pads, rubs, and NSAIDs.

      My daily supplement regimen beyond prescription meds includes fish oil, turmeric, probiotics, and vitamin D.

      1. Ella Vader*

        OMG, somebody else with Hashimoto’s! I honestly felt best on Armour thyroid but thyroid antibodies went nuts on it and had to go back to levoxyl since I have celiac, and levoxyl is gluten free. My doctor put me on a paleo diet which has helped control the symptoms of Hashimoto’s and the celiac.

        Do you also take iodine or just the ones you mentioned in your post?

        1. Lilysparrow*

          No, but I eat a pretty decent amount of fish and use iodized salt.

          Fortunately, no gluten issues for me. I tried GF for a while because I’d heard such good things about it, but found that I got inflammation flare-ups from any highly processed foods, even gluten free. Whereas pasta, whole-grain breads, etc did not give me flares if they weren’t full of excess salt, sugar, and artificial crap.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I have antibodies to my thyroid, too, although not full-fledged Hashimoto’s. And I have friends with other conditions.
        So from me…I’ll add if your friend has a meds schedule, keep it in mind when planning* a day. For me that means to cannot eat for 30 minutes after my meds– it took my family a while to realize it was no longer nice to wake me up on Mother’s Day with breakfast ready. Instead they wake me up to say they’re starting cooking.
        (*Good to leave flexibility in a schedule too because tired can hit without warning .)

    6. Ella Vader*

      For autoimmune diseases, I have chronic hives, asthma, eczema, and (the worst of the lot) Hashimoto’s thyroiditis in which my body produces antibodies to attack my thyroid. I’m on a cocktail of meds to keep it all in check. The best thing is just be supportive. Some days will be better than others, and I hope your friend does well with their diagnosis.

    7. Thursday Next*

      I have Hashimoto’s and lupus. My lupus was in remission for many years but I now need to take steroids and immunosuppressives in addition to hydroxychloroquine.

      I’m not gonna lie: when it’s bad, it really sucks. At best I’m exhausted. At worst it’s joint pain and inflammation to the point of immobility. The steroids and immunosuppressives control the joint issues, but come with their own side effects, like weight gain and hair loss (an effect of lupus anyway). All of it together can be very isolating and depressing.

      So my advice would be to ask your friend what they need. I want to see people, but sometimes it has to be something quick and early, not a late night out. Just ask questions, too; I dislike having to pretend it’s not a huge thing in my life when I’m having a flare.

      It’s also really nice when friends send me a quick text or email (or call)—I like hearing from people.

      I know everyone’s busy with their own work/families/health, so I really don’t expect anyone to do anything for me. But if there’s anything you can offer that wouldn’t be too much trouble for you, like picking up takeout to share, that could be nice.

      1. Thursday Next*

        Also—if it comes up, reassure your friend that it’s okay to let some things slide. I’m cooking much less right now, since I’m directing my limited energy into other needs.

    8. spiralingsnails*

      There are many autoimmune disorders with specific medications and needs, and even more ways of coping with them! But 3 things apply to everyone: Ask, Respect, & Be Thoughtful. Ask them how life is going, but Respect that they might prefer not to talk about it. Respect that they will make the best decisions for themselves, but Be Thoughtful about whether there’s something they need to know to make those decisions (like you coming down with a cold right before a planned coffee date). Be Thoughtful about any limitations they do have, but Ask first instead of assuming you know what those are.

    9. Cheshire Cat*

      The biggest way my life is affected is fatigue, which comes and goes unpredictably. It generally starts in the late afternoon, so at least I can still work, but it plays havoc with my social life.

      Reading about spoon theory is essential, and try to be understanding if your friend cancels on you or wants to change plans at the last minute. Going to the movies is often a good plan for me, but there are times when the thought of driving to the theater, finding a parking space, and then walking inside is exhausting.

      If you’re up for it, ask your friend if they need concrete help, especially if fatigue is affecting them. “I’m going to the grocery store after work tomorrow; can I pick up anything for you?” or “Do you want me to scrub your kitchen?” will go over better than a more vague “Let me know if I can do anything.”

      Also, don’t bring up every trendy “remedy” that you hear about for your friend’s condition, or tell them that they can beat the condition if they have a positive attitude. People who say these things are very well-meaning, but it’s exhausting responding to these kinds of statements all the time. I’ve learned to say that “my doctor has it covered, thanks” but even that gets old after awhile.

      Thank you for asking! Best wishes for your friend.

  15. Lucy*

    Just checking in, currently thankful to be in the EU still.

    British politics is currently BEES BEES BEES BEES BEES but hilariously there’s a government radio ad running in every break on the station I listen to, which basically says “got questions about Brexit? Check (government website) for details of how things will change” and I picture a page with just the shrug emoji and the words “your guess is as good as ours”. I think more likely it’s links to all the civil service-produced forecasts and guidance, but it must be very dense with “if”.

    1. LDN Layabout*

      I keep getting texts from Sky News asking me things, including who I’d prefer to be PM.

      None of their provided choices were better than my suggestion of a full bin, set on fire.

    2. WellRed*

      So, is the general consensus that most Brits don’t want to exit? I am having a hard time following with all the Theresa May stuff too.

      1. London Calling*

        Most politicians don’t want to and they are not the slightest bit bothered about what the electorate wants. The lobby fodder is having its 15 minutes of fame and oh boy are they making the most of it. As for May, someone needs to take her on one side and tell her that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

      2. SarahKay*

        At least one problem is that there is no way to know for sure what most Brits want. We had the referendum in June 2016 which came down 48% Remain and 52% Leave, but the Leave campaign has since been shown to have contained significant lies – to the extent that if it’d been a binding referendum (instead of the advisory one it was) the results would have been declared invalid.

        So, 2.75 years ago, by a smallish majority, and based on promises that have been shown to be false, it looks like people wanted to leave the EU.

        The government have refused to hold a second referendum or otherwise try and find out what the majority view genuinely is now.
        Apparently that would be undemocratic, although them voting three times (with a possible fourth time being proposed) on the same issue is entirely democratic /s

        Opinion polls seem to show that views have swung slightly towards Remain – but opinion polls have been notably inaccurate in recent years.

        I suspect the only real consensus at this point is that our Prime Minister is not, whatever she may say, on our side!

        Disclaimer: I am firmly Remain; while I’ve tried to be unbiased with the above information I am not actually a neutral third party.

            1. eleanor rigby*

              They did but last time I checked, Scotland & N Ireland were actual countries which is why I mentioned them in particular because actual countries are being forced to leave the EU despite their citizens voting against such an action

        1. Palmer*

          We voted for Brexit and need to support this because that is democracy. Leave means leave not ‘do over until we get the right result (ie the result elites want)’. You need to support our fishermen and farmers and get on board with reclaiming our sovereignty!

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Forgive me, American here (who does have family there who’d be affected by this), but it’s my understanding that the referendum isn’t actually binding. So if the country is rapidly losing money and jobs, and you’re facing really horrible deals from the Trump administration to get medicines and food far below the standards you have now, how is this a good idea? Not to mention that if they have to be shipped that far, it’s going to cost loads.

            Britain is no longer an empire. You will never get that back. You’ll only be a tiny little naked island in a sea of predators, with nobody to defend you. Oh, and I wouldn’t wish our health insurance on my worst enemy. Good luck with that one. U.S. insurance companies are dying to enter your market and squeeze you for every pound they can. Once they tie it to your employment like it is here, you’re in deep trouble. Need care and don’t have a £200 copay? Sorry, you’re out of luck!

            Stay in and fund your NHS. I really, really, really think crashing out with no deal is going to be horrible for you. The only people it will benefit are the ones who don’t need any benefit.

            1. Foreign Octopus*

              Elizabeth, you have a better understanding of the consequences of Brexit than most sitting MPs.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                I’ve been reading a lot of Carole Cadwalladr’s pieces and watching Mike Galsworthy of Scientists for EU. Mike especially has been good about explaining things as they go so they’re somewhat less baffling.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        I liked this from a couple of weeks ago: https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/politics-podcast-brexits-moment-of-truth-is-approaching/

        Which is an interview with a couple of Brits who do stats-y stuff.

        Basically you know how the polls showed the vote would be close, and then it actually WAS close? Opinion is still fairly evenly divided, with people on each side taking each new development as showing they were right all along. Like people yelling “but more so!!!” ever louder.

      4. Auntie Social*

        Aren’t Brits going to lose a number of doctors/other health care providers?? Will medical care get worse??

        1. SignalLost*

          EVERYTHING will get worse. The UK hasn’t been self sufficient on food since the mid 1800s. A hard Brexit, in particular, is expected to lead to food riots according to the middle of the road scenario developed by the government. A lot of medical professionals are EU nationals, so I expect a number will leave, particularly since the process of being a newly foreign national resident in the U.K. is expensive as well as difficult.

        2. Middle School Teacher*

          I believe they have already. I have a friend who is a nurse there and she was telling me her hospital has lost a fair amount of staff already.

          I usually get emails recruiting me to teach in the UK but they have really ramped up in the last couple of months, so I am inferring teachers are also leaving.

        3. Weegie*

          There’s lots of stuff we’re going to lose, unless we go for a ‘soft’ Brexit, including access to EU regional development funding and research funding, much of it scientific. Oh and scientists.

      5. Lena Clare*

        I think the government took a 3.5% majority as a clear mandate to leave when it was really ‘we don’t know!’
        I have no idea if people still want to leave. Shrugs. (This apathy is the result of fear btw)
        It is bees bees bees indeed.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I think this hits at the heart of the problem–a stark contrast in approaches melded to a system set up so that a slight majority determines which of the two ways you charge. It’s a lot easier to go along with what 80% want than with what 51% want. A shift of a couple of points in public opinion and suddenly you have to charge the opposite way just as hard.

          We don’t seem to have a system that works well with extreme polarization. But we’re getting more polarized anyhow.

    3. Ewesername*

      I feel for you. I work for a Canadian manufacturer. We were running “if they leave ” and “if they don’t leave” export scenarios yesterday.
      We decided the answer was pizza and ordered lunch

      1. Lena Clare*

        I prefer this method of working things out. Is there anything that pizza *doesn’t* solve? XD

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Oh I hadn’t even thought about that. My company has a European division. *A* division, spread out across countries. Many of its offices are in the UK, but org chart runs from there to Belgium and Italy and…

    4. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      The handyman came round this morning to look at the back gate, which needs a bit of repairing after that windstorm two weeks ago.

      Now, he likes a bit of a chat cause hes an old school East End guy and after we caught up about his heart stent, his son’s move to the US, and his new cat, he hauled out with “so what do you think about that Brexit then?” Oh man, what do you do? Hes 55+ white working class – so I rode the line pretty well and explained the issue with the Withdrawl Agreement, the DUP, the economic impact of no deal etc. Turns out he was a Remainer anyway, but all the same I thought it was curious how you have to approach people these days, and also, you can’t just assume things one way or another. Very weird.

      I work with people who have friends at DexEU and it sounds like straight hell over there. Long hours and two teams working on parallel paths on everything, with one of those paths to never actually be used. Nothing like seeing your hard work go up in smoke!

      No one is sure what will happen next in Parliament but there seem to be growing signs of potentially an election coming soon. Or a long delay. But please for the love of god I wish that damn woman would just go!

      1. Palmer*

        You need to stow your bias away. So what if someone is over 55 and white working class. Does that mean your opinion matters only if you are a Remainer? This elitist attitude is EXACTLY why lots of us voted to leave. We want a say in our decisiona rather than leaving them to Brussels types who think only hipster opinions matter.

        1. Middle School Teacher*

          No, it means he was more likely to have voted Leave. Slow your roll, friend.

          1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

            I should have included my two Leaver examples – both white males, under 50, highly educated to post-degree level. One of them voted Leave in order to see chaos and the elitist political establishment blown up and the other voted Leave in order to make a load of cash on his investments by shorting the pound. Both of them have achieved what they wanted their vote to be, without the UK even having to leave the EU. Now, I don’t agree with that level of cynicism, but Leave doesn’t necessarily mean Leave.

      2. London Calling*

        * Oh man, what do you do? Hes 55+ white working class – so I rode the line pretty well and explained the issue with the Withdrawl Agreement, the DUP, the economic impact of no deal etc. Turns out he was a Remainer anyway*

        Oh dear. All those patronising assumptions about class and age and education wasted.

    5. fposte*

      I love the BBC page with the constantly updating flow chart and timeline. It’s been my bible. (Link in followup.)

    6. Tau*

      So much sympathy from over here in Germany. I was living in the UK at the time the vote happened but abandoned ship afterwards (because being an EU citizen in a mostly-British company where about 50% of my coworkers had voted Leave was so not fun. SO not fun.) I’ve been watching the results with some degree of horror ever since.

      Also, I work with some British citizens and it’s been horrible for them. Apparently they’ve been getting letters from the government advising them not to leave the country until it’s clear what’s going to happen.

      1. Sam Sepiol*

        I have a sister living in mainland Europe. I find Brexit embarrassing. I can only imagine what it’s like for her.

        1. Foreign Octopus*

          I think most Europeans are sympathetic towards us as the press in Spain has been kind to the Brits living him but extremely devastating to our government.

          In the event of a no-deal, the Sanchez government has promised that British citizens living in Spain will be allowed to stay and have access to healthcare and the like. They’re protecting us when our government is failing to protect us and Spanish nationals in the UK.

          There’s a lot of generosity here at the moment.

        2. eleanor rigby*

          I do too but it helps I’m Scottish which goes over a bit better than being English. A fine mess we see ourselves in and no conclusion to it either. They’ve had over 2 years and still nothing agreed.

    7. Foreign Octopus*

      As a Brit living in Spain, I feel like I’m living in a constant state of anxiety. I was glued to the vote in the House of Commons on Friday and so relieved that it didn’t pass. As much as I hate to even write these words, Theresa May was right (wait for it) when she said that we’re reaching the end of what we can do in the house. I think the only way the vote is coming back is if the second referendum is added to it and the vote is thrown back to the people. This is what I’m hoping for.

      I don’t actually want a general election for two reasons. 1) it doesn’t matter who’s in power, it’s still going to be awful. 2) the Labour party aren’t any different from the Conservatives at this point (and I’m a lifelong Labour support who’s frustrated as hell with them). Jeremy Corbyn and his Shadow Cabinet have not been an effective opposition to the government over the last two years and I don’t want to see them in power any more than the Conservatives.

      All I want at this stage is the opportunity to vote in a confirmatory referendum now that we have two years worth of facts and the withdrawal agreement to hand so that we can all make a properly informed decision.

      I’m being driven mad by the indescribably selfish and reckless behaviour of our politicians right now.

      And if I hear “will of the people” one more time, I’m going to lose my mind. When have they ever cared about the will of the people except when it directly benefits them.

      Also, if Boris Johnson claws his way to the premiership, I’m going to scream.

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        I dunno, I think Michael Gove could be worse. Jesus that guy is like the epitome of smug self serving backstabber. The worst type too – syncophantic snake lying in the grass. Ugh. Although I did get a kick out of watching him attempt to “jog” on Friday – the Twitter comments were straight hilarious with my favorite along the lines of “Michael Gove jogs like two disjointed buttocks in an unstable tumble dryer”

        But I agree with you- confirmatory second referendum, with the questions PHRASED CORRECTLY this time, and then a PM dedicated to carrying it out without a bunch of this fooling around nonsense and intra-Party messing around. The country will need someone who can bring people together, not divide it further. I’m not sure who that would be, on either side.

        1. Foreign Octopus*

          To be honest, there’s absolutely no one that I can see as PM at this stage in the game. All of the main players are self-serving aggrandisers who should not be allowed any near the houses of power, and this goes for both sides of the house.

          The Guardian podcast suggested Keir Stamer for Labour as they say he’s the only grown up in the room at the moment but I don’t know enough about him.

          The problem is that the Conservatives are too far to the right and Labour are too far to the left. I have hopes for the Independent Group but there’s not a chance they can effect change so early on.

          (Also, Gove makes me want to take a shower every time I see him. Him and BoJo are just awful).

      2. Sam Sepiol*

        The only Tory politician that I can imagine not making me want to scream and bring me out in hives as leader would be Ken Clarke and I don’t think he’s up for it.

        1. Marion Ravenwood*

          My husband put a £5 bet on Sajid Javid becoming the next Tory leader a couple of years ago. I think that’s looking increasingly likely.

      3. EvilQueenRegina*

        I totally agree with you. I feel at this point like the only way we’re going to get anywhere now is if we do put it back to the people.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      Sending all the good vibes I can spare, since I need some too for our sh*tshow of a government. Worrying about both of us for three years solid has been nothing short of exhausting.

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ (vibes)

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        Removed because of the ban on U.S. politics here. (We can have one on British politics too if y’all find that as exhausting and stressful, which I note only because I’m removing this on a page full of comments on British politics and I wanted to explain the discrepancy.) – Alison

        1. Lena Clare*

          I definitely do find it exhausting and stressful and would be happy for a ban on British politics.

        2. Foreign Octopus*

          I’m so sorry, Alison. I didn’t realize there was a ban on US politics. Won’t happen again!

        3. Falling Diphthong*

          Free speech means you can stand on a street corner and orate; it doesn’t mean other people have to publish your stuff to the broader audience they can draw.

        4. Book Lover*

          Omg, yes, a ban on talking about brexit sounds delightful. Given that I have family visiting who aren’t sure they will be able to return home, the last thing I need is to spend more time thinking about brexit. Especially given that certain responses make my brain want to blow up and try to decide whether I am just being trolled.

        5. Sam Sepiol*

          I would prefer to be able to talk about it here; however I totally understand if you want to ban it. For a long time I presumed it was banned in with the US politics ban

    9. Sam Sepiol*

      I am so scared.
      I’m scared we’ll run out of food.
      I’m scared we’ll run out of medicine.
      I’m scared for the NHS.
      I’m scared that whatever happens we’ll end up with civil unrest.
      I’m scared of all the unforeseen consequences that even the best predictions haven’t thought of.
      I’m scared, because there is not one single politician I can name who a) has a cat in hell’s chance of getting in and b) I could imagine unpicking this utter disaster.
      I am ashamed of my country: not the normal people who voted, but the people who lied to them and brought this disaster down on us.
      And I cannot see a good way of this ending.
      And I cannot leave the country because no way would my ex agree to me taking the kid.
      And I can’t let myself think about it for too long because my anxiety is bad enough without that.

      If anyone has any calming thoughts please share??

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        Life went on in Czarist Russia, Communist China, Depression-, WWII- and McCarthy-era USA…not to mention the colonization of large parts of the world beyond Europe and the U.S. And also during the Middle Ages and the French Revolution and the medieval Crusades and the bubonic plague, to list a few random specimens from the grab-bag of history. In all these situations, family and individual lives continued. It was not necessarily a wonderful experience for all concerned but humanity as a species is fairly resilient.

        As NotSo NewReader (not sure I’m spelling her name correctly) says, we can always be kind to each other. It won’t span every last ideological chasm, but it makes a good start. We can have peace in our homes and small communities and hope to spread it further.

      2. Koala dreams*

        Well, there is a whole world out there beyond the EU, with food and medicine and other things. Also, just because you can’t buy things duty free, it doesn’t mean you won’t be able to buy them any more, just that they will be more expensive and have to go through customs. After all, most of the world is not in the EU yet manage to do international trade all the same. I hope that helps a little.

        1. Observer*

          You’re being awfully dismissive here and it’s both not fact based and it ignores what SamSepiol says.

          Sure, there is a world outside of the UK – but they have a kid who they would have to leave behind! If you don’t understand why that’s a HUGE barrier – and something that would worry them even if they DID leave, then there’s not much to say that would be appropriate in a forum like this.

          Also, there is actually a significant chance that some things actually will not be available. I’ve been following Brexit primarily from the economic POV, and there are some very real issues here that need to be acknowledged which ever side of the political issue you find yourself. In fact that’s one complaint seems to unify people on both sides of the issue- NO planning seems to have been done by the government to deal with the very real issues that one can expect with a situation like this.

          And even for stuff that will still be available, but more expensive. In some case, it’s not that big of a deal – I’m not going have too much sympathy for the person who is crying over tulips being too expensive. But what happens if these price hikes mean that you have to choose between your medication and full meals for your family? These are not scare-monger questions. As others have noted, the UK imports a lot of its food – and a lot of the is staples not luxury items. That’s not something to wave of will a “so, it will be a bit more expensive.”

          1. Sam Sepiol*

            Thank you.
            I’ve got a friend who is insulin dependent. I’m terrified she won’t be able to get her meds. And she doesn’t have enough money to get them privately, if that’s even possible.

          2. Jean (just Jean)*

            Sorry! I truly did not mean to be dismissive and I apologize to you and to Sam Sepiol for seeming to appear so.

            Observer, Thank you for your explanations. They help me better understand a complicated situation. I probably should have remained silent. I do hope that the UK is able to find some resolution that does not increase suffering for the non-wealthy majority of its citizens & residents, whether that means a miraculous Brexit deal or a somewhat embarassing “never mind, we’ll stay in the EU” or some not-yet-revealed third option. Certainly better minds than mine have stumbled on this issue.

            (Reason I am ill-informed re Brexit & other overseas matters: Due to my spouse’s ongoing illness & fatigue beyond workplace hours I am currently spending most of my own non-workplace time and energy in keeping our household out of complete filth, chaos, and malnutrition. Something has to be designated as important, but not essential to maintaining a functioning home & family.)

            1. Sam Sepiol*

              You don’t have to apologise for not keeping track of Brexit. Believe me, I wish I didn’t know as much as I do. Basically the UK is a shitshow right now.

              It’s horrendous because this is self inflicted.

              I am genuinely scared that I won’t be able to look after my child, and there was just no need for this to happen.

          3. Koala dreams*

            I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be dismissive, I just hoped to find a brighter side. Being scared all the time is awful, and nothing gets better by it, you are just exhausted and in a worse position to deal with the bad things when they finally arrive, in my experience. I just don’t see the point of comparing leaving the EU with medieval Europe or a horrible plague.

    10. Lucy*

      Hello again everyone.

      At the moment I think it’s the uncertainty that’s the most damaging – as other posters pointed out, there is no meaningful majority for any particular way out of the current dealings. Nobody knows what will happen; nobody is happy; too many people are getting upset by other people’s predictions (either because they think them true or because they think them false).

      And it’s very uncertain that those in charge are acting in the interests of the country rather than their own investments, legacy, etc, which only adds to the uncertainty.

      A ban on Brexit discussions would reduce confrontation in the comments, but we may need to refer to Uncertainty or something if we’re worrying about the current low stock of medicine (etc).

  16. Free Meerkats*

    Sorry, one of the replies to this has already been more graphic than I’m comfortable having here, so I’m removing this! – Alison

    1. Aurora Leigh*

      Bf and I had been dating about 2 months when he adopted a tiny abandoned kitten.

      We left the little kitty on the couch and proceeded to the bedroom. We were just getting started when he heard a small noise and left quickly . . . . he came back in a couple minutes confessing he was terrified the kitten fell off the couch and hurt herself, but she was still sleeping. “I guess I’m a nervous new dad,” he said.

      Readers, I knew then he was a keeper! We now have 3 adult cats and a large dog, so we don’t worry about noises in the other room anymore.

  17. Justin*

    I posted last week I had a stats midterm in my doctoral program and I was nervous.

    Well, grades are pending but I did fine. I still don’t much enjoy the subject but that was the final barrier between me and the full belief that I am really going to kick more butt at this degree than all of my (excessive) schooling up to now. In other words, in academic terms, I may have finally conquered my lifelong impostor syndrome borne of being a black kid in very exclusive environments.

    So I got that going for me, which is nice.

  18. Valancy Snaith*

    I know there are a few of you also doing IVF out there. Yesterday I was set for my final frozen embryo transfer of this round and I was almost to the clinic when they called to inform me the embryo had died in the thaw. So I can’t say it’s a great weekend here.

    1. Forgotit*

      How wretched. I am so, so sorry. (Can’t remember username I posted under previously but I have been cheering you on for a while now. ). What a sad and sucky situation. I am sending supportive thoughts your way.

    2. LibbyG*

      I’m so terribly sorry! This is one of the things that most people don’t understand about reproductive medicine — how often the process goes sideways. My warmest wishesas you cope with this terrible setback!

  19. Kali*

    I have just learned that it is not normal to have 2-3 headaches a week, and I am honestly shook. It’s been going on for 20 years, and I’ve just been assuming that it’s normal and everyone is powering through. Plus, I get migraines, so tension headaches that range from a 1-4 on the ?/10 pain scale don’t seem so bad. Still, I finally saw a doctor about it when I had a headache for 6 weeks straight, and now I have a diagnosis and a prescription! :D

    1. LCL*

      Hooray for diagnosis and medicine. A 6 week headache sounds undendurable. I’m glad the doctor has found something for you.

    2. Stargoyle*

      That same sort of thing happened to me! I thought 3-4 nauseous, day-ruining headaches a week was just business as usual. I was maybe 21 when a new doctor went, “Wait, don’t you have cerebral palsy? You know, that can cause tightened muscles, which can cause headaches.” Turns out my neck was betraying me all along, and muscles relaxers have me pretty well right as rain!

      1. Kali*

        I don’t have cerebral palsy, but my diagnosis turned out to be chronic tension headaches, and they do tend to correlate with a stiff neck. I’m trying to stretch it out more, along with the prescribed amitriptyline.

    3. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      I was getting tension headaches and migraines too. I got sent to physical therapy to get my neck sorted out, and my physical therapist took one look at my posture and said, “Your posture has your neck sticking out too far forward from neutral, I bet you’re getting headaches towards the end of the day across your forehead, correct?” Yup, that was it.

      She recommended a referred pain smartphone app, it shows you which muscle issues trigger pain in other parts of the body, so you know which one to fix. The information’s been really helpful.

    4. MRK*

      I feel like it becomes a terrible sort of normal after a while. Fundamentally I know numerous headaches a week isn’t great but when it’s those low grade ones I feel… silly complaining? I have one right now at work and it’s just ehhhh. But yay diagnosis and meds (I don’t leave my house without my migraine meds on me anymore)

    5. CoffeeforLife*

      Maybe 8 years ago I went for my yearly and mentioned that I get frequent headaches/migraines and my doctor goes, “oh that’s normal” and walked out.

    6. Arts Akimbo*

      Ugh, I’m so sorry Kali!! And equal parts glad you got help for it! For a while my spouse was pretty much constantly in the aura of a migraine or having a migraine– it went on for like two years! The thing that finally helped him was beta blockers. It can be so crazy trying to find the thing that brings relief!

    7. Rach*

      It’s so weird how things can quickly become normal to you – 2-3 headaches a week is definitely my normal! I’d just written myself off as a headachey person and accepted that I’ll often end the work day with a bad headache but everyone’s comments here are making me think it might be worth mentioning to a Dr at some point…

      1. Kali*

        For me, it turned out to be chronic tension headaches, and the treatment is a daily dose of amitriptyline for 4-6 months. I also get migraines (approx 2-3 a year), so I guess that helped in just ignoring the milder, more frequent ones. I did some googling (because, tbh, when it went on for 6 weeks straight, I started to worry I had a brain tumour) and other things that came up were things like migraine and chronic cluster headaches, both of which are more painful.

  20. infopubs*

    I have a healthy but elderly cat that is driving me nuts. She meows constantly starting around 6am, even though she doesn’t “need” anything. We don’t feed her in the morning or otherwise do anything she looks forward to, other than getting out of bed. We double check her water, litterbox, bed, etc. and nothing seems amiss. I’m thinking it might just be a bit of kitty dementia. I try to ignore her, but the sound of cat crying pierces right through even the best earplugs! I guess I’m just looking for sympathy from others with whiny elderly cats. At age 18, this cat’s cries won’t plague me for much longer :(

    1. ATX Language Learner*

      Have you tried CBD? She sounds uncomfortable and it might help relax her in her last years/months/days. It’s done wonders for my dog!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      What time do you usually get up most days?

      A friend gave me her cat because it was not doing well with her dogs. I knew what time my friend got up every morning because the cat was up at that time each day. Finally the cat reset her clock and started sleeping longer like we did.
      Have you tried putting on some music for her to see if just the additional noise makes her feel like activity is going on?

    3. tangerineRose*

      Have you brought this up with your vet? I’ve heard that excess vocalization can indicate a thyroid problem. I’ve got a kitty with a thyroid problem, and putting the meds into Pill Pockets has worked great so far! (Fingers crossed.)

    4. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I deal with this in my almost 20 yo cat. There’s a lot of things that can cause it – decreased hearing, vision issues, confusion, are the ones I know. I will often pick mine up and put her on the bed with me. Frequently that will settle her down so everyone can go back to sleep, so I think there’s an element of “lost/scared” for mine at least.

    5. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Mine (also 18) starts around 4:00, so I feel your pain. Has she been checked for high blood pressure? That can also cause excessive meowing. Mine really just wants someone to get up so she can sneak into the warm spot on the bed.

    6. Animal worker*

      Second tangerineRose, and suggest a vet visit. I know you say she’s healthy, but at this age there can be a lot of things that could affect her quality of life. I work in a zoo and this type of behavior is frequently indicative of something causing discomfort or pain, so get her checked out to see if she needs some type of meds to help her deal with age-related problems, if there are any. At least you’ll be able to rule it out if she comes back healthy after an updated exam.

    7. LuJessMin*

      OMG, I was going to post the same thing about my 16-year-old girl kitty. She’s always had a loud meow for such a small girl (about 8 lbs), but lately the howling in the early morning hours have gotten louder. I’ve wondered if maybe her hearing was going, or if maybe she has dementia. I think she forgets where she is, or can’t find me, and so she howls because she’s scared.

      1. Kuododi*

        I had something similar with my dear silver tabby. She went to the Rainbow Bridge age 15. Her last few days with us, all she would do was sit in the corner of the bedroom howling. She was always an irritable cat but she was simply elderly, miserable and cranky. We talked to her vet and made the decision to let her go. Vet sd it was the right decision for her, and he would have done the same thing for his cat. I miss her even today. :(

    8. just a random teacher*

      Our elderly dog was much happier at night once we started confining her to a smaller area during that time. She used to have the run of most of a floor of the house, and would wander around “on patrol”, bark at her reflection in windows, and generally Not Sleep and Make Noise. Now, she’s confined to just the kitchen (where her food and water are), and she’ll settle down and go to sleep since there’s nothing else she’s “supposed to be doing” and a limited space and set of choices seems to help her settle down. (Sometimes she’ll sleep in her bed, and sometimes she’d rather be on the floor in front of the refrigerator so she’ll be certain to know if anyone is getting a snack. Whatever, dog, you can make your own choices on that one.) I’m not sure if cats are similar, but I’ve known several people with dogs where this sort of thing seemed to help.

    9. pcake*

      I definitely sympathize! It’s so hard on us as they age. I work at home, and sometimes HK will keep meowing at me so I can’t focus. He woke me up every two hours last night, and I finally gave up on sleep and got up.

      Have you had your cat’s thyroid and kidneys checked? Our 20 year old cat has kidney disease, and it causes more stomach acid; vets say that 75% or more of older cats will end up with kidney disease, btw. He also has hyperthyroidism, and before that was being treated, he lost weight but also meowed most of the time. Has your vet checked your cat’s joints to see if she has arthritis? The pain could be causing the meowing, and Cosequin was an inexpensive fix for us. There are also things like IBS, that can also cause pain. I know a couple people whose cats were going blind who meowed all the time.

      Taking care of an aging family member is a lot easier when they can tell you what’s wrong rather than having to figure it out! Unfortunately for us humans with aging cats, “Meow” doesn’t give us enough information.

      Good luck with your cat!

    10. Jaid*

      My 19 year old girl meows when she wants me to watch her eat and drink. Seriously, she meows loudly until I leave whatever I’m doing and follow her to her food or water dish.


    11. Quandong*

      Another recommendation to consult with your vet about this, especially if you haven’t done so recently. My cat developed arthritis around 10 years of age, and the early signs were not particularly noticeable. His behaviours due to pain that I recognize in hindsight included more bids for attention and comfort, and wanting me do to *something* that wasn’t obvious (i.e. food, water, and toys were available, he had many pats and cuddles, and I wasn’t sitting on his designated spot at the wrong time).

    12. Double A*

      The recommendations about the vet are good. If everything else checks out you could ask your vet about some kitty Prozac. Sometimes they just get anxious about something and a round of antidepressants can help reset them. My cat had licked off all the fur on her back legs after my other cat died, and a couple of months on antidepressants basically calmed her down and when she went off them (because she figured out they were hidden in the pill pockets in her food) she was back to normal.

    13. Cheshire Cat*

      My elderly cat (who has since crossed the rainbow bridge) started doing this around the time she was going deaf. She couldn’t hear me anymore and felt abandoned. She would also start meowing if she had been sleeping in the bedroom & I was in the living room reading or watching TV. Apparently she could feel the vibrations in the floor if I was moving around & that helped her to know where I was.

  21. Ewesername*

    Any one dealing with an aging Grandparent/parent/family member on their own?
    My 90ish grandparent has been in the hospital for a few weeks and I’m the only family member in this city. Had a few come in for a week or so, then they gof and it’s just me again. I work full time and feel horribly guilty if I don’t go see them everyday. (Deaf – can’t call). She’s an hour one way from work /home so I’m finding that I’m gone from 5:30 am to 8 pm everyday which means I’m toast when I get home. Basically my days are work, hospital, eat something fast, fall into bed, repeat. I’m single, so there’s no one else here to do the house work.
    Whiney. Sorry.
    Long story short- I’m struggling to find some balance. Suggestions?

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Give yourself permission to visit every other day. Or twice a week.

      What needs to be done at their house, and could you hire someone to do it? This is a way the more distant relatives could tangibly help.

    2. Notthemomma*

      If you can, hire someone to come do your laundry and basic shopping/cleaning. It’s tough to power through all the demands on your time, but if you can power though it will be worth it as you won’t have the regrets of ‘i Should have.’ Also, look into FMLA and loop in the powers at your job to see if you could arrange some flexibility. I am guessing that your visits are the only bright spots to their day. As hard as it is, what you are doing for them is amazingly important. <>

      1. Ewesername*

        I ordered my groceries online last night, which has bought me a little bit of extra time today. I’m leery about the vegetables- I like to poke them myself.
        Work knows. We’re in the midst of a particularlyrics busy bit that should end in week or so. (Inventory. Yay. ) once that’s over we’re going to discuss changing my hours and possibly taking a bit of leave.

      2. Not A Manager*

        I understand that this comment comes from a good place, but I strongly disagree with “powering through so you won’t have regrets.” As someone who cared for an acutely ill family member for two (separate) one-year stints, you simply can’t push yourself to an extreme for more than a few weeks. OP is away from home from 5:30-8 every weekday; goodness knows when they are actually waking up and going to sleep.

        If the grandmother has a reasonable prognosis to be out of the hospital and back at her residence VERY soon, then sure, keep pushing. But if, as seems likely, she will be in the hospital/in skilled nursing/etc. for the foreseeable future, then OP needs to find a more workable system. And I’m sure that a loving grandparent would agree with this.

        First, can absent family help offset some costs so that OP can spend more time with Grandma and less time on household stuff? This will vary by family, but in SOME families, the absent members will be beside themselves wanting to be useful. Maybe they would be happy to have the opportunity to send OP some groceries or prepared food, or to arrange a cleaning service, so that OP can spend more time caring for their relative.

        Second, the suggestion below to loop in any local community that the grandmother or the OP belong to, is a great idea. Church/community of worship, volunteers at the hospital, any of the grandmother’s friends who are able to visit – OP should really reach out to all of these people.

        Finally, OP needs to accept that you just can’t do everything for an ill loved one that you want to do, or that they might wish you could do. You need to set boundaries to keep yourself sane and safe.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Does she have a church or other group of friends that would help you check in?
      Can you ask at the hospital for a volunteer to stop in her room? My father had volunteers visiting him because they all knew it was just me going to see him.
      If she is a person who has religious beliefs maybe you can ask for a chaplain to visit periodically.

      Is there someone at the hospital who can text you her status from time to time?

      1. Ewesername*

        I have checked with the hospital – the volunteers will visit! Thank you! I had no idea they’d do that!

        1. Owler*

          Also, ask at the senior residence if they can help any of her friends visit her while she’s in hospital. My mom’s residence has a shuttle, and she visits friends occasionally when they are recovering elsewhere.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Also is it possible to get you & her connected by videochat for ASL conversation?

  22. AlligatorSky*

    Well this is my last weekend as a 24 year old. I don’t wanna turn 25! Mainly for the purely selfish reason that I can’t use my 15-25 half price card at my favourite cinema anymore. I just really love films!!

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      … but now you can rent cars?

      (Admittedly, car rental is not that exciting… but now also not prohibitively expensive when not on a corporate account!)

    2. Aurora Leigh*

      Seems to me that card should be good until you’re 26?

      But I remember that feeling — mostly because my mom told me I was in my late 20s now. I’ll be turning 28 in a couple months — it’s still fun, I assure you! :)

      1. AlligatorSky*

        Unfortunately the card runs out the day before your 25th birthday, so my card expires on Wednesday. I asked them about it and they say it can’t be used once you turn 25. Odd concept!

      1. AlligatorSky*

        Sadly yes. The rules are that you can use it from the day you turn 16, until the day before your 25th birthday. I’m so confused as to why it’s a ’25’ card, yet you can’t use it once you turn 25. My card on my online account shows the expiration date, so I can’t even be sneaky and buy tickets online. (Not that I would do that!!).

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Happy birthday?
      Hopefully that means 15-25 inclusively and you still have one more year. Can you call and ask?

      1. AlligatorSky*

        I sent them a DM asking them to confirm when it expires. Unfortunately once you turn 25 it can’t be used anymore. I find that odd, but I didn’t wanna argue with them. I’m sad, not gonna lie, haha.

    4. Eleanor Shellstrop*

      Hey, same here! I also have mixed feelings about turning 25. A few years ago I confessed to a family friend that I didn’t have any idea what I wanted to do with my life and she said “Don’t worry, I didn’t really have my shit together until I was 25!” And of course 25 seemed sooo far away at the time….little did I know I still would have no idea what I was doing ;)

  23. Notthemomma*

    It’s 33 •F, my windows are open and I am CLEANING HOUSE. Full on vacuuming, dusting, laundry and even-gasp- in my hands and knees floor scrubbing. Getting rid of all the winter blahs and ready to welcome spring. Hope whatever you do today, you are as productive or non-productive as you want to be!

    1. Reba*

      Thanks for the inspiration!

      I need to clean my home….I WANT to clean my home…. yet I am still on the couch.

    2. Wishing You Well*

      How is it that the Spring sun highlights every speck of dust and crumb in the house!?
      *sigh* At least I don’t have to wash and stretch-dry lace curtains like Gran did…

    3. Elizabeth West*

      It is FREEZING today. And wet. I’m on the sofa under the blanket. After this cold front leaves, it’ll be warmer again. I recently started walks again so will be able to get back out.

    4. Teach*

      It was sunny but chilly – my 15 year old son and I tackled his bedroom! It is so clean and fresh-smelling. Carpet is clean, trash is all out, chargers are matched up with their items. Nothing under the bed, all the drawers wiped out, and outgrown clothes boxed up for donation. We celebrated with a trip to check out some sales and lunch together.

  24. Smol Book Wizard*

    (AAM lurker lured out of hiding by a fandom post above realizes that this could be a useful opportunity to get information…)
    Does anyone have any advice they’re okay with sharing about autism assessments/diagnosis for adults? What is the process? Is there even a process? Are there any signs I should look for that a provider actually has experience with autism in young adult females? I’ve already gotten one “you can’t have autism” from a very helpful psychiatry student clinic whose understanding of the matter seemed less than comprehensive. Also, how much expectation/requirement of parental input is there? My folk are not particularly into the idea but if need be I can try to address the topic again with them.

    1. Lilysparrow*

      I don’t know about autism diagnosis, but about age – if you are over the age of medical consent in your state (here it’s age 14), then you and only you get to decide how much knowledge or input your parents have in your medical treatment.

      If you are on their insurance, they will get explanation of benefits forms, but that’s it.

      Of course, if the treatment or doctor visits require copays or deductables, that may be something you’d need to work out responsibility for.

    2. Definitely a Real Cat*

      Lured out by same, lured out again by yours. I can only suggest looking carefully at providers’ websites—ideally they mention the specialties of each member of the practice. If you’re a legal adult, parents are not involved. (Late 20-something woman here, discovered Aspergers at 17)

    3. Tau*

      This is probably gonna be super dependent on what resources are available where you are. I got diagnosed through a clinic attached to an autism research centre which specialised in adults – massively convenient, but only open to residents of the surrounding county (which thankfully I was at the time). Parental input was required, which was pretty awkward for me as I hadn’t actually been planning on informing my parents at all, but they did come round. Apparently there were possible workarounds if you genuinely couldn’t get your parents on board, but they required so much material on your childhood years that in practice I needed my parents for those anyway. Other places may not have that requirement!

      My main recommendation is that you should try to find someone with experience diagnosing adults if you can. Mostly autism is diagnosed in childhood, and there’s such a huge difference in symptom presentation between kids and adults. I’d also try to find an autism specialist vs a general psychiatrist, because you really don’t want anyone with a simplified understanding of what autism looks like. I know, all easier said than done…

    4. Not sold on that result*

      I don’t think what I ended up doing worked particularly well, but what I did (about 5 years ago) was call my insurance company and ask them what their process was. After a bunch of insurance company musical hold and hoop-jumping, they eventually concluded that I could go see some specific neuropsych (I don’t think I was given a choice about which one), and after a bunch of testing he told me that I “couldn’t be autistic because I’d held down a job for even a little while” and also diagnosed me as bipolar even though I wasn’t able to figure out my historical moods well enough to even turn in one of the main diagnostic tools he used for that. He also thought that I was unaware of surrounding temperatures or seasons because I always wore a long-sleeved shirt and broad-brimmed hat even though it was warm out, and never once asked me why. I don’t know what diagnosis he thought that was a part of.

      My primary care physician, who I miss dearly now that she has retired, thought all of that was pretty much unalloyed crap (she knew I wore a long-sleeved UV shirt and broad brimmed hat all summer because of a family history of skin cancer, and that both of them were specially purchased warm-weather clothing pieces I was wearing for perfectly sensible health reasons, and I think the fact that he never once asked me about *why* I was wearing something before judging it didn’t sit well with her), so I just kind of left it there. She offered to let me try the common meds for bipolar to see if they’d help, and I decided I wasn’t going to take those kinds of meds on the advice of someone who thought sunhats and UV shirts were cold weather gear.

      I’ve debated trying the whole thing again with a different specialist, but I don’t want to be seen as diagnosis-shopping.

      In the meantime, I accidentally managed to find a stable job with the most tolerant boss ever, which has solved some but not all of of the problems I was hoping a diagnosis might help me with. (The good news: she tolerates my faults and quirks, and I probably won’t ever get fired for them, or even put on a PIP. The bad news: she tolerates all of my co-workers’ faults and quirks, and they probably won’t ever get fired for them, or even put on a PIP.)

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I just this morning started reading “Autism in Heels,” about women on the spectrum. I don’t know anything about diagnosis processes, I haven’t decided to look into it yet, but it’s an interesting read so far.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        As I get further in, I am rescinding my rec somewhat. The author seems to be positing that while women on the spectrum should not be lumped in with the male monolith, she’s perfectly happy to create her own female monolith instead, which wildly does not jive with my own experience. So if you do check it out, bring a salt shaker.

    6. only acting normal*

      You need someone expert in diagnosis of both adults and women. It’s done by psychologists not psychiatrists. They will usually ask you to do a few preliminary questionnaires including the AQ scale and an EQ scale. Then for the more detailed evidence gathering you’ll do a self assessment and they’ll ask for a parent’s/guardian’s/sibling’s recollection of you in childhood. Obviously not all adults have a living parent so an expert in *adult* diagnosis should be able to cope without that. Last you do an in-person interview assessment.
      For finding a suitable expert – I suggest looking at autism charity websites (NOT Autism Speaks obviously, maybe one geared to adults/women. E.g. In the UK the National Autistic Society has a searchable directory of services.)

      Anyone can do the AQ scale online e.g. here:
      IIRC 26 is the usual cut off for further assessment. For comparison I score 38 (and I’ve always held down a job – that stereotype is so much BS).
      I also score low on the EQ test *for a woman, who usually score higher than men* – hence the need for an expert in female presentation of autism.

      In prep for my self-assessment I read Sarah Hendrickx book “Women and Girls with Autism Spectrum Disorder” and every time something in the book sparked a personal recollection I jotted it down.

      1. Slartibartfast*

        At what point in life does a diagnosis become academic? I’m 45 and suspect strongly I’m on the spectrum, but is there a point in seeking diagnosis beyond being able to say “I told you so”?

        1. only acting normal*

          Well, I was 40 and got assessed because of work changing from assigned desks to hot desking – I needed something formal for the accommodation of my own desk.
          So, yes, it’s academic until you need support related to autism.

      2. Smol Book Wizard*

        Thanks for the advice!
        The AQ and I have had a few times around the block together. I used to answer it very differently until my therapist said, “Don’t think about parties with a very specific group of people you like – think about Parties in General” and things like that… I was ridiculously blessed in my undergraduate years and so parties and social occasions actually worked much better for me then. Now I tend to talk with a few people, hang out with the cats or dogs, and leave early ;)
        I like that idea about reading a book and jotting ideas down. I feel like that’s how I’ve accumulated most of my knowledge since the idea was first suggested to me by my therapist… since then I’ve been reading those memoirs and informal checklists and going “…oh” now and again…

      3. Smol Book Wizard*

        I like that idea of noting down relatable points from memoirs/articles. Ever since my therapist originally suggested the diagnosis, I’ve been getting most of my information and evidence from reading things and going “…oh” now and again. I had an odd moment where I read the descriptions of some of the earliest folk diagnosed with Aspergers and I nearly cried because one of the quotes sounded so much like something I would have said.

    7. MatKnifeNinja*

      It really depends were you live.

      I live in Metro Detroit. It took my cousin $2.5K to get the gold standard testing, paid out of pocket for getting a diagnosis of ASD. He was 50 at the time. Insurance would pay NOTHING.

      He did this because he was in the middle of a law suit, and having the diagnosis made the difference of him winning it.

      His provider REQUIRED his parents input, because Autism is considered a developmental disorder that is present at birth. We all got a questionnaire to fill out. Some providers will wave this if you have a past history of special education, 504 plans or IEPs.

      My cousin bucks it up pretty well to “pass”. When he is stressed, it all goes away, and people think he’s high or mentally ill. So I’m not surprised you hear people say you can’t have ASD, “if your aren’t stimming and screaming”.

      As for finding someone who works with diagnosing young women. Good luck. Young usually means under 18. So the bulk of the providers by me only work with minors. Your best bet is word of mouth. We found my cousin’s provider from a suggestion at a ASD parental support group. It seems people on the East Coaster seem to have better luck finding a provider who “specialized with Level III Autism in women” (was Aspergers). By me, we are lucky to find people who will diagnose adults.

      My cousin thinks the diagnosis was a waste. He can’t get any more help than he would for a diagnosis of depression/OCD/SAD/GAD. He really needs speech therapy and OT. If he was a child, he would get these tailored to help with his ASD. No providers will do it even if you pay out of pocket around here. His medical doctors sort of eye roll his diagnosis. His parents don’t believe it, and his sibs think it’s white washing all his horrible behavior growing up. He was very aggressive towards them.

      But…you are younger than him, and his testing was 8 years ago. I would get word of mouth suggestions or call you state Autism society for providers. You may not even need to include your parents in the mix.

      My cousin hates the diagnosis, but also sees it as a verification that he isn’t a horrible human. He carries a lot of shame for past stuff (behaviors). People have all sorts of different feelings after diagnosis. It ranges from happy, relief to anger.

      I see nothing wrong exploring getting tested. Good luck!

      1. Slartibartfast*

        I didn’t see this until I refreshed after posting, but it was helpful. Thank you.

      2. Thursday Next*

        Seconding that the need for parental involvement in the diagnostic process is that the provider will have to collect information about early childhood development.

        I don’t know what kind of resources are available to you, but if possible, I’d recommend finding a neuropsychologist with experience in evaluating adults.

      3. Smol Book Wizard*

        Thank you! I appreciate the information and help. I’ll definitely have to see about that “Level III Autism” terminology. I’ve done a little looking around through the Autism Society and *might* have a lead on a specialist… we will see.

    8. LGC*

      So…I’d definitely say that you should look for providers that specialize in autism services. I use one, and have been there since my mid 20s (I’m in my mid 30s now which is horrifying to me). Especially since you’re female – the stereotype is that autism is a Boy Thing, and while that’s partly true (the majority of my support group is men)…it’s far from the entire truth! (I didn’t say it was ONLY men.)

      I was diagnosed with an autistic spectrum disorder young, but I was re-evaluated as an adult about 10 to 15 years ago (when I was in a rough spot). I think that a lot of it was questioning about my life experiences and such. You certainly don’t need to involve your parents if you don’t want to – my mom was pretty in charge of my autism as a kid, but I think the bulk of her involvement as an adult was digging up my old paperwork.

      (Dating myself here, but I think my diagnosis goes back to the late 80s. Which, in ASD time, is an eternity.)

  25. Coffeepots Anonymous*

    Quick question: Any advice for achieving some sort of a social/personal life when The Place We Don’t Talk About Here consumes your whole life, and isn’t going to change?

    I’m posting this on Sat. & not Fri. as I’m seeing recommendations on the personal life side — the work one is a given, at least for now. Normally, if someone asked me for advice on how to make friends as a middle-aged adult, I’d have several ideas: go to Meetups, join a book club/ softball league/ theater troupe/ other interest-based activity, volunteer for a cause you believe in, etc. Unfortunately, I work a travel-based job, have been on projects on the other coast (US) for the past 4 years (think Southeast to Northwest or Southwest to Northeast), AND don’t live near a major airport … so I’m away from Sunday afternoon until late Thursday night, almost every week. (I’m home about 1 week every 2 months.) I don’t want to derail this with talk about finding a new job; I like the work and make at least 2x what I would in a similar non-travel job (which isn’t an option financially). I also can’t up and move to, say, Chicago or Minneapolis or Dallas to avoid the long distance flights (partner’s job + key benefits + paid-off mortgage).

    So what would you do, AaMers? How do you make friends and build a social community when you’re only home/in town 2 days a week?

    1. Karen from Finance*

      Online communities would be my best bet. Find groups online for people with your shared interests *in your city*, that way you can connect with new people while you’re away and arrange meetups scheduled on the days that you’re home.

      1. Beatrice*

        To add to this – one option might be to look for online games with a social interaction component, where you can talk to and get to know other people. It takes a while, and generally you have to deal with a bunch of aggravating kids, but with patience, I’ve accumulated a set of online friends in their late twenties to fifties. Your interaction would be the same whether you’re on the road or at home, so your travel wouldn’t really affect the friendship. It’s not quite the same as in-person friendships, but I have barriers that limit my real-life social circle, and my online friendships really take the edge off.

    2. Dan*

      If I were being a funny guy, I’d write “go to meetups, join a book club/softball league/theater troupe…” that meets on weekends. (I’d italicize the later part but don’t know how to do it.)

      The best I can do is offer commiseration. For a few years while I was trying to figure out life, I had a 9-5 job (midnight shift) with Mondays and Tuesdays off. That’s about the worst thing you can do to try and have a social life — I could never get anybody to hang out with me on Tuesday at 4am, which was the middle of my weekend and I was wide awake. Plus, that job had strict rules about drinking *anything* before work, so going to happy hour “with the guys” wasn’t really an option. And going to the bar at 5am is depressing, I did that once with my boss when I quit that job.

      While I have a “normal” office job now, my industry is rife with non-standard work hours. Lots of people end up partnering with those in the industry for that reason.

      Although all that said, lots of people sort of have the same kind of constraint that you do… depending on how weekday schedules shape up, lots of people are so danged busy with “life” during the week, that they have no time for fun. If you’re home on the weekends, you should be able to find *something* involving other people to keep busy.

      1. Overeducated*

        I second that this is maybe a surprisingly common problem for different reasons. I don’t socialize on weeknights due to childcare pickup ruling out happy hours downtown and my friends living all over a metro area that can take a long time to get across. I find people’s weekends fill up fast so I have to aggressively plan a month or two ahead to have any social life at all – that’s my recommendation.

    3. anonagain*

      Do you like running at all? If you do, you could probably do a once a week run with a group at home, find an online running community, and occasionally run with people in the cities where you get sent for work (possibly even people you know from the online community).

      I also know that Masters swim clubs usually allow visitors from other clubs. I’m sure lots of other interests and hobbies could allow for this kind of arrangement.

    4. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      For 7 years I commuted to the (same) city 2.5 hours each way from my house. Finally got a room/ studio apartment there, but maybe some of these ideas work.
      Basically, looking around at an area of interest (knitting classes and meetups are a future item on my list – I want to learn). I have a friend who takes quilting classes. It’s not a long-term social improvement in her life- yet – but it does build skills and let you socialize with people with no long-term ramifications. They are often one-time workshops, but the same store/group offers them.
      I did find a faith-based group, and started attending regular meetings, then low-impact volunteering.
      I also took up a new hobby, and went to the mid-week meetings about it, and workshops to learn. (I even took flying lessons in two places during this commute).
      I also went to the gym – same time, same gym, slightly varied routine – so that I could build a schedule. I didn’t want to bemoan sitting there not having a social life (and I was trying to lose weight). While I didn’t build long-term friendships outside those walls, I began to see the same people, at the same time, and it “did” give me a sense of community and structure.
      I figured you never know which one avenue will turn into a long-term friendship – maybe none – but I was building my interests and my personal skills, and making myself open. I frankly needed the practice and not to be so inside my head. This was good for all of those things.
      I still have one long-term friend from that time period. She came from the faith based group, but we also added her joining me at the gym, so that helped… and she sets a calendar reminder and calls me every month, so we’ve kept up for years. I see her now when she travels my direction.
      YMMV. But like informational interviews, everything you try and reject is a good step.

    5. doing things*

      I have developed friendships with people I volunteer with who I only see on my volunteer day, not even every week. But eventually we exchanged info and we text/email every so often, esp. if we see things related to our volunteer cause. This all took time to develop, but consistency was the key.

    6. pinky toes*

      What are your hobbies? Generally a social life comes from shared interests. I’m familiar with the sports ones -running club/cycling club/rock climbing club/hiking etc. Otherwise, I’m taking some knitting/spinning weaving classes that are on saturdays. Game nights on saturdays are a thing. Cooking classes with your partner, and a dozen other strangers? It doesn’t sound like travel, as such, is a big barrier – you’re there on weekends, and lots of people can’t socialize during the week. So, what do you do currently? and what are hobbies/activities you’d like to do.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Is it the SAME 2 days/ week? If yes, I’d join something that meets regularly on one of those days even if I had to take up a new craft to go to that Llama Spinning Society meeting on Saturday nights.

  26. Liza*

    I’m co hosting my first family gathering tomorrow and its very daunting!

    I come from a small family where everyone is really spread out, we never see each other, and nobody really meets up except for weddings and funerals, and even then it’s hard persuading people to show up. But I’ve just moved in with somebody with a large family, and with expectations of regular meet ups, and guess who’s hosting the mother’s day dinner this year! So there will be ten of us in our modest 650sq ft house, trying to find seating space and dealing with an elderly relative with Alzheimer’s. I’ve just spent £40 on desserts and beer, and I’m trying to clean in preparation.

    I’m looking forward to the experience, but it’s going to be a challenge! Any advice on how to entertain relatives without being overbearing? I’m super nervous!

    1. Lcsa99*

      That sounds so familiar! My family definitely doesn’t communicate, but my husband’s family is so close and see each other all the time. Thankfully I never have to host (though we have just his parents over twice a year).

      Honestly, I would worry about the food and cleaning and don’t even think about entertaining. With a family that isn’t close you constantly have to worry about even having something in common with your family. I am always stressing when there is a big family get together. But from my experience, when people are this close you don’t really have to worry. They love each other and talk all the time, so if you can relax and let them feel at home they will easily and naturally entertain each other.

      1. Liza*

        This was exactly how it turned out! They are a chatty bunch so they all happily nattered away all afternoon. And they were lovely people too. I fully expected to have to hide in my room for a bit but it was actually pretty chill.

    2. Yvette*

      Create a timeline of what has to be put into the oven, put out to eat, etc. Make a shopping list in excel, with columns for item, dish it is for, and part of the grocery store it is found in. Don’t worry about order. Then sort it three ways, once by store location, this is your shopping list. This way when you get to the dairy aisle you will know that you need eggs and shredded cheese for the quiche, bar cheese for the appetizers, sour cream for the mashed potatoes etc. Then sort it once by dish, this is how you will group the stuff in your prep area or kitchen when you get home. Have a list on the fridge of everything that needs to be put out. Anything that helps you feel calm and in control will translate to not being overbearing.

      1. Liza*

        Food was reasonably simple in the end. People brought things like salads and side dishes to contribute. I did a big list, and laid out the ingredients in preparation. The only hitch was that I failed to realise we were out of butter, until I started baking! Oops! Fortunately the shops are only a ten minute walk round the corner so I just nipped back out again.

    3. Dr. Anonymous*

      Make a list of things other people can do to help in case someone offers, like chopping carrots, refreshing people’s drinks, making the tea, whatever. Families often like to help and it will take the edge off.

      1. Liza*

        I managed to escape much of the cooking. I really know nothing about cooking so I was given the jobs of shopping and making a cake (which I have tried and tested) and people had brought side dishes from home anyway, so it all worked out in the end! :)

      1. Liza*

        It was actually a lot of fun! They were a fun bunch and really no trouble at all. The hardest thing was the fact that there were people who I had never met, so I was like “oh hello total strangers, I live here! Welcome!” But they were friendly and I actually had a lot of fun.

        We also spontaneously moved furniture around to make room and found it worked far better in the new layout and the living room looks twice as big! So that was a bonus.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      If you can spare the space, a card table with a jigsaw puzzle gives a low-key distraction & activity.

      1. Liza*

        Not quite the same, but the tv corner and the cats provided entertainment. Plus the visiting 15 year old had her phone so was perfectly content parking up in the corner and entertaining herself for an hour. They were a low maintenance bunch really, but I hadn’t known what to expect having never met half of them before and never had that many visitors. But it was all really nice!

  27. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    At 11 am today, I heard our apt neighbors across/1 door over scream-fighting again. I heard then from the dining table, 2 feet from our locked apt door, 10 feet away from their door. When you open your door to the hallway, you can hear the girl screaming and yelling at her boyfriend who occasionally shouts back. Just yelling and crying, mostly from her.

    Our neighbors have toddlers and small babies who probably have been woken up by their yelling last month. We issued a noise complaint through the apt online Portal the last time this happened.

    Since this infrequently recurs, what would you do? We’re really trying to stay out of it and I don’t want to anonymous-letter the girl telling her to stop yelling and crying at her boyfriend because the entire floor can hear her, but—options?

      1. Marion Ravenwood*

        This. I’d also consider contacting the council/city administration – presumably they have a department for reporting excessive noise.

        (I’ve had this with my next door neighbours, along with loud music, so I sympathise.)

    1. Agnodike*

      People who are screaming and crying so loudly they can be clearly heard 10 feet and two walls away are probably not in a headspace where they’re able to self-regulate in that moment. The chances that you’re going to be able to prompt your neighbour to step back and cool down next time are basically nil, unless you want to go knock on the door in the moment and ask her to calm down some (and even then, not great odds). It sucks that you have to hear it. It probably sucks a lot more for her. There’s probably not a lot you can do that would make an impact that wouldn’t mean a large investment in terms of involvement on your part.

    2. Reba*

      I’m in a similar boat!

      I have composed notes to them in my head (one part CAN IT, PLEASE and one part, look at your relationship it doesn’t have to be this way). But i’m unlikely to actually deliver said note. When we hear the person, it’s often because they are yelling angrily, and I know at least one of the parties is a big dude so I’m not comfortable going to them in person in the moment. I’ve never spoken to these folks.

      I’ve called our building’s security on them, and reported to building management by email. No reply so far, so right now I’m just keeping a log of when we hear them to eventually send to management so they can see the frequency of incidents. It’s a combination of the fights and everyday inconsiderate heavy walking, loud TV… at least some of those things could be addressed by the landlord, I think! (for example, we have a lease clause that requires having rugs to dampen sound)

      So, no good advice, just sympathy.

    3. Quake Johnson*

      It’s the strangest thing, my upstairs neighbours seem to like to blast music from 3AM to 3:30 every night (err…morning I guess). Typically I’m asleep long before then, but on a weekend or holiday it’s quite invasive.

      1. MRK*

        I wonder if they start work/class early and that’s their wake-up time? Still they should tone the tunes down a bit, not everyone loves sweet shower jams at 3am

    4. Lilysparrow*

      I have on a couple of occasions knocked on the door or walked across the yard to ask if the screaming/crying person is okay, if they need help, and if they want me to call the cops for them.

      I talked about it on here once, and had another situation since.

      I’ve never had anyone take me up on it, but it does cut way down on the frequency.

    5. Kate Daniels*

      Are you my neighbor!? This happens on my floor every couple of months, too. I always hear the girl screaming, but even when I’m inside my apartment… and I don’t think their unit is located immediately next to mine. Sometimes it’s at like 2:30 am and I hear slamming doors.

      1. valentine*

        Why don’t you talk to her during peacetime when the other person is out?

        (Of course, you don’t want them ganging up on you.)

    6. Traffic_Spiral*

      Frankly, it depends how expensive the apartment is. If it’s somewhere expensive enough that you feel they are financially solvent, I’d seriously consider pushing it further officially, and seeing if you can get them evicted. Sorry, but screw you, lady – if you can’t use an inside voice, don’t live somewhere with tons of people in hearing range.

      1. Dan*

        Even in rich areas, you don’t know anything about the financial affairs of the occupants. One could be loaded, and the other may not have a job.

        1. Traffic_Spiral*

          That wouldn’t particularly make a difference though. Either they moved out together (in which case it’s the same situation for both financially) or one of them leaves the other (making it the same whether or not they’re evicted).

    7. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      Update: They started blasting music likely bc another floor neighbor complained by knocking on their door directly. And I issued another complaint through the online Portal (though specifying I really hope they’re ok and etc. from a compassionate (hopefully) tone). Yeesh.

      1. Lizabeth*

        Get the cops involved, seriously…don’t depend on the management to really do anything. A place I used to live had another building behind it and one of the tenants there would have screaming fights outside on a regular basis until I called the cops on the non emergency number every.single.time.they.did.it. It only took 4 phone calls with the police showing up that they wised up.

      2. MatKnifeNinja*

        Check what your noise ordinances are.

        Where I live, if you can hear it from the sidewalk, you can call the police. That includes screaming.

        Check your quiet times on your lease. Mine is you can basically run a foundry from 6 am to 11 PM. If the love birds are screeching during those time, nothing will be done. If they ramp it up at 1 am, managment might move their butts, maybe.

        Check those noise times before you call the police. My place will hold it against the caller if the cops show up at 11 am. I might call for a wellness check just once as a shot across the bow.

        Have rented for 30 years because I live to move. Unless your rental market is really competitive, a good chunk of places draaaaaagggggg their heels on stuff like this. Most will let the screamers lease run out and not renew it.

        I have has luck with a letter on old school carbon paper. The person who accepts it signs their name on the bottom with date and time. Harder to say no one received my letter.

  28. Lena Clare*

    How’d you choose your username?

    Mine’s *sort of* like my first name plus my middle name, it’s also my pen name.

    Do you go by any other usernames on this blog? I occasionally use another name if I want to be anonymous for a particularly sensitive subject, but not often and I never use 2 names in one thread!

    1. Karen from Finance*

      I originally was planning on doing the one post on a Friday thread with a “Friday thread” question. I do work in Finance so I thought I might as well do a nod to Karen From Finance, who is a drag queen.

      Turns out someone had been using that username before, and they post now as “The Original Karen from Finance”.
      Been thinking lately of changing it to Janice From Accounting, a “character” from John Oliver’s show. I might do it when I get tired of this one.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I binge watched B99 and felt a deep, spiritual connection to Amy. Prior to that, I was using a different name that I use other places online and I decided to switch so I’d be a bit more anonymous.

    3. Beatrice*

      I loved Beverly Cleary’s books when I was a kid, and I feel closest to Beezus – the older, practical sister. I used to post as Beezus, but someone else did as well, so I switched to Beatrice. I think I posted under my RL first name for a while at first, but I decided to use something more anonymous. I occasionally post from work, and if I’m posting about something that’s more likely to be recognizable by someone I work with, I’ll switch my username for that thread from the usual to something anonymized, so that if someone recognizes it, they can’t search the blog for my username elsewhere and find my other posts.

    4. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Mine’s a reference to “And then there were none”. It’s read the same way as the Dutch word “anoniem”, meaning anonymous. Although I believe in most translations the killers signs letters with N.I. Manth, which would be pronounced like “Niemand” (“No one”).

    5. annakarina1*

      Mine is from a Danish movie star who was in French New Wave films of the 1960s. I just liked her name and thought she looked cool.

    6. Lepidoptera*

      I change mine constantly, because it’s just good PII practice. When I chose this one, I happened to be researching viceroys.

    7. Ewesername*

      I’m all about the sheep puns. This is the only one I use here. I have a couple more I use on gaming sites. And a different one for Ravelry. (I knit)

    8. The Other Dawn*

      I started by using just my first name, Dawn. But then I saw another Dawn posting and decided on The Other Dawn so there’s no confusion. Nothing very exciting there!

      I’ve used a couple different names to be anonymous, but not often.

    9. foolofgrace*

      I used to get the tarot card “The Fool” quite often, and also it seems in my life I land on my feet in places without much trying on my part which I attribute to both the Edgar Cayce / Catholic principle of Grace, hence foolofgrace, which could be taken as a pun on “full of grace.” I hope it doesn’t offend anyone.

      1. Amity*

        I think that’s awesome! I was raised Catholic but not anymore, but when I was religious I would still have thought so. Does that count? Also, what do you think of the fool? It’s not always a bad thing, since it can stand for plunging ahead without fear. At least I interpret it that way. : ) Of course, my all time favorite song is called “Try Not to Be Afraid.”

    10. Wulfgar*

      Wulfgar was my best dog, a collie/shepherd, who died last September at 16.75. I use his name for a lot of online things.

    11. Aurora Leigh*

      From the epic poem by Elizabeth Barret Browning. Why yes, I was an English major. :D

      1. Amity*

        That’s really pretty, and now I’ll have to look up the poem. Not an English major but just really like poetry.

    12. Zona the Great*

      Zona is my beloved cat who died at age 23 in 2015. My other handle is Sabine the Very Mean, Zona’s reincarnation and current terror feline. I stopped using the latter when two commenters here disagreed with something I said and accused me of naming myself that to be shitty or something. Weird.

    13. 653-CXK*

      Long long ago, my father had a powder blue Chevy Chevelle and he traded it in for a 1974 VW 412 station wagon, and the license plate he received was 653-CXK. That 412 lasted until 1985, when he traded it in for scrap for $50 at the Old Volks Home.

    14. Nacho*

      In middle school, everybody had to choose a “Spanish” name for Spanish class. Mario was taken, so I chose Ignacio, or Nacho for short. It’s been my default user name ever sense.

    15. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I needed a name to comment where I wanted to 1) be anonymous and 2) be able to argue a bit more…vehemently than I normally would with trolls. The latter aspect inspired the name, which I just made up.

    16. Iron Chef Boyardee*

      My current username is a combination of “Iron Chef” and “Chef Boyardee.” I used to follow an Iron Chef message board where some people would call themselves “Iron Chef [whatever],” with the [whatever] representing varius foods they liked. Of course, the real Iron Chefs’ names are based on a particular style of cooking, not a specific kind of food – for example, “Iron Chef Chinese” instead of “Iron Chef Chow Mein.” But it doesn’t matter, because it’s all in fun.

      In real life I’m a big comic book fan, and I’ve used “Harvey P. Carr” in honor of Harvey Pekar of “American Splendor” fame, as well as “Stan Lee (not the famous one)” – but I stopped using that one after the real Stan Lee passed away.

      And, as others do, there have been times where I’ve posted anonymously or under a one-time-only username.

    17. Emily*

      Mine is my first name!

      But I know that I’m not the only Emily who’s posted here before. As it is, I don’t mind the semi-anonymity of a fairly common name (and don’t post enough to feel that I need to become “known” as a commenter), but if I wanted to be more recognizable I’d have to change it.

    18. Nervous Accountant*

      I want a different username now but I haven’t been able to stick to one. I used to go by my name and b-day on another forum but I want to stay relatively anonymous. There’s another user here whose name I LOVE and I wish I’d thought of it first LOL.

    19. Nervous Accountant*

      I posted but I think I forgot to save it and closed out my screen. I chose this name b/c its my career. The “nervous” part came about after 3 reallly bad temp jobs in a row. I don’t feel that way anymore and I’m pretty comfortable and more confident now so I want to omve to a different name.

      I have posted diff names over the last few months but nothing has stuck for me so far. I once used an anonymous handle to talk about something sensitive for me (at that time) and someone outed me right away in the comments, so tha left a really bad taste for me. Like, that wasn’t necessary.

    20. Marion Ravenwood*

      It’s after the heroine in Raiders of the Lost Ark, which is one of my favourite movies – if it’s on TV I’ll drop everything to watch it – and I’ve just always thought she was really cool. I like that she can look after herself as well. I know a few other AAMers have fictional characters as usernames, so it felt in keeping with the site.

      Not used another username here, but I have also used this one on one particular message board (again where a bunch of people took fictional characters’ names). Most places I’m something different and completely unrelated though.

      1. Amity*

        I missed it if you told everyone you were changing it, so I’m glad to see you’re still posting here!

    21. Amity*

      I don’t post often (hardly at all in fact), but I picked Amity after one of the characters in a favorite book, plus I like “characteristic” names. May add something to it sometime.

    22. Fey*

      Different usernames for different purposes. Fey if I’m replying. Something else if I’m posing a question. :) I usually choose random uncommon first names. My own real first name never makes it online. It’s not western and it’s even unique where I’m from. I hate having an online presence.

      @Alison (AAM) – Do you know when people use different usernames for different purposes on this site? Do you mind? I’m nervous to get your answer but now I’m curious. :P

      1. HeyNonny*

        I’ll sometimes use a one-off as part of a joke. And once because the site thought I was another person and wouldn’t let me post another comment with the same name.

    23. Mrs. Fenris*

      My husband is a big deal in an online gaming community, username Fenris. He sometimes refers to me in the game chat as Mrs. Fenris, so I’ve become an offstage character on my own.

      I also post sometimes as Sleepless, because I have chronic insomnia. It’s not an intentional sock puppet. I posted as Sleepless once from my phone and never got around to changing it back.

    24. Jemima Bond*

      I chose mine because, technically, I have the same job as James Bond (by title, but I am at least a little bit badass too) but I am female.

    25. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I was feeling particularly tired of being a responsible adult the day I first commented. …I’d caught myself whining that I wanted a vacation from work AND housework AND inlaws …and it just seemed to fit.

    26. Kuododi*

      Mine is a combination of two things…”Kuo” is what my name would be in the tribal dialect where DH was assigned as a Peace Corps volunteer in Liberia West Africa. “Dodi” is actually Hebrew for “my beloved.”

    27. Nessun*

      My favourite aria is Nessun Dorma from Turandot. As the translation can be given as “nobody is sleeping”, it makes me Nobody – which is as close to internet anonymity as I care to come.

    28. Roy G. Biv*

      I chose mine after looking at a refraction from a prism. It was the only interesting thing I saw that day at work.

    29. Garland not Andrews*

      My user name alludes to my real first name. In a slightly round about way. Think movie stars.

  29. Littlest raccoon*

    Is it worth it to use a moving company when you don’t even have a lot of stuff and are good at packing but simply just don’t want to deal with the lifting and moving it to a new neighborhood? (-u.s.) if someone can just say “yes” I will carry on with my day, haha.

    1. Veruca*

      Totally worth it! And there’s companies you can hire for just a couple hours for exactly that, and many of them supply the truck.

    2. Bex*

      Yes yes yes! Last time I moved, I packed everything up and hired movers to load it on their truck, take it to the new place, and unload. It was absolutely worth it.

    3. Yvette*

      Yes, anything to make your move easier. Personally I would pack anything of great sentimental or monetary value, antiques, family heirlooms etc. But as for the rest go for it.

    4. WellRed*

      Heck yes! Best 100 i ever spent. None of this who has a pickup and will work for beer and pizza nonsense anymore.

    5. Asenath*

      Yes. For the big stuff, anyway. I did that on my last move, and it was surprisingly cheap, too. There are businesses who specialize in local moves – you’re just hiring a truck and a couple of big guys. I couldn’t have managed it without it, since I would have needed some kind of truck to move the furniture, and didn’t really feel up to loading it. Given the trouble the big guys had getting my desk (which is rather large) out of the old place and into the new, I was probably incapable of moving that on my own anyway!

    6. Kathenus*

      Echo the yes. I’ve done this for the bigger items a couple of times and I moved the smaller stuff myself to save money, so kind of a balance. But last time I misjudged, and should have saved more for the movers because they had a two hour minimum and I hadn’t left enough to fill that time. Live and learn.

    7. Wishing You Well*

      Make SURE the company has a movers license and has a good rating. Don’t hire the cheapest bidder.
      Happy Moving!

    8. Lilysparrow*

      It’s your money. You get to say if it’s worth it.

      This is the glory of being an adult, and the compensation for having to do all the adulting.

    9. Lady Kelvin*

      We hired a couple of guys from Uhire (uhaul website) and rented our own truck when we last moved locally. It was totally worth it. And fairly cheap.

    10. Anono-me*

      When you take into account the truck rental or gas and wear and tear of multiple trips on your vehicle along with pizza etc. for your friends; you are probably looking as a very small price difference.

    11. Marion Ravenwood*

      I’d say yes. When we moved out of our previous flat and into our house, we only really had to pack up one room (we had a flatmate and only the bed was ours – all the rest of the furniture came with the flat). We did hire a man with a van for a couple of hours and it was the best decision we made – even though all they did was load the stuff, drive it to the new house and unload, it would have been a huge pain to do it ourselves and meant we were a lot less stressed on moving day. I’d definitely do it again next time we move.

    12. I'm A Little Teapot*

      oh hell yes. I CAN’T actually move some of my stuff. Movers show up, pick up all the neatly packed and labeled boxes and furniture, put it on the truck, drive it to the new place, take if off the truck and put it where I tell them. It’s heaven.

      Actually, it’s hell because moving is hell. But the movers help a lot.

  30. Parenthetically*

    This is just a long sigh of a post. I’m exhausted. It’s been a crazy week with four kinds of sickness in our family of three, an ER visit, a doctor’s visit, three sick days, inhalers, zofran, immodium, so much laundry… if you have any spare good vibes/prayers/encouraging thoughts, I’ll take whatever you can send.

  31. Teapot Translator*

    So, I had told myself that I had to stop travelling so much, that I didn’t *need* to travel. Well, I just saw some really cheap flights to Mexico. I spent Friday evening googling what to do and see in Mexico city and what other cities are worth visiting. At least I haven’t bought the plane tickets. Yet.
    Anyone have any advice on travelling alone in Mexico? and does anyone know a local travel agency (I speak Spanish, so it can be a really local one)? I’m wondering how to travel from the capital to the other cities I want to see.

    1. Texan In Exile*

      I have traveled alone in Mexico. The bus system, at least the bus system 25 years ago, is great. I took the bus from Chiapas to Mexico City to Laredo to Austin. On another trip, I took the bus from Austin to Guanajuato and back, visiting San Miguel de Allende from Guanajuato via bus. Both cities are worth a visit.

      Mexico City is amazing – I think a person could spend weeks there and still not see everything. The central mercado is great. The zocolo is great. The archaeological musem is great. Even the metro stops are great – rather than dig up some archaeological finds, they leave them there and encase them in glass.

        1. Teapot Translator*

          This little voice that won’t shut up that says I should save up more even though I pay all my bills on time AND I put money aside for retirement each paycheck. I think it’s partly my dad’s voice, who’s worried about money all the time.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Thank you for the information!
        I hesitate between going one week or two. If I go only one week, I’ll spend it in Mexico City. Two weeks, I’ll branch out.

    2. Asenath*

      I travelled to Mexico alone, although it was many years ago. I flew into Mexico City – marvellous! – and travelled around a bit by bus and train, then back to Mexico City and a flight to the Yucatan, where I simply picked out a fairly decent-looking agency and paid for a day trip to see some Maya ruins (I wasn’t driving myself and sometimes a simple day trip is the best way to see some sights).

      I really had no trouble travelling alone back then – I was hassled a bit once in Mexico City, but really it was nothing – I’ve had a scarier hassle in my small home city. Generally people were very kind and polite.

        1. Teapot Translator*

          Mephyle below says the volcano won’t affect Mexico City, and I’ll probably stay around the area.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’ve spent a couple of weeks in Mexico City, and as Texan in Exile says, you really could be there for months and not see everything. There are SO many museums there and they’re all excellent. We stumbled (almost literally) into the Museum of Tolerance across from the Palacio de Bellas Artes; had no idea it was even there, thought it was incredible. Another favorite was the Museo de Arte Popular– great gift shop! The anthropological museum is massive and requires at least two days to explore. Mexico City is also nice and cheap, with great public transportation (I thought so, anyway!) and fantastic food. It’s a city of neighborhoods, so you can pick one or two each day and just explore.

      I didn’t feel unsafe at all, but that could be because I was traveling with a group each time, so I was never actually alone. We took the Metro and walked everywhere. There are women-only cars on the trains (at least, there were back in 2010 and 2011) and guards were very strict about enforcing that. There are some risks with food and water, but almost all of the restaurants use filtered water and the hotels have separate faucets for drinking water. I really wanted to try some of the taco stands on the street, but I was there for a series of performances so decided it would not be a great idea. Next trip, though!

      Also echoing TiE, it’s worth it to take a trip to San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato. Both in the Mexican highlands. SMA is a really cool city that’s become a retirement destination for American artists, and there’s some great architecture and lovely bars and restaurants. I thought Guanajuato was AMAZING to see; it’s like a European city built into Mexican hills and there’s a beautiful Victorian theater in the city center. Teotihuacan is a can’t-miss and, if I recall, easily accessible from the DF by bus tour. One of the things we did on our first trip was hire a driver to hit some of the bigger tourist spots, like the Casa Azul and the Dolores Olmedo house. Took about six hours, but of course it was great to have someone shuttling us everywhere! I believe our hotel arranged the driver for us.

      If you like jewelry, go to Taxco. We stopped first in Guadalajara to see the cathedral there, then on to Taxco, where they make the most gorgeous silver jewelry. I bought a unique piece that remains a treasured favorite; everyone else on our trip went to the church, but I was super church-ed out and decided to go shopping instead. Best decision I could have made for myself. :)

    4. Mephyle*

      I live in Mexico City, so here are some comments on what others have mentioned.
      The inter-city buses are still great.
      In the Mexico City Metro there are still women-and-children-only subway cars, but not all the time and not on every line. There is also a MetroBus with several lines that adds to the organized public transportation options, but Line #1 (Insurgentes) can get very crowded and maybe is not so safe.
      I don’t think you really need a local travel agency, or can you clarify what you would like them to help you with? Maybe I can offer suggestions on how to do those things.
      The volcano erupting is not affecting us here in Mexico City, and it’s highly unlikely that it would do so at any future moment.
      You can get to Teotihuacan on a tour, or yourself on public transportation, or by Uber.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        For the local agency, I’ll need them for day trips where it’s simpler and safer to go in groups. For example, I like to go hiking, and no matter the country, it’s not a good idea to go hiking alone.
        I see Uber mentioned a lot on forums. Is it a reliable service in Mexico? I don’t like Uber here in Canada for various reasons, but maybe it’s more a force for good in Mexico?
        Here are the cities that I’ve written down if I go two weeks : San Miguel de Allende, Mexico City, Puebla and Oaxaca. What do you think?

      2. Mephyle*

        Sorry, I don’t know much about hiking here so I can’t offer anything useful.
        Uber is generally reliable in Mexico. Another ride-hail company here is Cabify.
        Your list of cities sounds good for a three-week trip. If you have two weeks, I’d say Mexico City and Oaxaca. Maybe also San Miguel de Allende, but personally I’d include Guanajuato if you’re going to be in that area. If one week, Mexico City and maybe some surrounding places nearby as suggested above like Taxco, also in the same direction, Tlayacapan, Grutas de Cacahuamilpa.
        September is nice, but still in the rainy season. This usually means that it is ok in the mornings but it rains most days in the afternoon, evening, and/or night.
        Check the weather forecasts when you are close to taking your trip; it may be cooler than you expect, especially at high elevations.

    5. LJay*

      I liked Mexico City a lot. I enjoyed the Museo de Arte Popular a lot. It was right near the Hilton we stayed at, which was nice. There were also murals and other public art installations and gorgeous architecture. There was a market right across the street. Wonderful food options nearby. Other than the ride from the airport to the hotel, which we set up with a cab from the airport, I didn’t need a vehicle at all.

      I got by with my very poor spanish just fine. City felt modern and safe.

  32. AnonyNurse*

    Anyone else watch Jane the Virgin and want to discuss?? So excited it is back!! (Spoilers in replies!)

    1. AnonyNurse*

      I thought Jane’s monologue was amazing. Felt very much how I’d feel if I had a dead husband who turned out not to be dead. Does anyone know if Rosario Dawson is staying on the show? Are JR and Petra really over?

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      Jane’s monologue was amaaaazing.

      I didn’t think M’s amnesia-induced new personality was very convincing until about halfway through the episode (not like the amnesia was faked, just that the actor just didn’t quite feel comfortable playing a different type of role). I *loved* his “I practiced saying that really fast” bit near the end, though. I also kind of hope they play with the “M is attracted to Petra” thing just a little bit longer, ha!

      Xo and Rafael’s moment made me cry.

      I am really interested to see how they bring everything to a close, for the show as a whole.

    3. BugSwallowersAnonymous*

      So psyched it’s back! My hunch is that Michael is faking amnesia to protect Jane from Rose and/or let her move on with her life.

      1. AnonyNurse*

        I think that would be unforgivable on Michael’s part. Even in the world of the show. If they go that route, I think it ensures Jane ends up with Rafael. Because if he left Jane that sad unnecessarily …

        Or, Jane ends up single. Which would be perhaps the best outcome.

        I think there’s an interesting comparison between Petra leaving Luisa in the mental hospital and Raf going to get Michael. Even though it hurts him, he’s learned to not hide the things people have a right to know.

  33. I Work on a Hellmouth*

    Hello crafty, sewing, and fine arts folks! What’s up in your creative world this week?
    I’ve got drastically shortened crafty time this weekend due to having to work today, but I’m planning on pinning some projects and maybe getting stuck into a Lark Rising embroidery pattern (I picked up a few when she took her old designs out of the vault on Etsy back in January, but I have yet to crank one out… has anyone out there made any of her designs? I think they’re so pretty). I’m also impatiently waiting for the drop date for the newest Gertie sewing book, which is inspired by vintage Jiffy dress patterns–I think one of them might be a match for that glorious eyeball print wax cotton that I’ve been hesitant to cut into.

    1. AnonyNurse*

      I usually go in and out of craft periods. But I’ve been crocheting a ton for about a year now with consistency, which makes me happy. I’ve been making blankets and hats and stuffed animals and rugs and … yea. A lot
      of yarn has been purchased. Quantity over quality — I want to be able to make stuff without feeling like I’m wasting the “good” yarn. So I get the cheap stuff on sale. Not as fancy but for me it is about the making more than the final product.

      1. I Work on a Hellmouth*

        I know that feel! I still haven’t cut into some of my very fancy fabrics (or special garments/fabric that I am planning to upcycle) that I’ve had for ages because I luuuuuuuurve them and worry about wasting it. I’ve been able to cut into my bargain/sale fabric with no problem, though!

        1. Dr. Anonymous*

          I attended a lecture by Kenneth King and he said you will waste acres of fabric in the process of becoming good, and don’t be afraid. Make your muslin and go for it.

      2. Pippa*

        Oh, good, a crochet-er! Could I ask for advice? I’ve just started learning, thinking I could teach myself from a book and videos, but I could use some tips. Apparently I hold or pull the loops too tight, and it comes out really firm and dense. I don’t know how to loosen up but keep the loops consistent. I can make a chain and then single crochet back and forth, but everything I make comes out like Kevlar. How do I solve this, or should I just go into military supply as a side hustle?

        1. AnonyNurse*

          Try going up a hook size. You may have a yarn vs hook mismatch. There will usually be a “recommended” hook size on the yarn label. But it’s just a starting point. That’s why you’ll see gauge measurements on patterns — everyone is a little different. And as you get more comfortable, things will evolve. Don’t be afraidy to try different holds, different styles. But first just try a bigger hook.

    2. Karen from Finance*

      Oh hey crafty people.

      My bf just brought home his (his family’s) old sewing machine, per my request. I don’t know how to sew but I want to learn, and I have a couple of simple projects, like shortening the curtains. Any online resources of “using a sewing machine for dummies”, etc?

      1. I Work on a Hellmouth*

        Oh my gosh, you are basically diving in at the best possible time to be learning how to sew, the online sewing community is AWESOME and there are tons and tons and tons of online resources in addition to all kinds of classes, tutorials, and the like. Talk a little bit about what you want to sew once you know how to use the machine! That will help in steering you towards the right resources.

        1. Karen from Finance*

          That sounds awesome! That’s how I got into makeup and I ended up taking professional makeup artist lessons. If I continue with sewing.. I think I may be halfway bro becoming a drag queen myself lol.

          Anyway for sewing, right now I think I’ll focus on trying to figure out the machine itself, but I’ll keep checking back if there’s any progress.

          1. I Work on a Hellmouth*

            Well, the reason that I asked is because there are some differences between, say, garment sewing and sewing quilts (although the very basics are the same). As far as just “What is this machine and how do I use it,” though, there are tons of resources out there! A lot of them are free, BUT, I would like to highly recommend the Tilly and the Buttons online class “Make Friends with a Sewing Machine” as it covers all of the basics, including troubleshooting and common snags you might hit, and they are also super responsive and awesome if you have any questions. Her two books are also AWESOME resources if you are interested in garment sewing–all of the projects in both are things you can achieve even if your machine scares you kind of want to throw your bobbin at the wall.

            1. Marion Ravenwood*

              Seconding Tilly and the Buttons. I have her first book (Love at First Stitch) and, as a still-relative beginner, I find it super-helpful, even if I haven’t made much from it yet!

      2. AnonyNurse*

        All the things said above and also … your local sewing shops and craft stores are great sources for “I’m stuck.” Years ago, I was having a fight with a late 70s sewing machine monstrosity. I was so frustrated and couldn’t get my project done. I carried the whole thing into my local fabric store and they helped me figure out what I was doing wrong and got me going again. Local stores are so, so important!

        When I’m on a sewing/quilting kick, I always buy local. Yarn is just hard cause there’s such a big gap between cheap crap and decent stuff, which isn’t the case as much with fabrics. There’s middle ground…

      3. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

        You may need to get it tuned up at a local shop. I have a wonderful Singer 403 that I inherited, and I love it. But in “case” you have any problems with your family machine, do not assume the issue is you. It may have built up lint in places you don’t know about, need oiling, have a tension issue… so a good tune up is invaluable.

        On the books… an oldie but goodie- the Singer “how to sew” series is very helpful. (You may be able to find the intro volume(s) used… I have loads of sewing books but not quite ready to part with them). It’s a whole set but if you can – try the library first.

        Don’t forget YouTube. I mastered my pressure cooker with their help.

      4. Jemima Bond*

        I took up sewing just a few years ago and did several things to get started; would recommend if you can do similar:

        Took a one-day class for beginner sewing-machine users and made an apron.
        Made simple items from instructions on blogs/YouTube.
        Visited my mum for the weekend with a dress pattern and fabric and made the dress as a sort of lesson from her.
        Bought the Colette Sewing Handbook – teaches you loads of things and contains five patterns to make garments. Modern and up to date; not a dusty stuffy old reference/instruction manual but very informative and practical.

        The other most important advice I will give you is – most of this stuff is not that hard. It can be easy to get bogged down when you read that such and such a thing (putting in an invisible zip; doing princess seams) are “more difficult” – actually often they really aren’t that bad; just get good instructions and follow them carefully. If one equates it to cooking, you can make a lot of great desserts and cakes just by following your recipe; most things are not soufflés or handmade filo pastry with sugar work. A nice Victoria sponge is delicious and a doddle!
        Also, don’t beat yourself up for perfection. I have a framed cross stitch a friend made me with pictures of sewing supplies and my motto emblazoned on it: F!!k it, that’ll do!

    3. Free Meerkats*

      I’m probably going to make a muslin for the next competition costume from a thrift store sheet. I don’t buy muslin anymore for my muslins, thrift store sheets are so much cheaper. I need to figure out how many split rings to buy, it’s going to be replicated in chain mail – I’m estimating about 30,000 of them, in three colors.

      I also bought a tutorial for making chain mail floggers; a friend’s birthday is coming up, and I know she’ll enjoy it. So I’m deciding on colors for it.

      1. I Work on a Hellmouth*

        Thrift store sheets are 100% my go to for muslins, too! (Unless I’m doing a knit garment, then I typically find something else cheap and cheerful for a wearable muslin.)
        Tri-colored chainmail floggers sound FUN, what colors are you considering? I think I’d dig a blue, black, and gunmetal combo if I was going serious business, but then there is always the siren call of hot pink and… well, probably also black and gunmetal, unless I was feeling very Fabulous Unicorn…

      2. Llellayena*

        On the flogger it depends whether you want fun or scary (and whether it would actually be used, ow). Scary: black, silver, red or black with just a little of gold and red. Fun: silver, green, purple or gold, silver, blue maybe? Have fun!

    4. Llellayena*

      I’m starting a wall hanging quilt today that I have to finish in 2 weeks for a guild challenge. Wish me luck and minimal mistakes please!

        1. Llellayena*

          I want to wait until after the challenge on the off chance someone else from guild reads AAM. But I’ll post a description in a couple of weeks!

    5. The RO-Cat*

      I’ve been raised believing I had two left hands, both in cast when it came to crafts. Half a century later I finally bought a little rotary machine for small carving purposes (wood, bone, whatever) and a glue gun. Originally, I intended to simply expand my mindfulness practice but I discovered I liked the challenge – and the work itself. So far, only some Gremlins Of Cernobyl came out, but I’ll get to the bottom of it. Or else.

      1. AnonyNurse*

        The things we get told, that we believe about ourselves… they really do stick, even if they aren’t true. We can’t dance, are bad at math, aren’t artistic. When those things are so broad and what is “good” has different meanings, and defining children (and even adults) is so limiting. Good for you for doing it anyway!

        (That being said, “can’t sing,” sadly really can be a thing. But that’s ok. I just sing in the shower or in the car where no one else can hear me). :)

    6. A.N. O'Nyme*

      I crocheted a cute little carrying case for my GBA SP! There’s a few things I’d do differently if I were to make another one, but overall I’m very pleased with it (and the fact I finally got to use some pretty yarn I bought a few years back ^^’. I have this problem where I keep buying pretty yarn without knowing what I’ll do with it). Overall, this being the first time I deviated from a pattern (pattern I used was for a DS) I’m quite happy with the end result!

    7. gecko*

      I’ve been doing some KonMari stuff, and I’m planning a book for the sentimental papers/letters etc that I’m keeping. My plan is that each page will be basically a frame of stiff paper, and the letter will be sewn into the middle. Like Cassandra the stretchy skin from Doctor Who.

    8. Weegie*

      I’m finally finishing the quilt I started – um – four years ago. I hand-quilt, so things go slowly anyway, but this one got derailed by a wrist fracture, protracted recovery, moving house, and forgetting all about the project in favour of others, followed by endlessly searching for the perfect fabric to complete it… until I ran out of procrastinations/ excuses/ other projects and decided the time had come!

      This may be my last actual quilt: from now on I’m going to stick to smaller quilting projects. But I’m looking forward to seeing this one on my bed :-)

      1. Jemima Bond*

        I’m going to be making a quilt today too – piecing the top for a quilt as a gift for my mum. It’s made of shoo fly blocks and “fifty four forty or fight” blocks* and I have pieced/cut the nine component squares for each block, so that’s four-patches, isosceles triangles within squares (I FPP-ed those), HSTs and plains. Today I need to make up blocks!
        I’m thinking of doing some hand quilting but I fear regretting it – I try to do the rocking method but end up with either a massive stitch or with it not going through to the back. And if I stab-stitch sashiko-style i never can get it to look neat on the back. Tips welcome! I’m considering crows feet stitching which is half way to tying it but with no little tails.
        The fabric is a mix of Liberty florals with a white-on-white background.

        *oh how I love that name. And my sketchy knowledge of post-revolution American history is now slightly improved!

    9. Dr. Anonymous*

      I bought a 12″ tubular bag frame and I’m making a nice carry bag for my dance shoes. I’m obsessing over the internal mesh pockets. I fold my shoes in half to keep a nice arch in them, so the pockets are short, but fat. They need a pleat and maybe an elastic top and then I’ll bind the edges and I’m either going to put foldover elastic at the top or a casing, narrow elastic, and cordlocks so I can use the elastic like a drawstring. And no one will see the pockets but me, so why am I making myself crazy?

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m halfway through the first of five (!!) baby blankets. My extended family isn’t that busy…I’m 2 greatnephews overdue.

  34. Ella Vader*

    I’m in school full time and work full time, and this semester is really stressful (final semester, though, so yay). Anyone have good ways/hints on how to relax and not stress out so much?

    1. I Work on a Hellmouth*

      My two most important ones (overall): 1) Water. Make sure you are drinking plenty. A well hydrated brain is a better brain. 2) Sleep. Even when you’re burning both ends of the candle, try to make sure you are getting a minimum amount that will let you function and feel good.
      I also find the Calm app incredibly helpful. Taking time out for meditation can keep my stress levels down, but I’m extremely ADD and easily distracted and am absolutely garbage at meditating on my own without some kind of structure/guidance. As far as quick fixes go, I am all about the fancy bath, or sitting outside for a little bit with no screens, or hugging my dog.

      1. Ella Vader*

        Thanks for the heads up on the calm app. I’m definitely not sleeping as much as I should. I rarely get to sleep before 12:30/1 am most nights and have to be up at 6 to get ready for work. It’s gotten to the point that I feel like I’m wasting time by sleeping.

        1. I Work on a Hellmouth*

          I know that feel, but your ability to think/work efficiently and effectively takes a huge nosedive when you get under 7 hours. I try and remember that even if I’m missing out on an hour or more of being awake, I more than make up that hour in productivity and the ability to retain info. Work smarter, not harder, yadda yadda yadda. Which is easy to say but hard to put into practice when you’re staring down deadlines and responsibilities, but I promise it makes a big difference.

          If you’re having trouble actually falling asleep (I have that issue, especially when I’m stressed, my brain just does not want to stop), I highly recommend playing any of the Sleep Stories on the Calm app or an audiobook with a timer set. And make sure you’ve had enough water during the day, too, because that can also effect your sleep. I also sometimes partake of a few of the Good Day Sleepy chocolates as a sleepy treat. Chocolate = good, and they have melatonin in them so they help with the drifting off.

          1. Ella Vader*

            I’m definitely going to try your suggestions. I’ve already downloaded the Calm app for tonight and will look into the chocolate you mentioned. I think where 99% of my problem with resting is the fact my brain is telling me I’m wasting time, and I’ll spend a good hour to two hours doing stuff like writing the paper I’m working on in my head or something. I’m taking college algebra this semester, too, and I’ve even started dreaming about it. It’s like my brain refuses to rest even when I’m asleep.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              In my experience, if you’re dreaming academics, you know it cold. Best I did on any math test was the one I took after dreaming calculus equations. Friends have told similar stories of other subjects. You’ve got this!

    2. Pam*

      The end is in sight. We are proud of you. I am currently out on medical leave, so will miss my own students’ commencement, but hope to be back to work in time to help sort out graduation issues.

  35. SerialHobbyist*

    Can anyone recommend an Art Deco guided tour in Miami Beach or South Beach? I’m visiting Miami for the first time and want to make sure I pick a good one. Restaurant recommendations also welcome!

    1. aforthis*

      I’m from Miami though I’ve never done an Art Deco tour. However, if you’re in that area, I recommend Cafe Versailles for some Cuban food.

    2. Llellayena*

      The American Institute of Architects (AIA) often has tours, they might have an Art Deco specific one.

    3. Texan In Exile*

      I loved El Palacio de Jugos. Warning, though – I have not lived in Miami since 1998. But it was great when I was there.

      Make sure you try a medianoche. And ropa vieja. Y pastelitos de guayaba.

      I am getting hungry.

  36. Mimmy*

    Has anyone had experience with neuromas?

    I have a neuroma between my second and third toe on the left foot (which is unusual – they’re most commonly between the 3rd and 4th toes). I’ve been avoiding the steroid shot like the plague, but I’m beginning to wonder if that’s going to be my next step. My podiatrist currently has me using orthotics, but they only fit in my (increasingly ratty) sneakers. I’ve tried putting the orthotics in a new pair of shoes I recently bought, but the orthotics stretch them out.

    Also, he suggested a particular stretch, but I didn’t ask for enough clarification so now I’m not sure what part of my foot I’m supposed to be stretching. I have VERY HIGH arches, so I think the idea is to stretch that? I also have some mild arthritis in that foot near the first and second toes.

    So…..advice, tips, suggestions are welcome!!

    1. NYCRedhead*

      I was just recently diagnosed with a neuroma and my podiatrist started me with weekly steroid shots (3 of them) and then orthotics. I too am disappointed that they don’t fit in more shoes. The steroid shots helped although not 100%.

    2. just a random teacher*

      When looking for new shoes you can wear with your orthotics, try them on with the orthotics right there in the shoe store. I don’t even bother to try the shoes on my actual feet if they don’t fit my orthotics.

      Places like The Walking Co. will be used to dealing with people who wear orthotics, so those are good places to shop if you want a salesperson to help you find a pair of shoes that will work for you. (I used to wear SAS shoes a lot because they came in black and fit my orthotics. I now wear a pair of Asolo hiking boots, but that’s a different foot/ankle story…)

      1. Rovannen*

        I, too, wear SAS shoes because I have orthotics in both shoes and a gait plate in my left shoe. I would love to find some other shoes that would work. I have to have an inflexible sole. Also, echoing the advice to take the orthotics with you to the store.

        1. just a random teacher*

          San Antonio Shoemakers. It’s a shoe company that makes a lot of “comfort/medical” type shoes. If you search for SAS shoes they have a website and it’ll be fairly early in the results.

          I used to wear the SAS Free Time because it came in wide widths and would fit my orthotic. It’s not much of a “fashion” shoe (it’s more of a “my grandmother’s friend is also wearing this shoe”), but I care more about being able to walk than I do about what my shoes look like as long as they are work-appropriate. Since they do have that whiff of “medical shoe” about them, people tend not to get on your case about wearing flats when everyone else is wearing heels, too, since they assume you have a good reason.

          (I now wear hiking boots instead because I need ankle supports as well. My principal did not realize that I was wearing them at work for medical reasons rather than lifestyle reasons until I’d been there several months. Fortunately, she tends to dress like she might go for a hike at any moment as well…)

      2. NYC Redhead*

        If you are using orthodics and they fit, does it matter what the shoe is? My feeling is that I just spent a lot on othodics, shoudn’t they make even Payless shoes comfortable? (And Mimmy, SAS is a brand name.)

        1. just a random teacher*

          Well, it’s possible for the orthotic to fit in the shoe, but if your orthotic doesn’t go all the way to the tips of your toes it’s possible your toes still won’t fit comfortably in the shoe or something along those lines. I’ll still try on a pair of shoes (with my orthotics in them) before buying them, I’m just not going to bother putting my feet in them until after I know my orthotics will fit.

    3. Rovannen*

      I’ve had surgery on one foot twice for two different neuromas and once for a dropped metatarsal. I have had no surgery on my other foot for the neuroma, strictly treating it with orthotics. Orthotics will only work if you have the proper shoes. I am currently wearing SAS shoes as the shoe’s original inserts are removable making the inside of the shoe flat, so your orthotics can fit properly.

      I would like a cheaper alternative, but finding the right shoe/orthotic combination made the difference whether I walk or not. I went with surgeries on the one foot with the dual neuromas + dropped bone, but the stats on metatarsal neuromas can be quite dismal regardless if you go surgery or shots.

      I went from believing I could be cured of the condition to focusing on managing my life with the condition. I lead an active life, but I have made modifications to not stress my metatarsal areas, such as not pushing off with my toes, respecting my foot when it is clear I need to elevate/rest, not climbing ladders with my weight on my toes, etc. I have occasional flare ups, but overall, it’s just a matter of accommodations to myself…sure, I’ll walk laps, but I won’t jump rope.

    4. Catherine*

      I’ve had one but it went south very rapidly–it was already so far gone that the cortisone shots couldn’t manage it for more than a few days at a time so I needed surgery in 2012 within three months of getting the diagnosis. (I was on crutches for about three weeks before and after because the foot could not hear weight.)

      Now the name of the game is pain management. Surgery did not take away the pain–relearning walking HURT. I still get twinges of pain that make me panic (wound up getting a cortisone shot a few weeks ago and it seems to have worked this time thank goodness). It’s mostly under control even though I wear high heels a lot (actually a necessity because of some foot shape and muscular stuff going on) and have a walking-heavy lifestyle.

    5. Worked in IT forever*

      Yup, had it and eventually had to resort to surgery.

      If you need sandals, I have two recommendations. (I have flat feet, so YMMV.) I was pain free in both of these, and they helped tide me over till the surgery. (I couldn’t avoid surgery simply by wearing sandals, though, especially being in Canada. Snow + sandals= no good!)

      —Mephisto “Helen”; not cheap, though, especially for a sandal, but very good quality. Still being made. Very useful as an indoor shoe.
      —Skechers “Beautiful People”; cheap and not super elegant, but they were a lifesaver. It looks like the style has been renamed to this: https://www.zappos.com/p/skechers-rumblers-young-at-heart-black/product/8494773/color/3. Something about the combination of the shape of the footbed and platform sole just worked for me.

        1. Worked in IT forever*

          The advantage of summer for me was that my feet weren’t in closed-toe shoes, which I found more likely to cause pain because my toes were pressed together. The right sandals gave me more room.

          Platform soles are supposed to be good because they absorb shock. At least, that’s what I was told, and the Skechers did work for me.

    6. StrikingFalcon*

      I had the steroid shots done (set of 3). They hurt, and it felt sore and tender the rest of the day but not the next day. It was so worth it for me. The relief was noticeable by the day after and my overall pain was reduced by about 80% when we finished the series (I have arthritis in my feet so 100% pain free isn’t possible). Not everyone responds as well of course, but I’m glad I had them done.

  37. dumblewald*

    Not sure exactly how to frame this question but…

    I’ve traditionally been someone who has trouble reading social subtext. I learn quickly from experience, and think that as of today, I’m pretty normal and functioning as an adult. Like, I generally get along with people and my coworkers, and am careful not to say things that offend anyone! However, sometimes I still feel like I’m falling short.

    Does anyone else have this issue and know how to deal with it? Or how can you tell when someone is failing at reading subtext?

    1. fposte*

      Missing subtext doesn’t automatically mean falling short, though. Some people are really good at detecting a scent, but it’s okay not to be the person who can tell what got burned in the microwave. Are there specific times this seems to have hurt you, not just been something where somebody else got something you didn’t?

      1. dumblewald*

        The times it has affected me negatively is when it has impeded on my ability to be likable/respected and connect with people. I think sometimes I come off naive and socially awkward. (A specific example is sometimes I will say something that’s not necessarily meant to be funny, and my coworkers will laugh. But it’s only coworkers, not necessarily everyone.) It’s possible that I’m overthinking this – some people just aren’t compatible – but I wonder if there are ways I can mitigate this, especially at That Place We Do Not Speak Of On Weekends. :)

        1. fposte*

          Can you drill down a little farther on this? You saying something that you didn’t meant to be funny but that got laughs doesn’t mean people don’t like or respect you (it’s happened to most of us, I’d say)–is there something else that’s given you the indication that it’s hurting you rather than just surprising you or making you feel awkward? I’m just thinking that this might be about your feelings more than about others’ feelings about you–often the way to feel confident about your interactions isn’t to change what you do but to accept that what you’re doing is fine.

          1. dumblewald*

            No I appreciate this insight! The whole reason I asked the question was I was wondering if it was just me or if it was normal. It’s possible my interpretation of other people’s views of me is not accurate.

            1. fposte*

              It’s so hard to know sometimes! I just wanted to throw that possibility into the mix, and sometimes it’s good to be reminded that we may actually be doing fine even when we don’t think so :-).

    2. Sleepy*

      I have a friend who is a bit like this and it helped him to read self-help books that give clear rules for interaction, e.g. “If X happens then respond with Z.” He just relies on those rules. Since he thrives in situations with clear rules he became an engineer. Sorry I don’t have more specific advice to offer but I’m sure you have plenty of other gifts even if reading subtext isn’t a strength!

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Hi! are you me? I miss all sorts of things, or it takes me longer to figure it out. I once went on a date that I didn’t know until a week later that it was a date. No advice, just commiseration. It’s tough sometimes.

      1. dumblewald*

        Hi, Me! :P Oh goodness don’t even get me started on being able to read flirtation cues/knowing whether or not a guy likes me (I’m a girl). No clue, and I’m in my mid-twenties.

        1. I'm A Little Teapot*

          30s. at this point, I’ve given up. If a guy likes me, he’s going to have to use his words and tell me, very specifically.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Self-checks are always good.

      But sometimes it has nothing to do with us, it’s the other person.
      There are people who are coy. They thoroughly enjoy speaking in an ambiguous manner and making others feel awkward. Granted it is a small percentage of people. But don’t use these people to determine how well you read social cues. They will make sure you feel like a failure.

      A few things can help:
      Realize that most people struggle from time to time. It’s part of being human.

      I found it very freeing just to make up my mind that I would apologize when I was wrong. What this meant was I could more easily say, “Oh did I say the wrong thing?” and find out what I had missed.

      I also think we work at this for a while, then we realize, “I have gone as far as I can go. Other people are just as responsible as I am for clear communication. They have to work at it also.”

      I hope you smile. Rules of etiquette came into existence to help people interact with each other. The idea was to standardize behaviors so that behaviors were more predictable, and people could have smoother interactions. What I find notable here is that people have struggled reading social cues for all of time, so much so they had to put “rules” in writing. ha.

      For myself, I read advice columns for most of my life. I always felt like a round peg in a square hole. So I needed ways to fill in my gaps. I read advice columns to find out the types of things that are annoying to others and how to smooth over awkward stuff that suddenly pops up. I think we spend our entire lives learning this stuff because things change so much as we go along.

  38. Decima Dewey*

    Things that have made me happy: hipster dads in my neighborhood, with their kids. Including a little girl wearing a pink hennin (pointy medieval hat) with her winter coat. A guy walking with his son, reciting “Jabberwocky.” A little girl at a bus stop clutching a stuffed toy chickadee the size of a huddled pigeon (her dad told me the toy was “Blackbird”).

    Something amazing I saw several months ago: lots of Indian people gathered, the women in gloriously colored saris, the men in elaborately embroidered tunics. There was a guy riding a baby elephant. Googling told me this was likely an over the top wedding, and that the guy on the elephant was the bridegroom.

    People I’ve seen: a lanky Sikh wearing a turquoise turban that perfectly matched his dress shirt. A Dominican friar strolling about my neighborhood (yes, I had to Google to find out which order had a white habit).

  39. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    I didn’t get much done this week, sadly. I was insanely busy this week.

    1. Laura H.*

      Good: I have two more sections to go and then I can post a chapter for a fic in major need of an update.

      Bad: Neither of those two remaining sections are warm and fuzzy.

      Ugly: I know all progress made in the relationship development HAS to go down the proverbial toilet but it’s a dumpster fire that I’m (hopefully understandably) dragging my feet on.

    2. Claire*

      Much better than last week. I finished the chapter from hell and fleshed out detailed notes for the next one. And finally, finally, the characters are clicking.

      Aaaand, just when that happened, the first page proofs for the book #1 in the series arrived. I foresee taking a printout with me to jury duty next week.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I’m feeling the need to start a new project but my brain seems to have shut down. I HAVE to get out of here!

      1. Claire*

        Oh ghod, I know that feeling. One thing that works for me is to lie to my brain. As in, I am totally not writing now, I am just jotting down a few notes. The other possibility is that you need time off. Try watching favorite videos. Taking up a hobby that’s tactile.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          As I’m in the throes of extended unemployment, the last thing I need is more time off! I actually work better when I have other stuff going on.

          1. Laura H.*

            Me too, re the work better with other stuff going on…

            Changes of scenery also seem to help.

          2. Claire*

            Well, I meant time off from writing. :)

            I’m currently unemployed as well, so I know that more hours in the day doesn’t translate to that many more hours writing. So, maybe, take up a new hobby. Allocate half the day to volunteer work. Or if you find you need to write, but the words aren’t coming for the current WIP, you could try fanfic.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              My fan group does Adopt-A-Street cleanup when it gets warm–that is all the volunteering I have bandwidth for right now.

    4. poetry writing*

      I finished a poem and am really pleased with it (at least for now!). But I now have a number of poems and would like to send them out. How can you tell if a literary journal is an appropriate place for my writing? most of the times, I feel my poetry would fit, and rarely do I feel it would not. Also, all sorts of poets have published in some of the most known journals, because I think they were just really great poems! But where do you start off?

  40. Anon Needleworker*

    Hi! I have a beginner vs advanced needlework question.

    I’m a big fan of cross stitch and like to do elaborate patterns. The actual stitch is pretty simple but I thought the complicated designs balanced the simplicity of the stitch and was happy with my work.

    Then someone really knowledgeable about crafts and needlework in particular told me that that was “kids’ stuff.” That I should have been advancing to more complicated stitches all along and not stopping at a basic stitch.

    Now I wonder if I look foolish to other people. If they’re complimenting my work but thinking it’s childish because it’s only cross stitches. (Btw the patterns I like are rather large and can easily take over 100 hours. I only do the little Christmas tree ornament ones that take 1-2 hours for people who particularly want an ornament. )

    What do other needleworkers think?

    1. Rhymes with Mitochondria*

      Do what you love and ignore the haters. They’re trying to make themselves look better by “should”ing on you

      1. Anon Needleworker*

        Thank you. :)
        The thing that really hurt about this is the person isn’t a hater and is a far better needleworker than I’ll ever be. She doesn’t have the attitude of putting other people down bc she doesn’t need to.
        It was said more in the tone of having to gently break bad news to someone than someone being dismissive bc they’re unhappy.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Why in the H*LL is it bad news for you to do a simple cross stitch pattern?

          Saying something like this gently doesn’t make it any less crappy.

        2. Rhymes with Mitochondria*

          So…she was patronizing in her dismissal. Still not cool. Maybe had a mask of nice, but she still was trying to put you in your place, below her.

    2. Beatrice*

      My parents are like that. I’ve learned to ignore them. :)

      My hobby is learning new things. I used to flit from craft to craft and get bored of them right around the time I was getting pretty good. My parents complained that I was wasting time and money and talent by not sticking with things. It wasn’t until I was in my 30’s that I realized that my actual love is the learning process. I like to know firsthand how things are done. Once I get it figured out, my interest wanes – it’s because knitting/sewing/quilting/bread baking was never what I was really interested in, it was the learning process itself. That’s not a flaw! So now I flit with abandon and don’t worry about what they say.

      Do what you love. Don’t worry about what other people think, especially about something you’re doing for fun in your spare time.

    3. Shell*

      Who made her the boss of needlework? I think that if a simple stitch and elaborate patterns is what makes you happy, then that is absolutely what you should do. I myself know how to crochet, and I can only do a few things. But the things that I can do (like baby blankets with an adorable trim) turn out well and make me happy. I’m not somehow doing crochet wrong because I don’t want to make clothes or explore super complicated stitches. I think your needlework sounds great and you should keep doing what you love!

      1. Shell*

        Oh, also . . . I’m not a great crocheter, but I am a very skilled musician. And just because I can do a hundred different musical things at a very high level doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with a musician who is happy to know a handful of songs on the guitar. Simple needlework, simple music, whatever . . . there can be beauty in all of it.

    4. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I HATE the snobs. Like, seriously? why are you being nasty to someone who’s just having fun?!?

      I do needlepoint (like half cross stitch). I am fully capable, and have done dozens of stitches. But you know, something like 95% of my needlepoint is in basketweave. And I too tend to do large pieces, some of mine have been thousands of hours. The big projects are a very different thing than the little ones, and I have run into plenty of people who can’t possibly imagine doing a large tapestry. There was one woman at a shop who was particularly nasty harping on about me only doing basketweave (I had a partially completed project, needed more yarn). Until I got fed up with her being nasty, pulled out my canvas, unrolled it, dropped it on the table, and asked her when the last time she’d done this type of project was. Since it was about 3×5 FEET in size, and was about 2/3 done, she shut up. Just because you can do the tiny intricate projects doesn’t mean you can do the huge basic stitch ones. And those women (they’re always women!) know it. There’s a HUGE difference the in amount of skill needed to do the huge projects and have them turn out well vs the small ones. The sheer size will work against you, and you have to be better to compensate.

      You do whatever stitch and projects you enjoy. If you want to branch out and try other ones, go for it. (I would recommend at least trying a few others at some point, you never know if you’ll like it.) But you don’t have to.

    5. HannahS*

      That’s so ridiculous! That person’s a jerk. Who cares if what you’re doing is technically simple? If you enjoy it, you should do it. I love the look of elaborate cross stitch patterns, and I do NOT have the patience to do it. I cannot imagine that anyone would be fake-complimenting you. To me, you’re like someone who knits lots and lots of scarves. Maybe you’d use lots of pretty colours, but rectangles of simple stitches nonetheless. That’s wonderful! I’d pay you lots of sincere compliments on the beauty of your rectangles. If I sneered at you for not trying to learn how to knit sweaters, it would mean that I’m a jerk. Your goals are not my goals, and you should take pride in what you do well. If you want to knit rectangles, knit rectangles. If you want to cross-stitch, cross-stitch!

      1. Scarlet Magnolias*

        Yes, this, ignore the patronizing ones. I do petit point (think dollhouse rugs and carpets) and was working on a miniature tiger skin rug (no real tigers were harmed for this project) and a woman said it looked like a squashed chipmunk. I did finish it and it looks awesome in the Downton Abbey-esque Library/Den of my big dollhouse.

    6. Otillie Rae*

      The glory of cross stitch for me is that the simplicity of the stitch is the *point.* Sometimes I’m not looking to stretch my mind or horizons; I just want to repeat a process I know and love and can succeed at. It’s therapeutic; it’s soothing; it calms down my racing brain; it’s beautiful. And it comes out *perfect.* I can’t say that about much else I do with my days. There’s a time and place for challenging myself; this hobby is for when I need to center myself.

    7. Asenath*

      Don’t worry about what other people think. When I was doing needlework, I loved cross-stitch so much I pretty much dropped other types of needlework and worked on that. Life’s too short to change your hobbies from one you love to one other people are pushing. And there’s something so satisfying about the regularity of cross-stitch combined with the variation in the designs that can be made with them. Some people like working with the entire range of a field and others with perfecting on little corner. It’s like knitters who do lovely work with only a few basic stitches, and those who do lovely work with complicated stitches. They’re both good, and which anyone chooses to take up depends on their personal preferences.

      1. Anon Needleworker*

        Yes! The regularity plus the variation in design! That’s exactly what appeals to me about it! It’s calming to do row after row while watching the picture slowly form. :)

    8. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Hobbies are supposed to be fun, so do what you enjoy most. Is that working with basic stitches and doing large projects? Then by all means, go for it.

    9. Anon Needleworker*

      Thank you, everyone! I do feel better.

      I also remind myself it’s a hobby, not a job. At work I need to be good at ten different things bc that’s my living. But at home with my needles and thread, I only need to be good at a couple stitches to do this. So that’s fine!

    10. CAA*

      What? No! My mother stitched many of Marilyn Leavitt-Imblum’s gorgeous angel designs. These are artworks done with needle and thread, and I know how hard it is to accomplish and how satisfying to complete them. I have never once in my life thought she looked foolish or should have been doing more complex stitches. If needlework is your hobby and not your career, there’s no “should” about it. You just do what makes you happy.

      I do admire people like you and my Mom who complete big projects. I have the English Garden Sampler by Teresa Wentzler that’s been sitting at about 10% finished for many, many years now.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        LOL I have a Titanic travel poster cross stitch I’ve been working on in bits for YEARS. I can’t do it for very long at a time–my hands stop working properly.

      2. Victoria, Please*

        Wentzler’s peacock here… not even begun but I love looking at the picture so much that it’s worth owning the kit anyway. :-)

    11. Lilysparrow*

      No matter what you may think about this “mentor” being a nice person, she is an asshole.

      People are complimenting you because they think your stuff is cool. Nobody but bizarrely judgy assholes is grading other crafters on the difficulty level of their stitches.

      If she nicely wanted to expand your horizons with cool new stitches, she could have said something like, “hey, if you like that, have you tried this?”

      Please don’t let her stealth-negging get in your head.

    12. Ann Furthermore*

      Do what you love and don’t worry about what anyone else says. I love cross-stitching too. I think of it as “structured creativity,” perfect for someone like me: an IT nerd with an accounting degree.

      On the topic of cross-stitching, where do people find their patterns? I’ve found some fun stuff on a few websites, but there is so much stuff that looks like it belongs in your grandma’s house. Is there anyplace to find more modern patterns? I’m also not interested in anything with a religious theme.

      1. Anon Needleworker*

        I can answer this one! Etsy! There are a lot of designers on there with a wide range of styles.

        The actual website can be tricky for research bc it supplies so many results so I’d suggest googling whatever might interest you and then clicking on “similar designs” until you find some good ones.

        Like google “Etsy cross stitch dragons” and then go down the rabbit hole…

        My latest discovery is that there are designs of origami in cross stitch! Like an origami swan done in needlework. The idea of mixing paper and stitching fascinated me.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Seconding Etsy. I have a degree in public health and work in hospitals, so I was utterly stoked when I found a seller with a whole catalog of germ patterns I could stitch. I have a sampler hanging in my powder room that says “Wash Your Hands” and features salmonella, E. coli and c. diff. :-P

      3. I'm A Little Teapot*

        I work from books a lot. It takes patience and flipping through all the books, but I find ones I like. I may find one or 2 I like in a book. also, sometimes if you change the colors it’ll radically change the whole feel of the piece. Mostly works for geometrics and related though.

      4. Curly sue*

        I’ve been getting mine from a blog called sh!tpostsamplers (With an I instead of !) – they make hysterical and relatively simple pieces out of memes and tumblr one-liners. I’ve got one they adapted from cat-suggest waiting for me to grid my cloth.

      5. Book Lover*

        You could check out Heaven and Earth Designs. Depends how much time you are willing to put into the project but they have some relatively smaller ones.

        Personally I have a BAP fail. I really need to get back to my dimples designs bird. One day. Having a cat does not help.

    13. Wishing You Well*

      Cross stitch is wonderful and legitimate needlework. It’s not kids’ stuff. It’s not beginners’ stuff. Check out the prices antique counted cross stitch samplers command in auctions. Cross stitch has devoted fans.
      I am also very knowledgeable about crafts and needlework. I do several traditional needlework crafts. I cannot imagine why someone would say something so negative to you. Regardless of the tone, they were out of line and void of facts.

    14. Not So NewReader*

      You do you.
      Perhaps that was her way of encouraging you if you wanted to take on harder projects. She could have picked different wording if that was her message.

      If a needlecraft gets too complex, I lose interest. When I had time I just did needlework to take a mental break from life stuff, not to compete with other people or to make the biggest and bestest thing.

    15. Carolyn*

      I’m delurking specifically for this because it made me so mad. Everyone else has covered the gatekeeping nonsense, but your “really knowledgeable” wet blanket acquaintance isn’t even correct. Cross stitch is a separate style from the freehand work I suspect they’re talking about, and a fully developed one on its own. Calling one form of embroidery “more advanced” than another is simply wrong and makes me question just how knowledgeable this person really is.

      Tangentially, if you ever want to branch out a bit in cross stitch, traditional Assisi work uses a more elaborate long-armed stitch while still being a counted thread style, and the effect is really lovely.

    16. WS*

      I do various kinds of needlework, and also lots of cross stitch when my hands allow. It’s a specific skill, not lesser or greater than any other. And there’s lots of people who can’t do cross stitch accurately but can embroider, and vice versa! I suspect your insecure “friend” may have heard someone admiring your work and is trying to put you in your place.

    17. only acting normal*

      What stitches is she thinking of as “more advanced”? My very first sampler at age 6 had a dozen different stitches, but I’ve done way more complex cross-stitch-only things since. I hate doing crewel and suck at satin-stitch (tension! Argh!). But they’re all pretty much needle-out-needle-in: they’re just different disciplines of needle-out-needle-in. She’s being a bit of an ass.

    18. HeyNonny*

      Well, I hate doing all one stitch myself, but you should do what you like. I’ve seen some really phenomenal work all in cross stitch. Also in all French knots ( which I hate doing ever at all). I’ve only ever done kits, which makes me a rank amateur poser infant or something, but I don’t care.

    19. Nana*

      In preschool, a friend learned “Art does not need to be criticized or edited” Good advise, always.

  41. tangerineRose*

    I’ve got to start figuring out my financial situation. I keep seeing all those commercials about having enough to retire on, but are there some free websites you can recommend that have good advice?

    1. fposte*

      Yup! First off, Google “William Bernstein If You Can”–it’s a free downloadable PDF, about 16 pages, that’s going to be the best introduction you’re going to find. From there the best places to take your questions would be the Bogleheads, Mr. Money Mustache, and the r/personalfinance subreddit. MMM skews toward supersavers who want to retire early, Bogleheads is broader with probably more high earners than some places, and r/personalfinance is all over the map. Bogleheads has a great wiki, as does r/personalfinance; the former is more encyclopedic (though it does have a “Getting Started” page) and investing/tax related while the latter has some good entry points by age and broad topic.

      1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

        Great replies. I’m fortunate that my work place has links to “free” advice (Sponsored by them, but they are a big non-profit and it is part of the mission of taking care of people – since there’s no company stock, and they are contributing without us having to match – this is all for our benefit and securely offsite).
        But I’ve been running scenarios for several months now – since a family crisis – and paying attention. I appreciate the advice links!! the more I read, the more it “sinks” in. And, frankly, the less I’m spending on me and the happier I am when I am saving.
        I only wish I could have known all this before Mom sunk all her money into a high fee annuity recommended by her “financial advisor.”

        1. fposte*

          Oh, ouch on the last.

          I kind of disagree with Dan, in that I think there is a simple solution here–it’s just that being simple isn’t the same thing as its being easy, and you have to dig through a ton of pretend solutions to understand the value of the simple solution.

    2. Dan*

      People want a simple solution for this one, and as such, there’s a lot of hucksters out there willing to take your money and not offer much in return.

      There’s no magic bullet here, unfortunately. You need to earn more money than you spend, and “do something” with it. If you’re just breaking even at the end of the month, then you will have to have a come-to-Jesus talk with yourself about what has to change. Can you cut back on expenses? Can you earn more money? Can you do both?

      I’m serious about the come-to-Jesus talk. One thing that everybody is asked to do when getting their finances in order is to make a budget. I’ve seen people say “our budget is stretched” and they’ve got a luxury apartment and two $600/mo SUV payments and they might have like two kids or something. Point being, if this is an area where you’re not already disciplined, there’s likely places you can cut back… but you may not like it.

      Basic stuff first: Have you made a budget? If your employer offers a 401k with a match, are you investing with their plan, and getting the maximum match? If you’re not doing the later, the first thing you should do when you get to work on Monday is talk to payroll/HR.

      1. Asenath*

        I liked Gail Vaz-Oxlade when she was on the air – and although most places do have good non-profit organizations to advise on basic finances, their services are limited to those in serious financial difficulty – which doesn’t necessarily mean only those who have low incomes.

        I reiterate the importance of creating a budget and would add the absolute necessity of putting aside SOMETHING towards an emergency AND retirement, no matter how little you bring in. Even a tiny amount gets you in the habit of saving and builds up your resources. Once you have a little put away, you can look at the various options for moving the retirement money into better investments, especially ones with tax savings. Which ones will, of course, depend on which country you are in and how much you can afford to tuck away for retirement.

      2. tangerineRose*

        I’m pretty good at saving more than I spend, but doing something with it isn’t my forte. I have saved in a 401K for a while though.

        1. Asenath*

          When I got a bit of money, I went to an investment advisor associated with a bank I more or less trusted, they analyzed my overall situation and when I told them I wanted conservative (I’m getting past the age to take risks and nearing the age I’ll need the money), they made suggestions. I was really uneasy about choosing an advisor – you hear so many stories about bad ones. I also went to a planning seminar put off regularly by my employer. I’ve been paying into work retirement plans and what I guess are the Canadian equivalent to the 401K, a personal RRSP. In Canada, actually, setting up and paying into a RRSP is usually an excellent first step because you get tax benefits. Once you get past the maximum you can put there, you start looking into other investments. But I’m not an expert in this area.

          1. fposte*

            I think the laws in Canada are also a lot tighter on financial advisors. In the US, I’d only go if they’re a fee-only planner. The Garrett Financial Network is a good place to find one.

        2. fposte*

          Then you are very ahead of a lot of people, and future you will be grateful to past you. The William Bernstein will be a good next step.

      1. Paris-Berlin-Seoul Express*

        Absolutely. We’re already doing the savings and investing, though we came by it very late. It wasn’t until I got laid off in my mid-forties and realized I had no savings. But that’s another story. But her column is great for offering encouragement and support and you get success stories from people who managed to dig out of their financial holes.

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Make sure your budgeting is good, and you know what you’re spending money on.
      For investing, I suggest JC Collin’s stock series.

    4. Rick Tq*

      Your bank or credit union may offer generic retirement advice, but the big question is how long do you plan on living after retirement, and what interest rate do you think your investments will deliver? Getting your expenses down so you can max out your company-sponsored retirement plan is a critical first step to any plan IMO.

      If you want your money to last 30 years assuming 4% annual interest you need 18x your first year annual expenses in the bank. A lower rate of return, allowing for inflation on your expenses, and a longer term all bump that multiplier up as you can expect.

      You can use the Net Present Value function in a spreadsheet or on-line to update your saving target.

    5. Lepidoptera*

      Vanguard has a good retirement calculator.

      If you seek investment advice from a professional, choose a fiduciary. They are required to put your best interests first. Anyone who does not hold that title has no obligation to give you “good” advice, and is free to suggest products that give them a kick back.

      I like all of fposte’s advice, with the caveat that MMM is very extreme/inflexible in his viewpoints and a lot of people take umbrage with it. Read him with a grain of salt. Other money blogs I like include Get Rich Slowly (though I have to admit that the layout is eye-searing since JD bought back the site after his hiatus) and ESI Money.

      If you’re interested in the FIRE movement (financial independence/retire early), good subreddits are r/financialindependence and r/FIREyFemmes (if you identify as a woman).

      1. fposte*

        Yeah, MMM isn’t for me, but so many people have found it useful that I figure it’s worth mentioning.

    6. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Michelle Singletary is good. Having a % of your income automatically put into a retirement fund and not in your bank account is a good way to start. Target date funds or index funds are good investment choices – nothing with a fee.

      Then make a budget. If impulsive spending is a big problem for you, pay yourself in cash (you can even use on envelope system like 1) monthly or weekly food 2) entertainment 3) utilities etc) and leave your credit cards at home. When the envelope is empty, you’re done which may mean skipping the movie/drinks with friends or scrounging dinner ingredients from your freezer or pantry.

    7. Observer*

      Most of the advice givers mentioned here are of love them or hate them variety. Not that they are wrong, but they can be rigid, inflexible or just not compatible with your current situation or needs – even when they don’t acknowledge the very possibility.

      Another place to look at is Dave Ramsey. As with the others, he may not be for you – I don’t have a good enough sense of what your current issues are. Also, I am speaking ONLY to his financial advice. I have zero comment on his political or social views.

      1. Clorinda*

        These are differences of style. All the advice comes out the same when you filter the personalities out. Earn more than you spend. Get out of high-interest consumer debt and stay out. Invest consistently and automatically. Don’t change your investments in moments of panic (your own or the markets’ panic).

    8. Dr. Anonymous*

      I love The Simple Dollar. Trent, the founding writer, offers quite a lot on figuring out your financial goals and from there figuring out what you need to retire on, and choosing sensible vehicles from there that you don’t have to watch too closely. He also writes a LOT about frugal living and figuring out what kind of cost cutting is worth it to you, and what is not.

  42. Honeycrisp*

    I’m going to be in Cleveland next month- any good restaurants to recommend? It’s for a conference, so I will be in the Convention Center area. Nothing too fancy or romantic, otherwise I’m open.

    1. Cruciatus*

      I will also be in Cleveland next month for a conference… Will you have access to a car or do you need to stay within walking distance of the downtown area? If you’re able to get around, there’s the Metroparks Zoo, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, markets, aquarium, museums, sports venues, the house from A Christmas Story, escape rooms–anything you could want to do really! The Cleveland Arcade has shopping and is in the downtown area.

        1. Cruciatus*

          D’oh, my brain completely ignored that part. There’s the Hofbrauhaus if you’re into thebeer g arden atmosphere, any kind of grill/steakhouse/chop house you could want–beef, poultry, seafood, all of the above. Winking Lizard Tavern, Cibrio’s Italian Restaurant. I am sadly discovering now that Brasa Grill, a Brazilian steakhouse closed last year. I don’t really think I’ve had any bad meals when in Cleveland!

        2. Cruciatus*

          D’oh, my brain completely ignored that part. There’s the Hofbrauhaus if you’re into the beer garden atmosphere, any kind of grill/steakhouse/chop house you could want–beef, poultry, seafood, all of the above. Winking Lizard Tavern, Cibrio’s Italian Restaurant. I am sadly discovering now that Brasa Grill, a Brazilian steakhouse closed last year. I don’t really think I’ve had any bad meals when in Cleveland!

    2. Midwest Engineer*

      If you have access to a car, Grumpy’s Cafe and Sokalowski’s (spelling is probably not right on that last one) are both in Tremont and very good. West Side Market, Town Hall, and Mitchell’s Ice Cream are all very good. They are all in Ohio City.

    3. D'Euly*

      If you want to come into University Circle (take the Health Line bus that runs down Euclid Ave) L’Albatros is a really lovely French brasserie, good for lunch or dinner.

    4. Lora*

      If you like Indian, Saffron Patch is surprisingly good. Saffron Patch in Akron/Cleveland (there’s two) and the Anjappar chain (NYC, NJ) are my favorite Indian restaurants.

    5. JediSquirrel*

      The 5th Street Arcades off Euclid has some quirky restaurants. I had a great breakfast there on my last day.

    6. Bekx*

      A little late, so hopefully you’re still checking- but I loveeee Barrio. It’s a make your own taco place, but is a sit down restaurant as opposed to like a chipotle. There’s a number of locations, including Tremont and downtown. You can usually find a spot at the bar pretty easily though. They are very food allergy friendly if you have any dietary restrictions. My SIL has Celiacs Disease and has never been gluten-ed there, which is a rarity. I love their pineapply guacamole and their chorizo queso…yum!

      Winking Lizard is good, a local chain. It’s your standard burgers, wraps, salads, bar food, but it’s fun.

      Grumpys in Tremont has great brunch! SouthSide is also in Tremont and has really good burgers and brunch. There’s also Town Hall which is pretty trendy right now and very food allergy friendly.

  43. Llellayena*

    So I’m sitting here in the car dealership waiting for the repair shop to replace my drivers side mirror for the second time in 6 months. Why is it that drivers can’t seem to judge how close they are to parked cars? I swear my next apartment WILL have off-street parking.

    1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      At a minimum, my next car (I hope!) will have “fold in” mirrors (which I will then have to “remember” to fold in and out, because I won’t be affording one that does it automatically!). Even when I park off-street, even, others’ mirrors are often at the same level. I’ve come back and found breakage in a parking lot from a car in the (tight?) slot next to mine.

      1. just a random teacher*

        I have a love-hate relationship with mine. My favorite thing is that I can fold in the driver-side mirror when I’m in a drive-thru so I can get closer to the window. My least favorite thing is that twice now I haven’t noticed that the passenger-side mirror was folded back until I was already driving on a multi-lane road and trying to change lanes, which is not a great situation to be in. (This happened after I parked in one particular relative’s driveway, probably because the mirror brushed an overgrown bush as I was parking and folded up.)

        1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

          I know! I had hubbies truck (which was huge) and the hedge had bumped in that side mirror… and I’m on the freeway…oops, no passenger size mirror. That’s why I worry about the unfolding… I do remember to fasten the seatbelt. It will take years to learn to unfold a mirror. Current car, they are fixed in place… but thus more breakable. Blech

          1. Anono-me*

            Friend just got a new car with mirrors that automatically fold in when the car is turned off and back out when the car is turned on. (The list of “Oooh, I want that on my next vehicle.” just got a little longer.)

            1. only acting normal*

              My 7 year old Ford has auto-folding mirrors, so it’s been around a few years on “affordable” cars (it did used to be a luxury car thing). So now it should be available on non-luxury second-hand cars too!

    2. valentine*

      I feel better about keeping a great distance away. Perhaps I am not too conservative. I always think there’s no excuse for hitting when I have the time and space and am the only one moving.

    3. noahwynn*

      That was my one requirement in Minneapolis, off street parking. Two reasons. First, the amount of damaged cars I see parked on the side of the road is astounding. Second, when the city declares snow emergencies I wanted a guaranteed spot to park.

  44. Anon Accountant*

    I posted a few weeks ago about my mother snooping on my phone. I added a passcode she can’t easily guess and it’s been great. She’s been passive aggressive about comments of other things that irk her but that’s not unusual.

    Thanks so much for the advice and support!

  45. Loopy*

    So this touches on a work topic briefly but at it’s heart- not about work.

    I’ve been struggling with depression lately. I am really pretty much in a fairly steady depression with some days that are better than others, but overall it’s been a rough period. And I have to write cover letters this weekend. The thought of being enthusiastic about *anything* feels impossible. And part of my depression is a huge blow to my self confidence. So it’s really, really feeling like this is a miserable, impossible task right now.

    Because writing a *cover letter* made me want to start crying, I decided I wouldn’t. Not at first. I decided to write a very casual love letter to myself (mine will happen to be work focused). A conversation with myself really, about what I feel I do well. I imagined it kind of like the describing doing my job when I’m on my A-game, on those days I’m just *on*… except the person I’m talking to is me. It still feels hard, but it feels more like a creative writing project. And the more I thought of it as a creative writing project and truly more of a love letter to myself, the less miserable it felt. Because right now, I need a love letter from me. Sure I can’t send it off like that, but it’ll hopefully get me in the right frame of mind- or at least closer. I don’t know if it’ll work but I’m willing to try it out and right now thats massive for me.

    Then I thought, gosh wouldn’t it be so cool to see a collection of love letters people wrote to themselves? The things they admire about themselves, the things they know they’ll lose sight of during hard times. The things we often don’t get a chance to brag about or would feel silly bragging about out of the blue. Really heartfelt, honest love letters to yourself. I imagined a whole wall of them- like an art installation. I really love the idea of a wall of self love letters. I imagine it in a museum and people reading through it and just feeling good. Then I imagined an interactive exhibit where people add their own letters. It really cheered me up and I thought maybe we could start with some more brief ones here this weekend. I don’t know if it sounds silly, but I’ll start with a non-work love letter to myself, and if anyone wants to join maybe we can see if it is as positive as I imagine.

    Dear Self,

    The thing I love most about you is that when you’re excited about something, you aren’t too embarrassed to show it. You don’t hold yourself back from talking about it because you worry about being annoying. You share neat things you’ve learned and you bounce around, talking animatedly in a way that most adults would be self conscious about. You have so much energy and positivity when you’re really really into something and it’s a joy to be around. Please never let anyone make you feel like you need to tone it down. It’s like sunshine.



      1. Loopy*

        Thanks. I’d love to see others. I can’t remember the last time I heard someone tell me what they loved about themselves!

    1. Sam Sepiol*

      Oh that is an amazing, beautiful idea. I don’t know if you’re serious about making it happen, having it as an exhibit in a museum but that sounds AMAZING and I would love to see it (and I think you’re in the UK -?- so would totally travel to that).

      I have to have a think before I can post one. Will be back.

      1. Loopy*

        US actually! I wouldn’t know the first way to make it happen, the idea just popped in my head today. I bet a college would be easiest place to do something like that but I’m far past college age. I almost wish I could pass it on to some college kid to make happen.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Ahhh are you me? This is totally me. I need to try this letter thing because I’ve been feeling very down lately.
      Ha, and I’m the exact same about stuff I like. :)

      1. Loopy*

        I MIGHT be you o_O. If you do, please share some of yours! I’d love to see other people realizing what they love about themselves. I didn’t even realize what I really loved about myself until I had to come up with something!!!

        Today was one of my better days due to the weather being excellent and my morning being spent with good people volunteering with animals. So it was now or never. Yesterday was very despair-y.

        I can’t talk much about what my love letter ended up morphing into but I’ll just say it’s unlike any other cover letter I’ve done and the whole process of starting with what I loved about myself (professionally) was so enlightening! I’m rather curious to see if it has results.

        I wonder if it could be enlightening for others to.

    3. Chi chan*

      This is so cool. I think we sometimes go overboard with the self improvement trap and reminding yourself of self love is a comforting idea. Around women’s day I saw an advertisement of women saying why they are their own biggest fans and liked the idea.
      Dear Chi Chan
      I love how your mind goes a hundred kilometers a minute, imagining elaborate entertaining things that make you happy even though nothing has actually happened yet. I love how you love stories in movies, and books and anime and manga and real life. I love how you can find a story in anything and remember it years later.
      Chi chan

      1. Loopy*

        I love your letter!! I’m similar in that I get so excited about something days before I get to do it!

    4. Just us chickens*

      What a wonderful idea! When I was working as a school secretary, one of the teachers had her class write one sentence about what they like about my administrators and me. We were then brought to the classroom separately, and each of the kids read out their sentence, and then we were given them to take with us. It’s not quite the same as your idea, because a lot of the kids don’t know me on any level besides being “that lady in the office” but it’s nice to have positive affirmations.

      And I think your baking is very cheery, and I hope it brings you joy.

  46. MsChanandlerBong*

    I am probably outing myself with all this info, but I don’t care at this point. Please, somebody help me figure out my health insurance.

    My insurance is a bit different because the plan year starts on 7/1, and it runs until 6/30 of the next year. Many plans use the calendar year (1/1 to 12/31) instead. My understanding was that the deductible and out-of-pocket maximum applied to the plan year, not the calendar year, if your plan does not run on the calendar year.

    My plan started on 7/1/18, and I met my deductible and out-of-pocket max in August 2018. I thought that meant my max and deductible had been satisfied until 6/30/19, the entirety of the plan year. I was in the hospital all night Thursday, and when I came home yesterday, I had a bill in the mail for almost $3,000 from my February hospitalization. They’re saying I now owe the $500 deductible again, as well as almost $2,400 for coinsurance. How can this be? Shouldn’t the deductible and max apply to whatever 12-month period your plan runs?

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I would tend to think that you’re correct, the deductible would apply to the plan year, which doesn’t necessarily line up with the calendar year. However, it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s actually setup in the insurance company’s systems to follow the calendar year. Call them and ask.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        Thank you. My sanity is hanging by a thread over this. I can’t help that I have all these health problems (some are due to a genetic disorder; the rest are due to a long line of family members who have the same problems), and I am being bombarded by bills left and right. I owe over $10,000 right now, and I can’t afford it.

    2. BRR*

      That would make sense but I can see insurance not operating in a way that makes sense. I’m sorry if this is a dumb question but my insurance’s website has a place that shows what I’ve paid and what the deductible and out of pocket limits are along with the date range, does your’s have that?

    3. Belle in HR*

      Some times the deductible and coinsurance can be calendar based even if the plan year starts 7/1. I would recommend you log into your online insurance portal if you can and view the claims section. That usually lists when the deductible starts and ends and the current amount.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        I just looked, and it says that my coverage runs from 1/1/18 to 12/31/18. That doesn’t make sense, as it’s now 2019.

        1. fposte*

          If you’re still covered, that probably means the coverage year started again on 1/1/19, and that’s why you had to fill up the deductible again in February. But were you covered under the same policy prior to 7/18? If not, my guess is that’s why you met your deductible in 8/18 rather than earlier last year, and why it’s so unfortunately close to the new coverage year that meant a new deductible starting 1/19.

          Obviously you’ll want to call on Monday and talk to somebody to confirm. A few other things that might be worth doing:
          make sure you know what your max annual out of pocket is, what exceptions may be involved, and whether that works for the same coverage year
          many states have Consumer Assistance Programs for navigating insurance and healthcare–I’ll post a link in followup but you can look directly for your state, too
          it’s worth checking your town or county for additional health care navigation assistance, and your state’s attorney general or consumer office for possible mediation/enforcement

          You’re in this for the long haul, Ms. C., and you need as many long-term resources as you can find.

          1. MsChanandlerBong*

            It’s very confusing because I have had date-related problems before. I was supposed to have a sleep study, and the facility was telling me I needed to pay $400+ out of pocket. I said, no, it should only be around $300 because my deductible is X and the coinsurance is X. When they handed me the doc showing the coverage details, it was showing a plan for the 2018 calendar year that had a deductible higher than the one listed in our policy documents. I asked them to call the insurance and check, and the insurance said I owed the lower amount because even though it was 2018 already (this was in either January of February), I was still under the 2017 coverage.

            The whole thing is a racket. Over $10,000 in premiums a year, and now I’m going to end up owing close to $15,000 in out-of-pocket expenses in a 12-month period (if this current bill is correct and my OOP max reset on 1/1/19). My only option at this point is to quit my job, file for bankruptcy, and become destitute so that I can at least qualify for Medicaid. I am afraid to try to get a job with benefits (my employer offers no benefits; I am on my husband’s plan, and his employer only pays a portion of the employee’s premium–they pay nothing toward spouses or children) because every time I have ever tried to do anything in my life–go to college, have a good job, etc., it has been ruined by my medical problems. Nobody wants to hire someone who gets ill and quits after 5-8 months at almost every job she’s ever had. Plus, if I get a new job, I probably won’t have any PTO for the first several months or a year, so that means if I did get sick, I’d have no income coming in while hospitalized, which I can’t afford.

            1. fposte*

              I’m so sorry, Ms. C. It’s a horrible system. Do check to see if there are consumer advisors/health care divisions available to you, though; I’ve made use of my state’s attorney general’s division and friends have used the one in our county. They may know about loopholes and funding assistance that the rest of us don’t.

    4. PieInTheBlueSky*

      I work at a community college. My plan works like that. Coverage matches our fiscal year (7/1 to 6/30), but our health insurance deductible and out-of-pocket calculations are considered by the calendar year. I don’t know why this is. Maybe it varies by state? You might check with your HR, but it is possible that what they’re telling you is true.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        I just looked on the insurance portal, and it says my coverage runs from 1/1/18 to 12/31/18. So…that doesn’t seem right.

        1. valentine*

          Tell yourself bills are merely suggestions and, when the bills come, set them aside for a few days. Read them when your head is cool. Do the math to see if the insurance paid the proper percentage. Sign up for hospital financial aid. Don’t agree to pay anything unless you’re sure you owe it.

          Ask your HR and look at your pay stubs and the original plan you read to sign up. If you have an HSA or FSA, those are good ways to see when the plan year is, but if you signed up with the plan for July-August, rest assured the site and everyone is wrong. If your plan were truly a six-month plan, you would have to sign up again for January-June, and that never happened, so are they claiming you’re actually uninsured? What do your tax documents from the insurer and your employer say about what months you were covered?

          1. MsChanandlerBong*

            We do not have an FSA or HSA (the plan is not a HDHP, and neither of our employers offers an FSA). I did not receive any tax documents relating to health insurance. Just our two W-2s and two 1099 forms for my freelance work.

            They are not claiming I am uninsured. They are claiming the out-of-pocket maximum reset on 1/1/19. So my plan started 7/1/18, and I met my out-of-pocket max in August (it actually might not have been officially satisfied until October because that hospital is slow to bill, but that’s when I incurred the hospital bills). They are saying since the OOP max reset on 1/1/19, it doesn’t matter that I met the max at the end of 2018; they are saying I have to pay it again now. So when I was admitted to the hospital in Feb, I thought I would owe nothing out of pocket because I had met the OOP max already for the plan year (7/1/18 to 6/30/19).

            The bill I got yesterday is for my $500 deductible and another $2,400 worth of coinsurance for the hospital stay. But even that doesn’t make any sense. My coinsurance is supposed to be 70/30 (me paying 30%). Even if I hadn’t met my OOP max and had to pay 30% coinsurance, the amount they are telling me to pay is not 30% of the billed amount or the allowed amount.

            1. MsChanandlerBong*

              I just looked at the plan handbook. It doesn’t list the coverage period. It says our coverage is effective 7/1/18. Under the definition of out-of-pocket maximum, it says “the most you pay during a policy period (usually a year) before your health insurance or plan begins to pay 100% of the allowed amount.”

              So nowhere does it say that our plan starts 7/1 but the deductible and OOP max reset when the calendar year changes.

              1. Bunny Hopping*

                Legally you are entitled to a summary of benefit coverage and a summary plan description which is required to outline the plan year and the 12 month period deductibles and out of pocket maxes apply.

                The plan year can be 7/1 and the deductibles run calendar year.

                So if you enrolled on 7/1/18 you would only have six months to meet your deductible.

                But you should have all of 2019 to meet the new amount.

                That does not mean your bills are correct. Medical providers, especially hospitals either deliberately or mistakenly over bill. Many employers will give you access to an advocacy late or their broker (I am a broker and talk to ALOT of confused participants).

                Hugs to you -/ insurance is confusing.

    5. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

      My spouse had insurance that sounded like this. Their fiscal year ran 7/1 to 6/30 like you but the insurance ran by calendar year. therefore, 1/1 meant deductibles started all over again.

      1. valentine*

        This sounds like an even bigger racket than healthcare already is. Why does the fiscal year matter?

    6. Grace Less*

      Health insurance is so aggravating! I brought it up in my review this year under the “salary discussion.” I said, “I start out with enough money, but literally almost half of it goes to the health insurance plan, and at the end of the year, I’ve paid $8k above that for co-pays, deductibles, and the non-covered therapy appointments.” Great-grand-boss was visibly shocked. I’m guessing he hasn’t tried to use our insurance for anything more than maintenance.

      Anyhoo, this is not something you need to take on alone. The benefits administrator for your husband’s company should be able to meet with you to clearly outline the timeframes, and if anything has been mishandled, he/she should push back at the insurance company for you.

      Additionally, if either of your employers has an EAP, call them and ask about insurance advocates. Hopefully it’s a service they offer, and if not, get a referral.

      Once the insurance situation is sorted, then call the financial office of each medical system/hospital/doctor and start negotiating. I’ve heard that the major system near me has a large assistance fund, but that you have to ask about it — they can’t offer. Many will offer discounts and most will offer payment plans.

      You’re not alone. Focus on your health, and use the available resources for managing the bills.

    7. noahwynn*

      Insurance is very frustrating. Mine recently decided that lab tests required every 3 months by the medication I take are no longer covered, even though they’ve been covering them for 2 years and the plan hasn’t changed. No one at the insurance company can explain why and the lab says they will appeal it and not to pay anything yet.

      FWIW, our plan year starts in May but our deductibles are done on a calendar year too. If you change your deductible in May, you end up with a prorated deductible.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        If that’s the way they do it, then fine. But then they should have to TELL you that.

    8. LJay*

      My plan year runs from summer to summer, but the deductible resets on the calendar year. However, for us that means there is no deductible etc from say July 1st until January 1st of the first year you are on the plan, then on January 1st you have to pay the deductible for any care going forward until it is met.

  47. HannahS*

    What’s the deal with Colonial Williamsburg? I’m a Canadian who enjoys living history museums, but Colonial Williamsburg seems to be on a whole ‘nother level. What’s it like? Is it a good weekend destination for an adult who knows very little about American history?

    1. Kathenus*

      I haven’t been in quite a while because I don’t live near it, but I always loved it. I’m a history nerd, and found it a lot of fun. I think the ‘nother level’ you refer to is that the actors stay in character, so they will only interact and respond as if they were people from that time. People love to try to trip them up with technology questions and stuff, but they at least used to be pros at feigning confusion and deflecting to a time-appropriate topic. You’ll learn a lot about a slice of life of American history at a certain period, versus a more overall review, but I can only speak for myself that I say go for it.

    2. Valancy Snaith*

      So, it’s much bigger than the Canadian living history museums, in my experience–something like Upper Canada Village or Black Creek Village or something is usually a day excursion. CW is a full vacation in and of itself. It’s part museum, part interaction with the employees, part restaurants (multiple! Some very good!), and you can even stay in historic accommodations. Honestly, it’s probably better if you’re NOT a big expert on the time period (as then you probably wouldn’t get the full this-is-so-cool experience), and you can just enjoy learning about life during the time period. Compared to something like UCV, where you get like…a carpenter, a shopkeeper, a barn, a few other things–CW has all of those things PLUS a zillion more. It’s a pretty unique experience.

    3. CatCat*

      It’s a phenomenal destination. I would definitely go back again. Very educational and immersive. You will learn a lot about colonial America! I enjoyed the courthouse in particular and watching them put on a trial (the defendant was hauled before the court for not going to church on Sunday).

    4. BRR*

      It’s pretty expansive. If I was coming from Canada, I would try and and take a little more time to combine it with Washington DC. I wouldn’t make it a destination on its own but I’m not the biggest living history museum person.

    5. Overeducated*

      Colonial Williamsburg is pretty important in the history of museums, it’s one of the first and largest scale reconstructions in the period when outdoor living history became popular. It’s also a major site in the history of historical archaeology because it’s where one of the early major figures classified a lot of the artifacts you see on colonial sites, and they still use archaeology to refine their reconstruction, which is cool.

      That said, I visited last year and didn’t see everything, but was a little surprised and disappointed that none of that was reflected in the site interpretation. It could have been built as a living history museum yesterday and you wouldn’t have known the difference. I didn’t have time for the museum though, maybe that covered more.

      Jamestown is nearby, it is also incredibly important in early American archaeology, and I much preferred the approach there even though it is a far smaller site. The park service visitor’s center has an exhibit that basically covers “how we know what we know,” and the site itself is minimally reconstructed but the Preservation Virginia guides talk a lot about both the 17th century and the social context of the post-Civil war and later 20th century research there. There is also a separate Jamestown living history site but I didn’t make it there.

    6. Bluebell*

      I adored Williamsburg as a kid; my parents took us several times because my grandmother lived nearby. It’s really interesting, and I don’t think it would matter how much history you know!

    7. YouRemindMeOfTheBabe*

      I’ve lived in the Historic Triangle area all of my life. That being said, Colonial Williamsburg is an excellent destination. The interpreters are great at what they do and there is quite a bit to see. I love touring the houses and going in Bruton Parish Church. I believe this time of year the also have a Farmers Market on Saturdays. If you can make it a longer weekend, I definitely suggest taking the Colonial Parkway from Jamestown to Yorktown. It’s a nice drive and Jamestown Island, Jamestown Settlement, and Yorktown very much worth seeing as well. If you visit Jamestown or Yorktown I highly recommend Carrot Tree Kitchens for lunch or dinner. Yorktown also has a wonderful two hour sailing tour on the Alliance where they sail up and down the York River and give info on the area from a different perspective.

  48. Dr Useless*

    I wasn’t sure whether I should post here or in the work thread, but decided that this is definitely about *not* working, so here goes:
    Any advice on dealing with unemployment? I’m specifically not asking about applications etc., I believe I have that covered / there’s plenty of resources out there, I mean about the whole sitting at home most of the time, feeling useless, lack of motivation, lack of structure in the day, etc. If you ever spent any time without employment, how did you make it work without going mad?

    1. Junior Dev*

      My advice is to have at least a couple things you do that are NOT about finding a job. Do a hobby, sport, or art project. Reach out to friends and family you haven’t seen in a while and make plans to see them or talk on the phone. Read some books for fun only.

      You can also volunteer and do side projects that are relevant to your job search but with these sorts of things I would be really clear with myself whether they are part of your resume building or a fun thing for you. So for me, a software developer, it would be resume building to give a presentation at a software meetup, or contribute to open source, or write an article about software, or build an app on my own. It would be a fun thing to volunteer at a soup kitchen making food (which I’ve been doing for a couple years and it’s kept me sane), or knit, or join a sports team.

      I think both of these categories are good and things you should do, but I’m suffering major burnout since a lot of my hobbies got taken over by stuff that would look good on a resume, and part of recovery for me has been making art and doing things with friends that are unrelated to my career field. And when you’re unemployed this is still important because it helps keep you from feeling like your entire identity and sense of self-worth is wrapped up in your job or lack thereof.

      1. Junior Dev*

        Another thing you can do is take free online classes or work through tutorials, but again, be clear with yourself on whether it’s meant to get you a job or not and structure it accordingly. Kahn Academy and MIT open courseware are two I like. You can also find classic books on Project Gutenberg to read.

    2. JobHunter*

      I volunteered at a local charity shop. The manager was understanding and kind enough to set up a part-time “work” schedule for me. I found a full time temp job for a few months, so I switched to volunteering on the weekends. Keeping a routine really helped, even if the schedule was different from before. I also hung out with my dog. Turned out he was a chill guy when he had someone home more. We went on long walks and both of us lost some weight :)

    3. The Other Dawn*

      I has three weeks in between my old job and the new one, and, yeah, it drove me mad. Since I don’t have kids and my husband was at work all day, I was really bored. And I became super lazy, like I couldn’t even manage to cook dinner everyday. I set some goals for myself, like cleaning out my closet in order to donate clothing, but I’m embarrassed to say it didn’t happen. I did, however, make a point of getting out of the house every single day to do *something*. For me, that was the gym, grocery shopping, and clothes shopping (for the new job). That helped me feel like I wasn’t completely wasting each day.

    4. BRR*

      If you can do anything that involves getting out of the house do it. Free things around you. Volunteering. Going for long walks. Having to get up and get out of the house was essential for me.

    5. just a random teacher*

      I used to go for a long walk (30 minutes to an hour) to a destination, hang out there for an hour or so, and then walk home. In my particular case, since I was pretty broke and there was no library remotely nearby, I would walk to a McDonalds, buy a coffee, and read for an hour. (Some McDonalds will let you loiter like this and others won’t – among other things, it depends on the area and how you’re dressed. This was in suburbia, so they really didn’t care if a reasonably-groomed polite person wanted to sit and take up a table at a slow time of day several days a week to read a book with just a cup of coffee. Your mileage may vary.) This solved the “giving myself something to do” problem, and at least I was getting exercise. If I’d lived somewhere with a library a reasonable distance away, I would have gone there instead.

    6. dumblewald*

      Oh goodness – I’ve been there. I structured my day like a work day as much as possible and divided my time between applying for jobs, doing various projects, and meeting up with people for coffee for networking.

      I would get up at 8-8:30, knock out some applications in the morning, do some reading up and research on my industry to stay “current”, and working on some projects. The projects were basically like assignments I wished I were doing in a job or what I would do if I had my own business. I also practiced skills like coding.

      The networking stuff like coffee meetings and phone calls helped break up the loneliness and made me feel like a part of society from time to time.

      When the evenings arrive – treat yourself! (cheaply). Take a bubble bath, watch your favorite movie/show, etc. Keep hanging out with your friends and doing fun things.

      I’m not going to lie, while all this passed the time, I would be lying if I didn’t feel continuous stress and the occasional depression about my unemployed status. Some days were harder than others, but you will get through this! Just continue to be as agile and create as you can to help yourself get out of it. You are NOT alone – so many of us have gone through this.

      Also, I took advantage of my free time to travel a bit and visit friends and family for extended periods of time. I bounced back and forth between my parent’s/childhood home and my current city a lot. Now that I work full time, I will say it’s more difficult to do this, even with paid vacation, so enjoy it now if you can.

    7. Loopy*

      For me, having a list of free things to do helps because spending *any* money stressed me out. I might be in this boat soon so this is good to think about. In the past, I’ve definitely liked being outside and out in the world to feel less isolated. Being at home/alone for long stretches is/was really unhealthy for me. SO if long walks, exercising outdoors is an option, I’d try to include that in your free things to do list.

    8. Grace Less*

      I volunteered at a food pantry. I think I did shifts 3x a week? The schedule helped keep me sane, and I felt like I was helping other people instead of being a black hole of neediness. It also helped to put my own situation into perspective.

  49. SAHM*

    Anyone have suggestions for getting babies to quit nursing? My last one delightedly took a bottle and completely rejected me at 11 months. This one I keep trying to introduce the bottle and she’s like “cool, new chew toy mom!” Then when she wants to sleep cries and reaches for me. :-/ I’m just done being a boob and want to have my time (and body) back.

    1. Claire*

      One technique that worked for me was to have someone else introduce baby to the bottle. Because your holding her not only signals “nursing time!”, the baby also can smell your milk. It usually doesn’t take them long to get used to the bottle.

    2. legalchef*

      How old is the baby? Maybe instead of introducing a bottle, introduce a sippy or straw cup?

      1. SAHM*

        I’ve tried the sippy cup, she likes it ok, but again, when it’s naptime I’m being cried at for nursing. She’s almost one so I’m just doooone,

        1. Observer*

          Have you weaned EXCEPT for nap time?

          If so, your best bet is to just ride it out. Perhaps not be in the house during that time for a few days (so maybe do it over a long weekend.) Or find something else to do with her – it doesn’t sound like she’s hungry, but wants to nurse. So, some cuddle time might work for you.

          If you haven’t weaned at all yet, start with skipping one feeding at a time. It takes longer, but it’s going to be easier on everyone’s nerves.

        2. Jessi*

          You’ve actually got two different issues happening: 1) nursing when you are ready to be done and 2) your baby equates nursing with falling asleep.

    3. Sc@rlettNZ*

      My friend went away for the weekend and left her husband home with the baby. She said her not being there made it easier as the baby didn’t have a choice – it was the bottle or nothing.

    4. Susan Ryan*

      Stop feeding to go to sleep. Put a sippy cup in the corner of the crib with water. Show her how to drink from it. Give it to her at meals. No need for bottles.

    5. Maya Elena*

      Get pregnant again, hehe. Just kidding.

      You can dial it down slowly- offer with lesser frequency – or go cold turkey; when I had had enough of nighttime feeding, I endured for an hour or two, laying there and saying no and bearing the crying. Took maybe 3 nights. I only didn’t turn off the daytime spigot because I’m a softy and lazy; but I reduced frequency and eventually just said NO.

      “Leaving with dad for a few days” might work, or she might demand it as soon as she sees you, because she knows what is and isn’t available when mom is and isn’t there. (It’s amazing how quickly they figure out what they can get away with and with whom.)

      1. SAHM*

        HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. You wouldn’t recommend that if you knew this is my fourth one. Lol. The other three didn’t give me this much guff about going to bottle.

        I’m struggling bc she’s so much more baby at this age then my others were. She *just* started crawling around 10/11 months and she still cosleeps. All my others were crawling (or scooting) by 6 months and walking and running by one. They all slept in their own cribs at 9 months. She’s 11 days from one and she’s still such a baby. I can’t figure out why she isn’t interested in doing things, the only reason she started crawling was bc I pulled her sisters toy car (the kind they sit in and pedal around with their legs) out of storage and she *wanted* the car. So she started crawling to get to the car.

        Everyone keeps telling me babies do it at their own pace, but I’m soooo done with babies. She’s my last one and she’s taking forever to grow up, it’s not even that bitter sweet “aw she doesn’t need X anymore” it’s the “OH thank god! She’s done doing X, quick pack it up and get it out of the house.” So I’m feeling extra momma guilt bc I’m not “appreciating” her milestones.

        Sorry, lots of words!

  50. Gloucesterina*

    I’d be curious to hear from folks who currently live in or are familiar with living in Madison, Wisconsin. I’ll list assortment of questions I’m most wondering about this time, but would love to hear your observations on other aspects of living there as well. Thank you!

    – Where I currently live (different part of the U.S. Midwest), bus service ranges from good to passable, meaning that it’s very doable to get by as a one-car household. How common is this scenario in Madison? Or put another way, how common is it for people to rely solely or primarily on buses to get to w***).
    – How easy/difficult do you imagine it would be to identify full-day preschool/pre-K programs with openings on relatively short notice?
    – I will be out there for about 24 hours in a couple weeks. During my downtime, what would be good things to do to get my mind around what it would be like to live there? I am thinking things like taking the bus to bus-able neighborhoods. What are bus-able neighborhoods that I might consider busing to?
    – How convenient/inconvenient is to take the bus from the airport to downtown?

    1. Lady Jay*

      Haven’t lived in Madison but visited all the time (from a little town about an hour west) until I moved away last summer. A couple thoughts:
      * Without knowing what city you currently live in, it’s hard to tell what you think of as “passable” bus service–but I’d wager Madison doesn’t have it; I don’t recall seeing buses even running to the degree that I see them in my new location (which does have a passable bus service). That said, Madison is super bike friendly, and you or your partner may be able to get away with biking in lieu of buses. And in fact, with the university there, the streets can get pretty congested–bikes are a good alternative.
      * Also, like most other Midwestern cities, Madison is pretty spread out–while certain sections are walkable (downtown), it’s difficult to walk from one neighborhood to another. Also, downtown is right next to the university. Family housing tends to be a little more spread out/on the edges of the city.
      * Madison is a great city for being outdoors in–there are two big lakes right down town, with walking/biking trails around them and opportunities for SUPing and kayaking. There’s a lot of nice parks & I’ve seen a lot of families taking their kids there for an outing.

      I LOVED Madison and wish I still lived close enough to visit–It sounds like you’re traveling for w*rk, but if you have time, try Batch Bakery if you like sweet things, or Anthology on State Street if you like pretty cards. The ice cream on campus (Babcock Hall) is fantastic. Walk around the lakes if you feel up to it–what a pretty view!

      1. fposte*

        Batch Bakery is *amazing.* (I like Madison in general, in fact, but don’t have enough experience to answer the questions posed.)

    2. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      I can only talk about visiting (did it several times a year for a decade). But from the airport to town, they have good cabs (friendly drivers), and any hotel you stay at, either has a shuttle service or can give advice. Because of the nature of my w*rk travel, I was outside of Madison, and had to make sure I stayed at hotels that provided shuttles to the place I visited. (everyone did, the universe revolves around them there). I rarely rented a car, and certainly not in the winter (although grew up in Midwest with bad snow, why make myself drive in it?). I did know several locals very well and cousin lived in a nearby town as well. FRIENDLY. One of the people I knew biked 30 miles to daily gig each way. Big on bikes. (no contact this winter …).
      Cousin loved the area, she was in a commuter town but for her, affordable and amazingly great place to raise her children. Car required for the burbs but the house was cozy and neighbors lovely. YMMV.

    3. gecko*

      Bus service–it’ll be doable if you live/work around downtown or the university. Anywhere else, probably still doable but more annoying.

      To bus from the airport to downtown, you’ll have to go through a transfer point, but there’s definitely service.

      Downtown & State Street are great to walk around in. I’m also pretty fond of the Monroe St area, and Williamson St and the Atwood neighborhood have fun stuff to do as well. A lot of bars and restaurants.

      If you’ll be there on a Saturday, definitely go to the farmers market! It’s a huge, slow-moving crawl of people, but on a nice day it’s an absolute delight–a joyful atmosphere. Walking by the lakes is also amazing (though I’m biased cause I got engaged out on a pier into Lake Mendota :) ). If you’re into biking, you can borrow a bike and ride the lake loop, which is a reasonable distance and very pleasant.

      Have fun! I don’t live there anymore, but I loved Madison very much :)

      1. gecko*

        Specific restaurants…Marigold Kitchen has a fabulous brunch, it’s always pretty packed. If you stay up late enough you can go to the Tornado Room for cheap steak sandwiches. Old Sugar Distillery has really good cocktails made from their own liquor. I’m pretty fond of Lao Laan-Xang, both of their locations.

        The best fried cheese curds are in fact at the Old Fashioned, so it’s worth the wait to eat there. They have good, basic burgers, and it will be a normal-looking burger but somehow the most food you’ve ever eaten in your life. Paul’s Pel’meni is a great place for lunch if you’re feeling like just eating a buncha dumplings–get them with all the toppings you can manage. Buraka is decent Ethopian food.

        For bars, if you’re looking for a dive, I’m fond of the Silver Dollar. If you want a normal but really good bar, Mickey’s (on Williamson St) is really good–it has a bar section but it also has a lot of ‘living room’ space and a patio if the weather is right. Argus is pretty good, HopCat has a very wide variety of beer. Anywhere you turn there’ll be a bar and they’re usually pretty pleasant.

    4. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      We were a one car household living just off Jenifer street on the East side. I was working there (downtown) while partner was finishing his degree at UW. For us, the bus system/bike system worked really well – I was able to either bike to work or I would bike to Trader Joes on the west side (off Monroe I think). Frankly, due to the isthmus and the direction of travel and one way streets, its almost faster to bike some places. But I agree that if you are near downtown or the university you will be pretty good with the bus, further out in the burbs itll be tougher.

      The airport is very small and not far from downtown but not really close either – I think it was a ten minute car ride for us. The lakes are beautiful, but they do tend to get in the way :)

      Neighborhoods – Madison is a city of neighborhoods and a lot of them have little signs up so you know when you are entering a new one :) But it can also really depend on your budget – east side tends to be cheaper (although Williamson can be pricey or full of chopped up student housing houses). Our place was the bottom of a two flat house, with the owners mother living upstairs (she was lovely and quiet! :)) and I think we paid, geez, I want to say $850 a month for it with bills included – 10 years ago. Two bed, one bath, space in the basement, and we could walk to a nearby grocery store and lots of great restaurants and a lake. We have friends still there living by Olbricht Botanical Gardens and that is still fairly reasonable and easily doable with the bus.

      Any neighborhood just off the isthmus and the next ring of neighborhoods just beyond that are probably the most accessible by bus without spending hours on one. I would probably pick a neighborhood near where you may be working and go check it out and check out downtown to get a sense of the vibe of the place.

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        Sorry, wanted to mention that partner took the bus too and from school every day, and we had a stop right in the neighborhood. I took it a few times too when I was taking classes and it was really easy (not the least as everyone got a subsidized bus pass if you were a student :)).

      2. fposte*

        Madison tangent–I’m a sucker for comedy songs, and some of you may know Lou and Peter Berryman, the famed Wisconsin singer/songwriter duo. And they have a song called “How’s Old Madison, Wisconsin” about how wherever you go in the cosmos, somebody there used to live in Madison. And one of the things that person asks is “Is that Paul Soglin still the mayor?” People, this song is from the year 2000–and the answer to the question, in 2019, is yes. That Paul Soglin is still the mayor.

    5. A proud Madisonian*

      I have lived in Madison for almost 12 years. Here are my insights:

      – I’m not sure where you are from but the buses here are not great. I have known families that only relay on the bus, but you have to do some research on bus routes to make that work. It would be easier to do that if you work at one of the major areas in town (campus, capital area, or a certain software company that is out of town). However as others have said we are a great bike town.

      – Pre school situation – as others have mentioned Madison is a city of neighbourhoods. It really depends on the area. Prek shouldn’t been too difficult. However it can be hard if you have younger kids (3 or under). Also it is not cheap.

      – Other people have mentioned some great ideas. However it really depends where you are trying to go in the city. Downtown Madison is in an isthmus, so while it makes for gorgeous views, it can be hard to get around.

      -I feel like Madison is a great “for everyone” town. Yes, we have our issue, but for a town this size it has a lot to offer families, singles, couples, etc. I would like to point out though that apartments and housing has gone up a lot in recent years. The are is not as cheap anymore. (Compared to other cities of simlaar size.)

    6. bassclefchick*

      I’ve lived in Madison for over 10 years now. My husband and I haven’t had a car in over 5 years. So, the bus system is doable, but it’s a bit of a time suck. The weekend service is HORRIBLE. Why they cut service on the weekends is beyond me. I’d say you certainly can get by on one car.

      I don’t have kids, so can’t answer the school questions.

      We have several cab companies in town, so that works really well. There’s only ONE bus that goes to the airport. But there is a cab stand, so that would be easier. Not that expensive.

      Cost of living here is absurd. If you want to rent, you won’t find much in a decent neighborhood for less than $1,000 per month. The city keeps bragging about “affordable” housing and all the new apartment buildings that are going up. But their idea of affordable and mine are way off.

      When you come to visit, try to get to the University/State Street area. The closer to the transfer points you are, the better the bus service, of course. The Tenney Park area on the near north side is pretty good for riding the bus. The south side (Park Street area) is…..not quite “ghetto”, but pretty close. Plus, they’re going to do some major renovations in the area and there will be NO grocery store in the area at all.

      Hope this helps!

    7. Gloucesterina*

      Thank you very much Lady Jay, fposte, NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser, gecko, Sprechen Sie Talk?, A proud Madisonian, and bassclefchick for sharing your observations! I’ve dropped them into a document to print out for my trip, which is for a j*b interview.

      The mix of positive and real commentary about Madison relieves quite a bit of the nervousness I had about the trip, which is less about the interview itself (I’m confident it will be a worthwhile learning experience, even if I don’t receive an offer!) and more about the prospect of considering an offer should it come to that, and facing down the possibility of moving my family.

      Madison is often billed to me as “a bigger version of CurrentTown,” with familiar upsides and downsides (good for families; very much majority white). The people doing this billing have not lived there, though, so I especially appreciate your perspective, A proud madisonian and bassclefchick. I had heard from a friend who used to visit Madison regularly that the cost of living was lower than in CurrentTown but strongly suspected this impression was out of date.

      bassclefchick & Sprechen – thanks for mentioning specific neighborhoods to consider looking into. We would definitely be renting if it comes to that.

      fposte – your advice on a months-ago thread to approach writing a long cover letter in terms of projecting “me as my punchiest” was very helpful in arriving at this j*b interview :)

      As to what “passable” bus service entails: in CurrentTown, it amounts to some reasonably reliable combination of:
      – scheduled more frequently than once on the hour
      – if one waits for it, it will come, if not at the scheduled time one would desire as a human with responsibilities
      – after business hours and on weekends, one is sh** out of luck

      I definitely want to visit Batch Bakehouse for sure! And squeeze in some lake viewing if possible!

      I’ll revisit this thread before the weekend ends, so if anyone has other thoughts to share, I’d still very much appreciate it!

  51. A.N. O'Nyme*

    I’m heading to Edinburgh in two weeks! Already crocheted a cute little carrying case for my GBA SP (yes yes, how very hipster of me) to keep it extra safe while boarding for an 8-ish hour train journey.
    Any good tips on bookstores and (retro) game stores I should check out?

    1. Claire (Scotland)*

      If you like sci-fi and fantasy, Transreal Fiction (on Candlemakers Row, right by Greyfriars Kirkyard and thus Greyfriars Bobby) is great. Armchair Books is an iconic secondhand bookshop (in West Port) which is always worth a visit. Edinburgh Books (just around the corner from Armchair Books in West Port) is slightly less Instagram-worthy but also very good for secondhand books. Golden Hare books (St Stephens Street down in Stockbridge) is very design-centred but might be worth the trip.

      I don’t know much about the games side of things, but there’s a vintage Japanese arcade game cafe near where I work: Konbo, on Gilmore Place – which is always fun if that’s your kind of thing. Black Lion Games on Buccleugh Street is good for board games, card games and role playing games.

    2. eleanor rigby*

      Grassmarket/West Port has a few secondhand bookshops. Stockbridge has a lovely independent bookshop called Golden Hare Books; there are also some small indie shops and cafes.

    3. Cookie Monster*

      Not a bookstore but DEFINITELY go to Mary’s Milk Bar. Incredible gelato. Unfortunately it’s a bit warm for hot chocolate, but they do that well too.

  52. Jayess*

    Running Thread, start here if you like! I don’t see it started yet. How are your goals doing? How’s the weather in your city? Any accomplishments? May you all be blessed with tendinitis-free weeks.

    As for me – FKT went off without a hitch. Running partner and I are now King and Queen respectively of the segment.

    So many mini-eggs eaten. So much vert logged. I logged the equivalent of running to Everest Base Camp in under 10 hours and 45ish km; Running Partner did more than 10, 000 meters (yes) in 24 hours over 88 km. And this is literally the most noise I’ve made about it. We kept it quiet, suffered our own selves as long as possible, and kept it largely off social media. But I’m pleased, and between the two of us we’ve already logged over 200km of running since it happened two weekends back. No pains, more stress over the homework I abandoned that weekend than over the next run event I have planned.

    Okay, boasting over. :D

    1. JobHunter*

      My race season is off to a NOT running start. My running buddy (big dog) pulls so hard on the leash that I developed an ache in my leash-side hip and tweaked my offside knee. None of the training aids I have tried have helped. I have resorted to walking her off leash and throwing a frisbee for her to fetch while recovering. My core and upper body are getting a fine workout now.

      1. Jayess*

        My 4-legged running partner is only 35 lbs but even she can throw off my cadence and stride pattern. Hard relate. But core strength is so important for running, sooooooooooo silver lining? Good luck with the recovery and training. I’m not sure what the answer is either, but I do take my little bud off-leash running more than on-leash running for pretty much the same reason.

    2. LGC*

      Congrats! I know you’d mentioned it, but I totally forgot to ask! And that is…bonkers. I have trouble logging 2500m in a month, let alone in a day. I’m having trouble imagining a 10k’s worth of vertical.

      Speaking of trail, I’m neck deep in yet another Lazarus Lake profile. (It’s the most wonderful time of the year again – i.e., Barkley.)

      1. Lady Jay*

        Oh, THAT explains why I’ve seen so much coverage of the Barkleys!! I’m not masochistic enough to want to actually run the Barkleys, but I love reading about them.

    3. A bit of a saga*

      I’m not sure what the FKT is but it sounds like an extreme challenge, and like you did really well, congrats:-) I’m doing a 10-mile race tomorrow. It’s a distance I’ve never done before – I’ve done 10 k and half marathons so this’ll be a fun in between, I hope.

      1. LGC*

        Fastest known time. It’s usually used in trail running for the fastest time over a set course.

    4. Tara R.*

      It’s been about a month since I started running regularly, and I am feeling really good about my first race at the end of April. I’m running 10k for my long run today, which is the same length as the race! My biggest struggle is starting slow on long runs. I get so bored when I feel like I *could* be running faster, but by the last couple kilometers I know I’ll be feeling it. I’m also onto the last Harry Potter book, so I’m going to need to find a new audiobook for running!

      1. Bulbasaur*

        I am the same. It goes double on race day, when you will be fizzing with adrenaline and it will feel like you are crawling at the start. I have blown out in a couple of 10ks when I got it wrong, and even had to walk the last km once (an awful feeling). Having a way to check your pace early (milestones, pace runners etc.) is helpful as you can make use of your rational brain. That said it’s normal to go faster on race day, so it’s always a bit of a judgement call how much to push.

    5. Ktelzbeth*

      Congratulations Jayess! You have every reason to boast.

      I’ve been lagging this week. A little has been busyness, but I also haven’t been feeling well. S-W I felt mildly under the weather and kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, then Th I felt fine and thought I was done. Yesterday I started getting overly sleepy and by the time I went to bed, I had a terrible sore throat. I’ve managed my swimming, because that’s my favorite, but nothing else.

      Bike trails are starting to reopen as flood waters recede and I need to get back out. My first half marathon is in less than a month now.

    6. CheeryO*

      That is incredible, congratulations!

      My running is going well – sitting at 40ish mpw with regular speedwork. I got a pretty big 8K PR a few weeks back, so I think I’m due for breakthroughs when I race in May (10K and half a few weeks apart). I’m also doing my first Ragnar in Cape Cod in about 6 weeks – super pumped for that!

    7. LGC*

      Might as well humble-brag a bit: I’ve mentioned I know a couple of #runningcelebrities in the past – and I got to run with them yesterday!

      (I’m being a little vague, but one’s a pro runner – and a master, so she’s running world-class times at 40. She’s racing next week, so it kind of turned into a send-off run for her. The other just set a world record in the half for double amputees.)

      Somehow, I still keep getting starstruck even though I know these guys (and managed to keep up!) But it was cool! Also somehow, I ended up with a beanie.

      Training-wise, I’m starting my taper…tomorrow. I was going to start it today, but one of my training partners needed someone to run long with him this morning and I’m local. (He might have regretted that – I kept it comfortable for the first part, but on the last three miles I ended up dropping down to around his goal half marathon pace/my goal marathon pace.) Surprisingly, he’s not mad at me for that, although I think he’ll be more suspicious about asking me to run long with him in the future (I think the last time we ran as a duo, I sprung a notoriously hilly course on him).

  53. Junior Dev*

    Mental health thread! How are you doing? What are you struggling with? What are you proud of?

    I’m both proud of having a hard conversation with my dad about how it’s been important for me to take time off work and take care of myself, and struggling with the intense feelings that I had after that conversation. It was really hard. I ended up crying on the phone with him. I hadn’t felt that my parents understood prioritizing anything other than work—they both have advanced degrees and prestigious, high paying jobs, and I really felt like I couldn’t explain to them that putting my career over my health had done me a lot of damage. But we had a good talk about it. I still don’t know how to talk to my mom.

    I downloaded the Streaks app to track habits and I have consistently been eating breakfast for 6 days, and lunch, dinner and afternoon snack at the appropriate time for 3 days. I’m really proud of that. Forgetting to eat, or waiting way too long to do so and being cranky and eating something that’s not as healthy for me as I’d like, has been a real problem that contributes to my mental health problems. It’s been especially hard since I’m overweight and sometimes I feel bad about eating but I have to remind myself that having wild blood sugar swings is not doing anything positive for my health.

    How are you doing?

    1. Karen from Finance*

      My psychiatrist appointment is finally coming up on Monday! I’m looking forward to it as I booked it ages ago (I could have found another one sooner but this one was the only one I could make the appointment online and not on the phone so.. you know). I’m nervous and excited. I’m hoping I can get something for my anxiety as my usual coping mechanisms are coming up a bit short, but also I suspect I may have ADHD and I want to discuss that with them. As in, I have a lot of behaviors people with ADHD describe and I thought I couldn’t focus because of anxiety, but I think maybe my inability to focus may be what is triggering the anxiety. In any case, really looking forward to discussing this with the doctor.

    2. StellaBella*

      hi Junior Dev, am proud of you for the good talk with your dad and for the better, more regular eating habits. Well done! Parents usually want the best for us and worry that when we decide to take a step back that we may lose our place in the competition of work, and become vulnerable. Especially highly driven parents.

      I am OK today, after 2 really rough days. Friday night, had major car issues with a borrowed friend’s car (alternator died and car then died in middle of a small village and took 4 hrs and a lot of money to sort out so far, still not done and only got 3 hrs of sleep after this debacle). Spent all day Saturday on several buses going all over town trying to sort out two issues and got one and a half of the issues sorted, car still having issues.

      Today am better. Slept 10 hrs last night, and today will focus on tax papers and prep for tax appointment and work in the morning. Have a good weekend!

    3. Red*

      I’m doing better than I was last weekend :) I’m still struggling with the urge to self harm, but it’s not as intense and I have a plan of how to manage it in a healthy way. I’m going to get a tattoo instead! I have the design picked out and everything. I like this alternative because it still has that beautiful meditative pain, but it leaves wonderful artwork instead of scars and shame. Obviously it’s a lot more expensive, but oh well. That’s life.

  54. Junior Dev*

    Anyone with plantar fasciitis have slippers or house shoes suggestions with good arch support? I really don’t wanna wear my heavy clogs around the house.

    1. HeatherB*

      Ugh. PF is the worst! I haven’t tried them but I’ve had a few people mention Vionic. They come in a ton of styles including slippers and flip-flops and some are actually kind of cute. For what it’s worth: I bought one of those night splints that keeps your foot flexed on Amazon for about $30. Just a plastic and velcro one that I just wear to bed and it really helped.

    2. fposte*

      I went another way and got real shoes that are lightweight and slip-on, and I just don’t wear them outside. Voila, house slippers.

    3. NB*

      I’m crazy about my Vionic Relax slippers. They are expensive, but they feel great on my feet.

    4. Homo neanderthalensis*

      I wear Ecco walking sandals as house slippers. They have good arch support for my PF and ankle issues but are light and airy.

  55. Cat*

    So IVF worked for me and I’m pregnant? It feels unreal. But also very fragile – it’s still very early and anything could happen. I feel like I can’t let myself get excited yet and I also feel like it’ll be doubly devastating if it doesn’t work out.

    Since I did the genetic testing, I know the embryo has the right number of chromosomes and also that it’s female. Which is some piece of mind but knowing the sex makes it feel like it’ll be worse if it lose it.

    I’m single and doing this on my own. So I’ve told my parents, who have been very supportive and knew the timeline (I might have preferred to wait on telling them) and some friends (I think I’ll want their support of it goes badly).

    For those who know the science, first beta at 9 days post 5-day transfer was 80. My clinic said they like to see it over 50 at that point. That was yesterday. Repeat beta on Tuesday at which point it should have gone through two doubling cycles.

    1. Indie*

      I think it’s exciting to be a parent (I don’t know why they say expectant parent; you are full of hope and worry and love now) even when it’s early, fragile parenthood that still feels unreal…

    2. Belle in HR*

      I have a baby recently after going through IVF. For me, the first trimester was the scariest because I kept worrying if something sent wrong. My doctor actually did weekly scans for me to help make sure everything was okay and because I was high risk.

      If you can, that might help a little with the worry – being able to watch the progress.

    3. Forgotit*

      I had the same anxieties. Everything felt so fraught! Didn’t want to jinx it so avoided maternity clothes, telling people before it was absurd, buying any baby supplies. It sucks but is very common! All the best wishes!

    4. Kuododi*

      Mazel Tov!!! What joy for your life!!! You and the precious, little one are in my heart.

  56. Short Librarian*

    I have a question about traveling to London this July. I plan on going there with my niece; it’s her first international trip! I’m nervous about how Brexit might affect our travel plans. Does anyone have advice?

    1. eleanor rigby*

      I doubt Brexit, if it even happens by July, will impact you unless you are European…

    2. BRR*

      If you’re not European, I think the biggest impact would be the exchange rate. You’re very likely to be fine (but I would be nervous too!).

    3. misspiggy*

      It’ll be fine. There may be fewer European tourists around, which will keep the crowds lower. And our currency will probably have dived even lower, so your money will go further!

    4. only acting normal*

      London will be ok. It’s like a country to itself.

      Unless you’re a European who has been living here (and now has uncertain rights to stay living here), travel will be fine. Maybe delays at customs and passport control?? But there were *always* passport checks at borders even for in-EU travel, so that won’t be new.

      Price increases: on food especially, will affect everyone, because imports will cost more (esp if we leave with no deal made with the EU), and we’re not self-sufficient on food so we rely on imports. But the £ will probably tank for a while so you’ll win on the exchange rate.

      1. only acting normal*

        A minority of rancid xenophobes have been emboldened by the whole thing, and direct their venom at any foreign/perceived foreign people. But in London you’re less likely to encounter that attitude, because it’s “cosmopolitan” and very geared to tourists.

    5. londonedit*

      You’ll be fine. Have sympathy for the vast majority of Londoners, who voted Remain and now have to deal with people thinking they don’t want to visit our amazing city because of bloody Brexit.

  57. AnonForThisPost*

    Lately I’ve been feeling like most of my friendships have drifted apart. Right now I’m down to two or three local friends that I get together with maybe once a month if I’m lucky. And my out-of-town friends have basically disappeared from my life. We might talk on the phone once or twice a year, but other then that I never hear from them (and I do initiate contact with them, I’m not just waiting around for them to call me). I’ve tried various Meetup groups, pottery classes, and volunteering at an animal shelter. I enjoy doing all of these things, and I have a pretty good life in general, but I get really lonely sometimes. And I’m single so I don’t even have a spouse to hang out with.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Can you go out for walks and meet some of your neighbors, even if it is just to say hi to them?

    2. Traffic_Spiral*

      Can you do group chats with some of your friends? It’s low-key but keeps everyone generally in touch with each other.

    3. Weegie*

      I think you just gave to keep trying new groups until something sticks. I’ve never found Meetups particularly useful: a lot of ‘churn’, so you don’t really get to know people well. My friends have tended to be people I’ve worked with or people I’ve met through a club or society, which create better ‘longevity’ than classes and Meetups – because it does take quite a while of seeing the same people every week or so before one or two of them become friends.

      1. Nessun*