weekend free-for-all – March 9-10, 2019

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

Book recommendation of the week: Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup, by John Carreyrou. Drop whatever you are reading and read this instead. It’s the story of the massive fraud perpetrated by Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos, and it is fascinating. Also, there is terrible management on every single page. Seriously, it is amazing and you must read it immediately.

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

{ 1,291 comments… read them below }

  1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    Bad Blood is such a fascinating book. There was a podcast recommended here a couple weeks ago too, “The Dropout” – also super interesting.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Agreed on both counts. I couldn’t put Bad Blood down. The Dropout was also good. I’m really looking forward to the HBO documentary.

    2. Overeducated*

      Definitely just looked this up to buy for my husband, he loves pseudoscience and fraud type stuff – in stock at my local B&N, maybe I’ll pick it up and read it when he’s done!

    3. MechanicalPencil*

      The whole book was just fascinating in a “holy crap what else could happen” way. I’ve started tbe podcast and I’m so looking forward to the documentary.

    4. Bluebell*

      Such a great book. Read it a month or so ago and devoured it in a few days. I was actually thinking about it earlier this week, after a slightly ouchy blood draw. I definitely can understand the appeal of the fantasy of only needing a quick finger stick.

    5. Book Lover*

      I think I am interested in all the different formats because I think at some point I will understand how it is possible that this scam went on for so long. I probably will never understand it though.

      1. Holly*

        The book illustrates it really well – it’s truly shocking. A lot of it is the incentives of ego and FOMO “it doesn’t seem real, but what if it is, and another pharmacy snatches it up and I’m to blame for losing the opportunity?”

        1. Lissa*

          Only half joking but this is why i dislike the conmon trope that goes “people didn’t think this famous person would make it aren’t they all idiots” thing. No most things that sound outrageous still are….

          1. SusanIvanova*

            There’s a joke that goes with that: “They laughed at Newton, they laughed at Edison, and they laughed at Bozo the Clown”.

      2. DoctorateStrange*

        What really gets to me was how so many people were not suspicious of her. She was rather strange in interviews where she would seldom blink and look wide-eyed at the interview with a stiff smile. Then there was the deep voice that was so obviously fake to me, but it didn’t seem to register the same way for others.

        For those that do not know, she deliberately spoke in a lower voice, I guess as a way to be taken seriously. Reality was that her natural voice was moderately high-pitched.

        A part of me also thinks she got away with it for so long was because she was an attractive, young woman that came from a well-to-do family.

        1. Traveling Teacher*

          Yes! I’ve already listened to “The Dropout”, and it was so, so fascinating. Elizabeth Holmes’ ambitious narrative, combined with nearly everyone else’s seeming desire for this ambitious, pretty young woman succeed and give her lots of chances, seems to be what helped her keep skating on by, in public, at least.

          In a twisted way, it reminded me of the Hart family (ref. “Broken Harts” podcast, reporting on the young lesbian couple who adopted 6 foster kids and ultimately drove off a cliff with their 6 children in their van under very suspicious circumstances). Or, as Jen Hart called them, “The Hart Tribe.” She created such a beautiful narrative of their chaotic but wonderful family life online and in public that most people never suspected her and her wife of child abuse.

          The narrative in both cases is one that the vast majority want to be successful: young women doing something great, good, and ambitious. And in both cases, they were able to manipulate the narrative to work as a smokescreen for far too long.

    6. Lemonwhirl*

      Want to put in an big +1 on the overall rec and also recommend, if you’re not into reading or if you haven’t got a lot of time, the audio book is fantastic.

    7. Lauren*

      And the HBO special on March 18th. I loved Bad Blood – it was jaw-dropping in every way.

    8. Gingerblue*

      I read this practically in one sitting–it’s definitely one of those books where you keep saying no, wait, that could not possibly have actually happened that way. And yet! What a weird and mesmerizing mixture of cult, conspiracy, and company.

    9. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo*

      Bad Blood was fantastic. I too couldn’t put it down. Elizabeth Holmes would definitely make a Worst Boss list!

      1. Anonandon*

        I remember seeing Holmes in a magazine article that was basically gushing about how she was so brilliant and innovative and how she was the next Steve Jobs and save the world and blah blah blah. The fawning, doglike hero worship made me shake my head back then. Now I actually wish I could track down the article’s author and rub it in his face.

        1. Lauren*

          It’s weird how people were like that. I watched the Ted talk she did and it was terrible. Lots of double speak. I also will never figure out why people were so impressed she dropped out of university at 19 (or whatever age) – why was that a good thing?

          1. SusanIvanova*

            Because there are a lot of tech companies that were started by Stanford grad students who realized they had a great and profitable idea they needed to jump on *now*, not wait until their advisor was finally happy with it. So there’s a local mythology around the “brilliant Stanford dropout”.

            (Just realized that technically I’m a “Stanford dropout” – I did the part-time grad student program they offered to tech companies and never finished. Hmm…)

  2. TL -*

    I’m teaching my cat to walk backwards on her hind legs for treats. She also sits for food. Any other food based cat tricks? Kitty needs low cost ways to engage her mind. (She has a harness/leash that she doesn’t mind – and it’s great for vet visits – but finds people scary, so walking her didn’t work out :( )

    1. anonagain*

      Have you done any target training? I taught the cat to touch her nose to the end of a chopstick and then to follow it. From there you can use that to teach her other tricks. I used it to teach the cat to spin in a circle. I learned about it on Karen Pryor’s site but there are many resources.

      You could use it to teach your cat to do agility-type tricks. (Obviously check with your vet first to be sure your cat can tolerate it and start very easy.)

      For more practical behaviors, is the cat okay with a carrier? I read about someone who trained their cats to automatically jump into their carriers as soon as they put the carriers on the floor.

      1. TL -*

        She’s okay with but not fond of her carrier. She’s very codependent, so she’ll tolerate anything if I say so.

        Agility type tricks sounds intriguing! She’s pretty deft when hunting bugs.

    2. Ree*

      Does she jump? My mom taught atleast three of our cats over the years to jump from the top of the washer(or counter) onto her shoulder.
      Wave/shake uses the same skills too, so if they learn to do one, they can do the other!

    3. Rezia*

      Once your cat has Sit down, you can do high five and shake. I clicker train my very smart and bored cat. The clicker helps to make it clear what is the action I’m looking for. He loves it, comes running with his tail up high when I bring out the clicker and treats! We are very slowly working on roll over now.

    4. Seal*

      My sister-in-law had a cat that used to play fetch. Never been able to train any of my cats to do that, though.

      1. Autumnheart*

        I’ve had 3 fetch cats. My late cat, Casey, used to fetch. But when I adopted Moocher, who also fetched, Casey stopped fetching. Casey eventually passed away, and I adopted 3 kittens (long story). One of them, Lily, loves to fetch—but now Moocher won’t fetch anymore. I haven’t been able to figure out why there’s a limit on how many cats can fetch in one household.

        1. Knotty Ferret*

          We had a couple fetchers at the same time. We were living in a house where there was a half wall around the stairwell. So I could throw a crumpled bit of paper down at the “deep” end, and one of the cats would run around and down the stairs to fetch. The other cat – not so clever. She’d just bee-line for whatever I threw, and at least once I had to catch her by the tail to keep her from a dangerous fall.
          The funny thing was that the cat who was clever about fetch had been malnourished as a kitten and had all sorts of issues with other things (he fell off furniture so often he didn’t consider it an issue, he couldn’t figure out lapping water and licked a wet paw instead, he was generally treated as not quite right by the other cats).

        2. Arts Akimbo*

          I theorize that once an older cat sees a younger cat doing something, they are suddenly far too cool to do that thing themselves. At least that’s how it seemed in our household.

          My older male cat, adopted as a stray, was a master of getting out and hunting. He hunted everything– he would even chase packs of dogs off the property! Until the kitten came along– also a stray. There was much boundary-testing between them, mostly loving, but she wore him out!!! Any time he tried to nap, well, that was clearly the time for her to hang upside-down under the seat of his preferred director’s chair and bat at him with a tiny white paw.

          She (also our fetch-cat!) was a champion mouser. But once she caught her first mouse, he never hunted another mouse! He also stopped playing with mouse-shaped toys. However, mice were all she could catch, and I have never, ever seen an expression of such patronizing contempt on a cat’s face like when he watched her try to catch a bird and utterly fail. She was not good at birding, and if I caught her/them outside I would immediately make them come in, so she had no chance to practice.

          Until one day. When the male cat brought a fully grown LIVE pigeon into our house, as if to demonstrate to the kitten how it should be done. He wouldn’t let her come near it, it was clear he was going to show her. Now I don’t know about you, but I never in my life realized how huge pigeons are until there was a live one in my dining room!! I put a stop to the lesson and managed to chase the test subject out of my house. My cat would not speak to me for the rest of the night, so mad he was!!

          All this is to say, I think it’s a competitive thing, and that cats are full of drama and intrigue, the likes of which we humans seldom appreciate until there is a fully grown live pigeon in our house.

          1. Marion Ravenwood*

            You’ve just reminded me of the time my two cats managed to get a pigeon through the cat flap, through our kitchen and down the hall. It was massive! I have literally no idea how they did it (I like to imagine one pushing and one pulling, ‘to me to you’ a la the Chuckle Brothers), but I have to admit I was a little bit impressed…

      2. only acting normal*

        My childhood dog was a golden retriever who would not fetch. He’d sit, lie down, stay, shake hands, speak, even take an item to a named family member, but not fetch. If you threw something for him he *might* saunter over then lie down and chew it, but mostly he’d look at you like you were stupid.

        1. CoveredInBees*

          Yup. My pug is like that. We joke that she’s part cat. her favorite thing to do is lounge in the sun and slurp her paws or sit on your lap and purr. It seems like this cat is the inverse of my dog.

        2. Slartibartfast*

          We also had a Golden who wouldn’t fetch. We were like dude, RETRIVER is in your name! He would get up slowly and bring things back one time. Second throw you would get a dirty look because he just brought you that!

        3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          The closest my bloodhound gets to fetch is juggling. That is, if I throw the first ball, she’ll go get it, and if I’m really lucky, she’ll wander mostly back to me before I throw the second one and she drops the first to go chase the second, rinse and repeat.

          The whippet gets seriously offended when we throw her toys. The look on her face is like, come on, you jerk, I don’t throw YOUR stuff across the yard, if you didn’t want it why did you take it away from me?!?

      3. The Other Dawn*

        I’ve had a few that fetch, although I didn’t train them to do it. They just decided to do it on their own.

        One of mine now doesn’t necessarily “fetch”, but she brings me her teaser toy when she wants me to play with her. It’s one of those long sticks with a long string and a feather or mouse at the end. She goes nuts for that thing. I swear she’s a kangaroo when she gets going! Her favorite thing is to catch it in her mouth and then drag it away (she doesn’t want the other cats to have it). She then has to bring it back to me so I can wave it around for her again. Very cute, but eventually it gets annoying when I’m at my computer and she’s constantly bringing it to me, begging to play.

        1. Marthooh*

          Has she tried clicker-training to distract you from the computer? I hear that can be effective with stubborn humans.

          1. The Other Dawn*

            Haha, not yet! Actually, it’s not only when I’m on the computer. It’s pretty much anytime, like when I’m eating dinner, in the kitchen, doing laundry, watching TV. Whenever the mood strikes her to play, she harasses me endlessly.

      4. TL -*

        She actually plays fetch already! She’ll go for about 4 or 5 rounds with a hair tie when she’s in the mood.

    5. Star Nursery*

      Ok so I’ve heard of people training cats to use the toilet in the bathroom and also to flush when done. I think you can find YouTube videos too.

      1. 00ff00Claire*

        This is not really a trick, but more of a game. Our small dog likes to “play” by knocking over upturned paper cups to find food / treats under them. She finds it more engaging than the toys we buy from the pet store. We like finding different ways to use several cups together to hide the food. It’s easy and cheap!

        1. TL -*

          Oooh this I think she’ll take to immediately. She’s very interested in where’s my food?

    6. Lulu*

      So we were able to teach our cat quite a few tricks after we adopted her. We had to stop because she developed digestive issues and we couldn’t reward her with food treats anymore, but before that we were actually able to put together a video Christmas card showing them all off. You should still be able to find it on YouTube (username: Lulu, video name: “Crinkle’s Christmas Plans”). It might give you some ideas The words in uppercase are the command words for the subsequent trick shown.

        1. Lulu*

          She’s a total sweetie! Funny story, I actually accidentally got a Twitter following because of her. I had to make a Twitter account to access analytics for a class I was taking. I didn’t want to put up my info, so I posted a couple pics of her and woke up one morning to a small following. I think she’s got over 1200 now, which I find funny because it was a total throw away account-turned-photo-storage at first. (Handle is Crinkles Winks if anyone is interested.)

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Jenny Lawson aka The Bloggess taught one of her cats to fist-bump. She’s also had video of some amazing trained cat shows on her Instagram feed.

    8. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

      Teach her to come to you! It’s valuable for travel and vet visits.

      Also, speak/quiet. I have very vocal cats so I would love to be able to train noise as something to be turned on (and off, ffs, the crying!)

      1. TL -*

        She’ll come for treats and will make eye contact if I call her (or meow if I’m too far away)….most of the time. When she’s getting her outdoors time she won’t come in for me if there’s people or cats around; she waits until my flatmate comes out. Apparently he is the signal that all is safe.

    9. sorbus*

      Food puzzles! Just search for “food puzzles for cats”, there’s a whole website by that name with tons of information and (very cute) videos, including instructions for DIY food puzzles for a variety of cat skill levels.

    10. Mellow*

      I don’t understand making pets work for treats, unless they’re being trained as service animals or some other formal purpose. Can’t kitty have a treat just because she’s a beloved family member?

      1. TL -*

        Kitty has plenty of love and affection. What Kitty needs is a way to use her brain that isn’t figuring out a) how to open windows and locked (!) doors or b) how not to get caught when breaking household rules. She is motivated by treats, so that’s what I’m using to engage her.

  3. Sellofane*

    Anyone have tips or thoughts about filing a motion to modify visitation agreements when dealing with a difficult non-custodial parent? My children’s father fought very hard for custody — and is still very rude and visibly carries a grudge against me although it has been over ten years since I left; due to that and other experiences, this is not anything I could address informally. My eldest is 15 and wants to work this summer rather than spend time at his father’s house. Prior to this, we have scrupulously adhered to the visitation agreement. I anticipate tremendous resistance and am frankly not expecting success. But it is important for my son to see that I am trying to advocate for his goals. Due to cost, I will be representing myself/us. Any advice or experiences would be most welcome. Thank you!

    1. TL -*

      I don’t know about your state, but I know in Texas after the age of 14, kids have a lot more autonomy in custody decisions, including being able to choose where they live if I recall correctly.

      It varies state by state but it’s worth looking into how much weight your kid’s desires; at their age, it’s likely they have a significant say.

      1. valentine*

        Is this something where your kid can get his own low(er)-cost representation and you’d be supporting his petition?

        1. Ruffingit*

          No, this would be a modification of visitation so the child could not represent himself, this is something the parent would need to do.

      2. Ruffingit*

        Just FYI, Texas does not allow a child to choose which parent to live with, ever and I don’t know of any other states that do either. This is a common misunderstanding of the law. A judge will take into account a child’s wishes, but the judge will ultimately make the decision based on a number of factors. And that makes sense because children could easily be swayed/manipulated into choosing one parent over the other and it’s tremendously unfair to make a child of any age choose mom over dad or vice versa. Way too much of an emotional burden on the child.

    2. fposte*

      Rude and carries a grudge–no grounds to change visitation. 15-year-old kid wants to change visitation–in a lot of states you’d be in with a chance on that.

      The clerk of the court can’t advise you on the law, but they can often be *very* helpful with information about filing forms and such. Also check to see if there’s a low-cost legal clinic around, maybe associated with a law school–you should be able to get a consult without hiring for representation throughout the whole process. (For that matter, maybe your budget would stretch to a one-off with a local divorce/family law attorney.)

      And if you’ve dealt with this for ten years, you probably don’t need this advice, but stay calm and don’t let yourself be baited. It’s important to advocate for your son, but it’s also important not to make your life hell. Don’t let this take up more mental energy than it has to–you don’t have to relitigate the relationship to request a change in visitation.

    3. Epsilon Delta*

      That is so tough, I’m sorry you have to deal with this.

      I know you said you don’t have money to pay a lawyer to represent you, but could you meet with a lawyer to understand whether you have a solid case and what sorts of things to argue/avoid? When my husband was in a similar situation with his kid, he met with the same lawyer who he hired the first time and the consultation was free. Legal services would have been at a greatly reduced cost if he decided to pursue that route. Just something to consider.

      Has the father done anything to violate the custody agreement? You said he has been following the placement schedule but if there are other provisions has he been following those as well? Paying child support or his portion of bills, if applicable? If not that could potentially strengthen your case.

      Your son’s opinion could matter in court too like another commenter said, although you should probably check with a lawyer to be sure. My friend’s neice is twelve or thirteen and wasn’t allowed a say, but the situation was quite different than yours. Also, has your son tried talking to his father about this? If not, do you think that would be worth a try? I know from experience that can work well or the other parent can just totally blow off the kid, so you know best whether this is a good idea.

      Document everything. Whether it is the father being five minutes late, or your son saying he really wants to work this summer, whatever you think would be relevant.

      On a similar note, **back up your text messages**. My husband accidentally deleted two years of text message history, and we called the cell phone company – they don’t keep a history past like a day or two. I tried for two hours to recover them using software I found online – not recoverable. I now have his phone set up to automatically back up his texts to his gmail account so he can’t lose them again. I can name the app if you are interested and have a android.

      Good luck. Hugs. This is hard, but I believe you are doing the right thing, and even if you can’t get the outcome you and your son want, he will see that you are trying and his father is not, and he will remember that. Even if he is not showing it now, he will remember.

      1. fposte*

        I would disagree with some of this. Courts take time with parents *very* seriously and expect parents to prioritize co-parenting. If a parent comes in with a laundry list of stuff like the other parent being 5 minutes late for custody exchanges, that’s going to hurt the case rather than strengthen it; it makes the complaining parent seem to lack perspective. The point really shouldn’t be “I’m tired of dealing with his crap,” because that’s not a reason to take visitation away from a parent.

        1. Sellofane*

          No, I am not being petty about any of this – the rudeness on his part was mentioned in my opening post only to explain why I can’t come to an informal agreement with him about our son’s visits. I have overlooked being shorted on child support (small amounts but he is a trust fund baby and pays slightly over $110/child every month), he is not providing the health insurance he is supposed to provide nor is he paying his share of health care costs not covered by the insurance I provide. Additionally, in the initial decree, I said that if he wants additional time with our children that is not provided for in the visitation, he was welcome to come to the area and have additional time with them.

          The only reason I am filing to modify visitation is so that my son can stay here for the summer and get a job — and my son initiated discussion about this. However, he also said that while he is happy to talk to the judge about this, he did not feel comfortable discussing it directly with his father.

          1. fposte*

            And to be clear, I wasn’t saying you were; as I said in my previous post, it sounds like you’ve handled this really well for a long time. I was just responding to a post that was suggesting an approach that was going to take you down a road you’ve been studiously avoiding.

          2. Sue*

            Agree strongly with fposte on headspace issue. Stay as emotionally detached as possible, making it about accommodating your teenager’s mature decisions and straight forward financial issues, not drama.
            See about a conference with a family law practitioner or at the very least, a legal aid clinic to go over your situation. Different judges have very different takes on these situations.
            Also consider including asking for a judgment for all past due child support, medical bills, insurance, etc. It is often a good negotiation technique to have other (legitimate!) issues, gives you space to compromise.

        2. Epsilon Delta*

          Sorry, to be clear I’m not suggesting you lead with “he was five minutes late to pick up on March 15, 2017.” You should be documenting mostly for yourself so you can see patterns and look for things that really are strong arguments. If you can say “he has been no less than 15 minutes late to pick up on ten of the last fifteen exhanges,” that’s something, and it’s relevant because it affects the kids too, not just you. And it’s why it’s a good idea to at least meet with a lawyer if at all possible, because there were things that my husband didn’t think were relevant (but he documented anyway) which actually were considered pretty serious.

          1. fposte*

            Even a repeated pattern of being 15 minutes late isn’t really a court thing. That’s not a strong argument for anything to do with custody/visitation or child support. It’s a right, not a privilege; he’s not going to get it taken away from being a little careless with it.

            1. Epsilon Delta*

              Agree, and it doesn’t sound like it applies to OP in this case anyway. Poorly chosen example. I don’t think it’s a bad idea to document interactions, having the documentation doesn’t require you to use it.

      2. Thursday Next*

        I think the thing to pursue is information on how family court in your state handles a teenager’s wishes, and what the mechanism is for your son to make his wishes known.

        When he was 13, my husband explained to a judge that he no longer wanted to spend summers with his father, and the judge accepted that. It was clear that those were his wishes, not his mother’s manipulation.

    4. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I don’t know if there are other circumstances you don’t mention but why does working preclude being at his father’s house? He could get a job near his father’s house or if he wants to work at a summer camp, that wouldn’t violate custody as long as he has his father’s permission and sent before and after time at his house.

      Is there some additional detail here?

      1. Triplestep*

        This was my exact thought.

        My second thought was that it sounds like you moved the kids somewhere far enough from their father that they spend vacations “at his house” instead of having an alternating weekly or weekend schedule that families who are local to each other often practice. If that’s the case, I can see why your ex-husband is still bitter and frankly I don’t blame him. If I have interpreted this correctly, you might consider encouraging your son to find a job local to his father. You’d not only be sending your son the message that you support his goals, but that you support his relationship with his father. Unless his father is a jerk, abusive, or an addict, you – as the one who moved the kids away – owe it to the two of them to consider this alternative.

        That said, your ex is the one who moved and made visits difficult, then too bad for him. Shoulda thought of that before he picked up stakes and left.

        FWIW, my opinions are those of someone who divorced a husband who was emotionally abusive to me (not the kids) and I went to great lengths to support the child/father relationship. This included staying in the same vicinity, and not dating anyone who had kids/job prospects/burning desire for another location. My career prospects in my home city were bleak, and I endured long commutes and crappy jobs rather than move my kids.

        It’s great that you adhered to your visitation agreement, but if you moved your kids away and there were no extenuating circumstances, then that is quite literally the least you could have done. That a fifteen year old boy would not consider finding a job near the father he was moved away from at age five is not shocking. So if that’s the case here, you have some culpability and finding a lawyer is not your biggest problem.

        But if I’ve read this wrong and your ex chose to move, then he can go pound sand while you use some of the suggestions here for how to proceed through the courts.

          1. Triplestep*

            There are many clues in the OP that point to the left out details, and those with lived experience raising children with exes (and have been there for friends doing the same) can often fill in the blanks or at least make a good guess. People who ask for advice of strangers on the internet sometimes get more than they bargain for – that’s the price of admission. OP is free to take with as many grains of salt as she pleases.

        1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

          Yeah it’s hard to say what’s going on but most teenager jobs (fast food, retail, summer camp) aren’t ones that are super location specific so I don’t know why son can’t get one near his dad.

        2. Same.*

          Wow that’s making a lot of assumptions and is really harsh, especially considering we have no idea who moved or why.

        3. Libby*

          Your comment is not only mean spirited but also unhelpful. Just because you did something one way doesn’t mean it was the right way or that OP’s way was “quite literally the least you could have done.”

          1. Triplestep*

            Have no idea if anyone will see this, but I am compelled to tell you that taking children away from their other parent if there are not extenuating circumstances is the wrong thing to do. Just like moving away from your children is the wrong thing to do if you are the non-custodial parent. Unless a parent is abusive etc (I’ve run the laundry list several times now) separating kids from parents is wrong. It has nothing to do with “what I did.” Do a ‘net search on “Parental Alienation”.

    5. neverjaunty*

      Don’t write off talking to a lawyer just yet. If you’re in the US, many bar associations have a free or very inexpensive referral service. I just pointed a friend to one – in her county an hour one-time meeting with a family law practitioner cost less than $50. That would be enough to get a good idea of what the pros and cons are and pointers to the appropriate forms. Check your state and county bar’s websites.

    6. Holly*

      Please do not disregard free legal clinics – family law is a common area where there can be free legal assistance out there. Check out the websites of local law schools or Legal Aid in your area, don’t be afraid to call and ask.

    7. just a random teacher*

      Depending on your job, this might also be something where you could get advice through your EAP at work.

    8. Spoiling the Fun*

      I think the key is not to focus on the father’s grudge against you but rather the child’s wish to not be forced to be around their father. At 15 speaking their preferences about changing the original arrangement would hold a lot more water with a judge rather than just saying the father doesn’t like you and has made things difficult over the years.

    9. Emmie*

      Family law is an area which has many self help guides. Many courts and pro bono locations have free guides in custody modification, and other family law areas. You can find them by googling your state + custody modification + legal aid, pro bono, .edu, or .org. Those search terms may take you beyond attorney advertising and Find Law (I find that has limited value.) Family law judges are accustomed to seeing people represent themselves. They are not there to counsel you on the law, but be comfortable because it’s a less intimidating environment than you think. Other people have talked about having your son talk to his dad. That’s a good idea, but only you know if that’s possible. Don’t own your ex’s anger about the modification. It’s not yours to mitigate or solve. Good luck.

    10. Batgirl*

      I have American friends who have parallel parenting agreements (only written communication and rigid schedules) rather than flexible, communicative co-parenting ones. Some states have guidelines on them and they are encouraged in situations where parents don’t feel friendly (or, ahem, one is a huge grudgey jerk).

      There’s a couple of reasons why it might be worth investigating for you. 1) The other parent is responsible for their own relationship with the child, especially older kids. They have their own contact numbers for each other and don’t use you to mediate. That means if he wants kiddo to come, he needs to make it tempting. (Your only role would be to not block any visitation during his scheduled time or make other plans etc).
      2) If he’s communicating with son, he may be less inclined to be contrary than he would be with when communicating with you. If son says: “I’m going to ask mum for a change in the agreement so I can work” a more productive conversation might result.
      3) If son doesn’t want to do 2, and just wants you and the lawyers to do it for him – you can go right ahead without worrying about in-person drama from your ex. You will never see/hear it because PP never involves direct contact.

      My friends would recommend it for mental health. It is a huge strain to get rid of the supportive side of a relationship and keep only the arguments! I have also heard of lazy, blamey parents successfully forced to step up under the rigid DIY expectations of PP – or maybe just because of the removal of conflict.

      All these guys had money defaults too.

    11. Observer*

      Does your area have court appointed representatives for children? If they do, see if you can get that in place. You don’t pay for it, and the only thing they are supposed to take into account is the welfare of the child. That includes what the child wants but not exclusively that. The big thing here is that they won’t necessarily talk to you – the idea being that they are supposed to be exclusively in service to the child and and sidestepping any manipulation by the parents.

      In your case, this could really be helpful.

  4. Effie, who gets to be herself*

    Just got home from a second date and have to get up for work in less than five hours. Once in a while, it’s worth it :)

    1. Loopy*

      I love that feeling- the it’s worth it feeling. I take sleep super seriously so when I was okay with being tired the next day it was personally a huge marker of how a date went for me. Super useful!

      1. Effie, who gets to be herself*

        Ooh, that’s a good point! Thanks for affirming my questionable life choice ;) /jk

  5. JenRN*

    Ski Day! Woot woot! Likely last one if the season; only made it out 3 times this year. A bummer considering the record amounts of snow.

  6. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I am sick AGAIN. The last time I was sick was two weeks ago, though it turned out I wasn’t actually ill, I just had a horrible migraine. This time I feel mostly fine, but I’m sneezing and coughing and it just stinks. I kind of hope it’s a terrible allergy attack, but that would be because I wouldn’t be contagious– I’m miserable either way. Blech. I have decided it’s because I have many co-workers with tiny children who pick up all manner of things at school. I have also decided that my house is a gross mess and if I just muster up the energy to vacuum, all will be well again.

    1. Rebecca*

      I hope you feel better! I’ve been coughing since last weekend, at least it’s getting a much better now, but my voice comes and goes, too. I think I have/had bronchitis :( At least no runny nose, headache, sore throat, or any of that, but I have felt and sounded yucky all week. I too have chores, need to vacuum, do laundry, take stuff to the recycling drop off bins, groceries…ugh…I just wanna sit in my chair and hold a cat!

    2. CJ*

      Could it be a sinus infection? This time of year, with lots of weather changes, I get sinus headaches and the like that often turn into similar symptoms. Sudafed and Breathe Rite strips really help with the pressure!

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I don’t think so, only because I’m not as headachey as I usually get when I get sinus infections. I’m actually a bit concerned about pneumonia but I can’t put my finger on why, just that my chest is a little tight. But no fever thus far that I can tell, so hoping it will pass.

        I managed to muster up the energy to clean the bathroom, then I slept for two hours, then I vacuumed. So there’s that!

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

      This has been a tough winter. Two of my coworkers basically have had the same lingering cold/cough, with intermittent relief, for three months. I normally get about three cold/sinus infection things per year. I’ve gotten three just since December! Hope you feel better.

    4. Autumnheart*

      Is it very dry in your house? Having low humidity can irritate mucus membranes. Boiling a pot of water on the stove will work if you don’t have a humidifier.

    5. Ruffingit*

      I’m so sorry, I feel you so much on this! I had bronchitis for nine weeks in the fall. Two urgent care visits and one doctor’s visit finally got rid of it. This last week I had a horrible cold. Finally coming out of that. So yeah, I feel you! Hope you are better soon!!

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Thanks! This stinks. I have to revise my initial post, too– I no longer feel fine minus the stuffiness. We just got back from a chamber concert and I am so grateful my coughing fit didn’t start until it was over. I’m sorry about your bronchitis but very glad it’s gone!

  7. Valancy Snaith*

    Thanks to all advising on genomic testing for my mom–the tests turned up neuroendocrine cancer, which was a surprise, so it came in very handy after all. The next round of tests will be to determine whether it’s fast or slow growing, so we will see what those tell us as well.

    1. Venus*

      I’m sorry that you’re in this position, but it’s really good to hear that progress is being made. Best of luck with the next test, and in working on a treatment plan.

    2. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      sending hug. So glad it was helpful and thinking of you & your mom as this moves forward. Keep us posted.

    3. Rainy Days*

      I’m sorry you and your family are going through this, but I just read your name and it took me a second to recognize it. Love it!!

  8. StellaBella*

    I live in a town that us hosting for another 8 days a large international auto show. I am so over the crowds, the entitled men on buses yelling in English nonetheless (we speak French) at women to move grocery shopping bags (2x seen this so far), the buses being messed up, and well the increased patience I am trying to maintain but am tired. Also there are news report from a local non profit that trafficking of women in this week skyrockets here and well, am just over all of this.

    1. Eleanor Rigby*

      Ah, I live in a Festival City (for a little over a month) and I feel you. It sucks for residents.

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

      I feel your pain. We lived near a major tourist attraction for ten years and we were both about ready for the loony bin by the time we finally moved away. I hope the week goes fast.

      To be fair, if the locals are taking up *seats* on a crowded bus with their bags, they really should move them onto their laps. This is a pet peeve of mine on our mass transit here. But if that wasn’t the case, then they’re jerks.

      1. StellaBella*

        yeah I get this, and the woman was not old/pregnant/disabled visibly, but she had a lot of luggage and looked very tired – this is the airport bus – and honestly there are 5x the ‘expo’ buses that are free for use by these entitled asshats, so to be fair he was on a local bus not an ‘expo’ bus. but yeah I do get that. We have buses for the expo that leave every 5 minutes from all major city points.

    3. Texan In Exile*

      I live in Milwaukee, which is in the running for the Democratic National Convention in July next year. I hope we do not get it. We have about two days of nice weather a year and I don’t want to lose it to a convention.

      1. from the OC in WI*

        I agree. Would be great for economy and tourism but I don’t want to be driving on the Marquette interchange.

    4. Jean (just Jean)*

      Sympathies! You get credit for staying patient.
      Love the idea that yelling louder will somehow force the English language into people’s heads. Not. /sarcasm
      As for trafficking women…yuck. May the customers and traffickers get busted and serve jail time while the women are freed for a better life. (Am suppressing an off-topic rant on the scumbags who profit from other people’s sexual subordination.)

    5. MissDisplaced*

      Auto shows are the worst too. It’s all a bunch of old, entitled white men with money trying to relive their youth and act cool.

    6. CoveredInBees*

      Living in Manhattan, I sympathize. It is like that much of the year, but around Christmas to New Year is the worst. New Yorkers get a reputation for being rude but it is because tourists are so badly behaved all the time. We’re actually more than happy to give directions or advice about places to see that aren’t tourist traps. Just treat the City like a place where people live, not a resort where everyone’s on vacation. Also, for the love of god, don’t randomly just stop walking on the sidewalk to look at something (step to the side!) and don’t take up the whole sidewalk with your travel group (you walk too slowly like that!).

      As for the trafficking thing, I’m skeptical. The same thing is said every year about whichever city is hosting the Super Bowl but it has been studied and found to be untrue. In fact a number of willing sex workers say it is a slow weekend.

      1. Ruffingit*

        I visited NYC a couple of years ago for the first time and found everyone there to be super helpful and accomodating. I travel a lot, both nationally and internationally, so yeah just keeping in mind that people live and work in those towns and not being a jerk tourist goes a long way.

        1. Rosie’s mom*

          Ahh NYC, my favorite sight is seeing a man in his business suit with his brief case next to him taking the picture of a tourist standing in front a famous building.
          And there is nothing like asking for subway directions .

      2. Who Plays Backgammon?*

        I lived for years in a city that’s a top vacay destination. I worked weekends, so I often had tourists ask me for help when I’d be waiting for my train. I’d help if I could, but one Sunday morning a big jerk came up to me and demanded directions to someplace I’d never heard of. (Living there doesn’t mean you know everything.) When I said I didn’t know, he gave me a scathing sneer and said sarcastically, “It figures!” His souvenir of that trip was a right earful from a local that hopefully deterred him from ever coming to my city again.

      3. londonedit*

        It’s exactly the same in London. We have a reputation for being rude but we’re only rude when tourists are rude to us! People forget that when they visit, they’re in holiday mode, but we live here and we’re trying to get to and from work, get to appointments, do all the usual boring daily life stuff. We don’t live in a theme park, we live in a city and it’s our home. Londoners are more than happy to help if someone is lost or needs a hand with something! And we’re more than happy to advise people on GOOD places to go that aren’t the horrible tourist spots that just leave people thinking the whole place is expensive and gross.

        1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

          My visit to London is full of memories of lovely helpful people, y’all were just the best to a person travelling abroad for the first time!

        2. Marion Ravenwood*

          Completely agree. I have had more help from people in London since I moved here than I ever got in the small Northern town when I grew up, but when you’re just trying to go about your daily business dealing with crowds of tourists can get exhausting very quickly (although it should be said that only a tiny minority are intentionally obnoxious). And I’m always happy to give people advice or directions!

      4. AdAgencyChick*

        Yes, thank you! New Yorkers are not mean unless you get in the way. The only time I’ve ever blown off someone asking for directions was the person who did it while I was running in Central Park, and that’s because there were plenty of people WALKING that that tourist could have asked.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Ugh, that would have annoyed me so much. I worked in Times Square for 8 years and nothing burned me more than people just walking right up to my face and asking for directions without even an, “Excuse me.”

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Scale can throw rourists off and lead to questions that seem funny to New Yorkers. A friend told me about walking the block of the Empire State Building and getting asked where the building is. She pointed straight up. And because she’s nice along with that wisea$$ streak, she then explained it’s the whole block. A few weeks later I had almost the same thing happen to me with Macy’s on Herald Square. So after I explained that ALL the entrances were ok to use, I volunteered that the Empire State Building needs to be seen from a distance. :)

            1. Observer*

              I get that. But, that doesn’t mean that people on the street are character actors placed to play a role. Nor are they zoo specimens. That’s the real question – not cluelessness, but RUDENESS.

              When you go to a place like Colonial Williamsburg, you can reasonably expect that every person who isn’t a tourist should be able to answer your questions about the place. But, that’s just not the case when you’re in a real, functioning city. You don’t take pictures of “the natives” just because they are in a “picturesque” part of town like many “ethnic” neighborhoods, you don’t *demand* ANYTHING, and you ASK for information politely.

        2. The Original K.*

          I kind of get a kick out of being asked for directions and having tourists say “You’re so … nice!” It makes me laugh.

    7. Kat in VA*

      I feel you. I live in the greater DC area, and from roughly the beginning of June until the beginning of September is tourist season here. People flock in droves from all over the world to downtown DC but also stay in hotels in my area, drive like absolute idiots in unfamiliar rentals (to be fair, the traffic here isn’t just epic, it’s BIBLICAL), and generally jack up my commute for a solid three months. *sigh*

      1. annie j*

        OMG yes. I live in DC too and the tourists drive me BANANAS. It seems like most people think DC is easy to drive in for some reason but it’s actually terrible when you don’t know the traffic patterns and such (I mean, it’s terrible even when you DO know the traffic patterns).

  9. Anonymouse2 for this*

    So I’ve been having some weird joint pain for about a year which has been getting worse lately but isn’t debilitating just strange. I went to a rheumatologist and it turns out what I always thought was eczema is actually psoriasis and the doctor is 50/50 that I have psoriatic arthritis. He sent me for a ton of bloodwork and some numbers came back weird so he wants me to test again. I have two close relatives who are doctors (not rheumatologist but other similar medicine sub specialists) who are both upset that I could have the psoriatic arthritis although they weren’t concerned by my liver numbers being weird and think they will be normal upon retest. I guess I’m a little freaked out but trying to just wait for the retest. Even though I have docs talking to me about this I totally still went to webmd. Mistake!

    Real question is—does anyone have psoriatic arthritis who can tell me what the impact is on your day to day? How do the meds impact your life?

    Thanks, guys.

    1. Not All*

      It runs in my family but I lucked out (sortof) & ended up with a different type of early-onset arthritis. The relative who did a lot of fine motor-skills work for their job (specialty-mechanic-type thing) ended up having to do a career shift into desk-job because the constant gripping/use of their hands was extremely painful but once they were just doing normal type office work (not a lot of typing though) they are pretty much okay. One of them has a love/hate relationship with Humira. It is the only thing that lets them live a normal, pain-free life, but they’ve also almost died on it a couple times. They’ve learned that if they start to feel the SLIGHTEST bit off or tired, they need to go to the doctor immediately because odds are they’ve picked up some sort of virus and the Humira is preventing their immune system from fighting it, which also means they don’t show any of the symptoms like fever that would normally indicate they’re sick. If they go to the urgent care or ER, they have to make it very very clear that they are on Humira and it prevents them from showing immune response or they will get blown off as a hypochondriac (how they ended up hospitalized the first time). Everyone else it’s pretty mild and they say it’s no worse than any other assorted aches/pains/illness people tend to accumulate.

      1. Anonymouse2 for this*

        Thanks! This is helpful. Biologics have been discussed as a likely med choice so that’s good info about humira. I really appreciate it.

      2. pcake*

        Has the doctor of your relative on the Humira given him Tamiflu? My son’s doctor makes sure my son – who is on Humira, and it’s really helped – always has a dose or two of Tamiflu around the house. That way, if someone my son’s been hanging out with says they’re getting sick the day after they visit or a kid at Disneyland sneezes in his face, he takes the Tamiflu and usually doesn’t get sick or gets sick much more mildly than without the Tamiflu.

    2. Lilysparrow*

      This may not be applicable to your situation, but it relates to autoimmune stuff generally: be as proactive as you can about managing your stress. Get regular exercise, get enough sleep, eat your daily plants, find someone to talk to about everything.

      I have a relatively minor autoimmune problem (Hashimotos). Several years ago, I was under an ungodly amount of stress in every direction, from situations I could not change. I had major pain flare in all my joints that sent me to a rheumatologist. My blood work came back with markers for rheumatoid arthritis, which was pretty scary.

      The doc heard my situation and put me on a 6-month regimen of therapy, gym time, and sleep interventions.

      My pain went away and my blood work cleared up. She said that if you have auto-antibodies, stress can cause them to “escape” their normal target zone and wreak havoc all over your body.

      Even if it turns out to be PA for sure, proactive stress management will make you feel better. Miles better.

      Hope you get an answer soon, and find a plan that works well for you.

      1. Anonymouse2 for this*

        Thank you so much. I’m lucky that I have a job that I love (as opposed to my last job which was super stressful). I am doing exercise about 4x a week but I have small children which means sleep is an issue. The crazy thing is that I haven’t felt this healthy for years but then this sort of developed over the past year and has been getting worse.

    3. StrikingFalcon*

      I have one of the other rheumatoid arthritises and my aunt has psoriatic arthritis. It’s hard to say what the day to day will be like for you because they range in severity from mild aches in a couple joints to debilitating pain in all joints. The best advice I can give is be really honest with yourself and your doctor about how bad the pain is. Look up a pain scale written for people with chronic pain – if you’ve been living with undiagnosed pain for a while, it screws up your perception of how bad pain is because you get used to it. Track which joints are affected and how badly for a couple weeks and bring that to your doctor. Fatigue – the sort of bone deep exhaustion you feel when you are sick – can also be a symptom, so pay attention to that also.

      But the meds can make a huge difference. I’ve been on biologics for years, and I find I don’t get sick more often but I do get more sick when I catch a cold. But they gave me my life back. I was having flare-ups so bad I literally could not walk, and those completely stopped when I started a biologic that worked for me (the first one I tried only partially worked). Methotrexate is the other main drug recommended – it worked amazingly for me but I couldn’t tolerate the side effects. My aunt is doing well on it though.

      1. Anonymouse2 for this*

        Thank you! I really appreciate your perspective! Yes my rheumatologist likes methotrexate as a first line although if my liver numbers are truly off I can’t take it. I also was a little nervous because he said you can’t drink alcohol at all on it. I’m not a big drinker but I do like a glass of wine now and again socially. So that was kind of a downer. What other side effects did you notice?

        1. StrikingFalcon*

          I started getting episodes of blurry vision after taking it. They went away after I stopped taking it. It’s a *super* rare side effect though – literally no rheumatologist I’ve talked to has ever had another patient with the same experience, so I wouldn’t worry about it. Liver problems are more common – they’ll monitor your numbers and if they get out of whack, they’ll take you off it. You also have to take folic acid supplements with it, as it affects your body’s ability to metabolize folic acid. I hope you find something that works well for you!

        2. Reba*

          Fwiw, I take methotrexate at a somewhat low dose, 17mg weekly, and I have a drink once a month or so and my numbers are always fine. I know the med advice is Never, but I read someplace that UK med advice is just to really limit drinking (cultural difference? :) ) So I decided to try very light drinking to see how it affected the liver numbers. If you are already liver sensitive you may not want to tangle with it. I just thought, I’m going to be taking these literally forever, I need to be able to live!

          I have been on methotrexate for a decade at varying levels and I’ve always tolerated it well. I saw some hair thinning at a high dose. I have RA and I’m lucky that methotrexate and plaquenil control my symptoms pretty darn well. My worst damage such as it is is in the toes. My fingers look sort of strange but only occasionally give me pain. I do ballet and yoga and type and play the piano and cook. I’m not pain free but I can do all the things.

          It has also made a difference to get a Dr that is really interested in you and the details of your experience. I have an unusual presentation (which contributed to my lack of diagnosis as a juvenile) and I’ve had one doc who kept saying “most patients this” and “all RA that”. My current doc really takes me through stuff in a more granular way, we go over x rays together closely and she lays out where the damage is, and exactly at what point of pain or changes we would try a new regimen. I’m glad I’m not on biologics but I expect to be at some point in my life, and it’s good to see that there are options if/when these meds are no longer effective. If reproduction is in your future be frank about it and make a plan for that with the rheumatologist.

          Good luck with treatment!

    4. Long-time psoriatic arthritis person*

      I’ve had psoriatic arthritis for almost 30 years, started in my early-mid 20’s which sounds unusually but I was told is actually pretty common for this particular disease. I’ve run the gamut of medications over the years and am just transitioning from one biologic to another.

      Everyone’s case is different, but here are some of my experiences. My worst issue is permanent joint damage in my wrists and thumb, which were the first joints affected and the damage occurred before a diagnosis was made, and I had some mistreatment at the time that caused me to lose a lot of range of motion that I never regained. It may take trying different medications or med combinations to find what works best for you, so be prepared for that. If you are on a medication and you see symptoms worsen definitely discuss with your rheumatologist to see if it’s just a general flare up which can happen for a variety of reasons or if the meds are losing effectiveness – this does happen sometimes, and I’m dealing with it right now. After decades of having very minor issues with psoriasis and primarily issues with arthritis, suddenly my psoriasis flared out of nowhere and I’m in the process of trying to get that under control, hence the new medication regimen.

      I’m in the minority where I’ve never had any parallel in my condition based on seasons, I’m no worse in cold or rain than any other time, but many do experience this type of variation. Definitely keeping active and moving helps, try to not become more sedentary because of it because keeping your joints moving and active definitely can help. I’ve been fortunate to not have a lot of side effects from meds, but as mentioned have had to change them over the years. Find a rheumatologist you really like, if you aren’t connecting with them for any reason it’ll be much harder to have the type of productive relationship you want. Someone said something recently that I really took to heart – if your doctor were to move and you didn’t want to move with them, you should find another doctor. I saw this with my current PCP, I really didn’t like him and have avoided going to annual checks, and this gave me the kick I needed to realize I need a new one. Luckily I like my rheumatologist. Be as detailed with them about your condition, the more they know the better they can help find the right strategies. Radiographs to track joint damage can be helpful in assessing the effectiveness of meds in addition to just a general assessment of how you feel.

      OK, I’m kind of rambling by now, if you have specific areas you have questions about feel free to ask. I’ve personally found this an annoying but very manageable condition, and I’ve had it more than half my life, so don’t freak out too much that it’ll change your life.

      1. WS*

        I also developed psoriatic arthritis in my 20s and this was my experience down to a T! I have joint damage in my wrists, thumbs, two fingers and one toe, all of which happened early. Since then there’s been pain and swelling but nothing permanently damaged.

    5. Rockette J Squirrel*

      Rheumatoid Arthritis here. Make sure your rheumatologist is good. I’m lucky, mine is knowledgeable, kind, and gentle, and absolutely does not want her patients to be in pain. Biologics – do your research. There are several, thank goodness. Tried methotrexate plus hydroxychloroquine for 6 months, but needed more, so added my first biologic, Humira, which worked well for about 1.5 years. Second was Enbrel, worked for a couple years. Next was Orencia, for about 1.5 years. All were with the methotrexate and hydroxychloroquine. All were injections. Next came Actemra, via infusion. On my fourth year, and doing well. Even got to delete the methotrexate two years ago! So that you know what works may not after time passes, but others may. (Note: ask doctor about help with co-pays on biologics. The manufacturers often do. The infusion nurses do the paperwork for us – they are pros at it.)
      Very helpful reading: google RA Warrior. There is good info there on what to ask doctors. And how to answer the questions of the well-meaning but ignorant people.
      Google The Spoon Theory. She has Lupus, but her explanation can help friends and loved ones understand chronic illness. It helped me learn to weigh the cost/benefit of of choices.
      I sincerely hope you need none of this and wish you the best.

      1. Rockette J Squirrel*

        My worst nightmare is having to shake hands. And demurring and explanation doesn’t work well. People get their feelings hurt. (Try it and watch their expression.) If you have to be an environment where you’ll be offered lots of handshakes this is the best tip I was given: use stretchy elastic bandage like they use on you after taking your blood. Smile, hold up your hand, say how happy you are to meet them. Works on everyone except the ones who then grab your left hand!

        1. Lilysparrow*

          I had carpal tunnel in both hands at one point, so I had those braces in the cabinet. When my pain flares were real bad, I would wear them. People would back off.

      2. Anonymouse2 for this*

        Thank you so much. I do like the rheumatologist. He trained with my husband and my husband respects him tremendously. I also really appreciate the info on the meds.

  10. Pharmgirl*

    TL;DR Any tips on blocking out the light from a skylight that’s easy to remove?

    I just closed on my first condo, and it’s perfect! Apart from a small skylight right over my bed. I have trouble sleeping as it is, and I prefer it to be pitch black. Is there anything I can use to block out the light at night, but is easily removable for daytime? It’s an attic bedroom with only one other small window, so I’d like to be able to take advantage of the skylight during the day.

    1. StellaBella*

      Maybe fashion a thick black sheet onto a piece of wood then screw that wood into one side and make little hooks or velcro fasteners for the other side? Like a roman blind but not?

    2. cat socks*

      I’m not sure if this would work on a skylight, but I have a roller shades that can be operated by a remote. These are really high windows in the family room that can only be reached by a ladder.

      The company that installed all the blinds in our house had this as an option.

      Maybe there is an option for a blackout shade you can have installed.

      1. Amey*

        I stayed in a holiday cottage in France that had skylights in all the bedrooms (in two of them these were the only windows) and they had blackout blinds that were remote controlled. They were very good. So I’m sure such a thing exists!

        There are also stick on blinds that you can get for babies which would be a quick fix option – we had the GroBlind for ours. I don’t know if that’s available in the US but googling it would give you an idea of the type of thing I mean and I’m sure there’s an equivalent.

      2. Reba*

        I stayed in a hotel room with just this kind of thing on a skylight. I thought it was awesome!

        Congrats Pharmgirl!

    3. Zona the Great*

      Selectblinds dot com has cheap custom built curtains for sky lights. Always have a sale.

    4. Aly_b*

      If you can rig up some sticky Velcro on the edges, you can use a car windshield cover, and just stick it on and take it off. Not a great permanent solution but if it’s a rental you don’t want to modify, it might be worth a shot.

    5. Triplestep*

      A friend of mine used fabric hung between two tension rods. The fabric had rod pockets at both ends and when she wanted the light to come in she simply moved one tension rod to be next to the other. The fabric draped down a bit in the open position but wasn’t a big problem.

    6. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      Completely different approach, but I have a good eye sleep mask (blinky, maybe?) molded foam, not the flat kind. I travel with them, wear them at night, wear them when camping, wear them on the plane. You can’t always control your environment, but I discovered when camping where NO lights, that I sleep like a baby if I have blackout… but I couldn’t while husband alive because he needed night lights for the bathroom all the time. So I got used to them.
      I often pop it off at the five am mark (potty run), and then let the natural dawn wake me up. So I’m wearing it most of the night, but letting the ambient light slowly increase to wake me. YMMV but a LOT cheaper than redoing all the blinds and shades in my rental house.

      1. Mellow*

        Good call, NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser. I was about to write the same, including the part about sleeping like a baby and letting ambient light induce a natural awakening.

        I’m sorry you lost your husband.

        1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

          Thank you Mellow! Sleep became a particularly precious commodity while caregiving (and I”ve always had problems getting to sleep for psychological reasons to start with). But the light issue completely surprised me, and this is such a simple solution… particularly when you can’t control your environment. Thank you again!

    7. Drax*

      I have a IKEA black out curtain (it rolls) with a well placed command hook and it makes it easy to open and close to block out our skylight. We have no other windows in the loft so we are constantly opening and closing it for light.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      There are also slat blinds designed to mount on angled roofs. If you go this route, get wide slats. The narrow ones on our roof/ceiling in Denmark didn’t really keep light out. But the pulley mechanism was fascinating.

  11. coffee cup*

    This morning I went for a run. It was hard going, I’ve not been in 2 weeks and last week I was recovering from my health issue. And the wind out there is COLD! But I ran most of it. I got tired at one point and sat on a bench (really not usual for me, I never usually stop) and a lovely dog came up to me and dropped a stick at my feet. Cheered me up immediately! It was like the dog knew I needed a boost.

    I’ve also just made my own BBQ beans. They were yum! I am trying to make more ‘simple but easy’ things to gain more cooking confidence. I never really thought about how baked beans are made, but when I found a recipe I realised it’s easy. They tasted great and I’m really happy I gave it a go.

    1. Lena Clare*

      Oh the BBQ beans sound nice – can you reprint the recipe here?

      I would love to be able to run but I am not one of life’s runners sadly! I have tried and tried – and failed! I have a hip injury at the moment which has not improved with physio so I need to ring the GP again next week.

      I found a new sandwich recipe which is delicious: tahini, avocado, and falafel on rye and spelt bread (or walnut bread) with balsamic-dipped cherry tomatoes! It is my new go-to lunch!

      1. coffee cup*

        The recipe was just ‘I came across it online a while ago and decided to improvise my own version because I don’t have some of the stuff’, ha. I hate chopping garlic and onions make me cry, so I had neither of these things. So what I did was:

        a generous dollop of tomato puree
        1/4 tsp of garlic powder
        1/2 to 1 tsp smoked paprika
        1/2 to 1 tsp mild chilly powder (varying both depending on your preference, although I really just used ‘a substantial sprinkle’ of both)
        a splash of soy sauce (I think the recipe wanted light, but I used dark and it was fine)
        1 tsp light brown sugar (mine was clumped together in the packet so I used ‘a decent clump’)
        a grind of sea salt
        a touch of olive oil just for the initial cooking (really don’t need much at all)

        Heat all that up on a very low heat, stir it so it becomes a paste-y puree-y sauce.

        Then you get your beans! I used a 70g box of cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed, and then added them to the pan and coated them in the tomato sauce mixture till they were all covered. 2-3 mins cooking on a slightly higher heat.

        Then add 100ml tomato pasta and stir, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 5 mins, stirring now and then. It looks just like baked beans in a tomato sauce, but it’s extra yum! Then get some amazing bread and put them on top – or do whatever else you like! And you can add more salt, or adjust the spices as necessary, or add more stuff… whatever you like. It seems pretty flexible so that’s why I was able to basically not follow the recipe and do my own thing.

        1. coffee cup*

          Let me state that auto-correct changed ‘chili’ to ‘chilly’. It doesn’t need to be cold…

    2. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Making your own coleslaw is easy too. Google KFC secret coleslaw recipe – that one is good. You can buy pre shredded mix.

    3. Marni*

      I second the request for the bean recipe! And your story about the dog made me smile too. :-)

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      A friend & I once scaled a cliff (stupidly unprepared but that’s another story. Halfway up, a big galoot of a yellow lab came to meet us. We’re still not sure how he walked along the side of the cliff face. It was like he was a goat or something.

  12. Sleepless*

    Has anyone here had a sleep study for insomnia WITHOUT sleep apnea and gotten useful information from it? I have very, very chronic sleep maintenance insomnia. I went to a sleep disorders clinic about 20 years ago. The impression I got was that they really couldn’t fix anything besides sleep apnea, otherwise you got advice on improving your sleep hygiene (because clearly it was my fault for not doing it right) and meds. My life is pretty much ruled by sleep hygiene and the meds do work. But it *has* been 20 years, and I thought who knows, maybe they’ve learned something new?

    1. valentine*

      If you haven’t already, tell your doctor what’s up and see what they say. Maybe they will recommend a sleep specialist or order a sleep study. That clinic should’ve been able to give you advice, but you should certainly be able to get some now. Have you tried a ton of sleep hygiene scenarios and found them all wanting? Are you a night person who would be better off working nights? There was someone here who found out she needs to go no-screens and strictly go to sleep at 7pm or so.

      1. Sleepless*

        My doctor knows about it and is just thankful to finally have me on meds that work. I guess my question is, do sleep studies give enough detailed information that they can tell me something more than “oh, hey, look at that, you went to sleep fine at 10, woke up wide awake at 1:30, stayed awake until 3, and slept till about 5:45! How do you feel? Terrible? Huh. Well, turn off all screens at 8 and try this medication.” My impression 20 years ago was that the only thing they could do beyond that was to treat sleep apnea.

    2. Dan*

      “because clearly it was my fault for not doing it right”

      I have to ask… what kind of solutions are you looking for here? Your ability to effectively sleep is going to be influenced by medical, environmental, psychological, and/or physiological conditions. Some of those really are within your control. Other dumb questions: Are you eating properly and exercising?

      For the sake of conversation… I’m almost 40. For a couple of years in my mid-30’s, I wasn’t sleeping well, couldn’t fall asleep, would show up to work afternoon after I finally got some rest, would often wake up with a sore back, and in general felt lousy and tired. I wasn’t eating all that well and wasn’t exercising. I started exercising and that helped with a few things. Last year, I ended up in the ER for a heart arrhythmia, and since then, got diagnosed with sleep apnea. My doc is up my ass to lose weight, so I’ve been exercising more, eating better, and also got the good old CPAP. I realize sleep apnea isn’t your issue, but I’ve found for me that it takes several things to really get my body back in gear. For better or for worse, many of those things are within my control.

      1. Sleepless*

        I’m not really looking for insomnia advice or an internet diagnosis. I was asking about what a sleep study looks for specifically, and whether they have improved in the past 20 years. Doesn’t sound like it!

        1. neverjaunty*

          They have – you can often do sleep studies at home now instead of having to go into a lab.

          1. Book Lover*

            Yes, but that is for sleep apnea, not insomnia. I think that is what she is asking about.

    3. GoldBar*

      Very rarely is a sleep study valuable for insomnia but sometimes it can identify another sleep disorder (so: sleep apnea). But sleep hygiene is not the treatment for insomnia! Sleep hygiene is good, but the gold standard for insomnia is cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBTI). This isn’t sleep hygiene! It involves sleep restriction and other evidence based strategies. It is usually performed by mental health providers – psychologists or pyschiatrists (and there are sleep specialists who don’t do CBTI which may be what you experienced ….). A sleep study is *probably* not going to help but a sleep diary (not your fit bit but tracking exercise, caffeine meds etc – you can find paper and electronic versions) will be integral to treatment. As severe And chronic as your insomnia is, I suspect they’d still start with diary and CBTI. Do try CBTI! It can work!

        1. Goldbar*

          Yes, not new at all! Also, not a medication and so no one is advertising it or making money off it…but demonstrated to be effective.

      1. Natalie*

        This was my husband’s experience as well. The sleep study was mostly pointless – even though it showed no apnea the doctor’s only recommendations were apnea treatments and benzodiazepines (She apparently didn’t know they’re addictive, so, maybe not a great doctor?) They didn’t refer him to a sleep psychologist; he ended finding one a year or so later somehow.

        The CBT-I + gabapentin for restless less has actually proved somewhat helpful. It’s not a miracle the way the CPAP can be, which is somewhat disappointing to him sometimes, but better than nothing.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’ve never done any sleep testing or such. However, I work with claims and documentation for them on a regular basis, so from a coverage perspective: Medicare policy is that a sleep apnea diagnosis or similar breathing disorder meets medical necessity to get a sleep study covered, but I don’t believe that insomnia does, and a lot of the private insurers follow Medicare policy. So if you decide to do it, make sure your provider gets a preauthorization in writing that it would be covered by your insurance, specifically with an insomnia diagnosis. Because sleep studies are friggin expensive.

    5. Grand Mouse*

      Well I just woke up at 7am and went to bed at 2am so I definitely have insomnia

      I did a sleep study within the past couple years, and they didn’t find sleep apnea and couldn’t do anything, so really no, not much has changed. I got the same advice about sleep hygiene and that was it

      Oh but I do remember that I had a bunch of sensors hooked up to me. They were looking for unusual brain waves or movements in my sleep. If that wasn’t done last time, it might be worth trying again?

      1. PhyllisB*

        What exactly is sleep hygiene? I keep hearing references to it but no clue what they’re talking about.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Healthy practices for training yourself to sleep, basically. No screens for an hour before bedtime, lay off the caffeine at a reasonable hour, don’t try to sleep in a room with bright lights or loud TV, don’t do things in bed that the bed isn’t intended for (that is, don’t lay in bed to watch TV, play board games, etc, just use it for sleeping and sex as applicable).

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

          I’ve found that people who preach about “sleep hygiene” tend to be really lecture-y and judgey about people who don’t sleep well. It’s like folks have been brainwashed by the MyPillow commercials.

          1. WS*

            Yeah, sleep hygiene is valuable for mild insomnia and bad sleeping habits, which is all a lot of people need. People with chronic insomnia, well, they’ve been through all that and it’s like telling someone with a broken leg they should put a bandaid on it, why didn’t they think of that?

            1. Sleepless*

              Confused question from a family member: “But why do you wake up?” Well…that’s the million dollar question, isn’t it?

    6. Melody Pond*

      I tried to go get a sleep study three or four years back for the same insomnia issues you’ve described, and they basically told me, “that’s not really what sleep studies are for.” I’ve had these issues since childhood – a sleep doctor I saw in college told me, “you kinda just came from the factory this way” and prescribed gabapentin. I’ve been taking that for over ten years now, and it does help, though I do have to be mindful of hygiene issues as well.

      My impression is that sleep studies are for monitoring things like your vitals, blood oxygen levels, etc., while you sleep. If you have a different type of problem entirely (i.e., cognitive), a sleep study isn’t going to help with that.

      I admit, I’m a little puzzled by your framing, here:

      because clearly it was my fault for not doing it right

      Just because the solution is better sleep hygiene (or cognitive behavioral therapy as others have mentioned) doesn’t mean that you were doing anything wrong before. To me, it just says that for people like you and me, our minds are hyper-, hyper-sensitive to stimuli, way more so than other people, so we unfortunately have to do more work around sleep.

      I will say that if you happen to have access to cannabis – holy crap does that help me, on especially bad nights. If I’m having insurmountable trouble falling asleep, vaping a bunch of indica will take care of it pretty quick. If I’m having trouble sleeping through the night (which happens a lot during a certain part of my cycle, so I somewhat know when to expect it), taking some kind of an edible helps me get through the entire night.

      1. Mrs. Fenris*

        Thank you! That’s exactly what I was asking. I came from the factory this way, too…my mother used to find me out of bed in the middle of the night, not distressed or anything, just up and around and quietly playing in my room. I’ve always assumed they couldn’t do much to fix it, so I just never bothered to look further, and I wasn’t sure if that was a dumb decision.

        My wording above was just…I don’t know, frustration. It seemed like everything I read said, “well, do this and it will get better.” Anyway. Thanks again, everybody.

        1. Koala dreams*

          If you are interested in sleep hygiene, I think it’s worth finding another doctor or therapist to help you find out what works for you, as opposed to just give you a list of things that work for the average person. The key is to find someone willing to really listen. (Of course, sleep hygiene, like all other treatments, are not for everyone. YMMV)

    7. Wishing You Well*

      PLEASE go back to your doctor and ask them for another evaluation. 20 years is a lifetime in medicine.

      PSA: For chronic conditions, please phone or email your doctor at least once a year to ask if there’s anything new for your condition. If there’s an association for your condition, join it and read their updates. I’m seeing big advances for some problems.
      I hope you get some promising news soon.

    8. PicoSignal*

      Some sleep maintenance problems can be diagnosed with sleep studies (e.g., periodic limb movement disorder), and anyway sleep apnea can take several sleep studies to diagnose, so it would be reasonable to request a follow-up study that includes leg leads. There are now treatments for periodic limb movements, and more importantly, some common medicines and supplements and known to exacerbate PLMD, so there’s hope for better sleep if you have it. Best wishes!

      1. Ktelzbeth*

        Seconding what PicoSignal said. Sleep studies are also more sensitive to sleep related breathing issues. Whereas they used to only be able to diagnose full on sleep apnea, they’ve now found a cousin called upper airway resistance syndrome. Breathing doesn’t fully shut down (apnea) but narrowing of the airway does cause a great deal of resistance to work against. This can be disruptive to sleep. Good luck!

    9. Triplestep*

      My sister was diagnosed at a sleep clinic and was given a prescription. She is now on a daily medication that has apparently improved things. I don’t remember what the diagnosis was, but she was falling asleep at very inopportune times, even while she was speaking.

    10. Earthwalker*

      I tried melatonin and it didn’t work, then a year later in desperation tried it again and it did. It’s kind of on and off now but at least the insomnia is less than before. I know melatonin is supposed to just help you get to sleep, but sometimes it seems to help with staying asleep as well (as well as causing wonderful technicolor dreams just before dawn.) If you tried it before and it didn’t work, it might be worth trying it again.

      1. Autumnheart*

        Melatonin definitely helps me both get to sleep and stay asleep. And it’s much more effective if I use it in conjunction with good sleep hygiene. If I take it and then keep dicking around on the iPad and doing active stuff, then I’ll burn through the sleep-inducing effect and be back at square one.

      2. Someone Else*

        I am not a doctor but have been told by a doctor that melatonin in general should work, and when it doesn’t it implies the dosage was incorrect for your needs. Apparently too much or too little will both make it ineffective, and the key for a lot of patients is to fiddle with the dose.

      3. Sleepless*

        Melatonin gave me horrific nightmares and didn’t really work. Hard no on ever taking it again.

    11. Budgie Lover*

      Did 3 sleep studies last summer/fall. No sleep apnea but got a referral to a therapist for CBT-I. I’ve had about five sessions and still feel like I’m waiting for it to start working. In therapy they will talk about other things in your life that might be stressing you and meditation techniques and so on.

      One thing they told me to do is wake up at the same time every day, which is kind of working because I used to be able to sleep in until 11 when I was up for hours during the night, but now even if I’m tired I can’t sleep in past about 8:30. So improvement?

    12. The Original K.*

      I had a sleep study in my early 20s and didn’t find it that helpful, but maybe 7-8 years later I got CBT treatment for insomnia that I found VERY helpful.

    13. J*

      My sleep study was helpful in understanding my insomnia (which sounds similar to yours: no trouble falling asleep, but I’d wake up and be unable to fall back asleep for hours). It found that I have Upper Airway Resistance, which is sometimes called “obstructive sleep apnea.” The latter name is a misnomer, though — UAR isn’t an apnea; I don’t stop breathing. It’s just that my throat relaxes (too much?), narrowing my airway and thus waking me when my blood oxygen level drops.

      I was able to get some treatment for that, but better still, I got an answer. At that point, my insomnia was *primarily* caused by my anxiety about the insomnia (another finding of the sleep study), and understanding the cause let me eventually relax and experience hope.

      So I don’t know if a sleep study will be useful for you, but I can say that it is helpful for some people who don’t have apnea.

    14. Traveling Teacher*

      A friend of mine did a sleep study (not in the US, though) and got some non-sleep apnea feedback. He was first put on some medications and ended up having to have some minor nose surgery, in the end.

      He didn’t have insomnia, per se, but he was waking up a ton of times every night and couldn’t stay asleep.

      I hope you can get some more answers!

  13. Astoria*

    I’ve come to realise that I could do with building my confidence, self-esteem and self-assurance.

    I’m fearful of conflict and there’s a possibility I’m soon to encounter more of it in a new role I’ve taken on. I am trying to expose myself to more things which make me uncomfortable in an attempt to stop avoiding things and do more with my life without being weighed down by anxiety.

    Can anyone advise on any resources which may be helpful for me, or can anyone share personal experiences which might help?

    Thank you.

    1. Lena Clare*

      Hey there! I found working with attachment theory really helpful in my personal and professional relationships which improved my ability to enforce my personal behaviour boundaries and therefore gave me loads of self-esteem and stopped the anxiety around unforeseen situations and conversations that hadn’t happened yet.

      I had person-centred therapy which if you can afford it I recommend. I had 6 sessions which was enough to do work in and carry it on, plus maybe you could get your insurance to pay? Or go once a fortnight? Or pay for a counsellor who specialises in person-centred (or the therapy of your choice) rather than a psychologist which is more expensive.

      I also recommend Elizabeth Gillette’s blog Heirloom Counseling which is absolutely great for just the kind way she talks about people in difficulties and real practical tips to help. And the book ‘Attached:The New Science of Adult Attachment…’ by Rachel Heller is really insightful. Another great book which is now sadly out of print and may not apply to you is called ‘How to be an assertive – not aggressive – woman’ by Jean Baer, that was very helpful to me although it is wildly out of date in places, and sometimes I laughed out loud at the theoretical situations she had women in, but the principles remain the same.

      But most of all – be very kind to yourself!

    2. Holly*

      I will always recommend therapy. Therapy is like giving your brain and soul a workout, like you’d go to the gym for your physical self. And it’s helps you put things in perspective and develop tools for moving forward.

      Are there smaller things you usually avoid that you’d like to start with? Like, are you a picky eater? Because maybe a small step would be to go to a restaurant you wouldn’t normally, or try something new. Starting small is helpful so you don’t set yourself up to fail – plus it builds self esteem and confidence over time.

    3. Wishing You Well*

      Therapy is a good suggestion.
      Assertiveness training classes. This is a skill that has to be taught and practiced. Take a class multiple times, if you want.
      Stand up straight and pretend you’re confident and powerful. After awhile, you will be confident and powerful.
      The trick with exposure therapy is it has to be done under the direction of a therapist. Otherwise, you risk re-traumatizing yourself. So, be careful with this technique.
      Best of luck! You can do it!

    4. Minta*

      I highly recommend Kristin Neff’s work. Her work focuses on self-compassion, as opposed to self-esteem. One’s self-esteem can improve by working on self-compassion, but she also talks about them being separate. If I recall from what I’ve read, she believes that working on self-compassion on its own is more feasible and effective for feeling better overall. <– Don't rely on my description. Here's her site URL:
      self-compassion dot org
      She's been featured at many events, such as Ted, and she can easily be found on YouTube if you prefer that medium.

      Also, look into mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) classes in your area. MBSR is a science-based course that teaches you, through mindfulness, to put space in between stressors/stimuli and your brain and body's reactions to them, which makes compassion (for you and others) possible. You get that increase in self-compassion, which you can put toward your work on your overall level of self-esteem. I've taken this class twice over the years, and my husband just finished his 3rd run. It's very helpful for dealing with stress and for my overall health and wellbeing.

      MBSR started at UMass medical school. Here's a website to get you started.
      umassmed dot edu/cfm

    5. Batgirl*

      For me the turning point was realising that so much of the conflicts we have daily, especially little ones (and you should start small) can be done cheerfully. The wait staff is glad to replace the soup for a polite complainer (For a change), my partner really does want to know what bugs me. Stuff like that. I would start outside the workplace at first.

      1. Misquoted*

        I agree with this. Start with small things, less uncomfortable things — the quick wins, if you will.

        Know what your objective is ahead of time, think about how to verbalize the issue without sounding angry, remember that the person you are dealing with is often not the person who caused the problem, and they want just as much to fix it.

        Practice with situations in which you feel safe (restaurants you patronize often, your partner, a family member) — either with real conflicts or just literally making stuff up in order to practice phrasing.

        Go into the situation thinking, “Of course this will get handled…it’s not a big deal…there are solutions out there, we just need to choose one…” (etc.) But also have a Plan B practiced in case it’s needed.

        I also remember the line from the movie Roadhouse (really!) — Dalton is the “cooler” and he is training the bouncers of a pretty rough bar (I pulled some dialogue):

        “All you have to do is follow 3 simple rules: One, never underestimate your opponent. Expect the unexpected; Two, take it outside, never start anything inside the bar unless it’s absolutely necessary; and Three…be nice.

        “Ask him to walk, be nice. If he won’t walk, walk him, but be nice. If you can’t walk him, one of the others will help you and you will both be nice. I want you to remember that it’s the job, it’s nothing personal.

        “I want you to be nice… until it’s time… to not be nice.”

        Seriously, just being nice, friendly, maybe even funny, can go a long way. And even when it’s time not to be nice, being professional and respectful and reasonable makes the difference.

  14. Anon This Time*

    Anyone have experience with dealing with a tired caregiver after the caregiving has ended?

    My dad has been in poor health for a very long time, and my mom, a (now-retired) nurse has looked after him. The last few years he’s been more frail and I have not suggested any trips that would take her away from him for more than a couple of hours when I visit, e.g. lunch out. (e.g. I would have paid for a health aid to come in so she could attend a relative’s graduation… but she doesn’t want to be away from him.) He was diagnosed with untreatable cancer (on top of a host of other health problems) and has been very slowly succumbing to that. We’re at the end of the original 3-6 month timeline, after a downturn a few weeks back, and it could be tomorrow… but could be weeks, and I’m not ruling out more months.

    The last visit was especially grueling, and I’ve realized that it was in part that for years I’ve had plans in the back of my head about how “after Dad is gone, then I will take Mom and do this thing she would like.” That his death would allow a renaissance for his caregiver. She has every reason to be tired and stressed–I know how the visits affect me, and I’m not there all the time. I’ve been putting a lot of things down to “everything is complicated and exhausting and she can only fix the thing right in front of her in the first way that she thinks of (both of my parents were exhibiting this in the fall)… later it can get better.” But it feels like she’s winding down into more constrained spirals, and that doing more than follow the limited routine she’s had the past few years–maybe with my spouse and I handling more of her financials so no forgotten surprises crop up–is all she’s going to want.

    Anyone have some end of caregiving advice to share?

    (Hospice care is provided. Money has been given or offered. Extra health aid coming in has been offered. Frequent visits. This isn’t about how to give my mom a break now–they want to end this out in their home if that’s possible, with her doing the care. I suspect there’s an issue with things that make sense if someone only has a few days, but not if they have a few months… but that’s separate, as no one is going to give us a firm schedule here. This is about what I might expect after, and is ‘renaissance’ way too optimistic.)

    1. My Brain is Exploding*

      I’m so sorry, this is a hard thing to go through. Some ideas: grief support; a complete physical for your mom if she hasn’t had one in a while (and note that physical and mental repercussions may show up several years later); follow her lead/pace (everyone grieves differently) after things settle down (it may take her a while to just rest); perhaps a visit to one of her siblings – getting into a different environment. It’s really hard to finally be alone in an empty house, so if you don’t live close, frequent short visits. And yes, plan something to do that she can look forward to! For you: please be open to the fact that she may in time (and maybe not a long time, either) start a new relationship and that is ok; getting grief support would be good for you, not only for yourself but also to learn more about the process to be able to catch if she is veering off into unhealthy behavior.

    2. fposte*

      I don’t think you can predict. Caregiving can be a huge strain that she may need to take some time to recover from, but she’ll also be grieving. I’d move your ideas to “who knows, but maybe?” shelf and be very gentle when exploring the possibilities with your mother.

      I’m sorry about your father.

    3. Jean (just Jean)*

      Impending loss on many levels: This is hard stuff for you and your family. I’m sorry.

      Caregiving can lead to social isolation for people giving or receiving care. (Note: In a solid relationship the emotional care may go in both directions even if only one partner is receiving obvious medical/logistical support–so your mom may well be drawing sustenance from her marriage despite the many obligations of caregiving.) Can you help your mom stay somewhat connected to friends/family beyond your dad–maybe invite yourself over for afternoon tea, bring the snack, and help out with setup and cleanup before and after the other guest or two? Or can you be the person who keeps other folks updated on the situation so your parents don’t spend precious time and energy emailing or telling the same news multiple times? There are web sites such as CaringBridge [dot] org that allow you to blog about this.

    4. Lilysparrow*

      My mom was ill (I had no idea how ill, because they hid it from me) for about ten years and spent the last few months in Hospice. My dad is not a great one for coping at the best of times, and he basically had a nervous breakdown – not eating, not sleeping, his doctor said he had to go on anti-anxiety meds to save his life.

      After Mom passed, he was broken and just started acting really strange. He did want a “Renaissance,” but he was not himself.

      I’d say it took him about two years before I started recognizing his personality again. In that time, we just loved on him and encouraged him to spend time with old friends and do what he wanted.

      He rebuilt his social life, was able to come off meds, and wound up remarrying at age 80. He really enjoys his life, and they are very active – they travel and get out way more than I do.

      Probably the best thing for your mom is a good doctor who will treat her for depression and/or anxiety. I can’t imagine she doesn’t need it – you go through that, it screws up your brain chemistry. Especially in older folks, who can’t snap back from stress the way younger brains can.

      And a group of old friends she trusts, or a support group. When you’re in the Hospice “club,” it’s important to be able to talk to people who get it. Nobody really gets it who hasn’t been there.

      And time. It’s just going to take time. She will need a good long time with no hassles and no pressure, to just decompress and heal. Longer than you might think.

      And you are going to need those things too, to a very slightly lesser degree. You’ll be tempted to “fix” your mom as compensation for being unable to fix your dad. That’s part of the grief-bargaining. It’s totally normal, but it doesn’t actually work, unfortunately.

      I’m sorry for what you’re all going through. Internet hugs and best wishes.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Losing a spouse is like going through a portal in life. The person knows they have absolutely entered an entirely new chapter in their lives. And the new chapter is not of their choosing.

      If you dad has a small estate, say some where in the low 6 figures or less, it will probably take 6 months to a year to clean that up. This means paying off the bills, closing accounts, etc. This is way more busyness than one can ever imagine and it tends to tie up most of the time and energy.

      The second year can be worse for widows/widowers than the first year. This is because most of the paperwork busyness is over and people have returned to their lives. So now the surviving spouse has to find and set their New Normal. Talk about exhausting, they take care of their other half, they clean up the mess afterward AND then they have to build a life-on-their-own for themselves.

      Your mom sounds tired and like she is just planning how to get through the next five minutes. What you can do is encourage good meals, don’t worry about portion size too much but make sure there is plenty of fruits and vegetables going on.

      It’s pretty normal for the surviving spouse to get sick also. It could be just colds or allergies and nothing major. Grief can pull down organ function. However, have things on hand for good self-care or encourage her to go to a doc if need be. For example if you know mom is prone to upset stomachs have a stomach remedy in the house at all times.

      Not for everyone, most certainly, but some folks benefit from grief counseling or grief groups. A grief group does not have be new levels of misery. You can end up in a group where you laugh as much as you cry with each other. She could go once and decide if she will go again AFTER the one visit.

      If she finds activities that interest her, be sure to encourage that. I think she lives a distance away from you? If you learn her friends’ names you can make specific pro-active suggestions. “Do you think you’d like to join the knitting club with Betty?” or “Marge might take you to church on Sunday if you think you would like that.”

      Speaking as a surviving spouse myself, I felt something inside me just slowed right down. I don’t have the push I used to have. ha! I had a couple friends say, “Can’t you drive faster?” No. I am doing the speed limit and I am good with that. I don’t push myself like I used to. And I was only in my mid 40s when he died, so this is not something attached to age.

      My friend just lost her spouse and her reply to everything is “I don’t care.” I understand her and it does not alarm me. That caring will come back in a bit. (If your house is on fire, you don’t care that you should probably get a hair cut. The hair cut is irrelevant comparatively.) It’s been a few months now and she is already showing concern about some things she did not care about earlier.
      Running concurrently is decision-fatigue. Caregivers get tired of making decisions and can just land on, “I don’t care.” Making small decisions for her for a short period of time is pretty normal. If she really wants something a particular way she will probably say so. When she does chose something, try not to debate it with her. It may not be what you would chose and that is okay. If you think about her choices you may start to realize that these things are not such a big deal anyway.

      I, too, thought that once my mother died, my father would “come back to life” and we would do great stuff together. That was not how it played out. We did do some things together but no where near what I thought. My mother’s illness and all the complications there, wore him right out. He became a mere shell of the person he used to be. He lived ten years longer and died at 72. Too young if you ask me, but I could also see that life really gave him a beating and he couldn’t take anymore.

      Sorry this is turning into a book. For your own part of the story, beef up your own self-care, because this is really hard stuff to go through. We can all add something to our routines, figure out how you will add life supporting stuff to your own life.

      1. Owler*

        You offered really great advice, especially the first year versus second year difference and why things seem to get worse once the busy work is done. Thanks for taking the time to write so much.

    6. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      sending hug. I am at the six month mark (last week) of losing my husband, and worn out is the best way I can say it. What I needed was not so much fun. It was company and helping hands. Friends (family in bits) making sure they came, brought food, and physically helped me. Going through his closet. Helping, sorting, running donations for me, helping me rearrange, helping me identify what should just be “put away to deal with later” (non-financial stuff) and what I needed help with now (overdue taxes, unpaid bills, finding where things were or where the many hands had “stored” things). A bookkeeper friend came twice and just sat with me to help me balance bank statements and prepare for the CPA. One friend brought her work from home workload, and sat at my dining room table so I had someone “in” the house the first 3 weeks, so I was not alone.
      Dog – dog got extra walks. Lots of extra walks. (Kept her alive almost to the s ix month mark). The sun on my face, even moving slow. Sunsets, breezes, being outside. Having family take me to the beach to cry on the dunes. All kinds of exercise, slow and at my pace, but moving.
      And yes, I scheduled (you may need to encourage and help) every single preventative care and self care appointment I had missed for the last 2 years. I sobbed in the PCP office. I needed anti-depressants (I realize grief was not the only issue).
      I was – as NSSR points out – severely deficient in my nutrients. I had 14 vials of blood tests run, and turned out to be in miserable shape for everthing. I had to add mega doses of B and zinc and D, among other things (did so based upon consultation with my Primary care provider).
      In my case, my mom came in for the winter and has pushed me to add salads, broccoli, real fresh fruits, baked fish, all kinds of good items that I’d just skimped on for the last 2 years because I was running to help do caregiving while working full time or nearly full time up until the last 3 weeks. I literally had been having protein powder in my coffee for breakfast and trail mix for lunch with a salad to survive.
      So… make sure she has the ongoing support, too. I need almost as much physical help now as I did at the 2 months mark, but I’m alone now, and it is much harder. I have to reach out and ask, or hire and pay… but this requires me to learn to acknowledge my needs and be more proactive. Which, when you are exhausted, is hard.
      I am grateful for things like friends doing videos (I’m working my way through Jane Austen and genre right now) and tea, regularly. But the biggest help is when they show up and say “let me help you for 2 hours just sort through those boxes marked “office….”

      Hug to you and yours. IF I can, there’s a booklet called “Gone from my sight” – “the Dying Experience” by Barbara Karnes, RN. ISBN 0-9621603-1-8.
      I got it from the hospice team. It had the best insight into the last days, and I wish I had read it earlier. I REALLY recommend it. I’m hanging onto it to reread again when Mom starts to wind down. (any day now, frankly….).

      thinking of you…

    7. Phoenix Programmer*

      Ask the hospice about respite care. After the passing the hospice will also offer bereavement.

    8. Annonymous*

      I’m so sorry about your Dad, and Mom.
      Small ways to help such as doing laundry, keeping the fridge stocked with lots of choices, tidying up, change the bed linens, walks, lunches, small things to help. I thing renaissance can be possible and likely to reveal itself when it’s time. About a year after my Mom passed, an old friend from school came back in to Dads life and that was a really great help. He then had a peer with whom to spend quality time. Peace to you and your family.

    9. Asenath*

      This is really difficult, and so much depends on how badly the caregiver is, and reacts, and is willing to accept outside help (eg counselling). I would strongly advise not to do anything major, like a move, for at least a year. That just adds extra stress, even if a move is going to be inevitable. A relative was no longer eligible to stay in her apartment once her son died, but we thought we had an agreement from the management that she wouldn’t need to consider a move for at least 4-6 months. We were hardly back home when we got a call – they wanted the place vacated sooner and lied about what had been said to us initially. I can’t overstate how difficult it was to negotiate that situation for someone who had been a caregiver for years, and just lost her son.

      (The apartment was reserved for someone with her son’s disabilities; management was required to rehome her in the building, but only had a large apartment she couldn’t afford and a LONG waiting list for a one-bedroom, and there was also the possibility of moving out of the city entirely to be closer to family, but not much liking for any of the potential destinations. Someone who’s stressed out by caregiving and grief does NOT need to deal with this sort of thing.)

    10. Batgirl*

      My mother just wanted company and someone to do or help with emotional labour; company when she considered what to do with his things, someone to take care of groceries.
      She felt closest to him at home and didn’t do much of anything the first year except process grief; but this was surprisingly positive. A lot of her grief included us and was celebratory of his memory/our childhoods.
      She did want to take a trip for a landmark birthday but she was very much in charge of the plans and took his ashes with her.

      A big part of my grief was ‘will she be okay?’ Yes she is okay. More than okay. She is simultaneously missing the great love of her life, celebrating it and doing her own thing too. Give it time and be nice to yourself too.

      I’m sorry about your dad and I think your mum is lucky to have you.

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

    Updates to a few recent and not-recent open thread posts of mine:

    –The Elton John farewell tour concert was amazing! Elton still has plenty left. He played a terrific variety of songs, and even changed my opinion of “Candle in the Wind,” a song I never much liked, but his live rendition was so good it gave me chills.

    –Getting a taxi near the Barclays Center was indeed a snap. We had the phone number for Arecibo car service at the ready, based on the suggestion of a few posters, but didn’t need it; there were multiple green cabs waiting immediately outside. The first refused to go to our destination but the second was willing and a terrific driver. Arecibo would have been less expensive than a metered taxi, but it was worth it not to have to wait.

    –Thanks to the poster who recommended “The Looniness of the Long Distance Runner.” What a fun read that was.

    –My new shoes still have squeaky soles, but the sandpaper trick suggested by at least one poster here did quiet them a little, so thank you.

    Happy weekend, all!

    1. The Other Dawn*

      Thanks for reporting back! I was anxious to hear about your transportation experience. Our plan is to drive to the hotel and then get the subway to the Barclays Center. My sister and I are both coming in from different states, so driving to the hotel makes the most sense.

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

        I think you’ll be fine. If I remember correctly from your previous post, you’re staying at a hotel very near to an R subway station, so you’ll probably have less need for a cab than we did (our place is a 15 minute walk from the train). What I’d suggest, when the show ends, is to go to Subway Time on the MTA Web site (or download the MTA app) and see how close the R train is. If there isn’t one coming within 20 minutes, now you know a taxi back to the hotel is an option. :-)

        1. legalchef*

          Where’s your hotel? I’d definitely advise against the R train, if there’s another option. The R is super slow.

          1. The Other Dawn*

            It’s the Gregory Hotel Best Western. About six miles from the Barclays and appears to be on the edge of a residential neighborhood. 8315 4th Ave.

            1. legalchef*

              Oh, yeah that’s pretty far afield. That’s in Bay Ridge, so your only subway option is going to be the R. If you don’t want to do full price for a cab you can always do uber pool, but just make sure to leave yourself a decent amount of time just in case (you can always walk around or get something to eat if you have extra time – let me know if you want restaurant recommendations).

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

                For just traveling within Brooklyn, the R is fine once it comes. Once the train comes, the ride between the Barclays Center and 86th St is actually only about a 20 minute ride, and the walking on either end will be minimal. The problem is that you might wait that long for the train to come. The other potential issue is late-night construction disrupting service.

                But if there’s no construction that night and you see on the tracker when you get out that the R is only a few minutes away, the train might actually be faster than a cab. I learned the other night that the cab has to take a roundabout route to get out of the vicinity of the Barclays Center toward Bay Ridge, because the streets all run the wrong way. (For us, where we live, the cab was still a big win over the train because we didn’t want a 15 minute walk, but the walk to the Gregory from the R station will be two minutes or less.)

            2. Lore*

              If you find yourself wanting a cab, you might save that 7-8 minutes and a few $$ if you walk to the south (ish) side of the stadium and try to get one on 4th or 5th ave going south. The B63 and B37 buses will also get you to Bay Ridge, though probably slower than the subway.

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

                Hard no on the bus. Do not, do not, do not take the bus, even if one is right there. If your concert is on Friday night, you’ll still be on the bus toward Bay Ridge Saturday morning.

    2. CAA*

      Glad you enjoyed the Elton John concert. DH got me tickets to his Red Piano show in Vegas a few years ago, and he was so awesome! He’s really a born entertainer.

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

        I feel really lucky to have seen him. He’s one of those once-in-a-lifetime-type performers. Just as there will never be another Freddie Mercury or another David Bowie, there will never be another Elton John.

      2. PhyllisB*

        I got to see him in concert back in the 70’s (yes, I’m old!!) He was great then, and great now!!

  16. The Other Dawn*

    This is kind of work-related, but also personal.

    I’m starting my new job Monday. I wouldn’t say I’m nervous, just dreading it. Dreading it because my three weeks of freedom is coming to an end, and also because I didn’t WANT to have to find a new job (company acquisition, no job offer). Also just dreading the whole back-to-work thing of having to work five days and then have the weekend go by in a blur, preparing lunch, going back to business dress after three months of wearing jeans, stuff like that. It also sucks that I won’t have an on-site gym anymore. I had that at the previous job–it was a smallish room–and it was SO convenient and made commitment to exercise very easy. My choice now is to workout in the living room until I can convert the shed to a home gym, or go to the gym after work when it’s super crowded. Neither of these things are a perfect solution for me, as I worry that I’ll backslide and start skipping.

    So what do you all do to enjoy the weekend more before you start a new job? I’ve done the clothes shopping, bought a new lunch bag, got myself a new notebook, etc. Part of me feels I should do some batch cooking to make next week easier, but I can’t seem to get motivated to do it. And I don’t feel excited at all about the job. Not the job itself, actually, but having to move on when I hadn’t planned on it. I guess that’s making me feel just…blah, I guess.

    1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

      Sounds like you mainly need to rest up and relax, do something for yourself that’s diverting but not taxing. If you’re not excited about the new job, try to at least be interested in learning about it. I get you about having your hand forced when you didn’t want to make the move, but life happens and YAY!, you did find another position, and in a short time. New location means changing your routine sometimes, but you sound like someone who’ll stay committed to your fitness routine. Give it a chance and try not to judge it before you get there.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yes, I keep telling myself that I, and all my former coworkers, are in the same boat and I need to just get over it. I’ve made all my lists of questions, things I need to go over, etc., and this is a job I’ve done before so I’m OK there. And yes, I’m definitely thankful that I found a job quickly. I guess, other than being forced to find another job, something else that bothers me is that I really, really wanted to get out the bank and into a vendor that serves banks. But I know i can keep my eyes open for future opportunities. This new job does fit the bill of being able to affect change and overhaul a program, so that’s a good thing.

        All this said, I find myself pretty weepy today, which is annoying. I’m keeping it under control, but I keep flip-flopping back and forth. I’m thinking maybe I’ll visit the local antique store. They have a rocking chair and I’ve been looking for one for a while. Maybe I’ll do some reading, too. I just got a shipment from a Cemetery Dance Publications, which is the winter grab bag I ordered. It’s six books, which are picked by the company. I was happy to see a Stephen King book in there!

        1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

          Oooooh. I have to say, you really do sound as if you’re on top of it. Gold star!

          1. The Other Dawn*

            I went and bought the rocking chair! Turns out it’s early to mid-1800s, so I’m even more excited about it. The cats love it, of course. They sat in it before I did!

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              I’m delighted you got your chair!
              I vote you spend some time relaxing in it with a froufrou drink of choice, your favorite book or tv show, and lap cat(s).
              I am admittedly a little off my rocker about rocking chairs. I have 4… not SO nuts because it’s a big house…so theyre in the living room, front porch, craft room, and bedroom. (That last one is too delicate for my rough-housing family and I do intend to sell it…really… someday…but I got it for free and it’s beautiful… LOL!)

              1. The Other Dawn*

                I’m excited because I’ll be getting back the family rocking chair, which belonged to my maternal grandfather. My brother and SIL had it for a few years, but he passed away in 2017 and SIL has decided to move back to Alaska (from the Northeast). She won’t be taking anything with her. She’s also giving me a second family rocking chair, which is large, made of wicker and has probably dozens of coats of paint on it. I have no clue where I’ll put that one, but I’ll find a place! I’m not sure who had that one originally, but I know it’s old.

    2. Karmi*

      Sorry, no suggestions, just wondering– is your new job the same kind of work you did before? Or are you learning a whole new job? Good luck!

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Thanks! Same job as before, but head of the department (previously I was one step below, but have been the head previous to that). I’m expected to “bring the program to the next level.” I do like that part of it, and the company seems similar to the previous one so I’m not too worried about the culture and flexibility. Just having a hard time coming to term with the fact that my free time is over and I was forced into having to get another job.

    3. Anonapixie*

      I might suggest batch cooking some kind of protein, at least– chicken thighs are an easy one, because my go-to is legitimately “salt + pepper, slap them onto a foiled baking sheet, bake at 350 for 30 min, allow to cool, wrap up” and they are super super versatile without being too much of a time or effort investment. If you’ve got a slow cooker or instant pot, or a recipe you’ve been dying to try out, maybe try one of those? It’ll at least get you excited for lunch, if nothing else about the work day.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Actually, I just put a big package of boneless chicken breast in the freezer. Maybe I need to pull that back out and make something with it. I just made a huge batch of taco meat. I usually add black beans and corn to that, along with cheese and sour cream. But I just discovered I bought creamed corn instead. :\

    4. Loopy*

      Whenever Im not looking forward to a week for whatever reason, I usually do something to make the week ahead easier for future me. It isn’t fun persay, but usually it makes me feel a little better about the week ahead knowing past me gave future me some breaks. I tend to hang full outfits up for all five days, prepack 2-3 days’ lunches, clear my week ahead of at least one annoying weekday errand. It tends to make me feel more organized and prepared and just a little more positive.

    5. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      Also, besides the batch cooking, plan out your clothes for the week so you don’t have to dither in front of the closet any day. (you can adjust if you are wrong, but this won’t take long).
      Grab five outfits if you are going in five days. Check spots, buttons, scarf, pick jewelry, shine shoes. Hang/fasten/put together (I used to do this when I traveled but it worked well when I had super early meetings at work). Shoes in shoe bags, hang from the hanger. Blouse, pants, jacket on hanger; underwear in a bag. Jewelry in another bag. Put it all over the big hanger. Put it in the order you want to grab from the closet.
      You will be grateful. ALSO – it means that just in case that favorite shirt has a mystery spot or a missing button, you won’t discover it 5 minutes before going out the door. When my brain is set on wearing a specific outfit, it can be hard for me to shift gears, so having another set all ready to grab means I can set it aside (if I missed the spot/button on the weekend setup) and still make my schedule.
      Maybe it is my family upbringing, but somehow, being dressed for the battle is halfway there for me.
      Oh, and gas up the car/make sure you have your transit pass loaded, etc. I’ve even driven the new route on waze to make sure I familiarize myself with the landmarks (because I was on overload mentally preparing for interviews previously).
      Then plan dinners and lunches. Although what I used to do for week one, was slip my protein bars into my bag; if I got invited out for lunch, I could accept. If I didn’t, I had something I knew I could have to supplement even if the cafeteria was grim or serving something I loathed that day.

    6. The Other Dawn*

      Here’s what I’ve done so far.
      –I snuggled with the cats this morning. I was really weepy and they seemed to know I needed comfort. Four of them piled onto the bed with me.
      –I then went out and got the rocking chair I wanted at the antique store. Nothing expensive, but I like it. Cats do, too. I made taco beef with beans and corn, which I’ll pack up tomorrow and freeze for lunches.
      –I bought new pantyhose. I have a really hard time finding ones that fit right because I’m tall and about a size 16. Most stores no longer carry the brand I like so I had to hunt a bit. And I made sure I didn’t buy control top. I don’t need to feel like I’m in a sausage casing all week!
      –I went and looked at storage sheds. I’m going to make a home gym and wanted to see what’s available and what the different sizes look and feel like.

      I feel a little better. Now I’m going to eat my leftover pizza and read.

    7. Mellow*

      I mean this seriousy: read stories in this forum or elsewhere about what it’s like to be unemployed.

      I don’t mean that to demean your feelings of blah, but that’s what I do when I start feeling that way about work. Doesn’t happen very often, fortunately, but reading about what it’s like to be unemployed does lend a valuable perspective.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        You’re right! I’m just feeling sorry for myself. I feel a little better today. I’m hanging out with the cats, watching the snow come down.

  17. CoffeeforLife*

    LS/DR. Cat drips pee and I need a fix.

    I rescued a kitty from a freezing rain storm two weeks ago. Took it to the vet the next morning to see if she was chipped and check on this bad suture on her belly. Turns out, no chip, the belly stuff was actually a newly created urethrostomy, and she is possibly a he! I did my due diligence and checked on FB, contacted the ASPCA, etc and nothing so I’m keeping him!

    After he uses the little box he has urine drops that come out of his new hole. I’m assuming that’s because there aren’t any muscles to close it off. Does anyone have a recommendation for a mat that doesn’t absorb the smell or can be washed? Or should I just continue to wipe the vinyl floor?

    1. cat socks*

      If you are looking for a mat to place near the litter box, I like the Black Hole litter mat. It captures the stray litter and I clean it with soap and water.

      So glad you were able to rescue the kitty and give him a home!

    2. epi*

      I have something similar to the iPrimio Litter Trapper mat on Amazon– I’ve had it so long I don’t remember the specific brand I have. I really love this one because it has space in the middle to put paper training pads to absorb urine. The texture of the mat itself will knock some of the litter off their paws when they leave.

      I keep a cheap toilet brush on hand to clean this– the kind that hides in its own holder when not in use. It works great to knock litter out of the holes when cleaning, and can also be used with soap and water when needed.

      Have fun with your new cat!

    3. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      I used to keep puppy pads (5 for $1 at Dollar Tree) under my catbox when I first got my cat, because the special post-spay litter would get soggy easily and she’d go potty next to the box if it was too gross to go in. They’re pretty durable.

    4. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I second the puppy pad recommendation. I used them for a few years with my elderly cat who would get almost all the way into her box but inevitably some went over the edge (it was a low entry box). Easy to clean up!

    5. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I wouldn’t give up on finding the cat’s owner. I can’t imagine someone would pay for surgery for a cat (fresh surgery based on the stitches) and then abandon it. There could be a really distressed person or family out there…

      1. Rebecca*

        Sadly, I thought the opposite – they paid for the surgery, and now realize the cat has issues, and just dumped it him because they didn’t want to deal with the new problem. I hope your scenario is the right one.

  18. valentine*

    Is there a word for when anticipating a word causes you to jump the gun and repeat it? Like “We went to honeymoon for our honeymoon” when you thought you were typing “We went to Toledo for our honeymoon”?

    1. Kelly*

      I often wondered this myself. Who goes to Toledo for their honeymoon? Lol…just joking. We spent the day there this afternoon. We bought furniture, ate local donuts (Holey Toledough), and our daughter works at the art museum while attending UT. Go Rockets!

      1. Jemima Bond*

        Tbf if you went to the Toledo in Spain you’d be in a very beautiful historic destination!

  19. Who Plays Backgammon?*

    Any budget-conscious ideas for a week of vacation when I’m too tired to actually do the planning? My dream is to throw a toothbrush and a change of outfit in a bag, show up at the airport or train station, and let someone else do all the work.

    1. Llellayena*

      Pick a location that you can see a lot of interesting stuff just by walking around (Chicago is good for this). Some of your vacation can just be walking and looking at the sights. Grab the AAA travel book for the area and read it on the plane. That will give you an idea of what “planned” things you might be interested in. Ask locals for recommendations once you get there. Or pick a place and ask the AAM community, we seem to provide pretty good recommendations! If you do consider Chicago, there’s an awesome architecture boat tour that’s worth the cost!

    2. Annie Moose*

      There’s a whole service that plans trips like this! It’s called Pack Up + Go and they bill themselves as a “surprise travel agency”. You tell them some details about things you like to do and your budget, and they arrange transportation/lodging/activity suggestions for you. My sister and I are dying to try it but haven’t yet.

      (Budget-conscious–maybe, maybe not. Obviously you have to pay extra because it’s a travel agency. But you can set your budget wherever you like above their minimum, which is $1000 for a solo plane/train trip or $800 for a solo car trip. With multiple people the minimum is lower.)

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Friends of mine did that right before their baby was born. They had a nice time, would have done some other things differently, but they appreciated not having to do the legwork themselves.

    3. Dan*

      While I’m generally not the biggest fan of cruises for my vacation, one appeal they have is exactly what you’re seeking: Show up and don’t have to preplan.

      1. Loopy*

        This. Our cruise was the absolute easiest vacation we have ever taken. I don’t need to go on one again, but appreciate it mightily for how little I had to do to enjoy myself!

    4. Anonapixie*

      A cruise. Think of it as an inclusive vacation sampler– the hotel has food, it takes you places, you don’t need to do anything you don’t want to if all you want to do is plunk yourself on a beach chair and read in the sun. Most ships now have multiple pools and activities you can join in on if you want– or you can just spectate. You don’t need to get off when the ship goes into port, either; I rarely do, because it frees up some of the more popular things. I just got off a cruise less than a week ago and I’m already planning my next one.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        All-inclusive resort packages were fun my husband and I went to one in Bermuda many years ago. Airfare, bus to hotel, all the food and drink was on a wristband, the only thing we paid for was some external excursions. Admittedly the drinks were Bahama Mama’s, and cheap beer, with little other variation oh, but it was all included.

    5. Star Nursery*

      Apple Vacations website has some options that will include the flight and their are all inclusive resorts so you don’t really have to plan. There are some discount deals as well.

    6. just a random teacher*

      I don’t know if this is what you’d like, but since I don’t like group activities/planned “fun”, for something like this I’d just pick someplace near enough that I can afford to go there again (so I don’t feel like I have to research which things are “can’t miss” attractions or whatever) and that has a lot of walkable stuff near the hotel, and just plan that I’m going to go there, mostly stay in the hotel and read, and wander off to the nearby food/attractions as needed.

      My state has several beach towns that are great for this – you can rent a condo with a kitchen and basically be “home, but not with all of your home projects making you feel like you should be working on stuff” for your vacation. I generally buy groceries for 2-ish in-condo meals a day and find a local pub for a meal out each day. If the weather’s nice, I’ll go down to the beach and look at the local wildlife, fishing boats, interesting rock formations, or whatever makes sense for that particular beach area.

      Probably any small town that’s trying to appeal to tourists would work regardless of beach access for a really low-key vacation along these lines. They likely have fewer vacation rentals if they’re in a less obvious draw of a spot, so you might not be able to find a condo with a kitchen rather than a hotel or B&B, though. (I have spent many a vacation staying in a hotel in some inland town where I mostly was there to visit a relative for a few hours or attend a specific small event, and just spent the rest of the time eating at the local diner or bar and wandering down main street. I’m the kind of person who enjoys spending time at small-town “the stuff that everyone is tired of having in their attic, so they donated it ” museums or walking on local interpretive trails with signs about the area, though. I also once had a pretty good time going tent camping by myself for several days when my friends bailed at the last minute and it rained the whole time, so I am probably just easy to please as long as no one is asking me to go do stuff and it’s fairly quiet.)

      If you’re someone who wants to be busy this really wouldn’t be fun for you, but my favorite thing about going on vacation when my life feels overwhelming is having some time when I don’t feel like I need to be doing anything in particular and am a safe distance away from all of the projects I “should” be working on.

      1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

        Thanks everyone! These are great ideas! For the moment I booked a “day-cay” at a popular beautiful spot in My Fair City that I’ve always been MEANING to go to…

  20. pugs for all*

    My daughter has mono!

    Any tips for things I can do to make things better for her? I know she just has to get through it, but if anyone has had mono and has any ideas, I’d love to make things as easy for her as possible. I just feel so helpless!

    Poor kid is a senior, waiting to hear from colleges, and just got her first boyfriend -which I find rather ironic since they call it the “kissing disease”. He doesn’t have it however.

    1. Agent J*

      I had mono in high school as well. Although I was never in pain, I was so tired. I pushed myself back to school earlier than I should have and just walking between classes was a struggle. Encourage her to take as much time as she needs to recover (even if she’s anxious to get back to her friends) and not be discouraged if it takes a few months for her to feel 100% back to normal. Talk to the school nurse or principal about letting her take breaks if needed once she’s back in school. I also remember not being allowed to participate gym class due to an enlarged organ (I forget which one), so that may be a bummer for her if she’s used to being active.

      I recommend working with her teachers on a plan to catch back up with her work. My teachers were unreasonable about how quickly I would catch up because they all wanted their work done asap. It was really stressful for me and I struggled for the rest of the school year.

      One last thing—I was so embarassed for people to call it “the kissing disease” when I wasn’t kissing anyone at the time. It made me feel like I was wearing a scarlet A because of the inevitable question: “Well, who were you kissing?” And the look of disbelief when I told people that’s not how I got it. So your daughter may need to lightly educate people on how mono works if/when she talks about it.

      1. Mimmy*

        I also remember not being allowed to participate gym class due to an enlarged organ (I forget which one),

        I think it’s the spleen that’s enlarged, which probably makes it vulnerable to rupture, especially in physical activity like gym.

        1. only acting normal*

          It is the spleen. And skipping rough activity is a doctor’s order worth paying attention to. A kid at my school died after resuming his place on the rugby team too soon after recovering from mono.

      2. pugs for all*

        Thank you, this is great information to have, though sorry you went through this!

        She was just diagnosed on Wednesday, and doesn’t want me to tell her teachers (she is a very private person). However I really think it has to be done given how long the recovery is. She thinks she’ll be able to just push through it and get all her work done. Meanwhile, she missed one day this week and she has been barely able to make it through the other school days, then comes home and collapses. I haven’t even seen her out of bed since I left for work yesterday morning.

        1. tangerineRose*

          There’s got to be a more scientific term for mono if she doesn’t want to tell the teachers she has mono. Epstein-Bar maybe?

          1. londonedit*

            We call it glandular fever in the UK. Took forever for me to work out what people on US television programmes were talking about when they were going on about mono!

          2. only acting normal*

            I think mono is the scientific term – mononucleosis. (It’s not quite the same as Epstein-Barr, that is sometimes a cause of it, but not always).
            As londonedit says we call it glandular fever in the UK.

        2. Asenath*

          A friend of mine had it in university, and lost a semester – she had to leave partway through because of the extreme exhaustion. Maybe your daughter will have a milder case, but she might need a lot of rest. And yes, my friend was teased about the “kissing disease’ and her boyfriend, although of course she might not have caught it from him. Teachers should be able to hear “mononucleosis” without teasing about the “kissing disease”!

    2. Michelle*

      I had mono during my high school years, but thankfully, I got it during summer vacation. I can’t imagine having it in the middle of senior year!!! All I wanted to do was sleep, as in, I could not keep my eyes open for more than 4 hours in a day initially. So, I guess that is my biggest advice. Just let your daughter sleep. It has been so many years now, that I can’t remember how long that stage lasted, but I do know that shortly after I was diagnosed and on meds, we did a road trip to North Dakota for a family reunion and I slept pretty much all of the way there for the two day journey, only waking up to get out of the car, eat, then fall back asleep again. I can’t imagine trying to make it through a full day of school like that. I hope your daughter starts feeling like herself again soon.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Same, I had strep throat during my last week of drivers ed that turned out to be mono. Aside from sleeping like 12-16 hours a day I felt fine but it took a few months to not be so tired all the time. And I didn’t even get it from kissing anyone!

    3. Anony*

      If I remember when I had it, I think I was very hot/feverish. I loved the gel pads that you stick on your body to provide a cooling sensation. I think they were marketed for migraine relief and I stuck them on my forehead. I had a mild case though, no real tiredness/exhaustion which I think was the main symptom of a friend of mine.

    4. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      My sister had mono at that age and it took her months to be well enough to do the bare minimum, and years to be back to normal. Her teachers were 100% not helpful, would not provide her with accommodations or extra time on assignments, etc., and openly called her a faker in front of the class.

      Make sure you work with the doctor to very carefully get all of the accommodations she needs documented out, in writing, and if you’re in the US, she may need a 504 plan drawn up until she is better.

    5. Lilysparrow*

      I had it as a college freshman. The acute symptoms lasted about 1-2 weeks, but the major fatigue, brain fog, and emotional volatility lasted a good 3 months.

      I would be so tired I couldn’t lift my arms to comb my hair, and just lie there weeping. I’d sob at TV commercials, not normal for me at all. I was scared I was losing my mind, so just be patient and encourage her that this is normal and will pass.

      One thing to bear in mind – not to scare you unduly, but something to think about long-term. The Epstein-Barr virus that causes mono is an environmental risk factor for triggering chronic fatigue syndrome or autoimmune diseases in patients with a predisposition to them.

      So if you have a family history of autoimmune problems, she’s going to want to try and minimize her other risks going forward – especially avoiding long-term sleep deprivation, chronic stress, highly restrictive “fad” diets, or a highly inflammatory junk-food diet.

      Don’t talk to her about this now! She needs to relax and heal up. But going forward, it’s something to discuss with her doctor and keep an eye on. If you have the genetic “switches” for autoimmune diseases, you never know how many factors it takes to flip that switch – it may never happen, or it may already be triggered.

      But not abusing her body in her 20’s with a high-stress workaholic lifestyle (as many of us do)
      could pay off big time later.

      1. PicoSignal*

        I want to insert this caveat: these are hypotheses. Epstein Barr virus and stress have not been causally linked to autoimmune disorders. As Douglas Adams wrote, don’t panic :)

        1. Lilysparrow*

          No, don’t panic.

          But remembering to take good care of yourself when you’re young so you’ll feel better when you’re old, never did anyone any harm.

    6. Adult with mono*

      I got mono last year at 33. My heart goes out to your daughter. It is such a strange disease. Here’s what I wished I had known!

      – take it slow. Really really slow. Keep her home from school for at least two weeks even if she says she feels fine. The virus ebbs and flows and your energy can change rapidly. I thought I was feeling better, went to an interview, had a coffee with a friend, did laundry, made dinner and then felt like I was hit by a truck. I sat on my unmade bed crying wondering how I was going to go to sleep that night. I finally called a friend who kindly came over and put sheets on my bed for me.
      – the exhaustion and mental fog ppl described above is so real. You feel normal one minute and then incredibly frustrated that nothing is normal and all you can do is lie down.
      – try to find activities she can do lying down on the couch, listen to audio books, tv, knitting
      – lie in bed or in the couch with her, I felt so lonely, I fortunately had a partner at the time who would just lie down with me.
      – she will feel like she is making progress and then try to push herself – try to help her take it slow. The thing I regret the most is pushing myself to go back to work too soon (ie after three weeks, I should have waited at least 1.5 months). I’m still feeling the after effects almost a year later.
      – if you can, prepare food that’s easy for her to heat up or eat from the fridge. Spending energy on making food is exhausting so having remade stuff is amazing
      – I wasn’t hungry much and ate lots of popsicles and smoothies
      – her immune system is going to be really weak right now, try to keep her protected – everyone wash their hands etc. I managed to pick up hand/foot/mouth during my recovery and it set everything back by months
      – it will be hard for her, but if it’s any consolation at all tell her it’s better now than in her 30s!!!
      – ditto what another commenter said about arming herself with mono facts as ppl do love to tease about it being the kissing disease. It made me feel better to learn that it’s similar to chicken pox in that most people get it as children (it presents as a cold so you’d never know it was mono), if you didn’t get it as a child you usually get it in your late teens when it’s much worse (mono) and then very few ppl get it as adults (lucky me)
      – I would also encourage her to do some gentle physical activity— mainly stretching and small small walks. I didn’t do enough of that and am finding it hard to get back into my workout routine now.
      – as with any chronic illness, she’s likely feeling really isolated so anything you can do to normalize it will help!

      1. Anony*

        I actually got it in my 30s as well and I didn’t miss much work and did not feel exhausted. So either I had a very mild case, it affects people differently or both. My significant other did not have it so the docs said I could have gotten it from a waiter who touched my food or who knows what. So with any luck, your daughter will also get a mild case only.

    7. just a random teacher*

      A little about school – as a senior, it’s likely that her class schedule is a mix of classes she actually needs in order to graduate and “bonus” classes that she doesn’t need to take to fill out the rest of her day. (This will depend on your state, her school district, and how she did in earlier years of high school, but where I teach it’s quite possible for a senior to only “need” 2 or 3 of the classes on their spring schedule.) Talk to her school counselor to see if she can drop some of those bonus/elective/interest classes and go on a reduced schedule for medical reasons. (This stinks for her if they’re things she really likes, but she can always take, say, ceramics later as an adult through parks and rec or non-credit CC classes when she’s not sick.)

      Break her classes into three categories: (a) must pass to graduate, (b) must pass to keep offer of admission from college(s) of choice, and (c) everything else. Make sure (a) happens if it at all possible (if you need to, also find out if she can still walk at grad and have the same diploma date while actually finishing up in summer school, and if so how many/which classes can be done this way – in my district you can still walk with one class needing to be re-taken over the summer), if (b) looks in jeopardy and she’s otherwise already accepted to that school call them and see if there’s wiggle room on that requirement due to this illness, and jettison anything in (c) as needed to make sure that (a) and (b) stay on track. (If you’re worried about her bailing on AP classes because of the college credits they can earn, take a look at which of them are only accepted as “free electives” by the school she’s planning to attend. Drop those before other AP classes if they’re otherwise category (c), because free elective credits are not actually worth much in terms of getting you graduated from college faster/cheaper since they don’t count toward any particular grad requirement.)

    8. MindOverMoneyChick*

      Had mono in college. I came home and my mom made me food, changed the TV channel for me (that’s how long ago this was) and fluffed up the pillows on the couch. That’s about all she could do, but knowing someone was taking care of me was so helpful. For me the exhaustion was unlike anything I’d ever been through. It seemed like even laying down wasn’t good enough. Also I had a very sore throat and a really hard time swallowing. Oh…ice pops…my mom made me ice pops to suck on to keep me hydrated. That was about all the liquid I could stand to swallow at once for a while. That helped a lot. The whole things lasted about 2 weeks for me then it ended.

    9. PicoSignal*

      I remember having a terrible sore throat with mono. Eating was hard, but drinking was easier. If your daughter’s throat bothers her a lot, you could try smoothies and soups to keep her hydrated and get some calories into her. I hope she feels better!

    10. Beatrice*

      I had it during my freshman year of college. I had the high fever and terribly sore throat part at the beginning, but was extremely fortunate and escaped with only very minor fatigue for a few weeks afterward. If I hadn’t had a blood test to confirm it was mono, I would have assumed it was just a bad episode of strep. I hope your daughter is similarly lucky!

    11. Healthcare Worker*

      Once she starts back to driving, consider getting a temporary handicap permit. It will make parking, getting to class and shopping much easier for her.

    12. Sled dog mama*

      My heart goes out to your daughter, I had mono my junior year in college and according to my doctors I had it pretty bad. I was very restricted for the first semester afterwards. I had to quit sports due to a spleen in danger of rupturing and my doc required that I take the bare minimum course load to be full time. It took me probably two years to get back to where I was fitness wise after that, fortunately thanks to summer school I was able to stay on track with graduating on time. I remember one really embarrassing incident where I fell asleep in class while standing up and one of my classmates caught me, luckily it was my advisor’s class and he’d had to help with the paperwork to get my course load to minimum so there was no explaining.
      The biggest thing to help her get over the virus is hydration and good food, but if she was super active making sure she doesn’t eat so much that she puts on a ton of weight. (I put on 15 lvs that semester and struggled with getting rid of it for more than 2 years) but hydration will help so much!

    13. Traveling Teacher*

      Oh man, I got mono my first year of teaching, thankfully just before winter break! I was similarly embarrassed to tell my colleagues (at four different schools, no less, plus my main boss), especially since I wasn’t kissing anyone at the time! The doctor said I’d most likely caught it on public transport or from sharing food or a water glass. So glamorous.

      What made things bearable for me was having plenty of audiobooks to listen to. I was so annoyed that I couldn’t keep my eyes open for longer than a page before falling asleep, but I figured out that I could listen to about a chapter of a book while trying to slurp down some soup or while lying in bed with my eyes closed.

      Depending on her case, ymmv, but my doctor told me that the “stay in bed til you’re completely healed” way of treating mono was really old school and could actually provoke the illness’ symptoms to hang around for longer. So, once I was able to get up and start moving, he told me to go sit outside, take short walks, etc., to start building up my strength little by little. But, the key was to not push myself, only do what my body felt capable of.

      Also, what really helped me was the fact that my mom came to visit me once I was getting better. After three weeks of utter misery, just having my mom there was like magic! I was living overseas, and I was so grateful that she’d already planned the trip before I got sick! I’m sure that having a caring parent or loved one is the most important part of recovery.

      Final note: also according to my doctor, it’s possible for one person to have it (like daughter’s BF) and be asymptomatic or just have an extremely mild case, like a cold. So, she technically still could have caught it from him!

  21. Kate Daniels*

    I’ve been eyeing treating myself to a subscription to MasterClass for several months (because it is really expensive) and finally decided to just go for it! I am really impressed by the high production quality of all of the videos plus the accompanying workbooks. I am primarily interested in doing all of the writing ones to help keep me inspired/motivated, but I’m also excited for the cooking ones as well!

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      Ooo, I’ve been wanting a Masterclass subscription as well for the writing class. Would you say it’s worth the money if you want to improve your writing?

      1. Kate Daniels*

        The videos make me feel inspired and more confident that I can do this writing thing and should keep going, which is what I need as someone who is unpublished and questioning whether writing is a good use of my time because I’m not making money from it. You can kind of think of them as motivational Ted Talks that provide insights into these experienced authors’ processes, which can be helpful if you feel like you are stuck or in a rut. I like how the workbooks include exercises, which I plan on doing. But it’s not a “class” in a traditional sense… you aren’t going to get individualized feedback on a piece you are working on.

  22. Lena Clare*

    TV! What are you watching and enjoying at the moment?

    I am still watching Deep Space Nine and…I like it! I didn’t think I would. I took the advice of lots of people here when I mentioned it before and missed out a whole load of episodes from the first 3 series and even some episodes from series 4 and 5. But I am loving it. I’m on series 7, the last one.

    I still don’t know if I can say it is better than Voyager though, but I can see why people said it was. The writing was more developed.

    I can’t say I am enjoying Star Trek: Discovery (the new one) very much though, although I will watch it if Anson Mount (Captain Pike) is in it :)

    The only things I am watching on at the moment are Baptiste and Shetland, and they are both very good.

    1. Eleanor Rigby*

      I’m watching Baptiste too. I didn’t watch The Missing but feel I don’t need to as it’s quite standalone.
      Also watching – Flack with Anna Pacquin.
      Anticipating – Bosch, The Bay (a bit like Broachurch but not really) and Line of Duty.

    2. cat socks*

      We recently re-watched True Blood and are now looking for something new. I’ve been interested in checking out Mindhunter on Netflix. Also waiting for the final season of Game of Thrones!

    3. Mimmy*

      My favorite shows are Good Doctor and Big Bang Theory (yes, completely opposite shows lol).

    4. Anonymouse for this*

      It’s taken me a month or so but I’ve just finished binge watching the Major Crimes series – spinoff from The Closer. There is a great episode with Luke Perry in it – felt compelled to watch it again when I heard he’d died.

      Currently trying to decide which series to watch next – it’s a toss up between going retro – Rockford Files or All Creatures Great and Small – and watching Endeavour or Silent Witness on my dvr.

      1. Eleanor Rigby*

        I love Major Crimes! Think I actually prefer it over The Closer over (apart from the ending) but it’s close.

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

      I’m definitely not a big TV person, but I was surprised at how much I enjoyed The Masked Singer, whose season just ended. Really fun diversion from reality. Hopefully it returns in the fall. Also, I’m enjoying the first season of The Rookie.

      Riverdale was so good when it first came out. I was excited about it every week, this coming again from a person who is cynical at best about TV. But it has gone completely off the rails.

    6. Grand Mouse*

      I like light, animated stuff so I have been watching the new She-Ra show! Hilda was wonderful too- like taking a vacation out on the wilderness as a child. I watch some Pokemon now and then with my boyfriend.

      I do also like cooking shows, so I’ll watch Chef’s Table and the Great British Bakeoff sometimes. As you might have noticed, the stuff I like to watch is pretty lowkey.

    7. Windchime*

      I’m just finishing up a re-watch of The Office (US version) all the way through. It’s been a fun distraction to have on while I’m sewing. Other than that, I just feel like I’m waiting for a bunch of shows to come back, including Game of Thrones and Handmaid’s Tale.

    8. JediSquirrel*

      I’ve been depressed all week due to family issues, so I’ve been binging on Corner Gas. It’s on Amazon Prime and well worth it. I may move to Saskatchewan.

    9. Persephone Mulberry*

      I’ve been digging a lot of the Netflix original series recently. Russian Doll, Umbrella Academy, One Day at a Time.

      Jane the Virgin’s fifth and final season launches in a couple weeks so I’m planning on laugh/crying my way through a rewatch shortly.

      If you enjoy Star Trek: The Orville is so much better than I expected it to be.

      Talent competition shows: my kiddo and I are enjoying The World’s Best on CBS. The Masked Singer is on my list; I’ve been avoiding spoilers!

      My current-season series to catch up on each week include Supernatural, The Rookie, Superstore, Crazy Ex Girlriend, and Speechless.

      Once the rest of season 9 of Shameless has aired, I’ll do a free trial of the Showtime app and binge it. XD

      1. Jane Smith*

        Ooo similar tastes.
        I can’t wait for Jane The Virgin 5!

        Russian Doll is one of the best things I’ve ever seen in my life. I’ve watched it twice already and will definitely watch it again soon.

        I also really loved Crazy Ex Girlfriend.
        Did you watch Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt? I thought that was very funny.

        The Umbrella Academy was good fun, I hope there’ll be a second series!

        Thanks for the tip on The Orville. I haven’t got Prime but I can buy it for one month and binge it when I’m done with Star Trek DS9!

        It seems like all I do is watch TV! but I tend to watch series in their entirety before moving on to the next one so maybe I watch about 5-8 hours a week which isn’t too bad!

    10. Foreign Octopus*

      I feel the same about Star Trek: Discovery. I feel that Anson Mount really helped to save it for me. He’s excellent as Pike and I really hope he stays in the role because he makes it feel like Star Trek. I could definitely do without Ash Tyler. I just don’t care about him or his storyline.

      As for myself, I’ve just finished watching Black Earth Rising on Netflix: eight episodes about prosecuting a war criminal from the Rwandan genocide. It was really engaging and very well acted.

    11. Lcsa99*

      I watch a lot of prime time shows – Grey’s Anatomy, Station 19, Riverdale, the Rookie, Blindspot – stuff like that. Really enjoyed the premier of The Enemy Within so I am looking forward to seeing where they take it.

      Has anyone been watching The Walking dead? I was certain I was gonna give up on it with Rick’s last episode, but then they pushed it forward a few years and it sorta breathed new life into it, at least with a few of the episodes. Just curious what others think.

      I am sure this will totally discredit me, but my guilty pleasure is General Hospital.

    12. Jaid*

      Season O of QI with Sandi Toksvig as the host. I’ll laugh hard enough to make myself cough…

    13. Ktelzbeth*

      I watch TV almost only when I’m working out indoors, which has been all too often recently, and am almost wondering if you’re me. I just finished rewatching Star Trek: Voyager and am now working on DS9, which I’m enjoying.

    14. L*

      just finished the last episode of Season 3 of Cardinal and I already can’t wait for Season 4!

    15. Beatrice*

      I love political dramas, and my spouse doesn’t, but I’ve recently gotten an old iPad mini and have discovered solo binge watching (we only have one television). So in the last six months, I’ve watched The West Wing, House of Cards, and Designated Survivor, and I’m starting on Madam Secretary and eyeing Veep.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        The first season of Designated Survivor was SO GOOD. I binged it in a single weekend. I wasn’t as excited about Season 2, but boy was Season 1 excellent.

    16. Trixie*

      I just found Fringe on AmazonPrime! Also newest season of Endeavor for some British mystery.

    17. Mephyle*

      I watched The Expanse, and it is the only series that I have chain-watched (like chain-smoking; as soon as I finished the last episode, instead of asking myself what series should I watch next, I immediately went back to Season 1 to watch the whole thing again from the beginning).
      Some people say that they found the first season a bit slow, and didn’t really get into it until the end of that season and especially the second season, but I was captivated (or obsessed) right from S01E01.

    18. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Once we are all caught up with a few more Marvel movies, I’m going to take a deep dive into Little House on the Prairie. The Melissa Gilbert TV series just hit Amazon Prime!

    19. Kat in VA*

      The husband and I are watching the final episode of The Order on Netflix that we binged out on this weekend.

      On the surface, it looks like another 20-somethings cheesy CW show, but in reality, the dialogue is hilarious and the story engaging.

      (Warning, there’s a lot of F-bombs if that’s not your thing)

      The acting is natural enough that it feels like they just told the actors, “Here’s the scene, this happens, go with it.”

    20. Lena Clare*

      Just for funsies and because I am a geek, I made a list of drinks that appear in Star Trek, and specifically DS9, on my blog which is Lena Clare WordPress :D
      I had fun doing it which makes me extra geeky I think.

    21. Marion Ravenwood*

      Lots of things:

      – The new series of RuPaul’s Drag Race on Netflix
      – Derry Girls, which has just started its second series. I don’t know if it’s because I grew up in the 90s and was brought up Catholic so a lot of it is very familiar to me, but it’s hilarious and I absolutely love it
      – The Great British Bake Off Stand Up To Cancer specials
      – I recently got back into Criminal Minds so have been watching that from the beginning – just started season 4
      – 30 Rock (which has become mine and my husband’s go-to dinnertime TV). It’s taken me a while to get into, but now I’m really enjoying it. I absolutely adore Jack McBrayer as Kenneth, although having seen him in Waitress last week I’m not quite sure I can look at his character in quite the same way…

      And I’m very excited about Queer Eye coming back on Friday.

  23. Overeducated*

    Cooking thread! It’s a chilly gray weekend here, and my kid has a cold so we’re staying in, so I’m looking forward to making cozy food in big batches:

    -Instant pot boeuf bourguignon
    -Arancini with butternut squash risotto and fontina
    -Chocolate chip cookies
    -Maybe onion soup?

    What are you cooking?

    1. GoryDetails*

      Nothing elaborate, but I am making deviled eggs, and may experiment with different flavors in the filling. (I’ve been using my Instant Pot to cook the eggs; the combination of steam and pressure cooks them nicely and makes them easier to shell.)

    2. Llellayena*

      Deviled potatoes and pesto rice balls (two different dishes) for a potluck lunch!

    3. epi*

      My husband is going to make black beans and rice– to be served with lots of yogurt and hot sauce. I will probably also make a white bean soup with pasta and greens. Probably over two days because we will need the Instant Pot for the beans in both recipes.

      I’m also thinking about making a frittata this weekend to split up for our weekday breakfasts. Based on what we have, it will probably be bacon, peas, and thinly sliced onions cooked down in tomato paste.

      Your plans sound great! I really like risotto but have never tried to make it myself.

      1. Anonapixie*

        What about changing the frittata to a breakfast strata? Sort of like a breakfast lasagna, imo they reheat a little better than a frittata.

    4. Anona*

      I’m making a slow cooker chicken taco bowl recipe from budget bytes, and planning to garnish it with lime and avocado. I’ve never tried it before, but it’s well reviewed, so we’ll see!

      1. Anona*

        It was delicious! Zested and juiced a lime and added at the end. Served with cilantro, green onions, avocado, and sour cream. Skipped the rice she calls for. Definitely a keeper!

    5. M*

      I have been on a soup kick the last week or so- maybe it’s my way of getting through the end of winter. So I’m planning chicken and wild rice soup (easy to freezer prep and dump in the instant pot), parsnip bisque, and italian wedding soup. Also, I may be the last person on earth to make smashed potatoes so I’m planning a sunday night of steak or roast beef and smashed potatoes. Last week I made a delicious ham and bean soup.

    6. Autumnheart*

      We’re supposed to get 6 to 10” of snow later today. I made chocolate ice cream last night, and today the plan is for slow cooker chicken soup. I also have a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough in the fridge, which I will probably bake tomorrow (I like to chill my dough for 48 hours before baking).

        1. Autumnheart*

          My house is Comfort Food Central. If someone wants to come over and sit around in fluffy throw blankets, cats, and have tons of pasta and cookies and cake….that’s my house.

          Ice cream is my culinary gimmick that is secretly easy, but very impressive to other people. It’s also a great potluck item (assuming someone has a freezer) because you can make a flavor that complements someone else’s cake or pie.

          1. Kate Daniels*

            Cats and blankets, too, in addition to all of my favorite foods!? Your home seriously sounds like heaven!

    7. Corky's Wife Bonnie*

      Made white turkey chili recently, it’s on the Betty Crocker web site. If you don’t like spicy, it’s great. If you like a little or a lot of kick you’ll have to adjust the recipe.

    8. coffee cup*

      I’d love to make onion soup, but I react very strongly to cutting onions, so I don’t think I can. :( Even after one cut my eyes are streaming and my face is puffy.

      1. Miranda*

        Buy them pre cut at the grocery store, or find some swim goggles to wear while slicing. Also, make sure your knife is sharp. ( Or ask someone who doesn’t have that problem to do the cutting, I’ve had to do that when cutting onions has made me unable to see due to too much eye-watering).

        1. Beatrice*

          I would chop your onions! I wear contacts and I find they make me pretty much immune to onion tears.

      2. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

        You can buy them precut and frozen in some big supermarkets. Business costco sells them precut fresh (this is a hard type of costco to find – we have one for our entire metro area, but some amazing BIG bulk things….)
        Or if you don’t need many, you can buy them in the salad bar, precut. But that’s the most expensive way, so look for the frozen bag. NO sulfer/ onion odor at all, and as many nutrients as the fresh (at least, as my house, where the fresh sit for a week or two before I cut them up). They flash freeze them pretty quickly once cut.

      3. Anona*

        I exclusively use sweet or Vidalia onions. I don’t notice any flavor difference vs the yellow onions (which always make me cry like the dickens), and they don’t make me cry.

      4. Koala dreams*

        Use whole onions! Some recepies for onion soup has whole onions, or you can experiment. You still have to peel them, though.

    9. lammmm*

      I have a bunch of veggies that I bought for this week’s lunches but never got the motivation to do anything with. So I’m probably going to roast them all up tomorrow just so they don’t go bad and figure out what to do with them later.

    10. Trixie*

      I’ve been roasting up a storm of veggies including squash, brussels sprouts, and broccoli. I’m going to try frozen veggies next.

    11. Mephyle*

      I’m on a solar cookie kick. I make the dough for icebox cookies (aka refrigerator cookies, slice and bake cookies), and just slice a few off the roll and bake them in my homemade cardboard-box-and-aluminum-foil solar oven. I leave them in the “oven” (under an upside-down Pyrex dish) about 3 hours, and they end up with a texture like biscotti. The next level will be to have two or three different flavours of cookie dough on hand at one time.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        How warm does it have to be outside for this to work? I’m looking at 4 in of snow at the moment!

      2. Mephyle*

        It doesn’t depend so much on the ambient temperature, but focusing the sun’s rays, and you need a transparent enclosure to trap the heat, like a glass dish or an oven bag. I live in the semi-tropics, but at the web page where I got the instructions for making my solar oven, he demonstrates how he used it on a snowy day! His real limitation that day was not the outside temperature, but the fact that on that winter day he only had a few hours when the sun was high enough, and that barely so.

    12. Doodle*

      I have chickens and my dad just sent me a box of lemons, so…lemon curd, lemon bars, lemon marmalade, and spicy pickled lemon.

      I’m also working on clearing out my freezer (I need to defrost it before summer fruits and veggies), so I made a giant pot of minestrone today. Which means there’s leftover soup to go into the freezer….

    13. Jaid*

      I finally cooked my teff/oatmeal porridge (turmeric, cinnamon, cardamon and ground flax-seed, coconut milk). Now I have breakfast for four mornings this week.

      I need to go grocery shopping, but still getting over my cold meant that I’m just so darn tired when I get home from work. Maybe next week.

  24. Alaska Roll*

    Warning: miscarriage discussion

    I had my surgery on Thursday and everything went well. Except putting the IV in. It took two nurses and thee attempts to get the IV in properly, and I nearly passed out after the second attempt. I didn’t have a fear of needles before, but after being stuck once a week or more for a month now, I think I am starting to develop one!

    I actually got the test results back early too. The doctor called yesterday and told me that I did not have a molar pregnancy like she suspected, just a “normal” missed miscarriage. I thought I would be more relieved to hear that (because, no cancer) but if anything I felt… guilty? Super weird reaction. I guess in hindsight I now wish I would have taken the doctor up on her offer to do one more ultrasound, but I need to keep reminding myself that it probably wouldn’t have mattered. They did two already and didn’t see a fetus, and my hormone levels weren’t rising appropriately. There was no detectable heartbeat. The doctor was very sure that it was not viable. Plus, with a possible molar pregnancy you need to get that treated as soon as you know about it. I suppose I’ll never be happy with my decision, but I was operating on the best information I had at the time, and the outcome would almost certainly have been the same. I am trying to be as understanding towards myself as I would be if it was my friend telling me this.

    Any suggestions for memorializing an early miscarriage? When it was molar and I was going to have to wait six to twelve months to get pregnant I was planning to run a marathon on my due date, but now that I am cleared to start trying again I’m not sure what to do. I know some women run marathons when pregnant and I love running, but I’ve never run a marathon and I don’t think the best time to start is when I’m pregnant or trying to get pregnant. The hospital gave me a small dragonfly charm as a memorial and I was considering getting a shadowbox for it.

    1. Anona*

      The shadowbox sounds lovely. I had a miscarriage at 8 weeks in 2016. I later named the baby Devon (Devin? it was in my head, so never chose a spelling). I picked a gender neutral name, but later felt like she was my daughter, so that’s how I think of her as.
      They have miscarriage memory necklaces on Etsy that I considered but never purchased.
      On my due date, March 13, I took off work, and spent some time outside with my dogs.
      I’m glad you’re trying not to blame yourself. It wasn’t your fault. St times I wonder if I didn’t do this or that if it would have made a difference (like if I hadn’t danced outside at a friend’s wedding when it was very hot), but I too try to give myself grace.
      I really like the essay “grief comes in waves.” And it helped me to make a Pinterest board called “pregnancy loss sucks” where I pinned supportive quotes, memes, and articles. My favorites were an article that said that I was still a mother, even though I had a miscarriage, and a meme of the standard woman’s bathroom woman that says “it was never a dress” and implies that the skirt is a cape.
      You are not alone. None of us wanted to join this club, but there are many of us here.

    2. CoveredInBees*

      Many people are fond of wind chimes to memorialize someone they have lost. When they make noise it can feel like a connection to that person.

      When I’m done having babies, I plan on getting little Jizo statutes for the two pregnancies I’ve lost. For some reason, it feels like tempting fate to get them sooner than that, so I just get myself a nice bouquet of flowers on what would have been their due dates.

    3. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      sending a hug. Seconding the chimes. I got them as a gift when my husband died, and they are a comfort. If it becomes too much, you can move the “chime ringer” up or down to be less noisy, or in a wind storm, take them down… But I have a big, deep sounding set so the sound is soothing to me. (And I usually don’t like chimes but these were from a beloved person, so I hung them and was surprised that I love them so much).

    4. Natalie*

      My stepmother planted trees for hers (multiple miscarriages). I think burying something felt right to her.

    5. Lemonwhirl*

      I asked my dad to make a small, triangular box in case any remains were returned to me, which I requested but I never hear from the hospital again so I can only assume that everything that was tested was not actually from the foetus.

      I also got a tattoo (which was my second tattoo). And I spent a night alone in a hotel and also made a day trip by myself, both of which were about my own mental healing. (And I spent a lot of time crying alone in the car. I found it helpful to be kind to myself and just let me feel my feelings.)

      And, on the due date, I got a bunch of balloons and let them got with a small note attached to them, which had a name that I would have liked to have given the baby. (I did this on my own, on a stretch of empty road not too far from my house. The wind changed direction and the balloons end up bound up in a tree. And I’ve since learned that balloons are terrible for the environment for all kinds of reasons. So I pretty much would not recommend this one. :))

    6. Alaska Roll*

      Thanks all. I think I will go the shadow box route, and I got some material to make cloth flowers to add to it. I made my wedding bouquet the same way and the technique came right back to me. It feels right.

  25. Miss Astoria Platenclear*

    Follow-up from this week’s question about asking an interviewee for a date: Is it shrewd romantic strategy for a woman to ask first anyway, outside of a work context?

    1. Llellayena*

      Oh yes. I’ve reached a point in my life where if I wait for them to ask, I’ll have grey hairs before anything happens! I’m over my decade of singlehood and I’ve managed to connect with a couple of guys by saying “I’d be interested in meeting up outside *activity we met in”

    2. Anona*

      I don’t think it’s shrewd. I think it’s a strategy that will work sometimes but not others, but there’s really only one way to find out- by doing it!

      1. Washi*

        Yeah, if shrewd = something that can work, then it is shrewd! But it’s not like, a failproof strategy to get someone to go out with you.

        That said, I do subscribe to the notion that if you want something, asking for it is a better strategy than waiting around for someone to hand it to you. You just have to make sure that the conditions are right to get an honest answer (like a professor should not ask out their student, because the power dynamics make it hard for the student to freely say no.)

    3. Dan*

      It’s 2019 — if you’re interesting in someone romantically, make a move. No need to put a label on it.

    4. fposte*

      “Shrewd” makes it sound like a game of strategy. I think if you like the guy enough to like the idea of seeing more of him, by all means ask him out. Remember if you’re asking, you’re paying; maybe you could be argued into going Dutch, but it’s a lot more gracious just to say “We’ll let you get the next one” (assuming you haven’t ruled out a next one at that point).

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        ““Shrewd” makes it sound like a game of strategy. ”

        Yeah, what is this “Game of Dates?”

        Look, some guys won’t be into it, but some guys will – the question is: what kind of guys do you want? If what you want is an old-fashioned guy who will always take the initiative in your romantic life and finally propose to you via flashmob after you’ve dropped enough hints about a ring, then yeah, you’re probably going to have better luck waiting for them to ask you out. However, if you want the kind of guy that’s ok with a woman taking more agency in her life (romantically and otherwise) you’ll probably do well to start with guys who are ok with a woman asking them out.

        1. Miss Astoria Platenclear*

          I should have said “a good idea.” Making the first move hasn’t worked out so well for me.

          1. valentine*

            If someone would only have been interested had you not made the first move, I hope that would cancel your interest, as they’re a bullet dodged.

    5. neverjaunty*

      Yes, in that (assuming you are dating men) it helps weed out the ones who have weird issues about gender roles.

    6. Lilysparrow*

      It depends on your temperament and the kind of guys you pick.

      It never worked out well for me, because I always seemed to pick guys who weren’t asking because they weren’t that into me.

      The rejections weren’t the problem – that’s normal. The ones who said yes wound up expecting me to do 100 percent of the effort in making the relationship happen, they were just along for the ride.

      It worked out better for me when the guy asked and I could decide if he was worth my time. I wound up marrying someone I never would have asked out on my own initiative, and it’s excellent.

      (No weird gender roles or flashmobs, btw. Just happy and compatible.)

      If your “picker” is better calibrated than mine, it might work out fine.

      1. Washi*

        Haha what do you mean about flashmobs? Like, he didn’t ask you out by flashmob?

        (I’m smiling to myself picturing a happy marriage plagued occasionally by flashmobs, all because it was the guy who did the asking)

        1. Lilysparrow*

          Yeah, I don’t know where the image came from either, I was referencing Traffic Spiral and NeverJaunty’s rather …odd and sweeping generalizations.

    7. CoveredInBees*

      Yes. Ask away. It is how I ended up dating my husband. He’s indecisive and spends too much time getting into his head about things, so if I hadn’t asked it might have taken him months and I might not have been available or just have given up.

    8. Kuododi*

      I must admit that DH and I never knew each other in a work capacity. (We were friends in seminary). I did however, ask him out on our first date. We were married about a year after our first date. We just celebrated our 25th anniversary in January, and we’re still having fun!

  26. Rebecca*

    Mom – Dryer Edition Update

    As predicted, she doesn’t know how to work the dryer. All I hear is “on my old dryer, I did X and Y”. “This thing doesn’t work right.” “I can’t keep running up and down the steps to check on it.” “I checked on it, it was still running and really hot in there, it should have shut off immediately like my old dryer did when things were dry”. **Hint, her old dryer did shut off, and things were still damp. It didn’t work correctly either, but it’s user error in this case, not machine error. I’ve told her a dozen times these are two totally different machines, many years apart in manufacturing time, not the same brands, etc. but she still persists with “I pushed this button on the OLD dryer”. Ugh, I just can’t.

    I looked at the book last night. She got an LG WiFi enabled dryer, there are all sorts of settings, you can program it, etc. and she has no clue what to do. She’s been on a tear about sending it back, they can just come get it, I don’t know why they sold me this…just blaming other people for her mistakes. As usual. I offered to pick out a simple dryer, but no – she had to go to the library, read Consumer Reports, and then pick out her own dryer, because I didn’t know what I was doing. I finally told her this morning either shut up about it or send it back, because she’s stressing me out with all her whining. I told her – it’s a dryer. You need a machine to dry things, you could get something very simple, but you chose this, if you don’t like it, send it back. End of discussion.

    Now I want to download the app and mess with it after she starts it, or make it start up while she’s at the washer, just to mess with her. I know that’s totally juvenile BUT, man, she is a piece of work.

    For the record, I don’t use the dryer. I have a clothes rack with 6 “arms” on it, taller than me, and it holds 36 items on hangers. I hang my pants on pants hangers, shirts on plastic hangers, etc. and I have a fold up dowel rod drying rack for underwear and socks. It will soon be warm enough to hang sheets outside instead of on the clothesline in the basement. She’s always taking my towels to wash them, so I don’t worry about that.

    So now it’s sit down and eat the popcorn time. I feel a bit of schadenfreude over this whole thing.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      My family of origin is also often…stubborn, and not kind, so I know what you mean. I would be tempted to reflect everything back with a variation of “so why did you buy it then?” “I don’t know why they sold me this” “Because it’s the one you insisted on after all that research!”

      1. Rebecca*

        YES!!! I am having way too much fun with this, and having a hard time not just laughing out loud. It’s not an emergency, or anything to be stressed about. It’s a dryer!! The latest thing this morning is her doctor’s office scales aren’t correct, and they don’t do this, that and the other thing that HRH believes should be done, so I said “ok, so if they don’t meet your standards, find another doctor”. THEN she backpedals, oh, that’s a lot of phone calls, I’d have to fill out all those forms, and I cut her off. “Either find another doctor or put up with the one you have”. She just likes to complain and be the victim.

        1. Anonapixie*

          Sounds like my mother. My go to has become “So why are you complaining about it if you won’t do anything to fix it?”

          1. MissDisplaced*

            Because they want you to “fix” everything for them. Obvs.
            They also want the attention this brings because they’re lonely.

        2. Lora*

          Hahaha I swear we have the same mother but mine made me push the dryer buttons when she forgot how to use it. Fortunately I always get the cheapest dryer, though the down side was she occasionally remembered how it worked on cashmere sweaters.

          Mine had a similar freakout about 10 years ago over meatballs. Her dad was still alive, she wanted to have a fancy meal for his birthday, he said he didn’t want fancy he wanted Swedish meatballs. She completely lost her shit for days, because “how would he want THAT? He’s never been to Sweden!” I dunno mom, he’s been to Ikea, isn’t that basically the same thing? :p

    2. MissDisplaced*

      I was going to say that they still do make “simple” dryers, but apparently your mom, for some strange reason, picked something more than what she needed. Sigh.
      Just sympathizing. My mum acts much the same way (she’s 78). Only my mum would never bother to read or research Consumer Reports. But when something she bought isn’t working, man she can also be a pain. She gets like that with her iPad, even though I’ve told her many, many times to simply turn it off and back on, which will fix 90% of any issues she’s having because she leaves websites open.

    3. Blue Eagle*

      I’m with you about the “no dryer”, particularly in the winter. It doesn’t make any sense to me to use the dryer (and pay for energy) to take the water out of my clothes, then use the humidifier (and pay for energy) to put water back into the air. If you hang your clothes, then the water from the clothes goes directly to the air and you don’t need to add as much humidity.

      1. LuJessMin*

        Huh, maybe that’s why I haven’t had the problem with static electricity this year like I usually do – my dryer has a touch screen and only works when the temperature is above 70 on the back porch (where the dryer resides). I’ll wash clothes and hang them up, then I’ll wash a big load of towels and such and take them to the laundromat to dry.

      2. Koala dreams*

        I needed to read this today. I have wet clothes hanging all over my living room and you just gave me a positive spin on the situation. Thanks!

    4. just a random teacher*

      I am also a drying rack user. I haven’t seen one like you have with the arms – any idea on good places to look to buy one or good search terms to use to find one online?

      I currently use two folding drying racks from Ikea for my pants that are longer than they are wide, and two metal drying racks that otherwise look like the “wooden dowel” ones that are wider than they are long for my shirts. (I like to spread my clothes out over two-four rungs each rather than hang them on just one rung so they dry faster.)

      I’m still trying to figure out the best place to actually set up all these drying racks in my house (I moved a year or so ago). There are lots of things I love about this house, but the washer is in a very narrow mudroom (it’s more of a “mud hallway”) that has a bathroom at the end furthest from the exit door, so there’s no place to set up even one full-size drying rack in there (the overhead space is all built-in cabinets because it doubles as the pantry, so I can’t go vertical with the drying racks). In the summer, the backyard is only steps away so it’s not an issue, but this time of year I seem to be drying all my clothes in the living room since it’s the closest room that has space for drying racks. This can be an issue when I get surprise company since I live in a culture where it is not traditional to greet guests by showing them your underwear collection as they enter your home.

      1. Rebecca*

        I got mine at Walmart, I had to put it together, but it’s really nice in that it folds up into basically a pole type arrangement and it’s easy to store when I’m not using it. It looks like a tall post, a little over 6′ tall, with three arms at the top and 3 arms in the middle, and a tripod base.

        Not traditional to greet guests by showing them your underwear collection :) :) :) :) LOL I love this!!

        1. Rebecca*

          Yes, very similar! I love it, it takes up very little space, and is easy to fold and store if needed.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Look up the Frost dying rack at IKEA. It’s worked for us for a decade. We set it up at a higher angle than they show, so tall things have more room.

      3. nonegiven*

        Don’t answer the door. Nobody is home or everyone is asleep. Either way you are not receiving right now.

    5. Lucky Daughter*

      Why not help your mother learn to use the dryer? She helped you learn new things when you were young. Figure out the settings she needs for each type of laundry load and post a big sheet of paper above the dryer that shows exactly which settings she needs for towels, blouses, etc. I have a new LG dryer and it is ridiculously complicated.

      You should be setting a good example for your own daughter. Some day you will be old and easily confused. Do you want your daughter to treat you the way you treat your own mother?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This is part of an on-going story line. OP’s mom probably does not want to learn how to use the new dryer. Worse yet, OP’s mom’s main interest seems to be antagonizing the crap out of OP. Probably mom would take down any signs OP put up because they weren’t helpful or they made the room look messy.

        OP won’t treat her daughter the way mom treats OP.

      2. Thursday Next*

        It might be worth it for Rebecca to consider whether a posted sheet of directions might be workable in her situation.

        I’ve always had a problem with the argument “is this how you want your kids to treat you.” Admittedly, a lot of my feeling is personal: growing up, I always felt my grandparents were more important to my father than I was. As an adult, I can consider that distance and the guilt of emigrating away from his family influenced my father, but as a kid I just felt second best.

        All of this is to say that I think children learn more from how their parents treat them than from how their parents treat grandparents.

        (Also, we don’t know whether modeling behavior is relevant to Rebecca.)

        1. Rebecca*

          I did offer to help her, and pointed out there is a programmable feature that if she has a favorite setting, we could program it into the machine so she wouldn’t have to remember to set all the buttons each time. She shot that idea down because she said different things get dried with different settings, so OK. I read the booklet, and it is complicated! I would have never chosen a dryer like this. But, here we are. I like the idea of making an instruction sheet, that might be helpful, so I’ll ask her.

          1. Anon for this*

            If your mom is anything like mine (and, from what I’ve read of your posts, she is, very much so), you’ll write up the clearest, simplest instruction sheet that you possibly can. Breaking everything down into very understandable steps, using the smallest words possible. Writing in easy to read large type, maybe even color coded for easy tracking!

            And then you will get in return, “This is too much to read! I don’t have time to read all of this! I am too overwhelmed to read all of this!” And you’ll wonder why you even bothered trying to help.

            So, yeah, be prepared for that. Been there, more times than I can count. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this.

      3. Lucky Daughter*

        I have been following the OP’s saga for quite a while. From what I can tell, the OP fell on hard times and moved back home with mother. The OP appears to be a 40+ year old woman who is behaving like an ungrateful teenager – antagonizing mom, needling her, sulking, hiding on other floors of the house to avoid her, etc. If she is so annoyed by her mom’s behavior why doesn’t she move out and move in with her daughter?

        1. Book Lover*

          It is not so much hard times as essentially abuse by her ex…. I think she is very grateful to be able to stay with her mother, but sometimes things can be frustrating and writing that down can be an escape valve. Especially writing in a place where it won’t get back to her mother or hurt her, as opposed to talking to someone close to her.

          1. Book Lover*

            And sorry, I realized that sounded like I was speaking for Rebecca, which I don’t claim to, but that is the way I have been seeing her posts. It can be so hard to lose your independence by having to rely on a family member for housing. And gratitude doesn’t make it easy.

        2. The Cosmic Avenger*

          It must be nice to live in a world where there are no abusers, narcissists, or gaslighters, everyone who complains is ungrateful, and you can intuit peoples’ motives over the internet. I actually know the OP offline, and I can tell you that NSNR is quite correct, but to allow the OP her privacy I won’t elaborate on the details of the situation.

        3. Rebecca*

          Long story, I had been posting it under “I Am Still Furious”, and I am 56, Mom is 83, and is a real handful. She has untreated anxiety, and a host of other issues that she’s never addressed. Before my Dad died, he flat out told me, if I go before your mother, you’ll have your hands full. I promised him before he died that I would make sure Mom was OK. So long story short, I finally got away from my ex husband, lived with a friend for almost a year, but the calls from Mom were becoming more frequent, so it made sense to move in with her for a while until and if she decides to downsize and move into assisted living.

          I try not to antagonize or needle her, but really, nothing I do is good enough, it wasn’t when I was a child, and it’s not good enough now. So I do keep to myself quite a bit, that’s true, but the dryer issue is just a symptom. I offered to help her pick out something that would work for her, and she flat out told me no, she wanted to research and do it herself because she wants to get the dryer with the best consumer reports rating. She’s been hung up on that for years. Now she’s blaming Lowes for selling her a dryer with features she doesn’t understand. And her Subaru, same thing, too many bells and whistles and she hates it, but she won’t trade it or even look for an alternative. The other day she complained that she couldn’t open the trunk. She was pressing the door lock button over and over again, and it just keep beeping and carrying on. I showed her on the key fob that she pressed the wrong button, and the right one to press, and she just snapped at me “that’s NOT WHAT I DID”. Um, yes, you did…but she’s never wrong, so there you are.

          So, I am here, I help by cleaning, cooking, carrying things up the steps, getting gas in her car (she refuses to touch the gas nozzle because it’s dirty and the gas smells funny), doing recycling, shoveling snow, getting the mail, making sure she’s OK, can get to her appointments, etc. I’m also working on selling Dad’s garage equipment and old vehicles. I’m glad to be here, and yes, I avoid her when she’s on these negative rants, because quite frankly, it’s depressing. She should be in some sort of assisted living where people check on her and things are taken care of, and I encourage her every day to look for those places. She hasn’t even started.

          My goal is to help her downsize this big house and get into assisted living or a senior living arrangement. I promised my Dad I would watch out for her, and I will. And this is a good place to voice the frustrations, because 99% of the time, I just stand there and take it, OK Mom, whatever you say Mom, etc. because you can’t tell her anything and she won’t ever admit she’s wrong or that someone else might know something. I haven’t felt well all week and the 5 rant in 5 days about the dryer was the proverbial straw.

            1. valentine*

              Your mom doesn’t sound like she’s going to agree to move, and especially not to a roost she doesn’t rule. (And a new dryer is a new excuse to stay.) Your dad really did you a disservice. It’s absolutely okay not to keep your promise to submit to abuse. I hope you’ll seriously consider leaving.

              What if you drop your end of the rope? Your mom yells about her new (or old) pet peeve. What if you grey-rock her? “Oh, dear”. “Hmm”. Anything noncommittal that doesn’t invite a response (not that it’ll stop her treating your existence itself as an invitation). You don’t have to assign yourself the tasks of reading manuals or investigating or proving her wrong or anything else. So she’s mad and she can’t dry her clothes the way she wants. So? It’s not like she’ll help you solve the problems she creates. Isn’t she someone who just won’t be helped, who’s unhappy unless she’s miserable beyond belief? What if you leave her to it? Her clothes will dry or grow mold. None of her BS is fatal. Wouldn’t you feel better, less on edge, if you didn’t jump to CSI her tantrums?

              Let’s say she can’t live alone for safety reasons. Are you a good match for her? Even if she can’t afford a companion or is friendless and otherwise alone in the world, is your being there an improvement for her? Why not put your own oxygen mask on first and delegate your mom’s or absolve yourself of the duty?

              You’re in danger of sacrificing so much that, should you ever gain freedom, you may not be able to live the life you want. Who loves you a ton? Who wants good things for you? What would they want you to do here? Why not take care of yourself as best you can?

              1. Rebecca*

                All good points. Mom keeps saying the house is too much for her, it’s stressing her out, it’s too big, it’s too everything – and yet, she does exactly nothing. She claims to want to move to a smaller space, like a senior living situation, but she wants a stand alone home, all on one floor, 2 car garage, a garbage disposal, and that’s about all I can get her to decide on. Where this place is, I don’t know. She hasn’t even gotten any brochures (she can’t use “the google” as my Dad called it, she won’t learn, and it is won’t, not can’t). I’ve offered to help. Nope. So, for right now, I’m taking this time to get my crap together, and there will come a time when I move away, and she’s going to have to make a decision.

                As far as decision making? Some examples. My bathroom upstairs is gutted down to the stud work. Dad gutted it over 15 years ago, at her request, because she wanted to update it (it was a 1970’s bathroom). She couldn’t decide on fixtures or wall covering. Dad made suggestions, I made them, but she dug in her heels and said she would do it. There are booklets in a cubby corner in the kitchen about insulation, replacement windows and doors, that type of thing. The tax credits listed in the replacement windows and doors booklet expired in 2010. I haven’t looked at the insulation book, but by the cover, type set, etc. I suspect it has to be from the 1990’s.

                And when Dad or I would just do something, because she was dithering, she got irrationally angry. We went to Walmart and bought a flat screen TV once, as the TV in the family room died, and 6 months later she hadn’t made a decision (Consumer reports again) and was stressing over the very best deal, etc. for features she didn’t understand. So, Dad was tired of not being able to watch his shows because she monopolized the other TV, and we went to Walmart and got a TV. It took 45 minutes. We brought it home, set it up, and man was she angry! She didn’t talk to me for quite a while after that. Dad didn’t care. Oh, and she’s watching that same TV today, it’s lasted over 10 years now. I guess we were able to choose wisely after all.

                1. The Cosmic Avenger*

                  It sounds like between your dad and valentine, you may have a plan for how to deal with her — you may have to defy/ignore her like he did when it’s important to you, and let her suffer consequences when it’s not. She won’t let you fix all the things wrong in her life, because to her they’re things to cling to, not fix, so don’t waste your efforts on those. It really does sound like she needs to have a catastrophic failure before she’ll accept help, unfortunately.

                2. Not So NewReader*

                  @TCA, exactly.
                  All we can do is vow not to become that person ourselves. We can learn how to seek advice from well chosen people and learn how to take good advice and make it our own. As life goes on our ability to do these two things really impacts our quality of life. OP’s mom is an excellent example of what happens when we can’t let others help us. So was my mother and quite a few others reading here are nodding a knowing yes, also.

                  Rebecca is the daughter/adult child some parents can only dream of having. And mom in this story does not realize her life could be oh-so-different with an adult child like Rebecca around.

                  In the end, I could only conclude my mother was actually the very person she distrusted the most. I couldn’t fix that. We can’t fix internal wars that are inside a person.

          1. Lucky Daughter*

            Your mother will never change. All the logical arguments in the world won’t change her. The only thing you can change is how you interact with her. Is there any sort of counseling you can seek out for yourself that might give you new tools to cope with her? My local hospital has support meetings for caregivers. Maybe you can find something like that. You need more support than venting on AAM once a week.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Perhaps I take venting too seriously, that is a possibility.
              But where there is smoke there can be fire. I’d rather err on the side of caution and over-estimate the severity of the situation than blow someone off. So my go-to is to take a serious read on a vent until I see strong reasons not to take it too seriously. OP’s stories keep getting worse. I think that OP is in a precarious situation with mom.

    6. Batgirl*

      You have such a good attitude re grabbing some popcorn.
      I’ve told you your mum sounds like my partner’s; oh my goodness she LOVES researching new purchases. I swear she breaks stuff just for the pleasure of it.
      If you didn’t know her you would believe her when she claims “I am so stressed ohhh noo, what will I do?? What if I buy the one that isn’t the exact best AND also the cheapest? The reviews say different things! What will I do?!!” But if you were to buy her one she’d be furious.
      Then when she finally buys one she has all the fun of stressing over the instructions. She is seriously well entertained for weeks and it is the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. Especially if you commit the sin of trying to help.

  27. Paperdill*

    TLDR; what is the most etiquette-ly way to react when someone says something totally out of line, but you know it is borne of their own emotional pain?

    My sister, who had anxiety, was running her church playgroup, with very little support or assistance from anyone else. Life came to a head for her, one day, and an issue with the playgroup toppled her. She had a breakdown that led to a day in hospital and all sorts of drama.
    A week later and she’s slowly pulling herself back up, suitably medicated, appropriate medical and psychological follow-up arranged and a small group of playgroup friends were made aware of her situation and (finally) start picking up the slack so she can step down for a couple of months.
    The friends, kindly, sent a few meals and a gift basket to my sister. She sent messages of thanks to the friends that she thought were involved in sending the basket. She then received a call from one of the friends who said something along the lines of “I don’t know what your talking about. I had a miscarriage last week and no one bothered to send me meals or see how I was doing” and ended the called abruptly.
    My sister, being quite emotionally vulnerable, blamed herself for the whole issue and took another little nosedive for a few days. She had no idea about the friend’s miscarriage, or the communication between the group of friends – she’d pretty much just been focused on her own issues that week. But then she found herself in the position of knowing that the friend was feeling unloved and slighted and hurt, but wasn’t really able to go back to the other friends and say “Hey – can you give Karen some lasagne too? She had a miscarriage and thinks you guys don’t care”.
    So…when someone says something so utterly unecessary, unhelpful and thoughtless, but is borne out of their own intense pain and suffering how should one respond? What is the most polite, yet sensitive and constructive way to react?
    Any ideas?

    Thanks for listening.

    1. Miss Astoria Platenclear*

      So it was a mix-up and she thanked the wrong person who had had her own, apparently overlooked, tragedy? Sadness all around.
      I guess she should call Karen back (or maybe better to email or text) and offer strong condolences, while briefly mentioning that she had been ill and therefore hadn’t known.
      Their mutual friends should be alerted as well – maybe they didn’t know either.

    2. Samsoo*

      I guess this doesn’t really comment on your question, but people have to understand that we can’t help them in the way they expect if we don’t know what’s going on. That is, did Karen tell anyone she had a miscarriage, or were they just supposed to notice she wasn’t around all week? (It’s flu season here, so someone not showing up for something doesn’t necessarily raise a flag.) Tell me what you want/need!

        1. Paperdill*

          Good question – yes. My sister spoke to one of the friends later and they did know (apparently Karen put it on a group message board or something like that).

          1. Traffic_Spiral*

            Ok, fair, if I heard one of my friends had a miscarriage I’d probably think a casserole was in order. Or, yanno, showing up to drink with them or something. Still, lashing out at the other vulnerable person who didn’t even know about it is sorta shitty. Also, gotta say, if the friends are totally willing to make food baskets for your sister but don’t feel inclined to do anything for Karen, maybe the common denominator in Karen’s friends’ attitude towards her is Karen?

              1. Valancy Snaith*

                No kidding. Considering we don’t know any of these people, it seems more than a little harsh.

    3. Anonapixie*

      Seconding the suggestion to text, and probably something like “[Name], I’m so sorry for your loss. Unfortunately I was ill enough not to have my phone for the past [time period]. Is there anything you need help with during this rough time?”

      I’ll caveat that she should only add the last part if she feels 100% up to SOMETHING, or hearing more. Otherwise it’s pretty much putting the ball in the other person’s court without mentioning the breakdown too specifically, I feel like.

    4. fposte*

      Honestly, I thought the comment was going to be worse from the buildup. I get that it would be hard to hear a vulnerable relative get hit with somebody else’s pain like that, but the woman basically said no, it wasn’t her; in fact, she went through a similarly painful thing and it’s hurting her to discover that her friends’ failure to recognize that may have been personal. That seems a valid message even if it wasn’t expressed beautifully. I don’t think it was unnecessary, unhelpful, and thoughtless in the pejorative sense you mean.

      So I agree with people that she communicates back with Jane to note that this was the first she’d heard and to send her condolences; if she’s up to offering help or even just a coffee support, throw that in.

      1. Paperdill*

        Yeah, I get that it doesn’t sound like such a terrible thing she said, but in the context of my sister’s mental health at the time, it was devastating. Another call to the psychologist, another day off work for her husband (which they could ill afford), another day of foetal position on the couch for her, with just *another thing* to feel responsible for and guilty about. It made me quite angry with Karen, for burdening her with when Karen knew what had been going on. She didn’t have to call my sister – she could have just left it and complained to someone else.

        1. fposte*

          I understand that it would be really hard for your sister to hear, and obviously I wasn’t on the phone call somI don’t know how it sounded or what the exact words were. But it can be something that was really hard for your sister without being as out of line as I think you feel it. What if you think of it in reverse—if your sister hadn’t gotten anything from friends and had felt abandoned and devastated, and then Karen had thanked her for being part of the group who showed her so much kindness when she was in need and the lovely flowers? If your sister had called her up and sad it wasn’t me and I really wish I had gotten flowers too, could you find that forgivable?

          1. valentine*

            She didn’t have to call my sister – she could have just left it and complained to someone else.
            Karen’s entitled to her feelings, and could feel raw enough that she thinks your sister was gloating about what may feel like shunning, rather than sincere thanks. Karen and your sister are in the same boat. So.

            If it’s not overstepping, you could email Karen that you’re both sorry for her loss and that your sister’s illness meant she didn’t know about the miscarriage or the group’s radio silence.

            I can’t help but think something wild is afoot with this playgroup. Your sister shouldn’t interact with anyone from it until she’s on solid ground. Right now, she’s far too vulnerable to risk exposing herself to these people. Tell her it’s absolutely okay for her to look after herself and leave them to it until or unless she thinks she won’t spiral. Bonus if she can make friends elsewhere or change things up and rely less on this group.

            1. Orphan Brown*

              Experiencing a miscarriage is a personal hell I wouldn’t wish on any of my enemies. I don’t think Karen’s response was out of line even given all of those things your sis is going through. Karen spoke her truth.
              Rallying around one friend but not the other? I’m sorry that that happened and that Karen got shafted. But it doesn’t surprise me because people can sometimes be terrible to others who are grieving, and it can take the form of anything from thoughtlessness to maliciousness.

    5. Lilysparrow*

      Yes, a kind note of condolence and an offer to help.

      But she should NOT tell mutual friends about Karen’s miscarriage. It’s not hers to disclose.

      She should tell her friends to call Karen and check on her, because she is upset and sounds like she’s had a hard time lately, too.

    6. Valancy Snaith*

      OK, as someone who was in this exact situation recently and on the other end–it really, really hurts when you feel left out and that no one is paying attention to you. Especially when apparently you mentioned it, as you said this person did, and no one did anything for you but they are doing things for other people.

      Why isn’t she able to say to her other friends “hey, X could use some love too,” if they already all know about it? I’m sure your sister is suffering badly but it sounds like the friend is as well. And honestly, what she said isn’t the cruelest thing I’ve ever heard. Was it particularly kind and gentle? No. But it seems true. And it seems true that the friends didn’t do anything about it.

      I think this is one of those scenarios where your sister doesn’t really have to say anything. She can let it go. Not everything needs to be discussed to be fixed.

    7. Namey McNameface*

      It’s not your sister’s problem to address, besides maybe sending a message to say sorry for the confusion. The friend is not angry because your sister did something bad; she’s upset because of her miscarriage and the fact that she didn’t get support from other people. Your sister has no control over what kind of support other people give to this friend. It’s unclear if the friend even told the same people she had a miscarriage as well. And the friend’s miscarriage is not your sister’s news to share.

      The most I would do is send a follow up message along the lines of “Hey, I’m so sorry to hear of your miscarriage and about my mix up earlier on. I am thinking of you and please let me know if there’s something I can do.”

  28. Washi*

    I wrote a few months ago about a friend who suffers from bouts of anxiety and depression who would make plans with me and then cancel every time. The (very good) advice was to just text for a while, when I felt like it. Now she isn’t responding to my texts at all. I also called once and left a message.

    At this point, I am done initiating. I’m not mad, but I have my own anxiety issues that are cropping up with this, and for all I know, maybe it’s not a depression thing and she actually just doesn’t want to be friends anymore! The thing is, I can’t decide if I should send her a message like “hey, I don’t want to bug you, so feel free to reach out if you ever want to get together” or just stop texting completely.

    It doesn’t feel great to just disappear, but I’m afraid if I send some sort of “final” message, she’ll text me back once or twice, and then go back to being unresponsive again. The thing is, for us to resume our normal friendship, I would need things to not be 50/50, but at least like, 70/30 in terms of effort? I don’t mind being the initiator, but I’d need to go back to the point in our friendship when if I initiated, she seemed glad to hear from me and to occasionally make plans to meet up.

    What do you all think?

    1. Samsoo*

      I once had a friend who would get annoyed at me for not initiating more contact but was terrible about even responding when I did. There was one final exchange where she somehow blamed me for not being in touch more (I got tired of doing all the heavy lifting). I just let her vent and that was the end of it. I didn’t respond. I just washed my hands of it. I don’t mind putting forth a little more effort in some cases, but she expected me to do it all and then it was really never enough. I’d move on.

      1. valentine*

        You’re unlikely to get what you want. Don’t string her along.

        Send her a breakup text and put her on do not disturb. Filter her email and don’t go looking for it.

    2. Carbovore*

      I think you have to decide if you want the friendship more or your own piece of mind. Either is fine–it’s just that with the friendship, it looks like you might have to expect you’ll be the one “giving” more than “receiving.”

      I’m learning this year for a variety of reasons that you can’t control or change people (this seems obvious but expecting someone to act differently than they do is misguided). So, accept that your friend is kind of flaky in this arena but it’s worth it or decide that it’s too anxiety-inducing to live in this limbo and don’t feel guilty about not keeping up contact. (Again, either choice is fine!)

      For what it’s worth, I’m a very reciprocal person too in that I really am not able to have to friendships that aren’t 50-50–it bothers me too much when it seems I’m putting in all the effort. Similar to the commenter above me, I had a friend who was TERRIBLE about contact and hanging out despite multiple efforts from me. When I stopped reaching out (after all, you start to think, “geez, maybe I’m annoying the hell out of her?”), I got a horrible handwritten letter about how the demise of our friendship was on me and “why don’t you reach out anymore?” I was done. No reply. No further contact. (And truly, it didn’t weigh on me. I don’t need a lot of friends and enjoy my own company.)

    3. MissDisplaced*

      I think if you do generally like this person and care about them, I’d send the text or email along the lines you’ve stated.
      “hey, I don’t want to bug you, so feel free to reach out if you ever want to get together”
      or “Hey, how’s it going? I don’t want to bother you, but I’m here if you ever want to talk.”

      Or some such. Sometimes, it’s just knowing someone is there even if she’s not up to doing anything.

    4. gecko*

      That does kind of sound like an anxiety/depression behavior to me, but that doesn’t mean it’s not painful to you.

      I think at this point it may make sense to frame this person as a friend who you love but who comes in and out of your life as she wills. If she’s in your life you’ll match her effort so it’s 50-50 and won’t go beyond that; if not, she’s not in your life.

      I have a dear friend since childhood who has struggled, since then, with an enormous burden of mental illness. I spent a long, painful time getting sad when she’d flake on me, not respond, etc. The best thing I did for myself and for our friendship was to love her and value the dinners we could have, but make sure that the times she fell out of my life she was really out of my life—and I wasn’t pinging her or worrying too much.

      I think it might be worth it to send your friend another text that says something like, “no need to respond—hope you’re doing ok, sending my love if you’re not. Let me know sometime how X (something you have in common) is going!” —just to leave your text thread in a state where she can start a new conversation without worrying about tying up an old one she never responded to.

      And then try and think about this as a time that you fall away from each other, where you don’t need to talk to each other, but you’ll come back together eventually. Best wishes, it’s really tough.

    5. neverjaunty*

      The phone works both ways.

      More charitably, it may actually be helpful to let the contact drop as it’s one less thing she has to feel anxious about responding to.

    6. Buzzbattlecat*

      If you haven’t already, please have a look at the Captain Awkward site, she’s got a lot of brilliant advice about friends and friendship and self care!

    7. Autumnheart*

      I think that it is healthy to adopt “Don’t put in more than you get out” when it comes to a relationship where you’re doing all the work, while the other person seemingly doesn’t have any consideration for you at all. Regardless of the reason, canceling plans and not responding to texts, without any explanation, is not how one treats a friend.

      So yeah, I’d just stop initiating at this point. If the friend wants to get in touch, they know how to reach you.

      I’ve taken this approach with a few acquaintances and while it seems “mean” at first to not be as generous with my time and effort as I would normally be, it was very helpful to remember that “friendship is a privilege”, and there’s nothing wrong with ONLY putting in the same effort that the other party put in. It puts the responsibility back on them to maintain the relationship with me they would prefer to have. And if they preferred to let the relationship fade…okay. I can use that energy elsewhere. And in truth I felt much less resentful when I dialed back, than when I tried to get them to dial it up.

  29. The Cosmic Avenger*

    Ugh. All of us had the flu this week. I literally could barely sit up on Thursday. I’ve never been so happy to be at maybe 50% of normal.

    1. Windchime*

      I was at the doctor’s office yesterday getting some labs drawn, and the lab technician said that they are still seeing 5-10 positive influenza tests every day. So there is still a lot of flu going around. Glad you’re starting to be on the mend again!

    2. Rebecca*

      Finally coughing is getting better for me, thankfully nothing else except being so very tired. Glad you guys are on the mend!

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Thanks, today was MUCH better. Still resting a lot, I may do elliptical tomorrow, but at my warm up/cool down intensity only.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Hmm, maybe it’s a good thing I never get out of the house right now!!

      Hope everyone is better soon.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I finally decided to go out yesterday (? I lost track of what day it was at the worst of it) to get takeout Chinese and finally bring up the garbage can….trash day was TUESDAY. I hope the neighbors guessed that we were all sick! (I’m not worried about appearances, the way our properties are laid out, one neighbor has to drive across the very end of our driveway to park easily in front of their house, and I am perfectly fine with that. For that reason, I try to take down and bring up the trash and recycling cans with less of a margin when it’s not any more trouble for me.)

  30. Not Australian*

    For reasons I’m somewhat above my ideal weight, and although I’m doing my best to address it (diet and exercise) I’m not making a lot of progress. In short, I’m not a great example. However I’m also reasonably reconciled to it; I’d like to get it down *a bit*, but realistically I know I’m never actually going to be thin again.

    It’s not me I’m worried about, though. My son, who is married with a disabled wife and three children, is becoming absolutely *huge*, far bigger than me, and I don’t know whether to say anything to him about it or not. [There is a genetic predisposition to overweight in our family, btw.] I know he’s got a lot of stress going on – which was also one of the things that caused me to gain weight, too – but when I saw him recently, after a gap of several months, I was shocked by how much he’d changed. Obviously I care about his well-being, but I’m torn between expressing my concern – hopefully without criticism – and demonstrating that I care about him, or trusting him to manage his own health appropriately. My instinct says that I should be hands-off unless he raises the subject, and of course that’s very difficult when I think of how much pain and grief could potentially be in store for him if his weight becomes a serious problem.

    Where’s the line, folks? Have you ever had a conversation like this with a loved one? If so, how did you approach it – and how did it go?

    1. Not All*

      Stay out of it, other than to provide as much general support in his life as you can.

      I have never, ever in my entire life met a single person who was overweight and didn’t know it. I’m sure there are some egomaniacs out there (ok, there is one who makes the news about it at least annually), but I seriously doubt your son is that kind of person.

      I was a caregiver for a partially disabled spouse for several years and, yup, I gained quite a bit of weight. My grandmother (whom I love) brought it up every single conversation. You know what happened? We had a lot fewer conversations. When you are stretched that thin, you pick & choose where to spend your energy. Sometimes there is simply no energy (either physical or mental) for either exercise or cooking. Sometimes the only pleasant thing you have left in your life is a good meal and it is consciously worth making the exchange. Either way, nothing you say is going to do anything except stress your relationship with your son. I’m sorry :(

      1. Book Lover*

        It’s funny you say that because when I was in my late teens and early 20s I was very obese and I didn’t realize it. Yes, I knew I had to get new clothes and I knew I was overweight but I didn’t realize my weight was totally out of control. I think because I was depressed.

        1. Ron McDon*

          I lost 3.5 stone a year or so ago, and I look back at photos from before I lost weight and am surprised at how big I was. I knew I was obese, I knew I needed to lose weight, but I dressed well, did my hair and make up etc, and convinced myself I didn’t look as big as I was.

          However, I would not have wanted anyone to have a conversation with me about it. As I say, I knew I was obese, but I lacked the confidence and self-will to do anything about it at that time.

          People who are overweight or obese know they need to lose weight, but they will only tackle it when they feel able to.

    2. Lena Clare*

      With an ex-partner we discussed getting healthy and doing exercise together, which worked for us, plus we used to c0ok together so we could make dietary changes for both of us.

      Louise L Hay says we put on fat to protect ourselves from something – difficult feelings, the truth, a hurtful situation, for example. Perhaps he doesn’t even know himself what he is shielding himself from. Maybe he doesn’t see it as a problem in which case you have to accept that.

      I think it is hard, even if (or maybe especially because?) they are family! You could broach the subject and say you’re worried that he’s not looking after himself because he is stressed and is there anything you could do to help such as bringing cooked meals for their house for a time, making him lunches for the week, and babysitting once a week for him to go swimming or something?

      But be prepared for him to be offended or to say it’s none of your business – it isn’t really! – or to be any number of things that basically rejects your offer for help.

      The main thing is to look after your own health to be there for him if he asks it.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, I believe there is something to that fat as protection idea.
        OP, this might be helpful to think of the weight gain as a symptom of the problems but not the problems themselves.
        This frees you up to talk about life and all the crazy crap we go through. If you harp on the weight you could come across as having a superficial understanding of what life is like for him. But if you ask him “how’s it goin’ today?” you will probably come across as a caring person.

        Try not to make it about food, because it’s probably not all about food.

        1. Not Australian*

          “this might be helpful to think of the weight gain as a symptom of the problems but not the problems themselves.”

          That actually was/is my thinking, and I’m sorry I didn’t make that clear. 8-)

      2. Not Australian*

        “is there anything you could do to help such as bringing cooked meals for their house for a time, making him lunches for the week, and babysitting once a week for him to go swimming or something?”

        Oh, I wish! But I live 150 miles away and have never *ever* had the opportunity of babysitting my grandchildren or just ‘popping round’. You can bet I’d be doing that if I could, though.

    3. Justin*

      I gained a fair amount of weight in my early 20s when I was overseas. My mom was not pleased and told me so upon my return. In fact my whole family (aside from my dad) made fun of me. (As they do with any of us, it wasn’t just me.)

      The thing is, I did eventually lose the weight, and then some, and became a marathon runner 9x over. So they… probably think that they helped.

      But ultimately, I made these changes myself because I wanted to do. As an adult extrinsic motivation doesn’t really work very well beyond an initial burst. He’s going to have to make the changes himself.

      However, you can indeed ask him if he’s doing okay, and if his health is okay, without mentioning weight. And say you’re there for him if he needs any support with his health but won’t push.

    4. Foster Cat Mama Drama*

      I’m a big girl. Have always been. Commenting on my weight has never been successful in getting me to lose it. Rather than talking to him about his weight, I would suggest asking him if everything is ok, because you’ve noticed he seems stressed or not like himself. It might help him if he’s reminded that he does have a support system, so that instead of using food as a comfort, he can go to you. Maybe you’ll learn that he’s ordering in a lot because he doesn’t have time to cook. You could offer a subscription to Hello Fresh or Blue Apron or send him a grocery delivery from Fresh Direct. Or maybe he doesn’t have time to go to the gym and you could offer to babysit or pay for a babysitter or health care aide. If the weight comes up in conversation, you’ll be able to talk about it. But, he should be the one to bring it up.

    5. Dan*

      Not Australian,

      I can only speak for American culture, so I don’t know if this applies to you or not. But “Not All” is correct, at least in American society. For whatever reason, weight is so ingrained in our culture and self image that there is almost no way to have a purely medical conversation about it, period.

      When you talk about pain and grief, are you projecting? I’ll put it this way — I’m an overweight male, and I have it easy compared to women.

      You mention some genetic health issues — about the only thing you can bring up is a straight, matter of fact, “You need to be aware of some health issues that our family is genetically predisposed to” and leave it at that. Don’t even bother with the “I love you but” statements. No “I’m concerned, if you want to talk…” either.

      Stick to the family medical history, and leave it at that. And even that might be a stretch.

    6. Samsoo*

      I talk (at appropriate times like when they ask) about what is working for me with those I love who are also overweight. It doesn’t help to ever tell them what they “need” to do.

    7. fposte*

      I’m going to add my voice to the chorus. He knows he’s big, and he knows you care about him. There is no useful information you have to impart here and there’s a high risk of “Your body troubles me.” For that matter, you have no idea what, if anything, he’s doing to manage his weight already.

      The one thing you might be able to do is what you’d do with any adult friend–encourage him to make sure he’s seeing a doctor regularly if you think family stress is keeping him from that. But, as Miss Manners once beautifully said, you can’t interfere in the lives of other grownups just because you grew them yourself.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Yep. My MIL spent a fair amount of time harping on my BIL about his weight (he wasn’t that overweight) and I finally told her, he knows, this isn’t helping. (Plus it made me wonder what she thought about my size 14 self.) Yes, he had sleep apnea. Guess what. He lost 50 lbs and he still has it.

        1. Dan*

          Speaking as someone who has sleep apnea and is overweight… get the sleep apnea treated, it will do wonders. I’ll admit that I put off going to the doc for years, because I wasn’t going to pay someone to tell me to lose weight. However, what I didn’t know was that the reason I was feeling lousy was because I wasn’t sleeping well, and the sleep issues can be treated. And I wasn’t going to the gym because I didn’t have the energy or desire to. I also didn’t know that by treating the sleep issues, I’d actually get the desire to go to the gym and do something that looked like exercise.

          But no, one can’t say, “I’m concerned about your weight…” whatever follows is going to go over like a lead balloon.

    8. Parenthetically*

      I think you can, if you have the right dynamic in your relationship, address BEHAVIORS, exactly one time and then never again. There is a lot of science out there that shows that behavioral change — adopting healthy behaviors like eating well and exercising, plus working on mental health and resiliency — improves health outcomes regardless of weight. If you’re not in his life to the point that you can see unhealthy behaviors and express your concern about those, then you don’t have standing to discuss it, IMO, because just saying “I’m concerned about how large your body has become” isn’t going to be productive.

    9. Not A Manager*

      I think you should talk to him about his ongoing situation, not his weight. Ask him what he’s doing for self-care. Ask him how you can be supportive. Encourage him to look after his mental and physical health in general, and offer practical assistance. Can you babysit his family for a few hours on the weekend? Maybe he’ll get some exercise during that time or maybe he’ll go read a book, but either one might be necessary for his health. Can you pay for a gym membership if he wants that? Etc.

      1. Lilysparrow*

        Yes, I think talking to him about stress and offering practical help for him to have time for himself is a good approach.

        With one caveat – ONLY if you can hold your tongue about the way he uses that time. No strings attached that imply he’s obligated to perform approved “healthy” activities.

        He needs a break, and part of that break is the luxury of freedom to decide what he wants to do. His life is all “have-to” right now, and one more set of have-tos is just going to feel like another burden.

    10. Miranda*

      Jumping on the wagon to say, he knows he’s overweight and doesn’t need it mentioned. Anything you can do to give him a stress break on the regular would likely help. You could offer help in meal prepping freezer meals on the weekends (heck make it a work together thing and ask him to help you make enough for both of you, you can google all sorts of healthy freezer meal plans that are quick+ inexpensive) so is easier to eat healthy comfort food at busy times rather than having to fall back on frozen pizza. You can offer to take the kids as often as possible (chasing kids around the park can be fun free exercise for you too) to give him free time to do stuff/nap/whatever. You can encourage him in self care, and suggest finding support groups to talk things out with people who understand his situation. Basically, for lots of us, self care is the first thing to go away when life is too busy/stressful. Providing concrete ways that can give someone some of their time back without feeling guilty that they’re stealing from family/work is a lot more helpful than pointing out the most obvious symptom of the lack of self-care time. (Obviously they can say no to any/all of these things, or you might not be able to offer some of them for your own reasons, but I wanted to offer some possible ideas that focus on the cause (lack of time/stress) rather than the symptom (weight gain).

      1. Miranda*

        Oh, there is one way you could carefully bring up exercise directly. You say you are working on your own health in that area as well. If you frame it as needing someone to help keep you accountable and ask him to join you for a regularly scheduled *insert exercise of choice here*. I would not bring it up more than one time if he says no and would totally frame it as needing help to keep yourself from skipping sessions by having someone you plan to meet rather than anything about noticing he needs the exercise too.

    11. Traffic_Spiral*

      I’d refrain from being like “so, you’ve been getting fat lately…” because I assume that he knows. However, if time/location permits maybe you could reach out to him and ask for help for your own weight loss? Ask him to be your walking/running/hiking buddy or help you with your new healthy-style eating efforts?

    12. anonagain*

      I think your instinct to be hands-off is correct: I wouldn’t say anything at all.

      As others have said, your son already knows everything you’d like to tell him. It’s also likely to be a stressful conversation, when he’s going through so much already. Managing your worry about your son without handing it over to him to deal with is a profound expression of care and concern for his well-being.

    13. Washi*

      I completely agree with the consensus of not saying anything about his weight – as others have said, he 99% likely already knows he has gained weight.

      I’m aware we don’t have all the details from your letter, but I think if I were your son, I might be hurt that it was my weight that seemed to inspire enough concern to speak up. If the weight change is what inspires you to offer more support, I think it would be easy for your son to jump to the conclusion that all the stress and strain on his mental well being is less important than his appearance.

      All this is to say that I think you should focus on supporting your son in reducing stress in his life, not in reducing his weight. (And if you’ve already been doing this, sorry if this comment is too harsh!)

      1. Not Australian*

        Not harsh at all, Washi. (Like the pseudonym, btw!) And I hoped I’d made it clear that ‘appearance’ as such wasn’t involved; I am, however, concerned about the extra strain he’s placing on his body. However, as others have said, he *knows* he’s overweight, and if he chooses not to give that priority the best thing I can do is support his decision. I do try to contribute to reducing the stressors in his life to the extent that I can, but I’m afraid there’s nothing I can do about his wife’s health or his work situation. I have made sure he’s not hurting for money, however.

    14. NewNameTemporarily*

      I was a big girl (299# US, but the scale stopped there, so not sure). I had to flat out tell my mom that if she brought up my weight one more time, I’d simply never speak to her again – that she needed me in her life more than I needed her (this was 40 years ago, but the conversation stuck with me – I was angry).

      Don’t bring it up. He knows. Even if he is in denial, where it counts, inside, he knows. What you can bring up is “how is it going, is there anything I can do to help with your stress” kinds of things folks are mentioning. NEVER did my mother offer to address the emotional issues, the lack of good ways to handle stress, etc. She even tried to bribe me (if you get to “X” size, I’ll buy you “Y”).

      It honestly wasn’t until I got therapy – and possibly unrelated – she worked through her issues and wrote me an apology letter for how she parented and failed… that I eventually was able to accept that what I was doing did not work, and find a new path. It took a combo of things to get me to a normal body weight (there 15+ years now).

      But comments, advice, “hints” and talks… just alienated me. When I actually needed the support. (for me, and I’ve changed my name here – I had been raped and it took a long time to deal with the issues… the weight was entirely a symptom and not the cause of my underlying problems.)

    15. Quandong*

      Please don’t bring this up with your son. He knows he is fat, and the emphasis on long-term consequences in the media means he is well aware of these. Don’t be one of those people who express ‘concern’ about his weight. Instead focus on your relationship and if you really want to be helpful, ask if there are more ways to support him and his family.

    16. TL -*

      I’m going to disagree with the commentariat here – if he’s gained a visibly shocking amount of weight over just a few months (not just lifestyle creep), than I would talk to him to ask if he’s seen his doctor.
      In general, big weight changes over short periods of time are something you should see your doc about. There can be underlying causes that need to be treated – depression or hypothyroidism are common culprits for large weight gain. Both can be treated.

      If he’s gotten screened and all is good, then I’d ask what you can do to be supportive while he’s stressed as suggested above.

      1. Not Australian*

        No, it hasn’t been sudden – just gradual – but there was a longer-than-usual gap between opportunities of seeing him this time so the change was more noticeable.

    17. Llellayena*

      I can see bringing it up ONCE, and in the context of health, not weight. A rapid weight gain can be a sign (or cause) of health problems and you can be concerned about that. You can possibly approach it from the airplane ‘put your own mask on first” view: if he gets sick, how can he help his disabled wife? But this is a one time only conversation so he doesn’t try to avoid talking to you.

    18. sunny day*

      I’ve been in a similar, but less stressful situation than your son: disabled hubby, and only one kid, while I was working full time. Yep, I gained weight. Partly lack of sleep and stress was driving me to over indulge in carbs. Being told I was gaining weight? Would have been (1) not helpful. I *knew* this. and (2) probably would have made me shy away from that person for a long time. There’s no time for “self-care” in that situation. Good nights were ones where I had 30 minutes to myself that *didn’t* cut into sleep. Depending on how disabled the wife is, your son is doing most of the housework, cooking, shopping, driving around for 5 people, and also working? So, every night after picking up the kids, or getting home he has to cook dinner and clean and help with homework, and make 5 packed lunches for the next day, clean the kitchen and a load or two of laundry? There’s no time for working out or even peeling carrots in that scenario. If you want to help, you’ll babysit the the kids for 5-7 hours each day on the weekend, and show up with at least 5 dinners for 5 people and 25 packed lunches, every Sunday. That means your son is *just* cleaning house and laundry for 5 people a week (depending on how disabled the wife is), and helping the kids with homework each night. He *might* get exercise time on those weekend afternoons, or he might just nap. Hopefully, that’s enough relief for him to get decent sleep each night. Doing anything else is nice, just not super-duper helpful. Saying anything other than “Son, I know you’re under a ton of stress, I’m helping in this very concrete way” is : not helpful. E.g. money for a house-cleaner is nice… but unless he already has one that’s just *one more* thing for him to organize. So, that’s not relieving his burden, that’s adding to the tasks he needs to do.

  31. Tonya*

    Does anyone have a good vegetarian curry recipe? I don’t like it super sweet and prefer a lot of spice and am struggling to find one that isn’t overpowered by coconut flavor. Thx!

    1. gecko*

      I don’t know if you’re looking for a specific kind of curry, but the chana masala recipe on Serious Eats is great. I haven’t tried the curried lentils recipe on Budget Bytes, but that looks excellent and easy.

        1. Traffic_Spiral*

          For Thai, just chop up some stir-fry veggies and add those, for Indian do potato or lentils, for Japanese – if you can make a good crispy tofu, do that, otherwise stick with Thai and Indian.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Ditch the recipes! If you are comfortable in a kitchen, a curry is a great way to experiment. I’m going to assume Indian-based here: start with cumin, mustard seeds, maybe some cardamom (crushed). Saute onions, garlic, ginger, and chili (I use any kind of pepper I have, including the habaneros I pickled in the fall), then add whatever vegetables you want and a can of diced tomatoes. Some water if needed, especially if you use root vegetables. Add a can of chickpeas. Cook down a bit. Add additional spices (like garam masala, turmeric– I use fresh and saute it with the onions and ginger), plenty of salt. Simmer. Serve over rice. I find this to be a good template. Sometimes I add a can of coconut milk, sometimes not.

    3. iheartcurry*

      vegrecipesofindia.com has a recipe for bhindi masala that’s one of my all-time favorites. It’s not at all sweet and packs both spice and heat.

    4. AcademiaNut*

      Try a vegetable sambar (vegetables in a lentil based broth with tamarind and a spice mix heavy on coriander, tangy with as much heat as you want). Recipes are easily found on google, and you can adapt it to your favourite vegetables. It’s also an insanely comforting winter food, and with rice a complete meal. You can make extra of the lentil broth and freeze it for later meals.

      Also chana masala, as mentioned above. Chickpeas, tomatoes, onions and lots of spices. Palak paneer or palak mushrooms isn’t as spicy hot, but sill has a ton of flavour. Also check out dry vegetable curries – I quite like bitter melon cooked with a dry spice mixture that includes dried mango powder. It’s spicy-sour rather than sweet.

      In general, I’d go for the more authentic Indian recipes. They will call for a variety of spices, and will never involve ‘curry powder’ (but may call for garam masala), but there’s a wide range of recipes and flavours and I rarely find real Indian curries at all sweet. The website veg recipes of India has a lot of stuff. To avoid coconut, go for more northern Indian recipes, as coconut based curries are more South Indian (or Thai, or Malaysian).

  32. Celestina Warbeck*

    Book recommendation: Save the Date by Morgan Matson. It’s a YA novel and falls into one of Alison’s preferred themes of crazy family antics. It’s a cute, light read, it takes place over the course of a wedding weekend and goes by quickly

    1. Kate Daniels*

      I loved Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour and have been meaning to read other books by her. I own Second Chance Summer, but I need to work my courage up to starting it because I know it’s going to be really sad.

  33. Foster Cat Mama Drama*

    My foster kitty is going to his new home today! I’m so pleased for him, but I will miss the little rugrat. I’ve been trying to prepare myself for his going, but I know I’m going to get teary-eyed. His new family sounds perfectly lovely — his mom asked if he would like climbing levels, and I thought what a lucky boy! I’m just sad that I won’t be there to comfort him when he’s adjusting to the new place. But, to be honest, it only took him a day or two to come out of hiding with me. So, I’m sure he’ll be fine. Still the anxiety is ramped up a little bit.

    1. Venus*

      It will be fine! And there are so many cats and kittens who need fostering that I’m sure you can fill the gap he leaves behind fairly quickly. (note that I wouldn’t say the same thing for any other circumstance, but I foster a lot and it’s addictive).

      You saved his life, and he’s going to have a fabulous new home. The best adoptions are the ones where we wish we could move in too! The anxiety and sense of loss are normal, so don’t fight the emotions, but also remind yourself that he’s going to be lucky and spoiled. Thank you for fostering!

      1. Foster Cat Mama Drama*

        He’s my fifth foster. To be honest, I always have anxiety when I bring them home and when I bring them back. This is the first time the foster is coming to my home to pick up the cat. So I’m a little extra revved up. (Plus, I have anxiety about people visiting my home — that’s a WHOLE other story — so this is as much therapy for me and overcoming fears as it is great news for him)

        1. Venus*

          I feel similarly – it’s weird for me to have a stranger in my home. I know it’s part of the deal, as many rescues don’t have a shelter, and I just tell myself that they are so focused on the animal – their likely new family member – that they aren’t really seeing anything in my home.

          Good luck to him! And I usually send an email a few days later to see if they have any questions – it’s the rescue’s policy, but I think it also works well to let the adopters know that they are encouraged to ask questions. I have also seen studies which show that most animals are returned to the rescue because the new adopters didn’t get their questions answered, so I consider my follow-up email not so much intrusive as a good way of supporting a successful adoption. I’m not pushing you to send the email… just saying that if you aren’t sure then there are good reasons!

          And if this is your fifth then it sounds like you are well addicted to fostering, which is wonderful :) I have been doing it for 20 years and often have a full house!

          1. Foster Cat Mama Drama*

            Thanks for the advice Venus! I may send a note in a few days as I forgot to mention to the adopter that I found out a day or two before he was adopted that he likes to play in paper bags. (Something fun and easy she can do to keep him entertained.)

            I started fostering because I wasn’t ready to get a new pet after my last two boys passed away. It’s been about 2 years and I think I’m at the point where I’d like a permanent munchkin in my home. But, I am being somewhat choosy about it, though it isn’t always easy — because these fosters tug on the heartstrings!

    2. Foster Cat Mama Drama*

      Away he went. Not peacefully though :( I had to trick him with some tuna to get him out from under the bed, poor soul. Everyone wish him well, please!

      1. Red Sky*

        Aaawww, poor furry buddy. I’m wishing him and you well; it’s a wonderful thing you’re doing. Do you get any follow-up from his new family to let you know how he’s adjusting?

        1. Foster Cat Mama Drama*

          Thanks I needed that! (I just got off the phone with a friend and had to make HER feel better about his leaving!) As for follow-up, not usually. I assume no news is good news. I usually don’t make contact after the adoption, because I feel it might be intrusive — after all he’s not my cat anymore. But, I always let them know I’m available.

  34. just need to be anon for this*

    While this involves work, it’s not exactly work, so I’d rather ask it here. I have a coworker who I consider a friend and she also seems to have paranoia. She’s confided in me that she thinks our office is bugged or that people in our office may be messing with her phone.
    I don’t doubt that our computer usage is monitored, but the other things are ones I am fairly confident are not happening.
    I don’t live in a country with good mental health services. There is also a lot of stigma surrounding mental health here. I want to help her, but I don’t have the resources. She has told me she a number of things that I don’t feel comfortable sharing here, nothing related to self-harm or harming others, but I can see it’s doing a number on her.
    Is there any way I should be talking to her to help her feel assured? Topics I should avoid talking about with her? Anyone experience anything similar with family or a friend? Any advice is appreciated.

    1. zyx*

      I wish I had advice, but all I have is commiseration. Here’s my similar situation:

      My best friend from college has paranoid delusions (like your coworker, with no self-harm or harming others). He won’t get treatment for the voices he hears and is convinced that people really are out to get him. He once recorded what he hears and played the recording for me; he heard two people saying deeply awful things to him, and I had to tell him that all I heard was static. Even though he knows it “sounds crazy,” the voices feel real to him and he is adamant that he isn’t making them up.

      I have told him the following: I love him, I know he’s not lying, and I believe he hears the voices, but I also don’t think the voices exist outside him and I wish he would get treatment for (at least) how to handle the terrible things they say to him. Nothing I have tried or offered has convinced him to seek help.

      In my decidedly non-expert opinion, I don’t think there’s anything you can say that will make your coworker’s mental health better or worse. (If you do find the magic words, though, I’d give my right hand to know what they are.)

      Here are some of the things that friends and I have tried in case one of them might be helpful to you:
      * Setting up autopay on his bills so that if things get really bad, he’ll at least have gas and electricity
      * Suggesting that he get mental health treatment for depression (which he was diagnosed with and has not been treating) and the paralyzing/terrifying effects of the things the voices tell him
      * Finding names and phone numbers of mental health professionals covered by his insurance and offering to call with him
      * Offering to drive him to/from appointments if he makes them
      * Getting other friends to reach out so he has a larger network of people who he knows care about him (and, honestly, so other people can also watch out for him and it’s not all on me). I was really conflicted about telling his other close friends what was going on, but eventually I decided that I had to.

      Best of luck to you and your coworker. If you’re willing to name your country, maybe someone will know of more concrete resources.

      1. just need to be anon for this*

        Thanks for the advice. I’d prefer not to name the country, but it is a first-world nation with relatively affordable health services/national healthcare. Much less expensive than America where I am from.
        She lives near her parents and relatives, and it sounds like she has good contact with them. She’s about an hour…hour and a half train ride from me which means we usually only meet at work. I have invited her to do things on the weekends and she has invited me to some things.
        She really feels like people at our office and medical care professionals are out to get her. I don’t know how she’d react to me suggesting other professional help.

    2. deesse877*

      I don’t know that you can do much to help her get better–even under ideal circumstances, delusions are hard to deal with, requiring serious medications and constant monitoring.

      As for how to deal in the moment, what I’ve seen others do with people who have no awareness of their own flawed thinking is affirm the worth of the person, while avoiding engagement with the delusion.


      Friend: “I think they’re watching on hidden cameras and trying to get me in trouble!”

      You: “I know you’re a conscientious employee who would never do anything wrong.”

      1. just need to be anon for this*

        I think this might work. She calmed down a lot when I reassured her that she was capable and that we don’t have anything to worry about. I will continue with this line and stay aware so that I don’t bring up unnecessary topics.

        1. deesse877*

          I hope it is helpful! The thing to remember is that, whether she understands her own state of mind or not, she’s likely in terrible pain and fear. Even if you can’t make it stop, you can try to make her feel safer.

          One further thought: there are many people who experience delusions but achieve what doctors call “insight”, meaning they know that what they experience isn’t real to other people. It’s possible to live a good and productive life that way–I’ve met people who do it–so even where “cure” seems elusive there is the possibility of positive change.

    3. Wishing You Well*

      I don’t think you can fix this and it’s not healthy for you to start walking on eggshells at work. I doubt she’ll respond to logic or reassurance. At some point, you might need to tell your boss about your coworker’s behavior. Pay attention if the problem gets worse.
      I’m hoping things get better for you.

      1. just need to be anon for this*

        Our office is filled with weirdly secretive and passive-aggressive types, which unfortunately probably contributes to the situation. If you need information, you have to actively search it out by asking the right questions to the right people. I believe the lack of communication from our supervisor to us regarding basic tasks or even general “how are you?” chats feeds into her belief that people actively have an issue with her.
        Unfortunately we are also in a country where changing jobs is often or at all is a sign of something wrong with the employee, and that makes it near impossible for me to suggest she try something else.

        For now I will just continue to be friendly with her and hope that she will be able to find some coping strategies.

        1. valentine*

          You can’t take this on and trying to mitigate it is dangerous. You should tell your supervisor because it’s impacting her work and, if you have proper HR, you can ask them for advice.

  35. New appliance*

    WWYD- just bought a new washing machine. Works great. However it seems to be making what I think is a bad/odd/not right? noise. Basically when it stops spinning and starts
    Draining it does a weird almost grindy noise. Could be the new rubber or parts breaking in (washer is a week old) but also, doesn’t sound right to me. The thing has a 1 year labor and 5 year parts warranty.

    Do I/how do I get it checked out? Do I have to pay if someone comes out and nothing is wrong? If the noise is wrong but the washer still functions- is it broken?

    1. Foster Cat Mama Drama*

      Depends on who issued the warranty — either the store or the manufacturer. If you don’t know, call the store and ask them how you can get someone to come out and look at it. Might as well take advantage of the warranty.

    2. BrilliantMistake*

      Who installed it? They have a bolt to keep the drum stable during transit I think that needs to be removed before use. We rented a house with a new washer and discovered the problem when I first went to use it, but I didn’t know about the bolt (my husband did, luckily). Google it maybe? Also, even if professionally installed, they could have forgotten it. After installers left for a different machine, I discovered they had switched the hot and cold water hookups, but easily fixed.

    3. just a random teacher*

      If this is your first new washer in a while or a different kind of washer than you used to use, it could also be that the newer front-loaders make a different set of washer sounds than your old top-loader did (or whatever kind/brand you used to have). You might see if any of your local friends who own somewhat similar washers would be willing to come over and listen to see if it sounds normal to them. My front loader does make a noise that could be interpreted as a grindy noise at some points during use and has for years so it is presumably supposed to do that, but I have no idea if your funny noise is the same as my funny noise.

    4. TechWorker*

      Ours made a horrendous grindy noise a few times that just… went away… I think something was caught in the drum maybe.

    5. Wishing You Well*

      Video the problem and show it to someone or play the sound over the phone to the place that sold it to you. That might get you the information you need.
      Best of luck.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        A friend helped me with my fridge this way. I put the phone up to the fridge which was making a constant noise. My friend’s profession involves working on refrigerators. He said, “Unplug the fridge, now. I will wait while you do this.”
        He probably saved my house from burning down or something. Playing the sound over the phone does work.

    6. CoffeeforLife*

      I’d go with Japanese curry blocks (can find in most big chain grocery stores in the international aisle) . They are vegetarian and no coconut milk. Cook veggies, add water and curry. Ta da! Meal in 20 minutes.

  36. Apollo Warbucks*

    I saw Hamilton earlier this week and it was amazing. I’m not a big fan of musicals but really enjoyed it.

    1. Windchime*

      I tried like crazy to win tickets when the show was in Seattle. I should have just ponied up the money for a seat and gone anyway. I’m really kicking myself and I hope it comes back.

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        I am so, so grateful to the friend who asked if I wanted to buy the extra ticket when the fourth person in her group had to back out. I hadn’t been on the Ham wagon prior, but I’m firmly hooked now.

    2. Kathenus*

      Agree! I saw it last year and am still kind of obsessed. If you haven’t yet, get the cast album soundtrack and it’s a bit like getting to see it all over again. And for Christmas my brother got me the companion book by Lin-Manuel Miranda which gives background into the writing of it as well as all of the song lyrics. Highly recommend it.

    3. Marion Ravenwood*

      I went to see it in London in January, and I… honestly didn’t like it as much as I was hoping to. I mean, it was still great, and there were songs I’d thought were OK on the soundtrack but that really came to life live (particularly One Last Time and Wait For It), but I’d gone in with everyone having told me it was the best thing ever and so I ended up feeling a bit disappointed. Probably didn’t help that the guy we saw playing Hamilton wasn’t quite as strong as the rest of the cast either. I’d like to see it again though because I really want to be proved wrong!

  37. BRR*

    Two friends (a married couple) are watching my dog for a week while I’m traveling. As part of the ask I offered to pay them but don’t know what amount. They said it’s fine but I think they deserve it for doing such a big favor. We’ve exchanged dog care a couple of times in the past but this is a much longer amount of time and due to my schedule can’t reciprocate for such a long period (they recently got a new high-energy and destructive puppy that needs more attention than I can give during the week). It’s also saving a fortune (in theory) because we live in a high COL and it would be around $600 to board him (plus the facility is a day care and last time I did that the poor guy was way too exhausted). What’s an appropriate amount for this?

    1. Nicole76*

      How about a gift card or present with a nice thank you card? I’ve done that for friends who have watched my pets for me but wouldn’t accept payment.

    2. Autumnheart*

      Look up what it would cost for a pet sitter in your area, and pay them in the ballpark of that? I have cats, and in my area, it costs me about $25/day for one daily visit/feeding. It would work out to a couple hundred bucks, but that’s still a big savings over the boarding costs you mentioned.

    3. Weeping Willow*

      I pay $35/day to my house sitter. She stays at the house. I have two dogs, a bird and a tortoise.

  38. LGC*

    So, I bought an Instant Pot and I am absolutely overwhelmed as to what to do with it. Does anyone have any ideas? I was kind of inspired by Overeducated’s thread, but didn’t want to hijack it.

    (Like, I made the mistake of Googling “instant pot recipes” and then it was like, “HERE’S THE ENTIRE INTERNET :D :D :D” To paraphrase Avenue Q, the internet is for Instant Pot recipes.)

    1. bunniferous*

      I went to Youtube and watched a ton of videos. Pressure Luck on youtube has some great ones with lots of recipes, if you need a place to start.

    2. Autumnheart*

      Well….what do you want to make? Once you decide on a dish, it’s easier to narrow down recipes.

      1. neverjaunty*

        This. “I want X, can I make that better with my Instant Pot?” is going to be a lot easier to manage than trying to figure out what it can make.

    3. BRR*

      It makes great risotto if you like that. I’d say it’s a hair under the quality of stove top risotto but it’s so much easier to make.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I really like the beef stroganoff recipe from onceamonthmeals dot com, bonus that you can prep and freeze it ahead of time.

    5. cat socks*

      I have heard good things about the book Dinner in an Instant.

      There are couple of food blogs I follow that have categories for IP recipes – Skinnytaste and Pinch of Yum.

      1. CAA*

        Yes, “Dinner in an Instant” by Melissa Clark is great. Her Butternut Squash Soup is amazing!

        Another cookbook I like is “Multicooker Perfection” from America’s Test Kitchen.

      2. Laura W.*

        The Cuban Pork is amazing. I’ve made it three times. You can find the recipe on The New York Times website but I’d encourage you to buy the cookbook or check it out of the library.

        Also, hard boiled eggs are quick and the easiest to peel.

    6. Baconeggandcheeseplz*

      I got one recently for my birthday and I’ve made beef stew, pork carnitas, chicken curry, veggie stock, and I think I tried making rice just for kicks. Sometimes I just ask myself what food I want make but don’t because they need 4+ hours to cook, and then I just googled that+ instant pot.

      If you already follow some recipe/cooking social media accounts or sites, maybe start there? It’s still a lot of internet, but at least you know you probably like their recipes!

    7. Dee Em*

      Start with a recipe you want to make. Then google that (i.e. “Instant Pot beef stew” rather than “Instant pot recipes”). I also recommend the Amy + Jacky website for recipes that work well. I regularly use my IP for basmati rice, hard boiled eggs, steel cut oatmeal, shredded beef, chicken, mashed potatoes, meatloaf and beef stew. Also for cooking dried beans if you ever do that. I initially thought I’d use it for broth, but I haven’t had a lot of luck with that.

    8. Aisling*

      I really like the Sustainable Cooks blog. Not everything is Instant Pot but a lot of it is, and it’s healthy stuff. A lot is whole30 compatible since she has kids with dietary issues and those recipes work for her. She does a lot of soups!

    9. Overeducated*

      Honestly I had to go find a couple of cookbooks that had decent reviews, my early efforts at adapting stovetop recipes weren’t that successful and I’ve had mixed luck with internet recipes, even Serious Eats. I have the Melissa Clark dinner book and one of the million Indian instant pot cookbooks.

      But mostly, I just make a lot of beans of various types!

    10. SaaSyPaaS*

      I love the Skinnytaste website. I don’t have an Instant Pot, but I’ve made a lot of her Instant Pot recipes on the stove (she includes directions for both). Just search “instant pot” and a ton of recipes will be listed.

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Our starter was a spicy Asian one-pot. Use the stir fry setting for onions, garlic, ginger, carrots, and chopped meat. Add brown rice & water per package instructions. Press multigrain, set it for 20 minutes, make sure the valve is in the sealed direction, and that’s it.
      My biggest mistake was trying to do ramen noodles. I made glop.

    12. LGC*

      Sorry for going silent – if you look a couple of posts down, I’ve basically been in bed for most of the day because I’m a klutz. (Okay, DST also added to that.) I’m going to be reading the replies, but…okay, so I was actually overwhelmed because it’s basically like, “this one device can make everything.” I already have a crock pot, which I’ve primarily used to make stews and soups. (So, like, I’ll whip up a batch of chili or maybe some chicken noodle soup.)

      I do want to start simple at first – I’m an okay cook, but again, this is A New Experience. I did look at the recipes in the book that came with the thing, but…I wasn’t really inspired by any of them.

      Basically, I have no idea what I want, and you guys have probably given pretty good ideas!

      1. Natalie*

        I also found myself super overwhelmed and didn’t use the thing for months tbh. Pick up Dinner In An Instant (cookbook) and just pick a recipe from there that appeals. I like that book because she focuses on things that *should* be made in a pressure cooker rather than anything that can be done so.

  39. Baconeggandcheeseplz*

    Running thread! Kicking it off cause I always miss it on weekends but I’m here now!

    I’ve never been a runner but I signed up for a 10 mile race at the end of May. I started training at the beginning of the year, but I’m only running ~2-3 miles at a time so far. I’ve been waiting for the Chicago weather to be less miserable so I don’t lose momentum when I do go out. Any advice or favorite workouts? I’m using the Nike run club app for a plan & have been looking up workouts but I can use all the help I can get. Thanks in advance!

    1. Baconeggandcheeseplz*

      Go outside** I didn’t finish that thought: I’ve only been running on the treadmill so maybe going outside will help increasing my distance.

    2. LGC*

      Okay, so – your goal is probably to finish, I think. (I’m just guessing based off of you saying that you signed up for a 10-miler but haven’t done over 3 yet.) You’re probably going to want to work up to being able to do 10. (Or at least 8.) So I don’t know if I’d frame it as workouts as more…just going for a long run. But I advocate building a base of endurance first before working on speed.

      In terms of speed, you might want to start by adding in a mile or so that feels fast at the end of longer runs, or even a fartlek (which, aside from being the best word by far in the Swedish dictionary, is basically speeding up and slowing down at random intervals – the word literally translates to “speed play,” IIRC).

      NRC is actually pretty good, from what I’ve heard.

      1. Baconeggandcheeseplz*

        Lol definitely want to just finish. I would ideally like to run it in 2 hours, but mostly because the idea of running more than 2 hours seems painful, but I’m trying to change that mindset since I don’t think it’s realistic. I will try the faster mile at the end, though! Although maybe it’ll be a half mile to start. I’m going to try to do a fun run hosted by a running store tomorrow so we’ll see how that goes. Thank you!

        Also, sorry for the double thread!

        1. LGC*

          I just found it funny that we submitted at nearly the same time! (Don’t apologize, though.) But yeah, even a faster half mile at the end is good.

          Good luck with the group run tomorrow – those are great in so many ways. And good luck again with the race! I think what helps me get through longer races is to not think about the entire race all at once. Definitely have a plan. Definitely be prepared for that plan to go out the window (and it usually does – I’ve bonked hard on my first 5k, 10k, half marathon, and full marathon).

          Also set multiple goals – like, what’s the absolute minimum you think you could do, and what would you be thrilled by?

    3. Ktelzbeth*

      It’s so hard to stay motivated on the treadmill. The only good thing I can say about it is that it keeps moving at the same speed so pacing is easy and I can watch Star Trek. (That was two things, wasn’t it. I can count! Really!) But today we started with freezing rain and we now have snow, so I’m not leaving the house. I was in Florida a couple weeks ago and had my first ever run on the beach, since I’m also a newer runner. With the tide out, there was a gorgeous, absolutely flat, firm sandbar that was at least as good as any track, if you didn’t mind getting your feet wet in the occasional channels.

      LCG has good advice and gave most of it to me a month or two ago when I confessed to signing up for my first half marathon. I’ve been a triathlete up until now, so runs have been a short part of a longer race. The training advice I’d add it is to find something that keeps you going on the treadmill while that’s what you have to do (see Star Trek above) and see if training with a group is motivating to you. Good luck!

  40. LGC*

    And because I should get a formal start to this: Weekend running thread!

    There was one major thing I forgot last week: the drawing for the NYC Marathon was last week! Congratulations to the (very few) lottery entrants – apparently, it’s harder to get into New York than it is into Harvard.

    Also, I’ve…kind of biased towards the marathon in my writing (which…okay, yeah, it’s because that’s what I do), but…I think I’ve said this before, but the marathon isn’t my favorite distance. I’ve been asked sometimes if I’d ever think about doing an ultra, and my usual response is “HELL NO.” (No disrespect to ultra runners – I will read all day about ultras! It’s just I’m 99% sure I would dislike it myself.) I actually really like 5ks and below (although I’m not sure how good at them I still am – I managed to surprise a few people last year in a mile race), and I enjoy half marathons because they’re like marathons you don’t spend the rest of the day in bed after.

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

      I’m with you, LGC. I absolutely cannot imagine how anyone does an ultramarathon. I both really admire the folks who do and worry a bit about their mental well-being, ha!

      I honestly wish there were races in between a half marathon and a marathon. I always have kind of liked the idea of a 20 Mile Race to the Wall (which, to my knowledge, is not a thing anywhere).

      I think I want to do more 10Ks (5K is too short – by the time I get myself going, the race is over) and I’d love it if there were more 15Ks, but they’ve become about as rare as unicorns. I know about NYRR’s Ted Corbitt race, but I have a conflict with its date EVERY year. There’s another one in Port Jefferson, NY, but getting to Port Jefferson by 8 am on a Sunday is only slightly easier than getting to the Moon.

      1. Washi*

        I agree! Why isn’t there something between a half and full marathon? It’s weird that if you want to race longer than 13 miles, you have to double your distance. And I love 10 milers and 15ks as well, but they’re hard to find. I’m more of a long and steady runner rather than a sprinter, so I’m always on the lookout for the longer races, and preferably ones that aren’t too expensive.

        1. londonedit*

          In the UK there seem to be quite a few 20-mile organised runs/races at this time of year, aimed mainly at people training for the London Marathon but open to anyone. A lot of them have been going for decades, most organised by running clubs but really professionally done. Just around London, for example, last weekend there was a 20-miler along the Thames from Putney to Richmond and back, and today there was a 20-miler in Hillingdon.

          My running is going OK. Managed another sub-29 at parkrun yesterday (my PB is 25:54 so I’m waaaaaay off that but trying not to care!) and today I battled gale-force winds to run 7 miles with some friends. Literally nearly got blown off the towpath a couple of times, but it was the first run this year where I’ve actually felt really strong.

          1. LGC*

            Awesome job on the Parkrun and the run with your friends! (And good job on not getting blown off the path!) I kind of get that feeling – my 5ks were pretty underwhelming this fall (granted, both of them were in sub-freezing conditions after New York, but I was about a minute off my PRs in both races).

            You actually reminded me – it’s similar with quite a few runs around here. I know that the NYCM organizers put on a couple of supported runs that are open to everyone (in fact, a couple of my friends used one as a tune-up for Chicago). And I remembered that the 18-miler I mentioned in another comment is in October, about a month before New York (which is the first weekend of November).

      2. LGC*

        You mean more races between that distance! I know there’s an 18-miler down the shore in October (which I was contemplating doing last year, and MIGHT do this year), and I think there’s a couple of more in the tri-state area.

        (I think between the two of us we’ve listed a good portion of the races in New York and New Jersey over the past few months.)

        Unfortunately, though, I think a lot of people are like me – like, I feel like at the point where I’m racing 20 I might as well just do the final 6.2 even if I hate myself afterwards. And…like, I don’t know, maybe I have good vibes from my half marathons or at least amazing photos – I look like a BOSS in my Brooklyn and Racefaster finish photos, but I really like the half marathon distance in general. I’m a creature of habit.

        (In fact, I was planning on doing a half down in Monmouth County this morning – E. Todd Murray, for the record – but then I faceplanted on my shakeout and woke up to 35 degrees and rain and decided to go back to bed. I will count this as one of the very few times I made a rational running decision.)

    2. Jayess*

      If you get into trail running, not ultras, there are more commonly distances between half and full marathon. That being said… they tend to take longer anyways haha.

      FKT this weekend, which means I get to go grocery shopping for a PILE of junk food this week. Woohoo!

      And considering the discussion of ultras this week, maybe I’ll just keep my next two months’ plans to myself ;) I’m far from an experienced ultra runner (only 1 under my belt so far), and I’m not attracted to the 100km + distances at this point in time, but I have a 50 km and a 60+ km race planned for this year, on top of probably a couple 30+ km adventure days. But there is something really fun about the shorter races, where you can redline and worry less about recovery.

      1. LGC*

        Again – good luck, and hope you get it!

        Also, I said I would just never run an ultra distance! It’s actually kind of fascinating – especially when you get into the absolutely bonkers ones, it really does seem to be about pure endurance. But I think you actually hit on my affinity for shorter races – I think I’ve mentioned this previously, but I was a sprinter up until college. (Okay, a long sprinter – my events were the 400, 800, and 400 hurdles – but still.) So I still like redlining every so often just because I can (and okay, because I like dropping the hammer and freaking people out every so often).

    3. Ktelzbeth*

      I also mostly feel like ultra runners are crazy, but then I’m seriously thinking about signing up for the ride across South Dakota (RASDAK) this year, in which a group of people take a week to bike across the state. That may make me crazy. I have the time blocked off at work is how seriously I’m considering.

    4. A bit of a saga*

      Hey all, I’ve been laying a bit low on the running the past weeks but need to get started again. I’ve got two 10 mile races coming up, one month apart. It’s a distance I’ve never run before so looking to that. I think the first one is pretty hilly and quite convoluted in terms of route so definitely not one for speed records but it’ll be fun to try something new, and it’s close to my home. The second is a big, semi-local race that will be crowded but also flat and fast in terms of course. As for the marathons: I haven’t made it to that distance yet and I can’t quite decide if I want to give it a go. I’m mainly concerned about the time I would have to invest in the training, it feels like that would be difficult at the moment.

      1. LGC*

        You…are right about the time-consuming part. I looked at my Strava profile, and I average about 7 hours a week actually running. It feels like more, though! (Probably because that’s JUST running and not – say – me looking for my watch and headlamp.)

        Good luck with your 10-milers! That’s a distance I haven’t tried yet (surprisingly), but something I would consider. With the larger race, hopefully there aren’t too many logjams – that’s been my biggest worry with larger races.

  41. anon today and tomorrow*

    I’m so tired of angry men on the internet trolling movie review sites and forcing movies about women to have low audience review scores because they hate women. It happened with The Last Jedi, it’s happening with Captain Marvrk. It’s happened with so many female led movies in the past few years.

    And then studios get anxious and stop making movies with female leads because “the audience didn’t like it” and all these angry sexist men win. I’m tired of it. I’m tired of men who can’t deal with ONE movie about a woman and have to ruin it to make their fragile little egos feel better.

    1. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Bonus points for when they complain about “everything having to be PC these days” when Marvel has pretty much ALWAYS been very progressive (case in point: that time people wanted more white people in Black Panther. So in the next issue he beat up the KKK)

      1. anon today and tomorrow*

        What annoys me is that they keep complaining the movie is all SJW and in-your-face feminism and….it’s not? You could swap a male character in there and it wouldn’t read any differently. And that’s a GOOD THING.

        Honestly, male geeks have always acted like they’re the most oppressed group of people, but they’re the worst at gatekeeping and bigotry. They only want people like them to enjoy things, they don’t want it open to anyone else.

        1. valentine*

          Studios exclude women due to kyricism. They know what sells. They are happy to lose money in favor of -isms. Their goal is to empower cishet white men, the scummier, the better.

    2. Parenthetically*

      Yep, I’m sharing your feminist rage over here. Fragile bros who can only express one emotion, whining about how not every movie centers their narrative.

      1. anon today and tomorrow*

        They’re all so angry, calling Bri Larson a sexist and bigoted because she said she wants to see more reviewers and interviewers who aren’t cishet white dudes. And she’s right! More diversity in movie critics leads to better reviews. There’s a reason a lot of cishet white dudes tend to give negative reviews to movies about women, POC, or LGBT characters.

      2. Lissa*

        Oh no only 80% of thing is about me instead off 97%!! Is how it reads to me anytime I see guys get like this. Duuuuudes it’s not like there is a shortage of male superheroes…

    3. MissDisplaced*

      I have to admit I don’t understand this mentality either.
      As if having a movie with or about a female lead character threatens their apparently fragile masculinity. It’s just sickening.

    4. MissGirl*

      It is frustrating but one thing I remember is dollars matter more than reviews to studios. I will go to Captain Marvel and know that helps a tiny amount.

      1. Melody Pond*

        I was just coming to say this. I mean, yes, studios would *generally* prefer to have favorable reviews – but at the end of the day, what they care about is sales. They make movies to make money – they aren’t going to stop making female-led (or POC-led) movies because of poor reviews (case in point: DCEU), but they will stop making these movies because of poor sales.

        Best thing you can do is vote with your dollars and go see the movie in theaters. Try to take some friends or family with you, especially if they weren’t necessarily going to go see it on their own.

        But yes, dudes with fragile egos on the internet are super annoying.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I went to see Captain Marvel today and sat next to a cishet white dude, and he LOVED it. (We were talking when the theater messed up our food bills and he mentioned his wife).

          He made “Ahhh yeaaah” noises at the exact same things I did, haha. Dudes like him make the whiny man-babies look even more like–well, man-babies.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        If there is merchandise there, buy it and point out if they run out of sizes.
        My daughter & I came home with Captain Marvel Tshirts and we’re annoyed that the smallest size they had for the design she liked was men’s medium. The manager went to the back to looks for us, told us that’s all there was left, and we told her someone didn’t send the theater enough. “I know,” she said, in an ‘I tried to tell them’ voice.

    5. neverjaunty*

      Thing is, though… they’re losing.

      Studios ARE making movies with female leads. Even the latest batch of losers had to use “go see this other movie about a woman” as their go-to. Captain Marvel is doing great in the box office. And the lucrative overseas market doesn’t care about aggrieved American man-children.

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

        Thank God. I’m just worried that the manchildren will get angry and dangerous when they find they’re not getting their way.

    6. Maya Elena*

      I haven’t seen Captain Marvel, but I really didn’t like the last set of star wars movies and probably won’t see anymore.

      While a subset of the complaints are sexist, to me it’s way more off-putting and honestly quite inauthentic when the studio seems to be Putting In Diversity And That Is The Point.

      When the reviewers point to things like a female character way physically stronger than the male one for no visible reason, or suddenly being Better Than Everyone at Everything without any practice or training, it is easy to impute a deliberate agenda of the writers, and I find those criticisms valid in general. That the character must come out in the right against the male; that she must not conform to female stereotypes that are considered inappropriate, etc. – it stops feeling like a movie and takes on element of moralism or (in a less flattering light) propaganda, which isn’t what I want to go see in a movie. It’s like when they work God into those hallmark movies in a very hammed up way.

      These are all subjective interpretations, and you can argue with it. You can also argue that men have dominated stories for so long that the only path to equity is through aggressive and ubiquitous messaging of female superiority and stereotype breakage, to make up for lost time as it were. But I don’t think it’s a Corr interpretation that all those movies get bad reviews because sexism, and I don’t think those criticisms are entirely invalid, and I certainly don’t think aggressive ideological messaging is a good thing.

      1. anon today and tomorrow*

        Captain Marvel has none of that, though. You could easily swap a male character in her place in the movie and it’d be the same. There’s nothing overtly feminist about it aside from the fact that she’s a powerful women, whose powers are explained in a way that makes sense within the universe.

        These men started trolling months before the movie was even released, so all their arguments about the movie are based on nothing but their own agendas. Rotten Tomatoes had to shut off some user generated aspects because they were purposefully targeting the movie to have a low score before it was released.

        There’s a difference between legitimate criticism and targeting movies before you see them because you don’t like that the lead isn’t a white cishet man.

        1. neverjaunty*

          There’s also a difference when those criticisms aware only dusted off for “diverse” movies, or selectively (narrowly focusing on an unrealistic example of female physical strength in… a superhero movie).

          1. anon today and tomorrow*

            Yeah, movies about POC, LGBT, or women tend to get much harsher criticisms than movies about straight white men. Some of the criticisms I’ve seen about Captain Marvel are legit in relation to the movie, but they’re also criticisms that apply to other MCU movies about men, but they’re never brought up.

            I’ve already seen a handful of reviews that talk about how she doesn’t smile enough in the movie and angry men yelling online about how Brie doesn’t smile a lot in interviews. Which makes me want to scream.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Not to mention, Captain Marvel in particular actually has a plot point for why she gets stronger as she goes … it’s fun to see.
          (And to Maya, I am a Star Wars purist… I saw the first 3 multiple times. I couldn’t get into the prequel trilogy at all.)

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        50+yo female geek here… I just saw Captain Marvel and loved it. My 50+yo male geek husband loved it. My middle-school girl loved it. Top Gun in a superhero universe? We bought merchandise.
        By the way, Annette Benning would have stolen the show except there was other unexpectedly good acting onscreen too. And who knew Samuel L. Jackson has a really nice tenor singing voice!?

        1. Elizabeth West*


          Janet Van Dyne!
          Dr. Lawson!

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            So much this. I was really impressed with how she played her two roles. And if anyone is thinking of doing (yet another) Dune movie, I would cast her as a Bene Gesserit so fast I’d Doppler shift!!

      3. Book Lover*

        Well, but that is the trope – boy comes along and without training is better than everyone and saves the world. It is just with women that suddenly people complain about it.

          1. Book Lover*

            I was just commenting that people seem to think it is fine when a boy comes out of nowhere and is the chosen one but not so fine when it is a girl (man/woman). If it is a woman it is a Mary Sue, and if it is a man suddenly it is ok.
            In response to Maya Elena.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              Imagine the reaction when someone makes a movie out of “Only Begotten Daughter” (James K. Morrow, 1990).

    7. L’il Sebastian*

      While I agree in general, I don’t think that’s what happened with The Last Jedi. If female lead was the issue there, it would have also happened with The Force Awakens. I adore Rey and The Force Awakens and was super disappointed with The Last Jedi for a plethora of reasons that have nothing to do with gender.

      1. Lissa*

        Yeah it got really weird with The Last Jedi because a bunch of sad fanboys got really angry about the diversity which then made a lot of people dismiss legit criticisms of the movie – that can happen a lot though, and perpetuates an annoying circle. “Oh you think X group of people is above criticism?!” well no, but I think sometimes people do get overly sensitized to criticism towards a group that is often unfairly criticized!

        1. anon today and tomorrow*

          This. There was a lot of legit criticism about the movie, but all the arguments and hate online tended to come from a large group of men who were angry that the heroes in the film were women or POC and the villains where white men. I mean ffs they ran poor Daisy Ridley off social media after TFA with their sexist attacks and then ran Kelly Marie Tran off social media with their racist, sexist attacks.

          1. Sparkly Lady*

            I am annoyed about Ridley and Tran, but the progressive left side runs people off social media, too. So I’ve stopped being mad about it when it happens to people I like. It seems that anyone who has any sizable social media presence will get severe harassment at some point–no matter their politics and no matter how carefully they try to speak.

            I mostly read left-oriented sites, but to me, it seemed like the left-oriented media sites only engaged with the conservative criticisms of the movie because it was easy to snark on them. I found it really frustrating. I did read plenty of other criticisms, and I feel like if I could find and read them, then a professional blogger at the AV Club (for a non-random example) should be aware of them. And then by always reproducing the bad faith criticisms, the AV Club boosted them and made them seem more prevalent then they were. IMHO, there’s a huge problem with bloggers reading each other and getting into a bubble.

            Given that the sad fanboi thing didn’t happen after The Force Awakens, I think it only happened with The Last Jedi because it was an okay movie overall and a horrible middle-of-a-trilogy movie.

    8. Batgirl*

      If it makes you feel any better, my male partner took the day off work to go see captain Marvel (he was literally waiting for them to open up first thing in the morning – and he was not alone!) And he then went to town to go buy the art book. He’s just a huge nerd I don’t think it’s even occurred to him there’s a feminist statement involved, so pure is his pleasure in a superhero who has a cat.
      Since I started hanging out with people like him and stopped hanging out in corners of the internet where jerks cluster, I feel loads better.
      I’m not saying that’s the answer; likely the jerks need watching and to be pulled on their shit; but I feel better for not doing it and maybe a break is in order?

  42. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    After some technical hijinks, my submission for that writing contest has now made its way to the jury. Fingers crossed!

    1. Claire*

      Fingers crossed and thumbs held!

      I am deep in copyedits for Pirate Novel #1. Deadline is Wednesday, which I’ll easily make. However, the draft for Pirate Novel #2 is *not* going as well, and I finally had to write my editor and ask for an extension.

      Oh, and I am utterly STOKED to report that my SF/Mystery novel A Study in Honor is a finalist for the Lambda Literary Awards.

    2. ShrunkenHippo*

      Congrats, hopefully it does well! I haven’t written much but I have been working on my latin which is helping me world build. The multiple meanings of words help me think of ideas for culture and morals. For example, sententia (pl, sententiae) obviously is where our word sentence comes from, but in Latin it can also mean thought, feeling, vote, and oath. The fact that a single word can represent so much depending on the context helps my brain shift the way I think about language and culture, and societal morals.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I was struggling with one character, a non-native English speaker, and what issues he’d have that would affect his dialogue. I grew up speaking only English and I had a hard time imagining that. I took French in college but it’s been years and I barely remember what it was like. And I didn’t study Spanish long enough to do more than learn a bit of vocabulary (although I want to take it up again), so I was at a loss.

      I knew I’d written his English dialogue as far too fluent considering where and how he learned it, how long he’d studied it, and the fact that he also learned it from non-natives, although I did consider linguistic drift. Luckily, one of the people in my dharma group is an ESL teacher and I was able to pick her brain. It really helped!

  43. gecko*

    I’ve got a nose piercing and several cartilage piercings. Lately I’ve been wanting to wear simple rings/jewelry but in more of a burnished gold/bronze color, but this is super hard to find.

    I definitely don’t want to wear unsafe metals, but I’m not sensitive to nickel and other metal varieties. My piercings are all thoroughly healed and old. Does anyone know artists or stores that make simple body jewelry in non silvery colors?

    1. gecko*

      I should add—not really body jewelry, I misspoke, but I do usually wear 16g and that makes it a bit harder I think.

    2. fposte*

      I did a quick search on “nose ring bronze” on Etsy and found a bunch of sellers who seem to offer non-silver options. Maybe that would be a good starting point. (I’m unpierced so I don’t know what’s considered an unsafe metal, but there seemed to be different metals available, and I bet if you go to the relevant Etsy shops some of these sellers will do jewelry for cartilage piercings as well.)

    3. Mephyle*

      Have you tried searching on Etsy? My daughter had some particular needs and wants – it was for regular ear piercings, lobe and cartilage, but it was still hard to find just what she was looking for. She ended up very satisfied with some that she found made by an Etsy artisan halfway around the world.

    4. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      If you like any of LeRoi’s or Anatometal’s anodization options, you can order 16g seamless rings through bodyartforms[dot]com. There are tons of other options on the site that might be what you’re looking for, especially if you’d be okay with a regular captive.

    5. Wishing You Well*

      A metal allergy can develop at any time especially with repeated exposure, so keep an eye on your piercings. Hope you find what you’re looking for.

    6. EmmaTheFirst*

      Please do not purchase body jewelry online. The best place to get jewelry is from a reputable piercer (find one near you on the APP website). They will be able to fit you with appropriate, safe, well-fitting jewelry that is implant-grade, internally threaded and polished to a mirror finish. They will usually be more than happy to anodize any titanium piece to your preferred bronze-y tone!

      1. MuttIsMyCopilot*

        There’s really not anything wrong with purchasing body jewelry online if you know what you want and how to filter out the garbage. Reputable online shops list manufacturers and materials, and if I can get the exact same piece that a brick-and-mortar shop would order and pay 25% less for it I’m probably going to do that.

        The APP, by the way, is only concerned with health and safety. APP certification indicates that a piercer knows how to avoid spreading hepatitis, but it’s not an indication that they’re especially skilled at placement or jewelry fitting. I definitely recommend talking to a reputable professional if you don’t know what you want/need, but there’s nothing wrong with ordering body jewelry online in general.

        1. EmmaTheFirst*

          Ok, but most people don’t know how to do either of those things. Plus, ordering from somewhere like BodyArtforms (which also sells garbage like Metal Mafia, so clearly they are not invested in making sure people have safe jewelry) takes business away from piercers & the shops they work out of. And it’s true that the APP doesn’t evaluate skill, but it’s still a better place to start than just walking into your closest shop & assuming the piercer is reputable. The folks in the Ask A Professional Piercer facebook group are super helpful as well. Buying jewelry in-person from a reputable professional is always your best bet.

          1. MuttIsMyCopilot*

            You’re not incorrect on any particular point, but plenty of people are perfectly capable of measuring and fitting their own jewelry, or at least capable of researching how to do so and deciding whether or not they’re up to the task. It wasn’t a tough call for me to realize that if my tongue barbell (the size of which was guestimated by the sole APP certified piercer in my state, who also has the best reputation of anyone within a 5 hour drive in any direction) felt about a millimeter too long that I could just order one a millimeter shorter. I didn’t need to make one trip for him to measure and another trip weeks later when the order came in.
            If someone is compelled to support independent shops by always purchasing jewelry through them, that’s awesome! But based on the rampant success of online sales of literally everything, that isn’t always the biggest factor in consumers’ decisions. And yeah, if you need or want to purchase things in person you definitely need to put in the research to find a great piercer (and hope they’re reasonably close to you) because plenty of brick-and-mortars also carry Metal Mafia. But if you’re inclined to put in the effort to find a good piercer, you may also be the kind of person who can research and understand the quality of different materials and manufacturers enough to not need to consult a professional for every single decision.

  44. MissGirl*

    I’m planning my first overseas trip. What have been your favorite trips and why? Have you had a good experience with a tour group?

    I will be going solo so I’d like to find a singles group but over thirty because I’m not into the party scene. I love outdoor adventure over big city touring. I’ve found one trip to South Africa and another to Peru but having never been out of the US, I could be swayed to somewhere else.

    1. New Jack Karyn*

      I went to Puerto Rico some years ago with family; that was pretty great, and lots of outdoor stuff to do. Although that was before the hurricane; not sure it would be the same–but then again, maybe they could really use the tourist dollars!
      Also had a really good time at Playa del Carmen, which is near Cozumel but is more chill.

      1. Patty Mayonnaise*

        I just vacationed in Puetro Rico and it was fantastic! Aside from a few brown-outs and disconnected stop lights, everything seemed back to normal after the hurricane, and they absolutely need the tourist dollars. I highly recommend anyone interested visits this year for that reason.

    2. Dan*

      My two favorite trips are as follows: 1) 26 night trip to Europe, hotel points covered 23 nights, I paid for 3 out of pocket. 2) Trip to Bali a few years ago where Capital One had launched a new credit card and was “matching” airline frequent flyer mile account balances with their own stuff. I got $2,000 in straight up travel cash to use — no gimmicks or strings.

      “Tour groups” come in all shapes and sizes — I think you have to look more at the tour itself and not just the operator. By that, I mean that there’s everything from a complete package deal that includes airfare — you call the operator, you give them a credit card, and they book everything for you. The opposite end is a day trip within an area, where you’ve arranged airfare and lodging through some other means. There are middle grounds such as two-or-three night tours.

      I’m generally not the biggest fan of tours, but I’ve recently spent time in South Africa. PSA: DO NOT DO SA BY YOURSELF, ESPECIALLY AS A FIRST TIME TRIP, AND ESPECIALLY AS A WOMAN. This especially includes Cape Town and Johannesburg.

      If you’re curious about a run down on safaris and what not, I can try and help. They will run you anywhere from a few hundred for a “budget” safari, to thousands if not tens of thousands for a luxury multi-week deal. One thing you have to be cognizant of is that the “booking agent” and “tour operator” are often independent from each other.

      Peru is cool, but Machu Picchu is starting to get overun with tourists. It’s pretty bad TBH. My understanding is that the Peruvian government has recently put restrictions on the amount of tourists that can visit.

      As a first-timer abroad, I think I would recommend Bali given your interests. It’s got plenty of outdoor adventure, has good food, doesn’t really do the “big city” thing, and has accommodation for all budgets. Phillipines could be another option, but I think Bali is a bit easier logistically. With Bali, the whole island can be accessed by car with just a few hours drive. The tourist areas in the Philippines are really spread out, so you’ll be doing a lot of inter-island flying.

      I think Thailand deserves some consideration, but the major tourist areas are getting even more so, so it would take some effort to do it right.

      1. MissGirl*

        South Africa would be with a tour group that schedules everything. Is it not as safe as other cities?

        1. Dan*

          Well, South Africa is a country, not a city :D

          To answer your question: Definitely not. Sandy and I can disagree on the subjective aspects of it, but the stats don’t lie. Just google “south africa crime rate” and the first few entries do not paint a pretty picture. One page indicates that the murder rate in SA is about 7 times that of the US. Second, the unemployment rate in SA is about 25%, which leads to a lot of people doing desperate things. To get an idea of just what kind of desperation people are up against, read up on rhino poaching in the national parks (Kruger being the big one.) People are willing to risk their lives for one rhino kill, because the black market for the horn is humongous. In Kruger, there’s a curfew at sunset, where you must be back in your camp. After sunset, there’s only two groups out in the park: The poachers and the anti poachers. They all have guns, and the SA national police generally don’t investigate the deaths of suspected poachers.

          I’ve been to 30 countries, and I don’t make statements like this lightly. I also don’t travel much in groups — everything is on my own. So I don’t say this as someone who is overly cautious, lives in a bubble, or is easily fearful. On the whole, I could not in good conscience recommend that a solo female who has never traveled abroad travel SA by herself as a first time trip. The wrong screwup at the wrong time is not going to turn out well. Let me put it this way: I’m a *big* dude, and I don’t worry about much. SA is the only place I’ve seriously had to worry, and that should say something.

          You’ll likely be fine in a tour group — if they’re picking you up at one of the major airports, you shouldn’t have to worry too much. If they pick you up at a hotel in Jo’burg, just make sure you don’t go out on foot at night. (That means after sunset as in 6pm or whatever, not just 2am walking home from the bars.) Uber is your friend, use it when you’re not with the group.

      2. Sandy*

        Huh. My first real trip abroad was to South Africa as a woman travelling to solo. I’ve returned many times since. I would not have put it in the category of “all caps alarmist warnings”…

        1. Dan*

          I’d say “huh” to you as well. (Not being a smart ass, it’s actually a genuine response.) That said, one of the girls on one of my tours was American. I asked her what she thought of the whole crime thing. She said it didn’t phase her in the least — she grew up in Detroit and was “used to all of this.” She said the only thing that ticked her off was that all of the people at the hostels she was staying at thought she was staff, and wouldn’t believe her when she informed them that she was a guest.

        2. Luisa*

          Same. I’ve been to Cape Town half a dozen times and never felt more unsafe there compared to any other place I’ve traveled (and I’ve done quite a bit of traveling in North/Central America, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East). It is factual that South Africa has higher unemployment and a higher murder rate than the US (and than other countries as well), but I don’t think those statistics alone should dissuade anyone from traveling there if they are otherwise interested.

          1. Dan*

            Ok… the thing with all of this is that OP is a single female traveling alone outside of the US for the first time. I have no idea what kind of street sense she has (or anybody posting on this topic has.) and for that matter, her comfort level. There are many places in the world where one can just say “Go! You’ll have fun!” And that’s the end of it. SA requires some more caution. The other thing is, as gets pointed out many times in different contexts, men have different experiences than women. So I’ll grant that single females traveling alone in many different contexts may need to develop street smarts in ways that guys don’t, and those street smarts may be sufficient in SA. I couldn’t know.

            And not to state the obvious: Yes, the crime rates are higher, and clearly many people travel safely without being victims of a crime. So it’s not a given that problems will ensue. All I know is that there are things I had to do for personal safety reasons that I’ve never had to do before, and not just because of some stats. As a result, I found myself enjoying things less than I would if I was in a country where I had to worry less.

            OP was soliciting suggestions on where to go: If she was dead set on going to SA, I wouldn’t say “stay home”. She says for SA she’d go with a group; that should be sufficient. But if she’s on the fence, I’d certainly recommend places where crime isn’t as much as an issue.

    3. Kathenus*

      Years back I had a great tour in New Zealand – run by a company called Scenic Pacific Tours. They have a bunch of what they call ‘independent tours’ – they arrange all the logistics, ground transport, hotels, some activities – but you are not with the same group the whole time (you may be with one group for a day, then go to the hotel, and when you embark on the next leg you’re with a different group – although you may later cross paths with some of the same folks which I did). They set up some activities, or choice of activities, at destinations, but there’s also some free time built in for you to do your own thing in some locations as well. Best vacation I ever had, perfect balance of having logistics arranged, some social contact with people during travel, and some time to do whatever you want on your own. I did an eight day wildlife and glaciers tour of the South Island. Go to www – dot – scenicpacific – dot – co – dot – nz

      There are many different starting points, lengths, and topics/focuses.

    4. StellaBella*

      There’s a blog / travel planner I read, a woman-owned business in Ohio, and her blog Wander Your Way provides a lot of really cool travel guides (mostly to Europe) and things targeted at single women travellers. I have travelled with her advice twice and loved it (Italy). I travel alone, mostly, and have really for the past 20 years. I’ve not been to either Peru or South Africa, but I have been to North Africa, Middle East (loved Palestine), some of Central America, some of Asia, South Pacific, and a lot of Europe. Also I have had a few interesting (not really bad) experiences with being a single woman traveller so don’t have much advice there – just know where you are going, don’t ‘look like a lost, helpless tourist,’ and don’t be distracted by your phone as it makes you vulnerable to theft, etc. Have a good trip!

    5. NYCRedhead*

      I took a tour to Morocco with Intrepid Travel and it was nearly all singles and a wonderful experience. Their groups are generally 15 people. G Adventures is another I have heard good things about.

      1. London Calling*

        Second Intrepid Travel. I went with them to Central Asia and had a fabulous time – travelled by local buses and taxis rather than in an tourist style air conditioned coach, met locals and had a guide who really knew the country.

      2. anon today and tomorrow*

        I had a horrible time with Intrepid. I went to SE Asia and the tour guide was awful. He literally ditched us to go drinking with friends as soon as he could and the next day would say he had a “stomachache” and couldn’t guide us on the scheduled tour. The hotels we stayed in were infested, and when several of us got sick from food poisoning, he just shrugged and wouldn’t help us find a pharmacy. I had to rely on some very nice, kind strangers to help me get medication.

        My tour was also filled with a lot of racist, homophobic old couples from Australia which sucked the fun out of it.

        Maybe the other tours are better, but that one experience was my first tour instead of solo travel, and it ruined me for ever using Intrepid again.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m an outlier — my favorite way to travel is to go to one not-incredibly-touristy place for a long time so I can get the flavor of actually living there. In order of increasing lengths of time I’ve done this in Glasgow Scotland, Bordeaux France, and Aalborg Denmark. Time to do it again, but I need to renew that passport…

      1. FD*

        This is something I’ve been interested in doing at some point. Can I ask how you got ready to do so / how you selected where you were going to go?

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          All were originally serendipity, but i plan to do it intentionally the next time.
          My husband had a friend move home to Bordeaux so we visited. He had a 3 month grad-school job in Aalborg and I managed to join him for 6 weeks in the middle (max vacation time plus max leave of absence).
          Glasgow was an unexpectedly long stop on the backpacks&hostels tour I took the last summer of college. I’d actually planned to go on into the Highlands but, well, the first thing I saw getting off the train was a poster for a Peter Gabriel concert the next weekend, and I couldn’t resist. I did the Burrell Museum, the People’s Museum, a lot of city walking, and day trips to historic sites. Friday’s PG concert was fascinating –I had just seen him in the US and the song choices & crowd reactions were different.
          Since my husband doesn’t like to travel, the choice of destination will probably be where he knows someone and he can be assured of finding people who speak English or Spanish (his 2nd language). A return trip to Denmark is high on the list actually.

    7. Scandinavian in Scandinavia*

      I’d consider language as a parameter: would you like the wonderful, but possibly challenging experience of not understanding the main language of the country you visit or would you like to play it safe with one where you can speak the language tourself? Alphabet may matter as well with some countries, depending on what languages you speak/read.
      Also, what climate and season would you like to go to and what is the season of the country in question at the time you plan to go?
      With your interests, I’d second New Zealand – it is on my bucket list!

      1. MissGirl*

        Going with a group makes me less worried about language. I ski all winter so I’d like more of a summer trip.

    8. Llellayena*

      Exodus Travels was a great tour company for my trip to Morocco (a destination I also highly recommend). I was a solo female over 30. My tour group ranged from mid-20s to mid-60s. They have many other tours I want to try as well: Vietnam/Cambodia, Japan, Iran (waiting for safety reasons on that one), Spain (probably my next trip). I’d also look at Flashpack. They’re a little more expensive, but they seem to cater to singles in their 30s and 40s. I’m desperately hoping to save enough money for their Japan tour! Lunch with a sumo wrestler and ninja training!

    9. Nana*

      England is a great choice for a first trip, if only because people speak (a form of) English! I enjoyed traveling there alone, and never felt unsafe. There are many ‘specialized’ tours…so you might find a 30+ women’s group; see what’s on the itinerary and avoid the one that’s a pub crawl.
      Have fun.

    10. Springbok*

      As someone who is from South Africa, and went back there a couple years ago, I could answer a couple of ways in regards to going there.
      On the one hand, it’s not a place that I would recommend as your first place to travel abroad. On the other hand, the countryside, the nature, the animals are incredible. ( I wouldn’t even bother with going to the city center of Johanneburg, but rather focus on nature stuff, or things outside of the city).
      But as someone going alone, I would only recommend it if you are with a tour and have transport organized for you. I would advise against renting a car and driving by yourself. It’s a trip that requires good planning. And a big recommendation for the Kruger Park( there are many places in it that you can stay with)

    11. Marion Ravenwood*

      When I went backpacking, we used organised tour groups in South America and India, mostly with a company called G Adventures who I think are based in Canada but have offices worldwide. It is slightly aimed at younger people, but on the South America tours in particular we had people from 19 all the way up to mid-60s.

      Weirdly, what I liked about it was the flexibility – it was very much get up, go to the next town you were visiting (often on public transport, sometimes with stops along the way), then stop in the town you were spending the night in and the deal would be ‘OK, we’re going on an orientation walk in half an hour for those that want to, here’s a map of the town and where we’re staying, here’s some ideas for stuff you can do this afternoon, we’re meeting downstairs at 7 for dinner if you want to come, otherwise be ready to leave at this time tomorrow’. For me that worked great as I would have found a ‘follow the yellow umbrella’-type tour far too rigid, but again if you’re someone who likes structure and wants to see everything then it might not be for you.

      The one issue is that your group can be really luck of the draw, even if you’re all similar ages. I was relatively lucky that I made some good friends on my tours, particularly the South America trip (there’s a group of six of us who are all still in touch), but equally there were a couple of people on the India tour who rubbed me the wrong way, so YMMV.

      If you’re an outdoorsy person, I would highly recommend New Zealand. It is one of my favourite countries in the world – the landscapes are beautiful and it’s great for hiking and adventure stuff (black water rafting in Waitomo and seal swimming in Kaikoura were particular highlights for me), plus the major towns and cities are quite small and compact, especially Wellington and Christchurch. I also love Tasmania, which has a lot of similarities to New Zealand geographically and some amazing walking options if you’re into that.

  45. Austin*

    Is there anyone here from Austin, TX who can tell me a bit more about what it’s like to live there?

    Background: We currently live in the San Francisco Bay Area, though we’re originally from New England. My husband works in tech. He’s gotten kind of hooked on the idea of moving to Austin in the next few years. There are plenty of good jobs in his field there and the cost of living is much cheaper than where we live now (not to mention the taxes are lower). I’ve heard the commutes can be tough there, but it’s got to be better than the Bay Area, where we own our own home in a nice neighborhood but my husband commutes 1.5-2 hours each way every day. We would also love to live in a place where we can have a few acres of land.

    The thing is, neither of us have ever been to Texas. We obviously plan to visit before making any big decisions, but I’m curious about the insider perspective from people who have lived there. We are a fairly liberal biracial family (Indian dad + white mom + biracial kid); will be we ok there? What are the people like? What do they do on the weekends? Are there outdoorsy things to do? Is is it green or more of a desert landscape? Anything else we should know?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Bluebell*

      I’ve lived in New England for many years but came from Texas. When I first got here I thought “oh, Cambridge is like Austin.” So, if you were going anywhere in TX, Austin is pretty much the most like Boston or SF. It’s green, not desert, and because of the weather you can do outdoorsy things all year round. I’m sure other commenters will have lots to say.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      I haven’t lived in Austin, but I have friends there and have visited. Once, some years back, I considered moving to Dallas, Texas and did some research. I have lived in both Northern and Southern Calli.

      Austin is a university town, and as such is quite liberal, though it will not be as much so, or nearly as diverse as most California cities (in my opinion). However, (A big factor for me) is that you’re still at the mercy of the very conservative state government. So if things like abortion, healthcare and worker/voter rights matter to you, you might not like the overall atmosphere in the state of Texas.

      Austin gets HOT! I’d say it’s southwest, border-desert climate (think more inland SoCal–Santa Ynez Valley), but with lots more green due to the plentiful rivers and lakes. It’s not Death Valley or Lancaster desert, but it’s still hot. There can be a lot of allergy issues from the trees (not good if for asthma). Still, it’s a very outdoorsy city, and very fit, with lots of hiking, biking, walking, watersports, boating, etc. The food is AWESOME! It’s a Tex-Mex and Barbeque meat-eaters and beer heaven! Austin is also know for lots of live music, blues, rock, country and for it’s many music and arts festivals. I’m sure that all those festivals like South by Southwest sound really cool and fun, but maybe they’re not so much if you actually live there? Consider that when choosing where you’d live in the city. In all, it seemed like a great town for young professionals. It’s been some years, so I can’t say if that’s the case when one is older with a family.

    3. neverjaunty*

      I have friends who did what your husband wants to do. They moved back very quickly.

      As others have already said – it’s the reverse of CA. Austin is a blue dot in a sea of red. One of my friends went to a ‘progressive’ new mom group and was asked how she “justified” her decision to return to work to her husband. And that wasn’t the only time they ran into less than stellar attidudes.

    4. Aisling*

      Austin is the most liberal city in Texas, but it is still a liberal city in a very conservative state. I think coming from the Bay Area, it would be quite a culture shock. That may not mean you don’t want to do it, but just know that it will be quite different. I have a friend who lives there with her lesbian wife and they love Austin, but they were both from other parts of Texas before moving there.

      Texas has a ton of outdoor stuff to do! In the Austin area, Barton Springs is a big draw, but you’re also near the Texas Hill Country and that is really gorgeous.

      I’d recommend a week long visit, at least, to try it out. See what you think of men in cowboy hats and boots who will call you “ma’am” and hold doors for you, and refuse to go through the door until you do. It can be quite old fashioned in that way, though charming in a sense.

      1. Austinite*

        I live in Austin. The traffic is awful. Truly. I work 7am to 4pm now but my previous job wouldn’t allow that. It takes me 35 to 40 minutes to drive 20 miles into downtown in the morning using a toll road. It can take 45 minutes to an hour to get home.

        It gets hot. There are allergies.

        SXSW and all the other festivals are great if you can afford them.

        It’s getting more expensive to live here but not California expensive. You could get some land but your drive time could be 1 hour or more during rush hour.

        We have every nationality in my neighborhood. I am biracial myself. However, you will run up against sexism and racism just not a lot and not overt. I don’t talk politics unless I know the other person.

        It’s not a desert. We’re at the edge of the hill country. Lady Bird lake and the Barton Creek green belt are very popular, as is Zilker Park. Austin does try to keep green spaces in new projects. You have to get a permit to cut down trees over a certain girth. They just moved an mature oak tree near my work to a park a couple of weeks ago.

    5. Ranon*

      If you want a few acres, you’re probably looking at pretty close to the same commute you have now and you’ll be in a fairly more conservative area than you would be staying within the city limits (on average). Our family is white, so I can’t speak to the racial politics, (although I have friends with families with a similar racial makeup here and in Houston, you certainly wouldn’t be alone) but the city proper is indeed pretty liberal. Agree the state, however, is not, and remember that that includes the school board.

      When it comes to doing things, Austin is a busy city- there are literally no weekends left for big events, they’re all taken. This is a good and a bad thing.

      There are outdoorsy things to do, although depending on the time of year you may not want to be outside- Austin is hot! Coming from a state with a lot of public land I find the parks in Texas to be laughably small, especially given the size of population they serve. Hill Country isn’t a desert landscape, but it’s not incredibly wet, either- rainfall varies a bunch seasonally and annually and tends to be concentrated in big rain events, so there are certainly times where things are very dry. Gardening is a challenge particularly if you like growing your own food, summer is basically our winter when nothing grows and your best growing seasons are spring and fall.

      Has your husband considered going full time remote? That really opens options up.

      1. RandomPoster*

        Ditto this re:wanting land. Unless you’re spending $$$$$$, getting that kind of space is going to push you out into areas that would be a hellish commute into town and are likely less diverse/more conservative.

    6. TL -*

      Oh I lived there for a couple of years and my brother lives there.
      Great music, great food, (great pot I hear but that’s not my scene). Tons of outdoors stuff to do and a decent culture scene.
      The city is pretty diverse east of I-35 and pretty white west of it, minus the university. People will assume your husband is Mexican and speak to him in Spanish.
      Houston (4 hours east) has a pretty big Indian community but I think Austin’s, though present, is not particularly large outside of the university. Biracial people are absolutely there but more likely to be of black/Latino/white heritage.
      My student friends did experience some instances of racism but to my knowledge, it was all/mostly things like insensitive comments or people making assumptions, not so much racist slurs or hate crimes.
      Some things will depend on your socio-economic level, though.

  46. Does anyone build playgrounds?*

    I’m looking for help identifying a material/surface. It’s ground cover usually found in playgrounds, instead of concrete or asphalt and it looks like rubber mulch, except it’s not individual pieces like you’d see in a flower bed. It’s a solid, squishy, bouncy surface. Googling has been failing me.
    Does anyone know what that’s called? Either just the general term for that type of surface or a brand name?

    1. fposte*

      When I look for playground surfaces, I see several sites talking about “solid rubber surfacing,” with “pour in place” the high end of that. When I Google either of those, I find vendors and stuff. Does that help?

    2. Ann Non*

      The red rubbery material that running tracks are made of is sometimes called a “tartan track” – is that what you are thinking of?

    3. Lilysparrow*

      I’m seeing some hits for that kind of thing under “bonded rubber mulch” and “bonded rubber playground surface.”

  47. Backsplash Balagan*

    First of all, thanks to the commenters who gave me advice last month about temporary kitchens during our renovation. We just finished week 4 and no one has starved yet. cabinets ( in blue gray) come Monday. Now I’d love advice about backsplashes. I just have a small 3×3 area behind my stove and am feeling indecisive about what to choose. My two current finalists are a beehive pattern in navy, gray and soft blue vs a small brick pattern in glass tiles- gray, blue and white- that we found at Home Depot. The walls are Greytint, and the bead board is white) Do you love the tile in your kitchen? How did you decide what you wanted? Tell me about it. Thank you!

    1. fposte*

      I think for 3×3 you’re probably fine with either. If you scroll pictures of beehive (or what I’d call honeycomb–might be worth using that term as well) tile vs. the brick pattern do you find you like one better than the other in general? Do you lean toward keeping with a general rectangularity or would you like to break it up a little?

      1. Backsplash Balagan*

        Thanks for the tips. I actually don’t want an equilateral hexagon. The finalist is more of an elongated hexagon. (Navy Pier Mosaic is the tile name). The stove hood is curved and the pendant lights will be too. I have joked that I am spending more time tile shopping than I did dating. :)

        1. fposte*

          Well, I’m no help–I really like both of those! I love slatey blue and grey colorways. On my computer the first is cooler-toned than the second–would that be something that makes a difference to your preference?

          (With this and what you’re describing, I think it’ll look great either way.)

        2. university minion*

          The malibu breeze one would scream “house flipper” in my city. I have gotten to where I don’t care for the look, simply because it’s become associated in my mind with a certain type of cheap, poor quality renovation.

          The second one is nice. I personally prefer the look of a larger tile, but that’s just a matter of preference.

          1. Backsplash Balagan*

            Good to know. As I’ve been tile shopping the one trend I want to scream at is subway tiles. They seem to be on everyone’s Pinterest board.

            1. university minion*

              In my mind, subway tile can go either way. It can be unobtrusive and let other design elements shine, in which case it works. Alternately, it can be “Subway Tile” (usually seen with “Shiplap” and “Barn Doors” and “Trey Ceiling” <- yes, that is how they usually spell it in listings around here. Sigh) and is tacky. It's a fine line to walk.

        3. Parenthetically*

          Holy crap that second one is beauuuuuuuutiful!!! I agree with university minion — the first one reads way more “house flippy” to me.

    2. LNLN*

      What is the overall look you are going for? The honeycomb pattern always struck me as a little more traditional (thinking of those classic bathroom floor tiles) and the brick style in glass tiles seems a little more modern. I never did find a tile that I liked well enough to invest in when we did our kitchen, so we have painted walls. I do keep my eye out for something I would install in future.

    3. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Both are lovely, so you can’t go wrong. I really like the navy pier myself, the shape is fun.

    4. Reba*

      The colors are lovely!

      I do have to say I am already tired of that small-horizontal glass tile — at least in my area, every single cheap reno à la Lowe’s has it. The hex’s are cool and could go in a few decorating directions, I think, from classic to more boho.

      Good luck crossing the finish line with your kitchen!

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I do not recommend the rough sandstone (or maybe it’s travertine marble) the former owners installed behind my sink. Yes its beautiful, but it’s hard to keep clean. Stains like a white sundress at a picnic! (If anyone knows a good product to seal it better than they did, I’m all ears.)

    6. Not So NewReader*

      This may or may not apply to what you are talking about. I just got some clearance tiles for my back splash. I really wanted the glass tiles with little rectangles of glass all over. I don’t know what they are called. Then I thought about cleaning that…. for the rest of my life and decided no way.
      Back splashes behind the stove are going to end up super greasy/junky looking unless cleaned on a regular basis. Pick something that is easy to clean, letting grease build up around a cook stove is not a good idea.

      So I ended up with these tiles that do not have much of textured finish all around my kitchen counter. I can just wipe them down and be done in a few minutes. I have a neutral color that would probably look okay with any color I decide to paint the kitchen. I also like the plainness of the tile because it does not add to the counter clutter.

      1. Backsplash Balagan*

        Thanks for your perspective. A friend of mine recommended a pretty tile but it would involve way too much grout cleaning. I waited 15+ years to do this remodel and I will never paint my kitchen again- I tested 7 shades of grey and love the one I finally picked. Since the counters are white quartz the backsplash is the real pop of color.

  48. Folkie*

    Anyone got any recommendations for eco friendly underwear, specifically bras? I’ve been browsing and had no idea you could get linen, hemp, bamboo bras… Quite a lot are the “bralette” type, which I’m sometimes a little too big in the cup for, and am not keen on buying one on spec as most companies don’t accept returns of underwear. I’m also in the UK and load of them have to ship from the US.
    On a side note, I wish that “eco friendly” and “natural” products could be made accessible to everyone. They are aimed so much at people with lots of disposable income, and if you don’t have much money then there’s no way you can afford lots of these things.

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I agree with you on the availability of eco friendly. My approach is to limit the “stuff”, try to buy used, and make sure to use/reuse as appropriate. Not really helpful.

      I last bought bras about 2 years ago, and I got good quality ones that are still going strong. I figure that the 6 I bought and will use until they really are worn out will be better than buying 2 or 3x that amount over the same period.

      1. Folkie*

        Yes, I try to take this approach. I’ve already mended my current ones twice, though, and the underwires are stabbing me again… :(

        1. NewNameJustForThisBecause*

          I don’t know if it helps… but I started machine washing my underwires in a VERY padded bag by themselves, so no tumbling about, and rack drying. I also (I don’t sweat!) alternate them with a day of rest between, and then wash after the second wearing, so washing only 1/2 as often. I haven’t had a single underwire wear through and stab me in this round since I switched the care routine. (I also used the measuring videos on herroom dot com, to find that I needed a bigger cup and smaller back… my best fitting one has 4 hooks in the back, if that’s helpful). I’m at >6 years on a couple of the wacoals. It’s a little more effort each week, but I hate bra shopping, so I figure that’s worth the effort to try to get ones that really fit and then make them last as long as possible. (I do remeasure every time I go up or down 10 pounds, as my bust is the first place that changes happen… sigh). But I’ve been pretty size stable, too, for those years. Which helped. FYI – heat kills the elastic, too, so that’s the other reason to rack dry.

    2. Lilysparrow*

      Affordability is always going to be tricky. Standard manufacturing practices weren’t invented to be purposely damaging. They exist because they bring down costs.

      Sustainable practices cost more to use, so the product costs more. Increasing demand helps, but if you’re using labor intensive practices, the only way to make them sustainable is to charge enough to pay the workers properly.

      1. Folkie*

        Yes, you’re right of course. I just feel like, now especially we need to…. do better? Somehow? Government subsidies, maybe? Not holding out much hope for that one…

    3. WS*

      I have a large cup size and haven’t had much luck with eco-friendly bras at all. Instead I’m trying to buy better quality in the first place and look after them better so they last longer.

    4. Jules the First*

      Not eco-friendly, per se, but Bravissimo in the UK does only large cup sizes (DD and up) and you can drop off your old bras in any store to be recycled. They also have a sleep bra/bralet that is divinely comfortable, and are generally good quality – I’ve never had a wire come through.

      1. Marion Ravenwood*

        Seconding Bravisssimo. I buy all my bras from there (I have a narrow back but am quite ‘blessed’ in the chest department) and find them to be really good quality – even with my slapdash treatment of them the bras I’ve got from there have lasted for the best part of five years and still going strong.

  49. Nessun*

    I’m contemplating getting a subscription to Good Food, like Hello Fresh but in Canada. Anyone had any experience with either one? I can follow a recipe but I hate cooking so I like the idea of basically being told what to make and given the ingredients for it. Plus I think it would decrease my procrastination about meals I general (I come home tired and don’t want to think about food but I’m starving and then I order in all the time).

    1. Blue Eagle*

      We tried Home Chef and Hello Fresh. Between the two we really like Home Chef and get a box of 3 meals every three weeks. It is definitely worth the money, then the other weeks we make one or two of the meals from the recipe cards of previous boxes. I definitely recommend Home Chef if it is available in your area.

    2. SP*

      My sis gifted us a free week of Hello Fresh (in Canada). It was great, although out of our price range for regular use. I go to their website still for meal planning ideas, and we’ve identified a few circumstances when we will splash out on a delivery.

    3. LNLN*

      A friend just told me she is using Hello Fresh and loves it! She is single and finds the food prep/cooking times reasonable and eats the second serving for lunch another day.

    4. Middle School Teacher*

      I used Chef’s Plate in Canada. I liked it a lot, but I quit for a couple of reasons: I found it a bit expensive for what I got (I’m single so it was pricey for me), and I found the recipes really easy (I’m a more advanced cook). But the food was good and the customer service was excellent, so I would recommend them.

    5. Loopy*

      I had Hello Fresh for months. Here’s what made me a fan:

      – Great customer service. Yes, they have a pretty hard and fast deadline for making changes, but they are amazing about canceling subscriptions and any changes within their ability. This was huge for me because I hate having a hassle when I need to downgrade or cancel.

      -Easy. I never messed up a meal and I hate cooking and am not good at it.

      -Variety. I only got the vegetarian meals which is the most limited option but wasn’t bored with getting it 2x a month

      -Only had one issue with ingredients. Yes, it’ll probably happen but almost always everything I got lasted long enough for me to make all the meals without any produce going bad.

      It’s very customizable, you can get it as often or infrequently as you like and change your frequency super easy. I really, really loved it.

  50. naha*

    you’re on an online dating site which you can see/select a “want kids” “don’t want kids” and “maybe want kids” item. you’re a “maybe wants kids,” leaning towards “don’t want kids.”

    a dude “likes” you on the site. you go on a date; it goes pretty well. one day between this date and the second date, you see on his profile, when you’re reviewing it for the Nth time, it says “wants kids.”

    at what point do you bring this up?

    1. New Jack Karyn*

      It depends on what you’re looking for. If you want a serious relationship, then bring it up quickly–especially if it’s a deal breaker. If you’re just looking for a good time, don’t worry about it.

    2. Rebecca*

      I used to drop the fact that I didn’t want kids into conversation pretty early on, but I didn’t make it A Thing To Discuss.

      Example: ‘haha, a bunch of people think I’d be a great mum because I teach kindergarten but damn, kindergarten is basically birth control. More beer?’

      A lot of guys either didn’t see that I’d mentioned I didn’t want kids or thought it wasn’t serious or I’d come around eventually.

    3. Lilysparrow*

      Bring it up when a) you aren’t leaning anymore, and are sure you don’t want kids, or b) there is some indication he’s actually considering you as someone to have kids with.

      Wanting kids in general doesn’t mean he wants them with just anybody he goes on one or two dates with.

    4. Batgirl*

      I wanted kids and it was emphatically on my profile while bf seemed to have “whatever” on his profile for that question. I think it was third or fourth date I said: “do you like children” and he very enthusiastically waxed lyrical about the possibility of having them (He’d been expecting to meet a woman who was Done.with.it by our age).
      I’d bring it up early. Cards on the table is the whole point of dating sites.

  51. Blue Eagle*

    Will be touring the Ozarks southwest of St. Louis (as well as staying a couple of nights in Ste. Genevieve by the Mississippi River) next month and would like any recommendations on places to stop and sightsee or scenic places to hike.

    1. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Spouse and I enjoyed the Bonne Terre Mine tour a few summers ago, bonneterremine-dot-com, though we thought it was a little spendy.

    2. The Rat-Catcher*

      Ste Gen is overflowing with gorgeous wineties, if that’s your thing. If you’ll be near Elephant Rocks, Johnson Shut Ins, or Taum Sauk, they are all worth seeing.

    3. Jean (just Jean)*

      Try the websites for the National Parks, the city of Ste. Genevieve (maybe there’s a historical society?), the tourism/visitor’s board of Missouri, and whatever the State of Missouri calls its Department of Parks / Recreation / Environment. Most governments and civic groups are thrilled to share information on their historic locations and scenic outdoor areas.

      This may be further north or west than you had planned: When I was a kid my family went to Big Springs, MO. It was a big natural park where we got to look through clear water at the sides and bottoms of very deep …. lakes? springs? holes? Whatever, it was beautiful and memorable. It’s closer to St. Louis than Ste. Genevieve so it might be completely surrounded by suburbs/exurbs by now.

  52. Junior Dev*

    Mental health thread! How are you doing? What are you struggling with? What are you proud of?

    I’m on my second day of medical leave, which lasts until the end of the month. Yesterday I went to the gym with my friend and I made a whole bunch of calls related to doctor appointments and health insurance and disability insurance, including setting up an intake appointment for an outpatient psychiatric program, it would be 3-5 times a week group therapy.

    I’m scared because I’ve never done anything like this before and I am on the fence as to whether it would benefit me, but I guess it is worth a shot. Ignoring my physical health/trying to deal with it alone has landed me with a bunch of pain and inability to do stuff, so I guess I need help with mental stuff too. I have a bunch of complicated feelings about this and people tend to assume it’s about pride/disliking meds/thinking I “don’t need help,” but it’s more about the fact that the last meds I was on made me feel more depressed while also gaining a lot of weight, and crappy therapists have done more harm than good to my mental health.

    I actually kind of hate the thing where people try to legitimatize brain meds by comparing them to insulin or something–I get that comparison helps people who are struggling with stigma, but when I’m trying to sort out what meds to take when those meds affect the entire way I experience the world, it can feel invalidating, because my concern is not and never has been feeling like wanting chemical help for my brain is invalid, it’s that it’s really hard to understand what they’re doing to my brain from inside said brain and it’s difficult to tell if they are doing more harm than good.

    I’m realizing I’m pretty bad at being alone with my thoughts and at having time with nothing scheduled, and I want to work on that.

    I’m proud of making all the phone calls yesterday and of making social plans for today and tomorrow.

    How are you doing?

    1. Alpha Bravo*

      I am doing … better. I spent most of the last week sick in bed. I am very impressed with you making all the medical arrangements and having the courage to reach out for what you need to feel well, Junior Dev. I was my spouse’s caregiver as he was dying of cancer in 2017. Hospitals, surgeries, chemo, we did it all. Since he died I have avoided medical settings like the plague. I just couldn’t deal. But this week I actually made an appointment and saw my family doc. She couldn’t help with the virus but just being there, it felt like a dam broke somehow. I could be in that environment and it was okay. I’m getting over the bug finally, and maybe getting over my doc-block a little bit too.

    2. Anonygeezer*

      I’m absolutely horrible with making the necessary phone calls so kudos to you for getting it done!

      For what it’s worth, it took me a while to find the right meds, and I’m positive that the one I’m on now has some cognitive side effects but can’t prove it. I stay on them because they are doing more harm than good. I have modified my life somewhat because of these side effects, but I also found that getting more engaged with life (which happened because I was on them), also mitigated these side effects a lot. However, the key is that the medications help with my main problem, and the side effects are a worthwhile trade off.

      You’re the only one who can be your best advocate, so keep careful, daily notes in objective wording. This will establish the positives and negatives of a new medication. I’m on meds that most people aren’t on for my diagnosis, probably because the typical ones didn’t work. It helped that I was able to go in with a journal that showed my daily state of mind while on the medication and what activities I did that day. A good doc will go over all your options on meds, their pros and cons and will approach the decision as something you decide together. I was/am lucky to have good docs who treated me like a partner in my care.

    3. 653-CXK*

      Other than getting ready to work at my new job next Monday…just fine. I spent Tuesday at the new job filling out my information (insurance, what not to do, etc.), Wednesday getting my TB test, Thursday doing laundry, Friday getting my TB test read and getting a booster shot, and yesterday doing errands.

      I had to have one of my BP meds changed because Losartan was recalled. I’m now on Norvasc (amlodipine) and I actually feel a lot better than I did when I was on Losartan. I actually think the Losartan was the culprit in giving me that horrible cold/respiratory infection (or amplified it) the past couple of times. When I was on the combined Losartan/HCTZ pill I never felt bad effects.

  53. Roja*

    Questions on moving and renting apartments. Husband and I are moving in the summer and our job situation is like so: I have a PT job online already that I’ll be keeping, and he’s moving from FT to PT with his current company (not sure how many hours yet). We’re both going to be working more once we get there, but not sure where yet–I might be teaching a few hours a week, and/or one or both of us will probably pick up another PT job just for some $$ before we can really get settled into our fields there. We have money in the bank so I’m not worried about the transition in terms of our own finances.

    BUT here’s the problem: in the price range we’re looking at for apartments (aka the lowest possible range to get something decent), we’re only up to about 2x rent, as best I can estimate. I know landlords want at least 3x monthly income, and I’m really worried about the logistics of finding a place. Like I said, we have money in the bank, a great credit score, and we’ve both been continuously employed for years, so otherwise we’re great candidates. And, of course, we pay bills on time/take care of the house/etc etc etc. How much of a problem do you think we’ll have?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      It really depends on where you’re moving. I had no problem getting an apartment in NYC with great credit and a not-great salary, but I had a guarantor at the ready plus proof of investments. I was looking in an outer borough and it was only me on the lease at the time. But the competition can be very fierce there. In our current city, I don’t think they run anything but a credit check. If you’re in a place with a tight rental market (like New York, DC, Los Angeles, etc.) you might have more trouble than in a smaller city where people tend to buy more.

      1. Roja*

        Hm, that’s encouraging. We’re moving to an easy market, rental-wise, I think, so that should help a lot.

    2. Moving to0!*

      We’re moving into a new apartment in a few weeks. They wanted proof of 3x monthly income or a bank statement showing you had 6 months worth of rent. If you have money in the bank, they might accept a bank statement. It doesn’t hurt to ask!

      1. Roja*

        That’s also encouraging! We can definitely supply that, no problem at all. Hopefully they’ll take that instead, if we’re not able to find other PT jobs before we arrive.

      2. Brandy*

        Yes, a bank statement could work. If it doesn’t, people may be willing to accept a bigger deposit (eg 2 months down vs 1).

    3. FD*

      I’d suggest calling a few apartment complexes that are in your price range and asking. The summer isn’t that far off, and most landlords should be able to give you some idea of whether they’d rent to you or not.

  54. Nesprin*

    I’ve screwed up my foot in some creative way, and despite staying on the couch for 3 days straight and quite a lot of painkillers, I’m still in pain. I’ve got work to do this weekend and my husband is having a snit about having to cook dinner and fetch things… How do I cope?

    1. LNLN*

      My strategy (married 39 years and counting) is to over praise. “Honey, you are such a saint to do this for me, to take care of me, to fix dinner for me…” I have been doing this for years and it has totally paid off. I had knee surgery last year and hubby needed to really cater to me and I heard literally not a single complaint. This works for us. Hope you find something that works for you.

      Also, it is ok for your husband to be in a snit. You do not have to fix it or make him feel better. Let him feel his feelings. “It really sucks that I am laid up, that you have to do all this extra stuff, that I am in pain and can’t do what I usually do around here.” My attitude improved when I stopped trying to fix things for my husband.

    2. The Rat-Catcher*

      My best advice is to let him feel his feelings. He can process them with someone else, but it would be difficult for you to have that conversation without feeling resentful.

  55. Tomato Frog*

    Any suggestions for flower combinations/bouquets that are non-toxic to both cats and dogs? The flowers are for a friend, for no particular occasion.

    1. Grand Mouse*

      I’ve looked some stuff up and the safest bets are roses, daisies, pansies and violets! It’s good I checked because some flowers I thought were ok (baby’s breath) were in fact toxic! If you go to a florist maybe ask them specifically for pet-safe flowers, I bet they’ve handled that before

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Spring is good timing: Tulips are edible even to humans, and daffodils are of no interest to most mammals.
      If the home has pets who regularly chew things they shouldn’t, consider splurging on organic/unsprayed flowers like bakers use on cakes.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Oh and lemon grass can be a great bit of greenery in an arrangement. :)

      1. Tomato Frog*

        I know! I was just hoping someone would tell me which ones look nice together…. Should’ve been more precise in my request!

  56. Grand Mouse*

    I feel like I’m playing whack-a-mole with my health

    I’ve had unexplained, rapid weight gain over the past year or so. It’s really doing a number on my self-esteem, and I’m worried about developing other related conditions like high blood pressure. It does run in my family, but I’m also very young for this to happen

    I’ve been thinking hypothyroid because of this and other symptoms like fatigue which has plagued me for years. But nothing significant is showing up on the tests!

    I’ve been trying to get hormone treatment for a number of reasons, and it would likely make me lose weight and get more energy. But now it’s a possibility that I have an underlying condition that would get worse with the hormone treatment!

    Yes I’m doing the regular things like dieting and exercising- but that’s not helping and is even making it worse! I’ve had an eating disorder (but not cancer) in the past so I’m also trying to make sure the dieting and exercising doesn’t go a bad direction.

    I have more energy then I have in years and my depression is almost gone! That would be encouraging signs for my health but it’s still getting worse. I feel like I’m stuck.

    (No dieting advice please. If talking about exercising please consider that I am disabled and already have a physical job. Thanks!)

    1. fposte*

      Oh, how frustrating. It sounds like you’re talking more than the usual hypothyroid weight gain of 5-10 pounds, too (individuals can gain more, of course, but generally people gain as they age, and the difference between hypothyroid and normal thyroid people boils down to about 5-10 pounds). It sounds to me like there’s still some medical exploration going on of something would make Synthroid inadvisable, and you just may need to be patient while that gets looked into.

      In the mean time, it sounds like you’re doing really well otherwise. I understand that a big body change can destabilize your self-image, with or without a past eating disorder, but from an overall health standpoint it sounds like you’re physically active and eating well and it’s paying off; it’s also likely paying off internally (you say you’re worried about high blood pressure, but it doesn’t sound like you have it). Yes, weight alone can raise your risk in some areas, but being active and eating well considerably mitigates that risk, and being the ideal BMI doesn’t keep you safe from those risks either. If you’re not currently, maybe it would help to look to therapy for some support as you wait for more information on the medical side? Because that’s a challenging process, so I think help can be really valuable.

      Good luck to you and best wishes for a speedy and low-impact answer.

    2. bunniferous*

      You did not say but if you are taking medication for depression many of them can cause some weight gain. Also, if you are approaching the menopausal years that can be an issue. In any case, that has to be so frustrating!!!! I am trying to get back into exercising and losing some weight myself and it is not an easy thing.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Re: thyroid Ask about antibody tests. People who are borderline normal-low thyroid with high antibodies often respond well to replacement thyroid hormone.
      Apologies that I can never remember the name of the test…

    4. Not So NewReader*

      This is like a needle in a haystack, I am so sorry.
      You say this is over the last year. So look back over the last 14 months or so to see what has changed. Have you started a new med in that time? Have you started using new products that you may be allergic to? (Allergy blocked my ability to lose weight.)

      How’s your sleep doing? (We get energy from sleep and food, that is how our bodies are meant to work. So if you are covering the food aspect of this question, you might want to look at your sleep patterns if you haven’t already.)

      You can use your credit card statements/checkbook and other things to help trigger your memory so you can be sure of finding most of what you have changed.

      I was in my mid 50s when it came to light that I am better off without gluten. Our bodies change, if something did not bother us 10 years ago, that does not mean it still doesn’t bother us. It might be worth revisiting some old assumptions.

      1. Grand Mouse*

        Thanks for the suggestions everyone! I will bring these to my doctor. I’ve had to be the one pushing for my healthcare so the more I know the better.

        I do have insomnia so that could be contributing, but I’ve struggled with that most of my life. I’m not near menopause yet and I’m transmasculine so I was wanting to start hrt but that could possibly make it worse depending on what they find.

        It’s interesting now that I think about it. The weight gain started when I changed jobs in November 2017. At first I thought it was the stress of a new job or having a different work schedule. Almost exactly a year later, my mood and energy and sleep got much better. The weight gain has continued even with adjusting to the new job and upping my physical activity level. Who knows at this point! I appreciate the advice and sympathy.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Is there an allergen at work? A poor heat system, mold in the AC, anything like that?

    5. Junior Dev*

      Are you taking medication? I gained about 25 lbs in the past year due to antidepressants.

  57. Windchime*

    Quilters — Do you own a longarm machine? I’ve been thinking about getting one for a long time and last weekend I test drove some at a local sewing expo. Of course, I fell in love with a top-of-the-line brand (Gammill). But my main problem, other than how expensive they are, is space. I have extra bedrooms in my house, but they are 10′ x 10′, so the biggest frame I can fit is an 8 footer — too small to do anything bigger than a twin, I think.

    I’m not planning on staying here for longer than another 3 or 4 years, so I hate to do something drastic like knocking down walls. I could put it in the master bedroom, but I really like having my bed in there. And there’s always the garage, but–I like parking in there!

    I’m interested if any of you have a longarm and what your creative solution is for space.

    1. Madge*

      I’ve just been quilting on my home machine. The throat isn’t very big, but I managed to quilt a Queen sized quilt on it. What about a mid-sized arm machine, or whatever they’re called? Something that is still on a table but has a significantly larger throat area.

      1. Twinkle*

        I also just quilt on my home machine and find it works for queen size quilts just fine. I have converted one bedroom to a craft room, with my sewing machine and overlocker set up along one wall, and a table for papercraft opposite it (& then lots of storage also). I also have a really massive table I use for cutting fabric in the garage. I’ve even gone so far too prep the table legs up on blocks to make it the right height ergonomically for rotary cutting my patchwork pieces and it’s been really worth it to have it set up well – I’m much more likely to use it. Good luck figuring out where to put a stand alone machine if you buy one!

    2. Public Health Nerd*

      I haven’t gotten one – the local quilt guild has a couple of ladies who quilt for hire. Pretty affordable if you don’t have space for the machine.

    3. Wishing You Well*

      For resale reasons, I wouldn’t knock down a wall between bedrooms unless I had 4 or more bedrooms to start with. 3 bedrooms are a must for a lot of people.
      What about your dining or living room? If you’re devoted to quilting, your friends will understand.
      Happy quilting!

      1. Windchime*

        I only have one small living room / dining area. So I wouldn’t have anywhere to relax and watch TV if I used that room. I also think that knocking out a wall is kind of whacky; it seems like it would really affect the resale value of the house.

        I bought a Juki straight-stitch machine and have quilted a couple of quilts on that, but anything bigger than a lap seems like it would just be a lot of frustrating quilt-wrangling.

    4. WS*

      If you’re planning to move in another 3-4 years, I would not get a longarm machine now. They are a huge hassle to move. And when you’re looking for a new place, you can keep those measurements in mind!

    5. Nana*

      Can you move yourself into a smaller bedroom…and make the biggest bedroom the quilt room? Also, if you’re moving in a few years, you may want to wait and avoid the hassle of moving it.

  58. kneadmeseymour*

    Confession: I don’t care for The Princess Bride. I don’t hate it or anything, but I’ve never gotten into it the way most people seem to. It’s weird because I really like most weird cult classics–I LOVE Labyrinth, for example. I’ve tried watching it multiple times and by now I’m just resigned to my fate of not really getting it for whatever reason.

    Do you have any similar examples of pop culture classics that you feel you should like but don’t?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Dark Crystal for me. I love Henson, I love Labyrinth and Legend and all the other similar themed stuff that came out at the same time, but I just couldn’t ever get into it.

      1. annakarina1*

        I just found The Dark Crystal to be so boring, and didn’t like the world of just puppets, it creeped me out.

      1. Luisa*

        If you’re into podcasts and are interested in a Nicholas Sparks hate-fest, The Worst Bestsellers has a great episode on The Notebook. I believe they also have another episode about a different Sparks book, the name of which escapes me at the moment. (And Overdue has an excellent one on A Walk To Remember, with the hosts of Unfriendly Black Hotties.)

      2. Lissa*

        I will never forgive the Notebook for the ferris wheel scene! I can normally ignore things because it’s a movie but neverrrrrr can get past that.

    2. Jane Smith*

      Dislike The Princess Bride immensely, especially because everyone recommended it to me for Westley as being a good example of male ‘submission’. Ugh, no.

    3. cat socks*

      I never got into Harry Potter. Read the first book and tried to watch the first movie, but I never did finish it.

    4. Persephone Mulberry*

      I have seen and appreciate both The Princess Bride and Labyrinth but I don’t get the cult following.

      Firefly is another one – it’s good and I like it, but I didn’t watch it while it was on TV so perhaps it’s just that I don’t have the whole “they gave it to us and them took it away HOW COULD THEY” connection that a lot of people have, but for me it’s just a show, it’s not the be-all and end-all of sci fi television that some people like to make it out to be.

      I have also found that even with movies/shows/etc that I do love, the most common fandom touchpoints aren’t necessarily the ones that are meaningful to me. (E.g.: the Schuyler sisters and “Work!” from Hamilton. Or…a lot of things Doctor Who.)

      1. Lissa*

        Agreed on Firefly and the fact that my ex got legit angry at me over it didn’t help….

      2. stellaaaaa*

        Month Python and the Holy Grail. Maybe if I rewatched it now,I would feel differently? But all I remember was the end and what a cop-out it was.

    5. Lady Jay*

      I have a theory that if you didn’t watch The Princess Bride as a kid, it’s hard to get the appeal later on; people who come to it as adults don’t appreciate it in the same way. (This isn’t to say I think it’s a kids movie only–I think the Princess Bride is great! and I’m in my 30s–only that I think maybe you need to grow up with it.)

      I hate the Office. I’m told one has to make it out of the first season to find its charm, but the first season is just so awful–terrible sexist/racist workplace norms, unlikeable characters, unfunny.

      1. KayEss*

        I just can’t with the Office, either. I think it’s partly because it reminds me of my most hellish ex-workplace, which was basically exactly like what’s shown, except we didn’t have a Dwight. (Which in hindsight probably means I was the Dwight.) Watching the first few episodes made me painfully anxious.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Love Princess Bride but my take is adults should read the book first. There’s a lot more there.

        Can’t stand Big Bang Theory, and I’m enough of a geeky soul that people keep insisting I’ll love it. Nope.

        1. Anoncorporate*

          I hate Big Bang Theory, and I studied science. It’s not funny at all and really sexist.

      3. Mephyle*

        I’m a counterexample to both Lady Jay’s and Second Childhood’s theses. I watched The Princess Bride as a (nearly) middle-aged adult before I read the book, and I adored it and can happily re-watch it any number of times.

      4. kneadmeseymour*

        I’ve wondered if that might be part of it, although I came to a lot of similar movies later in life and it wasn’t an issue. My theory is that cult movies have a certain quality to them that’s similar to comedy, in the sense that it’s quite personal and you either get it or you don’t. Maybe it has something to do with an appreciation for the absurd. I love almost all of them so I’ve never been able to understand what it is about the Princess Bride that I’m just not getting. But it does help me understand my friends who really aren’t into cult movies at all.

    6. Foreign Octopus*

      I feel the same about The Princess Bride. I read the book and I was so disappointed by it that I didn’t even bother touching the film. I’m not sure what the author was trying to accomplish but I didn’t enjoy it at all.

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        The book is WEIRD. I think the movie did a good job of taking the best parts of the book and re-weaving them into an almost completely different end product.

        1. Lady Jay*

          Seconding this. The movie is doing a much different thing, and doing it much better than, the book.

        2. tangerineRose*

          I started reading the book and then stopped before I’d gotten all that far, but I liked the movie. Some stuff that was kinda offputting in the book became more charming in the movie somehow.

      2. Lilysparrow*

        I love the movie and was very disappointed by the book.

        I don’t think the whole frame story of the “original” lost book being a boring political commentary adds anything at all.

    7. Jersey's mom*