weekend free-for-all – April 13-14, 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: Foreign Affairs, by Alison Lurie. Two American university professors on research trips to London each get drawn into life-altering relationships with others. It won the Pulitzer in 1985.

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

{ 1,286 comments… read them below }

  1. Ayla*

    Oh I loved Foreign Affairs! I didn’t know it had won a Pulitzer either.

    Any other good book recommendations from anyone? I’m going through a dry spells for books and would love something new. Tend to prefer literary fiction, no fantasy, sci fi or thrillers.

    1. Anonymouse*

      Nonfiction favorite that I just re-read: Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp. It reads as a literary memoir of a woman whose relationship with alcohol is threaded through her life story (family, work, love affairs).

      I’ve been on a huge Junichiro Tanizaki kick recently. His masterpiece is The Makioka Sisters – a sprawling domestic novel about a Japanese family right before the outbreak of WWII. It is a departure from his other novels, most of which are about the erotic obsessions of their narrators. Also, often funny.

      Also on a Shirley Jackson kick: The Sundial is one of less famous novels, but it’s a wild and mordantly witty ride. I can’t believe it was written by an American; it feels like sly and British.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        My husband is reading a Shirley Jackson collection that includes “Haunting of Hill House”…I get the book next.

        1. Scarlet Magnolias*

          There is a very good biography of Shirley Jackson, Private Demons by Judy Oppenheimer written quite a few years ago. Not the newer one which borrows heavily off Private Demons.

          1. Veronica*

            I would recommend Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin. It was well-researched and had the involvement and approval of Jackson’s family. I don’t think the same is true of the Oppenheimer.

        2. MM55*

          Sometimes I’d like to have a ‘lottery’ at work so people would start doing their jobs.

    2. Weegie*

      I read You Belong to Me by Colin Harrison not long ago, and enjoyed it very much. Its Amazon blurb describes it as a ‘thriller’, but I’d call it literary noir. Definitely worth a look.

    3. Perpetua*

      I recently quite enjoyed Once Upon a River, and now I’m reading The Thirteenth Tale by the same author (sorry, can’t remember the name right now!).

    4. Ribena*

      I just finished Becoming, because I’m seeing Michelle Obama speak in London on Sunday!!!

      1. FalafalBella*

        “Inheritance” by Dani Shapiro. A non-fiction story that reads like fiction. It details he course of discovery after a DNA test reveals information about her background.
        Also, “The Book that Matters Most”- loved this as it mentions lots of the books that I have read and loved.

        1. LibraryPageInWhichBook?*

          “Honeymoon in Purdah: An Iranian Journey” by Alison Wearing. Richly evocative writing, culturally immersive travelogue. Just as good the second time I picked it up. I also love a “pretty” book, and this one is.

    5. Lucette Kensack*

      It sounds like we have similar taste. The best book I’ve read so far this year was The Great Believers. Five stars. Beautiful.

      How about you? What’s the best novel you’ve read this year?

    6. The Messy Headed Momma*

      Currently reading “Where’d You Go, Bernadette?” by Maria Semple. So far, it’s been pretty funny. Just finished “A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles & it was amazingly gentle & wonderful.

    7. Cavca*

      Depends What You Mean By Extremist by Safran is particularly fascinating considering recent events. True, funnily written, but also terrifying.

    8. Karen from Finance*

      Currently reading, by recommendation of someone in this comment section (I forget who, but thank you): Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble by Dan Lyons. Fascinating, funny, incisive. Great read.

      1. Roz Doyle*

        A day late to this thread, but either way, thanks for mentioning this title. I added to my audiobook list, it sounds like a great, interesting story. Always on the lookout for great reads & audiobooks.

    9. Avalon Angel*

      Ten I Would Reccomend:

      “How Soon is Never?” by Marc Spitz. It’s a novel about how deeply music can affect you, regardless of age, told via a pair of co-workers who bond over the unlikely idea of reuniting The Smiths.

      “The Namesake” by Jhumpa Lairi. A novel about a married
      couple immigrating from India to America, and how a traumatic event in the husband’s life has more far-reaching effects on him, his wife, and their son than anyone knew…especially the titular namesake. This is one of those rare books that made a (mostly) faithful movie adaptation. It’s one of my favorite films, and with good reason. It’s criminally underrated.

      “Sister Safety Pin” by Lorrie Sprecher. This one is a coming-of-age book centered on a young woman in the punk scene during the late 70’s/early 80’s, who is trying to find her place in the world as a lesbian and as an individual.

      “Smart Women” by Judy Blume. I cannot recommend this one highly enough. Told mostly from the POV of a group of girls and women as they grow, love, and try to navigate one couple’s traumatic event that ends up impacting more people than they ever could have foreseen, and the terrible and individual price paid for keeping it a secret (can’t say more without running the story).

      “The Lords of Vaumartin” by Cecelia Holland. This book is about an aristocratic family during the Hundred Years’ War, and one member’s desire to be a scholar and not a nobleman after he fights a battle in war and an equally perilous battle with the Plague. Don’t let the title or cover fool you: this isn’t your run-of-the-mill historical fiction, and doesn’t end as you might suspect.

      “Brooklyn” by Colm Toibin. The story of an Irish immigrant in post-WWII New York. Very moving, and hard to put down! I’ve tried describing it in more detail without giving away important plot points, but failed. This one is a keeper.

      “The Perfume Collector” by Kathleen Tessaro. When a poor woman receives an unexpected inheritance from a total stranger, she embarks on a mission to find out who and why.

      “The Lost Girls of Paris” by Pam Jenoff. Based on the true stories of the forgotten women who helped win WWII.

      “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens. This one is a mystery that actually does keep you guessing. There’s a blurb on the cover that describes it as “painfully beautiful.” And it is.

      “Lady of the Labrinth” by Caroline Llewellyn. This one follows two siblings trying to discover the truth about the disappearance of their archaeologist father. An excellent “beach book.” I first read an excerpt of this one in my Granny’s large-print “Reader’s Digest.” It is so good, I am forever surprised no one’s tried making a movie of it.

      Happy reading!

    10. Just us chickens*

      I’m currently reading My Ex-Life, based on an interview with the author on NPR’s Fresh Air podcast. One of the most beautiful and inspiring books I’ve read recently is called The War That Saved My Life. THere’s a follow up to it as well.

  2. Goose Lavel*

    Screaming, unrelenting tinnitus has devastated my life after enduring it for 15 years. It is like a Cat 5 hurricane inside my head 24/7. Can anyone else relate?

    1. London Calling*

      Definitely, some days I hardly notice it and today it’s very intrusive. My hearing seems to be getting worse, as well, and I wonder if the two are connected.

      1. Deloris Van Cartier*

        I’m not sure if it’s disease specific for me but my hearing has gotten worse with my tinnitus. There is some mixed ideas about if hearing aides will actually help but my mom has one and has found it helpful!

      2. Artemesia*

        My husband is pretty deaf and has horrible tinnitus. The only things that have helped are cognitive behavioral strategies for living with it and ignoring it. Really sucks.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      It’s intrusive. Today my ears are sounding like a hearing test. One long never ending pure tone.
      It’s worse when I can’t get away f r om sound.

      1. Goose Lavel*

        I understand how bad it can be. I have +5 sounds: electronic crickets at 10x normal cricket speed, a shrill screak, a pure tone, and several oscillating sounds that run around trying to catch each other. All around 12 to 13 KHZ and 85 db. Hear it all the time and above every external sound; nothing can help distract from it.

        Protect your hearing. Ear plugs and muffs as required.

        1. London Calling*

          That sounds frankly unbearable. I have hiss in one ear and occasionally a high pitched ringing, but most of the time I can ignore it. I’m thinking of investigating how to use distraction techniques to minimise it.

          1. Jaid*

            Static aka white noise. I saved an hour of “pink” noise of YouTube to my MP3 player, got a pair of sleep headphones (flat, in a flannel or other fabric headband) and play it on repeat on bad nights,

          2. Goose Lavel*

            It is unbearable and horrific, but what choice do I have? I have the worst case tinnitus scenario due to years of accumulated acoustic tramas that culminated three years ago into what I sense now.

            I had to quit my job as a medical device engineer as I could no longer concentrate or focus. Social Security disability does not consider tinnitus a disease but merely a symptom, so it is not covered. It is also robbed me of my ability to enjoy life.

            There are others out there who are just like me, who started out with the same low grade tinnitus as reported by other commenters to this thread.

            Tinnitus is happening to young children and teenagers who listen to earbuds or headphones while gaming or listening to music. It is very difficult to get children to listen to you or understand the risks of tinnitus until it’s too late.

            Go to the Tinnitus Talk Forum to learn more.

    3. Notsonewmom*

      Yes, but weirdly it stopped while I was pregnant and never came back. If I had known that was possible, I would have had a kid 5 years earlier, consequences of the rest of my life be damned.

    4. Mimmy*

      For years off-and-on, I’ve had a type of tinnitus where the tones are staccatic (not sure what the right word is) – it’s kinda like something is poking at my eardrum or some other membrane at varying speeds. When the pokes get super fast, I can actually feel it, not just hear it. When I was younger, it sometimes kept me up at night because it was driving me batty.

      Otherwise, I just get a soft ringing, similar to the tones on a hearing test, which I used to think everyone got. Most times I can ignore them. Even just reading this thread is making me hear them lol!

      1. Slovenly Braid Cultist*

        The poking sounds like something I had a couple months back- as far as I could tell it was actually a twitch of the eardrum or something in the ear canal. Apparently sometimes happens if the small bones lean strangely or if something is touching the membrane that shouldn’t. Mine seemed to be related to a mild ear congestion + stress and has fortunately cleared up, but man was it annoying! Good luck with it.

        1. Liz*

          YES! i get this frequently too. The best way i can describe it is a whooshing, pulsating thing. and I definitely notice it when i’m more congested than not, which due to year round allergies, is more frequently than i’d like. Sometimes it continues fora while, but i’ve found standing up sometimes makes it go away.

    5. The New Wanderer*

      Not to the same extent. I only realized that what I experience is tinnitus a few years ago. I always saw the descriptions as a “ringing” or “clicking” sound, which is not what I have. Mine is like if you walked into a room of 50 old style CRTs plus the sound of old style camera flashes heating up – that super high pitched electrical whine type of sound. I think I’ve had a low grade version my whole life, but I only noticed it in some rooms so I thought it was something about the sound quality of those rooms. And that’s partially true – if it has any sound dampening at all, the tinnitus is really noticeable. But what I finally realized is that it’s always there all the time, just more noticeable at times. I wouldn’t categorize it as intrusive for me, fortunately, but it’s always there.

      I’ve done some reading into management/possible cures (as I’m sure all of you have!) and there’s a few promising things on the horizon having to do with changing the way certain neurons generate the experience of sound that isn’t there. More effective on some types of tinnitus than others, and very little research to begin with unfortunately. Overall the management seems to be white noise (I find variable white noise to be best, like ocean waves), either on an external speaker or delivered through hearing aids or ear buds. Music helps too.

      From what I’ve read it can be exacerbated by stress (pretty sure that’s why I finally caught on) and is associated with hearing loss (which runs in my family). I haven’t noticed any hearing loss myself yet (I’m mid-40s) but I’m gradually becoming more sensitive to certain types of sounds that didn’t bother me as much before.

      1. Goose Lavel*

        You most likely have hearing loss and potentially hyperacusis as well.

        You would need a hearing test that goes up to a minimum of 16 Khz to know for sure if you have hearing loss.

    6. Nicole76*

      Yes, but not to the degree you’ve described in this thread. How do you know the frequency of decibels of yours?

      I have tinnitus in my right ear. I’ve always been careful with loud noises (never blasted music through headphones, always sat far away from the speakers for the concerts I’ve attended, etc). In fact, I’ve always liked quiet, and found myself becoming more sensitive to noises as I got older. My ears tend to feel overloaded as the day wears on, and by the late evening I find myself turning the sound on the TV lower and lower. I can hear very well, or so it seems compared to other people; I’ll ask “can’t you hear that?” to which they’ll reply no, until whatever is making the sound happens to get louder/closer. So it’s strange that after this tinnitus started two and a half years ago, I went to the ENT and they said I have hearing loss in that ear in the high frequencies. I asked what I could do to get rid of it and was immediately shut down and basically told there is no cure and it would never go away. Now, I’ve read that if you suddenly develop it and get a round of high dose steroids within a few days of the onset, it may in fact go away. It’s far too late for that now, and even though I don’t think mine is as loud as many other people’s, there are times where it stresses me out because it never ever stops, and I’ll never again know what quiet really sounds like. I can’t sleep on that side because it amplifies the sound, and I can still hear it over many things, but I do go through periods throughout the day where I forget it’s there, so there’s that. I’m also super paranoid of doing something to make it worse, or getting it in the other ear, so I wear earplugs when I blow dry my hair. I’m not sure if I could cope if it was both ears.

      It’s hard for anyone who doesn’t have this to relate to how stressful it is, and it does bother me when people are listening to music so loudly through their headphones that I can hear their music because I know what’s in store for them. Losing your hearing isn’t the bad part – it’s the fact that your stupid brain decides since you can’t hear it, it’s going to reproduce it for you forever without any break. Very distressing. It’s also bothersome that I don’t know what caused it, but something is up with that ear since back in 2013 I started having balance issues and after extensive testing it was determined the balance center was 35% destroyed in that same ear, likely from a virus, according to the ENT I saw at the time. No hearing loss back then, though.

      Also, back to the hearing loss I supposedly have now – I’m admittedly skeptical because my tinnitus is a high pitch tone, so couldn’t that be cancelling out the tones they play on the test and that’s why I’m not hearing them? Either way, I started taking allergy pills since the ENT said they could have triggered the tinnitus, but the fact that no one knows for sure what has caused it, or how to stop it, is very disheartening.

      So, I understand where you’re coming from and cannot even fathom how bad it is for you. I’m really sorry, and I do hope someone finds a cure for it and soon. In the meantime, if mine gets any worse I’m going to look into hearing aids as I’ve heard that can help cancel out the tone, particularly if they have a tinnitus-masking feature built in.

      1. Goose Lavel*

        Thank you for your kind words. Most ENT doctors are worthless with regards to tinnitus. Also be cautious with steroids and other medications. You’d be surprised how many drugs are ototoxic and can cause or increase tinnitus.
        I know the frequency of my tinnitus as I underwent extensive hearing tests that included frequency matching to determine my tinnitus frequency and amplitude.
        Please protect your hearing as I’ve found that is only gets worse in the long term with additional acoustic trama, although habitation can lessen the perceived loudness in the short term.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      By the way, I know I had this as early as age 10 because my mom and grandfather were discussing his Meunieres diagnosis and I hears the tinnitus portions and said I get that! To which my admittedly very stressed mother snapped “you don’t have Meunieres!” …so I never said anything else to her again. But oh it’s there all right. It’s why I love cicada season…everyone hears it for a while.

  3. Princess Deviant*

    Hi! A brief update on the autism thread from last week.
    I’m seeing the GP this Tuesday to ask for a referral to the diagnostic centre.
    I’m very nervous but glad I’m taking action.

    How is everyone else doing?

    1. Princess Deviant*

      I also want to say thank you to everyone who commented. I read every one of the replies and although some were difficult to read I took on board everything everyone said, and it did help me get things straight in my head – so much so that I went from not wanting to see my doctor to booking an appointment with them a few days later!

      1. Awful Annie*

        Jolly good! Just popped on to check on how you got on this week.

        Don’t take the stuff you read too seriously – I read about ‘how women with autism present’ and was very tempted to turn up, exactly as described, wearing a t-shirt with a cat on it and claiming to be a Buddhist. I think that looking for cat t-shirts and Buddhism are probably not diagnostic best practice…

        1. Princess Deviant*

          Thank you :)

          Are you joking about the cats and Buddhism and autistic women thing?

            1. Sammie*

              Another Manic Monday – what do you think it is, for you, that makes them so special, for lack of a better word? I can lose my cool over a cute puppy, but the connection I feel to cats is… almost visceral. I theorise that it was from them I learned patience in social interactions – a cat comes to you when IT wants and my human needs are not going to speed that process up one bit! I also love how they are the perfect embodiments of unapologetic self-care.

              And maybe it has something to do with being or feeling misunderstood. Some people see cats as unloving and disloyal. But they just interact with people in their own way and my experience has been that what you get from a cat is recognition and something almost like respect.

                1. I hate coming up with usernames*

                  Stop saying “us.” Some of “us” on the spectrum hate cats and recognize that it is a SPECTRUM, meaning no generalization like this can possibly be correct. You have to generalize a bit when explaining to a child, but when adults do it…no.

                1. Sammie*

                  I cannot thank you enough for this link. I never knew others felt that way about cats too – that they’re sort of spectrum-y, and unabashedly so.

      2. Tau*

        That’s great! I’m glad the advice was helpful – I’ve been thinking about you this week and wondering how you’re getting on. I wish you all the best in your appointment with the doctor! Crossing my fingers for you.

    2. Cabee*

      My boyfriend and I are planning on getting married later this year, which is great. However, I’m a US citizen currently living abroad for work and he’s a citizen of the country I’m working in. Looking into the process of moving back to the U.S. with him, it seems so daunting. So many hoops to jump through and documentation that can take up to 6 months. On top of that, moving back and transitioning into a different job has me feeling stressed out. I try to tell myself don’t worry about it until the time actually comes, but I’m naturally a worrier. Any tips on how not to worry? Any advice?

  4. Lena Clare*

    Cooking! Eating!

    I went to Pizza Express last night; they have a vegan menu which is great. Not many places where I live even have a vegan option let alone several of them. Anyway it was really nice, but isn’t vegan cheese disgusting? I prefer a pizza without it.

    Last week was my birthday and I made a vegan chocolate fudge cake, it was absolutely gorgeous in the microwave. It was a BOSH recipe. Their stuff is pretty good actually. I love their chilli and make nachos with it.

    Does anyone have any other good vegan cake recipes they’d recommend?

    And what else have you been cooking, vegan or not?

    1. Lammm*

      I was planning my meal prep for this week and I’m planning on making (1) a Greek burger from budgebytes with a pasta salad inspired by one the deli at work sells (pasta/peppers/olives/Greek dressing) (2) veggie filled egg rolls (also from budgebytes) with spinach instead of cabbage, and some ground turkey thrown in there and her homemade sweet chili sauce on the side.

      I am ridiculously excited for breakfast/lunch next week

    2. ..Kat..*

      I would question whether the pizza is really vegan. I have found several “vegan” pizzas served in restaurants use egg in the pizza dough.

      1. Ribena*

        It is – Pizza Express is a proper flour-water-yeast-salt pizza place; the non-vegan-ness comes from toppings.

      2. londonedit*

        Yeah Pizza Express is a UK-wide chain, pretty sure if their vegan pizza wasn’t vegan there’d be a massive outcry! I don’t think they’d claim it was vegan if it wasn’t!

        1. Sam Sepiol*

          I am still wondering if all Gregg’s sausage rolls are actually vegan. Granted I haven’t had a non-vegan sausage roll in 20 years but it tastes exactly as I remember!

          1. londonedit*

            Vegetarian hot dogs taste exactly as I remember meaty hot dogs tasting – I think cheap sausages must be easy to recreate without the meat!

            1. fposte*

              I would bet. Salt, Marmite, and charcoal in some light plastic–done. (Not that I don’t eat them!)

    3. Laura H.*

      Definitely not vegan, but my brother made this fantastic soup with chicken, potatoes, broccoli, cream cheese, cream of mushroom soup, and assorted spices (May or may not have had chicken broth in it.)

      But it’s so yummy and reheats pretty well. I may tuck in to another serving today. (I’m not the best with eating leftovers but I’ll make an effort if I specifically ask for em.)

    4. Nye*

      Try a Depression-style cake! They date back to, well, the Great Depression when eggs / butter / cream / etc were very hard to come by for most people so use oil and vinegar instead.

      Smitten Kitchen has two recipes for this style of cake, one chocolate and one coconut. I haven’t tried the coconut yet but the chocolate is great. The recipes are called “chocolate olive oil cake” and “plush coconut cake”.

      1. Alex*

        I used to have a recipe for a vinegar chocolate cake when I was a kid. It was my childhood specialty, and I made all the family birthday cakes!

    5. the*

      The Veganomicon has great recipes and for sweets Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar and Vegan Pie in the Sky are terrific books.

      1. Anonariffic*

        Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World! I’ve never had any of the recipes from that one turn out badly and I’m sure you could cook any of them in a pan a little longer for a full cake.

    6. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

      The Veganomicon has great recipes and for sweets Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar and Vegan Pie in the Sky are terrific books.

    7. anonagain*

      I highly recommend the ginger macadamia coconut carrot cake from Vegan with a Vengeance. I’ve shared the cake with and recommended the recipe to dozens of people and anyone who is okay with the ingredients has loved it. Even some who are on the fence about coconut or carrot cake have enjoyed it.

      If you search you’ll see that the recipe is re-posted all over the place. Still, I do recommend checking out Vegan with a Vengeance or any of Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s other books. I have had good luck with them, especially the cupcake book.

    8. Cake!*

      King Arthur Flour has an incidentally vegan chocolate cake (Depression-style as recommended elsewhere) that is excellent (Original Cake Pan Cake). The recipe suggests frosting with ganache, but it is also excellent plain or dusted with powdered sugar. Very quick and tasty!

    9. Jaid*

      Smoothies and caprese salad. I’m trying to eat up what I’ve got in my freezer before I start cooking again.

    10. MsChanandlerBong*

      When I get done with work today, I’m going to be making six gallons of sauce to freeze so that I have it for homemade pizza and lasagna. The lasagna recipe I use is quite easy, but I don’t usually have sauce on hand, so that adds an extra 40 minutes to the process (10 minutes of active prep, and 30 minutes to let the sauce cook). If I already have the sauce, then all I have to do is brown the meat, mix it with the sauce and cheese, and layer it with the noodles before I bake it.

      I’ll also be peeling and grating some fresh ginger. I only use it for one recipe, but I find it annoying to have to peel and grate it after work when I am trying to get dinner ready in a hurry. I recently started grating it and then freezing it in 1 T. portions so I have just enough for the recipe. Freezing it keeps it from getting moldy and going bad before I can use it all.

    11. Lena Clare*

      Thanks for the recommendations, the Depression-era cakes look absolutely amazing.
      I can’t wait to try the chocolate one next weekend!

  5. Sister Act(ing up)*

    I’m looking for specific scripts for replying to my sister for a recent incident.

    I decided to invite my mom (who lives 3.5 hours away) to spend Easter weekend with my family & eat Easter brunch at one of our favorite restaurants. When I called my mom, my sister was there visiting her. I immediately realized I hadn’t thought about my sister — in my defense, she just relocated to my city after 20+ years of living 12 hours away and she NEVER came home for any holiday, ever. I mentally regrouped & issued the invitation to mom for the weekend & also sister & BIL for brunch.

    Mom immediately accepted the invitation. My sister’s response was less gracious: “I know you like Restaurant X but I don’t think it’s that great. It’s kind of meh. Really I’m not impressed with it. Let’s eat somewhere else. Maybe someplace closer to your house. Or I could bring food to your house. We can eat & visit there.” She prides herself on NOT being a foodie yet she’s criticizing the chosen restaurant. And she just trampled my boundaries.

    My husband doesn’t eat pork & also eats high protein / low carb (he’s a firefighter & marathoner). My sister is a “meh” cook. My husband is an excellent cook. If we eat here, he will feel compelled to cook so that he has something he (we!) want to eat. We work huge hours & this is NOT how we want to spend our weekend — we want to relax & enjoy time with people, not cleaning house, cooking & cleaning up.

    If we eat out near my house, it’s all big chains — and Easter brunch is usually a fixed price buffet full of pork & high carb/ high calorie offerings. This is also not going to work for us.

    In short, I was caught off guard (and feeling guilty that I hadn’t thought about her) – so instead of enforcing my boundaries, I tried to be accommodating. I said “I’ll look around but I’m not sure we’ll be able to find something at this late date (a valid concern). And I suppose if you want to do some research & send me some links, we’ll look at their menus.”

    I know, BIG mistake. But now I’m stuck with fallout. She began a 4 day text bombardment. We can’t eat downtown because it’s too far for mom to head home from there (false: mom wouldn’t drive home straight from downtown — she’ll ride both ways with us then leave from our house); we can’t eat at 12:30 because that means mom will have to drive in the dark (false: after brunch, she’ll have 6 hours of daylight to make a 3.5 hour drive. Or she could leave Monday morning.). Suggestion after suggestion for (pork-y) brewpubs. Diatribes about how we have to be considerate of mom. (Implication: I’m not being considerate. My plans are endangering mom). NONE of this is coming from mom. Trust me, mom would speak up for herself.

    During this bombardment, I’ve been livid but I didn’t want to scream at her so I kept my replies minimal. On day 1, I told her I’d find something north of downtown & Not Fancy & would send her the new plan. On day 2, after all her brewpub suggestions, I found a gastropub in the northern suburbs that has a suitably non-pork menu, made a reservation & texted her “I changed the reservation to 12:30 at . We look forward to seeing you then!”.

    Yet her bombardment continued: we need to eat earlier so mom won’t crash on her drive home. New Restaurant is 30 minutes south & we need to eat near my house. (False: It’s not south; it’s northwest of me & actually more convenient for my sister). Repetition of those same pork-y brewpubs. On and on and on. I was so angry that I didn’t trust myself to reply — I’ve already made a reservation that meets her stated criteria and that has a menu suitable for us and she just keeps hammering at me.

    Then the text that has set me over the edge: “I made an 11:00 reservation at (pork-y) brewpub. Does that work for your family?”

    I feel like screaming, “NO! This doesn’t work for my family! My family made plans to go to Restaurant X & we invited you to join us. I’ve accommodated your (ridiculous) requests & made a new reservation. We’re going to New Restaurant at 12:30 — come or don’t come. I don’t care!” — but I haven’t replied to anything since I sent her the new reservation. I’m begging for scripts from y’all. Help!

    P.S. sorry this is so long. :(

    1. Lena Clare*

      I’m sorry, that sounds exhausting.

      Something similar to your last paragraph actually might be good, but without the anger :) easier said than done I know.

      How about “Thanks for all the suggestions but we’ve decided to go with (original choice) because it’s the best compromise for everyone. It’d be lovely to see you there! Speak soon.” (Or however you sign a text off to your family members.

      Then stick by your decision. If she says no she can’t go because x,y,z but you think it’s really a bid by her for you to change you mind, is it possible to say to her “oh, I’m so sorry you can’t make it! We were looking forward to seeing you, but we understand.”?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes! That’s perfect language. What you want to convey is “we organized something that worked for us and would love to have you join us, but of course I understand if you can’t.” In other words, these are the plans, you can join or not. If she keeps pushing with other suggestions, then say, “We put a lot of thought into what we wanted to do for that weekend and what would work for us, and this is what we decided on. It would be great if you can join us, but if not we’ll catch up another time.” And then go keep your plans.

        1. Sister Act(ing up)*

          Thanks so much – I already realized that all future invitations must be in the format of “we’re doing XYZ. We’d love to have you join us but we’ll understand if you can’t make it.” Repeat the last sentence like a broken record.

          I don’t think she’ll say she’s not coming to brunch. I would be A-OK if she didn’t come. I suspect that she’ll keep hammering with the theme of me needing to be considerate of other people, especially mom, mom needs to leave earlier, mom needs this, mom needs that. I didn’t mention that my sister suggested we all drive separately to a restaurant 2 hours closer to mom’s house so that mom only has to drive 1.5 hours after brunch — WTAF? My family would be in the car for FOUR HOURS – this doesn’t shorten mom’s overall drive (nothing will… we live where we live) and we wouldn’t even be visiting with mom during the drive because she’d be driving her own car! And… mom could leave Monday morning. This kind of stuff is my sister’s bizarre concept of how I should demonstrate that I’m being considerate of everyone’s needs (apparently everyone’s but my own / my family’s. After all, we’re not important). I’m mad at myself for getting sucked into this and so angry with her for the continual boundary trampling in all areas (don’t get me started on how my BIL “told me off” for having unrealistic expectations of my 17 year old son, because I insist that my son does not leave the front door standing wide open when he’s the last one to leave the house — my sister & BIL don’t have kids but apparently know better how to raise them). I just don’t know what, if anything, I can do to stop this constant trampling. Suggestions welcome!

          1. Cara*

            Decide on your boundaries, stick firmly to them, and decide what you are willing to do to enforce them. I’d suggest being willing to walk away/put the phone down/leave the event etc. Then resolve to state your limits clearly and firmly, but calmly, and follow though. So, “BIL, (Son) knows the expectations in this house and he’s perfectly capable of remembering to close a door. Please don’t interfere in this.” And then disengage – walk away, or refocus your attention on speaking directly with your son, or whatever makes sense in the circumstances. The point is to be clear that this isn’t a discussion, it’s you asserting your boundaries. If he persists, you can say flat out “this isn’t your business, please don’t interfere” and just keep repeating this calmly (easier said than done I know, but it’s crucial that you not react emotionally – people like this want to push your buttons).

            You can also not invite them to do things! They’re difficult, trample boundaries, argue with you and interfere in your family life! You don’t have to include them. It’s fine to decide that they’re not fun to spend time with and that you just won’t invite them to things. Or to limit them to very occasional events. You get to decide if and when you want to be around these people.

          2. Batgirl*

            Im a big fan of “Well, who asked you?” It does sound aggressive but just follow up while they are reeling with “there are definitely topics I would seek your advice about (even if there isnt) but this isnt one of them”

            1. Kay*

              This is agggressive and will escalate. Just don’t play their emotional game, detach and stick to your boundaries. They can choose to join you in your terms. If they behave badly, stop issuing any new invites.

            2. OhBehave*

              Do NOT say this! I will unnecessarily escalate things. The less ammo they have against you the better. Be the bigger person here but stand firm.

          3. rmw1982*

            When sister brings up your mom’s needs, maybe point out (diplomatically or not) that your mother is a grown woman and has demonstrated in the past she is perfectly able and comfortable with making her needs and preferences known. Honestly, it kind of sounds like your sister is using your mom as an excuse to get what she wants.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Agreed. Sis is making it sound like mom is not competent enough to figure out what she would like. You might cover some of this with, “Mom can speak for herself. We do not need to treat her like she is an infant.”

              1. OhBehave*

                Yes! I was thinking this while reading the post. “I’ve talked with mom and she’s fine with this plan. She’s done this for years.”

        2. Lena Clare*

          I like the follow up language here. What I find with family members is that if I set a boundary they will tend to push at it even harder, so it becomes harder to stick by it, and that does not feel great AT ALL. But I can feel simultaneously bad/guilty/angry about it and still enforce my boundary, and then feel good about it afterwards.
          Families are hard sometimes!

          1. valentine*

            I can feel simultaneously bad/guilty/angry about it
            The harder they push, the more you know you were right to set the boundary. It’s like having the hot oil ready when the battering ram arrives.

        3. The Other Dawn*

          I agree. OP invited her, she didn’t invite the OP. It’s perfectly reasonable to stick to the original plan and say ,”we’d love to see you, but we understand if you can’t make it.”

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Yep. “We are organizing this one, you can organize the next one.” In the future if she organizes a get-together you can then decide if it works for you or not. I am willing to bet that she never organizes a get-together. She has too many synthetic hurdles in her thinking that block her from actually moving forward with any plan. Her thinking is unnecessarily encumbered.

            Reality is that there is NO perfect plan ever. We tend to chose plans that SEEM to be workable. We are all guessing and all the over-thinking in the world cannot possibly come up with every “but-what-if scenario” there is.

            I have a family member who is similar to this, not quite as bad. When I am more relaxed about it all I can find this thought: “Her encumbered, burdened thought process is concerning to me. But in the end, she is making her own life a 100 times harder than need be. Her encumbered thought process is more torture to her, than it will ever be to me.”

            Life has enough stumbling blocks. I do feel very sad for those who create even more stumbling blocks.
            This usually brings me to a self-check where I check to see if I am putting up unnecessary hurdles in my own life.

      2. ..Kat..*

        Set firm boundaries using this method. Just because she then bombards you, you can either be a stuck record repeating “oh, I’m so sorry you can’t make it! We were looking forward to seeing you, but we understand” or ignore it.

        She lives near you now. This is going to happen again. So start with firm boundaries now, and continue with them each time.

    2. Candle light*

      Just say what you said above, “No this doesn’t work for my family. Please let’s keep the original arrangements as per my invitation. If you want to arrange the next outing, that would be great! I look forward to seeing you at Easter. Love, inwardly screaming sister”

      I’m sure others will have more suggestions you can cobble together into a decent reply.

      1. Kuododi*

        A minor point to consider…. I would recommend leaving out the sentence:”Please let’s keep the original arrangements as per my invitation…”. The thought behind that suggestion is that opening that sentence with the word “please” gives the statement just enough wiggle room for the sister to slide through with more pressure to do things according to her wishes.
        I’d stick with something to the effect of: ” We’ve decided to go with the original plan. We’d love to have you accompany us however, if that’s not possible we do understand, and hopefully we can get together sometime soon.”
        (A politely articulated, firm boundary. Lather, rinse and repeat as needed.).
        Hope that made sense, as the insomnia is kicking my tail again. Have a wonderful weekend.

    3. Batgirl*

      I would go with “Honestly I was taken aback that you tried to change the plans for (original restaurant) at all, it was really more of a yes or no kind of invitation, which I should have been clearer about – that we struggle to find appropriate places. However the suggestions you’ve made led me to think x might work ok for us both. Let me know if you want to come, if not I’ll just revert back to the original plan and catch up with you another time over coffee or something. “

      1. Marthooh*

        I would not give sis any more choices here. Either “We decided the best choice is the Malcontent Diner at 4:30” or “This got so complicated! We decided to go with Maison Meh, after all.”

    4. Triplestep*

      You’re getting a lot of great suggestions for language to use with her, but has anyone told your sister that she’s doing things differently than have been done for the last 20 years. It’s quite possible that in her world, every get-together is a negotiation about where, when, what kind of food, etc. She’s just doing her standard operating procedure, and she had no idea you, mom and husband don’t go through these mental gymnastics every time.

      So I would start there. Explain to her that you only just realized she wasn’t working with all the information, but that the original plan was one you knew worked from experience, and after considering changing it, you realize you’d rather not and you hope she can join in. I think said with the right tone you can imply she just didn’t have all the info – not that she’s terrible for never attending a family event for 20 years.

      1. gmg22*

        I was wondering whether what’s really going on here is some projection from sister about all those years she lived elsewhere/wasn’t around for holidays, and that now that they’re in the same city she’s feeling the need to jockey for position, so to speak. Given that, I’m not sure that throwing “look, here’s how we’ve always done it” into the mix will achieve the result the OP is hoping for — it might actually be counterproductive.

        1. Triplestep*

          Could be. Could be a bit of both. That’s why I mentioned tone. A gentle explanation that negotiating the plans isn’t the way things have been done all these years would lay the groundwork for any mention of going back to the original plans. I think it would do more than simply pushing back with no explanation at all.

          I have a sister like this; I am the “local child” for my elderly mother as Mom chose to move near me 20 years ago in order to age near one of her kids. Sometimes I do have to remind my sister about The Way Things Are when she’s not around, mostly just for my mother’s sake. It’s not pleasant but it does shut things down and prevent a lot of back and forth over things that really are not up for discussion.

        2. Sister Act(ing up)*

          Oooo, gmg22, you make such a good point. Reading it made me realize I was subconsciously thinking the same thing. It’s like she’s trying to manufacture a sibling rivalry that I don’t really feel.

          In addition to spending many holidays with my parents over the years, I also visited & helped out a lot during the last 6 months of my dad’s life (tho we didn’t know that’s what it was at the time); I was able to take time between contracts whereas my sister lived/worked 12 hours away. I never resented the time I spent up there — I went because they needed me, I wanted to help them & I wanted to be there. It was fine that she couldn’t do the same.

          Now she has moved closer, isn’t working, and is able to go visit for 4-5 days every few weeks, which I can’t do. It’s fine. Mom is in good health, has a great support network & we enjoy long phone calls 1-2 times a week. I’m glad my sister is available to go up there & help mom out.

          I’m ok with this — but maybe my sister isn’t. Maybe she feels guilty that she didn’t visit/help out with dad more often (even tho no one blames her). Or maybe she resents that I can’t spend as much time helping mom out now. Or maybe both? Combine those feelings with her command-and-control personality & she’s being a beast.

          And I’m angry because I resent not only her attempts to control me (and mom, for that matter!) but also her attempts to draw me into a rivalry that doesn’t exist in my mind. Insight!

          1. valentine*

            Wow. I thought Sis lived with Mom. Great news: You don’t have to include her. She can do her own thing with Mom, or not. If you want, you can give her one more chance, but I think the dynamic she creates and enforces, the ganging up on you with BIL, and whatever her feelings are about you/r mom, that have her needlessly protecting her from you (this part really rings for me and it’s a Klaxon) mean that, at least for now, you go low(er)-contact with her. And redirect her to email and, if she text-blasts, block her until the deadline’s past. (It’s worth it to consider whether Mom is playing you two against each other and is perhaps the source of the catastrophizing around her driving.)

            I would uninvite her with “We’re taking Mom to Meh. See you next time.” She sounds like a misery that doesn’t so much want company as commands an audience. I am picturing her aggressive in person. I would hate for her to yell at the server that Mom needs a corner booth or she will fall on her hip and die.

            In future, when Mom says, “We forgot Sis,” you can say, “Not at all! Even if you leave Monday, you’ll be there in time for your thing with her.” You don’t have to argue, fuss, or fight. You can chuckle and be cheerful about invitations being yes/no and not international peace accords. Also: if you really, really, really, super-duper want a better sisterhood, or if you just want to know for sure it’s not possible, maybe see Sis on her own, perhaps with a standing, monthly sisters-only day, to see if she’s better away from BIL and without her mom-related baggage.

            Your son: can he spend 30 consecutive seconds on a farm? That’ll learn him.

          2. OhBehave*

            Sis has established herself as primary caregiver for mom now. Not surprising given your explanation of her personality. If she’s always been this way there is nothing you can do to change that. Just make sure your mom is protected in case sis would make bad decisions for her.
            One concern I have is that mom will be caught in the middle. You don’t want her to feel she must choose between the two of you. Does it distress your mom to see this power play?
            Stick with your plans this time. In the future, if you want a decent relationship with her, maybe ease up once or twice on the dining demands. Yes, it may be seen as her ‘winning’, but it’s really you being the more mature person. It’s not worth the fight. Hubby can possibly eat a high protein meal beforehand if he must.
            See her as little as possible to keep your sanity. It’s very telling that you forgot she moved near you.

    5. Kay*

      You got lot of great replies.

      Stick to your boundaries. An invitation is a privilege. And only for deserving ppl. Also Do not use suggestive language in replies like please, let’s, maybe, etc when dealing with aggressive ppl. They’ll trample all over you.

      Read Captaib Awkward – she’s amazing for enforcing boundaries.

    6. SignalLost*

      I actually would say “No. That does not work for my family. If you wish to join us at we welcome your company. That is the location that works for my family, and it is where we will be eating.”

      And then I would go no contact with her.

      1. SignalLost*

        Shoot, I used angle brackets. Should be at “either of your previous choices, whichever works better for you, not her”.

    7. Not A Manager*

      In addition to the suggestions above, I would add language like “I’ll plan this outing. If you want to set something up another time, let us know.” That way she can organize the hell out of whatever she wants (if she will even do that, which I doubt), and if it doesn’t work for you, you don’t have to go.

    8. Lilysparrow*

      Remember, having good boundaries does not change other people’s behavior. It changes your response. Tramplers will always try to trample, and you can’t make them stop. You can only make yourself trample-proof by deciding what you’re going to do and disciplining yourself to do it consistently.

      I think the best way to deal with your sister & BIL pleasantly for the long term is selective deafness, refusal to triangulate, and discretionary transportation.

      Talk to Mom about mom. Talk to sis about sis. Do not cross the streams, and if sis wants to make demands on Mom’s behalf, tell her you can talk to Mom yourself. Do not be baited into a discussion. Do not respond to obnoxious barrages of text, or anything else.

      If they criticize your parenting, laugh in their faces. Or say, “gee thanks for the advice.” Or just ignore them as if they didn’t speak.

      Change the subject. If they insist on being obnoxious, leave early. Do not be baited into an argument.

      I hope Easter brunch is pleasant for everyone. And I hope they get themselves straightened out and decide to make things more pleasant for the sake of enjoying this new proximity.

      But proximity doesn’t mean you have to be close if they continue to act like jerks.

    9. Artemesia*

      This is someone who needs to be boundaried at first push. Too bad you didn’t say: this is what we are doing this time; perhaps you can organize next time. We have already made the reservation.

      Now it will be icky because your sister is monstrous. If she whines: Porky brewpub doesn’t work at all for Bill. I have made reservations at New Place for 1:30 on date; we will drive Mom from our place. I hope you can join us.

      I love the idea that she wants to turn it into you cleaning your house and cooking a meal in response to your initial invitation to meet at X. Good luck next time.

    10. Ket*

      I like the “This is getting so complicated! We’ll be doing (what we said) and we’d love to have you join us, but if that doesn’t work out we understand and will get together another time.”

      Also, I recognize the getting wound up feeling you have from my interactions with my own sister. She knows how to press my buttons unconsciously. It’s helpful to learn how to get some distance and not just repeat old annoying patterns. “Drop the rope.” You do not actually need to react to any of the text bombardment. None of the conversation is actually necessary. You are letting yourself be (pulled) around on this rope of emotional reactivity. Drop the rope!

    11. Jen Erik*

      Forgive me if someone’s already suggested this, but would it also be worth running the mum stuff past your mum?
      Sister: we need to eat at 11.21 exactly, or mum will spontaneously combust!
      You (phone mother): Mum, sister’s a bit worried about you spontaneously combusting again, I’d planned to eat at 11.22, but would 11.21 suit you better?
      Your mum: Don’t be silly dear, I never combust, you’re thinking of your aunt Doreen! I’m happy with whatever time suits you.
      You, to sister: I ran that past mum, she’s happy with 11.22
      Your sister: But spurious reason for changing the time!
      You: Well, you run that past mum, and get her to phone me if she wants to.

      I suggest this because, while triangulating is generally held to be a bad thing in advice columns, my mum and dad always had my back with my sister, and sometimes the strategy worked.

    12. Jackie C.*

      Just a tiny question? What difference does a restaurant having pork make? There would be other stuff he could eat. I think you’re right, of course – just wondering.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        I’m imagining it’s something like a kosher or halal situation or perhaps an allergy where cross contamination is a concern. Or maybe all of Sister’s suggestions are the kind of place that put bacon in everything including the milkshakes.

      2. Not Porky Pig*

        I agree with Jackie C. Sure, this sister injects a lot of unnecessary drama into the relationship. But all these references to “porky brewpubs”? I’ve never seen a brewpub that is All Pork All The Time. Surely there are some with other protein options on the menu.

      3. Sister Act(ing up)*

        Great question, Jackie! My husband is Jewish. He doesn’t keep kosher but he also doesn’t eat pork. (I also mentioned above that he’s a marathoner & eats high protein, low carb, low fat).

        The issue here is that pork tends to be the primary (and often the ONLY) breakfast meat at many restaurants, and this is the case for all of her suggestions. So could he order eggs Benedict without the ham? Breakfast burrito without the chorizo? Pork belly hash without the pork belly? Sure he could. But why should he have do that when we could go somewhere that serves several dishes containing non-pork breakfast meats, like a breakfast burrito made with turkey sausage, or beef brisket hash.

        My sister’s insistence on these ‘porky brewpubs’ / the mentality of “he can just order the dish but without the meat” reflects her casual disregard for him and makes him feel different and separate and Other. It’s SO easy to just go somewhere else, where he can have a different kind of meat in his breakfast, and not feel Other. Why should we go somewhere & be inconsiderate of him, when it is SO EASY to go somewhere else and be considerate of him, right?

    13. ShortT*

      Reiterate that you’ve already made plans at X restaurant and that she may join you, if she wishes.

  6. Something Blue*

    Hi! Last week when Allison’s book was on sale in the US, did anyone get a message from Amazon that buying it would you give you a promotional credit of some kind?

    I saw a message about it after I clicked to buy and then never got a follow-up email from Amazon so I have no idea if I have one or not.

    1. NewNameJustForThisBecause*

      I got the promotional credit, and already used it on another e-book. (the credit info was sent in a generic sort of amazon info-email… I frequently miss ones like that).

    2. Pam*

      Yes, I got the promotion. I bought several copies as gifts, so the last one wound up being free.

  7. Ruth (UK)*

    Thanks everyone who reassured me in this thread last week about my bill situation – I had to pay a late fee but it’s resolved now at least.

    For those who missed it, due to a combination of anxiety over checking my post (due to having had a stalker for about 1.5 years who posted a lot of stuff to me), living in a flat where I don’t have a letter box in my door but my post goes into a postbox (and not by the entrance I normally come in by) making it easier for me to put off, and most my bills being on automatic direct debit so I wasn’t expecting much important post… I managed to miss a big once yearly bill, and the reminder, and the final letter before action notice… And only picked up the letter from the solicitors threatening legal action once THAT deadline had passed too!

    I was quite stressed about it but also very embarrassed… However a number of people commented here about having had similar bill-misses in the past and after reading that, I then talked about what had happened and my worry about it to some friends etc. More people than I had expected related to the story, having done something similar in the past, which made me feel less like I made a huge and stupid error.

    It was surprisingly easy to fix in the end. As people assured me, once the solicitors saw I was intending to pay the money they were extremely helpful and no longer threatening etc.

    1. Nerfmobile*

      With that sort of missed bill situation, I sometimes reflect back on advice a good friend of mine gave me years ago – it’s only money. If it’s a situation where it’s only about money, and can be completely fixed through the application of money (eg, late bills, etc), then a good-faith effort to supply even a portion of the money will be met warmly and make a big step towards solving the problem.

    2. Ismis*

      I messed up on rent after a few years of living in the same house. The money was in an account which I don’t check daily and had a few extra expenses going out so the direct debit failed. And then I did it a few months later – again! I was absolutely mortified but when I rang the agent, she laughed at me! She said that with some people, she needs to call every single month, and that I really didn’t need to worry.

      Glad your issue has been sorted out :)

    3. Rebecca*

      I’m so glad this is sorted out for you. Are you able to set up some sort of alert on your phone to remind you a week or so before the bill is due? Or does this particular business have an email alert they can send in addition to the post? I’m sure almost every one of us has done this, and yes, it’s stressful, but as Nerfmobile said, it’s only money.

      1. Artemesia*

        We got into this with a safe deposit box bill in a bank where we have a small fortune and my husband thought the thing was on autopay. It sort of bugged me that they charged at all given how much we have in their bank, but it is scary to know that your valuables may be confiscated over something stupid like this. Some sort of calendar warning is in order (in our case — I now open all the bills)

    4. Jaid*

      Oh, you just reminded me I better pay my phone bill. It’s one of the few I on’t have on automatic… :-)

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Good for you. A phone call or letter can work wonders. I work in a place where if people don’t pay, it’s a HUGE problem. However, if they call to say they forgot/were sick/whatever, the fact that they called weighs in A LOT with my boss. The whole story line changes once they make contact.

      In my arena the rule of thumb is if people have no intention of ever paying, they will not call to say that they are going to pay. This narrows down really fast to the fact that the ones who call will probably pay.
      Eh, crap happens, you know, and the even with our best efforts something get by us. We all know how that happens.

    6. Equestrian Attorney*

      This happened to me to, and I’m usually pretty good with money. But I got a store credit card once (stupid, stupid idea – but the salesperson wasn’t very clear and I thought it was a points card) and then kept throwing out the letters from MasterCard because I don’t have a MasterCard… and then got a really agressive call from a collections agency about my unpaid $80 perfume bottle, and was mortified that I had to go into a bank and pay the stupid bill. Lesson learned.

  8. Waffles*

    Thank you to everyone who gave advice on my sister when she was in the hospital.

    A few quick notes…

    1. I am not in the position where I can have her move in with me. I have offered it up as a suggestion, because if she thought it’d be helpful, I’d bust my ass to make that happen. She thinks (or at least thought at the time we discussed it) that it might make things worse between her and the parents… like cause additional stress and pressure. Both her parents suffer from anxiety/depression and she’s super empathetic, so she fears making that worse for them. I have (gently, as I know exactly where she’s coming from) pushed back on that, but that’s a no-go

    2. She told me that she would fill me in on what happened when she got out. She was released 24 hours later than expected. I’m letting her set the pace on this one and not pressuring her.

    3. Had her start thinking about where she wants to go for a week when she was in the hospital. We’ve narrowed it down to a few places, but I’m leaving it up to her. We may be calling it a siblings trip, but really, it’s whatever will help her. And I am confident I can sell it to her parents because they know I called her everyday, and that we are pretty close.

    Thanks again for all the suggestions. I just wish I was in a position to put them into play. But living half a country away puts a limit on what I can do. My heart bleeds for this kid, as I know (pretty close at least) what she is going through.

    1. valentine*

      She sounds enmeshed. I hope there is a school counselor or other adult who can intervene and mitigate for her.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This is true. However, Sis also knows Waffles is tossing out a life preserver. Sometimes just knowing that someone is watching and cares can be hugely supportive. more so than the particular life-preserver itself.

        1. Waffles*

          That’s my opinion on what’s going on. From talking to her, she’s having the same problems with the parents that I had growing up. However when I was her age, there wasn’t as much of a focus on teenage mental health, and our parents were more focused on the younger group of siblings (I was 9 when our sister was born, 14 when she was), so that took someone the pressure she’s dealing with off of me. I also found a group of friends who had similarly absent parents and that was my support net. For her, she’s the only minor living at home, so they are super focused on her. And, from what I’ve gathered, her friends depend on her for advice/help, so she’s their support net, vs having a group that can help support her. Which I’m sure is causing extra stress on her mentally.

          She’s talked to me about her counselor at school, and she’s hesitant to share too much with them as she is a LBGQT teen in a very conservative part of the country, and she fears anything she says will be repeated back to the parents.

          Basically, the kid doesn’t have much of a “safe space” outside of me and her theatre group, and the parents often threaten to take away theater because they think she’s taking on too much. So that leaves me. Who’s half way across the country.

          1. Anonymous Help for LGBT Youth*

            It’s good to read your update. Here’s a suggestion in case it’s helpful for your sister. There’s a terrific hotline for LGBT youth (and adults) to talk about whatever is on their mind, staffed by highly trained peer counselors, meaning everyone who answers is LGBT. I volunteered there for several years, and can vouch for how helpful the peer counselors are. There’s a live chat function if your sister is concerned about a phone conversation, and it’s all anonymous so one will know who she is. Check it out at glbthotline.org.

            Also, the Trevor Project offers TrevorSpace online, “an affirming international community for LGBTQ young people ages 13-24.” They also have a crisis service.

            You are an amazing sister and she is lucky to have you, even it’s long distance. I hope your week together goes well for your both.

            1. Waffles*

              Thank you for this. It literally made me cry. I will pass on the information to my sister, as I think it would be beneficial for her

              It’s hard being so far away and not being able to be the buffer she needs. I have thought about calling our mother more to see if that helps, but I know that’s not a healthy thing for me to do regularly. So it’s a delicate balance on what is best for both of us.

              1. Anonymous Help for LGBT Youth*

                So glad it’s helpful! Also, I hope you’re getting whatever support you need for yourself during this challenging time. Please keep us posted on how you and your sister are doing.

  9. PX*

    Happy weekend everyone!

    Having had an extremely meh couple of weeks, I’m now on a train to London for a weekend alone to wander and a concert tonight, which I’m slowly getting excited for. Given that the only things I’ve wanted to do recently is sleep and be brainless, this is a good reminder that sometimes being forced into doing things (by your previous, more energetic self) can be what you need to kick you out of a funk.

    What fun things are you up to this weekend?

    1. Lena Clare*

      I am actually not up to anything ‘fun’ this weekend but I am looking forward to having a quiet weekend.
      I went out to eat last night which was good, and I will go swimming today and also tomorrow if I can make it. Other than that, probably trying to make a dint in the cleaning (WHYYYYY does it get so bad so quickly?!?) and catching up on stuff like friends I haven’t contacted in a while (nice) and looking for a new broadband provider because BT are the pits (urgh).

      Who are you seeing in concert? I hope you have fun especially after your fnky few weeks! It looks like it’s nice weather too for a wander around the city! Are you buying anything, window shopping, or just taking in the sights?

      1. PX*

        I’m going to see Robyn which should be fun and happy :)

        So far I have done some culture (V&A museum, Saatchi gallery), some delicious food (Vietnamese from the market in Sloane square ), window shopping in a fancy design store, but with very pretty things, and paid a lot of money for some bra’s from a shop I think was once recommended on here (it’s true, she just looked at me and got a perfect fit on the second go. I look forward to throwing out all my old bras now! )

        Now for a rest, some coffee and more food then off to the venue.

        The only downside so far has been finding out my new sneakers are not as comfortable as I thought :/

        1. londonedit*

          Rigby & Peller? They’re amazing. I need to buy new bras but my boobs have expensive tastes!

      2. Artemesia*

        We went on a spontaneous dinner and then the Aretha Franklin movie with friends with drinks after. Lovely evening. I loved the film although it sort of fails as a movie, it was still thrilling to hear the young Aretha in concert in a Baptist church with a stunning local choir backing her.

    2. Lemonwhirl*

      I am taking my kid to a make-a-toy-soldier (or other cast-able metallic thing) at the local-ish toy soldier factory. He’s delighted, so it should be fun. (Not sure how I feel about the mixture of molten metal and a high-spirited 8 year old, but I’m sure it will be grand.)

      Tomorrow, we’re having a picnic with a friend and her kids. The weather is predicated to be very rainy, so I suspect the picnic will be in her living room, but we’re all cool with that.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I would love to have something like that near me….off to Google to see if there’s anything within a days drive!

      2. PX*

        Oh my god getting to play with molten metal sounds amazing. I would have loved to do something like that as a child! Hope it goes well :)

    3. Ribena*

      I’m also in London this weekend! A day relaxing at my parents’ and then a day in Central London tomorrow to see Michelle Obama at the O2.

    4. londonedit*

      Enjoy! I’m also in London but that’s because I live here :D

      No huge plans, parkrun this morning and just pottering around today. I’ll be having a very boring quiet Saturday night because I’m doing a 10-mile run bright and early tomorrow morning, and then going to the pub with some of my running friends for brunch.

    5. The Other Dawn*

      I’m going to the Catsbury Park Cat Convention in Asbury Park, NJ! Yup, a convention full of crazy cat ladies (and guys) just like me. My cousin and I got in last night. We went to the Catsbury Park Cat Cafe to hang with the kitties. We were the last reservation of the day and the cafe was almost empty. It was perfect: the kitties were awake and ready to play. We’re meeting Lil Bub tomorrow, as well as Stache and Teddy. I’m almost as excited as when I did the Def Leppard meet and greet a couple years ago! LOL Yup, crazy cat lady here…

      1. rmw1982*

        As a fellow crazy cat lady (my herd numbers seven), this sounds like a blast. I’m going to have to see if there’s anything like this closer to where I live.

      2. Grace*

        I’m so jealous that you’ll get to meet Kitten Lady and her fiance! I’d love to go at some point, but a cross-Atlantic trip for a cat convention is a bit much. Drop by the open thread next week and let everyone know how it was?

    6. Marion Ravenwood*

      Not really a fun weekend for me either – I had parkrun this morning (difficult for lots of reasons, but needed), then a driving lesson (which my instructor thought went well but I thought was dreadful), now waiting for a medical appointment and then going to get my hair cut.

      Tomorrow we’re supposed to be going to my husband’s friend’s girlfriend’s birthday celebration, which I’m not massively keen to do (I’ve never met either of them and am really not good with new people – I get very shy and anxious). But needs must I guess, as it’s all a bit last minute and if we don’t go there won’t be anyone else there, which seems like a bit of a rubbish birthday.

      1. PX*

        Good luck with the driving! It basically ended up taking me almost a solid year to get mine and I was so tired of having no Saturday mornings by the end of it.

        And hope the birthday party goes alright. In some ways people I don’t know is great because you can spend most of the time in easy small talk get to know you questions.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        This sounds a little rough here, like a few stretch activities right in a row. I hope you take some time to recharge (whatever recharging means to you) after all this.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      Visiting a friend tonight who is very hard to catch. She has three kitties–a grey tabby, a big Maine coon kitten (newest addition), and a white Cornish Rex. She posts a lot of cat pics and I’m excited that I actually get to snorgle them finally!

      I wish I could be in London this weekend. Soon again, I hope. I miss it. It’s cold today so I’d also like to be somewhere warm, LOL. Watched a movie set in Los Angeles the other night and found myself actually longing for palm trees and desert!

    8. Lady Alys*

      Went to an album release party last night with friends (snarky Spotify-using children wondered what that even meant) and today going to a GeekCraft show for the first time, looking ahead for stocking stuffers and other fun stuff!

  10. TL -*

    My cat is in a mortal feud with a new black cat in the neighborhood. Since my cat gets very restricted outdoor time (more restricted now, too), they have taken to fighting through the windows and glass doors.

    I can’t tell if they secretly want to be friends or what, but so far black cat has cut my cat’s ear, sauntered into the flat like it was her home, and snuck up under the outside of the window so she can jump up and slam her paws against the window when my cat is sitting there. My cat is no angel, either, and is provoking fights like nobody’s business.

    1. Venus*

      It is likely not a ‘want to be friends’ thing – my suggestion would be to set up a motion-detecting spray, to keep the other cat out, if it’s a problem. If you don’t mind the situation then fair enough, but it likely won’t get better on its own…

      1. TL -*

        I live in a flat complex where the back fence is quite easily hopped over by both cats – also, not a good thing financially. Houdini Kitty and I are moving in a couple of months so it’ll sort itself out but I am hoping they eventually learn to tolerate each other, because Houdini Kitty needs to learn how to make friends.

    2. gmg22*

      My kitties have a nemesis, too (I call her “Bug Eyes” as she’s a Persian mix with the characteristic face). Lots of standoffs of exactly the sort you describe go on between my cats on my screened-in porch and Bug Eyes stalking them outside. I go out in the yard and clap at her and tell her GO HOME GO HOME! but of course she comes back … I may try the squirt bottle next time. Now that spring is springing again, I expect the cat war will resume …

    3. Damn it, Hardison!*

      My cat and the dog next door had a friendly feud. I was living in an in-law apartment, and the window in my kitchen looked over my landlord’s back porch/back door. My cat would sit in the window, and the dog would sit at their back screen door. My cat would roll over to show her tummy and the dog would start barking at her. She’d just roll back and forth until I would tell her to stop taunting the dog, while my landlord would be telling the dog to stop taunting my cat. They came face to face once, the dog sniffed then licked my cat and she just purred.

      1. Annie Moose*

        Haha, sounds like my grandma’s dog and the cat next door! She jumps up on top of the fence between the two properties, juuust out of reach of the dog and sunbathes while he barks like crazy. Just taunting each other.

    4. Equestrian Attorney*

      My cat has a serious feud with neighbor’s cat. Our balconies are separated by a barrier, but they can climb over it and once got it a major catfight, which was actually kind of scary – I ran out there and used my most stern “stop that right now” voice but there were tufts of fur flying about and lots of screeching. Mostly they just hiss at each other. My cat is otherwise the sweetest animal to walk this earth, so it’s always kind of surprising when she goes into full psycho-cat mode. She’s also very friendly with the other kitties in the courtyard – I’m not sure why the hatred with this specific cat. I’m inclined to blame other cat, but I’ve seen my girl be pretty awful to her too so am reserving my judgement on this.

      1. TL -*

        Sadly, while my cat is very sweet to human beings, she seems to have a hatred of other cats. There’s another neighborhood cat, Patches Cat, and Houdini Kitty saw her one day as I opened the door and sprinted out the front door (which she is not allowed to exit from and she knows it) to chase her half a block down the street.
        Then Houdini Kitty turned around, did a sideways jump & run across a fence to go around me and raced into our backyard where my flatmate* was, so he could protect her from poor little Patches Cat who was still running scared.

        *Flatmate is the Protector of our household, according to Houdini Kitty.

        1. The Dread Pirate Buttercup*

          Once in a random while, if you give your cat some sort of messy treat to eat in view of black cat (WITH the window between them, please) whenever it shows up, the body language/ positive associations involved will cause the bristles to go away after a few tins of gooshy foods. Or Houdini Cat will be so grumpy, she refuses to eat. Worth a shot, though. Cats are weird.

  11. matcha123*

    I’ve been trying to study python on my own and keep running into the math wall.
    I have a terrible time understanding the “why” and “how” behind most math problems. And in a lot of python online exercises, they want us to use modulo.
    As an example, I just watched a Udacity video on the modulo operator and the guy said that “14 modulo 12 gives a remainder of 2. Just like 14 divided by 12.” But, 14 divided by 12 on my calculator gives me 1.166, not 2. A different example on another site said that 6 modulo 3 is 0. But 6 divided by 3 is 2, not zero.

    Can any of you help me to understand what I am missing? Does anyone have good, clear math learning resources?

    1. silverpie*

      Have often heard Khan Academy recommended.

      And here’s my explanation. Think back to the old grade-school long division, where you got a quotient and a remainder. 14 divided by 12 is 1, with a remainder of 2; and 6 divided by 3 is 2 exactly, with no remainder. “Modulo” (or”mod” for short) means “divide, but ignore the quotient and just tell me the remainder.” So, 14 mod 12 is 2, and 6 mod 3 is 0.

      1. Colette*

        Exactly! It’s what’s left over. If you have 3 cars that seat 5 people each and you have 17 people, 2 people are going to be left behind; if you have 3 12-egg cartons and 39 eggs, you have 3 left over.

        Basically, forget decimal places exist.

    2. 653-CXK*

      Modulo is an operation that is only asking for the remainder, i.e. “just give me the remainder when you divide one number by the other.” Udacity shouldn’t have

      Let’s take your example. 14 divided by 12…you have 1 (twelve) and 2 left over. 2 is the remainder. 14 modulo 12 is saying “what number is left over when you divide 14 by 12?” The remainder is also 2.

      When you divide 14 by 12 on your calculator, you get 1.6666666667. Take the decimal part and multiply it by 12…you get 1.999999998, and rounding it to a whole number gives you 2.

      Same thing with 6 divided by 3. 6 divided by 3 is 2, but there is no remainder. Any number that is a multiple of another will always have a remainder of 0.

      Does this help?

      1. 653-CXK*

        Udacity shouldn’t have stated “14 modulo 12 gives a remainder of 2, [j]ust like 14 divided by 12,” because that’s confusing. They should have said ““14 modulo 12 gives a remainder of 2; when we divide 14 by 12, we get a quotient and a remainder. In modulo arithmetic, we want just the remainder.”

    3. university minion*

      Modulus is the remainder. I’m learning/suffering through a computer science major, and getting your head wrapped around modulus is pretty foundational, and also not the easiest thing in the world at first. If it helps, don’t think of it as “math”. I’m good at math, but it took me a while to get modulus, because we don’t use it in our day-to-day life consciously (subconsciously, absolutely we do!). So, my advice is to keep at it and it’ll click. That said, I’m probably the last person anyone should take programming advice from.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Subconsciously it’s used with how many pizza slices are left to argue over after we all eat the same number out of the box.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          You are making me think. We are also concerned about remainders with income and bill paying. We want to know how much is left after the bills are all paid up. There are other financial situations when we are happy with remainders, such as tax refunds.
          Huh. I never thought about how often we boil things down to “what is left over?”.

    4. CH*

      I think people have explained modulo really well (I really like the pizza slices visual) and to me it illustrates how a lot of things that seem intimidating when learning to program are simple enough when explained clearly, even if it takes a while after getting that explanation to be able to comfortably use them.

      I’m mostly self taught and work in software, and when I hear a new word or concept, I try to imagine that it’s something not too complicated, something that I can understand with some work. Usually it’s just a word I haven’t heard that represents something I do know about. Definitely once in a while you’ll run up against something that it takes years and years to understand, and you’ll only learn as much as you need to right now. Try to just believe that this is all incredibly learnable, and I think you will find that it is. I spent a lot of time avoiding concepts that I worried were complicated, and found that they weren’t so bad.

      Another trick about modulo that feels less intuitive to me is that [smaller number]%[larger number] is always [smaller number]. It helps me to think about incredibly fair people and a bowl of candy – if there is not enough candy for everyone, no one eats any. All of it is left over. This is a cool trick if you would like numbers to follow a pattern like 0, 1, 2, 0, 1, 2 – hopping back to zero after reaching 2. n%3 will get you that sequence.

      1. Tau*

        Absolutely agreed! The single worst thing you can do is to tell yourself that something is too hard to understand… because then you absolutely won’t. When I was in undergrad I blocked myself on many subjects this way. Often, like you, I’d tackle them eventually and discover that actually, they weren’t that bad and I never needed to make such a fuss about them.

        And very often, you’ll find that you learn a concept better and better as you go along – so you start off with a grasp on it that’s a little shaky, but just good enough to do what you need to do, and then a year later you’ll check in and discover you have a much more solid/intuitive understanding. So there’s no need to worry if you feel you don’t understand something perfectly from the get-go. It will come with time.

    5. Maya Elena*

      To add on to the explanation, a clock is a good analogy. For example, you know 17:00 is equivalent to 5 PM – you just computed 17 mod 12. So you can think of mod N is like having a clock that goes to N.

      1. Dan*

        As a programmer, given the work that I do, time is actually my most common use case for the mod operator. It’s so easy to say “if [time] mod [interval] = 0” then “do something” else “ignore”

    6. Dropping by for some math*

      Did you ever have to do “leftover X”-style problems when learning division in primary school? (Trends in math education might have denied you that opportunity.) Modulo is pretty much the fancy name for those sorts of problems.

      “You have 100 marbles which you must split as evenly as possible among 6 people, so that nobody gets more than anyone else. How many marbles are left over?” (Answer: 4)

      Why care about such things? Two reasons. First, sometimes you can’t usefully divide elements a collection. Yeah, we could give everyone 16 and 2/3rds marbles in the above example, but what’s the point of 2/3rds of a marble?

      Second, there’s a mathematical concept called congruence, which can be thought of as “not the same, but similar enough under the conditions we care about.” For example, all odd numbers are congruent mod 2 (any odd number modulo 2 evaluates to 1; and if that’s all we care about right now, then any specific two odd numbers (-3 and 147, say) are pretty much the same).

    7. Koala dreams*

      The explanation of Modulo that I have seen compared it to a clock. The day has 24 hours, but we start over after 12. So modulo 12 means a clock with twelwe hours on it, and if you want to say hour 14 you need to say 2 instead. If you have modulo 2 it’s a very simple clock with only two dots, so after 3 hours/5 hours/any odd hours the clock will only be 1 o’clock.

    8. matcha123*

      Thanks for all of your help and replies!
      I really got stuck on the terminology and how it seemed like some sites seemed to pull numbers from thin air.
      I sat down to do long division with some simpler numbers and it really helped me to visualize where things are coming and going from. Thanks so much again *internet hugs*

      1. Tau*

        I find the big problem with maths is that once you understand a concept, it quickly becomes really intuitive… and so it’s really easy for teachers to skip over steps or assume knowledge that isn’t there for beginners, even steps/knowledge that they needed themselves when they first learned the subject. As a result, a lot of the maths explanations you’ll find are a little inadequate. I sadly don’t know any particularly good maths resources, but I know they’re out there.

        Just, y’know – don’t feel like it’s your fault if the site you’re using explains some concept and you don’t get it. It’s quite possible the site’s explanation isn’t thorough enough, or that you just need to hear it explained in a different way.

  12. Colette*

    So a year ago, my co-leader and I decided our Girl Guide group should go on a trip. Massive fundraising efforts ensued. Some of them worked well – we organized a lot of public and Girl Guide escape rooms that made money – and some didn’t. At times (a lot of times) I wasn’t sure we were going to get there. It’s sucked up pretty much all my free time this year.

    I bought the tickets yesterday. I’m so excited!

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Congrats! Travel insurance for such a big investment right?
      (I am old enough that my chorus had tickets evaporate when Laker Airlines went belly-up.)

    2. FormerGirlGuide*

      Congratulations! My girl guide group went on a big trip like that when I was 15 and some of my best memories from my whole childhood were made on that trip. I am very grateful for the amazing leaders I had and how much work they put into organizing that (and everything else! They were amazing and I’m still in contact with them 10+ years later). I’m sure you’re trip will be well worth all of the money, time and effort you’ve put into it! I’m so excited for you!

      1. Colette*

        I certainly hope the girls have a great time! We’re staying in Canada but it’s still 3000 km and 2 time zones away, I think it’ll be a good experience.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      How fun!
      When I was in Girl Scouts, the most we did was go camping in the park. But we got pocketknives back then, LOL.

      1. Colette*

        I think it’s going to be good! I did an international trip as a girl and I’m still friends with one of the girls I met on that trip.

    4. Owler*

      That’s exciting! I’m the treasurer for my daughter’s Girl Scout troop, and I think the leaders have decided that it’s time to start saving for a Big Trip. The girls are 11-12 years old, but they’ll also have a bit of fundraising ahead of them if they want to make it happen. I love the idea of an escape room!

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

    Most absurd phobias!
    When I was a little kid, I used to be frightened of the “production” music that would play at the end of most TV shows. The show credits would end and the screen would go dark, only to light back up a moment later with ominous music — “Dun dun dun dun DUN!” I used to be terrified that the TV would suddenly turn on in the middle of the night and the terrifying production music would play.

    I got over that one, but I’m a grown adult now and I still don’t think I’ve gotten over my bizarre fear of dishwashers.
    Growing up, we had a really old, broken-down dishwasher that sounded like what I’d imagine the Loch Ness Monster to sound like. I would cry every time my parents used it, and eventually they gave up and hand-washed the dishes. (They still do!) Fast forward about 35 years and for the first time, my wife and I are living in an apartment with a dishwasher. It generally works fine, but about once out of every 50-100 uses it will make a strange noise or the water won’t drain or the electronics go haywire (all three happened one day last week, but once we reset the machine, it was perfect again). My heart goes through my throat every time I turn it on, to be honest, and I don’t think buying a new one will solve my anxieties.

    Any other unusual phobias that anyone wants to share?

    1. foolofgrace*

      I have megaphobia, which really is a thing — fear of large things like domes, the Statue of Liberty; mostly man-made things. This one time I was driving on the expressway and had to go past a large dome and I actually had to shield that side of my eyes with my hand. I hyperventilate and get the shakes. This only appeared a few years ago. It’s embarrassing.I also have a bug phobia that I’ve had my whole life.

    2. Ms. Guacamole*

      I have an intense fear of car washes that I’ve had my whole life and that my dad used to make fun of me for when I was very little by making scary noises and talking about what could go wrong every time we went to a car wash until I was in tears. I think my fear of car washes stems from claustrophobia, but I’m especially afraid of car washes and I think it’s my dad’s fault.

      I just bought a brand new car and I’m having some anxiety about how to keep it clean and taken care of without having to go through a car wash. I live in a climate where it’s warm enough to hand wash only a few months out of the year.

      1. Mimmy*

        Not all car washes have you stay in the car. In the one that we used to use, you get out, and a worker sits in the car as it goes through. When it comes out the other side, more workers dry it off and do other things based on the package that you purchased.

        Your dad was cruel to do that to you :(

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

        I also have a fear of car washes! I wonder if it’s because they are similar in principle to a dishwasher, ha.

        Thankfully, at most of the car washes near me, as Mimmy mentioned, I can get out of the car and let the attendant place it on the track, etc.

      3. anon24*

        I used to work at a carwash. You are not alone! We had the driver stay in the car but for those who told us they were afraid we could have the car go through empty and send an employee to pull it out at the other end for the customer. This was super common. Don’t be anxious, just find a good carwash and explain it to them!

    3. Lars*

      People dressed as mascot characters (i.e., the person dressed as Mickey at Disneyland), to this day, freak me out. Maybe because I can’t see that there’s real people beneath them? I don’t have the same problem with masks or eye patches, though. It’s honestly just people dressed in the costumes with the giant heads.

      I asked my mom about it once and she said there was never a scary incident I had with any of them as a kid (no accidentally being tripped or being given to a scary-looking character), I just straight up never liked them, and was far more comfortable with the Princesses/non-mascot characters. Apparently I ran away from a mascot Pikachu at a mall event as a ten year old, too. I really wish I understood why I am so scared of what are just costumed workers.

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

        I can relate to this one. I was tackled by a mascot character when I was 14; turned out the person wearing the costume (1) had a crush on me and (2) wasn’t entirely stable mentally.

      2. Wishing You Well*

        You’re not alone on this mascot thing. Currently, there’s a man-sized bunny manikin in my grocery store. I give it a serious side eye every time I go there. Can’t wait for it to be gone.

      3. matcha123*

        Omg, I am the same! When I went to DisneyWorld as a kid, I hated being approach by the characters. I love dressing up myself and I like characters, like Rilakkuma, as stuffed animals or as stickers. But when someone is inside and walking around I just can’t. I think it does have to do with not being able to see their eyes? I dunno.

    4. Marion Ravenwood*

      As a kid, I had a Disney Sing Along Songs Christmas video that had a version of Silent Night accompanied by lots of dark watercolour pictures of landscapes. It really freaked me out and I always had to fast forward that bit of the tape!

      Also – although this probably only means anything to UK readers of a certain age – the Judderman from the 90s Metz (alcopop) advert. Do not Google it, it will haunt your nightmares.

      Now I have a fear of boats – I think because I’m not a very good swimmer and am paranoid about the boat tipping over, falling in and drowning. Even just looking at boats on the sea or a river or watching a TV programme with someone on a boat on a rough sea makes me feel nervous. Which is not ideal when your husband’s family plan all their family celebrations around his uncle’s boat on the Thames…

      1. Elizabeth West*

        *googles Judderman* Holy crap, it’s Spring-Heeled Jack. 0_0

        I think that’s awesome, but I can see why it would scare the hell out of a kid. (Never tell me not to google something, haha.)

        1. Marion Ravenwood*

          I think I was more afraid of the ‘getting turned into a puppet’ thing rather than the Judderman himself, but the combination of that, the character and the poem over the top all added up to a pretty frightening combination when I was younger!

    5. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I don’t like hornets or wasps… used to be scared of honey bees and bumble bees too but I am mostly over that.

      1. Lady Jay*

        Oh dear god wasps are my greatest fear. I can’t kill them, I can’t be near them, I will run flailing from them if I see them.

        I’m not allergic or anything, just . . . I haaaaate wasps.

        1. Mimmy*

          I’m the same way even with regular bees. That’s why I’m dreading the warmer weather because many of the coworkers I like to eat lunch with eat outside, and without fail, there’s always a bee that comes around. Usually it lands on one coworker’s soda, but still!!

      2. Mrs. Fenris*

        I’m scared to death of any kind of stinging insect! I grew up in rural Georgia and spent a lot of time outside, so I’ve been stung by everything-wasps, bees, yellow jackets, hornets, you name it. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a legitimate fear.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Some stings can be nasty. My father got stung numerous times one day and spent the night vomiting. It was pretty nasty. I never heard of that reaction before and it made me realize this could happen to anyone. Yep, legit fear.

      3. londonedit*

        I also absolutely hate wasps. Many a summer picnic and beer garden have been ruined for me by wasps! I simply cannot ‘just sit still and let it go away’ as everyone tells me to – my fight or flight instinct kicks in and I have to get the hell out of there. It’s so embarrassing!

        1. Mimmy*

          I simply cannot ‘just sit still and let it go away’ as everyone tells me to – my fight or flight instinct kicks in and I have to get the hell out of there.

          THANK YOU!! Telling someone to ignore your body’s natural response is likely to get you an icy stare lol.

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

      Natural gas appliances in my house. Never again. I bought a house that was old and I swear constantly had little leaks. I was eventually told by the gas company tech that I had the second highest call in rate for the area. He thought it was funny. I didn’t. The highest call in rate landed in a mental hospital, so no, it did not amuse me. Don’t know how unusual this is, but at least it’s easy to avoid.

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

        My other big fear started up a few years back. Bridges and overpasses. I’m good if I keep going but if traffic backs up and I have to feel that bouncing… The first time it happened about five years ago, and I almost had a panic attack. I had to force myself to stay in the car and not run to solid ground. I was the driver!

        1. Scarlet Magnolias*

          I used to tell my younger brothers and sisters that when we went over the old Tappan Zee bridge on our way to the Jersey Shore, that instead of driving on the bridge, certain cars like station wagons would shoot out special wheels and drive on the upper cables. If our car malfunctioned (and I would mention worriedly that Dad had not taken it to the garage lately) we would plunge into the river and drown. Screams and hysterical crying from all of them. I often think my mother wished she had drowned me at birth.
          Good times

        2. Jen in Oregon*

          I’ve been afraid of bridges since May 9th, 1980 when a barge hit the Sunshine Skyway bridge in stormy conditions and a 1200 foot span collapsed into Tampa Bay. The fog and 35 people died when 8 vehicles (including a Greyhound bus) drove off the edge. I was on that bridge on May 8th, so my 10 year old self was traumatized by what seemed like a close call. I can hold my sh!t together on short bridges on clear days, but I’m an anxious mess in the fog, and I wouldn’t take on a long bridge in stormy conditions for love or money.

        3. Artemesia*

          Two things. Giant construction cranes — those things crash into people’s apartments and kill them while they are eating breakfast every so often — and I see every such news article. One just collapsed yesterday and dropped 1300 pounds of weight on a worker.

          The other is elevators. I lived in a country where they had those open elevators (pater nosters) that are just an open cage that goes by the opening in the hall and you jump on as it moves. I always worried about getting caught and losing a limb or my life in a gruesome way. And I see every news article where that happens and there have been 3 or 4 in the last couple of years where random person gets half way on the elevator and it plummets and crushes them. It doesn’t stop me from using elevators but that sort of image always runs through my mind when I am getting on our off.

          1. Mrs. Fenris*

            I’m a little anxious getting on and off escalators. When I was a kid I hated the way a stair would suddenly come into existence right below your foot, and it took me a couple of minutes to decide exactly how to step on so I didn’t fall. I still don’t like those things much.

            1. anon24*

              I hate escalators. I will find the stairs thank you very much. I recently saw a video with clips of people getting killed/horribly maimed in elevators and now I don’t like them either which is great because I spend a lot of time in them.

            2. Gir*

              I take probably 30 seconds to step into an escalator to make sure I step on it correctly, which doesn’t seem like a lot until there’s a line of people behind you.

              When I’m at the airport, I try and step aside until there I am not going to hold anyone up while I mentally prepare to step onto the staircase from hell.

          2. MinotJ*

            I’d never heard of a pater noster until now and had to look it up. How could those still be in operation?! I think a fear of that type of elevator is completely reasonable. One mis-step and your leg would get chopped off.

            1. Cambridge Comma*

              I studied at an institute where there was one and used it a lot. The worst thing was forgetting to get out or not managing to get out on the 8th floor and going over the top.

          3. Not So NewReader*

            I think I read a statistic of 3000 people A YEAR are killed in elevator accidents. To me that sounds like a lot and we need to do something.
            Decades ago I rode the elevator to the top of a well-know skyscraper in Chicago. Never. Ever. Again. It went scary fast. And why, who knows. I had ear problems anyway and when we got to the top it felt like my head was going to blow up. Never, ever again.

          4. Elizabeth West*

            Fun thing in my old music school building–we would take the freight elevator that was used to move the pianos (weren’t supposed to but we did) and we’d stop it in between floors and write on the wall. The building is still there, and still looks exactly the same, 34 years later. I wonder if our old graffiti is still in there. :)

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Natural Gas. I am totally with you on this one. I had to light the pilot light on our stove when I was five. I struggled to even light the match, five year old me was not very coordinated.

        To this day I do not want anything to do with gas. I have tried. We had gas heat in one apartment and we both had headaches all the time. When we left the headaches cleared up. Now I am done with gas forever. I understand gas stoves are very nice to cook on. My worry would far out weigh my enjoyment of cooking.

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

          Yes! I’m not afraid of natural gas itself, but I am absolutely terrified of lighting matches. I’m not sure where this came from. But the one time I had to re-light our stove’s pilot light myself, my hand was shaking so hard I almost dropped the match and set the whole apartment on fire.

        2. Chaordic One*

          I agree with you on this one. One time a few years ago I lived in a house with a flat roof and the pilot light to my natural gas-powered furnace went out when snow blocked the chimney following a blizzard. (I discovered this after walking home through the snow because my car had gotten stuck a few blocks away from my house and I had to abandon it by the side of the snow-covered road.)

          I climbed up on the roof using the railings on the front porch, swept the snow away with a broom, then climbing down I slipped and fell, landing on my back in the middle of the snow-covered porch. The snow was soft and pretty much broke my fall so I wasn’t hurt. However I was wearing heavy boots and on the way down, one of my feet hit the doorknob to the front door and broke it off so I couldn’t use the front door. (I later had to buy a new door knob for it.) I had to walk around the house and get in through the back door.

          Back inside the house, the furnace was a square-shaped metal cabinet located in a closet and the pilot light was in an open space at the bottom of the cabinet. I removed a panel, lit a match and moved it to the pilot light area. There was a big flash and boom and I hurriedly pulled my arm out of the furnace. The pilot light lit, but it singed the sleeve of the heavy wool sweater I was wearing and burned the hair off of the back of my hand and my lower arm. It was scary. I later was able to remove the singed wool from the sweater but it was never quite the same. It was a great sweater and people used to complement me on it all the time. I still miss it.

    7. JennyLind*

      When I was a kid, I couldn’t watch a comedian get a pie in the face. I would imagine the stuff going up my nose and down my throat and not being able to breathe. I would actually start to gag. When we would watch Soupy Sales or Milton Burle, I would close my eyes when I thought the pie attack was coming. I still think of it when I see a bride and groom smash wedding cake into their faces.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I never thought it was funny, either. I was told I am too serious. I just don’t enjoy that slapstick comedy where there is the potential for someone to get hurt.

    8. Jaid*

      I read a book that had stories about evil dolls and clowns when I was eight. My Bozo the Clown ventriloquist doll and Raggedy Anne doll went up on the shelf where I couldn’t see them, soon after.

      1. Lcsa99*

        Yeah dolls can be very creepy. I had one that would close its eyes when you laid it down and open them when held upright. I didn’t like it much so I had it sitting at an angle that the eyes would always be closed. Woke up one morning to find it staring at me (we had had an earthquake that was small enough I slept through it, but the doll didn’t!) Put it away soon after that.

    9. Llama Face!*

      I’m not sure if it counts as a true phobia but I can’t watch someone be embarrassed or make a fool out of themself in a movie or tv show. It gives me such strong sympathetic embarrassment and panicky/anxiety feelings that I have to skip past it or leave the room til it is done. I have stopped watching shows where I know a moment like that is coming. It is definitely a byproduct of being bullied as a child but knowing that doesn’t get rid of the reaction.

      I also have a fear of walking over manholes and grates because (in my mind) they could be improperly set and then I’d fall down the hole. But I think that is fairly common.

      Also making “cold” telephone calls- ie. where it isn’t my professional persona or where I don’t already know the person.

      1. Llama Face!*

        Oh and I almost forgot: earwigs! Those things are horrifying!
        If you are lucky enough to not know what that is, visualize a short bitey centipede with all its legs near the front and a squirmy back end with tail fronds.
        Supposedly they eat rotten fruit but those monsters seriously have it in for me. I’ve had them deliberately cross a large room just to climb onto my leg and bite me.

        My mom told me there was a horror movie back in the day where an earwig crawled into this guy’s ear and caused him excruciating pain. They finally got it out near the end of the movie- only to realize that it was female and had laid eggs. I would never be able to watch that show.

      2. Thursday Next*

        So much yes to the secondhand embarrassment! I don’t know why it bothers me so much.

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

          I have that too, though not as much these days. I read a few years back it had a lot to do with the empathy level of the person watching. Could be very painful for us.

      3. Demoralized on Friday*

        Me too! I can’t watch movies with high levels of secondhand embarrassment, and I can’t walk over grates and manholes either. When I was little, I used to have dreams that I’d fall down a grate and wind up who knows where. Even when I can see that the ground is only a few inches below the grate, I still can’t do it.

      4. FaintlyMacabre*

        I actually witnessed someone fall through an improperly placed grate. They were thankfully unhurt, but yeah, don’t trust grates!

    10. cat socks*

      This is a really strange one and I’m embarrassed to admit it, but here goes…we were at a restaurant in New Orleans a few years ago when I went to use the restroom. The toilets were like ones you have at home, but they were all black instead of white. The overall decor of the bathroom was dark wood and dim lights, which didn’t bother me. However something about those toilets really freaked me out. I peed as quickly as possible and got out of there. We were having drinks and I had to go again, but I waited until we got back to the hotel.

      Also, I’m from India and when I was a kid visiting family I hated the squat type toilets that were set in the ground. That was over 20 years ago and now my relatives have the western style toilets.

      1. Equestrian Attorney*

        I took my nephew to pee at a restaurant that had a black toilet and he was terrified and just WOULD NOT go. We had to ask the restaurant next door if we could use their bathroom instead. So you are not alone in this :)

    11. Foreign Octopus*

      Cows. I’m ridiculously afraid of cows despite the fact that I grew up around them and now have a large coven of cows in the field next to me plotting what I’m sure is my demise.

    12. Oversharing*

      I’m not sure I had any unusual phobias, but the one you had of production music following TV shows is interesting. My younger sister was terrified of the production music at the end of The Simpsons when she was young. We all found it very unusual.

      For me, I’m not sure it’s much of a phobia, but I get strangely uncomfortable during dream sequences in TV shows. Similarly, I used to hate during the Mummet Babies when a door would be opened and there’d be a live action scene happening behind the door. Other things like that make me… uncomfortable.

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

        I could see that re: the Simpsons. The shushing woman is kind of intense.
        The production music that terrified me the most when I was a kid was the tag at the end of Barney Miller, with the bright yellow screen and the giant “D’s” popping up across the screen. I thought of that because I’ve been watching Barney Miller lately on a classic TV channel. Close second was the production music at the end of Eight Is Enough. I was a very strange kid.

    13. Bitter Old Owl*

      West Nile virus. I was about 8 or so and my dad had left the Discovery channel on and it ended up talking about the West Nile virus (which was having an outbreak but nowhere near us) and I freaked out so bad that when I was sent to grab something from the outside freezer in the shed, despite it being summer, I pulled on a long sleeve jacket, pants, and tall boots before going outside because I didn’t want to get bitten from a mosquito and get it.

    14. HeyNonny*

      I have an irrational fear of the stair machine at the gym. I am sure I’ll somehow fall into the mechanism and get very painfully stuck, leading to an embarrassing rescue or possibly death.

    15. Lcsa99*

      I thought of two – as a kid I used to be afraid of escalators. It could have something to do with a horror movie I saw with someone’s necklace or something getting caught and it… didn’t turn out well. But that’s just a guess (yes, my mother let us watch horror movies at a very young age). It was frustrating to go to the mall cause everyone else would hop on the escalator and we had to find the elevator that was always out of the way (dont know why we didnt just use the stairs).

      Got over the escalator thing but I am still kinda freaked out about revolving doors. I am always worried about getting stuck or it smacking me in the back.

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

        I *hate* revolving doors! I’m always paranoid that I’m going to get hit by the door on the way out, or get my fingers pinched inside. I still have a small fear of elevators; anyone who saw some of the elevators at my workplace would understand.

      2. Artemesia*

        my shoelace did get caught in an escalator at the top when I was about 5 and people coming up behind me were falling over me; it took awhile for someone to stop the escalator but oddly I didn’t develop a fear of them. It was pretty grim in the moment though.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        I always laughed at the thoughtlessness of putting revolving doors on hospitals. What could POSSIBLY go wrong here?? Is traffic that heavy that you need a “traffic circle” for pedestrians? Just wow.

        So one day a family member got caught in a revolving door at the hospital. Not kidding, an ambulance came and brought her around to the ER of the same hospital. I guess she was okay but a little banged up and a little frightened.

        I have never understood why professionals do not see the lack of safety in a revolving door.

    16. The New Wanderer*

      It’s not a phobia exactly, but I have reverse vertigo. I can’t stand being at the base of something tall. It’s not as bad with buildings as with natural formations like rock faces or cliffs. But there’s no way I could be a rock climber or even a belayer (the person at the base who manages the support ropes) because I start to have a panic attack if I’m there next to a cliff side for too long, even if I’m not looking up. No specific bad experience, just something that’s been an issue since I was a kid.

      I also get panicky around yellow jackets and wasps, they’re the worst.

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

        I hate all the stinging bugs. Yellow jackets are the meanest and most aggressive, I think. In the spring I walk around with a broom and knock down all the hornet starter homes around my duplex. Stupid bugs.

    17. Elizabeth West*

      I’m not afraid of much, but two things that inexplicably terrify me are bears (my own fault for reading a lurid account of the 1967 Glacier National Park attacks as a child), and causeways.

      If my car goes into the water, I KNOW how to get out/what to do (hit headlights; open seatbelt; roll down window to equalize pressure so door will open–and I keep a screwdriver in the console to break it with if it shorts out; stay calm to maximize oxygen; follow bubbles to surface; thank you Mythbusters). I just don’t want to ever have to.

      I don’t like tall bridges over water either (I don’t like heights), but they usually have immense railings and there is no real way for your car to fly off. This video of the Atlantic Ocean Road in Norway is the scariest thing ever! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJOh_N38fW4

    18. Not So NewReader*

      I can laugh about it now, but I had a huge fear of stage curtains. This became an issue when five year old me had a dance recital and I would not go up on the stage at all. Making things worse, I knew they were going to tell me my fear was stupid so I would not tell them why I was afraid. I was convinced that the curtains were there to hide something, my runaway imagination decided the thing the curtains were hiding were monsters. I decided that there were definitely monsters on the stage behind the curtains and I would not be going on stage.

      Eventually, I did get up on the stage but I was super-nervous. I exited to the right when everyone else sashayed to left. The audience thought it was adorable that I did that. I did not feel “adorable”.

      1. Chaordic One*

        When I was in junior high our school theater had this huge wooden backdrop thing that could be pulled up into the ceiling. It sort of looked like a stage curtain. Or maybe a firestop. It was in addition to the stage curtains.

        There was this one teacher who had a terrible limp and the story always told about her was that many years ago when she was a student at this same junior high, the wooden backdrop thing fell on her and broke her hip. For five or six years in a row, this teacher would start teaching in the fall and then in December or so, she’d get sick and go on disability and her class would be taught by substitutes for the rest of year. Anyway it kind of creeped me out about stage curtains and related things.

    19. Ginger Sheep*

      Ok, I have a fun one : when I was a kid, I was deathly afraid of… mushroms. Well of mushrooms, toadstools, and any kind of (visible) fungus. I would jump in the air and/or burst into tears if I noticed one in the grass next to where I was sitting, and would take a berth of several meters out of my way to avoid walking by one. I know this went on at least till I was ten, but I can’t actually recall when it faded away. I am (mostly) fine with those things now.

    20. Iron Chef Boyardee*

      Not an actual phobia, but I remember as a kid seeing a commercial where the announcer mentioned something about “creamery butter” and thinking about how the guy had to say “creamery” instead “creamy” even though “creamery” wasn’t a word (that’s what I thought at the time) and if he did say “creamy” he’d be “taken away” for punishment.

      1. only acting normal*

        Me too!
        Also plants with giant leaves (roughly anything bigger than my face, but especially giant rhubarb).

    21. LittleBeans*

      I have a fish phobia. One of my biggest fears would be being stuck in a tank with fish. I do not like going in the ocean because they might touch me. Is that a weird phobia? Some people react as if this is really unusual but I don’t think it should be. Fish are gross!

    22. Gir*

      Cruise control on my car. I refuse to use it. I fear that I’ll end up in a situation where it won’t turn off and I’ll go sailing full speed either into traffic or off a cliff (why a cliff, I have no clue, I live in an area where there are no cliff, anywhere). I’ve been a passenger when cruise control has been used many times, and there have never been any issues, so I’m positive where the fear comes from (I have suspicions though).

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

        My sister had a car (a real lemon) where the cruise control malfunctioned and the car suddenly went into “Resume” mode, accelerating full throttle to 55 mph at an inopportune time. Literally, the engine was redlining on a crowded highway. She managed to keep control of the car and defeat the cruise control, but that was terrifying. That car was a complete gremlin and I’ve never seen any other case of cruise control gone wild, but no, I never use it either.

        1. Gir*

          See? Cruise control. Terrifying. Thank you for validating my fear. I freak out every time I even hit one of the buttons on the steering wheel.

      2. Liz*

        That’s me too. i’ve NEVER used mine. But I think for me its not being in control. thankfullly i live in a pretty densely populated area so really unless i’m on the interstate with no traffic, really no need to use it.

    23. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I used to be afraid of construction vehicles, particularly the beeping sounds they make when backing up. It’s funny because now I work on construction sites all the time, and it still freaks me out a little bit but I’ve learned to tolerate it.

    24. Buona Forchetta*

      Did anyone mention uncorking bottles of Champagne? I can’t be in the same room as someone doing it. Which made things interesting when I worked for a Champagne company for a few years.

      1. Liz*

        In that same vein, i’m afraid of ballons being blown up. Not mylar, but regular latex. They make me cringe and i can’t do it myself or be around anyone who does.

        My irrational fear is worms. i hate them, and the sight of them, esp. after it rains and they all slither up freaks me out!

    25. Urdnot Bakara*

      Not sure that this is absurd, exactly, but when I was a kid I was terrified of roller coasters that went upside down. Totally fine if it didn’t! It was just the loops that scared me. I guess I was afraid of falling out or something. Not sure when I snapped out of it but I now love any and all roller coasters. (Unless they’re super old wooden roller coasters–those things give me headaches.)

  14. Seeking Second Childhood*

    Your cat is beautiful, and oh that fleur-de-lis on her head! My daughter suggested the nicknames “Fleur de Leap” and “Fur de Lis”.

  15. Laura H.*

    I rewatched Avatar The Last Airbender over this past week (I have the DVDs), and I have to marvel at how we waited weekly between episodes (and ~a year between seasons) and (mostly) didn’t stay awake at night driving ourselves nuts with “What’s next?” thoughts! (For shows in general)

    I still like the semi-controlled release format over streaming services’ “drop all eps in a season at once” idea. But that’s prolly cause I have no self-control when it comes to the streaming shows I follow.

    Anyone have a fave series they like rewatching every now and then?

    1. GoryDetails*

      I love Avatar: the Last Airbender – it’s one of those series that I’ll re-watch whenever it comes around on cable. And yeah, I’ve forgotten how I survived watching it in one-episode-a-week mode when it first came out!

      I have a lot of favorite re-watches, from the old Twilight Zone to the not-so-old Great British Baking Show – even when I know the episodes by heart I rather enjoy seeing them again.

      1. pcake*

        My husband and I love Avatar: the Last Airbender. It’s been on our periodic repeat list for a while.

        Other shows we love to watch again periodically include –

        Midsomer Murders (we’re rewatching it now)
        Dr Who (from 2005)
        The Blacklist
        Person of Interest
        Great British Baking Show
        Jessica Jones
        Escape to the Country
        Babylon 5
        … and, I’m embarrassed to admit, we’ve rewatched Agents of Shield and probably will again.

        We have the Firefly DVDs, too.

      1. JediSquirrel*

        +1 to Firefly. I have the DVDs, but it’s also on Hulu, with the original intros.

        Also, Malcolm-in-the-Middle, Doc Martin, just about any Star Trek series, but especially DS9.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          OMG Hulu! I need to rewatch it. If I can get over my dislike of Adam Baldwin (I loved him until I found out what a huge asshole he is).

          Jewel Staite (Kaylee) is coming to the tiny sci-fi con here in May. I probably won’t be able to afford to go. :(

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Consider asking the organizers if there are price breaks for volunteers that bring it down to manageable. I was volunteer grunt worker for a live radio show many years ago…I got to see all of it for just the cost of getting there and pitching in. (And there was something marvelous about being backstage for casual banter…sigh.)

    2. anon today and tomorrow*

      I like the week by week release for heavy shows like The Handmaid’s Tale or Mr. Robot because one episode is all I can watch. They’re so bleak and unhappy, and imo, those aren’t shows I can binge in one sitting. I need a week between each episode to cleanse my palette – and to usually watch something more lighthearted in between.

      I rewatch The West Wing each year. Or at least the first five and a half seasons. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the back half of S5 or S6 – 7 more than a few times.

      1. aarti*

        Unpopular opinion: I rewatch season 5-7 of WW almost exclusively. I don’t like Aaron Sorkin and felt that the women and POC characters got 1000% more interesting and better written when he left the show. CJ is one of my favourite fictional characters of all time and when I watch an early season episode I cringe at how uninformed she is portrayed compared to Sam or Josh. And don’t even get me started on Donna.

        1. anon today and tomorrow*

          Oh, I completely agree about his handling of women and POC. It’s not great and it definitely doesn’t hold up with each passing year.

          I just lost interest in the plot once Sam left. I never really latched onto Will and S5 just felt different to the previous seasons in a weirdly jarring way that I can’t quite explain? I don’t think S5 – 7 are bad or worse than the first four seasons, but I’m just not as interested in rewatching them as much.

    3. Foreign Octopus*

      Star Trek: TNG.

      Occasionally Doctor Who but I have to be in the right mood for DW. With TNG, I can just watch that any time, any mood.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I never get tired of TNG overall. Although certain episodes are unintentionally hilarious and/or tedious now, a few of them still absolutely gut me.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I love the way TNG characters sometimes remembered and referenced the events of the first series.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I want the OLD Dr. Who…only had access during college and often missed it because of, well, college! So there is so much that will be new, and so far I’m not finding Tom Baker online.

        1. Nessun*

          I own most of the DVDs – gave up finding it online. And I do love to go back and rewatch, all the way from Hartnell on. Plus, the DVDs have these interesting “fun facts” on them, like production notes and random information about the actors.

    4. Kathenus*

      The West Wing, Stargate SG-1, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Sports Night, and Land of the Lost (original, Saturday morning kids’ version). I have the full DVD collections for all of these :)

    5. MsChanandlerBong*

      I re-watch The United States of Tara, Parks & Rec, 30 Rock, and the Sopranos all the time.

    6. Librarian of SHIELD*

      Alias. But I prefer to rewatch that one on DVD, because when I’ve seen it on streaming services they haven’t had the music rights for everything and some of my favorite moments have been replaced by the wrong song. But I will watch Jennifer Garner and Michael Vartan beat up bad guys any day of the week.

    7. Eleanor Rigby*

      Law and Order (original series) and Criminal Intent. Most of the West Wing. Midsomer Murders, Lewis, Vera.

      1. T. Boone Pickens*

        Parks and Rec, Friday Night Lights, House of Lies and Suits have been the most recent shows I’ve gone back and re-watched. I try to rewatch The Wire every couple years due to the sheer awesomeness of it and I’ll probably due that in the colder months.

    8. Annie Moose*

      Red vs. Blue! Web series, but released weekly. I started watching when it was partway through the sixth season, so I got to binge the first five seasons… then immediately have to slow down and start watching it weekly, right when things got really intense. So frustrating to have to wait a whole week between episodes! But I do love that show and rewatch it on occasion (although I haven’t seen the most recent two seasons–different showrunner and unfortunately I hear it just isn’t as good).

    9. VlookupsAreMyLife*

      The Office (US version), Parks & Rec, and The Wonder Years. What did we do before streaming???

    10. Liz*

      Yes, and I just found it on Hulu. I was beyond thrilled. And yes, showing my age, but St. Elsewhere. I loved that show. that, and Hill Street Blues, also on Hulu. So now that I’ve found them both, i’ve started rewatching both. And, but its nowhere to be found on cable or steaming, Homicide: Life on the Street. Best show ever.

      And MASH, which I watch whenver i find it.

  16. Crocheted familiar*

    Critical Role thread as suggested!

    For a starting point, perhaps favourite characters, what point we’re at, That Kickstarter, perhaps our involvement in the Critter community in general, and whatever else Critical Role we want. Let’s try not to spoil things for people we know aren’t as far along as we are, if that’s the case for anyone (for me, though, I don’t mind spoilers).

    I’m currently on episode 41 of campaign one (I think) and completely caught up on campaign two, I can’t decide on a favourite character but I love Molly so probably him, and my involvement in the Critter community is mostly retweeting fanart because people are INCREDIBLE and crochet.

    1. No Mercy Percy*

      Favorite character: Percy (obviously) followed by Grog and Scanlan. Favorite Mighty Nein character is either Beau or Fjord. I definitely backed the Kickstarter. I’ve seen all episodes of both campaigns, so I won’t spoil anything. My involvement in the Critter community involves cons and cosplay. I’ll be at Denver Pop Culture Con this summer, cosplaying and meeting some of the cast (Matt, Taliesen, Liam). I’m also a friend and Patreon supporter of the cosplayer Ginny Di, who’s gotten some internet fame and recognition from the cast for her Jester cosplay. Her stuff is great, and I highly recommend checking her out.

      Is it Thursday yet?

      1. Crocheted familiar*

        I think I’ve seen some of her stuff! She’s really good at it (and her Jester is amazing!). I wish I could go to more (or any) cons that they’re at, but I’m in the UK and I don’t live in London so alas. I’d love to be able to give them a Frumpkin in person but again, UK, so I’ll just keep posting them whatever new animals Frumpkin becomes.

      2. Crocheted familiar*

        I realised I forgot to add the bit I was going to add, so:

        I do love Grog. He tries so hard and he cares so much about people being ok. I also love both Beau and Fjord, though Fjord is definitely hiding a lot (I have so many theories!) and I really want his backstory. I also want Molly’s backstory and I hope we’ll get that eventually.

        You said you were cosplaying Percy, right?

        It is not Thursday, but I am waiting!

    2. Vax is my disaster bicon*

      I’m a fairly new Critter, mostly catching up via the podcast. I’m a week behind on Campaign 2 (since I usually listen, although I may need to get a Twitch subscription if I can’t be patient) and partway through episode 46 of Campaign 1. I feel like my favorite character changes week to week, but as you might guess, I find Vax’ildan extremely relatable! In CR2, I think Nott is probably my favorite PC? Thus far my community involvement has been mainly reading and commenting on fanfic.

      1. Crocheted familiar*

        The VOD goes up on YouTube on Monday’s if you don’t want to get a Twitch subscription but also don’t want to wait a full week.

        Nott! I love Nott! And Yezza. I think my favourite campaign one character is Percy? mostly because I don’t think I actually like him as a person but somehow I love him anyway. I do also really like Vax, though his penchant for just walking off after important conversations bugs me a bit. But he’s such a disaster bi that I feel like I understand him far too well. And for NPCs, Gilmore! How could it not?

        1. Vax is my disaster bicon*

          Thanks for the tip! I just started exploring the YouTube channel recently. I think I could spend far too much time on all the extra content there, haha.

          Yes! Gilmore is my favorite NPC I think. Vax’s slipping away also annoys me at times, but most of his anxieties are sooo familiar that I kind of get it.

          1. Crocheted familiar*

            I don’t know if you also watch Pub Draw, but in the last episode of season one (apparently there’ll be more seasons) they drew Gilmore with Matt and it’s so good. Pub Draw is also really great to have on in the background because it’s mostly gentle chatter, and I find it really easy to do things (honestly, mostly crochet. This is apparently all I do) with it on.

  17. Weekly Reader*

    Commenters, what do you have for me.
    Work stress is overwhelming lately. I can’t seem to relax on the weekends. Obsessively thinking about things. Any tips? Weather is still miserable here so add a little stuck inside. Weirdly cant focus on reading , my go to. Have a stack of books that I keep opening and closing.
    I love the streaming suggestions from other weekend threads. What do you have to recommend?
    I have liked Jack Ryan, Bosch, Jessica Jones.

    1. Lena Clare*

      Try Bordertown, the Finnish cop drama set over the Finland-Russia border. It’s good. On Netflix if you have it. It is subtitled though (unless you happen to speak both Finnish and Russian?!) so perhaps not one for switching off your mind for.

      1. Weekly Reader*

        Netflix, Hulu and I have HBO but haven’t gotten into Game of Thrones. Is it too late to start again? Watched the first two seasons and never went back.

        1. foolofgrace*

          I am the only person I know who is not on the GOT train. Saw part of one episode and wasn’t interested.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            I am with you. Read book 1, said ick, never went back.
            I had to go reread some Alanna the Lioness to oget the taste out of my mouth.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      If you liked Jessica Jones, you should give Luke Cage and Daredevil a try. I also liked Iron Fist, but then a lot of other people found it (mostly the main character) annoying. Without giving too much away, I thought the character was supposed to be annoying, so it didn’t bother me…much. If you like spy/intrigue shows, The Americans is really good, and you might like Orphan Black (Amazon Prime).

      On Hulu, Futureman was a wonderfully oddball comedy/science fiction show, and Castle Rock was one of my favorite things I’ve watched this year.

      1. Weekly Reader*

        Thank you the suggestion but due to physical disability yoga is a no. I have the meditation app constantly running on my phone.

        1. Kate*

          If guided relaxation /guided meditation techniques work better for you, I like Jon Kabat Zinn, Pema chodron, Eckhart Tolle.

          You can also write 3 things you are grateful for and one thign you look forward for the next day – every night before you goto bed.

          I do Pranic healing (for myself, I’m a super duper beginner newb) first thing in the morning , while still in my bed.. Before that begins, I put my hands on my chakras one by one, release all the anger, guilt, shame, hurt feelings, ego, tension and Fear I have (I very briefly think through the events that caused these before i let them go), then welcome the pranic healing energy into my body, and mind into those chakras. I have only been doing this from March and I was super stressed before that to the point of wondering if I need to resign from my job (stress wasn’t just because of job though). I also did some forgiveness affirmations to get rid of emotional baggage that I’ve been storing in me. Forgiveness as in – I forgave myself and forgave others… and also in my mind, I asked forgiveness from their soul for tangling with them emotionally and let them go, from my mind and head!

          Sure, this doesn’t mean I forget all those nasty things some ppl did, but it means I’m finally moving on and started employing the lessons learnt, instead of stuck in the negative stagnant phase.

    3. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Exercise is what helps stop my brain from spinning.

      If it’s yucky outside, can you go to a shopping center to walk laps? Or an indoor gym? Or a fitness class?

    4. Kathenus*

      Have you considered the audio versions of books you’d like – Bosch, Clancy (Jack Ryan), and if you like these I’d highly recommend John Sandford – specifically start with the Lucas Davenport ‘Prey’ series (all titles have the word prey in them) and then spin off Virgil Flowers series). Sandford and Michael Connolly (Bosch) are two of my favorite authors for great, engaging fiction novels.

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      What works for me in those situations is to choose shows that don’t require any work on my part. So even though I like dramas, I don’t pick a drama (or I pick one I’ve seen before), and even though I love foreign films, I don’t want a foreign film. I watch Bake Off. Hours and hours of The Great British Bake Off. It just brings me joy, it’s light, the episodes are relatively short, it’s friendly, etc. More importantly, it’s visually bright, and for some reason that just soothes me. So maybe go for something super light while you’re decompressing?

      1. Weekly Reader*

        Thank you. I am pretty sure that I missed the early years of The Great British Bake off. Going there now.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Lately my daughter & I have been diving into talent competitions… anything from X FACTOR and American Idol to Denmark’s Got Talent. Youtube is magical for that.

    6. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      Go outside anyway? There is something so bright and alive about bad weather when you’re out in it, even when the day was blah and gray indoors. Always perks me up a bit.

      Of course, actually getting up and going outside on a gray day… that’s a bit harder.

    7. Chaordic One*

      Sometimes some mindless absurd sitcoms do the trick for me. I especially like to watch reruns of “Will and Grace,” but sometimes I’ll catch a channel that shows reruns of old sitcoms from the ’70s and ’80s. I was LMFAO at an episode of “Taxi” not too long ago. (The one where Louie confronted death.)

    8. TexasRose*

      What I found helpful at different times when I couldn’t turn off the but-i-gotta’s and the what-if-this’s:
      1. Create a clear ritual to separate your weekend (when you don’t think about work) from your week (when you do think about work). As soon as you get home, take a shower and change clothes. Make a list of two or three things to do (some fun, some chores) to get done in your You time.
      2. When thoughts of work stress intrude, make a list of what you’re worrying about, then put the list away (in a shoebox next to your work clothes, for example). [I labeled mine Monday Problems, and turned it upside down and the second time I added to it in a weekend, I also put my boots on top of it. ] Get back to your weekend. Let thoughts of work stress float away like thunderstorms you see in the distance (that is, don’t worry about worrying or obsessing).
      3. If you choose to, come Monday, either review your obsessive thoughts (so you can plan how to deal with the situation, if there are real worries there you haven’t decided how to deal with) and/or simply take the lists, tear them to shreds, and put them in the trash AT WORK (to remind yourself that that trash doesn’t belong in your home on the weekend). I always wrapped mine around used tea bags to discourage prying eyes.

      1. Public Health Nerd*

        Yes, I do a written vent of all the things I am worried about when it gets like that. Really helpful either on the first or the last part of the day.

  18. Angwyshaunce*

    Bunnies – Public Service Announcement

    With Easter approaching, I feel compelled to make this statement. On this holiday, rabbits are often bought on impulse. And when people realize how much work rabbits are, they often “let them free” figuring they can just live in the wild. They cannot – pet rabbits are domestic creatures, and “setting them free” is a guaranteed death sentence.

    If you see a pet store advertising rabbits for sale on Easter, they are being highly unethical.
    If anybody you know is considering an impulse bunny purchase, insist they do some preliminary research about the care of rabbits.

    Some important considerations about caring for rabbits:
    – They can live a long time, usually around ten years
    – They require a lot of daily care, and are generally high maintenance pets
    – They are social creatures, and thrive on the company of other beings
    – Rabbits are delicate creatures, and can literally die from fright
    – Rabbits are not good pets for children – a child’s natural exuberance can cause fear or discomfort to a rabbit (guinea pigs are better suited pets for children)
    – Rabbits require a lot of stimulation to avoid boredom and depression
    – Rabbits need space to live and explore – a cage is inadequate; large pens are much better, but they still need the freedom to roam around a room from time to time
    * RABBITS SHOULD LIVE INDOORS. Letting a rabbit outdoors can expose them to predators or parasites. Leaving a rabbit locked in a hutch outside all the time is literally torture. Would you leave a child locked outside in a cage 24/7? This is sadly still a common thing, mostly among people who simply do not know better.

    Two years ago, a co-worker caught a bunny that someone in the neighborhood had “let go”. She brought this bunny to work to see if anyone wanted it before transferring it to a nearby park. Knowing the dangers, I asked my wife if she had any ideas. It turns out there is a local rabbit rescue group, and she agreed that we could take this bunny for a couple of days until we could give her over to them. A couple of days turned into a couple of weeks, and then she had four babies in our basement! Eight more weeks, and we were able to give her and three of the babies over to foster care. We adopted the fourth baby, and she is now our little Wendy-girl.

    As a result, we are now active volunteers for the rabbit rescue group. We often help catch released rabbits, care for them, and foster them until they can be adopted out. We’ve seen the results of impulse rabbit purchases often, which is why I thought I’d share this.

    1. Angwyshaunce*

      [rant] Since I touched on this above, I would just like to add – if I had my way, pet stores would not be allowed to sell pets. They are living creatures with thoughts and emotions, not merchandise to stock and be sold. A better system would be to have regulated facilities that cared for these animals until they could be adopted. [/rant]

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        +1000. Sentient creatures should not be treated like just any old property. I’m not going to get into areas where the lives of humans and the lives of other animals are in conflict, but it’s not infringing on anyone’s life to respect nonhuman lives. Hell, we treat cars different from other property (licensing, VINs, emissions testing) because of the impact they can have on lives, we should do some of that for nonhuman animals. We’re just really smart, complex animals, after all.

      2. tangerineRose*

        I understand that most pet stores get their animals from puppy/kitten mills, which are awful places. If you want a well socialized, healthy animal, you don’t want to get a pet from one of these mills, they are only in it for the money and don’t take good care of their animals.

    2. rmw1982*

      +1 I’d say the same goes for chicks and ducklings, too. Those fuzzy balls of fluff grow up. Do your research people and don’t impulse buy a pet, especially a pet you know little to nothing about. You’re good people, Angwyshaunce.

      1. Angwyshaunce*

        I can certainly understand the impulse. When I saw a bunch of baby chicks for sale, my id was shouting, “I want that!”

      2. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

        Eh, chicks make great temporary pets. Just arrange with someone who keeps laying hens beforehand. We’d love a few free pullets in a good laying breed.

        Fair warning, any accidental cockerels are going in the soup pot.

    3. Animal worker*

      Thanks for this. My neighbor’s daughter went to college this year and they have asked me to come and help with ideas for how to enrich and give the bunny a better life. They have a large cage and apparently let her out to explore the room at times, but with ‘her person’ gone they now have a bored bunny that mostly sits in a room alone. Please think about the entire lifetime commitment of any pet that you decide to get.

      As rmw1982 points out, never get an animal as an impulse. I have parrots and am considering a cat (sounds wrong, I know, but many parrot owners I know have this successfully), and I’ve literally spent about six months so far trying to go through all the pros and cons and what might be needed if I want to move forward with this.

      Pets can be a wonderful part of our lives but as The Cosmic Avenger says they are sentient beings that deserve proper care and attention for life, not just when it’s convenient in our personal lives. And Angwyshaunce is 100% correct that buying any holiday-related pet is wrong. If you really want that animal, the holiday may spur thought but then challenge yourself to spend the next few months researching if it would fit your life, and vice versa. If you’re not as enthused six months later when the holiday is long past, then don’t get it. If you still are and know you can give it a great home, then go for it. Thanks for this thread.

      1. Blackcat*

        YouTube has taught me that parrots and cats can be mutually grooming BFFs. But also that parrots learn to steal food for their fluffy friends, so beware.
        I’d love a parrot but can’t commit to that level of care for potential decades. They’re such awesome creatures. For a long time I had a friend of a crow (I took it to a rescue when it was sick. When they released it, it kept coming by to get pet and give me shiny objects) and that made me fall in love with the idea of a similar pet.

        1. 4ever fluffly*

          my parents took a picture of 1-yr-old me, a budgie and a cat all eating out of the cat’s bowl.

      2. Angwyshaunce*

        I’m in a similar situation. A few months ago, I got this strange (and strangely strong) urge to adopt guinea pigs. But it wouldn’t work out, as we have a naughty cat. As it is, we needed to put doors up on my wife’s office so the bunny had a safe zone (no guinea pigs allowed in there, she does not want to deal with their squeaking).

        Every time the urge gets strong, I end up researching how to care for them “just in case” – seeing what is involved with caring for them generally cools the desire.

        1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

          Guinea pigs can’t be near rabbits. Apparently rabbits have some benign virus that is lethal to guinea pigs. My friends in college lost a guinea pig to this, they let one roommate’s guinea pig play with another roommates’s bunny. Shortly after, the guinea pig became very ill and had to be euthanized. The vet said that playing with a bunny is a huge no-no for guinea pigs.

          1. Venus*

            That can’t be absolute, as when I was young the pet stores used to have guinea pigs and rabbits in the same cages.

    4. Venus*

      There are plenty of rabbits up for adoption at my local shelter. They are more expensive than a local shop, but they are also spayed / neutered, and have a health guarantee. Having a rabbit is great – it’s the impulse decision that is the problem.

    5. PetticoatsandPincushions*

      I rescued a rabbit from Prospect Park about a month after Easter two years ago. We were just outside enjoying the day, and this little brown bunny kept getting closer and closeer. Thought she was wild at first and just curious, but once she got close enough to hang out on my blanket you could clearly see she was domestic. She couldn’t have been in the park more than a day or she would have undeniably been eaten, she was so tame! Picked her right up, carried her to my husband, and told her we owned a rabbit now. It took us a few weeks to rehome her somewhere more appropriate (we have a hound), but we took care of her because all the rescues and fosters were full! I’ll never understand people who think rabbits and chicks are just toys :/

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

        A local pet supply store is advertising on their signboard right now about their bunnies. I cringe every time I see that sign.

        1. Angwyshaunce*

          That is terrible. There are definitely movements to ban the sale of rabbits around Easter, I hope they catch on.

    6. dumblewald*

      WTF are you serious?? People do this crap?? Animals aren’t holiday decorations! Get a STUFFED Easter bunny!! Sorry, I’m super pissed about this.

      Idk why I’m surprised – I’ve heard of people adopting black cats for Halloween and then letting them go or returning them to shelters. Ugh, humans.

      1. Scarlet Magnolias*

        I’ve heard that about black cats at Halloween. That is horrible. I have a beautiful little black cat named Silhouette (after Watchmen) and she wears an orange ribbon and curls up next to the pumpkin at Halloween. She knows perfectly well that orange is very flattering to her.

      2. Forrest Rhodes*

        Made me happy several years ago to see that most of the local shelters won’t allow anyone to adopt a black cat during the entire month of October. May not completely solve the problem, but it helps!

    7. Observer*

      Can I just say that no one should ever get a pet on impulse, not even the “easiest” ones.

      Also, PLEASE, never EVER get ANY pet, much less on that requires this much care, for someone who is not enthusiastically on board and realistically committed to taking care of it!

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Yes, but she thought stepping on your hand was deserved. The point is, we’re trying to live in a society where each individual doesn’t get to decide what is fair when it comes to violence, that is regulated by laws. And what you did qualifies as assault pretty much anywhere in the US. You might not be prosecuted because she assaulted you first, but two wrongs do not make a right. If you wanted her assault to be seen as unjustified, you should simply let people see that she assaults people without provocation, or even try to press charges yourself. If you had shoved her OFF your hand, that might be self-defense, but once she was off your hand, it was assault. In the eyes of observers, all your shove did was make her seem less aggressive (observers might wonder if maybe you had shoved her before), and you seem more aggressive, as depending on your relative size and weight, you might definitely be seen as the bully in that interaction.

      Basically, we don’t get to assault people because they’re reprehensible, which it sounds like she was. The only justification we accept as a society is to stop someone who is assaulting you at the moment.

      1. EEEA*

        but it’s telling that you think unjustified assault is good. so much for the kind persona you project on this forum.

        1. Parenthetically*

          No. Self defense would have been removing her feet from your hand, or preventing her from standing on it in the first place. Standing up would have stopped her action. Knocking her to the ground AFTER you had ALREADY caused her to desist BY STANDING UP was a BLATANTLY aggressive, retaliatory action.

          Retaliation is not the same as self-defense.

    2. EEEA*

      I have no obligation to have good thoughts over somebody who had about twenty yards to see and move out fo the way, btu didn’t. what if it the situation were reversed? would you say I’m not the aggrsssor? is this how society works, we think we can select who we do shit to, because we “like them”?
      the only closer thing i have to look at is that it would eb wrong in any other case, so it’s wrong for me.

      1. Parenthetically*

        You. Meant. To. Hurt. Her.

        That is violent.

        You know what, actually? From my read, you bent down to grab your dropped money and she ACCIDENTALLY stepped on your hand, which you responded to with violent retaliation to such a degree that it shocked bystanders and caused campus security to come take a look.

        If you’d accidentally stepped on someone’s hand and that person stood up and KNOCKED YOU DOWN in a fit of rage, yes, absolutely, that person would be 100% at fault.

        Your immediate impulse on a bad day is to try to hurt/i> someone who bothers you, and then invent a wild fantasy in which that person is a demon from hell who set out to ruin your life. That’s… seriously so deeply problematic, and if you can’t see that, I recommend you get help from a professional.

        1. EEEA*

          i don’t concur with your logic.

          i think it’s because you think i deserve to be hurt. why? what did I do to you?! lol.
          i don’t think anybody deserves to be hurt.
          i know for a fact that if somebody else posted this, your response would be different.

          perhaps you share the mindset of this person – that you do what the f you wish based on your own “innate life superiority”. i guess this is emboldened by the attitudes of your friends/family.

          I’m done in this thread, but then I guess i know the score/scene now…

          1. Parenthetically*

            “i don’t think anybody deserves to be hurt.”

            Says the person who intentionally hurt someone.

            Did you not read the part where I said if the situation were reversed I would agree that whoever had violently lashed out would be in the wrong?

    3. Parenthetically*

      Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha you’re a fantasist. No one is telling you to think well of anyone, just not to assault them when they slightly inconvenience you. Hahahahaha

      If a little old lady accidentally brushed against you in the street you’d violently lash out at her? You’re a bad person.

  19. Tips for a moon landing themed party?*

    Looking for help for all the AAM commentariat:

    A good friend was born in 20 July 1969, and to celebrate her big 5-0 birthday, we were thinking of having a Moon Landing party (the United States’ Apollo 11 was the first manned mission to land on the Moon, on 20 July 1969).

    Any and all ideas of how to customize the party are super welcome! So far we only have thought about playing the moon landing video…

      1. valentine*

        Somehow incorporate Moon Unit Zappa and Luna Lovegood.

        Slideshow edited like conspiracy-theory footage that she wasn’t really born.

        NASA meatball tees for all?

    1. Miss Astoria Platenclear*

      Tang, or some other orange-flavored drink. When I was a kid in the 1960s we heard a lot about astronauts drinking Tang.

      Google the Top 20 for July 19, 1969. “Crystal Blue Persuasion” was number one., and there’s some other good stuff for a party soundtrack.

    2. legalchef*

      I bet they sell paper plates that look like the moon. A moon cake shouldn’t be too difficult. Or even noon cake pops.

      1. Helpful*

        All paper plates look like the moon:

        round, and white

        Tip your waitress, I’ll be here all night.

    3. Françoise*

      You can buy astronaut snacks online, check Amazon for astronaut ice cream.

      What a fun theme!

      1. Lilysparrow*

        Not the ice-cream sandwich version, though. The cookie does not benefit from the treatment. Bleah.

    4. Max Kitty*

      Shiny silver or gold star balloons
      Trivia cards about Apollo 11 and the astronauts (maybe on little stand-up clip holders on tables, or spread out on counter)
      Astronaut food (like freeze-dried ice cream)

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Pin the lander on the Moon.
      Moon balloons!
      One of my treasures is an old mug with the New York Times front page printed on it… I bet you could get images like that on other things.
      Moons&astronauts are a party theme for some kids, so I’ll bet there’s tons more ideas on pinterest or at a party store.

    6. Llellayena*

      Freeze dried foods, especially ice cream. Moon map or moon phase decorations. A gift of a plot of land on the moon (I think they still have these). Depending on how crazy/ nostalgic you want to be: a pin the lander on the moon game (like pin the tail on the donkey). Soundtrack background music from a space movie (Apollo 13 comes to mind). Good luck, it sounds like fun!

      1. rmw1982*

        According to a 5 second Google search, Lunar Land allows you to buy an acre of moon for thirty bucks. Could be a fun gift.

        1. Artemesia*

          What are the odds that anyone actually has ownership rights to the moon to sell it?

          I have a thing in my grandkids room — a plate sized moon that has a remote control and goes through the phases. It is pretty cool and was pretty cheap.

          A play list of moon songs. Shine on Harvest Moon, Moon River, Full Moon and Empty Arms, Blue Moon, Fly me to the Moon, the one with ‘when the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore’. etc etc. I’ll bet there are dozens.

      1. Artemesia*

        You could do a big round cake like a giant moon pie. or get a case of Chinese moon cakes.

    7. Even Steven*

      How wonderful!
      There is a terrific documentary called For All Mankind available on DVD – it has lots of great footage and dreamy music by Brian Eno. Put that in a loop and project on a wall…..
      Also, a cake shaped in a space boot footprint would be easy to make (two 9 x 13 sheet cakes plus one sharp knife, then white frosting with grooves for boot treads pressed in with a butter knife).
      I hope she has a terrific birthday and enjoys your efforts!

    8. Foreign Octopus*

      Really go all out for the 1960s stuff. If people don’t want to dress up then food is definitely the way to go. I’d Google 1960s party food and see what happens. Oh, and 60s music but you have to throw a bit of Bowie in there as well.

      Honestly, I hate parties but I would 100% go to a Moon landing themed party.

    9. Tips for...*

      Oh my goodness, guys, I’m so glad I asked here–so many great suggestions, I’m going to use them all. Thank you!

    10. Jean (just Jean)*

      No advice but thank you for asking! I may decide to copy your idea some time this summer. No big 5-0 birthdays in my immediate circle, but the Moon Landing 50th anniversary is still a great reason to throw a party.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I was thinking that too…it’s not too far off my birthday either. And I missed my big number birthday when my mom died so I’ll think about this.
        I just wish I didn’t hate party planning LOL!

    11. LibbyG*

      Invent a cocktail called The Moonshot. And when the food is ready, be sure to say the eagle had landed. And I think they make birthday candles that are like teeny, mellow sparklers.

      Maybe organize some or all of the party (like maybe gift presentation) according to five stages (like the launch). Could make a fun little speech about, like, dropping things that weigh us down until we soar into the future and get a new perspective on our lives.

      Which reminds me – that earthrise photothey took would be great decor too.

  20. Paperbacks*

    Anyone ever bought Folio Society books? Are they worth the price?

    My milestone birthday is coming up, and I’m thinking of giving myself a fancy hardcover book. I looked around for reviews but most people seem to use them as investments, which I’m not about to do, obviously. So if anyone ever brought their books, what do you think? Or if anyone has any recs for beautiful hardcover books from any other publishers? I’m not picky for the genre, but prefer classics or nonfiction.

    1. Anonariffic*

      Not sure what price range you’re looking at, but Thornwillow Press does pretty gorgeous letterpress editions with various cloth and leather bound cover options. I bought a paper-wrapped copy of The Wasteland when they did Kickstarter preorders and it’s lovely, plus they sent a second copy at no cost when they found some errors in the original printing.

    2. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      Bookstores, and Dover Press has their calla editions, which are reprints of older, beautiful books. I often give these as gifts (for the right people). Most are under $50 and quite beautiful.

    3. Bagpuss*

      The Folio Society ones are beautiful, if you pick writer and illustrator that you like. I bought their edition of ‘American Gods’ because the illustrations by Dave McKean are wonderful, and I love both his work, and Neil Gaiman’s. I don’t see it as an investment, but I’m happy to have it!
      So I think it depends on whether you feel it would give you pleasure to have the book , and if so , which specific book!

    4. Robots*

      I hope I’m not too late, but I bought a Ray Bradbury hardcover from the Folio Society as a present for my Dad. For a special purchase, I do think it was worth the price. It was a beautiful book, and my Dad loved it.

    5. Aurélia*

      My two recommendations are Penguin Drop caps (I have A-J so far!) and also Juniper Books. For the latter I’m saving up for a Hemingway collection for my Mom.

  21. Red Sky*

    I’m considering a hysterectomy. I’m just so done with random, intermittent cramping and periods that come either every two weeks or 50 days. I’m probably in perimenopause but that can take years to get thru before menopause finally kicks in. Anyone here have a hysterectomy? Were there any unexpected consequences positive or negative? Anything you’d wish you’d known or done differently?

      1. valentine*

        Find a surgeon who is confident, that you’re comfortable asking all your questions of.

    1. SigneL*

      My first thought is, find out if insurance will pay. Sad, but you need to know – and they may not, if there’s no medical “need.” Wishing you the best – Signe

      1. Red Sky*

        Thanks! I think I can get it covered, but will def double check if I decide to move forward.

    2. Miss Astoria Platenclear*

      Never a hysterectomy, but ablation helped a great deal. I imagine your gynecologist would have already recommended one if it were a viable option.
      Best wishes – I do not miss that aspect of womanhood at all.

      1. Red Sky*

        Thanks! A big part of me is like, if I have to have an invasive procedure lets just totally get rid of this thing inside me that makes a huge mess and causes pain on a regular basis. I’m not using it, I’ve never used it, why do I even have it/

        1. CatChaser*

          It doesn’t have to be invasive. I had a hysterectomy last September, and it was laparoscopic. I only have 3 faint small scars, the longest is about 1 inch long. I’m in my early sixties, so well past menopause. As others have said, keep your ovaries otherwise you can get thrown into abrupt menopause.

        2. Vic tower*

          Hi, gynaecologist here. It really is worth considering the less invasive options (mirena or endometrial ablation) as they will fix the problem for the majority of women (>85%).
          Hysterectomy is a major operation and not everyone is suitable for keyhole surgery (biggest factor is the size of your uterus – if it’s too big, it has to come out through an abdominal incision as it can’t fit through the vagina).
          The ablation or mirena are much quicker procedures, you’d go home the same day, the recovery is MUCH faster and the risk of complications (such as bleeding or damage to other organs) is much lower.
          It also probably costs a lot less!

          1. naha*

            I use Mirena and it has reduced my menustration-related discomfort by like 90%. Just make sure you can do hormonal birth control and don’t mind using tampons. I’m in my 30s.

    3. Not All*

      I’m going to be interested to see what people say. I’ve been considering one (doctor suggested) since I’ve got about 10 yrs to go before menopause and because of another health issue they can’t get a blood pressure reading with the cuffs and I can’t find one who will prescribe the only hormone combination that stops my periods with just a wrist bp monitor. So I end up curled up in pain no matter how high the dose of painkillers-though I refuse to try any opioids. I hate doctors…refuse to prescribe hormones that will very very slightly increase my low risk of stroke, but perfectly ok prescribing highly addictive painkillers during a national opiod epidemic. Sigh.

      1. Ms. Guacamole*

        To be fair, I had a mini-stroke because of the birth control I was on and it was very, very scary. I also have migraine with aura, so I’m at high risk for that kind of thing.

        I don’t know what your situation is, but have you considered the Depo-Provera injection? It doesn’t have the same stroke risk and I never get my period so all those hormone issues have gone away.

        1. Not All*

          I tried it for 9 months and it REALLY doesn’t work for me. Instead of intense cramping and bleeding like a stuck pig for a week or so every month, I have intense cramping and moderate bleeding for 3 out of 4 weeks. Mirena also made things much, much worse plus remained painful the entire time it was in (2 yrs) despite multiple ultrasounds showing it was properly placed & inserted.

      2. Tau*

        Also reading the responses with interest. I’m in my early thirties only, but I’ve had huge problems with fibroids – have needed surgery twice already – and a family history that means I come by them honestly and probably can expect more in the future. I expect drastic methods will be needed eventually, and kids are looking pretty unlikely for me as it stands.

    4. Plant sale*

      Keep your ovaries! My mom didn’t and it put her into early menopause and she wishes she had not done that. I think it was a rough transition. You can also look into getting an ablation instead.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Oddly enough, I didn’t keep mine (mid-40s) and it caused no problems whatsoever. I used a hormone patch for about a year, but noticed that I had no symptoms at all when I forgot to change it, so I just stopped using it and, as far as I can tell, I skipped the bad parts of menopause entirely. I realize I’m probably a unicorn, but, there you go. (I was at an increased risk of ovarian cancer, and several doctors agreed it was the right choice.)

    5. Heather*

      I’m 46 and I had everything removed (uterus, tubes, ovaries, cervix) in November due to untreatable-by-any-other-method terrible periods. I wish I’d done it years ago.

      I do have 15-20 hot flashes a day, which I don’t love, but other than that I feel great. I can’t do hormone replacement due to other health issues so I treat the hot flashes with a “necklace fan” (blows the heat away) and external use of essential oils from a company called Saje (no affiliation). I’ve never been much of an “oil believer”, but I went off them for a test period and learned they really were helping.

      I was considering ablation first, but my research scared me. I asked my surgeon about it and at first he was saying it was a good option but when I started asking how many women still got a hysterectomy later because it didn’t solve the issue permanently, he started to change his tune. Definitely research it yourself before agreeing to it (and research hysterectomy too, of course!).

      I hope this helps!

    6. Bye-bye, naughty uterus!*

      I had one. I was basically functional in 3-4 weeks and it was life changing in ending years of pain. Of course some women do suffer complications, so keep that in mind. Take a look at the Hystersisters Web site for a wealth of tips on recovery.

    7. Tomacco*

      I had a total hysterectomy done in my early 30s due to severe endometriosis, and I’ve never looked back. I take hormone replacement pills (low-dose estrogen and progesterone) to deal with menopausal symptoms, and they’re pretty good at taking care of things like mood-swings and hot flashes. I go for bone-density scans every 12 months to check for osteoporosis. (I’m also in Canada so other than the hormone pills which are prescriptions, the surgery and scans and checkups etc. are covered by my provincial healthcare.)

      The surgery itself was fine. It was done laparoscopically (i.e. ‘keyhole’ surgery where they go in through a few small incisions in the abdomen) and I was back at work in about a week/week and a half.

      I was never interested in having biological children, so it was a very easy decision for me to make and it’s been incredibly effective. It doesn’t meant the endo is gone though, it’s still there, and hysterectomy to treat severe endometriosis doesn’t always work for everyone.

    8. Hrovitnir*

      Oo! I’m 34 and have a surgeon who has agreed to give me a hysterectomy (keeping my ovaries). I have multiple friends who have suffered terribly from endometriosis and had to fight really hard for their hysterectomies and lean heavily toward getting it, but it’s a deeply individual choice.

      It’s also a pretty different deal if you also have your ovaries removed; I know people who had total hysterectomies who just felt great and raved about it, and others who suffered pretty badly. But then that pretty much applies to menopause too from what I can tell.

      My personal concern as someone fairly young without any reproductive disorders is only that after my first surgery in a long time recently I got very nauseous afterwards, and I felt quite spaced out for about 10 days, which surprised me. I hadn’t remembered that from my surgery as a teenager, but then I was very very sick for a couple of weeks afterwards from my appendix almost rupturing so I guess I wouldn’t notice it! My surgeon said the brain fog generally relates to iron sequestering during post-operative inflammation, and it can take 6 months or more to feel yourself psychologically after a hysterectomy.

      So that was a fun fact I hadn’t known about inflammation, and very useful information.

      I hope you can find a good surgeon and your insurance will cover it if you decide to go for it. :)

    9. Jaid*

      Ugh. Mine was due to fibroids,and I was scheduled for a four hour outpatient procedure. That got stretched into an 11 hour stint on the table due to diagnosed endometriosis, a three day stay at the hospital and a couple bags of blood during those days. Plus nerve damage on my ass from being on my back for so dang long. Fun times. Oh, and my vajay-jay was paper dry after the procedure and I cried like a baby when I peed the first time. Laparoscopic only means the tools go in thru your belly. The uterus still exits through the vagina.

      Anyway, I was out for a month (used Advanced Sick Leave as a federal employee), with people bringing me food/cooking for me during the first two weeks. Afterwards, I was able to get around, but for short trips, like down the street. My nerve damage (manifested as a brick sized area of numbness) began to ease up with a hell of a lot of walking (night walking in pj’s and robe around the apartment building!) and finally some muscle relaxers. I had the hardest time sleeping before then.

      Um, let me see. My parents took my cat to their house so she wouldn’t be bouncing off me and keeping me awake. My bed is adjustable, vibrates, and I have an electric mattress pad to stay warm. My heavy body pillow got a lot of use as something to hold onto when turning over in bed or otherwise adjusting my body position.

      Just remember, you’re having surgery to lose a body part. It was so freakin’ worth it for me and 8/10 would do it again. Just maybe earlier in my life to avoid having so much of the endometriosis to scrape out. I did keep the ovaries *rolls eyes*

      1. Jaid*

        Undiagnosed endo…I wish I could have seen my doctor’s face when he saw what he was getting into…

    10. Kuododi*

      I had a total hysterectomy in ’96 bc of a uterine cancer dx. I went with the total on my Dr recommendation. The ovaries went as a preventative measure bc of the risk of reoccurrence in ovaries. In a parallel universe, I would have tried to keep at least one of the darn things. My menopause symptoms have been rough following the surgery and show no signs of abating. At the end of it all, they got all the cancer with surgery and I have been very thankful for my access to top notch medical care through out the process. I would simply recommend you do your research, ask lots of questions about the surgery as well as Alternatives, and by all means get a second opinion. For me personally, I would have looked at any other options if I didn’t have a pesky cancer diagnosis complicating my issues. If I can answer any questions you may have…by all means let me know. Best wishes as you work toward the best decision for your own healthcare needs.

    11. Red Sky*

      I want to thank everyone for sharing their experiences. Y’all have given me some great information and a lot to think about. This community is so incredibly helpful, thanks again!

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Red, I don’t know if you’re still reading these, but I had a total hysterectomy in my mid 40s due to fibroids. It had to be done abdominally. I had lots of adhesions and it turned out to be more complicated than expected. I needed a blood transfusion. The post-surgery pain was the worst pain I’ve ever experienced, and I have a pretty high tolerance.

        It was still one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and I haven’t regretted it for a SECOND. I mean, life-changing, really.

  22. Triplestep*

    I’m looking for hear from people who have moved parents/family into assisted living: What did you want from the people in their constellation?

    We live in a city where the houses are close together, so we had a relatively close relationship with our next door neighbors. We also helped them out, doing all their snow removal, occasional shopping, trash cans in and out, that sort of thing. Their move to assisted living a week ago was done very quickly after the decision was made; they didn’t need to move out of their house since their kids are dealing with it, so they really just up and left.

    I talked to one of their kids yesterday about visiting. (I want to visit and other neighbors have been asking me about it, too.) I suspected that there needed to be a transition period, and she confirmed that. I told her I’d circle back in a few weeks about it, and also offered to help take care of the house to make it look lived in, etc.

    Beyond this, what would you have wanted when your family was going through a transition like this? I don’t want to be a nudge to the kids.

    1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Don’t do assisted living if what is really needed is a nursing home.

      Assisted living is for people who need help cooking and cleaning. It’s not for people who need significant medical care or memory care.

      People who shouldn’t go to assisted living:
      * dementia patients
      * people who need help toileting
      * non ambulatory patients (unless they can use a wheelchair fairly independently)

      I know everyone thinks “nursing home” sounds bad but if your parents need more help than one nurses aide assigned to 50 people can provide, then assisted living isn’t the right place.

    2. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I realize I didn’t quite understand your post. These are neighbors or friends, not your own parents. I missed that.

      I think visiting them would be #1. Maybe bring along some cards or a board game. If you have a book or movie to pass along or let them borrow that would be nice. But I think the #1 is visiting. Many people in AL are lonely and their kids likely have their own kids/jobs that prevent frequent visits. If it were my family member, I would be very grateful if their friends stopped by for a chat and some tea with them.

    3. fposte*

      I’m surprised by the notion of a transition period where you don’t visit people. That’s not been something observed with anybody I know who’s moved–they tend to be worried about being forgotten by their old social contacts. I guess the kids may have reasons why it’s a good approach in this case.

      I think help with keeping an eye on the house is probably the most useful thing you can do aside from visiting, and it’s very kind of you to do so. That can be a hard transition and to have a neighbor willing to be on the spot is, I’m sure, a big relief for them.

      1. Triplestep*

        Thanks; I think visiting will be important once they’ve settled in an acclimated, but they do have three local children who I’m sure have been there every day since they moved in. From what I was told, the transition is not going well for one spouse, and the other spouse is OK but worried about the first one and therefore not socializing. I was also told the facility’s staff gives them a lot of attention the first couple of weeks, and then encourages them to socialize more, including visits from the outside.

    4. Parenthetically*

      Oh gosh, having neighbors, friends, etc., come around for visits and help make things as normal as possible would have been amazing! My grandmother moved into assisted living 1000 miles from her life-long home (to be closer to my dad) and it was incredibly hard on her not to have friends. My dad’s church rallied amazingly, but it was still difficult.

      1. Triplestep*

        That sounds so hard! This couple is fortunate to have local family – their new facility is only about a 20 minute drive from home.

    5. Washi*

      If you’d be willing, you could offer to drive them to occasional medical appointments if they need it. Older people tend to have a lot of doctor’s appointments and it can be hard on the kids to have to take off work to go to all of them.

      1. Triplestep*

        That is a really good idea. I was not available to do that until recently (started working from home) but it had not occurred to me that they’d still need that. I guess I thought the facility would provide rides.

    6. gecko*

      Oh my goodness, please visit. What a horrible thing to be ripped away from your social circle. The kids have a good reason for doing it, I’m sure–but your old neighbors are still adults and your friends. Since it’s assisted living, it’s not a nursing home (that is, if the kids aren’t politely saying assisted living instead of nursing home).

      Maybe you can ask the kids for particularly bad times to visit, and their parents’ new phone number. Both of my grandparents who moved into assisted living places found new communities where they were, but it was really difficult for them at first. I think you can press the kids a little bit more, to make sure they don’t think you’re just asking to be nice, but also hopefully your friends aren’t at the point where their entire social schedule has to be run by their kids.

      1. Triplestep*

        Thanks, I will visit when the time is right. I didn’t mean to make it seem that they were “ripped away” – the wife was onboard with this change and had been for some time. She is the healthier of the two, but not surprisingly, she has declined over the past few years of taking care of her husband. He was the one digging in his heels, so they (the wife and kids) either overruled him or convinced him.

    7. Triplestep*

      Thanks for all the responses. I wanted to clarify that the kids didn’t aggressively make this decision on behalf of the couple – the wife had wanted to move to assisted living for some time. Taking care of her husband was getting to be too much for her. Having had a little experience with family-members going to rehab, I think the facility is partly responsible for how fast this happened. They don’t make money off an empty apartment, so you can’t really blame them for proactively trying to fill it from their waiting list.

      One major reason I am not willing to second-guess the kids is that I was in a similar position about five years ago when my mother – after a long hospitalization – was released from rehab to her apartment where she lived alone. She should not have been home alone for long stretches, and I worked an hour away. I tried to organize her visitors to go through me so I could space them out. Not only did my mother need rest in between, but I needed the help from people who were willing to look in on her periodically. It didn’t help to have visitors when an actual CNA or visiting nurse was there, or have a bunch of people descend on her at once. This was actually the opposite of helpful.

      I tried to be really clear that I was asking partly on her behalf, and partly on my own – I really put myself out there as needing help as her caregiver (who had a full time job) and mostly people got this and were fine having their visits scheduled by me. But there were a few people who bristled at the idea that I was trying to “control” my mother, and that I was “infantilizing” her. (My mother had refused visitors in the hospital, so none of them knew exactly how frail she was. Yes her mind was till sharp, but they could not have realized that just a few weeks earlier she couldn’t even walk.) It was extremely hurtful to me that at this very stressful time, people were questioning my motives when I was literally begging them for help. One person in particular I don’t think I’ll ever forgive for the way she treated me when I requested as a favor to me, she let me schedule her visit with my mother.

      Anyway, thanks again for the suggestions. I absolutely will visit this couple and encourage others to do the same. I am just waiting for the all-clear from the kids.

    8. Owler*

      Both my friend and I had to move our parents into assisted living earlier than we would have thought we would need to because of health problems (Alzheimer’s for my friend’s mom; unexpected head trauma for mine). Good places in my hometown have a waitlist, so once you decide to move and there’s an opening, you do have to move quickly.

      Friend’s mom resisted, but it was totally the right decision; she came around after three months and declared herself “so thrilled she had proposed this move herself”. Thank you, memory loss. My mom is more aware of what she has lost by moving because she is the youngest there and was very independent before her move. It’s a little isolating socially since she is no longer able to drive. Driving is a huge part of senior independence in my hometown.

      Encourage the couple to maintain their social connections, whether by joining clubs or outings at the senior residence or by inviting friends to join them for dinner in the residence dining hall. If the husband drags his feet at doing stuff (not uncommon for one spouse to be less excited about the move), encourage the wife to go on her own. And do visit! I loved knowing that other people were checking in on my mom and socializing with her.

      1. Triplestep*

        Thanks for posting. We saw one of the daughters at their house yesterday and she reported that she got her mom to leave the apartment and go to a concert in one of the common areas, but still no encouragement to visit. I will give it a couple of weeks.

  23. SigneL*

    Last Feb 10, I fell and broke/dislocated a metatarsal in my L foot. Surgery was required to set the bone, so I was in hospital for 3 days, followed by nearly THREE WEEKS in rehab. Nine weeks later I’m still in a wheelchair, not allowed to put any weight on my foot. I’m starting to think this bone will never heal!

    Really, I’m just feeling sorry for myself. Thanks for listening.

    1. Pippa*

      Sympathies! I’ve been recovering from an injury too – not on a timeline as exasperatingly long as yours, but it makes me impatient and disappointed sometimes. Sounds like you’ve hit a reasonable stage of recovery to have the occasional grumpy patch. Immediate aftermath of injury is all about coping and planning, and later there can be this plateau where nothing’s new or urgent, and you’re thinking ‘sigh, I thought I’d be better by now. How much longer???’

      Wishing you strong bones soon!

      1. SigneL*

        when I was in the ER and the doctor told me I had a fracture, I thought, they’ll give me a boot and I’ll be outta here! AHAHA! I had no idea I wouldn’t go home until almost a month later! I do not know how I would have managed (specifically, dogs at home) if my husband hadn’t been able to cope. Even today, if he goes down, I can’t walk the dogs. So I need to get well!

    2. Wishing You Well*

      I am SORRY you’re going through this.
      One thought: exercise the parts of you that still work. That will speed healing in the broken part, even though you’re not exercising that part. You might feel better in general, too.
      (I’ll never forget seeing a guy in the gym with a walking cast! I hope he heals, too!)
      I hope you’re up and around soon.

      1. SigneL*

        Yes, I’ve been faithfully doing the exercises, hoping increased blood flow will help. My sister, a former professional tennis player who is still very active, always heals fast. I personally think increased blood flow plays a part.

        Also, I don’t want to lose muscle, sitting in the chair.

    3. Everdene*

      After a couple of fractures by bones showed no signs of healing for 18 months- despite multiple surgeries. This isn’t to scare you but warn you; during all that time I was being prescribes NSAIDs – which inhibit bone growth. It was 3 years before I could give up the wheelchair. Ask your medical team to look at all the options why you aren’t healing. It was a physio who suggested med changes.

      1. SigneL*

        Oh, good idea. The general thought is, it’s healing more slowly due to my age (67). I see my doctor on Tuesday and will review my meds with him, just to be sure. Thanks!

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          On a related note, I had a friend who wasn’t healing an injury and the dr had an AHA moment when he saw her reading an Atkins Diet article while waiting. Ketosis can interfere with our healing.

    4. Wulfgar*

      I broke my left big toe and foot about ten years ago. I was a mailman and on my feet for 10 hours a day, and it never healed right. I asked for time off; my supervisor said that I wouldn’t have a job to come back to, so I worked through it while wearing an air cast. I had to take the air cast off to shift gears, so it wasn’t super helpful. Arthritis from my ankle through my toes was the result. I wish I had just quit the job.

    5. Jules the First*

      Oh I hear you!

      I had a little accident on a spacehopper at the end of September and after being immensely relieved to have been told I hadn’t broken my ankle, have since learned that I tore a tendon instead…and breaking the ankle would have been faster to heal. I spent nine weeks on crutches and am six months into physiotherapy…and they tell me it will be at least another six months until I’m back to my whole life. :(

      Hang in there!

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      To all with various injuries where weight on it is painful– find a pool. I developed a frozen shoulder after a fall where someone caught me by my arm. I had a minor rotator cuff tear, but the frozen shoulder was the real problem according to the orthopedist.
      Swimming is what got me out of it….just playing in the water helped too.

      1. Everdene*

        Seconded! I can move in the water like nothing ever happened! (Not so much the case on land).

  24. The Cosmic Avenger*

    Adulting thread! What have you done, what do you plan on getting done?

    I am on my own today, my minion and partner off for a day-long dressage seminar. I need to do laundry, but otherwise I plan on doing very little today and enjoying it! I did call my brokerage earlier this week because I received a “consent solicitation” for a small bond issue I inherited. I had no idea what that was, so I called my brokerage, who gave me another number, and they sent me the full “consent solicitation”, which was dense and confusing AF, but I felt like I had done my due diligence. Plowing through that and trying to understand it was some postgraduate-level adulting!

    I also attended a couple of optional work functions this week, both about a change in our leadership structure, which weren’t that daunting because I know and like a lot of my coworkers, but still, not what I would choose to do with my free time normally. Barely adulting, maybe, but I’m glad I forced myself to do it.

    1. rmw1982*

      Over the last few weeks, I applied for, and got, a new job (with a raise, to boot!). In celebration, I’m taking it easy this weekend. I have some chores I need to do around the house (laundry, vacuum) but other than that, I’m sitting on my butt and not doing much.

    2. Overeducated*

      This has been an intense week of adulting! One late work function, taxes (ok that was last week, just had to scan my ID to file), four phone calls to make one medical appointment, one job application, one credit union membership, a mortgage application, and back-and-forth negotiations all week over our offer on a house – only to find out last night that the seller…didn’t know the property boundary was smaller than the fenced lot until yesterday.

      Needless to say all this was a little distracting from work last week, but looks like now we have to go back to this house, see how much land is “left,” figure out if we still want to buy, and either withdraw our offer or say “obviously we’re not paying what we agreed for less than what was represented” and restart negotiations.

      Adulting is the worst. When I was a teenager I spent my free time reading philosophy and judging adults for being so focused on practicality and not showing any interest in deep questions. I laugh at my teenage self now but I also miss that free time and mental space!

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m in the US and that means personal taxes. I’m less last-minute than other years…today I go pick up tax paperwork I dropped off at the preparer during the week. It’s also dump run day…what fun being a grown-up.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          And now I have to go looking for some missing statements. I dread paper so much maybe I’ll unload the dishwasher first and do laundry. ;)

    4. Chylleh*

      I finished my taxes earlier, and am taking my car for scheduled maintenance today, looking for cat sitters, and going to try to make meals on Sunday to be reheated during the workweek. Next weekend said cat will be going to the vet and I’m going to see about getting a handy person to fix our front door.

      This doesn’t sound like much, but when I spend most of my weekends playing Stardew Valley it doesn’t take much for me to be excited about minimal adulting.

    5. fposte*

      My achievement was not only scheduling online payment of taxes but online payment of quarterlies. I forgot one one year; hopefully now that won’t happen. There will also be massive laundry because for a couple of weeks I doubt I’ll have the weekend energy to do it.

      So is a consent for a bond issue like a stockholder vote but for an individual bond? I’ve never encountered that either.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Looks like it’s laundry day for a few of us!

        And yes, you have it exactly right! Actually, from reading up on it, I found that you can have consent solicitations for stockholders, too, although some states and corporate charters prohibit them. They’re just basically on-the-spot requests for stakeholder consent, I guess for things too time-sensitive to wait for an annual meeting. This one is about amending the terms of the bonds to accommodate a merger, although even after reading it I’m still not clear on the impact, which makes me suspicious. They started out offering $1 per X in bonds for consent, and upped it to $10 per yesterday, so it failed the first time. Not surprising, considering that I can imagine a lot of investors might be too busy or just not inclined to read. I might consent if they up it any more, as my share is apparently 13/600,000 and probably wouldn’t be the deciding factor anyway, so I might as well get a small dividend out of it. It sounds like a bribe, but apparently this is a common and legal practice for consent solicitations. And obviously they need a majority of the bondholders to agree to a change in the terms.

        I mean, in case anyone’s curious, here’s the summary of the proposed amendment. There is a longer explanation, but it’s no more comprehensible. I had to ask for the full text of the Consent Solicitation, it wasn’t sent to me.

        The purpose of the Consent Solicitation is to seek the Consent of Holders to the Proposed Amendments to allow [Bond Issuer] to implement the Proposed Transaction by, among other things, (i) conforming the provisions of the guarantor merger covenant in the Indenture (Section 8.1(b)) to the corresponding provisions in the indenture governing the other series of notes issued by [Bond Issuer], which do not require, in connection with the Proposed Transaction, that the joint venture entity assume the obligations of, or provide a guarantee for, such other series of notes and (ii) providing that, notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the Indenture, the Proposed Transaction will not result in a Default or an Event of Default. If the Holders of not less than a majority in aggregate principal amount of the Notes outstanding validly deliver (and not validly revoke) the Requisite Consents on or prior to the earlier of (x) the Consent Time and (y) the Expiration Date, [Bond Issuer], the Guarantor and the Trustee will execute the Supplemental Indenture. Except for the Proposed Amendments, all of the existing terms of the Indenture and the Notes will remain unchanged and in effect in their current form. See “The Proposed Amendments.”
        Although the Supplemental Indenture and the Proposed Amendments will become effective immediately upon execution at the Consent Time, the Supplemental Indenture and the Proposed Amendments will cease to be operative if the Proposed Transaction is not consummated or if [Bond Issuer] does not pay, or cause to be paid, the Consent Fee to DTC for the benefit of the Holders in accordance with the terms set forth in this Consent Solicitation Statement. Once the Supplemental Indenture is effective, Consents may no longer be revoked.
        Under the corresponding provisions of the indenture governing the other series of notes issued by [Bond Issuer] that are outstanding as of the date of this Consent Solicitation Statement, the joint venture entity will not be required to assume the obligations of, or provide a guarantee for, such other series of notes and, accordingly, [Bond Issuer] is not soliciting consents from the holders of such other series of notes to any proposed amendments to such indenture.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I vaguely remember reading that it is tricky to change the terms of the bond once the bond is issued. Here we can see one reason, most people have no idea what this document says. Even if you understand half of it you still have no idea how it impacts you.
          Getting people to vote in the matter is also tricky. This is attributed to holder apathy but I think that apathy of the holders/owners is a superficial explanation that shows tremendous lack of serious understanding as to what is happening on the holder end.
          There might be a proxy thing you can sign to opt out of all this thinking work.
          I think a good percentage of people just toss this stuff in the garbage. Some how these organizations keep functioning even though people just throw this stuff away.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        @fposte re: laundry. So I have been trying a new thing. I aim for one load a day rather than trying to all of it in one day. I hang most stuff up to dry, so this means when I do it all at once I lose time looking for an empty spot to hang something. Things take longer to dry, too.
        It’s odd, a task that felt like hours now seems like 15 minutes a day. Day 1′ s stuff is dry and put away by the time I hang up day 3’s stuff. So. much. easier. For years I did not want to use this method. Now I have no idea why I was stuck on that point.
        This works for me because my washer/dryer is on the same floor as my living space. If I had to run up and downstairs, I’d probably have piles of laundry.

        1. Analysis Paralysis*

          I second this recommendation! Do a load immediately when you have enough clothes for a small-to-medium sized load. I’ve absolved myself of guilt over water/electricity usage — my large loads sometimes had to be washed twice to get things smelling clean, and my machine washes heavy loads for longer anyway. It was a little weird to get into this mode of smaller, more frequent loads but now that I’m in the habit, laundry is much less onerous & I’ll never go back to doing big loads.

          Of course this won’t work if you have to use a laundromat. I remember those days & remain deeply grateful that I own a washer.

          Another tip: keep as much on hangers as your closet permits. Rehang worn/dirty items in a designated area of closet (for example, against the far left wall, thus the amount of space needed for clean/dirty can shrink/grow by sliding things down; hang an empty dry cleaning bag on a hangar as a barrier between clean & dirty). I store clean intimates in a drawer & dirty intimates in a small ‘mesh hanging storage organizer’ (search criteria for Amazon), separated by light vs dark, and the 3rd compartment is for dirty socks.

          I can visibly see how much/how many of whatever color/weight category needs to be washed. When I have enough to do a small load of whatever category, I carry those items to washer on the hangars. Off-load from hangars into washer, leave hangers nearby. When done, immediately rehang as each item is pulled from the dryer. Carry back to closet. Laundry complete.

          This also works if you need/prefer to hang-dry. I pull clothes from washer & immediately rehang on hangars. Then I adorn the interior doorways of my house with my wet laundry (hangars suspended from the doorway trim). I hang-dry my intimates on a ‘multi layer open ended pants hangar’ (search criteria for Amazon). Once dry, intimates get folded. Everything else gets carried back to closet, already on hangars. Laundry complete.

          And… not everyone likes sandwiches, so YMMV. :-)

          1. Just us chickens*

            Great ideas! I especially like the hanging pre-worn clothes in one area, I tend to just hang them back in the same place, just with the hangers backwards, this makes more sense.

    6. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I am filling my new raised beds with soil and compost. Just did 4 wheelbarrow loads worth and taking a break… only another 6-10 loads to go…

      Then I may move the patio furniture from the basement/garage to the deck. I can’t move the table by myself so may partially disassemble it to move it.

    7. Parenthetically*

      I’ve got to finish my state tax return, which should take about five minutes.

      Apart from that, normal things — taking the recycling away, washing the bedding, doing a bit of gardening at my folks’ place.

    8. T3k*

      I’m still in bed (to be fair my work shift doesn’t start until noon). But I do plan to go out and get groceries, pick up the mail/packages, register for my college classes (going back to school part time for another degree), and throw the dishes into the dishwasher. Then figure out who at work I need to talk to about why we didn’t get paid yesterday (it’s typically supposed to be every other Fri.)

    9. Kristen*

      Last night I completed the last of taxes I needed to do. I finished my own, my fiance’s, and my sister’s this week. Today, I’m going to play Stardew Valley after I grab lunch. Stardew Valley: Adulting or no?

    10. LastDaughterStanding*

      I think the biggest adulting moment is the phone call that freezes time. The one that says “You are about to be ‘the older generation’ because your last remaining parent has died/is dying.” That happened to me 15 years ago, but happened to 2 friends this week. You never really realize the comfort of having someone with more life experience than you until it’s not there any more. And suddenly you ARE the adult in the room.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Oh, yes, and even after 15 years, I want to say sorry for your loss, and for your friends’ more recent loss. I had one parent just go from healthy and active to brain dead in an instant, and I had one parent go through a year-long illness and recovery only to die a year later. I just remind myself that I have a lot to be grateful for: the parent that died quickly was the kind that tried to hold out against making end-of-life plans, somehow feeling like it was unlucky or inviting trouble to think about it, so that parent would not have done well with a long-term illness and recovery. The other parent I was not as close to, but I got to spend most of that year caring for them, and we talked more in that year than we had at any time in our lives before. However, even though one was over 10 years ago and the other was more than 2, both are still difficult for me, although I am getting closer to finding a new normal.

        Interestingly, Judaic law agrees with your assessment. In Judaism, parents are to be mourned longer than any other family member. I think it’s because when you’re a small child, parents seem so powerful and knowledgeable, and so even if later we can intellectually understand that parents are just people like anyone else, it’s still a truly devastating emotional blow that someone who once seemed all-powerful and a permanent fixture in your life is irrevocably gone.

        1. LastDaughterStanding*

          Thanks, I appreciate the kind thoughts. And very interesting about Judaic law. Your last sentence got me right in the gut. Thanks for that resonance.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          There have been a few times where I have been truly impressed with how Judaism protects its people. with advice/guidelines/instructions. Grieving is one arena. I love the insight in your last paragraph, too.

          What you are saying is so true. I read an article once (sorry don’t have the source) but doctors tend to believe that in the loss of our parent we begin exhibit the symptoms that will eventually kill us. Losing a parent is a life-changing event in many ways.
          I grieved my last parent harder than I grieved my spouse’s passing. Like you are saying here, I think I felt a higher sense of obligation than I did to anyone else in my life. I still grieved my husband and that did rattle me, but no where near as severely as when my last parent died.

          The world sure looks different without the parents.

    11. LCL*

      We will be taking Mr Dog in to be put to sleep. He’s had a great life and it’s time. Then a liquid lunch, I won’t be driving so that’s OK.

      1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

        Sending hug for you. And Mr. Dog. Hard thing to do, even when you know it’s right… still miss my girl.

    12. Gatomon*

      Today’s adulting was a fail. I was going to swap my snow tires out for the season, but procrastinated too long and now the shop is up to a 3 – 4 hour wait. So I guess I will try to sort it out Monday or Tuesday around work. Maybe. I won’t get fined until the end of May at least.

      I’m not very good at this thing.

    13. Elizabeth West*

      Did not adult much this week except for job apps. Tomorrow, I will adult and clean the house. There are lilac buds on the bush out back and I want to bring some in when they bloom. I prefer to put flowers inside when the house is clean.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        My lilacs are still a bunch of sticks. The differences in zones, eh? I will just keep hopefully waiting.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Well yeah but stupidly, there may be frost on Monday morning. Springtime in the Ozarks, what’re ya gonna do. :P

    14. Not So NewReader*

      I used Turbo-Tax for the first time. The person who does my taxes thought it would be cheaper. Guess not, though.

      I basically liked TT but it took a long time to get through everything. And it would have helped if I did not wait until yesterday to serious sit and look at the tax stuff. I think I want to go back to my person next year. Sadly, I need that appointment with her to make myself be timely and organized.

    15. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      Spent an hour+ on the phone and revamped my car insurance (again) this week. When I added the new-to-me used car last month, the premium soared. Turns out the customer service rep on the phone back then, removed one of my major discounts (15%) on the other vehicle (which I have listed for sale). I got the discount reinstated and removed the junker car I’m having towed for salvage this week. It winds up making $100 a month difference (I’m in CA, where things are not cheap).
      Note that I was reading this week (sorry, can’t remember the source) that the depressed and anxious pay more for their daily bills, because navigating through the phone trees and slogging through the paperwork can take so much energy, that they often default to the status quo. I get it.
      I still need to see if I can get Mom’s new smart phone off my Verizon account and return it. She can’t master it AND it does not work in her small town, making it fundamentally useless. Going to have to return to her local, small carrier (popular in the midwest).
      I did also follow up with the accountant to make sure I’m going on extension. (Last year with small business, so next year I can probably do my own again).
      I also drove to Marin (over an hour in stop-and-go traffic) to buy a good used topper/shell for the big truck, so that I can haul tools to the midwest in June. Finding a good deal on a used one is hard – I decided to snap it up and quit waffling.
      It sounds like a lot of adulting but I spent months thinking about these things and a long couple weekends recovering from the pain of the office cleanup I had to do, in order to prep the taxes (lots more discoveries about secrets buried). Decided to do something positive instead of sitting inside crying.
      It helps that the rain has stopped here, too. And I’ve started taking my vitamins more seriously.
      Adult, adult, adult.

    16. Autumnheart*

      Yesterday I had to buy a car on extremely short notice. I took my now-late car in for what I thought was a new fuel injector, but it turned out to be a dying transmission. At 12 years and 190k miles, it didn’t make sense to spend $4500 on a new tranny for a car that age.

      Luckily for me, I’d been thinking about what I wanted for a replacement, browsing car websites and just reading up on things, so I had a short list of cars I wanted to check out, and I got a good deal on a barely-used 2018 model that even had the color and trim level I’d wanted.

      But man, having to figure out how to deal with my poor old car, get to the dealership and try to make good choices—that was a lot to handle all at once! Plus, I really loved my old car and still have a lot of feelings about giving it up.

    17. JobHunter*

      Adulting wins: bought some groceries and supplies to replace a dead light fixture. Fails: opened an (unshaken!) soda that exploded inside my car and not submitting some paperwork for W*k-stuff.

    18. Gir*

      I have pushed off doing my taxes until the very latest moment apparently. I typically file the first day you can, however one of my W2s took forever to get (supposed to be able to view online, however the online system had me blocked out), so for whatever reason I put it off again and again.

      Welp. Monday is tax day. So I suppose I’ll be filing on Monday, as I work/have appointments on Sunday.

      Sunday/Monday is my weekend. But because I have a hair appointment and work my second job on Sunday, and then have to meal prep and do taxes on Monday, I’m not looking forward to next week, as I seem to have lost my “weekend”

    19. Sam Sepiol*

      My house is a tip. It is very stressful to me. It’s been a tip for months. I need it not to be a tip any more.

      I will report back. Please wish me luck!!

      1. Sam Sepiol*

        I have made my room Much Tidier. There is still a lot to do but I’ve moved stuff that’s been in the way for months. I feel the rest might be possible.

    20. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Yesterday I set up a new modem and router (without swearing!) and made pineapple grilled short ribs with coconut rice and sautéed Bok Choy for dinner. The ribs were amazing and I immediately wished I made more. Today I culled my cookbooks and dishes and then moved a hutch and bookcase out of my dining room to make way for a new buffet and bookcase, which will be delivered next Saturday. Then I went to the day spa for a manicure, pedicure and brow wax. Next up, pot roast with potatoes and carrots!

  25. rmw1982*

    No specific advice, but if you’re in the US, you may have to fight insurance to approve/pay for the surgery. Depends on the insurance company, doctor’s office, etc. Good luck on evicting your wonky uterus!

    1. rmw1982*

      *sigh* That was in response to Red Sky and her question about getting a hysterectomy. I need to go back to bed.

  26. Lisa*

    I was wondering if anyone had some advice or scripts for dealing with peoples unwarranted opinions/harmful comments.
    I’m a 28 year old woman with Aspergers who has never been in a relationship nor do I want one. I do consider myself bi/pan, though. My mum (my closest family member and friend) is fine with this and supports me.
    However, I’ve got family telling me that it’s wrong to not be in a relationship at my age and I’m not normal.
    Two family members were talking today about how two women together is great and… well the politest terms would be sexy, but that they would “use a gun” on any (derogatory term for gay people).
    I found it disgusting as it felt like I would be considered a sexual fantasy to them and also hurtful towards gay people.
    If I do want to bring home a girlfriend one day (or even a boyfriend who doesn’t identify as heterosexual), I want them to feel safe.
    I walked away in these moments, but unfortunately, they are people who live close and visit my house often for other family members.
    Any help, please?

    1. Miss Astoria Platenclear*

      So they’re titillated by girl-on-girl action but hate f**s? How original.
      They really need to mind their own business.. Inly advice I have is to be minimally polite and redirect the conversation to something neutral like pets, sports, food, etc. Eventually you’ll get some chosen friends you can relax and be yourself with.

      1. annakarina1*

        And they would only be excited by lesbians if they had a femme, straight-passing appearance, like “lesbian porn” made for straight guys.

        I don’t have advice, but this is awful, and I’m sorry your family are being terrible, Lisa.

    2. Alex*

      I’m afraid there isn’t much help in this world for making bigotry less harmful and disgusting than it is. Removing yourself from interacting with these people as much as you can is your best bet. If other family members complain, you are 100% allowed to let them know that you can’t tolerate their hatred, especially since they’ve indicated that they would advocate VIOLENCE towards someone. I don’t think there’s a way to make a gay person feel safe in the company of that.

    3. Triplestep*

      It sounds like you’re asking two questions: “What can I say to get people off my back about finding a significant other?” And “What can I say when people in my family make inappropriate comments about Gay people?”

      For the first question, I find putting things back onto the askers of boundary-crossing questions is the best way to handle these things. One way to do this is to just make a statement about it: “That’s pretty personal”. Or “Hm. I’m confused about why you think that’s something I’d want to discuss.”

      For the second question, I think there are good responses to this, but I also want to tell you that it’s OK to employ coping skills at times like this if you don’t think you can handle engaging with them. (Such as what you’ve already done with walking away.) I know you want to be able to protect any future LGBTQ+ love interest or friend who may be exposed to this, but I think it’s OK to build up to that when the time is right. You need to know you can take care of yourself before you take care of others.

    4. Wishing You Well*

      Are they saying these things in YOUR house? Depending on your situation, you have more control over this than maybe you realize. One idea: tell (not ask) them to change the topic – with whatever tone and expression you feel is appropriate. I am sorry you’re dealing with this.

    5. Zephy*

      Your family sucks and I’m sorry.

      You’re 28 years old, you aren’t required to sit and listen to people have gross opinions at you, even if they’re relatives. It’s okay to leave, as you’ve done. It’s not your job to show these people the Error Of Their Ways, so if you don’t feel up to the task of Saying Something every time, you aren’t ruining feminism.

      You could try returning the awkward to sender. “Wow, you just said that out loud. How embarrassing for you.”

      You can counter any “tHaT’s JuSt mY oPinIon” with “Yeah, well, your opinion sucks.”

      Can you enlist your mom’s help? Have you told her how you feel when you hear your relatives say these shitty things?

    6. Lilysparrow*

      You are a grown-up. It’s your house. These people, no matter what their relationship, have no right to speak to anyone this way. It’s unbelievably rude and horrid.

      Level 1, “You should be in a relationship.”
      You: “Well, obviously I’m not, so I guess that’s not your decision.”
      If you have fond memories of these people being loving toward you as a child, or some cultural reason why you have to pretend to like them, then you can say it with a small smile on your face.

      Level 2: “You’re not normal.”
      You: “Well, I’m content, so if that’s not normal, then I’m okay with that.”
      Again, fond memories might earn a slight softening with facial expression.

      Level 3: Horrible hate speech …
      You: “What a revolting thing to say. I’m not going to sit here and listen to this kind of garbage.”

      Then, if you are afforded sufficient autonomy in your home (which as a grown adult I hope you are), tell them to get out.

      If the other relatives who live with you won’t support your right to decide who is welcome in your home (which again, as a grown-ass adult you most certainly should have), then just get up and leave yourself.

      And tell the people hosting them to let you know before they allow these nasty people to come over, so you can get out before they arrive.

      And if the other relatives in your home are tolerating this stuff or giving you a hard time about your response, then the visitors are not your main problem. The people you live with are your main problem for having skewed values and priorities.

    7. Weegie*

      For people who hassle you about not being in a relationship, Dear Prudence has a useful phrase: any variant of ‘I’m really happy with the way I’ve arranged my life’ should shut down the discussion fairly effectively and politely.

    8. Quandong*

      I’m sorry your family members are so awful, but glad that you have your mum’s support.

      My suggestion is to check out Captain Awkward: she gives fantastic advice and her scripts for responding to horrid people are A+

      For example, this addresses one aspect of what your other family members are pressuring you about:

      You have the right to feel safe in your own house, and to be free from harassment about your relationships and your sexuality. What your family members are doing is wrong and it’s not okay.

  27. Françoise*

    Question about Facebook Messenger
    When I send a message and next to it a little white circle appears with a tick inside, what does it mean? I always assumed it means the message was sent but not yet delivered (phone turned off, no internet on the receiver’s end etc.). Now I see this next to messages I sent but I also see the person online.
    Was I blocked? Then I couldn’t see the person being online I believe.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I don’t ever use the Messenger app, but on desktop, the Messenger popup shows a check mark when a message is seen by the recipient. Remember, Messenger isn’t a standalone mail app, there is no “delivered”. Once FB receives your message, it’s waiting for the recipient on the FB servers, whether the recipient uses Messenger or not.

    2. Nicole76*

      I’ve seen three different things show up –
      Message with white circle and blue tick means sent.
      Message with blue circle with white tick means received.
      Message with circle of the person’s profile pic means read.

      People can be online without actually reading your message. But if it’s not showing as a blue circle with white tick it likely didn’t reach them for some reason. I’ve had that happen with people who don’t have the message app; it should change to the blue circle once they’ve logged into Facebook, I believe. But keep in mind it will sometimes say someone is online even when they aren’t. I’ve seen it happen with family members I’m in the same room with.

    3. cat socks*

      If you’re on a computer using Messenger, you can click on a message and if a person has read it, text will display underneath saying ” Seen 1:02 P.M.” or something similar. I don’t recall if it shows the date too.

    4. Hrovitnir*

      You weren’t blocked, pretty sure in that case the message would look different.

      From memory grey circle = not sent, grey ticked = sent but not downloaded on their end, blue ticked = sent and received, their face = seen. You can watch it cycle through them sometimes.

      I think you can select the message and resend, sometimes it gets “stuck”. If you want to see if you’re blocked, just go to their page, but it’s unlikely.

      Let me also support the point that sometimes you’re online but not feeling the right energy for a direct conversation (vs casually scrolling and maybe commenting); it doesn’t necessarily mean people don’t want to talk to you if they don’t check messages immediately. :)

  28. Foreign Octopus*

    Book thread!

    What’s everyone reading this week?

    I’m racing through Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. It’s been on my bookshelf for nearly a year now and there was always something else I wanted to read instead but I am so surprised by how much I’m loving this book. It’s not at all what I expected and it’s just great fun. I’ve got about sixty pages left and I’m planning to finish today (Saturday is always my lazy reading day) and I just want to know how it ends (no spoilers, please!).

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I loved that book so much. The movie was cute too… different but not so much as to irritate me.
      (As opposed to the travesty Costner made of David Brin’s The Postman. I’ll recommend that book but not that movie.)
      I haven’t actually gotten to read very much lately. Some Kate Daniels short stories that a friend is letting me read on her Kindle at lunch time. I need something new and upbeat.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        I’ve just finished it and I generally loved it. I wasn’t really feeling the Wade/Art3mis stuff as it felt a little forced and kind of thrown in there just because, but I loved everything else about it.

    2. Marion Ravenwood*

      I’m reading a book called Last Letter Home by Rachel Hore. I won it in a competition a few months ago and it’s not my usual thing, but I figured I’d give it a go. The plot’s kind of predictable (woman goes to Italy where her grandad was stationed in the war with friend and friend’s boyfriend, finds bunch of letters from English woman to German soldier left at villa where grandad stationed, cue flashback) but it’s written well enough for me to stick with it.

      Next it will probably be Alice In Wonderland for a book club. I liked it the first time I read it, but have never been a huge Alice fan, so will be interested to revisit.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I’m really enjoying Hazards of Time Travel by Joyce Carol Oates. I only started reading it because I knew I would have some down time on my hands, and none of my ebook holds were available yet. I found it through browsing the “available now” section of my library’s ebook site, and it sounded interesting, and so far it is! Of course, soon after I checked it out, the next book in John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War series came off hold for me, but I will power through. :)

      I loved Ready Player One! I was surprised how different some things were in the book, and I could see why some fans of the book were annoyed at the changes, so I’m very glad I saw the movie first. Unlike what I hear most people say they prefer, I try to see the movie first, then read the book, because the book is usually so much more detailed, and I find them both more enjoyable and less frustrating in that order, from less detailed to more detailed.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        Ooo, I haven’t heard of someone seeing the film first and then reading the book. I’m definitely the opposite way but I’ve been looking at YouTube clips of the film and I’ve already clocked the differences. I’m not sure I’ll watch it though (mainly because I don’t have the time).

    4. Lizabeth*

      The audio version of Ready Player One is great too! It’s my fall back on long trips. Read by Will Wheadon (yes, that actor from Star Trek Next Generation) and does an excellent job with it.

    5. pmac*

      I just finished All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung, and it was so good! The writing had a great flow, and she was so thoughtful about adoption and her family. Also read Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng which was super weird but I enjoyed it? Terrifying setting and wow the characters got up to some scandalous stuff! My resolution to read more authors of color is going well, and I like the monthly tracking system I have going.

      1. Jen in Oregon*

        Just finished Educated by Tara Westover. I planned to read for a half an hour before bed and just got sucked in and ended up finishing it at 2:35 in the morning.

        1. pmac*

          I have Educated out from the library and can’t wait to read it. That’s good to know that it’s unputdownable!

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’ve been at Disney World all week (headed home this afternoon) and I read in all my lines, meals, and bus rides. So far this week I’ve read a history of the Troubles and auto/biographies of Robin Williams, Harold Ramis, Chief Joseph, some pair of separated-at-birth twins, Michael Caine, and now I’m working on Rock Hudson. (Lots of waiting time, though I also just read crazy fast.)

    7. Foreign Octopus*

      I know I started this thread but since I’ve finished Ready Player One this afternoon, I’ve picked up and am about to start Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich, which was a Christmas present from my older brother.

      I might extend my lazy reading day into Sunday as well :)

    8. Elizabeth West*

      I finished John Jacob Hornor’s The Sea Dreams It Is the Sky (excellent). I stopped in the used bookstore and got a big fat Tad Williams book that looked interesting, The War of the Flowers. I loved his Otherland series.

      Also, a couple of Mary SanGiovanni horror novels were on sale for 99 cents, so I got those. I like her writing.

    9. Earthwalker*

      There There by Tommy Orange, about different Native American characters living in urban Oakland.

    10. Annie Moose*

      Rereading the Dresden Files! I confess I cheated–I skipped the first three books. I love this series to pieces, but the first couple are just… so much rougher than the rest of the series. (the third book is actually fine, but Mab, my absolute favorite character, is introduced in the fourth book, so I wanted to skip to it)

      I’m currently about halfway through Death Masks, the fifth book. THERE ARE SO MANY NEW CHARACTERS BEING INTRODUCED. I forgot they all showed up in this book: Molly, Butters, Ivy, Nicky and the Nickelheads, the other Knights of the Cross, Anna Valmont, even arguably Maggie… ;) So much fun. The best Dresden Files books are when there’s twenty different plots at once, about to crash at high speed.

    11. Tort-ally HareBrained*

      Just discovered the Ruth Galloway series by Elly Griffiths this week. Raced through the first two and now working on #3. Good reads, nice pace, murder mystery/archeology theme.

    12. Sam Sepiol*

      Michelle Obama’s autobiography. Really enjoying it.

      And little fires everywhere by Celeste Ng, which was recommended by Alison. Very good so far.

  29. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going.
    I am still recovering from my trip to Edinburgh (woohoo for getting stuck near the French border for an hour because people decided walking on/along the tracks was a bright idea -_- ) so didn’t get much done, but I had a lot of fun in Edinburgh and bought 8 books :p (and a PSP game because why not).

    1. JJ*

      I always look forward to this thread. I procrastinated this morning by buying tons of books for research, but edited a bit this afternoon. Glad you had a good trip and got some books.

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      I’ve submitted a short story to my first writing contest. I doubt I’ll win because short stories are very difficult for me to write but I’ve been procrastinating submitting stuff for years because I’m afraid that it’ll highlight how awful I am but I decided to just go for it.

      I’m glad you had a great time in Edinburgh!

    3. Claire*

      I finished reviewing page proofs for the pirate novel! *falls down ded*

      Today I have made a mighty vow to finish the current chapter for #pirates2. Almost there!

    4. Bibliovore*

      In the middle of revisions. Peer review suggestion edits. Adding two chapters. Due to my editor on Tuesday for copy editing. Whoo, hoo. on a roll.

  30. HannahS*

    Passover’s coming this week! What are you guys doing/serving/eating? My family hosts the second Seder, and we’re having vegetable soup with matzah balls, brisket, latkes, vegetable stew, possibly quinoa, and then fruit and a million different cookies for dessert. We give everyone a mini seder plate with vegetables and an egg as the salad course. We’re having a smaller group this year–15 people–but I’m excited to see everyone! We’re lucky to have some young couples (from my sibling’s synagogue) who don’t have family in the area and are slowly becoming part of our family. This is my favourite holiday :D

    1. Triplestep*

      Hosting second night, we typically have matzah ball soup, brisket, roasted veggies, and potato kugle. We have flourless chocolate cake for desert and mixed berries.

      I cobbled together an egalitarian hagaddah years ago (pre-internet) and we use a version of it to this day. We have the same people each year; it’s bittersweet because two of them have died, but their kids still come. We’ve selectively added over the years, too. Last year I had a new family and they fit right in – so much so that with all the animated conversations going on, I couldn’t get everyone’s attention to finish the seder!

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      We’re doing a community seder at our synagogue on the first night, then we got a lovely invitation for the second. My partner is really looking forward to it; he is in the process of converting and gets really frustrated by the “Pesach lite” seders my family has been doing and that our friends seems to prefer. (I get frustrated too, but I’m so used to it at this point that it doesn’t bother me quite as much.) We also lucked out because our hosts for the second night are vegetarian, so we don’t have to worry that he’ll have enough to eat.

      This year we’re taking a big leap and introducing kitniyot into our Passover diet. I am still kind of weirded out by this, but my partner has a point– there’s no way he can get enough fuel on our veggie diet without some legumes. It will certainly make cooking for the week easier, but it will take some adjustment on my part!

      1. Bluewall*

        I did introduced kitniyot a couple years ago and it made a big difference. I have intolerances to dairy and quinoa, so it was tough going otherwise!

    3. Not A Manager*

      Chopped liver, eggplant caviar, hard boiled eggs.

      Chicken soup with matzah balls, brisket deckel (with potatoes & mushrooms), roasted carrots. Maybe someone will bring a salad.

      Almond macaroons, home made sorbet.

      Revised my Haggadah this year, too.

    4. Almost Academic*

      I’m going to my first Passover! No clue what to expect, but I’ll be having something eggplant as a main dish (my boyfriend’s family is making the arrangements food-wise).

      Thanks to everyone who commented on my thread last weekend with suggestions of Passover wines! I bought a few bottles, and those will be my contributions to the table. I’m looking forward to it!

    5. curly sue*

      We’re travelling to my mother’s this year, so I’m actually not sure! She usually makes a brisket and a chicken dish, green beans with almonds, asparagus, potato kugel, and makes mandelbrot and chocolate-dipped strawberries for dessert. Yum.

    6. Bluebell*

      Hosting first night. We will have 9 people with fish as the main dish, plus roasted asparagus, matzo ball soup, a nice salad, mushroom kugel, pickles and olives, and fruit and macaroons for dessert. Night 2 we go to friends. Since we just redid our kitchen there is so much less cleaning to do!

    7. Nana*

      Going to a daughter’s…she’s hosting 24! I’m making macaroons for the first time. I’ll make a batch on Wednesday and give to friends locally to ‘taste-test’ for me — so I’ll have time to buy others if my baking sucks! For ‘second night,’ I’m going to another daughter…on the 27th, because that’s the date that works for her group.
      The motto of every Jewish holiday: “They tried to kill us; we won. Let’s eat!”

  31. Chylleh*

    I remember a few weeks back people mentioned hiring cat sitters while going on vacation. For everyone who does, what are some of your go to criteria when vetting (pun not intended) a cat sitter? What do you personally look for to set your mind at ease?

    Finding a good sitter for my shy, indoor cat is filling me with dread, which is probably unwarranted. Thanks to anyone who can’t share some advice! Also, I’m in the South SF Bay area if anyone has recommendations that had worked for them.

    1. APetSitter*

      I don’t have any pets so I can’t speak to hiring a cat sitter but I am a vet student and pet sitter myself. I would recommend reaching out to your vet’s office to see if any of their staff do pet sitting on the side, many do. I have been hired by several clients this way. The benefit of this is that you know they have some veterinary knowledge and are likely to be able to pick up on any signs that something isn’t right and are more likely to have a lot of knowledge on cat behaviour and what is and isn’t good for cats. If you have a local vet school, that’s an option too, many vet students also pet sit. Regardless of whether you hire a student/technician or someone else, meet with them and have them meet your cat and watch how they interact before you confirm anything. Ask them about their previous pet sitting experience and get references if you can. Leave clear instructions on what, when and where you want your cat to be fed, how often you want the litter changed, what type of interactions your cat is typically comfortable with (do they like to be picked up? Do they keep to themselves?) and leave numbers to your regular vet and an emergency vet in your area. If you want regular pictures and updates, tell them exactly what you’re looking for. Consider putting up a kitty cam (and tell the sitter about it). You can do all the vetting in the world but at some point you do just have to trust that the person will take good care of your cat, so I would say it’s most important just to meet with them, watch them interact with your cat and listen to how they answer your questions to make sure you don’t see any red flags and that you have a good rapport. I’ve had clients schedule a FaceTime chat between me and their pet and themselves on vacation half way through their trip or have a trusted friend or family member stop by once or twice to check all is in order as well. If those things make you more comfortable and are available to you, they can be a good idea too. A good pet sitter won’t take offence to being checked in on, they’ll just recognize it as what it is – you caring about your pet. I hope that helps some!

    2. Red Sky*

      I’ve approached this a couple different ways in the past. One option is to check with your vet to see if any of their vet techs pet sit on the side. This way they already have a relationship with your cat and there’s a level of trust thru the client relationship you already have with the business.

      Another option is to do an internet search for cat only sitters in your area and then check their references, licenses and insurance. Also, if they don’t offer to meet your pet beforehand that’s a bit of a red flag for me and make sure the person you meet is actually the person who’ll be doing the petsitting. Ask things like what they’ll do if there’s an emergency, can they give meds, will they text you pics during each visit, what is their policy for house keys.

    3. Texan In Exile*

      Our sweet catsitter left for college two years ago. He lived two doors down from us and started taking care of the cats when he was 12. I know his mom and I knew she would make sure he had done what he was supposed to do. He was so responsible and he loved our cats. We came home one July to learn he had turned on the A/C even though we had left the windows open.

      “It was so hot!” he said. “I was worried about them.”

      When he left, I hired another neighbor who is also our friend. Keith has dogs and takes very good care of them – I knew he would take care of our cats as well.

    4. cat socks*

      We live in a smaller town and found our sitter through Nextdoor. If you have a community/neighborhood site you could ask for recommendations.

      We met with the sitter first to see how she interacted with the kitties. One of our cats needed meds so she came over a second time to practice administering the pills. She had dogs and cats of her own and we had good rapport with her when we met in person.

      One thing I like is that she will send me updates and pics while I’m gone.

      You could do a trial run where the sitter comes over one evening when you’re out late or a similar situation.

    5. Autumnheart*

      I found my pet sitter on Angie’s List. The sitter had excellent reviews, and indeed, I have had nothing but good experiences. Nextdoor also had good recommendations.

    6. Annie Moose*

      I found my sitter through Rover! They market heavily toward dogs, but plenty of sitters on the site do cats as well.

    7. pugs for all*

      I asked around to my fellow cat owners. We now have a professional cat sitter who comes in when we go away and I am so, so happy! We used to use neighbors, friends, etc but it got tiring vetting new people each time. We now have someone I love who takes the job seriously and give me absolute peace of mind.

      Honestly if anyone is looking for an alternate career, this could work if you live in a populous enough area. She seems to be always booked.

    8. Chylleh*

      Thanks so much everyone for your suggestions! I really appreciate it. I’ll start with my cat’s vet for options and then try other suggestions that you all gave.

      My cat is unfortunately terrified of strangers for the first few days, so there is a small chance she won’t even show her face at all while we’re gone. The odd thing with her is that when the few days pass she does a 180 and becomes our visitors’ best friend. I’m hoping cat and sitter will get to that part. A kitty cam would definitely help! I’ll pick one up, too, if they’re reasonably priced. Thanks again everyone!

    9. RufusMum*

      If you’re going through a professional – ask them to come and meet your cat before you leave kitty in their care. My cat sitter came to my house to visit me and my cat, explained her processes and what would happen if kitty was sick, asked and recorded where his toys, brushes etc were stored, got the name and number of my vets on file, and recorded food requirements for him as well. Helped that she was a vet nurse so I felt very comfortable leaving her in charge of my baby. I’ve used her now for two years!

    10. AnonAcademic*

      Peninsula dweller here – we use Jan’s Pet Sitting. They fill out a log for each visit and it’s like a report card on behavior (eating, litter box, play,etc.) plus a checklist of what they did. I really like that they are so thorough.

    11. Susan L*

      I got a referral from a friend and then had the sitter come by to meet them. If the cat is too shy to come out for a meeting at least be sure you are comfortable with the plan for what they do during the visit. Is it just scoop and feed or is there play time built in? Are they willing to take in a newspaper and water some plants? Will they come by at the same time everyday and is that when your kitty is generally awake? Will they send you pictures/updates?

      I am in the South Bay and have used Deb’s Purr-fect Pet Sitters for at least a decade. Totally recommend!

    12. They Don’t Make Sunday*

      This may be so late you don’t see it, but I highly recommend Laurie Garcia, who is in the South Bay/Peninsula. Just Google PetsitterGirl and you’ll find her. I was really sad to stop using her when we moved.

  32. Teapot Translator*

    Hair care advice needed.
    I have a lot of hair. Maybe 6 years ago, I got a perm because I’ve always wanted curly hair. By now, all hair that got permed has been cut off. My hair still curls somewhat. Well, I don’t know how to take care of my hair. Should I buy a specific kind of brush? Should I be applying some kind of product?
    If I hair dry my hair, it loses its curls and puffs up. I don’t need more volume…

    1. Marguerite*

      Do you still want it to be curly? If so, the Ouidad and DevaCurl lines have some nice products for people with curly hair. My hair is very fine, so I use mousse and a little hairspray to get my hair wavy. There’s also a Canadian brand, LUS Brands, that my sis with curly hair loves. Otherwise there are some hair places that are specifically geared towards those with curly hair, so if you can find one in your area, they may be able to recommend how to care for your hair/what products to use.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        You’re right, I wasn’t clear. Yes, I do want it to be curly (some days). I just don’t know what to do with it. I think that I have heavy hair, so the curls tend to disappear and transform into volume when my hair dries or when I brush it. :(
        I may check out LUS Brands. I’m in Canada.

    2. T3k*

      Not sure if you already use such, but getting a wide venting brush might work well. I have very thick hair/not curly but I’ve seen those with curly hair also remark that it works well for them.

    3. Triplestep*

      The person who developed the DevaCurl products and hair cutting technique wrote a book called “Curly Girl”. If you go to Amazon you will see thousands of positive reviews, many of them using the term “Life Changing.” I tell people that it is the best $10 you will ever spend on hair care.

      Even though the author started her own hair care line, she does not recommend products, She recommends ingredients – ones to look for, and ones to stay away from. The idea is that you don’t need strong shampoos if you don’t put a lot of product in your hair that requires detergents to wash it out. For years I only washed my long hair with conditioner, and no one ever believed I didn’t use shampoo or said “yuck, your hair is gross.” (I don’t use this method since I cut my hair very short, but still recommend it.)

      My hair was stick-straight growing up, and when it turned curly after I had kids, I didn’t know how to deal with it. This booked taught me, but it’s great for people who have been life-long curly heads, too.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        They have it at the library! I’ll go borrow it. Thank you for the recommendation.

        Glad to know that I’m not the only one whose hair decided to change over the years.

      2. tangerineRose*

        I use the conditioner only method too. Works great. Blow drying curly hair tends to straighten it. Using gel on curly hair is good.

    4. KR*

      Not sure if this will work for you but my advice would be to STOP brushing your hair. My hair loses it’s curly and gets all poofy when I brush it too. I don’t wash more than once a week or so and I don’t brush my hair unless I have to.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Bingo to both of these.

        I have Merida hair. One morning my hair broke three brushes in ten minutes when I was trying to get ready for a work meeting. I think the real tip-off there is that I was expecting that enough to have three brushes to hand just in case. I usually finger comb these days, but in a pinch, yes, a pick.

      2. SpellingBee*

        Agree! No brushing, and no blow drying either. I also had to learn how to manage curly hair later in life. My hair is quite thick had always been very straight, and for years (well, decades really) I kept it very very short. Then after I retired I decided to let it grow out for awhile just for a change, and to my surprise it’s now curly. Not sure if it was going through menopause or going grey that made the change, or a combination. I’ve gone back to a fairly short cut now, but I leave it a little longer on top, a curly pixie I guess.

        The thing that helped me the most was to find someone who specializes in curly hair to cut it. Even if you’re just going for a trim and shaping, there are techniques that can be used to lighten heavy hair to let the curl come through without shortening it (if that’s what you want). I personally use Ouidad products and like them, and only wash my hair once or maybe twice a week; on intermediate days I rinse or just wet my hair down and scrunch it a bit, and always let it air dry.

      3. Teapot Translator*

        I’d be nervous only washing my hair once a week. When I exercise (except for low-intensity classes), I transpire a lot and my hair gets wet.

    5. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      My best advice about hair: It’s trial and error. Which is unfortunate when buying product, cause money. You can certainly make some educated guesses about what will be good for your hair based on texture, porosity, shaft width etc, but you won’t know if it’ll work until you try it. Ideally through several washes, so you have a good idea of how it work over a longer term.

      That said, for curly hair, brushing is generally considered a no-go. It breaks up the curls into a mass of frizz. Generally you get the tangles out with a wide tooth comb while it’s still wet, ideally with conditioner in it.

  33. Nicole76*

    How do you clean your oven? Years ago I used Oven Off but it was intense. It’s not something I want to use again, especially now that we have a dog. I’ve tried baking soda/water paste, left it on overnight, and then the next morning sprayed it with vinegar. It still requires a lot of elbow grease to look new again and I just don’t have it in me after scrubbing the heck out of the oven racks yesterday. I have tennis elbow now, in fact. So what is non-toxic but actually works with minimal scrubbing?

    1. fposte*

      I think it’s tough to find something to fulfill both briefs. Oven cleaner is pretty much a variant on paint remover–you’re stripping a coating from a surface. Stuff that can peel coatings without being scrubbed is going to be pretty intense. I do see recommendations for Astonish Oven Cleaner paste, which still seems to need some scrubbing but sounds like it might work better than baking soda.

      1. Nicole76*

        I did a little Googling and came across a “no fumes” Easy Off oven cleaner, so maybe that would work next time. It definitely works, but the old stuff I had created such horrible fumes that I threw it away.

        1. fposte*

          I use that one and I can’t smell it outside the oven. So if you’d be okay with containment, I think that’d be a good strategy.

    2. Animal worker*

      I haven’t tried it for ovens, but Bar Keeper’s Friend is like a wonder cleaner for some things. I had a skillet that was used by a pet/house sitter and completely blackened. I scrubbed with everything else I had in the house, no change at all. Got Bar Keeper’s friend powder, and elbow grease, and it looks like new now.

    3. Anona*

      Does your oven have a cleaning mode? We’ve done that with success with no chemicals. It just takes a few hours and gets really hot, so we do it while we’re home.

      1. Nicole76*

        Nope, no self-cleaning option. It’s a pretty basic model, so I guess that’s not included.

    4. Parenthetically*

      I did a paste of dish soap, vinegar, and baking soda and left it overnight. Worked really well!

      1. Nicole76*

        I basically did that (although minus the dish soap), and while it is definitely cleaner than before, there’s still stuff there that will require much more elbow grease than I can dedicate now that I’m in pain.

        1. Parenthetically*

          Yep, that’s why I mentioned the dish soap, which is the critical ingredient. It cuts through the grease. Just baking soda and vinegar alone will definitely not.

    5. it happens*

      The self clean function on my oven just fills my house with smoke and makes the detectors go off.
      I have had success with this: preheat oven to 200 degrees (or lowest setting) while preparing boiling water. Turn off the oven.
      Pour about a cup of ammonia into a bowl. Pour the boiling water into another bowl. Put the ammonia on one rack and the boiling water on the rack below. Close the oven and wait a few hours. The combination should loosen up all the grime and you can use a bar rag or washcloth with hot water to wipe it off. Repeat as needed.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        Ooh! I will try this with vinegar instead of ammonia. (Ammonia makes me want to lie on the floor on my back with my limbs in the air. Like a dead cockroach.) Or maybe water boiled up with a slice of lemon.
        Passive cleaning…what’s not to like?

      2. Nicole76*

        I had a very bad experience with ammonia recently and refuse to ever let that product back into my house. I don’t doubt it works well, however!

    6. Everdene*

      Ours is a pretty toxin-free house (allergy free wash balls for laundry, vinegar base for general cleaning spray, steam cleaner for floors…) apart from the oven. I have found nothing that comes close to those Oven Pride type cleaners, neither has my cleaner, so we are pragmatic and use it when it comes to oven cleaning. If you do find something that works though please share!

    7. Jules the First*

      Someone in a facebook group recommended Koh to me – it’s an all-purpose non-toxic cleaner. I was a total skeptic, but I’ve just used it on my not-cleaned-in-3-years oven and it really was nothing short of miraculous. It took me about 40 minutes total, using a microfibre cloth and a diamond sponge and I didn’t even break a sweat. My oven is gleaming and nothing smells (in or out of the oven).

  34. Uncomfortable*

    Anyone taking Effexor (venlafaxine)? It’s an anti-depressant but the reason I’m on it is to combat daily headaches. I take it in the evening and I’ve started having cold sweats during the night where I have to change pajamas since they are wet. I’ve been told this side effect might go away and honestly the headaches take over my life so taking a few minutes to change pajamas is worth it for me right now. I don’t sweat this way during the day, just when sleeping. But if you have any tips to prevent it to begin with, please share. Sometimes a chilled gel pack on my neck or forehead seems to help but not every time.

    1. Policy wonk*

      I took it to control hot flashes, no bad side effects when taking it, after the first week, but there is definitely an adjustment period. And severe withdrawl if I missed a dose. Don’t stop taking it without the assistance of your doctor in stepping down the dosage.

    2. Sled dog mama*

      I used to be on it as well for migraines and had similar side effects. Unfortunately I have no good advice for managing because while I was willing to get up and change pajamas my doctor wasn’t happy with my quality of sleep on it and we ended up finding something else that works much better for me. If after a reasonable adjustment period your side effects don’t improve ask your doctor about your options for other things.

    3. I'm Better Now*

      I was prescribed this in combination with Wellbutrin and immediately came down a head cold. After a couple of weeks my psychologist figured out that the “cold” symptoms (mostly a constant runny nose and headaches) were a side effect of the Effexor and I immediately stopped taking it and informed my GP (who was working with my psychologist). I continued to take Wellbutrin (alone now) for a year so.

    4. pugs for all*

      I was on this and hated it. I’d get weird brain flashes/blips of vertigo if I was at all late taking a dose. One time I went away and forgot my pills and the withdrawal was so awful. Felt sick plus the brain flashes. When I got back I immediately made a plan to go off of it and with my drs help tapered off. Sorry, no advice just wanted to share that I really really disliked this medicine and am so happy to be off of it.

      1. Lucia*

        Yep, I also had the brain zaps. I’ve been off it since 2008, and I still get them sometimes.

      2. Catherine from Canada*

        Jumping in here to say be careful about getting off it!
        My doctor put me on it for anxiety and depression several years ago. I ran out during March break, the doc was away with her kids, I thought I’d just tough it out. Headache, ringing in my ears and vertigo ! Hanging on to the walls vertigo, not sure how I actually made it to the doctor’s office.
        It took six weeks to wean off it properly.

    5. Pommette!*

      I took it for years. It gave me strange, vivid nightmares. I would weak up bathed in sweat.

      The nightmares and sweating were much worse if I missed a dose. Apparently, Effexor has such a short half-life that it’s normal to experience withdrawal symptoms within 24 hours of having taken a dose, even on timed release formulations. Taking the the medication at night (so that I would not experience withdrawal while sleeping) helped reduce the intensity of the problem somewhat. Beyond that, I never found a good way of preventing the nightmares or the sweating that came with them, and just found tricks to deal with the after-effects (waterproof layer under my sheet; lots of pyjamas).

      I also want to second Policy wonk on this: the withdrawal symptoms are terrible; if you decide to stop, taper slowly, and get any medical help that you can.

      Good luck with your headaches.

  35. Slimer*

    Weight Loss Surgery
    TL-DR: hospital told spouse he was approved for weight loss surgery; when it was time to schedule, insurance denied coverage
    Last summer, my spouse was hospitalized with heart issues. The cardiologist recommended he investigate weight loss surgery. We told him that we had inquired previously, and it wasn’t covered by our policy. He thought there were probably loopholes. So my spouse went to the bariatric clinic, and they told him he was pre-approved. He did 6+ months of evaluations, testing, and classes, and at the end of March, they told him they would schedule the surgery.
    Our lives have revolved around this surgery. We kept paying for the top tier insurance instead of switching to the less expensive, high-deductible plan. We didn’t schedule any vacations for fall, winter, or spring breaks to save money and PTO. He has continued to lose mobility and quality of life while he went through the lengthy process.
    Wednesday the hospital called and told him insurance had denied it. He called our HR to file an appeal. HR spoke to the insurance company and the insurance company said our policy has never covered bariatric surgery, and moreover, they have no record of the hospital ever calling for pre-approval, despite them telling spousein September and in January that they had pre-authorization.
    So, now what? The hospital says they’ll do the surgery for $25k cash, but the insurance won’t pay any complications that occur. Spouse wants to pull the money from his 401(k) and roll the dice. I am opposed, because the worst case scenario is that he’s dead and I’m left a single parent with hundreds of thousands of dolllars of medical debt. He’s probably too immobile for any exercise program to be practical (he can barely walk to the car; he hasn’t been inside a store in about 2 years.) I guess we wait for him to die, but it seems so unfair because he completed the hospital program in good faith, and we lost so much time to pursue other options undergoing it.

    1. fposte*

      Wow, does that suck. I’m sorry. What a shock, too.

      I don’t have a detailed understanding of the risk/benefit assessment around WLS generally or for your husband specifically, but if he’s a reasonable candidate for improvement and a good quality of life afterwards, I would lean toward having the surgery. To be blunt, waiting for him to die isn’t going to avoid the problem of you being a single parent with a lot of medical bills to pay.

      I’m sorry; it’s a horrible position. I hope you find a decision that works for you.

      1. valentine*

        Where is his doctor in all this? Can they advocate for him with the insurance?

        Apply for hospital and any other financial aid possible. Appeal to hospital customer service to cover what the insurance won’t, because you acted in good faith based on their error. Was insurance paying for all the testing without knowing the goal or were you paying out of pocket? Why the most expensive plan?

        Can you crowdfund or get a loan?

        He will also likely need future surgery for skin removal. See how the insurance categorizes that.

    2. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I don’t know your situation but Medicaid and Medicare both cover bariatric surgery if those are options for you. You might also want to check into if your or spouse’s employer offer different insurance options that cover bariatric surgery. It’s a while from open enrollment but you could do the research now.

      In the meantime, your spouse could make a concerted effort to lose weight. Exercise isn’t really the best way to lose weight. There’s lots of diet advice out there but cutting out sugar and simple carbohydrates like juice and bread is a good first step.

    3. Anona*

      I don’t think you would have to pay your spouse’s medical bills if they died (though I’m sure the hospital would want you to), but I could be wrong about that.

      1. fposte*

        Unfortunately, in some states the surviving spouse is still on the hook. It depends on state laws about marital debt and the doctrine of necessaries.

    4. Mimmy*

      I wish I had sound, thoughtful advice but I don’t. I just want to offer my support. What a horrible situation. My mind goes directly to wanting to know why the hospital said he was approved when he wasn’t, but that is not helpful at this point.

      Many hugs and prayers for you and your family.

      1. Thursday Next*

        Echoing this. I don’t suppose the hospital has records on their end? Or anything in the doctor’s notes to corroborate your understanding of events? I don’t know if that kind of thing might be useful in appeal.

        I’m not a lawyer, so please find someone who can advise, but I believe in some states at least there is an appeals process for lifesaving treatments?

        I feel for you, and agree with fposte that this is well worth spending savings on.

        1. fposte*

          I don’t think what the hospital said would be useful in appealing to insurance, because the doctor can’t bind insurance to anything. I confess I always check directly with insurance to confirm coverage these days (and one of my health providers strongly encourages it–they even wouldn’t give me one vaccine until I’d called insurance and confirmed coverage) after getting some wires crossed years ago; it’s just too risky to rely on the providers there. I do find it a little concerning that the center seems to have perpetuated a misunderstanding likely to benefit them, and while it’s a pain to change doctors, I might consider it if there’s any other reputable bariatric center in the area.

          However, you’re definitely right there’s an appeals process (Slimer notes that her husband spoke to his HR, but I don’t know if he filed a formal appeal), and furthermore, under the ACA you’re entitled to an external review of that appeal. I suspect you’d have to request that directly. I’d also check with the state’s attorney general, health care division, insurance division, etc. to see if there are any ombuds opportunities there. There may also be a state or more local health consumer advocacy group that could be help.

          The tricky thing here is that this isn’t a situation where a procedure that’s always covered somehow got denied; WLS is often not covered, and the insurance company never told Mr. Slimer that it was. My WAG is that the best wiggle room here would lie in the fact that it’s surgery for an immediately life-threatening condition, but I think whether that’s wiggly enough to get coverage would depend on what leverage could be applied. And I also think poor Slimer sounds just exhausted with all this already, so it can be hard to muster the energy for a multipronged attack in response.

    5. Madge*

      I’m so sorry! If you go ahead, my fear would be that anything following surgery could be interpreted by the insurance company as related complications and get denied and you’ll have to fight for normal coverage. And then that it becomes some sort of pre-existing condition if you change insurance plans. Will your insurance cover a nutritionist or a health coach? Could weight loss be covered under the EAP? It sounds like surgery might be the best solution for him, I’m just giving ideas to tide you over until you can do it with insurance coverage. This is major surgery and complications happen.

      1. Natalie*

        There’s little reason to be concerned about the preexisting condition issue. Even pre-ACA, this was not a factor for people who received their insurance through their job, as it sounds like the Slimers do. And the ACA is still in place and seems unlikely to be repealed any time soon. So that, at least, really isn’t anything that should be added to your worries.

    6. Mrs. Fenris*

      Ugh, I’m so sorry! My husband had gastric bypass surgery exactly a year ago. I was horrified that our insurance wouldn’t cover one penny. (Actually, they did cover the anesthesiologist’s bill…I guess the anesthesiologist submitted it and the insurance company didn’t ask what it was for. Oh well.) There are medical loans. We financed it through Prosper, except we had an ace in the hole…my family sold some property right before this. We used our share to immediately pay for most of the Prosper loan. Some places take Care Credit. If you use Care Credit, be absolutely sure to make that first payment on time or they will go nuts calling you.

      I can’t really blame your spouse for wanting to pull it out of his 401(k). I’m not sure how smart that is from a tax standpoint, but it is an option.

      (PS, I hope you can make it happen. After a certain point, an obese person’s metabolism is so messed up and exercise is so hard, it’s really hard to lose the weight the conventional way. Husband is down 115# so far with about 70 left to go. He feels SO much better and he’s so much happier. He joined a gym about 6 months after surgery and is in the best shape he’s been in since he was an elite high school athlete. Best wishes to your spouse!)

    7. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      The help boards (Fposte linked to one) have a lot of discussion on this.
      I know that in CA, for a different procedure (not WLS)… husband had to file an appeal and work with the state Department of Insurance. I don’t know what state you are in.
      This is awful… I had WLS, and it was lifechanging for me, and I’m so sorry to hear you were denied. I know there are folks who have to switch insurance to get coverage… Sending a hug.
      My friend went to one of the top surgeons that did the Duodenal Switch in Spain… the cost was lower than out of pocket here, and even with tickets and staying there through the post-op care, she came out ahead. But you absolutely want a board certified bariatric surgeon who does a significant number, not just anyone who says they are one. And there is an excellent surgeon in Southern Cal. who takes Medicaid (I think).
      In the meantime – and I’m sure you know this – attend the surgeons’ orientation and support groups, with spouse, so you learn as much as you can and are as prepared as possible. It took me ~1 year to get mine done, and in that time, I firmly cemented in the good habits of weighing/measuring my food, journaling my activity and food logs, and adhering to the post-surgery rules for vitamins and eating. I also recommend water walking in the pool… (Mine lets you do that during the lap swims). It was helpful to me to get in the habit of doing some exercise, of some sort, to keep in motion – and zero/low impact to my difficult knee and hip joints. (I also rode the exercise bicycle but that gave both fits).

    8. Lilysparrow*

      Did the insurance cover all the evaluations and prep work? If they did, it’s bizarre that they wouldn’t cover the surgery.

      And on the flip side, if they aren’t covered, are you about to get hit with a bill for that six months’ of testing & classes?

      You need to document where the clinic said he was approved, and how/why they said so, because you may wind up on the hook for a lot of money, even without the surgery.

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with this.

    9. ..Kat..*

      If you pull the money out of a 401K, make sure you know how much you will owe the IRS in taxes and fees – it is a lot. Personally, I would recommend a loan or payment plan with the hospital as a better option.

      I would go back to the doctor/bariatric clinic who said it was approved and ask him how to fix this.

      There are many different types of weight loss surgeries. Sleeves, roux n y, etc. Maybe the insurance will pay for a different type of surgery.

      Good luck.

      1. fposte*

        FWIW, the penalty on early withdrawal from a 401k is 10%. So you’d owe 10% plus tax on it as ordinary income. If it was, say, within the 12% income bracket, it would cost you $33,000 to withdraw the $25,000.

        If you can manage a loan from the 401k, that’s usually going to be better, but not everybody can manage it.

    10. Slimer*

      Thank you for your thoughtful replies. You gave us a few more ideas of paths to pursue. I hope we find the right one in time.

  36. Loopy*

    A HUGE thank you to those who commented on my post last weekend. I ended up roasting veggies but also made a delicious chickpea salad to go with the veggies and rice that really rounded out the meal. And it lasted right through Friday night!!

    So for this weekend’s loopy life project, does anyone out there have any tips for not letting anger and resentment ruin free time? I’m working this weekend and even when I stop for the evening I carry around negative feelings from my day and think about my unhappiness associated with the why’s of this situation and the issues/huge stress I’ll face in the coming week ahead. Because this is weekend thread I don’t want troubleshoot the work part (pretend it’s anything really) I want to focus on how to get out of this terrible mental habit.

    I’m the type to have imaginary rants in my head that I’ll never get to say and I run through these fake conversations endlessly. I know this only makes me miserable but I just can’t detach! I really need to find a way to unwind in the meager downtime I’ll have but can’t with all this negativity lodged so firmly in my head. Advice and tips very welcome!

    1. fposte*

      Oh, the imaginary rants. Really, I’m impressed they’re only in your head; I tell off a lot of invisible people.

      I go for drastic redirection myself–upbeat music, comedy on video (YouTube has plenty of short takes), exercise that’s intense enough that I can’t spare the adrenaline for ranting. The comedy is my favorite tool–I like a lot of British standup, and when I’m flagging and defeated at the end of the day having something 5 minutes long to laugh at is really helpful.

        1. fposte*

          My tastes are all over the map, so I’ll be interested to see if other recs turn up on this thread! I love James Acaster, who also has a four-“chapter” performance on Netflix right now. Other names off the top of my head: Sarah Millican, Kerry Godliman, Susan Calman, Katherine Ryan, Greg Davies, Paul Sinha, Aisling Bea, Kevin Bridges. I just saw that Laura Lexx is up there–I haven’t seen this set, but her show is *fantastic* so I bet it’s worth a watch. A lot of these turn up from the Live at the Apollo shows, so if you search for those you’ll get a bunch of choices. (Michelle Wolf does a surprising amount of work in the UK so you can find some of her stuff too.)

          Also, YouTube has quite a few episodes of the wonderful and hilarious panel show Would I Lie To You? There’s a lot of good sketch comedy–plenty of Armstrong & Miller, Mitchell & Webb, Smack the Pony, etc. And if you can find the British series of Taskmaster, it is epic.

          1. Marion Ravenwood*

            All of the above.

            If you like musical comedy, I also recommend Doc Brown, a rapper-comedian who has songs about things like making a good cup of tea, and the Mitch Benn Music Podcast.

        2. anonagain*

          I’m watching Sara Pascoe as I type this.

          fposte mentioned some of my favorites. I also like Bridget Christie, Suzi Ruffell, Jamali Maddix, Zoe Lyons, and Phil Wang.

    2. Helpful*

      You would benefit from mindfulness meditation— to be present in the moment, to learn to observe your emotions without judgement, to let them go. There are lots of good apps for this practice.

    3. rmw1982*

      Ah, yes. The imaginary rants and arguments where I’m always right and win every time. I feel you. I can usually redirect to something less mentally unhealthy. Or I complain to my mom or boyfriend about whoever I’m imagining ranting at. Sometimes just getting it out there helps. I find I struggle when it’s time to go to sleep and there’s nothing to distract the runaway freight train that is my angry brain. I’ve taken to “writing” a book in my head. I’ve got about 5 different novels going. They’re unlikely to ever see the light of day, but sometimes it helps calm my emotions down and I can go to sleep. But there are nights when I’m just so aggravated that I end taking an antihistamine to knock me out. I’m hoping an upcoming major change will help, as that will remove the cause and target of my imaginary rants. I hope you can find something that helps. It’s exhausting being angry/upset like that.

    4. Lena Clare*

      I get kind of physical. If I try to think my way out of a problem caused by thinking I don’t get very far.

      I don’t mean that I’m physical with other people or with me, I mean I try to put my thoughts and frustrations out into the physical world so I can deal with them and then they go.

      I might write them down and then rip the paper up, or I might get a pillow and just punch the pillow. I might go out for a brisk walk somewhere really, really quiet and then do a long, silent scream into the void :)
      Or I do some yoga.
      Or maybe I need to do all of those things.
      Or rant to a trusted friend.

      I just sat out in the sunshine for 5 minutes and did some deep breathing. Oh, and I never underestimate the power of a nap, although that might not be something you can do in the evening before going to bed anyway.

      Try having a break in the day where you get away from the stressful place, go for a walk around the block and get a coffee or something (herbal tea is more relaxing I’ve heard, but personally I think you should get what you enjoy).

      I do mindfulness meditation.
      Eat something healthy if I can.
      Watch something funny on Netflix – James Acaster is really good, I saw the mention of British comedians up above. I like comedians who aren’t cruel or rude, just naturally funny.

      I read something fun. I adore romance because it’s light and fluffy and predictable and entirely different to my life, so I can escape.

      Hope some of these suggestions help.

    5. Washi*

      Omg. I do this all the time. Imaginary rants and arguments…sometimes about things that I’m imagining might happen and would make me angry, not even real things! For me, there’s usually some nagging worry or anxiety behind it, so I like writing down all my angry thoughts, and usually as I write I get calmer and get to the root of what’s bothering me. (Which is usually not anything profound – the most common culprits are feeling insecure about whether/how much I am liked, or worrying about my future.)

    6. anonagain*

      I really struggled with this before I became unemployed. One thing that helped a little was to have an after work routine. I always hid my work bag and changed out of my work clothes immediately upon arriving at home. When I was working from home, I would clear away all of my work materials and lock everything up where I couldn’t see it and then change clothes. (Usually that was just putting on a different sweatshirt and different fuzzy socks.)

      The flip side is, if you have an after work routine already, even one you’ve just slipped into out of habit, it might help to do something different. It may be that stressing out has become part of the routine and you need to establish a new pattern.

      It’s hard.

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Mine are planning the perfect response to the conversations I don’t want to have with the people I never want to speak to again. And always when I should be going to sleep. I feel you. Unfortunately, I don’t have a good solution, I just settle for, at least I always win the rows :-P

    8. Not So NewReader*

      When we re-run things over and over in our minds that can be a because of a tired mind. I’d check out some electrolyte drinks, get some minerals into your system so you can be in charge of your own thoughts.

      I have found it helpful to write out the situation that is causing the imaginary rants. Isn’t that the point? We have an on-going situation(s) where we feel our hands are tied or we are caught in a leg trap. Telling people off is only treating the symptom of the problem, not the real problem. Write out the real problem(s). Then think about options, this is tough because it’s easier to think of all the things we CAN’T do. When you derail, just softly but persistently guide yourself back on track.

      Taking walks is very supportive for brain and body function. It’s a cumulative thing, where after a bit we start to realize we are actually sorting out our lives as we walk. This does not have to be a big chore. Perhaps commit to a 15 minute walk after dinner 4-5 nights out of the week.

      I ended up using 9 pm as my cutoff. From 9 pm on I was not allowed to think about any issues. This was hard and it took practice. I had to forgive myself for messing up. After a bit, it became my excuse for not thinking about stuff. “Oh, look it’s after 9 pm. I will have to wait to think about this.”

      What do you read? We can’t pull positive thoughts out of thin air, though we should be able to do that I think. Look for positive reading materials. I used to read for an hour before going to bed. This loaded my mind up with fresh and positive information. I could chose not to think about my own rants and instead think about the positive thing I just read.

    9. Loopy*

      Thank you everyone. This is why I love this community so much! It’s nice to know others have rants/arguments in their head too.

      Suggestions for walking / exercising are great. The weather is getting nice here and I could definitely go for evening walks since it’s light quite late.

      Today I found practice fondant toppers is a great way to redirect my mind. If only fondant weren’t so expensive (I made a no drama lama, it seemed appropriate). I think a huge difficulty is even just forcing myself to try and get out of the mindset. In the moment, being resentful feels…I guess justified is the word- even though I’m making MYSELF miserable.

    10. ..Kat..*

      In an earlier thread, TexasRose has some great ideas about how to turn off or compartmentalize invasive/negative feeling about job on weekends. I recommend trying those.

  37. pmac*

    Starting in July, I’m going to be wandering around Europe until late November. Current plans involve backpacking through Denmark/Sweden/Finland/Norway/seeing the fjords in July-August, visiting my cousin in Belgium and exploring Luxembourg and Germany in August-September, Spain/Portugal in September-October, Croatia in October-November, and finishing off by visiting my friend in Israel in late November. But subject to change as I hear about additional cool stuff! I’m also considering a trip to Morocco.

    Any recommendations of places to go or events to see?

    1. Kathenus*

      I spent three days driving around Denmark a few years back. One thing I wish I had done, but didn’t know existed at the time, was to try to find some of the Denmark Forest Trolls (google this and you’ll find them). They seem amazing and I’m incredibly bummed I didn’t know to see them. The things I did do that I’d recommend, in order of priority for me, are Mons (white cliffs, amazingly beautiful), Skagen (northern tip of the country where two seas meet, take the sand worm out to see it), and Esbjerg (beautiful coastal town, huge Men at Sea sculptures). If you can only do one from my list, definitely recommend the white cliffs at Mons and then trying to see the forest trolls I missed.

      1. pmac*

        Thank you!! I will definitely check those out online. How did you find driving around Denmark? Did you stay in one place and do day trips out or travel around?

        1. Kathenus*

          I had a very rough route (Skagen to Esbjerg to Moen – with Copenhagen as the start/end point) and a three day time frame. Some folks I knew there (I was attending a conference) gave me a variety of suggestions of things to see and that’s how I developed the plan. I had no hotel reservations or anything, just kind of ‘winged it’. Mostly that worked well, almost slept in my car the second night though because the hotels were all full and eventually found one (expensive) room. The other nights I had no problems.

          Driving was easy, with a map to back me up since most signs were not in English, but I had no problems navigating at all. Biggest challenge in Denmark was not knowing until I was there that you need a PIN number to make credit card purchases (not just debit card, or cash back, but ALL cc use). Had to end up using my debit card since I had never bothered to get a PIN (or at least remember if I had) for my ‘travel advantage’ credit card, so lost out on some savings that card would have given me.

          You can do Mon (actual spelling is Møn in case you have trouble in google, but using white cliffs will find it as well) from Copenhagen as a day trip, but the others are too far away to do that. I think the forest trolls are around Copenhagen – if I ever go back it’s my #1 priority.

      2. rmw1982*

        If you’re going to Madrid while in Spain, look into day trips to Toledo, Segovia, and/or El Escorial. My boyfriend and I went a few years ago and really enjoyed them. They’re all pretty easy to get by public transport.

    2. Parenthetically*

      We really loved Garmisch-Partenkirchen. We stayed in Garmisch and absolutely loved the vibe — really chill. Are you planning to camp or do hostels? There are some seriously magical forests around Rothenburg ob der Tauber and I would camp there in a heartbeat! We stayed in Burgbernheim but I’d camp for sure if we went back.

      1. Tau*

        I was also thinking of Rothenburg ob der Tauber if you’re interested in seeing a medieval-style German city. It’s fairly famous, and you do sort of have to plan if you want to see a historic city centre as a lot of the larger cities you might visit as a tourist no longer have them.

    3. Middle School Teacher*

      I really liked Helsingør (sp?) Castle, about 40km from Copenhagen. It’s really neat to see (and I’m an English teacher so it fit in with my Shakespeare lessons haha). And it’s a bit touristy, but I did a little boat ride in Copenhagen and you get to see a lot of highlights. I also really liked Skagen.

      In Belgium I loved Bruges and Yprès and I did enjoy Brussels, even though lots of people don’t like it. I remember buying a chocolate lollipop of the Mannekin Pis :)

      Depending on where you’re going in Spain: Seville is my favourite place there, the museums and the cathedral are beautiful and there are some great rooftop bars.

      If you go to Morocco, Fes is quite nice and in Casablanca, you can do the tourist thing and go to Rick’s Cafe. The mosque there is beautiful and worth the visit. Have fun, your trip sounds awesome!

      1. fposte*

        If you like art, the Louisiana modern art museum is wonderful, and it’s pretty close to Elsinore (too lazy to spell in Danish).

    4. Koala dreams*

      If you happen to start your trip early, make some time for Midsummer celebrations. In the region of Dalarna in Sweden there are a lot of traditional celebrations. Very nice for picnic. (bring something to protect for rain)

      If you like nature and music, you can go to the Urkult festival in Nämforsen in the north of Sweden. If you prefer to stay in a city, you can instead go to Storsjöyran, a city festival in Östersund, also in the north of Sweden. There is also the Way out West festival in Gothemburg, if you prefer south of Sweden. Then you can combine it with sightseeing in and around Gothemburg. I can recommend eating shrimp sandwich at Heaven 23 in Gothia Towers, strolling along the Haga Nygata, taking a boat to some of the islands in the archipelago and visit the seals at the Slottsskogen.

    5. Me*

      For Copenhagen (I studied abroad there): Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen. The worlds oldest amusement park and where Walt Disney looked at when designing his parks.

      Also, Jægersborg Dyrehave (Deer Park) is beautiful too.
      Eat at Copenhagen Street Food, very large warehouse filled with food stands. Everything is very fresh and tastes amazing. Also, get burger at the restaurant called XO and the triple hot chocolate at Baresso.

      See the Little Mermaid statue and wander around Nyhavn. Visit Christiania. Climb the Christianborg Tower, it’s free and the view is incredible. See all the castles.

      Actually you could just wander up and down at any random street in Copenhagen and find something cool. Explore the Technical Univerisity of Denmark campus (my old home) if you have the time, it’s about a half hour from Copenhagen.

      For Barcelona: Park de Guell is a must see, so is Sagrada Familia. Check out the Rubber Duck store. I don’t know why but that is one of my favorite stores. The nightlife is amazing. Watch the sunset at Bunkers (ask a local for directions). If you have the time and like to hike take a day trip to Montserrat

      For Sweden: I’ve been to Stockholm and Gothenburg. Do a boat tour in either city. See the Vasa museum in Stockholm and Skansen (open air museum). There is also a really good pizza place in Stockholm but I can’t remember the name. Lisberg is a very cool amusement park in Gothenburg, they also have a few beautiful parks to walk around in. Go to any bakery in Sweden and get the chocolate balls. I guarantee they will be the best thing you will ever eat.

      For almost anywhere in Europe I HIGHLY recommend the Sandemans New Europe Free Walking Tour. It’s not technically free because you are expected to tip the guide around $5/person because they only get paid in tips. But I’ve done it in five cities and all the tour guides were fantastic. It’s a great 2-3 hour overview of the city you’re in and you learn a LOT about the history and culture.

      Please reply with any questions. I LOVE talking travel plans :)

    6. Tau*

      The moment you realise you know next to nothing touristy to do in your own country.

      I do recommend Berlin, for the historic aspect – there’s museums about the Berlin Wall (the one at Checkpoint Charlie was really good when I went, but that was ages ago) and places where you can still see remainders of it. Lots of cool museums in general. It’s also easy to do a day trip out to Potsdam to see Sanssouci (and a ton of other palaces), if that’s the sort of thing you’re interested in.

      1. Koala dreams*

        There are many great museums in Berlin! Some are small and cute, some are big and take a lot of walking.

      2. Tourist*

        The Haus am Checkpoint Charlie is still there and will be fascinating for Cold War buffs. The same is true of the newer GDR museum.

    7. Sam Sepiol*

      If you go to Barcelona, Poblenou Cemetery. Loved it. Also second the suggestions of Parc Guëll and the Sagrada Familia.

    8. Nana*

      Any place you go, highly recommended the Hop-on, Hop-off bus, a harbor tour and/or a Segway tour (if offered). Wonderful ways to see lots of places and get a good overview. Tivoli is amazing, as is the small Jewish Museum. Denmark has wonderful public transportation. Highly recommend Roskilde [20-30 min train ride from Copenhagen]…Summer Palace, wonderful Viking Museum, 1,000-year old cathedral.

  38. Marguerite*

    I bought some clothes online at the Loft store. Boyfriend returned them for me at the store near us, but they gave me the sale price instead of what I paid. I used a discount and a dress that I bought was $70. Now it’s $50, so they gave me $50. Is this right? I don’t know whether to go back and dispute it or not.

    1. Oldster*

      Did he have the receipt? If you can’t/don’t prove what you paid it is normal to give you the current sale price.

      1. fposte*

        Agreed. And just to be clear–it was $70 *after* the discount, right, not before? Because you’d only get the discounted price back.

      1. Wishing You Well*

        Actually, no. K-Mart did this to me a few years ago. With receipt in hand, they refused to refund what I paid. They gave me their current, lower sales price instead. Apparently, people run some sort of scam with receipts. I never shopped at K-Mart again.

    2. Alex*

      IME that is the case if you either don’t have the receipt or if all you have is a gift receipt.

    3. Kuododi*

      Most retail establishments I have delt with/worked for have a return policy which includes a statement to the effect that if the item is returned without receipt, the store will only give the current price in refund. ( ie-$70 dress returned with out receipt would only be refunded the current $25 clearance price) One option if item was paid for on debit/ credit card would be to go back and get copy of the transaction from the cards institution. Sometimes stores will accept that documentation in lieu of store receipt. Good luck!

      1. valentine*

        There will be an online receipt and record of purchase.

        Read the fine print, though, about returning to a store.

        1. fposte*

          Yes, the physical store may not have access to the online information or be obliged to honor it. I’ve been bitten in the butt a few times by not noticing that a return policy wasn’t what I expected.

  39. T3k*

    Well, I accidentally left my car windows cracked and it rained >_< To make it worse, I couldn't do any suggested steps like opening the doors to air out, use fans, etc. because it's still raining a day later. Guess I just have to hope for the best and tgat mold doesn't set in.

    1. anon24*

      Sop up as much of the water as possible with towels or a wet vac and then run your car with the heat on high and the air conditioning on (don’t use recirculate or Max AC). This will blow dry hot air across the floor and may take several hours or more but will help dry it out. If the floor mats are wet take them out and bring them inside to dry out and also so the floor underneath can air out. Depending how had it is you want to get this dried out so that you don’t end up with damage in your electronics.

      1. T3k*

        Thanks, I’ll try that then! Thankfully it was only partially cracked and the back windows only, so none of it got to the front area with all the electronics.

    2. SignalLost*

      I do this a lot – the joy of spring in the PNW. Unless you have standing water, I think it’s pretty unlikely to develop any kind of mold.

      1. T3k*

        Sadly I was late on finding it, so I’m not sure how much rain actually go into it (the floor mats were damp and the seats were, but no pools of water).

    3. Not A Manager*

      You can buy big tubs of desiccant. I’d dry out the car as best I could, and then put containers of desiccant in several places. I’d put in as much as possible.

      Check them frequently and replace them when they get wet and plump up.

        1. Oldster*

          Wal-Mart has large tubs in the boat accessory area and smaller ones with laundry and/or ironing boards.

          1. Lissajous*

            Crystal kitty litter is basically desiccant, and available in large quantities too.

            (I had a water bottle leak behind the front seat, and didn’t notice until I smelt it. Hauled the mat out, left it sitting in the sun with litter on it, and put more litter on the carpet in the car. Worked beautifully.)

  40. Virginia Plain*

    I need some sartorial advice!

    I’m one assignment away from finish grad school (woohoo!!) my department is having an end of the year banquet/party tonight and, suddenly, I’m not sure if what I was going to wear is alright. It’s semi-formal, which is something I didn’t note until just now for some reason. I have no dresses to wear, but I was thinking of wearing this wrap dress open over a black top/black pants. Do you guy s think this would be acceptable? I am slightly annoyed at myself for not noticing the dress code earlier and, gah, I don’t have any truly semi-formal outfits (dresses, etc.) and I would hate to go out and buy a new outfit for this thing.

    1. londonedit*

      That’s nice! I think that plus black would count as semi-formal. Do you have any accessories to jazz it up and make you feel a bit more formal? Or shoes?

      Having said that, though, the thing I always notice is that people have SUCH different interpretations of dress codes that whatever you wear will be fine! I recently went to an industry awards thing that was meant to be ‘black tie’ – most men were in black tie, but some were just in smart suits, and the range of clothing for the women was HUGE. Everything from floor-length sequin gowns to trouser suits and more casual dresses. As long as you’re not turning up in jeans and a sweatshirt, you’ll be perfect!

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      That should work nicely but I agree with Londonedit in that if you have any jewellery, maybe a necklace to wear over the black shirt just to add a bit of extra oomph to it.

    3. legalchef*

      Personally I think a wrap dress would look weird worn open like a cardigan. What about just wearing the dress w heels and nice jewelry?

      1. The New Wanderer*

        The way that wrap dress is cut, it won’t hang well if worn open. Generally speaking I don’t think a cardigan over a black outfit is semi-formal unless the cardigan is dressy (e.g. sparkly knit) or is more of a silky overblouse type thing. I’d recommend either just the wrap dress itself (it’s a great dress), or maybe a colorful or glittery scarf over the black outfit, or a fancy top to wear with the black pants? These could potential be borrowed from someone vs buying new, although you would probably get additional use out of any of them if you did buy something at future work events.

        1. fposte*

          Fancy scarves are also the sort of thing thrift stores tend to be well stocked with, IME.

      2. Worked in IT forever*

        I agree … I don’t think that wearing the dress open over pants and a top would quite work. I think the dress alone (with maybe some fancy accessories, if you have them) would work better. Or would you be willing to buy a fancy or sparkly top to wear with the black pants? A top would likely be cheaper than a whole new outfit and might get more use later on.

        1. Worked in IT forever*

          Just saw The New Wanderer’s comment … I must have been typing at the same time.

    4. ..Kat..*

      Ooh, pretty dress!

      I think the wrap dress will look better on its own. Maybe sheer black hose (not tights) to make it fancier. I think this will be nice enough for semi-formal, especially for an end of grad school party – a lot of people are pretty broke in grad school. Also, most of us worry much more about how we ourselves look – as opposed to how others look. Hold your head high, you will look great!

      Congratulations and enjoy the party.

      1. jolene*

        You cannot wear a wrap dress open. The ties will be way too long and it will look bizarre. If that’s the look you’re going for, try to find a kimono-style open jacket in future.

        However, that’s a very pretty dress which will look great with a slim-fit black top underneath (only if you need it because of too much cleavage). Black opaque tights would be better than trousers, but if you’re self-conscious about your legs, go for the latter. Statement earrings or necklace will pull the eyes up to your face, where you want them to be.

  41. fposte*

    Lipiflow! Anybody had it? Xiidra’s been really helpful but increasingly it’s just not enough for my dry eyes. Nobody in my town does it yet but I found somebody not too far away who does, and they’re priced comparatively reasonably. I’m thinking it’s at least worth a try and I’m considering scheduling in May or June when I can take the day off work to go. So if anybody has any experience I’m all ears (and slightly less eyes than I would like).

  42. dumblewald*

    I use reusable bags when for grocery shopping, but I also want to substitute the plastic bags used for collecting bulk items (like at Whole Foods/Mom’s) with reusable bags, too. Does anyone have suggestions? What should I search for on Amazon? (I keep getting “mesh bags” on search results, but that’s really bad for grains/lentils.

    1. fposte*

      I searched “reusable bags for bulk foods” and got some solid-looking hits, including a few on Amazon. They’re mostly muslin with drawstring tops. Would that work for you?

    2. Parenthetically*

      If you search for “produce bags” you should get a fair few options. I’ll put the link to the ones we bought in a reply — they’re SUPER fine mesh and would definitely hold even couscous.

    3. Ranon*

      Some stores will also give you the tare weight of any rigid containers you want to bring in, which works well for those types of items especially if you store them that way at home anyways. It’s more bulk to bring to the store but less total stuff in your life.

    4. Fellow Traveler*

      It would be a little clunkier, but how about grains and lentils into mason jars? I usually decant these things into mason jars when I get home anyway. The store should be able to tare weigh them for you.

    5. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I hope this isn’t too far from what you asked, but you might also consider BioBags. They are the biodegradable corn starch “plastic” bags, and they do make them in “produce bag” size and weight, so the addition to the weight of anything purchased would be negligible. Not only could you buy your own if you don’t have a good reusable alternative, you could also ask the store to carry them. But I’ve also heard that many of these stores will give you a tare weight for your own plastic or glass containers, which might be the simplest solution, as you probably already have containers you can use. If not, we have tons of plastic takeout containers we can give you! :D

    6. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I use mesh bags for rice/lentils. The mesh is pretty tightly woven, so nothing is going to fall out. The I move everything to glass or plastic containers when I get home. I have Earthwise reusable mesh produce bags (from Amazon).

    7. Miss Astoria Platenclear*

      CVS pharmacies sell reusable fold-up bags with pouches. They are very handy.

    8. blaise zamboni*

      You might also look into cloth bags for bulk items like that. I found products on Amazon with “burlap bag”, “sack bag”, and “muslin bag”. You can also make your own with old fabrics, especially things like old sheets or pillowcases. I have a few worn-out items I’m saving to make reusable bags so it’s at the front of my mind :)

  43. Nicki Name*

    How do people connect with companies to sponsor their weird but attention-getting projects? Like, suppose your dream is to climb Mt. Everest while balancing a teapot on your head. You think Amalgamated Teapots Inc. might be willing to help fund your expedition if you use one of their teapots. You can look up their website, but it only has contacts for customers or potential hires… how do you figure out who to talk to? Do you just have to know someone?

    1. Buu*

      PR or social media? Try tweeting them or googling around for press or PR contact info. Knowing people would help though.

    2. Buona Forchetta*

      Google “PR Newswire and [name of company].” If it’s a major company they’ve likely put out press releases and the release will have the name of either the PR contact or PR agency. Either is a good place to start.

  44. LGC*

    A little bit…early, actually, but I’ll get the running thread started this week!

    The Boston Marathon is…two days away. I’m actually pretty nervous about it, and especially getting out to the start (it’s going to be rather interesting shuttling back and forth). Hopefully things go pretty smoothly, since it’s my first time doing Boston.

    I’ve been watching the weather very intensely – it looks like it’ll be warmer than last year (thankfully!), but still rainy. But…it also looks like the risk of rain drops from 10 AM-1 PM. I’m a 2:55 marathoner, and starting in Wave 1 (corral 3, so I’ll probably be out by 10:05). I think I can actually outrun the storm, guys. (And yeah, that is a bold statement because I’m trying to outrun Mother Nature.)

    So, yeah, I have that coming up (and it just snuck up on me). How’re you guys?

    1. londonedit*

      There are a few people from my running club doing the Boston Marathon! My friend’s husband is doing it and said friend just did the 5k today (she’s training for London).

      I did parkrun this morning, ran with a couple of friends and kept it fairly steady because I’ve got a 10-mile run tomorrow morning. It’ll be my longest run since last September! I’m probably just going to treat it as a normal Sunday run and not bother too much about pace. It’s a pretty cool event though, it’s along the Thames Towpath from Chiswick and because it goes past the Fuller’s brewery, they sponsor the race and you get a commemorative pint glass instead of a medal! I think this is my fifth time doing it. We’re all going to the pub afterwards for brunch/drinks/whatever, so the thought of that will get me through the race if nothing else!

      1. LGC*

        That’s awesome! Do you know what wave he’s starting in? And one of the guys I used to run with (who moved up to Boston a year or two ago with his now-wife) actually ran the 5k this morning. Apparently, the start was a bit messy, but it looks like the weather was excellent.

        That Parkrun sounds like my kind of event – if not only because I enjoy weird race trinkets. There’s a race that gives out pint glasses to the top 100 finishers of each gender, and another race (same town, and I think organized by the same people) that gives out mugs to the first 100 finishers. Those happen to be the glasses I use the most.

        1. londonedit*

          The only pint glasses I own are Towpath 10 pint glasses! :)

          Not sure what wave my friend’s husband is in but he’s a sub-3:30 runner so pretty damn quick! I also know at least two other people doing it – all pretty speedy, actually!

          1. LGC*

            If he’s sub 3:30 – probably 1 or 2. (So he’s starting either at 10:02 or 10:25.) According to what one of my teammates said, the cutoff was 3:07 between waves 1 and 2, and another teammate’s wife is also doing it (in fact, she got her BQ at the same race I did!), and she’s near the start of wave 3. (I think she ran…a little under 3:30? Like, 3:29 and change.)

      2. londonedit*

        Really enjoyed this morning’s 10-mile run (and got my pint glass!) Also ended up with an unexpected PB! I haven’t done many 10-mile races but I wasn’t expecting to beat my 1:34:40-ish times from 2016 and 2017. Last year I ran 1:41 and I was sort of expecting to do about 10-minute miles again, but the weather was perfect for me (cold!) and I guess the training I’ve been doing paid off because I ended up with 1:33:59. Very pleased! And brunch was great too.

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

      Good luck, LGC!! Boston Marathon is one life experience I’ll never get — unless I make it to a much higher tax bracket someday and am able to run it for charity — so I’ll live vicariously through you here. Looking forward to the update.

      The Boston Marathon is notorious for kind of extreme weather. My fingers are crossed that there’s only a little rain and not much more, and hopefully not even that. It’s still two days off; forecasts can change for the better.

      On my end, I’m taking it easy for a couple of months after doing two (pretty strong) half marathons in the past three weeks. My next half is at the end of September.

      1. LGC*

        So I’ve heard! The forecast has already improved significantly from the start of the week, which is reassuring. And I’ll try to keep you guys posted!

        Just curious – what race are you planning for the end of September, if you don’t mind me asking?

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

          Last week I did the Asbury Park Half and this time I’m going further down the Jersey shore – Ocean City Half. I’ve never done it before. It sounds like a really fun race, and an excuse for a mini-vacation. I just have to hope there’s (1) no hurricane and (2) no late September heatwave.

          Speaking of heatwaves, NYCRUNS took over the Newport-Liberty Half. NYCRUNS does a great job, so I think that half, which was already one of my favorites, is going to be incredible. I’m not going to do it this year (Sept 15 is almost definitely going to be way too hot for me to race), but hopefully going forward, they’ll be able to move it just a little later in the fall…

          1. LGC*

            I saw that they switched! I was actually a little surprised – NYRR took over the 10k from what it seems like (and turned it into a 5k), so I was expecting them to take over the half as well.

            The one thing I dislike is that it looks like they’re charging big city prices for it. It used to be $60 by race day, but it looks like it’s $65 now and going up to $105 by race day. I think they’re also adjusting the course so that it finishes on Newport Green (the little park), but I’m not sure if they’re making other course tweaks.

            It’s actually funny because I hopped in to bother my friends pacing Asbury Park last week, and it looked like one of the guys in the 1:40 group was involved with Newport. I might get dragged into pacing that. (I blame my friends for talking me up. I’m fast, but not “I trust myself to consistently run 6:30s in 80 degree weather for 13 miles” fast.)

    3. Jayess*

      Boston! Boston! Boston! You’re not outrunning the storm, you *are* the storm! This weekend has got SO MANY races in it, I also had Boston sneak up on me. Not that I’m running it, but y’know. Watching people and cheering them on and stuff. Hope you’re comfortable tapered and coiled like a snake or a spring, ready to crush your goals and the competition.

      Me? I am not tapered. I’m tired, but I’m peaking again, so there is a taper in my very near future. I’m doing a Bunch of Dummies adventure run next weekend, and accidentally got roped into an elevation challenge with my club. I’m a bit too competitive, so I’ve completely lost my mind and done my second-highest volume for one week in both vert and mileage last week. Sandwiched it right in between our big adventure run and the FKT from the 15th. D’oh.

      Oh – quick note on the FKT, since I went to bed and missed some of the follow-up questions from last time. It wasn’t a *real* Fastest Known Time; more of a “repeats within a certain timeframe” record. For the sake of simplicity we were calling it an FKT. It’s still a route that’s being established. Now that [famous ultra runner redacted] has moved into my neighborhood, we’ll see if the route gets more attention and if we’ll have to go back to reclaim it again some time in the next couple of years.

      1. LGC*

        Thanks! I’m pretty nervous about it because I’m prone to worry about everything, but I’ve been resting up. If all goes well, I’m going to try to knock 10 minutes off my PR.

        I also know the feeling about getting roped into stuff. Last year SUCKED for me because I did New Jersey in the spring (which is two weeks from today), and I was the only guy in my group doing that race. So I ended up having to attempt to taper when everyone else was ramping up for Brooklyn, and then I was panicked about recovering in time. (And I’ll usually go running with someone if they need a partner.)

        (It worked out, but I was trying to run a lot earlier than I should have.)

    4. Tara R.*

      My first ever race (10k) is two weeks away and I’m feeling pretty good! I’ve been running diligently, and made it to 12k today– probably the longest I’ll do until after the race. I have no idea how much you’re supposed to run in the week before the race though! My current schedule is something like Monday 5k, Wednesday 5k, Thursday 3k, Saturday 10+k. I’m thinking I’ll cut next week’s Saturday run down to 6 or 7 and then I’m not too sure what to do for the rest of the week. The race is on Sunday the 27th.

      1. LGC*

        Good luck! It sounds like you’ve been working hard and I’m sure you’ll do great!

        Generally you want to ease up in the week before a goal race. This gets more important for longer distances (which Jayess mentioned above), but it’s more about reducing the amount you run, not how fast.

        You can probably stay with your schedule Monday through Thursday, but Saturday you might want to take off (or if you do run, go like 2-3 km).

    5. Me*

      Congrats!! Boston is such an amazing race. Also, 2:55 for a marathon is incredible. Best of luck for Monday!

    6. Marion Ravenwood*

      Good luck for Boston LGC! Hope it goes well and the weather is OK.

      I did parkrun yesterday – first time I’ve gone 5k in almost a month, and it was a hard run for lots of reasons. But all things considered my time wasn’t terrible at 33:58, and it was one of those runs where I was just glad I’d got round tbh.

      I also signed up for this next week: https://www.runthrough.co.uk/event/chase-the-sun-hyde-park-april-2019/ I marshalled at one of their half marathons in February and whilst the organisation wasn’t great, the race itself looked really fun, so going to give it a go. Plus it’s a really flat course so hopefully I should get a good time.

  45. Jaid*

    Currently watching:

    Paris Ballroom TV on YouTube. Basically Ball culture in Paris. Interesting outfits, exuberant participants. The audience is fun to observe, too.

    “Ball culture, the house system, the ballroom community and similar terms describe an underground LGBT subculture in the United States in which people “walk” (i.e., compete) for trophies and prizes at events known as balls. Some who walk also dance; others compete in drag categories, designed to emulate other genders and social classes. Most participants in ball culture belong to groups known as “houses”.”

    1. Femme d'Afrique*

      Have you watched “Pose” on Netflix? It’s a fictional series based on Ball culture in Harlem in the 80s and 90s. I LOVE it. Season 2 will air in June, I think.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        OMG, Pose had me in tears a few times, as it reminded me of some of my friends in NYC back in those decades, especially those who are no longer with us. I can’t wait for the new season, June 9th! Billy Porter posted a promo on his Instagram yesterday.

        1. Femme d'Afrique*

          I loved absolutely everything about it too! And Billy Porter is EVERYTHING.
          I can’t wait!

      2. Everdene*

        I’d never heard if this until today, saw your comment and saw an ad within 10 minutes. Currently watching episode 1!

  46. LaLa*

    Ok this is something I’ve been always insecure about. I’m a woman and have a deeper voice. If I’m not careful on the phone and am tired, my voice can get low enough to register as masculine. It bothers me so much but I’m also trying to embrace it (because changing my pitch would take a lot of work.) I’m trying to find actresses or other women who have deeper voices and use them as a role model. How in the world do I overcome this insecurity?

    1. My Brain is Exploding*

      Low sexy voice!! Wooo! Suzanne Pleshette comes to mind (my age may be showing here).

    2. WellRed*

      I happened to catch an old Law And Order episode this morning with Bebe Neuwirth and am always intrigued by her deep voice. She’s also a beautiful and feminine woman (not sure if that’s part of your insecurity).

    3. Wishing You Well*

      Women in business are trying to emulate YOU! A lower voice is associated with a more powerful presence. Some women are taking speech therapy to lower their natural speaking voices. Do you want to take classes to make your voice higher? Regardless, I think your voice is an asset. (My voice is low, too.)
      I hope you learn to love your voice.

    4. Asenath*

      Have you thought about singers, especially classical ones? Contraltos have very low singing voices – and some women sing tenor, which is (I think) a similar range.

    5. Foreign Octopus*

      Florence Pugh in The Outlaw King.

      Her voice is deep and it’s like liquid chocolate rolling over me. I have a massive crush on her because of her voice (and she’s also a brilliant actress).

    6. Alianora*

      I’m honestly jealous of women with deep voices. I have a high-pitched voice (that also cracks a lot) and people definitely see me as less authoritative because of it.

    7. Ann O.*

      I wish we could trade! I have the opposite problem. I’m 40+ and people still hear my phone and recorded voice as childish. I would LOVE to have a deep voice.

      I feel like most of the women celebrated for having beautiful, sexy voices have deep voices. I don’t know if that will help, though, since they are read as sexy.

    8. Cuddles Chatterji*

      I’m not sure if her voice is deep enough for you, but for some reason, Catherine Zeta-Jones comes to my mind.

    1. DietCokeHead*

      I am so glad Kovid is gone! This was his third trip to the bottom and if the judges had kept him around for another week, I would have screamed at the tv.

      I felt bad for Jamall. With such a short challenge, it seemed like he didn’t have time to correct his design and it just went off the rails.

      In the model front, I feel like Kate is cursed. It seems like she’s ending up wearing bad designs 50% of the time (Frankie’s body suit, Nadine’s all over print and now Jamall’s streetwear dress). MiMi is fierce! I don’t know how they select which model doesn’t move on (randomly maybe) but I hope MiMi stays around for a while.

      I loved Bishme’s design. So cool and so impressive that he made that in such a short time. I loved Venny’s design too. What a tough choice for the winner.

      I thought Sebastain had a fair chance of ending up in the bottom. That was awful.

      1. Max Kitty*

        Well, Jamall didn’t want to listen to Christian’s feedback on his fabric, and it was all downhill from there.

        I couldn’t believe the group eating during the very limited time they had with their models. Not a very smart use of time, seems to me. I can sympathize with wanting to get something to eat, but right then?

        1. DietCokeHead*

          Christian seems to be pretty aware of what the judges will look for.

          I know, 30 minutes with your models and you eat right then?!? That was amazing and not in a good way.

          1. Daisychain*

            Yes. I was practically yelling at the TV at that point. Listen to Christian for goodness sake! Don’t sit around eating when you only have 30 minutes with the model-grab an apple or something and get on with it!

      2. Daisychain*

        I imagine dealing with Kovid must have been exhausting for the designers. He was an emotional rollercoaster-seemed like a sweet man, but exhausting. I think maybe if he chose different colors his design may have been better…or not. I don’t know what happened to Sebastian this week. But I’m glad he was safe.

        I was interested with the concept of farmer women street wear, but disappointed in the result. I thought it was fun to see the designers fan girl over Dapper Dan! I agree that Mimi is amazing-that girl can walk! And I do feel for Kate too! Overall I am enjoying this season!

        1. DietCokeHead*

          Kovid was exhausting to watch, so I agree, dealing with him might have been a bit much too. He focused too much on the “I have to be happy to design and if I’m not in a good headspace then I can do nothing.” Participating in a high stakes, fast paced fashion competition is probably not the best fit for you then.

          I thought the farmer’s wife streetwear sounded interesting too but was disappointed in the results. I agree, it was fun to see to see the designers get so excited about meeting Dapper Dan. This season has been very enjoyable to watch! I think it was well cast and not a lot of distracting interpersonal drama. Just the drama of watching talented people work hard.

  47. A.N. O'Nyme*

    In other news, I’m gonna be in a small amateur play and due to an abundance of male characters and lack of male actors I’ll be doing a breeches role. I already have a fairly deep voice for a woman and look somewhat androgynous once we work out how to hide my rather prominent front bumper, but are there any other tips anyone has for me? Specifically voice stuff (occasionally I do slip into higher pitches, especially in one instance where my character is surprised/incredulous), but also things like how to walk and whatever else I’m forgetting about. Basically I wanna see how far I can take this and convince people I’m actually a man.

    1. NotaPirate*

      Sports bra can work as a binder. If using an amateur binder be careful about circulation. Google has a lot to say on that.

      Looser pants can hide hips. Stance stand a bit wider, walk looser. In general be more assertive, head up. Makeup can do 5 o’clock shadow but it works better not close up.

      Might be worth seeing if youtube has anything on passing as male when female.

    2. Lilysparrow*

      I worked with a gender-flipped Shakespeare company years ago, and I wish I could channel the movement coach for you.

      One thing was taking up space. There’s been a lot of talk in the media about “manspreading,” but it is really liberating as a woman to try to take up as much space as possible, instead of as little as possible.

      Also think about your center of gravity being in your shoulders or inside your chest, rather than in your hips. If you can hit the gym it might be a good sensory exercise to do an upper-body weight circuit, as heavy as you can. Even if it’s just machines, having a little bit of “pump” in that set of muscles will change your movement, and give you an anchor point to recall.

      And vocally, try not to get stuck in your throat when you’re pitching down. Do a lot of chest-resonance exercises.

      I can’t recall the name of the notation system, but there was one we worked with in school that was all about pairs of attributes. So you had direct/indirect, heavy/light, quick/slow, and I think the last one was either sharp/soft or angled/curved. By mixing these up you create all different kinds of energy & movement.

      In your gestures, head movement, and walk, you’ll want to aim for more direct, heavy, and angled than yourself. You also want to keep your shoulders and hips parallel to the floor as much as you can, don’t cock them.

      Of course guys do cock their shoulders or move in fluid lines, etc, sometimes. But an obviously masculine body makes different shapes & proportions, and you want to counter your normal habits. You’ll wind up playing with a lot of stereotypes at first, but it’s not easy to change the way you read, especially since you’re doing it part-time and not as a life change. Don’t be afraid to exaggerate in rehearsal – you can always pull it back and become more nuanced by showtime.

      Pants roles can be really fun. Enjoy!

    3. Lilysparrow*

      Oooh, and talk about perfect timing – I just got a FB ad that PBS is doing a free stream of the Donmar Warehouse all-female Julius Caesar. There’s some wonderful voice and movement work going on in the trailer, all the moreso because it is subtle and seamless.

        1. Lilysparrow*

          Yeah, I’m looking forward to watching it. They aren’t actually playing guys, it seems from the write-up. But they are certainly working with a non-feminine presentation.

  48. ThatGirl*

    I feel a little like a dummy and a little irritated. I was leaving my spin class this morning, which is in a shopping center near my house. I was backing out of my angled spot slowly — I swear to you I looked around, but had glanced forward for a second when bam. I backed into a young woman comin through the lane. It was at roughly 2 mph so I didn’t see any damage (my bumper has a couple minor scratches), neither did she but I did give her my number just in case.

    Here’s the thing. I know it’s my responsibility to back out carefully. I accept some responsibility here. But I also think maybe it wasn’t totally my fault. People are leaving and shouldn’t through drivers look out for taillights? Oh well. No real harm done.

    1. fposte*

      Oh, that’s frustrating. Glad there was no damage.

      I think it’s best for all of us to be on the lookout and keep our speed low whether we’re backing out or driving by, and some parking lots make it harder than others to see (I also have a small car, so if I’ve got an SUV to the inside of me I’ve got a limited view for a portion of the process). It’s hard to know the specifics of your particular situation, but generally I think it’s on me as a backer-up to make sure my movement into traffic is safe, especially in a parking lot, where what I hit could be a pedestrian.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I have a smallish car with no backup camera. There was a somewhat blocked view of the lane. I agree, it’s always good to be slow and careful, but I’ve also stopped plenty of times for backing up cars because I wasn’t sure they could see me.

        1. fposte*

          I do too; I just don’t know that’s enough to make it my fault if somebody backs into me if I don’t see them backing up in time to stop. But I also think that this isn’t something we can conclusively determine and that it’s fine to assign fault however we wish in our heads.

          1. ThatGirl*

            Yeah, I don’t mean to sound like I’m shirking responsibility, just sorta working it out in my head. And glad there was no real damage.

            1. fposte*

              It’s actually kind of an interesting question to me–I mean, outside of insurance purposes, what do we mean by “fault”? How different is it from “relevant” or “causal”? It’s not the same thing as “having the ability to avert,” but that’s not always completely irrelevant, either–I can’t just drive into a car refusing to yield and say “Neener neener, right of way.” I think car/car encounters are so common that mostly the law and usual practice find it more efficient to just say “You were here, you were there, here’s how fault goes” rather than to look at the larger accident theory that you would with, say, an airline crash. But some parking lots are more prone than others, and as a fellow small-car person (and would a backup camera even show me what was coming sideways at my car’s behind?) I feel like I’m hampered there too.

              Mostly I think it’s a miracle we don’t bounce off each other more.

              1. ThatGirl*

                My first thought was “oh shit, that was so stupid of me, I didn’t see her at all” but as I was jotting down my info, I thought wait, how do I know she was paying attention? Maybe she was zoning out or came around the corner too fast or something. Because it’s not like I threw my car into reverse and backed out in a huge reckless hurry. It doesn’t truly matter, but I would be interested in her perspective. But ultimately you’re right, it’s a miracle there aren’t more accidents.

    2. WellRed*

      I guess even if I was aware of your taillights, I would still assume you would stop, if you were even moving when I noticed them. The moving car has the right of way. But hey, it happens. No harm, done as you say.

      1. valentine*

        I assume the reversing driver can’t see me, so I stop and wait them out. Even if they wave, I’m nervous they’ll still hit me. I end up waiting ages to turn left because slow drivers will suddenly speed up in the middle of my turn.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I hate angled parking so much. I know they can fit more cars in the space, but really backing out is a PITA.

      Angled parking combined with a place I will go often, I’d probably try to park a little further out away from the pack of cars, if possible. If that is not possible my next choice would be a spot on the far end of the line of cars, thinking that less people would be in that area anyway.

      More and more I have seen pedestrians failing to look for backup lights and failing to understand that the driver may not see them because they are in the driver’s blind spot. I can’t imagine these pedestrians later suddenly looking for cars just because they are currently behind the wheel.

      I do see an overall trend of people not watching for cars backing up. I think it’s good to be aware of this trend. Yeah, insurance companies are going to blame the person who is backing up. I agree, it may not always be fair but this is what we have, unfortunately.

      1. Chaordic One*

        If I can, I try to back into the space when first parking so I can just drive out, instead of having to back out of a parking space. But do look for signs in the parking lot, because there are some parking lots where it is against the law to park facing out of a parking spot. My friend got a parking ticket for doing this in a lot in front of the K-Mart in an L.A. suburb.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Can’t really do that in angled spots, unless you pull through. They’re definitely designed to be backed out of, but that doesn’t mean visibility is always good.

    4. SignalLost*

      I’ve noticed a huge tendency to just drive past people who are backing out in my area. In the last two weeks, I have nearly been in three serious accidents, all caused by people deciding that tail lights mean nothing and they should just go on through the driving lane WHILE SOMEONE IS REVERSING INTO IT. Like, literally, in two cases, my car was halfway out of the spot, and I don’t drive particularly slowly. People are insane.

  49. Gloucesterina*

    Thank you again to Lady Jay, Sprechen, gecko, a proud madisonian, fposte, and bassclefchick for sharing information about the city of Madison, WI with me! I ended up staying just 1 night instead of 2, so I wasn’t able to visit the local sites/eateries you mentioned, but the j*b interview experience was a good one, and having some background about what it might be like to live there very much contributed to my feeling more confident and positive in my interview proper and in the small-talk-type interactions with the committee. I’m currently in Michigan so if I were to receive/accept an offer it would not be a big shift geographically or culturally speaking, but it was still feeling very overwhelming to contemplate, especially with a young child. We’ll see what happens from here, but all in all it was a enjoyable, collegial-feeling learning experience, and I will be eager to get to know the city better if it comes to that!

    1. Gloucesterina*

      And I know this sounds like a w*** -related post, but I originally posted my question about life in Madison here so I thought I’d update to the same thread! :)

    2. ..Kat..*

      Since Madison is a college town, I imagine they have a lot of cultural and other fun activities! Good luck.

  50. Anonthistime*

    I need script help for communicating with an overbearing friend.

    This is not inspired by any recent incident, but kind of an ongoing issue I have with a friend of mine. I usually don’t know what to say in the moment, so I decided to crowdsource for ideas. This is a friend I met through a mutual friend, and we were college roommates. Tbh I didn’t really like her at first, but we turned out to have a lot of common interests and values and she is an overall kind person. We have been friends for 7 years now.

    Some of her annoying traits/behaviors are:

    – Overall, she is one of those over-performative White Nerd types who tries *really* hard to assert her branding as smart, intellectual, independent/unique, progressive, etc. (Basically, she is hipster-adjacent, I would say.)

    – Because of the above, she listens to a lot of podcasts on educational things and reads articles – which is great – but then proceeds to lecture about these topics as if, after reading one article and listening to one podcast, she is now an expert on the topic. (FTR, she is generally an intelligent person, but doesn’t know when to stay in her lane.)

    – Because of the previous point, she tends to “mansplain” (though she is a woman) people’s own areas of expertise/experience to them. For example, I was a medical science major in college, and she studied humanities/social sciences, but would constantly try to explain how molecular biology worked to me (and my other roommates who were also Biology majors.) The sad thing is, I would recognize her sources as those crappy Yahoo and MSN articles who would publish stuff under the “Science” categories and were very questionable. Also, when I said that I didn’t like how jackfruit tasted (the national fruit of my motherland, which I have spent multiple summers in), she insisted that I must have been confusing it with a different fruit, because it’s actually very delicious.

    – She sometimes makes intrusive comments about my spending habits and how they are overindulgent (I do earn more than her, but I know how to budget and it’s none of her business)

    -She is, unfortunately, one of those people who thinks using the term “basic” is a way to entirely discredit someone’s intelligence, rather than their actual intelligence

    So I feel like these are a variety of issues, but usually when she says something boundary crossing or someone condescending, I don’t really know what to say because I’m nonconfrontational. I also feel like when we are hanging out, it would make the rest of the night or situation or whatever very awkward. What is the best way to word some responses?

    1. fposte*

      That’s an annoying collection, to which I also somewhat relate, though I’m better than I used to be. (I do sort of love the “Oh, no one could dislike jackfruit, so you must be wrong,” though. That’s commitment.)

      IMHO, engaging on the basis of accuracy or inaccuracy is a high-effort battle that you’re likely to lose. I’d find a different contact point where possible, and obviously if it’s best if it’s one you’re comfortable with. “Basic” is probably one of the easier ones, because it’s problematic on a number of levels and one is that it’s really unkind. You can either simply make a statement (“That term’s pretty unkind, F., and it makes me uncomfortable when people use mean terms”) or make it into a question (“You’re not usually onboard with the mean and reductive stuff, F. What’s up with the “basic” usage?”) if you think it would be useful.

      You can also name the demon authority, either in the moment or in a peaceful time when nothing seems to be at issue. “F., sometimes it seems like you’re so scared of not being an authority that you’ll insist on expertise when it doesn’t make any sense, like with the jackfruit thing. What’s up with that?” “You know I still love you when you admit you’re wrong about stuff, right?”

      1. Anonthistime*

        Yeah I will try to approach this. Unfortunately, she is also one of those hyper-sensitive people who gets over emotional when someone criticizes her in any way. Apparently, one time one of her coworkers – whom she got on with – admitted all the traits she didn’t like about her when she left for another job. She really upset her, and I want to avoid hurting her feelings in the same way. She *is* a generally nice, well-meaning person who had some kind things for me, but I think a bit insecure.

        1. Overeducated*

          To be fair, I’d be hurt by that too! Telling your coworkers everything you dislike about them upon leaving a job is not a normal thing to do. I’d think the fact that someone thought it was an appropriate thing to do was, in itself, insulting.

          But if this is a sore spot then definitely address in the moment, one behavior at a time when it’s fresh, rather than compiling a laundry list of all the annoying things she does. That’s probably kinder and more effective in general anyway.

          1. Anonthistime*

            Yes I agree. I think the point I was trying to make is she is generally sensitive by default, but I’m sure the coworker incident is a sore spot for her, and I don’t want to seem like I’m compounding on that incident.

    2. anonagain*

      You said you didn’t like this friend at first. Do you like her now?
      I think that can help you figure out how much energy you want to spend on this.

      1. Anonthistime*

        She is a fun person to hangout with, I feel like if I see her in limited increments or with larger groups of friends she is fine. I really like having strong friendships with people I can hang out with individually, but I think I might need to start putting this friend in the “invite to group outings” category. The good thing is she recently got a bf so she might not even notice the change.

    3. Wishing You Well*

      Is the real answer a good response or not spending so much time with her? People tend to be very hardwired in their behavior and change is rare. If this is how she’ll always be, do you want to spend more time with her? Only you can decide what you want to do, but if she’s whittling away at your self esteem, that’s unhealthy for you.
      One thing you can try is telling her “When you start talking like X, it makes me feel Y.” Her response will tell you how the future will go. I hope things get better for you.

      1. Anonthistime*

        I think I will try first talking to her, and if she doesn’t change, start limiting my hangouts with her. I don’t plan on a nuclear option and completely cutting her out, since she is a generally good person, just with some personality issues.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      She sounds like a know-it-all to me.
      I am even less impressed that she hands out plenty of criticism but can’t take it coming back.
      I understand you are saying she is nice, but I am not sure when that nice-ness is occurring or how often.

      Start counting the numbers of times you see these behaviors in each visit. Then decide.

    5. matcha123*

      I have a friend like this, except she is a non-black person of color and is somewhat into issues in the black community and will explain to me, someone who is part-black, why I am wrong about certain things because of something she read on Jezebel or an article written by a black women.
      It can get incredibly frustrating and annoying. The best advice I can give is to give it to her straight, but cut back on anything that might come off as too judgmental.

      So, “Grace, you have a habit of explaining my major back to me. As someone who understands why ‘mansplaining’ is a thing, I wish you would take a step back and realize that you are doing the same thing to me and Jane. You are an intelligent person, and I am happy to help you understand (subject) better, but please understand that this is my area of expertise.”

      When it comes to money, I’ve had friends that make more and spend more than me tell me that I spend too much on things. You can counter with, “I can see that is your opinion, but I have/follow a strict budget for my spending and have set money aside for this. Since I’m not in debt, I really don’t want to explain every single purchase to you.

      1. Anonthistime*

        And ugh to the black explaining thing. I am also a non-black person of color, and I’m very uncomfortable trying to speak on behalf of the black community the way this friend (who is white) does. We live in an urban area where gentrification of black communities is a huge problem. She’s one of the “first wave” gentrifiers in a historically black neighborhood. The other day, we were walking down the street and passed by some fratty looking white dudes. She turned to me and scoffed, saying “Ugh, I feel like those guys are intruding on my neighborhood.” Again, I didn’t know what to say in response, but it is so cringeworthy.

    6. Lilysparrow*

      There is a particular dynamic to mansplaining, but ‘Splainers can come in all stripes.

      I have heard the term “condescendi-splaining” used when it’s not coming from a man.

      1. Anonthistime*

        That’s a better term! I think it’s called mansplaining because men so often do it to women, but I think in certain contexts, what my friend does can be called “whitesplaining” (like when she tries to explain my own culture to me.)

        1. Round and realistic*

          Why do we have to attribute the negative behavious to a gender or an etnicity at all? Condescendi-splaining seems like an awesome term, that people wont take offence to due to it mentioning arbitrary characteristics of their skincolor et c

    7. Cows go moo*

      “Wow, okay” can go a long way to express disapproval without getting into debates.

      Your friend likely has major underlying issues of inferiority and superiority complex. It may not be worth the emotional battle to talk to her at length about her annoying behaviour.

  51. Thursday Next*

    I posted last week about my kitten having FIP. Further tests and her rapid decline over the week seem to confirm that this is the case, and I’m leaving in an hour to take her to the vet to be euthanized.

    I thought my daughter, who has developmental delays, wouldn’t understand when I told her the cat was dying, but she did, and started crying and saying remarkably perceptive things, like our other cat will be lonely. And my son is heartbroken that she won’t even reach her first birthday. My husband took the kids to my parents’ house this morning, and they’ll return tomorrow. They said goodbye to her this morning.

    I’m so sad. She should have been with us for so much longer.

    1. rmw1982*

      I’m so sorry. You’re doing the right thing but it still totally sucks. Especially since your kitty is so young. Lots of e-hugs for you and your family.

    2. Ellie*

      Thank you for taking good care of her and giving her a wonderful life. It obviously wasn’t as long as everyone would want, but the love of her family made the time she had here good. You and your family will see her again one day, and she’ll let you know that herself.

    3. tangerineRose*

      I’m sorry. At least you know you have given this kitten love and a good life while she’s been here.

      Your other kitty might be lonely. At some point, it might be worthwhile to look for a young kitty friend for that cat.

    4. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      Sending hug. Your daughter sounds very perceptive, I agree. Hug for her, too.

    5. Ada*

      That’s awful. :( I’m so sorry for your loss. FIP sucks. Sending my love and condolences to you and your family. ♥

      1. FalafalBella*

        It is so very hard to lose a kitty. They make themselves such a wonderful part of the family. I wish you and the kitty peace and comfort.

    6. Thursday Next*

      Thank you, everyone, for your kind thoughts and sympathy. This is a truly wonderful community.

      1. Venus*

        I’m a bit late but wanted to add my condolences. FIP is awful, and I am so sorry to hear that it was confirmed. My thoughts are with you, your family, and the other kitten.

  52. Sunflower*

    If your roommates were taking your food/beauty products(nothing major, just small things here and there), how do you handle it? If you got along besides that, would you move out?

    I am 30 years old and moved to Manhattan 6 months ago. I have 2 roommates- one I know from college and the other is a random she’s lived with for years. Over the past 6 months, I’ve noticed things going missing. Nothing major- a bag of chips or can of hummus. My shampoo seems oddly low. A container I swore I put in the fridge is missing. It’s never been anything I’ve been able to prove so I feel forced to let it go. This week, I found my makeup remover with the lid off. A can of my seltzer is opened sitting in the fridge- the other missing. I noticed I haven’t seen one of my favorite wine glasses in weeks. In all of this, I’ve never received a message like ‘I had to borrow your X because mine ran out’

    These little things have been driving me up the wall but this week is the first time I’ve had actual proof of someone purposely using my stuff. It’s not like any of this is doing major damage to my wallet but it’s the whole principle that I feel like my stuff isn’t even off limits in my own place.

    Next month, my friend who I would have no problem living with is moving to the city. I have 5 months left on my lease. I’m contemplating moving out and trying to sublet my room(besides the roommate situation, I’m not wild about my apt as it stands). I didn’t want t