weekend free-for-all – April 27-28, 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: Having discovered Alison Lurie a few weeks ago, I’m now reading everything she’s written, most recently Truth and Consequences, which is about two academics’ marriage, their affairs, and a bad back.

{ 1,134 comments… read them below }

  1. FD*

    There was a thread yesterday about basic life skills (link to follow), and things that it’d be great to teach students before the go out into the world. That made me think–what are some of the “I can’t believe I didn’t know this/how to do this” moments you’ve had?

    (Yesterday, I learned that eggshells shouldn’t go down the disposal. I had no idea!)

    1. Sled dog mama*

      That servicing a car meant changing the oil. For a long time I thought that an oil change and getting the car serviced were two different things that you could do at the same time.

        1. Someone Else*

          True, but it’s also common for people to use the phrase “car regularly serviced” as synonymous with “oil changes done on time”.
          All oil changes=car serviced, but not all car serviced=oil changes. (Getting new brake pads is also having a car serviced for example.)

      1. LJay*

        I think they used to change the spark plugs at the same time, but modern engines don’t need that done as regularly anymore.

        Also I would consider servicing to include checking all the other fluids and topping them up if needed, checking the tire pressure and filling if needed, and possibly checking/replacing the filters as well.

    2. Koala dreams*

      I heard about the US custom of having food rests and such go down the drain last year, I think, and I still think it’s amazing! We don’t have it where I live.

      A few days ago I talked with my Dad about getting tired when doing the dishes, and he told me he doesn’t wait until he’s done all the dishes to clean the sink, instead he cleans it when he passes by during the day, that way it just takes a few seconds and doesn’t feel like a chore. So obvious, but I didn’t know to do that before!

        1. Ruffingit*

          Food rests refers to the “rest of food” meaning the peels of fruit and such that you don’t eat. Going down the drain means the garbage disposal. This is not common practice in many parts of the world, the garbage disposal seems to be something of an American thing.

          1. Less Bread More Taxes*

            Aha! Yes, it’s been a few years since I left the US and I was wondering if I had missed out on something new! I have to say I don’t miss my garbage disposal. I had an older sink and things were constantly getting clogged.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              My new house has one and honestly I’d rather have the space under the sink and less incremental odor. Removing it would let me replumb to drain better. And we rarely use it…my town has started a food scraps collection for a biogas plant, and we already had a worm bin for veggies.
              (Although it IS nice when I’m catching up on cleaning after being sick, because the family’s all too likely to leave peels and bits to form sink soup!)

              1. Bulbasaur*

                I stopped using them a long time ago. They don’t do anything that can’t easily be done by other means, I am far from convinced that putting ground-up food waste through the drainage system is a good idea generally, and the potential for problems has always seemed high. My first experience with them was when a friend overloaded hers. She eventually got everything through but it ended up clogging somewhere further down in the pipes, which resulted in every drain in the house starting to emit garbage slurry.

                Ours came with the house and the best thing I can say about it is that when you don’t use it, it’s almost as good as a normal drain.

    3. Ewesername*

      Taught people in my office how to sew on buttons awhile ago. Showed them that if you stick a toothpick under a two or four hole coat button before you sew it on, when you pull it out it leaves the threads just loose enough to accommodate the heavy fabric. Then you dab a little clear nail polish on the back to see the ends. No more popped buttons.

      1. Cartographical*

        You can also wind the thread around the “post” of the button threads and do a half-hitch with every turn to make a reinforced fastening. Then go down the middle of the post and out the other side for fastening off. It’s a little fiddly but you get the hang of keeping the button out of the way.

    4. Blue Eagle*

      More to the point, you should crush your eggshells and put them in your garden to add calcium to the soil. This is particularly good for the soil where you are growing tomatoes or other vegetables.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        ….. aw, MAN, I just threw out a dozen eggshells from breakfast this morning and my husband is going to be planting tomatoes later today.

      2. Angwyshaunce*

        And if you’re cracking eggs, and a bit of shell gets into the bowl, you can use a half shell to easily scoop it out.

      3. fposte*

        That’s one of those things that experiments don’t bear out–it turns out that eggshells take forever to decompose. When ground very fine, they can change acidic soil a little.

        I put them in my compost heap on general principles, but not to add calcium (which is okay–soil around here is pretty alkaline anyway).

        1. Cartographical*

          You can sterilize shells in the oven and grind them to add to pet food — crushed clean eggshell is both grit and calcium for birds and a great addition to bird feed during nesting season. Strong shells contribute to healthy baby birdies.

    5. Square Root Of Minus One*

      I’m from a reasonably big country (in its region), that has a few significantly smaller neighbors who absorb quite a bit of our national culture (TV, etc.). Let me add that at the time I thought myself to have quite a bit of general knowledge.
      Out of high school, I made a few friends from these countries. Realizing how much they knew about my country (general geography, population #, political system, names and approximate places of major cities, languages etc.) and how little I knew about theirs (on parallel topics) clearly ranks in the top 5 of my most embarrassing moments in life.

      More recently and more lightly, until I started [not today’s topic] in a related field, I’d never noticed most, if not all, of underwear and swimwear is knitted, not woven.

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        Knitted has more stretch, and you need form-fitting garments close to your eh… form.

    6. Mimmy*

      One that comes to mind was a few years ago at a hotel, I flushed the toilet and it just started overflowing. And I had no idea how to get it to stop. Meanwhile, water is going everywhere. It was during the wee hours and I had to wake poor DH up to help me. He later explained how to turn off an overflowing toilet. I cannot believe I never knew how to do that! The carpet in the hotel room got soaked and probably didn’t smell so great….

      1. LJay*

        I just looked this up thanks to your comment. Definitely didn’t know the whole thing. Thanks!

      2. Cartographical*

        A companion hint to this — many homes have a water shut off for the entire house. It should be noted on your lot information in your buyers package or you can find out from the local zoning office where it’s located. At my last home, it was outside between the house and the sidewalk, under a little cover. Make sure it’s working smoothly and you won’t regret it.

        Knowing how to cut your water and power to the entire house can save you a lot of money and hassle in an emergency.

    7. Uhoh!*

      I don’t know that this is a basic life skill but for wine drinkers (especially white wine that is not chilled and your guests are on their way), wet a paper towel, wrap it around the wine bottle, put the bottle in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes, remove the now frozen paper towel and you have nice, chilled wine!

      1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        Liquid conducts heat or cold faster than air so filling a larger container (mixing bowl, vase) with ice water and putting the wine in works quickly too. Also for beer – put in a cooler in ice water, cold in minutes.

    8. Lazy Cat*

      I had to be taught, and then taught a friend, to brush your hair starting with the bottom and working your way up, so the tangles don’t get more tangled on each other.

      Even better, part your hair over each shoulder like pigtails, and do one side at a time – makes it easier to get the back and bits at the nape of the neck, which are the neck, where tangles especially like to compound.

      1. Junior Dev*

        Mental health thread! How are you doing? What are you struggling with? What are you proud of?

        I’m… a lot of things. I couldn’t sleep last night. I had a really hard talk this week with my therapist that included talking about stuff that happened during my childhood and how it taught me that staying up late to read, play games, sneak out, etc. was the only way to have independence and freedom. It kind of feels like the middle of the night is “my” time and I need to figure out how to feel like other times of day really belong to me so I can sleep at night.

        Also struggling hard with negative thoughts about myself, a lot.

        Proud of getting some medical stuff done and of riding my bike a couple times and of going to the gym. And today I’m going to help my unemployed friend workshop his resume.

        How are you doing?

      2. Cartographical*

        Using a microfiber hair wrap after you wash your hair, instead of a towel, really helps cut down on tangles. Also, take a comb for wet hair (wide-set, flat teeth) into the shower and run through your hair when you are conditioning. Rinse from roots to tips and then wrap it when you get out to pull the water out, you’ll reduce your time and tangles. The sectioning technique is great for tangle-free blow drying, too.

    9. Kathenus*

      I didn’t know until a few years ago that there’s a little arrow under the fuel gauge in cars to point to which side the gas tank is on. All those years of rental cars trying to look at the side windows as I approached a gas station to figure out which side to go to…

      Didn’t have those when I learned to drive, and somehow never heard about it for a really long time after they became the norm.

      1. Nines*

        I totally learned this like a year ago too! I couldn’t believe it. And i learned it from one of those “life hacks” list. So I guess I finally found something useful in one of those. XD

    10. DataGirl*

      I was told you should put eggshells down the disposal because as they are ground up it cleans it. Weird.

      1. Ella Vader*

        I was told to put coffee grounds down the sink to help keep it clear of stuff that will clog the drain. So far, I’ve yet to have a clogged drain no matter what I put down the sink.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Citrus peels are tough enough to clean it but don’t dull the blades like shells. (I went asking on an Internet forum when we moved to a house that had one.)

    11. MissDisplaced*

      I didn’t fly on a plane until I was 21 years old.
      My parents never traveled, and so I had no idea how one went about booking a flight. Now, this was the pre-Internet stone age days, so you had to actually go to the ticket counter at the airport or call the airlines individually.

      I think kids today start traveling much younger. But back then it was kinda a big deal to figure out and I felt so adult that I was flying somewhere.

      1. CoffeeforLife*

        This! I remember using the *phone book* to call airline reservations and put a ticket on hold then call another airline to compare the price and times, and so on until you found one that worked. Such an ordeal! Then they mailed the paper ticket which you COULD NOT LOSE.

    12. PhyllisB*

      The biggest slap myself upside the head moment was when I realized all the chores I hated/postponed didn’t take very long. Unloading the dishwasher, folding the laundry, making the bed (unless you’re changing the sheets) and scrubbing the sink all take under 5 minutes apiece. You can do every one of those one right after the other and still have invested less than an hour. Now if I could only get that through to my grand-children. Children are adults; they will have to figure this out themselves.

      1. LizB*

        You must do your laundry folding differently from me — it takes me at least 15min to fold a load! The actual folding doesn’t take long, I guess, but hanging up everything that needs to hang and pairing socks adds a ton of time for me.

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          For socks, I solved this problem by buying all matching socks. They are all now free to pair differently every week in some kind of hippie sock free love commune, and I can just grab any two socks to make a pair. (I do still store them in pairs, but creating 7 pairs out of 14 identical objects is much easier than creating 7 matched pairs out of 7 distinct pairs of objects.)

          On the other hand, I use drying racks for most of my clothes, so hanging those things up on the rack takes about 15-20 minutes. The only good shortcut I’ve found is to have more space than you absolutely need, so that you don’t have to re-shuffling things around as you get to the bottom of the basket and run out of space. (Having a second. smaller basket for the things you find int he first basket that you don’t want to hang up until the big stuff is on the racks is also handy.)

      2. Koala dreams*

        Folding the laundry takes more than 5 minutes for me, but I do it as I watch tv. That way it doesn’t feel like a boring chore, and I don’t fall asleep in front of my favourite program. It’s a win-win!

      3. Liz*

        YES! Unloading the dishwasher is probably my LEAST favorite chore. I despise it. I think its the fact that sometimes i have to dry the dishes off as they are still a bit wet (cheap apt. dishwasher). so one day I timed myself. it takes me under 5 mintues to do it! what i’ve also learned to do is when its finished, open it up, shake some of the things that water collects on, and let the heat and air dry things. Then its not too bad.

        As for my bed, as a child i was FORCEd to make it every day. with a bedspread too! so annoying. so as an adult, i never did, and rebelled. hahahahaha But after moving some things in my bedroom, i now have a chair out in the open where I can put the pillows etc. and while I don’t do it every day, maybe a few times a week i actuallly make it.

    13. Ella Vader*

      Not me but a young coworker/good friend thought you could literally drive your car on fumes to get to the next gas station before you ran out of fumes. How she made it to 25 before running out of gas coasting into a gas station, I’ll never know.

    14. Not My Money*

      Addresses: even numbers are on the south and east sides and odd numbers are on the north and west sides (at least where I live now). Always amusing to see people look on both sides for a specific number.

      1. fposte*

        Town by town, unfortunately. I’m currently in a south-side odd number house, but I used to live in a north-side odd number town, so I just look on both sides rather than trying to remember where the heck I live now.

      2. Ella Vader*

        It’s not like that in my neighborhood. I have an odd numbered house and the next door neighbor is even. We got annexed into the city, and it’s like nobody had any sense to number the houses in a logical manner. I feel sorry for new drivers for USPS, FedEx, and UPS. They’ll be out here for hours trying for find addresses. For some reason, my house is 521 and directly across the street is 368. It really makes no sense whatsoever out here – sort of like a postal twilight zone.

      3. JobHunter*

        Not in my town. Some of the streets in my town were extended when new developments were added, so the numbering systems were reversed and the evens/odds flipped. For example, First Street house numbers decrease east to west with evens on the south side. Then it becomes First Street West with the house numbers increasing east to west with the odds on the south side.

    15. Artemesia*

      I thought egg shells and coffee grounds were GOOD to go down the disposal as they would sort of act like little scrapers to sand off fat and other things that might clog the pipe. Like you I was recently astounded to learn that I had been wrong all these years.

    16. Cartographical*

      When I was first on my own, I learned the hard way not to ever use fabric softener on towels. I grew up without it and they advertise that it gives you fluffy towels! It also gives you musty, gross towels that make your skin smell awful. The hydrophobic molecules that make your clothes soft and static-free also reduce absorption (terrible for dish towels, too) and, worse, keep the deeper fibers from ever really getting dry.

    17. Kimmy Schmidt*

      These suggestions are all SO helpful. I’m learning a lot (hey, I’m still a twenty-something myself, sue me) and I know this will be really great for my students. This will my pet project over the summer, but I’ll try to share when this is finished in a few months, if I can figure out a way to do so without making myself and my institution totally obvious.

  2. Laura H.*

    For a second, I thought the orange cat was a cooked chicken…

    Happy weekend! Weather is nice and pleasant here, perfect for a corvette show downtown- and hopefully good for the businesses in that area too. The ice cream shop/candy store that employs me is in that area and I’m on schedule for today. Should be fun but busy!

    Have a good weekend all!

  3. CoffeeforLife*

    Anyone doing Orange Theory, how’s it working for you? Did you experience muscle gain? Fat loss? Overall strength/endurance?

    I started early March and gained 5 pounds. I haven’t noticed any physical changes even though I go 4-5 times a week and hit 35+ splat points. I thought by the 6 week mark I’d notice…something!?

    1. ATX Language Learner*

      What’s your diet like? Are you eating more because you’re working out more? I find that even if I work out 5 times a week, if my diet isn’t clean with portion control then I will see no changes or even gain some weight. Minimal sugars, no processed foods, weighing out my food, high protein, no binge eating, no extra snacks, no sugar cocktails (I do drink wine though). Every time I go off of my strict eating habits and gain a couple of pounds, a week after being back on it I’m already feeling better. I’ve written out a lot of meal plans for friend as well who have seen great results. One of my friends even lost 50 lbs!

      Measurements are helpful. Also weekly photos to see progress.

      1. CoffeeforLife*

        My diet is well rounded and pretty clean. I generally stick unprocessed/whole foods with the exception of a plant based protein shake (after workouts as my 1st meal). I do drink alcohol but it’s usually 1 serving and then I’m sleepy.

        I just wonder if I’m not pushing myself hard enough or if I should be incorporating regular gym strength training? Is OTF “enough” or should I be doing other types of workouts? I’m looking for tone, strength, and a maybe 20 pounds weight loss. (5’10, 175).

        I spaced on doing measurements but I can say that NOTHING feels looser – I’ll do those today.

        1. ATX Language Learner*

          Do you weigh out your food? If you don’t, you can never truly know how much you’re eating. People can eat clean and healthy all they want but if they’re eating too much, you won’t see changes.

          I have never done OTF but I do a mix of weights and cardio. Usually 2 days weights (one upper body one lower body) and 2-3 days of cardio (I do the stairclimber for 50 -60 min). I have done a variety of work outs and found that this combination keeps me lean and toned.

          Below is an example of what I eat (I do 5-6 meals a day – breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, sometimes an extra snack)

          Breakfast: 3 egg whites + 1 egg + 1/2 oz cheese + 1/2 avocado + watermelon/strawberries (prob about 3-4 cubes of watermelon and 3-4 strawberries

          Lunch/dinner: 4 oz fish/chicken + green salad + veggies (I make my own dressing with olive oil and white whine vinegar and herbs)/ 4 oz fish/chicken + veggies

          Snacks: 1 oz nuts/protein shake (I also use unsweetened coconut milk. there are lots of hidden sugars in milk and nut/other milks)

          I do 2 cheats a week, 1 fun meal and 1 sweet treat. I spread them out so I have something to look forward to every few days.

          If you stick to this, you will see changes very fast.

      2. New Girl*

        I have been going to orangetheory for about 14 months. The first 6 months I lost about 20 pounds but I was also pretty strict with my diet, cut out alcohol, all dessert and 16:8 fasting. After 6 months, I loosened up a lot. I drink when I want. I eat what I want. I don’t fast. I haven’t lost any weight since then but I have lost inches! My running has improved immensely and I am working on lifting heavier.

        I hear a lot of people that get discouraged because they aren’t losing weight. Our coach tells us to take a hard look at our diet, start taking measurements and think of the non scale victories we are accomplishing.

      3. PhyllisB*

        To riff off your comment ATX, I quit drinking and now I have an intense craving for sweets. I know this is common when you quit alcohol (wine in my case) but it’s been four months now and still craving. Does anyone know when this stops? I’ve gained four pounds. Not a huge amount to be sure, but four pounds here, four pounds there…..

        1. ATX Language Learner*

          Oh wow that’s interesting! Sugar is very addicting so if you’re still consuming it, you will crave it. I’ve done 3 sugar cleanses and after a week or week and a half of eating absolutely no sugar at all (including fruits), I stopped craving it and slowly added it back to my diet.

          To curb the craving and not binge on anything sweet, I have a really nice bar of chocolate in the pantry (more than 70% cacao) and have one small piece everyday.

        2. Anonnnn*

          I think others have given better advice on curbing sugar than I would but wanted to say +1, as soon as I quit drinking I wanted desserts 24/7. That challenge is a lot easier than dealing with alcohol fueled regrets though ;)

  4. LucilleTwo*

    People with tattoos, how did you decide on the placement? Was it based mainly on where it’d look best or did you take into account how painful it would be? I’m planning to get my first sometime later this year, but I’m having second thoughts about the placement (middle of the upper back) because all the articles I’ve read mention that it’s a really painful spot! Anyone who’s got a tattoo on the upper back, how would you rate the pain?
    Any advice would be appreciated, thank you!

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have four on my upper back (one on each shoulder blade, one in between, and one slightly above the in-between one), and none of them were unusually unpleasant. Every body is different though- for my sister, bony spots hurt more, for me, fleshy spots tend to hurt more. The most unpleasant one was over my kidneys, personally.

      At this point my placement decisions are based on where I have room left, with a minor preference to remaining symmetrical at least by the numbers. I have 6 down the midline of my body, and 8 on each side. (Technically 9 on the right side, but two of them are close enough to look like one piece even though I got them 12 years apart, so I’m never quite sure how to count them.) I think at this point if I want to keep going (and I do occasionally consider it) I’m probably going to have to scrap the preference to symmetry :)

      That said, I’ve never taken the potential pain of getting a tattoo too much into consideration when thinking placement – the pain is temporary. If I want permanent art, it is (to me) worth the temporary pain. :)

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Also – my first one was the between my shoulder blades one, which I think is about the spot you’re talking about? And it wasn’t particularly bad, pain wise, my biggest “regret” afterward was that I couldn’t see it. Also a little fiddly to keep appropriately lotioned and whatnot for the aftercare by myself, which is even rougher when it’s your first and you’re trying to remember what you’re supposed to do, but not so bad if you have a helper. There’s also the first morning after panic when you wake up and realize you’re looking at the ceiling, which means you rolled over in the night and are laying on your fresh tattoo, and oh god did you ruin it??? (No, you almost certainly did not, but the panic is still there. :) )

      2. Me*

        I have a tattoo on my rib cage and a small one on the inside of my ankle. I had been wanting the one on my ribs since I was 15 (I got it when I was 22). I love it and I definitely don’t regret it, but I would never get another tattoo that I’ll never be able to show.

        I can show the one on my ankle whenever I want, but if I have to it’s easy to hide with pants or a bandaid. Even when it’s out, it’s not very noticeable. I also chose that one’s placement because it’s to celebrate running a marathon and years ago I broke that leg and had a few more injuries and didn’t think I’d run again. So the placement is also a small reminder of what I’ve overcome.

    2. Another Manic Monday*

      I have one script tattoo and I have it on the inside of my left forearm. I put it there so I would have a constant reminder for myself while it’s still somewhat hidden from other people. I did not take any pain into consideration as the position was the most important. The tattoo is the last two lines of the poem “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4inFlgryiCg

    3. Wulfgar*

      My only advice is don’t have too long of a session for your first one. Find a good artist who is willing to give you breaks if needed. All artists are not created equal.

      I have 10, and the only one that became uncomfortable was on my collar bone. And, that was after about seven hours of work.

      1. SignalLost*

        My two worst (I have seven) were the one that goes around my bicep, and the one around my ankle. The bicep was because it gets really painful to have to move your arm into unnatural positions for a length of time. Like, I can hold my arm bent at that angle in that position comfortably for maybe a minute, and you want 15???

        My ankle was going to be, I thought, the only tattoo in the history of ever that was going to end with the artist getting a bloody nose. It didn’t hurt more or less than my others, my foot kept twitching and jerking from nerve stimulus.

        In general, I put the tattoo where I want it. Aside from those, I have a center back, two bracelets right under the hand, point of the shoulder, and lower abdomen. I made each placement choice for logical/aesthetic reasons rather than pain/difficulty of care.

    4. Marzipan*

      I would 100% go with wherever would look best for the design I wanted – different parts of the body are different shapes, and thus will house different shapes of tattoo more or less effectively. (And that would definitely have been my advice when I worked in a tattoo studio, too!)

      I haven’t had any upper back tattoos, but it doesn’t strike me as somewhere that would be especially hard going. And to be honest, my advice would still be to have it where you want it, even if it were. Getting tattooed is uncomfortable but it’s manageable; and the end result will be there permanently. Don’t sell your vision short because it’ll hurt – it really isn’t that bad and it’ll be over soon enough. Honestly, the itching while it heals is worse!

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I have a large-ish one on my upper arm–I picked that spot so it would be easy to cover it at work. It only really hurt near the end, when the artist got close to the more tender flesh around the back of my arm.

    6. Foreign Octopus*

      I have one on my foot (just beneath my ankle) and I liked the placement. I didn’t realise it was one of the more painful areas due to thin skin but, honestly, it didn’t hurt that much. I think the pain really depends on your own tolerance and how big/how much colour you’re going to have done but any decent tattooist will talk you through that.

      My own gave me advice about the tattoo I wanted (the solar system on my ribcage) and he said that a) it would hurt and b) it’s an area that’s prone to stretching with weight loss and weight gain so he advised against having it done there.

      Listen to your tattooist, that’s my advice.

    7. TL -*

      I have one right on my anklebone. Hurt like a sunnabich and I do have a high pain tolerance.
      That being said, that pain is nothing to 60 years of staring at it thinking “it’s just slightly off center…”

      1. M&M*

        I was thinking to get one just under my ankle as it is to cover but I will pass. Laughed about yours being off center.

    8. Catherine*

      My first and only is on the middle of my upper back, between my shoulder blade. I didn’t find it painful or unpleasant–it was kind of tickly in a soothing way? I know that’s not a sensible description but I actually found the experience pretty pleasant and a bit relaxing. (2~3 hour session for a piece about the size of the palm of my hand, colored and shaded.)

      Aftercare was kind of a pain just because it was hard to reach, but it healed very nicely. Only thing is–out of sight, out of mind! I frequently forget I have a tattoo until someone asks me about it.

    9. Catherine from Canada*

      My first (and only so far) is on the inside of my right forearm about halfway between my wrist and elbow. It was moderately uncomfortable, not oh-gosh-I-can’t-stand-it by any means, which surprised me. Lying on my stomach with my arm twisted upward by my side was more uncomfortable than the tattooing.
      I didn’t take pain into account though when I decided on the tattoo, it’s where it is because it’s a beautiful coloured tattoo of a Pelagia Noctiluca (jellyfish) and it’s covering (and memorializing) the scars of my encounter with that species of jellyfish last spring.

    10. Middle School Teacher*

      I got mine on my lower back so it would always be covered up. Plus I decided if later I hated or regretted it, I wouldn’t have to see it every day. I’m actually looking at getting another one. At some point when I’m older and retired and don’t care anymore, I’ll get one behind my ear, but for now, easy to hide is key.

    11. DataGirl*

      I consider both. My first was on the ankle bone and was so painful. Second I was going to go with my back but was talked into calf ‘so I could see it’ – regretted that. Next few were in fleshy areas but then I really wanted my feet done and those were super painful. I haven’t been brave enough to do ribs yet. In the end, go with the placement that you will love, since you’ll be with it forever.

    12. Tris Prior*

      I have a tattoo on my upper back and the only part I found really painful were the bits that were right on top of my vertebrae. That is my only tattoo though so I don’t have anything to compare it to.

    13. MissDisplaced*

      I have on the back of my neck on the shoulders, one on the shoulder and one on my ankle. And no, I really didn’t take pain into the account. But the only one that did hurt was around the ankle bone.

      Mainly, I wanted a place that I could show off or hide at will. Mine are all easily hidden for work, and if you have a professional office job I’d advise keeping that in mind. I think it’s less taboo now, but still.

    14. Red*

      I absolutely, 100%, choose my tattoo placement based on where it would look best. I look at it this way – the pain is temporary, but the ink is forever. And I’ve had a tattoo across my shoulder blade, it felt nice to me but I have a wicked high pain tolerance so that’s probably not helpful to you.

    15. Not My Real Name*

      You also may want to take into consideration your bra strap area, if you wear one. I have a tattoo the is pretty much dead center of my back but is now where my bra strap is because you get saggy with age.

    16. Claire*

      I have one medium sized tattoo on my forearm. I chose the location first, because then I could see it while I worked, but the artist said it was least likely to hurt. It turns out it didn’t hurt at all.

      My son has two full sleeve tattoos, which were much more painful, but he took things in several stages.

    17. Karen from Finance*

      I have only one tattoo on my side, on my ribs. I wanted it to be somewhere that I could see but that I wouldn’t be seeing all the time, and that wouldn’t be visible in work clothes. And I thought the placing was cute. I didn’t factor in pain at all.

      When I get to get it done, my tattoo artist told me it’s one of the most painful places and so she put a little anaesthetic cream thing that numbed the area. I didn’t feel pain at all, only the burn the days after.

    18. LucilleTwo*

      Thank you everyone, it was great reading about your experiences. I’ve decided to stick with the location I have in mind :D

    19. Kelly*

      I have 6, 4 are fairly large. Lower back with part along my spine, forearm, side (partly on ribs), upper chest near collarbone, lower abdomen, and upper thigh. All have had some sections that were more painful than others, but overall I can’t says there’s a huge difference in pain. I will say though that I have a fairly high pain tolerance. My last one (thigh) took 3 hours and my tattooist needed a break before I did. I find the post tattoo itching worse than actually getting it done. I’ve always chosen the site based on the design. My first three were also placed so that they would be hidden by most clothing, but now that I have a fairly well established career I’ve stopped caring.

  5. Kuododi*

    At 3:55 pm EST, DH and I will be sitting in a dark theatre with other happy little superhero nerds to watch “Avengers Endgame!!!”. We’re both excited beyond belief. ( I’m a bit concerned about the 3 hour run time. I’m not the best at staying awake during long movies.). I’m going to get a bit more coffee than usual in hopes that settles the problem. I will post a follow up when I get home this evening. ;).

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Just remember: Dr Strange watched how it was going to end six hundred million times and didn’t give any spoilers! Be like Dr Strange! :)

      I’m going tomorrow with some of my best nerd friends. I think we’re having either pizza or tacos tonight and watching Infinity War as prep.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’m going to quote you on that to my friends…I’m staying off social media until I get to see it. And since today involved an unplanned 60 mile drive to visit MIL in the hospital ( pneumonia), it probably won’t be opening weekend.

    2. Dame Judi Brunch*

      There’s an article floating around out there (from CNET maybe?) about the best times to pee during this movie. It said do not leave the theater in the last hour.
      Enjoy the movie!!!

      1. Annie Moose*

        Having seen the movie, I concur. There is no good place to leave for more than a few seconds max!

        1. valentine*

          Those articles are the balm in my Gilead, but we need to resurrect pianists and intermissions.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            I was living in the San Francisco Bay Area when Gone with the Wind was restored. I saw it at the Castro, and I had total goosebumps when the Wurlitzer organ came up at intermission!
            (As a side note, my boyfriend encountered the longest men’s room line of his life at that intermission and learned something about why women hate bathroom lines. LOL!)

            1. Artemesia*

              Anecdote. In Nashville when they built the football stadium (with public funds tacked onto our water bills, but I digress) they aimed for ‘potty parity’ and provided many more restrooms for women. First big game. Women zip right in but men are now standing in long lines as they miscalculated. You would have thought this was the crisis of the century. That got fixed immediately before the next game, because it was an outrage that men should have to line up to use the can. All I could think was I have been standing in long lines to pee for at that time over 50 years — and no one seemed outraged at all the women hours spend waiting in line with crossed legs.

            2. Arjay*

              On one of the re-releases, years ago now, they showed Gone with the Wind at my local AMC multiplex. They started the film on the wrong reel. The very young usher was quite perplexed when I complained that, “Gone with the Wond just started and Atlanta is already burning!”

    3. Elizabeth West*

      PEE FIRST. In fact, don’t drink anything before you go in because you won’t want to get up.

    4. cat socks*

      Have fun! I saw it last night. I know my bladder and didn’t drink anything for a few hours ahead and peed right before the movie started. The bathrooms were a mess, half the stalls were out of TP. Plan to get there a little early if you’re getting snacks. The lines were long at my theater!

    5. noahwynn*

      I wish these long movies still had intermission. The last movie I remember seeing with one was Titanic and that was only because the theatre in the small town took a few minutes to change the reels or something.

    6. Ms. Taylor Sailor*

      Omg I got REALLY lucky! I was originally planning on using some time I need to adjust to see it late Wednesday afternoon, but one of the theaters near me added 8 and 8:30 AM showings for today last night, so I pulled on my SpongeBob and Patrick as Iron Man and Cap tank top (Google “barnacle war” to see the design), picked up four McDonald’s hashbrowns on the way (I was shocked so many people in my theater got popcorn and soda that early in the morning), and was all ready for the movie to watch at 8:30!

      Unsurprisingly, I LOVED the movie! Surprisingly, I never needed to pee at any point and was entranced the entire time, so if you’re into the MCU, I wouldn’t worry about not staying away, especially since you’re not seeing it super late. Speaking of which, I love the MCU, but I’m still in shock over a 3 AM showing Thursday night/Friday morning at a theater near me that was nearly sold out…

      Also, I just want to give a shout-out to my boss. I was originally going to adjust my time to see it on Tuesday afternoon, but then realized it’d conflict with a work meeting our department was going to have, so I let him know yesterday that I was going to adjust my time on Wednesday instead. However, he sincerely offered to move the meeting to a different day or time because he knew how excited I was to see the movie! I told him it was not an issue for me to see it on a different day whatsoever and to not worry about it, but I still can’t believe how nice he is!

      1. Artemesia*

        We went to the Wild Nights with Emily movie on Thursday and there were hundreds of people lined up for Avengers. We had to crash their line to get to ours in time, but they were a pleasant crowd and we assured them we were not going to get their seat. They only had one ticket reader point with two staff for all the movies in the theater.

        1. Lore*

          An old friend is the writer/director of Wild Nights with Emily and I’m so delighted to see it doing so well out in the world! (Yes I need to go see it. I saw the play it was adapted from a million years ago but that’s not the same thing.)

  6. Jack be Nimble*

    For the past few years, I’ve ended up with tonsillitis every time I get a cold. It’s the pits, but I’m going to take advantage of the downtime to finish my current knitting projects–the twins I’d promised these blankets for are nearly a month old!

    1. Julco*

      If you have recurring tonsillitis, ask your doctor about having the tonsils removed. My 20-year-old son was having recurring strep infections, colds, and sore throat, and had his tonsils removed over Christmas break. He hasn’t been sick since.

    2. Blarg*

      If the twins aren’t in college yet, I think you’re doing just fine. :) feel better and enjoy your knitting time!

      1. Lilith*

        How frequently do you change your toothbrush? Do you share toothpaste or a water glass in the bathroom? One of our kids kept getting steel (I know it’s not the same as what you are going through), but the rest of us had to be checked to see c we were ” carriers. ” I think that was the term. We weren’t but there was shared toothpaste. That came to a halt.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      One other thing that’s worth trying if you haven’t tried it before. .. a neti pot. No one likes them the first time, and some people’s sinuses never liked them, but for me using one* has nearly eliminated my tonsil stones. Even during allergy season!
      *(Side joke, my husband loves his WaterPic, and my neti is the powered model…so of course it got dubbed my NosePic.)

  7. Ewesername*

    Art thread!
    It’s cold and rainy up here in central Canada this weekend. I think I’ll paint something. Or sew something. Possibly sew something painted.
    What’s everyone up to?

    1. Ann*

      We have potential snow/rain today, so it’s a great day for crafting. I’m currently knitting a test knit for Jennifer Steingass, who designs beautiful colorwork yoke sweaters. At some point, I’m also going to warp my loom for my next project (a wrap out of merino/yak yarn), but that may have to wait until Sunday

    2. Venus*

      I will be tending to my tomato seedlings, and starting a few more seeds (peppers, basil, and maybe a few of the ‘max four plants per household’ variety), in the hope that the rain and snow will eventually disappear for the season.

      1. Ewesername*

        I have some used canvas drop cloths. They make nice bags. I am thinking I may paint some flowers on them first though.

        1. LLovesWork*

          I recently bought some really inexpensive natural colored canvas (it was on sale so I got 4 yards) and am having a blast painting it. I’ve got a couple reusable grocery bags and enough to make a boatload more. Super fun! Enjoy your painting/sewing!

          1. Trixie*

            Years ago at a farmers market, I picked up a large window screen with flowers painted on the screen. I’ve carried for years and thinking I should spray a fixative on it to protect remaining paint. Best ten dollars I spent at the market!

    3. Emily*

      Recently, I’ve been working on a climbing chalk bag for my boyfriend that I started over two years ago! (To be clear, if I actually worked on it continuously instead of stopping for months at a time, it would already be done.) The crocheted outside (which looks loosely like a yeti) is completely finished and I’m working right now on the cloth liner.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I started trying to teach myself to draw and sort of let it fall by the wayside. I’m having a bit of trouble getting back into a creative groove after finishing Book 2–I’d like to begin a new project (not sure what yet), but my brain is full of stress bees. So maybe I’ll drag my instruction book out and start on that again.

    5. Angwyshaunce*

      The wife and I finally aligned on a craft – we’re working with resin. She’s making bangles, and I’m making wood + resin objects and turning them on a lathe.

    6. Shrunken Hippo*

      I woke up to snow outside (yay for living on a mountain!) so I think I’m going to work on my sewing. I altered a pattern for shorts to make them high waisted and actually fit around my hips. The mock up was a bit small so I made a couple of adjustments and it’s fitting much better. I bought a nice blue-green linen cotton blend for this project because I can not handle heat well and it should help. I’ve also started to sketch again. White pages freak me out so I bought a smaller sketchbook and I’ve been much more productive. The art still looks awful but I can see myself improving, which is great. The thing that I should be working on is world building for my story but I got kind of sidetracked drawing up a map for it in more detail than I actually need to know so….

    7. Catherine from Canada*

      It’s a yucky day, cold and rainy. Working on finances paperwork stuff. Then spending the afternoon working on a long overdue purse for my daughter-in-law (canvas with leather trim). Also need to do a lesson plan for a swimsuit class I’m teaching next week.

      1. is it tea time?*

        do you have advice for sewing swimsuits? I’m teaching my daughter, but I’m mostly winging it because (1) she refuses to use a pattern- she can’t find one that does what she wants, and (2) we need to put swim cups in, which is an issue I’ve never had

        1. Catherine from Canada*

          My main recommendation would be to use a pattern because – indie pattern designers anyway – spend a lot of time in their instructions teaching you the how and why of the construction method and most have sew-alongs or video tutorials to ease (hehe) you over the tricky bits. I’ve listed a few below.
          For swim cups – what we’ll be doing in the first lesson is figuring out our size, tracing the pattern and test sewing the cups from bra foam. You sew the cup then hold it to your body to see if the cup shape and size matches yours. If it doesn’t, adjust and try again. Swim foam is relatively cheap, easy to sew and when you have one that fits properly, you can use it to first trace the pattern for the outer cups and second, use it in your swimsuit.
          Look online for a fabric site that specializes in swimsuit material and notions. I like Fabric Fairy, but Emerald Erin is good for the notions, as is Sew Sassy Fabrics.
          Use a stretch or microtex needle. Use good quality swim elastic. When finishing edges with elastic, use that weird stitch that puts multiple stitches in each zig and zag. It looks nice and stretches with you.
          Take a look at these patterns to see if any of them come closer to what your daughter wants. I’ve made the CCF and the Cashmerette ones (don’t get distracted by the Cashmerette illustrations, she drafts for curvy women and her models are curvy, but her sizes go from 12 to 28 and fit really well, I like her suit the best) and like them. The others, I’ve made other patterns from them and find them good.
          Closet Case Files (she has a good video tutorial):
          Bombshell: https://store.closetcasepatterns.com/products/bombshell-swimsuit-pattern
          Sophie:https://store.closetcasepatterns.com/products/sophie-swimsuit-pattern
          Cashmerette:
          Ipswich: https://www.cashmerette.com/collections/cashmerette-patterns/products/ipswich-swimsuit-pdf-pattern
          Friday Pattern Company:
          Vernazza: https://www.fridaypatterncompany.com/patterns/the-vernazza-two-piece
          Megan Nielsen:
          Cottesloe: (also comes in Curve sizes) https://megannielsen.com/products/cottesloe-swimsuit
          Jalie:
          One Piece: https://jalie.com/jalie3350-one-piece-swimsuit-sewing-pattern
          Hope that helps!

    8. Lilysparrow*

      I am sitting backstage at a high-school theater, working the costume room for my daughter’s dance performance. I’m working final dress & matinee, then I get to watch tonight. A long day, but it’s all stuff I enjoy doing.

    9. SignalLost*

      Making three corsets and a set of combination underwear because I continue to believe that the assembly line is the best line, even when it’s not and when none of the corsets use the same pattern. But I need to put white thread in the serger for the corset I want to make (periwinkle satin for a new Natural Form Victorian) and the underwear, I need black thread for the steampunk corset with butterflies and the steampunk Rogue cosplay, so clearly it is easier to make three corsets than to change the serger twice. I also have to do a work call today about the state’s tax code, so this’ll be interesting.

  8. Sparkly Librarian*

    I thought I would be sharing this week about adopting our new kitty… but now I can also share that we are adopting a new baby!!

    Kitty came home Wednesday. On Thursday evening we got that call from the adoption agency saying that a baby was born and we were going to be her family! (Sometimes this happens with no notice. We’ve been waiting more than 3 years. Surprise!) So I am awake at quarter to 5, typing this in a hospital room after getting the little one to sleep. (New kitty and existing kitty are at home, having been looked in on, fed, and scritched — separately — by a trusted friend.)

    Questions about either are welcome! I can’t brag just yet to people IRL; we are waiting for the paperwork to be finalized. But she’s coming home with us this afternoon.

    1. Jack be Nimble*

      CONGRATS!!!! My partner and I will be looking to adopt in a couple years, did you go through a private agency or your state’s adopt/foster program?

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        We are working with a non-profit private agency with several decades of experience with infant adoption. I think they’re really good at what they do, and we’ll probably choose them again when we’re ready for another child, but we might also add some of our own outreach through a consultant, to be presented to more situations and hopefully be chosen sooner. And we would like to foster in future! Just felt that we needed parenting experience for those ages/stages first.

        1. Sparkly Librarian*

          One benefit of working with an agency is that they have a pool of trusted, experienced professionals — social workers, attorneys, tax accountants — and established relationships with agencies in other states, etc. They’ll connect us with the right person for our situation, and we don’t have to do the legwork. Their reputation makes things smoother and more visible for their hopeful families. In fact, the reason we’re here today is because the hospital social worker had partnered with our agency before and called them when he realized that the newly-delivered mother wanted to make an adoption plan.

      2. No fan of Chaos*

        Just to let everyone know, in Nevada, after 72 hours the parents can’t retrieve the baby for any reason. This sure eased the minds of my daughters after adoption times three.

    2. LibbyG*

      I’m so happy for you and your family! I remember some of the possibilities from the past that didn’t lead to an adoption. I hope these early days are just as sweet as you’ve long hoped. So much love to share.

      Oh, this totally makes my day!!!

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        Thank you. :) It was a long wait (although that’s true for almost everyone, in some ways) and our failed adoption last year was very hard. The (meaningful? notable? coincidentally awesome?) thing is that this baby was born almost exactly a year after the one that was placed with us but whose adoption fell through. We got through the anniversary/1st birthday, and got the call the VERY NEXT DAY. I need to find a good way to explain this succinctly, because it makes for a great story.

    3. Kuododi*

      Mazel Tov! Blessings to you and your growing family. I’m very happy to hear such wonderful news!!! Best wishes!!!

    4. Sarah Austin*

      Congratulations! What a joy to bring two new little ones into your home in one week! Be sure anything you order on amazon has free returns – 3am can be a lonely time to be awake and groggy with a new baby and you will order a lot of “it seemed like a good idea at the time.” But seriously, so happpy for you and your growing family!

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        Good to know — so far all I’ve done is write work emails about family leave. :) Also, one is not so little. The cat outweighs the baby — more than double her size! He’s part Maine Coon.

    5. Bluebell*

      Congratulations! This is such wonderful news as you add to your family in this way. Wishing you all the best on this journey!

    6. Anona*

      Congratulations!!!!! That’s such a wild, wonderful adjustment. Best wishes to you as you adjust and welcome this new baby and kitty into your family!

    7. fposte*

      Oh, my goodness, Sparkly, I think I remember you first getting approved! So many congratulations. Don’t let the kitty teach the baby to climb up the curtains.

    8. Sick Civil Servant*

      Congrats on both additions to your family! I’ve adopted twice and can remember getting “the call”! Best wishes for an easy adjustment for all, both human & feline!

    9. CupcakeCounter*

      Congratulations! My sister and I are both adopted and if there is one piece of advise I can give it is to always celebrate (and never hide) the adoption – I cannot remember a time I didn’t know and I think that the phrasing my parents used helped with any abandonment issues I know other adoptees have. I was always told how much I was wanted and that my bio parents gave me up not because they didn’t want me but because they wanted the BEST for me and at that time, they weren’t it. The day we joined our family was always celebrated as a second birthday – we celebrated the day we were born and then celebrated the day we became a family. I absolutely rubbed all my friends faces in the fact I got 2 birthday’s with presents. I’m approaching 40 and we still celebrate our adoption days.

    10. Karen from Finance*

      Ooh this is wonderful, congratulations!!!!! Lots of love for you and your newly-expanded family.

    11. Artemesia*

      That is so wonderful. Hope your daughter brings you as much joy as ours have. Absolutely most wonderful thing that ever happened in my life and we now have two lovely grandchildren of hers.

  9. Ann*

    Does anybody have experience digitizing / archiving family photos? We have a lot that are either film or slides that I’d like to digitize then upload somewhere my relatives can view (and ideally let them upload their pictures as well)

    I’ve looked at a few different sites that I can upload too and one thing I’m running into is places like Amazon Photo don’t allow you to add captions, which I would like. There’s also a large enough quantity that uploading to somewhere like Dropbox/Box easily eats through the storage.

    1. foolofgrace*

      My reply went in the wrong place — please scroll to it or search for Picasa on this page and you can get the benefit of my experience at doing this.

    2. ArtK*

      Kodak and at least one other company have services that will digitize stuff. You pack it in a box and then they return the stuff along with a DVD or thumb drive with all of the images. I don’t know anything about quality or reliability. I’m going to give it a try soon — I have some mono reel-to-rell audio of my grandfather that I’d like to recover, along with family photos going back to the 1870s.

    3. Kathenus*

      I bought a scanner from The Sharper Image catalog that lets me scan photos, slides, and negatives – and I’m in the process of digitizing old family photos to share with the extended family to start, and a lot of my old personal photos eventually as well. I haven’t yet gotten to where I’m trying to upload, because the immediate family I gave some to already are less tech folks primarily so I did it via a flash drive (with a digital frame) as a Christmas present. But I’d probably end up using Dropbox and doing it in bunches, since I’m already on it.

    4. CoffeeOnMyMind*

      I use the PhotoScan app for all of my old family photos. It’s very easy to use and scans the photos in seconds. It auto adjusts for glare, and flattens photos that have curled at the edges. The app also uploads the scanned images to your Cloud account. I use google photos, but you can link other accounts. Highly recommended!

    5. Artemesia*

      I would recommend creating books which you can do on line and can annotate each picture and can chose the layout etc etc. The thing about a family photo book is that it will still be usable in 100 years when your great great grandchildren can view their ancestors. I have a photo of my grandmother from1916 holding my newborn father; she died in 1918 and this is one of the few pictures of her. So lovely. I can guarantee you that nothing digital will be readable in 100 years or maybe even 50. In my lifetime we have gone through several versions of computer disks and CDs are now largely obsolete. Digital stuff will evaporate, but a hard copy is forever more or less. And the books are fairly cheap to do and very easy and fun. I am currently digitizing our old family snapshots, slides and negatives and will produce such a book for my kids. I did both of their wedding albums and they are really nice (and because I did them I could include shower pictures and rehearsal dinner pictures etc etc).

    6. Observer*

      A few thoughts – I’m in the midst of (slowly) digitizing at least 1K slides from my father.

      You can do this yourself. If you have a mix of film, slides and actual photos a decent flatbed scanner is your best bet.

      You have a couple of choices regarding annotation. Some scanning software allows you to name and / or edit (which lets you add captions) the files as you scan, but the this means that you need to scan one image at a time. If you want to scan multiple items at a time (like my scanner allows when you’re doing slides), you will need to allow it to name and save the files then rename / edit each file to caption or add a comment to the metadata.

      Google Photos lets you add comments to each picture. I think that if you don’t upload high res picture you can have an unlimited number. If you want high res, the cost is not too bad. It starts from 15 GB free and goes through $100 per year for 2 TB, with a couple of pricing levels in between.

  10. Anónima*

    Any tips from on recognising toxic people before they become abusive in a romantic relationship?

    Also, if you’re in a healthy relationship, what are the things that make the relationship work and be healthy, for you?

    Thanks!

    1. Colette*

      1. Are they a functioning adult? Can they hold down a job, pay their bills, feed themselves?
      2. Do they take responsibility for their decisions, and admit when they make a mistake?
      3. Do they treat everyone with respect?
      4. Do they recognize and respect that you have thoughts, opinions, friendships, and responsibilities of your own? (No complaining or sulking if you’re doing something they’re not invited to, no expecting you to drop your priorities for theirs unless there is an emergency)
      5. Do they speak to and about you respectfully and positively?
      6. Are they always in control of their temper, even when angry? (No kicking walls, slamming doors, etc.)

      1. Goose Lavel*

        This is a great checklist, but it can miss true personality disorders. Oue ex daughter-in-law displayed all of the atributes listed during the time she dated my son. We thought she was wonderful and were happy to welcome her and her family into our family.
        After the wedding and birth of our first grandcild, her true self emerged and we realized she is a narcissistic sociopath who had everyone fooled. Her mother also is just like her. About 10% of the population have these personality disorders and are usually passed down from parent to child.
        She isolated my son from our family and disparaged my wife and I to our grand childern; they lived 10 minutes away and months would pass between contacts.
        After their divorce, she mentally and physcially tortures our grandchildren (cold showers and silent treatment for days just to mention a few) and CPS is not helpful. She and her mother are now treating our grandson as the “good kid” and our granddaughter as the “bad kid” and spreading this crap to neighbors, friends and at their schools. Nasty and evil don’t begin to describe them.
        10 years on and our grandchildren have let it slip she is planning to move out of state to live with her newest boyfriend. I have researched ways to keep this from happening and there is very little recourse. Even if my son would go to court to seek sole full custody with no visitation, nothing can truly stop her from disappearig and leaving my son and us shattered.
        You really can’t uncover these disorders if the person you’re dating is skilled at keeping them hidden. Humans trust what we hear and see and often don’t scratch below the happy surface patina until it’s too late.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Not everyone with a personality disorder is a narcissistic sociopath. While I certainly understand your deep frustration I don’t think it’s helpful or kind to stigmatize millions of people who do their best to manage a mental illness.

          1. Grace*

            Yes. Sometimes assholes are just assholes. Nothing to do with brain chemistry or the way your brain is formed – just a terrible person.

            Also, by definition, sociopaths and people with NPD have limited empathy because they were abused and neglected below the age of about five, and their brain pruned the connections for trust and empathy because they were more harmful than helpful – are there any sources for the “10% of the population are narcissistic or sociopathic” statistic? Because that’s an extremely high percentage for a personality disorder that is formed through persistent and repetitive neglect and abuse.

            1. fposte*

              But “sociopath” isn’t a clinical term, and the relationship between abuse and NPD isn’t professionally considered as incontrovertible. Basically, the research summary is that the cause isn’t known, but it seems to be a combination of genetic and environment; abuse *can* be a part of the environmental factor but doesn’t have to be.

            2. Goose Lavel*

              I agree that not everyone with a personality disorder is narcissistic or sociopathic and I did not intend to offend the millions of people who struggle with these issues.
              My 10% was not based upon statistics, so I apologize for this. It was a gross assumption based upon reading that 20% of CEOS and politicians have these personality disorders.
              I’m a child of a sociopathic father, who fortunately only physcially abused me and I’ve lead a fairly good life, especially after I forgave him.
              Can you direct me to further reading regarding the early formation of NPD? I would like to help my grandchildren to understand their personality disorders that will develop due to their mother’s abuse.
              Thanks!

              1. fposte*

                Whoa, no, please don’t take it upon yourself to tell your grandchildren that you believe they will have personality disorders.

                1. Goose Lavel*

                  I would not tell them. I meant how can I help them navigate the crappy hand they have been delt.

                2. fposte*

                  Good, but stay away from the “helping them understand their personality disorders.” They won’t necessarily have personality disorders, and it’s for a trained professional to decide if they do or don’t.

                  Love them, support their father, and encourage him to get them into counseling if they’re not already. (BTW, while some of what you describe sounds abusive, for divorced parents to move out of state or even across country isn’t hugely uncommon, and visitation agreements get written up for such situations all the time.)

              2. Dan*

                A 2009 study in the British Journal of Psychiatry says that in the USA, 7.6% of the population has a personality disorder that would meet the diagnostic criteria in the DSM IV.

                I read somewhere else that 4% of the population (or something like that) has NPD. FYI, Psychology Today says that the causes of NPD are “not yet well understood.” I don’t think NPD is a given as a result of an abusive childhood. That one is all about feelings of grandiosity and self-importance, and you don’t get those feelings by getting your butt whipped for doing nothing.

              3. Traffic_Spiral*

                At most, if they tell you about doing mean things, ask them “how would you feel if someone did that to you” and follow up for a few questions.

            3. Dan*

              Do you have any support for your “below the age of about five” statement? I’ve never seen that before. Also, there doesn’t seem to be any consensus at all about the causes of NPD, so to say “by definition…” isn’t a true statement.

          2. Dan*

            While that is a true statement, Cluster B personality disorders (of which Narcissistic is one) are no walk in the park. At least when one has a choice, every single one of them (Cluster B) is an automatic “DTFMA” if the option exists.

            I think your point is true about the larger class of personality disorders, but from my experience with Cluster B, my only advice ever is “run”. Way too many people afflicted with Cluster B disorders *don’t* manage them, don’t try, and don’t even think they have a problem. That’s just too toxic for those in their environment.

            That said, Goose gets every bit of sympathy that I’ve got. It’s one thing to read about these in clinical/academic terms (or even on “layperson” sites like “Psychology Today”) but it’s a completely different beast to see what that looks like on a day to day basis.

        2. Dan*

          My ex has NPD and she meets pretty much every one of the criteria on that list. I actually think it’s hard to have a full blown personality disorder and not satisfy any of the criteria you outlined.

        3. Anónima*

          This whole conversation is stressing me out.

          First of all, my sympathies for what you’re going through. People who are toxic will bend reality for you and make you think that your own behaviour is normal when it isn’t. It’s a horrible place to be.

          Why are you saying though that your grandchildren will have a personality disorder? If you grew up the child of a narcissist, do YOU have a PD and does your son have a PD?

          Meredith Miller in YouTube is a wonderful source of info on narcissists, especially narcissistic parents.
          All advice I’ve come across with regards to narcissism is based on getting away from the person.

          Ime, (I’ve dated a narcissist, and they were by no means the only kind of toxic person I’ve dated, hence the post) there were warning signs which I ignored.
          They were a bit too attentive and charming. They moved too quickly. They talked smack about their ex and said she was mad. I wondered if THEY’D made her mad.
          It was hard not to get swept up in that.

          Abuse is very often ‘secret’ before it comes to the attention of outsiders. I’m wondering if your son had some inkling about it before you say you noticed her damaging behaviour.

          1. Goose Lavel*

            I would imagine that people that have a PD don’t recognize it in themselves and I don’t know if I have a PD or my son has a PD. I can’t speak for my son, but every job I’ve had, I worried I was going to be fired, even though I was one of top employees with regards to promotion, pay raises and accolades. I don’t know if low self-esteem or imposter syndrome qualify as a PD, but I recognize these two traits in myself.

            I only suspect that my grandchildren may gave PD based upon their current behaviors relative to their age, how they’ve been abused by both their mother and grandmother, how my granddaughter is the scapegoat whipping child for my grandson’s bad behavior and how my grandson has been labeled the “good kid”.

            To be clear, I suspect their mother will leave the state without telling us and abduct the children regardless of the divorce decree. That’s her style and vindictiveness.

      2. LJay*

        I would add
        7. Do they generally respect your other relationships in your life?

        Like, if you’re estranged from your parents, do they respect that, or do they urge you/try to take steps to make you reconcile with them?

        Do they respect your friendships or do they get upset and try to stop you spending time with your best friend?

        Do they understand that you need to maintain a good relationship with your work colleagues (or classmates or whatever) or do they need to express their irrational hatred for them every time you have to shoot them an email in their presence?

        I’ll give leeway for disliking one person. But if they have a problem with multiple people you talk to on a regular basis it’s a huge red flag.

        And kind of the converse:
        8. How do other people in your life feel about them?

        Presuming you have a good relationship with your parent’s, how do they feel about your significant other? How do your friends feel?

        Again, there’s some leeway. If one person doesn’t like them it could be due to just some sort of interpersonal thing that doesn’t have any reflection on your significant other or your relationship.

        If everyone dislikes them, it’s a big red flag.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      I consider my marriage to be healthy for me. What works for us:

      1. We sometimes vacation separately. He likes to camp with his friends, I like to take trips with my sisters or cousin. This really throws some people for a loop for some reason.
      2. We recognize that we’re separate people. I’ve seen former friends treat their relationship as though they’re inseparable and must be joined at the hip 24/7. If they made plans with me, they had to bring the boyfriend. Why?!?!
      3. We each have our own downtime, separate from each other. I guess that ties into #2, though.
      4. We recognize that we don’t have to have *everything* in common. What makes us different is what makes it interesting.
      5. We don’t bother fighting about the little things. To be honest, I can’t remember the last time we had a fight about anything. A friend of a friend likes to say that relationships are complicated and we must work very hard at it. In my opinion, if you need to work *that* hard to maintain something, is it really worth having? Is it right for you? I guess I just feel like a relationship shouldn’t be complicated or hard if you’re right for each other. But YMMV. (And I’ve seen her relationship, which is quite the train wreck, so there’s that…)

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        This is pretty much exactly what I was going to say.

        (We have a Vacation Accord. He doesn’t usually vacation without me, because I have three times the PTO he does, but the Accord defines places we have agreed I won’t go without him.)

      2. The Other Dawn*

        Oh, and trust, of course. We trust each other, which is why we can vacation separately if we want to, or chat with a person of the opposite sex, and it doesn’t cause a problem. A former friend of mine was so insanely jealous that her boyfriend couldn’t even say a celebrity was pretty without it causing a huge blowout. It must be absolutely exhausting to be like that. And if you can’t trust someone, why on earth would you be in a relationship with them? Seems like way too much work.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I think some folks believe that love has to hurt or be difficult in order for it to be love. But there are other compounding issues that can be in place also.

          Ever notice that we each have our own definition of love and what love looks like? How many times have I heard someone say, “Oh, I would not put up with that in my partnership” yet another person shrugs off that same behavior.

          1. fposte*

            I think a lot of people, especially women, get wrongfooted by the expression “A relationship takes work.” That’s not a justification for endless, unrewarding labor.

            1. ThatGirl*

              Right. Effort is not the same as unending labor, and you should, over the course of time, feel that you and your spouse are putting in roughly equal effort.

            2. Not So NewReader*

              Ties into the importance of identifying boundaries and sticking to those boundaries. Even though we talk about boundaries more than ever, I still think we have a ways to go.

            3. Venus*

              I know some people whose relationship is a lot of work, but in thinking about it… the work is due to their having mental health problems, and bad history with family, so essentially the work is spent in therapy to improve themselves and their relationship. The relationships with other people are much healthier now as a result.

              In these situations I think the difference is that “All relationships (friends, family, romantic, job) take work” rather than “The relationship with this one person is a lot of work”.

      3. Goose Lavel*

        I’m curious if you have children and if you do, how do manage and see to their needs within you narriage.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Nope, no kids. We decided before we got married that neither of us wanted them and it works well for us.

    3. Venus*

      My way of assessing people well isn’t ideal because it’s based on circumstance – I want to know how they react to something bad (illness, job loss, move, etc).

      When I went away for a few days with work, my now-partner came over twice a day to check in on my dog. A dog who ended up getting sick, so twice a day this person (who had only been dating me a few months at that time) came over and cleaned up diarrhea in the crate. At that time I remember thinking “This person is definitely different from every other person I have dated!”

      I think it’s also about respecting boundaries and how they react to hearing No. In my healthy relationships I always felt comfortable saying “Sorry, not tonight” or “I don’t want to do that”. I never got pushback in the healthy relationships – no whining, no pleading, no criticisms (the bad reactions were from the assholes).

      1. Angwyshaunce*

        I was going to comment that you can tell a lot about a person by how they treat animals, which your post nicely illustrates.

      2. Anónima*

        Aw.
        How they treat animals and, as policy wonk below says, wait staff is very important to me too.

      3. LJay*

        This.

        On one of our first dates we went to a Margarita Festival. I drank too much, and got sick.

        He took me home and started running a shower for me. I threw up on my bed.

        He put me into the shower, took the sheets off of my bed, and brought them to the complex laundry room to put them in the wash.

        Then came back with some ginger ale, helped me make up my bed with different sheets.

        Once he was sure I was okay, he let himself out.

        It was all I needed to know about him.

    4. Miss Astoria Platenclear*

      Here’s my two cents on small-n narcissistic, toxic traits:
      >Always right. If they are proven wrong by something like a map, eh, it’s trivial.
      >Frequently tell anecdotes about how some business or entity did them wrong. They supposedly triumph in the end. If you get the feeling they are looking for someone to screw up so they have something to argue about, run.
      >Conversely, they have someone in their personal life, or a public figure, whom they gush over and who can do no wrong. It may reflect how they want others to treat them.
      >Mention helping others a lot. Not so much generosity as wanting others to be indebted to them.

    5. Parenthetically*

      I think one of the biggest issues is how they respond to being disagreed with or told they’re wrong or hurting your feelings or whatever. Do they understand the concepts of listening and compromise? Or do they immediately double down, deny, reject your viewpoint as stupid, etc.?

      Also the silent treatment IS abusive.

      1. going_anon*

        Yes, this is an important one to me. It’s actually an issue in my marriage. It’s gotten to the point where I rarely share my thoughts or feelings any more.

    6. Sam Sepiol*

      Warning signs:
      Testing boundaries. “I know you wanted a quiet night but I’ll just drop round for X.” Calling at 10.10pm when you’ve asked them not to call after 10. Little stuff like that testing whether you accept it or not.

      Doing stuff for you that you haven’t asked them to do. Not like what Venus is saying about the dog having diarrhoea; doing stuff round your house such as home improvements/DIY that you haven’t asked them to do or didn’t want. Favour sharking.

      Love bombing. “I love you” when you have only known them five minutes. Trying to move in together very quickly.

      Talking shit about their ex.

      None of these are proof but they are warning signs. Proceed with caution.

      1. Anónima*

        Oh this is brilliant thanks. I never thought of it but you’re right.
        And I leaned a new phrase, favour sharking.

        1. Sam Sepiol*

          Ask me how I know :-| the knowledge is very hard won and I’ve had a lot of help from Women’s Aid (in the UK) to learn all this.

      2. Traffic_Spiral*

        I agree with this. When you start to get the small niggling feeling that you’re being fucked with? You’re being fucked with.

      3. dumblewald*

        These are good tips! A lot of abusive behavior is wrapped up in so-called “good intentions”.

    7. fposte*

      I think it’s useful to keep an eye out for red flags, but it’s also valuable to realize that not everybody gives red flags in advance. Sometimes people hold a more functional pattern together in the early days, sometimes they change or worsen. That’s not so much to say “Oooh, you never know!” but to say that finding yourself with an abuser doesn’t mean you missed red flags.

      What I’d say is to remember everything you see counts as the real person. Don’t fall into the seductive myth that the bad parts of somebody aren’t really them because they were drunk/they only do it with family/it’s just when driving. That doesn’t mean the bad parts are dealbreakers–we all have bad parts–but that I see so many people assuming that a serious problem is like some kind of burr sticking to the person they love rather than a part of that person that may make love a real problem. Assume that bad behavior is part of them and will stay like that. Is that okay for you? Is that a package you can enjoy?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        All this.
        A good piece of advice I liked was to look at how they are doing with the older relationships in their lives. Typically this would be family relationships but it also could be friends from school or long term neighbors. This will give you an idea of where you are going after you have been with this person for a while.

        Now. Tricky part. This is for an overview, a general idea. If they have one or two soured relationships in their lives that could be okay as there could be legit reasons. It could be that their entire family IS toxic and they fled that situation. So clearly this advice does not work for everyone nor does it work all the time.

      2. Lilysparrow*

        Yes, there is a certain amount of reflection/learning that can help you break a pattern of unhealthy choices. But beyond that, it can turn into blaming the victim for the abuser’s choices.

        Abusers groom and deceive their victims. It is not the victim’s fault for being deceived.

        However, learning to listen to & respect your own boundaries can help weed out manipulators and toxic people at a relatively early stage.

        1. fposte*

          Yes, exactly, especially with an abuser and not just somebody with a pattern that is unhealthy for you. They’re going to hide red flags as much as they can, and they’re often very good at it.

          1. Venus*

            I remember interviews years ago with abusers who were in jail, and they were essentially asked how they would find a victim, and they said that they would fake it for as long as necessary. I’m a bit fuzzy on the details, sorry, but essentially they made it clear that they knew they were faking their good behavior, and were willing to do it for years if needed to get control over someone.

            This shows that we can look for red flags, and we should listen to them, but some abusers know how to hide all those red flags. I completely agree that if someone is a survivor of abuse then there may not have been signs along the way – there should be no blaming!

      3. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

        So much this. Yes. Everything you see counts as the real person.

        Also, do they accept that you are an adult who was making your own decisions, plans, priorities before you met them? That you will still do this for yourself and do need, or want, them to do it for you?

    8. Annie Moose*

      Big sign is how they talk about past relationships. Are all their past partners terrible people who can do no good? Was every problem in their past relationships the other person’s fault, and they don’t take any responsibility? Not a great sign. Sure, some people legitimately have terrible, abusive partners, but it’s something to keep an eye on. I’ve known way too many people who get into a relationship with someone who trash talked all their past partners… and what happens when the new relationship gets to a rough patch? The other person starts trash talking them too.

    9. Policy wonk*

      To me a big red flag is how someone treats wait staff and service people. If they berate a waiter for a small mistake they could do the same to you when you have passed the honeymoon stage.

    10. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      I would say, an outside assessment is also wise. Not that you should let your friends and family control your love life, but they’re much less likely to be besotted with his/her eyes. Plus you can take advantage of older peoples experience instead of making your own mistakes, which is always wise.

      1. Turtlewings*

        This! There can be a million reasons for one person to dislike another person, many of which have nothing to do with that person being a good romantic partner. But if ALL your friends and family hate the guy? It’s worth looking at why.

    11. Wishing You Well*

      Some people hide who they are until you’ve made a commitment. They are hard to spot. One thing I watch for is whether they mention any friends or family members. If it seems like you’re their only friend, be careful.
      My advice is take things SLOW and listen to your gut. If you start feeling uncomfortable around someone, take your feelings seriously. Figure out what’s setting off your alarms.

      Even healthy relationships get a head cold sometimes, but a ready sense of humor gets me through every time.

    12. Lilysparrow*

      1) Keep the different types of intimacy (physical, emotional, time, personal information, family integration, commitment/exclusivity) at the same or very close to the same level. This isn’t a popular or “romantic” choice, but it is a very helpful safeguard. Kissing a stranger doesn’t make them not a stranger. Listening to trivia about someone’s favorite movies for six hours is not relational intimacy, it’s just a very long YouTube vlog. Treat them accordingly.

      Manipulators, abusers, con artists, and players create false, rushed intimacy on a physical or emotional level in order to sweep past your filters or discernment. Casual sex, instant commitment, or being “swept off your feet” romantically, can work out all right for people with strong personal boundaries who are confident in what they want. But if you’re concerned about your ability to pick good partners, this is a major point of vulnerability.

      Take it slow, and be wary of anyone who isn’t willing to take it slowly with you.

      2) How do they deal with your “no?” Do they respect it and accept it without making it a personal insult? Or do they bulldoze, pout, negotiate, or act offended? Do they attach disproportionate emotional stakes to unimportant decisions, or to personal decisions of yours that have nothing to do with them? Are you reluctant to disagree about small things, or ask for small things you would like? Is that because of your history, or because of the way they act?

      3) How do they do favors and kind gestures? Do they expect a big reaction to ordinary courtesy? Do they pay attention to the things that are actually helpful, fun, or special for you? Or do they push things you don’t actually appreciate and get put out that you weren’t grateful enough?

      And how do they receive favors/gifts/compliments? Is their reaction proportionate and appropriate? Do you feel better or worse after doing or saying something nice?

      4) How do they give and receive apologies? Do you have to work to get them to see what they did wrong, or can you simply tell them how it made you feel? Do they collapse and require comforting/reassurance when asked for an apology?

      Do they display unexplained tension or resentment, requiring you to dig out what’s bothering them? Or do they tell you when they are upset with you? Do they accept an apology at face value, or make you work to be forgiven? Do they look for offense, or get disproportionately angry or annoyed about minor things? Is it easy to understand how their sensitivities fit together with their personality, so you can be considerate without tying yourself in a knot? Do you have to curtail your life or stifle your normal personality to avoid upsetting or angering them?

      Do they keep score and hold grudges, or are things settled and done with once you’ve apologized?

      5) Do you admire their character and life choices in terms of values, priorities, judgment, integrity, and maturity?

      6) When you disagree about something important, do they “fight fair” or fight dirty? Are they pursuing the goal of a better relationship, or do they just want to win the argument? Do they see the relationship (even if it’s a first date) as a common goal you are pursuing together, or do they act like everything is a power play of some kind?

      7) Can you laugh with each other without feeling laughed at?

      That’s all I have time for right now, hope it’s helpful.

      1. Parenthetically*

        “Do they expect a big reaction to ordinary courtesy? Do you feel better or worse after doing or saying something nice?”

        Phew, yes. I can’t tell you the number of toxic *friends* I’ve had who expected me to fawn all over them for doing basic Friendship 101 things for me, and who gave me cursory-at-best thanks (or none at all, or coldness, or “I would expect the same thing from a stranger, honestly”) when I bent over backwards for them. Ugh, I had some sh*tty friends in college.

    13. LJay*

      There’s no aspect of “punishment” in the relationship.

      This sounds obvious. But, like, if I did something my ex wouldn’t like, like make plans that didn’t involve him, he would punish me with his behavior. He wasn’t physical, but he would try and schedule different plans with me and get upset that I said I had other plans first. He would emotionally withdraw from me or even give me the silent treatment as it got closer to the time I was going to go. Then while I was out he would call and text incessantly.

      So when I began dating again, I was meeting someone after work, and I wound up being like 15 minutes late getting out of work. I found myself getting really anxious as I approached the restaurant, because this would be the type of thing that would cause my ex to emotionally punish me by lecturing me about how I ruined the whole night, etc. I apologized profusely. And the guy I was meeting just said he was glad I texted so he didn’t have to worry I was standing him up or something, and that he didn’t know what I would want to drink so he just got me a water.

      But I distinctly remember how tense I was walking into the restaurant, and how I didn’t realize things were that bad with my ex until I realized I was having that reaction a lot in situations where other people I was seeing treated like the normal things that they were.

      And with my current boyfriend, it’s the opposite. He can express displeasure with something, but there’s no aspect of punishment whatsoever.

      Like, I borrowed his car, and the windshield wiper stopped working. I forgot to tell him. When he noticed he asked me if I knew about it. I said yes. And he said next time please remember to tell him so he can fix it before it rains, and so he can make sure to get it fixed while his warranty is still in effect. And that’s it.

      Or, like, I’m terrible with my finances. He expresses his concern – that he worries about pooling our money together when I overdraw my own account – but that’s it. There’s no manipulation or punishment involved.

      1. Artemesia*

        I love this insight of ‘punishing’. My husband and I agreed early on on a ‘no fault marriage’ and he has been true to his word (I am a little more blamey but work on it). I remember running out of gas and having him quite cheerfully bike to me with a can of gas without taking me to task about how dumb I was (which I was to let that happen). The only time I ever remember him getting mad at a mistake I made was the SECOND time I overflowed the bathtub and ruined the kitchen ceiling. We had a defective tub overflow valve and if I went to do something else while the tub was filling and it entered the overflow valve it ended up in the ceiling. I just started always staying in the bathroom while the tub was filling after that. (and I was the one who painted the ceiling both times). He once shared a Faulkner quote with me during a rough patch in our relationship (we are going on 50 years now) that had an old man say something like ‘ early in his marriage he and she had forgiven each other completely and in advance for all the disappointments they would be to each other.’ Always thought it summed up a loving marriage well — you give each other grace. Any hint of a ‘punishing’ disposition heralds a lifetime of petty miseries.

    14. dumblewald*

      I second what everyone says above about the fact that it may take time for toxic behaviors to come into light, which kinda sucks because you would rather know sooner than waste your time.

      Something else I would observe closely throughout your relationship with someone is how you feel around this person. This is usually a good gut check because I think sometimes we can err on the side of undermining problematic behaviors in an attempt to be forgiving. A lot of people in abusive relationships end up normalizing the small but bad behaviors and don’t realize they are problematic. Some things I would look out for are:

      -How do you act around this person? Do you feel like you have to hide a significant amount of things from them? Do you always behave cautiously? Are you always afraid of offending them?

      -Do you really trust this person? Do you constantly question what they say? Why? Is it because you caught them lying in the past?

      – How has your overall mood/disposition been since you started seeing this person? Are you happy, content? Or stressed out, depressed, insecure? (Of course, there could be other life factors contributing to these things, but it’s a good starting point when evaluating your relationship. Basically, is your relationship a good part or bad part of your life?)

      1. Pommette!*

        Yes to monitoring your own feelings!
        And your actions. For instance: are you cutting yourself off from people or commitments that matter to you? Are you toning down parts of your personality (in ways that you don’t feel good about)? etc.

      2. Artemesia*

        Time is an important point. In the first year in particular people are in courtship mode and then they revert to who they are. I had one boyfriend after my first marriage ended who was so wonderful and then after a year I began to see why he had already been married twice at age 26. He was one of those guys who wants a mother for a wife. He drank and needed ‘discipline’ about it — suddenly his girlfriend is a nag. I knew his second wife and she was a woman much like me — relatively intellectual etc etc and could imagine how their relationship went from ardent and interesting to whiny and dependent — and so moved on. My first husband was an entirely different man after we married — we married much too quickly. He was not a bad guy, but not someone I wanted to spend my life with once I got to know who he was. Time is your friend — see what they are like after the first ardor wears off — doesn’t have to be toxic or abusive to be not what you want for a lifetime commitment.

    15. Anónima*

      Thank you so much for all of your answers everybody. I found it really helpful and I’ve bookmarked this discussion to come back to at a later date. You’ve given me plenty to think about and some useful things that I can try immediately!

    16. Anon for this*

      I don’t have advice, but I want to stress to ANYONE that if someone does turn out to be toxic or abusive, IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT. It’s often not immediately evident and there’s no shame in not being able to tell.

      I haven’t been intimate with many men, but every one that I have been intimate with ended up being emotionally abusive. The first one (I was 18) criticized me for not shaving enough and pressured me to have sex (which ended up never happening, thank goodness), using the “You know you want to” line whenever I’d say no. (Sadly, he was by far the least terrible of all three of them.)

      The second (I was 20) was a friend of mine who proposed a casual sexual relationship (which I now know I should never have agreed to it.) However, he would smack my butt in public without warning constantly and was generally a politically incorrect a-hole towards people. Finally, without warning, he announced to a group of our friends that he had a new girlfriend, which I had no idea about. (To be clear, he had every right to have one, but it was a punch in the gut that he didn’t break it off with me first.)

      The third (I was 22)…I could genuinely devote an entire book to, as he makes the first two look like patron saints. To keep it short, highlights included not taking no for an answer, badgering for nudes, threatening to cut off contact if I didn’t fly out to see him on my own dime, and refusing to wear a condom unless I bought one.

      However, the last time I talked to him when things were imploding between us, I mentioned off-hand how everyone I had been with mistreated me, to which he said that I should go to a therapist and examine “why I pick guys who are so terrible.” I wish I told this to him at the time, but that infuriated me later because it was classic victim-blaming to me, as if I knew exactly what I was getting into every time. So I repeat, IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT if the person you’re with turns out to be a grade-A abusive a-hole.

      1. Anónima*

        If you haven’t listened to Marisa Peer on YouTube I recommend her. She’s lovely. She talks about how people have patterns in responding to unhealthy partners, but more importantly she doesn’t victim blame and she describes really simple ways to break out of those patterns.

        1. Anon for this*

          I’ll look her up! Thanks for the recommendation. I’m always willing to examine my own actions and make positive change, but ultimately, it’s always an a-hole’s fault for being an a-hole.

          1. Anónima*

            Oh I definitely don’t blame myself for the way a-holes behave, but it’d be within my control to not date one of them again, so that’s what I’m working on!

            1. Anon for this*

              Exactly! As much as others may suck, it’s good to look at what you do have power over and examine life that way! Even if some things aren’t your fault, it’s better to look at what you do have control over and make positive change from there.

      2. Observer*

        It’s ironic that he said that to you – what does it say about him that he knows that he’s toxic? What pathetic loser would rather either be with people who have no other options, are “too stupid” to understand what they are getting into, or they have to fool into getting into a relationship with them?

        I would say that he had a point. Not in that you are “stupid” or broken in any way. And not that you are responsible for anyone being a jerk, much less for being an abuser. But when there is a pattern of choices that don’t work for you, that generally indicates that you might want to look at why / how you are making those choices. Especially since the patterns of behavior that you describe are quite similar.

        To be clear here: Jerks, abusers, etc. and 100% responsible for their behavior! The fact that you chose to get together with them, not realizing / understanding does NOT EVER excuse their misbehavior. But it’s to your benefit to figure out what you can do to minimize the chances of becoming a victim again, and of improving your ability to realize that a relationship is unhealthy earlier in the process and taking appropriate action.

        1. Anon for this*

          I absolutely agree. The impetus is on me to work on myself and improve. I was just dumbfounded that he would say something that insensitive and say it in a way that put all the impetus on me for getting into those situations, particularly because every single time, the guy pursued me, never the other way around. Hell, he specifically WOULDN’T TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER at least five times when he wanted to first get together. Though knowing him, I really shouldn’t have been surprised he’d say that, given that he was so painfully unwilling to take responsibility for ANYTHING he did, but I just wish I had the nerve to call him out in the moment.

          But I’m completely with you.

    17. Artemesia*

      The problem is that we all tend to disregard things we don’t want to see. Obviously the first clue is ‘is this a functioning adult’ i.e. do they have a job, or if in school are they making good progress and do they have a plan for their future. Then are they considerate; do they follow through, do what they say, make sure your needs are considered. Then are they clingy or pushy or wanting to make things serious immediately which is a warning sign. People like that are not interested in you but ‘having a woman.’ Then as you date notice how they treat other people and you and be willing to believe your eyes and experiences. Also listen to how they describe other relationships. If their first wife was a beotch and everything was all her fault — hmmm. If they are always the victim of bad bosses, unfaithful women, mean friends who stab them in the back — hmmm. The real problem is having the fortitude to exit a relationship you wish were good when you begin to see it won’t be.

    18. Batgirl*

      For me? Conflict resolution style.
      Abusive people:
      – Ignore your complaints, (sometimes very cheerfully and charmingly) ,
      – Make unilateral decisions and handwave your objections away as ‘control’
      -Punish anything they don’t like about your decisions. Either with dergatory comments, sulking, days of pointed moodiness or anger or guilt tripping. Or worse.
      -Leaving isn’t an option in the cold light of day. No matter how bad things get the idea of your leaving is traitorous. However the concept is frequently thrown out as an argumentative threat .

      With a healthy partner:
      – You can say ‘this bugs me’ without having to justify yourself. It will be heard.
      – Conflicts are dealt with without it being a big deal. If you don’t agree immediately there’s no pressure to submit before thinking it over.
      – If one of you accidentally fucks up the other one asks for what they need with the goal of a quick solution instead of treasuring it up and using the example against them.
      – You accept that you both have the right to leave if you’re unhappy for any reason; big or small.

  11. Anders*

    I’m not in a good place these days. A close relative died of a rare and aggressive cancer called angiosarcoma. It’s been hell on the whole family.

    1. FUAS*

      I’m so very sorry. My sister died of angiosarcoma last Friday, six months following her diagnosis. It’s an unbearably ferocious disease, and so rare I wonder whether we’re related… Sending peace to you and your family.

      1. Anders*

        FUAS, I’m sorry for your loss too. My relative died 3 years after diagnosis, many surgeries, and much suffering. Terrible, cruel disease.

  12. Flinty*

    I want to acknowledge up front that this question will likely be very painful for some.

    My partner and I are thinking more and more about having kids and are open to both having biological kids and/or adopting. I was looking through a local agency’s website, where they have short profiles about the children in need of homes, and was surprised by the enormous number that need lifelong, intensive care due to special needs (not just learning disabilities, but serious medical conditions.) I just can’t imagine adopting a child who I knew up front would either need to live with us all their lives, or need some kind of institutional care.

    Does that mean I’m not ready to be a parent at all? I realize that my partner and I could have biological children with very very serious special needs, or have neurotypical children, and then have some awful accident completely change that. It feels different somehow to know something is a risk and being willing to figure it out if that happens, than to sign up for a certainty. But at the same time, I wonder if I was really ready, I would be able to welcome a child with any level of needs.

    1. FutureAdoptiveMom*

      My husband and I are in the adoption process right now, and I also work with the special needs population for my job, and no, I don’t think this means that you are not ready to parent at all. This was something my husband and I discussed ourselves, and because he has health conditions, it would be very difficult for us to provide long-term intensive care in a situation like that. Even the paperwork we had to fill out asked us what types of situations we would be open to, so I think even social services recognizes that not everybody feels equipped for that kind of situation. TBH, I think very few people who have children go into it “ready” to have a child with serious special needs.

      1. valentine*

        If you sign up to parent, you are signing up for whatever needs the child has or may have. That’s the gig. If you don’t think you can meet them (especially alone, which is a possibility in the US), you’re not ready to parent. It’s like getting married “in sickness and in health” though you don’t want to deal with certain changes in ablebodiedness.

        1. Venus*

          ‘You should be prepared for anything’ is a great philosophy in theory, but not practical.

          A child with serious special needs can require one parent to stop working, and added medical expenses. Most people would have a lot of difficulty to afford a very sick child.

          It’s a bit like any other aspect of our lives – even if we buy house, car, or (supplementary) health insurance, the truth is that people who have their home burn down, or are in a car accident, or – worst case – have a serious medical problem… they often find that the insurance helps with some aspects, but they still have financial uncertainty and problems (for example with a serious medical problem they often can’t work so their income drops substantially, and there are costs of medication which aren’t covered).

          Humans can’t live our lives assuming the worst-case is likely to happen, otherwise we would never live!

          1. Thursday Next*

            I find myself agreeing with both you and valentine: it’s true that we can’t live our lives *expecting* bad things to happen, but sometimes bad things *do* happen, and rising to meet that challenge is a requirement of parents.

            I think anyone with an extremely low tolerance for uncertainty and risk does need to think about what that would mean for their ability to parent—because there aren’t any guarantees.

            1. Observer*

              There is a major difference between that and starting out from the get go with a child you KNOW has these issues.

              I know a lot of parents who would give up their seat in the last boat on the Titanic for their kid, who would run into a burning building for their kid, who would do (and in some case DO do) and sacrifice a lot of things for their child(ren). And none would have adopted a child with needs up front. It may not be logical, but people can often things that they would never have chosen.

        2. Maya Elena*

          That’s true; but it’s a different situation if you have a child, and then they have lifelong needs because of misfortune along the road, or even genetics; it is an entirely different proposition adopting someone with those problems. It is generous; and a fair number of people do it; but I don’t think there is an ethical imperative to adopt a very sick child over a healthy one.
          To use the marriage analogy, you promise to be “in sickness and in health”, but it’s really fraught if you think that, from an ethics standpoint, you have to accept “sickness” as the default.

    2. foolofgrace*

      Parenting is hard enough as it is … I don’t think there’s anything selfish or wrong about wanting a healthy child. If it was your calling to adopt a child with serious medical needs you’d know it; not many people are in a position to do that. I remember when I was pregnant I was afraid of having a baby with something serious wrong with them, and that fear kept me on the straight and narrow, so to speak, in taking care of myself during pregnancy, like one four-ounce glass of wine twice a week, which was kind of difficult for me where I was at then.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Not gonna lie, that’s actually one of the (many) reasons I have chosen not to have kids – I do not believe that I have the temperament or patience to support a kid with special needs in the ways that I would need to as a parent, so I’ve chosen not to take the risk. My husband is in the same boat as well – plus his twin brother’s two children are both severely autistic. We have both agreed that we would rather not be parents at all than risk being subpar parents.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        Me too, or at least this is one of the things that made me decide not to pursue any kind of fertility treatment. I have had issues with depression all my life and my husband is mildly autistic. I could not imagine us dealing very well with the problems and stresses of raising a kid when we have enough issues managing ourselves. It probably would have been OK but I do not want a child badly enough to pursue any treatment for apparent infertility.

    4. SP*

      One of mine has some very mild issues (Still waiting for a formal assessment) and no, we were not ready. Many times, I still don’t feel ready. I know, however, that I am doing my best and that I am still a fit parent. I do know though, that I know my limits, and as much as I would like to have more kids, I could not deal well with more. I think being aware of your capabilities actually means you are more ready than you think.

      If you go the biological route, you may want to look into what sort of pre-natal care is available and options are available to you if an issue is discovered while you are pregnant. I know there are many parts of the world where choices are limited. In another pregnancy, there was a potential issue, soon ruled out, and even though I live in a location where there are options, I was surprised that they were more limited than I had assumed.

    5. Laura H.*

      Not a parent, but an adult living with her own special needs, who still lives with her parents.

      I don’t think they were at all ready for their first child to be born prematurely with Spastic Quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy. And while the only major unusual medical expense I incur is on Durable Medical Equipment (new walker every five years and necessary replacement parts as needed-usually 1.5 to 2 years), I’ll have to do this stuff on my own at some point.

      My parents have done- and in a lot of ways continue to do- what they can to ensure my health, independence, and social needs are met.

      Parenting is not an easy task, but a parent loves their child, and wants whatever success will mean for that child.

      Things can happen at any age, and to any part of the body. Our parents go through things during aging that potentially reverses roles. You feel a call, a pull, and I don’t think that should be ignored. The risks should be considered, but to be blunt… not one of us makes it out of life completely pristine.

      And if you find you don’t want kids, but still want to help them, there are plenty of opportunities!

    6. J Kate*

      I have two younger sisters with special needs, both requiring pretty extensive care. Fortunately they are both fairly healthy medical-wise, though they each have multiple doctors who follow their conditions and keep their medications up-to-date. They will both require life-long care. This is not something to be taken lightly. I don’t think it makes you not ready to be a parent because you don’t feel comfortable jumping right in to that. My parents would never have said they were ready for that before my sister was born, and I’m sure they still don’t feel “ready.” But they love my sisters and want the best for them and I’m certain you would do the same for your child if they had any special needs.

    7. fposte*

      I’m an adoptee, and I think it’s fine to think about your own limits in parenting, no matter how you get a kid. There are ways adoption is like having a child biologically and ways in which it isn’t, and I think it’s counterproductive to treat it as if it were the same in every way.

      I think it also gets complicated by a lot of cultural baggage around adoption, which can include a lot of rescue narratives. Those are gross, and they’re no good for real families. You’re not talking about having trouble with imperfection; you’re talking about being daunted by things that reasonably daunt parents of all kinds, and adoption isn’t only for people who are prepared for the challenge of every possible child.

    8. Sick Civil Servant*

      I’ve adopted twice. My oldest was a “regular” adoption & it turns out that she has learning disabilities that are manageable. My youngest was a “special needs” adoption because she was born with a hole in her heart. The hole turned out to be nothing, as it filled in on its own. BUT she has major learning disabilities & has been in an LD class since grade 2. She’s starting high school in Sept. I spend a lot of my time driving her to OT, speech therapy, music therapy, etc. It’s taught me to be more patient and tolerant of others. Most adoption agencies will give you the number of other parents who have adopted special needs kids so you can directly ask them questions. While not every kid is the same, it’s great to learn about all of the options available
      For kids. Being a parent is tough, regardless of your path to parenthood. My sister has a birth kid who is really smart but suffers from anxiety – she can’t use public restrooms. Despite several hospitalisations for kidney infections & reoccurring UTIs, my sister doesn’t think it’s an issue. She refuses to get her poor kid help for her anxiety.

    9. Thursday Next*

      Mom of two special-needs kids here. I think their special needs changed my life more than just having kids did.

      I think it’s wise to consider how much you want to take on up front. For many (not all) kids, their needs aren’t necessarily evident from the start, so there can be a bit of time between becoming a parent and realizing your child has extra needs. IOW, there’s a transition to parenthood before the transition to special-needs parenting.

      (Also—and apologies for emphasizing this point—this means there aren’t any guarantees that the infant who appears healthy/typical at birth won’t have special needs down the road.)

      IME, very few people think they’re ready to cope with kids with special needs before having them. I know a few people who have adopted older children with special needs, and I am in awe of them.

      If you’d asked me 12 years ago whether I’d be ready or willing to take on the challenges I have now, I’d have said “no.” But I have learned and changed more than I ever thought I could, so who I was 12 years ago is not who I am today.

      1. knitter*

        I was coming here to say the same thing. I have two kids–One typically developing and the other has a genetic disease that is so rare that most of her care team has never heard of her disease much less treated it.

        For her, we eased in to the appointments. She is now followed by 7 doctors and works with 4 early intervention staff. I think she has a medical appointment every two weeks for the next few months. If she was my first child and I had this schedule from the beginning, I do not think I would have bonded with her. Even with my first, as much as I loved him, it wasn’t until he was 6 mo or so and was more interactive that I really started to feel in love with him (I hope that distinction is clear). For the majority of his first three months, I just felt like he was more work and little joy. I do still struggle with this with my daughter. Since I handle all the logistics, the work/joy balance is tipped much more toward “work”. Since I had the experience with my first of these feelings changing, I am aware of them and work hard to have special moments with my daughter.

        All of that is to say that as the parent of a special needs kid, I can totally understand why you wouldn’t chose this life, especially with a first child. Best wishes for whatever parenting path comes your way.

    10. Wishing You Well*

      It’s okay to acknowledge your limits. I’d be more concerned if you wrote you were ready for anything. No one is ever “ready” for what life throws at them. Just remember there’s help out there if you need it. Asking for advice, as you’re doing now, is a great start.
      Best of Luck for your future!

    11. Not So NewReader*

      There’s not just the emotional component, which is a huge component alone. But there are also other pieces here such as resources, energy, finances and so on.

      Some times fairness comes in odd packages. Some times the fairest thing you can do is to know your limits, know what is doable for you. Being fair can happen when people say NO.

      I remember reading somewhere that much of elder abuse happens in homes not in professional facilities. And the abuse happens because the families don’t know their limits and they keep pushing themselves to perform when they actually can’t any more. Meds get forgotten, bathing gets skipped and so on. The effect is cumulative. The family needs to say NO.

      You don’t have to take on the most difficult situations. And this goes for most of life, you don’t have to take a job where the demands are too great for you. Just because these jobs exist does not mean you are required to do them. And you can still be a valuable employee to employers you do work for. It does not make you less than nor does it mean you are unfit for any job.

      Likewise, with children. You do not have to take on the most difficult situations out there to be a true parent. When you bring a child into your home and love that child, you are a true parent.

    12. KR*

      Totally ok. My grandmother did two very long term fosters that were very disabled – one was thought to be in a vegetative state from shaken baby syndrome (she started showing her lovely personality eventually) & one with severe fetal alcohol syndrome who never really progressed past the toddler/small child level mentally her whole life. It’s lots of hard work and a lot of time spent at home with your kids depending on their level of disability, but extremely rewarding. My grandmother loved her long her fosters like her own kids, and really they were her kids even if not legally. One eventually aged out of the foster system and was put in an adult nursing home and one passed.

    13. Lilysparrow*

      No. This does not mean you are unfit to be a parent. It means you are realistic about what you are prepared to cope with.

      In my faith, we talk about calls and gifting, and about grace. Some people are called and therefore spiritually equipped to take on an extraordinary measure of responsibility, such as adopting a child with extraordinary needs. Other people receive grace to cope with the unexpected demands of their life, such as giving birth to a child with extraordinary needs.

      If you don’t have the call or the gift, it’s good to know yourself and not commit to situations you probably can’t cope with.

      Some of the worst adoption horror stories I’ve heard involved overly-idealistic adoptive parents who wound up abusing or surrendering their children because they couldn’t deal with the stress.

      Safeguarding against being one of those people speaks well of you as a potential parent. As they say, the only people who never question whether they’re good parents, are horrible parents.

    14. Amtelope*

      No, it’s totally OK. There are a lot of kids with serious special needs in care, but also a lot of kids with less serious issues, and a good adoption agency or social worker will work with you to match you with a child who’s a good fit for what you can handle. My biological child has serious disabilities that mean she may not be independent as an adult (or may not be until much later than we’d otherwise expect), and when we adopted a second child from social services, we were clear that we couldn’t handle another child with the same level of disability. That was fine with everyone involved.

      Part of what I suspect you’re seeing if you’re browsing galleries is that a high proportion of very young kids — infants and toddlers — have very intense medical needs. Babies and toddlers who are free for adoption tend to be adopted quickly without ever hitting gallery websites. The kids who linger there are the ones who either have challenging medical needs or are school age or older.

    15. Thursday Next*

      Oh—weighing in specifically on kids needing to live with you in adulthood—I’ve always heard that it’s best to transition kids out of a home, to an assisted living, group home, or apartment-share with caregiver, at the age they’d make the transition if they didn’t have special needs (around 22). It’s harder if they’re in their 40s or 50s and they’ve lived with their parents until the parents die or need assistance themselves.

      Obviously there’s still a high degree of parental involvement, but the idea is to move people toward the greatest degree of independence possible.

      1. Artemesia*

        My cousin’s first baby was in a hospital nursery where a nurse managed to infect several babies with meningitis. Some died and my cousin’s child was seriously brain damaged. She was deaf, profoundly delayed and never spoke and was not toilet trained. She died recently at age 48 having been cared for by her parents and later her widowed mother for her entire life. She was a wonderful mother to this child but it was her entire life. And I can imagine if she had died before her daughter that it would have been nightmarish for her daughter to be institutionalized at that point. She was not capable enough for an assisted living type setting. My colleague with a son with Down syndrome did arrange for him to move into a group home when he was in his 20s and that went well.

    16. So not me*

      One of the best things about the internet is we can tell the truth. Both times that I was pregnant, I had my kids actively screened for known disabilities before announcing the pregnancies. I work with people with special needs and know that the world isn’t fair, isn’t going to include people with disabilities to the extent they deserve. Instead of giving birth to a child who would need me for the remainder of it’s life and whom I had a 40 year head start on them, I would have terminated the pregnancy. Did that make me a poor parent or a realistic one? I’m still a parent with two girls.

      1. Thursday Next*

        Honesty time: this was the main reason we didn’t have a third child (which I wanted): the existing two take up a lot of time, money, and emotional energy. I bowed out of full-time academia and now adjunct, because I’m pretty much always on call. It wouldn’t have been fair to the two kids we already have to spread ourselves even thinner.

        I think becoming a parent requires both realism and optimism.

      2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        I have never been pregnant but honestly I think I might have terminated a fetus with serious problems. It’s still tricky for me to sort out my feelings on the ethics of this, but I think about pets and how we have no problem putting an animal down if it is suffering but we force humans to live by artificial means even if they have no chance of recovering.

        It’s tricky because of course I don’t think any less of someone with disabilities and people should be able to live and be supported regardless of their health and abilities. But long ago I volunteered with severe and profoundly disabled children and I always wondered how much they enjoyed life if they were totally dependent on someone else.

        The one I remember most was about my age at the time (16 or so) and could not move anything voluntarily except his eyelids. I used to read and chat to him and he seemed to enjoy it but I’m sure it was immensely frustrating to be a teenaged boy with a normal intelligence and hormones trapped by brain damage in a non-functioning body. Did he even want to be alive, treated like a baby for decades? Was he truly able to express his feelings on the matter or were his eye blinks being interpreted in a particular way by his carers?

        If I were rendered totally disabled in this way I’d want to die. There is no way I would want to endure years of lying in a hospital bed unable to do anything for myself and being ignored or having to put up with other people’s choices if things that might entertain me. When my grandfather was dying in the hospital I came to visit and someone had put the 24 hour news channel on TV in his room. Such a fate would be torture for me! I know there are instances when people miraculously recover from circumstances like these but I don’t think I would be prepared to wait. By the same token I think that if it was clear that a fetus was going to be severely disabled and dependant on others for their whole life, I think I would terminate rather than condemn a person to a life of perpetual infancy.

        1. coffee cup*

          I feel I should just say my sister is dependent on others and she very much enjoys life. She’s actually one of the most joyful people I know. It probably helps that she doesn’t see it as dependence, or think of it the same way you or I might do. This of course has absolutely nothing to do with your choices but as you had wondered about life enjoyment I thought I’d say that it is possible!

    17. Flinty*

      Thank you everyone for the compassionate and honest responses. This is such an amazing group of commenters.

      Several people put into words some of the ways in which it is different to adopt a child with very serious special needs. The children on this agency’s page were all around 7-16 and it would definitely be a really different experience to jump into that, rather than start with a baby.

    18. Artemesia*

      I have a friend who adopted two babies, twins, making arrangements before their birth. They were born prematurely and one didn’t thrive and a few weeks in they discovered she had a seriously disabling genetic trisomy defect. She requires heroic care just to live and will always be developmentally disabled. With good care she may live to adulthood. They were strongly encouraged to not proceed with the adoption of this child, but could not see themselves taking one twin and not the other and so adopted. Her whole life is now and will probably be for decades about supporting the needs of this seriously ill child. I admire her for it, but I don’t think I could have done it.

      When you have your own child, you have to deal with what life gives you. But when you adopt, you have a choice. We all want kids who will grow up to be independent competent adults; sometimes fate deals us a blow — but choosing that path is not something anyone is required to do when adopting.

  13. Marzipan*

    I think there’s… something… that’s taken up residence under my kitchen cupboards (and potentially in other places as well), and it’s doing my head in!

    My downstairs neighbour let me know the other day that he thought he’d seen ‘something small’ run along the windowsill of the cupboard under the stairs (which is in my flat). I couldn’t obviously see anything in there, but it’s pretty crammed with stuff, and there are great big gaps around where the pipes come up from under the house, so I figured it’s not implausible. Popped a live-catch mouse trap in there, but nothing.

    But then I could hear scurrying under the kitchen cupboards. And all the crumbs that had built up in the annoying gap between the cooker and the panel underneath it somehow made their way onto the floor. And the cat started to be very interested in looking underneath the freezer. So I’ve had a trap in the kitchen, as well. Also nothing.

    Only now, I’m starting to question whether there could be something more rat-sized in there. Yesterday, I got home to find a weird scattering of wood/plaster dust on the kitchen floor, and when I looked up, one of the recessed lights in the ceiling had come loose. Admittedly they are terribly fitted, but still, it rather suggests something had made it up into the ceiling and gone for a wander. And the only things I’ve found that look even slightly dropping-ish seem a bit too big to be from a mouse…

    That said, I’ve found very, very little on that front. And also, although my terrible, depressed-person housekeeping means there’s no shortage of stuff lying around that even a minimally-motivated rodent could live off, there’s really no evidence of any of it being got at. So I’m confused.

    I’m not especially bothered by rodents in themselves – I’ve had pet mice and rats in the past, and I’ve had a mouse visitor in a previous house that wasn’t some big disaster – but I really dislike not knowing what’s happening where. Also, because of the cat, I can’t safely use snap-traps or poison (I mean, I don’t especially want to anyway, but even if I did) so now I have ultrasonic things plugged in all over the place, and a live-catch rat trap in addition to the mouse ones. We shall see…

    On the plus side, this has rather motivated me to crack on with my sporadic efforts at Konmari-ing the flat. My kitchen cupboards are looking splendid! I can’t quite face doing the cupboard under the stairs just yet, and plugging up any gaps, but I’ll work up to it.

    1. Reba*

      Oh dear. My parents had a squirrel move into their walls once, professional help was required.

      The satisfaction of a cleaning task well done is definitely a silver lining!

    2. Wishing You Well*

      I used a steel wool pad to block the gap where a mouse was getting into my kitchen. It can’t chew through the steel pad. The mouse left for the countryside.
      You might want to call an exterminator. You don’t want the rodent(s) dying in your walls or ceilings. Given that wild rodents pee and poop everywhere and spread diseases, you needed this fixed ASAP.
      I hope the thing is gone now!

      1. Venus*

        I recommend using inflatable styrofoam-type insulation sprayed in and around the steel wool, in order to keep it in place. I had a very irate rodent who was very mad about being displaced from his home, and he had the strength and will to push on the ball of metal, and it was only the sprayed insulation which kept him out. After a couple weeks I noticed that the insulation had been chewed on quite a bit, but not where it was within the steel wool.

    3. Marzipan*

      Boom! Totally just caught a rat. Went and released it into the churchyard round the corner; it’s basically like a park there so I’m sure it’ll be comfy enough.

      Interested to see what tomorrow brings…

      1. Gaia*

        Yay! Hopefully he was just a random wanderer and not a sign of more.

        I once lived somewhere where I was told there was a “minor mouse problem” under the house. I thought no big deal, everywhere in this part of the country has a “minor mouse problem” you just live with it and don’t let it get out of control.

        It was not a minor mouse anything. It was a massive infestation. How do I know? Because those ballsy little buggers would just saunter across the middle of the living room floor like they owned the place. They had absolutely no fear of humans, dogs, cats, or really anything. One of them also chewed through a wall and crawled across my pillow (which woke me up).

        I regret nothing about breaking that lease. I hope no one else ever deals with that. I can handle a lot of things but not that. Never that.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      A thought…If you suspect something in a drop ceiling, isn’t that a cat-free space for a trap?
      A suggestion from a friend who used to live near a European harbor–plug any too-small gap with steel wool. Rodents will chew edges of wood & plaster to make a passage, but they won’t chew steel wool. So put the metal around pipe access holes for example.
      A suggestion from a friend in the woods– look up one-way traps and excluders.
      Finally a question from me…does your area have rodent-borne disease? In my area of the US, hanta virus is a recognized problem.

    5. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      The problem with rodents is that if you see one you’ll probably have more. I don’t like killing them but I found the live traps totally useless. But I went around the flat plugging up any gaps I could find with a combination of steel wool and expanding foam, and eventually I seem to have found the right gaps. Keeping them out is definitely better than endlessly trapping them!

      1. Artemesia*

        Rodents are disease vectors. I have always used traps and exterminated them. I am happy to transport spiders outside, but rats? Plague is endemic in parts of the US, not going to encourage a happy rat population.

    1. Annie Moose*

      I had a great time and I’m still in awe they fit that much into the movie. It does a LOT.

    2. cat socks*

      It was so good! I wish I could watch it again at home so I can pause and process everything.

      1. zora*

        Oh yeah, I was thinking this all night, I really need to see it again to fully process everything!

    3. Even Steven*

      Several of my colleagues saw it very late on Thurs night, and came in Friday exhausted, exhilarated and moved. But not a word was spoken out in the open office. My very, very, very cool and thoughtful company had emailed the whole org on Wed to ask Endgame viewers to find private places to talk Endgame with others, to save later viewers from having it spoiled for them. Nice, huh? They do the same with Game of Thrones – reminder emails on Fridays and Mondays to keep chats quiet for us cheapsters who are waiting to see it all for the first time on DVD. :)

      1. Scarlet Magnolias*

        Yes , at my library, we all meet on Monday mornings and the first question asked is “Did you watch?” if people haven’t we chat about the episode elsewhere. I happen to love spoilers so I never mind if someone fills me in when I haven’t watched. So looking forward to Episode 3!

      2. Elizabeth West*

        That’s really awesome of them!
        My fangirling buddy hasn’t seen it yet–she might be able to go tomorrow. I’m dying for her to make it to the cinema so we can discuss. We spent a huge amount of time speculating. Now we must analyze!!!

        I wish we could have gone together–that would have been optimal, but she lives in Canada so yeah, that wasn’t going to happen. We did our Captain America: Civil War re-watch together over the internet and that was fun. Didn’t get to do an Infinity War simulcast, but oh well.

    4. WrenF*

      I have to say that I was absolutely dazzled. I feel a little star-struck as well from the the entire experience.

      I can’t remember having had such a spectacular experience at the movies in quite some time, and we LOVE going to the movies!

  14. No Mercy Percy*

    Comment thread for Critters! How did you first discover Critical Role? Did you back the Kickstarter? Ever meet any of the cast?

    I discovered Critical Role in spring 2018 when the cast was at C2E2. A cosplayer I support on Patreon, Ginny Di, started cosplaying Jester not (Nott?) long after (some of her Jester content has since gone viral, including being tweeted by the cast). I started watching shortly thereafter, and was immediately hooked. I backed the Kickstarter, and can’t wait for the series to come out. I haven’t met any of the cast, but will at Denver Pop Culture Con coming up!

    1. Caterpie*

      My now-fiancé showed it to me on one of our first dates in late 2016! I had played D&D in high school (I’m mid-20s now) but that was my first experience watching others play and I loved the first campaign. I haven’t met anyone from the cast and unfortunately couldn’t back the Kickstarter because I keep my budget for entertainment really low, but I rooted hard for them and was amazed with what their fans were able to do.

      The second campaign really hasn’t grabbed me like the first did and I stopped watching around episode 12. My fiancé suggested I try and get back into it now that it has developed a bit more. His suggestion is to start around episode 25-26 to get an idea for what’s going on for the current arc, do you think that would be a good point to start up again?

      1. No Mercy Percy*

        25-26 will hit you right in the feels. I’d honestly suggest starting where you left off, but if you can’t bring yourself to, 25-26 works too. Maybe start one or two episodes sooner.

    2. Torrance*

      I knew about Critical Role long before I ever got around to watching it. As a huge fan of Felicia Day, I knew that CR was on Geek & Sundry and it was always a thing I was going to get around to watching… eventually.

      And then I played Overwatch, went full fangirl on Mercer, and finally sat down and binged most of the first campaign. And now, considering how many of my favourite WoW VAs are also in the cast, I fully regret waiting so long.

      The Kickstarter launched when I was barely getting by so I was pretty disappointed in myself for not being able to contribute. I’ll just have to buy more merch later on in penance. :D

    3. Minocho*

      Another person in one of my D&D groups linked to the Kickstarter. I looked at it and decided to start streaming the podcasts of the second campaign. And was absolutely hooked. I love playing, but I ADORE being the Game Master / Dungeon Master. Before this job, which keeps me very busy, I GMed at conventions in Houston for 4-5 four hour sessions all the time, because I want there to be female GMs available too.

      Listening / watching the second campaign has really encouraged me to up my roleplaying game (I’m a software developer, so I really enjoy the math/system design/theory-crafting aspects of the game, and have a disturbing amount of game rules for the 3.5, Pathfinder and 5E systems memorized), and I’m making a concerted effort to encourage the rest of the table through example (and reward, in the game I’m running now).

      I am now working on converting my favorite Pathfinder campaign path module to 5E for my 5E group, so I can run a game when the current game (I’m a half drow Hexblade/Paladin/Sorceror! Whee!) wraps up.

      I had to take two weeks off of gaming due to work – playing my drow this Sunday was super fun!

      1. And then we held hands*

        My husband introduced me to it when we’d just moved in together (about 30 episodes into campaign 1). One of those situations where I came in and he said he was going to finish as it had 20 minutes left. So I watched it and was instantly hooked. We now watch campaign 2 together (although we’re a few weeks behind). I’d never played D&D before but my husband now DMs our campaign where I play a swashbuckling rogue with some of our friends who had also never played. I’ve never met any of the cast but we did back their kickstarter. I also love their spotify playlists!

        1. Minocho*

          In one group, which was for the first time equally male and female, the old school male GM had an interplanar diplomatic conference we had to attend to convince gods and goddesses that were on the fence to choose a side in our giant inter-pantheon war. We were epic characters engaging in negotiations between dieties. When the GM announced that we could decide what we were wearing to the diplomatic conference, all the women immediately began spending imaginary money to design and build magical imaginary outfits for our epic imaginary diplomatic conference. The frustration on his face as the high cleric of Heracles decided her outfit had to include a full lion skin stole, with animated roaring lion head, and I debated the tastefulness of a Greek goddess inspired diaphanous sea green gown was priceless!

        2. Minocho*

          And if my half drow Hexblade/Paladin/Sorceror dies, I’m going dual weapon fighting assassin / eldritch knight. Because I need to make a female Nightfall character.

  15. Margaret*

    I’ll tack a content warning on the top of this for violence.

    I’m in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and we’ve been on lockdown for the whole week- the international news reported the initial attack but I don’t think they’ve been saying much about the ongoing bombings? There’ve been something like twelve throughout the week, all diffused or detonated under controlled circumstances thank God. Monday will be the first time I’ve left the house since it all happened, and I’m supposed to be doing a day long session where I train trainers for a diversity workshop- so emotionally charged stuff at the best of times. My anxiety level is at ‘lie on the floor starfished with my eyes closed listening to Queer Eye on repeat.’

    Also we’re about to be hit by a cyclone because it literally never rains but it pours.

    1. Anono-me*

      Warm supportive thoughts.

      (If prayer is welcome, pleaselet me know and I’ll send out some of those for you also.)

      1. Margaret*

        Not for me, but for the people who were in the churches I think that would be lovely, and thank you for the thought.

    2. Not A Manager*

      Oh, that sounds so stressful and awful. I will be thinking of you today and this week. Update us next week?

      1. Margaret*

        Thanks. It keeps feeling almost over and then they find someone with a bag full of C4 or 47 machetes or whatnot near my house. I keep telling myself that every time they find something it’s good news because it’s out of circulation but hearing about the scope of it all is terrifying, and it’s just been a long week of adrenaline jags over and over and over.

    3. Blarg*

      Terrorist attacks and natural disasters and similar aren’t just single events that end occur on one day and are then over. The aftershocks, literal and figurative, just keep on coming. I am so very sorry for your experience and for the decimation to the community and the nation of Sri Lanka.

      Be kind to yourself and others. Forgive yourself for being scared or skittish, hyper alert or tearful. Embrace non-harmful coping strategies (QE is a great distraction! Hard drugs, maybe less productive). Just because the worst didn’t happen to you personally does not mean you didn’t experience a traumatic event or don’t deserve to discuss what happened and have reassurance or support. If you are able and when you are ready, take some time away and go to a place that makes you feel safe — a place where you have loved ones, a place where you can find solitude, a place with hustle and bustle that feels secure to you.

      My thoughts are with you and all Sri Lankans.

      1. Margaret*

        That’s definitely been my experience here- aftershocks emotionally, aftershocks in terms of consequences, and aftershocks in terms of continued violence. There were two bombs diffused Monday and one detonated in a controlled way, four diffused Tuesday, and they’ve been trickling down until the last one on Friday blew up behind a courthouse. People were also arrested every single day carrying things like C4, hand grenades, machetes. A compound was raided over the weekend.

        The police blow up parked motorcycles if they’re left too long in case they’re explosive- and then twitter bursts into life saying ‘detonation in x neighbourhood’, and some guy comes back to find out he’s down one motorcycle. Log in to Uber and it greets you with a pop up reminding you not to leave your bags anywhere because of the fear of parcel bombs. Heck, just walking in the street outside my house, it’s deserted. People won’t leave home.

        I just got the news that my workshop tomorrow has been cancelled because some high priority stuff we missed last week while working from home was bumped back and is taking priority, which is calming me down a little- but like. I can’t decide if I’m going to take a taxi or the bus. It’s ten times the price to cab it and there have been a few bombs found in bus stations- but if I cab it all next week will I cab the week after? And then in a huge rush I feel guilty and stupid for being so hung up on little stuff when hundreds of people are dead.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      You and those around you are in my thoughts and heart.

      Please keep us posted on how you are doing and what is going on by you.

      1. Margaret*

        Thanks! It helps to have people to pour the stress out to on the internet.

        The latest development is that I got told 6 pm Sunday not to come to work Monday and to consider my lockdown extended (I’m placed on an international contract such that my org gets quite a lot of say in my safety and security situation within the country.) I’m not sure if it’s because they’re dotting their is and crossing their ts or if because they know something we don’t, but even as a massive introvert nine days inside alone is quite a lot.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          When the option to go out is removed a home can feel smaller all of the sudden. Stay here and keep reading, you will have company that way. I hope there is relief for your situation soon.

    5. Observer*

      Oh my heavens!

      No, they haven’t been saying much about the ongoing mess. My heart goes out to you.

      Terrorism is the purest evil!

  16. foolofgrace*

    I digitized nearly 100 years of family photos, many taken by my amateur photographer grandfather. Also there were four large boxes of slides. I bought a printer/scanner that had a gizmo for scanning four slides at a time. It was tedious but I’m so glad I did it. Now the entire family can download them and some of them are really grateful to have access. I used to store them on Picasa but Picasa Is No More and migrated to Google Photos, which is where I store them. And of course I have them backed up in several external hard drives, as I did not keep the originals — that was kind of the whole point, to get rid of all those photos I’d been moving around for decades. Then I digitized all of my records (as in 33 rpm records)… Good luck, just plop yourself down in front of the TV with your scanner/printer and just start.

  17. Mille*

    A few years ago I was really into both Game of Thrones and the Avengers franchise. I keep thinking how the few-years-ago-me would’ve been so excited/emotional about the stuff going on now, but I just can’t work up the enthusiasm anymore. Damn.

    1. anon today and tomorrow*

      Same. For me, I think Age of Ultron is what really killed any interest I had in the MCU. I just want it all to be over so I no longer have to hear about it or have people act like I’m a horrible person when I say I’m not interested in seeing the movies.

      I’m willing to watch the last season of GoT merely because I read the books long before the show even started and I feel like this is my only chance to know how it ends (because GRRM is never finishing the series). But I stopped watching after season 4.

      It’s a weird feeling to no longer care about something you used to be so enthusiastic about.

    2. noahwynn*

      Same, for both. I haven’t watch any of this season or last season of GoT. I’ve kept up with the DC movies, but Marvel I’m just blah about. I’d go if someone asked me to, but I’m not going to seek it out.

      I also ended up being that way about Supernatural too. Didn’t watch last season, haven’t watched this season. I have a tattoo near my collarbone of the anti-possession symbol and one on my arm of the Mark of Cain. I love the show, but for some reason I can’t get into it anymore. I’m sure I’ll eventually watch the last few seasons, but not right now.

    3. SignalLost*

      Same. I’ve been lukewarm on Marvel since they had a pointless slur in Guardians and ducked the Hank Pym situation in both Ultron and the Ant-Man movies. I tried to watch Infinity War a couple weeks ago and it was just … stressful and stupid. It felt like the Russos decided they needed us all to know the various Avengers have skin in the game so the best way to do that is to show us why they’re all getting sad. I have a negative level of interest in Endgame, and I wish I didn’t because I was so there for Marvel for so long.

      1. anon today and tomorrow*

        That’s pretty much how I felt about the slur in Avengers, and Joss Whedon didn’t make the situation any better when he said he used it because no one knew what it meant and that’s how he could get away with it.

        1. SignalLost*

          Mmmm, other than the fact I can’t tolerate Whedon and never have been able to, I actually felt like that scene worked, even if it was problematic. Loki was trying to push someone he thought he could push, and he uses words to hurt, always. Look at how he uses “brother” to hurt Thor. But in any case, Whedon’s comment was directed at getting crap past the censors more than getting crap past the audience. I have less of a problem with that than the Guardians one, but it’s definitely a YMMV thing.

          Which just continues to make the case that there should be a woman in every stage of an approvals process, of course. Remember the IHOB thing last year where they “changed the name” and it was totally the OB tampons font?

          1. anon today and tomorrow*

            I think my issue is that he could have used so many other words in that scene, but instead chose a gendered slur. I think that says a lot about Whedon, not even going into the way he’s treated women in the past (I will forever be angry about how he punished Charisma Carpenter for getting pregnant during Angel).

            Part of the reason why I grew tired of the MCU was because it relied so much on white dudes saving the day. Twenty movies and only two where there aren’t white men as the main heroes and where all the women and POC are sidelined and sometimes poorly written? No thanks. Too little, too late. I moved on.

            1. Margaret*

              My brother and I used to joke that Marvel’s idea of diversity was apparently finding a buff white dude not named ‘Chris.’

    4. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I never got into GoT to start with (I knew it was pretty exactly Not My Thing as a book series, so I’d already decided not to read the books and thus felt no need to try the TV shows), but with multiple movie franchises I just felt like movies started coming out too fast, and I just can’t make myself go to the movies that many times a year.

      As a result, I fell behind on both Star Wars and on the MCU, and I don’t know if I’ll ever get all the way caught up again. I’m at least 4 MCU movies behind now, and that just feels like too many movies to sit through.

      Back when franchises each had maybe one movie come out every other year, I could get excited enough about the whole thing to go and see it right away. I was one of those people who would go to the midnight Harry Potter showings, and I remember getting to the theater early to be first in line for Star Trek VI a long time ago. Now, they’re coming out more often than I pay the car insurance bill (“huh, time for that again already?”), and it’s just not something I can make myself excited to go do opening weekend that frequently. Then, I get busy for a few weeks, the movie goes away, and then I’m in the trying-to-get-caught-up-on-DVD-before-the-next-one-comes-to-theaters loop, which leads to finding something else to watch that’s less overwhelming to keep up with.

    5. Autumnheart*

      I feel like the state of current events these days is so overwhelming and emotionally taxing, that I just don’t have the mental energy to dedicate to a series these days. I go weeks without turning on my TV, haven’t been to the movies in ages, haven’t played my video games. I feel like my attention span is shot.

      I’ve been reading a lot more books and listening to more audiobooks.

    6. AngelicGamer, the visually impaired peep*

      While I’m excited to see Endgame tomorrow (it’s Saturday, for reference), a part of me is glad that it’s coming to an end. I can keep a lot of plot lines in my head, so it’s not that, but it’s just time. I’m really not happy with Sony coming out with the next Spiderman movie so soon and there’s a good chance I’ll skip. TBH, I don’t even think I want to watch Agents of SHIELD this summer.

      I’m at the same level with playing World of Warcraft. I’m tired of the plot line of being us against them instead of teaming up for the good of the world. Especially since it’s coming off of an amazing expansion (Legion) where it was working together to save the world. So I’m not playing much right now and am so behind on any of the news of what’s coming.

      I am reading a ton, watching sports a lot atm (baseball and NHL playoffs time!), and playing phone games. I’ve got a color by number app that’s relaxing and so I’m doing that.

    7. KP*

      For me, part of it is that Game of Thrones took too long between seasons — and not just this one. It’s been three years since Season 6! But I knew there was really a problem when I just stopped watching Season 7 and still haven’t finished it (even though I bought the season last year).

  18. The Other Dawn*

    Eating disorders.

    My sister has four foster kids, one of which has recently developed anorexia and it seems to have accelerated over the last four months. She’s 14 and is now about 95 pounds. She’s been admitted to a partial day program and my sister has to pack her meals to take with her; however, if she doesn’t gain one pound within the next week the program said they will admit her to the hospital and place a feeding tube up her nose. She goes back and forth between “I don’t want to die” and “I don’t want to gain weight.” She’s collapsed a few times (prior to admission to the program). I really feel for this kid, although I admit I don’t understand eating disorders and how they come about. But still, it’s clear she has issues she needs to deal with and needs help, which they’re working on now.

    Any tips that might help my sister help the foster through this?

    1. Parenthetically*

      #1 issue is making sure she has SPECIALIST HELP for her foster daughter! Eating disorders are among the most deadly mental illnesses for teens, and it’s vital that they’re treated by people who are experts in eating disorder recovery and intuitive eating, rather than just by a normal hospital or regular doctors or dietitians. I recommend Dr. Colleen Reichmann (colleenreichmann dot com) as a good person/place to start.

      1. knitter*

        Yeah, echoing this. I am familiar with this topic from the educator side of things. She needs to look for comprehensive programs that combine nutrition, mental health, physical health, etc staffed with people whose sole focus is eating disorders. It requires specialist care. Hopefully the day program is specifically for children with eating disorders, as opposed to a day program for only mental health. If not, she needs to advocate for a referral, most likely from her pediatrician, for an eating-disorder specific clinic.

    2. Grace*

      I don’t have personal experience, but it might be worth checking out recovery blogs and the similar for how other people did it – and it’s probably worth the foster daughter doing the same. I follow Rebecca Leung on YT and she’s talked about how her own family helped her through recovery, including a temporary move from Hong Kong to the US to get her into an in-patient program, and getting legal guardianship over her once she turned eighteen so they could keep her in in-patient.

      The internet can be a very scary place when it comes to eating disorders and mental health (the pro-ana and pro-mia communities are horrifying) but there are some wonderful supportive circles of people in recovery who would really be able to address the foster daughter on her own level.

    3. fposte*

      In addition to what people are saying, sister (and sister’s partner, if there’s one) should also get support for herself. This is likely to to be a factor for a while, and it’s really tough on a parent.

      Does the girl have any interests or hobbies that don’t fall into anorexia-rich areas? It can be important to have an identity and ways of feeling competent outside of being anorexic.

    4. LibbyG*

      My lay knowledge makes me think that it’ll likely be a long journey for your sister’s family. Maybe focus on listening for any hints of self blame and be ready to gently counter them?

      Sister: Why did it take me so long to see how bad it’s gotten?
      Dawn: You flew into action and got her the best care available right away.

      That kind of thing. My warmest wishes for victory after victory for your niece and sister and all!

    5. Quandong*

      Anorexia nervosa is a deadly mental illness and it’s common for those suffering from anorexia to make contradictory statements such as those you’ve mentioned.

      One of my family members went through anorexia nervosa and it’s a long-term process of treatment. My suggestions for your sister, her family (including other foster children) and family such as yourself are to:

      * seek out resources for education about anorexia and learn how to support the person living with anorexia;
      The Butterfly Foundation (Australia) has good resources including a blog where people with lived experience have written articles to help others navigate anorexia and other eating disorders: https://thebutterflyfoundation.org.au/understand-eating-disorders/blog/

      * Call helplines as often as necessary – those specializing in eating disorders would be the best, but crisis lines are also great resources to lean on if needed

      *Seek counselling (Captain Awkward has guest posts for people looking for low-or-no-cost mental health support; search ‘guest post mental health at https://captainawkward.com/)

      * Consider joining online or in-person support groups for family members of people with anorexia
      e.g. in Australia the Butterfly Foundation runs support groups as part of their services

      * Find ways to make family life *not* purely about the person’s anorexia – establish family activities and continue to nurture relationships that don’t revolve around food
      * Unless it’s a strategy recommended by treating doctors, DON’T COMMENT about how much or how little the person with anorexia is eating if you happen to be at a meal with them, and DON’T talk about their weight or the appearance of their body.

    6. takingtheplunge*

      I was in almost the same position as your sister’s foster kid when I was sixteen – complete with being afraid of dying but also not being able to bear the thought of gaining weight. Unfortunately, my therapists were not equipped to help me effectively (which only became obvious in hindsight). I was scared and saw no way out, so I started spending all my free time on the Internet looking for anything that might help – and I found it in the form of the website EDInstitute (short for Eating Disorder Institute, formerly YourEatopia). This website literally saved my life. The combination of science-based articles that helped me make sense of my experiences, the Homeodynamic Recovery Method (formerly MinnieMaud Method) that was so different from anything I had heard until then, and the forums where I could talk to people who were going through the same thing (and committed to recovery), was successful where five years of therapy hadn’t been. Of course these things might not be the miracle cure for her that they were for me, but I strongly recommend giving them a try.

      I wish you and your family all the best, this has to be really hard and scary for all of you. My heart goes out to you.

    7. anon for this*

      Anorexia survivor here; I’ve had 2 very bad bouts– in my late teens and then again in my late 20s, both of which got me hospitalized for extended periods. Hope to the universe never again.

      First thing: DO NOT USE NUMBERS. If you could, I’d delete the weight number here. That is extremely triggering for ED patients. NO NUMBERS, not for weight or calories. There should not be a scale available, and request blind weigh-ins at doctor appts (have the patient stand backwards). Some people even cut size tags out of clothing.

      Second thing: you want to normalize food and bodies. There should be no “good foods” or “bad foods.” Just fuel for the body. Hunger/fullness need to regain meaning (and they can!). NO talk about other people’s shapes or food choices. Pleasant walks (not runs/strenuous workouts) for exercise.

      Third thing: there’s something else going on that the ED is blocking. It’s almost never about the body/weight; that’s just where the focus zeroes in. It’s about a trauma, most likely, whether recent or from the past. Figure out what that is, address the trauma w/ professional therapy, and the ED behaviors won’t be necessary for her mental wellness. Seriously, the behaviors go away when you address the real problem.

      One more: monitor internet use and movie/show consumption. Do not let the person watch things about eating disorders; they are more damaging than helpful. (TBH they are full of tips and inspiration to the sick person, as gross as that is.) Do not let them subscribe to youtube channels about eating; again– this is unhealthy. Anecdotally, I used to watch a girl supposedly in recovery talk about her “safe foods.” If you’re using the term “safe foods,” you are unwell. I also was part of thinspo on instagram; it’s a thing (sadly). There are internet forums, as well, with tips for being bulimic/anorexic, and the foster carers need to be monitoring and shutting that down.

      What helped me? Going to therapy, rescuing a dog, and getting rid of social media altogether.

      Best of luck to you and this poor young girl; she’s in mental torment and not trying to worry or burden everyone around her, I guarantee. I also guarantee that she can recover fully!!

    8. deesse877*

      I don’t know if this will help, but a major thing for me in a comparable, albeit less extreme, circumstance was realizing that it’s about control, not food or conventional attractiveness per se. As someone said above, there’s something at the root of it. You and your sister aren’t tasked to find out that root cause, but knowing that there’s something else going on can help you avoid fixating on the day-to-day, and instead think of long-term strategies.

      It’s also really, really helpful to talk to someone who has similar experiences as a bystander to an ED; it’s a little like domestic violence in that people who have no direct knowledge can be incredibly wrong, cruel and misogynist, all the while believing and declaring that they are more moral and brave than those directly affected.

    9. The Other Dawn*

      Thanks, everyone! Lots of great information here. I’ll be sure to share it with my sister.

    10. takingtheplunge*

      I just wanted to add that there might not be a “root cause” that has to be found in order to treat her eating disorder effectively – there wasn’t for me, and the focus on finding what was “really” behind it was very damaging for me, because there was nothing there and that idea kept my treatment team and me from getting to the real problem (and caused some other problems as well, like making me doubt my relationship with my mother when that relationship was a great source of strength and support). To the best of my understanding, it was a biological thing for me, along with a big dose of fatphobia I had absorbed from the culture around me. I’m not saying there’s no merit to the idea, it’s the case for a lot of people, for sure – but not for all of them, and I think it’s important to keep in mind that everyone is different and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach.

    11. Observer*

      Two things that I’ve heard from professionals who specialize in this stuff:

      You want a holistic approach. That includes in how you deal with the girl – so you are looking not only at directly dealing with her attitude towards food and weight, but help with other stressors. That may mean a primary therapist / team and an ancillary therapist / team. But also in dealing with the family. In the past it’s been very common to exclude the family, often with the idea that the family is the problem (or a major part of it) and the only way to deal with it is to pretty much cut them out of the treatment plan. This rarely works well. Which makes snese if you think about it – If the family is contributing to the problem, they should be given guidance and / or therapy to change their behavior.

      The other thing, and I’m putting this in laymen’s terms, you need to think about this as essentially a two stage process. The first stage is to get her to a point where she’s not obsessing over what she’s eating, her exercise and her weight. The second stage (and it may be a few years before this is even something to talk about) is to enable her to actually be able to think about these things without it become a negative spiral. Because life happens and sometimes you need to be able to think about this stuff. Not in a moral sense but it a purely pragmatic sense.

  19. Kate*

    Is anyone here on the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP)? It’s basically a stricter Paleo for those of us with autoimmune diseases.

    I’ve taken it up at the recommendation of my doctor since my rheumatoid arthritis has been out of control.

    The actual logistics have been somewhat easier than I expected, but I am really struggling with the sheer amount of meat required, both for taste reasons (I tended towards a legume-heavy diet before) and for environmental reasons.

    1. Venus*

      I know someone who is on it. My suggestion is to try it out for 30 days, and see if it helps you. It made a huge difference for my friend, and they were able to reintroduce chickpeas, eggs, and I think lentils in small amounts (peanuts, soy, kidney beans, and a few other items are permanently off-limits)

      I have another friend who had arthritis and did an elimination diet (I think it was Whole 30), and then reintroduced things one at a time. They learned which items caused reactions, and now their diet is varied but with a few exceptions (and their arthritis is gone!)

    2. Ali G*

      I felt similar when we did Whole30 in January. What helped me is that I decided that if I was going to eat more meat, it was going to be the highest quality possible. So grass-fed, free range beef, farmer’s market eggs, etc. It’s expensive, but it does taste better, to me, and I feel less guilty. We’ve basically stayed on the diet, with occasional breaks (and wine of course).
      We get a lot of our meat from Butcher Box. Also their bacon is compliant (no sugar) with Whole30 (not sure AIP).

    3. What the What*

      The AIP and London no starch diets seemed too restrictive for me. So I did no flour no sugar instead in the fall and I seemed to have felt better. I don’t think I followed that diet long enough to really reap any benefits. Then Christmas happened and I fell off the wagon. I have ankylosing spondylitis which is kind of like RA. Just found out within the last year. I thought for 20 yrs that the chronic back pain was from being a retired gymnast!

    4. LibbyG*

      Well, industrial meat does have a heavy ecological footprint, but there are cultures with hugely animal-centered cuisines that are both healthful and sustainable (some arctic and pastoral systems). Meat, in general, doesn’t have to be guilt inducing. Good luck with it! I hope you get a payoff!

    5. Reba*

      Maybe go back to the doctor and ask for a referral to a nutritionist, who could help you modify to still get whatever you’re supposed to get, with less red meat. I’m a vegetarian, and reasonably flexible but not on everything, and such a diet wouldn’t work for me. Moreover, while I know several people who have benefited from diet changes and I think food is key to health, I give much side-eye to the theory of Paleo (and any source that talks about “toxins” etc) so I would want to have a professional’s input on this!

      I’m lucky in that my RA is well controlled now, but I have tried limited elimination diets before. It’s not easy!

      I hope you get some relief soon. Also remember that if it doesn’t make good changes for you, it’s not a personal failing. There’s not tons and tons of research on this stuff, but some surveys are showing 20 or 25% see a benefit, a decent result but far from every patient.

      Good luck!

    6. Thursday Next*

      I didn’t do the AIP because I’m a vegetarian. I wound up doing an elimination diet to learn what my triggers were. Now I’m a gluten-free vegan, and I consume very little alcohol and am working on cutting down sugar.

      The good—and hard!—news for me was that food does have an impact on my lupus. I love chocolate cake!

      I think it’s possible I’d feel better physically with an even more restrictive diet, but it would come with too high a mental load for me.

    7. Teach*

      I have, and it was both frustrating and a huge relief to find that it worked really well on out-of-control autoimmune symptoms.
      Do you have local alternatives to industrial complex meat? I am in the Midwest, and could go to farmer’s markets for grass-fed pastured beef, bison, and chicken. We bought a deep freeze and half a beef (my friend’s kids’ college fund 4H beef.) We have also bought a deer tag for someone, then split the butchering and processing fees to keep half. All of the above are bought through locally owned businesses who are not part of big ag, so I feel like the meat is more ethical on all but “no food with a face” grounds.

  20. SpellingBee*

    Anyone have experience with Nomnomnow cat food? I just read about it and am intrigued – it’s a San Francisco company that prepares and delivers “fresh” pet food, meaning not canned, but it’s cooked. It’s pricey but not terribly much more than buying good quality canned or raw in a pet food store. It’s cold shipped in pre-portioned pouches, and has to be either refrigerated or frozen when you get it. I’m always looking for options for the meezers, to keep them happy and healthy, but without being able to try just a little I’m reluctant to sign up for shipments and end up with a bunch of food they won’t eat. I’m sure I could sign up and then cancel, but I’d love to hear if anyone else has tried it.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I’d be interested in this also. One of my cats was just diagnosed with kidney disease and apparently this food is low in phosphorus, which is important for cats with kidney disease.

  21. Quake Johnson*

    Lizzo’s new album took my dehydrated soul and nourished it back to life.

    What tunes are you blasting this week?

    1. Granger Chase*

      Yes!! I am so glad that I stumbled upon Lizzo right before her album dropped. I have been listening to it on repeat, although I think my favorites from the album might be Soulmate and Cry Baby (which perfectly conveys the Prince feel she was going for). I’ve also been listening to the thank u, next album a lot lately as well.

    2. Carbovore*

      Yessss, Like a Girl is the best.

      I’m also obsessed with Maggie Rogers, Christine and the Queens, and Lennon Stella.

    3. Amity*

      Taylor Swift’s new single! I am absolutely loving it. So catchy and cheerful. I love her lyrics too, they always seem to fit.

    4. KR*

      Lemonade & Homecoming, & of course Lizzo too. I feel so blessed. I’ve had Donald Glover on my mind because of Guava too

    5. CastIrony*

      I’m not supposed to listen to music or be on my computer for long periods of time due to a hard hit on the head that I got at work on Wednesday, but I’m listening to Bad Song Radio, a radio station from London.

    6. Marion Ravenwood*

      Lots of Kacey Musgraves and Maren Morris. They’re getting me through some tough times right now. And the new Taylor Swift song.

  22. Workinprogress*

    Are you both willing to compromise (not just short term but for real) and are they willing to stick by you when things are tough. I would say our relationship is better balanced in terms of responsibility and effort now than it was 5 years ago.

    1. Worth It*

      I know that this was a reply to above but I’m glad that it failed to thread. I’ve spent most of the morning wondering about my relationship, and your last sentence really gave me the reassurance that I need. Thank you.

  23. Chicago Suburbs, Please Advise*

    Going anon for this. I’ve been offered an internship in Warrenville, Illinois, that I really want to take, but there’s a slight hitch in the plans – I don’t have a driver’s license. I’m trying to figure out what my transportation options are so I can find housing. Because of that, I have two questions.

    1) Does anyone know if ridesharing is readily available in Warrenville? It’s a small city, but it’s also a suburb of a big city, so I’m a little uncertain about that. I can’t seem to find any sites that talk about how quickly/easily you can get a ride, only if the city has ridesharing at all.

    2) Does anyone know how the Metra and Pace Bus system work (and if these services are generally on time)? I’m trying to read the maps and time tables, and it looks like Route 676 has a bus that goes close to where I want, but there’s no guaranteed return trip? If I’m reading this correctly, on afternoon buses, if the last passenger exits before the stop where I want to embark, the bus would skip my stop entirely and I wouldn’t have a chance to get on. I tried calling Pace already, but I got sent around in circles and then disconnected.

    Any help is greatly appreciated; I’m kind of panicked. I’m rather late in the game to find housing, but I only just got offered the internship, and I’ve been scrambling to figure things out ever since.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Hi there, I work in Naperville.

      Uber/Lyft shouldn’t be hard to find, the whole metro area has pretty good service. I’ve never used Pace but the busses seem to be on time, though no guaranteed return trip is rough.

      Good luck.,

      1. Chicago Suburbs, Please Advise*

        Thank you so much for the info! I’m really nervous, but I think things are slowly coming together

        1. ThatGirl*

          Warrenville isn’t a big town but it’s close to a lot of things, you won’t feel isolated.

          You may want to download the Ventra app, it includes a bus tracker. Maybe keep an eye on that route for a few days. Oh, and Pace rideshare exists, though I don’t know how it’s set up.

    2. Less Bread More Taxes*

      A friend of mine moved to Omaha for a job without a drivers license (so I can’t offer exact advice). But she ended up having to change her work schedule to deal with the bus schedules as otherwise she was having to pay $30 for a Lyft every single day. So check with your employer if they’re willing to move your work hours around if necessary. Even in bigger cities, some bus lines just stop working after 5 and so you’d need to start work a little earlier.

      1. Chicago Suburbs, Please Advise*

        I’m not sure I’ll have that kind of capital as an intern, so I think I’d only try to move hours if they told me I could. I’m going to try not to rely on public transport based on some of the other replies. Thank you for the advice!

    3. Sapphire*

      I live in Naperville and have lived in Lisle. Ride-sharing is definitely available. A Pace bus stops outside of our house to go through and from the Metra and is generally on time. I don’t have much familiarity with other bus routes though.

      I will say that this area is not incredibly public transit friendly, but it’s not awful either. Your best bet would be walking/driving distance of a grocery and drugstore and preferably your workplace as well if at all possible.

      1. Chicago Suburbs, Please Advise*

        Thank you, I managed to find something about 5 blocks from a grocery store!

    4. AngelicGamer, the visually impaired peep*

      Not sure if you’re going to see this, but I’m in Arlington Heights. I use Pace and Metra a lot and, to be honest, you’re going to want to factor in at least an extra half hour to a hour depending on when you’re traveling and major / minor roads. When I was more towards Golf Road (a major road in the NW suburbs in my mind), buses ran on the :20 and :40. Now that I’m out more towards Northwest Highway, it’s more towards just a hour on the bus line that’s out here. Also, with off peak hours, Metra only runs once a hour. With peak, I believe it’s more like every 20.

      Just be ready to factor in a lot of time if you’re not going to use Uber or Lyft. I use Uber a ton and never had a problem. I always get there on time but I budget time pockets in a lot. I bring a book and I consider getting somewhere 15 mins early on time (did orchestra and NJROTC – it’s been drilled into me).

  24. Batgirl*

    So I keep coming across these myths regarding objections to infidelity culture which I’m always going to find personally upsetting. Offensive to me as a woman, a feminist and a victim of infidelity but ones I might possibly have believed in once. Can I vent here?
    Myths in no particular order are that
    1) Objections to infidelity are sex negative, prudish and possessive.
    2) That women who engage in infidelity are braving the double standard, and it’s unfeminist and slut shaming to suggest otherwise. Anyway it’s always a male-led situation, right?
    Oh! 3) Also that all affairs are caused by unhappy marriages.
    I understand not everyone would know:
    1) Infidelity is not sex positive it is consent-negative. Make any informed decisions about your sex life you want and let others do the same!
    2) Woman can absolutely be selfish arseholes too and aren’t automagically victims of a wolfish male. What about infidelity in gay marriages! Generally infidelity has very little to do with the concept of ‘slut’ anyway. You can absolutely be harming someone’s right to informed consent while also being madly in love with just one sexual partner.
    That 3) is simplistic victim blaming.

    Absent any other indications (which tend to be fairly obvious) an objection to infidelity is simply an objection to infidelity. It’s surprising how often this comes up though.

    1. Reba*

      It seems like in the myths you name there is conflating of non-monogamy with infidelity. And I’ve definitely observed a sense of superiority on multiple sides, like some people feel non monogamy is the enlightened way, while for others infidelity is the ultimate character test. I believe non monogamy can definitely be ethical, but also have the sense that some people use the recent rise of that concept and various books about it (evolutionary argument for jts ‘naturalness’) as excuses for bad behavior they would have done anyway.

      Anyhow, you might be interested in the work of Esther Perel, she has a very intense podcast about couples therapy sessions and a couple books about changing ways we think about relationships.

    2. Traffic_Spiral*

      You should go to chumplady.com – they’re good at deconstructing all this bullshit.

    3. Traffic_Spiral*

      1) Objections to infidelity are sex negative, prudish and possessive.

      Ok, then tell people up front that you don’t want to be monogamous. Seems to me that if you’re being unfaithful, you have all sorts of objections to infidelity – just when it involves the other person cheating.

      2) That women who engage in infidelity are braving the double standard, and it’s unfeminist and slut shaming to suggest otherwise. Anyway it’s always a male-led situation, right?

      Yeah, there’s also a double standard when it comes to adults banging 14-year-olds. That don’t make it right.

      3) Also that all affairs are caused by unhappy marriages.

      If your marriage was unhappy, you could have left. You stayed because you like the benefits of your marriage, you just don’t want to put in the effort your spouse is putting in.

      1. Sam Sepiol*

        It sounds like you’re disagreeing with Batgirl but I think you are agreeing with her.

          1. Sam Sepiol*

            I still read it the same, although I can understand how you are reading it. Batgirl can you clarify?

            1. Femme d'Afrique*

              Batgirl calls them “myths” and says she’s a victim of infidelity, so I read it as her debunking and ranting against the myths people perpetuate to *excuse* infidelity.

              She also says: 1) Infidelity is not sex positive it is consent-negative. Make any informed decisions about your sex life you want and let others do the same!

            2. fposte*

              Yes, I thought TS was building on Batgirl’s post; now I think maybe TS thought she was disagreeing but was actually agreeing :-). TS, I think Batgirl’s post was also opposing those numbered myths.

              1. Traffic_Spiral*

                Yes, Batgirl clearly says “here are some myths I hate, everyone come and talk about how they suck,” so I did. I was kinda hoping Sam would be able to figure that out on his/her own, but oh well.

    4. Lilysparrow*

      I am monogamous, very vanilla & square, but it is not at all difficult to understand that non-monogamy = owning your choices and negotiating or renegotiating the terms of your relationship.

      Infidelity = making a promise and secretly deciding to break it, or outright lying.

      Being pro-honesty and anti-lying has nothing to do with feminism or sex positivity.

      These type of convoluted justifications don’t just bother you because you have been a victim of infidelity. They are obviously specious to anyone with a first-grader’s understanding of basic fairness and honesty.

      People who lie, cheat, and manipulate use lies and twisted logic to try to justify themselves. This is the way of the world, and has always been so.

      1. fposte*

        Agreed. Ethical polyam relationships? Cool, fine. Sleeping with somebody else when your partner doesn’t know or approve? That’s a foul, and don’t try to make it sound like Society Is To Blame.

        1. Batgirl*

          “don’t try to make it sound like Society Is To Blame”

          Wow yeah. “Those dreadful Puritans are trying to keep me down!”
          “No one cares if you spend every day at an orgy, just don’t try to control someone else’s fidelity and life choices at the same time.”

      2. Batgirl*

        “To anyone with a first-grader’s understanding”
        Funny you should say that; my nephew was 5 at the time and he hid under the table to listen to me cry on my sister’s shoulder. He pops out going “That’s so wrong! You need all the cuddles!” My sister was scandalized he’d heard but he was “I’m fine, Aunty’s not.”
        He’s 13 now and quite possibly more awesome.

    5. Budgie Lover*

      I see another person on the internet has experienced the magic of Chump Lady. Influenced my perspective on cheating so much.

      1. Pennalynn Lott*

        Yep, after having every single boyfriend I ever seriously dated cheat on me, I could not for the life of me figure out *why* if someone wants to sleep with whomever whenever they would ever “commit” to a monogamous relationship.

        It was only after reading Chump Lady that I realized that the lying, subterfuge, gaslighting, and power plays were a big part of the thrill. That sleeping with whomever whenever lost its appeal if it wasn’t being done on the sly without the knowledge of someone who would be deeply hurt if they found out about it. Cheating is only fun if there’s an S.O. who will be wrecked by it.

        1. Batgirl*

          ” the lying, subterfuge, gaslighting, and power plays were a big part of the thrill”
          YES. Abuse is a pastime for some people.

  25. Foreign Octopus*

    I’ve had a bit of a morning with my cat.

    Late last night as I was in bed reading, I noticed that my cat kept visiting the litter tray but wasn’t really peeing. I Googled it (why I do this to myself, I don’t know) and I was worried with what I read so I cancelled my classes and took her to the vet first thing this morning. Of course the vet was out of town on a course but the vet nurse was able to help me and she is about 90% sure it’s cystitis so my cat is now on anti-inflammatories and antibiotics.

    I just feel so bad for the little thing because she’s eating and drinking normally but when she goes to pee it’s an effort and only little drops come out.

    Has anyone with a cat had experience with this before? And if so, what can I expect as we go through her course of treatment? How long will it take for me to see changes?

    1. Ali G*

      I had a dog that got UTI’s fairly regularly. If the kitty was properly diagnosed and is on the right meds you should see improvement really fast. If she isn’t noticeably better tomorrow I would call back and let them know.
      Hope she feels better soon!

      1. Bluebell*

        Also the owner of a dog with UTI and bladder stone issues. Our 5 year old dog was squatting to pee a lot last summer and ended up w surgery to remove 40 stones. Then this year when she started squatting again we went to vet immediately–another UTI. She’s on a special diet and antibiotics. The stones seem to be dissolving and hopefully no surgery.

    2. Ada*

      Not with cystitis specifically, and I can’t speak to the effects of anti-inflammatories, but I’ve had a cat with those symptoms before. Turned out to be a UTI, probably caused in part by the renal failure that had started with her. For the UTI, it cleared up pretty quickly with treatment, and she lived quite a few happy years after the incident (she’s was pretty old, so it’s not like the renal failure ended her life early or anything). We’re also giving our current cat antibiotics right now. Will say right now, the liquid version is way easier to give than pills. Seems to be working though. She had a small cold last week, but she’s pretty much back to normal now, even though she’s not done with her treatment yet (still finishing the round, though – that’s important!). IME, kitty antibiotics at the very least seem to be pretty effective. Haven’t really noticed any bad side effects either. And it sounds like you took her as soon as you noticed something was off, so that’s good. Hope your kitty feels better soon!

    3. SpellingBee*

      What Ali G said. One of my previous kitties was plagued with UTIs and cystitis, especially as she got elderly, and I got really good at noticing the early signs. Pain meds and (when bacteria was actually present) antibiotics usually had her feeling better within a day. I also made sure she had plenty of moisture in her food – she got wet food only, never dry, and I also added water to her food. I also, on the advice of my vet, started adding a bit of D-mannose (which is the component of cranberry juice that helps ward off bladder infections) to her food, which supposedly attracts the bacteria in the urine so it doesn’t attach to the bladder wall. She still got the occasional bout of cystitis, but fewer infections, so maybe it worked.

    4. cat socks*

      I’ve experienced this with one of my cats. Once she was on the medication, she started improve after few days. Inability to urinate is more of an issue with male cats, because that could indicate signs of a blockage. However, I believe it is less common with females.

      If she’s older, it might be good to do blood work to check her kidney and thyroid levels. Those are two health issues I’ve dealt with with older cats and it’s beneficial if you can start treating those earlier on. It’s good you got her in quickly! Hope she starts to feel better soon.

    5. Saradactyl*

      One of my kitties had a cystitis flare up last year and was pretty obviously in pain, which was why I took her in to the vet (that, and her frequent trips to the litter box).
      She ended up getting doped up with lots of fluids and pain meds since she didn’t have a diagnosable infection that would need antibiotics, and then she got to come home at the end of the day. She wobbled around for about 48 hours and hasn’t had any issues since.

    6. Samsally*

      My male kitty got crystals in his bladder that caused him to stop peeing. His got bad enough they needed to give him a catheter. Once through the worst of it, he’s got to eat special vet food or they’ll come back (a thing i learned the hard way when a vet decided his weight was a bigger issue and went against my wishes to just gave me overly expensive diet food instead *grumble* so ~another~ expensive and traumatizing catheter later i found a different better vet)

      Unfortunately not peeing is a pretty big deal, I’d say if you don’t see a quick improvement find a second opinion sooner rather than later. Good luck!

    7. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

      THANK YOU for talking kitty in right away. Urinary blockages can kill cats and so very, very quickly. Once the antibiotics take hold, she should be OK and you will want to look into a different diet–many vets suggest wet food only or mostly wet food, food that is geared to urinary care, etc.

  26. Littlest raccoon*

    I need some encouragement or solidarity about everything in life crashing and burning and when you’re single and feeling stuck and isolated. I’m in a town I hate.. Friendship and belonging and purpose… I don’t have that here. I just left a toxic restaurant job and the dysfunction was so bad I’m paralyzed to trust people. I’m also now unemployed. My life somehow spiraled from everything going pretty well to stream of total burnout. I’d like to move but I’m so tired and my social net is scattered. Somehow I ended up in an revolving door rental with roommates coming and going and its kind of the worst on top of trying to get my life centered again. Some kind words are appreciated.

    1. foolofgrace*

      I feel your pain. I don’t have anything to really say other than to take it one day at a time, and when things seem overwhelming and like it’s too much work to ever change anything, break things down into little manageable steps and take them one at a time. Over time the little things will add up and you’ll be able to tackle any bigger issues. Best of luck to you.

      1. cat socks*

        I’m so sorry you’re going through a difficult time. Agree with the advice to break things down into small tasks. Sending good vibes and hope things improve for you.

    2. Nervous Nellie*

      Hang in there! It will get better.

      My divorce attorney, when helping me map out the endless details and steps to follow to break free, gave me the best advice ever for getting through something that has so many variables:
      1) POSITIVE STEPS: Every single day, do one thing, however small, from the endless details list. If that doesn’t exhaust or demoralize you, do another little one. Repeat as needed.
      2) MAKE IT NICE: Every single day, do one nice self-care or treat thing, however small. Only you can define your treats – maybe it’s go get an ice cream, go to bed early, give yourself an hour to read something that you haven’t had time for, give yourself the afternoon off from job searching – whatever works.
      These balance each other really well – you make progress even if it is slow, and you restore yourself a little from burnout with little treats. Ultimately it is about being kind to yourself, and moving at the pace you can manage. After a bit, you will be recharged enough to make plans to find a happier home environment, and regain your trust in good people. Please look after yourself, and let us know here how you are!

    3. Nessun*

      I have been in a similar headspace, though not the exact same of course. I’d suggest keeping a list with you of things that make you happy/simple ways to raise your spirits a little. Preferably low to no cost, like a note on your favourite spot to sit and read, a few songs that always make you smile, a reminder of a type of food you enjoy but dont often eat, some pictures/photos or even memes that please you – a list of stuff you can pull out and just pick from for a moment of peace and happiness. Those small moments can be enough to shift your thinking and give some respite, then you can go back to dealing with the items you need to. Remember to stop and breathe.

    4. Pommette!*

      I’ve been in a similar situation, and it’s a really tough place to be in. It’s hard to wade out and get back on to stable ground, but you can do it. Don’t forget to do what you can, every day, to give yourself small moments where you can feel good (and feel like a human being who deserves good things, which you are and do).

      Don’t forget that this – the loneliness, the burnout – isn’t your fault!

      Good luck. This is temporary, and it will get better.

  27. Shoe advice*

    On the lighter side… who can recommend a great pair of women’s sandals for travel… something comfortable/supportive for walking but also stylish? Am I asking the impossible? Doing a Mediterranean cruise in June and I’d like something versatile for days when I’m not doing quite as much walking/for dinners. I’m a light packer so I want something that fits my every need!

    1. it happens*

      I have Merrell sandals to be both fashionable and wearable for long periods of walking. I have very flat feet and so support is key to my shoe selection.

      1. Grace*

        Jinx! I posted before this loaded – but yes on the flat feet aspect, I have collapsed arches and overpronation, and Merrell is great.

    2. Grace*

      I adore Merrell sandals! There are ones that are specifically designed for hiking, but there are also ones that are more stylish but still have the support and luxuriously comfortable soles.

    3. Ali G*

      Thank you for asking this! We just booked our cruise for early September and was thinking the same thing!

    4. CatCat*

      Thirding Merrell sandals! I have a nice pair that I can walk forever in and that would look nice enough for a dinner out.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Merrells are also good for my insanely high arches because they fit even the top of my foot. (Jury is out on the latest pair of urban mocs I got, first one in over 15 years that is tight.)

    5. cat socks*

      The blog Travel Fashion Girl has lots of posts about comfortable shoes for travel. Search for “travel fashion girl sandals”.

    6. Sunny*

      I’m on a never-ending quest for good shoes with arch support, and lucked out with these:

      This one is sportier but the support/comfort is great:
      https://shop.nordstrom.com/s/bionica-nahla-water-friendly-sandal-women/5220088

      This also has good support, and a comfy footbed:
      https://shop.nordstrom.com/s/born-oconee-platform-sandal-women/5192036

      And this is destined to be my all-time favorite warm-weather shoe ever, also sold on TheFlexx site:
      https://shop.nordstrom.com/s/the-flexx-front-row-sandal-women/4531162

    7. Kathenus*

      Check out Rock Spring shoes – lots of styles, made of woven elastic in lots of color patterns. Incredibly comfortable, I can walk in them all day. Hard to find in the US these days but I think pretty easy in Europe (I found my first pair in Denmark).

    8. Sunny*

      I’ve got a post in moderation with links to some I just found. I’m always looking for decent, not-old-lady shoes.

    9. Blue_eyes*

      Look at Chaco sandals. The “classic” ones are all webbing straps (great for water sports, but not very dressy), but they now make some nicer looking ones with leather straps. I have a pair and I really like them. They have great supportive foot beds, especially if you need a bit of arch support.

      1. LCL*

        Second the Chacos. They are also, normally, hella durable. I’m on my 3rd pair only because my (now departed) dog ate the first two pairs. Merrill’s are prettier but didn’t hold up well to my heavy self wearing them hiking.

    10. CupcakeCounter*

      Vionics – they are designed for people with plantar fasciitis and they are wonderful. Lots of really cute options.
      Birkenstock also has some great new styles that hit the fashion button.

    11. Newbie*

      Last year I bought OluKai ‘Awe’Awe Sandals at REI. They are very comfortable and look nice. Also very durable.

    12. And another thing...*

      Naot is another excellent, albeit pricey, brand. I walked all over France in Naot sandals.

    13. Kuododi*

      I have a pair of Teva sandals. They are excellent for foot, ankle support and really are great as far as helping with minimizing back pain. ( I wore them all around the Austin area last year while visiting my sister’s side of the family.). These sandals are definitely sporty rather than what I would call “cute” or “stylish.”. Hope that was a help.

    14. Call me St. Vincent*

      I actually just did this. I ended up with the “Mirabelle” from Sofft which I ordered from Zappos. I got them in the “luggage” color and found them incredibly comfortable right out of the box. I wore them non-stop on a recent trip to Florida. I have arthritis in my feet and so I am super picky. I think they’re super cute also and wore them with shorts and maxi dresses on the trip.

    15. Addy*

      Caslon! Caslon! Caslon! I wore a pair of their sandals (I think they were called the Claire) every day on my honeymoon in Italy doing tons of walking. Comfortable and cute!

      In fact I just bought this season’s version, called the Cameron, from Nordstrom

  28. lapgiraffe*

    Going into my fourth season in a large, urban community garden but have major mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, I absolutely love having my little urban oasis. I do a mixture of perennials, cut flowers, and veggies, and happened to get a rather large plot relative to the others (though in a less desirable area for many locations, so definitely a trade off). Where I struggle is with the community aspect. There is a small committee of people who run it, and I try to remember that they do this for free and I haven’t volunteered for anything like this myself because I know I don’t have the time, but most of them are just not nice. I don’t know how else to say it, they’re not actively mean (though one is a bit of a jerk), but they’re also not friendly. No matter how many socials I go to, how many tomatoes I offer up, or how many times I’ve shown up to the cleanups ready to tackle whatever they throw my way, there’s just no real community to it.

    Some other gardeners are friendly, but in the simplest way you might say hello to your neighbor with a smile but you don’t even know their name, just the name of their dog. It doesn’t bother me much during the growing season, we’re all busy and go in to tend to our plots when we can, get in and get out. But there’s so much forced interaction (mandatory clean ups, mostly, though a few optional meetings and socials) and it’s so uncomfortable that I dread going, and I am not only an extrovert, I am in outside sales and can roll with pretty much any kind of personality! Right this minute I am skipping our yearly (optional) meeting, partly because I’ve been before and found it to be a mere formality of the leadership committee to go over the budget and major plans, but information I’d gladly glean from the minutes because it’s so low stakes – our water bill was $20 more than last year, so essentially the same, but we changed trash pickup to save some money, and hoping to have more fun socials this year, the end.

    But I’m also skipping the meeting because being around these people is so socially awkward that it delves into weird anxiety and can ruin my day. WTF! I thought I was alone in feeling this way, other gardeners seem to really enjoy the socials and each other, and there was even some short documentary our garden was included in that I believe focused on the community building aspect (I don’t exactly know because I skipped the screening of that, too!). But I had an older neighbor who put her name on the waitlist and finally got in last summer, and in the fall we met up for drinks and she confessed that while she’s been very happy to have the garden space (she’s widowed, retired, and no longer living in a big house with a big yard, so this is an outlet for her as well), she really hasn’t found the people to be very inviting or friendly. She agreed at the time that it’s worth putting up with for the access to the space, but it was a disappointment for her, and I didn’t feel so alone in my feelings. (She’s spending a month in Spain and missing the meeting as well, ah retirement, one day…)

    Don’t really know that I have a question to put out there, more just throwing it out into the universe in case anyone relates or has been through a similar situation. I hate that it puts such a damper on my otherwise wonderful hobby, but I literally agonized in bed and changed my mind five times over before deciding to mail in my membership fees, email the coordinator to let them know that’s what I’m doing, and not subject myself to the negative energy of those people.

    1. CatCat*

      So interesting because a couple years ago, my spouse and I looked into a community garden that’s 2 blocks from where we live. The paper with the garden’s contact person had disappeared so we posted on Nextdoor to see if someone could give us the contact info. We got 3 separate messages about the garden, all of them recommending against joining because of the negativity (and apparently some drama) by the committee. We decided against pursuing joining the garden.

    2. Wishing You Well*

      It’s time for a change. Can you just garden and skip the people stuff? Because it’s sounding like this is no fun anymore. Please take care of you.

    3. HannahS*

      That’s so unfortunate! It’s so disappointing when you go to community-building events and discover that there isn’t a community there for you.
      If what I’m about to suggest makes you even more anxious and uncomfortable, please disregard it entirely, but twice I’ve managed to make little communities for myself in places where I discovered that there wasn’t one. Currently, I do it by hosting craft nights in my home. I provide simple snacks, hot drinks, and physical space. People bring their own projects. I post about them on a private board on Facebook. Out of about three hundred people, I get from 1-6 guests each time. I do it maybe every other month–I can’t handle more than that. But it works! I have made some really nice friendly connections. It’s not the kind of friendship where I necessarily get invited out in return, but it’s provided me with something I was missing–I’d moved to a new city and knew zero people. I won’t lie, it feels like work, and it kind of stings sometimes that so few people are interested. I kind of make myself seem peppier and more cheery than I feel when I make the posts inviting people. But! But! The brightside is huge. I really enjoy the events. Even beyond the people who come, I think the larger group is friendlier to me because they feel like they know something about my interests, and because they feel warmly towards a person who’s inviting them to things (even though they don’t come lol). And it’s different from a social–being invited by a peer feels more intimate.

      So for you, it might be something like, “On such-and-such afternoon, let’s have a tomato sandwich tasting! Bring whatever variety of tomato you’re growing by my plot, where I’ll have bread, olive oil, salt and pepper, and let’s try some new things!” Pre-check with your neighbour; plan it on a day when she can come so that, at least, there are two of you. My first event, I did that, and only that person came. But others asked, “How did it go?” and I could say, “So fun! Ilma came and it was so great to get to know her better!” And things have grown (a bit) from there. Like I said, if this sounds like unpleasant, stressful, anxiety-producing work, don’t do it. Seek your people elsewhere. But if you can summon the energy and see it as a project, it can come out being quite fun.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      This is too bad. I have had groups that I did not click with, also. They were, um, different. You have given it four years, you might decide that this is your last season. OR you could decide to join something else for the social connections and just have this place for your veggies. With this option you would dial your expectation back to, “I do this to get veggies, period.”
      I found that being active in another group can soften the original groups reaction to me, sometimes.

      You could try volunteering to help with particular tasks that you have not done before.
      You could try bringing a friend with you into the group to see if the two of you can change the culture of the group.

      If you are in a rural area, it could be a couple more years before they decide to treat you as part of the group. This depends on your area, of course.

      Generally speaking, when groups are not that friendly with outsiders it can be because they are all arguing among themselves. You mention one difficult person and that person could be the problem right there. This is the problem we had in one group. It finally destroyed the group. I am sure outsiders thought we were very strange. Like you say here I ended up anxious whenever I had to deal with this group. I tried so hard and I think I tried for too long. It left me a little concerned and cautious about trying something else.
      In cases like this you might want to take a break and try again in a few years.

    5. Venus*

      I try to avoid people when I garden, so from my perspective the mandatory socials would be painful, and I would suffer through them in order to get access to the larger plot. If others were friendly then that would be nice, and I would chat with them (especially if they brought a dog), but I would happily work on my own. It’s a shame that it is a weird group – would other plots be better for you?

    6. Weegie*

      I’ve recently taken the decision to leave a group I’ve been involved with because of the committee. All of the committee members bar one are actually friendly, but they are also so excluding that the rest of us get no information about community days and related activities we might want to volunteer at. They hog all of the tasks, and no amount of pointing out that others would also like to be involved can get them to change their old habits.

      Like you, the thought of interacting with them was starting to ruin my day, and after one particularly annoying evening I decided I wouldn’t go back. The relief! Sounds like you might be reaching that stage too.

  29. Free Meerkats*

    First race weekend of the season! Yesterday was practice and driver training, vintage racing today and tomorrow.

    Have fun, no matter what you have planned.

  30. Anon here again*

    Whenever I go for a blood test, they tell me that my platelet count is high. It’s been like this for the last 10 years. Is there any cause for concern? My doctor just routinely checks it, but I’m worried about issues/problems. (Thanks to internet searching.) Does anyone have any experience with this?

    1. fposte*

      If it’s been for 10 years, I’m guessing that you’ve along the way had your spleen poked at and iron levels checked and there’s no particular worry there; I’m also guessing it’s not very high. Do you have any autoimmune things going on, and have they ever tested your C-reactive protein levels?

      By and large, though, if it’s been the way it is for 10 years and isn’t getting worse, it’s probably nothing to worry about.

    2. London Calling*

      I’d say it depends on how high your doctor is calling high. I was diagnosed at the end of last year with a high platelet count (nerly three times normal) that turned out to be essential thrombocythaemia: one of a family of blood conditions related to leukaemia. Not wanting to worry you, but it make me at a higher risk of having a stroke, and I’m on chemo medication to bring the count down and aspirin to thin my blood. In your place, knowing what I know about the condition, I’d ask for more information and tests.

    3. ArtK*

      Have you asked your doctor about it? If they say “it’s high,” have you asked “what does that mean for me?” Non-medical folks on the ‘net really can’t help with this.

        1. ArtK*

          It sounds like this is chronic, but the MD would be the best person to ask about the prognosis. Anon may simply have naturally high platelet counts. The “normal” ranges are statistical averages and it’s quite possible that someone could be perfectly healthy but at or above the high end.

    4. Ellie*

      I would say to get more info from this doctor, then consult a specialist. My father has a condition wherein his body makes too much blood- I’m not going to embarrass myself trying to type a name I can’t even say! – and while it’s not problematic as is, add in x issue or y problem and it would be. Don’t just accept “it’s high”- get more details, then take all those details to a hematologist.

    5. Snake in the grass*

      I have this. My doctor noticed that my platelet count, white blood cell count and monocytes were high, and had been for years, and that (eventually) kicked off a bunch of boring and annoying testing that eventually resulted in a diagnosis of autoimmune hepatitis. I was, and still am, completely asymptomatic despite having the liver function markers. Funnily enough, while my liver function is now completely normal, the blood count markers are still elevated. The specialist still prods at them and frets about sending me to a haemotologist, but it’s possible that they will come down on their own now that my liver is not inflamed.

      So, yes, sometimes high platelet count can be the signs of something else (as noted in another comment, a type of blood disorder – that was my doctor’s next port of call, apparently, and if the results stay elevated much longer, she’ll probably start nagging me about getting it specifically looked at). It was just luck that my doctor decided to test my liver function while trying to figure out the bloods. If you have any of the symptoms of an autoimmune disorder, perhaps it would be worth asking the doctor to order a wider range of tests?

      1. London Calling*

        *I was, and still am, completely asymptomatic*

        Yep, me too, despite being on chemo medication. Although I have lost track of the amount of my blood that’s been taken.

    6. Owler*

      How high is high? I had years of doctors saying it was normal, but blood donation staff commenting that my platelet count was too high. The upper limited is 450k, and mine was in the 600s for about ten years before I was diagnosed with a autoimmune disease, and ultimately, stage III cancer. Now that I’m cancer-free, my platelet count is normal again.

      Long story, short…I wish I had pushed against the thinking that because my number was high for a long time, it was normal for me. It wasn’t.

  31. Anon alone*

    Any thoughts or insight would be greatly appreciated. There have been times in my life where a guy talks to me and seems interested, but then he’ll act weird. One guy seemed to always stare at me, talk to me, but then he either got cold feet or maybe a girlfriend? But then the tables were turned and he would act as if I was the one going after him. I overheard one guy telling people that he had “an image/reputation” to keep, but then he would still follow me around or stare at me.

    Another guy seemed embarrassed and acted as if I was the one with the issue, He would make fun of me and act as if I was some poor pathetic sap with a crush on him. I would then catch him staring at me!

    I’d love to say we’re all teenagers, but I’m in my early 30s! What gives? I’m fairly quiet and introverted, though once I feel comfortable, I open up. I feel like I’m back in high school where the “popular jocks” talked to you when no one was around, but then would ignore you when their friends were around.

    I know I should brush it off, but I want to know why this happens and why to me? Why am I a target for this behavior? Is it because I’m quiet? I just don’t understand why they can’t just openly like me and talk to me. They talk to other women, so why am I different? I’m not a beauty queen, but I’m not hideous either. I’m a good person. Is it more a reflection on them? Or both of us?

    1. fposte*

      I think these aren’t guys with any serious interest, but they’re willing to pass the time of day with you when it suits them. I don’t think that’s a unique experience to you–I suspect most of us know people like that. It’s not that they can’t openly talk to you, it’s that they’re not interested enough to do so.

      You don’t have to be available to talk to people like that on their clock. Save your time for people who are willing to openly like you.

    2. Angwyshaunce*

      In what context are you meeting these guys? The behavior you describe sounds more like a poor reflection on them.

    3. PurpleThumb*

      What’s the context you’re interacting with these guys in? They’re your friends’ friends? Strangers? At the gym? A bar? Work? ComicCon?

    4. WellRed*

      If a guy is interested, really interested, you’ll know. He’ll ask you out. You are not a target for this behavior. I do think it’s easier to connect if you’re more outgoing, but I can be quiet and still attract interest ( well, not so much now that I am over 40). Also not a beauty queen. Be friendly, smile, chat the way you would with people of any sex instead of, omg, it’s a guy, he’s staring at me ( he’s not). I realize none of this is easy.

      1. valentine*

        He’ll ask you out.
        Yes. You can also ask out people you’re interested in. If they don’t like it because gender roles, they’ve self-selected out of your dating pool.

        Staring is bad and immature. Avoid those creeps. Your life isn’t a sitcom or a serial killer’s story.

    5. Autumnheart*

      This is my observation as a woman in her mid-40s: Some dudes never grow up and always act like they’re 12. The guy who “has an image to keep” and the other one who made fun of you are particularly gross examples of this type.

      IT’S NOT BECAUSE OF YOU. You are not doing anything to prompt asshole behavior. They’re doing it because they’re assholes. Imagine taking a chance on a guy and finding out that he’s dating you because you contribute to his “image”. *shudder* That person’s picture should go in the dictionary next to “shallow”.

      Try to consider these early warning signs of terrible people. If this is how they act to people they like (but not “enough” to date?), how must they treat everyone else who crosses their path? This behavior is right up there with being rude to the waiter, or telling racist jokes.

    6. dumblewald*

      This has happened to me a couple of times. I’m not sure exactly what their intentions are, but the main takeaway is that you *don’t* want these people in your lives. If they aren’t pursuing you beyond staring, they don’t actually want your company, but still want to be creepy for some reason. One of the guys this happened with ended up having a girlfriend, and would sometimes check me out while he was actually standing next to her!

    7. Anonymous Educator*

      Is it more a reflection on them? Or both of us?

      It’s a reflection on them, not you. Don’t waste any more time with these dudes.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      My mother used to say, stand up straight, shoulders back, chin up and look around. I tend to agree how one carries themselves does matter. Doing the opposite can read as “vulnerable” to those who are bullies or have a huge interest in head games.
      I am not saying that you are causing this, I am saying this in the context of here is how you can help yourself. The times that I have been the most scared I made sure I straightened up my posture and I kept looking around as I walked. (I had to walk by an area where a girl was murdered in order to get to work. The sun was not up at the time I walked by the area every day.)

      My husband and I used to talk about walking around various places. He felt that having that look of determination, “OH, I need to head over there!’ can cause people to just leave you alone. This includes security people as they think you know where you are going so you must belong there. It’s that look of intent and the sense of deliberateness in your steps. My husband used this technique in areas noted for the crime rates, too. No one bothered him. (yes, some of that is sheer luck, that is true too.)

      Honestly, your best bet it is to stop noticing these “little boys” following you around. When they see you don’t notice the game is over. They DO notice if you are noticing them. It’s when they sense that you notice then the game is ON for them. Or you could just call the police if you do not feel safe.
      I have always thought of this stuff as the harassment women have to put up with on a regular basis, just because of being a woman.

    9. Lilysparrow*

      I have no idea why people act this way. It’s obnoxious and ridiculous.

      I would suggest deploying your “ignore” button more vigorously. Ignore guys “Firthing” at you (suggestive staring, via Captain Awkward). Ignore people talking behind your back, even if they’re trying to be overheard. Completely ignore any jerk who tries to make fun of you. None of this is legitimate flirtation or pursuit. It’s rude.

      Your attention is priceless. Only bestow it on people who earn it by actively being nice to you. This will not stop weirdos fron acting weird. But it will go a long way toward improving your subjective experience.

    10. Ellie*

      They’re crap weasels. Don’t let them have any more of your mental energy. (FYI- the staring thing is way too stalker-ish.)

    11. Dr. Anonymous*

      There’s likely not a darn thing wrong with you. You just happen to be observant enough to notice the weird staring behavior. Ignore them as if they were telemarketers calling about refinancing student loans you do not have. Whatever is going on with them, you are perceptive enough to read the big signs plastered on their foreheads that read, “Purveyor of Drama and Woe.”

      1. dumblewald*

        I would say it’s very normal to notice people staring at you! Sometimes when this happened to me, I was wondering if I was overthinking things…but NO – there is a reason I’m noticing This Particular Person staring at me and not everyone else.

  32. Awkward anon*

    How do you have the energy to go out during the week? I took a half day because my sister and I went to a concert at night and I was so tired! I wonder how others have the energy to go out after work or a busy day? (I’m not sure if this belongs in the other thread, so apologies if it does.)

    1. cat socks*

      I don’t go out that much during the work week other than volunteering for a couple of hours on Wednesday evenings. I need quiet/alone/lazy time at the end of the day to recharge. Sometimes my husband will go out right after work on Friday nights. We like craft cocktails and will check out some of the different bars/restaurants in our city. We usually don’t have plans on Saturday mornings so it’s nice to sleep in.

    2. lapgiraffe*

      This is how I always felt about college students who could party all week. I didn’t go to a school that had that kind of culture so it wasn’t an option anyway, but it exhausted me just thinking about it! Not even mentioning how they got any school work done.

      Now I have a job that requires weeknights out and I can confirm, it’s exhausting. It’s such a regular thing that I now “protect” my weekends and basically don’t go out Friday or Saturday (but then, strangely, I do enjoy and early evening at my fave bar on Sundays with the paper…). But concerts are a different beast and can be really draining precisely because they’re so exciting, tack on to that the getting there and getting home and crowds and stimulation overload. I would definitely plan it so that I could have some extra time in the morning, which means it doesn’t happen that much in my life :-/

    3. Mimmy*

      Yeah I sometimes dread going out right after work, even if it’s just to go to a council meeting (1x/month) or an appointment. I love my down / quiet time in the evenings. But I know it’s important to have a life beyond work, so I just deal with it. Luckily it doesn’t impact my energy too much though I will admit that concerts are a bit of an energy sucker for me, sometimes both physically and emotionally (probably due to overstimulation). We saw KISS last month and I remember feeling a bit tired the next day. Luckily I’d taken the rest of that week off.

    4. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I am trying to figure this out too! I had a thing with my volunteer group one night last week, and having a evening thing on a weeknight means not getting enough sleep that night and a cascading week of feeling overwhelmed, peopled-out, and like I have no time for anything for days afterward.

      I’d really like to have time for some kind of weekly weeknight-based social thing just for better work/life balance reasons, but I’m trying to figure out a way to add one in without having it make my whole week feel overwhelming. Part of this may be that I have a job with a lot of social “uptime” in it so I just don’t have any social left in the tank by evening, but I still want to have hobbies and friends! Maybe I can start a “we all sit and read quietly while drinking beer at someone’s house” book club rather than the discuss the book kind…

    5. Catherine*

      For me it’s a manifestation of my anxiety and insomnia. I get restless so I have to go out in order to tire myself out enough to sleep.

    6. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t? Spouse and I just hung out with another couple that is actually about our age, but they are extroverts and just have way more energy. We had dinner, went to a bar, got another snack, and then they went to go dancing… we crashed at home with the cats.

      It’s okay.

      It’s actually okay to have the energy you have. Unless you believe you have some kind of medical condition that needs treatment, you are perfectly normal, and you should enjoy the “going out” that you do, and also enjoy the staying home that you do.

    7. Quandong*

      I don’t have the energy to go out in the evenings when I’ve worked during the day, so I just schedule around my energy levels, and skip concerts when I know I’ll be exhausted.

      Some of my friends are much higher-energy people and they don’t struggle with extra activities – it really just varies from person to person.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Personally I’m trying to work up energy to job hunt because I know it’s my 45 mile drive sucking the life out of me: I felt the difference immediately when our telecommute was eliminated. Visit family 50+ miles away? Weekend hobby events? Festivals? Nope.

    9. Marion Ravenwood*

      I have a music writing side hustle which means I’m usually out after work at least once a week on average – more in a busy period, like around the big festivals – plus occasionally another social activity like dinner or theatre trips with friends, and I’m honestly not sure how I do it. Part of me wants to say something flippant like ‘coffee’, but I think it’s just the fact that I’m really passionate about my music writing and I like spending time with this particular bunch of people so I’m willing to make time for these things.

      That said, since the beginning of this year I’ve been a lot more selective about what I go to, which has helped massively with avoiding the feeling of being burnt-out, as is trying to keep at least one weekend day where I don’t do much other than household chores and watching TV. I also switched to a job with a much shorter commute in January, so being able to sleep a bit later in the morning after a gig is massively helpful! If I’ve got a really busy week, I’ll also try and work from home or take a day’s leave midweek so I can catch up on sleep, but aware not everyone has that luxury.

  33. SOAS (NA)*

    Sorry, removing this because this is the non-work thread (but I’m sorry you’re having a hard time). – Alison

  34. Phoenix Programmer*

    Things have gotten so out of hand. Toddler is more and more violent. She is now choking cats, choking me and her uncle, biting her brother and now refusing to engage with any calming techniques. She tells us she will keep hurting pets and people because she has to. She understands it hurts people but will keep doing it.

    Also our elder kitty who took the brunt of her abuse had to be put down. A 15 year old precious diluted tortie.

    We told social services that we don’t have to the resources to help toddler. They agreed that she is a danger to herself and the entire household.

    Free counseling was our last hope for her but she is last on the list and it will be months to a year.

    My sister is driving here and we are a bit worried she will take the kids and run to keep toddler out of foster care. There is nothing we can do to stop it.

    T_T

    1. fposte*

      Oh, honey, I’m so sorry. It’s heartbreaking, and I think that must be one of the worst calls anybody ever had to make, but I think you’re right.

    2. DrTheLiz*

      I think the toddler acting out suddenly might be a good sign? I’ve read that a lot of kids who get removed from a bad home situation will hit a point where they act out as hard as they can to try and push the new carers into acting like the old carers because they don’t know how to trust the new carers won’t do that eventually anyway. They’ll only start doing this after they start to feel safe, though, and it does usually burn itself out in the end.

      I think you’re so kind for doing this for the kids – good luck!

      1. valentine*

        This makes sense. “I know you’re going to hurt me or send me away, so cut to the chase.”

        Is there no experienced foster parent the state could put you in touch with who could share best practices? Basically, the person they’d place her with, if you surrendered her.

        1. Phoenix Programmer*

          It’s a cross state agreed so everything is more complicated sadly. Social services and we we’re blindsided. In short we had no idea how very bad the domestic abuse at home was so we were all blindsided.

    3. cat socks*

      I’m so sorry. What an incredibly difficult situation. Hoping she is able to get the help she needs.

    4. Granger Chase*

      I want to say that I am so sorry for your loss & for what you are going through and I hope things get better soon. I cannot even imagine how difficult, frightening, and frustrating this situation must be for you and your family. I hope that your sister can understand that taking the kids and leaving is in no way the best for them and will only cause more harm than good, especially for the brother. Please know you are in my thoughts and I am wishing for the best possible outcome for all involved.

    5. Mimmy*

      So sorry you’re dealing with all of this! I’m a little surprised that they put toddler on such long wait for the free counseling despite agreeing that she’s a danger to herself and others. But from what I understand about social services, they are probably stretched incredibly thin and have their hands tied.

      Sending you peace.

          1. Phoenix Programmer*

            No apologies needed. Their have been great recommendations on this blog for me!

    6. LibbyG*

      I’m so sorry about your kitty and the terribly difficult road your family is walking. After last week’s post, I was really hoping you would see some more positive milestones soon. I really hope things turn around one way or another soon!

    7. Sam Sepiol*

      I’m so sorry you’re having such a hard time. I hope you are able to do what you need to do for the best and the safety of everyone <3

    8. Traffic_Spiral*

      Ok, so I’m sure others here will object because it’s not the currently stylish way of dealing with kids, but you need to scale your techniques way back and deal with this like you would an aggressive cat/dog. Stop asking her “why” she does things or if she’ll do them again. Kids that age don’t know have that level of awareness – you might as well be asking her to do long division.

      Supervise her at all times, and every time she gets violent, say “no” sharply and physically stop her from doing whatever she’s doing. Stop her when she tries to choke you (how can she even do that with toddler hands). Don’t let her near the pets unsupervised since you know she’s a threat. Stop trying to reason with her like an adult and asking her to do whatever hippie “calming exercises” you found (since they obviously don’t work) and work with the no-impulse-control child you have – not the fictional reasons-and-meditates-her-stress-away creature you wish you had.

      She doesn’t have the capability to understand why she “shouldn’t” do things, so you need to focus on making her understand that she “mustn’t” do them. Scale way back on the “why” and focus on the “what.”

      and yes, I have dealt with many aggressive toddler before. they’re fine (though challenging) if you accept their limitations and don’t try and reason with them too much.

      1. Phoenix Programmer*

        You are way off base with what is happening. She is supervised with pets at all times to the point where we have to lock pets in our room whenever there are not 2 adults in the home. We do physically intervene, obviously, but she takes the 2-3 seconds it takes to break away to do more damage. This is not normal behavior. She also just keeps doing it. When she choked me it was just a second, but it was sudden and out of nowhere. She’ll be calm and then choke you or a pet all of a sudden.

        The talks have helped, not in stopping the behavior, but uncovering trauma.

        Unsurprisingly she has witnessed her brother, nephew, be choked severely.

        1. fposte*

          Yes. Kids who’ve known only trauma and violence function like kids from a war zone with atrocities. They really don’t map onto our more traditional ideas of development and parenting. That doesn’t mean they’re doomed forevermore, but they need more help than just a loving family can provide.

          1. Phoenix Programmer*

            Exactly. Hubby and I realize toddler simply needs more help than we can give her. It’s heartbreaking but it’s the reality of the situation. We gave it our a but she clearly need I tense trauma counseling and care.

            1. Quandong*

              I’m so, so sorry that Toddler has become increasingly violent and unsafe for you and your pets. My condolences on the loss of your beloved cat.

              Thinking of you at this incredibly sad and difficult time.

      2. Quandong*

        Yes, Traffic_Spiral, I’m going to object because you don’t actually know what strategies Phoenix Programmer has been using, and Toddler is coming from a trauma background.

        In addition, there’s no need to be derogatory about calming exercises. They work for a lot of people and children. It’s obvious that Phoenix Programmer is doing their best and utilizing resources at hand, and that Toddler needs intensive support and therapy at this time.

    9. Wishing You Well*

      Toddler needs a massive medical checkup. Maybe an MRI. A brain anomaly can cause this behavior. Hospitalization and meds might be needed.
      My heart goes out to you. I’m so sorry you’re going through this.

    10. Jean (just Jean)*

      Oh, how heartbreaking. And how unhelpful for social services to agree that toddler is a danger to self & household …. without offering any concrete assistance. So sorry you are going through this.
      Can you marshall anyone to have an intervention with your sister to communicate “don’t take the kids and run”?
      Can you connect with other special needs parents, or professionals who serve this community, to locate affordable assistance or respite care? Might a local crisis line or crisis center have ideas/leads for affordable assistance? Is there a local college/university that offers sliding-scale counseling from supervised graduate students?
      In my general area there’s an overnight respite care called Jill’s House. It’s connected with a large church (nondenominational?) but I don’t think you have to be a congregant to receive assistance.

    11. Thursday Next*

      I’m so sorry; what a difficult situation. Even if toddler is on a long list for counseling, would it be possible for you to consult with a developmental pediatrician? Maybe there is something medical going on. Or at least a general pediatrician.

      You’re doing the best that can be done.

      1. Phoenix Programmer*

        Sadly since we aren’t foster parents we have no health insurance. I’ve exhausted all free and low cost options sadly.

        1. Thursday Next*

          I’m sorry you have to deal with the lack of support when you’ve stepped up heroically to try to give these children stability and proper care.

          I hope it becomes possible for you to access resources—whether it’s through your state’s Early Intervention program, or by becoming official foster parents (which I know is a long process).

          I’m thinking of you, and your compassion and dedication, and wishing you the best.

        2. Public Health Nerd*

          Yeah, if you’re trying to do this out of pocket, that would be very difficult. Maybe you can get them placed with a foster parent who has experience with early childhood trauma so they can access services. Clearly, these kids need more intensive intervention. If the plan is for you to care for them in the long run, that would get you time to get certified as a foster parent.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      I am so sorry, your cat, the kids, everything. My heart goes out to you and yours. You tried so hard and in so many ways. Some situations are unbelievably hard. I hope this story does not end here. I hope something changes very soon.

    13. Elysian Fields*

      I really feel for you. This is a stressful situation and it sounds like you’re not getting the support you or this child needs. Depending on where you live, if you are in the United States, children 0-3 have the right to receive developmental services through Early Intervention. In my state, these services include behavioral specialists and therapists. The services are based on income but, in my state, they are free for children being supervised by DCFS. Once the child’s legal guardian makes a request for an assessment, Early Intervention is required to set up an appointment within weeks, not months. I am so sorry. This sounds heartbreaking for everyone involved.

    14. Ann O.*

      I’m so sorry to read this! You’ve stepped up so much, and it’s horrible that the kids were abused so severely and that the resources are not there to help you and help them.

    15. Sybil Fawlty*

      What a heartbreaking situation! I am so very sorry for you and your family. I don’t have any advice, just to do what you know is right, as you are, and accept that there are things in the world that are just completely out of your control. I hope things resolve in a surprising and wonderful way.

    16. Anono-me*

      I have no words of wisdom for right now. I wish I did. This situation is just heartbreaking.

      I can promise you that someday your little niece will find some benefit in knowing that you two stepped up and did everything you could for her. I know it’s small comfort now, but I do hope it helps.

      (Someone dear to me had a very difficult childhood. One of the things that left a lasting mark, was that none of the people in the extended family tried to help. )

  35. cat socks*

    Cats…I love them, but they do cause me stress and anxiety sometimes. We currently have three indoor cats. There is also a friendly, outdoor neighborhood cat that we feed. I think the fact that we leave food outdoors seems to attract all the hungry kitties.

    This past February, we said goodbye to my tabby girl. Just a couple of weeks later, another new cat showed up outside. He was in bad shape – matted fur, ears cut up from fighting, fleas and he wasn’t neutered. He’s a real sweetheart, though and we took him in last week to get neutered, vaccinated, etc. He also has a double ear infection and needs to take ear drops twice a day.

    New Guy is in the spare bedroom with his litter box and food. We’ve done a slow introduction with the other cats and I’ve let New Guy out into the rest of he house while I’m able to watch interactions.

    Unfortunately, one of my resident cats is not happy about the situation and has peed outside the box a few times. New Guy also wants to mark his territory and has peed on a cat bed and a couple of cardboard scratchers that are in the living room.

    My vet suggested we continue to keep New Guy sequestered in the spare bedroom so we don’t have a “pee arms race” in the house. I agree with her, but I just feel so bad about keeping him in the bedroom. He’s such a sweet kitty and I try to spend time with him in the room petting him and playing with him.

    He’s still on medication for another week or so and I want to wait until he’s healthy before finding him a home. I’m going to post on social media, etc but I’m just so worried we won’t be able to find him a new home. I feel like he would do best in a home with no other cats. Not sure how he is with dogs. Then I worry that it won’t work out in his new home and he’ll need to be returned.

    I already struggle with anxiety/depression and this situation hasn’t helped. It’s been stressful keeping the cats separated and being on pee patrol. I know I took this on myself, but I couldn’t in good conscience get him neutered and send him back outside. He is not feral in the least and seems to enjoy the comforts of a home.

    Anyway, just needed to vent a little bit. Hoping I can report back with good news about him getting adopted!

    1. Ali G*

      Thank you for helping the kitty! You definitely should keep him sequestered if peeing is going to be a problem. Try to think of it this way – you up your chances so much of finding him a permanent new home if he reliably uses the litter box. Probably one of the main reasons cats are abandoned outside are because of litterbox issues. So you are giving him and yourself the best chance of a happy ending for this guy. You can do it!
      Also try Felaway diffusers through your house. They can help everyone stay a little calmer.

      1. Scarlet Magnolias*

        We had (in retrospect) a rather comical situation many years ago. We had 3 cats, all set in their ways. One morning the most beautiful cat showed up at our door. Long haired, white and marmalade with jade green eyes. Full grown, not fixed and an abscess on his ear. Sweetest natured boy I had ever encountered. I put him in the bathroom and then brought him to the vet. Had him neutered, his ear cared for, and checked for Feline leukemia and got him shots. Looked thru the papers and online to see if his owner was looking for him (I did think it rather irresponsible to not have him neutered). Finally found him a forever home with a co-worker which worked out very well. He turned out to be diabetic, she was a nurse and was able to give him his shots. He lived a long happy spoiled life.
        Preening myself on my responsible cat owner behavior, I saw in the paper a few days later an ad for a missing male, white and orange long haired breeder cat. ……………whoops.

            1. cat socks*

              Yes, you’re right. It is difficult not knowing what happened. We did check the new guy to make sure he didn’t have a microchip. And I wasn’t able to find him on any lost pet sites.

              1. fposte*

                I was meaning Scarlet Magnolias’s post, wherein there was an owner looking for the cat.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            A responsible breeder wouldn’t be breeding a diabetic cat, so I’ll guess it probably wasn’t the one you found.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              (And if it was, well, I am honestly glad the next family getting a kitten won’t have that genetic predisposition to diabetes.)

      2. cat socks*

        Thanks! I have a Feliway diffuser and the spray that I’ve been using on the affected areas. New Guy is actually good about using the litter box in his room and he’s used the litter boxes downstairs as well, which is good.

        It’s funny because the resident cat that is also peeing is another one that showed up outside our house a couple of years ago. He was fixed, very friendly and wearing a collar so he definitely came from a home. We searched for an owner for a while, but had no luck so we took him in. I wouldn’t be surprised if his previous family dumped him because of litter box issues. I’ve had him to the vet to check for health issues so it’s just the new addition that is causing the issue.

        1. Venus*

          Sounds like you are doing all the right things.

          To address your guilt: Cats in shelters can sometimes live in cages for a year or more. It isn’t ideal, but the point is that they have a remarkable ability to adapt. If the room is warm, has food and water, medication, and – most importantly for this situation – a window to look out of or some sort of distraction, then you are taking wonderful care of this guy. Thank you!

          I have looked after cats where they were in my spare room for nearly a year, while they waited for an adoptive home. It wasn’t ideal for them, but was much better than being dead, and they were fine in their new homes. Best of luck finding this one a new home!

      3. Phoenix Programmer*

        Try getting an unscented litter. We got a new kitten who peed about the house u til we switched to a new brand. Has been happily using litter ever since.

    2. HardwoodFloors*

      To Cat Socks, thanks for caring for kitties and cats. However I suggest you rethink leaving cat food outside for stray cats. I lost an eight year old family cat in broad daylight (cat never allowed out at night) because a neighbor was feeding all interested cats and that attracted the coyotes. I wasn’t the only who lost a cat that way.

  36. asexual? autosexual? idk*

    Going anon for this one, sorry in advance. TMI about sex ahead, but in a mostly cerebral way? It’s more about how I process the act than the physical details. (Please delete if you feel I’ve been too graphic, of course.)

    I am having trouble understanding my relationship to my own sexuality, and while I do want to discuss it with a therapist eventually, I’m trying to practice articulating my feelings beforehand–and also I’d like to crowdsource whether this might be normal for how society breaks AFAB people and therefore might not require professional intervention. (I am an AFAB cis bisexual.)

    I haven’t had sex in two and a half years. The last sexual experience I had that I truly enjoyed was four years ago. It’s not that I don’t desire it, but the Venn diagram of people who’d like to sleep with me and the people I could theoretically bear to be touched by are two separate circles. I say “bear to be touched by” because I find myself actively repulsed by the idea of sexual intimacy with the vast majority of people I go on first dates with. There have even been moments in my prior relationships when, while attempting to have sex with my partner, I find their touch suddenly and unexpectedly repulsive and have to push them away because I feel like I’m a step away from a panic attack. (I have no real history of sexual assault or trauma that would explain this, though my first boyfriend was emotionally abusive and sometimes used the demanding or withholding of sexual affection as one of his tactics.)

    When I was having sex with past partners, I frequently was not aroused by my partner so much as I was by the image of myself/the show I was putting on–posing myself in ways that are flattering, etc. In general, I only have one or two partners in my past where I was consistently able to get out of my own head and focus on them/us in the moment. Mostly, sex is never as good in real life as it is in my head, and leaves me feeling disappointed after. This leaves me feeling like I can’t date because it’s not fair to my datemate that I’m bummed out by having sex.

    Is self-objectification normal for AFAB people constantly exposed to images of women as sexual objects? If I want sex but never enjoy it, that’s a different experience from being asexual, right? Is there any ethical way to navigate dating/relationships when my options are 1) letting a partner know I didn’t have fun during sex or 2) lying to spare their feelings?

    1. Dan*

      I can’t help you with the actual psych questions you posed at the end, but more generally…

      I think the fact that you have had at least one pleasurable sexual experience indicates that it is possible for you to find pleasure from sex. If you said *never* then I think this would be a different discussion. What it does mean is exactly as you said — your Venn diagrams don’t overlap very much. So it’s incorrect to say you don’t find pleasure from sex, and more correct to just say that those from whom you find pleasure are few and far between. Given that, I *don’t* think you should tell a perspective partner that you probably won’t enjoy the experience. I also wouldn’t force yourself into it unwillingly. And part of life is figuring all of that stuff out. Some experiences are going to suck (I’ve had my share) and some can actually be pleasant if not enjoyable (I’ve had a few of those too). TBH, I don’t think there’s a need for any “that really sucked” followup. Depending on who you’re with, you can just let things fizzle.

      One thing “life” is about is figuring out all of that stuff. Different people have different desires, drives, and preferences, and finding out those things about yourself and a person compatible with that is what this whole process is for. It just doesn’t always go smooth.

      1. valentine*

        Are you going out with people you feel attracted to in the sense that you want to or there is a potential for you to want to have sex with them?

        Perhaps you are demisexual, where sexual desire arises with people you know really well?

        1. asexual? autosexual? idk*

          Yes, I only go out with people I am at least physically attracted to and see some possibility of emotional attraction/aligned goals and values. I doubt I’m demi because I can feel sexual desire pretty quickly; it’s just that sometimes the tap shuts off very suddenly and I need to stop right away if that happens in order to avoid a panic attack.

      2. asexual? autosexual? idk*

        One thing that’s difficult for me that I even if I go in willing, sometimes I’ll just have a sudden wave of repulsion partway through, and it’s very difficult to handle that gracefully. Even if I communicate it as calmly and delicately as possible (e.g., “we can keep going, but can you please stop touching my face/kissing me”) it tends to hurt my partner’s feelings because they feel rejected in the moment, even if we discussed the possibility of this reaction coming up beforehand.

    2. Samsally*

      I’m not sure how much this information will help, but being sex repulsed and being asexual aren’t exactly the same thing. You’re allowed to be one without the other.

      I wish I could help more with other stuff, but tbh my relationship with sex is not less confusing. For me, it really helped to realize that what I used to want, and what I want now aren’t always the same thing. Sometimes they’re total opposites, even.

      I know from personal experience that its possible to find an understanding partner though. I’m definitely ace, and my husband understands and still loves me. You’re allowed to date even if your relationship with sex is complicated. It does make things difficult, but it’s possible to find someone who understands. Being upfront with your needs and expectations is a huge deal, and ditch anyone who makes you feel like telling them you didn’t enjoy the sex is “unethical”.

    3. Lilysparrow*

      I am cis het female, and awareness of my own desirability or “performance” is one element in arousal/enjoyment, but not the only one. I’d say it flits in and out of consciousness the whole time. I wouldn’t say that looking at my partner is ever a big element, except in advance where we flirt and check each other out.

      I’d say the biggest element in arousal is anticipation of the experience, because we’ve been together 15 years and have a lot of good memories stored up.

      There are things that will occasionally put me off. It’s rare, but from time to time random thoughts or associations pop up and make me go Ew. It’s usually okay if we just take a minute, it passes. It’s important that I have a partner with whom I can say, “hang on, I’m having an Ew,” and that’s fine.

      Everybody’s goals are different, but I wouldn’t describe being single for a couple of years between relationships as some kind of personal problem, though of course it’s frustrating. That sounds like a normal process of finding someone compatible.

      The issue with being attracted to someone but suddenly repulsed in the moment? Okay, to me that sounds like maybe there’s a disconnect between the people your libido is choosing, and the people your emotions or better judgment is choosing. Or in the timing, like part of you is saying, nope I didnt actually want to do this right now.

      Do you experience conflicts in other areas of life between what you think you wanted (or think you should want) and what actually makes you happy?

      Have you done any work on learning to listen to yourself, knowing your deep values, aligning your choices with your meaning and self-worth, etc? Sex isn’t just sex, IME. It connects to everything and tends to manifest things that are going on in other areas if life.

      Hope that’s helpful.

      1. asexual? autosexual? idk*

        The repulsion thing tends to mainly happen to me in my established relationships. It’s like flipping a switch–after a few months of pretty good sex, my body will suddenly start screaming, “No thank you, I am done, get this person out of my personal space bubble NOW!”

        In other areas of my life I’m pretty self-aware about what I actually want or need vs what I’m doing to get by. I’m fairly good at knowing what I feel or want but sometimes I shelve it for expedience, convenience, or because we live in a late capitalist hellscape.

    4. Chi chan*

      I think you may have anxiety around sex. Perhaps in other things too, you would be the judge of that. And that is something you should get into with a therapist. Try to find one you click with.

    5. Going anon too*

      I see a lot of similarities between your experience and my experience. I’m a cis woman, and I have chronic vaginal pain (working on it with a doctor) that makes sex complicated, especially with new partners. I very much desire sex, but for a lot of reasons, including the pain thing, it’s been challenging to have satisfying partnered sex.
      Over time, I’ve come to believe that it’s very ethical, and also very empowering, to be good at communicating your needs and desires. I’m up front about what I know about myself, and I learn a lot about a potential partner by how they respond to it. I’ve also realized that my attraction and sexual satisfaction grows over time with a partner. For example, in two past relationships, it took 4-6 months for me to really “get out of my head” and connect with my partner, and the sex got a lot better at that point. In the initial part, I was using my own fantasies (including self-objectification) inside my head, and often coping with some discomfort and awkwardness. My partners and I communicated, and were both satisfied with the other elements of the relationship while the sexual connection developed. Maybe this is or is not true for you, but I think it’s totally fine to give the sexual chemistry time. I think during this phase, you can “split the difference” when communicating about sex. You don’t have to lie, but you don’t have to be carelessly honest either. Talk about what they did that you liked, suggest specific things you know you like, let them know if there were things you didn’t like. And beyond the specifics, try to talk about the relationship is going overall and how sex fits in with that.
      I’m navigating a new relationship now, and this process is challenging but worth it! I wish you good luck!

      1. Lilysparrow*

        This is a good point. My husband and I were together a year before we had sex, so we were very comfortable and familiar, had trust & good communication, and it still took a solid 3 months or more before we found our groove. I hear about people who have fantastic sex right off the bat, but that’s never been my experience.

        It’s always started out somewhere between “nice” and “meh.” If I’d given them a rating afterward, that would have killed our chances.

        I think communicating *during* sex is more important than a post-mortem.

        Ethically, if they’re asking you if it was good, you can say something like, “I was kind of stuck inside my own head, I think we just need more practice.”

        Or give them a personal compliment that is about themselves and not about their performance.

        This is going to sound snarky, but I don’t mean it that way, I’m quite sincere: if they have to ask whether you enjoyed it, that indicates to me a pretty serious communication problem right from the start.

      2. asexual? autosexual? idk*

        I kind of work in reverse from you–sex is usually good for me the first few months with a new partner and then suddenly I’ll start having trouble getting/staying aroused or shutting down and wanting to retreat during the act. This makes navigating this issue really hard because even if I warn someone in advance, it can be very “wait, what? everything was fine last week!”

    6. Ann O.*

      This is hard to address in the abstract. The first thing I would say is to throw away worrying about normal/not normal and just focus on your personal relationship to sex. Is it important to you to have a fulfilling sex life in a way that you have currently not been able to easily have? If so, explore what’s going on with a therapist to see if you can improve things. If not, then possibly skip it.

      If you do decide to explore it, I would encourage you to think about what you’ve enjoyed the times that you’ve enjoyed things and how that differs from the times you haven’t. Are there common factors? Is it possible the repulsion is because the partner wasn’t doing a great job arousing you? Have you done much self-exploration? (if not, that could be a good place to start).

      In terms of the self-objectification, I don’t think there’s a normal, but I also don’t think there’s an abnormal. If self-objectification wasn’t a thing, no one would ever be an exhibitionist! Lots of people like to be watched and watch themselves.

    7. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      You should read Esther Perel’s “Mating in Captivity.”

      I think you are overthinking this – what you are is normal. Most people get excited by being intensely desired by a partner (what you call auto objectication). Most people like novelty/new partners at least on some level. There’s a reason the stereotype of a playboy is a thing.

      It’s biochemical – new people fire up your dopamine in your brain. It’s a rush, like a drug. That goes away in a settled relationship (if you are lucky and in love you get serotonin instead, plus the other benefits of having a settled partner). Sex is less appealing to you without the “rush” aspect – that’s not that weird.

      As to what to do about it: maybe long term relationships aren’t what you want? Or maybe you have to do what a majority of humans have to do – find a way to be interested in sex with the snoring, farting, boring story telling partner you will eventually have. Not meaning that to be snarky but because everyone is less desirable than a perfect fantasy, including me, including you and including any future partner of yours. But there are other compensations… like really knowing someone and being known and having a life together, though the hot sex often suffers a bit.

  37. Kheldarson*

    How do you know if introducing a new cat to the house has gone well? We got a new cat (1 yo female) in late March because our older cat (2 yo male) kept bolting for the outdoors (good news: he hasn’t tried for the door since we got her).

    They’re chasing each other and wrestling, but occasionally this goes to hissing and Boycat running off to hide downstairs until next meal time.

    I’ve never had multiple cats before. Is this normal behavior?

    1. Rebecca*

      I’ve found it to be normal, and have had multiple cats for years. Case in point, I have 6 year old half siblings, male and female, and for the most part they get along great, until the male cat hassles the female cat (who is bigger than him). She tolerates this for a while, then will box him around the ears, hiss, and sometimes launch herself onto him and they wrestle. There is hissing and growling, but they never hurt each other.

    2. cat socks*

      I think some hissing is normal. I have three cats and my little mini-panther still hisses at her brothers every now and then.

      I think one of the most important things with cats is to have dedicated playtime with each one and multiple “resources” so they are not competing – food, water bowls and perches.

      If you search for “indoor cat initiative” there is a link to the Ohio State vet school with lots of resources on how to keep indoor cats happy. I also like the site catbehaviorassociates dot com as a resource for behavior issues, etc.

      1. Kheldarson*

        Thanks for the links! They each have their own litter box, food bowl, and water dish (although she keeps trying to use his and they’ve taken to flip-flopping dishes whenever). And we’ve got a number of perches and hideaways along with lots of windowsills.

        My older boy won’t really hang out with us anymore though. I try playing with him or petting him and he just walks off now. :/

        1. cat socks*

          Sounds like you have a good setup! Does he walk off when the other kitty is also in the area? Sometimes I’ll take kitties into separate room for some individual playtime.

          You mentioned he used to dart outdoors a lot. Would leash training be an option to take him outside on walks? I also have an outdoor cat enclosure that I set out on the deck for them to get fresh air when the weather is nice.

          1. Kheldarson*

            He does walk off when the other cat is around (or I’ll pick him up and he’ll make distressed noises when she comes near until I put him down. Then he’ll leave or wrestle with her.)

            We’ve been trying harness training, but he’d slip out of the original harness we bought (slip over the head type), and just goes flat in the more fitted one we bought later.

            I’ve got weird furkids.

  38. PurpleThumb*

    Just wondering if anyone has any suggestions on plants or flowers to put in gardens around a house that won’t get eaten by animals. Or suggestions on how to deter the animals from eating them besides fences?

    Half of my gardens consist of perennials and the other half consists of annuals I buy each spring, and nearly everything except the bush-type plants get eaten (by deer, rabbits, gophers?). Often it’s not just the flowers that get eaten–literally the whole plant gets consumed so that there’s just some stem or leaf stubs left (sometimes the plants start to grow back, but then the fledgling plant gets eaten again a month or two later). It’s frustrating because I put so much time and money into my garden just to have it annihilated overnight. I’ve tried tying tinsel around plants, using garlic scented stakes that are supposed to repel deer, and pinwheels, but they didn’t really do anything.

    1. fposte*

      Hungry deer aren’t going to be fazed by much. If it’s them, your choices really are either planting plants that deer actively dislike or fencing/netting. If the bush-type plants aren’t getting browsed, though, it suggests it might be a rabbit pressure rather than deer. If so, you could try spraying Liquid Fence on the plants. While it lasts through a rain, it will need to be reapplied regularly, so it’s not a one-and-done.

      1. PurpleThumb*

        I’d never heard of liquid fence before. My local store has both the spray and the granules, so I’ll have to check that out. I don’t mind something that has to be reapplied regularly. Thanks for the suggestion!

        1. fposte*

          Don’t apply on a windy day, and wear something you can pop into the wash afterwards–it really does stink :-).

          1. PurpleThumb*

            OMG!!!! I wouldn’t have thought of that! The garlic stakes I used before really stunk, so I immediately grabbed a pair of disposable gloves after opening the bag. I’m thinking granules of liquid fence would be better than the spray now to decrease the amount of smell I get on myself. :)

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Nasturtiums too. Plus they’re edible, a little peppery, and apparently great on salads!

        1. PurpleThumb*

          Those look super pretty too! A peppery taste sounds good for discouraging animals from eating the entire plant. :)

    2. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

      You can also look into buying predator urine online. (Bobcat, wolf, etc.). That can determany animals. I know people who bought fox urine to dissaue mice.

      1. PurpleThumb*

        I wonder how they collect the urine? Lowes has fox urine, which might work for me since there’s foxes around here. Thanks! :)

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          One of the fox urine sellers actually has a bit on their website about it. Basically it’s micro-mesh flooring in their toileting area so liquid runs down through and drains into a collection trough.

    3. Lilysparrow*

      If you’re in the US, look up your local Cooperative Extension system – they should have online resources for plants that do well in your area and are deer resistant.

    4. JobHunter*

      I have had good luck with Rabbit Scram. It’s a granular product made with egg solids, so a bit stenchy, and will wash away with rain. For more determined creatures, I got some fox urine (for training hounds) from a sporting goods store and sprayed it strategically around my property.

  39. Rebecca*

    Happy update – after all the tests and xrays, my pain maladies are most likely osteoarthritis. I started on a prescription anti-inflammatory, and I also have a muscle relaxer to take at night if I need it, and for the first time in months, I can walk up and down the steps one foot after the other instead of one step at a time. I still have some pain and stiffness but it’s greatly reduced. Can’t get into the specialist until September. My doctor’s office encouraged me to keep taking glucosamine, etc. and to walk, ride my bike, and exercise, so I’m going to do that. I have to say after months of pain this is quite a relief!

    Taking advantage of the nice day to wash blankets, etc. but it is so windy I need a ton of clothespins just to keep them on the line! One of the wool blankets actually blew off the line, so I put it back up with extra pins. Things are drying in a short time, though.

    And Mom update – she has a 4th UTI since I moved in last September, still does not sleep, won’t address any of her anxiety issues, and is just a really miserable person most of the time. The other night at nearly 10 PM she started yelling about a sofa cover in the basement, that she had washed it, there it sat, no one put it back where she thought it should go, and I pointed out the cat had barfed on the corner, so asked her if I should just hand wash that corner or if she wanted to wash the entire thing? She went off on a tangent about all the work she has to do, how the cat should be put down, on and on, and finally I said STOP!! The cat did not do this to piss you off. The cat is very old, and sometimes old animals have health issues (hint, like people -ahem). If you want something done, you have to say the words and not just think about it, stew about it, and then start yelling because I didn’t read your mind. She does this ALL. THE. TIME. and has since I was a kid. The whole “no one did X or Y for me”. Did you ask? No. How would anyone know what you want if you don’t ask?? I do the obvious things – wash dishes, vacuum, clean, take out the garbage, recycle, and today I hope to mow the grass, etc. but if she wants something carried from point A to point B for “reasons”, I have no idea unless she actually vocalizes it. Honestly, she is the most difficult human being I have ever been around.

    Other than mom issues, all in all things are going OK. I managed to make another thrift store pile, tossed some things, found the CD with the recording of my Dad’s end of watch from the comm center the day of his funeral (thought I had lost it!!), organized my closet, things like that, and am looking forward to warmer weather for sure. Working on selling and getting rid of more stuff, so that’s a positive. Sort of feel like I’m treading water now but I’m not drowning, I’m not tired, so this is probably a good thing while I continue to heal and progress.

    1. Reba*

      So glad to read you have had a breakthrough with the arthritis dx! Hope you get a good protocol going soon.

      And as an apartment dweller, I’m jealous of your wind-dried blankets. :)

    2. Wishing You Well*

      I’m so glad you have progress on your medical stuff!
      Maybe your mom would yell even with no one there. I hope you saying STOP continues to work.
      Best Wishes for continued progress!

    3. WoodswomanWrites*

      So good to hear that you have a diagnosis and the treatment plan that is helping. Great news!

      I know this journey with your mom is intense. If I’m remembering correctly, people here have suggested contacting local agencies for guidance about options for her. Have you been able to find any resources? I do hope for your sake that you can get the support you need, and eventually not be the sole caregiver.

      1. Rebecca*

        That’s next on my list to tackle. She really needs to be around people, but her bladder and bowel issues are holding her back. She has to stick close to the bathroom for long stretches during the day. This makes something like a bus trip for seniors impossible, she’d never be able to navigate getting into the bathroom that fast. Likewise traveling in the car – short trips to the store are OK, as long as they have a bathroom and she can get to it (and sometimes even then she doesn’t). She’s not happy about any of this, constantly says she is going to get answers (she’s an RN, I’m sure she realizes what’s going on), and her doctor said she is too old to have the failed mesh surgery redone.

        So, at this point, the health things are really the problem to tackle, as if she can’t leave the house on a scheduled time for a scheduled event, I can’t really do much until that part is solved, if it can be solved.

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          So sorry to hear this. I hope that you can get services for yourself, to get a break.

    4. NoLongerYoung*

      Sending hug. Glad for the diagnosis… knowledge is the first step.
      Sorry about mom, the doc here said 3 UTI’s in short succession = special workup…but I know yuh our mom is in denial….sympathies!!

      1. Rebecca*

        This is 4 since I moved in last September – there have been many others before. Her doctor’s office isn’t the greatest, I’ve begged her to find someone else, but she’s blown through a lot of the offices around here (it’s a rural area) because she doens’t like what they tell her, she knows more than they do (in her own mind), and so she moves on. And this is despite no caffeine, the cranberry extract stuff, drinking lots of water, all the things they tell us women to do to avoid these things.

    5. misspiggy*

      Glad you’ve got a diagnosis and some help. Would your mother benefit from taking melatonin at night to improve sleep? I think it’s been found to help with the elevated nighttime cortisol that worsens mental issues in the elderly through sleep deprivation.

      1. Rebecca*

        She has all sorts of homeopathic sleep aids, they don’t help, and she won’t take actual sleep meds because she’s afraid of being addicted to them, and lorazapam has limited effects, too. So frustrating for me to see this, but she needs a competent physician and she needs to listen to that person.

  40. Faith*

    What are some good exercises to do after having a baby to get back some waist definition? I got checked for diastasis recti and I don’t have it, so no exercise restrictions. I feel like I have no waist at all – not just the stomach, but also the sides are so much wider than they used to be. I almost wish my hips had gotten wider, just to have some waist-to-hips variance.

    1. Just Someone*

      First of all, it takes usually about a year for your body to recover after having a baby. Your body needs to recover. If you’re on instagram, stop. STOP!!!!!!!! Especially if you’re breastfeeding, it will help.

      Second of all, your body is different. YOU HAD A BABY. YOU CREATED A PERSON. THAT IS AMAZING.

      Third, if you want to work out because you enjoy it, it’s fun, it makes you feel good, then work out. Find a work out that you enjoy. If you’re working out to “fix” a specific part of your body, you are literally never going to be happy with it.

      Forth, targeting one muscle group — and only one — is not effective. It’s not really healthy either. If you work out every part of your body, especially if you work on large compound muscles (by doing squats, deadlifts, bench press, rowing, overheard press, etc.) it will work your other muscles as well. Squatting works your abs, for example, because you have to hold yourself up (and the weight, if you’re using it). My stomach was more fit than ever when I was doing a program called Stronglifts, and I wasn’t even doing crunches or anything. If you work out your legs and your butt and your shoulder and your pecs, your waist will seem smaller in comparison. If you strengthen your core, you’ll feel so good about yourself, you’ll stop comparing because you just feel GOOD.

      Fifth, to repeat, YOU JUST HAD A BABY. Even non-baby-making people’s bodyies change over time. I used to dance in high school, so I had extreme leg muscle definition. When I stopped dancing, it was hard to let go of that and to notice the change in my body, but after I embraced it, I realized I actually look stronger and more proportionate now.

      1. Just Someone*

        The first point was not clear. I meant, breastfeeding will help your body recover from having a baby.

        And comparing yourself to moms on Instagram is not helpful.

        1. valentine*

          YOU HAD A BABY. YOU CREATED A PERSON. THAT IS AMAZING.
          Just highlighting this. You made an entirely new collection of stardust. *silent air horn*

      2. Just Someone*

        Yeah, I should’ve read over what I wrote before I hit submit, but oh well.

        My advice is look for a workout you enjoy, period. Maybe it’s pilates. Maybe it’s a program at the gym. Maybe it’s swimming, whatever. The more you enjoy it, the better it is for you. I could list a million different programs or exercises, but you have to find what you’re excited about.

  41. Koala dreams*

    Language question!

    English is not my mothertongue, so I have a hard time judging the tone of some expressions that I’ve only read online. I’m wondering where the following expressions fall. And does it change depending on if you refer to yourself or someone else?
    1. X nazi (food nazi for example)
    2. drinking the kool-aid

    1. fposte*

      “X nazi” would be an informal way of suggesting that person is inappropriately rigid and judgmental about X. Given that the Nazis were considerably more than inappropriately rigid and a lot of people have holes in their family because of them, it’s a usage that will be considered historically tone-deaf by some. You will occasionally hear it as a self-deprecating term, especially in a more established construction like “grammar nazi,” but more often it’s a pejorative for somebody else that can be pretty politically loaded.

      “Drinking the Kool-aid” comes from the Jonestown massacre, when followers of the cult leader drank powdered juice drink (not actually Kool-aid brand, so poor Kool-aid gets slandered wrongly here) laden with fatal poison. It has become interestingly detached from its initial horrific implication and gets used fairly lightly to mean anyone who is uncritically following a notably flawed leader or doctrine.

      1. Myrin*

        Oh wow, I’d never heard of the history behind the Kool-aid phrase before. How horrifying! (And how peculiar that it integrated into common usage like that!)

        1. fposte*

          Google ngrams isn’t showing me the ability to find individual books anymore, but it looks like there was a spike in phrase usage about 10 years after the Jonestown event–my theory is that it got some kind of popular culture bump in a movie or TV show around then.

          But, yeah. 900 people died, and a congressman down to investigate and his party were shot to death on the way to the airport. This wasn’t a quirky little thing.

            1. valentine*

              They’re both awful, disgustingly minimizing phrases, so, feel free to avoid them.

              Germany has the right idea when it comes to taking Nazism seriously.

          1. Texan In Exile*

            It was awful. I was in high school and living on Howard AFB in Panama at the time. My best friend’s dad was the wing commander and had to get involved in the operation to recover the bodies.

            Even now, I shudder when I hear someone use that expression. The event was too awful to tie it to something everyday.

            1. fposte*

              It is kind of interesting how some tragedies carry human horror into their expressions and some don’t. I think the fact that this was on a different continent, even though it involved mostly Americans, had a lot to do with the distance people felt from it; the other cold reality is that there aren’t many survivors to object.

              I’m reminded of comedian Dara O Briain talking about a piece of writing wherein he said something “spread like swine flu,” and his editor changed it to “spread like wildfire.” The justification was “people die of swine flu!” and he pointed out that it’s also pretty common for people to die in wildfires.

              1. Grace*

                I don’t know if you follow ‘the other AAM’ (Ask a Mortician, Caitlin Doughty), but she’s done a great podcast episode – her podcast is ‘Death in the Afternoon’ – on cults with a really good segment on the Jonestown massacre, including some of the things you brought up. Given that until 9/11, it was the greatest loss of American life in a single event since the Civil War, why do people not know about it? If people have heard about it, why do they not know that it was over nine hundred people? Why are people so flippant about it? It’s a really good episode (and a good podcast overall) – I’d encourage you to check it out.

                @Texan In Exile – she also talks about the recovery of the bodies and the fact that no-one ever considered that the people doing that job might need help afterwards, unlike 9/11, so you might be interested as well given your connection.

                1. fposte*

                  Oh, I’ve really liked her blog and her book, so I’ll have to look for that episode–thanks so much for the rec.

                2. Not So NewReader*

                  Mention of sad times in history, for those who would prefer to skip this.
                  “Why are people so flippant about it?”
                  Not so much any more but there used to be a trend in our society to take horrible things and reduce them down. fposte will know what I mean here. A good example is drinking the Kool-Aid, people tend to build up coping tools by integrating Horrible Thing into ordinary conversation. It’s a way of communicating without going into meltdown over a particular event. Some people can be processing shock/grief in this manner. (I am not saying it’s right, I am just offering this as an idea that I have heard as to why this happens.)

                  Unfortunately, in some instances, over time the original context is lost and people keep using the expression without realizing the context such as the Kool-Aid story.

                  I do know of examples about the JFK assassination that were turned into one-liners. This is more clear cut, the one-liner directly refers directly back to the Kennedys but it is still awful to say. (I won’t repeat it here.)

                  I remember a forwarded email circulating after the WTC. It involved a picture of a man at the WTC. Someone photoshopped it and the guy was present at the Lincoln assassination and other sad historic moments. Again, not an appropriate thing, but some people use morbid humor to release their tension/grief/fear. I have seen it noted that when people stop doing this LOOK OUT, the situation has shifted and individuals are afraid for their own safety and they no longer find safety in their groups. It’s no longer safe to discuss these things in any form. (Think of situations where family or friends turn report each other to government authorities and then that person disappears.)

                  Jokes, catchy phrases, laughter can be a release for some people and for others it can be a method of processing.

                  One of the biggest examples I can think of is Hogan’s Heroes. This is a tv show that ran for a long time and portrayed Nazis as bumbling idiots who could not get anything right. Viewers all over the U.S. laughed. WWII was not funny. At all. Yet here we were as a nation watching Hogan’s Heroes.

                  My personal preference is to avoid these types of expressions/jokes/etc. However, some folks can only process in this manner, so I am not sure that it is right of me to cut them short. I just try to gently say, “You know where that expression comes from, right?” If they say no, then I explain.

                3. Texan In Exile*

                  Thanks! I liked her book and am always looking for good podcasts.

                  After I posted here yesterday, I googled a bit, trying to confirm my memories. And yes, Howard AFB, where I lived, sent the helicopters to get the bodies from the jungle, where they had been decomposing for a week, to the Georgetown (capital of Guyana) airport so they could be transported to the US. Link following – but it was horrible for the people involved.

        2. Artemesia*

          A lot of people who don’t know the history actually use it in corporate settings as a positive. To me it implies an insane leader who forces subordinates to do something horrible; to many corporate shallow twits, it means following the leadership and not whining about doing new things. I was shocked the first time I came across this because I remember the Jonestown massacre where small children were fed poisoned drink by their parents who then drank it themselves. Apparently many of those killed were forced to drink it and didn’t do it voluntarily and some were shot.

      2. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

        to fposte, I read the Jonestown people had Kool Aid and Flavor Aid both there.

    2. Amber Rose*

      X Nazi: Someone who is overly aggressive about their way being the best/only way. A grammar nazi will ignore what you’re saying in order to angrily criticize a grammar mistake. A food nazi would viciously critique your meal if it doesn’t match their standard of healthy. People referring to themselves are usually just joking about being picky about stuff.

      Drinking the Kool-Aid: some who is buying into a scam/very gullible and easily fooled. Refers to old stories of people joining cults and committing mass suicide by drinking poisoned kool-aid because they were convinced they would get some reward or something. Nobody uses this to refer to themselves that I’ve ever heard.

      1. Middle School Teacher*

        I would disagree with your last point. It’s often used to refer to someone who has jumped on a particular bandwagon. Ex. I resisted getting an iPhone for a long time, but then I got one and loved it. I’ve totally drunk Apple’s kool-aid.

      2. Grace*

        The kool-aid reference is actually specific to the Jonestown massacre, where the cult leader told his followers (after spending years training them to unquestioningly follow orders to ‘commit suicide’ using fake poison) that they had to commit ‘revolutionary suicide’ because the American government was going to come to their enclave and destroy them. Parents were told to squirt cyanide into their children’s mouths and then drink the cyanide-laced kool-aid (actually off-brand kool-aid), and there is evidence that anyone who tried to flee was held down and forcibly injected with cyanide.

        Over nine hundred people died, and until 9/11, it was the greatest number of Americans to have died in a single event since the Civil War.

    3. Dan*

      FWIW, specifically in relation to “food nazi”, you may be referring specifically to “soup nazi”. This is actually a pop culture reference to a famous TV Sitcom episode in the US, “Seinfeld.” The episode was inspired by a real life soup proprietor in NYC. My understanding is that the actual restaurant owner hates the episode and characterization. I’m pretty sure that episode spawned the use of the term “nazi” more colloquially. Prior to that, I don’t ever remember people using “nazi” so casually. Oh, the medical drama show “Grey’s Anatomy” applied the term to one of the lead characters in the early seasons.

    4. Middle School Teacher*

      When I was in university (15-ish years ago) we used to refer to the parking enforcement officers as the parking nazis. They seemed to be particularly strict (like, you could expect a ticket on your car within five minutes of your parking meter expiring).

    5. dumblewald*

      “Drinking the kool aid” means getting brainwashed, usually by a cultish leader. As other commenters pointed out, it’s based on the Jonestown massacre, where a cult leader managed to convince a large number of people to commit suicide by drinking cyanide laced Kool aid (or some equivalent)

    6. Lilysparrow*

      I think the meanings have been well-covered. Tone is more difficult.

      They are not complimentary. But people often use them in a flippant way, so they might not be intended as insults. It’s a criticism, but how seriously it’s meant would have to be taken from the context.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      A lot of people use the phrases casually– and a lot of us cringe. I’m one of many trying to get the first phrase to migrate over to “X police”. It’s an uphill battle….and I haven’t found an inoffensive phrase that clicks for the other at all.

  42. Amber Rose*

    I’ve been kind of looking at fitness trackers lately but they’re pretty expensive and I’d hate to get one that sucks. I was wondering if anyone here has tried fitbits and stuff and has any recommendations to make?

    Lately I’m on a healthy living kick, which means more exercise and trying to just generally be better about sleep and food and stuff. I’ve been at it a month and its going really well but since I don’t exercise in a traditional way I have no idea how that’s going. I can’t carry my phone with me.

    1. I Work on a Hellmouth*

      I’ll be following this pretty closely–I’m supposed to be gifted with a fitness tracker of my choosing pretty soon, but all of the options out there make me nervous about picking out the wrong one, so I’m stalled. I’m currently leaning towards the Charge 3 fitbit, though.

      1. Artemesia*

        I have the 3 and I like that it tracks sleep quality as well as time. One thing I didn’t expect is that it picks up my email too and phone so I am alerted if I am getting a call. ONe odd thing though is that it doesn’t give me intense exercise credit when. use the bike in our gym — I can whale away for 30 minutes on the recumbent bike and it doesn’t even give me steps credit for that.

    2. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

      I like the Charge 3! It has a small in app display that can track your steps, heart rate, calorie burn, and time active without looking at a phone.

    3. Autumnheart*

      I’ve had Fitbit One trackers for years, and although they don’t make the One anymore, the Inspire has most of the same features at the same price point that the One was sold at, starting at $70. I like the One because it is worn in a clip and not on my wrist, and apparently the Inspire can be worn in a clip or on the wrist. Of course, if you don’t mind a wrist device, then you are spoiled for choice, and it depends on what you want to have for features.

      I like Fitbit because the ecosystem is pretty robust and tracks a lot of things. I like being able to track the hours I sleep, to make sure that I’m getting enough. Fitbit also integrates with other apps that I use, like MyFitnessPal and Strava, which makes it easier to get a big picture of my activity level and diet. I also like that even the less expensive devices give you a good idea of your activity level on the device itself. I don’t want to have to wear a smartwatch, but I also didn’t like how other brands, like the now-defunct Pebble and Jawbone, required you to look at an app to see your progress because the device didn’t have a display. To me, the whole point of having a tracker is so I *don’t* have to carry my phone!

      Another reason I like Fitbit is because they’re hard to break! When I got my first Fitbit One, I broke it by accidentally leaving it clipped to my jeans when I washed them. But hilariously, Fitbit has “laundry-proofed” their devices very well over the years, and while I’m currently on my third One (the second one died a natural death after 2 years, my current one is 3 years old), I’ve sent it through the washer AND dryer at least twice, and it still works. Now all their devices are water-resistant or waterproof, and many of them can even be worn while swimming.

      So, that’s my recommendation for Fitbit.

      1. pcake*

        I wore a Fitbit One for years, and it rocked. I finally managed to lose it. I got a Zip, but I prefer to charge via my computer than replace the batteries. I’ll look into the Inspire.

    4. ThatGirl*

      I have a Charge 2, and it’s worked well, but a few caveats: I find the band and connections get kinda dirty from sweat, dust, etc and I take it apart every month or so to clean. Also my screen cracked down the middle out of nowhere after just over a year. It still works, but apparently this isn’t uncommon.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I had a Fitbit One, but forgot to take it out of my pocket when I was doing the washing!

        So I was shopping today and bought a Mi Band. It is charging up now, and I have no idea whether it is any good, but it was a fifth of the price of the cheapest Fitbit.

    5. KP*

      I have a Fitbit Blaze that I love for tracking walking in particular and for tracking my calories (which of course you don’t need a fitbit to do, but something about entering calories makes it more systematic for me). Someone mentioned the bands get sweaty/dirty — it’s true, after several months I don’t want to wear it because it looks dirty. I’ve bought on Amazon bags of bands — like a dozen for less than $20 in all sorts of colors — so it’s really not a big deal to change it out.

      HOWEVER. I did try the Fitbit Flex line for swimming AND THEY SUCK. They do not accurately track swimming AT ALL. Just so you know.

      1. KP*

        Just to add — especially since ypu say you don’t exercise in a traditional way, you might really really like Fitbit, which tracks ALL your steps, whether you are exercising or just walking in your home. Also, it has gotten so it knows and tracks when you walk/execise for a minimum of 10 minutes even when you’re not thinking of it as “activity.” As I said above though, I especially like it for tracking my walks — you just wear it on your wrist like a watch or bracelet (no need to have your cell phone with you) and it tracks steps as well as miles and even shows what portions of the walk were fat burning, which were aerobic, which were in peak heart rate zone. A tip: You can change the settings for steps or miles or calories or whatever that are your goals for the day. I think it comes programmed at 10,000 steps per day but you can change that, for example.

    6. Ron McDon*

      I bought a fitness tracker for similar reasons that you want one (i.e. I’m not running marathons or anything, just wanted to count my steps, record my sleep etc).

      I initially had a generic one I bought for £20 off Amazon. I loved it, raved about it, thought it was brilliant. The only problem was that the screen wasn’t visible in bright light, so it was hard to tell the time/check on my step count when outdoors.

      When Amazon had one of their Prime sale weekends which they do every year, they were offering a Fitbit Charge 2 greatly reduced, so I thought I’d give it a try. I LOVE it! I didn’t realise how much more it offered compared to the generic ones out there.

      Not only is it visible in the brightest of light, I can track my periods (which is really helpful now I’m approaching menopause and my cycle is very random).

      I like that I get a weekly emailed summary which details how many steps I’ve taken that week, how many flights of stairs I’ve climbed, how many days I’ve exercised, how many minutes I’ve been active for, and how this compares to last week’s figures. You can also track calories/weight loss (or gain) if you choose.

      I used to be a bit sneering about Fitbits and say how my £20 watch did the same stuff, but I do have to admit the Fitbit is much better!

      The only thing I would say is that I think when people have tested these devices for accuracy they’ve found the Garmin branded trackers are more accurate for tracking steps taken/distance, so if this is important to you I’d consider a Garmin instead.

    7. hermit crab*

      I’ve had a Fitbit Flex for several years (originally received it as a gift) and I really like it. It’s very simple, so not for people who want a lot of bells & whistles, but I find that just tracking my steps is very motivating. I like that it’s tiny and low-profile – I wear mine in my pocket or my sock and don’t bother with the wristbands. And the battery life is still good even after years of use.

  43. Myrin*

    Seeing the picture of Wallace and Lucy, Alison, have the new cats integrated well into the already established Manager Brood?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yes, for the most part! They both have formed very sweet friendships with Olive. Lucy tolerates them and will even let Sophie sleep curled up against her (which I think she had missed being able to do with Sam). Sophie and Eve are friends (Eve constantly head-butts her affectionately).

      But Wallace and Eve … are still working on it. Eve wants to be friends, but she shows that by jumping at him and chasing him, and he feels threatened (probably because when this started months ago, he was very small, and now he’s just stuck in that rut). He’s starting to relax a little with her, but it’s verrrrryyyy slow going. (Yesterday though I saw them sitting side by side and he seemed fine, which would not have the case a month ago.) But pretty soon he’s going to be larger than her (I think he’s going to be a huge cat) and I suspect that will change the dynamic.

      1. Lena Clare*

        How did you incorporate them into the household Alison?

        I’ve had 2 litter sibling cats since they were 5 weeks old, they’re now 7 years old, and would like to get 2 more rescue siblings. I’m wondering if my cats will take to them. I don’t want to cause stress for them and then have to give the new cats back (I wouldn’t do that, that’d stress them out too).

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          We kept the two new ones in their own room for a few days but Wallace kept escaping so we ended up letting them out earlier than the recommended 1-2 weeks (with lots of supervision at first), and it was fine! We did put them back in their own room at night for a few more nights, until we were convinced no one would get hurt.

          I think it really depends on the cats’ temperaments. Lucy has always taken several months to be okay with new cats — she just does. But the others have adjusted pretty quickly (1-3 weeks to stop growling/hissing if a new cat gets too close, followed by a period of non-hostile but wary interest, and perfectly happy and playing together after a couple of months). It’s often easier with younger cats, and I’ve heard girl cats adjust more easily to boys but I don’t know if that’s true.

          Feeding them near each other can help; they start to associate each other with food. Also letting them smell blankets, etc. that the others have used, so the smell starts becoming familiar.

          I think the main thing to know is that what it’s like the first few weeks probably isn’t how it’ll stay. In the first few weeks you’ll have moments of “oh no, have I made a terrible mistake” but that’s them just reacting to the newcomers’ unfamiliar smell. Things (usually) settle down after they get used to each other. And don’t be alarmed by hissing; that’s totally normal as they adjust. As long as they’re not attacking each other or hiding in terror, you’re fine.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            One thing you could consider is fostering with the intent to adopt if it works out, so you can see how they do together — just be sure you give it enough time because, again, the first few weeks will not be how it stays. (Make sure the group you foster with will let you adopt if you want. Some places don’t want their foster families adopting their fosters, because then they’d lose all their foster homes — so you’d want to let them know your hopes/intentions up-front.)

  44. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    I am so embarrassed! The day before yesterday, I actually did fall down some stairs. It was SO unexpected that I didn’t even try to catch myself so I ended up with face meeting ground!

    I broke a small bone where my teeth/palate attach under my lip, bruised my nose really bad, and got a black eye.

    The next day, yesterday, was my birthday, and because of how I looked I didn’t post my usual birthday photos. (Also because when we first got married five years ago, my parents came at my wife with unfounded accusations of abuse. They get along better now but I haven’t forgotten).

    Then, today, I have some events where my wife and I will be going out in public together. Part of her birthday gift to me is to hold my hand more when we go places, but given my face and the fact she has six inches and 75 pounds on me, I am not really sure what I should do. Makeup? A sign that says, “Not abused, just a klutz?”

    1. Reba*

      Oof, so sorry that happened!

      Sunglasses.

      And try not to feel the need to reassure strangers (the sign)! You can’t control what they might think and it doesn’t matter either. Hopefully most people will see your wife caring for her injured spouse lovingly. Your parents’ painful accusations might be making you more worries about this than you otherwise would be. For people you know, a quick word about what happened, because they’re bound to ask, maybe a little joke (though it sounds like smiling might not be in the cards for you today!) and change subject.

      Will you need additional care for the broken bone? As many times as I’ve fallen down I’ve never broken a bone, so I’m very afraid of that and i think I don’t have the right sense of how serious this might or might not be.

      1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

        No, it’s a very small bone, so it can’t be splinted or casted or surgically fixed. But, being as it’s near/attaching the teeth, I can’t eat hard food (apples, hard bread, caramel, etc.)

        Also, because of the nasal involvement and swelling, there’s a ton of drainage and some blood. I have to sleep with my head above my heart and under no circumstances bend down, or the crap in my nose will back-flow and choke me.

    2. I Work on a Hellmouth*

      Hi! I used to play roller derby and walked around with super visible injuries and bruises (including a very broken nose once) while with significant others, so I feel like I can maybe set your mind at ease about this, at least a little. You really don’t need to worry about people jumping to the domestic abuse headspace, especially if you’re just proceeding as normal. When my nose was super broken, strangers cheerfully assumed the following:
      Tennis or racquetball injury
      Nose job
      Car accident
      Bike accident
      Softball injury

      The dude that I was dating at the time of the broken nose was also bigger than me and was kind of beefy to boot. We held hands and walked around like normal, and no bad assumptions were made. Now, a guy that I (briefly) dated a year or so later (and who was way less physically imposing than the previous dude) was always super embarrassed about any bruises or scrapes on my arms and would throw a fit if I didn’t put on a cardigan or something and cover them up, even if it was a boiling 90 degrees outside–and I think some people DID make assumptions about him just because he was being weird and I was sweating through a cardi in 500% humidity. So. Yeah. Just accept that you’re going to feel kind of self conscious when you first step out, but much like adjusting to a cold swimming pool you’re going to stop thinking about it after you’ve started to move around and do stuff. BUT! If you typically wear makeup anyway, I can also tell you from personal experience that bright red lipstick made me feel like my broken nose issues were less noticeable for some reason.

      Anyway. Happy birthday! Enjoy your events and if your face comes up, make people give you their best guesses and then laugh and tell them nope, you just tripped down some stairs. All you will get is sympathy, I promise.

    3. Jaded*

      I had a… difficult dentist appointment recently that left me looking – spectacular. I figured it was better to acknowledge that yes, I did look pretty bad, and yes, it was normal for people to be concerned for me. I found the best way of dealing with strangers (like the group I and my husband had to do first aid training with on the day of peak bruise) was to announce early on, “I didn’t lose a bar fight, my dentist was having an off-day”. After that people were a lot nicer to my husband, and a lot less embarrassed around me. So yeah, I would tend to explain it in a matter of fact way. And make a point of signalling with your body language around your wife that things are all good between you.

    4. Mimmy*

      Oooh ouch!!

      The previous responses here have one theme in common: If you present yourself as you normally do day-to-day, you’ll probably be okay. It’s when it is clear that you are hiding something is when people may make assumptions. The guy Hellmouth was dating did themselves no favors by acting embarrassed and making her wear a cardigan in oppressive heat and humidity.

      About a year and a half ago, I slipped and landed face first on hardwood floor leaving me with a giant goose egg on my forehead and, a few days later, black eyes. I went to work over the next week and just went about my days normally. I may’ve put foundation on when I normally just wear blush and lipstick, but I don’t think anyone noticed (half of my coworkers are visually impaired, so that probably helped…). The two women who did notice didn’t jump to conclusions, which I appreciated. One thought I’d had a nasal procedure, the other just asked out of concern.

      So the point of my rambling is to just go about your day as you normally would. Sure, people will be concerned, but going through great lengths to hide your bruises might elicit more concern than necessary.

    5. Artemesia*

      it is really disconcerting to be accused of being an abuse victim. I have dry eyes that also react to pollen badly and I remember a colleague inquiring ‘out of concern’ about whether everything was all right at home. I was stunned. My husband would never be violent towards me and of course when you deny something like this — it just sounds defensive. The only thing you can do is have a bit of sang froid and not try to defend earnestly. If you can joke if anyone says anything that is best. Bummer about the nose. I managed to fall down stairs a couple of years ago and badly break an elbow — not a fun trip.

  45. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    I’ve finished my first Draft for that writing competition, onwards to editing.

    1. Shrunken Hippo*

      Congrats on finishing. I am working on world building starting with mapping out where things are so travel times can make sense. I came across a bunch of youtube channels that talk about making fantasy maps that I fell down a few rabbit holes but things are really starting to fit together better.

  46. My Brain is Exploding*

    Question about comments, maybe AAM can help. I noticed that there is sometimes a delay from when I (or someone else) comments (specifically new comments, not replies to another post) and the post goes up. When it goes up, it goes to the time it was written. By that time there are often a lot of comments after it (that somehow get past moderation quicker). So sometimes when there are lots of comments, if I check back I need to scroll from the beginning again to pick up things I might have missed, so possibly others are missing posts, too? Is there a reason the comments aren’t inserted time-wise by when they go up v. when they are submitted?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Most comments don’t go to moderation, but some do. That’s why you’re seeing comments after it but before yours goes up — they’re not getting through moderation faster, they’re not going through moderation at all. But your comment that went to moderation retains its original time stamp, so whenever it gets approved, it posts with its original time on it (which will put higher up on the page than things submitted after it that didn’t get stuck in moderation). The only way around that would be me manually changing the timestamp every time I release something from moderation, which isn’t practical.

      So, why might it go to moderation? Sometimes it’s a particular word that will trigger moderation or something about the post makes the filter think it’s spam. Or, if there’s a link in it, that will automatically send it to moderation. And sometimes the filter just malfunctions and makes inexplicable decisions. There are also a small number of people whose comments are set to always go through moderation first because they’ve broken commenting rules multiple times, been chronically unkind, etc.

      If that doesn’t quite answer what you’re asking, let me know!

    2. fposte*

      I imagine the answer to the last is “that’s just the way the posting software handles it” and that it probably doesn’t have the capability to timestamp for release from moderation time rather than post time. But an original post’s entering moderation doesn’t mean followup comments will also have to go through moderation, so it sounds like your browser might be hanging onto older caches if other people are seeing the post to respond to when you’re not. You could try clearing your cache while reading to see if that helps.

  47. Ktelzbeth*

    I’m going to kick off the running thread because I need someone to calm me down. My half marathon is tomorrow and it will be my longest running race, with my previous longest a 10k. I am very accustomed to sprint distance triathlons (about 90ish minutes for the full race), but this will be longer because running is my slowest sport and it also seems completely different. I think one of my big worries is that in a triathlon, you come back to transition area between sports, so you can always pick something up if you need it–more water, nutrition, etc. Once I’m gone on the half, I’m gone. There are water/gatorade stations every 2ish miles and gels at the halfway point, according to the race info, so that’s something. Also, from a perfect weather forecast about a week ago, we’ve now gone to possible snow flurries and 32°F at race start, warming maybe to 40 if we’re lucky. Probably wind because there’s always wind here, but I haven’t looked. The course is rerouted due to flooding and a lot of it is very exposed. As far as life issues go, I can recognize that this is not a major crisis, but my brain is spinning. Experienced runners, how do I cope?

    1. LGC*

      Good luck! I’m rooting for you – but I think you’ll be fine. You can’t control the weather, but you CAN control your preparation and response. (And…30s is a little chilly, but manageable.)

      For a cold race, my most important piece of gear is a pair of gloves. (In fact, I’ve got a pair stashed in my bag for tomorrow – and it’ll be 10 degrees warmer here than where you are!) Also bring a change of clothes for post race.

      Also, warm up! (This is something I’ve learned from experience – my legs nearly locked up at the NYC Half last year, and they have in all of my full marathons.) Going from a cold start to racing is going to be painful. In fact, you might want to extend your normal warmup a bit.

      For gels and such, I’ll bring what I need and 1 extra just in case (for example, at Boston I lost two gels early in the race). So, if you think you need two, bring three.

      Remember to hydrate – especially since it’ll be cold and it’s easy to forget to drink (or to be afraid that you’ll spill on yourself and get wet).

      And of course, have fun! It’s going to be a hell of a story – your first half was in freezing weather at the end of April!

      1. Ktelzbeth*

        Thank you! They’ve warmed up the start time temp by 5°, but the wind will be up to a 20 mph headwind from miles 9-12. I’ll check back with results afterwards!

      2. bleh*

        You’re gonna do great. Just get into your zone and run your race; if you’re not feeling speedy, keep the pace slower. Wear a layer you’re happy to leave behind to start off warm enough and take it off when you’re ready and throw it to the side. It’s better to be comfortable than to keep all your shirts. Drink lots of water tonight. If you have ears that hate wind like mine, wear protection. Race excitement usually gets you through most travails. And I’m slow but have done quite a few halfs and 3 fulls.

        1. Ktelzbeth*

          I have a lightweight merino wool buff that was a balaclava, a neck warmer, and a headband/earwarmer at various points during the race. it’s one of my favorite pieces of gear because it’s the right weight and so versatile.

    2. Anona*

      You can totally do this! If you’re having a hard time, just slow down. Definitely bring some gu/gels/other energy stuff. And if you’re worried about fluids, just stop at the water station and drink a few cups. You got this! Clearly you have endurance if you’ve done sprint Tris. Don’t let it intimidate you!

    3. Ktelzbeth*

      Thank you all! I attached myself to the 2:25 pacer and stuck with her the whole way. She was super enthusiastic and encouraging. I finished in 2:24.38, making it in well under my 2:30 goal! And for the story, not just freezing, but snowing!

  48. ThatGirl*

    Does anyone here have an InstaX or other instant film camera? I’m a bit of a photography nerd and have considered buying the Mini 90, mostly for fun, but I’d be interested to hear if it’s worth it.

    1. Less Bread More Taxes*

      I have a panasonic! So it’s not as artsy as the ones you’ve mentioned, but I love it! I really like documenting things, but I’m not a photographer at all and I was really frustrated with having to learn the complexities of a proper digital camera. It’s so much fun and it takes no time at all to learn how to use it! Definitely worth it to me, as I now have evidence of some great memories. I’ve found that it’s really hard to take a bad picture with it as they all turn out beautifully candid.

  49. Nessun*

    Thank you to everyone who offered suggestions on how to survive Endgame. I decided to read a synopsis in advance, and I had my supports in place and prepared for my emotional responses. We went last night, and it was excellent – and I’m not lost in shock or trauma today. Gonna consider it a nerd win, and keep the strategy in mind for any future similar emotional investments.

    1. tangerineRose*

      Good for you! I’ve ended up avoiding watching several TV shows because the drama is just more stress than I need.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Yay! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      I’m still processing but I thought it was great. I’m sad that the story arc is over and that’s part of the processing.

      1. Nessun*

        It is so sad when something is over and you loved it! Reminds me of Akito on Nadesico (apologies if I’m being truly obscure) – a character on an anime who refused to watch the last episode of his favourite TV show because he “didn’t want it to end in his heart”! Sad as it was, I wouldn’t have missed it.

        1. HannahS*

          I relate. I’ve never seen the last episode of MASH! Watched the whole show, but never the last episode.

          1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

            It’s an incredible two hour finale. Warm but heartbreaking. (Hawkeye and BJ).

  50. Environmental Compliance*

    We’ve been doing a ton of yardwork (like 15-20 hrs a week with both of us out there), and for one – our raised beds finally look halfway decent. We’ve cleared out a bit of the pond (it’s like 25 sq ft, very tiny) and now suddenly we have ducks that look like they’re going to nest. And our neighbor across the street came over and gave us canna lily bulbs and boston fern rootings. I am covered in mud and tired lol.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Yay you! We lost the good-weather day yesterday to some family obligations , and I’m trying to work myself up to going out to clear the wood floor. We bought in the winter and so snow hid a lot of things the former owners tossed there. No upset at the brush piles, but those pallets are going to be burned if I can drag them up to the outside firepit. And the jerks have metal & plastic & concrete chunks out there too… we suspect they were trying to fill in the seasonal wet area. So a LOT of work ahead, I’ll take your results as encouragement.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        Ours wasn’t as bad as that sounds, but the original homeowner (3 owners ago) was a professional landscaper – the bones of the landscaping are good. But then the 2 previous owners just ripped stuff out half-assedly and threw trash in random places. It’s been a *time* getting out weedy grasses from where it should be pathways. We keep finding giantor roots (from old trees/shrubs) as well. It was pretty entertaining once we realized that we were putting in grapes on top of old grape roots and roses on top of old rose roots. The neighbor across the way told us some of the history and what all got tore up.

        We’ve been breaking it into sections & tasks. Also, if you’re in the US and just looking for mulch…we’re getting free wood chips from ChipDrop. Just signed up. You can get up to 20 cubic yds a load. We’ll see how it goes…we have a lot to mulch, and this program (on the surface at least) seems to be more reuse/recycle than just buying it from a store. I’ll post in a future weekend free for all how it goes once the pile gets delivered.

  51. Newbie*

    I am thinking about volunteering to work for a political campaign. Never done anything like this before. Can anyone recommend a class to gain the skills that would make me a valuable asset?

    1. Confused volunteer*

      Honestly, I wouldn’t take a class, just show up and ask what they need. But be warned – most of what’s needed in grunt work, like phone calls, handing out leaflets, and going door-to-door. Once they know you, skills I’ve seen used while volunteering on campaigns include event planning, fundraising, financial management, and knowledge of relevant laws for various compliance roles. But that’s like 1/20 volunteers (or paid staff depending on the campaign), and mostly people who have been around for a while.

    2. anonforthis*

      I volunteered/worked for a political campaign back in the day (I ended up getting hired to work full time for the duration of the campaign.) You don’t need to take any classes, assuming that you will be doing more or less what I did. You will be doing a lot of phone calls and door-to-door canvassing. Of course, be prepared to speak about your candidate’s issues, and during your experience try to learn as much about campaigning strategy from higher ups (how do campaign managers decide which precincts to target in their efforts, etc.)

      Like any other job, you will need time in the beginning just to absorb all the new stuff. Once you hit your stride, you can start being proactive. What my coworkers ended up liking about me was that I was fast-paced (being fast-paced is VERY important in campaigns!) and helpful. It’s really the soft skills that count.

    3. lapgiraffe*

      Being a body is a valuable asset, they will put you to work in whatever they need the most at that moment, so sometimes you’ll be able to use some of your skills and sometimes you’re just going where they need somebody, anybody. But it’s such a great experience, I find that it can even help with the drudgery of daily news life and getting depressed or cynical about civic life, even though it would seem like throwing yourself into the monster. It’s not all roses and sunshine but it’s definitely worthwhile if you have the time and interest.

    4. Newbie*

      Thanks for all your responses! I am expecting to be ringing doorbells or answering phones. Just figured if I knew some terminology and a bit of the basics, I might be more useful.

      Really sad about how things are going. Need to know I did what I could to change the current climate.

      1. Anona*

        I did a lot of volunteering for the presidential campaign in ’08, and vastly preferred door knocking to phone calling. People were generally much more polite in person than on the phone. Obviously your mileage may vary, but it ended up being a really fulfilling experience! I was between jobs at the time and volunteered a ton. It was a cool little community, and seemed like you could volunteer as much or as little as you had capacity for.

        1. Artemesia*

          Agree with this. My husband did door to door with a friend for a congressional district near us in the last election and helped elect a progressive black woman candidate to congress in what had been a conservative and was a very white district. My husband is great at establishing rapport (he knows when to remark on the dog or cat or the new planting and get people chatting) and they felt they motivated people to get out and vote. (they had a list from the local office of Democrats who were registered but didn’t vote in the last election so it was about motivating the vote rather than persuading someone on the other side).

          1. anonforthis*

            This is usually what door-to-door canvassing is for. The Democratic voters in my county also happen to be the ones who have trouble voting for various reasons (many speak little to no English, don’t have access to a vehicle, etc.) They were grateful when we approached them to explain voting logistics, offer them a ride on voting day, provide Spanish registration forms, as it is hard for them to access information otherwise.

      2. anonforthis*

        I also want to add, to everyone else’s point, simply by showing up and volunteering you are being a tremendous help. It may not feel like it when you are going through the drudgery of door knocking or phone calls, but you are playing a signifcant role in helping the campaign reach its outreach goals. Campaigns wouldn’t work if it weren’t for the volunteer force! When I worked on the campaign, I was genuinely greatful for the sheer amount of volunteers willing to cover shifts (both on the phone and door-to-door), given that they weren’t paid to do so, and thus helping us reach our goals. The days where we had a shortage of volunteers (usually weekdays), I had to abandon my duties at the staging location to knock on a few doors so we could get some coverage that day.

      3. Lucette Kensack*

        Doorknocking is the single most impactful thing you can do. All it takes is a willingness to have conversations and basic recordkeeping skills — the campaign will give you the talking points and train you on whatever tracking system they use.

    5. Not My Real Name*

      Ive never done campaigning for anyone but Ive had a few come to my front door. I would say be polite. The mayor of my town ran for state senator for my district and came to my door. When I answered, she and the other candidate she was with introduced themselves. I told them thank you for stopping by but I dont vote for that party. The major looked at me and said “you know who I am, right?” And I said yes and I dont vote for you. She then rolled her eyes at me and walked away. I said thank you for stopping by again to the other candidate but my own mayor was a complete horse’s ass. So whatever you Re doing, just be polite.

    6. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I agree with other people that Just Showing Up is a pretty valuable skill for political campaign volunteers, at least if what you want is an occasional volunteer gig. If you have a particular candidate that resonates with you and you want to help with their campaign specifically, visit their website and see what they’re looking for in volunteers. (They are probably looking for door-to-door canvassers, phone-bankers, and other such “no previous experience required” roles.) Any well-run campaign will have some sort of plan with what to do with people who are excited about their candidate and want to help out.

      If what you want is to get really deeply involved in local politics generally rather than have a particular political person or issue that you’re passionate about, if you learn how to be a campaign treasurer and deal with campaign finance laws you will be very valuable indeed to a variety of campaigns. My dad used to be the campaign treasurer for someone in our state’s house of representatives several decades ago, and on that level and at that time it was a volunteer position. Larger campaigns with more funding probably pay somebody, but my guess is that someone running for city or maybe even state level office would still be using a volunteer for this.

    7. Texan In Exile AKA the gold digger who for a while was also The Candidate's Wife*

      My husband has run for public office a few times and we were so grateful for any help anyone would give. Campaigns need people to knock on doors, to make calls, to deliver yard signs, to assemble yard signs, and to put stamps on postcards.

      Skills we paid for that we would have been delighted to have for free are graphic design, photography, and social media saviness. Also – candidates love to have someone host (or just organize) fundraisers – a party at your house where you invite your friends to meet the candidate and give him/her money.

      We have one neighbor blesshisheart who wanted to help by analyzing and revamping my husband’s entire campaign strategy and wanted my husband to read a bunch of books about political theory so they could talk about them. One week before the election. Even the neighbor had wanted to do this months before the election, it would not have been useful as a willingness to help raise money and/or knock on doors (which he did not want to do).

      Volunteers help candidates who are not rich have a chance. Thank you for doing this.

  52. The Other Dawn*

    UGH I feel absolutely wrecked today. I got about three intermittent hours of sleep last night–even after taking Percocet for my back, which usually puts me to sleep–and I’m incredibly tired. I helped set up the local cat rescue’s semi-annual tag sale last night–in the pouring rain!–and later on I have to go back and help with the cleanup. I seriously don’t know how I’m going to get the energy up for lifting boxes, folding up tables and loading the truck. Also, the drive is 45 minutes each direction. Then I have a friend coming over for a movie and Atari night. I really, really wish caffeine had any kind of effect on me.

    1. PlatypusOo*

      It sounds like you are doing too much! Be kind to yourself and call in sick for the out, possibly. Then enjoy a movie night if you are up for it. Have a day!

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Thanks! I ended up going down to help since they’re short on volunteers this time around. I got a second wind and made it through, but I’m definitely crashing now!

  53. Confused volunteer*

    I messed up something at my volunteering gig. We are organizing a large event at a city park, and I was asked to deal with the admin formalities. I got clearance from the local police, and thought that was all good, but it turns out we also need a permit from the city and it’s too late to get one. Organizer is furious and whole thing is giving me insane levels of anxiety. I feel really bad, because I should have figured this out, but also very overwhelmed; work is super busy, DH has serious health issues, I honestly didn’t have time to dig deeper on this and now the one thing that was good in my life – my volunteer gig – has completely turned against me. A few weeks ago, I told the group I was overwhelmed and couldn’t be as involved in the planning this event. I had already cleared the event with the police so I didn’t do anything further on that end, and neither did anyone else, until we heard about the city permit hurdle this week. Now the event is cancelled and everyone is super mad. Any advice on how to recover? Or do I need to quit this volunteer group altogether? I love the cause and the people but our new group lead is pretty passive aggressive and had barely met before the whole permit fiasco.

    1. fposte*

      Oh, I’m sorry. This sounds like the common volunteer/ad hoc problem of a group trying to achieve above their collective knowledge and skill levels. I don’t think it’s your fault that you didn’t, as an unpaid person with (presumably) no experience in planning events on municipal grounds, automatically know you’d need to get a city permit.

      That being said, though, this is likely to be big disappointing thing for the organization, so I’d at least consider looking elsewhere for a place to put your volunteer efforts; it’s not likely to be that rewarding for you while people are still unhappy about the event’s failure, even if they don’t blame you.

      1. Confused volunteer*

        Yeah I have no experience with event planning or the city. I’m a lawyer, so they seemed to assume it would be right up my alley, but I’m a privacy and IP lawyer who doesn’t have the first clue about municipal law. I could have found out by doing a bit more research though; in hindsight I should have just declined to get involved at all. But everything just snowballed.

        1. Lena Clare*

          Oh hey this should have been caught by your volunteer manager! Do not feel bad :) or try not to anyway. They should take the responsibility of this.

          1. valentine*

            Someone should’ve had a checklist with buffers built in and should’ve given you one as well. It’s just not obvious or intuitive and research could’ve been a waste of time. You weren’t to know. They’re being way hard on you for a first-timer, especially one who said they were struggling. The only reason to stay is to let this blow over and go out on a high note, but if it’s best for you to go, go ahead. And you don’t have to quit. You can call it a leave of absence and later officially decide not to return. If the thought of stopping fills you with relief and feels like a weight lifted, there’s your answer.

            1. Femme d'Afrique*

              And that might be a good way to approach it, in a kind of “moving forward from this, may I suggest that we compile a checklist for future events so that every volunteer from here on out knows what to do?” Several organisations (especially smaller ones that rely heavily on volunteers) have a problem with institutional memory.

              I’m sorry that they’re making their failure to plan YOUR problem!

      2. Wishing You Well*

        Yes, this.
        I’ve done several very different volunteer jobs. One job should not have been done by a volunteer/me (fund raising/cold calling). This is not your fault, but I would take time from volunteering to recenter myself and then find a new volunteer group, if I were you.
        I hope things improve for you.

    2. Not A Manager*

      Fuck ’em. If people can’t recognize good will and separate (their) disappointment from blaming someone, then fuck ’em.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Do you have a trusted friend in the group? If yes, perhaps they can help you get an accurate read on things so you can plan what to do.

      I am a big fan of partnering up when it comes to planning events or doing large tasks. You might suggest this to the group that they name and assign people to back up other people, so stuff does not fall through the cracks. If you have a partner for the tasks, you could have done a double check with each other.

      Some people do not realize that law has specialties just like medicine. Just because you are a doc does not mean you can fix toe nail fungus, likewise with law. Groups here are starting to use web-based sites for communicating with each other AND they also store procedures for recurring events/tasks. We have found this necessary because if something happens to one person, usually no one else knows how to fill in. If they had a procedure on line you could have check it and twigged the problem much earlier.

      You point blank told them that you were overwhelmed and no one came forward to assist you. In my books they lose points for this one.

      It’s hard to gauge how mad they are. And I don’t know if you are taking on too much at this point. Meanwhile, how are YOU doing? Are you not so rattled that you could go back to the group and talk to them about it? I guess that would be my deciding factor, do I have more energy to put into this or do I need my energy elsewhere.

  54. Miss Astoria Platenclear*

    My Weekly Weird:
    I’m at my church’s rummage sale and we have a lot of donated reusable tote bags. One was from a funeral home: “[Name] and Cremation Services.”
    Um, no thanks – unless I were in a really macabre mood.

      1. Miss Astoria Platenclear*

        Yeah, that’s what I was thinking.
        I was trying to think of the context in which a funeral home would hand those out. It wasn’t a sturdy enough bag to put a box containing cremated remains in, and would you really want to use a tote bag for that anyway?

        1. Autumnheart*

          I’m thinking local fair/festival, where various businesses have an information table or booth.

          1. Miss Astoria Platenclear*

            Yes, that could be. It’s the most prominent funeral home in our city, and they might have a booth to hand out information about pre-planning.

    1. Chi chan*

      You can mostly get any printing off a fabric with turpentine or nail polish remover. I have done it with a drawstring bag I liked. Just test a corner first to make sure the colour of the bag doesn’t come off too.

      1. Miss Astoria Platenclear*

        Wow, thanks! Will try that with my bags. Love using them, and I like things that don’t have text on them.

    2. Patty Mayonnaise*

      Any chance it’s a reference to a TV show? Doesn’t sound like Six Feet Under but maybe it’s a pop culture thing.

    3. Nervous Nellie*

      But wouldn’t that make a terrific tote for Halloween candy? I bet some preteen would get a kick out of it.

      I wonder, though, about a funeral home that thought making tote bags was a good idea. Of course marketing is important to any small business – I guess I just thought they try to keep it lowkey. Tote bags are not lowkey. Odd…

      1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

        I don’t see an issue. Death shouldn’t be seen as taboo. It happens to all.

  55. Oof book*

    Finished 99 glimpses of princess Margaret. First book off Alison’s list that I wholly disagree with – I had to push through it. Anyone else have an opinion?

  56. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

    I’m reading Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Feelings Betray Us by Mary Ellen O’Toole. It seems to be partially a response to Gift of Fear. I wish I could know what all you fans of the latter book think of this one. Personally, I find it much more useful. My instincts are way to oblivious to trust. But a list of five major warning signs? How to ask questions and listen beyond the answers? That I can do.

    1. PurpleThumb*

      I’ve read Gift of Fear and really liked that, so I’m interested in Dangerous Instincts. There’s a copy at my local library, so I’ll pick it up this week! :)

      I thought the most useful part of Gift of Fear was the Pre-Incident Indicators (too many details, loan sharking, typcasting, unsolicited promises, forced teaming, charm/niceness). Now that I’ve read about them, I’ve noticed them in my everyday life a few times (though not in any dangerous situations). The major warning signs and questions to ask that you mention from Dangerous Instincts sounds like they’d be easy to remember and useful too.

    2. buttrue???*

      While I understand the issue for me if in doubt you say no. You almost always have another opportunity to say yes and no doesn’t mean never.

    3. LCL*

      Ooh, I haven’t heard of this but I will definitely look for it. Malcolm Gladwell makes the point in at least one of his books that we all make snap judgements because of survival but sometimes those judgements are wrong.

  57. Anonymous Educator*

    If anyone’s been watching really awesome but heavy and intense TV shows and wants a lighthearted and super cute break, I highly recommend Rilakkuma and Kaoru on Netflix, which is a claymation series of shorts (about 11 minutes each episode) about a woman, two bears, and a bird that hang out (well, that’s not all that happens, obviously).

    1. Nessun*

      I’ve never heard of this, and I am definitely going to look it up! Thanks for the recc.

  58. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    Random q re: in-laws…
    So when DH and I married, his mom didn’t give us anything (she lost her job 2 years ago, sporadically volunteers but has a prickly personality that scares some people away).

    When people ask and I respond to some friends, they are horrified and shocked. I had to explain that MIL doesn’t subscribe to social norms and it’s not a sign she hates us both. I mean, she vacations with us every year at a rented place we cost-share.

    Is it a huge deal my MIL didn’t give us anything when we got married? A lot of people think it is. But hubs and I are enjoying married life, and honestly, I prefer a hands-off cat-like MIL to one who constantly hovers and gives strings-attached gifts (like my mom).

    1. KR*

      Omg no big deal. My parents gift was them sorting all the stuff I didn’t want but didn’t know what to do with or have time to deal with/space to pack it after I moved in with my spouse.

    2. Not A Manager*

      People specifically ask you what your MIL gave you as a wedding gift? Isn’t that kind of weird in itself?

      1. Reba*

        Yeah, I know things come up, especially with people who know your families … but my imagination is failing me as to how this is a conversation with “a lot of people”! I am confident that I have not told anyone what my in-laws got us, aside from my own family members. IDK, gifts can come with a lot of weirdness!

        Anyway, in answer to your question, no. Agreed that a good, workable relationship is worth more than gold!

        1. Blue Eagle*

          And what is even weirder is that you are responding to their question when you know it will generate negative comments. It is none of their business what various individuals gave to you.

          But to answer your question, no, it is no big deal that your MIL didn’t give you a material gift. The best thing would be if she gives you love, that is the best gift a MIL can give you. (Which is what I remember my MIL and FIL giving me)

    3. PurpleThumb*

      I think it’s weird that people are asking you what his mom got you as a wedding gift, and that it’s doubly weird that they are horrified and shocked about the lack of a gift. It’s really not any of their business and it seems rude to be asking and then making a big deal out of it.

      She lost her job two years ago, so my first thought would be that money was tight and she just couldn’t afford it. Or she might just not be into buying gifts or giving money. At least she didn’t get you someone you couldn’t use or didn’t like that you had to go through the trouble of keeping out of obligation or donating.

    4. Less Bread More Taxes*

      I don’t know how old you are, but the people my age who are getting married (mid to late twenties) don’t get “stuff” from either side. They’ve been living together long enough that they don’t need any household appliances or anything like that. Wedding gifts were either forgone completely, people were asked to donate to a charity, or people bought things like movie tickets or travel giftcards. Maybe people in my social circle are really informal, but my understanding is that you don’t get stuff anymore when you get married.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yup. Nary a single wedding gift was received, including from either side of family, and we were 36/37.

      2. Karen from Finance*

        In my country wedding gifts have mutated into the gift of money (the couple even sets up a special bank account for it). The newlyweds then use the money to cover their honeymoon and part of the wedding.

    5. Thursday Next*

      I don’t think it’s a big deal. I think it’s odd that other people are asking about that specifically, and that they think it’s a big deal.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I think your friends are too interested in superficial, meaningless things. I have seen people get very nice gifts from their in-laws and the in-laws hated them. Of the two extremes, I would rather have no gift and an in-law that actually kinda liked me. The gift is not love, it’s just a material item.

      So for your nosy friends, if YOU are happy then the rest is none of their business. I would ask them why they are so invested in what YOU got from her as a gift. That is just weird, it’s your life, not theirs.

    7. Lilysparrow*

      If you and your MIL get along and like each other, spend time pleasantly together, that is what matters.

      Why on Earth are people asking you what your in-laws gave you for a wedding present? I can’t imagine:

      1) why they think that’s any of their business;

      2) how their opinions are relevant in helpful; or

      3) what is the matter with them that they think material gifts are a better measure of a relationship than, you know, actually liking each other.

      Please don’t take etiquette or relationship advice from rude people with poor boundaries and screwed-up priorities.

    8. Anona*

      Who are these people asking about that? That’s super weird. If people keep asking, I’d develop some kind of non response response, like “she really supported us the perfect amount through the wedding. We’re really happy with how it all went.” and “yeah, it’s hard to keep track of specifics, it’s been such a busy time!”

      But as long as you’re happy, I think it’s perfectly fine, and so strange that you’re getting this question!

    9. rider on the storm*

      You have been married for at least a year or more, are convos about wedding gifts still happening this regularly?

    10. Ron McDon*

      My in-laws didn’t give us a wedding gift, I don’t think (it was a looong time ago!).

      Not at all weird. Some people put a lot of importance on giving/receiving gifts and think it’s an indicator as to how much thr giver loves/thinks of you.

      Others (like me) think gifts from anyone other than my husband/kids aren’t necessary and I’d rather people didn’t bother. I’d rather spend time with them doing something nice than get something I maybe don’t want/need.

      What about if you re-phrased your answer to say something like ‘oh, she helped us with x (either something wedding related or not) and so we told her we didn’t want her to worry about giving us a gift too; just having her at our wedding was a gift’. Hard to argue with that.

    11. Iron Chef Boyardee*

      “Is it a huge deal my MIL didn’t give us anything when we got married? A lot of people think it is.”

      It’s your mother-in-law. What do you think? That’s all that matters.

  59. Just Someone*

    I’m writing a book!!!!!! It’s going really well!!!!!!!!

    What awesome things are going on in your life?

    1. Turtlewings*

      Congrats! I am also writing a book, but it’s going really poorly at the moment. XD The awesome thing happening in my life is getting my own apartment for the first time in my life (I’m 34). Stressful and expensive but exciting!

    2. MSK*

      I’m also writing a book! It’s in the planning stages mostly but going well so far. Im excited!!!

      Congrats to you

    1. Red*

      Best: I went to go treat myself to a bubble tea today and the girl working there that I have a minor crush on complimented my newly-purple hair :) IT WAS AWESOME!!

      Worst: Mental illness stuff is a thing. Blehh.

    2. Ruffingit*

      WORST: Had a terrible cold and had to take a day off work in the middle of the week just to sleep.

      BEST: Feeling better now and hanging out at my favorite lunch spot.

    3. HannahS*

      Best: I found my “fat jeans” and some old tops that fit a little more comfortably than my current clothes. I’ve gained some weight, and it feels SO GOOD to wear clothes that fit. It really made me cheerful and put a bounce in my step!

      Worst: Being a well-appearing medical student gritting my teeth through some pretty rough chronic pain while listening to my supervisors’ shitty opinions about our patients with chronic pain really f-ing sucks.

    4. Jaid*

      Best: Going out for dinner twice this week, once with my parents for Passover and once with co-workers at Olive Garden (it was the company that mattered)

      Worst: Discovering a new and unwelcome feature of my sinuses – a clicking noise when I swallow or move my jaw. Mostly if I’m dehydrated or need to take claritin. I already have tinnitus, this sucks as much.

    5. Parenthetically*

      Best: lots of fun hangs and low-key socializing with dear dear friends, plus some good news on a particularly stressful front. AND WE ARE FINALLY FINALLY ALL WELL!

      Worst: Hm. Don’t know that I have one this week! Hallelujah.

    6. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      WORST: My mother showed up at my house with her dog at 10 am today without texting me first to warn me (she has to cancel plans at the last minute so often that we now have a deal that she will text me when she leaves her place so I know she’s really coming this time and if she’ll be late, or will text me to let me know that she won’t be coming – there’s a complicated family member care situation involved) and then her dog pooped on my floor as soon I let them in. (My house was also not dog-proofed since she’d said she probably wouldn’t bring the dog when we set this up a week or so ago and I had my hair wrapped in a towel.)

      BEST: After she cleaned up after the dog and I did my hair in a more leaving-the-house-appropriate style, we actually had a pretty awesome day together. It’s been a while since she’s been able to come out and visit, and it was nice to get some uninterrupted time with her for a change.

  60. Luisa*

    I’m pretty sure the groundhog that lived under my porch last summer is back (or never left?). I’d thought we were rid of it when we filled in the hole and it didn’t get dug back out, but it’s definitely dug back out now. What’s my best course of action here? Google wants me to call a pest removal company, but a friend who had one living under the house she rented told me the owner did that to no effect and still ended up owing the company $750 for failing to remove the groundhog. (Obviously if it comes to getting professional help I’d call a different company; I’m wondering if there are strategies I should try before that point.)

    1. Luisa*

      Additional info: friend moved before groundhog situation at her rental was resolved, so it’s regrettably not as simple as just asking her what happened next.

    2. Veruca*

      When you filled in the hole, what did you fill it with? We had one under our porch, and we first made sure it was not at home…. then we filled in the space with really watery concrete. We built a barricade out of sandbags so that the concrete level would be high enough to fill the whole space. (Seems like we mixed it in a 5-gallon tub, and then poured it in with a funnel/tube/thing.
      I wish you luck!!!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I’d try pouring some cayenne pepper on the ground. Don’t get the hot stuff, get a milder version. You just want to make him sneezey not burn him. You can try the cheap stuff that comes in big bottles. When it rains you will have to put down more.
      I don’t have groundhogs here but I had other critters. The cayenne pepper seemed to make them less interested in my place.
      I also used it for training my stubborn pup not to dig. I bought mild cayenne and tested it on my own hand before using it in the dog run. It was just a nasal irritant to him but it was enough that he did not keep making the holes larger. Finally he just stopped entirely.

    4. SciDiver*

      Pepper spray is also a good way to go! Spray down into the hole and around the entrance, and then fill it all in with rocks and dirt.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I have little… Throwing moth balls down a skunk hole drove them away.
      My husband’s standard was”Gopher Gassers” …but his gopher problems were up under a barn away from the house so it wasn’t problematic that they died in place. :(

  61. Blergh*

    So I got this thing in the mail recently from the assessor’s office, and they reassessed everyone’s property. Mine has gone UP in value, which is hilarious considering how crappy my house is (though I have a decent-sized lot that’s fenced, even if the fence is also a little crappy). If I somehow managed to sell it for that value, the difference is around $6700 (do you get taxed on house sale profit? I don’t know).

    On the upside, I’m no longer underwater. If I sold it now, I might be able to get enough to facilitate a move. But on the downside, I have nowhere to go and I’m still unemployed, and I can’t get housing somewhere else without a job. Nor would it be enough to live on for any length of time.

    I’m not anxious to stick around long enough to get slammed with a hike in taxes that might eat up any profit, either. I was talking about it with some friends today and someone told me that I probably wouldn’t get anywhere near the assessed value, which really deflated me and made me feel like moving money is out of the question and I’m just still screwed. I NEED to get out of here for many reasons, but I can only sell this house once.

    I feel pretty trapped and confused and not sure what to do.

    1. fposte*

      I’m pretty sure you’re tax-free there. You only have to pay taxes on sale of a primary residence if you make over $250,000 of profit. And I believe that’s *profit*, not just sales price–you’d deduct your basis from your sale price.

      1. fposte*

        To clarify, I mean you don’t have to pay additional taxes on the sale; you’d still be on the hook for the property tax in the meantime.

    2. Anono-me*

      Can you challenge the assessment?

      Sometimes it is as simple as sending a letter questioning the value, but it can require a visit from the county assessor.

        1. fposte*

          It doesn’t automatically mean you can or you can’t; assessments don’t always tie neatly to market values. I would talk to a local realtor for an opinion.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            A high assessment may work against you not for you. People may feel it’s too much tax for your house.
            Meanwhile you need a financial break now, not later. If you can reduce your current costs in any manner it’s to your advantage to do so.

        2. tab*

          Always challenge an increase in property assessment. It will save you money on your property taxes, and it has zero impact on the sales price when you sell your house.

          1. Kiki*

            Seconded! A high assessment does not affect how much your house will sell for nor will the assessor be able to “get you in trouble” for selling the property for more than they assessed. It’s to your advantage to have the property assessment lowered, especially if you end up not being able to sell the house for the amount they assessed (which is fairly common depending on your area).

    3. Rick Tq*

      You need a selling price estimate from someone like zillow.com or a real estate agent. You assessed value doesn’t set the selling price.

      1. Helpful*

        Zillow is usually wrong in my experience. Talk to a realtor (it’s free) and get a sense of what he/she would list the home at. You could even ask about an as-is price, where you don’t offer to do any repairs. That can often be very different from an assessment. You might be pleasantly surprised.

    4. Natalie*

      Taxwise, the key figure is your capital gain – in slightly oversimplified terms that’s the sale price minus what you paid for the house plus the cost of any significant capital improvements. You meet the general requirements for excluding $250,000 of any gain. Anything beyond that is subject to long term capital gains rates, so 0%, 15%, or 20% depending on your AGI.

      I wouldn’t be concerned that appealing the assessment value would affect a sale – it really has limited to no relationship to sale price, and in the meantime you’ll save some property tax money.

    5. ..Kat..*

      I recommend that you pay for an professional appraisal of your home’s value. Most people only pay for one when they are buying a home. An appraisal like this can help you in two ways. One, if the assessor’s office over valued your home (This happens a lot. Especially if the other homes in your immediate area are bigger, nicer in some way, have more amenities (such as a pool), or are in better repair.) you can use this appraisal to contest the assessor’s office valuation. Two, when you sell (which you have said you want to do soon), you will know what your home is truly worth. So you can negotiate from a position of knowledge.

      good luck.

    1. Paralegal*

      Does reading for school count? Because we just read The Beauty and the Sorrow by Peter Englund, and it’s a collection of diaries from people who lived/survived World War I. It’s a really interesting read if you’re into history.

    2. Apoch*

      I just finished a book called Thirteen: The Serial Killer Isn’t on Trial. He’s on the Jury which i really enjoyed reading.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      It’s not new, but I just finished reading The War of the Flowers by Tad Williams. It’s about a hapless human who gets pulled into a fairy land that is on the verge of war. Loved it, and it was really cool in terms of worldbuilding.

      1. Nessun*

        That’s next on my to-read shelf! I’ve been trying to get through the pile I bought simply ages ago. (I love his Otherland series.)

    4. Ruffingit*

      I’m currently reading And the Band Played On. I’ve been reading it for awhile because I’ve not had much time to read in the last few months. Last book I read was The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Those are two books that I reread once a year on average. Both excellent. (There was a fairly accurate TV movie done of Band starring a ton of huge names for the time – mid-90s, it and Philadelphia were the first two mainstream media references to AIDS. Sir Ian McKellen looks so young.) Randy Shilts’ biography of Harvey Milk was also very well done.

      2. Artemesia*

        I remember reading Band Played On when it came out and how furious it made me. Having Reagan in the White House was a disaster that ended up killing so many people given the weak response to the epidemic.

    5. Turtlewings*

      “Defy the Stars” by Claudia Gray. YA science fiction, which is my jam. This book is *incredible.* I am having so many emotional reactions. It’s about an android achieving a soul, and a young soldier fighting for the freedom of her world and the lives of her loved ones, and their stories intersecting in ways that are awful but also the best thing to happen to either of them. I love it a lot.

    6. Bluebell*

      Finished There There by Tommy Orange this week. Very intense and interesting to hook up all the little details from the different chapters. Each chapter has a different main character, all are Native American.

      1. Earthwalker*

        There There was my “last-read” last week, and I enjoyed it, although I did at times lose track of who was who. This week I’m on Artemis by Andy Weir.

    7. Luisa*

      I just finished The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. It was fine; by about the halfway point I had figured out the twist (such as it were) and found myself wishing the protagonist would focus more on the wartime experiences than the post-war characters (i.e. I was more interested in the historical fact underlying this historical fiction novel than in the novel itself).

      Started re-reading Bellwether for the umpteenth time after. I’m also currently rereading Kelly Yang’s Front Desk with my middle school class and I highly recommend it!

    8. Rebecca*

      I’m reading “In Defense of Food”, well, listening to the audio book, but still…very interesting and it’s making me rethink my food choices. It’s astounding how “food like substances” are passed off as real food in grocery stores.

    9. Annie Moose*

      Still working my way through another reread of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, about a wizard named Harry (no, not that one) who lives in Chicago and works as a private investigator. I’ve been reading through quite quickly (just finished Small Favor, the tenth of fifteen books) so I’m trying to slow down a little. The downside of being a fast reader is you get through your favorite series too fast! But I’m probably going to start Turn Coat tonight, which is exciting because I love that book. It’s got Harry’s least favorite person Morgan! The creepy island that’s also alive! Doomsday! Harry pulling a con on everyone! What more can you really want??

      1. bleh*

        Just finished Annie Dunne by Sebastian Barry, which is amazing. Also recently read Foster by Claire Keegan. Bonus if you find the connection. Need to get back into The Crocodile by the Door and seriously awaiting my copy of Tana French’s The Witch Elm, which is the summer reading not-for-research splurge.

    10. Policy wonk*

      Current is non fiction: Storm Lake by Art Cullen. About how rural Iowa has changed. Good book.
      Previous was fiction: Swamp Spook by Jana DeLeon. Most recent (I think) in a series about a CIA agent hiding out in Louisiana. The series is a hoot!

    11. Nervous Nellie*

      Two non-fiction books for me this week:
      1) Vitamania: Our Obsessive Quest for Nutritional Perfection – Catherine Price
      2) Pressure Cooker: Why Home Cooking Won’t Solve Our Problems and What We Can Do About It by Sarah Bowen et al

      First one is about the fact that 75% of Americans take vitamin supplements of dubious nutritional value, and how to refocus (and save big $!) by seeking that from real food. Second one is about the complicated nature of feeding self and family, and the judgmental and high societal expectations that don’t recognize deep financial, cultural and time pressure inequalities. These two books together are making me very grateful for my decent job that helps me afford real food, and also allows me time to batch cook on weekends so I can eat as healthy as possible.

    12. Book Lover*

      Lord of the Rings reread. Waiting for a few things from the library (Magicians Impossible and Case Histories) Looking forward to the next Ilona Andrews but still pretty sad Kate Daniels is done.

    13. Texan In Exile AKA the gold digger who for a while was also The Candidate's Wife*

      I think someone here recommended “Code Name Verity” – it was great. And I stayed up late last night to finish “Inheritance : a memoir of genealogy, paternity, and love,” which was also great.

    14. Marion Ravenwood*

      I’m currently reading Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty. It’s set at a health resort run by a mysterious woman where various people have come to escape various things going in their lives. So far not much has happened but the writing style’s decent enough to want me to keep going. I liked her previous books so am willing to stick with this one.

      The last book I read before that was Alice In Wonderland, for a book club. I’d read it before, but it’s always one I like to revisit because it’s a quick read and there’s something I love about the whole world of it and the silly-yet-serious combination.

    15. Lemonwhirl*

      John Connolly’s latest – Book of Bones. It’s 700 pages long and is good but there’s so much going on that only maybe 30% of it is Charlie Parker and there’s very little Angel and Louis banter, so although I’m enjoying it, I’m missing what it’s not as well.

  62. Garage Team*

    My best friend is traveling to Brisbane to a conference. He booked his return ticket from Sydney and he will have a week in late August/early Sept to get there.

    I promised him to ask my secret source for insider information on anything (the AAM hive mind, this amazing community). He’s not outdoorsy enough to enjoy the hikes and natural wonders for a week. He is into off the beaten path sights, museums, fancy drinks and bookshops.
    Do you have any suggestions?

    1. Apoch*

      It’s been a long time since I was in Sydney. Climbing the harbour bridge is awesome but expensive.

    2. Parenthetically*

      Dumplings in Chinatown. Ferry to Bondi. Botanical gardens.

      As long as he stays away from coffee chains, the coffee in Australian cities is almost universally RIDICULOUSLY good compared to the U.S.

    3. TL -*

      There’s a Dr Suess gallery that is tiny but cool. It’s also next to a beautiful park and an indoor market which is supposed to be amazing. Definitely go for walks in parks for the wildlife – there are parks throughout the city and lots of sidewalks.

      The aquarium is awesome and you can take a glass-bottom boat ride in their ocean tank which I loved.

      Tons of small bookshops and cafes in most shopping districts.

      At UNSW there’s a museum (small but not tiny) called the museum of human disease, which has a massive collection of diseased human specimens (including a heart tumor! Super rare!). It’s mostly used by med students and secondary students, but it’s open to the public. It is obviously not for everybody but it is a very unique place and there’s often a Groupon for it. I interned there and there staff is awesome and happy to answer questions.

    4. Quandong*

      If he has spare time in Brisbane:
      The Queensland Art Gallery, State Library, Museum, and GoMA are all within walking distance of each other and well worth visiting. He could take a CityCat ferry ride (cheap and a good way to see the city from the river). Mt Coot-tha Botanical Gardens are not far from the CBD; the Planetarium is located within the grounds and worth a visit (there are set times for presentations). Lots of superb food and coffee in West End along Boundary Rd.

    5. Garage Team*

      Thanks so much for these ideas! They sound like so much fun!
      We’re so happy that he gets to go on this trip and I’m sure your suggestions will make it even better.

  63. Paralegal*

    I started back to school full time in 2016 while working full time, and this weekend is my last “have to do school work” weekend! Next week is finals and then it’s graduation weekend! I am so excited to be done with school I don’t know what to do!

    1. Ruffingit*

      That is SO exciting! I remember those first few months after I completed grad school, I kept having to remind myself that I didn’t have any school work to do. It was the best! Congratulations on your graduation!

  64. Pam*

    I just discovered a British writer of the 1930’s through ’50’s. D. E. STEVENSON
    I started with Mrs. Tim of the Regiment.

    1. Jen Erik*

      I also enjoyed Miss Buncle’s Book – Miss Buncle has no imagination, so she writes about the people she knows, causing consternation when the book is published.

      1. Just me, Vee*

        I love her books. They are nice pleasant reads which help me unwind . I joined Kindle Unlimited as a lot of them are free. I just bought the first Mrs Tim book.

    2. SpellingBee*

      I love D.E. Stevenson too! I think I’ve read all of her books over the years, and they’re among my favorite “comfort reads” when I’m feeling down or when I’m sick. I just finished Miss Buncle’s Book and Miss Buncle Married, in fact, as I found them online at my library and hadn’t read them for awhile. Highly recommend all of them. I didn’t know they were available on Kindle Unlimited, will have to check that out.

    3. Mephyle*

      I’ve been a DE Stevenson fan for decades! You have a lot of pleasurable reading awaiting you.

  65. Hazelnut Bunny*

    I am 10 weeks pregnant and at my ultrasound this week I was informed that I have a blighted ovum. So basically, I’m pregnant in every sense except there is no baby. This was suppose to be baby #3 for me. I knew there was no baby once they did the ultrasound but unsure of what was wrong until I talked to my ob after.

    I am devastated. It was unplanned but I had finally worked everything out and wrapped my head around it. This was my guy’s first and he’s obviously not affected or even grasped the whole incident. I have broken down every day since I found out. I go in Monday to have a medically induced miscarriage as I can’t stand the thought of continuing to be pregnant when there is no baby. The ob said it could be up to a couple months before I miscarriage naturally.

    How do I cope? I’m struggling and in a lot of emotion pain. Any advice or experience?

    1. Reba*

      So sorry, Hazelnut Bunny. How painful. I hope your gentleman is being supportive and kind, even if it’s not registering on the same level for him.

      I wonder if an online message board or IRL support group for miscarriage would benefit you. Being with others who have been there. Your Dr. might be able to refer you to a group in your area, or you can try the NAMI helpline 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) for resources.

      Sending you good thoughts.

    2. Sam Sepiol*

      I am so very sorry. I’ve had a miscarriage that had to be medically induced. I can’t offer anything other than be as open about it as you can. It’s a loss to be grieved (for most people; not necessarily everyone but it sounds like it’s the case for you). Refusing to accept that has made it much, much harder for me personally.

      Sending love and strength.

    3. Turtlewings*

      Oh no, that’s devastating. I’m so sorry. Emotionally there can’t be much difference between this and an “actual” miscarriage; you have the right to seek comfort at any miscarriage support group, I’d say.

      Be patient with your man. Everyone grieves differently. Right now he may too stunned to feel anything, but that will pass. Let him know what you need and give him the chance to rise to the occasion.

      I don’t meant to butt in on a very personal decision, but since you’d worked everything out and come around to wanting the baby, I think… after your body is okay to do so, maybe you should go ahead and get pregnant? You’ve decided you want this third baby, you have the power to make that happen. In your place, I think making that decision would make me feel much better. Either way, you have all my sympathy and good wishes.

    4. LibbyG*

      What a terrible loss! I’m so sorry. Some people don’t get why a miscarriage can be so painful, so I guess my only advice is to be prepared for that. People will immediately say something like, “Well, you can try again, can’t you?” Not the point! You may have to verbalize things that you would think are obvious. Perhaps even to your partner.

    5. Parenthetically*

      Oh my gosh I am so, so, so sorry about this! I had a miscarriage over Christmas and I can say — just let the emotions happen, don’t fight it, and give yourself time and space and grace to grieve.

    6. Anona*

      I had a miscarriage, and also induced it through medication. My advice is to be easy with yourself. I bought the really good always infinity foam pads because I felt like I deserved them. I also took a few days off work, and got some really good snacks, and watched something comforting on Netflix, like parks & recreation.

      There’s also an essay that I found that I really like called “Grief comes in waves” from the Loss Foundation. I’ll reply & link to it.

      However you feel or don’t feel is the right way. Sooo many people have gone through this. It’s a club no one wants to join, but there are many of us here. I’m so sorry that you’re going through this.

      It helped me to privately name my child, even though it was way too early to know gender. I picked Devon (Devin?) because it felt gender neutral, though in my heart I felt like it was a girl, not that that makes logical sense. Even with a blighted ovum, it’s ok if you decide to do something similar. You were expecting a baby, and now aren’t. There is no right or wrong.

      I’m so sorry:(. Hugs.

      1. Anona*

        I also went to a miscarriage support group that I found through my doctor’s office. And I made a Pinterest board dedicated to pregnancy loss. And I went to counseling. It’s hard. It helped to reach out to people who I knew had had miscarriages (though a couple ended up being pregnant but hadn’t told anyone at that time, and that sucked, so if there’s anyone you know who you’re confident isn’t, that might be good). I also googled extensively what my body would go through with the medication I took. Oh, and just be aware that there’s a hormone dump that’s similar to being postpartum after your miscarriage ends. So just be gentle to yourself/aware that the changing hormones can also contribute to the roller coaster of emotions.

        Hang in there. Thinking of you.

        1. Anona*

          Finally, it helped me to read online about other women who had miscarriages, like Melissa Rausch. It just helped knowing that there were others who understood.

          1. Anona*

            I keep thinking of things- not sure what medical stuff you’ll be doing, but I took medicine that basically helped me pass everything.
            If you do that, consider timing. My first dose I took in the evening, which meant that I was up with cramping late at night. No fun.

    7. MatKnifeNinja*

      I had a blighted ovum at 14 weeks, and my OB/GYN did nothing about it. So I went through a miserable “natural” miscarriage. This was 13 years ago. I miscarried at 15 weeks.

      I just cried and cried and cried. A lot of it was hormone driven. I didn’t tell people it was a blighted ovum after a while , because hearing “it wasn’t a real baby.” hurt.

      You are grieving. Grieving what could of been, and it doesn’t help that the pregnancy hormones just mess with the emotions.

      It’s okay to grieve. It’s okay your partner doesn’t get it. Mine sure didn’t. He thought of it like a period from hell. *eye roll*

      Find people who will support you, and not trigger you. Please be very very gentle with yourself. My emotions didn’t feel “normal” until all the pregnancy hormones dissipated.

      (hang in there! <3 )

    8. Lemonwhirl*