weekend free-for-all – April 6-7, 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: I’m on a Tom Rachman kick. Last week I recommended The Italian Teacher and this week I’m recommending The Imperfectionists, a strangely engrossing account of the staff of an English-language newspaper in Rome and how their lives intertwine.

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

{ 1,338 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous Educator*

    Did anybody else see the MIT Digital Humanities gender in novels study? Some very interesting stuff in there.

  2. StellaBella*

    Wow, a terrific photo of the kitty and those whiskers are amazing!

    Hope everyone is going to enjoy a nice weekend, I am spending my weekend packing to move (new rental apartment) and moving next weekend! Any packing hacks you’d like to share? I know the first box of stuff should have kitchen and bathroom supplies including toilet paper, soap, dish soap etc, and cleaning supplies in case I have to clean stuff. Last thing is the cat after I have all her stuff set up in the new place. But how do you move stuff when you move? By boxes per room? By trunks? Any things I should know in terms of order? I have moved 5 times (international and local) in 11 years but still want to know if there are things I can do better and appreciate your sharing.

    Wishing you all a good weekend!

    1. Marion Ravenwood*

      Totally agree about Wallace’s amazing whiskers! He’s getting so big now!

      Re moving, I’ve only ever had to move a room rather than a whole house, so we packed by category (bedding, books, kitchen stuff etc). I think when we move next it will be by room and category (so living room becomes divided into books, electronics etc).

      The other thing I’d say – although I’m sure you already know these – is to pack one box with stuff for that night/next morning (clean clothes, pyjamas, toiletries, medications, stuff for coffee/tea/breakfast, instant dinner or the number of a takeaway etc) and to pack as far in advance as you can (starting with things you don’t use much or aren’t in season, like Christmas decorations). Hope the move goes well!

      1. StellaBella*

        Thanks for the tips, indeed the next morning thing is key, I will organise for that, for sure. :) I have spent 2 hours so far today and am nearly sorted out in terms of stray things going into trunks so far. Am going to go thru books now for donations, already have a bag of clothes and a bag of kitchen stuff to donate. :)

      2. OhNo*

        Agree on packing a special box/bag for the next day. Last time I moved, I put enough clothes, toiletries, etc. for a week in the most brightly-colored bag I own.

        That made it easy to find the bag once all my stuff was unloaded, and it meant I had some extra time to unpack my stuff properly, rather than rushing because I needed more toothpaste or something.

    2. LDN Layabout*

      Us your suitcases!

      I know that sounds…basic, but when I planned my packing I always sort of forgot I had these great things with WHEELS on them. Now I try and pack the stuff I’m most likely to use straight away in them (work clothes etc) so they’re dealt with first (after furniture etc)

    3. Bagpuss*

      By room. And label the boxes . Also think about weight and remember to put heavy stuff in smaller boxes.

      When you get to the new place, unpack bedroom first and make the bed, (and put up curtains if applicable). That way, you can go to bed and get a decent night’s rest even if you haven’t finished unpacking.

      1. StellaBella*

        Good advice. I will need to buy a bed the day before I move, and get it set up the evening I move in. :) So will make sure I pack the linens in a place that makes sense.

          1. StellaBella*

            aha yes. this apartment I will move to has only a shower so will need one I think, cannot remember the look of the shower stall if it has a door or place for a curtain!

    4. Mae Fuller*

      This may all be obvious, but: yes pack by room, and make sure you label all the boxes with the room they need to go in. I don’t worry so much about labeling actual content except for things you’ll need to find quickly, and you probably want to keep them separate anyway.
      Use small boxes for books, they are much much heavier than you think!
      I think my top tip from experience (and this might just be me) is not to be too perfectionist. Packing takes a long time, mixed boxes are not the end of the world, and you can still sort and donate things at the new house, possibly while you unpack at your leisure.

      1. StellaBella*

        Good points too on the mixed boxes. And yes for books. Donating some more today before I have to move them all.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      My first sweep through each room is for the non-essentials. This would mean decorative items, seasonal items (that are not in season), seldom used items and things that only have sentimental value. I label the boxes according to what room they came out of, being aware the items may live in a different room in the new place. But if it is labeled by room from my old place, I can find them easier. (may/may not work for you). I have tried estimating where I wanted them in the new place and that got too hard and too encumbered after a while.

      This first sweep also involves establishing/clearing areas to put things that are ready to go. I also try to dust things off as I put them in the box. It makes unpacking a bit easier. But towards the end I stop dusting and just pack.

      If I am not moving far and will be handling a lot of the stuff myself, then I pack soft things into garbage bags. This can be pillows, bedding, stuffed animals etc. I use these soft bags of stuff as spacers in the truck to keep furniture from banging against each other while in transit. The trick here is here is I have to watch what I throw out because I can’t grab a black bag and assume it’s garbage, I make sure to double check what I toss.

      I do keep a donation box or bag with me as I pack. Am laughing- sometimes I catch myself thinking, “I don’t want to move this thing to one more place!” And out it goes. I have gotten rid of ugly furniture using this method.

      For me, food is not a big deal UNTIL I decide that I am really hungry. whoops. I wised up and made a crock pot of something to last two or three days while I moved and unpacked. This made dinner so much easier. And helped to make a modest reduction in hidden moving costs. Freezing a couple meals can be helpful, also.

      Speaking of hidden moving costs, the new place always seems to need Things. I wait until I get a list of several items before I go to the store. Less trips to the store means less unplanned purchases which is a weak point for me. Ditto for ordering online, I make myself wait for a short list of items rather than searching for one thing.

      I do have several pieces of small furniture and large vases that I am fond of. If it is possible, I prefer to pack these in my own car and take full responsibility for them, rather than risking someone else damaging them. (I can damage them on my own without anyone’s help. I seem to know how. sigh.) You can use your car as a place to put the things that you absolutely cannot lose track of. My fire safe goes in my car, too.

      1. Auntie Social*

        MOVING HORROR STORY. I was scheduled to be on the other side of the country the week before we were to move. I was always the organized one so I gave my husband options about packing—you can color code each room (gave him colored stickers for each box), or label each one. He blew me off like “everybody knows this stuff, why are you treating me like a child”, so I let it go. When I called home to check on things he said he opted for labeling each box, no color coding. So I fly home to utter chaos at the new house, and learned that he had labeled ONE box from each room, and marked all the other boxes “ditto”. I had 10 labeled boxes, and 160 “ditto” boxes. It took us weeks to find things–every time I opened a box it seemed to be Christmas decorations! I had also told him that we all needed an overnight bag of clothes and one suitcase of bed linens, and he hadn’t done that. I had to take the kids to Macys to buy 2 outfits because their clothes boxes weren’t turning up. I realized then I should have left the kids in charge because dad really was dumb as meat.
        So no matter how bad your move is—it could be worse!!!

        1. fposte*

          From a distance, this is just hilarious. I’m picturing him carefully labeling 100 random boxes with “ditto.”

            1. valentine*

              Hm, is there an “ex-” missing?

              I did a complete handwritten inventory and simply numbered the boxes. Today, I would also make a spreadsheet, but the paper was fine.

          1. Dinopigeon*

            Having dealt with people like this, I’m 100% his logic was, “All the boxes from this room will be packed onto the truck together, so as long as one of them is labeled, we’ll be able to associate all the others with it.” Not understanding that a) that isn’t always how the truck is packed, and b) there will be no clear boundary between one group of boxes and the next.

            Some people just have zero intuitive ability to think ahead and consider multiple consequences of their actions.

          1. Myrin*

            Hey, can you maybe tone it down a little? It’s okay to disagree but this comes across as really hostile!

        2. LizB*

          OMG! Was he at least remorseful/did he recognize his mistake? That is… impressively bad.

        3. Michaela Westen*

          What has helped me when moving is labeling the boxes with details. So not just “kitchen” it says “Kitchen – pots and pans, potholders, teakettle”.
          For me this made unpacking much easier.
          However, I’ve found the stress of moving makes me so sick I think next time I’ll have movers do the packing and unpacking. I’m single with a studio apartment so it won’t cost a *whole* lot…

    6. Pharmgirl*

      If there’s any area in your new home that you can designate to put boxes, I would just stack all non-essential boxes there. First thing you’d want to do is unpack all the essentials – bedding, shower stuff, breakfast stuff for next day, etc. Then you can go through the other boxes when you have the time. You want to make sure they’re labelled with what room they came from, but I’ve always found it easier to keep everything in one area, vs having boxes in each room. It just makes it a lot easier compared to tripping over boxes everywhere.

      I’ve personally found it helpful to not just label what room the box came from, but what was in it (not super detailed, but just something like (living room – electronics, or kitchen – baking supplies). Some sort of trigger so I know whether I need to open the box sooner or later.

      I just moved last week, and still have boxes to go through! First thing I did was set up my bed, daily stuff for the bathroom, and the kitchen so I could cook vs. ordering takeout. Clothing I put away as I use it, and I’ll probably spend this weekend putting away books, decorations, etc. Good luck with the move!

      1. StellaBella*

        great advice and good luck unpacking, to you! I have mini labels on most boxes now like you suggest and it has helped. :)

    7. Venus*

      I use paper towels to pack kitchen things. They are soft, recyclable (or reusable), and don’t require washing everything afterward. This is probably less of a ‘hack’ now that people don’t have newspapers to use for this.

      1. DietCokeHead*

        I was coming in here to make the same comment about paper towels! I buy a few cheap rolls of paper towels and use that to pack all my dishes. Then when I unpack, I put all the paper towels into a box and use them for cleaning.

    8. CoffeeforLife*

      I like to use a garbage bag to pack the closet stuff while still hanging. You use the trash bag like a garment bag and all of your hanging items are still on hangers. Stack the bags in a moving box. Now when you unpack, you just pull out a large bag and hang! Takes 5 minutes to set up your hanging stuff, it’ll all in the same order as before. **lots of pictures if you google**

      1. StellaBella*

        good idea for sure. I have packed my closet in one trunk and two suitcases, but I do like this idea.

      2. Plum*

        I second the garbage bags but first I rubber-band the hangers together with heavy duty rubber-bands before I slide on the garbage bag so that they don’t slip out. Especially if you’re hand carrying them from place to place. And I agree with getting the bed and bathroom/shower set up first. If you can get the kitchen done next, at least dishes, silverware, glasses, coffee, filters and coffeemaker, the next morning will be good. And I agree with the below about divided boxes from the liquor store, not only are they good for glassware, and vases but also for spice bottles. If you need bubble-wrap, the self-adhesive kind, although pricey, is great because there’s no need to tape up the item, so wrapping goes fast.

    9. Cartographical*

      The phone camera can be your friend — the last two times I moved we had to renovate after moving so we didn’t unpack right away. Instead of cataloging reference books, I took pictures as I went with a numbered post-it somewhere in frame, then taped it to the box. It helped when I couldn’t get them all unpacked before I started work again. I also did it for the pantry. I made albums in Google Photos by room so we didn’t have to peek in the boxes.

      Also, if you’re going to be storing any boxes before unpacking, mark the end or side (pick one and stick to it) so you’re not pulling down boxes to see the writing on the top. Make sure people know to stack them with the writing facing out. Made that mistake once, never again.

      If you have time to do it and you’re moving in-town, having a couple days of food and snacks (even just taking a trip to the bakery/deli/market for sandwich supplies and donuts) that you can move over first thing in a cooler, like packing a weekend-long picnic, is a huge help.

      If we are moving 1:1 (2br, 1.5bath to the same) I pack by room and move by room. When we upgraded, I packed by the rooms of the future house and had taped off “virtual rooms” in the dining area where I put the boxes. Then the truck was packed with the least important rooms going in first — first in, last out.

      Also, get any refills you need and pack your medicine cabinet and move it over with your food & personal supplies, it’s a good time to check your expiry dates and make sure you’re not missing anything. The stuff that goes in our car is the cooler & picnic basket, the lockbox with all our documents, the toiletries and medicine, bottled water, a suitcase with a couple days clothing, cleaning supplies, and the pet supplies.

      1. Lucy*

        Similar), but equally digital. Don’t label boxes in detail, number them. Use an Excel spreadsheet or similar to catalogue what is in each box.

        At destination, you can ctrl-f “crockpot” and be directed straight to box #25.

        It’s mildly time consuming but a definite case of “a stitch in time”.

        1. StellaBella*

          these are both really well thought out ideas and I like them both, thanks, Cartographical and Lucy!

    10. Karen from Finance*

      For books, I’ve found it’s easier to use the suitcases with wheels to carry them, rather than the small boxes, because they’re so heavy.

    11. Not A Manager*

      It sounds like you are not using movers. Are you having friends help you, or are you moving with another person? If so, my advice is to move all the kitchen boxes into the kitchen immediately, and literally unpack them while movers/friends/roommate are moving in other items.

      In my experience, the box-to-content ratio is very high for kitchen stuff (a few pots or one gadget can take up an entire box) and most of the stuff is easy to put SOMEWHERE in the kitchen even though you’ll reorganize it later. This gets a huge number of boxes out of your way immediately, and makes the rest of the unpacking seem less daunting.

      Do take the time to break down the boxes and get them out in your rental truck or however you’re moving.

      Conversely, while it’s easy to leave books in boxes forever and their box-to-content ratio is low, they are also very easy to just bang onto your shelves, and you’re down a bunch of boxes. Again, reorganize later, but in my experience just getting the stuff out of boxes ASAP is key. (I don’t do this on my first day, though!)

      1. StellaBella*

        yes, moving myself, by myself and my cat, who is not much help. :) good thinking tho on the kitchen stuff.

    12. The Messy Headed Momma*

      Liquor store boxes are the best for just dropping in your glassware, vases, kitchen utensils! No wrapping required & the boxes tend to be very sturdy.

    13. Koala dreams*

      If you have many books, pack them in smaller boxes so the boxes won’t get too heavy to move. There are special boxes for books, or you could just pack them in any small boxes or bags.

      In addition to normal wrapping paper and packing peanuts you can use clothes and textiles (towels, t-shirts…) as cushioning when packing fragile things.

      I’m not sure if it’s too late for this, but the thing I always wish I had done before moving is this: If you are planning on getting rid of anything from your house, do it before you move! Decluttering, donating, recycling, anything like that.

      1. StellaBella*

        yes I have been pulling stuff out and today donated clothes and books and tomorrow will drop off some kitchen things and more books.

    14. just a random teacher*

      I have a ton of paperback books, and I have found the best boxes for them are the boxes that cases of wine come in from wineries. They are sturdy, designed for heavy things, and not too heavy to lift when full of books. They also tend to fit paperbacks pretty well.

      More general tips: I always have a grocery sack full of disposable plates, glasses, cutlery, ziplock bags, and paper towels so I can drink water and eat food before the kitchen is unpacked. I also tend to throw in a cookie sheet, a cutting board, and a knife these days to give myself more food prep options. If I had to do it again, I’d also have a fridge thermometer in this sack – it’s not that you need it immediately, it’s that last time mine got packed in the “special occasion kitchen items” priority level and I ended up buying a new one before getting that deep in my unpacking because I suspected my fridge was too warm. I have another sack full of basic cleaning supplies, including dish soap and hand soap, and toilet paper, as well as a few hand towels. I also bring a couple of folding chairs or camp chairs so there will be some place to sit down, and maybe a folding table depending on how long it will take my regular table to get there. (If it’s a multi-day local move where I’m cleaning the new place before the day the movers will come, I also get someone to help me move my futon over first thing. It can be slept on or sat on while the rest of my furniture isn’t there yet.)

      The first thing I do is make sure there is at least one functional and clean-enough-to-use bathroom, and stock it with hand soap, toilet paper, and a hand towel. I then set up my disposable drinking glasses, plates, and such in the kitchen. After that, I can “camp” in the house while dealing with everything else, but I need a place to sit, water to drink, and restroom access in order to have coping skills. (I usually order a pizza as the first meal at the new place. Leftovers can be heated in the oven using the cookie sheet if you don’t have your microwave unpacked yet.)

      Colored duct tape is a good way to color code boxes. It’s nicer than the little dots because you can see it from further away and it’s less likely to fall off of the boxes in transit. I usually put the tape on an upper corner so it can be seen from two sides. I like to use green for “stuff I’ll want right away” and orange for “stuff I won’t need for a while” as my color codes, then pick a room as the temporary home of all orange boxes and ignore that pile until all the green boxes are dealt with. If I did it again at this point, I think I’d have a third color for books, since they need to wait on bookcases and should all be clustered in whichever room the bookcases will be mostly going in. People who don’t live surrounded by books probably don’t need that particular third category, though.

      1. just a random teacher*

        Oh, I also sort clothes into “top ten outfits that I plan to wear a lot” and everything else. (10 gives you a solid week’s worth of clothes, an 8th outfit to wear while washing the other 7, a 9th outfit in case laundry day ends up shifting a day late, and a 10th in case something else goes wrong. I find 8 is the minimum, that 9th comes in handy, and there’s a point of diminishing returns after 10. If you have small children, I would recommend more outfits.) The 10 outfits are a set of clothes that I’m willing to rotate through for as long as a month while the rest of the clothes aren’t unpacked and put away yet, so I can focus on unpacking kitchen and office stuff rather than clothing. Similarly, I set aside enough sheets, hand towels, and bath towels to get through a month (assuming regular laundry) and the rest can wait so I don’t have to unpack and organize the new linen closet until the kitchen and office are under control.

        Also, if you’re moving in the spring, if at all possible get your income taxes filed before you move. Unpacking tax records is a great thing to not have to be in a hurry about, and you’re less likely to accidentally misplace or recycle a document you need that way.

    15. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      If you’re in the US, Home Depot has the cheapest prices for moving supplies like boxes, etc. They even sell a moving kit online that qualifies for free shipping to your door. I regret not doing that when I lived in the city without a car and had to pay for a Zipcar to get boxes several times.

    16. shoe Ruiner*

      I have moved a lot and these are my tips. Most important things when I get into a new place: shower curtain, hand soap, hand towel, tp, and bedding. So I pack those together.
      I actually don’t pack by room. I pack by “how soon will I want this.” I come up with three tiers (right away, couple weeks, no rush) and assign each one a duct tape color, and tape around the side of the side of the box so I can see if when boxes are stacked. Then I write a detailed list on each box of what’s in it.

    17. CastIrony*

      I saw a hack somewhere that instead of removing clothes from hangers, to just stuff them into big trash bags (Make the hangers stick out!) so that when you arrive to your new place, you can just hang them up in your new closet!

    18. RUKiddingMe*

      The best thing I ever did was invest in those large, clear (so you can see what’s inside), storage tubs. About 20-ish. It wasnt cheap exactly, probably about 125.00, plus a few smaller (½ size maybe?) ones for stuff I would need *right now.*

      1. As I said, you can see inside without opening them.
      2. Less cardboard, less carbon footprint, less to deal with at the end of moving in.
      3. Stackable…
      4. Easier to grasp than s box.
      5. Stack easily in moving van. Especially nice if you ate doing the U-Haul thing.
      6. Can be used for actual storage.

      Generally speaking also is that there’s no need for tape or labeling and you can take your time because you know that “that box is just stuff that will end up on a closet shelf eventually,” so no need to rush to get to it. You can take your time.

      You will still need bubble wrap and packing paper for stuff that needs it, but the overall cost if packing supplies is less after the initial investment.

  3. Princess Deviant*

    So I post here often but I’m going anonymous for this.
    I think I have ASD. I’ve thought I might be on the spectrum for years now, but I’m becoming more convinced the older I get. I just turned 45. I had a revelation this week because I was reading stuff about it on Twitter for autism awareness week, and I though ‘holy hell that *is* me’. It’s made me do a lot of crying.

    I’m not going to go to my doctor just yet… nerves? Shame even? Scared mainly she’ll dismiss me. I’m quite “high- functioning” (I hate that phrase though, it makes it sound like I’m passing for ‘normal’ which I do do) but I’m just so exhausted all the time because really having to do all this mental work is too much.

    Has anyone had any experience of being diagnosed as an adult?
    If so, did you meet resistance from the medical community because you “don’t seem like you’re autistic?”
    How did you overcome this?

    1. Awful Annie*

      I was diagnosed with ASD as a 38 year old woman. I keep it entirely private.

      My GP was the one that put me forward for diagnosis, after a period of severe depression. The diagnosis was done at a local clinic which regularly diagnoses adults and women with autism – we’re in a geek University town.

      The diagnosis helps me accept and be more forgiving of my needs, but I think those needs are pretty idiosyncratic, so you have to work them out for yourself. I do actively schedule in quiet time to rest, accept that occasionally I’ll crash, etc.

      Should I have a recurrence of depression, it will probably be useful for psychiatrists to know I’m not NT.

      However, I don’t think I would have my present job if I was open about my diagnosis – there’s too much stereotyping.

      1. Princess Deviant*

        This is *incredibly* helpful, thank you.
        I’m sorry that you don’t feel able to tell your employer, but I understand that you have to keep yourself safe.

        May I ask what your family’s reaction was? Were they unsurprised, supportive? (I am anxious about telling my family.) Of course, please don’t answer if this is too personal a question.

        1. valentine*

          If it helps, I’ve read that “high-functioning” is not a thing. There are various traits an autistic may or may not have, but the idea of a hierarchy is ableist.

        2. Awful Annie*

          Well, your parents will be asked to fill out a form about your childhood, as part of diagnosis. I didn’t see what they filled out, so don’t know much about it. I would say the difficult thing for a family is that since ASD is genetic, you’re effectively diagnosing multiple members of a family, which may or may not be appreciated, and may or may not be accurate (I.e. I suspect people will now say ‘oh, well of course Dad is autistic too, and so is niece’). We don’t talk about it, so I don’t know how they take it. I feel rather bad about pushing everyone towards a diagnosis of a condition about which there’s a lot of stereotyping and prejudice.

          In terms of diagnosis, there’s an AQ questionnaire that you’ll be asked to fill out. The widespread AQ questionnaire is designed expecting that the taker is male / has traditionally male interests. There’s an updated one which aims to include both traditionally male and traditionally female interests and roles. It’s a definite improvement, although it’s still not ideal. For example, there are sets of questions around systematisation of possessions where they’re guessing what sorts of possessions you’re systematising and how. You have to read between the lines somewhat.

          When I did the (original) questionnaire I returned it to them with my annotations grouping all the questions into themes and with cross notes about the lack of clarity of phrasing / gender stereotyping / failure to control for masking. I suspect they just picked up the scribbled-on questionnaire and went ‘yep, got one here.’

          Hope that’s helpful. Do ask me any other questions that come to mind.

          1. Princess Deviant*

            I get screened with a AQ10 which is a shortened version of the AQ screening tool (out of 50?) by my GP.

            If I score over 6 then the GP can make a referral to the adult autism diagnostic team.

            For the assessment, you can take a person with you to also be interviewed to corroborate your childhood experiences, but you don’t have to.

            Are you in the UK?

            1. Awful Annie*

              Yep! UK here. My GP didn’t bother with the cut down initial set of questions as it was her recommendation.

              I think when you’re a ‘grown-up’, they recognise it may be more practical to get parents in their 70s to do a questionnaire than come in person?

          2. Close Bracket*

            > When I did the (original) questionnaire I returned it to them with my annotations grouping all the questions into themes and with cross notes about the lack of clarity of phrasing / gender stereotyping / failure to control for masking.

            lol, that was totally me. I learned later that that is a spectrum behavior.

            btw, while autism is genetic, it is not always inherited. There are so many genes that can be involved, and sometimes it is caused by a mutation. So while autism can be heritable, a diagnosis of a person is not always a diagnosis of a family.

    2. Jeanne*

      Me too. The psychologist I am working with following “treatment resistant” depression and suicidal thoughts agrees. A video came across my desk about work stuff and when I watched it I was OMG!!! that is me. I cried. And cried and ranted. This is the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfOHnt4PMFo
      I struggle with a lot of things other people seem to take for granted. I have spent my whole life trying to be the person I think other people want me to be. I’ve struggled in jobs where I have had controlling managers and excelled in ones when my manager has been relaxed and given me goals but no processes. I have very few friends.
      My psychologist’s comments have been around “what difference does knowing this about you make?” What difference does it make to you and what difference would it make to people around you? And actually, there would be no difference, because I haven’t and won’t tell anyone. I don’t trust that there wouldn’t be professional repercusssions.
      I’m 55.

      1. Princess Deviant*

        Thank you for this resource. I identified a lot with large parts of it. He has really articulated some aspects of it for me that I would otherwise find difficult to explain so I am going to make notes for me to use when speaking to my doctor, which I’ve decided to do next week.

      2. Pinky Pie*

        I think this video helped me understand why my youngest loves Mr. Rogers so much- he provides the scripts for her. We had a melt down based on a change in schedule, change in environment and then her sister sat where she wanted to sit. It finished with us outside of the restaurant and signing to her about emotions, repeating what she heard Mr. Rogers say.

        I saw so much of me and my girls in the video.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I peg really high on the screening tools, both the official ones and the informal type posts I think you’re talking about, but I’m not sure I want to jump through the hoops for a formal diagnosis, because I’m not sure what it would actually change about anything.

      1. Princess Deviant*

        I’ve done the official screening tools online, but some points (e.g. lack of imagination) didn’t make sense until I read a series of posts on Twitter by someone who actually has autism and every were able to explain how that manifested in *his* life and I was able to relate.

        A diagnosis for me would make a difference to me, that’s why I want it. I like what Awful Annie said, about being more forgiving of her needs and understanding them more because of it.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Yep, same. (@Mykola’s, by any chance? That’s the one that got me thinking again last night, so if you haven’t read it yet, recommended!)

          Sorry, wasn’t intending to come across as discouraging you from getting a diagnosis. I meant that more as, it’s not something I myself have an inclination toward at this point, but I’m curious about other folks’ experiences in case there’s an aspect or benefit I haven’t considered.

          1. Princess Deviant*

            Yes it was excellent wasn’t it!
            No need to apologise, I should say sorry as I was a bit short. I’m feeling a bit sensitive right now!

            Shall we decide that whatever’s online is hard to read tone into, so we’ll take it that the other meant the best, and not take offence? :)

        2. only acting normal*

          Diagnosis doesn’t require you to hit all the points (e.g. lack of imagination), just a certain amount in each category. There are two ways to look at the “spectrum” part of ASD:
          1) a spectrum from low to high functioning (which a lot of autistic people will tell you is not that helpful or downright misleading).
          2) a typically autistic “spiky” set of abilities: analogous to the physics sense of emission or absorption spectrum (check out wikipedia).
          e.g. I’m awesome at abstract thought and systemising, have a spectacular situational memory, but my executive function is spotty relying on strict routines, my sense of time is poor, my social skills are below average, my stims are there but subtle/socially acceptable, and my sensory sensitivity is downright disabling –> I appear “high functioning”/NT-passing but the stress of doing so is significant.

          1. Princess Deviant*

            Thanks, I can definitely relate to the the second description, the spiky version.

    4. Anonymous for this - sorry!*

      Building on Princess Deviant’s comment, I have a question : is it possible to “grow out of autism”? I am going anonymous for this, because I am afraid my question is stupid or that people will find it offensive, but I am truly asking it in good faith. I am in my late thirties, and would probably not test on the autism spectrum now, though I definitely have some traits. However, I am quite certain that I would have tested on the spectrum as a child – I had all the textbook caracteristics of high-functioning ASD, including very telling ones. I was never diagnosed because no-one in my environment had ever heard of high functioning autism (though children made fun of me at school by calling me an autist). I had a very miserable childhood and youth, but things started getting better in my early twenties, and I feel I kind of ‘grew out’ of my autistic traits – I didn’t work on specific behaviors or thought patterns, I just feel like over time I have become way more “normal”? I honestly don’t feel I would test as ASD now. Is that even possible?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        NOT an answer, just a comment: Your post here has reeally tugged at my heart strings. I very much hope you find answers. Life is hard and internal struggles can run very deep. I was just having a similar convo with a good friend. Her husband never found his help. Keep searching, never stop looking. People care.

      2. anon for this*

        I would say it is definitely possible to learn how to adjust! The earlier kids with autism get assistance/help, the better chance they have of improving their level of functioning, so it stands to reason that someone high functioning would feel like they’ve moved off it. Does it solve the underlying issue? No idea, but it is up to you if that matters since you don’t feel the effects anymore. Even if you didn’t actively work on changing things, if you tend to be observant or have spent time trying to understand human behaviors, it probably had a subconscious effect on your own actions, which in turn affects your mental pathways.

        Personal story: I have a sibling with ASD and I did not find out until I was in college. They got a ton of help starting at a young age and no one would be able to tell today. Just seems like a person with some personality quirks. Their quirks would never read as high-functioning ASD, because they were diagnosed lower on the scale and their function came through hard work by themselves, their parents, and their teachers. As a successful adult, taking the test would probably having a confusing result since their function far exceeds what was believed as their potential. Just to give you an example of how people can change.

      3. I hate coming up with usernames*

        Autism has to do with the way your brain functions. While people learn to adapt to it, that’s not the same as growing out of it. Honestly, I think you likely never had ASD in the first place. That doesn’t mean it’s a stupid question! But I think it’s part of the reason people need to be careful about self diagnosing. It’s easy to identify with parts of a video or checklist and say OMG that sounds like me, when in reality you just have some quirks that are similar but you’re not actually on the spectrum. Think of OCD; most people will find things on an OCD checklist that they can identify with. But that doesn’t mean they necessarily have OCD.

        I know some of the comments here say self diagnosing is valid, but I’d like to push back on that. My son is on the ASD, and I commonly hear about how either he doesn’t seem autistic, or how really we’re all at least a little bit autistic in some ways, so it shouldn’t matter. To him, this feels like an erasure of a big part of who he is. And while those comments are well meaning, a big part of them come from people making inaccurate assumptions about ASD based on things they read online. An official diagnosis does mean something.

        1. Princess Deviant*

          “My son is on the ASD, and I commonly hear about how either he doesn’t seem autistic, or how really we’re all at least a little bit autistic in some ways, so it shouldn’t matter. To him, this feels like an erasure of a big part of who he is…An official diagnosis does mean something.”

          Thank you for saying this. I’m sorry that your son and you have been on the receiving end of others’ ignorance

      4. Cartographical*

        First, it’s a spectrum (a whole array of spectrums, really) and everyone experiences it differently. You might just be closer to the neurotypical end. Some people tick at least a few of the boxes for ASD, or have a half-tick in some of the boxes, and it can show up more under some conditions and not on others. Or you may just have a lifestyle that is more supportive of where you are in the spectrum, such that it’s not as strenuous to fit a neurotypical profile as it might be if there were different demands on you. Getting past the strictures of the educational system and neurotypical family life and the social uncertainties of youth can get you to a place where being you isn’t as hard as it used to be.

        In my experience, it’s also possible to adapt, absolutely. But there is also a cost to the adaptation for many of us. Many people (according to my therapist, who specializes in treating neuroatypical teens and adults) hit a point where “the wheels fall off” because they’ve exhausted themselves trying to be normal. Parenthood, change of job, empty nest, menopause, illness, and other changes in circumstance can tip the balance such that you do tire faster or the demands of life exceed your adaptations. If you find yourself feeling like that might be happening in the future, please be kinder to yourself than I was to myself and don’t just assume you’re failing because of a lack of character. The support systems of the ASD community and the advice of those who live on the spectrum are there for you if you ever need it.

      5. Another Manic Monday*

        You don’t “grow out of Autism” but you will get better at camouflaging and pass as “normal” as you get older. It’s also possible that you are not aware of how much different your perception of the world differ from the norm. I had no idea that my perception of the world was “not normal” and that most people didn’t have the same kind of struggles that I had. I was constantly beating myself up for not being able to do things that seemed to be easy for everyone else no matter how hard I tried. I kept this up until I completely broke down at the age of 41. I had been completely burned out by subconsciously trying to pass and fit into something that wasn’t made for me.

        My perception of myself have changed drastically since I got my diagnosis five years ago. I would have never tested “positive for ASD” doing the online tests before I got my official diagnosis, but today I am more in tune and aware of my own feelings and test very high when I do the very same tests.

        1. Princess Deviant*

          “It’s also possible that you are not aware of how much different your perception of the world differ from the norm.”
          Yes^ I think this is true.

          Do you share your dx with others? How do they react to it?

          1. Another Manic Monday*

            I do share my dx with others, but I try to keep it on the down-low and not constantly making it an issue. I did write an article about it in a newsletter for my agency last year during disability awareness month, so most of my coworkers knows about it unless they couldn’t be bothered reading the newsletter. I’m currently pursuing reasonable accommodations at work as there’s certain things that I struggle with.

            Almost everyone at my current job is accepting and welcoming, although not all of them fully understand the implications. My last job wasn’t as accepting as they pretended to be, but they was also the cause for the mental breakdown that resulted in my diagnosis in the first place.

            1. Princess Deviant*

              It’s good to hear that your current job is accepting.
              And I want to say thanks – you telling me this has prompted stuff for me.

              I’ve not been coping well and my employers have already made some reasonable adjustments for me, with my GP’s full knowledge and support. I’m beginning to see how I can use this to support me when I go to see my GP to ask for a dx.

      6. Dinopigeon*

        Stress is well-known to exacerbate autistic behaviors, and make it more difficult to mask (mirror neurotypical behaviors). So if your life is less stressful and more routine now than it was as a child, it makes sense that you would feel some subsidence in symptoms. As autistic people mature, we also consciously learn more behaviors (particularly social behaviors) that other people navigate by intuition, which also makes things a little easier.

        A lot of people go the opposite direction- with nobody to provide external structure, and increasing responsibilities, autism becomes more pronounced in adulthood. This is partially why so many women are diagnosed as adults; a lot of what is unfortunately expected of adult women in western culture is very difficult for someone on the spectrum to manage.

        1. Another Manic Monday*

          I pursued a career that ended up becoming more and more difficult to cope with each promotion and increased responsibilities. I ended up being promoted into a position where my supervisors’ expectations of me was considerable higher than my ability to perform or sustain for a long period of time. I stepped up the promotion ladder as a high-performing specialist working by myself, but ended up in a position where I was supposed to supervise and mentor other people instead of doing the work I am good at. I was ill-suited for such a position and was mistreated when I was unable to meet their expectations which resulted in overwhelming anxiety, major depression, and total burnout.

      7. anon on saturdays*

        I have wondered this too, and have read the diversity of responses below. Here are reasons why I think I have less obvious ASD behavior now than when I was a kid: 1) I have less anxiety socially because I know more about what other people are thinking about (themselves) and how many figs I have to give (many fewer) and I have figured out more subroutines for what makes people happy (small talk no longer a trial, but an almost-comfortable algorithm). 2) I’ve designed my life to support me — live where I grew up, work in mathematics, don’t commute by car, have plenty of downtime scheduled, understand my sensory responses better. In my life today, knitting furiously while obsessively working through an algorithm or piece of code is just normal!

      8. Anonymous for this - sorry!*

        Thank you all for your answers! Since I posted yesterday, I went down a rabbit hole of reading up on autism and ASD, and have now, already, a different perception of my initial post. First of all : how the hell wasn’t I diagnosed as a kid? I had so many typical – as in boy-typical (I am a woman) – traits of high-functioning autism/Aspergers I was almost a textbook case! Of course, this question is rhetorical : thrity years ago, high-functioning autism was not a thing were I lived, and even if it had been, my parents were not the type to believe in it – depression is a character flaw for them. Sigh. Secondly, I have way more autistic traits as an adult than I initially thought – I have just learnt about loads of stuff that I just thought weird quirks of mine that could actually be ASD related! I am just apparently pretty good at coping and masking. So now, to join the gang of people up here wondering about whether to get a diagnosis… I am feeling a bit overwhelmed at the realisation.

        1. Arya Parya*

          My advice: taken your time. It was about last July it was suggested to me that I might be on the spectrum. It was overwhelming and I didn’t really know what to do with it. Would getting a diagnosis help? Was it worth going through all the trouble getting one? I’ve been
          mostly doing okay without any help.

          I took some time mulling this over and decided to pursue a diagnosis last December. I figured that I could use some help with certain things when the stress of the end of the year and all those holidays got to me.

          So give it some time and let it all land first and then figure out why you may or may not want a diagnosis.

    5. MatKnifeNinja*

      The biggest obstacles my cousin came for getting an ASD diagnosis is finding a decent clinician that will diagnosis anyone over 25. The second is insurance/costs.

      If you live by a university with a medical school, finding a tester is easier. If you live on the coasts, it’s easier compared to where I live.

      The biggest push back insurance will give you is the diagnosis gives you no more services than you have now. This is true for my cousin. Had he’d been 10, he could have had OT/PT and speech therapy. Maybe a life skills class. At 50, it was, “That’s a nice data point, but all we can offer you is mental health services.”

      Call your local/state Autism society for a referral. It cuts down the posers that say they “test” for Autism, but just take a verbal history.
      The specific tests showed my cousin how big a scatter he has with cognitive skills. Some tests were off the charts high, others were very low. His process speed is nil according to the tests.

      I helped my cousin get tested. I called the state Autism society for referrals and got verbal referrals from parents of ASD kids (hey, it was a start). Then you call and call and call because not everyone tests adults. You find one that does, but takes no insurance (common in my area). My cousin private paid.

      We didn’t ask his GP because 1) he has no clue who to refer out. He deals with adults, and still doesn’t think my cousin has ASD. 2) Paying privately meant no referrals needed.

      My cousin is now on SSDI and the “Aspie Burnout” is real. He said the diagnosis makes him feel less like a failure, when compared to all his friends with high paying, socially acceptable jobs. Getting bathed, dressed, and just dealing with humanity can be like climbing Everest for him.

      His clinician said had my cousin had minimally language skills before age 4, he would have diagnosed him with level II Autism. That is heartbreaking because it means he has to try even harder to pass.

      Good luck!

      1. MatKnifeNinja*

        I know I wrote a book, but you asked about family members accepting the diagnosis.

        Remember my cousin was 50 at the time (8 years ago), and his parents were in their mid 70s.

        Neither parent accepts the diagnosis. Both filled out a family history form, and it was a true work of fiction. Two sibs filled out the forms, I did and so did another aunt. All of ours collaborated compared to his parents.

        The diagnosis made no difference how is sibs treat him now. They are bitter about how my cousin’s behaviors over ran everything in the home. The meltdowns and screaming were a huge part of their home growing up. They think he was just a spoiled beast, and had to get his way. Every family vacation photo has my cousin with tear streaked face, because you take family photos at Disneyland.

        (Take an overtired child with ASD to a crowded, hot, sensory overloading place and see how that works out.)

        Families are all different. Some find comfort that there “is a reason” things happened the way they did. Others don’t believe it. Yet others believe it and don’t care. They are still mad.

        1. Princess Deviant*

          Thank you for sharing your and your cousin’s story.

          I’m in the UK. I’ve just checked my work’s health insurance and as I suspected it doesn’t cover the ‘tests’ (I don’t even know what they’d be). However, I am still covered by the NHS so I can see my GP for free. I’m just nervous about going. She knows me well, I’ve been her patient for years.

          She can do a mini screening then refer me to a diagnosing team – if she thinks it’s warranted. This is the bit I’m extremely anxious about.

          I really like the idea of contacting the national autism society so I shall do that.

          1. Tau*

            This is a single data point, but I’ve had fantastic experiences with the NAS! I used to see a caseworker of theirs on a weekly basis during uni and she was amazing. And although I didn’t go that route (I got helped to diagnosis by disability services at uni and got a referral to a local place that specialised in diagnosing autistic adults), I know they have resources around getting a diagnosis.

    6. Anonymous Person on the Web*

      I’m in the same position as you actually… I’ve started following more and more people on Twitter who are autistic and seeing a lot of myself in their stories. I got a book recommendation from someone recently too – it’s called “I think I might be Autistic: A guide to Autism Spectrum Disorders Diagnosis and Self Discovery for Adults” – its’ a quick read but it goes through a lot of the diagnosis criteria and then walks you through how people get diagnosed.

    7. Cartographical*

      First, I’ve been there, it’s a whole rollercoaster, isn’t it? Second, self-diagnosis is not inherently invalid, especially if you can get those around you to corroborate your findings. Doctors can be just as biased as anyone else, to the detriment of everyone they treat. It is 100% valid to assume that you are correct and just live with that for a while, share it with people you trust, read books, adapt, and ride out the rollercoaster.

      I find it helps to take that time to decide how you feel, what an official on-paper dx means for you, what you think it will fix, what accommodations you can access, what it might change for the worse, what you’ll do if you can’t find someone even willing to test you. You can still join support groups that embrace people with self-diagnosis — not having the money to get tested and not having anyone to test you never made anyone less autistic. Once you feel some more stability about it, then I find it’s easier to navigate the process of seeking a diagnosis.

      That’s the process I went through around being transgender, having ADHD, and being on the autism spectrum — all after age 45. I’m not super open about the latter two diagnoses (kind of hard to miss my medical/surgical transition, which was the path I chose) but it’s made my life so much easier even just to have diagnosed myself, first. I wasn’t good at having ADHD and ASD, I was always angry at myself, I didn’t know all the tips and tricks to make my life smoother. I used to tutor autistic children and I was amazing at it. But when it came to myself, I just thought I was lazy and broken and I’m not. I’ve gained self-respect on a profound level for everything I’ve managed to do this far and everything I’m doing now to improve my quality of life. I hope you can have a similar experience.

      1. I hate coming up with usernames*

        It’s very hard for a doctor to be biased when it comes to an ASD diagnosis. It’s literally a numbers-based thing that is determined by very standardized tests and questions. It’s a long, grueling process for exactly that reason – to be sure that it is valid.

        1. Parenthetically*

          “It’s very hard for a doctor to be biased when it comes to an ASD diagnosis. ”

          I cannot disagree more strongly with this. It’s incredibly for doctors to dismiss people’s questions and to wave off the idea of an autism diagnosis if it doesn’t fit the stereotypical presentation — especially in girls and women. The diagnosis itself may be numbers-based, but how are you supposed to get to the numbers if your doctor rolls his eyes at you for bringing it up!?

          1. I hate coming up with usernames*

            I think we’re talking about two different things here – the diagnostic test vs. getting the doctor to test you. If my doctor refused to give me a test that I felt was needed, I would be looking for a new doctor. But I do think that’s a better option than self-diagnosing, since as I said upthread, in my experience that is a slippery slope that causes society in general to make innacurate assumptions about what autism is and isn’t.

            1. Cartographical*

              The diagnostic test does not always accommodate the different manifestations of ASD in people of varying genders — same for ADHD/ADD. There are several forms of neuroatypical conditions that are still in the process of being formalized for the DSM so in theory they don’t exist at all outside of those working on studying them — that doesn’t mean they aren’t affecting people every minute of every day. Testing also doesn’t inherently adjust for Developmental Trauma Disorder (PTSD acquired during childhood) and other conditions and the interactions of comorbid conditions.

              Self-diagnosis is a hot topic in some parts of the ASD community (and the trans community, for that matter) but not all tests are equal, and tests are made by those who are given money to study certain conditions within certain parameters and all of that is socially influenced by who we value and how they live. People of colour, the economically disadvantaged, and those with multiple conditions are also often poorly served by the tests as they exist and the truth as it’s taught in medical school. A self-diagnosis can be valid, an incorrect “official” diagnosis can be invalid.

              Further, I don’t know any tester who doesn’t bring their own interpretations and biases to the process. It’s not an absolute. And that’s why I prefer to provide a wide margin for self-diagnosis. If the adaptations and accommodations for an ASD diagnosis improve a person’s quality of life, it costs me nothing and improves the world in general with one more person getting what they need to live well.

              1. I hate coming up with usernames*

                Have you actually seen what the test looks like? Because much of what you’re saying doesn’t ring true when I look at the diagnostic test my son was given. I know about biase in standardized tests, but I’m not seeing it here.

                1. Dinopigeon*

                  Anecdotal experiences are not data. Your personal experiences with your son do not compare to the large amount of actual research that has been done on this topic, that corroborates what Cartographical is saying.

                2. Sammie*

                  The diagnostic tools are different for children than for adults. For adults, it is mostly your history and a checkbox list. And there is evidence that the diagnostics tests are built on boys being the default, so it is harder to get girls diagnosed which is perhaps why so many of us end up as adults looking for a diagnosis.

                3. I hate coming up with usernames*

                  You want to cite that research and actually ty to build an argument instead of just trying to poke holes in mine with zero actual evidence?

                  It’s not anecdotal because I’m not just talking about my son. I’m talking about the actual, physical test.
                  On paper. Given by someone certified. As according to the DSM. And the DSM sure as heck isn’t anecdotal.

                  Some of you seem quite offended by your self-diagnosis being called into question.

                4. Close Bracket*

                  > when I look at the diagnostic test my son was given.

                  There is more research on boys than on girls, so the research the test is based on is weighted heavily on presentation in boys. Questions based on that weighted research are going to identify boys better than they identify girls. This isn’t like the SAT where the bias is from different approaches to test taking. The bias here is built into the questions. You are saying that a test weighted with boys’ data correctly identified your son as autistic, so it cannot be biased. That’s practically a tautology.

            2. Princess Deviant*

              Yes to all of this ^
              A dx is/ would be very important to me. It would explain…A lot. I never really very ‘scored’ highly in the online tests but I’ve always identified with some of the experiences I’ve heard from people with ASD. I like the ‘spiky’ description of the diagnostic roles though that only acting normal talks about.

              Reading and responding to comments has clarified why I am worried about the doctor screening me to make that referral. I can’t afford a private referral, I’m relying on her to get me past the screening so I can be seen by specialists. I’m worried about being rejected for the specialist team, then being none the wiser but still struggling. I’m so very tired.

              1. only acting normal*

                You can do the AQ test online. It’s only a first step indicator but a score over 26 is worth showing to your GP. I don’t know they’d conduct any screening tests themselves – it is quite specialist (esp for adults, esp for women).

                There are a couple of adult & women geared centres about the UK that take NHS referrals from all over the country. E.g. Lorna Wing Centres.
                Most places should do prelim questionnaires, then only progress to interviews etc if appropriate.

                1. Another Manic Monday*

                  The problem with AQ test is that it involves a certain level of self-awareness and how your behavior differs from the rest of the population. I got 23 the first time I took the test after my therapist told me that I was spectrum. Three years later with increased self-awareness I scored 38

          2. Tau*

            Agreeing with Parenthetically here. The problem is that although it’s a test by the numbers, the criteria are very subjective, qualitative ones that can present very differently in different people. Sometimes you might not even have any overt manifestations of a certain symptom, because you’re doing a huge amount of work to compensate – but the underlying problem is still there.

            And, of course, the criteria weren’t handed down as absolute truth, they were created by fallible human researchers studying certain populations. The thing about women vs men being a classic problem. I was diagnosed under criteria created by that specific diagnosis centre which were stricter than the ICD (they were part of a world-class autism research centre, they got to do that sort of thing) and narrowly avoided getting stamped “not autistic” because one of their mandatory categories was “lack of imagination”. When I read my diagnosis papers, that’s the only category where I have the minimum points required for diagnosis – in all the others, I’ve got more. And when I read what the doctor wrote I go “…dude, you’re reaching”. I’m fairly certain that he could tell I was autistic and got a bit creative in his interpretation of that point in order to make sure I got my DX; if I’d had someone more rigid, I might not have.

            Lacking/restricted imagination, for the record, being one of the classic traits that’s way more common in autistic men than autistic women.

            In general, I feel like we underestimate people’s ability to assess themselves (and how distinctive autistic traits are) and overestimate doctors’ judgement. My DX papers honestly weird me out because – there is nothing there that is new to me. In fact, there’s a few things that are kind of wrong! The “lack of imagination” being one, but also some things where I read them and go “whoops, I guess I explained that badly” or “oh, I forgot to mention this thing”. Because… everything in those papers? Came from me explaining to the doctor what my life was like and how I experienced the world. But now, what the paper says about me and my life is considered absolute truth above what I say. It’s a weird, weird feeling.

        2. Cartographical*

          Absolutely disagree with this — for example one of the only psychiatrists in my city doesn’t believe that ADHD/ADD persists past the age of 21 and cannot be diagnosed in adults as it simply does not exist. He is not an older person, he’s nearly twenty years my junior. I have no idea what his opinions are on ASD but I do know practitioners who will not even test female (or female-presenting) clients of any age — I know this because it happened to me when I was young. My brother received testing and diagnoses but they didn’t test girls because girls didn’t have those problems, they were just awkward and flighty and would grow out of it, if not after puberty then at least after having babies. In my twenties, I was quite literally instructed to have another child to “keep me busy and give me purpose” as my struggle to survive a regular job was simply because I was better suited to being a parent (I did not want children to begin with). Those attitudes persist today and I know a number of people affected by them.

          1. I hate coming up with usernames*

            Again, we’re talking about different things here. I’m talking about the actual diagnostic test used to determine whether or not someone is autistic. Yes, a doctor refusing to give the test is of course biased. What I’m pushing back against is his notion that a docto’s diagnosis isn’t really relevant and that self-diagnosis is just as valid.

            1. Ella X*

              Just wanted to pipe up and say I completely agree with you. My daughter is diagnosed ASD and the process isn’t checking off boxes on a list. It was multiple different tests with solid numbers that are used together to form a diagnosis.

              1. Another Manic Monday*

                It took me almost a month of different tests to get my official diagnosis despite my place on the spectrum being obvious to a professional. Five or six-one hour interviews with my therapist and a psychiatrist. The therapist interviewed both my sister (childhood) and my spouse (adulthood) about my personality and behaviors. I also had to make a visit to a neuropsychiatry clinic to have my nervous system checked out (balance, sensory, movements, etc). I didn’t disclose to anyone (except sister and spouse) until I had the official diagnosis on paper in fear of there being a mistake.

                1. Another Manic Monday*

                  The assessments in themselves wasn’t stressful. What made it stressful was that my old employer refused to give me any “reasonable accommodations” unless I could show them the doctor’s recommendation for accommodations following the conclusion of the assessments.

                  Prolonged exposure to sensory overload in my work space had caused me in constant physical pain (burning eyes from the light, brain being drilled by noise) all day long, made me an anxious wreck, and suicidal. Despite that I still had to stay in the harmful office space for another month after the professionals had made their initial determination.

        3. Princess Deviant*

          The whole gender bias in diagnosis is making me feel a more anxious.

          I do know that adult diagnosis is different to child diagnosis, and that it is skewed towards boys, rather than girls and women. I’m aware of this. I was kind of hoping for other positive experiences of people’s diagnosis to help mitigate some of the anxiety I’m feeling around it.

          I realise I can’t dictate what you’re saying but it’s worth me asking – any change you could just drop this now?

      2. Princess Deviant*

        For me I do want an official dx. I wouldn’t say I had asd unless I’d had it confirmed by a doctor.

        I think it’s definitely worth sitting with the feelings though and deciding what a dx would mean to me – I’ve actually been thinking of it for years, and this thread has really helped me clarify some of the thoughts I’m having, so thanks everyone for that.

        I started the thread a couple of hours ago thinking, I’m not ready to speak to my doctor about it yet. Now I’m thinking, yes I’m going to speak to her to ask for a referral…. so, I’m closer than I was this morning!.

        1. Tau*

          I think it’s definitely worth thinking through what a dx would mean for you, why you want one, etc. I spent five years as self-dxed before going for my diagnosis, so I’ve been on both sides of the fence.

          Something that people don’t mention very much which I feel I should warn you about:

          That diagnosis, and the process of getting it, can be really, really depressing because it promotes a very particular view of autism.

          Because, well, there are a lot of great resources for autistic people online, a great community, a lot of disability-rights-related stuff about how being autistic is not a wrong way to be and our way of experiencing things is valid and has real strengths, etc. etc. That can really help build your confidence in yourself and recover your balance after the first realisation that “omg I might be autistic”.

          The diagnosis process, on the other hand, is very much strictly linked to the diagnostic criteria which are very much about deficits. It’s all about what you’re bad at, what you struggle with, in which ways you deviate from the neurotypical ideal. If you’ve developed strategies to mitigate some of your problems, they’re going to get put into the spotlight to see what’s hiding beneath them.

          I hate reading my diagnosis papers. It’s like a litany of all the things the world considers wrong with me, including the ones I go to great lengths to hide. Anytime I do read them I end up wanting to curl up in a ball and disappear.

          For me, learning about being autistic and what it meant for me and the process of diagnosis were completely separate things. It feels like most of the people I talk to nowadays want to combine them. I’m not 100% sure that’s such a great idea. I can’t say, obviously, because I never had that experience, but… I’m glad I already had a very firm view of what autism was and meant for me by the time I got those diagnosis papers. I don’t think the alternative would have been good for me at all.

          Which doesn’t mean “don’t go for a diagnosis”. But I’d recommend doing other things in addition (reading articles by autistic people, checking into support groups, that sort of thing) and to take whatever comes out of the process with a grain of salt.

    8. Mimmy*

      I too have been wondering if I’m on the spectrum. I am 45 as well. At the very least, I think I have ASD traits and/or some sort of sensory integration disorder. I already have a congenital syndrome and, based on what people in the Facebook group have said, I think there are co-occurring autistic traits.

      I grew up in the 70s and 80s when ASD wasn’t as well-known but I’m sure if I were tested, I’d hit on many of the classic characteristics: intense interests on certain topics, dislike for deviating from routines, not liking to play with other children, even flapping my fingers in front of light sources (the latter two were when I was really little). Even today, I am prone to overstimulation / sensory overload (which makes it difficult to enjoy my wonderful nieces and nephews when they’re all in the same room) and am not always great with thinking creatively.

      Yet, I hesitate to get diagnosed. I talked with my sister about this some time ago, and having another “label” could actually be harmful. My supervisor knows I have some difficulties, but if I ever told her that I thought I was had an ASD, things would probably change real quick, and not for the better.

      I’m sorry this reply is not helpful :( I just wanted to share my story as a way to commiserate with how you (and others) are feeling. I will be following this thread to see what others’ experiences have been. Maybe it will be worth it after all.

      1. Thursday Next*

        One thing to consider is whether you can incorporate any modifications or accommodations to your work environment regardless of having a diagnosis in hand. What would you change, if you knew you were on the spectrum? Can you make some of those changes anyway?

        This is a very long story for another time, but this is where I am with one of my children, who has no official diagnosis. And her doctors and therapists agree that at this point, that doesn’t matter. We’d still be offering the same services and accommodations.

    9. Another Manic Monday*

      I got diagnosed as an adult (41) after seeking help for severe anxiety and depression (due to prolonged exposure to sensory overload in my workplace). I didn’t meet any resistance from the medical community at all, quite the opposite, but I am also a male and mental health professionals are more aware about the ASD in males. You will need to see somebody who are familiar with diagnosing women on the spectrum as they present much differently from the men. In general, Autistic women are much better at camouflaging than Autistic men and are more likely to fly under the radar.

      I was blindsided by my diagnosis because the possibility didn’t even exist in my mind. It was a great relief to finally get an explanation to all my struggles in life and I could allow myself to stop trying to be somebody that I can never be. I’m completely open about being on spectrum at work and I don’t try to hide it from anyone.

      I understand the nerves, but you owe it to yourself to pursue an evaluation.

    10. Arya Parya*

      I’m on the wait list to get tested. For me becoming a mother 10 months ago was the breaking point. I still have a hard time coping with all the sensory input. My GP was very supporting and saw enough indicators to get me tested.

      I’m a 34 year old woman. I can pass as NT too and will not seem autistic. My brother is on the spectrum also, diagnosed as a child. So my family is familiar with it and supports me getting a diagnosis.

      Hopefully this gives you a positive example on how this can go.

    11. Tau*

      So as mentioned in the rest of the thread, I got diagnosed while I was at university. Overall it went very well, I was lucky that the place I was living at the time had a clinic specialising in adult assessment, and disability services at my uni were *fantastic* and helped me with getting a diagnosis after I turned up and said “uh, I’m fairly certain I’m autistic, and it’s causing major problems with some basic life skills like going to lectures or leaving the flat at all or, well… eating. I know you can’t offer me proper support because I don’t have a diagnosis, but I’m worried I’m going to fail out of uni or possibly starve… help?”

      I did have a brush with the attitude you mention – when I went to my GP for referral, she seemed really skeptical and didn’t refer me after my appointment. I ended up going back to disability services, they called her office and I got my referral (see above re: fantastic). I think it helps to have someone on your side – even someone who’s not a professional, just a friend or family member who can support you if things aren’t going well. I don’t know about you, but I have major, major problems doing new things and stepping outside of my comfort zone, and pursuing an autism diagnosis is definitely that – I don’t think I would have managed it if it had just been up to me.

      1. Tau*

        And – OK, hell with it, it’s not as if this makes me particularly identifiable considering the size of the university in question –

        If you happen to be living in Cambridge or Petersborough, you can ask for a referral to CLASS – Cambridge Lifespan Autism Spectrum Service (the A stood for Aspergers at the time I went there). They really know their thing, although – fair warning – at least back then they really wanted to interview one of your parents, or someone else who knew you very well as an adult when you were a child. I hadn’t been planning on telling my parents at all, so this forced me to have an awkward conversation with them.


        1. Princess Deviant*

          I am lucky enough to have an adult autism diagnostic service in my locality, plus I live near a university city – but not Cambridge or Petersborough :)

          Thank you so much for the advice and resources though, I appreciate it.

          1. Tau*

            Figured it was unlikely, but I’m glad you have access to adult diagnosis services! That’s really my main piece of practical DX-related advice: find a place that does specifically autism diagnosis in adults if you can. Somewhere that doesn’t do autism specifically, or that does kids, is very likely to go wrong.

            And… hope this is OK… I saw your comment about getting anxious due to the gender bias stuff upthread and wanted to reassure you a bit! I think a lot of the statistics on that front come from diagnosis in children, not in adults. As an adult you also have the ability to explain “no, I do have social difficulties, I just mask them with X, Y and Z”, the process should be more collaborative. I have a lot of the classically-female autism presentation (relatively good social skills, obsessive interests manifesting in socially acceptable directions, heavy interest in fiction, imaginative play as a kid, etc.) and although I did have some problems with the criteria I had zero problems with the person who assessed me and I got my diagnosis. In general, any competent adult autistic diagnostic centre will have seen women in addition to men and have a good idea of the diversity of the spectrum – I’d be utterly astonished if you get any stereotyped “but you can’t be autistic because you can smile at people” nonsense at a place like that.

            Good luck! I hope things work out for you. :)

    12. ?????*

      What habits/characteristics do you recognize in yourself as ASD?

      I ask because while I don’t think I have the “classic” autism sign of not reading body language/social cues (I think I do that okay), being social is just such hard work — and I constantly feel as though my efforts to connect go ignored, or sometimes that Iam ignored. This is very frustrating and I’ve always kind of wondered whether there was something more that was “non-typical” about me than being untypically antisocial.

      1. Princess Deviant*

        Too long a list and personal to mention here.

        But if you look up autism spectrum disorder you should find a list of the common characteristics. Also check out the triad of impairments.

    13. MeepMeep*

      May I ask why you’re seeking the diagnosis? I ask because I’m kinda in the same boat – similar age, and realizing more and more that I’m probably somewhere on the spectrum. The diagnosis didn’t exist when I was a child, but my mother now agrees that I probably met the criteria.

      I’ve always thought that a diagnosis would be helpful for a child, but not really so much for an adult; is there something that they do for adult ASD folks that would be helpful?

    14. Very Smart Girl*


      I got diagnosed with Aspergers 2 yrs ago. I wanted an official Dx. I read about it in 2 places before – about how women / girls aspergers are different by 2 women who got diagnosed as adults.. and how it was not easy to diagnose women/girls…….Ever since that I always wondered if I had it, the Dx actually was a huge relief!

      I’ve mentioned it to a few of people – If I were to go back, I’d keep it private (just tell DH & daughter) and no one else. it was a bad idea to tell a few ppl.

      1. Very Smart Girl*

        The Doc who diagnosed me also heavily hinted to keep it private. I should have listened. Nothing harmful came out of sharing, but there were subtle ways I was treated differently and I didn’t like it. Good thing is none of the ppl I now work with know about this and I plan to keep it private going forward!

        1. only acting normal*

          I’ve found disclosure a mixed bag too. My last boss was “Yeah, I guessed” and was fine, my current boss is great, a few people have done the classic “You must be very mildly affected” (not really!) which is annoying, some have been a bit weirded out. I keep it close and only tell people as needed now… or, you know, the entire internet! :-D

    15. Princess Deviant*

      I don’t think people will see this, but in case there’s anyone still reading :) – I have an appointment booked with my GP for the first stage of the assessment, next Tuesday 16th.
      I just told the receptionist I wanted to speak about my mental health, which of course is the truth.

  4. Ruth (UK)*

    I’m very stressed right now because I missed a bill to do with the ground maintenance around my flat (which I own as a leasehold) and also the final notice before action letter and then received a penalty fare letter… The deadline of that also now being passed (though that one had a short deadline of only 7 days from the letter).

    I made an online payment yesterday of what I think I owe but as it’s all late and the penalty is late too I’m worried about what will happen next. They’re closed now but I will call them in Monday and hopefully resolve it but it’s making me feel stressed.

    While this is my fault for missing the letters, this is largely because I’ve been dealing with a stalker for the last 2 years who also sends me a very high volume of post. Aside from having to sort through itto get to my real stuff (and just the general spam post) I also have developed a lot of anxiety about going through my post and have put it off a lot. So I’ve been very slow getting to things. I have the majority of my bills etc on direct debit so it doesn’t normally cause this sort of issue but this one was a once yearly bill.

    Luckily, I do at least have the money I owe and the extra amount is not enough to cause me long term financial issues.

    1. Elenor*

      I have had very similar problems to you, someone stalked me for a number of years and it still affects me now. In my situation I’ve found that writing the problem down with possible outcomes and the solution to those outcomes really helps. There’s nothing you can do until Monday, distractions help with my anxiety, reading a book or cooking, anything to keep my mind busy. It will be alright, you’ll be okay.

    2. LDN Layabout*

      Honestly, it is more than likely going to be fine. A lot of letters like that are sent to scare the hell out of conscientious people like you, because they sure as hell don’t work on the ones that don’t care.

      Companies don’t want to have to do more than they need to. Letters are easy. Others actions are hard. Once they see you’ve paid, you’ll be fine.

      Source: Me and my flatmate were confused about our lease and water bills/who’s responsible. Our lease started in August. We just paid our first water bill after a ‘we see someone new has moved in’ IN MARCH. It was a stupid move on our parts, but once paid, no harm no foul.

      1. Overeducated*

        Yes, in my experience when you make a good faith effort to pay an overdue bill usually that solves the problem and people are understanding. Once they don’t have to chase you down any more, that’s it. (Unless it’s with a cable/phone provider, in which case it will take regular phone calls for years to attempt to resolve, but that’s unfortunately the case when the error is on their end, too.)

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      For the long term, would you be able to find someone else to help you with the initial mail sort just to pull out and check things that might be from the one you don’t want to receive? Maybe once a week have the post sorted by a friend or or 1hour hire of a trustworthy neighbor teen?

      1. Katefish*

        Long shot, but they may waive the remaining fees if you ask but that you paid the underlying bill. I’d definitely say you didn’t mean to overlook it and have paid now, and ask them to waive what’s left in penalty. If they say no, just pay what’s left. In any case, good luck!

      2. Not So NewReader*

        In the US, you can put a stop to mail coming from certain return addresses. This assumes there is a return address on the letter.
        Please do get someone to sit with you and help you through your mail. I understand for my own reasons about Mail Dread. I now have a friend who has Mail Dread and sometimes she calls, so I go over with her for a bit.

        I could be mistaken or saying this incorrectly but I THINK using the mail to harass someone is a crime in the US. You might want to investigate this on your end and see if you can find legal recourse.

        1. Ruth (UK)*

          Thank you. I have had the police involved for a little of a year but it’s… difficult to deal with because of the mental condition of the person involved, and because the letters are not threatening in nature (they just mostly declare his love for me and ask me to live with him). It’s the volume of letters that makes it unmanageable (every day). Unfortunately, there is no return address on them.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            It sounds smothering. I am very sorry you have had this problem and it has been running so long. Does he get any social services? Does he have a case manager?

          2. Dr. Anonymous*

            I’m so sorry! In the US, you can have an extra mailing address just by adding “1/2” to your house number. Can you do that in the UK, have two mailboxes, and just send all your important mail to the “1/2” address and dump the rest in the bin?

          3. Elenor*

            Have you been to the Citizens Advice Bureau? There’s usually a volunteer who could help you with your situation. I got into serious debt by not opening post, ignoring email because I thought they were from him. It doesn’t matter that there are no threats it’s terrifying. Please believe that I know how you feel, I’m only now getting a handle on my debt. I owed a lot of Council Tax and I was frightened, scared to talk to them but when I did and I told them what my situation was the people I spoke to were very helpful. Just be honest with them and ask if you can get billing online. Perhaps you could create a new email account just for bills? I hope things get better for you Ruth, I really do.

    4. Lizabeth*

      Can you get a post office box for all your bills and other important mail to be directed to? That way it’s separate from the icky stuff.

      I’m assuming you’ve reported the icky mail to the police but it probably wouldn’t hurt to do a follow up.

      Sending good thoughts your way.

    5. Apoch*

      Don’t worry about it, they send quite firm sounding letters but there really isn’t any ltjing they can do to you just because the payment was a bit late, they’ll just be glad you paid the bill.

      1. Auntie Social*

        Autopay. I hate going through the mail too. My bills are all on autopay in case I get to things late. I also have due dates in my phone so I can check my accounts online to make sure everything is current.

    6. Batgirl*

      As someone who went through something really similar, I would advise a) Giving yourself a break. Missing a bill is a decent sacrifice to the gods of mental health. You prioritised well!
      b) Find a mail organisational system so that you’re not having to routinely do something that distresses you. You could have approved-mail sent to a PO box or have them all switched to paperless email, which should cut down on sorting (there’s also a royal mail opt out for unaddressed mail which should further cut down on sorting). It should be obvious if something has slipped through the net if theres a smaller pile reaching your door.
      Or you could have all the mail sent to your address redirected. My mother was able to spam filter stuff for me and remove anything problematic (or save it as proof) without telling me. She’d let me know if anything important had arrived. You’d need someone very trustworthy for that though.
      C) Seven days is ridiculous! You could have easily missed that for being away on holiday, plus did they ever tell you there were late fees? Or when it was due? This might be a good resource for you:

    7. Elizabeth West*

      Can you get your bills sent electronically instead of through the post? None of mine come via post anymore–it’s all email. (I’m in the US.) That way, you won’t miss anything if you don’t feel up to sorting the mail.

      1. Lilith*

        I’m going to second auto pay. If the amount is the same each time and the date due is similar, it’s great. Also, as Elizabeth says, emailed reminders are great.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I don’t do autopay because I have to juggle, just electronic bills. But most companies will do this now.

    8. MissDisplaced*

      Don’t stress! Just call them ASAP and explain that you forgot or didn’t see the bill. If you have a good history with them, you may be given a pass, or at worst pay a late fee. But I’d ask them if they can waive the late fee.

  5. anonymouse*

    I recently realized that it’s been over five years since I’ve seen any Buffy:tVS, which honestly feels like an eternity. The show is a foundational work of art from my teen/young adult days, and still something I hold close to my heart. The last Buffyverse I watched: Angel: The Series, season 5, second half (the Fred/Illyria arc) right after Trump won the election. I needed comfort and sorrow in equal measure.

    I’m excited to re-watch Buffy from the beginning, “Welcome to the Hellmouth”, even though there are so many new shows I *could* be watching. But Buffy is one of those ride-or-die things for me.

    1. Different name for safety*

      I am going to a Once More With Feeling singalong this week. With Nicholas Brendan in attendance. I’m so excited!!!

      1. Tris Prior*

        I am envious! I went to one once and it was SO fun even without Xander. I thought the singalongs had been banned for copyright, though, and shut down?

        1. Different name for safety*

          I don’t know! Maybe it’s officially sanctioned with Nicholas Brendan being there? If you want to get your photo taken with him it’s something like £300.

    2. Lcsa99*

      Its been even longer than that since I watched Buffy, sadly. It was such an amazing show and I still think Joss Whedon is brilliant.

      I do occasionally let out the occasional “grr arg.”

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I had a t-shirt with the Grr-Arg zombie on it. I wore it until it fell apart LOL.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      About to introduce my child to the first Buffy movie, but there’s enough adult about the series that I’m debating if she’s old enough. If it were a movie where would you rate it?

      1. Madge*

        Common sense media rates it at 13+. Parent and kid reviews on their site each rate it at 12+.

      2. Freelance Everything*

        I watched it when I was about 8 when it was airing on TV but my dad would watch the episodes ‘live’ and then I’d watch the recording.

        I had a good grasp on TV and Film not being real so there was no real worry concerning that; my dad was more prepping himself on the themes and such so he could parent more effectively in the aftermath.

        I think that’s a good way to go, honestly. Plus it gives you a chance to watch it through with your kid in mind and you’ll know best if they’re ready for it.

      3. caseyj*

        The movie is not what it was intended to be, for sure. However, with Luke Perry’s recent passing (RIP to my forever future husband), I have enjoyed watching it. And Paul Ruebens SLAYS in that roll
        “oh yeah, Clap”

    4. Marion Ravenwood*

      Confession time: I have never watched Buffy. I think I was just a bit too young for it at the time when it aired in the UK, and I’ve never got round to it. I think I would like it though so am determined to start watching it at some point this year!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Don’t skip the movie. Paul Reubens made a great datk-comedy villain.
        Also be aware that they changed the universe a bit for the series, so you can enjoy it for the pure romp it is.

    5. Loopy*

      I just debating checking this out of my local library this week! I was a latecomer to the series in Season 5 and really got into it during Season 6.

      Have you read the spin off book that just came out? I was quite worried but ended up liking it a lot. Its called Slayer by Kiersten White.

    6. Double A*

      I rewatched all of Buffy in the months after the 2016 election and it was such a balm.

    7. JKP*

      I started out as a Trekkie and didn’t get into Buffy until season 5, then went back and rewatched all the previous seasons and read way too much fanfic. I think Buffy and Star Trek are similar in many ways. On. ST they used alien worlds to explore aspects of our own humanity, whereas with Buffy they used demons and magic in the same way. Buffy actually ended up as my all-time favorite show.

    8. Grandma Mazur*

      I haven’t watched it in ages, not since I was trying to get my partner to get into it and realised that season one and the first half of two haven’t aged that well… But I have very fond memories of many episodes and may get him to dip in and out (for, eg, Band Candy, Doppelgangland, Fear Itself, etc).

      1. Merci Dee*

        Fear Itself was one of my favorite episodes.

        “They’re all going to leave you, you know. ”

        “Yeah, yeah.”


    9. only acting normal*

      I once watched all of Season 5 in a day… in random order. I had flu, which is as close as I can get to an explanation.

      1. caseyj*

        Claire Kramer as Glory as the big bad is my favorite. My kiddo watched transformers prime the animated series when we was younger and optimus sacrifices himself for the good of the auto-bots and he was so confused, so I showed him the last of Season 5 and was like “see, mom’s heroes do it too”
        And now with endgame coming out soon, we have the ultimate lesson

      2. Courageous cat*

        Season 5 is my favorite. I watched half of Buffy when it was on the air and I was a kid, but I rewatched all of it in 2016 as an adult, and Season 5 was just so fucking good nonstop. Very compelling story, and I liked Dawn and the concept of her.

  6. Thursday Next*

    One of the kittens we adopted in November might have FIP (incurable, fatal). It’s a nasty disease with no definitive test, so after two vet visits this week, we can’t be sure. I haven’t discussed this with my son yet—we adopted the kittens in November to help him with his depression. He knows she’s sick and not eating much, but thinks she’ll recover.

    I lost a one-year-old cat to FIP 19 years ago, so I’ve been down this road, and it’s hard. I’m hoping it’s not FIP, and that what she has is some virus that she’ll work through eventually. I’ve been giving her an appetite stimulant that doesn’t seem to be working, and she’s so lethargic compared to the frisky little thing she was two months ago.

    I didn’t want to get any cats after we had to put down our beloved 16-y.o. cat two years ago, and I’m surprised by how attached I’ve become to this pair, especially the one who’s sick. I’m just very sad and worried.

      1. Thursday Next*

        Thank you. She’s so adorable and wonderful, and I’m so sad feeling like I can’t restore her to herself.

    1. Star Nursery*

      I’m sorry! I’m hoping it’s something she can recover from as well! My kitten had an illness this year that the vet prescribed an antibiotic for her and she’s much better now so I hope your kitty is better soon. Did you try offering wet food or tuna? My kitten was not eating as much at that time. The vet told me that cats sense of smell makes a difference on wanting to eat.

      1. Thursday Next*

        A great suggestion—I will get some “smellier” food. As I have a cold right now, it won’t bother me. ;)

        1. I'm A Little Teapot*

          Also try baby food. It’s a gold standard for getting sick/elderly kitties to eat. Get a jar of the chicken puree.

    2. Venus*

      I am so sorry – I lost a cat to FIP years ago, and it’s an awful disease.

      There is an experimental, expensive treatment. It won’t help most cats, yet, but at least there is hope with the disease. For more info:

      1. Thursday Next*

        This is really interesting! I hope it’s something that becomes effective—and affordable. I was really dismayed to learn that there haven’t been any advances in diagnosis or treatment in the nearly two decades since another cat of mine had it.

    3. Ada*

      So sorry about your kitty! I hope she recovers. Piggy-backing off Star Nursery’s suggestion, another thing you might want to try is a baby food made of some kind of meat (make sure it’s just the meat, no veggies mixed in). Apparently some cats go crazy for it. I’ve heard of people socializing feral kittens by offering them meat baby food because it’s so irresistible to them it overrides their instinct to not trust humans. Or just switch up the food in general. I think we bought my 18 yo cat another year because we got a sample of cat food in the mail and tried feeding it to her. At the time she was dying from renal failure and had just about stopped eating before we stumbled on the new food that she would eat.

      1. Thursday Next*

        Thank you, Ada and Star Nursery. I’ll try offering tuna and different wet foods, including baby food. I’ve been heating up her wet food, which increases the aroma, and she nibbles a bit and walks away.

        1. Auntie Social*

          I thought I was the only one who heated up the cat’s food!! If I heat it she eats it all–it I don’t she eats about half. Canned food is expensive, I don’t want to waste it. And the family thinks I’m mental.

        2. Rainy*

          Watch the ingredients carefully–the chicken baby food often has onion in it for flavoring (because chicken tastes like…nothing), and onion is of course quite bad for cats.

    4. Rainy*

      If it helps at all.. when I was a kid, just ten or eleven, we had two kittens, sisters, that we took in for a spay, and our vet (a cousin), called us after the operation, crying, to tell us that they had all the markers of FIP, which I seem to recall was pretty newly discovered at the time (this would have been maybe 1986ish?). She’d cleaned out their abdomens of the characteristic fluid buildup while she was in there for the spay, and she thought it would help some but she had no idea how much.

      They both lived to be in their teens, and never had any further problems.

      1. Thursday Next*

        That’s amazing. Our vet didn’t see any fluid, so she said this might be “dry” FIP. I’m just going to hope for the best.

        1. Rainy*

          You honestly never know with cats. They are amazingly persistent when they want to be.

        2. MsChanandlerBong*

          I don’t want to give you false hope, but a vet told us our cat was FIP-positive in 2009. She’s now 12 years old and doesn’t have a thing wrong with her, according to the exam and blood tests she had done last month. I am hoping you get the same outcome!

    5. Anontech*

      I’m so sorry for you, your kitten, and your family! FIP is such an awful, sad disease and I truly hope your little one does not have it! I’ve worked in the veterinary field for almost 20 years, mostly in specialty medicine, so I’ve seen so much of it. I’m not going to speculate on the diagnostics and all that your vet has done. However, if the appetite stimulant hasn’t worked for your kitten, you could always ask your vet if there may be a different one you could try. Also, anti nausea medicine if she’s not on any. As far as food to offer try a variety! I used to be astounded by the cats that would turn up their noses at tuna and fishy canned food, but then scarf down canned chicken.
      Good luck to you and I’ll be hoping for the best!

    6. not Lynn Davis*

      Two more wet food suggestions….
      1. Vet recommended baby food lamb (rather than other meats/veg) when our young kitty had upset stomach. Said it was easy to digest. Kitty LOVED it.
      2. When kitty was older/overweight and vet recommended switching from dry diet to mainly wet food….Kitty wouldn’t eat the ‘healthy ‘ wet we bought. Vet advised Fancy Feast canned, describing it as kitty crack. Yep, she scarfed it down.

  7. Sparkly Librarian*

    What chance do I have of a bank waiving my credit card late fee/interest charge just because I ask? I always pay in full, on time, but I had 2 weeks of bad luck and discombobulation (minor car accident, cat death, work schedule changed significantly, my calendar reminder to pay that bill expired) and missed the due date this month. Figured it out 2 says late and already paid the balance. I figure it can’t hurt to ask, but I don’t know whether it’s something routinely waived or not.

    1. Lena Clare*

      Good – especially if your history is good. Just talk to them, explain what happened, explain how it isn’t going to happen again, you’ll be fine :-)

    2. Star Nursery*

      It doesn’t hurt to ask! They can say no but you would never know unless you try.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      The late fee, good chance. The interest, not so likely. At least, that’s been my experience.

    4. The Other Dawn*

      If it’s the first time it’s quite likely they’ll waive the late fee. I don’t think they’d waive the interest, though.

    5. Ranon*

      Mine waives one late fee a year if you just call and ask, interest you’re likely stuck with but since you’re on the phone anyways doesn’t hurt to ask.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Echoing, I also think this will go well for you. You are just politely asking and pointing out that you have been a good customer. It’s a long shot that they say no, but if they do say no, then you just thank them for their time and hang up. You can decide later if you want a different card because of this.

    7. Teapot Translator*

      It happened to me once, and I called and they waived the interest charge. I don’t think there was a fee (we probably or not in the same part of the world). It doesn’t hurt to ask.
      I had a coworker once who got the interest charge waived three times, I think, until finally the bank told him that to waive the interest, he would have to sign up for automatic payments.

    8. Anongineer*

      I’ve had this happen a few times across different credit cards – store cards, master card, visa – and they have always waived both the late fee and the interest. I’m always apologetic and nice; they always point out that I have an excellent payment history.

    9. The Doctor is In*

      Good chance. If you can swing it, also recommend setting up automatic payments through your bank.

    10. Rachel*

      Many banks/credit card providers will routinely waive one fee per year. Defintely ask.

    11. Mephyle*

      Tip: overpay, otherwise you may be charged further interest next month. That is, when you pay this month you pay the amount owing, which consists of credit charges, interest on the statement, and late fee, and you think you’ve covered it, but next month you get hit with extra charge, which is interest on the interest and/or late fee that incurred between the date the statement was generated and the date you paid. If you proactively pay more, it may forestall that interest.

    12. Budgie Lover*

      I was a day late for Chase once, called them and explained what happened and aplologized. No dice. Luckily the fee was only $20.

    13. Samwise*

      Some years ago we bounced an astounding number of checks and a number of bills (including credit cards) one month due to bad life situation…we called the bank and all of the creditors and almost all of them waived the fees. Having been a reliable payer in the past really helped, and we made sure to be really on the ball after that.

    14. Everdene*

      I used to work for financial call centres. Even the most junior p/t advisor ws able to waive a certain number of fees each week/month. Be polite, kind, genuine and understanding that they might not be able to do this… do not swear or get angry if they don’t waive the charges – this will potentially get notes/warnings on your file for all future call handlers to read. Go for it though, you have nothing to lose.

  8. matcha123*

    Looking for tasty coffee recommendations! It’ll be getting a lot warmer soon and I live to cold brew coffee to take with me to work.
    I like flavored coffees hot, but not too many seem to hold up well after a night steeping in the fridge.
    I don’t like ones that are too bitter. I also can’t get brands like Dunkin Donuts where I am (outside of the US), but have access to a good number of independent shops that roast and sell their own beans.
    Any particular blends or brands people like?

    1. Lena Clare*

      Costa Coffee is my favourite coffee shop, and the one I buy in the shops is Lavazzo :-)

      It really depends on taste though. When I drank caffeine, I liked McDonalds coffee, but wouldn’t dream of buying their food (sorry!). McDo’s in the UK doesn’t do decaff or vegan milk thingies so I can’t drink there now. I have a friend who prefers Nero’s but I think their coffee is too strong.

      For shop bought coffee, I prefer the ones from the same origin (not the mixed ones). I don’t know where you are though – do you have a Sainsbury’s? They do nice different flavoured natural coffee, you know like wines I mean, not with flavours added in.
      They also do syrups if you wanted to make your own flavours, and instant (yes I know :/) coffee with flavours in like hazelnut or mint or Irish cream or whatever. I don’t know what they taste like though. The only instant I like is the Azera stuff and even then it is because there are no other alternatives.

      And personally, I think you can make the Irish cream one with proper filter coffee and then putting Irish Cream in instead of milk but what do I know?!

      1. coffee cup*

        Nero coffee IS strong! You have to ask for a ‘mild’ (i.e. one shot), like an outcast, ha.

        Sainsbury’s coffee filters are the best ones I’ve found. Still not ‘real’ the way I like it, but definitely decent.

      2. matcha123*

        That sounds delicious! I’m in Japan and I don’t think that chain is here, but adding Irish cream to coffee does sound very nice!

    2. The RO-Cat*

      I’ve experimented with cold brew and found the combination of 1/2 Colombian coffee + 1/2 Kenyan (or Ethiopian) coffee, freshly ground, to be to my taste: not too bitter, not too burnt, flavorful and keeping very well in the fridge once steeping is over. Unfortunately I can’t tell you the exact brands because I buy coffee at a small local shop (herbs, condiments and coffee) and all the vendor knew was the origin of the beans.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m a Maxwell House fan myself. And I got a bottle of flavored sweetener, so my husband can get “coffee-flavored coffee” from the same pot I get my hazelnut or vanilla.

    4. Not A Manager*

      If you don’t like the bitter flavor, try Sumatra beans. I get them in a medium roast. They are my favorite.

      People who like their coffee “bright” and with lots of “berry” might not like Sumatra. I find that anything that is marketed as “bright” is not my favorite – they tend to taste sort of sharp to me.

      1. matcha123*

        I think I’ve had some sumatra at starbucks (of all places!). I also think I know what you mean with the ‘berry’. A friend gave me a bag of ground coffee and I am pretty sure she said it had a lot of berry. The tag explaining the ‘hints’ and mixtures was ripped off, but it was pretty hard to drink.

    5. ThatGirl*

      I dig Central American beans, and try to look for local roasters, but Target has some good blends for reasonable prices. Tierra del Sol is good. I live on coldbrew in the summer.

    6. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I like Raven’s Brew Skookum and Misty Fjords. Both are medium roasts. We usually order them direct because we can’t reliably get them at a store near us. They are in Alaska, of all places, so we order several bags at a time to make the shipping worth it (I think we usually get free shipping).

    7. cat slave*

      I’ve never made cold brew but a tip for hot: to take the bitter notes out, grind the coffee quite fine, and use more than you think. I do 3 large tbspns of our coarsely-ground work coffee (no grinder), for about 1 cup of french press, and I let it sit for awhile. Not all the bitter is removed, but it is a much sweeter coffee than normal ratio.

      1. ThatGirl*

        The easiest way to make coldbrew is to let coarse grounds steep for at least 12 hours, then strain. No heat = low acidity. I make it strong and dilute with milk or water.

    8. Parenthetically*

      Since you’re near independent shops, go there, tell them what you like and don’t like and what you’re using it for (cold brew), and ask them what they’d recommend! Nothing from a grocery is even going to approach the quality of an independent shop’s carefully roasted beans!

      1. matcha123*

        Thanks! It never occurred to me to try that…the customers I see in those places all seem to know what they want and I slowly slink out the door after staring at coffee items and filling my nose with delicious scents lol

      2. Marion Ravenwood*

        Yes to this! When I lived in a different bit of London, I used to go to an amazing food market in Greenwich that had a stall with all different flavours of coffee and tea, and where they would grind the coffee beans to suit how you were brewing them. They were always super-helpful and friendly (the guy actually ended up helping us make a custom-blended tea for our wedding) so if there’s anything like that near you I’d definitely give them a go.

    9. Grandma Mazur*

      Ethiopian Yirgacheffe is my favourite but I’ve not made cold brew with it before (since up until recently I was buying ground coffee and that was ground fine for espresso rather than the french press we use for cold brewing).

    10. CastIrony, The Worst Barista Ever*

      I used to be a horrible barista, especially since I don’t drink coffee. Let’s see what I can remember:
      Can you buy flavored syrup at the store? If so, you can just add it to your coffee drinks! Just remember to count to four as you pour!

      Now, let’s see if my memory for an iced mocha serves me well. It’s basically a milkshake with espresso!
      For the milkshake “base”, mix the following:
      – six scoops of whatever ice cream you want (I used vanilla and/or chocolate)
      – a little bit of milk, like half a cup at most
      After the milkshake “base”, you can use the flavored syrup of your choice, but always count to four as you pour, then stir.
      I believe you can add ice (made with coffee would taste better, but I think regular ice was used) at this point
      Then, make your espresso shots (2-3), but the machine I used did two shots’ worth at a time.
      Pour the espresso (or coffee) into the milkshake and enjoy (I hope!)

    11. Samwise*

      I’d ask at your local shops, describing the kinds you like, how you brew them, drinking hot or cold, leaving in fridge overnite, etc. Shop owners and many baristas really enjoy helping customers with this.

      For cold/iced coffee: I find that brewing overnite tends to make a bitter-er coffee. I brew the coffee hot (french press), pour into a glass jar, add dairy or sugar if wanted, let it cool to room temp, then stick it in the fridge. Maybe I am just bad at cold-brewing!

    12. caseyj*

      I make my own in a toddy – I brew it for 48 hours usually and buy iced beans from a local shop. You can put vanilla or cinnamon drops/flavor in it to help if you like.

  9. Cows go moo*

    Has anyone had therapy for OCD? I realise I need to see someone but I am embarrassed and kinda overwhelmed. I wonder if anyone can explain what a psychologist actually does so I can understand the process involved.

    1. Lena Clare*

      Yes. I had cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and person-centred therapy many years later. CBT involved talking about past stuff, patterns, then doing things that changed the patterns. My therapist was good, and my OCD DID go into remission although it flares up with stress, however the weird thing was I didn’t FEEL different and I think maybe I expected to feel differently?

      I also read a good book, I am sorry I cannot remember it now, but it did complement what the therapist was teaching me and that was basically
      1/ notice the obsessive thought
      2/ ‘detach’ from the thought. I.E. say to yourself “this is not me, this is my OCD”
      3/ go and do something different mindfully until the thought passes, up to around 15 minutes but usually much less.
      E.g. I am washing the dishes, the water is hot, I am wearing rubber gloves, the soap bubbles are coming up to the top of the sink, I am scrubbing the pan clean, I am rinsing the pan. etc.
      Repeat the steps where necessary, but be gentle with yourself. Try not to use language that might be judgemental – this is not me it’s my stupid OCD why can’t I get it to stop? etc.
      I think that is the essence of it, but obviously be guided by your therapist.

      The best therapy I have ever had by far though is person-centred. I think you have to absolutely find the right therapist of course but even more so with PC therapy because it is about the relationship between the two of you that is at the core of the therapy and why it works. But if you get a good PC therapist imo there is NOTHING person-centred can’t help with. I am a huge advocate. It helped me enormously with my OCD. In fact, ugh, thinking about it now – I can’t even remember when the last episode was, and I have been feeling shit and stressed lately!

      Feeling embarrassed and overwhelmed and all the other feelings you have are natural, and some are even consequences of the OCD itself. I was nervous too, but it worked because I finally got the stage where the pain inside was worse than the fear of releasing it and so I HAD to do the therapy, I felt like I had no other choice (other than death, and I didn’t want to die). Sometimes it did release very painful emotions in me, but I felt safe with my therapist to explore that.

      I wish you well.

    2. Marion Q*

      My therapy is for anxiety and depression, but since you seem to ask more about what a psychologist does and the actual process maybe I can help answering? I totally get the embarrassment and being overwhelmed!

      1. Cows go moo*

        What was actually involved in treatment? What activities/”homework” did you have to do? What did you learn and how did it help?

        1. Marion Q*

          The first few sessions were about the psychologist and me finding out what the issues are, what was my current life situation was, what did I expect/need/hope from therapy, and building trust between the us. I spent these sessions talking to the wall instead of to my psychologist because I was still too embarrassed. A good psychologist will understand this and not force you to to do anything you’re not ready yet. I found it difficult to explain my issues at first, and my psychologist gently coaxed me to talk, which was helpful. So don’t worry if you don’t know how to articulate your issues yet, the psychologist knows how guide you to give the information. On these first session you probably won’t be given any activities/”homework” yet, and it may feel slow at first. If you can come up with what kind of help/expectations/support you need, that may move the process faster, but don’t worry if you can’t come up with specifics. The two of you will figure it out together.

          My activities were small stuff at first, like relaxation techniques for when my anxiety is acting up. Later on my psychologist started to “challenge” me on my anxious thoughts. For example I mentioned a recurrent thought that comes up when I’m anxious, and she asked me what proof I have to warrant such thoughts. Basically we examined these thoughts, what triggered them, and whether they were actually rational/reasonable outcomes or not. She also taught me techniques to help dealing with the thoughts. For “homework”, she assigned me books to read, mainly about mindfulness for my anxiety. She also asked me to write a journal to help keep track on my anxious and depressive thoughts. We met weekly, so we’d go over my entries that week and discussed it. Another “homework” was to start a routine exercise schedule to help with my lethargy.

          All these techniques definitely help me dealing with my anxiety better. Nowadays when I get anxious thoughts I try to use the relaxation techniques first, then examine the situation using the model she taught me.

          Another major benefit was that she explained to me the science behind anxiety and depression, some that I already knew, some that I hadn’t known. When it became obvious that therapy was not enough, she strongly urged me to go to a doctor and seek medication. I’m still on meds now, and the combination of the two help some, though it’s still a long way to go. You may or may not need medication, and your psychologist will help you figure it out.

          I hope that helps! Feel free to ask more!

    3. FutureLibrarianNoMore*


      I ended up starting Prozac, as I couldn’t get myself out of the OCD hole. For some, medication treatment is the best form, but for others, therapy alone will work.

      I did a lot of person-centered therapy versus cognitive behavioral, because I had a roster of other issues to work out. It really helps! For me, we work together to find the most workable solution, and slowly build my confidence to address the OCD on my own.

    4. excori_anon*

      Hi, I have a form of OCD called excoriation where I pick at the skin around my fingers. Body focused repetitive behaviors’ are classified as a form of OCD.

      For me, the first session was used to get a baseline for what I felt my challenges are. (for me that was picking skin without consious thought and ending up with painful fingernails.) Subsequent visits were just about tracking the behavior, trying to find patterns around when my times were “worst” – noticed when I was bored/watching TV when my hands are idle but a lot of things on my mind. You’ll probably be asked to keep a timesheet of what and when the behaviors are you want to stop and maybe also what your thoughts are at the time.

      For me, I’m basically being given a string of fidget toys and other physical things like fingertip grips to help me remind myself not to pick e.g. bandaids around the areas. Meds haven’t come into discussion yet since my therapist is trying to get me to redirect my physical energy first to see if that works. I still have ruminating thoughts which we are going to address in the future.

      Good luck! Therapists are used to patients that come to them out of shame and “i dont know wtf I’m doing, only that I have a problem and need help stopping”.

    5. Almost Academic*

      Therapist-in-training here. Haven’t been through treatment myself, but I’ve treated clients in the past using similar techniques.

      Far and away the treatment with the best evidence base behind its efficacy in treating OCD is exposure-based cognitive behavioral therapy (called Exposure and Response Prevention, or ERP for short). So I would really encourage you to look for a provider trained in this (ask specifically if they do exposure-based treatment, since that’s where a bulk of the good outcomes are from and what works fastest to help you get better- it’s also harder to find than people doing “generic” CBT).

      How the process works (at least at my clinic):
      1. You’ll do some sort of intake. You’ll meet with the therapist, discuss what issues you’re seeking treatment for, how your symptoms impact your life, and devise a treatment plan. A therapist should work with you to address your issues in a way that is manageable for you and will help you get better. It’s okay to ask questions to them about what treatment looks like and how it will progress!
      2. First session usually includes some form of psychoeducation about symptoms of the disorder, what we know about where they originate from, and basically helping you to build a model of your symptoms and “put together the pieces” to see where we can help you. This might include conducting an exposure hierarchy (which is basically things that feel fearful or that form your obsessions).
      3. Subsequent sessions are a combinations of things, including learning strategies for how to best deal with your intrusive thoughts, how to calm your physical responses, and gradual exposure to the things that you fear. This sounds scary to most people, and unpleasant! And at first, it’s hard – not going to lie about that. However, a good therapist will be there to guide you through it and make sure that you’re not being pushed off the deep end or anything. They’ll be able to adjust treatment to make it manageable for you, but it does involve pushing yourself a little. Homework often involves “mini-exposures”, filling out worksheets, and doing mini experiments on yourself (for instance, what is it like if you don’t do a certain behavior? What happens? Does your most feared outcome actually come true? What if your feared outcome happened, how would you cope with that?)
      4. Once symptoms are under control, it’s a great time to do further work on strategies to help you manage other symptoms or issues that you’ve been having, or to discuss how to prevent relapse and what to do if that happens.

      The logic behind it is that when you have OCD, your brain is telling you that you’re in danger a lot (even when you know that it’s unlikely a bad thing will happen). By doing behaviors to minimize these dangers, what you’ve been sending feedback to your brain that it was correct – increasing the likelihood that your brain sends you those signals in the future. Exposure helps to recalibrate your mind to what actually is dangerous to you, to better help you to move forward while still keeping yourself safe.

      Things to help with finding a good therapist to treat OCD:
      1. Ask specifically if they do exposure and response-based treatments. It really is the first line treatment and what gives you your best shot at getting better in the shortest length of time.
      2. Ask them about their process – how do they measure treatment progress? They should be giving you some sort of measures.
      3. Ask them about homework – what does it look like, how do they negotiate this with you? There should be some sort of practice outside of session encouraged to help you master all of the new skills you’ll be learning.
      4. See how you “click” with them – do you feel like you can trust them, like they’re open, and like they want to help you and customize treatment to fit your needs? A good therapist focuses on helping you to reach your goals.
      5. Ask about their credentials – did they attend an APA-accredited school and internship (if they’re a PhD or PsyD or clinical psychologist)? If they didn’t, and they have that form of degree (PhD/PsyD) be very wary of the level of training they received.
      6. Most therapists will offer a free phone initial phone consultation or in-office visit (~15 minutes) to see if you’re a good match, so don’t be afraid to ask for one to see if you’re on the same page and a good match for each other. Once therapy starts, give it a few sessions to see if you’re clicking, but also know that you can always switch therapists or decide it isn’t for you – you’re not trapped in with a single person.

      Hope that helped! Apologies for the novel, I’m just really passionate about helping people access treatment that helps and works.

    6. L*

      I’m in treatment for OCD right now! I’m doing a group course in exposure and response prevention, which is the type of CBT that’s most effective for treating OCD. The idea is to purposely confront your OCD triggers and resist your compulsions, starting with triggers that cause you less anxiety to build resistance.

      It’s really hard but in my experience, just going to a psychologist with no expertise in OCD was not as helpful. There are many kinds of CBT and it should be tailored to your disorder. I’ll post a link below that I used to find treatment in my area.

    7. Janeitenoir*

      I am in treatment for OCD – mostly for maintenance now. I used exposure-response therapy (ERP). During the sessions, my psychologist and I talk about things that triggered me, and how I managed them. We also come up with a list of possible exposures that I can do as “homework” – there’s a hierarchy, so you don’t start with the most terrifying one right away. As something lower on the hierarchy gets less scary, you move up. I’ve graduated from weekly to monthly appointments, and what’s really help is that I do the therapy twice weekly as maintenance now, as the highest level. Still triggering, but nothing I can’t handle. The consistency and determination of your work really affects the outcome.

  10. LDN Layabout*

    Is property hunting designed to make you feel like you want to cry and crawl into a hole forever?

    I’m not even that far in and I’m extraordinarily lucky compared to some people (reasonable deposit/help from family in terms of mortgage) but also it’s London and I hate and love this stupid, expensive city.

    (I could literally leave this place and buy a house in areas that say they’re London BUT DEFINITELY AREN’T YOUR POSTCODES REVEAL YOUR LIES but I don’t want to so I’m going to end up buying a leasehold one bed…)

    1. Cows go moo*

      Yes. House hunting sucks. I don’t know what else to tell you to make this process more bearable. It sucks all around. I still have nightmares about looking for a good property and never finding it.

      1. LDN Layabout*

        Honestly, I’m glad it gives other people the stress too, it helps relax me a little (which is weird).

    2. Weegie*

      I’m awaiting final mortgage approval now, and the whole house-finding/buying process has been so stressful that if get turned down I’m done with house-buying and will stick with renting as the lesser of two evils!

        1. Weegie*

          Thanks! I’ve just spent the day with friends who confirmed that house-buying is indeed awful and seemingly endless, and that validation has made me feel a whole lot more relaxed about everything.

    3. Sp*

      If it’s that important to you to have a ‘real’ London postcode then yeah, that’s pretty much what you’ve signed up for. If it causes you that much stress maybe reconsider your priorities.

      1. LDN Layabout*

        I mean that was mostly fatuous but part of it is wanting to do tube/bus vs. rail, since it’s the system which is less likely to fall apart on a regular basis. It does leave a few spots right at the top of tube lines though, which are being considered.

    4. coffee cup*

      It sounds like you are fortunate to be able to even consider buying in London, and that you also really want to live in London, so I think you just focus on that and see what you can get for your money. Can you bide your time till you find something you like?

      I rent in Fife, and it’s totally fine, but I would love to be able to go property hunting! (I know that doesn’t help you, but I’d love to own my own.)

      1. LDN Layabout*

        I’m right at the start of the process, which might be why I’m overwhelmed by it all to be honest. So the aim is currently within ‘1.5 years’.

        Yes, I am super fortunate, renting in London eats up a lot of my income but I’ve got a deposit due to some less than ideal childhood life events, so that is an instant leg up :/ (Fife is stunningly beautiful though)

        1. coffee cup*

          Yeah, it sounds daunting! Maybe give Location Location Location a call?!

          Sorry to hear about the events leading to the deposit, but hopefully something positive out of that. Fife is nice in places, but if I could afford it I’d be in Edinburgh!

    5. Overeducated*

      Yes, I’m not even trying to afford an address IN Big City Where I Work and the cost and/or compromises of trying to limit my commute to an hour are staggering.

      1. LDN Layabout*

        Yeah, location vs. commute. Honestly, I’m not partnered/family-ed up so as long as the area isn’t too bad, I’d rather have the easier commute and smaller space right now, priorities-wise.

        1. Overeducated*

          That totally makes sense. I do have a family and just don’t want to squeeze into a one bedroom in the city at this point in our lives (even two is tight, and too expensive). But a shorter commute is the most rationl choice!

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      It’s miserable even in lower cost suburbs in a less crazy market.
      By the way, my one bit of advice for reducing stress is to pick a property inspector recommended by friends/co-workers not by the listing agent. Cuts out the worry if they’re helping a friend to a quick sale.

      1. LDN Layabout*

        Thank you!

        I’m lucky that a few friends have bought recently so I’ve got a number of people to ask for advice/recommendations.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Mine obviously didn’t lift the drop ceiling… it covered so much that should have been flagged. (Leaky plumbing right above light fixtures not visible through the drop ceiling eek!) And I didn’t know I had a year to file a complaint against the inspector until 14 months had gone by since closing. :( I try not to kick myself too much, I was househunting right after a death in the family so I know I was not at my best.

    7. Marion Ravenwood*

      Ugh, I’m sorry. We’re planning to start house-hunting again in the next year or so and I am dreading it after last time. So I feel your pain. But I think it is just a matter of perseverance and trying not to get too down-hearted; the right place is out there! Can you do something nice for yourself this weekend to help take your mind off things maybe?

      (Also, if the ‘not London postcode’ properties you’re looking at are in Croydon, I’d say don’t dismiss it out of hand. Granted I’m biased because that’s where I live, and I know it has a bit of a reputation – I’ll hold my hands up and say it wasn’t somewhere I’d considered living initially – but it does have really good transport links, the restaurant/bar/nightlife scene is improving a lot, and is probably the last affordable area in London to buy in. So it’s worth considering even if it might not seem initially like what you want.)

      1. LDN Layabout*

        I was literally defending Croydon last night to a friend when I mentioned it XD it’s one of the few non-London postcodes I’m considering (also looking at right at the top of the map if it’s near Edgware or High Barnet and am getting slightly seduced by prices in Romford…). I also have a good number of friends in South London so that works as well.

        The issue is transport for me, I’d much prefer to do tube vs. rail, especially since hearing the stories of friends on Southern. Also our building’s lease at work expires in a few years and there are rumours about where it’s moving. One makes Croydon perfect, the other would be…hell commute.

        1. Marion Ravenwood*

          Totally get the transport thing. We looked at moving out to Rochester last time around and, whilst it would have been half as much to buy a house there than where we were looking in south-east London (my husband is a born-and-bred South London boy and would never move north of the river in a million years), it would have been about £8k a year in transport for the two of us. I worked out that in something like 15 years, we’d have spent the same on a mortgage in Rochester and transport to London than if we’d just bought here to start with. And that was at a period where Southeastern was going awry constantly, so we were unwilling to take the risk. (Of course, the irony being we moved to a Southern Trains area…)

          That said, I do think one of the advantages of Croydon, or at least the bit where I am, is that there are a number of routes out – we’re at the midpoint of a triangle of three stations, all within 15 minutes’ walk, that go into two different London stations, plus the Overground. And now that Thameslink goes through East Croydon that’s opened up a lot of options. But I definitely wouldn’t want to move anywhere I didn’t have multiple ways to travel now if I needed to!

    8. Not So NewReader*

      FWIW, house hunting made me cry. Looking for a new pup can also make me cry. I don’t know how people manage with doing adoptions, I’d probably be a mess. And that is where I landed, I kept telling myself this is not like waiting for a child.
      Keep going, take short breaks when it gets too harsh. Then pick yourself up and go back at it again. Deliberately work success into your day/week. Chose unrelated activities that give you a small feeling of success in some part of your life.

    9. Tau*

      Hahaha came here to talk about house hunting, as a fellow extraordinarily lucky but apparently not quite lucky enough person. Although at least I’m not looking in London! You have my full sympathies.

      1. Tau*

        although I share my own, very very German, flat hunting woes this week:

        I discovered that I can’t buy any flat that’s currently being rented (which is, like, 95% of them), because German regulations around renter protection are quite something and I would, actually, like to live in my new acquisition at some point in the next decade.

        (In principle I’m totally in favour of strong rental protections, but I just spent ten years living in the UK with the constant fear that my contract wouldn’t get extended – a period which included such high points as “that time my landlord kicked me out one month before I handed in my PhD thesis” and “that time my lease got cancelled on me twice in under a year.” Somehow, I feel like I did this whole thing the wrong way around.)

        1. PurpleMonster*

          Ha, in NZ we got notice that our house was on the market right after Christmas and about seven weeks before our wedding, and had no idea when/if through that period we would have to find somewhere else. It was most stressful.

          In the event, we were very lucky that it was bought by investors who kept us on, but six years on I still get tense remembering that time.

    10. anonfd*

      I just started the process of purchasing a place in an expensive city (though not London). Something I had to immediately come to terms with when I started my search is that I would definitely not find a place that checked off all my boxes. However, I did make sure wherever I put offers on, I genuinely liked and found comfortable. For some reason, my real estate agent initially kept giving me listings for a bunch of basement condos until I finally told him to rule out basements completely – I couldnt see myself living in a basement!

      1. anonfd*

        I also want to take advantage of this discussion to quickly poopoo on investors and how they ruin the housing market. Some of us actually want to live in our purchased property, stop buying up property so you can just rent them out at high prices!

    11. Melody Pond*

      OMG yes it is (designed to make you cry). We finally got our condo up for sale this last week, and we’d been casually looking at houses off and on for the past few months – we’ve seen a LOT of houses, and none that really fully fit the bill.

      Until Tuesday of last week. I found THE one. It’s perfect. It’s my dream house. It feels like home. It’s within our budget. It’s been on the market for 40+ days, so apparently (?) hasn’t had a ton of buyers clamoring over it.

      But we found it literally the day before our own listing went active, and even though we’ve tried to price our own place on the low side, I just don’t see how we could possibly get a pending offer on our own place soon enough to be able to move on my dream house before it gets snatched up. So I’m in mourning. Insert massive tears here. :(

  11. only acting normal*

    A mental health support circle I’m in had fallen fallow for the last year (people didn’t really have the spoons to keep it running). Now an ally (someone with a relative with quite severe problems, but none themselves) has joined and started resurrecting it.
    I’m conflicted: it’s nice that someone with the energy to do so has started arranging meet-ups, but it used to be a ‘closed’ space with only fellow sufferers and now it somehow feels less ‘safe’ to me.
    I guess I’ll see how it goes?

    1. Venus*

      Can you find ways to balance it? Have regular meetups with the larger group, and occasional ones as a subgroup? Take advantage of this person’s offer of time, in added ways. If they truly are sincere, hopefully they will understand having an occasional meeting where the allies don’t attend. I participate in two groups – one is just ‘us’ and the other includes allies and parents of kids with the condition – and some parents are supportive of the restricted group whereas others get mad that we’re ‘exclusive’. But we just want to talk about our issues without feeling judged, or causing parents to worry (we limit what we say in the larger group, in part because some parents have a new diagnosis).

      1. only acting normal*

        At the moment they seem nice but just a bit super-duper-high-energy-enthusiastic!!1!! Which, er, really stands out in a group of anxious depressed people. :-/
        It’s early days though, maybe they won’t dominate as much as I fear. It also depends on the feeling of the rest of the group: if it helps them it helps them.

        1. valentine*

          Simply restrict the group to sufferers. This reminds me of the gross ad with Glenn Close wearing a shirt that reads Sister and her sister wearing a shirt that reads Condition (I don’t recall what it is). They’re…not just both, but equally, sisters. Ugh.

          1. only acting normal*

            Not up to me unfortunately, the group owners had to approve her access to the online bit in the first place. I’d just be bummed to lose the group dynamic we had. Ho hum!

    2. Temperance*

      I think this is super valid. The relative needs different support than you do, and a closed space makes sense for both groups. I wonder if she might be cool making arrangements and then peacing out, if she wants to help.

      1. only acting normal*

        She’s not after support so much as trying to be supportive, which is a good start.

        1. Ada*

          Maybe she’d be open to doing the work to organize and facilitate the meetings but step out for the meetings themselves then? It might not be a bad idea to have someone not struggling with depression/anxiety to do the coordination parts, so the group can be available even if most members aren’t up to it, but they don’t necessarily have to be a part of the actual conversations, it sounds like. Almost like they’d be playing the role of a receptionist in a therapist’s office.

    3. fposte*

      Another possibility is that she is herself suffering and only feels like she can address it through her relative.

      1. only acting normal*

        Not sure. Maybe?
        The group includes some carers, but they share their own problems, not their caree’s. If she’d opened with her own problems it would have fit right in to the normal vibe, so I’m not sure why she wouldn’t.
        The relative isn’t in our group (because geography), but ally’s online introduction was a quite detailed history of relative’s problems and treatment and what she did to support them. I think it put me on the back foot, maybe because we’ve only ever shared our own experiences never other people’s (even though she did have permission to share).

    4. Wishing You Well*

      In my health support group run by medical professionals, non-sufferers were not allowed (not even spouses). I’m sure there was a very good reason for exclusivity.
      Do what makes you feel comfortable.

    5. in disguise for this*

      I’m screaming at you to run! Ruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuun! Ruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuun! Can you see me panicking and running around?

      I knew someone who, because they were in a support group class with someone that took advantage of them in the past, lost a letter grade because they finally snapped after all semester of dealing with their presence (They took over the discussion a lot, to my person’s irritation, for example.) and said something not-so-rude (but deserved) to said person, and said person was “so offended”. I’m still mad about it.

      So find another group where you feel safe. Your safety comes first.

      1. Penelope Garcia’s glasses*

        They were graded on being in a support group? I don’t get how that would work?

        But I agree! Trust your gut!

      2. only acting normal*

        Well, that made me laugh, so thanks! :)
        I’ll observe for a bit to see how she interacts, then quietly withdraw if necessary. Just a shame to lose the dynamic we had (although like I said, it was fallow: the real-life portion had effectively stopped and the online was a bit quiet).

  12. Batgirl*

    I need some advice on how to support my very unhappy 11yo niece.
    Her brother hits her to get attention and she nearly lost it last weekend and began screaming at him like she might murder him.
    Initially they both got into trouble but when the facts were ascertained little bro was in big trouble with his father.

    However, when staying with us, my niece has told me and my mother that her complaints about him go unresolved at home. That he keeps her up all night and nothing is done (They only have a two bed which is an issue they’re working hard to resolve).
    I was also alarmed to hear her mother indirectly blame her for the dinner event: ‘Leia has hated Luke since he was born and now he’s just got it into his head that he hates her. She just hates people and she never smiles’.

    I actually really like my SiL but this shocked me to my core. I’m hoping she was just stressed, Leia has been doing more teenager-y style snark of late. But my partner and I had already noticed that Leia is pestered to smile and socialise when she doesn’t want to. I had to dispute what she was saying quite forcefully but I don’t know if it did any good.
    Aside from letting my niece stay and hole up in a quiet corner whenever she wants, (she loves this) have any of you been in a similar situation and what would you have liked? I was thinking of taking her out over the holidays or possibly getting her brother out of the way so she can just be herself around her parents. I’m thinking he needs more adult relationships anyway; you can tell my niece is going to be a sensible young wqoman, but I’m frightened his best traits are vanishing in this dynamic.

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      Definitely give her a safe space to come to when she needs it. Maybe see if you can have her stay overnight for Friday/Saturday so that she gets some breathing space from what’s happening. Let her know that just because people tell her to smile or socialise more doesn’t mean she has to. Basically, just have her back and let her know that you love and support her.

      She’ll remember the love and support when she’s older, I promise.

    2. Marion Q*

      Ugh, I’ve been the daughter pestered to smile and socialise when I don’t want to, so I get it.

      It doesn’t sound like the mother listens her, so I agree with Foreign Octopus that the best thing you can do is to provide a safe space for her. Let her know that she’s always welcome in your house. You can try getting your nephew to sleepover at your place so that the niece can have some time alone with her parents, but if after you do this you don’t see any improvements (or things actually getting worse, like they get into a fight) then giving her safe space may be the best thing you can give.

    3. infopubs*

      Whatever you can do to treat her like an adult, try to do that. Since she’s your niece and you’ve presumably known her since she was a baby, that’s hard to do. I think every teen needs someone who talks to them like an adult; it’s so affirming and powerful. Respecting her need for quiet and privacy is a great first step.

      My mom dated a man when I was 14 and going through the awfulness of that age. He had zero experience with kids of any age and he just acted like I was another person, not a kid. I’ll never forget that. They eventually broke up, but I’m still friends with him over 40 years later.

      1. Batgirl*

        It’s super easy to treat her as an adult, she’s a 30yo in a kid’s body. Since birth, which is why she and I get on. I remember rolling my eyes at the other kids immaturity too.

        1. valentine*

          No, don’t treat her like an adult. Let her be a kid. The smiling BS is making her act like what they think a lady should. They sound sexist, hence the preference for the child assigned male. There’s a good post on Tumble about how kids typecast as “mature” end up risk-adverse and at a disadvantage to their peers who get to try stuff and greet failure like scientists.

          They can solve the bedroom issue by keeping the younger child with them or doing literally anything else and allowing the girl her own room.

          1. Observer*

            The worst thing they could do right now is to have the boy sleep with them. He’s already crossing too many boundaries.

            On the other hand, sharing a bedroom doesn’t have to mean that the two of them have to be at each other’s throats all the time. There are a LOT of kids who share bedrooms who are besties but still manage just fine.

    4. Its all good*

      Yes please take the boy for the weekend of you can so she can have her parents spotlight.

      DH has a cousin. Ages ago when her four kids were young we took two of them, the oldest, for the weekend. We held our breaths, they were pretty bratty. However we had a great weekend. I think they all were in a negative reinforcement cycle. We did positive reinforcement and it was great to see their true selves shining through.

    5. Not A Manager*

      I would definitely take each of them separately as much as you can stand. It will be good for each of them to interact with a loving adult outside of whatever family dynamic is going on, and it will be good for each of the other to have time with parents without the sibling.

      I would try to couch any conversations or counseling that you do with the kids in a way that does not criticize the parents. At this age, it’s probably not helpful for either of them to feel directly adversarial with the parents, and it won’t do you any good if they go home and tell their folks that Aunty thinks they’re full of crap.

      If your niece complains about being told to smile, etc. or if you choose to bring it up, I think it’s best to talk generally about how “some people expect women to present like” this and that, or that women “can be” expected to do more of the emotional labor. Give her tips for dealing with it the same way you would if she were experiencing it from a boss or colleagues – ways to politely push back without destroying the relationship.

      You can also talk generally with your nephew about gender roles and the expectations of men and woman. It sounds like there might be some toxic examples for him as well, that could maybe be kindly deconstructed.

      The hitting is very tricky. I’ve seen lots of sibling relationships where the younger sibling hits the older one due to the nature of their general interactions. It can’t continue past mid-childhood, though, and this sounds like it needs to be re-framed from “sibling quarrels” to “we’re not laying the groundwork for domestic abuse.”

      I would try to counsel the niece to remove herself as much as possible from her brother when he hits her. Not to hit back or scream at him, but to get herself to a safe space and to calmly let her parents know why she’s done that. She’s sleeping on the couch? She’s locked herself in the bathroom? She’s come into their room at night? “I don’t want Brother to hit me and I won’t stay in the same room with him when he does.” Period. If he’s really hitting her to get attention, at the very least she shouldn’t stick around to give him MORE attention when he does.

    6. Myrin*

      If I’m reading correctly, these two are your brother’s children, right? Have you talked with him about this, what you observed, how you feel? What’s his reaction to the whole situation?

      1. Batgirl*

        I have talked to him but without crossing the lines of criticising his partner or his parenting. They both think I intrinsically understand Leia; they say “she’s you reborn”.
        I don’t think they understand that she needs a lot of space and she is made of stuff that will always rebel rather than knuckle under.
        My late father made a point of saying he had some issues with SiL and it caused a lot of drama.
        I know my brother is not happy with the way she kowtows to her male relatives, but he doesn’t dictate to her what she should do about them. She is amazing and it’s always baffling how she manages to forget that in their presence. I am very proud of my niece for side-eyeing this family tradition.
        My bro and I haaate his FiL. He tried to hit on me during my divorce (The day after telling me how much I look like his granddaughter and mooching off his daughter in front of me). My brother really enjoyed my dripping-with-disdain-rejection and my SiL gave him an earfull too.
        They are nice people I am hoping thats enough.

        1. Parenthetically*

          I think the fact that you’re close and that they say stuff like “she’s you reborn” is a BIG starting point. “Hey, since you guys recognize that she’s very similar to how I was as a child, can I tell you what I would have felt/what I would have wanted from MY parents under circumstances ABC and XYZ?”

    7. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      When I was taking child abuse prevention training, “My brother keeps me up all night,” was listed as a red flag warning statement for child on child sexual abuse. I really hate to jump to something that ugly, but I thought it was worth sharing that this abuse could go deeper than just it seems on the surface.

    8. Batgirl*

      Thanks everyone. I was flipping between ‘I’m overstepping’ and ‘Im not doing enough’ and this has been really reassuring as to where the line is.

  13. Loopy*

    Still battling a pretty rough period emotionally. I really *need* to do some meal prep this weekend. My low energy and motivation and exhaustion/stress during the week have been contributing to bad eating, which makes me feel worse (physically and emotionally). I’m hoping to draw on AAM wisdom for what (vegetarian) things can be cooked Sunday and last pretty much through the week. I always worry bout food towards Thursday when I cook it on Sunday.

    I was thinking of a big batch of roasted veggies (roasted carrots, potatoes, mushrooms…?) that can be eaten with some of those morningstar things you throw in the toaster oven. Faux meat isn’t my favorite, but that’s about the level of effort I have right now! I know there’s been a lot of meal prep threads so apologies for the duplication- specifically looking for wisdom on what I can cook that it’ll hold up safely in the fridge the longest run. Thanks all!

    ALSO: whoever suggested looking into Facebook groups when I asked about an Instagram following: THANK YOU. I found one and it’s much easier to sporadically post to without trying to cultivate a following myself.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      There’s a delicious cauliflower fried rice I’ve tried. Just leave out the shrimp. cherryonmysundae(dot)com and search “cauliflower fried rice.” It’s from 2014.

      1. Flash Bristow*

        Ooh that looks great! No idea what coconut aminos is (or where to get it, on a sunday!) but I’ll deffo give this one a go myself – thanks!

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Actually I subbed in soy sauce instead for the aminos. My only option at the time for coconut aminos was Whole Foods and I didn’t feel like going, plus it was a one-time use product, so I just used the soy sauce I had. I believe it’s supposed to be similar to that anyway and the recipe said it could be used. Tasted great!

    2. Lena Clare*

      How about a lentil loaf (Look up Rose Elliott’s recipe, it is ridiculously easy) that you can slice up cold on a sandwich or have numerous meals, including a roast, with gravy on :)

      If I don’t want to cook anything complicated, I find veggie sausages a life saver. I make a veggie breakfast with them for my tea, or chuck then in a pan of vegetable rice, or have banners, mash, veg and veggie gravy.
      I also used to make toad in the hole with veggie sausages when I ate eggs.
      A packet of Cauldron veggie sausages have saved me from many a rubbish tea I tell you.
      But I get that you don’t want to be cooking every night.

      Other than that, anything in a pan is good and can be reheated easily:
      Veggies in a pan with different flavourings – veggie red curry paste and coconut milk for a Thai curry, Indian curry paste and a tin of tomatoes for an Indian curry, garlic chilli and ginger with some soy sauce and sesame seeds for a stir fry, or veggie soup. They’re very often better the next day and can easily be heated up in the microwave, and you can add other things every day to bulk it put bit not feel like you’re having to cook from scratch.

      1. Loopy*

        I’ve never heard of lentil loaf, I’ll have to look into it. I’ll probably go more with the throw everything in a pan with sauce option since that sounds about my speed right now :)

    3. Techgirl*

      Check out the FOK app. It makes choosing meals and creating a shopping list easy. Also, the quarterly magazine just came out with several 30-minute meal ideas.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m a fan of Indian stews because they get better over time…a real incentive for cooking in advance!

      1. Loopy*

        I made one once and LOVED it! But Right now it’s even more effort intensive than I have time/mental capacity for. But I’ll have to firmly lodge this in my brain for fall.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          It can be done on the easy — throw in whatever beans & veg you have, a can of crushed tomatoes, and an Indian spice mix. Or mixed up Indian Spices if you’ve got the loose ones. Broth if you’ve got it, water if you don’t. Meat if you eat it. Even TVP can go in.
          Put a lid on the pot, and leave it on low a long time. Make a lot and it freezes. You can get lazy on a chilly weekend and keep it on a low stove and stir on more liquid if it gets too thick.
          “Pease porridge hot, pease porridge cold, pease porridge in the pot 9 days old.”

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Btw when we do this as a way to get rid of leftovers, everything goes in at once and cooks for a while before we adjust spices. If something is bad, wer pitch it out. But when it’s just a little past its prime, we aď enough liquidd to boil it for 20 minutes to be on the safe side. (Yes my husband & i both grew up with some period of concern over family income….and my mom was a Great Depression kid.)

    5. Kate*

      I suggest mujadera. It’s a Palestinian dish with rice, lentils, and caramelized onions. Cheap, vegetarian, keeps all week, and delicious. Don’t skip the onions.

    6. Jessi*

      A veggie curry? Really easy to make and super easy to reheat, can fill it up with lots of veg and lentils/chick peas/ beans all go well.

      1. Loopy*

        I need to find the right curry sauce for me. I’m so worried about spicy I usually shy away.

        1. Freckles McGee*

          Try a Korma – it’s really mild spice wise, and you can always add more yogurt or cream to adjust the spice levels as well. And there are some really good options for store bought sauce if you want to forego making that too.

          I also recently made a pumpkin, sweet potato and mango curry with coconut milk. The sweetness of the potato and mango really balance out the spices and it’s one of those ones that gets better the longer you leave it. I also blitzed the (not very many) remains on the Thursday and added some additional coconut milk for a lovely lunch soup.

    7. M*

      When we are having a veggie week, I like to make a big batch of chickpeas on Sunday and then prep them into different meals for the week. They always get better the longer they sit. My favorite is to make a big batch of Mollie Katzen’s chickpeas with lemon and ginger with 1/3 of the beans. I make them on Sunday and they stay good a long time so I usually save that for dinner on Thursday or so. I can make some rice and salad to go with them (I shamelessly use those pouches of pre-cooked brown rice!).

      With the rest of the beans I usually make a batch of general tso’s chickpeas or a chickpea and veg curry b/c it works well for dinner and travels well for lunch and with the final third, I make either chickpeas with burst tomato sauce or a chickpea white chili. The chili stays yummy and even gets better as it spends time in the fridge and also travels well for lunch.

      1. Loopy*

        I adore chickpeas and need to use them more like this! I will have to look up at least one of those recipes. I have never heard of doing general tso’s with chickpeas but I *love* that sauce!! Do you have a recipe for that or do you buy a premade sauce?

      2. AlaskaBlue*

        Very interested in the chickpea recipe! I tried google, but was unsuccessful. Is the one I’d need to check out her cookbook for? I am getting into beans and bought the Rancho Gordo 20 big ones, which has two bags of chickpeas in it. On the lookout for delicious recipes to use them in, and lemon and ginger are two flavors my spouse and I really love.

    8. Ada*

      Dal! Moong dal is my favorite, but there are plenty of other kinds if you want variety. If you have something like an Instantpot, you can make a big batch for week with minimal effort, but it’s not much harder to do on the stove.

      1. Loopy*

        I do have an instapot that I dont use enough! Do you have an instapot recipe for this? I’m general much more likely to attempt something with a recipe in front of me.

        1. Ada*

          Here’s my recipe:

          125 grams dried mung dal (washed)
          1/4 tsp turmeric
          1 Tbsp cooking fat of choice (I use butter, but feel free to sub in oil or something else)
          1 1/2 tsp ginger paste
          1/4 tsp garam masala
          1/2 onion

          1. Combine dal and turmeric in Instant Pot, along with enough water to cover the dal. Cook on manual for 20 minutes. When it’s done, let the pressure release naturally.

          2. While the dal is cooking, heat a pan on the stovetop over medium heat. Add your cooking fat, and when it’s nice and hot, add the ginger paste and garam masala and stir to combine. Then add the onions and saute until caramelized. Put aside until the dal is done cooking.

          3. Once the pressure on the Instant Pot has released, check the amount of liquid leftover. This is up to personal preference – some like it thicker while others like it soupier. If you feel there’s too much feel free to drain some off. Once you’re happy with the amount of liquid, you can take a potato masher, stick blender, etc. and mash up the dal. Again, it’s to your preference just how smooth you want this.

          4. Mix in the onions and add salt to taste. Serve with rice or flatbread.

          That will get you about 3 servings, but you can multiply as needed. If you multiply, the pressure cooking time remains the same.

    9. OhNo*

      If you’re roasting veggies anyway, I’d say toss a can of chickpeas on the roasting pan as well. That’s my default meal prep that I do almost every week – roasted chickpeas and veggies over rice – and I’ve never had any issues with it lasting in the fridge until Friday.

      If you do have concerns, though, I’ve also had good luck freezing cooked chickpeas and frozen mixed veg into lunch-sized packs. A cup of frozen chickpeas and a cup of frozen veg, microwaved with a little bit of water to steam it, makes for a quick and easy lunch when I’ve been too lazy to meal prep properly.

      1. Loopy*

        I will definitely do this! Adding a can of chickpeas is just the right level of effort I’m looking for haha. Also, thanks for the freezing tip. I wish we had more freezer space. I am seriously starting to like the idea of having an extra freezer to use solely for make ahead things.

    10. The Messy Headed Momma*

      I’m in food service & I can tell you that food, properly refrigerated at 40 degrees or below, will last 7 days. You may lose some quality, but it is still safe to eat.

      1. spiralingsnails*

        Yes, we use dinner leftovers for my husband’s lunches and they are consistently okay at the 5-7 day mark.

      2. spiralingsnails*

        But if it’s just not something you’re comfortable with, you can also freeze individual lunches so you can mix & match at the end of each week!

      3. Loopy*

        Thank you! I needed this assurance! I don’t have much room to freeze things so this is perfect to know.

    11. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’ve had some luck with diced tomatoes, black beans, chickpeas, all crockpotted together with some garlic, cumin, paprika. A couple handsful of spinach or kale leaves thrown in at the last hour to cook down, and served over brown rice. Makes pretty good leftovers. (Nerd alert: the recipe is adapted out of a Pathfinder book. :) in my house we call it “Varisian Nonsense”.) When the whole crowd is amenable, I’ve also put smoked sausage and/or shrimp in it as well, but it’s vegan without.

      1. Loopy*

        I will have to keep this in mind though I have no sense of seasoning so I do prefer to find recipes, or I under-season no matter what I do. Too cautious in my cooking style!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          fair! For me, I do two big cans of tomatoes, one tin each of the beans and chickpeas, I buy my garlic pre-chopped in jars so two heaping spoonfuls (probably equivalent to 4-5 of the little bits that make up a head?), and at a guess, probably about a tablespoon of cumin and half that of paprika? I don’t measure, but the recipe said a teaspoon of each and it definitely did not have enough seasoning, so I increased that dramatically. :)

    12. just a random teacher*

      I used to be in the habit of making a big batch of bean soup and freezing most of it in single portions for later. (I use wide-mouth pint canning jars for freezing – you just take the metal lid and band off before defrosting them in the microwave.) Once frozen, the soup will last pretty much indefinitely, so you don’t have to worry about food safety. You can also rotate which kind of soup you make each weekend so you end up with a variety of different soups to eat each night out of the freezer, but I tend to just eat the same thing over and over again.

      My usual go-to was black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, corn, and tomatoes with chili powder, cumin, and onion for spices. I’d generally do dried beans and cook them all day, but canned beans would defintiely be faster. The ratios are pretty much up to you, but I’d probably do about 2 cans of each kind of bean, one can of tomatoes, and one of corn if doing all canned. (You can lower the salt content by rinsing the beans, although that was one of the reasons I eventually switched to dried beans.) I’ll top each serving with shredded cheese, sour cream, and corn chips.

      1. Loopy*

        I LOVE this idea but soups tend to be my go to when it’s cooler. I wish I could love them as much in the warm weather. I want to because this is absolutely my style but when it’s hot I just cannot enjoy soup that way it deserves!

    13. Double A*

      For breakfast you can make frittatas ahead of time. I’d out onions, sweet potatoes, peas, broccoli in the.

      For lunches lentil soup is heart and easy to makes ahead.

      1. Loopy*

        I adore lentils. I so wish we were not coming out of prime eating soup season. I dont know how weird it is that I only eat soup seasonally?

    14. Folkie*

      Pasta a la Norma is my favourite and really easy. My (cheat) version is:
      Microwave an aubergine for 5 mins, let cool and peel off then skin. Chop the insides into strips.
      Chop an onion, fry in olive oil.
      Chop as much garlic as you like and one chilli (optional), add to the onions.
      Add the aubergine insides, then a tin of tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper.
      Boil a pan of spaghetti while the sauce simmers. Mix the spaghetti into the sauce when it’s done. It’s nice finished with a drizzle of olive oil.
      There are more authentic recipes out there but this one’s quick and easy. One aubergine and one tin of tomatoes usually does enough for two meals.

      1. Loopy*

        I had to Google aubergine, I had no idea it was the proper name for eggplant. Thats for providing the cheat version! I’ll have to google this to get a better picture in my head of it but then I’d totally go with this cheat version!

    15. Alex*

      I routinely keep leftovers in my fridge for a week and have never had a problem. I roast veggies all the time as well, and they keep perfectly well.

      My fave roasted veggies are broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus, but I also love cabbage, kale, or sweet potatoes tossed with onions. I also love a nice roasted tomato, but I always do those separately.

      I also like to roast tofu–while you have the oven on?

      1. Loopy*

        Thanks! I just threw a bunch of veggies into my cart to figure out later. I’ve got potatoes, carrots, brussel sprouts (new for me!), cauliflower, broccoli, and I threw in some mushrooms.

        I looked for tofu at my store but didn’t it where I expected and got distracted and left without it. Drat!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Brussels sprouts do great tossed with a tablespoon of olive oil, a heaping spoonful of minced garlic, and a couple shakes of Italian seasoning, spread on a roasting pan at 400 for about 25 minutes, give or take. Then top them with a bit of shredded parmesan at the end :) From what you have, you can put cubed potatoes and carrots both in there with them as well, both for the seasoning and the cook time. Also excellent with butternut squash and sweet potatoes!

          (I bet my vehemently carnivorous, anti-vegetable housemate I could get him to not only eat the Brussels sprouts but ask for seconds. He took the bet. I did this, only I used bacon grease instead of the olive oil. He told me that was cheating. I still won.)

    16. Flash Bristow*

      I do salad. Bear with me… when I say “salad” I mean I’ve put together a range of dishes to act as a buffet – carrots and sultanas in orange juice, mixed leaves, sliced tomato and onion in balsamic, stuffing balls, savoury couscous with feta cubes, chunky veg (cucumber, radish etc), and so on.

      These can be used as a buffet, or sandwich filling, or on the side of some pasta, etc etc.

      But if you want to be sure it’ll last, why not batch make things that freeze and then microwave well, like tuscan bean soup, or savoury fried rice, or little cheating pies (veggie stew with a mashed potato topping) etc? I bought a load of plastic tubs on amazon, and as long as theyre heatproof then they’re perfect.

      My husband recently moved to a job with a brief lunch break, so I’ve been doing this kind of thing for him and it works really well. If you do a couple of batches each week you ought to have quite a variety soon!

      Another thing is half hour focaccia. This is a really really easy bread – try this recipe: https://thecafesucrefarine.com/ridiculously-easy-focaccia-bread/

      The version I use (but can’t find, boo!) doesn’t have much proving time: use beer instead of water (Guinness is good…) – that will add to the flavour and help it rise, so you literally just mix everything together in a bowl, put oiled cling film loosely on the surface, let it rise for half an hour / until doubled, tip onto an oiled baking tray, top with herbs / cheese / olives / whatever, and bake. Can’t remember how long, sorry. But it’s not long! Think I’ll spend this arvo trying to remember the details as the friend who gave me the foolproof version I used to use… has died. :(

      Or of course do it the way this recipe states so you put it together when you have time, leave to prove, and pull out to bake when you need it.

      Not only is it easy and tasty but also it doesn’t need fancy equipment or dirty many items. Add some fresh focaccia to some salad buffet or pre-made pasta and you’re away!


    17. Batgirl*

      I like to roast a big batch of baked sweet potatoes because they are crazy good for you, remain soft and buttery and are easy to reheat and top throughout the week.
      You can also scoop out the flesh to make hash browns and mash.
      You can then make nice potato skins too. Put olive oil and salt on the skins!

  14. Anna*

    Question for people who draw: when learning to draw, starting at the very beginning (a very good place to start), which is better for practice – drawing a lot of different drawings or focusing on one for a long time?

    1. Curly sue*

      My partner is a professional artist and says: “lots of different drawings, for sure. You want to get a flow going and try out many different things rather than get mentally stuck on trying to do only one perfectly.”

      1. curly sue*

        And a further reply — his life-drawing classes followed a model that he really likes for practice. They started with quick gestures, where the model held a pose for a few seconds and you had to try and scribble the basic shape before she changed pose again. They’d do that for a while, then move to poses being held for a few minutes, then longer poses again. The last half of the class would be the model holding a single pose for two hours (or so). So — lots of quick drawings for warm-ups, then slowly settling in to focusing on detail for one picture.

        1. curly sue*

          I used the word ‘model’ too many times to mean different things. Better: the classes followed a *structure* that he likes…

    2. Lizabeth*

      For me, the eye opener came during college, not so much drawing as “learning to look”. This came during a year of life drawing plus other stuff with one prof. We’d get lectures about really looking at underlying structure of the body during life drawing and that definitely carried over to just about everything else drawing as well. I just wished I had taken more classes with him (his intro to art history was very entertaining as well and we’d drop in to listen long after taking it) So, draw lots but look too. Check around and see if there’s classes locally and ask if you can drop in for one class to see if the instructor would be a good fit for you (much like a job interview!)

    3. Aerin*

      Lots of drawings, definitely. You can spend forever tinkering on a piece of art and never really get it right. Forcing yourself to work quickly (and to call something done and move on) is a really important skill. You’ll get more practice going through the whole process from start to finish, which you won’t get working on a single piece.

    4. WellRed*

      In drawing classes I’ve done both. I once spent three hours drawing eggs, with different lighting, etc. Other times, had 30 seconds to quickly sketch an object.

    5. Mashed potato*

      Draw fruits , doodle imaginary things, draw google image search results, draw things based on how you perceive them

      Draw fan art? Idk

      Don’t ask me about drawing humans or abstract art

    6. Flash Bristow*

      Lots of different. And – although I can’t draw for toffee so you may want to ignore this! – the first thing we did in art class at school (aged about 11) was to take a picture from a magazine, cut out a 3″ square of the detail, glue it onto a large sheet of paper, rule it into 3×3 1″ squares, then rule a really big empty square into 3×3. Now copy the picture’s detail into the large empty space using the rulings of the squares to help.

      For someone who didn’t think they could draw, I could still do this, and it really taught me to *look*.

      Another technique was to copy a picture that you’ve pinned upside down – maybe more of a line drawing? – then turn your version the other way up and see how accurate / recognisable it is.

      Those kind of things got me started and taught me to view things in more detail rather than sort of guessing at what I was seeing, if that makes sense.

      Enjoy drawing, I hope you find it really relaxing.

  15. coffee cup*

    Hello! Happy weekend. Can anyone recommend a great mascara that isn’t irritating to eyes? I know everyone is different, but there must be better ones out there than the ones I use, that seem to always itch and hurt me (Rimmel, Maybelline… decent prices, but ouch). I love to wear mascara, so I would love to find a better option. I don’t mind paying slightly more to have less sore eyeballs. I heard Clinique had a good option, but I am open to all recommendations!

    1. Lena Clare*

      Marks and Spencer use the same factory as Clinique, they’re just packaged differently – you could try them first? I don’t know what the mascara is like but their make up is good.

    2. Françoise*

      I use Monsieur Big by Lancome. It’s one of the cheapest by Lancome, lasts very long, has an amazing effect for me – but I don’t know how they work with very sensitive eyes. Can you get a small sample from a store and test what works?

    3. A.N. O'Nyme*

      I’ve found make-up based on plants to be very helpful with these issues. Maybe check out Yves Rocher or something similar.

      1. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

        +1 to plant-based; as well, I’ve found that mascara that *isn’t* waterproof is less irritating, and is also less painful to remove. Unless I’m actually going to be ~out in the elements~ or otherwise likely to need waterproof mascara, I usually stick with non-waterproof, and it does seem to reduce irritation. YMMV, though.

    4. Curly sue*

      I’ve got the same kind of reactions to most eye makeup, and the best mascara I’ve found is a drugstore brand called Couvrance, from Avene. It runs about $15 a tube so it’s pricy, but worth it.

    5. Kuododi*

      I have always had good luck with the Loreal brand of mascara. (Particularly during my contact lense days when *everything* seemed to irritate my eyes.). Price wise it’s a middle of the road product. Best wishes.

    6. CTT*

      I don’t have any specific recommendations, but you mentioned prices; I like buying the travel-sized mini tunes from Sephora that are usually $6-$10. If you want to try a non-drugstore brand without risking too much money, that would be a good way!

    7. Tiara Wearing Princess*

      Doll 10. They have their own website and also sell on QVC. For years I used pricey department store brands – Chanel, Lancôme, Clinique , you name it.

      Doll 10 is under $20, doesn’t smudge, doesn’t flake and I love it.

      Good luck!

    8. Karen from Finance*

      There are so many different styles of mascara, can you go to a Sephora or similar and get assistance trying a few different options? That way you might be able to find one that works for you personally.

    9. Dramatic Squirrel*

      My sister and I both have the same problem. Aldi’s Lacura brand is the only thing my sister can wear. My solution is to get my lashes tinted regularly.

    10. Dr. Anonymous*

      Boots No. 7, least fancy formula (none of this extension and plumping stuff) doesn’t make me itch. Practically everything else does.

    11. Rainy*

      I have pretty sensitive eyes and Urban Decay’s Perversion mascara seems to be the best I’ve used so far. It’s pretty wet, as mascaras go, which is annoying initially, but it dries pretty smudge-proof if you have a minute to let it do its thing.

      One thing that I really cannot emphasize enough is that if you have sensitive eyes, stay away from fiber mascaras. I’ve found that the fiber mascaras, while they look amazing, shed fibers for about 2 hours after application and irritate my eyes something fierce.

    12. Lucy*

      Maybelline mascara gave me eyelid dandruff of the “bloody chunks” variety so I now count it as the least sensitive-friendly brand available.

      I have never found anything that doesn’t itch at all, but I’m currently on a super cheap “essences volume boost” waterproof which is bomb proof. It came from a cheap shop like Wilko or Superdrug iirc.

      I think there will come a point where I’ll admit defeat and see a beauty therapist for a tint/perm/falsies.

      Do you wear mascara for colour or shape? Blonde friends swear by a tint.

    13. San Juan Worm*

      I have allergies to many makeup ingredients. Lush’s Eyes Right has never caused a reaction for me.

    14. OyHiOh*

      I don’t know the originating factory but I’m very impressed with Flower (Drew Berrymore) mascare. Doesn’t flake, easy to take off, stays put while it’s on my face. Plus, the line has a really good strong brown which I prefer for everyday wear.

    15. Plum*

      I had a terrible eye allergy last year and ultimately determined that it was likely caused by beeswax which is in so many eye makeup products, so you might want to check out brands that don’t contain it. It took about eight weeks of not using the beeswax products before the itchiness and redness completely disappeared.

    16. dumblewald*

      For drugstore brands, try Physician’s Formula. Their products are least irritating out of most drugstore brands.

    17. What the What*

      I like Clinique. Plus a small size mascara is usually included in their “free gifts with purchase.”

  16. The Other Dawn*

    This might sound work-related, but it’s really computer-related.

    My job gave me a Surface, which is my “desktop” PC for work. I don’t have a tower. (This really threw me off when I was trying to plug in my big ergonomic keyboard and couldn’t find a tower–no one told me the Surface *was* my tower.) So I want to be able to use this at home with my big monitor, ergonomic keyboard and mouse. (I have VPN capability on it.) Normally I’m pretty good at tech stuff, but I can’t seem to figure out how to do that. I want to be able to use my home computer, which is a tower, and not have to plug and unplug multiple things every time i want to work from home. I know there’s a Surface dock I can buy, which is the same I have at work, but it’s $130+ and I really don’t want to spend that if I don’t have to.

    If it helps, my monitor plug is DVI, mouse is wireless and the keyboard is USB.

    1. Harriet*

      The different Surfaces have different ports to plug stuff into, but most don’t have many and none will have one for your monitor. Which ports they have depends exactly which one you have – is it a tablet style with floppy keyboard cover, traditional laptop, or laptop where you can detach the screen?

      I think the only way for you to avoid unplugging and replugging stuff in will to be to get a dock. If you have one of the bigger Surfaces you might have a USB-C port, which means you can buy a cheaper dock than the branded one.

      For the others, they’re also short on USB ports to plug stuff in to. Your wireless mouse either has a little dongle that goes into a USB port to connect it, or will connect via Bluetooth – do you know which? If it’s the USB dongle I’d suggest getting a USB extension cord which will be miles cheaper than the dock. If it’s bluetooth it will be able to connect to the Surface. You might also want to get a Bluetooth wireless keyboard and/or mouse to avoid needing to plug that in.

      I think Surfaces only have mini HDMI ports for monitors (some of the bigger or older ones may have full hdmi). You should be able to get a converter to plug onto the end of your monitor plug and then go into the Surface.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        It’s the Surface Go with the detachable keyboard and pen. Keyboard is way too small for my hands so it sits in my bag.

        My mouse has the USB dongle. And yes, I’m thinking I need a converter plug for the monitor. I just want something where I don’t have to go through a whole lot to hook it up at home, but I may have to. It’s not like I’d work at home very often anyway.

        1. Harriet*

          It’s the biggest drawback of the Surfaces imo – I adore mine but the lack of USB-C which means their very expensive dock is the only one that works is a real pain. I work from home at least once a week and should probably just give up and buy the dock.

          Depends on your IT setup, but could you just VPN in from your existing desktop tower and bypass the Surface entirely?

          1. The Other Dawn*

            I’d have to check with IT. I’d love to be able to do that. That’s how it worked at my previous company. We’d just install the software and get a token. From what I’m seeing, too, the Surface users are always having some sort of VPN connection issue. It took a week for them to figure out why I couldn’t connect to it.

            I do like the Surface, but I feel like it’s similar to an Apple product in that you can only use their specific devices, connectors, etc, which is why I no longer use an iPad.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      With desktops and full-sized laptops, I’ve gotten quite fond of KVM switches (keyboard, video, mouse). While you would still need to hook your Surface Pro up every time, you wouldn’t need to touch any cables for you home computer after the initial setup, so it would make it a lot easier to switch back and forth, you just press the button to switch which one has “control”. You would still need either a dock or all the same adapters, but it would definitely simplify things in the long run. (Also, the ones I’ve used have one USB port to each computer, and the keyboard and mouse plug into the switch, so it should just be one video cable and one USB cable to plug and unplug each time.)

    3. BRR*

      Would a USB port hub work? You can plug all of your other USBs into it and just have to move the one cord from the hub. They also make usb to dvi adapter.

      1. SaaSyPaaS*

        That should also work. If I was making the purchase and didn’t have a personal Surface device (and work wouldn’t provide a 2nd dock for home), that’s the route I’d take. A quick Google search should provide OP with a few reviews/prices of USB hubs that have been tested with the Surface.

    4. SaaSyPaaS*

      I would ask work to see if they’ll provide a Surface dock for home. I’m pretty sure that all of the Surface docks use the mini display port, so you will probably have to ask them to provide a DVI to mini DP adapter (less than $10 on Amazon). If they want you to use the Surface at home, it’s reasonable to ask. I’m in IT, and our department will approve requests like this. It’s not a big deal at all. I wouldn’t purchase a Surface dock for home unless I had a personal Surface device. This is a cost your employer should cover.

    5. The Other Dawn*

      Just thought of something. Is there a way to connect my Surface to my home PC and be able to access the Surface still? I don’t even know how or if that would work. I’m normally pretty good with tech and this thing is making me feel dumb!

    6. Observer*

      What you really want is called a KVM although you may also need a dock as well.

      What the KVM does is it allows you to attach one keyboard / mouse / monitor to multiple computers. Depending on the KVM you may just be able to plug the Surface in, if it has a USB port.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yes, I’ve used those before, years ago. I’ll have to see what I can find. I really wish it was just a tower at work and a VPN client to install at home. So much easier. I see why they have Surfaces, but the screen is so tiny as is the keyboard and it’s just not useful for the type of work I do.

  17. Bibliovore*

    Oh, my achey bones. It’s a bad day for my body and I had so many plans. Breakfast out with a friend, a juried art show. Sitting up waiting for the meds to kick in hoping for the best but trying to accept if I don’t get to do what I want.

    1. Flash Bristow*

      Sympathies, I hate it when that happens. It’s when you find who your friends are, isn’t it? They either rally round and reschedule or they get impatient.

      And it’s not like having to take it easy and be strict with yourself is fun or something you do by choice!

      I hope you’ve got some good support – and that you feel better soon.

  18. Good Night, Sweet Prince*

    Warnings ahead for mentions of death, suicide, and similar heavy topics. (Allison, if this is too heavy for your blog, feel free to remove it.)

    Why do we find death so inspirational?

    A few months ago, there was a mass shooting in my city. One of the most prominent stories that came out of it was a victim who charged the shooter with only a trash can as a shield. She was killed but her actions bought precious moments for others to escape.

    Last night, a semi-internet celebrity on Twitter, Tony Dogbomb, who was diagnosed with ALS last year, took his life while he was still in physical control of his fate, to not prolong his suffering by the disease. In the time before his end, he inspired over $100,000 Of donations to ALS research.

    In both cases, so many people say how inspired they are by those who have left this world and they wish to live their lives as those they honor. It’s true; those two stories are incredible, of bravery against impossible odds and pain, of choosing their own endings. But why do we all say ‘the ending of that person was incredible, I need to live my life to even a small degree of theirs’? It often feels like hitching your ride to a big current story rather than a genuine need to change.

    Maybe I’m a bit doubtful of how people can change. Five years ago, I spent several months in a volunteer program overseas, helping in a third world community. My friends and family said it would change my view of the world so much and live my life entirely differently. While I do feel like I appreciate my privilege and standing in the world, simply by the means of my birth, I don’t feel like my entire philosophy of life has changed. I still donate the same amount of time and money to charity as before, while also saving for me to go on vacation. Maybe if I’d truly been transformed, I would stop doing vacations or other things that are purely luxuries and give everything outside of my basic needs to charity, but I admit that I’m selfish enough to have wants fulfilled even if that money towards a night at the movie theater could feed a family overseas for a week.

    I don’t know if this ramble made sense, I would certainly never say that the deaths of these two individuals were in vain, but I do wonder why we as a species are more inspired by those who have died rather than those who are still here to tell their own stories.

    1. Marion Q*

      I can’t answer your main question, but I don’t think it’s fair to say that you weren’t transformed by your experience. If by spending those months overseas lead you to appreciate your privilege, then it has transformed you to some extent. I think there’s a problem in general that we only count extreme transformation as the one true transformation, but that’s not realistic and leads to all sorts of problems.

      Also, luxuries are relative. You think that going on a vacation is a luxury, but as a third world citizen, my having my own bathroom in my house is a luxury. There are others around me who have to share communal bathroom. And if I stop doing things that are considered as luxuries, then I’d have to sell my laptop, cellphone, move to a smaller house, and other things.

      There are research that shows that we humans have limited bandwidth to care about issue/causes. That’s why the lower the number of victims, the harsher the punishment of a killer would be. That’s why a death is a tragedy, but a million death is a statistics. That’s just our nature, I guess, and having this unattainable ideal that we have to support all causes is unhealthy.

      (Also, is your username a reference to Interview with the Vampire?)

        1. Marion Q*

          Just googled, and yes, apparently the IwtV version is a modified version of the Hamlet one. I was only familiar with the IwtV one. Another reason to start reading Shakespeare then!

      1. Kuododi*

        That reminded me of when DH first returned from his time in West Africa as a Peace corps volunteer. He was in orientation to start his MDiv at seminary. The staff person was explaining to his group how housing on campus was a bit *primitive.* DH responded by asking if the dorms had running H2O, electricity and flooring other than dirt? If that was the case then as far as he was concerned…dorm life would be the lap of luxury!!!

        1. Marion Q*

          In high school I spent a week doing charity project on a village on the outskirts of my city (so it wasn’t like it was a remote area or such), where the house I stayed in didn’t have running water. To shower, my friends and I had to walk to the communal bathroom, which had walls but not a door, so we took turns showering while the other two stood in the doorway to preserve our modesty. It certainly reminded us of how privileged we were to have bathroom and running water in our houses.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Why do we find death so inspirational?

      A good chunk of that answer might be because of the finality of death. Done. Over.

      And how many millions have passed before us? Did their lives mean anything? Does anyone even remember them?
      Some folks find relief in thinking about the after-life. Some folks believe we keep coming back. Some folks believe we have to do our best now because this is it, this is all we get.
      And some folks struggle from the moment of birth to the moment of death. What is up with that? Why does that happen? How do we allow this?

      Selfishness has nothing to do with wealth. People who are very poor can still be selfish people. If you look back on stories out of WWII concentration camps, there were selfish people there, too, who turned in family and friends for their own gain. So selfishness has nothing to do with living conditions, either. People can be in dire conditions and still commit selfish acts. Selfishness can go in anywhere.

      Taking one step back for a moment: Different deaths hit us differently. I had an aunt who was never married and never had kids. But she knew all about being married and all about having kids and could not wait to tell you how wrong you were. I did not cry much when she died. I did not feel that connected to her for reasons shown here. Going the opposite way, my health fell apart when my father died. I mourned his suffering in life as well as his passing. I was connected to my father in ways that I was not connected to my aunt. Different deaths hit us differently.

      Going one step forward: Some news articles make me cry. I say a little prayer for the families because I am so moved. Other news articles do not hit me so hard and I go on to another article. Why. Some situations can feel like there is more of a connection than other situations. Even if we can’t articulate what that connection might be, we do know that the situation causes us to pause for a moment. Or we catch ourselves reading follow up articles to find out more. That’s pretty normal stuff. I always think that is why there are so many people on this planet. Because some where someone’s setting resonates with other people and they help/support in the ways that they can.

      I do agree that most of the time people are not moved to making life changing decisions because of tragedy. I think the changes come in softer, more subtle ways. Matter of fact sometimes the changes are so soft that we don’t even realize we have changed. Sometimes we have to wait for a cumulative effect, as our sadnesses compound we start to recognize where we want to put our energies/money. Our lives and our thinking definitely do get shaped by our experiences and insights. It’s a process and it happens over longer periods of time. Confusingly we can change, saving puppies might be our passion for years then suddenly we decide that it is more important to do Other Thing Over There, and we shift. Shifts can be indicative of a maturing world-view. Or shifts can be caused by something that impacted us personally in a huge way.

      Happily, I can argue that things you are seeing and experiencing ARE indeed impacting you. The evidence is right here. You are questioning, seeking, wondering…. This is it. This is how it happens. If you were a truly selfish person you would not be able to think or ask about these things. Purely selfish people cannot do this. I’d like to encourage you to follow your path. Keep asking questions of yourself, keep reading and keep thinking.

      I will be 60 next year. What happened– I was 30 yesterday, I think. I am still loaded with questions. Instead of having less I have more. I can only conclude that if we are thinking about what we are seeing around us that can ONLY result in having more questions not less.

      Let me try to put this together, of course, YMMV and other people will have better ideas. So people are suffering all around us in various ways. Most of us have things about us that are selfish. Some selfishness is necessary to ensure our survival, some selfishness is not necessary at all. It is possible for individuals to have a sense of tragedy and sense of selfishness at the same time. That is NOT the same as saying we are not impacted by a loss or a tragedy. And one more wrinkle, just to keep us on our toes, we cannot measure impact. We don’t always recognize a life changing event in the moment, sometimes we don’t figure it out until years and years later if at all. When we start to try to measure impact of life’s events and experiences the wheels totally fall off. There is no measuring tape that tells us how much something has changed us. It’s not an instant thing either, it’s a life-long journey.

      To me, your friends and family were using often-repeated generalities but they are not YOU, so they don’t really know where your experiences and life events will take you or to what degree each event or experience will impact you or shape you. They are relying on commonly said generalities, that may or may not apply to you specifically.

    3. Wishing You Well*

      Concerning your vacation dilemma: the world has the bandwidth and the NEED for both charity and luxury. A well-rounded life includes both. Balance the two according to your own internal meter.
      Every healthy human is selfish to a degree. It’s the extremes that need to be avoided.

    4. Observer*

      I think you underestimate “small” changes. Like, understanding your level of privilege sounds like a small thing, but it can actually be huge. You don’t need to stop going on vacation, but think about it. I’m sure that you think differently about a lot of things in ways that have spillover effects. Like if you think that “most poor people are lazy” isn’t so unreasonable, you’ll vote one way. Now that you know that it’s actually a totally ridiculous thing, it will affect how you vote, no?

      Also, I think what people are saying with the “Honor the fallen” is not the death per se is inspiring. But, their behavior is inspiring and the fact that those people cannot continue to do the things they have been doing puts a bit more obligation on them than otherwise.

  19. Whistle*

    My husband and I are American, and he has the opportunity to apply for a transfer to a different branch of his company that’s in the UK. (In Gloustershire, specifically.) We’re thinking about it really seriously, as we’ve always wanted to live abroad for a few years, but I’m worried about my ability to make friends while we’re there. My mother is from another country, and I also work entirely in a second language that I became fluent in while I was studying abroad, so I have some cross cultural experience, but both of those cultures are actually more direct than American culture. I’m very nervous about living somewhere that is known to be less direct and more reserved.

    Are there any Americans here who have experience with working in the UK? Any Brits who have lived in the US or befriended an American?

    1. coffee cup*

      I wouldn’t be too worried. In some places it can be more reserved here, but that’s not universal! There are many different types of people in the UK and you’re bound to meet some you get along with. I lived in the US for a summer and it was great, although I think I bonded better with the US colleagues I had than the English colleagues I was thrown together with. Nothing to do with them being English (I’m Scottish), but they were clique-d together, whereas I loved getting to know people who lived there – that was the whole point! The girls I met were so friendly, they invited me places and made me feel welcome. I don’t keep in touch with them much now (was over 10 years ago) but I will never forget their kindness.

      If you do move, I suggest looking for meet-up groups in your area, as they’re great ways to meet like-minded people :)

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Here’s my first thought: it’s tough to make friends anywhere new, so why not go on the adventure? American culture, as you know, is not a monolith, so if you moved anywhere new it would be an adjustment. I mean, shoot, it would probably take work to make new friends where you live now. Remember that not all Brits are the same; some are more reserved, some are definitely direct. I would recommend visiting once or twice before making your decision, but don’t let the work of making friends hold you back if you really want to make the move.

    3. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      I actually have always found Brits to be very friendly; I’m Canadian, not American, though. But the UK has definitely been more friendly then, say, France or Denmark, including random people striking up conversations in shops, etc. I haven’t lived in the UK long-term, only a few weeks at a time, but I’ve had a few British colleagues, who were really quite friendly. I wouldn’t worry too much about it. (And while people like to complain about the weather and food in the UK, there are actually some really excellent restaurants; and in Gloucestershire, you’re not too far away from both Cornwall and Wales, which are both gorgeous, with really mild weather. Cornwall actually reminds me of Central & Northern California, what with the rugged coastline, palm trees, mild weather year-round, and a selection of really fabulous restaurants – and I say that as someone who lived in Cali for a few years.)

      1. cat slave*

        I’m Canadian, but lived in the UK for several years. My advice for making friends in the UK would be the same as for anywhere: find people who are doing a *thing* and join them, even if it’s not what you would ordinarily do – rowing, cycling, amateur theatre, bird watching, pottery class, drawing. Put yourself in the path of friendship.

    4. misspiggy*

      My mother in law, who is the typical reserved English lady, has befriended several foreigners while they’ve been living near her. My theory is that being from overseas frees people in reserved cultures from local norms, and much more openness ensues.

      If you join something like a history or cultural group, and make it clear you’re keen to learn all about local things, you will probably find people come out of their shells all around you. Just follow the rule of never criticising your host country even if British people do, and you’ll be fine.

    5. Venus*

      I have lived in a few different places, and my experience depended upon:
      1. How many people spoke the same language as me? I lived in a place where only my colleagues spoke English, and it was quite difficult. I know several colleagues moved to another country which had a lot more people who spoke English, because it was much healthier for them. I don’t want to sound dismissive of other cultures, just that it’s very hard to socialise with people when you can’t speak with them, and if you are limited to 15 people you can communicate with effectively and some of them aren’t very nice…
      2. How many people are ‘from away’? Locations where people never move into that area are different from those where there are all sorts of newcomers. I don’t know much about Gloucestershire, but if they have a lot of tourism, or maybe Wikipedia can give you the ethnicities? Those can be indicators of a diverse and changing community.

    6. TL -*

      I live in NZ, which has very different cultural norms around directness and bringing up problems in general. I definitely get some foreigner leeway, occasionally it bites me in the rear, and sometimes it works in my favor. I’ve noticed the Americans who stay here long term tend to be much more inclined towards these cultural norms naturally (there are a few exceptions). But most of the time, it’s not that big of a deal – you adjust, your friends will adjust.

    7. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I’ve lived and worked in the UK now for over 5 years, and in total over 7. I’ve never lived and worked outside of London, however, though I have traveled around the country quite a bit.

      I would suggest that in London it can be easy to make new friends but then easy to lose friends too – people move areas, jobs, etc as is true with any large expat group. I have a lot of British and non-British friends and most of my friends have either come from work OR from doing activities. Get out and get involved with the local area – maybe a volunteer group or join an athletic thing or get a small job (depending on visa). Gloustershire is a really pretty location so there must be lots on, although I would be a little nervous about a car and driving being required to get out and do things.

      One thing I would note, though, is that it takes time to get to know people and for them to accept you as a friend beyond a “lets go have cake and coffee after “. I think that is where the “reserved” thing may come into play. People will talk to you, but it may be some time before you get to a deeper level of friendship, especially if you are only staying for a few years. The British can take a while to warm up, so go slow, don’t be overly enthusiastic when first (or second!) meeting – in America we may automatically find out someone’s life story immediately but here that would be a bit much and something for many subsequent conversations. It doesn’t mean they aren’t curious, they just operate to different level of intimacy development timeline, for lack of a better phrase.

      Drinking culture, especially after work, is very much a thing here and that can usually be the best place to start to build relationships. It’s like after a heavy night out there is some new invisible bond between you and that person. I still have lots of friendships from a former job where we did go out for drinks all the time, but at my current job where my team never goes out – I have far fewer friends, but those that I do have we’ve gone out a few times together. I did struggle with directness because I am very direct, but then I said screw it and just am who I am. It may have turned off a few people but most just assume its an American thing.

      I wouldn’t worry too much about the making friends part, treat it as an adventure and to achieve something you’ve always wanted to do, and figure out in advance some potential activities you would like to do to get out and about. Be aware too that a car may be a good idea to have in a more rural (and pretty!) location so you can get around as well – learning to drive and pass a test here can be a bit of an ordeal, but it would give you so much more freedom and options. Finally, look up the UKYankee forum for more advice as I know there are quite a few members living out that direction.

    8. US UK US transplant*

      We did this! My husband and I moved to the UK from the US for three years. We had a great time. It can be a little rough at first, we were pretty dependent on each other for company at the beginning. It can be tough to meet new people at first. We ended up in a neighborhood that was full of expats (American, Finnish, Danish, Italian, German, Greek) wholly by accident. Enough of them were friendly that we had a group of pretty awesome folks to hang out with. I did make a few local friends, but it’s a lot harder to break into established social circles. Expats are more open to meeting new friends in general. I’m not sure how big the company is that your husband works for, but if it’s pretty big, there may be a nearby town with loads of company folks. We specifically decided NOT to live in that town, but it could potentially work for you guys.

      Also, it’s worth noting how ridiculously cheap and easy it is to get to continental Europe.

      One thing that I would recommend is to look at the major transit links and try to be near one. Taking the train is so chill and makes things easy. Good luck!

  20. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    Still didn’t get anything done this week, but heading to Edinburgh (AKA the city of literature) next week. Bookshops will be visited :).

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      So jealous that you’re heading to Edinburgh. I lived there for about six months after university and it was just a lovely city. I do miss it.

      My writing’s going well. I’m posting a continuing work online every week to get feedback and although I don’t feel as though I’m going to finish the chapter in time, I always manage it and it’s a nice feeling. I also wrote a short story last night in about 20 minutes. I was scrolling through a list of prompts and one just took hold of me. I thought about leaving it until today but then decided that I wouldn’t do it if I left it so I tapped it out and I’m pretty happy with it as short stories aren’t really something I’m comfortable with.

    2. Claire*

      I was under the weather earlier in the week, so I didn’t get as much done as I wanted. But I did plow through the page proofs for the pirate novel and my corrections will go back on Monday–well before the deadline–and I got several key plot points worked out for the sequel.

      And ooooo, Edinburgh! That sounds like a lovely trip.

    3. Aerin*

      I’m going to Edinburgh this summer! Super excited, especially since I’m gonna be there during Fringe Festival. (Which totally wasn’t planned, since we’re primarily going to the UK for Worldcon in Dublin.)

      I finished the first draft of my novel in December (after four sodding years), so now I’m up to my eyeballs in research. I think I’m close to being ready to start the second draft, but I really need to get my hands on a good, accurate map. Might be time to send another email to the National Archives.

      And we had a Writers Digest workshop last weekend, which my critique partner came to town for. So that was fun, even if I didn’t really learn anything new.

      1. Clodagh*

        I tried to scroll past this comment but my national pride wouldn’t let me ;) Dublin’s not in the UK!

    4. Thursday Next*

      I’ve been doing the NaNoWriMo camp with a modest goal of 200 words/day. It gives me a boost to exceed it daily!

    5. Cindy Parker*

      I’ve just written the first draft of the first chapter for a story!
      I had to write it beginning – end – middle but it is done! I haven’t written in five years and it is so exciting to begin again! :D

  21. A.N. O'Nyme*

    I asked this last week but I’ll ask against in case more People see it: heading to Edinburgh next week (8 hour train journey, woo!). Any recommendations for bookstores and (retro) game stores I should visit?

  22. writing groups*

    Have you ever joined or started a writing group? There are writing meetups but there are different people every time, and while it’s good on some level since you get different outlooks, it’s not as conducive to growth on another, since you have no idea where the people re coming from, and I will not bring my most personal work in draft form to show a bunch of strangers. There are some established groups that are full. I’m new at this so would rather join one, but any ideas on how to engage with either would be appreciated.

    1. Weegie*

      I’ve been in multiple writing groups, and they’re all different! It really is a case of trying them all out until you find one whose format suits you, and whose members you can get along with. I really miss the last one I was in (I moved out of the area), and there was one many years ago that I liked, but the others have been a mixed bag of ‘meh’, ‘not quite right for me’, and ‘who are these deluded egomaniacs?’

      I would avoid meetup writing groups for the reason you mentioned – they’re usually not stable enough.

      One thing you could do while waiting for on of the groups to have an opening is to take a writing class, if there is one available: you might find some people there who you could start a group with. Or get involved with Camp Nanowrimo, which is on right now: there might be a local group which holds weekly write-ins that you could attend.

  23. Marion Q*

    Is Brexit banned as a topic here? I seemed to remember Alison offering to ban it in an open thread a few weeks ago, but I don’t know if it actually gets banned or not.

    1. only acting normal*

      I think it was banned under the politics umbrella?
      Given how hugely divisive it is, and how any discussion tends to devolve far and fast, and how high tensions are right now… I think banning was a very good idea.

        1. Sam Sepiol*

          US politics are. I don’t think a decision was made on Brexit/UK politics – or Alison is that wrong?

          1. Flash Bristow*

            Eek, I may have inadvertently fallen foul of the limitation on politics in the past (tho as a brit I was only commenting on our own). If so, I apologise. Is there somewhere where “topics which are off topic” are documented, please?

            That said, I’ll be thrilled if we do restrict Brexit chat… because it’s hard to avoid pretty much anywhere at the moment here in Blighty! Soooooo full on, and whichever way you look it’s a total fu –

            – eek, sorry. I’ll shut up!

  24. Pondering big changes*

    Posting anonymously so y’all can weigh in on my major life decisions! My husband and I are house hunting because it looks like we’ll stay in this area at least a few years, so best to get into the housing market if and while we can. The only places where we aren’t completely priced out, but don’t have strong reservations about the schools at all levels, would be a big lift financially – most of our non-retirement savings to down payment and closing costs, and the increase in monthly payment eating up most of the raise I just got. This is not a “buy because it’s cheaper than renting” area.

    And suddenly, the newest wrinkle: I’m pregnant! Yay! This will be kid#2, so on the one hand, more motivation to get out of a small apartment, not move with a baby again, and be in a place we can feel settled. On the other hand, day care is expensive. I’ve run the numbers and it looks feasible, but we might not be able to save much of anything during the <1 year with both kids in care.

    So…is this just too much? Is buying a house and having a baby without a substantial savings reserve (beyond a small emergency fund) a really bad idea due to potential house repairs and medical costs? I had amazing health insurance with baby #1 and paid very little for either of our care, so I still feel ignorant about the expense.

    The alternative is to keep renting as long as possible, I guess, and look for jobs in a more affordable place if the market doesn't crash in the next couple years. My career has a lot more opportunity here than anywhere else, though. Thoughts?

    1. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      I feel like this depends partly on where you are – and particularly what kind of safety net exists there. How much *is* pregnancy & childbirth going to cost you? What happens if there are medical complications?

      On the flipside – there’s never really a *right* time to have a baby, and there may never be a better time to buy a house. At least with putting money towards a mortgage payment, rather than rent, you are getting better value for your money.

      1. Pondering big changes*

        I guess I should check my health care policy, huh? I think birth itself coats a few thousand, and the OOP max isn’t comfortable but it isn’t insane either. As far as safety nets I do have a non-shared savings account from before my marriage (which I jokingly call my “divorce fund”) that I could draw on in an actual emergency up to the OOP limit, and frankly, family who would offer to help without being asked if we were really in trouble. (Yes, we’re lucky.) But rebuilding shared savings post-house and pre-baby would probably mean not meeting our retirement savings goals this year.

    2. My Brain is Exploding*

      Argh. I replied but it didn’t get in this thread. What’s the procedure here? Do I repost here? Redirect? Reply to my reply? Grovel?

    3. fposte*

      I would at least explore the rental market. Some of this decision will depend on the exact numbers you’re talking about, but there are plenty of places with stable rental markets where you could get a bigger apartment that you’d be happy in for, from what you say, less than it would cost you monthly to buy.

      When you say most of your non-retirement savings would go to a down payment, what percentage are you looking to put down? If it’s below 20%, how long would it take you to save 20% to avoid PMI?

      1. Pondering big changes*

        We have been renters in this area for a few years already. Our rent is lower than a mortgage would be, but for significantly less space; renting houses is as much or more than the mortgage (but you don’t have maintenance costs…or appreciation). An equivalent cost would be possible by moving even further out but I’d be signing up for a 75-90 min commute, which is more than i am ok with having small kids.

        We’re planning to put down 20% to avoid PMI and have a lower monthly payment. That just doesn’t leave a lot left over – after moving costs, maybe a 2 month emergency fund if we had zero income coming in, so we’d focus on rebuilding that rather than retirement savings before the baby.

    4. Anongineer*

      My husband and I just upgraded from a townhouse to a single family home in a HCOL area – partially motivated by last year’s quickly rising and competitive home prices. We were anxious to get into a single family home before we were completely priced out. We spent most of our non-retirement savings, but unlike your situation, we can afford to pay the mortgage and rebuild our savings pretty easily. Except, the housing market cooled as soon as we bought the new house and we’ve been carrying both properties for six months, which means we haven’t been rebuilding our savings, with hopes of selling the townhouse within the next few months for significantly less than we had initially anticipated. While we’re happy with the house we are in, and we don’t seem to have lost much value (since we bought close to when the market began cooling), I’ve seen homes go on the market that I get house envy over that would not have been in our price range last year, but are now. Plus, we are unexpectedly facing job changes (for both of us) that might make another move necessary.

      Anyway, I guess this is all to say that 1) it’s really hard to know if you’re actually going to end up being priced out of the market by waiting, even in a HCOL area, and 2) you really never know what kind of unexpected costs will come up. If I were in your shoes it’d be a really hard decision for all of the reasons you list, but buying the house seems way more risky than waiting …

    5. Not A Manager*

      I can’t tell you what to do, but I can tell you not to assume that your new house will always appreciate in value.

      I’m a “worst case” kind of gal. If the worst happened – let’s say pick one of the following: Job changes that force you to sell your house and move; temporary unemployment; unexpected expenses due to health or home maintenance – would that be better or worse than a worst-case rent scenario: rising rents, needing to move, small space with young kids?

      1. valentine*

        I’m a “worst case” kind of gal.
        Me too. Do what you would do if you were faced with the worst case.

        I wouldn’t buy or move. I would enjoy the pregnancy and wait for one kid to be in school, then look for homes/daycare (assuming it’s easier to find a single placement than two placements for different ages). Reduce the number of changes happening at once.

      2. Pondering big changes*

        I think the worst case scenario is a recession where the house value goes down to half of what we paid for it (or worse!) and we have to move due to jobs and can’t sell or take a huge loss. That would be really awful. And health emergencies can be expensive enough to send,people into bankruptcy even if they had savings. But, and I don’t mean to be argumentative, isn’t that the worst case scenario for literally everyone who buys a home? It could happen to almost anyone, but doesn’t seem to keep most people renting permanently just in case everything falls apart on a macro economic scale.

        The risks of owning seem much more acute than the risks of renting – the tradeoffs of renting are more cumulative over a long period of time (e.g. if my rent is $2000 a month now, how will I pay an inflated amount when I retire? Or what if my savings can’t keep up with housing prices and I get priced out?), but less likely to send anyone into immediate financial distress. So I think buying is the bigger risk in some sense but maybe a worthwhile risk if you have the resources to withstand acute problems?

    6. spiralingsnails*

      We kept having the housing market move juuust out of reach while we grew from 2 parents + 1 baby to 2 parents + 3 kids in a 2 bed 1 bath <1,000 sq ft apartment. It! Was! Squished!!! We kept monitoring house prices and larger apartments but financially it was better than for us to rent small and keep saving towards a down payment. We finally bought a house last fall and I am so glad we waited. The increase in monthly costs, the additional maintenance expenses of both money and time, and the increased need for emergency savings would all have been much harder to handle back then. (And the sheer TIME it takes to care for a house can be quite a burden if you are buying an older and/or larger place. Time which will be in especially short supply while caring for a newborn.) It also makes it harder to take advantage of other opportunities; like if you decided you didn't want to go back to work for a year or two, could you pay the mortgage on his salary alone?
      Tldr: doable but I would be cautious.

      1. Pondering big changes*

        What have the increased maintenance costs and time looked like for your family?

    7. Anona*

      It sounds like not a perfect time to buy a house, to me. But it’s a personal decision! Or maybe if you do, try to find one on the cheaper end? My husband suspects we may be in for another recession at some point within the next year +. His field is one that’s responsive to stuff kinda early, and he’s seeing some of the warning signs that preceded the last one (previously reliable clients slower to pay their bills), so much so that he’s advised a few friends to wait and see before buying a house.

      1. Pondering big changes*

        Buying right before a recession is really my big fear! (Honestly I’d almost hoped we’d be in one and hitting a buyer’s market by now, but no….) My job is very secure and we could pay the mortgage on one salary, but would have to take kids out of day care, and it would be really really bad timing if we wound up needing to move out of the area and couldn’t sell. But…how long to wait? What’s your husband’s advice? Due to commute and school/day care enrollment timelines we feel some pressure to not wait too long to move.

        1. Anona*

          Just asked him and he’s not sure that there will be one. He says it could be 5-6 years, or sooner, or not at all. I asked him why he’s telling our friends not to buy houses, and he basically said that it’s iffy enough to make him nervous, but still not a sure thing. So take that for what it’s worth!

    8. Thrown into the fire new manager*

      it really depends on so many factors but I can say home ownership is hard. I miss the days of apartment dwelling. My sister says the same thing. We had more time on the weekends and we weren’t dumping money into home repairs. It really depends on where you want to put your money and what sort of home you could buy. If it’s relatively new, you risk less. I’m just giving you something to consider that many people don’t mention in life

    9. Triplestep*

      My career has a lot more opportunity here than anywhere else, though.

      It was your last sentence that had the most resonance with me. I love my city, but there’s not that much opportunity for me here and I spent most of my children’s school years with crappy commutes. I wish I had planned differently.

      You’ve gotten a lot of good advice here, but the most thought-provoking responses to me are the ones that factor in time, and not just money. Like the time you’ll spend maintaining a home with young children, for example. I think the time you might spend commuting while you have young children is an important factor. And the further you are, the more you might end up spending for child care because the kids will be in it longer.

      Good luck and congrats on your happy news!

      1. Pondering big changes*

        Thanks. We did decide to put in an offer after all, in large part because my spouse currently has a pretty untenable car commute since a non-optional job change last year, and the new location would be a bit longer for me and a bit shorter for him. I aired my doubts and he said “ok, but I really don’t want to be in this apartment for a couple more years,” which he hasn’t said outright before, so I think we’re looking at a move regardless. Also, prices have gone up so much in the past few years that we’re legitimately worried about getting priced out even further from the city (of course, if the economy crashes and we need to move we’re screwed, but it feels like buying AND not buying are gambles). So I agree time matters, as well, and am not at all excited about maintenance time, but hoping there will be a net gain for one of us.

  25. Bank of Friendship*

    This is something that usually comes up with my friend group, and maybe I’m putting too much thought into it, but I’m wondering how to tread the financial differences between a friend and myself. She has been having a rough year financially. She is a freelancer in an artistic field and live paycheck to paycheck; she loves her work but it’s very sporadic and more often than not, pays very little. She’s reached a point where she worries most months about paying for her groceries and declines friend outings with a price tag. Recently her car has hit the end of its life and she’s struggling to figure out how to get a new vehicle as she needs a car to get to her jobs (public transport is not terribly helpful in our area).

    I have a job with a reliable paycheck, I recently bought a new car, and I’m currently planning for a vacation abroad. I don’t have the financial struggles my friend does and I’m trying hard not to bring it up in conversation, but it’s difficult when our catch-up talks are her expressing the difficulties she’s having and me having things with price tags on them to talk about, like the upcoming vacation.

    Is it helpful to try and treat her more on our outings so she doesn’t have to keep declining or is that too much treating her as a charity case? Like I want to see the upcoming Avengers movie with her, she’s my favorite person to watch superhero movies with, but she hasn’t been to the movie theater in a while because of her finances. I’d totally buy her ticket for her but I don’t know if it’s insulting to offer or not. I honestly faced a similar dilemma around Christmas where I wasn’t sure if I should get her something fun and silly that would make her smile or get her something actually productive and useful to her life. I found something that was a good mix of both but was definitely putting more bought into her gift than anyone else’s on my list.

    1. HannahS*

      Ask her! Like, “Hey, you’re my favourite person to watch superhero movies with. I know money’s a bit tight lately–can I treat you to see the Avengers movie?” If she says no, maybe offer her a movie night at your place, to watch one of the older ones together. That way, there’s a strong message that it’s not about the money, and it’s not a big deal.

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      So I’m normally the poor friend in this equation and what you do totally depends on your type of friendship. I’m very comfortable telling people that I can’t afford to do things but I’m not at all comfortable letting people pay for me because I feel like it creates an obligation between us and I start to get resentful (this is a me thing, not a situation thing).

      However, I agree with HannahS’s wording. It would be a lovely thing to offer to her but also take into account things like the concession stands as well. That can create a bit of awkwardness if she doesn’t buy anything but you do, so say something like “can I treat you to a night out seeing the Avengers movie?” instead.

      And don’t worry about the things you’re buying. She probably gets that you have two different incomes and is happy for you. It never even crossed my mind to be jealous when a friend went to Peru for three months over the summer or another bought a coat I liked but could never afford. Trust me, she’s so focused on her own finances that she’s most likely not thinking of yours.

    3. Overeducated*

      I think if you do cheap or free stuff with her most if the time, then the occasional offer to pay for both (with such a nice explanation of why her company is worth it!) is fine. Just keep it rare enough that it doesn’t feel like a one way relationship. But talking about stuff that costs money is ok – I’m friends with a bunch of doctors who make way more than I do, they don’t have to hide their lives and i don’t have to be ashamed of mine, it’s just part of us being different people.

    4. Lady Jay*

      So, I’m currently living reaaally close to the margins, among friends who are much freer about how they spend their money, and it’s kind of you to be thinking about this!

      Two thoughts: 1) Sure, treat her to Avengers; I think if you’re honest (“Hey, I know you’ve had a rough year–this is my treat because I love to watch superhero movies with you!”) it will make her feel noticed and appreciated. 2) As much as possible do low-cost/no-cost things. One thing I get frustrated with is when my friends *always* have to be doing something that is cost-intensive: eating at an expensive restaurant, watching a movie, etc. I just want to spend time with my friends–tea at my place or going out for ice cream/coffee is easier on my budget & is a good way to catch up.

      1. Ada*

        Seconding this. An occasional treat will most likely be fine, but making a real effort to find low/no cost things for you guys to do together can go a long way, so the burden isn’t always on her to come up with an alternative she can afford. And who knows, you might stumble on some really great activities you might have never thought of while exploring your options.

    5. Llellayena*

      I’ve got a group of friends where I make significantly more than they do. I’ll offer to cover if one of them mentions it’s a tight week, but I won’t offer every time. And if I recommend something it will either be free/cheap, or I’ll mention the cost so they can decide based on that, or I’ll offer to cover the cost. They don’t mind hearing about my vacations (though I do field some ‘bring me something’ requests). In general, if you don’t push the pricey outings and emphasize that you’re looking for her company it should be fairly smooth sailing.

    6. lapgiraffe*

      This may sound unrelated, but I’d treat this friend the way I also treat my friends who have small kids, especially the new moms and especially if your whole friend group is otherwise still childless. It can feel really dispiriting and isolating if your friend group keeps suggesting things that are not only out of the cards for you but they KNOW it’s out of the cards and don’t seem to bother to think about the odd one out. Be the friend that take the extra minute to think of things that’s more inclusive, or be the friend that goes of your way to do something with that friend that works on their terms. Make a point to go to them – if money is tight, and clearly car is a problem, and life is stressed, bring the pizza to them! Bring a bottle of wine to them! Don’t make a big deal of it, by changing up the same old routine (which is clearly not working for your friend) you’re acknowledging it enough. It doesn’t need to be about your friends finances, life changes a lot and you can’t just keep doing the same things with the same friend group in the same way forever.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I am that poor friend. Do yourself and her a favor, dial it back on the spending. Find low cost, no cost things and just make that your habit. If it’s not this movie, then it would be something else. Try to let go of activities that cost money until you can find a low or no cost way to do a similar activity.

      If you absolutely must do this movie, then tell her that is her Christmas present or b-day present and she is getting it early. And actually mean that. When Christmas or birthday rolls around give her a card and that’s it.

      1. DCR*

        +1! I think it creates a weird dynamic in friendships when one person often pays for another. As the payer, you may start to wonder about how your friend is spending money and make judgments about it

    8. Not A Manager*

      I would not mention her financial situation. She knows she’s struggling right now, and she knows that you know it. I don’t think there’s any value-added to bringing it up.

      If you establish a system where she knows she can rely on you to generally suggest low- or no-cost excursions, then I think you can offer to treat her to something not crazy extravagant, like movie tickets, without a lot of fuss. “I’m going to see the Avengers this weekend, would you like to join me? My treat!”

    9. Wishing You Well*

      Side thought: I hope your friend is applying for or getting any official help she qualifies for. In my area, there’s SNAP (formerly food stamps) and multiple food bank organizations. She might qualify for other help, too.
      Also, you can ask her a hypothetical question to get her opinion: “What do you prefer: useful or silly gifts?” “If I offered to treat you to a movie, would that be okay?”
      You sound like a very thoughtful friend.

      1. jolene*

        If there were two-for-one offers at your local cinema, that would be the ideal way to treat her. Have a look out for those, or for a cheap subscription that would give you a second ticket on deep discount.

    10. CB*

      +1 to all the advice everyone else has given, and seconding that you are truly a kind person.

      Regarding spending money on tickets and such, something I’ve found with close friends (and exes) in similar situations is that it can be helpful to ‘alternate’ cost vs no-cost activities. My best friend is a pro at this, as she recently relocated to Chicago and has had trouble finding a job. One of her friends might treat them both to a bite and movie tickets, but then their next hangout would be at best friend’s apartment where they’d play Mario Kart and everyone (except best friend, the host) would bring a snack or drinks. Both activities are meaningful and accommodating, but don’t create pressure to spend more.

  26. Curious*

    When you feel anxious or unhappy, what tips or relaxation techniques do you use to calm down and be positive?

    1. coffee cup*

      This might sound odd, but one thing that sometimes works for me is listening to white noise, especially if I’m in bed and can’t sleep. It’s oddly soothing and usually helps me switch off a bit.

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        This! I have a track of ocean waves that is my go to. I’ll usually tell partner when I come home that “I need Ocean and a few minutes” and he knows to let me be for fifteen minutes or a half hour of laying there listening to waves with a pillow over my eyes.

        I also have a white noise machine for bedtime (and a fan) but that is more due to thin walls and neighbors.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      My mantra has always been “Don’t worry about the things you can’t change.” Easier said than done, but it’s really helped me to stop thinking about things that drain my energy and aren’t changeable.

      My “happy song” is Billy Idol’s Dancing With Myself.

    3. Aerin*

      If I just need a short term outlet video games are good for me. Something with good combat that flows well, like Arkham Asylum or God of War. Lets me zone out and feels nice and cathartic. Reading a favorite book is usually good, too.

      If it’s longer term, I try to find something useful I can do. Like, I might not be able to get everything in my life under control, but I can get the pile of boxes that’s taking over the living room into the recycling can. Little steps can really help.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I look to see what steps I can take to remove some of the pressure in the situation. Sometimes talking with a trusted friend helps. Sometimes I know what I have to do and I just need to start inching my way through it. Other times I am nervous/worried because I lack info, so I google or look for other sources for that information.

    5. Part Time Poet*

      Deep breathing practice and guided meditation. I use the free version of Insight Timer.

    6. Almost Academic*

      For anxiety, leaning into it with curiosity. What’s making me feel anxious or stressed about it? What is the worst feared outcome? What’s so bad about that? Looking at the evidence I have (facts, not feelings), what is the likelihood that my anxious thoughts are true? If my anxious thoughts did come true, what plan do I have for dealing with it? What concrete steps can I take to address or minimize that outcome? If the thought of those questions is too overwhelming to me, I’ll usually try to relax my body somehow first – meditating, warm shower, facemask, etc., anything to reduce the physiological “jitters”.

      Unhappy: Distraction with something that’s a pleasurable activity or event, or that has helped to improve my mood in the past. Maybe doing some work I enjoy, reading, reaching out to a friend for support, etc.

      I hope you feel better soon <3

    7. gecko*

      These are both extremely specific to me so I don’t know how helpful they’ll be. But, I write down what’s bothering me. I think the reason this works for me is because my brain has some worry on a loop, the same loop that I use for short-term “don’t forget this, don’t forget this” kinds of thoughts. So just as I can get myself to stop repeating a grocery list over and over by writing it down, I can let off some anxiety steam by writing down whatever the worry is. I think it’s a brain hack from how I trained myself to study in school.

      I also try to provide myself with a transition point. This is really hard to do. But basically if I’m really, really unhappy, even if deep down I can feel myself getting a little “done” with being unhappy, it’s hard to leave that state.

      It’s like, How can I be calm and baseline again when two minutes ago I was crying hard??? But, having some “neutral zone” when I feel unhappy helps. Taking a nap, eating a meal, taking a walk, taking a shower.

      Then, I have some separation between the bad mood and the ok mood, and I can tell myself the story, “I felt better after taking a walk,” instead of the story “I guess I just cried myself out and it wasn’t THAT bad a mood? I guess I wasn’t really sad?” (which, as you might be able to tell, is not a story that works for me).

    8. CB*

      My former-boss set a standard on our small team to encourage stepping out of the office and going for a walk around the block to clear one’s head. All I have to say is “I’m stepping out for a few minutes”, with no questions asked, above and beyond ‘required’ break times. The change in scenery and the small dose of exercise usually helps me clear my head and avoid saying/doing something inappropriate fueled by anxiety.

      For unhappiness (which for me is usually fueled by depression), I try to ‘accomplish’ SOMETHING on my personal to-do list. Even if that’s just unloading the dishwasher or putting dirty clothes in the hamper, it’s a good reality check that despite whatever is making me mad/upset, I’m still here and still chugging along.

  27. AvonLady Barksdale*

    We’re dogsitting this weekend for a friend’s foster pup. Stella is a big lumpy mush and very sweet, but she has weight and skin issues and at 125 lbs, she doesn’t move very easily. She is also very stinky! But so far we’ve been ok. She has lots of blankies that she likes to burrow in, and while it’s taken some time, she’s been able to get off our deck (two small steps) to pee in our backyard. We’re hoping today is sunny and warm and she can just enjoy herself outside all day. Our friend who is fostering her doesn’t have a backyard and Stella loves the sun, so I think being able to just hang out on our deck will be very freeing for her.

    My buddy is not quite that happy with this arrangement. He’s very much an “only”. He likes Stella’s blankies well enough, but I think he’s a little concerned about the length of her stay. Luckily for all of us, he doesn’t lash out, he just looks at me with his sad eyes and makes his “I’m annoyed” face. I will be sure to give him solo walks and extra schnoogles.

    1. NoLongerYoung*

      Extra solo walks are a big bonus for your buddy…sounds like Stella needed some sunshine….hug for her too.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      My grandmother, who is rather… insensitive at times, just told me over the phone that she doesn’t understand fostering and she doesn’t think anyone will ever adopt this dog. It amazes me sometimes how I grew up with a shred of compassion for anything.

  28. HannahS*

    Bloating: help! I’ve been getting awful bloating and stomach aches recently. Last night I looked about five months pregnant, and my belly was hard with air, and it was the second time this week. I’m trying to figure out if it’s happening at particular points in my cycle, but the most common precipitant is that I ate a meal on an empty stomach. I guess I’m usually more of a grazer, but I often eat a large breakfast after having not eaten overnight, and it’s always been fine. Since it’s been happening more frequently, I’ve been remembering other times when I’ve purposefully waited to eat, like for Yom Kippur, or a Seder meal, and then gotten a bad stomach ache, so I guess this isn’t a change, but it’s happening more often, and sometimes unprompted! What do you do when you’re bloated? Does anything help?

    Another fun side effect: sometimes, when I’m really stressed, I’ll get an upset stomach. When I go to bed with a food- or medication-induced stomachache, I’ll have stressful dreams all night, because I guess my body has decided that these two things go together!

    1. Marion Q*

      There’s this yoga pose that helps me whenever I’m bloated, the seated twist (ardha matsyendrasana). I also find putting hot water bottle on my stomach helps with stomachache. Another thing is applying cajeput oil on my stomach (which is basically like putting hot water bottle), but there’s no substantial scientific evidence on this, so it might be placebo effect.

    2. Aerin*

      Ginger helps me. I found some ginger gum at CVS, and online I got these candies called Gin Gins. I frequently get bloated or vaguely queasy, so I keep these on me at all times.

    3. Nye*

      Is there a chance you’ve developed lactose intolerance? Bloating and cramps (and other unfortunate GI impacts) are common symptoms. If you’re going to lose lactase persistence, it can often happen gradually (and, I’m told, often around your thirties, which is when I noticed it).

      Anyway, maybe keep an eye out on whether these symptoms get worse when you’ve eaten dairy. Took me and a friend of mine quite a while to realize we were lactose intolerant (years apart), since it’s not immediate or super-obvious. There’s a strong genetic component to lactase persistence because of its evolutionary history, but genetics are not 100% destiny on this and even in groups that evolved it (northern European, some African) there are exceptions.

      1. Nye*

        Should say – if this seems likely and you don’t want to cut out dairy altogether (it’s too delicious for that!), LactAid helps. You might have to take a bunch of pills to get the benefit, though – the one or two they recommend simply don’t cut it for me. Also the store brands are usually garbage, though CostCo in the US has the good stuff for cheap.

    4. fposte*

      Often when you wait to eat, you’re eating a larger portion than you would ordinarily. I will say for my Crohns etc. I find that large portions are an issue, but that grazing isn’t great either; I do better with modest meals eaten slowly. You might also want to look at the low FODMAP dietary suggestions to see if any of those sugars would relate to what you’ve tended to eat when you’ve had bloating.

    5. ATX Language Learner*

      My bloating has gotten worse with age and my cycles are not the same every month (some 24 days, some 26, some 28). I started keeping track of my cycles and add which days I’m bloated and notice that I bloat when I ovulate and for about 3-4 days before my period starts. During those times, I keep my sodium levels super low (I eat low sodium anyway because my body is very sensitive to being bloated so my “super low sodium days” are filled with greens, fruits, and meat) and make sure not to binge eat or eat things with heavy carbs. I up my cardio as well and drink peppermint tea, which really helps! I actually noticed that if I drink peppermint tea daily, my bloating is much less.

      Although there are days (like yesterday) that I was bloated AF as well as moody AF and nothing helped. I also started taking Balance from Alani Nu, which helps regulate hormones and there are tons of great reviews (https://www.alaninu.com/). I haven’t taken it long enough to notice a difference but hopefully within a month or two I will :)

    6. Veronica*

      I find that friendly bacteria-laden foods help. Yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut. Also, I don’t want to be an alarmist, and I don’t know your age or overall health, but bloating can be a sign of serious illness, so keep an eye on it and pay attention if it doesn’t go away.

    7. Ann O.*

      Do I remember correctly that your Ashkenazi? If so, I would pay attention to whether onion or garlic intolerance may be a factor. We are apparently genetically prone to FODMAP issues, and onion intolerance seems to be more common among us. Figuring out my onion intolerance cleared up so many mysteries for me about why I was bloating so much and in so much pain. Eating continues to be a struggle because low-FODMAP is hard, but it’s much better.

      Separate from intolerance issues, simethicone can help with reduce bloating. The common brands for it are Gas-X and Phazyme. I don’t like taking medicine, so I only use simethicone when I’m really in pain, but it does help.

      Yoga poses that put pressure on the lower intestines can also help. This is common enough that a Google on “yoga to relieve bloating pain” will turn up many articles, but you can also watch this video: https://youtu.be/HVEuVBPzVV4

    8. Wishing You Well*

      Time for a medical checkup. It could be anything really: gall bladder, etc.

    9. Coffeelover*

      Sorry if this is really obvious, but have you tried removing/reducing common IBS offenders? I used to get a lot of bloating and it took me a long time to realize I just can’t eat certain things (well I can but I’ll probably regret it later). I just thought being really bloated from time to time is normal, and it’s not really. Everyone is different, but for me I realized I can’t have lactose and more than 2 cups of coffee a day will bloat me like crazy, and if I have too much sugar it’s the same. Other common offenders are onions, garlic, cabbage, brocolli, cauliflower, etc.

    10. Scandinavian in Scandinavia*

      Have a look at FODMAP and try eliminate one food item at a time. Certain very crispy and fresh apples give me the same symptoms. As long as I stay away from those, I am fone. Good luck!

    11. Tau*

      Simethicone simethicone simethicone simethicone.

      This is available OTC in chewable form (at least in the UK and Germany, idk about the US). It is one of the very rare medications you will find that has “side-effects: none known” on the label. It does one thing and it does that one thing very well: it reduces foaming and thereby gets gases out of your stomach.

      I’ve had weird stomach issues since basically forever (have never quite managed elimination diets to narrow down the cause, if there is a clear one) including the really fun problem where I get gas build-up beneath my lung and suddenly I’m at the doctor discovering my lung volume is half what it should be. This stuff is a life-saver.

    12. Grace Less*

      I encourage you to visit your gynecologist (or a local women’s health clinic) for a checkup. Bloating can be an early symptom of ovarian cancer. It’s fairly rare, but it’s definitely something that should be ruled out as early as possible.

      1. Quandong*

        Seconding this recommendation – it’s really important to rule this out, please don’t ignore it.

    13. Princess Deviant*

      For me white processed carbs like bread (especially bread!) and pasta make me bloated, so I have to avoid those, but it is individual so I agree with the other commenters – try your doctor and a good elimination diet to see if any foods make a difference and that there’s no underlying medical cause.

      Just one thing that works for me, because like you I also get an upset stomach and diarrea when I’m stressed or upset – I take the view that my body is trying to tell me something, make some kind of feeling available to me which is otherwise buried in my subconscious!

      So I do some mindfulness meditation, and try to notice the feelings. I then try to work out where the feelings came from and is there anything I can do to alleviate what’s happening? Very often the action of listening to myself helps alleviate the symptoms. And not repeating the same things that made me ill in the first place of course helps. 0

      E.g. I got a swallow problem many years ago. Saw a speech therapist. Realised through her help it was stress. I was scared of leaving but eventually realised I could never go back to that job again so I resigned. Swallow problem resolved. Just before I quit my therapist told me, “some things are hard to swallow, aren’t they?”

  29. MarieD*

    I’m looking to visit portugal in a couple of months, do you have any recommendations ?

    Would you recommand a carrier from Canada or website to find accomodation?

    Thanks !

    1. Teapot Translator*

      I’ve always found that Air Transat usually has the cheapest flights. When I went to Greece last year with my family, we used Booking and Airbnb for accommodations.

    2. ATX Language Learner*

      omg omg omg PORTUGAL IS MY FAVORITE!! I would no doubt move there in a split second if I had the opportunity (actually my husband and I would like to live there one day, perhaps in 4-5 years!) I used booking.com to find accommodations. Below is a huge list of recommendations I made for a friend.

      1) Lisbon – arrived there in the morning and spent a day and night there. We also stayed a day and night before we flew back home.
      · Areas explored: Alfama, Bairro Alto, and Praça do Rossio. All 3 areas are very popular with great restaurants and bars.
      · Cool lounge bar in Bairro Alto named Majong, really cool vibe that played deep house music. Not a club or dance bar, just a cool bar hidden in an alleyway. https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g189158-d245843-Reviews-Majong-Lisbon_Lisbon_District_Central_Portugal.html
      · We went to Sea Me, a sushi restaurant in Bairro Alto. If you plan on going I would make a reservation. https://www.yelp.com/biz/sea-me-lisboa?osq=sushi

      2) Carvoeiro –we took a bus down to the Algarve region. Here we stayed in the town mostly but also visited Portimão and Ferragudo. We stayed here 5 days at a place called O Castelo Guest House (beach views and great accommodations! 80 euros per night for a beach view with balcony and huge room. http://www.ocastelo.net/en/welcome)
      · This town is beyond picturesque. If you go down to this region I recommend you kayak through the caves, either alone or with a tour (we went alone). There are hidden beaches in the caves. It is breathtaking!
      · Portimão is a larger city with some good beaches. I personally liked Praia do Carvoeiro better.
      · Here were our favorite restaurants:
      i. A Boneca – superb seafood restaurant hidden in the cliffs. https://www.yelp.com/biz/a-boneca-lagoa?osq=restaurants
      ii. Onze – delicious southern European food. https://www.yelp.com/biz/onze-restaurant-carvoeiro-lagoa?osq=restaurants

      3) Porto – we took the train up to Porto. We stayed here 8 days and absolutely fell in love with the city. The city is beautiful and has a magnetic vibe. It’s a more romantic city with a lot of great wines, Port wine, restaurants, cafes on every corner, etc. The food is outstanding and I wish we could have stayed there months! The city is on a very large hill so you do a lot of walking up and down the hill and stairs to go down to the river. We walked nearly 8 miles every day. We stayed in 2 different places, one in the Arco Apartments which is absolutely amazing. It’s situated in the cliffs/stairs of Porto and the views are spectacular.
      · Arco Apartments – http://arco-apartments.pt/
      · Our favorite and probably one of the best restaurants I’ve ever been to is Puro 4050. I recommend the squid ink pasta J It’s also situated in a little alley of other restaurants and cafes. At night there was jazz playing, a magician/comedian sort of guy, and during the day there was a Brazilian Capoeira dance off! And the best part is it is so cheap compared to the restaurants in the US. We went there twice and didn’t spend more than 50 dollars. https://www.yelp.com/biz/puro-4050-porto
      · Every bar has sangria and it is so delicious. I became hooked on the white sangria.
      · Café Cais – great spot by the river to watch the tourists and grab a snack and drink. Their white sangria was my favorite!
      · Jimão – you will need to make a reservation. Delicious place with tapas and good wines. https://www.yelp.com/biz/jim%C3%A3o-porto-2
      · We did a Port Wine Tour at Porto Ferreira in Vila Nova de Gaia. We didn’t go over to the vineyards in the Douro region because of the forest fires.
      · 7G Roasters – the best coffee in Porto. Portugal in general is new to the “craft” coffee and different methods of brewing. Most of the coffee is a brand called Delta which is a Folgers equivalent. If you’re a coffee addict like me, 7G Roasters will be your best café! It’s on the other side of the river in Vila Nova de Gaia.
      · Tapa Bento – Also one of my favorite restaurants there. https://www.yelp.com/biz/tapabento-porto
      · Café Zenith – great spot for breakfast and lunch. I recommend the Nutella pancakes! We went here twicehttps://www.yelp.com/biz/zenith-brunch-e-cocktails-bar-porto-2

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        This is really helpful as we’ve been contemplating a trip to Portugal as well – will save!

      2. Hester Mae*

        We loved Porto also!
        Neither of us drinks alcohol and there was still lots to do! We are looking to move there in several years.
        Most people in tourist areas speak English. Português language is not that similar to Spanish as you might think.
        Have a wonderful time!

        1. ATX Language Learner*

          It is actually very similar! I speak both languages and learned Portuguese 2nd. It’s 70% similar, just the 30% you have to learn which includes not only grammatical differences but differences in pronunciation which is by far the hardest to learn if you already speak Spanish.

      3. londonedit*

        Massively late to the party as always, so you probably won’t even see this, but I was very excited to see a mention of Carvoeiro and Portimão! My family has a house near there and we absolutely love it. The caves are amazing (definitely take one of the fishing boat trips to the caves from Carvoeiro beach!) and there are so many great places to eat. I also love the wooden boardwalks all along the coast, they’re fantastic for a gorgeously picturesque walk. Some of the smaller beaches like Albandeira and Benagil are also fantastic!

        1. ATX Language Learner*

          Ahhh the Algarve region is so wonderful! Can’t wait to go back one day and explore more. Or just pack up my things and move! Ha! Would love to know more info about buying a property over there as a foreigner (assuming you are not Portuguese but maybe I’m wrong!).

          1. londonedit*

            You’re correct in guessing we’re not Portuguese! I don’t know a great deal about it as my parents bought the house in 2003 – I was 22 at the time and didn’t know much about buying property in general! And I don’t know how things will have changed since then.

            It is a wonderful region, though! I haven’t had the chance to visit for the last 18 months or so because of various work and family things, but I do feel so lucky having a ready-made Portuguese holiday whenever I want one! My parents tend to spend a couple of months there and a couple of months back in the UK throughout the year, so it’s generally easy enough to go and visit them. I never have time to go to all of my favourite restaurants! Oh, and I also have to put in a recommendation for Silves and Monchique – absolutely gorgeous.

  30. Seeking Second Childhood*

    After something yesterday… what dark-humor things have happened while you were driving? I’ll start. I was a passenger when a wild turkey flew up directly into the van’s front window. Hard enough that the mirror popped off but not hard enough to break the window. We couldn’t find the bird.

    1. Akcipitrokulo*

      Little bit of rust at the front of the bonnet. Going about 50 mph with me & dad in front, little brother &sister in back.

      A gust of wind got under the gap, ripped off the bonnet which slammed into the windscreen, bounced off the roof and landed behind us.

      Thankfully no-one going behind us and no injuries! But scared the shit out of us!

    2. Sam Sepiol*

      Driving near a big shopping centre in the UK but in the countryside. A deer ran up behind my car and kept up with me for a couple of minutes before running off. I was terrified I was somehow going to drive into it!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        My friend was chased by a pig while driving his truck. He had tried to shoo the pig in off the road. Well the pig decided my friend is a nice person and ran behind his truck as he tried to drive away.

        My friend turned in at a near by farm, the pig darted into an area with other pigs. My friend said he hoped that is where the pig belonged. The pig weighted at least 150 maybe more. Big pig.

        1. fposte*

          British comedian Eddie Izzard has a routine about a proposed game show called “Whose Pig Is This?” Sounds like your friend was unknowingly in the pilot.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Bummer. And he still doesn’t know if he won or not, either. I know he does use a different route in case the pig recognizes him again.

    3. Rebecca*

      A large black bear ran into my SUV. I had no chance to get out of the way, and he ran directly into my driver’s side headlight and somehow left hair embedded in the tire between the tire and rim as well. Broke the headlight. I got out, called the police so they could get the bear off the road, they told me to call the game commission, was in the process of doing that…and the bear got up on all 4’s, shook its massive head like “what the heck just happened here” and ran off in the direction it came from in the first place. Honestly, I had no idea I could move that fast and get back into a vehicle like that.

    4. Chaordic One*

      Quite a few years ago, when driving to work, my car’s engine quit and I coasted down the road a ways until I came to stop in the first turnoff from the highway.

      And it was in front of an auto junkyard.

    5. KR*

      Ran over a deer (to my credit this lady deer lept under my front passenger tire). Car was absolutely fine. Passerby pulled over behind us. We had to call the cops to shoot it/collect it (a lot of times in that area tow drivers will call someone to come collect the meat). My friend I was with walked over with a flashlight to check to see if it was dead after it didn’t move for five minutes and it got up and walked away without so much as a limp.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I thought of another one. I was driving on a country highway. I saw a car on the side of the road at a diagonal, with nobody in it. I kept going. Then I saw an accident on the other side of the road. Then I saw a man running down the other side of the road, against traffic. He was chasing a wheel. He must have lost his wheel and crashed, the wheel rolled and bounced into two cars and kept going. I never fid find out if he caught his wheel before it hit someone else.

    7. Arjay*

      I drove my husband’s brand new car for the first time and barely avoided a big wreck within a mile of our house. This truck pulled right out in front of me like I was invisible. The adrenaline sent me into laughter as I asked him if the new car came with a cloaking device I’d accidentally activated.

      Ina Final Destination type scene, he had a lawn mower blade fly off a truck in front of him and flatten his tire. Thankfully, that was the only damage.

    8. Claire*

      This happened to a friend of mine, who’s an EMT.

      The story started at a fourth of July parade, in a remote town in northern New Hampshire, with friend and his co-workers in their ambulance and dressed up as M.A.S.H. characters, including at least one as Klinger. Some poor man collapsed, possible heart attack*. The EMT crew got to work, loaded their patient into the ambulance, and took off to the hospital. Along the way, a moose started to cross the road, got side-swiped by the ambulance, then staggered away, none the worse for its encounter.

      It’s only when they get to the hospital that the crew discovered moose poop smeared ALL along the side of the ambulance. And did you know that moose poop fluoresces under the correct lighting?

      * It turns out it wasn’t a heart attack but extreme indigestion

  31. Looking for a Wordsmith*

    I am not skilled with words, especially in the dating realm, so can someone help me define these areas?
    1) More than like but less than love
    2) How to label the stage before Boyfriend/Girlfriend but more than just “person whom I happen to be dating”

    I recently started dating a very close friend. Being such good friends and knowing each other so well means that parts of it feel like a serious, comfortable relationship, like we’ve jumped straight to the 6+ month stage (For example, we exchanged spare keys years ago as a lockout/emergency precaution, so I started the relationship with a key). However the romance aspect is new, exciting, surprising, and I’m enjoying taking things slow on that part.

    1) I usually take 3-6months to fall in love, but I feel like saying “I really like you” just doesn’t cut it and I don’t know what the escalation is. Because of the high comfort level, my brain pathways feel like my emotions should be on the love track and I’m afraid that an “I love you” will slip out from habit not from actually feeling it.

    2) A well adjusted person would probably call this the Boyfriend/Girlfriend stage, but I am not that person. I feel like that takes it from relationship to Relationship, which freaks me out a bit. “Partner” sounds even more serious. I’ve just been avoiding using any sort of label and was hoping that strategy would work until I was ok with the boyfriend/girlfriend thing, but now it is starting to come up more. I’d rather just have some term/label to use instead of having to explain the lack of a label. The person I’m dating understands the history behind all of my hang-ups about dating but I don’t want to have to explain it to family or people who I’m not close to. (Person I’m dating is thrilled that I’m comfortable enough to call it dating after watching me actively avoid dates for a couple years – I have issues and am working on them)

    1. Jessen*

      I’ve seen the term “special friend” used for people who want to indicate this is more than just friends but we don’t want to define it as a relationship.

    2. Ewesername*

      1) adore would work, wouldn’t it?
      2) not sure. Person I’m Seeing? Close friend? Is there a between stage?
      Sending you many happy thoughts!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      1) Person I am currently spending a lot of time with
      2) Person I have been seeing for a little while now

    4. Karen from Finance*

      1. “I (really) care about you”?

      2. You can say “we’re together” or “we’re seeing each other”.

    5. Not A Manager*

      “I am very fond of you.” “Being with you makes me happy.” “You’re wonderful.”

      I happen to think that “dating” is a nice term. “Courting” has some of the meaning you’re looking for, but it’s hard to say it un-ironically. Sometimes relationships are ambiguous and don’t have labels. You could always say, “this is my Ummm…” :)

      1. Anonymous Pterodactyl*

        I’ve always called this an Umm-Friend! As in “this is my ummmmmm…. friend.”

    6. Lilysparrow*

      1) I would call this “I really care about you.” Or in describing this to a friend, “I think this really has potential.”

      2) I’d describe this as “starting to get serious,” or “seeing a lot of each other.”

    7. Triplestep*

      1. I find the right things to say at this stage are the things we think of as old timey, such as “you know I’m crazy about you, right?” or “that’s why I’m so smitten with you!” They say what you want without wandering into that “love” territory.

      2. The labels depend on the audience, right? For mutual friends and family-members that know this person, I’d say what you said here: Our relationship turned romantic. For anyone else, this person is “the person I’m seeing” or “I’m involved with someone who …” enough times until you just start using their first name.

      I recently bumped into two women I’ve known for years, admittedly not that well. I know they’ve known each other well for all that time; one had been a single mother not really dating and the other one was in a long term relationship with a woman who passed away after a long illness. When I bumped into them, one of them blurted out “We’re together now!” and I have to say it was kind of awkward. I think I said something like “Congratulations!” but I don’t know if that was the right thing, and it felt strange. So I guess what I’m saying is … I don’t recommend the blurt out/bomb drop.

    8. Everdene*

      When we first started our relationship* Oak was aware I wanted to take things slowly (he was very patient) and would say things like ‘I adore you’ or ‘I love it when you…’ both of these felt special but not into dangerous “I love you”‘s. Being a bit sillier I would say things like “I don’t care what they say, I think you’re alright”.

      As for lables he was ‘just a boy I’m kissing’. (This continued till my niece asked if she should be calling him ‘Uncle Oak’ since I loved him! At that point I realised if a young kid recognised this as a proper relationship maybe I should too.)
      *Reader, I married him.