weekend free-for-all – May 18-19, 2019

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

Book recommendation of the week: The Mother-in-Law, by Sally Hepworth, in which the mysterious death of a family matriarch causes all sorts of relationships and secrets to unravel. This is not my usual fare, but I quite enjoyed it.

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

{ 1,204 comments… read them below }

    1. Fey*

      I recently discovered Shelbey Wilson on Youtube. Her makeup style is clean, simple, and fresh. Very achievable. Minimal products and brushes (as she tends to use the same brush for a few things in the same tutorial). She also rarely wears falsies, which is my pet peeve.

      Pixiwoo also does very easy tutorials – Sam and Nic Chapman, who make Real Techniques brushes and are makeup artists, run the account. They’re in their late 30s/early 40s and are really into the minimal products, done in 10 mins, not going clubbing, just going to run some errands, look. Haha.

      I’d say stick to the basics. Not everyone needs foundation. So if your skin is good, maybe a cc cream will suffice. I don’t do any contouring – it’s really not as necessary as beauty gurus will lead you to believe. Or even highlighter for that matter. Maybe a bit of blusher would be nice? I love eyeshadow but I’m not into the full-on Instagram look. For that, eyeshadow sticks are amazing. I have a lot of Nudestix ones, which I find are easy to use and they’re also in a million shades of nude (hence the name), so you can wear them for the no-makeup makeup look. They have a few colours where you’re wearing just one shade and you blended it with your finger, but it looks like you’re wearing a few and you’ve really blended it well with three kinds of brushes. I like that.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      My one and only makeup trick: When you’re lining your top lashes, do it with the pencil positioned from underneath your lashes rather than from above. This makes tight-lining really easy.

    3. Lena Clare*

      For lining my eyes, I like Alison’s tip above. I pull my eye up to get a close lash line with a pencil sorry of like a guide then go over any gaps with a liquis kohl. It also makes it look really black.

      Sometimes I leave it like that, but usually I line my lower lashes too. I did it by rubbing the pencil along the lower lashes and inside the eye (so it’s mostly inside the eye) then I use my finger to run the pencil off the inside eye and smudge it on the lashes. That way I don’t end up with pencil halfway down my cheeks!

      Mascara – I sort of put it on by moving the brush upwards in a back and forth horizontal motion rather than straight up vertically. I don’t know if that makes sense. I seem to catch all the little hairs that way. :)

      1. Ethyl*

        For mascara, yes to the back and forth motion! Also, warm up your mascara slightly (I tuck mine under my boob lol but you can also run the tube under warm water). It makes it go on so smoothly and with fewer clumps.

        1. Texan In Exile AKA the gold digger who for a while was also The Candidate's Wife*

          Yes! I put my makeup on in the car on the way to work (visor mirror makes it easy and there is a super long light at Bluemound, so, you know – efficiency.) But in the winter, the mascara is too cold, even inside the house. So I stick it in my bra before I leave! By the time I am ready to use it, it’s warm.

          I thought the internet existed only to bring cat lovers together. Apparently, it also serves to inform me that I am not alone in my mascara warming via breast strategy!

      2. Introverted Manager*

        Is there a better way to tightline that doesn’t irritate contacts? I find my eyes are so irritated when I get too close. I love the look but being teary-eyed isn’t supposed to be part of that.

        1. Blue Bunny*

          If you apply a primer first (using a Q Tip or orange stick) it can help prevent the liner from wandering, but then you need to find a primer that doesn’t irritate. It might be easier to find a natural/low-irritation liner.

        2. Lena Clare*

          Hm not sure that this will work bc I don’t wear contacts so can’t say for definite, but I’ve sometimes made my eyes water because I’ve lined too close to my eyeball (sorry for grossing people out here!)
          I suppose you could try a liner for sensitive eyes and also pulling your eyes down further.

          Or you might need to try lining above the lashes so none of the product can get in the eye, then smudging it with a cotton wool bud instead?

    4. Marion Ravenwood*

      I really like Sali Hughes. She’s a British journalist who, amongst other things, writes a weekly beauty column in the Guardian, which as well as having tips on product applications also has some videos with tips on applying things like flicky eyeliner, lipstick etc (there are also similar videos on her website – salihughesbeauty dot com – and Instagram). I’d also recommend her book Pretty Honest, which has lots of great tips on makeup application amongst other beauty-related things.

      For my own tips, I agree with the tightlining and mascara tips already suggested. Also for lipstick, I always draw my Cupid’s bow in a cross first and then use the edge of the lipstick to follow the line of my mouth, blot with a tisue and repeat. Also for powder products and foundation good brushes can make the world of difference, although you don’t need expensive ones – I find brands like Real Techniques and EcoTools to be just as good, and art supply shops can be a good source too.

    5. Dino*

      For an easy eyeshadow look I always put the lighter shade on the inner half of my eyelid (closer to my nose) and then a complimenting darker shade on the outside half, then blend them together by swiping back and forth where the two shades meet with a makeup brush. It takes 30 seconds and adds a bit of depth.

    6. NMFTG*

      Lisa Eldrige a British professional makeup artist, has a lot of good tips in her “5-minute,” “quick”, “fast” and “minimal” tutorials that might be good places to learn little tricks. She has her own website, but I always just look at her youtube channel.

      Like Fey above, she also advices to just use foundations/bb-creams or concealer on part of your face, if you want any correcting, no need to do a full face.

      Since you mentioned having fun – have a think about what fun is to you? Is it more colours? Looking like a different version of yourself? Expressing a different style for a party etc. and look at tutorials that capture what you’re drawn to.

    7. Karen from Finance*

      When looking at tutorials online, be mindful that there’s a lot out there that looks great on camera but doesn’t really look that good or last long in real life. Focus on channels that do simple things, and look for somebody who looks as close to you as possible (because what works on one skin and/or facial structure may not work on another).

      A lot for makeup is dependent on the type of features, so search in specific: eyeliner is different for hooded/almond/asian eyes, oily and dry skins need different types of products, etc.

      I suggest finding out if there are any in-person classes you can take in your area. My city is full of makeup artists who offer 2 or 4 hour self-makeup classes, where they go through a day look and a night look with you and help you find what works best for you in particular. They are usually not expensive here. I like it because you get to try a couple of things and you get advice specific to your needs.

    8. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I like the smallthingsblogdotcom. She has a nice mix of natural and night on the town looks. She does nice tutorial videos too, and has recommendations for makeup products from drugstores, Target, Ulta, Sephora, etc. basically something for everyone. One thing that helped me is that my coloring is very similar to hers, so I can usually wear the exact shades/colors that she does, which makes it a little easier to pick out product.

    9. Grace*

      It’s definitely possible to pick and choose from YT tutorials without going all-in. I’m a bit makeup-obsessed, but I hardly ever wear foundation and I definitely don’t contour. It’s worth using them for techniques, but you don’t have to copy the looks. Also, you definitely don’t need to go high-end or expensive. RealTechniques for brushes and sponges, L’Oreal and Maybelline have great mascaras and concealers, H&M have some fantastic neutral eyeshadow quads. A lot of people *like* going high-end, but you don’t need to.

      In terms of quick things, my go-to for something really quick and easy, the sort of thing that makes people tell me I look so nice now I’m not wearing any makeup (ugh, never say that to anyone, please) – are as follows:
      – Moisturise the hell out of my face, concealer on any problematic areas (nose for redness, under eyes, any spots) and immediately use a big fluffy brush to sweep loose powder all over my face to stop the concealer from creasing. I usually use Maybelline Age Rewind concealer and the L’Oreal loose powder, and anything with at least SPF 25 for the moisturiser.
      – Eyes: I use Rimmel eyeshadow primer, but you don’t need it if you don’t have oily lids. The H&M mauve or bronze quad, fluffy brush to sweep the lightest matte shade through the crease – these sorts of techniques are what YT tutorials are for, there are a lot where they walk you through how to hold and manoeuvre the brushes. If I want to make it obvious that I’m wearing eyeshadow, I take one of the shimmery shades on my fingertips and take that all over the lid, otherwise I just take the darker matte shade and blend it into the outer third to add a bit more depth. Either way, I take the light shade again on a small thin brush and take it under the outer third of the lower lash line. More natural lashes, Maybelline Great Lash; otherwise, L’Oreal Paradise.
      – Face: I have very pale skin, so I use a more peach blush, usually L’Oreal Life’s A Peach. The apples of the cheeks thing doesn’t work for me, so I start there but sweep it back out along my cheekbone. I almost always highlight, usually ELF (keep it natural on the high points of the cheeks; you’re going for healthy glow, not blinding) and also dot just a little on the inner corner of my eyes to brighten them up. A lot of people don’t bother with highlight, but I would recommend something on the inner corner to open up your eyes and make you look awake.
      – Lips – if I’m aiming for natural, usually a lip stain. L’Oreal’s Rouge Signature stains the lips really well and lasts all day in a very subtle way. If I don’t care about natural – which, let’s be honest, is most of the time – I like Maybelline Super Stay Matte Ink. My favourite spendy purchase is the Smashbox Always On liquid lipstick, which is fantastic, but it’s not that much better than things you can buy on the high street.

      I think the main thing to focus on is that you can really pick and choose whatever you like. I never wear eyeliner, because I have hooded lids and it transfers or just becomes the only thing you can see, and I don’t like how it looks. Other people would have you think that no makeup look is ever complete without liner, but I completely disagree, at least for me. It’s about what works for you and your face. My main areas of fun are eyeshadow, highlighter, and lipstick; I never contour and don’t do eyeliner or falsies, which for some other people are the main areas of focus. It’s your face, and you decide what you put on it.

    10. MissDisplaced*

      I love makeup but don’t have tons of time in the morning. I recommend following The 5 Minute Face, which was pioneered by Bobbi Brown, but also expanded on by Carmindy (of What Not to Wear fame – she has some YouTube videos).

      I don’t have tips really, except that it helps to find the colors that work for you and make your eyes pop. The one neat thing I did find was a cat eye “stamp” eyeliner because I could never get how to make a good cat eye on my own! And black liquid or marker eyeliner takes practice and a steady hand. I don’t have time for that every day, so using a good pencil eyeliner is much easier! I also do my eyeliner first—and then put on the eye shadow because it gives a softer look.

    11. SansaStark*

      I totally agree that finding what you like/what works for YOU is the most important thing. And then just practice….I tend to wear quite a bit of makeup but my “everyday routine” only takes me about 10-15 minutes because I pretty much do the same thing every day, even if I’m picking different colors/products. But the technique is the same so it goes quickly. The one thing I do no matter what is curl my eyelashes with my Shiseido curler and put on mascara. This immediately brightens my face and makes me look (or at least feel) more awake.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        I love to play more when I go out. But yes, my everyday look is super-simple and takes maybe 5-8 minutes depending. The only thing I generally vary is the eyeliner colors (black, gray or brown) and the eyeshadow colors.

        >Moisturizer
        >Foundation & light sweep of the big Powder brush to set
        >Curl eyelashes
        >Eyeliner
        >Eyeshadow (1 light shade + 1 darker shade)
        >>In summer a spritz of matte makeup setting spray
        This can be done in about 5 minutes.

        I don’t need mascara (lucky me) if I curl my long black lashes, and I don’t care for lipstick, but you could keep that in your purse anyway. Concealer: I do have it, but don’t need to use all that often. If I have more time, I’ll do the cat eye stamp and liquid liner… it looks fab but it takes me another 5 minutes to do it neatly. I have maybe 4 good quality eyeshadow palettes I rotate (a good one should include matte and frosted shades). Having at least one good neutral palette in “your” colors is a must!

    12. Ron McDon*

      Katie, a make up artist who runs the Beauty and the Boutique website has some good videos on how to apply a natural make up.
      https://www.beautyandtheboutique.tv/no-makeup-makeup-tutorial/

      I also love Mally (she sells on QVC UK) – I have several of her foundations, mascara, eyeliners and eyeshadow sticks. The foundation and mascara are fab, the eyeliners not so good (they go on well and the colours are gorgeous, but they smudge), but her shadow sticks I really love! They are easy to apply, blend well and last for ages. Mally has YouTube tutorials showing how to do everything from a natural look to a more dramatic ‘evening’ make up.
      https://m.youtube.com/user/MallyTVProductions

      Like others have mentioned though, it’s about finding someone who does a look you like, with similar skin/features to yours, using products similar to those you have or that you can purchase.

    13. AnonEMoose*

      If you’re going to wear eyeshadow, invest in a tube of the eyeshadow primer from Urban Decay. You just apply it before applying your eye makeup and let it dry for a few seconds.

      Then apply eye makeup as normal, and it will not move until you remove it.

      The makeup will not run, smudge, or crease. It’s about $22 a tube, and a tube lasts a long time. I also get their eye makeup remover, which works well and doesn’t irritate my eyes.

    14. Guest*

      If you live near a Nordstrom, I recommend making a free appointment (with no pressure to buy!) with one of their Beauty Advisors. I did this last year to get help in selecting a concealer that blended well on skin without foundation as well as a pretty lip color with a lip balm texture – both for my “no makeup makeup” workday look. You can make an appointment through the Nordstrom website, and during the process can describe what kind of makeup look you are interested in.

    15. Hills on Hills on Hills*

      Hopefully not too late to the thread…!!

      I find the thing that makes me look the most polished (and awake!) is my brows. Never underestimate the power of done brows!

      If yours are not that full, fill them in. I use the ELF brow compact and it’s great. It comes with a matte powder and a dark gel/wax. Use the powder and an angled brush to fill in your brows, and the gel/wax to set them with a small eye-shadow brush (one that looks like the tip of a kitty’s tongue).

      Also figure out what concealer works best for you. I have another ELF palette that has green, purple, blue, a light pinky colour and skin-coloured concealer. I mainly use the green for redness around my nose and in between my brows, and to calm down the redness of zits. The pinky colour is good for opening up your eyes – just pop a little in the inner and outer corners. And the purple can help lift the colour under your eyes if you’re a bit darker there, or on areas that are a bit more sallow. Blend those bad boys in, then pop your BB/CC cream over top where you need it most. I usually need it on my cheeks, a bit on my chin and forehead, and a little around the jawline. A good primer will help it all stay in its place, or a powder over top if you prefer a more matte look.

      I usually finish the above with a bright blush, my brows, mascara, liquid liner if I’m feeling really snazzy, and lipstick/balm. Total time = 5ish mins for the basics, 10mins if I decide I need liner (I need to concentrate haha).

    16. Trixie*

      If you have blond or light colored hair, consider lash/brow tinting. Instant impact and easy to maintain. Those with more sensitive skin may find otherwise.

  1. Wicked Witch of the West*

    calling fposte:
    Last weekend you mentioned places that accepted textiles for recycling. What kind of places? I’ve been searching. Have a pile of stuff too ratty for the thrift shop, but don’t want to burden the landfill.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Some towns now take them. Our town we can drop them at the landfill/transfer station.

      1. gsa*

        Our too, except you put them in a special orange bag and leave them next to recycling bin. Look up simplerecycling (dot) com

    2. Anono-me*

      You may want to check with your local
      thrift store about ratty clothing. One of the local thrift shops near me takes ratty clothes (specifically labeled please) and uses them to make shop Rags Etc out of. You can go in and buy a “bag o rags”.

    3. Asenath*

      Some thrift shops ship clothing they can’t sell off to the places that re-use them for other purposes.

    4. Ranon*

      H&M will take them through their textile recycling program. Your local thrift store may have a relationship with a textile recycler (my local Goodwill does and will take non sellable textiles, you may need to ask), and many cities with recycling programs have a relationship with a textile recycler, ours has a program where they drop off a bag and the textile recycler picks it up the same day as regular recycling. Our city also has those clothes recycling drop-offs, if you Google the company on the side you can usually figure out whether they’re primarily a recycler or a reseller (although there’s lots of overlap on that front)- this is usually my last choice since they’re not as transparent about what they do but it’s still a reasonable option.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Where I live there are a couple of charity clothing banks. Also, we have a collection once or twice a year where you leave bags outside for collection. I do this when wanting to get rid of old (but still wearable) shoes.

    5. fposte*

      You’re getting better crowdsourced answers than you could get from just me! I take mine to a local thrift store, but there are also bins around town by a couple of concerns that recycle textiles.

      Earth911 dot com has a recycling locator, where you can put in your zip code and the kind of reycling you’re looking for, and it gives you locations of various kinds; unfortunately, for clothing the list doesn’t clarify if they only take resellable clothes or not, but that could be one place to start looking and then you could cross check with the relevant orgs’ websites.

    6. Wicked Witch of the West*

      Thank you so much, everybody! I will start by asking Goodwill, they have a store only a couple of miles from me.

    7. Tris Prior*

      If you happen to be in Chicago, there is s bin for this on Loyola’s campus (Rogers Park, not downtown). I believe they turn them into rags for the science labs.

  2. Phoenix, AZ*

    Calling all the folks in Phoenix, AZ! Or very close to Phoenix!

    My husband and I are most likely moving to PHX soon due to many personal reasons. We are looking to buy a condo unit and we’ve looked at many listings that are within our price range ($200k-$250k). Not knowing PHX that well, when the listing calls its property as “highly desirable”, “central to everything”, “desirable zip code” and all those positive words they use, we really have no idea how accurate the location descriptions are.

    So if you live/lived in PHX or live/lived very close to it, can you throw out the locations/areas that are truly worth taking a look?

    We don’t want to live in suburbs and prefer to live in a high/mid rise building that has an easy access to public transportation, grocery stores, hospital, pharmacy and etc.

    Also, considering the temperature in AZ, do you run the AC pretty much 24/7? How much in electric bill should we expect for a place that’s about 700-1000 sq ft if we used the AC moderately (we can tolerate house temperature up to 80 actually; our current location has somewhat constant breeze and we use the tower fan more than the AC actually).

    Any help/guidance you can give is greatly appreciated. Thank you very much!

    1. TL -*

      Not from Phoenix but I grew up in a hot place and you’re going to be running the AC (swamp cooler? Not sure what Phoenix has as the norm) pretty much whenever you’re home, especially if you’re not on the first floor. The second floor of my parents’ house rarely drops below 95 between May and September if they don’t turn the upstairs A/C on. My first floor apartment in Austin had a huge shade tree at the window and that kept the temp at 82-85 (during morning and evening hours) with a fan on and Austin is a little cooler than Phoenix.

      My parents kept the AC at 80 and ceiling fans on growing up and it was a comfortable temperature and kept the electricity bills reasonable. But if we were home in the summer and much of spring and fall, the AC was on.

    2. RemingtonTypeType*

      Hi there. I’m sure someone from Phoenix will chime in with housing details, but I live in Scottsdale and wanted to comment on the weather.

      Yes, it’s as hot as people say. Yes, the air runs 24/7 in the summer (May/June – October/November). Some people do a thing called supercooling, but it didn’t work for us. We have a home, and our power bill is about $600-$700 a month in the summer. APS and SRP are the two power companies by me, but SRP has better rates in my experience. You don’t get to choose. Winters are lovely and sometimes you even need to turn on the heat! Your AC usage really depends on the direction of your windows and how shaded your walls are. It’s crazy.

      The internet here is awful. There are no good choices. If you have any more questions ask away!

    3. JustDesserts*

      When I left Phoenix 10 years ago, there was little to no public transportation. Hopefully it has improved by now.

    4. Book Lover*

      We pay about 600-700 a month for electricity in the summer for an over 4000 square foot house. In a 2500 square foot house I was in the 350 range. A decently made home with newer windows and so on makes a difference. No-one I know uses swamp cooling – we did it for a few days when the a/c went out and if it happens again we’ll move to a hotel until it is fixed.

      A/c goes on in march and goes off in October/November. We don’t adjust during the day but there is usually someone in the house and always a cat. I am sure in a small place you could use a smart thermostat and switch off after leaving and on an hour before you return but when it hits 118 it takes an hour for every few degrees so it isn’t realistic for us.

      No idea about apartment buildings in Phoenix – people I know in Phoenix live in houses and patio houses. It is a pretty spread out city, not super walkable, but take this with a grain of salt as I have mainly been in north Phoenix. You may be able to find some online forums that give you more info but what you really need is a realtor that focuses on the Phoenix area.
      Public transportation sucks. There is the light rail but it isn’t extensive. You need a car or to expect to use Uber/Lyft everywhere. (If anyone lives in the area and disagrees speak up, but that is my experience)

      1. TL -*

        And on walkability – walking in a hot summer isn’t just like walking in a cold winter but opposite. My guess is you’re going to find your reasonable walking distance shrinks by a fair bit on top of the generally spread out nature of Phoenix.
        In winter, you can layer and warm up as you move. In summer, there is only so much you can take off and you’re still warming up as you move. You can adjust – I used to run long distance in 100 degree heat regularly – but it takes a long time and dry heat makes it really easy to dehydrate without realizing it.

      2. Phoenix, AZ*

        I wondered about the light rail. Many listings stated being close the light rail like it was a huge selling point. Thank you for a heads-up!

    5. Ranon*

      Not familiar with Phoenix, but when I’ve moved and looked for neighborhoods like the one you want, Walkscore has been super helpful, it heat maps which areas of a city have easy access to that stuff

      1. Ranon*

        Oh, and since you’re looking to be in a big building, look for a north facing unit at least one floor down from the top- the upper unit will shade your “roof” and north/northeast exposure will really help with solar heat gain. South exposure will dump heat on your unit and West exposure adds heat in the afternoon which just feels like insult on top of injury.

    6. Ranon*

      For everyone spending $600-700 a month on cooling- it’s probably worth a chat with the nice people that want to air seal your house, fill it with insulation (and put a cool roof on top of it when you’re due to re-roof). Payback for efficiency improvements is usually about twice as fast as solar panels if not faster and it makes your house a whole lot more comfortable to live in. Heat pumps have also gotten a whole lot more efficient, if yours is more than 10 years old it’s worth a chat with the AC guy about the most efficient units they have available, the extra cost for high efficiency also pays back pretty fast (certainly faster than the 10 years you’ll keep the unit)

      1. TL -*

        My grandma’s house is maybe 1/2 the size of my parents’ downstairs (the upstairs isn’t used anymore) and 1/4 the electricity to keep more than 20 degrees cooler. They’re next door, too – my grandma’s house was built for serious energy efficiency 40+ years after my parents’ was. And my parents’ house is designed to keep cool – dark, shaded, open floor plan.

    7. MoreCheesePlease*

      It’s been a few years since I’ve lived in the Phoenix Metro Area but I think it’s going to be very hard to find what you’re looking for. You may still find an area that you like, but I would strongly consider renting for 6-12 months while you figure it out since it’s such a sprawling city. (Rent is cheap though!)

      There is a lightrail that goes to the airport/Tempe/downtown so if you live right next to that you will have some public transportation options. I would check out the downtown area near all the museums/hotels/symphony hall which will be fairly walk-able, lots of restaurants but probably no grocery stores. Another option might be the downtown Scottsdale area which has a nice walk-able area but again, no grocery stores and no transportation. I lived in one of the suburbs and chose an apartment complex next door to a suburban shopping area with a grocery store and a CVS….it was a 5 min walk but that was all you could get to and it was WAY too hot to walk the 1 mile to the next shopping area that had a restaurant I liked.

      All that being said – even though I am also a city person I liked living in Phoenix more than expected! You will probably have to adjust your expectations of it being a ‘city’ since it’s just a huge sprawl with nicer suburban areas and less nice suburban areas and a few pockets of ‘tourist’ spots where you have lots of restaurants and hotels squished together.

      1. Phoenix, AZ*

        I was browsing through CL for PHX area apartments (in case we want to rent for a few months before buying) and came across a few apartment ads where the ad listers were providing services for finding an apartment you want.

        Is this service legitimate and not a scam? I’ve never heard of a personal apartment finder.

        Thank you.

        1. Steve*

          I have heard of the service mostly in the context of people moving for work, where the company would pay for moving expenses.

    8. Zona the Great*

      Live and work in central PHX. You’ll want the Roosevelt district in Central PHX which is amazing. Also near McDowell and Central Ave. transit is not ideal but it is improving. These areas would get access to light rail.

      I have this city to be so easy to get my come-up in. You’ll survive summer as long as you move in winter.

      1. Phoenix, AZ*

        This info great. Thank you for being specific with the names. In case we want to rent before buying, are there good apartments as well in that area? Any building names you can point out – which ones to check out & avoid?

        Thank you.

        1. Zona the Great*

          Yes great apartments and also craftsman homes. Rental market is almost identical to buying; we pay almost the exact same now as when we were renting. Nothing specific comes to mind as far as names of places. Look near the downtown ASU campus (not Tempe) for a safer place for walking at night. But know that homelessness in Phoenix is pretty rampant. Hard to witness.

          FYI-downtown Tempe (main ASU area) is very hip and urban with rail connection to central PHX. You might just take a look. It’s not suburban like what you’re thinking although I do live in typical suburban Tempe now.

    9. BooBoo Baggins*

      The Niche website is helpful when scoping out neighborhoods in new cities (or even your own). It provides ratings and reviews on a number of metrics. You can also search school districts or schools, if that is useful, too.

    10. bleh*

      I live in central Phx in a condo on the light rail line (we love the light rail). Try Roosevelt neighborhood or midtown. Prices are a little higher than what you name – closer to 300,000, but sometimes you get lucky, especially in the mid-rise buildings. One of the things our realtor did was knock on random neighbor doors when showing us a place to ask residents key questions. We steered clear of a bad building that way. We keep our electric bills between 100 – 140 in the summer by using various tactics. It really depends upon sun exposure, etc. Good luck with the move!

      1. Phoenix, AZ*

        Can you please share the name of the bad building you avoided? I would like to compile a list of buildings to look at as well as to avoid. Thank you.

        1. bleh*

          Bad: Summit at Copper Square – due to residents being stuck w/ bill for pool improperly built 1st time. They may have worked that out, so ask if you look there.

          Nice: Portland on the Park
          Artisan buildings
          Lofts at Filmore

          There are others that I can’t remember, and our priorities might vary.

          1. bleh*

            We never looked at Orpheum, but it’s right downtown, and I see they have some units for sale.

    11. YouGottaThrowtheWholeJobAway*

      Not a resident but I have tons of family there and have spent a lot of time there in the past 15+ years. PHX is so large and has a lot of transit gaps, especially considering that walking 20+ minutes to a bus line is taking your life in your hands half of the year. The light rail is cool but only covers a very specific internal corridor which is great if you can live/work there, but may be tough if you need to get further out. Uber and Lyft are super cheap there compared to elsewhere so that is nice. *I say this as someone who owns no cars and takes transit everywhere in my city. You can drive 45 minutes and still be in phoenix (or tempe or scottsdale or mesa or wherever that is technically PHX for all intents and purposes). That is how crazy large it is.

      You might want to consider Tempe near the lightrail if you cannot find what you want in your price range in downtown PHX proper. The housing is still more affordable and there will be more amenities for people who out and about because of all the students. Avoid Scottsdale — it is pretty much designed to make sure it’s very hard for any one without a car or a lot of money to be comfortable there and likely too suburban for your needs.

    12. Hibiscus*

      So as a resident, I really think that it depends on your work. There’s no point in being, “oh I don’t want to live in a suburb” if you are going to work in a suburb. The city is so vast that you will be stuck driving to hell and beyond on a daily basis. And as a public transit user–yeah, I can get over to W.25th and Utopia Road, but why the hell would I? If you are pro public transit/low driving as a lifestyle the neighborhood you pick will have a big influence on if you can continue to live that lifestyle.

      The large buildings are all downtown, and a few new 3-4 story apartment complexes in downtown Scottsdale. Most of Phoenix is very suburban, it’s where low density sprawl is a way of life, and cooling multiple stories can be difficult. I live off Thomas in Fake Arcadia (aka Arcadia Lite from realtors). I have not had a car in 10 years, but I live off 2 bus routes that both intersect with light rail, in a neighborhood with all the shopping I need, and I work mostly in Scottsdale. I don’t often leave a 2 mile square area except to work.

  3. Nessun*

    This week has been stupid busy and I’ve dropped it off by inadvertently upsetting a guild mate in my online game. Long story short, I was running an event and didn’t bring her into it because I didn’t realize she wanted to join. She messaged someone else in the group to ask what was going on and then logged off before I could apologize for the misunderstanding. I know its not a huge deal, and I did apologize by ingame mail, but I’m feeling like I failed because it’s only my second week leading- I was only just promoted to an officer role. Guess I’m just feeling like I let down our guild leader…and feeling bad that someone didn’t get what they need from the guild thanks to me.

    1. misspiggy*

      You’ve dealt with the situation well, and you can take action by changing the way you set up games in the future. You could tell your guild leader that if appropriate.

      Once you’ve done that, you’ve honoured your feelings of guilt and you can let it go. A mistake doesn’t mean failure, it means learning.

      1. Gleeze*

        Agree with Miss Piggy. You are a human and you made a mistake. And innocent one at that. You have apologised, there is nothing more you can do. I understand it feels like you have really let down some people but I think you are being too hard on yourself. You just got promoted so you are clearly doing things right. Don’t let one mistake outweigh all the things you are doing well!

        1. Nessun*

          I did tell my guild leader, since I wanted it to be clear that I goofed and I know it. It’s hard to let go, but you’re both right, there’s nothing more I can do except improve process for next time. Letting go of mistakes is hard!! Thank you.

    2. Short Time Lurker Komo*

      You not realizing she wanted to join is partially on her too. It sounds like she didn’t see you asking who wanted to go or even signed up for the event. If she had, and expressed interest and you missed it, she needed to have realized that text scrolls so fast at times, and say it again. As the one that has gotten cranky and stormed off in the past, 100% of the time I personally had something else going on, and this minor straw was the VERY last thing. Not your fault not realizing that, they might not have realized it either.
      If you play World Of Warcraft, the calendar sign up can help a lot in tracking who is interested and I’m told it can send party invites out automatically. There are also addons like oRA3 (which is a raiding frames addon) that have an ability to let people send you a set word (like ‘invite’ with no quotes) and it will automatically invite them to the group/make it a raid when neccessary. That can also help people join… though my friends are smartasses. So be prepared if you go that route to get ‘i n v i t e’ and other shenanigans that won’t work. XD
      You’re doing awesome! I’m sure your guild leader is 100% grateful that you’re stepping up, because that’s SUCH a hard thing to get people to do! Keep on trucking forward, and it will work out!

      1. Nessun*

        Thank you! Not WoW, its GW2, but we do have a website for the guild with all the events listed. It’s true gchat text scrolls fast! I’m going to concentrate on improving my pre-event messaging, and then just focus on the squad members when we start.

    3. AnonEMoose*

      I don’t run a guild. I do help run a local-to-me science fiction convention. One piece of hard-won wisdom I have to offer: Stuff happens. You do the best you can. Sometimes you goof, sometimes you miss stuff, sometimes communication doesn’t happen the way it should.

      And sometimes…people behave badly for reasons that have nothing to do with you. Some of this is on her.

      Try to recognize what’s on you, and where your responsibility ends. You can’t be everything to everyone. And you’ll never please everyone. It’s worth listening to and considering criticism…mostly. One thing I’ve seen on Facebook a lot lately is a meme that says “Don’t take criticism from anyone you wouldn’t take advice from.”

      You’re doing fine. You apologized, you have some ideas for how to try to avoid it happening again. That’s the best you can do. Try to forgive yourself on this kind of thing, or you’ll burn out quickly. Which is easy to say, and difficult to do!

      1. Nessun*

        Thanks – that’s good advice for all occasions. I shall work harder to keep it in mind.

  4. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    I haven’t done a lot of creative writing this week but I did finish two writing assigments for classes so that’s a good thing.

    1. Lena Clare*

      I’ve been mostly doing journal writing. Fiction stuff is going So. Slowly!
      How do you fit it in when you also work?

      1. Claire*

        Back when I was working a full-time job, I managed to fit in writing sessions early in the morning or on the weekends. I know others who write during their lunch hour. (Though that never worked for me.)

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      I had my confidence dented after a negative review last week, which I mentioned here, but I got some good feedback from you guys about how to deal with that, and so I’m trying to push forward.

      I haven’t got as much writing done this week as I hoped. I try to edit a chapter each week, but I’ve fallen behind because I’ve just started a new course for work, and I’m feeling a little pressured. I’ve been able to sort it out a little today and get my head around it, so I’m hoping I can do a lot of work on it tomorrow.

    3. Claire*

      Last week was all about working out plot notes for the middle section. I got through three chapters’ worth, which I’ll turn into prose…eventually. First I need to pin down the main conflict between four major characters.

    4. Smol Book Wizard*

      Hopping on to join a relevant topic!
      This week and weekend I’m trying to finish a “just for fun” project – me being me, that doesn’t keep it from being angsty, but with a good serving of comfort as well. Hopefully going to get back to the major overhauls of the fantasy novella I wrote a few years back. I have been procrastinating for weeks because I can’t stand the way I wrote this section the first time… or the second time… and am worried about whether third time’s the charm or not, heh.

        1. Smol Book Wizard*

          I’ve discussed it with a few, but they tend to disagree as to what will improve it, unfortunately. Considering that I’m uncertain myself, I’m not sure I’m a good tiebreaker.

          1. Troutwaxer*

            If you are also a science-fiction writer/reader, I would trade beta-reads with you.

            1. Smol Book Wizard*

              Belated thanks for the offer but I think I’ve got enough at the moment – I will keep this in mind, though! Best wishes on your work too :)

  5. Seeking Second Childhood*

    Gardening question for those who know fuschias. I bought a big hanging plant and need to know how cool it can get because our spring nights are still chilly. Like right now… forecast has us going down to 51°F, and I forgot to bring it in and I’m about to pull on shoes to go get it at 2am. Is that necessary? My Google searches with “temperature” keep turning up overwintering info…good to know but not quite yet.

    1. Ginger Sheep*

      This is just an observation, but my neighbours who are keen gardeners have had their fuschias out these last weeks (and definitely don’t bring them in at night), and we’ve been getting under 50°F temperatures every night. So I wouln’t worry too much!

    2. university minion*

      It’ll be fine. They’re much more sensitive to getting too hot. They’re one of the few plants I don’t bother to grow in north Florida – the season is too short before they cook.

    3. SpellingBee*

      What Ginger Sheep and University Minion said – it will be fine even a bit cooler than that, especially if it’s near the house (like hanging in the porch). I used to fill my front porch and breezeway with fuchsias when we lived in the Seattle area, and I really miss them! We live in Georgia now and it gets too hot for them to do really well, unless you have an exceptionally shady spot with only a bit of morning sun, which I don’t. But if anyone needs a recommendation for a fuchsia nursery in Seattle that has an amazing selection and great prices, go to The Earthworks in Covington. They propagate all their own plants and have varieties that are difficult to find anywhere else, and their plants are huge, healthy and gorgeous. Plus they’re exceptionally friendly and helpful.

    4. Grace*

      Don’t know about how young and fragile it is, but… We have a fuschia that has been transferred through several houses and several generations, I think it’s in its 30s now. It’s lived outside, in the ground, that whole time. A quick google says 51F is 10C? That’s more than okay, in my experience. Ours has lived outside through some pretty bad winters, including weeks (months?) at a time under snow. She’s fine.

    5. Homo neanderthalensis*

      Fuchsias are shade-loving plants that can tolerate a fair amount of cold. Here in SF nights can be in the 40’s and we don’t bring our Fuchsia’s in unless we get a surprise frost- rare for our area. Good luck with your flowers- fuchsias are really pretty!

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Thanks everyone — that will be my last middle of the night trip out to bring it in!
      It’s the dangle tender variety so I was worried.

    7. rmw1982*

      I had to google what a fuschia was, but they are lovely. I have an east-facing covered porch that gets 4-5 hours of direct sunlight per day. I live in a townhouse with a common/shared front lawn, so my porch is the only place I can have plants. It can get toasty here during the summer. Mid-80s F are common, and 90s aren’t unheard of. I’m wondering if I could make fuschias grow. Or if not, any other plant varieties you all might recommend for my specific growing conditions?

      1. HeyNonny*

        Fuchsias would be ok on your porch if you don’t get afternoon sun, and keep them watered. Also I’ve learned they don’t like the intense UV of high altitude direct sun AT ALL.

        1. rmw1982*

          Hmmm…I’m at ~6500 feet elevation. And where I live is known for its abundant sunshine (and the associated UV rays).

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Hmm…now I see a problem. Afternoon sun is what we get most of. I may have to put the hanger somewhere other than the front walkway… and the back just gets hot so some thought is needed!

      2. Food Sherpa*

        I live in So Cal- similar climate. The climate has definitely changed as we had oodles of fuschias in Anaheim when I was a kid. I’ve not been able to keep my fuschias from toasting on hot days so I gave up growing my favorite flower a few years ago. If you are worried about overnight temps drape burlap over the plant at night, uncovering during the day. That will keep them warm enough until it gets below freezing. It wasn’t the cold nights it was the hot days that killed them for me. If you keep them out of direct sunlight and in a cool spot they might get through the summer. Make sure you check on them daily, they will probably need water frequently when it is hot. Older, more established plants will have a better chance of surviving extreme temperatures.

    8. Windchime*

      It should be fine. It’s getting down in the low 50’s here at night (Seattle area) and my little baby fuschia starts are doing fine on the back patio. I’m going to plant them in a pot today and move them to the front porch, which faces north but does get a little bit of evening sun. As someone else said, fuschias can tolerate cool weather better than hot; I used to live in a hot climate and they would do OK till about mid July and then no amount of water or shade could keep them alive. Here in Seattle, though, they do great all summer long. One thing I’ve learned about them is you can’t let them ever get dry; they really don’t recover well from wilting.

  6. Another Manic Monday*

    I am trying to figure out a way to moderate my behavior without relying on somebody else to do it for me. I have this compulsion on going “all in” on everything I do in life or I feel it’ss not worth doing at all. Unfortunately, I am currently drawing a blank on what strategy to use. Any ideas?

    I decided to get a dog from rescue. A year later I had four dogs of the same breed (different color schemes).
    I decided to get a budgie (parakeet). Six months later I had 26 budgies (different color schemes)
    I decided to get a bicycle. Two weeks later I had spent $7000 on three bicycles and a ton of accessories.
    I would like to get a new car. The base model of the car I want starts around $22k, but I have this irresistable urge of getting the fully loaded top model for $38k.

    I think you get the picture. I have this compulsion of wanting everything “complete” or “perfect” and I can’t settle for “good enough” even when it’s the obvious rational choice.

    1. Gingerblue*

      Oh god, I know that urge. I’ve never had the money or space to go all in like that, but the thought process you describe is very familiar, especially the bit about colors. (I currently have a couple dozen tabs open on my ipad because I decided to get a new throw pillow for the bed and now have about fifteen potential bedroom color schemes planned.) Some things that work to keep me in check:

      1) Wait before buying anything. Am I still thinking about it a week later? Can I even remember what all the sheet patterns I was obsessing over in the store and unable to decide between were? A lot of the time this takes care of it. It works better for things you’re not shopping for online because you can’t keep opening the browser to brood over the question.

      2) A lot of the time I think I do this because I obsess over having to CHOOSE between OPTIONS which is HARD, AUUGH, and I wind up walking away having logic-ed myself into choosing something that’s not actually my preference. Then I’m unsatisfied, which means I go back to thinking about a second whatever-it-was, and the cycle repeats. I’ve been challenging myself to make snap judgments instead–look at, say, the sheet patterns in the store, and immediately answer which one I like best, and then just go with it instead of staring at them all for 30 minutes. I find I wind up at least as happy as I would otherwise this way.

      3) Paring down the options on something like a new car or computer is the hard one, and I definitely feel the urge to add everything. What if I don’t and I regret it, and then I’m stuck with the regret for years? All I can say is that I’ve generally been happy buying something at the top end of my budget and then waiting longer to replace it than I might if I bought a cheaper version, and that once I actually make the purchase, I stop worrying about it. Everything seems more fraught while you still have to make decisions, but if you get something that’s good enough for your needs, you’ll probably be happy once you have it.

      4) Giving yourself a harmless outlet in which to go wild can help to bleed off some of the urge. Is there something inexpensive or free that you can take pleasure in amassing a dragon’s-worth of? For me it’s things like library books, computer wallpapers, free mods for computer games I’m playing, yarn, recipes, Pinterest pins, etc. I just came home from the store with a ridiculous number of scrapbooking papers, but they were $0.50 each and will get used up, so whatever. Obsessively-curated bookmarks for more cucumber salad recipes than I will ever make? WHY NOT.

      5) I actively avoid temptation. I know I’m a completist, which is why I have very deliberately never gotten into collecting things, and I’ve trained myself to ignore, e.g., completion trophies in games. I have hit the point where I really do have a somewhat ridiculous amount of yarn, and am avoiding buying more by simply not looking at the online stores I usually buy from. Out of sight, out of mind works for me. Usually.

      6) I’ve been trying to concentrate on actually using things I’ve acquired–reading books or playing games I’ve already bought, putting in more time on the exercise equipment I have, etc., instead of looking for new things. Results are mixed, because, say, browsing books on Amazon over lunch is often a crutch for the fact that I’m too busy/stressed to actually read as much as I’d like. But that’s information, too. I’ve gotten into using a bullet journal this year, and logging things like what I’m reading can redirect my attention back to doing things I mean to instead of planning more things to do. Is looking at bicycle accessories a sign you don’t actually get to bicycle as much as you’d like, and can you shift something else to fix that? Would getting really into training your dog or committing to an intensive play or walk schedule help tamp down the urge for more dogs?

      So that’s my longwinded “yeah, me too” answer. If you haven’t taken up knitting, I strongly suggest you don’t! So. Many. Fluffy. Colors.

      1. valentine*

        Two weeks later I had spent $7000
        This massive red flag tells me therapy is the place to start. The compulsion to max out is filling some need you have and you may need a pro to talk that out with.

        Also key is what makes you say “when” and what happens to everything, especially the animals, when you’re done. Do you still have them or do you reset the playing board? Did you sell the bike stuff?

        1. Another Manic Monday*

          I have no real problem getting rid of “stuff” once I get tired of them (except for a few family heirlooms).

          Last year, I ended up having to get a complete new wardrobe because I had gotten tired of my old clothes and donated all of them to Goodwill. Of course, I got a little overboard there too. For work, I got ten dress pants (six different colors), 20 dress shirts (different colors), six blazers (different colors) and 15 ties.

          When I moved to my new apartment, I left my perfectly fine bedroom furniture with a family member so I could get a complete new set that was “bigger and better” than what I already had.

          I got rid of the birds because the upkeep became too overwhelming for me in the end. I left three of the dogs with my daughter and her mom on the other side of the country and the fourth dog with a friend and her dogs near me so I could visit him on a regular basis.

          You can say that I reset the playing board every 4 or 5 years and start from scratch every time.

          1. fposte*

            How does that work for you financially? Are you free of credit card debt, and are you saving a regular percentage for retirement every paycheck? Do you have a budget projected for your spending for each month and year? How long will it take you to buy the car if you save up to buy it rather than taking a loan, and do you want the extras enough to wait longer to get the car?

            I’m with others in thinking that this is a level of impulse control issue that suggests therapy, but it’s possible that finances could be a way to help shore up limits in what can feel like an elastic situation. I realize that when you have 23 budgies the 24th probably didn’t make much difference, but if you start with a budget of $x per year for pets and pet care, that might give you a bit of a speedbump a couple of budgies in.

            1. Another Manic Monday*

              I’m financially okay. I have two sources of income giving me $7k a month (military retirement and current government job) and I save at least 15% toward retirement (currently sitting around $130k). I have no credit card debts and my only debt is a $140k mortgage on a $180k home. I did, however, start the year with a $25k in liquid assets. It’s now at $10k after spending money on bicycles and a new bedroom set. I want to bring it up to $15k before buying anything big in the future.

              I have problematic habits, but at least I got my finances under control.

              1. Dan*

                I don’t know how old you are, where you live, or whether you are working with a financial advisor, but your fiances may not be in as good of a shape as you think they are.

                I make more than you and have more in retirements than you, but I also live in an HCOL area (there’s no way in hell I’m getting a mortgage as cheap as yours, so some things aren’t a direct comparison between us) and I can tell you that if I spent $7k “just because” and I knew it was associated with some lack of impulse control, I couldn’t write that off as “I’m fine.”

                Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you’re in dire straights or anything, but you did blow through a ton of liquid cash in a short period of time. But I’d rethink things if you think your impulses don’t negatively affect your finances.

                1. fposte*

                  Though financial advisors can be a great way to bleed money needlessly on their own. If you go to one, OP, stay away from the double-named stripmall storefront chains; look for somebody who does fee-only planning rather than fee-based or assets under management.

                2. MindoverMoneyChick*

                  I second, third, and, fourth fposte’s reply. Fee only planners are the way to go. I will also say a military pension and a job does tend to make up for a multitude of spending sins. But when you retire for real you could wind up with problems if you don’t get these habits under control.

                3. Dan*

                  @Mindovermoneychick

                  Yes, having a job and a pension gives one money to spend, but no matter what one’s income level, it’s entirely possible — and perhaps easy — to spend more money than one earns.

              2. Engineer Girl*

                I ended up having to get a complete new wardrobe because I had gotten tired of my old clothes

                No, you did not have to get new clothes because you were bored with the old ones. You chose it. Just like you chose to buy a new bedroom set when you had a lot perfectly fine old one.

                I don’t think you have your finances under control at all!

                You’re spending more than you make. Your savings are tiny and depleting. You need 3-6 months living expenses in your savings.

                The only reason you’ve done OK is because you have two incomes. If you lose you’re job what then?

                With the income you have your should have a paid off mortgage and at least 1/2 a million net worth by the time you’re 40.

                By the time you’re 60 you should have at least 1 million net worth.

                You are not financially OK. No, no, no.

                At a minimum you may want to “read total money makeover”. You clearly need a budget to keep your spending in check. And I agree with others that there’s some underlying issue here.

                1. Christy*

                  I think your level of “should” net worth is a little extreme, but I totally agree with you that these are choices.

                2. Engineer Girl*

                  I’m in the SF Bay Area. The key is 4% of your total savings generating the income for the year when retired. Inflation averages 3% a year and can really start to eat up pension/savings in old age. Health care costs are also a larger factor.
                  You can’t start over at that point.

                3. Another Manic Monday*

                  If I somehow lost my current government job (very unlikely) then I would be able to survive on my military retirement pension alone. I would probably have to tighten my belt and relocate to somewhere cheaper, but I will always have food, shelter, healthcare, and the basic necessities in life.

                  If I stay on track and retire from my current government job at 65, I will three sources of monthly income (Military Retirement Pension + Federal Civilian Retirement Pension + Retirement Savings) and I think that I will do okay on that. Probably not an upper middle class lifestyle, but it would be adequate for my needs.

      2. Forestdweller*

        I have nothing productive to add, but I identify with this so strongly and really appreciate your insights

      3. Another Manic Monday*

        Thank you for your “yeah, me too” answer. It was greatly appreciated.

        I do feel like I would regret settling for anything but perfect. I currently drive a 15-year old car and any needed repair would cost more than the value of the vehicle, so I definitely need a new car to replace it. I can easily afford the base model of the car that I want, but I do not want to settle for second best so I am trying to delay the purchase of a new car as long as possible. I have no need for most of the bells and whistles on the fully loaded top model but my wants is too strong and I know would regret not getting it.

        I have gotten quite the collection of unread books by now. Whenever I am interested in something, I go out and buy most of the important books ever written on the subject. Once I have gotten all the books , I have lost interest in the subject and moved on without reading even a small fraction of the books I purchased.

        A year ago, I decided that I needed to learn Spanish because it would be useful at my work. Instead of just buying their Spanish 101 beginners course for $45 to start off, I spent almost $500 on getting their whole selection of Spanish lessons. I’m still on Lesson 1 of Spanish 101 a year later.

        I have decided that I need to buy three more feather pillows to complete my collection of pillows. I already have nine feather pillows in my bed and I sleep alone. Somehow, I feel that 12 feather pillows will what I need to make things “perfect” and complete my bed.

        Six months ago, I bought the most advanced game console currently on the market and a year subscription to their game service. I haven’t played video games in years, but I still want to have them despite I never end up playing. I have Netflix, Hulu Plus, Sling TV, Amazon Prime TV, and HBO; but I get 99% of my entertainment from YouTube and rarely ever watches those services despite paying for them. I subscribe to a music service so I can have access to tens of millions of songs, but I only listen to one single band and I already own all of their albums.

        I will consider knitting.

        1. Christy*

          They were saying *don’t* consider knitting! It’s really easy, even as someone without these tendencies, to buy more yarn and supplies than you’ll use in a reasonable amount of time.

        2. Dan*

          You’re bleeding cash. I know you say you’re fine (and I responded to a similar post above) but I would suggest doing a consult with a financial advisor to figure out where you’re really at. You’re talking about levels of spending that while they won’t put you in the poor house in the short, will have meaningful impact on your long-term life choices, e.g., when/if you can retire, what level of spending you can support in retirement, etc. Understand what your option space is and plan accordingly.

          Don’t get me wrong. We all have different priorities regarding how we spend money, and mine are going to be different than yours. Me, I have a slightly bigger food budget than some; others don’t care what they eat. I travel overseas once or twice a year, others don’t care for foreign travel at all. The flip side is I drive a 10 year old base model car. Point being, know where you’re spending your money, and make sure that you’re spending money on things at levels that are appropriate for your finances.

        3. Lucette Kensack*

          I think you need to be hearing alarm bells, and you need to get to a therapist ASAP.

          This sounds like a shopping/spending addiction combined with the “all or nothing” impulse you’ve identified. I’m not seeing a lot of examples about going “all in” when it’s not about buying new things (or animals). For example — you didn’t go “all or nothing” on reading your books or completing your Spanish course.

        4. Courageous cat*

          I think this goes above and beyond “wanting things to be perfect”. There’s nothing about buying more of the same exact thing that really brings you any closer to perfection – it more just brings you closer to hoarding tendencies. I would absolutely start with therapy.

        5. UKCoffeeLover*

          Apologies if this sounds rude, but you seem a pretty open person and have asked for the opinions of strangers!
          Everything you have mentioned revolves around you, new car, new clothes, bikes, Spanish lessons etc. I strongly get the feeling that you need to find a way of losing your self absorption and start doing things that help other people. Maybe you could start by finding somewhere to volunteer. A homeless shelter would be good to show you how many other people live, or find an organisation that offers help to older people, mowing their lawns, fixing stuff in their house, or just chatting to them. Anything as long as it benefits others and involves you giving to them in some way (not by donating money though, that does not count).
          Studies have shown that doing things for others is the best way to improve personal self esteem, and maybe this could help good for you too (I’ve no idea if you need to improve your self esteem, but helping others benefits in so many ways).
          Again, my apologies if this post is too presumptuous, but it is written with good wishes and good intentions.
          Imagine if you could avoid the cost of therapy (and only the best therapy would do for you ;) ) simply by changing your focus!
          Whatever you do, I hope you find contentment. Good luck.

      4. LJay*

        Out of sight-out-of mind helps me a lot.

        I’ve purposely unsubscribed from subreddits for things because, like, if I’m subscribed to r/fountainpens and I see a cool fountain pen somebody else purchased, I want that fountain pen, too. And then when I’m looking for a place to buy that fountain pen, maybe I see another one I want and put that in the basket as well. And then I’m on my way to getting myself in trouble.

        If I’m not subscribed to it, I don’t see the cool fountain pens. And I don’t buy them. And am happy with the couple of fountain pens I have that I don’t really use often enough to justify buying more.

        I had similar patterns with makeup, and snakes, and cameras, and other stuff.

        I also avoid getting into things that are only available for a limited time, because the idea of scarcity drives a lot of what I buy I think, and if I’m into something that I might actually not ever be able to buy again if I don’t buy it today, that’s going to be a big issue.

        And for some things, I try to focus my mind on quality versus quantity. One I’ve succeeded on is cast iron pans. Like, I don’t have room for a billion pans. Or even 10 pans. So I have the couple I brought originally that I use on a regular basis. And now I scour thrift stores looking for ones that are high value to me. Really old, rare, interesting in some way. I don’t have room for a dozen Lodge, or even common Griswold or Wagner pans, so I don’t buy any of them so I can buy the interesting pieces when they do come up.

        Also, for me, I have compulsive spending issues that I believe are tied to the impulsive part of my ADHD. When I get it into my head that I “need” something, I need it right then and not getting it feels like it is interfering with me doing other things. And so I would buy it even if I knew I didn’t really need it, if I knew that it was going to put me in a spot where I couldn’t pay my rent, etc. Then by the time I brought it and actually got it in the mail I was over it. Medication helped with that a lot.

        Another thing I’ve struggled with is the idea that getting this one perfect thing would solve all my problems (or that not having it is the cause of all my problems). That if I find the perfect notebook and fountain pen combo that I’ll be organized and actually use my bullet journal and be organized and have a great life. The idea that I can’t work out right now because I forgot to bring my sports bra and shorts on this trip and that I need to go out and buy those clothes right now so I can work out (when really I could have done some sort of activity that didn’t involve those clothes, and after I brought them I didn’t work out anyway because I am lazy). If I had a bicycle I could ride it everywhere and be in much better shape than I am (it’s too hot to ride a bike most days here, there aren’t safe roads to ride it on to most places I would want to be, and, again, I’m lazy).

        Combating that I have to really examine my beliefs behind and the value I am ascribing to the thing. Can I use this notebook and pen I already have to do my bullet journaling? Then the problem isn’t that I don’t have the tools. Is buying this one pen going to really make me change my habits? Probably not. It kind of goes with common advice from people in photography that are trying to combat what they call “gear acquisition syndrome”. “Use what you have now. Once you push it to the limits and can articulate why you need something better, then upgrade. If you’re coming to us asking, ‘what lens should I buy next’ and you can’t tell us what your lens doesn’t do now that you need it to, you don’t need to buy that new lens”.

    2. misspiggy*

      I think I agree with Valentine that talking this through with someone, ideally a qualified therapist, is the way to go. It seems like some big desires or fears are driving this. It’s interesting that ‘complete’ or ‘perfect’ seem such important ideas that they overcome big practical considerations like money and space.

      Just as an example, I’d say I feel some anxiety all the time due to unfilfilled perfectionism (which of course must always be unfulfilled, but whoo there are definitely improvements to be made around here). I think my fears of losing financial independence and a sense of ‘freedom’ are stronger, so in most cases the perfectionism just grumbles away in the background.)

      It’s also interesting that you go for big things to collect in different colours etc. (living creatures, vehicles). Would smaller collections not cut it? Or is it that you start with wants which are quite easy to justify as sensible life projects (a pet for companionship, a vehicle for independence), and the collecting urge takes over? Or that the sensible life project was a cover story for a collection project?

    3. Almonds*

      What did you do with all animals you acquired? Four dogs I can just about imagine, but 26 budgies? Yikes!

      1. WS*

        I don’t know Another Manic Monday’s situation, but my neighbour has 130 budgies in a big outdoor aviary – each budgie doesn’t take up much space! He takes them in to smaller hutches for breeding or if they need medical care, but most of the time they fly around happily in their aviary.

      2. Another Manic Monday*

        There’s only one dog left and she lives with a family member. Two of the dogs died of old age earlier this year and the third one I had to put to sleep after she got a terminal illness a few years ago.

        I got completely overwhelmed by taking care of the birds. I had four large cages in my living room and I spent about two hours a day taking care of them. I was going “all in” and was feeding them three kinds of high-quality bird food plus fresh veggies everyday. It was very time consuming and I was on my own so there was no “day off” for me. I ended up taking all the birds to the local animal shelter and trashed my bird cages and equipment (I spent thousands and a lot of time putting them together just right). I had reached a point where I just couldn’t take care of them anymore and stay somewhat sane.

        1. Ethyl*

          I guess this answers my questions down below. If you are a) unable to control the initial compulsion to acquire, and b) it leads to your life being impacted in that way, it sounds like it’s definitely time to talk to a therapist. Based on my experiences in therapy, you may need to try a few before you find one you really click with. And someone who can help you with something like CBT to learn techniques for dealing with your feelings in the moment may not be the right person to dig into other issues, for example. Captain Awkward has resources for how to find mental health care and what to expect from a visit with a therapist.

          1. Another Manic Monday*

            I am not happy about it, but I had become completely overwhelmed of taking care of them. I tried for two months to get a local bird rescue group to take them, but they didn’t have the resources to take them at the time. I wish that I could have kept them or find them a good home, but I just couldn’t do it anymore. It was too much for me.

            1. Another Manic Monday*

              I was also moving back to be with family on the other side of the country. They were okay with dogs, but they wouldn’t accept any birds (too messy). I was basically running out time as I wouldn’t be able to take 26 birds and a bunch of dogs across the country in one single car.

              1. LaurenB*

                People with 26 birds and a bunch of dogs are often called hoarders. If you are as financially stable as you suggest, why did you need to move back in with family members elsewhere? (The fact that you said “they were ok with dogs but not birds” makes me think you were moving in with them. If you were just moving to be close to them, you wouldn’t have said that.)

                1. Another Manic Monday*

                  I was retiring from the military and was unable to quickly get a job where I was living. I couldn’t afford to stay in the area without a job so I had to move back home to my spouse and daughter. We split up seven years ago, but still legally married for financial reasons. I am paying the mortgage on the house and it was my home as much as theirs.

            1. Another Manic Monday*

              Eh, I delivered them in three separate deliveries (8-10 birds each time) with brand new flight cages (that fit in my car) about ten days apart. It’s a large city shelter that takes in 5000+ cats and dogs each year. Pets birds get picked up by adopters within a day or two. What should I have done instead?

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                I do think you need to resolve not to adopt more animals in the future, at least not until you’ve worked with a therapist and gotten this resolved. It’s not fair to the animals, or the people who need to step in afterwards.

                1. Another Manic Monday*

                  I haven’t adopted or bought a single animal since 2015.

                  It wouldn’t have been fair to the animals for me to keep them. I was at a point in my life where I couldn’t take care of myself anymore even less taking care of other living creatures.

              2. Washi*

                Reading through these, I’m just a little…confused…by your attitude towards discarding animals. Are you really as un-regretful about that as you seem? When you found yourself spending 2 hours/day caring for the birds, did that send up a red flag to you about your decision-making, or were you just like “eh, I’ll take them to a shelter when it gets too much”?

                It just seems like a lot of the things that would be a wakeup call for serious therapy/other interventions have already happened, and you seem just very casual about it all.

                1. Another Manic Monday*

                  I went through a very dark period in my life in 2014-2016. I was involuntary hospitalized at for a week for suicidal ideations. I was taken to the hospitals in an ambulance twice in a year, once for a severe panic attack in public and second time for OD on Paxil and alcohol in an misguided attempt to lower my out-of-control anxiety levels. I would walk around for hours in circles inside my shower because I couldn’t stop the overwhelming anxiety that had taken over. There was periods where I would not eat or drink for days because I couldn’t be bothered getting up from the coach. I would see a therapist once a week for almost two year and a psychiatrist once a month. In the end, my employer (US Army) forced me into early medical retirement with 100% disability rating due Major Depressive Disorder and severe Anxiety. I would spend the next six months after leaving the military mostly in my bed and only leaving the house for my weekly check-ins with a therapist. I was only able to snap out of it when I got a surprise job offer that I immediately accepted. Getting that job literally saved my life as I had given up. I’m doing mostly okay now, but I do take both anti-depressant and anxiety medication twice a day.

                  I had to give up the birds because I couldn’t take care of myself anymore.

                2. Ethyl*

                  Another Manic Monday, since you’ve started your new job, are you still regularly seeing your therapist? And have you shared about your compulsions to over-spend and “collect” with whoever is prescribing your meds? Something isn’t working right here, and I’m really concerned about the behavior you’ve described surrounding acquiring things.

                  Also, I feel like it can be easy to feel like “hey I’m all better now, I have a job and money and stuff” especially after such a difficult time, but, well, you may not be “all better.” There’s still underlying stuff, that needs to be addressed on a continuing basis. The type of mental health crisis you described doesn’t get better because you get a new job, and if you stop working because you think everything’s fine now, you could be setting yourself up for another crisis. It’s kinda like when folks take their meds and are like “I feel great, I don’t need my meds anymore” except the meds are what make ya feel great, if that analogy makes sense.

                3. Courageous cat*

                  AMM, that’s a long response with no real answer, just deflection and derailing – it still doesn’t answer “are you regretful about it”. We know you couldn’t take care of them, no one could in that position! That’s the point.

                4. Confused*

                  Yes, this is truly horrible. Clearly AMM is working through some mental issues and their cavalier attitude may be chalked up to that, but the other commenters? These are sentient beings, not a hobby that AMM started and then ignored. What AMM is animal cruelty and hoarding in most jurisdictions and is outright illegal.

              3. Thursday Next*

                The compulsive pet acquisition is the clearest signal to me that you need to consult a therapist. Yes, municipal animal shelters will take in pets, but (1) many of them euthanize animals that haven’t been adopted; and (2) every animal there takes money and resources from the general pool, leaving less available for others (like strays, rescues from abusive homes, pets whose owners have died or become seriously ill).

                1. Another Manic Monday*

                  This city shelter have a 90% adoption rate for dogs and cats. For budgies it’s 100% within a few days. Their cost for re-homing my birds was minimal and covered by my donation. I used the resources available to me and after coming to an agreement with the shelter on when, where, or how.

                  So my prolonged battle with mental illness at that time, which included a week-long in-patient treatment at a mental health facility, does not qualify as a serious illness in your eyes?

                  All my dogs and cats (including two known abuse survivors) have come from city shelters and animal rescues I have never returned a single one of them to a shelter in my whole life.

                2. Thursday Next*

                  @Another Manic Monday, you’ll notice that my comment was posted hours before you noted your illness. I’m sorry for what you’ve been through.

                  But my concern about animal hoarding being a clear signal that you should seek help still stands. And your post about your illness suggests to me that the compulsive acquisition may be part of a larger picture that you need to address with professional help. It’s great that you’ve gotten back on your feet after all the difficulties a few years ago; I think there’s still some distance to travel along that road, and I wish you the best.

                1. Another Manic Monday*

                  I went through the Seven Stages of Grief three years ago. I have made peace with the fact that I had to give my birds up.

                2. Courageous cat*

                  I’m sorry I am all over this thread but I feel like there’s just like an inherent miscommunication in all of this. *No one is sad for you that you had to give the birds up*. They are sad for the birds. You’re responding as though it’s the former, but it’s the latter.

              4. Lucette Kensack*

                Also, since you seem to comfortable with your financial situation, I’d encourage you to make a (large) donation to the shelter(s) that took in the budgies. That was expensive help they gave you and your birds.

                1. Another Manic Monday*

                  I gave them a donation to cover their expenses at the time. I doubt their cost was very high as they pretty much just put the cages in their bird room. The bird was all gone within days.

              5. Courageous cat*

                I think it’s more that you seem to be glossing over the fact that your behavior puts animals in bad positions that they wouldn’t have been in had you not bought them. It’s definitely worth reflecting why this was behavior that harms not only you, but others, and maybe realizing that that’s something to feel sorry enough about to never do again.

                1. Another Manic Monday*

                  In what way where they in a worse situation? Are you implying that being in the city animal shelter’s birds and Small critters room are somehow worse than being in a cage at Petco or Petsmart? I would be inclined to disagree with that assumption.

    4. Gleeze*

      Definitely agree about going to therapy. Understand you don’t want to rely on someone else to moderate your behaviour but you need to learn the tools from a trained professional so you are able to moderate your own behaviour. I think this is especially important with so many animals involved, your behaviour is effecting other living beings.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Yes, therapy is for when your own coping skills are not up to the task at hand, and you need someone to help you acquire new or better coping tools. The therapist doesn’t moderate you–you aren’t going to call the therapist for permission to buy a new item–they help find and teach you some new ways to moderate yourself.

        I think this is not a ‘helpful life hacks from internet folk’ level problem.

      2. Ada*

        I’d also agree with therapy. Not a doctor, but compulsions like that sound like they may be related to OCD/hoarding or something similar. And even if they’re not, you may benefit from the tools a therapist would have for people dealing with those kinds of disorders.

    5. Quandong*

      I think you would benefit from professional help to overcome these compulsions with a therapist. You may have a few things going on that culminate in compulsive collecting, getting obsessively focussed on new items or experiences, and inability to moderate your impulses or reach a state of satiation.

      Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is one approach which deals with black-and-white thinking patterns, and many therapists are familiar with it. You may like to read about it as you decide how to address a problem that affects not only you but animals and possibly a partner if you have one.

      Good luck with this.

    6. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Not going to diagnose you on the internet but a friend of mine who had her first manic episode (and now has her bipolar under control but it was a rough couple years) in grad school it manifested similarly… grand plans, spending money, high energy, fast speech. So if this is a newish thing for you, talking to your doc may help.

      If that doesn’t ring a bell at all, I still recommend therapy like Valentine and everyone.

      1. Another Manic Monday*

        I don’t have any of the manic episodes that comes with bipolar.

        I do, however, have a professional diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, General Anxiety Disorder, and Major Depressive Disorder.

        1. Ethyl*

          Have you been honest with your therapists about your spending/acquiring habits? Because what you’ve described above could fall into the “manic” category. Manic episodes often don’t look like people think they do based on TV and movies (I mean does ANYthing mental-health related look like it does on TV?).

        2. mreasy*

          I have bipolar 2 with spending issues and self-control issues in hypomanic stages. If you haven’t discussed these behaviors with your psychiatrist yet, I recommend doing so.

        3. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

          Yeah the concern of course is if these compulsions you have are a type of mania, then medications you may be on for depression can make them worse. None of us can diagnose you in this forum, but if you haven’t laid out what you describe here (intense spending, brief bouts of interest in subjects, grandiose plans) with whoever prescribes your meds (if you take meds), then you could be inadvertently being made worse.

        4. Anonymous Velociraptor*

          So it might be worth talking to your Psych about Bipolar 2. I had a diagnosis of General Anxiety Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder and it turned out that what I actually had was Bipolar 2. What I had assumed were periods where I was “normal” were actually periods of hypomania (I honestly thought that it was normal for people to make compulsive plans to Learn All The Things, spring clean like there’s no tomorrow, make big plans for the future, and spend money I didn’t really have on things I didn’t really need) and my inevitable swings down into severe depression were just my descent back into regular depression.

          I’m properly medicated now and it’s shocking how much more even keeled my life is.

          Regardless, I’m going to chime in with the people advising you to seek out a therapist who has worked with OCD or hoarding patients. It seems like it might be smart to find a professional to help you build coping mechanisms rather than well meaning but ultimately not qualified strangers online.

        5. Dawbs*

          ASD comes with sometimes problematic executive function issues.

          I’m not trying to harp or dogpile, but what have you done/are you doing to deal with that? Because it’s not just the decision to buy to many (20+!) birds or whatever-those are symptoms; dollars to doughnuts there are others.

          Those issues aren’t solved by the AAM commentators, regardless of how great the comments are; those issues are best addressed by professionals

          1. Observer*

            Those issues aren’t solved by the AAM commentators, regardless of how great the comments are; those issues are best addressed by professionals

            To some extent, I think you could say that that’s a fair summary of what a lot of comments are saying – PLEASE get competent help. Lay everything out (the suggestion to print this thread out as a starting point is excellent.)

      2. Annie Ann*

        Completely agree. The OP reminds me of my sister – the over spending, collections, having higher status things. And she is bipolar.

    7. Book Lover*

      Oh gosh, how are the dogs and budgies doing? Are you enjoying them, were they temporary? Have you been using the bikes regularly or was it a short fling? Do these things result in debt? It sounds like you could really benefit from talking to a therapist and possibly a psychiatrist if this is not continuous but occurs in spurts (manic episodes). I am not online diagnosing! Just some things are great for therapy intervention and some are different ….

      1. Book Lover*

        Sorry, this was in moderation for a bit. I see you already answered about the animals.

        Since you already have several diagnoses, maybe you are already working with a psychiatrist – please be honest about what you describe here, including the animals and degree of spending. And then definitely this is something you can work on with a therapist over time.

        Tone is hard on the internet, but I just wanted to add – unless you want to change and recognize there is a problem, change isn’t going to happen.

    8. Ethyl*

      So after the initial compulsion and spending, how do you deal with and feel about the stuff you acquired? Are you happy with your dogs, and are you giving them the proper care and attention? Same with the budgies. Do you actually ride your bikes, take rides that utilize each bike’s special features? (I’m a cyclist who used to work in a bike shop so 3 bikes and $7K doesn’t seem THAT weird aside from the timeline.) Or did you end up getting tired of everything and rehoming some of your animals or selling your bikes?

      Although……. Even if you wind up living your best life with four dogs and dozens of budgies, riding your mountain bike and road bike and cyclocross bike on different outings every week, you should maybe still talk to someone about the initial compulsion. When we do things we don’t feel like we can control, that’s a good time to check in with a pro. Also, I’ve found, when you keep having the same conversations (with yourself, with your partner, with your best friend, etc), but nothing changes, that’s time to check with a pro.

      Good luck!

      1. Another Manic Monday*

        I was very happy about my dogs and took good care of them. In the end three of them ended up with my daughter and her mom and the third one with a dear friend of mine and her dogs. They were better able to care for them considering my living arrangements at the time. I did, however, continue to pay for their medical and food expenses for the rest of their lives.

        I was taking good care of the budgies too. I basically spoiled them with high-quality bird seed from specialty stores and fresh veggies every day. It made it even harder to continue to care for them because I wasn’t willing to compromise and giving anything less than the best. In the end, I had to give them up because continue to take care of them to my own high standards was completely exhausting and I couldn’t do it anymore.

        I got a Trek FX 3 Disc for my daily work commute, a Trek Checkpoint ALR 5 for weekend rides and to get back in shape, and a Cannondale SuperSix Evo Ultrega as a later reward once I am back in shape. I use the FX 3 daily, the Checkpoint twice a month or so, and the SuperSix haven’t been ridden yet. Yet, I am still tempted to get a Specialized Roubaix Comp and a Canyon Endurace AL 7.0 to complete my collection.

        1. Ethyl*

          Ok so a couple things jump out at me.

          “I was very happy about my dogs and took good care of them. In the end three of them ended up with my daughter and her mom and the third one with a dear friend of mine and her dogs. They were better able to care for them…”

          These two sentences right back to back don’t…….make sense. I’m wondering how clear and honest you are in your mind about what happened with the dogs and the budgies, because you seem really emotionally detached from these living beings you impulsively acquired.

          “Yet, I am still tempted to get a Specialized Roubaix Comp and a Canyon Endurace AL 7.0 to complete my collection.”

          So, again, as a cyclist who worked at a bike shop with multiple multi-thousand dollar bikes, this also doesn’t make sense. The bikes I and my coworkers have tend to be bikes of different types, not many of the same thing, which is what you have going on here (although I understand the value of a less pricey road bike for commuting vs weekend rides). So then, it seems the “completeness” of your “collection” is ……illusory? IOW, will if really *feel* complete after you get those bikes? What about when you find out about boutique and custom bike makers? Will you drop $12,000 on multiple identical Waterfords and Ellises?

          Those are rhetorical questions for you to contemplate, but based on your writings here, I strongly, strongly encourage you to seek professional help, be 100% honest with them, and refrain from making purchases or adopting animals (!!!!) until this is under control.

    9. MissDisplaced*

      I’ve been like that with clothing or shoes/ purses but never other things or to that amount if money. Good thing or otherwise I’d have the entire line of Louis Vuittons.

      I do think it is ok to buy the BEST version, or top of the line model of the thing you want, and can afford. But by that, I mean ONE thing! So, if you want a new car, you buy the best option that fits within your budget. If you take that approach, those items do tend to last longer and hold their value.

      But it sounds like that’s not what’s going on with you, you’re buying multiples of the same item, which is sort of manifesting a desire to find perfection. I’ve done this! Mainly because I started w/cheapest and it wasn’t satisfying.

      I think the best way is to impose on yourself a “wait period” before buying anything. Force yourself to fully research items BEFORE buying anything, so you feel confident you’re making the best choice. Then make yourself SAVE the money (cash money) for that one item.

      Forcing yourself to slow down will help the compulsive “I want it now” behavior. But if you’re really struggling, realize this can be an addiction like any other and seek professional help with it.

      1. Ethyl*

        “But it sounds like that’s not what’s going on with you, you’re buying multiples of the same item…”

        Yes, this is exactly what is happening with the bikes (in case anyone doesn’t know what all those names are).

        1. anonincaseiknowyou*

          +1… I’m a fellow cyclist and pet person here. That’s a pretty common Venn Diagram. What you’re doing sets off HUGE neon red flags in my circles. Please consult your mental health practitioner. In fact, I recommend printing out this thread for them, if you have trouble verbalizing what you’ve put on the page here. For what it’s worth, this isn’t all that unusual. Please get a handle on it before you, another animal or another person ends up scarred.

    10. Pnut*

      I share the recommendations for therapy. The fact that this is a compulsion that crosses categories (animals, technology, clothing, furniture, vehicles, etc.) shows that it’s a core issue rather than a temptation like oh, I can’t resist the new iPhone version. This seems like pretty compulsive behavior to me that will need some external support.

    11. Introverted Manager*

      What would it feel like if the VERY BEST suddenly wasn’t an available and you had to either go with something lesser or not do it at all?

      If you’d rather have nothing than not be perfect, then you’re not really doing it for the joy of the thing. I saw in another response that you’re diagnosed nonneurotypical. Is it possible this is a subconscious attempt at neurotypical / “acceptable” behavior by demonstrating you can identify and obtain a Perfect Complete Set in order to be accepted? (This is very much a wild guess based on my own experience of Having Perfect Accomplishments in a subconscious attempt to be accepted.)

    12. Animal worker*

      Thank you for your awareness and asking for ideas. I concur with the many who suggest therapy assistance so that you can learn to manage this on your own over time, as it sounds right now like you may need to learn those tools.

      And I strongly agree with the others, including Alison, who note that you need to please make a personal commitment to not taking in any more animals, at all, until and unless you gain the tools to control this behavior. Getting things may have some negative impacts on you, your budget, or your life. But getting living, sentient animals that need lifetime commitments is not something that you can do. PLEASE, make a personal commitment to this part while you work through your other options on dealing with this behavior.

      1. Another Manic Monday*

        I think many of you seems to have gotten the wrong impression of my dedication to the animals in my care.

        I did give up the birds to the shelter, but I was unable to care for them anymore and I wasn’t able to rehome them as I wanted. I didn’t make that decision easily but it was something I just had to do.

        I did not really give up on my dogs. That they didn’t live with me 24/7/365 wasn’t the same as they still not being a part of my life. Three of my dogs ended up living with my wife and daughter in our family home. My wife and daughter was equally important to the dogs as I was to them. I wasn’t living there most of the time, but I did pay for most of their expenses and vet bills. The fourth dog ended up living with my best friend and her three dogs because he was a part of their pack and I didn’t want to break them up when she moved 100 miles away. I did visit him once a month for several years.

        When Lucy got IMHA, I was the one who paid $2,000 for her emergency treatment. I was the one who paid for her cremation and urn after the treatment failed.

        When Ivan got diagnosed with an enlarged heart, I was the one who paid for his $150 a month heart medication. When he passed away earlier this year I was the one who paid for his cremation and urn.

        When Sammy died of old age at my best friend’s feet earlier this year. I traveled 100 miles to her home and helped her bury him in the backyard.

        Maggie is still alive and doing well. I will be paying for any larger medical treatment she will need in the future and I will also be paying for her cremation once it’s her time to go.

        I find it rather upsetting that so many people just assume the worse and think that I just abandoned my dogs.

        1. Colette*

          Here’s the thing – you may have financially supported the dogs, but you were also depending on others to do the daily work. You didn’t feed them or take them for walks, make vet appointments, or any of the other day to day care taking. It’s good that you contributed to their care – but you didn’t take care of them in the way a pet owner normally does.

          It sounds like you may have done the best you could under the circumstances, but until you are able to provide a higher level of care long-term, you shouldn’t adopt animals.

          Part of your issues with caring for the animals are probably related to your compulsion to adopt multiple animals in different colours, which means the amount of care required outstrips your ability to provide it.

          I agree with all the comments urging you to go to therapy. What you’re doing now isn’t making you happy – work with a professional to find a way to get there.

        2. Ethyl*

          I don’t think anyone here is assuming that you cruelly abandoned the dogs and birds, but that you acquired them with no real plan to care for them and then rehomed/surrendered them when you couldn’t take care of them. That follows the same pattern as the Spanish lessons and the bikes, but it has more of an impact, and people are responding to it more, because it involves living creatures.

        3. Observer*

          I just want to try to point out something I think you are missing here. You’re not a terrible person because you got overwhelmed and had to give up your pets. What is troubling is that you don’t seem to be taking responsibility for the *choices* and *decisions* that lead to being overwhelmed. You didn’t just “have” 26 budgies and 4 dogs. You took action to acquire those animals. Taking responsibility for your ACTIONS is step one with all of the situations you are describing, but especially so when you are dealing with living, sentient creatures.

          Also, you did this TWICE. The first time, ok, you didn’t realize how this could snowball into something that just is not sustainable. After all, it’s different than a car, furniture and the like. But having done this once, you should have realized that taking animals is a very different, and much more serious, issue with a much higher level of responsibility.

          At this point you know enough about yourself that it really would be irresponsible of you to take on any sort of pet situation. True, your actions with regards to your pets are far, far better than abandonment. But it’s a big enough problem that you should not go into getting pets knowing that something like this is going to happen again. And, it WILL happen again, unless you really manage to get your compulsive behavior under control.

          1. Ethyl*

            “What is troubling is that you don’t seem to be taking responsibility for the *choices* and *decisions* that lead to being overwhelmed.”

            Yes exactly, thank you.

    13. Batgirl*

      So it sounds like the issue is with unplanned accumulation?
      I think I’d probably aim my interests at things where it doesn’t matter how much you accumulate. So for example, collecting online recipes or crocheting techniques. I’d definitely second the Pinterest thing. Collecting pins costs nothing and takes no space. My wedding Pintrest board is overblown, but the real thing is very simple. You’d have to know yourself well though and whether that kind of window shopping is going to be a steam vent or a temptation.

      Or you could aim that perfection at a minimalism project or at budgeting. If you do a pre-budget before buying pets or clothes it can help you to stem impulsiveness.

      So many happy things are intangible, too. How many free activities can you plan this summer? How many random acts of kindness? How many free Kindle books can you read? Maybe the next time you want to hit the stores you should dive into Marie Kondo or consider a capsule wardrobe approach rather than a fill the wardrobe approach. My suggestions are very personality dependant of course but my main point is you can make your mind a palace without spending or accumulating a thing.

    14. Not So NewReader*

      Hmm. What’s missing from your life? What void are you trying to fill? How will you know when that void is full? Or are you running away from something? Buying lots of stuff can be escapism.

      You might want to consider the difference between happiness and contentment.

      Happiness is like someone bringing you a surprise, maybe for your birthday. “OOO, WOW”. Happiness lasts about five minutes.

      Contentment is a deeper feeling. It comes from knowing you are basically okay in this world. Your needs are met and maybe some of your wants are met, also. You know you are safe (as much as can reasonably be expected today) and you know how to get help when you need it. Contentment is not as exciting as happiness, we don’t get a boost in energy level or a “high” or a “kick”. Contentment is pretty mellow, so much so that if we forget to look for contentment, we might not realize we have it. Contentment lasts for quite a while.

      Contentment is not the same as settling. Contentment says, “I’m good here.” Settling says, “There is something better out there but I must learn to live with what I have.”

    15. Ann O.*

      From reading all the replies, you need some form of behavior-based therapy designed to teach people skills to modulate compulsions. If you have a current therapist you see, talk to them for recommendations. Otherwise, I would suggest doing some research on which therapeutic methods are most effective with compulsions (my guess is CBT, but I’m not a therapist). The behavior you describe has all the characteristics of compulsion and standard self-help stuff is unlikely to give you the tools you need. Your behavior reads as related to the compulsive urge behind collecting, but unfortunately in a way that is ultimately harmful to you (and since it crosses so many types of things, I don’t think you could do something like channel it into creating an actual collection of small, relatively inexpensive items like cards or dolls)

      If there is anything your financial institutions do that would delay your ability to impulse spend that could help, but given what you describe, it’s hard to see what that could be. You’re not buying a lot at once where a spending cap could moderate. It sounds like you’re buying over time.

      1. anonagain*

        I don’t think it’s necessary or always possible to figure out what kind of therapy is best ahead of time. That’s part of what a professional is trained to do and they can refer out if needed.

        If the OP doesn’t have a therapist or psychiatrist, their primary care doctor can make a referral or they can get a list from their insurance company. The most important thing is to get started.

    16. Lilysparrow*

      I’m just throwing this out here, but maybe one thing to talk about with your therapist is the idea of life design – looking at the big picture of long-term goals and meaningful accomplishments, and how you want the pattern of your life to look.

      So instead of wanting the “perfect” thing, you are always comparing everything to your ideal day, your ideal home, your “bucket list”, etc. Would your ideal day include spending many many hours caring for a large number of pets? Would your ideal living space be crowded with cages, or smell like animals? Would your bucket list include lots of travel, or lots of different spontaneous activities and projects? And how would the financial or time commitment of the car, or the pets, etc, affect that goal?

      So if you have this big-picture focus, that gives you a framework to help make decisions on these individual collections. Maybe you can work with your therapist on how to make those long-term goals more immediate and compelling? If the big-picture goal is “louder” in your mind than the small-picture desire, it is easier to disengage from the drive to collect or perfect.

      1. Lilysparrow*

        I guess on reflection I’m saying that the only reason anyone ever stops doing something they like, is because they have a reason to stop.

        Obviously, arbitrary lines of “this is enough” are not reasons that work for you. So you need to find reasons that are compelling and memorable enough to override the impulse at a reasonable point, or reasons that are compelling enough to prompt you to check in with your goal list.

      2. LJay*

        Not the OP, but I think this idea will be helpful for me. Thank you for sharing it.

    17. Elizabeth West*

      You need to go talk to someone about this. Strong compulsions that make you overspend and acquire the way you’re describing are alarming to me. The sooner the better. Good luck.

    18. Not A Manager*

      Hi, Another Manic Monday. I know it might seem like people are piling on here. I hope you’re able to hear their concern for you.

      You sound very unhappy, and very anxious. I’m so glad that you had immediate intervention when you had a crisis a few years ago, but it really sounds like not all of the issues have been fully resolved. Now that you’re not in crisis, you have an opportunity to really address these issues in a thoughtful, systemic way.

      You deserve to have a life where you are not putting so much energy and resources into managing your anxiety and other emotions. You deserve to have peace of mind. You deserve to have financial safety. Please don’t talk yourself out of any of these things.

      1. Another Manic Monday*

        I do appreciate many of the comments. Although I find some really hurtful assumptions being made about my emotional attachments to the animals in my life.

        I would lie if I said that I am happy person. I can’t really recall the last time I felt really happy about something. I can recall being content and grateful, but not the sensation of being truly happy for a very long time. I’m still trying to figure out what will make me a happy person. I don’t really even know who I am. I have been wearing masks my whole life.

        I am trying to discover the person behind the mask for the last couple of years. It is so much to unravel before I can let my real personality appear. My whole life I have been suppressing the real me as I was made to believe that my thoughts, feelings, and needs doesn’t matter. Instead I have tried to be the person other people wanted me to be.

        1. Not A Manager*

          I am NOT A THERAPIST. But have you considered that you are self-medicating with some of this intense focus on the buying and collecting? That maybe you are telling yourself that you will FEEL a certain way if only you get all your ducks lined up in a row?

          It’s a lie. You got the bikes, you got the dogs, you got the clothes, but fundamentally all they did was hold your emotions at bay. They didn’t buy you peace, or peace of mind.

          Please find a good therapist. Maybe you need meds, maybe you need talk therapy, but you do not need more stuff.

          I truly wish you all the best. And I truly believe that you can come out to a happier, and more grounded, place.

        2. Weegie*

          I don’t have anything really to add, but I’m sending you lots of good thoughts. You seem to be very thoughtful and self-aware, and to have a good understanding of the issues behind your collecting sprees. It would seem to be something a therapist can best help you to work through, to get to the bottom of it all, so like others I would suggest returning to therapy, even if it takes a while to find the right practitioner and the best approach for you.

          Wishing you all the best with this.

        3. Ethyl*

          “Although I find some really hurtful assumptions being made about my emotional attachments to the animals in my life.”

          Y’know, based on the other stuff you’re saying about masks and not being able to find the “real” you and all that, I bet some of what people are responding to is the way you’re writing about surrendering your pets. There’s a lack of emotion, and a lot of defensiveness and JADE-ing about why what you did wasn’t that bad. I think that’s why people are feeling like you didn’t care much for your animals. Have you run into trouble elsewhere in your life with people’s perceptions of your feelings not lining up with how you think you’re feeling?

          1. Another Manic Monday*

            I realize that I have given a highly condensed version of the events that seems to have given off the wrong impression to many.

            Three of my dogs never left the house I brought them into. I got those dogs while I was still living with my estranged spouse and child in our family home. I was in the military at the time and got a surprise reassignment to other part of the country. My family didn’t want to move because they had already put down roots, so I had to move to my new duty assignment alone. While the dogs were mostly mine, it was decided that it was better of them to stay in the family home than be relocated to an small apartment and be alone for many hours each day.

            The fourth dog I got at my new duty assignment after I moved in with new roommate/landlady who already had two dogs and a nice backyard. He would spend the next year living with her two dogs and bonding with them. My roommate/landlady (and best friend) then had an accident and was forced into early retirement. She sold the house we were living in and move to city 100 miles away. I had to make the decision of keeping my dog with me in an apartment or let him go with her two dogs to their new home. I decided on the later because I thought it would be better for him to stay with the pack.

            About two years later I moved into an apartment that allowed pets. I took over the responsibility of my daughter’s two cats and had them live in my apartment while the dogs stayed in the family home. One of our dogs was a relentless “cat bully” so our cats was constantly hiding from him. So the cats stayed with me in my apartment until my retirement from the military forced me to move back to the family home.

            I started to get the budgies. I had budgies in my bedroom growing up for most of my childhood until one day my parents refused to let me keep them anymore. It probably sound silly but not having those birds anymore left a deep void in the child I was back then. 30 years later I started to get the budgies to replace the birds that was taken from me as a child.

            It was at this time, everything started to unravel in my life. The facade of being calm, collected, and in control was shattered. The dam that was holding up everything cracked and emotions flooding out all over the place. I ended up being forced into early retirement from the military because I wasn’t able to emotionally keep things together anymore.

            I might show a lack of emotions in many of the posts, but that’s just a facade to cover up the whirlwind of emotions underneath. I have spent my whole life perfecting the skill of covering up my real feelings . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JtwaTKiOm0A

            1. Observer*

              What this boils down to is that you have a problem that’s a lot bigger than you’ve been describing, and you NEED to get it under control. And it’s highly unlikely that you’re going to be able to do this on your own. Sure, being able to do the work you need to, well enough to menage your behavior is the end goal. But you really need to get some help to start with.

              And in the interim, please don’t get any pets. Pets CAN fill many holes, but they can’t fill a bottomless pit, and they can’t make you whole by themselves. Before you start with another animal, you need to be in a place where you know that (outside of extraordinary things happening) you will be in a place to actually take care of them and a place to make reasonable decisions, from start to finish.

        4. Not So NewReader*

          Just my opinion but I think that being content and grateful is a much higher level than being happy.
          I am not sure why you are pushing yourself so hard to be happy. I don’t think there is such a thing as a happy person. Eh, look at the news. How can anyone be happy all the time, it’s impossible.

          I guess this boils down to how you define “happy”. Who do you know in your life who is happy? What does happiness look like to you?

    19. Anonandanon*

      Your initial post was “I am trying to figure out a way to moderate my behavior without relying on somebody else to do it for me.” After reading most, not all of your additional postings, it really sounds like you do need someone else to assist you in this process. I know others have asked, but did not see an answer, are you still getting regular therapy and being open and honest with your therapist about your compulsions? While you say you are above water financially right now, that could change. My husband and I live well under our means, for a reason, because we know anything could change at the drop of a hat (death or illness, lost job, etc.), so we need to have as much of a financial cushion as possible. I would say, if you have that much energy, why not volunteer and put your energy into something positive and meaningful (for yourself and potentially others). Not sure you are truly comprehending what others are writing here, but I thought I’d give it shot. I wish you all the best and hope you can find a way to harness your compulsions.

    20. Observer*

      I’ve read most of this thread.

      One piece of context here – I am NOT a pet person, and I don’t have the same regard for animals as others here have.

      You have a problem. I totally agree with everyone who says “see a therapist.” Your spending is far more out of control that you realize and your finances – based on what yourself are saying – are in a much worse place than you are admitting. You’ve also ceded control of your behavior. All of the things you did were CHOICES. Not necessarily bad ones, but they WERE choices. They also did not just happen – you ACTIVELY did those thing. And the worst thing is that you’ve allowed yourself to do this to with living creatures that are affected by your choices. You chose to get too many dogs and budgie, despite that fact that it’s quite easy to see that going from zero dogs to four or zero budgies to dozens in a short space of time is likely to present a problem, even if you didn’t have to make a sudden move.

      Please get a handle on this. Your behavior is unhealthy, and there is a decent chance that you’re going to wind up doing something you REALLY regret.

    21. cleo*

      This sounds so hard. I’ve been thinking about what I want to say for at least a day so I’m going to put it here, even though the thread is mostly over and I don’t know if you’ll see it.

      You asked for practical advice. I agree with all of the advice to work with a therapist. This sounds like a serious problem that you’ve been dealing with for a long time.

      My mental health issues are different from yours (ptsd from childhood abuse and anxiety) so I don’t know if any of this will apply to you. For me, one of the big turning points in dealing with my compulsive behavior (mostly really severe procrastination) came when I realized that it was just a symptom, not the root problem. – that it was a coping mechanism to manage anxiety. I had a therapist who focused on figuring out how to not start the compulsive behavior, not on figuring how to stop once I started. She helped me identify what triggered that behavior and how it felt in my body – and helped me build up my tolerance for the discomfort that I’m trying to avoid.

      And the other part that I’m still working on is processing and healing the root cause – in my case, processing the underlying trauma.

      I wish you the best of luck. You asked for help here and that’s huge. I hope you continue to heal.

      1. Another Manic Monday*

        I did see your post. I tried to at least see what everyone has written despite it being very anxiety inducing and somewhat painful. I do thank you for taking your time and share your struggles and recovery progress. I can definitely sympathize with your story. I was emotional abused and neglected by my parents, physically abused by my older brother, and bullied in school. I still haven’t come to terms with my childhood despite being well into adulthood.

  7. Gingerblue*

    My brain initially parsed that cat picture as the cat presenting someone with a lovely bouquet of red and white flowers.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      Little Wally is so cute! Although, judging by last week’s picture, he’s not so little anymore. He looked to be twice the size of Sophie.

  8. Anonymouse*

    Book thread!

    I’m currently finishing up Viper’s Tangle by Francois Mauriac, a French writer who won the Nobel prize, but who is somewhat forgotten today. The novel is about a miserable, wealthy miser who has spent his life alienating his family, both by being an incredible cheapskate, and by interpreting every single action as a deliberate insult. He’s one of those people who are seemingly determined to be unhappy.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I just inhaled a Scholastic book about a black teen on a plantation shortly after the end of the Civil War. “I Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly: The Diary of Patsy, a Freed Girl” by Joyce Hansen.
      At the start the plantation’s children are making her “play school” and she’s the dunce, only the joke’s on them because she has eavesdropped on their lessons to learn to read. I was charmed.

      1. Valancy Snaith*

        Dear America is great! If you liked that one you may like the rest of the series. For a while I wrote a blog devoted to them and other similar books, YA Historical Vault. You may find something else you like as much!

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Thanks. I loved it. My daughter says she has gone past them though which is a little sad for YA/middle-reader loving me.

    2. A.N. O'Nyme*

      If you like François Mauriac, “Thérèse Desqueyroux” is another good one, had to read it in high school. Miserable rich protagonists seem to be a theme with the man.

      1. Anonymouse*

        Oh yes, I read Thérèse Desqueyroux first! I liked it so much I decided to read more Mauriac. I admit, Thérèse is more interesting because it’s about a bored, contemptuous wife who tries and *fails* to poison her husband to death.

        Out of such a subject, a writer could wring either a great tragedy or great comedy.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      I’m reading The Lost Island by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. It’s the third in their Gideon Crew series. It’s pretty good–better than the last one, anyway.

      Anyone read David Baldacci’s books? He had a book signing and speaking event at a local historic house this week. My late brother recommended his book The Winner to me when I wanted to branch out from reading historical romance and Stephen King. It’s about a guy who fixes the national lottery for people; however, they have to do something in return. It was a great book and that got me hooked. I’ve read almost all of his books at this point, so it was such a joy to be able to hear him speak, get his latest book signed (Redemption from the Amos Decker “Memory Man” series) and get my picture taken with him. He is such an entertaining speaker; the audience laughed almost the whole time. And he’s such a nice guy, too. Very friendly and warm.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I read last week that a new Dune movie is in the works. That made me think about the fact that I last read the book when I was, like, 12. Which made me wonder if perchance it might be any more comprehensible as an adult. So I started reading it again.

      It doesn’t make any more sense this time, so far.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        I was disappointed by Dune. I love sci-fi, and I’d heard that it’s a seminal sci-fi book, but I just got confused by it. I never even tried the others in the series.

      2. AnonEMoose*

        Dune does start making more sense as you go. I’ve read it a couple of times, but haven’t read any of the others in the series.

    5. Book Lover*

      I read Chime and meh…. someone must have recommended it, it really does read like young adult and not in a good way. I skimmed to finish it. Just preordered October Man by Ben Aaronovitch and excited about that.

    6. AcademiaNut*

      New Guy Gavriel Kay book this week – Brightness Long Ago! I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s in his world of two moons setting, and takes place about 25 years before Children of Earth, but with only minor plot/character overlap.

      If you haven’t read his books, most of his work is what he describes as “historical fiction with a quarter turn to the fantastical”. He uses settings and characters inspired by real history, with the fantasy elements being pretty light. HIs books are intricate in plot (politics, diplomacy, religion, conflict) but very grounded in the human stories of the main characters.

      1. ImJustHereForThePoetry*

        One of my all time favorites are A Song for Arbonne and The Lions of Al-Rasson by Guy Gabriel Kay!

    7. Marion Ravenwood*

      This week I read:

      – Circe by Madeline Miller, a feminist retelling of the mythical witch and her legend. It’s absolutely brilliant – so beautifully written and she is such a great, strong, compelling character. I loved it.
      – Theatrical by Maggie Harcourt. It’s a YA novel set backstage at a theatre. Not the most groundbreaking plotwise, but it was an easy enough read and definitely the light, fun thing I needed.
      – I’m Absolutely Fine!, the book by the women behind the website The Midult. It’s aimed at people a little older than me, but there were definitely some good takeaways from it (particularly pertaining to a current life situation I’m in) and it made me laugh out loud several times on public transport, which is always a sign of a good book in my view.

      And now I’m just about to start Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, for a book club.

      1. AnonEMoose*

        I read “The Song of Achilles” by Madeline Miller not too long ago – I’m looking forward to reading “Circe.”

    8. PhyllisB*

      I just finished reading Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb. I loved it!! Haven’t written my review for Goodreads yet, but will today.

    9. MsChanandlerBong*

      I am re-reading the Scarpetta series by Patricia Cornwell. I read the first 12 or 13 books, and then I didn’t read any of the new ones, so I am starting over so I can read them all in order. The publisher put out an omnibus with five books in it. I stupidly assumed that the books would be in order (e.g. 7, 8, 9, 10, 11), but they weren’t! I read the first four books in the series, started the fifth, and was shocked to find that it jumped from 10 to 13 with no warning. The first page of book 13 had a synopsis of the book, and it revealed a HUGE plot point. If I hadn’t read the book years ago and remembered that this happened, it would have spoiled the entire series for me. Why in the world would the publisher do that? The cover and omnibus description don’t contain the book numbers, just the title, so I just figured they would go in the order of publication, not skip two books.

    10. Koala dreams*

      I’m getting into Fred Vargas again. Today I finished Seeking Whom He May Devour. A creepy tale of the killing of of sheep and people.

    11. Falling Diphthong*

      I’m reading Cities about the 6000 years in which we have lived in cities–what makes a city, how they changed people. A good popular science book.

    12. Elizabeth West*

      I’m culling books because I can’t deal with this if I have to move. Some of them I either haven’t read or read so long ago I’ve forgotten what they were about, so I’m re-reading the ones I’m unsure of before deciding to keep or discard them. Right now, I’m reading Milkweed, a kid’s book by Jerry Spinelli. The story narrator is a nameless, homeless kid in Warsaw, Poland during the Holocaust. The writing is amazing and I think I’ll hang onto this one.

    13. AnonEMoose*

      I just finished the audio book version of “Blackman’s Coffin,” the first in a series of mysteries. Interesting characters, an engaging plot, and lots of historical detail (an important part of the plot). I definitely plan to check out more in the series.

    14. Arjay*

      I got this as a Kinfle first read recently and I really enjoyed it: Rapid Falls by Amber Cowie.
      “Forgive and forget? The past and present collide for two sisters who survived a tragedy—and must now survive the truth behind it.”

  9. Seeking Second Childhood*

    I just read about Uber employees and alcohol on IPO day… headline & subhead from the Washington Post says a lot:
    “Uber rang in its IPO with champagne and mimosas. Then the hangover began.
    One employee handed in her resignation. A party had to be shut down. Another employee was talked out of driving home.”
    It’s an interesting article…my summarizing brain is asleep without the rest of me so I’ll post the link in a followup for anyone who is interested.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Now of course I worry that policies change…is that still valid?

      1. Clisby*

        I can read it in incognito window in the Chrome browser. (Firefox and Microsoft Edge call this feature a private window). Or, you can clear your browser history and try again.

  10. LGC*

    Starting the running thread early this week…because I’m up getting ready for the Brooklyn Half! (It’s 3:30 AM Eastern time. The race starts at 7.) I’m looking forward to it because it’s the last long race I have scheduled. And then…5k/10k season (for me, at least)!

    Which leads into a question: what “annual” races do you guys have? For me, my town’s 10k on Memorial Day is the closest thing. I’ve done it nearly every year since I moved here – a couple of years ago, I got injured and took a few months off, so I just signed up for the 5k instead. (I ended up running a 5k PR.) But I find myself becoming a creature of habit – I’m running Brooklyn again this year, for example.

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

      Wow, good luck in Brooklyn, LGC! You guys got a gorgeous day for it.

      My annual races have kind of dwindled. Brooklyn Half was an annual race for me for many years, but it went from something like 1,000 to 25,000 runners, went from $11 to over $100, and now has an obnoxious and inconvenient expo, so it’s become a pass. Newport Half was another one, but I gave that one up after succumbing to heat exhaustion at least twice due to its September date. Every year NYCRUNS did a Memorial Day 10K on Roosevelt Island, which is an amazing place to run, but there were too many complaints from Roosevelt Island residents and now there are no more races there. That leaves the Asbury Park Run-a-Palooza half marathon, which is also a gorgeous race, as my only every-year race.

      That said, I enjoy finding new races to try out every year.

      Tomorrow, in lieu of my normal Roosevelt Island 10K, I’m running NYCRUNS’ 10K on Governors Island. I’m a bit worried that this could be my swan song from running for awhile. I’ve had a slowly worsening issue with my left heel for a few months that’s finally progressed to the point that it’s affecting my running. I can still run, but not for more than an hour and not on back to back days. I have a podiatrist appointment set for Monday and I’m afraid I’m going to be shut down for awhile. But we’ll see what happens.

      1. LGC*

        Ah man, hope it’s nothing serious! One of my friends had…a stress fracture, I think, back in January or so. She’s JUST getting back to running now.

        By the way, you know that NYCRuns is running Newport this year, right? I have mixed feelings because the race fee skyrocketed to near-NYRR levels, it looks like (I think now it’s $65, and it’ll go up to $105 by the race), but I’m hoping that it’ll be more organized. (Not that it was disorganized before.)

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

          I’m guessing my injury is nothing serious, because I’m able to run and I’m not even being slowed much or at all (then again, I’m a slow runner to start with). But I’m just not feeling particularly lucky. We will see. Thanks for the well wishes!

          Yes, I saw the Newport race changed to NYCRUNS and I have the same mixed feelings. I thought the race was well organized before, to be honest, though the most recent one I’ve done is 2016. I know NYCRUNS is going to do an amazing job, based on their previous races. But if they don’t move it to October (or, at the very least, the last week in September), who runs the race is going to be a moot point for me anyway.

    2. A bit of a saga*

      I’ve been off the running thread for a while, sort of lost my mojo BUT I just picked up my number for tomorrow’s 20k race in town (it’s a big thing, around 40k runners). I’m a new runner so it’s only the second time I’ll be doing it but I hope it will become a tradition. Like you I’m also pondering whether I should focus on shorter races for a while. I need a change to keep me interested and that might be it! Hope your race went well!

      1. LGC*

        Oh man, it did, thanks! And good luck with your 20k! (40,000 runners is INTENSE – like, the race I did was 25,000.)

        Normally, I’ll switch to shorter races in May, just because it works out well with the end of most major half and full marathons (Brooklyn’s one of the later spring half marathons here, I think). Aside from my town’s 10k (and 5k and mile – I’m debating running the mile since I THINK my mile time qualifies, but I’m not really trained for it now), there’s an open championship 5k in June, NYRR’s Pride Run as well (and I think they’re on different weekends, so I can do both), and then a couple of other races.

        Hopefully I can PR again in the 5k – I don’t have major expectations for the 10k, just because it’s next week.

    3. Beaded Librarian*

      I don’t have an annual running race or races yet although I’m doing a series called the BRIN Blackout for the decline year in a row but I’m doing two local tris for the third time and they are definitely both in my always list.

    4. JobHunter*

      Most of my favorite annual races are 5ks held withun a two-hour drive from where I live now. I just like short fast races. I am a little disappointed that some of the races I enjoyed back home years ago have fizzled out, but my current town has a strong and dedicated running group. The races here are kind of a tradition now.

    5. Emily*

      Good luck in the Brooklyn Half! I hope you crush your goals, whether they be time- or enjoyment-based.

      As a kid, I ran Race for the Cure with my mother a bunch of times. I got a kick out of collecting the race shirts, which were the same design in different colors, and I felt really fast and fit, although in retrospect…I wasn’t. :P (I could run the whole distance, but my time wasn’t that impressive, probably because I never trained!) I know that the Komen Foundation has come under a lot of flak in recent years, but we knew none of that at the time.

      In recent years, I’ve only done a few races (two halfs and one 5k) and don’t have any annual ones, but I’d love to have one. I’m most likely moving out of my current city in about a year, though, so it might be a little late to start a tradition here.

      1. LGC*

        Hey, you probably were in pretty good shape if you could run the whole way as a kid! Or at least you were smarter about pacing than most kids.

        For the 5k I ran last week, I set out at roughly 6:00/mi pace. There were quite a few ten year olds that were with me through the first quarter mile or so.

    6. Marion Ravenwood*

      Good luck in Brooklyn LGC!

      The only run I do annually is an unofficial one – every year, my virtual running club (which is Harry Potter-themed) does 3.94 miles on Alan Rickman’s birthday for a cancer charity as a memorial. (The 3.94 refers to when Snape says ‘turn to page 394’ in Prisoner of Azkaban). We do also have a Platform 9 3/4k virtual race every autumn, but this is my first year going for the medals so I haven’t run it before.

    7. Runner*

      I’m running my fifth marathon on Saturday. It’s my first time doing one in the spring, I usually stick to fall marathons and shorter distances throughout the year. Training in the Michigan winter was a challenge

      1. LGC*

        Awesome – and good luck!

        (And I’m impressed that you managed to train through a Michigan winter. I hated training through winter here, and it’s…usually not absolutely terrible here.)

    8. Baconeggandcheeseplz*

      Good luck!!!!!! Let us know how it goes!

      Depending on how I like the soldier Field 10 mi next week I might do that every year? We’ll see, my tapering had turned into me being lazy so now I’m worried again lol. I want to find some good 10ks I think

      I have a training question, how do you turn treadmill speed into outside speed? I can do speed intervals on the treadmill (with the 1% incline) and/or settle into a slightly faster pace on the treadmill (maybe not for as long) but when I go outside I am slow again. I get that the treadmill does a lot of the work in helping me maintain speed, so I don’t know how to convince myself when I’m outside to go faster and maintain that.

      1. LGC*

        To be honest, I think that a lot of it is mental. Part of it is that road running is going to be slower in general, since roads aren’t perfectly even and controlled, and you have wind to deal with. But if you’re having a significant difference (like if you’re able to run 9:00/mi indoors, but can’t get under 10:00/mi outdoors), that’s not due to a change in venue, I think.

        If you can, track your pace when you’re running outdoors. I’ve noticed that I’ll often tend to jet out and then slow down naturally. And accept that you’re not going to go as fast outdoors or on a track, at least at the outset.

        And good luck with the 10-miler!

    9. LGC*

      So, since a lot of people asked how the race went: it went great! I ran sub 1:20 (second time I’ve done so, and same course), and I PRed. (Like, just barely. I ran a 1:19:43 this year, and a 1:19:46 last year.) I was hoping to break 1:19, but I wasn’t sure whether I was in good enough shape.

      (NYRR said I wasn’t – but I’m guessing part of that was them assuming I ran Lebow seriously. My Garmin…I checked the race predictor after the race, and it said I should be able to run a 1:22:53, which is hilariously wrong on so many levels.)

      Lessons learned:
      – do not dunk on your pacer after you catch them at mile 7. They might decide to turn on the jets at mile 10 and then you have to decide whether it’s worth it to go with them. (I decided it was not.)
      – do not dunk on your friend from another club because his wife goofed on him in your Facebook comments about getting up at [unholy hour] for this race. You will end up chasing him down the entire damn race, and he’ll end up beating you by like three seconds. (And that was 3 seconds chip time, so I can’t even use the excuse from below.)
      – also, DO actually decide to use the bathroom before 6:15 AM, because the other reason you’ll be chasing your friend is because you won’t actually get to the bathroom until 6:45 and then you’re stuck chasing after the 1:20 pace group through the first 10k.
      – and remember to lock the door of the port-a-potty. (This is much easier when you are using it pre-race rather than mid-race. ASK ME HOW I KNOW.)

      Honestly, like, the best part about being fast is that you beat like 99% of people to the beer tent. (Yes, I was drinking a beer at 9 in the morning in a minor league stadium. JUDGE ALL YOU WANT. It was Brooklyn Summer, I think, which…eh, I’m a little more partial to Sixpoint’s stuff, but I was like “LOOK I JUST LEFT NEW JERSEY AT 4 IN THE MORNING TO DO THIS I NEED A DRINK OR SEVERAL” It was a little weird, since Sixpoint was at the expo pre-party, so I was expecting them to be at the finish as well.

      …I am aware that I have issues.

    10. Sleepless*

      The Peachtree Road Race, baby! July 4th in Atlanta. Everything from world class elite runners to casual 10Kers to people who walk the whole way and enjoy the view. My daughter is a high school XC runner so she and I have run it together for the past few years. I’m generally not a person who seeks out crowds and noise, but the Peachtree feels like you’re at the greatest party in the city and everybody else is missing out.

      1. LGC*

        I’ve wanted to do Peachtree – that’s one of my bucket list races! (Even if it’s in July. In Atlanta.)

  11. Lena Clare*

    Sort of about writing – if you write, how do you *edit*?
    I have written 2 books… And I’m trying to edit the first. I’ve had beta readers give me feedback which was really useful.

    It just seems like when I went over my notes I’d made to myself I had just sort of written “write this better!” (LOL) which is obviously not helpful now.

    I’ve been going through it from the beginning and just rewriting and correcting as I go along, but honestly it’s taking me months and I’ve read some authors can edit in a week or so >.<

    Should I be going through and dealing with one thing at a time?
    E.g. characterisation, then plot holes, then grammar etc etc?

    1. misspiggy*

      If the text broadly comes across well, it’s just a question of reading each sentence again for concision. Does this need to be split into two sentences? Can I say this in fewer words?

      I don’t usually edit already-published stuff, so this may not be helpful. But perhaps it would be a good idea to decide at the beginning how far you want to go. Do you want to keep all sentence structure the same? Do you want to change or keep vocabulary? Are you willing to change narrative but not dialogue, or vice versa? Or are you only interested in punctuation and paragraphing changes?

      Also, in most cases, ‘better’ equals ‘shorter.’ But there may still be sections you realise need extra exposition. For any additional text you’ll need to do another edit for concision.

    2. Weegie*

      Editor here – who also recently took an online course in editing one’s own work!

      It’s really worth taking a reputable course either online or at a local college /university, but to roughly encapsulate the process:

      After you’ve finished the book, put it aside for a week or so, then read it right through from beginning to end, at your normal reading pace, and take notes as you go – what isn’t working in particular scenes/chapters? Where is the characterisation or plot not working? Why are these things not working (too wordy, too long, too confusing, bogged down by your determination to include something you really, really want to include but which you know you should delete)? Be as honest and as ruthless as you can.

      Once you’ve completed your notes, time to go through the manuscript again, this time addressing the issues you’ve identified.

      Rinse and repeat this process as often as necessary.

      Once you’re satisfied with the plot, characterisation, flow, structure, word choice, etc, time to turn your attention to grammar, spelling, typos.

      Try not to compare yourself to anyone else in terms of the time it takes you to edit your work: when I edit someone else’s book, it can easily take 2 weeks to a month; when I edit my own work I tend to work on a chapter per day and it can take months. I also seek advice from other (trusted) writers and editors that I know professionally and from writing groups. I also go through at least 5 iterations, sometimes upwards of 10, mostly sorting out structure (my weak spot!), dialogue and characterisation – but that’s just me! If writers are producing, say, genre stuff for a particular e-book market and aren’t too fussy about things being perfect, they’ll get quicker, more efficient and skilled over time.

        1. Weegie*

          I took the Curtis Brown Creative course on editing your novel – it’s online only, and is reasonably priced. Even though I already work as an editor (in a completely different field, no-fiction stuff), I learned quite a lot. They run it about 3 or 4 times a year.

          I believe Faber do online courses that are well-regarded, but I have no experience of theirs.

          1. Foreign Octopus*

            I’ve also heard very good things about Faber’s courses. I have a friend who did one, and she can’t speak highly enough of it.

    3. I edit everything*

      One of the things I advise every client is to read your work out loud. It helps in two ways: 1. It forces you to read what’s actually there, and not what your brain thinks ought to be there. You see every word, too, so catch misspellings and word errors (there/their/they’re, for example) more readily. 2. Hearing it helps you notice where sentence structures are weird, repeated words, wordiness, strings of adjectives, and weird rhythms.

      Yeah, it’s super awkward. And it can take a long time. But it’s worth it.

      Self editing is hard. Even for editors.

    4. I edit everything*

      Also, makes lists of things to look for, and make individual passes for each thing. Some examples:

      * crutch/stumble/filler words. Like “turned”–“she turned to go to the door” when “she went to the door” works better. Opening dialogue with words like “so” or “well”.
      * classic “telling” constructions like “[noun] was [adjective]” or “There was”/”it was a thing that was”/”he was a man who” and the like.
      * repeated sentence constructions (one thing reading aloud helps with, actually).
      * anything else your beta readers mentioned to you

        1. Reba*

          I think they are referring to habitual ways you have of putting sentences together, which can get repetitive. For example, I apparently really like to write sentences that go “Gerund-based modifying clause” + “Subject does thing” + comma or even semicolon + “and other related thing.” I also lavish my work with em dashes and parentheticals (not quite Emily Dickinson level, but yeah).

          Often when you are writing, you don’t notice how often you do stuff like this. Reading aloud helps make the rhythms of your sentences more apparent.

          1. I edit everything*

            This. Repeated sentence structures get sing-songy and distracting. I have a client who loves, “Character did a thing, while doing something else” sentences, for example.

            1. Lucy*

              It’s even more distracting if it’s a distinctive turn of phrase or unusual grammatical structure that recurs throughout the work, but in different characters’ direct speech. If your Finnish detective and your Belgian safe-cracker and your American barista all call strangers “sugarplum”, your book may suck.

      1. Lemonwhirl*

        Also, as you read, you will see/hear things that you say over and over. (There’s one heroine in a mystery series I read who is always standing with her arms akimbo. It gets irritating after awhile to read the same phrase over and over.) When you identify your greatest hits, you can do a search and see how many times you’re using them and decide how to rewrite at least some of them.

        And I do a search for ly to find pesky adverbs that can be rewritten or removed. I maintain that a lot of books could be at least 10% shorter if someone had been more critical of adverbs.

    5. Blue Bunny*

      I’ve found that editing well really depends on understanding my own quirks. I cannot begin to consider the story arc or flow until every single typo or grammar issue is immaculate. I know that isn’t good general editing practice, but it’s what my brain demands. Otherwise, it’s like the basic issues are jumping up and down and screaming at me so I can’t concentrate on anything else.

      My general order is: typos and fat-fingering issues that spellcheck would catch, homophone errors and the like that spellcheck would miss, punctuation, deadwood removal, word choice, then overarching plotline problems.

    6. Lena Clare*

      Thanks so much for these tips, they’re excellent! I shall copy this and keep it with my notes to help :)

      1. Lemonwhirl*

        Oh, and if you’re planning on submitting these to agents or publishers, you might be interested in Angela James’ “Before You Hit Send” class. She runs the class maybe once or twice a year, entirely online, reasonable price. She has tons of experience being on the accept/reject side of the desk and is genuinely delightful. (She’s also worth a follow on Twitter – @ angelajames

    7. Shayland*

      My brain isn’t working right now. I’m writing this comment so I can respond when it boots back up.

  12. Jaded*

    So Heathrow Airport now offers assistance to people with invisible disabilities such as, in my case, anxiety. However, I have previously found Heathrow to be a terrifyingly unfriendly and downright hostile place. I am deeply concerned that by asking for this accommodation I will be singling myself out for the full rubber glove welcome. Does anyone have experience of requesting this form of special treatment at Heathrow (or any other major airport)? How well/badly did they treat you?

    1. Jemima Bond*

      If you are genuinely worried about a strip/body search then don’t – good reasons (grounds) are required for that. As for a pat-down; there’s a fair chance of that whoever you are so I’m not sure any assistance thing would make that less likely – but if you are really genuinely worried about the rubber gloves, really don’t.

    2. misspiggy*

      Heathrow staff are usually just surly rather than mean – if you’ve booked assistance in advance they will be fine with whatever form that takes.

      The problem I have with a varying and invisible condition is asking the check-in staff for what I need: they are employed by the airlines and can hugely vary in understanding and helpfulness. They always seem particularly miserable at Heathrow, so maybe there’s something unpleasant for them about their stints there.

      But if you are able to get assistance in advance and can show or describe details of that, you should be treated OK.

    3. Iron Chef Boyardee*

      I’m so worried about the baggage retrieval system they’ve got at Heathrow.

      1. jolene*

        What about it? I travel through Heathrow multiple times a year – it’s a LOT better than many US airports for baggage retrieval!

    4. Lucy*

      Heathrow isn’t a nice airport, because it’s huge.

      Can you look into lounge access? You reduce a lot of the triggers and difficulties by slipping into a lounge – always enough seats and power outlets, not many people, well-made buffet food and self-service drinks so you can avoid cafe queues, Much Less Noise, pleasant bathrooms (you can have a shower if you want) and so on.

  13. Sad*

    After spending way too much time and money on therapy, I think I need therapy to recover from therapy. And seriously, none of them have been of any help and while I know they must be of help to some people (obviously, otherwise they wouldn’t survive as a profession) but at this point I’m pretty sure I’m beyond help.

    1. Asenath*

      Try a self-help group – several of them, like therapists, some are better than others for particular people and particular problems. As for therapists, it’s not unusual to try several or get discouraged. One I saw turned me away because she said I wasn’t ready for it. I was furious at the time, but she was right – I was looking for a magic cure, I would show up and she’d fix me. I tried a few others, more so-so than anything else, eventually found someone who clicked – but by that time I’d started fixing my self by going to self-help groups and a group program (which I hated, but stuck with out of desperation).

    2. Miss Astoria Platenclear*

      You’re not beyond help.
      Not a professional; maybe you should seek medical advice.
      In the meantime, here are some things that can distract you from your concerns: Change of scene with new-to-you arts and entertainment, joining a spiritual community, going on walks if you can, giving yourself permission to change your mind about someone or something. Good luck.

    3. Amelia*

      I’m sorry you’re going through that. Can’t offer any advice, but I’m going through much of the same. I have amazing insight (literally every therapist has told me this), but terrible follow-through, so I feel like therapists are telling me things I already know and giving me suggestions I’ve already thought of but can’t act on. Like any other illness where the doctors aren’t helping, it sucks. Sending virtual hugs. :)

    4. Coffee with friends*

      Yeah, I can kind of feel what you’re saying. I know I need therapy, for a whole lot of reasons, and I tried it three times, but found it quite unhelpful. One therapist was downright bad, the other two I felt like I was having a coffee and a chat with a friend, I told them my worries and issues and they made sympathetic noises, but I didn’t get anything out of it other than having spent a pleasant 45 minutes. They didn’t HELP. Since I have friends that I do not need to pay extortionate price to have coffee with, I am (for the time being) unconvinced of the usefullness of therapy.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Depression is a lying bastard. –Jennifer Lawson, www thebloggess dot com
      “Not all therapists are created equal.” –maybe Carolyn Hax but also possibly someone on her WaPo comments section
      Just like we need to find the right “fit” of a job. If you’ve been with the same person only, try switching to someone new who has a different method or perspective or personality.
      Also talk to your current therapist … you’re stalled and sad and is it worth rethinking the underlying diagnosis too change treatment /meds/etc.
      For me my ‘medication resistant depression ‘ was largely undiagnosed ADD, and when I started meds for that everything got better enough that I could go off the antidepressant. (It’s not perfect but it’s a level I can deal with.)
      Good luck and come back to check in.

    6. Jessen*

      Hey I’m another one who’s had a lot of therapy and not much good from it. The good news is, there are ways to recover that don’t involve therapy. I had some help with meds for a while, although I didn’t stay on them long-term. I also did a lot of online reading on my own, how other people have approached certain issues, and it honestly did a lot for me. It was a slow process but it did get me to a lot better place.

      It might also be worth looking into what sort of therapy you’re getting. I’ve been getting frustrated that the dominant therapy mode around here seems to be either plain talk therapy or CBT. I don’t get along with CBT at all, it just sounds to me weirdly simplistic and frankly far too much like the crap that I’ve had spewing from people who I had to get out of my life, and talk therapy just seemed like an inferior version of journaling. Right now I’m considering seeing if I can find an EMDR practitioner, although it might be hard with insurance because technically I have a NOS diagnosis with an unofficial “you have major trauma issues but they don’t present in the right way to be diagnosed with PTSD.”

      It can be an absolute pain to figure out how to navigate the system when most places seem to think you just need “a therapist.” I rather feel like the mental health system right now is kind of like if you got told to see “a doctor” for everything from GI surgery to foot pain to migraines.

      1. Procrastinatin'PastSelf*

        EMDR is really good, I did it even though I didn’t have PTSD (but had experienced violence and grief from various life events). There are even EMDR therapists that do intensive, full-day sessions (at some places, you have to schedule like 2-3 or even five, and then if you and the therapist feel you have finished before that, you can stop and not pay for the rest). Insurance probably won’t cover it, though, but it’s a good therapy, if you are fortunate enough to have the cash for it. For the full-day sessions, you would make a timeline and go through different events in your past, not necessarily starting with the main issue or traumatic event that led you to seek it out. Nice thing about EMDR is you don’t have to work on it outside of the session, and I think it allows you to change your perspectives on things (or just realize what kind of judgments you made sub-consciously). Some EMDR therapists charge a normal rate per 45 minute or 1 hour, too, that could be covered by insurance. Good luck! I hope you are somewhere with more options for providers. Also, if you don’t like the eye-movement version, try the electric tappers, they can be easier to concentrate on without the distraction of looking at the therapist.

    7. Jessen*

      I think it might flag certain mental health related words as well. I posted below with no links and it went into moderation, and I’ve had that happen with other mental health related comments as well.

      1. Joielle*

        Same here, hopefully more responses will show up soon and in the meantime, hugs from the internet if you want them.

    8. Joielle*

      I’m not sure if this will ring true to you at all, but when I started therapy it definitely got worse (for a long time) before it got better. Like everything wrong with me was dredged up and thrust into the light and oh look, I’m even more messed up than I realized. It felt pretty hopeless. I really do like and trust my therapist, so I trusted her when she reassured me over and over that it’s part of the process… it sucked though. I’m just now starting to see the light on the other side.

      You’re not beyond help – nobody is – but maybe you need a different therapist (WAY easier said than done, I know) who specializes in your specific needs? I know some people who have done therapy through Talkspace (where you see the therapist through an app) which seems to make it easier to try out a therapist for a session or two, and they’ve really liked it.

    9. Thursday Next*

      As Miss Astoria said, you’re not beyond help. And I say this as someone who has gone through long stretches in which I felt “unhelpable.”

      I agree that at this point, you should seek medical assistance. Sometimes the right medication can help a person get out of that valley of feeling like nothing is working.

      I also recommend walking outside, in daylight, when possible, the Thoughts of Dog Twitter feed (if you like animals), mindfulness meditation apps like Calm, uptempo music, finding a show/podcast/book series you can throw yourself into (happy to give recs if you indicate what your tastes are), staying hydrated and eating fruits and vegetables (dehydration and lack of fiber and vitamins never help anything).

      More than anything, reach out to family and friends, including all of us here. Please ask a different person (medical doctor) for different help.

      Wishing you all the best.

    10. Blue Bunny*

      Commiseration. I found therapy and psychiatry to be absolutely useless, if not actively harmful. (For one thing, I’m quite sure my severe thyroid issues would have been diagnosed much sooner, if I hadn’t been misdiagnosed with a psychiatric issue first.) I gave it fifteen years and tried almost a dozen different providers, and that’s enough. I’m done with the system. It’s not for me.

    11. Ethyl*

      This is a really tough thing to be feeling and I’m sorry you are going through it. I don’t believe you are beyond help either. Therapy is hard work, both in finding the right therapy and therapist for you, and in actually doing the work they give you. It’s ok to take a break and do some work on your own if that’s what you want, or to talk to your doctor about getting some meds to help with things either short-term or long-term. I hope you can be nice to yourself and take a step back for a bit to decide what you want to try next.

    12. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Therapy is hard because often you don’t jive with the professional well enough. I’ve found it hard for that reason, although I’m trying with a new center soon.

      It may not be what you need but there are other options for mental health healthcare. You’re not alone and you’re not broken or unfixable.

      1. Ethyl*

        Yes definitely! My first experience was such a nightmare I had one session and didn’t even try again until years later. There’s also the matter of which type of therapy is right for you and that you’ll click with. There are so many! And everyone is different in how they respond to things! It is ok and normal to feel a bit overwhelmed.

    13. Koala dreams*

      Maybe talk therapy is not the right treatment for you? Depending on your problems, you might consider a psychiatrist, physical therapy, occupational therapy or some other course of treatment. For some illnesses it is recommended to combine different treatments, for example for depression.

      If you think it would be useful to try on another type of talk therapy, you can maybe schedule a break for a couple of months. Therapy can be very tiring and sometimes you need a break, it doesn’t mean failure, it just means you need to rest before fighting on.

    14. Washi*

      I tried therapy once for about 4 months and didn’t find it helpful. I ended up finding that doing workbooks and lots of reading somehow explained and brought concepts home in a way that my therapist couldn’t.

      I think now if I tried therapy again I would find it more helpful because I can identify the areas I struggle in and what my triggers tend to be. Maybe another therapist could have gotten me there from my previous amorphous state of sadness, but at the time, I too felt like I was bad at therapy.

    15. HannahS*

      I don’t think therapy is for everyone. It’s not the most popular opinion, but I think it’s true. Some people find exercise–lots of regular, aerobic exercise–is the thing that does it for them. Some people need medication, either to solve the problem, or to get them elevated enough to engage with therapy. Some people need electro-convulsive therapy. You’re not beyond help.

    16. Jane of all Trades*

      Sending you positive thoughts! You are not beyond help! It might be that right now therapy alone isn’t the right thing for you. I know others have suggested medication. I took Lexapro for a few months when things were really spiraling out of control, and it helped me level out again. I also found that kickboxing (and other high intensity workouts) signficantly reduce my anxiety, and therefore stabilize my mood. Therapy mostly helps right now to keep me accountable with working on the progress that I have come by mostly by myself. Maybe a similar journey could work for you. Best wishes!

  14. TL -*

    I have a Windows Surface book (a tablet/laptop – the keyboard is a real laptop keyboard but it disconnects from tablet) and in late January the keyboard stopped connecting. I used it as a tablet for a couple of months – I scheduled a call with customer service but they called at 4 am and guys, I hate talking to customer support. Rant ahead.

    Anyways, last month I figured I did want my laptop back – I have an international flight this week – so I called again. 2 sessions (including at least twice where “I’ll call back in an hour” turned into “I’ll call back in 2 or 3 hours”) and 5 hours of actual troubleshooting later, the keyboard still doesn’t work. The tech never calls me back, I email several times with updated availabilities, he finally calls and says it’s a Tier 2 issue. Great. He asks my availability, I give it.
    No call. I email again, giving updated availabilities. No call. Repeat. A week later, I get a call from original guy, saying he to send me a verification code. Okay. We sort that, I give availability for Tier 2 call. No call. Rinse and repeat.
    A week later, I get an email saying my Tier 2 call has been scheduled for Sunday. Great. They call on Saturday. They spend five minutes on the phone with me, tell me they’re going to call me back in 1 hour (I think my cat meowing annoyed them) and in the meantime to check if the USB port on my keyboard (that doesn’t connect to my tablet) is working. Because the plan is reset my computer from the USB port on my keyboard that doesn’t connect to my tablet.
    The USB port doesn’t work. It doesn’t charge my phone and also, nothing in the keyboard talks to the tablet, which is why I’m, you know, calling them. Tier 2 support never calls back and at the end of the day sends an email stating they’re going to be out of office until the 22nd of May and won’t be checking emails.

    I get on the chat support and go through two rounds of chats – one person told me to call the team I’d been calling. The second person put me through to Surface chat. I end up talking to someone who tells me I need to run a bunch of troubleshooting steps before she can move forward. I asked her to check the file because I had already spent a 5 hours running troubleshooting steps (and hey! only result is now my VPN isn’t working) and she said she had reviewed them. She sent me an email…full of troubleshooting steps I had already done.

    Guys, I love my Surface. It is honestly my favorite laptop ever. But this is the worst customer service experience I’ve ever had – and I’ve had to deal extensively with both AT&T and Xfinity.

    1. T. Boone Pickens*

      Oh. My. Goodness. My blood pressure was rising just reading that. My sympathies TL…that’s a rough one.

      1. TL -*

        Thanks. I’m going to be near a store next week so I’ll go in and fingers crossed that works.

    2. Teach*

      Any chance there is an independent computer fixing business in your area? Because I had a similar situation with a MacBook Air that resulted in me publicly melting down at the Apple “Genius” Bar, declining the purchase of a new one, and finding a local guy who fixed it it two days for $100 bucks with parts he pulled out of his back room…

    3. Autumn Wind*

      Sorry if this is a really basic, silly question, but does the keyboard have its own battery? And if so, does it need replacing?

  15. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Can someone explain to me why people are writing “LOL” as “LUL”? Because that means something VERY different in Dutch and I keep laughing when I see it written.
    (Funnily enough, “lol” is also a Dutch word meaning “Fun”. I was very confused when I first saw it used in English.)

    1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Per urban dictionary (I hadn’t seen or noticed it before), it means “lame uncomfortable laugh”.

      I looked up “lul” in a Dutch to English dictionary and you are right that the meaning is different… lol.

    2. Anono-me*

      Speaking of the odd quirks of languages; Google the meaning of ‘bae’ in Danish while you are at it.

    3. Emily*

      I’ve mostly seen it in the context of “lulz” or “for the lulz” (and not necessarily recently, either), but I mostly chalk it up to the fact that “LOL” and “LUL” sound similar when you pronounce them as words rather than as a collection of letters, and people are really good at shifting language and making up new words and phrases (especially on the internet, where different words, phrases, memes, and writing styles come in and out of vogue really quickly).

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        …Now that you mention it, they do sound similar when you pronounce them the English way. In Dutch they sound very different (the vowel in “lul” is a sound English doesn’t have, namely /y/)

  16. StellaBella*

    Hi all. Decided to do something for others today so a friend and I went to a feed the needy cooking event at a local soup kitchen. It was good to chop onions and garlic and carrots for a couple of hours … Anyone else do service things when they are feeling a bit blah to help others out and also raise one’s spirits?

    1. Grapey*

      I do service things regularly to keep the blahs at bay. It also helps foster community when you can regularly see a group of people (if you have time of course) and they can depend on seeing you on a schedule. I donate platelets every two weeks and the people at the donation center are like a second family. I don’t do it “just” when I’m feeling down but instead I try to make it a priority to help other people no matter what my mood is.

    2. Sam I Am*

      I’ll offer to babysit some of my friends’ kids. Even if the parents don’t go out, I can go over to their house and give the kids all the attention for games, walks, coloring, reading books etc. It totally focuses my mind on the moment, and I can let go of my troubles for a while. I’ve not done it when I was having a serious problem, but to relieve the blahs? For sure.
      I don’t have kids but I’m an instructor and I work with kids most weeks, so they don’t frighten me. I know they aren’t everyone’s cup of tea.
      Similarly, I’ve found people are always willing to loan me their dog for a walk or hike. I’m a dog person without the schedule that would allow me to have a dog.
      These aren’t service exactly, but they are things that strengthen my ties to my communities.
      When I call the person in charge I just use scripts that I hope are breezy, accurate, and give them an easy “no.”
      Ex: “Hey, I kind of have the blahs today and want to do something fun. So I’m wondering if KIDLET(S) are free to go to the playground with me for a couple of hours this afternoon? If it’s not in the cards today, no problem, we can do it another time.”

  17. RMNPgirl*

    Going to Alaska on my first ever cruise tomorrow! I’m really excited but getting nervous about finding my way around the ship. I also managed to fit 9 days worth of clothes into a carry on but it is stuffed full, so I won’t be able to get much in the way of souvenirs.
    I’m also really hoping to see some bears and bear cubs.

    1. 7 doggies*

      Lots of travelers take advantage of the USPS Priority Mail “boxes”. One price per size of box, no weight limit. So when you buy souvenirs, or want to keep all of the free toiletries, or want to send home your dirty clothes so you have room in your carryon for the more important stuff, just ask when you are in the towns you are visiting where the post office is, and send a box home. Our two boxes arrived home before we did.

      1. Blue Bunny*

        I also suggest mailing home receipts, though you may not have as many on a cruise as you would on another type of trip. I am fanatical about checking my statements due to prior ID theft issues, and it was a load off my mind to know that my carefully-organized credit card slips were already on the way back to my house.

      2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        I highly recommend sending home dirty clothes this way! I once went on a week-long trip where I went to a convention for the first few days, then stayed with a different friend each night in that city to extend the trip a bit as a tourist. Mailing my dirty underwear and convention materials home (actually, to someone else’s house who’d agreed to be my mail drop so I didn’t have to worry about packages sitting out) was a great way to free up space in my backpack for the second half of the trip.

        If you want to get the stereotypical Ulu knife souvenir, that can’t go home in a carry-on either so would be another good thing to mail home if you’re mailing a box anyway. (I had no interest in getting one as a souvenir when I went to Alaska, but I do remember the signs EVERYWHERE in the Anchorage airport about how they could not be in carry-on luggage because it was a common issue with security screening at the time. This was pre-9/11 when airport security was less on people’s minds generally.)

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      As far as the ship goes, think of it this way: if you get lost while you’re exploring, you can’t really get too far. They’ll give you a map (or have one available), so keep it in your pocket and enjoy. If you end up in a situation where you can’t find your way back to your room, someone will be around to help you!

    3. CAA*

      Alaska is great! It’s pretty early in the season for seeing bears, but you should see whales, otters, and other sea life; and they usually bring sled dog puppies aboard ship one day.

      For finding your way around, there’s a map of the deck posted on both sides of every elevator lobby/staircase landing. The map is oriented horizontally so the bow on the outline of the ship points towards the bow of the actual ship. I tend to take a quick glance at those as I’m passing through just to make sure I’m really heading in the direction I thought I was.

      Have a great trip!

  18. The Other Dawn*

    How does one get started writing a novel?

    I’ve always felt as though I want to write a book, but I don’t know where to start. In the past my writing style tends to be that I write when I feel like it. No structure, no plan in mind at all. Just sit down and write. I’ve written a few very short stories, like for high school and college classes, things like that. But I enjoy writing and would like to do more of it.

    If it helps, I’m someone who gets an idea in my mind and I typically keep going until I accomplish whatever it is. I never have a detailed plan in mind. I just know what I want the end result to be and I just do it and adjust as I go along. It pretty much never enters my mind that it won’t happen, or X will go wrong. That’s how it went with every big thing in my life: weight loss surgery, skin removal surgery, buying my first house, buying this house. You get the idea.

    1. Lena Clare*

      I write all my ideas in a notebook. Most of them I don’t develop, but I will use them as themes or mini plots in other stories most of the time. Some seem like great ideas though but when I read them later I think omg what was I thinking! Sometimes I turn them into short stories instead, and sometimes my stories turn into longer plots that can become books.

      When I know I want to write a book, I plot each chapter out then start writing. I used to write random chapters as opposed to writing it in order, but characters have a tendency to develop a life of their own so I would find myself thinking ‘Cornelius wouldn’t do that here, he’d do x instead’ and then I’d have to rewrite it, so now I write the chapters in order, that way I’m only changing my plan rather than lots of writing. I always stick to the ending though, no matter how the characters get there. Only once have I written two different endings for the sake book, but I ended up going with the ending where not everyone died!

      I also write detailed histories of every character including their descriptions, even minor one – especially minor ones – before I start writing the book, so I don’t have to go searching back through pages of words to see if I wrote that they had a brother or a sister, or had blue eyes or brown eyes.

      Incidentally, the incidence of green eyes in books is way, way higher then the incidence of green eyes in real life – just sayin’ :-)

    2. Jules the 3rd*

      What I hear from writers is that you carve out time and write. Even if it’s drafts / ideas / staring at the paper, scheduling ‘time to write’ is the most important thing.

      1. Marion Ravenwood*

        This. Not making time for writing was the big reason I fell off the wagon with it (both times).

    3. I edit everything*

      You sound like what we call in the writing world a “pantser”: you write by the seat of your pants, rather than an outline. If you just want to get going writing, here’s my recommendation. Start with one thing—a character, a scene, a “what if”—and see where it takes you. It doesn’t matter if the thing you start from is the beginning, middle, or end. Just get something down. As you write, otherthings will start to fill in for you.

      You can also do a little (or a lot) of advance work, from sketching out your main character to writing a detailed outline. But for each main character, keep in mind these three questios:
      Who are they?
      What do they want?
      What’s stopping them from getting it?

      Go for it!

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      In the past my writing style tends to be that I write when I feel like it. No structure, no plan in mind at all. Just sit down and write.

      I think the best thing to do to write a novel is to not write when you feel like it, but to regularly schedule your writing time (once a day for an hour, for example).

      I’d highly recommend reading On Writing by Stephen King (yes, the horror author).

    5. Square Root Of Minus One*

      I’m a wannabe writer more than a writer, but I always began with what I got excited with first.
      If it’s the general idea of the plot, I outline it.
      If it’s a scene, I write it – even if I don’t keep it later, it’s just to get started.
      If it’s a character, I write the most detailed description I can.
      And so on.
      And then I branch from it, write other scenes, character description, place descriptions, whatever, until I finally get the outline. After that, I start to write in earnest, while still working on the outline if I’m not done.

    6. Lilysparrow*

      I’m a fan of the Snowflake Method as a way to get started. It doesn’t lock you into anything, but it gives you a framework for turning a collection of random ideas into a cohesive whole. Very useful starting point.

      And the time factor matters. It doesn’t have to be the same time every day, but the time has to get put in somehow.

      I can compose about 800-1000 words of new fiction in an hour, on average. That’s not as fast as some highly prolific authors, but it’s a fairly good pace. (I’ve gone faster before, but I wound up just churning worthless word count that had to come out in editing anyhow).

      So for a 60k novel, that’s 60-75 hours of work producing the first draft. (Not counting planning, ramp-up time to get into flow state, distractions, etc.

      Whether you do it once a day, or once a week in chunks, you have to find that 60 hours somewhere. The advantage of the daily approach is that smaller chunks are easier to work in around the necessities of life. And it’s easier to keep the thread of the idea going, without wasting time trying to remember where you were headed.

      The reason there are so many methods and philosophies about writing novels is because it’s like saying ‘how do you kiss” or “how do you train for a marathon” or “how do you clean up puke.”

      You just get stuck in and do it.

    7. The Other Dawn*

      Thanks. everyone! I think my biggest hurdle is coming up with an idea for a story. It’s not difficult when you’re in school and you’re given a topic to write about or a general idea of what the professor is looking for, but to come up with a complex story is something that has been really difficult for me.

      How do you get ideas? Do you base it off something that’s happened in your real life, or want to happen? Maybe a favorite–or hated–person in your life? A hobby?

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        It can be anything really. I have a little bag with slips of paper with random words written on them, and when I get struck with the dreaded writer’s block I’ll pull out three at random and try to write a short drabble with them. I ended up with a great villain when writing a nonsensical short story involving “Mr Darcy” (Pride and Prejudice), “Horror Movie”, and “Dogs”. For other parts of the plot, I usually just…Randomly get inspiration, I suppose, but it tends to be around my usual “writing time”. If I get ideas at any other point in the day I write them down in a notebook I always have with me (yes, even next to my bed. Trust me, you won’t remember that Awesome Idea tomorrow, you’ll just remember you had an Awesome Idea).
        Also, what genre do you want to write in? It might help to get to know some of the conventions of the genre better or even find some blogs or some such of writers in your genre.

  19. Loopy*

    This week I got super sick. I realized at one point that in the past 3 or so months I had fallen out of some very key and very basic healthy habits which probably contributed. Once I started thinking on it, I realized even when not sick, I haven’t been feeling good overall. It was an eye opener to how much those habits had been contributing to my overall wellness. I’m talking basic hydration, moderate exercise, and over all eating decently. It’s been a stressful period so I’m not exactly shocked but I am dismayed that it’ll take some effort/discipline and time to regain lost ground.

    Just curious, what are some of your super basic habits that keep you feeling pretty good? For me sleep is also very much in the mix but I had been doing okay on that one!

    1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Regular walking for me more than formal exercise.

      Eating something green and leafy at every meal.

      No caffeine after lunch.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I need to exercise… for me it’s swimming or my bike, and I’m finding that clearing falllen wood in the new big yard helps too.
      I also need to keep a minimum level of tidy or my mood spills over into eating too much junk as a distraction.
      And no more than a cup of tea after lunch as far as caffeine goes.

    3. Ranon*

      Spend time outside everyday (I have a walking commute so this one is easy for me but getting outside at lunch too makes a big difference)

      Social time with people I like and care about (sport means I pair that one with exercise, double win!)

      My body likes a very high fiber diet but I know that varies for lots of people

    4. Lilo*

      Stating hydrated is HUGE. Seriously life changing. I keep a liter bottle at work and fill it up at least twice.

      1. Kimmy Schmidt*

        I sip on water throughout the day, which has the added benefit that I need to get up every couple hours to use the restroom! I often purposefully walk to the one furthest away from my office, or take a lap around the building after, so I get more water and I get a 5 minute walk.

    5. Jean (just Jean)*

      Good for you for catching yourself in mid-fall.
      You might want to check with your primary care health provider, just to be sure that there’s nothing more serious than wear and tear from several months of practicing less-than-ideal health habits. It’s not unusual for people to develop a chronic condition or a serious health challenge. I’m not saying that you’re 120% likely to have developed Two-Headed, Purple-Eared, Fire-Breathing Spotted Fever; I’m just saying that it’s wise to periodically check on one’s respiratory / cardiac / visual / dental / orthopedic / digestive / etc. health the same way that homeowners check on their heating & cooling systems and road vehicle owners check on the brakes, transmission, exhaust, etc.

    6. WellRed*

      For me it’s mostly about eating well. I also try to get outside. I have been in a bad spell the past couple weeks so am making a plan for this week. Waking up with foot cramps reminded me I need to hydrate which I struggle with because I don’t care for water at all.

    7. Ethyl*

      I said this on Facebook the bother day, but man some days I really miss “self care” being face masks and manicures lol. For me, it’s getting up at 5 and hitting the gym three times a week to lift, making sure I make and keep my doctor’s appointments so I make sure my various meds are working right (especially the thyroid and Vit D), maintaining a RIGID sleep routine and schedule, and eating my pre-made lunch that agrees with my iffy digestive system instead of going out to lunch which always makes me feel lousy. It’s boring but it works!!!

    8. Square Root Of Minus One*

      Other than basic hydration, balanced food (I’m usually punished very quickly if I slip up: headaches, nightmares, you name it), and activity, something I dearly miss is having my bedroom an electronics-free zone.
      My bedroom is my living room, and I’ve lapsed back into old habits like watching TV from my bed, and even when I don’t I’m annoyed but the slight noises and LEDs of everything. It messes with my sleep. Can’t wait till I get my new place with a separate bedroom (by December, crossing fingers).

    9. Not A Manager*

      This might be TMI, but for me, one key to feeling good and healthy is to maintain habits that keep my digestion regular. I can pretty easily tell if I’m not eating properly/not staying hydrated enough/not getting enough sleep or exercise, etc. by my digestion. It’s like my early warning system.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      I need to get 7 or 8 hours of sleep. I need to walk regularly or exercise in some other capacity. I need to meditate, at home and/or with my sangha. Lately, home has been tricky because of the noise from next door.
      I need to get out of the house and go do something periodically, even if it’s just walking around a flea market looking at ugly lamps.

  20. Zoey*

    Hi. Does anyone have an Etsy shop? There are so many articles offering advice but not sure what is truly helpful and what isn’t. Especially when it comes to tax season. If you have any advice to offer, would appreciate it. Thanks

    1. Natalie*

      Probably not what you want to hear but I would strongly recommend only reading the IRS consumer-level guidance and/or consulting with an actual CPA, rather than crowdsourcing tax advice. Particularly when it comes to “gig” stuff like Etsy, rideshare drivers, etc, there is a ludicrously high amount of terrible/inaccurate/fraudulent tax advice, and advice that’s simply outdated due to the TCJA (tax reform bill enacted last year).

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        A lot of people think they know what they are doing when they don’t. I said something about holding back money for taxes on my freelance writing pay, and another freelancer argued with me, saying self-employed freelance writers don’t have to pay taxes because “they are individuals, not companies.” I tried to explain to her that if you don’t have an employer, then somebody’s gotta pay the taxes. She wouldn’t listen. I bet she got quite the surprise come tax time that year.

        1. Ruffingit*

          As a person with self-employment income (on top of a regular job), I can’t imagine the horror awaiting her at tax time. Hell, she may be one of those people who thinks she doesn’t need to even file taxes. Scary.

        2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          Yeah, the thing with taxes is that you don’t always know that you’re doing it wrong in any kind of timely manner. The IRS expects you to get it right even if they don’t give you timely feedback about any mistakes you may be making along the way. It’s not like turning in a homework worksheet in elementary school where you get it back corrected the next day, but more like if, instead of defending your PhD dissertation to a committee you mailed it off somewhere, they tentatively give you a PhD after briefly skimming it to make sure you wrote something down, and then they have 7 years to decide if they’re actually going to read it properly and check your sources and you’re on the hook for any mistakes they find if they do so.

          Much of the advice you read from fellow small-time sellers online may be well-intentioned but from people who don’t yet know they’re wrong. It’s possible to do your own books while owning a small side business, but it’s stressful even for someone like me who has worked in finance and is very comfortable with math and regulations. (I ultimately decided not to try and deduct a lot of things that were probably deductible business expenses, because the amount of money I’d save by deducing them wasn’t worth the amount of stress I’d spend worrying if I got it right. If the amount of money in play had been larger, I would have hired an accountant to deal with it, but due to the size of the side business it was a small enough difference that not deducting anything was cheaper than hiring someone to help me figure out the deductions. Also, I had a service business rather than a product-based business, so I didn’t need to deal with inventory-related things, which are a pain to get right.)

          1. Ruffingit*

            Yeah, I can understand why you made those decisions. My side biz is service-related so no inventory either. I have a wonderful accountant who I trust implicitly so I let him mess with all that. He’s a CPA so he keeps up with the tax code and such. I, on the other hand, do not and have no desire to either. I strongly believe that if things get too complicated or you want to ensure it’s correct, it makes sense to hire the people who do that stuff all day, every day, unless, as in your case, the expense of doing so would outweigh the gain.

  21. Washi*

    Sometimes I feel like I wasn’t mature enough to get married.

    My husband and I live about 15 minutes from his parents and several grandparents. Unsurprisingly, they reach out to see us pretty frequently, and my husband and I have settled on doing a family thing 1-2 times per month. My husband and I have been together for many years now, though only married for a few, and I thought when we got married that I theoretically understood that his family would be in my life forever. And I although I find his parents to be so blandly nice that they end up being very boring (they don’t tend to have a lot of opinions or things to contribute to conversation) I knew that as far as in-laws go, that’s a great problem to have.

    But…I’m finding that whenever they reach out to us, my reaction is just “ugh, again?” I’m bored of having to hang out with them. I’m annoyed by all the emails we get from them in between seeing each other. I just have this “ergh go away” sensation at all times. Which feels so dumb! I knew, basically, what it would be like when we moved down here! We eventually hope to move closer to my family/the area I’m from, but that will be another few years at least, and I don’t want to spend all of that time counting down the days until I can get away. Plus when his parents are no longer caring for the grandparents, they will probably follow us and want to live nearby, so I really have to deal with this feeling.

    Anyone experience anything similar, or have any suggestions about how I can retrain myself to want to be around my in-laws more?

    1. Penny*

      Can you let your husband take over the in-between emails with them so you only have to worry about the face-to-face monthly contacts? Also in your monthly gatherings, are you just sitting around the house talking or going out to do things? Maybe it would be more interesting if you were doing activities together like museums or festivals or escape rooms.

    2. gecko*

      1-2 times a month feels like a lot. I’m half an hour from my own parents, talk with them a lot on the phone, and 1-2 times a month would be a lot for me with them—my own parents, let alone my soon-to-be-in-laws.

      I don’t think you need to dutifully retrain yourself to want to spend that much time with them. Can you in fact cut down on the time you spend with them and send your husband alone for several of those visits? For instance, cut down to once a month or once every two months?

      I think Captain Awkward had a good metaphor for this kind of thing—like a cat who is Done with being pet and bothered and all you want is to hide under the bed. With a cat you’ve gotta let it be and understand you have to back off in order to get it to approach you again; your in-laws probably won’t do that naturally, but the greatest gift you can give to your relationship with them is probably seeing them less so you feel less imposed-on.

      1. Washi*

        Ahh yes I feel exactly like a cat that’s hiding under the bed from too much love.

        I think unfortunately my husband and I ended up in an unhealthy pattern early in our relationship where he didn’t understand why I didn’t want to see his family as often and also hated answering the “where’s Washi?” question when I didn’t go, so he ended up guilting me into going to stuff. And I played into that by not standing by my needs and instead going to stuff, then picking fights afterward out of resentment. (22 year old us were not the most mature…) So I still have a lot of baggage from that period, even though my husband and I have grown up a lot and he truly never guilts me when I bow out of things.

        I do understand the suggestions to reach out myself, but it’s hard to motivate myself to do that since they reach out so often and far ahead – we already agreed to family plans at least once per month through August.

        I’m about to start grad school, and I’m thinking I may use that as an excuse to disengage a little bit and as gecko says, give them the gift of me feeling less imposed on.

        1. valentine*

          First, sit down and decide what scenario would be a dealbreaker for you. Make a 1-5 or 1-10 list from tolerable to divorce. Mull it over. Maybe 1=annual visits. That’s fine. I get the impression you wouldn’t be after your husband to hang out with your family, so I find it odd that you still feel pressured to have constant contact. There’s no good reason for this when you don’t want it and are living in dread of his parents following you(!).

          You can say no to everything or less and you can absolutely set and maintain boundaries. If your husband needs his parents to be in the same neighborhood/city/county/state, maybe you’re truly incompatible. It sounds like you haven’t had a conversation where you said you don’t want that and won’t live that way. This is a good time for that conversation because it informs whether you’re on the same page about your life goals.

          So. Filter their email and redirect them to his. See them annually or whatever amount you truly want. Don’t go just because not doing so costs you time with hubs. Let your time together truly be that. And you don’t need specific reasons. Just say or tell him to say you’re focusing on other things and won’t be emailing/visiting. Because if you say it’s grad school or whatever, they’ll expect you back when it’s done.

          Also major is whether you’re planning children and how that could destroy your plans here because hubs may agree now but feel differently when someone is whining to him about seeing the baby or how they expect to live in each other’s pockets.

        2. gecko*

          I think that’s a great excuse, especially if your husband doesn’t feel very comfortable just saying, “Washi had other plans, just me tonight :) ” It’d be nice for him to have a very white lie on hand.

          In this case probably reaching out yourself is way unnecessary. You might come to a point where you feel ok with the frequency of your visits, and then it’d be a kindness to reciprocally invite them to stuff–but that’s just going to feel bad until you’re baseline comfortable with it all.

          Also best wishes with grad school!!!

    3. Angwyshaunce*

      My family likes to get together once or twice a month, for birthdays and holidays and such. They also tend to be kind of bland.

      My wife’s family is much more hands off, so she wasn’t used to such frequent get-togethers. After a few years, she grew tired of these frequent events. I told her it was fine to skip these whenever she wanted to. My family still doesn’t understand it, but at least they learned to accept it.

    4. Miss Astoria Platenclear*

      My advice may seem counterintuitive, but I suggest initiating contact with them. Ask your mother-in- law to join you on some errand you were going to do anyway. The details of the errand can give you something to talk about. Is there some shopping you two could do together that would help the grandparents?
      Also, if you go to their house, you have control over how long you stay.
      You will build good family karma and get practice at dealing with nice-but-bland people, who you will encounter throughout your life.

      1. Katefish*

        I have the world’s best in-laws, live locally to them and far from my family, and it’s still been an adjustment to the togetherness of it all. For me having my husband go out of town for extended periods of time helped me take ownership of the relationships and start feeling more “my family” as opposed to “his family.” But it takes time! Also seconding what everyone has said about breaks.

    5. Ethyl*

      I agree with everyone else that this sounds like a lot of visiting to me. Granted, my family lives far away, but I think this would drive me up a wall as well!

      My spouse’s family was like this. Bland, but nice. But they also insisted that any time you visit you spend ALL THE TIME TOGETHER, just…….sitting. And not really talking because they didn’t have anything interesting to say. But you couldn’t go out and do something interesting together either. Not even go out to dinner. Just sit around the kitchen table with the TV balring while everyone around you smoked cigarettes and showed you pictures of some distant cousin’s kid It was excruciating. Both of his grandparents are now passed, and his mom passed back in 2006, so we are kinda off the hook for now since he’s not close with any of the rest of his family.

      I don’t think “await death” is actionable advice though, so I’d go with everyone else recommending cutting your personal involvement down. That’ll help keep you from getting so frustrated and resentful that you snap and say something hurtful and will also help you stay sane.

    6. Joielle*

      Omg me too. My husband’s family (parents, two siblings, their spouses, and several kids) ALL get together several times a month and it’s usually like… an entire weekend at a time. They’re not boring but it’s just so much togetherness and I just end up thinking “don’t you people have any other friends?!”.

      We go probably half the time and usually don’t spend the whole time there. I completely have the “ergh go away” feeling too. None of them understand what I do for a living aside from “sort of related to politics” so they all have so many questions about what they heard in the news (which is usually wrong) and I just do. not. want to.

      Luckily for me, my husband mostly feels the same way about the quantity of togetherness, so we’ve cut down our visits, but sometimes he wants to go and I just can’t handle it, so he goes by himself and I go out with friends or just sit on the couch. I’m sure they think I’m weird but it’s the best compromise we’ve come up with.

    7. Rainy*

      I let my spouse handle all contact with his family. I had to institute a direct email ban with his mum during wedding planning, and I just…haven’t rescinded that? Something I really believe firmly is that when I married this dude I did not become his social secretary. I’ve seen so many women especially in my mother’s generation but even now become the family social secretary who’s responsible for presents, cards, check-ins, phone calls, blah blah blah, and I absolutely refuse.

      So if you can redirect the emails (or just ignore them), and if you need to, opt out of some of the visits (he can, I promise you, visit his parents by himself) that might give you some more room. You might find that if you’re not having them crammed up your nose 2x a month (TWICE A FREAKING MONTH HOLY COW) you have more room to appreciate them.

      1. Ethyl*

        Ahahaha yeah every time spouse’s aunt messages me on Facebook with a message for him I always send back some variation of “oh! He still has the same phone number and email actually! Here it is again in case you lost it!” because I am a petty, stubborn, cranky feminist.

    8. Dan*

      Oh one of my favorite topics.

      My ex and I at one point lived within 30 minutes from several of her family members. My ex wasn’t working, so her family was her social outlet. Fine, NBD. But what became a big deal was that she wouldn’t accept that I didn’t have the same affinity for them that she did. Me staying home was Not An Option, although I did it anyway and suffered the consequences. She wasn’t happy. She really couldn’t accept that I needed down time on the weekends, and my definition of down time wasn’t her family.

      It wasn’t that “everybody” got together “all the time”, but there was almost always something with one subgroup or another. Just to see if I was exaggerating the frequency of get togethers in my head, I counted once…. there was a stretch where there was some family thing or another ten out of 12 straight weekends.

      In terms of my own family, I moved out of state 20 years ago, and I get back once a year. So I have really no idea what the right balance actually is, before taking into account “my family vs your family” issues.

    9. My Brain is Exploding*

      What works for some people doesn’t work for others! The first year of my marriage, we lived close to my parents, and went to their house every Friday night to do laundry, eat dinner, and play games. Currently our adult children live in the same metro area and we do see them once a month (I love them! They are interesting people who probably find their dad and me a little boring.) On the flip side, our visits to older family members who don’t live close can be…tedious.

      What are you doing during your times together? If you are hanging out at someone’s house for most of the day, yep, I’m with you, it can get tedious. If this is the case, can you: a. mix it up so that you go out to eat once a month – generally this has a defined ending point; b. offer to do something while at the in-laws’ house while everyone else visits (walk the dog, do the dishes slowwwly); c. take a break (“gotta go for my after-dinner walk”); d. bring a project (knit/crochet/quilt while everyone watches Wheel of Fortune); e. play board games or card games; f. everyone work on a project for the in-laws while you are there (this is especially good as the parents get older and need physical help to accomplish some tasks).

      Could you and your husband limit it to once a month for you and twice a month for him? (“I want to give you time alone with your son!”) And/or keep the frequency but decrease the time?

      Emails: let your husband take care of them! If questioned, put this under the heading WE DECIDED that I Do My Family (email, birthday cards, etc.) and He Does His Family.

      You are right in that there could be far worse in-law problems, and you also need to weigh your aggravation v. the fact that they just seem to like their family and want to spend time with them! You could frame your time as your gift to them, which it really is.

      And build in a reward of some sort for the day after a get-together!

    10. Wishing You Well*

      Before you focus on relatives and in-laws, make sure you yourself are doing okay. Do you feel too busy? Are you healthy and have enough energy? Are you too stressed? Are you an introvert who needs more ‘down’ time than the average person?
      If all that is normal, try to find a schedule that works for you. Consider seeing your in-laws every other time, letting your spouse go without you. Let your spouse deal with the emails. Think about adding more people (or take a pet, if possible) to the get-togethers to keep conversation going. Meet people somewhere besides their home for more interesting surroundings. Drive separately from your spouse so you can arrive late and leave early.
      Finding a workable solution is so much better than building years of resentment. Starting a new habit is tough at first, but then it becomes the new norm. Best of Luck.

    11. Triplestep*

      I also have very bland in-laws and I could never put my finger on why I just wanted to roll my eyes anytime a get-together was proposed. My father-in-law (widowed now) is lovely, and has been very generous with my children (who are his step-grandchildren – they didn’t meet until my kids were 8 and 14. The kids are 23 and 29 now.) Other in-laws are his lady-friend, and my husband’s aunt and brother. No kids, no spouses.

      Then a few years ago when my brother-in-law got a dog – and the dog became the center of attention – I realized what was happening. Kids are one thing that will surely change family gatherings from one time to the next. They grow up and develop new skills and reach milestones. But this constellation has no kids. Even lady-friend has two single grown kids, no grand-kids. Unless one of my kids is there (and lets face it, they are adults now, too) we are just a bunch of people gathering in the same formation for every birthday and holiday, watching each other age. We don’t even go to different restaurants anymore. It’s no wonder the dog became a big deal!

      This is not to say that families without kids are incomplete! I am sure there are families the same composition as my in-laws who enjoy much more exciting times together. But something about this realization changed my view of these events. I guess you could say I just changed my expectations about how these gatherings are supposed to feel. They may be boring and each one the same as the next, but to my in-laws they are the norm and quite enjoyable. I still don’t relish them, but I don’t roll my eyes quite as hard whenever I hear another is coming up.

    12. Anono-me*

      I think the advice about letting your husband be the one to respond to his side of the family’s emails and to have your husband do some some solo visits is very good.

      You might also find it helpful to plan to do something when you visit. For example for Father’s Day can you give your father-in-law a game or video and then play the game or watch the video on your next visit? Can you suggest going to a meal and a movie or museum or lecture for some of these get together? Also I bet quite a few of these people have great stories that they just don’t think to tell. Can you think up questions based on what was going on the world when they were in their teens and twenties?

  22. Valancy Snaith*

    I’m looking for book recommendations! For fiction, I’m interested in historical fiction that focuses mostly on women. I’m not a fan of Ken Follett, Jeff Shaara, the O’Brien/Maturing books, etc. My favorite authors are Tracy Chevalier and Emma Donoghue, and I just read the entire works of Gwen Bristow. Anything anyone has read that’s interesting in that genre?

    On a similar note, your favourite social history books? My library had discontinued Interlibrary Loan, so I’m having to get creative with what’s available on their ebook system. Now that I’ve completed everything by Judith Flanders, I’m fishing for new ideas.

    1. PM*

      Check out Hild by Nicola Griffith. Not all her stuff is historical, but that’s a good one.

      1. Reba*

        I am obsessed with Hild. Love it so much.

        Valancy, I had no idea that Emma Donoghue wrote historical fiction, so thanks for that!

        Does biography hit the same buttons for you? I have really enjoyed biographies of Christina of Sweden (by Veronica Buckley), Emilie du Chatelet (at the moment I can’t remember which book I read, sorry!), and Artemisia Ghentileschi (I read a scholarly art history book by Mary Garrard, and there are also SEVERAL novels based on her story including a good one by Susan Vreeland and an interesting older one by Anna Banti). Not biography, but history focused on one person: Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution, by Caroline Weber.

        The books of Mary Beard are extremely entertaining and historically rich!

    2. Overeducated*

      For social history, “The Wages of Whiteness” blew my mind. It’s about race ans industrialization in the 19th century northern US. “Sweetness and Power” is old but good too, maybe it’s a bit more economic history but with a social lens.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      One big plug for Studs Terkel’s oral history “The Good War.”
      Also ask your librarian if your state has a system like mine where your card is good at other libraries too–here we just have to register in each new town to use many libraries. I use the one near my office as well as my home library.
      And by the sound of it if you’re a fast reader, Kindle Unlimited might be worth looking into.

      1. Valancy Snaith*

        I wish my card was good elsewhere! Sadly it is not, although I’m considering springing for the outsiders membership at the nearest city library 2 hours away to access their stuff as well.

        1. Cruciatus*

          That sucks that your library stopped providing ILLs. If you have a university nearby you are often allowed to get a public card and they may offer ILL services to you as well if they don’t have what you want. You won’t get as long a circulation date but ours is still longer than the local library’s dates! Apologies if you already thought of this.

          1. Valancy Snaith*

            Sadly there is no university within a couple of hours of me! I do have access to my alma mater, but again it’s hours from me.

    4. MMB*

      Sharon K Penman had a good series about the Plantagenets. I think Here Be Dragons and Sunne in Splendour were my favorites. Another amazing book that may be out of print by now is The Enduring Years.

      1. Something Blue*

        Seconding Sharon Penman! She’s my main suggestion if someone asks me for a rec, plus her books have a lot of female characters in them.

        Here Be Dragons focused as much on Joanna (daughter of King John and married off to a Welsh prince as part of a treaty) and her life in Wales as it did on King John and events in England.

        A couple more female authors are Elizabeth Chadwick and Gillian Bradshaw. They have both male and female protagonists in their books but more female characters than the traditional historical authors had.

        If you like fantasy too, you could try Judith Tarr. She has books that are primarily historical with some fantasy added and vice versa! (Fantasy novel with good historical setting)

    5. Foreign Octopus*

      Kindred by Octavia Butler; Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell; Moloka’i by Alan Brennert (I love this book so much); and the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters.

    6. library brain*

      It sounds like you are looking for ebooks only so it is generally rare that ebooks can be loaned via ILL because of the specific licenses that govern ebooks. Maybe your library still does ILL for print books. Sometimes if you have a state library system, you are able to get access to the materials they make available.

      1. Valancy Snaith*

        No, I am open to all books. And my provincial library system has discontinued all interlibrary loan. I’m pretty familiar with how it works, thanks!

        1. Beaded Librarian*

          I’m guessing you are in Canada? I heard about that. It’s being heavily discussed in one of my Library Facebook groups.

    7. Effie, who gets to be herself*

      I adore the historical fiction of authors Donna Jo Napoli and Linda Sue Parks

    8. Batgirl*

      Phillipa Gregory writes little else other than historical female figures. Most people like her royalty books (The Other Boleyn Girl, The White Princess) but I was completely enchanted with her Order of Darkness series which is entirely fictional. Set in medieval Italy, the characters are an Islamic-educated female warrior, a dispossessed noblewoman, a genius would-be monk, his streetwise groom and a church official. Together they investigate supernatural phenoma most of which can be explained by science.

  23. Audio Feedback*

    For other podcast listeners, does anyone else easily get turned off to a podcast by audio annoyances? I’ve always been someone who can’t stand certain noises (gum snapping, pen clicking, finger tapping) in real life but I can generally ignore it by tuning it out. With an audio only format like podcasts, it’s impossible to tune out those annoying sounds.

    So there have been podcasts I’ve given up on because of annoying sounds. One I stopped with, the host used the wood ‘like’ as a comma, sounding as though she was a stereotypical teenage valley girl. Another podcast, whenever the host interviewed guests, she gave a constant stream of ‘uh huh’s and ‘okay’s while the guest talked, I think to show she was listening. An online friend started a podcast that I want to support but he pounds the table for emphasis at the end of every sentence, which the microphone can easily pick up.

    I’ve talked with friends about these, have even played them clips, and most say they wouldn’t be bothered by it. I feel bad giving up on podcasts that I’ve heard great things about and really want to engage with but the audio ticks can drive me to insanity. Once I’m aware of them, it’s impossible for me to ignore it and it becomes all I can focus on. Does anyone else go through something similar with podcasts?

    1. Aleya*

      There’s a local radio station where the DJ has a mild lisp. I don’t mind lisps face-to-face, but for some reason, on the radio, I can’t stand it. I know he can’t help it, and I hate feeling ablest, but it just bothers me too much.

      1. Aleya*

        I still listen to the station, BTW. I just have to switch whenever the DJ talks for more than a few lines (introducing the next song, etc.). I’m also sensitive to noises like you are. I’m also bothered by guitar scratching, very high pitched notes, the sound of chewing, the sound of animals licking, etc. If you’re curious, “misophonia” is the name for being extremely sensitive to certain sounds.

    2. gecko*

      Oh yes. My biggest peeve is when a radio person or podcast person is talking very quietly with their microphone turned up—I hate both the voice quality of that and most of all I hate that the mic will often pick up squishy, spitty mouth sounds. Horrible.

      Gum chewing would also be gross, though I don’t know if I would mind tapping. But in general, yeah, I do want podcasts to have decent, clean audio.

      1. Texan In Exile AKA the gold digger who for a while was also The Candidate's Wife*

        I hate that about NPR – the too close to the mic sound.

      2. Pipe Organ Guy*

        Our local classical station has weekday announcers who speak clearly and project well into the microphone. Then there are the substitute announcers, some of whom speak by apparently swallowing all of their vowels and eliding words into incomprehensible mush. Thank goodness I’m not trying to listen to podcasts from them! Singers, especially trained singers, often seem to know how to work the microphone, and remember to project into the microphone. It really helps intelligibility!

    3. Zephy*

      There are certain podcasts I’ve decided I just can’t listen to in the car. The History of English podcast with Kevin Stroud is one of them. He’s great, it’s a very interesting podcast, but he hisses on /s/ sounds and I can’t stand it. It’s been 133 episodes, I’ve just accepted that he either won’t or can’t fix this problem. I’m not even sure if there’s anything he could do on his end, either in post or by changing the actual way he speaks. I can handle it if I’m, say, cooking and listening through my phone’s speakers, but in the car or through headphones at the gym it’s too loud and irritating.

      I also love Savor (fka Foodstuff) with Lauren Vogelbaum and Anney Reese, but Anney speak into the ****ing microphone please this is a food podcast not an ASMR fetish tape

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Yes my husband can’t listen to a particular local radio show that I love because the woman says uh huh uh huh uh huh in the background so much. I find that one of the bloggers whose content I love I can’t listen to her podcast because she is Sloe speaking to the Pointe of driving me nuts. So it’s not just you!
      Also, a note to podcasters who lose their train of thought, just use a script already, so you can practice!

      1. Texan In Exile AKA the gold digger who for a while was also The Candidate's Wife*

        I make podcasts for my job. (As an amateur marketing person for internal use only.) It’s hard, because I record them over skype with someone I can’t see. I have had to train myself not to say, “uh huh” or give other audible feedback because it’s awful to listen to. But at the same time, I want the person I am interviewing to have some assurance that I am listening. (And I can’t edit out my sounds because it’s in the middle of what the interviewee is saying.)

        I spent an extra 10 minutes editing one draft because the person I interviewed had a lip-smacking sound every few seconds for the first minute or two before she got more comfortable. I didn’t want to hear it and I’m pretty sure nobody else did.

        Maybe, though, it’s a good thing that the skype sound quality isn’t that good! I would rather hear scratchy and distant than super quiet wet mouth sounds.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Are you recording with two separate sound files, one for you and one for the guest? (I think Skype does it that way but I’m not positive.) If so, you can edit out the uh-huhs’ on your end without messing with the guest’s track.

          (When I was doing my podcast, I really tried to force myself to stay quiet while the guest was talking because I hate hate hate when people talk over each other on podcasts, and also think the stream of “uh huh” comes across really differently in a recording than it does it real life for some reason, but it is hard! I sometimes felt like I was being borderline rude to a guest by not giving any of those normal “I’m listening” cues that we do in normal conversations. And it’s even weirder when I’m a guest on someone else’s show where they do have a lot of cross-talk, because I Will Not Do It, but sometimes it definitely does feel unnatural to sit there silently when they have a more … effusive style. But I am convinced listeners appreciate it.)

          1. Texan In Exile AKA the gold digger who for a while was also The Candidate's Wife*

            I only get one audio file, but perhaps there is a setting I don’t know about. I will look for it – thanks!

          2. Something Blue*

            I appreciate it! I HATE cross talk! I want to tell people to wait their turn.

    5. Dan*

      Yeah.

      For the most part, I don’t like podcasts where there is only one speaker ever, and the speaker just speaks monotonously. I really need variation in intonation and what not, that’s my aural version of a paragraph break.

      But directly to the question… there’s a podcast out about entrepreneurship and growing small businesses. There’s some relatively big names in tech on there. But… damn I hate it. It’s trying to be hip and edgy, and inserts these high pitch audio “inflections” (whatever they’re called) at random spots that don’t do anything for the story arc. Words cannot describe just how much that grates on me — they are soooo distracting and annoying.

    6. Wishing You Well*

      There’s a podcaster who uses the word “like” multiple times in a sentence. When her guest also has that verbal tic, it’s “like” fingernails on a blackboard!

    7. Book Lover*

      I feel bad about this because I know it is considered a gendered thing, but there is one person on slate who has such bad vocal fry that I can’t listen to anything she is on (she is not routinely on any of my podcasts but an occasional guest on programs I listen to). I really don’t have a problem with vocal fry otherwise but this one person is too much for me. And I do feel guilty every time I delete a podcast because of it. Mostly I listen to pretty ‘professional’ podcasts so usually no issues.

    8. The Doctor is In*

      Bothers me a lot too! Worst thing for me is inconsistent sound volume requiring constant volume adjustment. Nope!

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        Yeah, the worst for me is a group podcast where some speakers are louder than others, so I can’t win on volume. This is something that can be solved with individual mics and good sound mixing, but a lot of amateur efforts are made by people who don’t really know much about sound mixing and may not really understand what to do and when to do it. Also, knowing when and how to talk over each other versus not. I suppose a lot of this is that these are skills that are not taught to most people formally, so they’re trying to figure it out on their own once they get into podcasting. (I learned a lot of this stuff as part of my college major, but I don’t think any of the gen ed classes would have covered it.)

    9. Mephyle*

      I’m sure it’s a kind of misophonia. That word is usually applied to abhorrence of eating noises, but why can’t it apply to any kind of annoying sound? Mine is people who make a smacking sound with their lips every time they open their mouth to talk. And I only notice it when it happens in podcasts, not in real life.

    10. Shayland*

      Yes. There are some podcast or youtubers I will not listen to because I don’t like their voice.

  24. Angwyshaunce*

    I have mostly lost touch with all of my friends over the past couple of years, due to a series of heavy (but not bad) life events – wedding reception, house selling, house buying, settling in, focusing on new hobbies, and a cold winter. Now I feel ready to start re-connecting with my friends.

    Sadly, a few months ago, one of my friends lost both of their parents in a horrific car accident. I was kept in the loop and attended the funeral (which they seemed grateful for), then went back to my self-imposed isolation.

    Now I want to reach out to my friend to catch up, but I’m not sure how to approach this. It would feel awkward bringing up something so painful, like mentioning it could re-open old wounds. On the other hand, *not* mentioning it seems really weird. The former clearly seems the right way to go, but I’m still not sure of how to word an initial message. I was thinking of keeping if vague, something like “Thinking of you, hope all is well…”

    Any advice?

    1. Ginger Sheep*

      As someone who went through a personal tragedy a few years ago, I would advise not writing “hope all is well” – I might have once exploded at a kind-hearted friend writing that exact same message that NO, all was not well, and was not going to be before quite some time, and that she was delusional in thinking anyone in my situation could be well, and that she could stuff her hopes where she thought. Not my proudest moment – I definitely alienated a friend – but it felt really liberating at the time.
      I would advise always asking open questions (how are you doing these days?) in that type of circumstances.

      1. Fey*

        Agreed. Not keen on “hope all is well”. It’s too simplifying. It glosses over what actually happened and doesn’t genuinely ask how the person is doing. Your hopes for your friend don’t matter here. What matters is how they really are, in their own words. And you gotta ask them, so they can tell you.

        I’d go with, “Hi Friend, I was just thinking of you and wondering how you were doing? I just wanted to let you know that I’m here if you need to talk.”

        None of that “I would love to catch up” because that’d be making it about you. And while it will certainly remind them of their tragedy, trust me, it’d be more painful if you were to pretend it didn’t happen.

        I lost my mum when I was 19, and it was a person I wasn’t close to who came to me with that approach, and I really opened up to her. I lapped up every opportunity I got to talk about mum and how I was feeling. I really appreciated that she was really there to listen, and not really offer advice or anything. Of course, YMMV. Your friend might not feel comfortable to talk at all, but at least you’d have really asked them how they were doing and offered a listening ear, which they’re free to take you up on or not.

    2. SpellingBee*

      Why not just write and say you’ve been thinking of them and would like to catch up? I don’t know if you typically got together with this friend in the past or mostly corresponded, but maybe suggest meeting for coffee or whatever. Honestly, they will know you haven’t forgotten their tragedy and will probably appreciate a low-key friendly message that isn’t about that.

    3. TL -*

      The thing I love about “How are you?” Is that it can be an opening for a heavy conversation or it can perfectly acceptably deflected into “really into table hockey lately.”

      But from someone who is a friend, it always comes off as sincere.

    4. Angwyshaunce*

      Great advice above, thank you. My social instincts have always been off, I appreciate these insights.

    5. Washi*

      I agree with the others – the initial message doesn’t have to be anything beyond “I’ve been thinking about you and was wondering if you’d like to get together.”

      When you get together, I think the approach should depend on the friend’s personality and how close you are, but in my experience, a lot of people would appreciate if you brought it up in a low key way, so they know you’re open to talking about it. The accident was only a few months ago, so I’m sure it’s constantly on their mind anyway, but they may feel hesitant to bring it up themselves. When my friend’s mom died, she said one of the most frustrating things was that when she would bring up her mom, people would get weird and awkward and fumblingly try to change the subject.

      The other thing I’m wondering about is whether your friend may feel sad that you haven’t been more in touch. If you’ve been out of touch with friends for a few years prior, it makes it less likely, but grief can be very isolating and just bear in mind that your friend may have been feeling very alone for the past few months if other friends have also been out of touch for various reasons. (Again, I don’t know based on your post, but just something to think about.)

    6. Call me St. Vincent*

      Agree with everyone else. I would say “how are you doing? I’ve been thinking of you.” Then let it naturally develop with getting together.

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      Cat with its nose in a cat toy; the cat toy is similar to an old feather duster.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes, it’s one of those wands with a bunch of feathers at the end of it. He and Sophie both carry them around using their mouths, and they like you to throw them across the room and then they fetch them.

        1. Ethyl*

          Awwwww my Gus plays fetch! And Shawn (can you tell what TV show we really like lol) carries around her stuffed sheep and stuffed bird…..by their throats! It’s hilarious and adorable.

        2. Oof picture*

          Wow, my wake-up eyesight is so terrible – I thought I saw several cats on some sort of furniture or pile. Now I can see it, and he is so cute! I get it now!

  25. Lucette Kensack*

    Alison, how many books do you read in a year? I’m so impressed that you have one to reccomend every week. (I aim to read 75+ books a year, but that doesn’t add up to 52 I’d commend to others!)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Usually one to two a week. I read in bed before I go to sleep, which sometimes results in me being awake far too late. I am VERY ANTSY when I am in between books and don’t know what I’m going to read next.

      And yeah, there are definitely ones I wouldn’t recommend to others! (This week: Good Neighbors, by Joanne Serling. Disturbing, and not in a good way.)

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Oooh, I just googled that and now I want to read it. (I’m a longtime horror fan so disturbing is old hat to me, LOL.)

      2. The Doctor is In*

        I usually have about 3 books going at once so little risk of having nothing to read.

    2. Mephyle*

      Before I saw Doctor’s comment, I was about to ask, who usually has multiple books on the go? Well, I’m asking it anyway.
      Me: it varies, but it’s usually more or less three: a new-to-me paper book, a new-to-me e-book, and a comfort re-read (might be either paper or e). And there’s always the 4th book in the background, the Moby Dick that’s been hanging around for years and I’m still just on Chapter 3. It’s not literally Moby Dick; in my case, it’s a teen-age zombie book in my second language, but reading in another language is hard work for me, whereas reading in English is no work at all.

    3. Lena Clare*

      One week (off work) I read 13 books.
      It was great. I didn’t get much sleep though.

  26. AvonLady Barksdale*

    This has been quite a week in my house! All good things, though. On Monday, my partner got the final offer from the federal job he’d been negotiating with, then on Tuesday he defended his dissertation! Unconditional pass. I am so, so proud of him; it’s been a long five years and he’s had so many obstacles thrown at him, but he came through it all beautifully. Now he can exhale. We’re definitely moving (no more 98.645%!), and while that’s stressful, I’m looking so forward to it. We’re both looking forward to him having a job with a higher-than-student income!

    In addition to all of that, today is his birthday. We’ve both been too stressed out to even think about it, but we went to a baseball game last night and today some friends are joining us for afternoon beers at one of our favorite spots. He’s getting a present from me after we move (a new suit). Not too shabby, in the end.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      He passed his dissertation and it’s his birthday? Hey its Saturday — that sounds like a great excuse for a bottle of bubbly even if it’s “just” in front of a DVD.
      Good for both of you!

  27. Time for a change*

    Hey there and happy weekend! I’m graduating in December with a degree in communications and may be looking to relocate down to Florida to be closer to my family once I graduate. My options are Jax, Orlando(would prefer the suburbs though), or Port Orange. Any locals have any thoughts? Port Orange is up there for me. It’s just me and my husband and we are both in our mid-upper 20s. He works from home so it’s just me that will be needing to find work. Thanks!

    1. Zephy*

      I lived in Port Orange in the latter aughts and recently went back to visit family that still live there. The area appears to have recovered from the Great Recession, although I didn’t know it before that, and I was a teenager for most of my time living there.

      Port Orange has the lowest COL of your three options, so that’s something to consider. There isn’t a lot to do within PO proper, and most any worthwhile entertainment is going to be at least a 15-20 minute drive, but that’s not horrible. It’s also largely not walkable, but neither are Jax or Orlando. I was probably more sheltered than I think I was, but it seemed like a fairly safe area to live; you rarely see stories from Port Orange on r/floridaman, after all. I don’t know about job prospects for you because I don’t know your field. If you and your hubs are planning on kids, I will say that historically Volusia County (where Port Orange is) ranked almost dead last for education spending in the state. That situation could have changed in the last ten years, and may still change between now and when any hypothetical kids you have would actually start school, but it is something to consider as well.

      1. Time for a change*

        Appreciate that! No kids nor do we want any, so while school systems will be in Consideration for purposes of resale, we don’t much care otherwise :)

    2. Lilo*

      I grew up in Orlando and I think the city is getting a lot more interesting. But it is still very suburban and not at all walkable.

    3. Heather*

      I live in Tampa now but lived in the Orlando area for about 8 years and really loved it. I first lived right by the airport (do not recommend), then moved to Winter Springs and stayed for several years, lived in Apopka briefly, and in Lake Mary for about a year. I also worked in Lake Mary for 5 years. I definitely recommend Seminole county if you go with the Orlando suburbs, or if you can afford it and like the restaurant/bar/walking/farmers markets lifestyle, Winter Park. I haven’t spent much time in Jax but I worked briefly in the Daytona area and I found it to be less desirable than Orlando. It just depends on what you’re looking for because the Port Orange area is much more beachy (obviously) so it’s just a different kind of vibe than Orlando. Good luck!

  28. Overeducated*

    Finally under contract for a house…and we’re deciding whether to terminate under the inspection contingency. Has anyone else had this happen as buyer or seller? Is it normal, or kind of a Big Bad Thing where it destroys your reputation on some agent grapevine and no one else will want to buy/sell with you?

    I feel awful about this because we knew it was priced low due to needing some work, but inspection and a bunch of estimates indicate that the *known* needs might cost more than the top amount we are willing to put into repairs. Our agent is asking if we should negotiate with the seller, but the gap between the few thousand they might throw in and the worst case cost scenario is really big (even though for best case it’s quite manageable, the estimates vary THAT much). This is exactly what contingencies are for, but we’re still torn since we really may not find another house we can afford where we want to move. We also feel a bit like jerks for pursuing this house for basically a month if we’re not going to ultimately buy it. We could make it work, it’ll just be a big commitment and not necessarily a deal like we thought. Thoughts?

    1. Penguin*

      This is a normal thing! That’s literally why the inspection contingency is there- to give the buyer an out if the inspection uncovers something major that the buyer isn’t willing to take on.

    2. Wishing You Well*

      Because you would be terminating for VERY GOOD REASONS, your reputation with real estate agents will be fine. Please do what’s best for you.

    3. Autumnheart*

      Totally normal, and even if it hurt someone’s feelings, that is nothing compared to the financial commitment you’re making. Home buying negotiations have a closing period for this reason, to inspect the house and make sure everyone’s on board with the details.

      The sellers know what has to be repaired. If they want to sell their house, they’ll need to be up-front about the issues and then find someone willing to take it on. It’s not on you to make it work for them. You’re spending hundreds of thousands of dollars of your next 360 paychecks, damn right you want a house that isn’t going to surprise you with a boatload of expensive problems. Don’t feel bad about being firm.

    4. Book Lover*

      We backed out on one because of the inspection. Cost on time and also the cost of the inspection but I don’t have many regrets (that said, the house we bought ended up having major expensive issues we weren’t aware of but still).

      1. Book Lover*

        Oh, also – now they have had an inspection the sellers should be disclosing all the issues that were found so it may be worth discussing price again but as you said, sometimes repairs cost more than expected so even a price reduction can be insufficient.

        1. Overeducated*

          Yeah, it did turn out seller credit was an option, and if the low end of the repair estimates we got was accurate it could have worked out…but the high end would still have been too much for us. We are backing out because we just weren’t excited enough about the house to take on that level of risk.

          I know any house can have expensive hidden issues, but that makes it seem even more important not to spend all your money on big ones that are known up front – more may lie beneath! Glad you had no regrets.

    5. ThatGirl*

      We ended up not buying a house after the inspection. There were some potentially really serious problems we just weren’t prepared to deal with (and didn’t really trust the sellers to take care of) and so we threw in the towel. But it really depends on your own comfort level, and how much you want that particular house.

    6. Not A Manager*

      Absolutely terminate. In my experience, even houses that pass inspection are a sink-hole for money. Unless they’re going to sell it for an “as is” price, which it sounds like they are not, it’s too big of a risk.

    7. LibbyG*

      You submitted a bid in good faith, assessed the inspection findings in good faith. Nothing jerky about it.

    8. Joielle*

      Add me to the chorus of people who backed out of a house offer because of the inspection. We found worrying evidence of likely-ongoing water damage in the finished basement and eventually asked our inspector straight out if we should go through with it. He said “honestly, if you were my grandkids looking at this house, I’d tell you not to buy it” and that was that. It wasn’t a big deal – someone else will come along who’s willing to take the risk.

    9. Cruciatus*

      I’m sorry it ended up not working out. But you’re definitely legally, ethically, morally allowed to not take this on if you don’t want it! It’s early in the season and hopefully another house will be around the corner (though I gotta say, I admit I hated hearing this when it was me–but in the end, another was actually was around the corner…).

    10. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I did it! The seller was not keen on negotiating the price even though the place needed significant work. Not a problem at all for our agent. We found the right place a week later and it was a breeze in comparison.

    11. Overeducated*

      Thanks everyone! I really appreciate the reassurance. I’m not going through with it, and now know a bit more about what to look for in terms of condition after a very thorough inspection, at least.

    12. Lcsa99*

      It’s totally normal. We found a co-op that had a few warning signs we were ignoring, but when the inspection came back and showed us that there was one breaker shared between two apartments, while our old one, which was around 150sq smaller had two on units own, we just told out agent that after the inspection we couldn’t in good conscious move forward. No one batted an eye and we just kept looking.

    13. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I backed out of a house contract due to the inspection. While I’m ok with some issues, the house had a serious structural issue. As long as you’re not backing out because of truly piddly things, you’re probably fine.

  29. Lc*

    Confession: I didn’t realise Doris Day was still alive until they announced she’d died.

    1. Chocolate Teapot*

      I know what you mean. I thought the same about Denis Norden, who passed away last September, aged 96.

    2. Lora*

      Same, but IM Pei. I met him once when I was in college and he was elderly then, so I just assumed he must have died.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Tim Conway had been very ill for quite some time. I think he had dementia. :(

        1. Kuododi*

          Specifically, he had Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus. It causes cognitive deterioration, incontinence, and equilibrium difficulties. (The expression is “wet, wacky and wobbly.”) The only thing that can really be done from my understanding is to install a shunt to drain fluid. (It’s often confused for Alzheimer’s.). One of my family is dealing with NPH. The shunt has been helpful with the incontinence and balance issues. It isn’t, however terribly effective with cognitive limitations. Hope this helps.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Oh, I didn’t know that–I hadn’t heard of that before. Sorry your family member is ailing.

    3. Femme d'Afrique*

      This is weird, because I said the exact same thing to a friend of mine when I read about her death!

  30. Bidet issues*

    Ok this is a weird one but…my husband and I got a bidet attachment for our toilet after reading lots of reviews that it helps save toilet paper. It’s the kind that attaches to the seat and is in a fixed position, not a movable handheld thing. We’ve had it for a while, and it just doesn’t seem to really do much besides getting us wet. We pull the lever and it squirts the water, and I guess the poo does come away a little easier, but we’re using about the same amount of toilet paper. Based on what I’d read online, I thought it would kind of hose us off completely and the toilet paper would just be to pat ourselves dry. I’ve tried upping the water pressure, but that feels uncomfortable!

    Any advice? Are we doing it wrong? Do you get used to the higher intensity needed to really squirt off the poo?

    1. Angwyshaunce*

      We have that kind. I use a pretty high pressure, and just use a few sheets to dry. The high pressure is weird at first, but you should get used to it pretty quickly. I also, um, wiggle around a bit to get full coverage.

    2. Karen from Finance*

      You get used to the higher intensity needed, yup. But also, you need to, in, use your hands. You may use soap as well. The purpose is to clean yourself like you would in the shower.

      Then, yes, you pat yourself dry with toilet paper or towels.

      1. Fey*

        THIS. Southeast Asian Muslim here, and that’s what our left (only the left!) hand is primarily used for. Then just use soap to clean the heck out of that hand. I promise you it all goes away. (Recommended to also keep your fingernails short to prevent from hurting yourself and stuff getting in it.) It’s routine for us – though I can appreciate that it would be weird for those who are not used to touching their dirty butt with their hand.

        1. Karen from Finance*

          I’m Latin American and this is how I’ve always done it too, but I just asked my s.o. and he says he doesn’t use his hands at all so I guess it depends on comfort levels. There’s always antibacterial soap for washing hands.

          1. fposte*

            Mostly there isn’t antibacterial soap anymore in the U.S. The FDA banned OTC soaps with the main antibacterial ingredient in 2017.

            1. Bidet issues*

              Hmm so I am open to scrubbing with my hand but does this mean that the soap won’t get the bacteria off after?

              1. Karen from Finance*

                It will. Normal soap gets bacteria off just fine. Antibacterial soap kills some bacteria as well as getting it off your skin. Which is overkill really, as soap gets it off you and down the drain.

                1. Elizabeth West*

                  Yes, the common ingredient in antibacterial soap was unnecessary to get germs off and it contributes to antibiotic resistance.

                2. Karen from Finance*

                  Okay so thanks to this conversation I told my s.o. that we need to stop buying antibacterial soap because apparently it’s bad, only to find out that he has been buying replacing the one in the bathroom with regular soap for a while already.

                  So.. okay then.

              2. Elf*

                No, regular soap is excellent at killing bacteria. Antibacterial soap causes problems because it leads to drug resistance in bacteria, and it is almost universally unnecessary (exceptions being things like scrubbing for surgery). The regular soap will do the job, I promise, just be thorough.

    3. Laura H.*

      You might be able to reposition the nozzle into another of preset positions… check your manual. I have one of those and in college I had one with the moving apparatus (as a side note, I like the first model I had better and regret not asking if I could keep it- it was installed in my university-owned apartment by maintenance and I never bothered to see who paid for the thing. Such is life though!)

      But yeah check the manual and see.

    4. Rainy*

      I have that kind, and yes, I use a pretty high intensity. The first couple of times it was like OH GOD WHAT IS THAT but now it’s routine. You still need toilet roll, but you do tend to use less. The big thing is make sure you have the nozzle positioned so it’s spraying directly on your, excuse my frankness, butthole. If it’s off by more than a few cm either way it just gets you wet and doesn’t do much else. My unit has a little attitude adjustment dial, and then once that’s correct, it stays in that position and you only have to use the dial for the spray.

  31. MOAS*

    I need y’all to hype me up to be responsible

    I got a significant to me amt of cash for my bday.

    Part of me is like, TREAT YOSELF but then the adult me takes over and is like CTFD. I’ve always been a shopaholic but the last 18 months have been so hard (and I guess my stress/depression manifests Itself in shopping). Anyway, I’m finally earning enough that I can have the lifestyle I want and still save a good amount so long as I control myself.

    Anyway, so it’s “birthday money” so I want to do something responsible yet more significant than chucking it into the savings account. Idk.

    1. Zephy*

      Outstanding credit card balance? Pay that down first, that’s probably your highest-interest debt right now.

      If you have anything left over after that, treat yo self.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      When I got a very large amount of cash for my birthday, I took my friends out. Paid for a karaoke party. Worth it.

      Anyway, how about a compromise? How about putting half towards your bills (or in a savings account) and half towards something awesome?

    3. Ethyl*

      Why not split it in thirds? One third for savings or into your retirement, one third for donating to your favorite charity, and one third as fun money? That way you can have fun, plus get the warm fuzzies from saving Like A Freaking Adult and bonus warm fuzzies from donating to a good cause!

      1. Forestdweller*

        Yes! This is a great way to go. You feel like a champ for doing the adult thing, you feel like a decent human for donating to a worthy cause, and you still get to YOLO. Happy birthday!

      1. Thursday Next*

        Yep, or making a third category of charitable donation as suggested above.

        It doesn’t need to be an equal division—you can prioritize saving or splurging; you can decide on a 10% donation…from your post it sounds like you will feel better if you save at least some of it.

    4. Square Root Of Minus One*

      If you have a high-interest credit card balance, I agree with Zephy that’s the way to go.
      I don’t think savings are boring, BTW. Just the opposite : they open up a world of possibilities for future you.
      Alternatively, you have the option to just sit on it for some time until the excitement cools down (say, a month) and then you decide what you want to do?

    5. Joielle*

      I say half to savings or credit card balance if you have one, and spend the rest on something ridiculous. Happy birthday! Treat yoself (a little)!

      Or if you want to do something fun but responsible-ish, maybe some kind of home/apartment upgrade? Small renovation project? We bought a bunch of Philips Hue smart lights when my husband’s parents gave us money for Christmas a while ago and although they are a little silly, they make the house look awesome and I love them.

    6. Anono-me*

      Sometimes with extra money, I want to be frivolous, but feel like I need to be responsible. So I am responsible with most of the money (savings or bills or maintenance) and take $10.00 and go to the dollar store or the thrift store or a rummage sale and am frivolous with it. (If I see a practical necessity for a great price at the thrift store our rummage sale I do get it, but it does not count as part my $10.00 of frivolous money.)

      If it is gift money, I do try and use it to pay for something practical that I need, like a new winter coat or a new lunch pail etcetera. That way I have something I can show the gift giver.

      ( By the way for those of you who are going to have your first winter in a cold climate area, now is the time to shop for winter gear, most stores are clearing out their inventory and are at the 75 to 90% off sale level.)

    7. Policy wonk*

      I agree with other posters – split it into pots. I’split it into thirds. 1/3 paying off any debt, 1/3 savings, 1/3 fun. I also recommend reading Michelke Singletary in The Washington Post. (Color of Money column and weekly chat).

      And Happy Birthday!

    8. Not So NewReader*

      If you really want to spend it, think about your needs for the upcoming year. This could be the fridge that is on its last legs, or new tires for winter. I’d let myself buy something “extra” if I knew everything was covered for at least the next 6 months, but you can set your own time frame if you go this route.

      I will say this, income can be good and we can be tossing money in the bank, then that unforeseen happens. Perhaps it costs a grand or two. It’s nice to have the known upcoming expenses covered when these unforeseens pop up.

    9. Kuododi*

      DH and I had a similar situation some time ago. His grandparents had given a large chunk of $$ to each grandkid. (They were dear, lovely people who scrimped all their lives. Once they got into the twilight years they actually sat down and realized they had saved oodles more than they could have imagined. Thus the gift to each grandkid.) DH and I decided to take a small amount and have a bit of fun. We then took the rest of the $$ we were given and paid off as much debt as we could accomplish. Hope this helps and Happy Birthday!!!

    10. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I used to use birthday money windfalls as my “fun money” emergency fund for the rest of the year. My family tends to give cash, so I’d keep all of my birthday money in the cards on a shelf, and then when I wanted something frivolous and not in the budget for the rest of the year, I’d go see if I had any birthday money left to spend on it. This let me splurge on occasional concerts/fan things/etc. that weren’t in my budget but were “now or never” things throughout the year without using my regular savings account for them since they weren’t really “emergencies” but rather “opportunities”.

      (I am now at a place in my life where I tend to have more “fun” money in my budget than many of the relatives who still give me cash gifts, so the relative significance of the amounts have changed and now it tends to be more “bailing me out when I don’t have time to go to the ATM to get cash that day, and I will tell grandma it instead funded this neat thing I was already going to buy with my fun money instead.”)

    11. Minocho*

      I like to designate 10% or so of any significant to “fun money”. No responsibility at all on how I spend it. The rest goes to savings, paying something off, etc. But just having a little nod to “Just have fun with it! Get that silly thing you wanted but you know is off budget!” helps me easily be responsible with the rest.

  32. Jessen*

    Ok this cat is driving me up a wall. Why is it that just about every single scratching post is covered with sisal? I’ve never had a cat that wanted anything to do with sisal. This one doesn’t like cardboard either. And while we’re at it, why does it seem to be a rule that 95% of all cat products must come in some shade of beige? We can’t get some nice black in there?

    I’m trying to take a cat that’s been indoor-outdoor to indoor only, which probably isn’t helping. She’s sweet, but she’s a handful. With my hours I probably wasn’t the best placement for her, but as an older cat who had to be rehomed on short notice that’s probably what you get. I think it’ll work out eventually, but it’s definitely giving me a hard time in the meantime.

    1. Ethyl*

      If you get a staple gun and a cheap piece of industrial carpet remnant from Home Depot, you could take the sisal off and recover with something in a better color (black or gray maybe? we have a roll of a nice chocolate brown) and your cats may like it better! Plus once you have a big old chunk of carpet remnant, you can keep recovering once the carpet is all torn up :)

      1. Slartibartfast*

        I was going to suggest making your own cat tree from scratch but I like this idea better!

        1. Jessen*

          Yeah I like the idea of making my own cat tree from scratch in theory. In practice I really doubt it would happen. Although I’ve also been considering (for horizontal scratching) buying like a wooden crate and stapling some carpet remnant on top.

          1. Ethyl*

            My staple gun was the best investment I’ve made! I love it! And I guess the cats love it too :)

          2. Ethyl*

            Ooh also, I’ve had great luck getting cat trees at garage and estate sales. That plus Mr. Staple Gun = happy cats and non-beige decor!

      2. Blue Bunny*

        Generally, you are supposed to glue the carpet because staples can catch and rip claws. We used C clamps to hold the rug while the glue cured.

      1. Joielle*

        Oh, maybe one tiny bit of advice. Do you think she would like an actual tree branch to scratch? My dad once made me a cat tree out of an actual birch tree he cut down and the cats like to scratch the base part that’s just like a log. It might be more work than you’re looking for, but maybe if you found a big branch or log you could rig up a way to stabilize it in a corner or something for her to scratch?

      2. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

        Oh, there are gorgeous cat trees out there but you will pay. Kittycatcondos, Hollywood kitty, and more.

        1. Joielle*

          Yeah, that’s true. I guess I meant ones that don’t cost more than my actual human furniture, haha.

          1. Jessen*

            Yes, I admit that as someone who considers pier 1 furniture a splurge, I cringe a bit at the price tags!

  33. AmeliaAnhedonia*

    Thanks everyone for the advice from last week. https://www.askamanager.org/2019/05/weekend-free-for-all-may-11-12-2019.html#comment-2470964 My depression has lessened a bit, and I am trying to double down on my self care so the anhedonia lets up and I can make better decisions. I’ve had some good meals, gotten out of the house, saw my therapist (it went okay, but there were a couple of things that made me feel like she’s not the right fit for me, though I’m going to give her a few more sessions), and did some cleaning (that actually made me feel better the most). The biggest hurdle I’m facing right now is trying to get some decent sleep.

    I’ve always been a night owl, and my (admittedly maladaptive) response to stress has been to stay up very late. However, recently it has gotten seriously out of control. For instance, often when I do go to sleep at a decent time, I wake up in less than 3 hours and can’t get back to sleep. I’ve tried to make myself lay down, but just when I start to feel sleepy and drift off, I’ll need to go to the bathroom or feel super hungry/thirsty and become wide awake after getting up to deal with those things. There are a lot of contributing factors, but I’m finding myself in several vicious cycles and don’t know what steps to take to break them.

    Part of it is my anxiety – if I go to bed before I’m too tired to think, I end up stressing myself out and even sometimes have a panic attack. I’m not in panic-attack-mode at the moment, but I do get waves of such intense anxiety that it’s almost painful to stay laying down.

    Another part is sleep apnea – I’ve been diagnosed but not yet fitted for a CPAP. I know I need one, but honestly, they seriously freak me out. I don’t want to go into details, but I have a serious phobia of anesthesia and the CPAP mask is just too similar. The mere thought of wearing one makes me start crying.

    I also need to unwind after work, but either I never reach the point of “unwound” or I end up blowing off steam in a way that leaves me wide awake. I often get home from work around midnight, but during the past week I haven’t gotten to bed before 9am, sometimes as late as noon or 2pm (I go into work between 5 and 7). Like I said before, I’m not really enjoying anything, so there’s not much stress relief happening.

    Additionally, I constantly feel like I haven’t accomplished anything at the end of the day. Even though I do a lot of things (work, housework, taking care of my dog, etc.), it all feels like “maintenance” and that it doesn’t count. I feel like I need to do something else, something meaningful or significant, but often I’m too tired to actually do anything.

    It sounds awful, but the one thing that I find engaging right now is, well, online discussions/arguments. I like to debate, I like to write persuasively, and I enjoy the challenge of matching wits with others and seeing how my beliefs hold up to other perspectives. I’m not mean, and I don’t use ad hominem attacks or troll, but it’s certainly stressful when other people do. The real pleasure in it is just getting my thoughts out on paper exactly how I want them. I can get really absorbed in it and spend hours on a single response, shaping my argument until it’s the best possible arrangement of words and ideas to express my perspective. Lately I’ve been drawn to discussions about OCD (something else I have), trying to educate other people and debunk falsehoods. I know it’s not the most healthy activity, but over these last few weeks, these discussions have been one of the few things that makes me feel interested and excited to do them. Eventually, I do reach a point where I’m tired of them or just give up on a particular comment chain, but I always manage to find another that fires me up again. I try to be aware of my emotional state when I’m debating and do it when it feels good to write, not when I’m angry at the other person or feel like I have to write or they’ll “win”. If I feel like I’ve written well (which is pretty often), I often will feel satisfied and ready to sleep – it’s very good for scratching the “meaningful/productive” itch. However, it can take many hours to reach that point, causing me to stay up when I would have gone to bed.

    Above all else, the hardest part is that I just don’t want to go to sleep. I’m never done with the day; I don’t want it to end yet. I know that sounds childish, but that’s how I feel most days. Sometimes I’m afraid of tomorrow starting and want to delay my experience of it, but mostly I just don’t feel satisfied with how the current day has gone. Unfortunately, it’s hard to think of anything that’s interesting or enjoyable that I could have done instead.

    If anyone has any advice for getting out of this rut, that would be great.

    1. LibbyG*

      I’m so glad you’re seeing some daylight, AmAn! I think it makes perfect sense that an intellectual task like debating brings you enjoyment. I hope things get even better.

    2. Lilysparrow*

      I’m glad you are starting to make progress!

      I use a CPAP, and there are a number of different types of air-delivery fittings that are not like a mask. You might be more comfortable with a nasal pillow, for example. It doesn’t cover your face at all. You might also find it helpful to walk through the process of setting up the machine, filling the humidifier, etc. You are 100 percent in charge of wearing it, turning it on and off, and so forth. That experience of being in control of the machine could be reassuring.

      If you talk to the doctor and tech who is going to fit you, they will let you go through all the steps to get familiar, take it apart and put it together, and hold or look at packaging for different types of fittings to see which one you want to try.

      You will not be the first patient they have seen with anxiety about the mask! It’s very common, and getting patients comfortable enough to actually use the machine is a key part of treating apnea successfully.

      I hope you are able to use it, because it makes such an enormous difference in your mental health. Every time you have a cessation in your breathing, your whole body is flooded with stress hormones. Combined with the sleep deprivation, it’s exacerbating your depression and anxiety more than you realize.

      After a couple of nights – or even a few stretches of more sleep than you’re used to — everything else starts to get easier.

      Best wishes, I know how hard it is to feel so low for a long time. Fingers crossed for you.

    3. Something Blue*

      Hi! I’ve definitely had the feeling I didn’t want to go to bed bc I wasn’t finished with the day yet. But I needed to be.

      Do you like audiobooks? Sometimes I go to bed, turn the light out, and then listen to an audiobook. So I’m “doing something” but I’m in the right place to fall asleep.

      Sometimes this is enough to make me drowsy enough to fall asleep.
      If not, then at least I’ve heard a good book and maybe crossed it off my to-do list.

    4. Reba*

      I have not had experiences as severe as you, but I do definitely stay up too late, sometimes have a hard time sleeping, and I definitely, definitely know the feeling of lying there in the dark feeling worse and worse.

      Some things that have helped me with that is to remind myself that even lying in bed awake is better for me than getting back up and puttering all night. At least you are resting your body, eyes, etc. and that matters. Sometimes if your thoughts are really circling it can help to sit up and write a few down and coach yourself “I’m writing this down so I can set this aside for now. Now I can stop thinking it for tonight.”

      For a while I did try a pretty rigid sleep hygiene routine. It wasn’t really sustainable for me but it did get me out of the delaying habits like “oh I think I’m hungry,” “Oh I have to pee” — all that stuff was taken care of. I would set an alarm to start getting ready for bed, then set a timer for me to read for x minutes before sleeping.

      You can keep a carafe of water and a glass in your bedroom, and if you do need to get up (some people do, you don’t have to get precisely 8 hours continuously) try to go to the bathroom or whatever without turning on the lights, using nightlights or minimal lighting. Basically don’t take yourself out of sleeping mode even though you got up to see to whatever the urge is.

      Good luck and thanks for checking back in!

    5. Shayland*

      I went on a small dose of a benzodiazepine for a short time in order to help reset my sleep. I may need to go back on it, I’m having similar issues to you.
      Otherwise, sleep hygiene and meditation.
      1. The bed is only for sleeping. Do not read or work or play on the computer in bed, ect.
      2. No where else is for sleeping. No napping on the sofa.
      3. Avoid day napping.
      4. Try to sleep for 20 minutes, say, by playing a relaxing meditation. If you are still awake get up and do something that does not involve screens for 10 minutes. Then try to sleep again. Repeat as needed. (This is part of training your brain to only think of the bed as a place for sleeping.)

  34. Lilo*

    I finally got off a daycare waitlist for my son. I had to be on it for a year! It’s still really expensive and I am still hoping that I can get off the waitlist at my subsidized work daycare.

    I don’t know how anyone does it. The only daycare that didn’t have a 6 month waiting list at least in my area also had some really nasty reports and I could not in good conscience send my kid there.

    Childcare is just impossible.

    1. Forestdweller*

      It really is completely insane. When our daughter was little, we ended up paying an obscene amount of money because we just could not stomach everything that came along with the affordable options. I don’t know how many times I went over the numbers because it so nearly made sense to just stay home.

    2. Ranon*

      I think we’re still “on the wait-list” for a place that told us they would have availability when my kiddo was 9 months (he’s now 2.5 years)- pretty sure they just dropped us off the list without telling us, but still…

      Luckily we’re now at a place that’s closer to our house, does food, costs less, and has an awesome community of parents and teachers, but the infant care scramble was awful.

    3. Pink Dinosaur*

      I’m the director of a childcare center and we typically have waitlist for half of our classrooms. What I have found on my end is sometimes the kids age up to the next room while still on a waitlist for the previous. These times I didn’t have their actual birthdate to make the accommodation as soon as possible. Sometimes calling in periodically expressing interest and seeing how far your child’s name has moved on the list is beneficial. If you have called a few months after your initial visit and your name hasn’t moved, I would have questions. Different children age out of rooms at different points. Also, there are times when families have to pull their children such as they can no longer afford it, relocating, or other unforeseen circumstances.

    4. CJ1S*

      It really is impossible! I called over 10 places while I was pregnant before I found an opening for a newborn – some of them had waitlists more than a year out for newborns, which REALLY didn’t make sense to me (were people calling in before they were even pregnant??). I only got lucky because it was a well-reviewed chain of daycares opening a new location. Opposite direction of work and my parents helped fund it. With our second child, I became a stay at home mom because it just didn’t make any financial/lifestyle sense to deal with it x2.

      All to say: I sympathize, I wish you good luck, and I hope we can all do better as a society to support parents and children.

    5. I edit everything*

      We made the idea of the expense easier by thinking to ourselves: Once he’s out of daycare, we’ll be so used to not having the money, we’ll just keep putting the same amount into his college fund. It didn’t really work out that way, due to other life changes, but it was a helpful perspective.

    6. Maya Elena*

      Consider having an individual caregiver, e.g. from Care.com, come to your house instead. Sites like that can also shepherd you through all the legal issues (paying them, W2s, etc.), reference checks, and such.
      If the daycare is that expensive, you might be able to find a more affordable per-hour rate for someone to come to your house. This is especially good for small children before they need to be socialized. You can also customize your ad and see if the person who comes might also help you with light house-work, like tidying or dishes, or making baby food in a blender.

      1. Lilo*

        I looked into it, and in my big city you’d be lucky to find someone for less than $3000/month. I looked into a nanny share and it was still 2500/month.

    7. Sh’Dynasty*

      Agree! It’s like paying for college in my area! I wish terribly it didn’t cost as much as it does.

  35. No Mercy Percy*

    Hey Critters! How long have you been watching, and how did you first discover Critical Role?

    I’ve been watching since spring 2018. I discovered it when the cast was at C2E2 2018. Around that same time the cosplayer Ginny Di, who I’ve followed for years, started cosplaying Jester. Those two things pushed me to watch, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

    1. Smol Book Wizard*

      Some of my tumblr follows around the beginning of C2 began to talk of it, and I shamelessly read spoilers until… uh… That Thing Happened… which was about when bestfriend was really getting into it too… so it was a combination of factors. It’s rather odd, but this isn’t the first fandom that I really started to pay attention to once something terrible happened in the storyline. High stakes can be nervous-making, but on the whole I like a story that makes people care hard, even if it hurts sometimes.
      I used C2 as coping during a crud-awful semester fall 2018. When I was “too tired” to even listen to CritRole I knew I definitely needed help… and thankfully was able to get it. I’m caught up now, though my Thursday nights usually don’t permit livewatching, so I get to it on Monday-Tuesdayish.
      Bestfriend and I are plotting cosplay. She’s been learning embroidery and trying to figure out the best deal on mulberry red cloth online, and I’m trying to… well, you see my username. :)

      1. No Mercy Percy*

        That sounds awesome! I’ll be cosplaying as Percy at Denver Pop Culture Con and get to meet Taliesen :)

    2. Ariaflame*

      I think it popped up on my YT list a couple of times and eventually I figured, having seen about it elsewhere that I would give it a try and got hooked. That was I think August or September 2016? I binge watched over the Christmas break and caught up the next year. (One of the Liam One Shots was my first live watch).

      It has helped me a lot over the past few years. Speaking of which, I should finish watching this week’s episode (combination of clash of work and D&D live taking up the weekend)

    3. Minocho*

      A member of my group posted a link to the Kickstarter, and so I just started listening to the second campaign’s podcast. And MAN, was I hooked. I’ve always been a sucker for a story, and am a huge TTRPG nerd. I really enjoy DMing, though playing is fun too, and it’s really encouraged me to up my roleplay and do some things they do in their game to encourage players to get deeper into character.

      I’m trying to convert a Pathfinder game into 5E for our group’s next campaign. I’ve got so much invested in Pathfinder, but 5E is so approachable. I love 3.5 and Pathfinder’s complexity; I’m a numbers, systems and rules nerd (software engineer) after all! But 5E has really grown on me, and I’m excited to give it a try.

      Good luck on the cosplay! Excited by the new cosplay of the week happening soon! Can’t wait to see that stuff! I really enjoy the art. Haven’t sent in any of my own fanart – work is crazy, and my own character portraits take priority!

    4. Stormfeather*

      Augh, I’m way late on this and no one will probably see it, but… I got into it after some of the people I play online D&D with pointed it out to me. It is awesome. Although I don’t end up watching it as often as I should, because a) forgetting and b) falling asleep partway through when I remember. (And sometimes c) one of our games getting moved to Thursday night)

  36. Forestdweller*

    I want to hear from the makers, especially those who monetize their making. What do you make? What are your tips for getting a business off the ground? Is it your full-time job or a fun side hustle (or not so fun side hustle)? What about social media presence? Does anybody make Instagram videos or the like showing off their work? My artistic endeavors have always been hard in the hobby column, but I’m really evaluating what I most enjoy in life and trying to build a life that lets me do those things as much as possible. Hope you all have weather as beautiful as ours in Kentucky today!

  37. RainbowPencils*

    I’ve had chronic wrist pain for a few years. I’ve gotten ergonomic office supplies, tried exercises/stretches from YouTube and books, seen a few doctors who did blood tests and x-rays, worn wrist braces, and gone to physical therapy. I’ve tried wet heat, which feels nice when I’m using it, but I think it might make my wrists feel worse the next day? The only thing that seems to help is resting my wrists, but as I have a full time office job and need to do the normal list of chores around the house, I can’t rest them much. The only thing I can think of to try next is some sort of pain relieving cream or ointment.

    Do any AAM readers out there have good experiences using a cream or ointment for chronic pain? I think the only things I’d want to avoid are anything messy or super smelly. (I work in an open office space, so I’m right between two coworkers. I don’t want to force weird smells on them or leave grease marks on my desk.)

    Thank you!

    1. Lilo*

      I broke my wrist as a kid and have had flare ups of tendon issues for years. I will say I have had no luck with creams at all. It doesn’t seem to penetrate enough and then your hand just feels weird and still hurts. Braces and interventions never worked either. I only had success taking NSAIDs and just waiting out the flare up. I wish I had better advice.

    2. Ethyl*

      Ugh I haven’t found anything that doesn’t smell strongly, but I’m interested to hear if anyone else has! Chronic pain is the pits.

      My doctor told me to sleep in my wrist brace when my carpal tunnel acts up, which helps quite a bit and keeps me from making it worse while I sleep. She also recommended ice rather than heat, which was really counterintuitive to me but helped a little during the day.

      1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

        The way I was told, heat is for relaxing (muscles), cold is for reducing inflammation (tendons).

      2. RainbowPencils*

        I never heard of sleeping with a wrist brace on, so I’ll have to try that!

        I also thought that you were supposed to use heat for chronic pain and ice for sudden injuries, so I didn’t question it when my doctors and physical therapist said to try heat. I will have to switch to ice. :)

    3. Slartibartfast*

      Have you tried ice instead of heat, and have you seen a neurologist? One thing that really helped me was myofascial release massage on my forearms, as that’s where the muscles that control the fingers are. I can do it myself somewhat by sitting at a table, rest one arm on the table crossed in front of me, and use the elbow of the other arm to massage the fleshy part of the forearm near the elbow. As far as non stinky pain rubs, I use capsaicin cream but it is really intense heat that turns my skin red and if you get it on your hands and touch your face you will taste it and your eyes will feel it!

      1. RainbowPencils*

        I will look up the myofascial release massage on YouTube and try that. :)

        The capsaicin cream sounds scary since I have a habit of touching my lips and eyes. :o

    4. Rainy*

      I have arthritis in both wrists thanks to a couple of old injuries (and also probably a lot of intense crafting in my 20s and 30s didn’t help much), and I’ve used icy hot, tiger balm, aspercreme, pretty much anything you can imagine. Icy hot is probably the best, honestly. I haven’t tried biofreeze yet because my wrists have been a lot better this spring (heard about it last summer) and I’m keeping things under control with NSAIDs, hand massage, and ice packs, as well as having stopped knitting (sadface, but what can you do).

      1. RainbowPencils*

        Interesting that people are saying to use ice. Regretting all the time I spent with my heating pad waiting for it to help!

        You suffered for your passion (intense crafting), lol. :)

        1. Rainy*

          Yeah, I get pretty intense muscle spasms in my neck and upper back, and when I realized ice knocks them out, I would have smacked my forehead if I could move. I spent so long using heat and wondering why it wasn’t working!

    5. ..Kat..*

      Aspercream has an unscented version. Lidocaine cream is also an option.

      Can you give yourself a “holiday” from intense wrist use? Maybe hire someone to do home chores for a while?

      Use ice instead of heat. Ice is for after an injury. Heat is for during the healing phase.

      Have you tried medicating at the start of work with ibuprofen? Ibuprofen will help decrease inflammation.

      1. Ethyl*

        Does lidocaine cream penetrate enough to alleviate tendon pain? It’s been my experience that anything topical is mostly about the tingly burny sensation and in my case it may well be placebo effect.

        1. Kuododi*

          I use a perscription pain cream from my pain management MD. Ive never heard of a particular name for the cream. It has all kinds of meds ie Vicoden, NSAIDs etc. I find it effective for both joint as well as tendons. The cream has to be perscribed and prepared by a compounding pharmacist. I’ve never had problems with it leaving me sedated, or otherwise impaired. Worth a phone call or email to your PCP. If I can help further, please let me know. Best regards.

        2. ..Kat..*

          I don’t know if lidocaine cream will penetrate enough for tendon pain. I use it for muscle pain in my back. Some tendons are farther away from the skin – however, wrists are relatively narrow. Since it is a pretty cheap over-the-counter medicine, I think it is worth a try. The lidocaine cream that I use does not have any tingly burny ingredients.

      2. RainbowPencils*

        I’m kind of scared of starting to take medications (Advil, Tylenol, etc.) for the pain because then I’ll be taking them every day for the rest of my life. :/

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I have had good luck with arnica. It comes in a tube and you rub it on like you would with Ben-Gay or one of those other products. It does not smell. Some might consider it a little greasy/messy. But you don’t need to use a ton so you can rub in what you do use.
      I have also had good luck with turmeric. The kind I use is Gaia brand. This would be my replacement for Advil or similar OTCs.
      For on-going stuff like this I prefer a two-pronged attack, a topical and an internal.

      Just generally speaking, with chronic pain it’s good to pay attention to your hydration. On days I slack, my pain levels go up. If I get on the water and stay on it, I can feel pretty good day after day.
      The best thing I ever did for my mouse wrist was get a track ball. That nailed it, as the pain level went waaaay down.

    7. wristanon*

      Do you brace them at night? When my wrists/hands ache, this is what does the trick more than any medication, though Aleve helps.

    8. WS*

      I said the same thing to a physical therapist about using wet heat and he said that I need to be icing my hands and wrists instead to reduce inflammation. So I tip some ice in a full sink of cold water and just put my arms in. I’m allergic to anti-inflammatory medication (boo!), but it might be worth seeing a doctor about that if it’s okay for you. Medication usually works better than the creams/ointments though has more potential side-effects too.

      With your braces, are you using them all the time? Are you sleeping with them on?

      1. RainbowPencils*

        I like the idea of dipping my hands/wrists into icy water instead of holding ice on it. It actually seems like it would be less mess.

        I only use the braces when I’m on the computer or exercising with light weights (I don’t do any wrist specific exercises with weights because that makes the pain worse). There were suggestions above to sleep with them on though, so I’ll try that.

    9. Lena Clare*

      Also icing it might help instead of heat.
      I tried Deep Heat (the brand) ice packs on my tendonitis and it was great. They smell mildly minty so they’re not really offensive, and they’re not super cold (I’m really sensitive to temperatures and can’t even use the usual deep heat hot rub thingy – it just keeps on heating up and I end up washing it off).

  38. CatCat*

    I got a 5 gallon fish tank a couple weeks ago, set it up, added some liquid cycle, a heater, decorations, and let the filter run. I call it the Fish Palace. Last week, I got a shrimp, a nerite snail, and a baby betta. Their names are, respectively, Cameron, Pin Stripe, and Fish Stick.

    Fish Stick was just a tiny gray thing when I got him and he’s already turning colors and getting a little bigger. His body has an iridescent blue sheen, but his fins are turning red. Can’t wait to see what he looks like when he grows up!

    Cameron is a very active ghost shrimp. I plan to add a couple cherry shrimp as well

    Pin Stripe moves pretty swiftly for a snail. I refer to it as a racing snail.

    I really enjoy looking at the tank and watching the activity is very relaxing.

    1. Angwyshaunce*

      I love those names! When we bought this house last year, it came with a pond with four goldfish. Three are gold, but one is almost white. Since he’s the only one I can identify, I gave him a name. Moby Fish.

    2. Llama Face!*

      Isn’t it nice? I have the same size aquarium with a blue platy (who is irridescent white not actually blue), a pepper cory, two julii cory, and some neon tetras.

      One thing to watch for if you have both a betta and shrimp is that the shrimp have enough hiding spots the betta can’t get inside. Bettas can sometimes decide that shrimp make for nice snacks.

      I’ve never had a nerite snail but I have had several mystery snails. They can be the most fascinating tank critters!

      1. CatCat*

        There are plenty of places to hide in the tank, definitely! Fish Stick is so tiny right now that Cameron the ghost shrimp is much bigger.

    3. Rainy*

      I have a 10g planted shrimp tank with a bunch of neocaridina (and the inevitable small aquarium snails). We actually put it next to the tv in our entertainment centre and I very much enjoy watching my shrimp jet around cleaning things. I might add some ember tetras in a month or so. My last batch of plants, while excellent and very healthy, came from a place that keeps their plants in actual tanks with an ecosystem and one of the reviews said that they thought their tank may have gotten ich from a shipment of plants. In general I’m not worried, but given that ich can’t survive more than 4-6 weeks in a tank with no fish, I figured better safe than sorry, since inverts always complicate medicating a tank.

      One thing I’d suggest is making sure you have PLENTY of hiding places, because bettas get bored easily and will harass shrimp, sometimes to death. Also, give your betta a mirror! And a few times a week or daily, call up betta videos on your phone and put your phone up to the tank. It’ll keep your betta healthy if he has motivation to display regularly. (There’s research on this.)

      1. CatCat*

        Thanks for the tips and getting a mirror and the beta videos idea! We definitely want Fish Stick to have a happy and interesting fish life.

    4. Book Lover*

      We had a 10 gallon tank and our betta ate the shrimp :(. I hope you have a much better experience. We meant to try a snail but got nervous at that point. I wish you much joy – they are so much fun to watch.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      When we had a betta, my husband got the idea to feed it the mosquitoes he swatted. He started floating them on the surface, moved to getting the fish to jump for it, and one day the fish jumped for one that we hadn’t been able to swat!
      Makes for more tank cleaning, but do worth it.

  39. Jaid*

    It was my birthday earlier this week, so I took a couple of days off to sleep in. Also got my hair dyed purple (which turned out to be the same shade my mom gets hers done, go figure).

    Annnnd I may have gotten my Real ID with my purple hair?

    Yes. Yes I did.

    Anyway, today I’m getting my laundry did, then later I’m going out to watch Endgame and eat hotpot/BBQ.

    1. Zephy*

      Can confirm, Endgame+hotpot is a solid evening. That’s exactly what we did, lmao. Happy birthday!

      1. Jaid*

        We ended up at Joe’s Crab Shack, instead. I had a headache from the movie and didn’t want to try new food. But seafood boil with garlic sauce FTW!

  40. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    It’s taking forever for hubs and I to recover from this food poisoning thing. Also hilarious when it was accidentally from your mom, who throws a fit when you cancel visiting mother’s day so you buck up and visit her, and she’s upset she thawed king crab and steak and nobody will eat it, after coaxing her from her bedroom because she’s butthurt she’s not treated like a queen and tells you she’s been jealous of you all my life, then says I should’ve called her on the phone more.

    LOLOLOLOL. Thanks to AAM and online therapy I can see her for the circus crazy town she is. And now I’m able to help others affected by toxic parents in my circle of friends.

    Getting massive hours of sleep and finally off pb/dry crackers and nonstop chewing of ginger root. Made chicken soup last night and watched Princess Diaries 2. The most amazing things about adulthood are my spouse, my freedom (I can grey rock/visit parentals hardly never if I choose, and treat moms sulking as comedic relief/bring out the popcorn time) and if anyone tries to maim me I can bring action in court instead of keeping things pent up like I did as a kid.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Wow, this is so great, you have come such a long way and built your own full life free of mom. You have been a very strong person right along, but now that strength is being used to build up your life rather than to just get from one day to the next. Well done, CS, well done.

      1. valentine*

        Are you sure it was accidental? I wouldn’t trust further food from her either way.

    2. WS*

      I had a gastro virus nearly three weeks ago now, ended up being taken to hospital, and it’s taking me forever to recover as well. I’m still exhausted every time I do anything, and still have trouble with anything too fibrous, so I am craving vegetables and yet they hurt me. :( I hope your stomach is feeling better.

    3. Carmen in Canada*

      I had a horrible stomach bug this winter and it took a while to get over it. After I was eating real food again I took probiotic supplements and ate gut health friendly food: yogurt, kombucha, anything fermented. I hope you feel better soon.

  41. Spooooon!!*

    Is anyone else so sad about The Tick being cancelled after two seasons on Amazon? I had finally found the show that filled the Parks and Rec shaped hole in my soul.

    1. Thursday Next*

      I have lived through the cancellation of three separate Tick series, and I should know better than to get my hopes up.

      Spoon!!!

    2. Slartibartfast*

      I, too, shout the battle cry of flatware in mourning. Been a Tick fan since the original comic book.

      SPOON!!!!

    3. Lady Jay*

      Oh, no! I loved The Tick (1st season was better but 2nd season was better/funnier than anything that included a giant, sentient sea creature had any right to be). It certainly deserved a longer run!

      1. Spooooon!!*

        The actors are still under contract, and the creator Ben Elmund is saying there are going to try to get picked up by someone else. Maybe Hulu or Netflix? It’s rare to find a show that manages to be so goofy yet still suspenseful and have characters you care about. I love them all, but I have a crush on Overkill.

        One of my favorite moments from this last season is when they were trying to figure out where the Lobstercules babies were hidden, and Tick suggests pushing the “star button” on the computer. Hilarious!!

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I’m sorry I wasn’t able to watch that.
      I’m pretty upset about The Kids are Alright being cancelled on ABC. I hope another network or streaming network picks it up.

    5. I Work on a Hellmouth*

      So freaking sad! I’ve loved The Tick in all of its incarnations, and this latest one is SO GREAT! I really do hope someone else picks it up, I need to watch the rest of Superion’s breakdown.

  42. Akcipitrokulo*

    Following on from last week about what we’re watching…

    I am still utterly in love with Hatori Sohma.

    1. Nessun*

      What, new furuba?! Where have I been, missing that news? Curse you, crazy busy job. Now I need to add that to my find list…for when things calm down.

  43. Handy Nickname*

    Looking for podcast recommendations! I just started getting into podcasts and building up a playlist for driving and working on things around the house. I’m really interested in anything finance-related (personal finance, stock market and economy, retirement planning, bank accounts) as well as more general life advice ones.

    Some of my favorites so far:

    Stacking Benjamins – all time fave. Great guests, the hosts are a hoot. Covers a wide range of personal finance and retirement planning topics in different segments (headlines, guests, mailbag, trivia, etc.)

    Beyond the Dollar – more overall perspective and approach to money. A little more touchy-feely sometimes, but really helpful for framing things and easy to listen to.

    The Indicator from Planet Money & Planet Money- shorter daily podcasts. Last one was about the founder of accounting, other topics have included the economy of dollar stores in poorer communities and a project to get more people i.d.s

    Popcorn finance- short, interesting, financial discussions in the time it takes to microwave a bag of popcorn (the pop up debates are my favorite on this one)

    Before Breakfast – daily 5-7 minute podcast on things like making your phone less interesting, and how to fight the urge to back out of things last minute that you would have really enjoyed.

    What are your favorites?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I’d highly recommend:
      Bad With Money (Gaby Dunn)
      The Pay Check (Rebecca Greenfield)
      The Pineapple Project (Claire Hooper)

    2. Engineer Girl*

      Dave Ramsey? It’s a bit repetitive but the “Debt Free Screams” are fun and inspiring. Especially so the ones where they paid off over $100 k in debt.

    3. The Doctor is In*

      Bedside Rounds. Medical history that is very entertaining and informative.

    4. Mephyle*

      In Our Time from BBC
      Quirks and Quarks and Ideas from CBC.
      Radiolab from NPR
      This Week in Parasitism from microbe.tv, particularly the first 30 or so episodes; beyond that it gets more technical.
      I just discovered Bunk Bed from BBC, which is great, too, but it’s probably better for bedtime than for driving or working.

    5. Ariaflame*

      Positiviteeny (Messages of Hope, Support and Inspiration, in 10 minutes or less)
      The Futility Closet (quirky history)
      Infinite Monkey Cage (science with some comedy)

    6. Isobel*

      Fifty Things That Made The Modern Economy (BBC).
      More or Less has the same presenter (Tim Harford) and is good too.

    7. Food Sherpa*

      Lore is wonderful, it has a companion tv series as well. Criminal is outstanding. It is on things related to criminals and is not gory detailed fueled stuff. Instead, it has information about unusual cases and people related to criminals and the criminal justice system.
      But if you like the details, there is Serial Killers, Dark Topic, True Crime Garage, and True Crime Uncensored.

  44. First Time Pansexual Dating Experience*

    Sorry if this is a repeat…my comment doesn’t appear to have shown up….

    I am in my 30’s have my first date with another woman this evening and I am super excited and nervous! I’m like a teenager! We are both married to men (polyamorous/ethically non-monogamous) and have never been with a woman before.

    Dating tips for same-sex newbies? I get along with women *so* easily…..How do you determine the difference between friend chemistry and romantic chemistry?

    1. Christy*

      You figure out if you want to kiss/etc them! That’s it, as far as I can tell. Aren’t women great? (I’m a married, monogamous lesbian, so I’m like excited and a tiny bit jealous of you getting to do this for the first time!)

      1. First Time Pansexual Dating Experience*

        Thanks! I’m so excited too!

        Let’s say, hypothetically, that this date goes well…any tips for kissing a woman? She is shorter than I am by about 4 inches and that is new for me! Do I bend my knees a little and, like, tilt her face up?

        Ack! We have only been chatting on OkCupid for about a week but we both have said that we feel like we already know each other so well! Trying to be casual and remember it is just a first date but it is hard not to get swept up in the excitement!

        1. Rainy*

          Stairs or sitting down is the best way to start. You’ll figure it out from there, I promise. ;)

          One thing to watch for is that if you’re both used to dating men, sometimes you’ll find yourself putting out standard “it’s okay to kiss me” signals and then nobody actually follows up. Even I’ve done that and I’m typically a first move maker by nature. So if you find yourself sitting (or standing or whatever) there thinking “WHY WON’T SHE FREAKING KISS ME” just lean in. ;)

        2. Christy*

          I’ve never kissed men so I can’t really speak to the contrast. And my wife is an inch shorter than I am so we don’t have a height issue. Surely you’ve kissed people (men?) who aren’t your exact height—what have you done as the shorter person? I think she’ll probably figure out how to line up your mouths if she wants to, lol. I have a friend whose husband is like a head taller than she is and there’s just a lot of tilting.

          I’m almost certain it will feel natural and you won’t be overthinking it when it actually happens. Good luck!! Please report back.

          1. First Time Pansexual Dating Experience*

            I will! Thanks!

            Yeah, I guess I definitely have gone on my tiptoes to handle height differences before (my other partners are 5, 6, and 11 inches taller than I am) but I have never thought about how approach as the taller person. But I forgot that she would be meeting me halfway too!

          2. First Time Pansexual Dating Experience*

            It went well. We talked for hours like we were already old friends and I wistfully started thinking about how lovely her lower lip is….

            No kissing happened though. She hugged me at my car and I asked her if I could kiss her and she said said no.

            She said what she has learned thus far from her limited dating experience is that she quickly falls in love after kissing and (thus far) has only had the experience of a girl saying after a few weeks that she really just wanted to be friends….so she wants me to be more sure of my intentions. She made an eyebrow raise like “but once you are sure….then yeah, I’m down!”

            But how do I know? Like, I think would really like a relationship with her, but thus far it’s kind of like I said in my comment above….like, I feel a really strong connection to her but until I actually indulge in romantic activities with her….like how will I know if it feels right to me?

            (Part of my anxiety is that she is not only 4 inches shorter than I am, but she is also adorably petite and fit…..Even though I have dated fit men, they are still taller than I am overall…..I feel like a bulky giant next to her and I don’t know if that is going to be a problem for me. My instinct is to say, “Well just try it and see!” But if she is wanting to not “just try it” and to be a more sure that we are on the same page romantically, then I need to respect that too….)

            1. Christy*

              I’m glad it went well! I’d just tell her where you’re coming from in terms of just trying it. WLW are all about processing lol.

              Also no lie I totally understand the body issue. My wife is my clothing size, ish, and thank goodness I didn’t have to deal with that

              1. First Time Pansexual Dating Experience*

                I suppose it will be some good motivation to get to the gym…..

                We exchanged some messages today and I am feeling less foolish and more excited. She clarified that she didn’t expect me to have a perfect understanding of where this would end up, just that I was emotionally available and not averse to the idea of falling in love.

        3. Traffic_Spiral*

          Haven’t you ever kissed a guy when you were sitting on his lap or otherwise positioned above him? It’s not that different.

    2. Ethyl*

      I’m jealous! My spouse and I have an open relationship and I want to meet other queer ladies for smooches and also generally hanging out, but online dating scares the crap out of me! I’m only 41, but have been with spouse since we were both 19, and previous outside partners were met more or less organically through work and hobbies. Someone give me a pep talk! Argh!

      1. First Time Pansexual Dating Experience*

        I *love* OkCupid. There are so many prompts and opportunities to answer questions that I find that people tend to show up the way they are in real life. So (thus far at least!) I have never had a bad date from there. (I have also only chosen to date people who were a 97-99% match with me and who I found immediately interesting and engaging via chat.)

  45. Foreign Octopus*

    I was gifted a Masterclass yearly subscription this week for my birthday. It was my older brother’s idea that he and our parents went in on, and it was honestly a surprise. Considering that the three of them kept telling me to check my email, I thought it’d be an Amazon voucher, which I was happy with because books, but seeing the gift in my inbox was the best birthday gift I’ve received.

    I’ve started the Neil Gaiman “Art of Storytelling” course, and he’s such a soothing speaker; really engaging and lovely.

    Does anyone else have Masterclass? If so, what classes are you taking?

    1. Kate Daniels*

      I do! I like the writing ones (I agree that Neil Gaiman is particularly soothing), and the cooking ones have motivated me to cook from scratch more. I just wish there were more baking ones besides the French pastries course.

    2. Piano Girl*

      My husband got the one with Ron Howard discussing filmmaking. He has really enjoyed it.

    3. Karen from Finance*

      I have Masterclass and I got it specifically because of Gaiman and, depressingly, I never got around to starting them yet. But in looking forward to taking that class as well as the Ramsay cooking ones.

  46. WellRed*

    I have tried a couple times recently to watch a new series on Netflix ( one French, one Finnish) only to find they have overdubbed with overly smooth, accentless American. I don’t love subtitles but the overdubbing was sooo distracting. I hope we don’t see this becoming commonplace.

    1. Weegie*

      I’m with you. As soon as I see something is dubbed rather than subtitled, I stop watching.

      1. Nessun*

        Hard no on dubbing in just about every instance. I find that watching people in their own language is just so much more meaningful (and the emoting matches!!).

    2. Pharmgirl*

      Have you checked the settings to see if you can watch in the natural language with subtitles? There are a couple shows I’ve noticed that will default to English dubbing, but it’s possible to change it back to the original with subtitles.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Yes, definitely double-check this. Even though I thought my preferences were always to use the original language, I’ve occasionally come across situations in which English dub is somehow in place, and I’ve had to switch it back to the original language.

      2. Washi*

        Yeah I had to do that with that Peiod End of a Sentence mini documentary. I hate dubbing so I was relieved to discover I could switch to subtitles!

    3. CatCat*

      I watch the foreign shows with subtitles only. Learned that when we watched the German show “Dark” on Netflix because the dubbing just sucked. There’s a movie on Amazon that I really wanted to see until I discovered dubbing was the only option so I, bummed, noped out of watching the movie.

    4. Lena Clare*

      Yeah it’s annoying! But on Netflix you should be able to change the settings to have audio in the original language and the subtitles in English o lo que quiera.

    5. Nacho*

      Did you check the language options? Often times they hide subs and original audio tracks there.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      Ugh, I had this problem with Dark. The American dubbing was horrendous. I’m okay with subtitles, so I just watched it in German. The acting is 1000 times better.

      1. Pharmgirl*

        Yeah, I couldn’t even get through the dubbed trailer! Almost didn’t watch it until I realized I could switch it back.

  47. Pam Beesly*

    Any advice for having “grass is greener” syndrome? I’m in my early 30s with a good job (I’ll be up for promotion in two years) and I’m about to buy a house. Yet I often imagine moving to another city and doing something completely different. Can anyone empathize? Any suggestions for combatting the “what ifs”?

    1. Overeducated*

      YES! I totally get this, very acutely! No advice though. It’s just hard that opening one door closes others and buying a house makes that feel more real. I try to think in a five year time span and remind myself everything could change in five years (i could change it all!), what I do now doesnt have to stay the same until I retire.

      1. Pam Beesly*

        “everything could change in five years (i could change it all!), what I do now doesnt have to stay the same until I retire.”

        This is the mindset I try to have as well. I think the upcoming promotion (to management) as well as buying the house is making my brain yell, “THIS IS ALL PERMANENT!” when it’s not.

    2. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      Yes, very similar situation. I just tell myself that the grass could look greener, but I’d also be exchanging one set of quirks & problems for an entirely new and different set of quirks & problems. If that doesn’t work, I research and talk to people who took that path and evaluate/proceed accordingly.

      1. Pam Beesly*

        Very true. I’ve tried reaching out to people about an alternate path I’m interested in, but most of them haven’t been helpful, which compounds my frustration. It’d be easier to tell myself “I wouldn’t enjoy doing x” if I knew all its quirks and problems.

    3. Autumnheart*

      Honestly, I embrace it. Heck yeah, you COULD pick up and move to another city to do something completely different! That is absolutely an option, and if your current situation doesn’t work out, then you could totally go for it. Heck, there’s no reason you couldn’t have your house and then a little apartment in another city, plenty of people do that. You’re an adult, you can do whatever you want.

      I love my house and job and I still think about doing those things. I have no intention of moving, but if the opportunity of a lifetime came up, it’d be on the table. But until then, I just enjoy what I have, and know that if things change, I have plenty of options.

    4. Gatomon*

      I’m in a similar spot! I fantasize about going back to part-time retail work, or any job that is more physically-orientated. This is the fourth weekend in a row that my work cell has rung* and I am really missing the kinds of jobs that don’t follow you home. I do not miss the slimmer paychecks that tend to come with them though.

      I also fantasize a lot about retirement. I would like to retire early, maybe 55 – 60? I am hoping to get a modest house now that will be paid off right about then!

      I like to think about what I specifically crave in each fantasy (free time, less stress) and then remind myself what I am doing to make those elements a reality (getting a home, saving cash for retirement, doing fun things with my spare time).

      *confession: I am ignoring the call, I have a friend coming in from out of town. There are others who can help!

      1. Pam Beesly*

        “I like to think about what I specifically crave in each fantasy (free time, less stress) and then remind myself what I am doing to make those elements a reality (getting a home, saving cash for retirement, doing fun things with my spare time).”

        Good advice. Thank you!

    5. Not So NewReader*

      A few thoughts:

      It’s good to remember that what we have is actually better than some imaginary thing that exists only in our minds.

      Going in the other direction, it can be helpful to remember that we are SUPPOSED to dream and imagine better things. That’s pretty normal. This is how people build their lives and this is how people live their lives by following the ideas that occur to them.

      It’s a HOUSE. It’s not your final resting place. Keep a sense of proportion at all times. You could live in the house for ten years and decide to move elsewhere. Conversely, you could decide to rent the house out to your favorite niece/sibling/friend and run away to the Bahamas.

      I think the “but-what-if’s” hit the hardest if we think that our options are closing and we have very few options. However, this is not true. You can own a house AND later run away to the Bahamas. It will take a little more work to run away because of the house but you can still go.

      Last. Once you are actually in the house you will see options that you would never think of right now. Sometimes we have to be in place before it dawns on us the full new set of opportunities we have in front of us.

    6. Square Root Of Minus One*

      Oh, dear do I empathize indeed.
      I’m not super fond of the city I live in, I really like my job but it’s not a passion in life, my relationship status is “complicated”…
      And I can’t move now. I could change jobs, but for fiscal reasons tied to my place it would be super expensive to move (too long to tell why but we’re talking a year’s net salary kind of expensive, so really dissuasive).
      If anything, what has worked is keeping myself busy with something exciting for me, either now or short-term. Practicing an activity, planning a project not too far out…
      If it doesn’t help… I have to figure it out.

  48. I Work on a Hellmouth*

    Anyone have any fun sewing, crafty, or art-y things they are working on this weekend? I have to work today, but tomorrow I am hoping to finish off a whole slew of mostly finished fast sewing projects and start prepping everything for the dress that I’m going to start working on in my sewing class on Tuesday (it’s not a hard pattern on its own, but it involves a few new-to-me techniques like shirring, and I’m pretty excited about it because I think it’s going to look really cool). I’m also trying to pick out my next few I’ll-be-doing-these-in-class projects, and I am debating the following patterns:

    https://shop.deer-and-doe.fr/en/sewing-patterns/82-sirocco-jumpsuit-pattern.html
    https://shop.deer-and-doe.fr/en/sewing-patterns/65-myosotis-dress-pattern.html
    https://shop.deer-and-doe.fr/en/sewing-patterns/16-reglisse-dress-pattern.html
    https://charmpatterns.bygertie.com/shop/jane-set/
    https://charmpatterns.bygertie.com/shop/lamour-dress/

    I’m having a VERY hard time deciding between what should make the cut AND what project order I should put them in, so if anyone has any burning opinions please feel free to shout them at me!

    1. Best cat in the world*

      I’m desperately trying to finish my first proper knitting project, a baby blanket. I keep getting funny looks in the break room at work! Nearly done the main bit, it’ll just be the sides to finish off tomorrow hopefully.

      1. I Work on a Hellmouth*

        You can do it! Yeah, knitting in public can get a lot of looks or cause a lot of conversations to be struck up. I was once desperately trying to finish a hat that I was working on as a gift for my boyfriend (I had to unexpectedly frog the thing and start over at the last possible minute), and everyone who walked past me on my lunch break wanted to know what the heck I was doing.

    2. My Brain is Exploding*

      I haven’t made garments for a long time, and did not realize you could get some super-cool European patterns!
      I LOVE the Deer and Doe jumpsuit, except actually WEARING jumpsuits are a No for me, because – awkward when using the bathroom. The Reglisse dress is cute and summery (albeit a bit too short for me personally to wear), and it depends on if you like elastic waists (a belt over top might work well). You have a wide range of tastes and I would LOVE to peek in your closet!

      Also in terms of order, what would you like to wear RIGHT NOW?

      1. I Work on a Hellmouth*

        All of them! That’s why I’m having so much trouble deciding! :D

        Yeah, elastic waistbands usually aren’t for me, but I have some cute belts that would look good with the Reglisse (and I’m a little short, so the skirt on D&D patterns usually hit me right at the knee so I don’t have to lengthen the pattern), but the jumpsuit would also be GREAT for work… and the other stuff is just fun! And yep, my closet is very eclectic–I love clothes!

    3. FuzzFrogs*

      Both of the Gertie patterns are super fun to do. The great thing about the Jane Set is that she’s done a sewalong on her blog recently–lots of clear and explicit instructions, and really good fabric recommendations. I have the original Lamour and it’s a really fun pattern as well.

      I’m working this weekend, but that’s actually fine because it means I get Monday and Friday off, AKA uninterrupted sewing time. I’m going to be finishing a jumpsuit (this one’s based off a Simplicity repro of some Rosie the Riveter style overalls) and making a purse for a friend. The purse is going to glow in the dark!!

      1. I Work on a Hellmouth*

        Oh, cool! It’s great to hear from someone who has tried out a pattern, and I’ll have to look up that sewalong. I have some deep orange stretch sateen that I think would be terrific–if I ever manage to settle on trim options.
        Okay, a glow in the dark purse sounds really awesome! So do Rosie coveralls. Happy sewing!

    4. Marion Ravenwood*

      I’ve got the weekend to myself and I’m going to work on a few sewing projects. I took myself to Hobbycraft (UK craft shop chain which is where I get most of my haberdashery bits from) today and saw they had some awesome Harry Potter fat quarters, so I bought two sets – one Hogwarts house-themed and one more generally HP-related – which I’m going to use to make bunting for my room and/or parties, as well as a few zips for various repairs and some more bobbins. (I swear I never have enough bobbins.)

      Those will be my weekend jobs as they’re fairly quick and easy, then I want to make a few skirts for the summer. I have a couple of different patterns for pleated skirts, which is something new to me but that I’m keen to learn, so am going to try them and see which I prefer. I also have a pattern for a camisole top which I want to make in a cotton from my fabric box subscription; the pattern itself isn’t hugely complicated, especially making it in a cotton, but again there are some new-to-me techniques like French seams so I’m hoping it’ll be helpful for that.

      1. I Work on a Hellmouth*

        Where do all of the bobbins go? Are they with the left socks?

        French seams are a bit more fiddly, but I actually really like them! They make for really pretty guts. They’re more durable, too!

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Bobbins are likely off canoodling with the ball point pens, a la Douglas Adams, on “…a planet entirely given over to ballpoint life forms.”

    5. Book Lover*

      I am working on a couple of cross stitch projects. One long term, one slightly smaller. Both coming along well. I know some people have a dozen or more in progress but I have always done one at a time. Right now I have one at work and one at home and that is good, I think, rather than carrying back and forth. I vaguely feel it is a bit unprofessional to be cross stitching at work in my spare time instead of studying, etc, but I am grumpy and I want to and no one will say anything even if they think it.

      1. I Work on a Hellmouth*

        I can only do one needlework project at a time, too. When work is really stressful, I will work on something sassy/profane from Subversive Cross Stitch (usually whatever most closely mirrors what I would like to personally say to the people stressing me out) through my lunch breaks. It weirdly helps a lot.

      1. Anono-me*

        I vote for the Lamor dress, I especially loved the the animal print version with the bare shoulders and the bit that goes around the neck.

        1. I Work on a Hellmouth*

          I love that version! It’s so glam! I mean, I don’t really have an occasion for something like that, but you have to wear SOMETHING when you go grocery shopping, right? Why not Leopard Tiki Realness?

    6. Elizabeth West*

      I’ve been wanting to dig out the Titanic travel poster counted cross stitch that I’ve been working on for twenty years, LOL. But I’m so tired today, and I have lots to do tomorrow.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Jump suit: noooooo. BTDT, gave up with wearing it. Never, ever again. You know you best, if you have done jump suits before and not been totally annoyed by them, then ignore me.

      I liked the reglisse dress. I think that would lend itself well to many different fabrics and prints. It also looks like it would lend itself well to tweaks if you wanted to customize it in a particular way.

      1. I Work on a Hellmouth*

        I’m normally not a big jumpsuit fan because of the hassle of trying to pee in them, but the Sirocco in a snuggly ponte or Liverpool sounds like it would be secret pajamas/a clothing hug, which would really be nice on sucky work days, and the Jane set would let me live out my Jane Russell dreams. But you raise a good point. I WILL eventually have to pee.

        The Reglisse is incredibly similar to a dress that my mom gave me from Anthropologie that is super flattering and cozy, and I think your right about the tweaks. I’m pretty sure I could make the pattern more than a few times without looking like I just own 20 of the same dress.

    8. fishy fish fish*

      I am knitting the worlds worst and most expensive fingerless gloves. They are the world’s worst because the wool is not evenly spun, because I spun it myself. The spinning wheel & I didn’t get on at all (it really hurt my leg to use it), so the spinning is thick and tight and crap. However, I have a strict “finish this before that” rule, so I need to finish them before I use actual fine wool spun by machines that is nice and even and prettily dyed. Otherwise, I should probably drag out the sewing machine and tackle the mending pile

  49. Animal worker*

    A question for the wise AAM commentariat – do any of you have both parrots and cats? I am a long time (decades) parrot owner, and am seriously considering adopting a cat. I have been researching, thinking about this for about six months, including having a friend bring a cat to my house to see how the birds reacted. I’ve read what I can find, talked to people to get thoughts and experiences, and am trying to thoroughly evaluate not only the pros and cons but the techniques I would use if I did this.

    Basically the birds are in the main living area, they do not live in a separate ‘bird room’. So a cat would start out being in the master bedroom/bath/walk-in closet area whenever no one was home, and slowly be introduced to the birds under supervision – first with birds in the cages, then one at a time out under supervision, and depending on how all of this goes hopefully all (3) being able to be out with the cat under supervision. I doubt that I’d ever expect to be able to have the cat out in the main part of the house when no one was home, just to be safe, and there are several different areas that could become cat playgrounds to alternate through during these times.

    Any experiences to share – good, bad, neutral? If so, I’ve heard different things about what age of cat is best – some say older cats since they may not be as energetic and active, others say kittens are best. I was actually planning to adopt an older – 9 year old – shy cat from a shelter I volunteer at on Monday and she was just sent out on a foster to adopt situation a couple of days ago. Now I’m trying to decide if that was fate trying to tell me something…

    Any feedback is welcome.

    1. Rainy*

      One of my good friends has birds and cats and they all seem to do fine together. I think temperament is key–he and his roommates tend to foster cats before committing to adopt them, and at the first sign of trouble the cat goes to a new foster.

    2. fposte*

      I have a friend with a bird but don’t know much about bird care. How alert can you be to stress in the birds that doesn’t manifest as obvious fear or upset? That’s what my concern would be–stressing out the birds in lower level ways that get missed or take longer to see.

    3. Zephy*

      I wouldn’t, if the birds are accustomed to roaming the house relatively freely. It’s a lot of work to manage a houseful of pets that don’t live in containers 100% of the time and can’t share territory, and at some point, someone will lose. A door will be left open, or someone will step out for “just a minute,” or a whole antagonistic conversation will happen between animals without the humans ever noticing until the screaming starts.

      Older cats definitely need the most love, and are less likely to be willing to chase a bird, especially a big one. But there’s no real way to guarantee that your birds would always be 100% safe around a cat of any age.

    4. Anon Anon Anon*

      I think it would depend on the animals’ personalities, and the species of parrot. I knew a family with an African Grey (large, tough parrot) and two cats. The bird was the boss there, and it “parrotted” a mix of human words and cat sounds. Get ready to hear a bird saying, “Meow!”

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        This! My fiance’s parents have an African Grey parrot and many house cats. The parrot is definitely the boss, but they all roam freely around the house.

    5. Quandong*

      I had small parrots who often had free time in the house, and later introduced cats to the household. In my experience the cats’ predator instincts and behaviours never abated and they could not be in the same room as the birds at any time: the birds were stressed and scared, even in their cage where the cats could not reach, and the cats were preoccupied with how to get to the birds.

      I ended up keeping the pets completely separate but it took a lot of vigilance to make sure the doors were securely shut, and I certainly wouldn’t do it again.

      1. WS*

        +1, my grandparents had cats and small parrots and they could not mix. Fortunately the design of the house made it easy to do a kind of “airlock” with the hall from the front to the back of the house so even if an animal made it out of their area into the hallway, it was easy to spot them and put them back.

    6. Animal worker*

      Thanks to all who commented. I appreciate your experiences and viewpoints and this information will be helpful as I continue my research and deliberation. FYI my three parrots are all larger species. Again thanks for the responses.

  50. Christy*

    I need to confess: I set an alarm for 3 AM for the vineyard vines for Target collaboration and I bought 33 items before 3:30 AM. It’s a lot, I’ll return a bunch (got extra sizes on clothes, for instance), but I’m still glad I did it, because essentially everything is sold out now. But I still think it was kind of a crazy move on my part.

    1. Traffic_Spiral*

      Meh, everyone has something or other they’d get up early for once. Fishing, metor shower, scifi movie tickets, whatevs. It’s not like you’re stealing food from orphans or anything, so go nuts.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Yup. I was outside after midnight this winter for the lunar eclipse… in temps dwell below freezing. I had two parkas and a heavy hooded wool cloak and a feather duvet tan it was STILL cold. And I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
        What if you don’t return the things…how much vould you sell them for?

        1. Texan In Exile AKA the gold digger who for a while was also The Candidate's Wife*

          A Vineyard Vines dress on target.com that was shown as $39 (and sold out) was already on eBay for $59 when I looked yesterday.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              Ah…I’d missed that part the first time. Maybe thrill someone and sell it at cost+shipping?

    2. Womble*

      If it’s sold out, it might be worth seeing what they’re fetching on eBay before returning the extra sizes.

      1. Christy*

        I thought about that, but frankly, people selling stuff on eBay is part of the reason I set my alarm for 3 AM, so I wouldn’t want to participate in that market and be a part of the problem.

  51. Laura H.*

    I am enjoying the rare whole actual weekend off! Gives me a chance to do a second load of laundry with the stuff I need for Monday! I’m glad to be working but boy when I was asked not to come in on Thursday, all the fatigue from 3 to 5.5 hour shifts from 5/6-5/15 (two jobs; varying schedules) hit me like a freight train! Would have worked today but that shift was lifted off my plate too.

    So, being well-rested for Monday is my goal. As is enjoying the raspberry candied popcorn that I picked up for today!

      1. Laura H.*

        It’s really good. It’s not a standard flavor (like cheddar, dill, or kettle), but it’s amazing! Was still left after filling a special order. Hoping the people who ordered it enjoyed it as much as I am.

  52. I edit everything*

    What strategies does anyone use to keep kids (mine is 9) safe online? He has his own parentally controlled profile on my computer, with bookmarks for his favorite kid websites (PBS Kids, Nat Geo, etc.), and we don’t let him onto YouTube for a whole slew of reasons. But he’s smart enough and curious enough that if he really wanted to, he could probably get to some nasty places. Fortunately, his main sojourns off his regular stops have been Google Earth and NOVA documentaries. But it’s only a matter of time.

    He’s had lessons about not talking to other people online, not giving out personal information, etc., but who know how much of that has gone in one ear and out the other.

    I’m thinking our next step will be to move my computer from our basement office to the living room or kitchen. But what else should we be thinking about? “No Screen Time” is not an option.

    1. Laura H.*

      Not a parent but child of the early internet and this sort of thing you’re doing is what my parents did. Moving the computer to a more public room is definitely a good consideration, and should the need arise, I would escalate as necessary from there.

      Again, not a parent, just a former kid who grew up with the good ol clunky desktop on the computer desk in the living room.

    2. Melody Pond*

      I read this article a while back, and I tracked it down again, to share with you. I don’t have kids myself, so I don’t really have my own advice to offer, but perhaps this article might be helpful? The overall idea seems to be to lean in with screen time, to have more of it together, so you’re basically modeling the behavior online that you want to see them emulate. And to have lots of conversations about what exists online.

      https://www.npr.org/2019/01/15/679304393/forget-screen-time-rules-lean-in-to-parenting-your-wired-child

    3. ..Kat..*

      Keep in mind that kid websites may be safe with respect to content, but not completely safe. Pedophiles troll for (and groom) vulnerable children on these sites, so you still need to be vigilant. Especially any site where your child can communicate with other people on the site.

      1. I edit everything*

        Yeah, that’s the “don’t communicate with other people” part of the lessons he’s gotten. He doesn’t do group gaming or anything like that. I’m lucky that he’d much rather play baseball, read a book, or watch a documentary than talk to anyone he doesn’t know.

    4. Lilysparrow*

      We only allow screen time in common areas – kitchen, living room, etc. No phone/tablet in the bedroom or bathroom.

      We also talk a lot about what makes things kid-appropriate or not, how it affects their thinking and behavior, etc. And we do that about everything, not just things that would ding an official parental rating.

      We do allow supervised YouTube on certain channels – mostly they’re interested in crafts, clothing or hair DIY, or Minecraft. But there are some of the DIY young ladies who I’ve banned because they talk a lot about dieting or getting boys to like you for your looks. I don’t want them filling their heads with that nonsense.

      Or there are some kid comedy TV shows where the kids are just really horrid, sassy, obnoxious, arrogant brats. The “heroes”, even. And I’ve seen that kind of thing affect their attitude with their friends or with us. So we talk about influences.

      We have a parental control app on the older one’s tablet. And they get lots of lessons at home and online about safety, and we explain that a lot of these restrictions aren’t because we don’t trust them, but because we don’t want strangers communicating with them behind our backs, because that’s not safe.

      So it’s partly supervision, and partly making sure they understand why.

      If you think temperamentally your son might need even stronger boundaries, I’d suggest talking a lot about accountability. We’ve explained to our kids that we can see what they’re doing online and will know if they’re following the rules, but it’s not something we’ve had to emphasize yet. If you think your son needs that extra backstop, it could be good to make a routine out of reviewing his history together to discuss it on a regular basis.

    5. WS*

      It so depends on the kid. I have two close-in-age nephews and the elder one is cautious, shy and skeptical: he’s never had any problems and the supervision was light (now he’s 16 and apart from “no electronic devices in the bedroom on school nights” he has no supervision at all). His younger brother is friendly, chatty and prone to believing all he reads and is not allowed a smartphone or any computer time out of the family area, even though his brother had a smartphone at the same age. Keeping the computer in the family area has been very important!

    6. Kuododi*

      I would suggest not overlooking the issue of electronic gaming systems. (I know minimal about different types of systems.) What I do know is a fair amount of them provide internet/chat access. I’ve had more than one parent in family counseling with me swear on a stack that their little cherubs are “strictly monitored” regarding computer time. Later it was discovered the same cherub was involved in/at risk for all kinds of deviousness while blowing up planets or whatnot on the gaming systems. If that’s a concern in your particular household, I’m sure someone with the necessary skills woul be happy to advise on specifics of monitoring access. Best of luck.

    7. sequined histories*

      Speaking as a teacher (8th, 9th, 10th grade), getting so addicted to gaming that it really pushes out other healthy and productive activities is a big issue. I think if a kid spends significant time involved fun or engaging or productive activities that are NOT online that probably has some protective effect, so it’s not only about limits online but also about encouraging and providing other options as well.

  53. Blue Bunny*

    I am SO infuriated with the IRS. The sent our refund minus my tuition credit, with a letter saying I didn’t fill in the appropriate lines on the appropriate form to get it. I did fill them out. The letter called out two specific lines that have the exact data they claimed was missing, I checked and re-checked both manually and with the tax software I used.

    I asked my husband to deal with it. He has spent over TEN HOURS on the 800 number, being on hold and then being hung up on by their automated system. He tried to go to the local office, and was physically denied entry by a security guard who said no one can enter the building without an appointment. When he calls the local office for an appointment, nobody will ever pick up the phone at any time of day. It rings endlessly.

    The only reason he has been able to devote such an insane amount of time to this is because he currently unemployed to be his mom’s caregiver, and he has time while she sleeps. Nobody with a regular job could even manage as much as he has–I certainly could not.

    It really feels like they’re just stonewalling us until the clock to challenge their decision runs out. They’ve basically stolen over a thousand dollars from us, and I don’t know what to do anymore.

    1. Green Kangaroo*

      The IRS is drastically underfunded. It’s not a ploy to swindle you; they simply don’t have the resources to appropriately staff the agency. This greatly benefits the very wealthy, so there’s not much incentive to change the situation.

    2. ..Kat..*

      Can you reply by letter? Certified with a return receipt?

      Does your tax software have a help feature that you can ask?

    3. Rebecca*

      I’d be tempted to write my congressman about this. You are a citizen, you have a problem with a government agency, and can’t even get through on the phone to make an appointment. Green Kangaroo is correct, they are severely underfunded, and I don’t think it’s unintentional. I tend to think if it were the other way around, they’d find time to write letters and demand the money.

    4. Dan*

      Piggy backing off of Green Kangaroo…

      The IRS *is* drastically underfunded, so one of the first things to go is customer service. This is a straight up political issue (sorry) so you really need to contact the National Taxpayer Advocate as well as your congressperson and Senator. In the short term, they won’t do much, but politics is one of two things: Money, or squeaky wheel gets the grease. No squeaky wheel = no grease.

      1. The Gollux (Not a Mere Device)*

        Adding to that, my Representative’s website has “help with a federal agency” under “services,” and then it explains what information her staff will need so they can help you.

        They need written permission: “The Privacy Act of 1974 (5 U.S.C. § 552a) requires that Members of Congress or their staff have written authorization before they can obtain information about an individual’s case.” Rep. Pressley’s office has a form to fill out that gives them permission to act for you, as well as room to explain what you’re asking for help with. (She’s my congressmember, so I have her web page bookmarked.)

        It might be worth calling first, to confirm that this is the kind of thing they can help with, and in case the answer is something like “we’ll do our best to help, but Sen. Whichever has a larger staff that really knows their way around the bureaucracy.”

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          I’m concurring with suggestions to contact the congressional representative, and it’s a good idea to call first to find out what advice they have. I used to work for an elected official at a state level and responded to constituents who had these kinds of problems. We were able to get results quickly just by being a squeaky wheel from a state rep’s office.

    5. Anon in IL*

      Agree with writing a letter postmarked within the deadline (usually 30 days from the date on the notice). Attach (1) copy of the notice you received (2) a copy of the form in question (3) copy of Form 1098-T that you received from your college or university. You could also call your tax software company customer service to see if this is a known issue with their program.

    6. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      You need to do this in writing. Their customer service won’t be of much help otherwise. It will take awhile to hear back. For one issue last year we got about 6 “sorry, our usual response time is 60 days but we need more” letters. But that was more complex of an issue so it was to be expected.

      The IRS was part of the partial shutdown and many worked without pay. Many were brought back before that was fixed to work. Without pay.

      They’re not trying to con you. They’re humans with a job and make errors as well given their workload.

      They have tough security and hard to see in person because their lives are threatened by people who think they’re swindling thieves!

      I’m sorry you’re going through this and you need to fight for your money due but sadly it’s going to take time.

    7. Engineer Girl*

      How about filing an amended tax return?

      Include the tuition and note it specifically as the difference.

      1. It’s me*

        This wouldn’t help. If they filed their return correctly, which it sounds like they did, then there would be no changes to amend. What they should do instead is mail a letter back to the IRS certified mail that states we filed correctly, here’s a copy of what we filed and a copy of the notice and please update your records and send us the additional refund. Include your phone number and email just in case but they will most likely respond (slowly) via mail.

    8. Policy wonk*

      Contact your Congressman’s local office. They can help. I used to work for a Congressman and this was part of my job. The IRS has a special office specifically to respond to Congressional inquiries on behalf of constituents.

      1. Not a cat*

        That’s amazing! I wish my congresswoman’s office was 1/32nd this helpful. I’ve reached out in the past and I just get added to mailing lists.

  54. Penguin*

    Plant thread!
    Last week there were some delightful conversations going around plants: gardening, invasives, etc. so I thought I’d try to make it A Thing. If you like, say something here! Celebrate your garden, lament your weeds, ask or answer questions… whatever!

    1. Penguin*

      The tulips here are just past their peak, and the maple trees are continuing to leaf out. The dandelions are everywhere, and some of the bees are out and about; I’ve seen both bumblebees and honeybees. Our grape vines are leafing out, the wisteria is waking up, and I have to go cut the ivy off the garage again. The vining rose that we thought was dead came back, though! Maybe it’ll flower; that’d be cool.

    2. Ethyl*

      So I have an irrational hate for hostas. When we redid the “landscaping” that was here when we moved in, I thought I got them all. Lo and behold, what pops its stupid little stripey head up this week???? More dang hostas!!!! Argh!

      1. fposte*

        They were so common where I grew up that apparently a nearby horticultural school referred to them as “[region] weeds.” I have to say that I’ve appreciated them a lot more since becoming an adult gardener, but I am *very* particular about which ones.

        I also think that hostas are a great example of how gardeners tend to obsess over and delight in minute details that non-gardeners wouldn’t even notice. (See also: clematis, daylilies.) OMG, the leaves on this one are slightly less long, or the stripes are wider, or the yellow edge is slightly greener!

      2. Agnodike*

        I hate them too! They are one of a very small number of plants that actively diminish my enjoyment of a garden. Our house came with a carpet of them in the back yard, and my project this year is to purge them all and put in something lovely instead. Solidarity!!

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Apparently they are edible so to borrow a phrase originally coined for dandelions. ..if you can’t beat ’em, eat ’em.
        I’m serious that people can eat the shoots…but I’m not serious that any of us try them.

        1. ket*

          I cooked ’em! I did! last weekend!

          Took the not-yet-unfurling one (still pointy) and sauteed them/panfried them in lots of olive oil. Like I was caramelizing onions. Let them get brown on a side, and stirred them all around. We also roasted a chicken that was sitting on a bed of thin-sliced potatoes, so once that came out I threw the hosta shoots in there to get some chicken juice on them. People really liked it. They did have sort of the taste of asparagus, but (you know you want to know) don’t have the chemical that changes the scent of some folks’… micturation.

    3. fposte*

      Peonies! The peonies are starting! That’s my absolute favorite time of the garden year, and I have early, middle, and late bloomers to keep the season going as long as possible. Three of my plants were here when I moved in, and I think I’ve identified two of them (and doubled up on them, because they’re great) but the third remains a mystery. Now, though, I probably have a dozen different peonies. Some I love more than others, but my early ones are especially welcome for being early, and also one in particular has just such beautiful flower form that it brings my joy every time I look at it. (Link in followup.)

      1. Ali G*

        I just put a bunch of tomato plants in the ground (I was lazy this year and just bought some started plants), and planted a hops plant for my husband.
        I’m doing research for the planters on the porch. Rather than try to get perennials to grow in there and come back (it doesn’t work), I am going to get some indoor plants that can go out in the warmer months, and come in during colder times.
        I’d be open to suggestions!

      2. Womble*

        We have an amazing hot pink peony – just the one – that appears in the garden of our rented house every year. It’s always a lovely surprise.

      3. Jen Erik*

        We had to redo the herbaceous border because of bindweed, so when we replanted I got a couple of intersectional peonies. I don’t think they’ll flower this year, but I’m so looking forward to it.

    4. KatieKate*

      I got my first indoor plants last week—-and I already have problems with them. One is droopy and the other’s bottom leaves are yellowing. I’ve moved both out of the direc sun and have been checking soil dampness but is there anything else I should be doing?

      1. fposte*

        What kind of plants are they? Did you repot them or are they in the original containers from the store? Did you get them from a big box store or a nursery?

        Yellowing on lower leaves isn’t a likely result from too *much* sun (more common with not enough), and neither are droopy leaves, providing the soil is still moist, so I’d consider moving them back to get more light. Are there drafts from A/C near there? The droopy leaves might also be overwatering, and some plants are very unforgiving on that.

        It’s also possible they weren’t very well cared for at the store, or that they’re a little shocked from transplantation or relocation. I’m not going to advise you to pull them out and mess with rootballs until I know more about what you’ve got, though.

        1. KatieKate*

          Droopy is a Paper Plant and yellow leaves is a Dumb Cane. They’re still in their original pots and they came from a plant store. My AC isn’t on yet so I can’t imagine a draft is the issue, and they first started showing symptoms after I had them in direct sun so that’s why I thought that might be the issue but I’ll move them back. The store recommended once a week watering for both of them which is what I’ve been doing.

          1. Batgirl*

            Google tells me that both of those plants prefer shade/partial shade over full sun so it sounds like your instincts were on point.

      2. Batgirl*

        What kind of plants are they? The type of plant determines how much sun and water. My first guess from your description would be overwatering but it could be other things.

      3. Ali G*

        Have you been watering them? Sounds like overwatering. Most plants don’t need to be watered until the top of the soil starts to dry out.

    5. Rainy*

      I have a balcony container garden, and it’s looking really nice. :) I splurged on some designer petunias (“Starry Night”, I think?) and I’m feeling SO GOOD about my decision. They’re so pretty. My strawberries are doing okay considering we’ve had snow THREE TIMES since they arrived (thanks, mountains!), and I have a bunch of volunteer violas and pansies from last year in addition to the new pansies, petunias, and dianthus.

    6. CatCat*

      We have a porch container garden and I am just thrilled with how well the flowers and herbs are doing. We have a recipe that calls for a bunch of parsley this week and I am feeling very satisfied that I can get it from my porch garden.

    7. Green thumbs up*

      My coleus pot is doing great, as is my $3 discount vinca. My sweet potato vines are branching out under my tree. I found a delightful Talavera pot in the shape of a watering can and pitted celosia. My massive sedum (Autumn Joy) should pop any minute

      But now I’m stumped: I have two wire wall containers that are mostly in the shade (installed by previous owner). I use cocoliner. I can’t even get petunias to grow because of the shade. Suggestions for a shade plant with a shallow root? I’m good with a big box store purchase.

      1. Penguin*

        Hmm, they might be too large for hanging containers and I don’t know what their roots are like, but Hostas love shade. Maybe there’s a dwarf variety?

        A quick warning on Vinca: it can be aggressive/invasive depending on climate. That’s not a condemnation (I love it, especially when it’s flowering like it is here for me) just a heads-up.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Bleeding Heart and Solomons Seal are both things I’ve had luck with in shade.

    8. Lizabeth*

      Trying to foil the rabbits by planting things that they don’t eat or like. Guess what I found this morning? The geranium had 3 leaves bitten off but not eaten. And one marigold flower shredded and flung around but not eaten. Me 10 points; rabbits zip! I guess it had a temper tantrum.

    9. Inexperienced Gardner*

      I have a black thumb. Seriously every plant we’ve had, we’ve killed. But a few weeks ago we went to a container gardening talk at the library and last weekend I had a long chat with a sales person at the local nursery and bought supplies. I bought 2 cherry tomato plants, 1 pepper plant and some rosemary, potted them early this week and am obsessed with how they are doing. So far, so good – they don’t look like they are dying (yet). Keeping my fingers crossed.

    10. Bluebell*

      Here in my corner of New England the grape hyacinths are finishing up, and the geraniums are having a terrific spring. I adore peonies but my one peony bush doesn’t seem to have buds this year. Waiting for the dwarf lilac bushes, which don’t bloom until after the regular lilacs.

    11. lapgiraffe*

      It’s been a rough spring for seedlings, in the past I’ve managed to grow some very nice plants from seeds with little in the way of grow lights, just heat mats in my small apartment. Trickier then if I had a dedicated space, but never impossible.

      This year it’s been a sopping wet and cold spring (New England) and I’ve struggled so much. Bought a lamp, put it on a timer, still struggled with moisture and mold like never before. It would take a week for a small watering to dry out, le sigh. I had some growth but the cut flowers all succumbed to the moisture, and then I left for 10 day vacation with what I thought were strong healthy growth on the veggies.

      My plant watcher said he has no idea what happened, they just keeled over. I thought my Memorial Day weekend was going to be my big transplant day and now I’m looking at buying plants :-( it’s mostly fine but I love my specific paste tomato I always grow from seed and I doubt I’ll find anything like it. At least the sun came out yesterday…

    12. SAHM*

      This post made me go look up what these purple flowering plants I bought at the local plant sale last week are, Ageratum Royal Hawaii. Apparently they’re an invasive weed in most countries, *face palm*
      …… but my version should only get 6-8” tall sooooo I’m going to use them as bedding flowers around my chrysanthemums, gerbera daisies, dahlias, and sweet William. Plus, they look like a soft bush if the kids fall in the planter boxes that surround the lawn (one of the reasons I dug out my roses in January, I think I killed my double delight one though, I’m super sad about that). Soooo we’ll see. If I’m cursing my luck in 10 years Ya’ll can tell me i told you so.

    13. LibbyG*

      Great idea for a repeating thread!

      In my eastern Great Lakes region, the forsythia is leafed out, apples are blossoming, and peonies are budding. It’s so delightful that such a gorgeous, showy flower is also such a sturdy perennial.

      I have a newly cleared border area, part sun, that I want to be super low maintenance. Maybe masses of lilies would be a good solution!

    14. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I am so tired of battling blackberry vines. They tend to come up in the middle of other bushes, so it’s a real pain to get all of them when I try to remove them. (There’s also this tiny part of me that read too many “end of the world” books as a kid, and always tells me that I may be sad later to not have all of those tasty berries, but those suckers are invasive and take over at the slightest slacking of vigilance, so we’ll just have to keep hoping the end of the world doesn’t happen this summer and battle the vines.) I end up walking the entire yard about once a week to try and find any I’ve overlooked.

      I need to figure out what I’m supposed to do with the greenery as various plants are done blooming. I know some of then you need to leave the leaves in place, and others should be cut back at various times, but I don’t know specifically which or when so the whole thing is kind of a mess. (The yard was planted by the previous owner, who really liked gardening and apparently was out in the yard all day once she retired. A major re-landscaping is likely within the next few years, because I am not close to retirement and also know nothing about plants. I prefer to spend my weekends drinking beer on a patio to digging up weeds, so clearly it’s time to re-think some of these garden areas and replace them with lower-maintenance things, ideally native plants that make bees happy instead of structured flower plantings in beds.)

      1. Penguin*

        You might look up the book Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway for some ideas on dealing with greenery from a landscape view (i.e. what you ultimately want to happen in the space, and what plants might help you get there).

        Caveat: Hemenway is astonishingly dismissive of the idea that one might want to avoid planting species “labeled ‘invasive'”. I strongly recommend readers do their own fact-checking before planting anything unfamiliar on his say-so. (Why introduce something that makes more work for you? The rest of the book is about reducing your work.)

    15. Seeking Second Childhood*

      If you do decide to pull things out may I suggest you offer them out on BuyNothing or Freecycle? I have shared things I was thinning out and got some in exchange. Lots of fun…and depending on how you write the offer you might even get help. I dug up someone else’s flowering orange for example. …now THAT was a lot of work!
      I have columbine in bloom, a sweet little whitish iris, a volunteer grape hyacinth & star of david that we hope to transplant once the leaves die back because they will be tough to mow around. The fuschia is perplexing me by yellowing. Last year’s dahlia roots feel solid but are showing no signs of life so I put pinks and geraniums in the planter. The lemon grass is happy to be in the sun at last.
      And I found out the reason my timer lights stopped working–ants moved into the mechanism! And there I’d been so happy that watering the big stevia with Dr.bronners in the water had killed them off, when I’d just driven them elsewhere. The whole colony is in a baggie in the fridge because my daughter wants to take them to science class…

  55. Mimmy*

    Alison: This post mentions a work/career-related issue but it does lead to a non-work topic, but if this is more appropriate for the Open Thread, please let me know and I’ll move it or wait til next Friday.

    I posted yesterday about turning down an invitation to a job because it potentially involves dealing with students with mental health issues. In fact, that’s one of the primary reasons I’m skittish about a lot of direct contact positions. And I think I know why.

    For years when I was younger, I had a friend with significant mental health issues. In a nutshell, she would call me nearly every day, sometimes more than once a day. Plus, we would frequently get together. In the beginning, it was fine because we were in late teens / early 20s (I’m in my mid-40s now) and talking to your bestie every day is what young people do. But as time went on, it got more and more emotionally intense; she would constantly call me crying about her boyfriend or just unload on me about everything and anything she was upset about; in hindsight, I think a lot it was wildly misconstrued in her mind. There were some “honeymoon” periods where she said she’s changed and things would be really good and even enjoyable.

    This went on for several years and it really took a toll on my own mental health. I’m all for being there for a friend when things are rough, but it seemed to be all. the. time. It felt like I was the only person she could count on because everyone else bailed on her (at least, in her mind). There were times when she would call me at 10, 11 o’clock at night when I’m trying to get to bed.

    There were a couple of times where she would cut ME out for no apparent reason, sometimes for several months. In a way, I would be kinda relieved only to be filled with dread when she would call for the first time in a couple of months.

    There’s so much more to this, but I’m trying to keep things vague so as not to be identifying. All I can say is that it felt like her life revolved around mine and vice versa.

    Although contact eventually waned, I still always dreaded hearing from her. One day when she started calling again (first time in 3 years), I finally said I’d had enough and officially ended the friendship. I do know that she still thinks about me (I’d like to keep how I know private) and I still sometimes worry about her calling again. I even have dreams about her calling or visiting, which fills me with such dread, though the intensity seems to have gone down.

    So long story short, I wonder if there’s some sort of post-traumatic stuff going on. It’s not PTSD of course and I know I have to bring this up to my therapist, but I think hearing about the job I described yesterday brought up some unpleasant memories.

    1. Wishing You Well*

      I’m sorry you were triggered with that job. Please bring up your experience with your therapist. You’ll want to figure out why things happened and how to prevent them from happening again.
      It sounds like you’re on the right track!

    2. Not A Manager*

      I’m not a therapist, but I think something can be traumatic without having to fit whatever the definition of PTSD actually is. You were clearly traumatized by these interactions, and it sounds like you’re having a bit of a “post abuse” kind of response to it. I don’t think you need to scrutinize it to see if it’s officially PTSD or not.

      For me, sometimes planning out in my mind how I would deal with an attempt at renewed contact, can be helpful. Sometimes it’s hard to enforce boundaries in real time as the violation is happening. I’ve had better luck when I think about possible encounters and make a plan for them. Sort of like rehearsing.

      But the key is, once you know that you have good plans in place that work for you, then you put it aside. When the dread hits you, or you start to chew things over, remind yourself that you already HAVE a plan, that’s what you would do, and you don’t have to keep working at it.

      1. Womble*

        Sorry, hit send before I was ready. It can be that strengthening your boundaries and feeling more ok about them might help.

    3. Lilysparrow*

      There are plenty of situations in life where a bad experience makes you wary of repeating it. That’s not necessarily trauma or PTSD. It’s just exercising good judgment.

      You don’t want a job dealing with mentally ill youth because you’ve had enough of that in your life already, and you wouldn’t be good at maintaining professional boundaries about it.

      That is not a problem or an unhealthy response. That is being realistic and practical in choosing a job.

      The issue here, it seems to me, is why do you feel bothered about that? Why does this perfectly sensible, normal decision make you feel like you have to justify it so hard?

    4. Not So NewReader*

      This may not be a job for you.

      That said, I grew up around some pretty weird stuff myself. [Insert long, tedious story here.] Years later I worked with people with many different types of disabilities. (It may have helped that it was a mixed group.)

      I learned a lot. I got to see other staff people work through problems using techniques that I had never seen before. (For example, redirects). Next, I had the authority to say, “No, stop.” It was expected that my instructions were to be followed. If not, move on to #3 difference, people backed me up. They understood what the problem was and they backed me up. And #4 difference, the job ended at the same time each day and I went home.

      Do understand this here: burnout is real. Even if you do not have a background story, you can still burn out fairly quick in a job like this. Not only are you thinking and talking all the time, many times it can feel like there is no success. That feeling of no success can work into a big deal. I had to redefine my idea of success is in order to keep with the job.

      Trying to tie this together a bit. So if you worked with a person who had the same behaviors as your ex-friend, the first thing would be that you would report any recurring upsets you saw. Others would follow up. A plan would be written for what everyone would say when this person exhibited one of the targeted behaviors. You would be told what the plan is and you would follow the instructions of the plan. IF the plan did not work, then you would go back and tell others that the plan has stopped working for you. They would either back you up in some manner OR write a new plan. Plans last about six weeks maybe.

      I couldn’t always keep track of what the current plan was. Then there were days where I was too tired or too over loaded to even follow the plan. Then there were times where the plan was stupid and clearly would never work. Overall there would be improvements but it would take a very long time.

      I learned a lot of life lessons. I learned about drawing my own lines in my personal life. One thought I had with what you are saying here, when you wake up from a dream about her, either think in your head or say out loud, “No, get out of my life. I cannot help you the way you need me to. You can find people who will help, go look for them.” If you are really good, you might be able to just say it in your dream. Sometimes that happens too. Sometimes we can tell people to get out of our dreams and that can help the with the problem dreams.

  56. Melody Pond*

    Is anyone else excited about the CW’s upcoming Batwoman series?? I just watched the first look trailer, and I’m so excited! I’m usually mostly attracted to men, but OH MY GOD Ruby Rose is so unbelievably hot! *swoons*

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Yes, I’m very excited about this series. I’ve loved Supergirl since the beginning, and that’s just gotten better over time. Legends of Tomorrow started out kind of horrible has improved a lot in recent seasons. I think Batwoman‘s going to be great. CW seems to be doing quite well with DC properties (I liked The Flash, but there were just too many seasons to catch up on; never got around to Arrow).

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        P.S. With Disney/Marvel/J.K. Rowling all hinting that “Hey, maybe this character might be gay” or “Here’s some minor character who is gay,” it’s really refreshing to see LGBTQ representation front and center on CW superhero shows.

        1. Melody Pond*

          I know, right?!?! That’s exactly what I was thinking – in my head I was like, “Hey, Marvel? This is what having an openly LGBT character looks like! Take note.”

        2. Foreign Octopus*

          Oh god, that Endgame gay character? All that fuss for three minutes (if that). I mean, I wasn’t as insulted as the huge gay moment in Beauty and the Beast (blink and you’ll miss it), so I’m thrilled that Ruby Rose is heading up a LGBTQ character on a show that has the potential to become big.

    2. Ann O.*

      I am happy for my friends, but personally still cranky about casting such a WASPy looking actress to play a canonically Jewish character. Also, I don’t think it’s been confirmed that the show even remembers Kate Kane is Jewish.

      Representational issues aside, I thought the trailer was cringingly heavy handed on the woman power but looked great otherwise. I’m very intrigued by the villain character, and Ruby Rose looked like she’s going to be a great action lead. Hopefully, her general acting will be solid, too. She’s also remarkably beautiful, and I love that it looks like we get some heavy intimacy in the scenes with her girlfriend. I’m old enough to remember when the network forced Joss to cut away or use visual metaphors for Tara/Willow scenes. It’s nice to see girlfriends being girlfriends.

      1. Melody Pond*

        Ahh, I didn’t know she was Jewish in the comics – but, I tend to know little about the comics unless I find a youtube video about it.

        Re: Ruby Rose’s general acting — today I went back and watched the most recent crossover event between The Flash, Supergirl, and Arrow (I think it was called Else Worlds? It was a three-episode crossover). That was Ruby Rose’s very first appearance as Kate Kane, mostly in the second of the three episodes. To me, she doesn’t seem all that different from how she was in OITNB, just with an American accent – so maybe she’s the type of actor where she just is always herself (kind of like Jeff Goldbum?). But, I really thought it worked well, even if it is just her being herself. I truly enjoyed her mannerisms in what little I saw of this role – the way she walks, talks, carries herself, etc.

        But, given my above biases and predispositions about Ruby Rose, it could also just be that I’d accept and love anything she does in any role. :D

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I liked her in Orange is the New Black so I might check this out, although I’ve been kind of off DC properties lately. Blame my overwhelming zeal for Marvel, lol.

      1. Melody Pond*

        Yeah, the only DC TV property that I’ve kept up with is the Flash. Arrow is a little too broody for me, and weirdly, I find Supergirl a little too bright and cheery, and I just flat out never liked Legends of Tomorrow. The self-referential humor in the Flash has always kept me engaged.

        Also, I think Bruce Wayne as Batman has just been done to death – but I’m very intrigued by what I saw of Ruby Rose in this role. I’ll definitely check out the first few episodes when they come out next fall.

  57. Rainy*

    I had the most frustrating experience that began last weekend and got resolved on Wednesday finally, which doesn’t sound like very long, but was just annoying and ridiculous, partially because of the background involved.

    Last weekend, a woman in another state used my email to sign up for a third-party mortgage app via an agent with Caliber home loans. What this means, practically speaking, is that I could access her home lender web portal. I immediately called the agent in question and left a voice mail asking her to close the account. I also emailed her from that email address asking her to close the account. She did nothing for two days, until I texted her cell phone asking her to close the account. She emailed me back and said it was “probably just a typo” and that she’d take care of it, and then did NOTHING. I did finally get the account closed by emailing support for the app, and they did it within five minutes, since they understood the obvious infosec implications of letting someone use an email they don’t have access to as the login for a web portal that requires that you upload your W-2, tax returns for the last two years, pay stubs for the last month, 401k statements for the last 3 months, and a scan of your DL.

    I’m irritated for myself of course because this was a problem that was just totally unnecessary, but I’m also really appalled on behalf of customers of this mortgage lender, because their agents are really poorly trained. I just don’t understand how getting an email from someone who is demonstrably not the person who claimed that email was theirs doesn’t make you go “oh gosh maybe I should actually verify these addresses”!

    1. fposte*

      I hate when you spend time to be a good Samaritan and nobody seems to care but you. Glad it was taken care of in the end.

      1. Rainy*

        Now if she’ll just stop using that email as her mailing list address so she doesn’t get spam…I’m pretty tired of getting her spam.

        This same woman has been using my email for two years at least, and I know all this personal info about her and her kids, but I really don’t want to phone her up because someone who uses other people’s emails…? I feel like there’s a reasonable chance she’s going to accuse me of stalking her or something cocoa puffs like that.

        1. fposte*

          I am deeply acquainted with the volunteering activities of a woman 2000 miles away from me for similar reasons.

          1. Rainy*

            Oooh the signup genius emails are AMAZING because you can go in and delete all their signups and leave a note for the organizer. :D

            I left one a year or so ago that said “TELL ROBIN TO USE HER OWN FUCKING EMAIL”, it felt amazing.

            1. bkanon*

              I left all zeros on a hotel satisfaction survey after calling the place twice to take my email off someone’s wedding reservations. The final upper echelon customer service apology email was the only satisfactory thing.

        2. a teacher*

          I have a similar but slightly different problem — I was an early adopter of gmail and my email address is my first and last name, both of which are common enough that there quite a few other people with the same name. It is shocking how many people don’t know their own email addresses and how many other people are careless when inputting someone’s email address on a form or whatever, because I’ve had all kinds of really confidential stuff, and if I were an unscrupulous person I could really make some of their lives miserable/steal a bunch of stuff. Among the highlights I’ve received:

          – someone’s eBay account (I logged in and closed the account, I was so annoyed.)
          – someone’s credit card account (I tried and was able to log in to that one, too.)
          – job applications and resumes
          – family photos
          – Someone’s Target online account (yep, managed to log in)
          – I get updates about when it’s time to take someone’s Volvo for a car checkup at the Volvo dealership, and similar ones for some other fool’s Jeep. I have not been able to remove myself from the Jeep mailing list.
          – networking emails — I emailed one back explaining the situation and asking to please remove me from her mailing list and got a reply asking if I was sure we’d never met. Yeah, lady. I live in another country. Pretty sure I’ve never been to a networking event in Indiana.
          – mailing list for what I think was parents of some high school sports team coordinating driving them to events or something. Oh, the cascades of emails. I emailed them rather saltily and explained the situation (I’m not proud) and eventually got off the mailing list. Then the next year I was on it again!

          I’m just sad other people with my name (and this is definitely several different people) are so useless with email!

          1. Blue Bunny*

            OMG are you me? I could have written this word for word. I’ve also gotten:

            – A huge medical record file in PDF, including detailed appointment notes, medication lists, and X rays.
            – TONS of financial records/scanned checks/credit reports (someone with my name is a notary)
            – Endless sailing invitations from a “ladies who lunch” club in Hawaii (kinda want to just show up for this one)

            And my least favorite, detailed project specifications from a defense contractor. I was sure I was going to disappear to a black site for that one.

            1. a teacher*

              OMG, that last one! Wow!

              Your comment about the medical record file reminds me of being on the other side (nearly). My gynaecologist’s receptionist gave me the wrong email address for me to send her my medical records, including some fun ultrasound photos. Photos of *inside my uterus*, folks. Luckily I checked the email address on the website before sending. (This was not in America, not sure what the legal implications would have been, but what a thing to get wrong.)

              1. LuckySophia*

                The office printer in our marketing agency can receive faxes. Who faxes anymore, right? Well I’ll tell you: pharmacies. Several times a year, I receive prescription-related documents that a pharmacy is trying to send to a medical office. With excruciating detail about the patient’s name, address, condition and drugs. Each time, I phone the pharmacy and explain the problem, and tell them they need to re-program their fax, because the number they have in there is NOT the medical office they are seeking. And they are Vastly.Unconcerned.About.Correcting.It. …no matter how many times I intone “HIPPA VIOLATION!” Makes me crazy.

                1. valentine*

                  Why not report them for the HIPPA violation? Each time.

                  Logging in to other people’s accounts sounds like cybercrime.

                  I’m surprised you all can’t unsubscribe or close accounts that use your email. For Robin, maybe suggest the mortgage people add an email verification step. I might call Robin, list everything I know about her and the fam, in detail so excruciating, I annoy myself, and politely ask her to stop using my email.

                  This reminds me of the commenter who couldn’t make a woman with the same name understand that she did not automatically own her email username across platforms.

          2. Rainy*

            This person (“Robin”) has been using my email so long, this is what I know about her:

            Name, address, home and cell phones, current and previous employers, lending agent, that she is selling her house, that she has two kids, the name and school of the older and what sport she plays, the older kid’s cell phone number, what kind of phones the family uses (they break them a lot).

          3. Sc@rlettNZ*

            I’ve had a similar thing happen to me as well. How can people not know their own email addresses? It drives me nuts. I was also an early user of Gmail and have firstname.lastname@gmail. While I don’t have a super-common surname, there are a few of us around.

            I know this about the woman who uses my email address: She lives in the US (I don’t), she has pets, she’s Jewish, she plays golf, she signs up for lots of meal trains and other fundraising causes …. The first few times I replied to folk letting them know that they had the wrong address – now I just delete and block.

          4. Ariaflame*

            Someone used my email address for their fortnite account. I don’t know if it was for the game or just buying extra stuff.

        3. Bobstinacy*

          I’ve been dealing with this same thing for well over 6 years at this point and this thread is making me feel so much better about it.

          The woman using my email address has had so much personal information sent to me that it makes me itch. Her kids schools were emailing me a lot of information about her kids for a bit, she works in banking/finance I think because I’ve had several different people email me very personal financial information trying to get mortgages etc. I’ve had invites to girls nights, pictures of vacations, and damn near every kind of website signup you can imagine. Also flight reservations, credit card bills with all her information on it, dentist/doctor offices with test results…

          I used to email people and let them know that they’re emailing a random Canadian woman, not their Florida based woman with the same name and finally gave up.

          A couple of months ago she and her husband joined a country club, I googled it and its apparently very fancy. So I logged into her newly created online account for the club and changed every field except the phone number to something along the lines of “How do you not know your own email address? Seriously, is it that hard to memorize? Stop using my email address, I’m tired of getting your emails. Figure it out.” I’m hoping she’ll get embarrassed at her new country club and maybe, just maybe, learn her own damn email address.

    2. Oldster*

      I’m having this with some school in Florida. Every new teacher seems to get my email address (appears to be the parents). Have no idea where the problem is but you would think that when you get no response that you would verify the address with the student.

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Some woman apparently was applying for personal loans and used my cell phone number. That was an interesting week, but it’s died down.

    4. Jen RO*

      I was also a Gmail early adopter and there are several people in at least two countries (US and Malaysia) who think my address is theirs. (I am in neither of those countries.) I’ve never gotten anything confidential, but I did get:
      * A request from someone who was divorcing an American but wanted to remain the US, asking “Jen” for a letter to help her with her visa.
      * Kindergarten schedule.
      * B&N account with the card details saved.
      * Several dating sites (and I think one of them was a man – my email handle is a variation of Jen)
      * Phone bills from Malaysia (this Jen is always late on them)
      * Endless mailing lists

      I emailed back when it sounded important (and I mostly got replies), and I closed down the B&N and dating site accounts. I just delete the rest.

      1. Ethyl*

        Seconding the springs! Gus will fetch them but he also entertains himself endlessly with them! My favorite is when he’ll drop one then go hide around the corner so he can “sneak up” on it lololol!!!

        1. Polar Bear Don't Care*

          I now have 25 springs for my cat. She loses them regularly but with so many she can usually find one (and my husband will go spring-hunting every few days to retrieve the lost ones). They’re her favourite toy and pretty inexpensive too!

        2. Lcsa99*

          I agree on the springs too! One of our kitties just loves to throw them in the air and pounce on them. He hardly plays with anything else but he adores the springs.

      2. CatCat*

        My mom’s kitten also LOVES the springs and also fetches them. It’s adorable/hilarious!

        I got him one of the tunnels (it is actually three tunnels that meet in the middle) and he is bonkers for it!

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      A good one is the stick with a colored (rainbow) rope on the end. We’ve had three cats, and they’ve all loved that one.

      Also, get an empty cardboard box. That’s also a big hit with kitties!

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        The rainbow one! It’s this, I think:
        https://amzn.to/2VACdaC

        Olive was obsessed with this for a while and I wanted to buy another and could not figure out the search terms to use to find it, until my husband pointed out that it’s a caterpillar, which I had totally missed.

        1. Cruciatus*

          I actually thought they might mean the Cat Dancer. It’s just a stick with a long piece of fabric–sometimes rainbow but there are many different kinds. Mine was called something like the Cat Dancer Cat Charmer. That’s a favorite.

          I took a cardboard box and cut holes into it (instead of paying like $30+ to buy something like this with pre-holes). Anyway, that’s a lot of fun. It makes it harder to play the star chaser (ball on a circular track with the cardboard box on its side nearby. The kitten likes to stick his paw out to try and reach the ball). You can also hide toys in the holes. And when your cat trashes the box you just get more stuff from Chewy and you have another box!

        2. Lena Clare*

          Laser pen!

          And omg my cats are obsessed with anything wriggly on a stick that I can move just out of reach so they have to jump up to get it. They love it.

          1. WS*

            I got a laser pointer for my cats. They were really excited for about a minute, then they looked around and realised I was holding the laser, gave me a look of Great Disgust, and never played with it again! But if it’s a feather on a stick, it’s totally fine that I’m holding it, no big deal.

            1. Lena Clare*

              Oh that’s so funny, really!
              Mine know that I’m holding it, but they love it. As soon as they hear me pick it up they look all alert like *where’s she going to point it now?*

        3. Anonymous Educator*

          I honestly don’t remember what it was originally called or even where we got it (I think at a local pet store), but ours is similar to that but a little different. It’s a long transparent plastic stick with a rainbow soft fabric “rope” attached to it.

        4. Works in IT*

          I just ordered the springs for them, so far their favorite toy is actually the ball that goes along the track in a circle. They sit one on either side of the track and bounce it at each other, and if one of them starts playing with it the other comes running!

    2. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

      According to my cats…bugs. They don’t eat them, but play with them until they die from blunt force trauma. Then they look at their parents like “why is my toy not moving?”

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      If they’re like my kitty, cat toys will not be needed. He prefers trash.

      Only things I’ve bought he uses is his cat tree and corrugated scratching boxes LOL. Laser pointer is a hit too! Otherwise gimme milk-rings and the clear tabs that come off deli foods. He carries them in his teeth and plays happily.

      1. Gir*

        Sounds like my cats. Favorite toys in no particular order:

        Cardboard boxes
        Bags. Preferably paper. Plastic will work in a pinch
        Tops of any “pull here to open” bags
        Milk rings
        Tops of any kind of bottle (pop/milk/etc.)
        Hair ties
        Random bits of string
        Bugs
        Rays of sunlight and the beams from headlights at night
        And (rarely) the cheap 3 for $2 catnip mice

        1. Gir*

          Oh. I forgotten crumpled up pieces of paper. The louder the paper the better. They prefer parchment paper (like the kind you cook with)

    4. Rainy*

      Springs, the foil material balls, bigger toys they can fight with (I like the ones that have crunchy foil stuff inside because my cat likes to hear the crunch), smaller toys filled with catnip they can toss around. Our cat LOVES the tiny foam soccer balls. Also treat-dispensing toys are good. Get lots of scratching stuff (we have a giant kitty condo and also some cardboard scratchers, one with a ball race). We have the Catit I think it’s called a “wellness station” or something? We call it her throne, and she ADORES it. We also have a Catit flower fountain, and her downstairs food is in the Catit cup feeder and the upstairs food is in the Catit food puzzle tree. (I just like Catit products!)

      Whether you get a Catit fountain or not, definitely have a fountain on each level of your place, minimum. We also offer still water just to cover the bases. The fountains are good for cats not just because the water is moving, which they love, but because the filters are good for the cats’ health according to my vet. Clean your fountains with vinegar and hot water every 2 weeks and change the filter. Also you can disassemble the pump and clean it out periodically, and you should. I have an old toothbrush and a narrow straw brush that I use only for pet fountain cleaning.

      1. Brilliant Mistake*

        Agree on the fountains! Cats love running water. I bought and discarded several commercial fountains for getting kind of slimy too quickly (despite using filtered water WITH a carbon filter inside the fountain) and found them to be a PITA to take apart, clean fully, and reassemble. I tried different companies, etc. and finally found one I like on Etsy. It’s hand-made ceramic and the colors are beautiful. Also, they are quick and easy to clean. (I think maybe the plastic of the previous ones was problematic with the slimyness?). I think the Etsy shop was called something like Thirsty Cat. Highly recommend!

        I’ll have to investigate the Catit wellness center, though — I’ve never seen it before, and it looks so interesting!

    5. Tris Prior*

      Honestly, my kittens’ favorites have been paper grocery bags and the crunchy brown packing paper that comes in orders from Chewy!

      Anything that they can pick up in their little kitten mouths and carry around has been their preference. The little plastic springs, small rattly mice, the lightweight Mylar sparkle balls. Be careful with feather toys and string toys until you are reasonably sure they won’t swallow them; I had a cat who could not be left unsupervised around string – found that out after an incident requiring a kitty ER visit – but my current crew seems content to bat and chew but not swallow.

    6. Angwyshaunce*

      It’s also fun to experiment with random stuff around the house. For instance, my kitty loves those plastic rings that come on containers (like sour cream or ice cream).

    7. Worked in IT forever*