weekend free-for-all – May 25-26, 2019

the Ukrainian edition

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: Tomorrow There Will Be Sun, by Dana Reinhardt. Family dysfunction and vacations gone horribly wrong — two of my favorite genres! Very enjoyable in a beachy way.

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

{ 1,245 comments… read them below }

  1. Lena*

    Has anyone here gotten rid of cable but still watches a variety of programming? How have you done it? I never really watch my cable anymore but I can’t wrap my head around how it would work to get rid of it.

    1. Effie, who gets to be herself*

      I watch mostly Netflix, and YouTube. PBS uploads their news hour to YouTube the same day.

      1. caseyj*

        Effie this is wonderful news! We are starting a home reno project and I won’t have access to our “cable box” but i can watch youtube from our “smart” tv.

    2. Gir*

      We have Netflix and Hulu, but my boyfriend is a channel surfer. So while I’m sure he could find things to watch on Netflix/Hulu, he prefers cable as it let’s him flip through channels.

      I’d honestly be happy to get rid of cable, which is why we subscribed to the two. Instead, we’re in the position where I prefer streaming, and he prefers cable, so we have both.

      1. Formerly Known As*

        That’s how I am. I can’t bring myself to cut out cable because I like the spontaneity of being able to flip through channels but when my monthly rate shot up a couple of years ago, I downgraded my package. I now get about half the channels I used to. I lost a few that I like, but mostly I lost sports and kids’ channels that I never watched anyway. I also have Netflix and Hulu, so I’m good. Because I’m single and it’s just me watching, I have the lowest price tiers for both streaming services.

        1. WellRed*

          I downgraded my package this week and need to set up Roku. I also prefer sometimes to just flip through channels.

          1. Nessun*

            I love my Roku, there are some truly random free channels on there. Personal faves when I just want something on on the background is the ISS feed – view of earth from the space station, with generic music playing.

        2. MahCiii*

          Pluto is a great (free) app that lets you flip through channels. Content is pretty old, but I found this paired with Netflix was enough for me

      2. pancakes*

        I get cable channels through Hulu’s live feature and that works perfectly for me. The only channels I really care about are TCM and news and it offers those, plus lots of others I never watch. There are a lot of sports channels, if that’s a concern. I also have Criterion Channel, Britbox, Netflix, Kanopy, and Amazon and use those a lot too.

    3. Jimming*

      I had a hard time letting go of cable but glad I did. I have an Apple TV and subscribe to Netflix, Hulu, HBO and Amazon Prime so I always have something to watch. Plus I buy movies/TV on either Apple or Amazon sometimes. I still pay for cable internet but I was already subscribed to these services AND had cable so it does save money in comparison. Plus I usually cancel HBO when John Oliver is off for over a month

    4. Asenath*

      I could do it, but when I realized I was watching Netflix more than cable, and called my cable company to cancel my service they offered me a deal too good to turn down – I have other services from them (Internet, phone), and for a few dollars a month I have cable and free long distance. When that deal runs out, I’ll cancel again – who knows, they might offer me another deal, but if they don’t, I don’t think I’d miss cable.

    5. Angwyshaunce*

      We just have a computer hooked up to the television, and a wireless keyboard & mouse.

    6. Madge*

      We dropped cable about 10 years ago and just get internet and phone from the cable company. It’s still pretty expensive, but I could be better at calling to “cancel” for a deal. But we watch significantly less TV and there’s no more channel surfing to see what else is on. We’re much more intentional. We subscribe to Netflix and Amazon, and use a Roku box to stream them to our TV. Roku also provides its own streaming service and other channels. I like Roku because it’s not tied to a service like Apple TV or some of the others, so it doesn’t exclude any streaming services. Your TV is probably newer than ours, and you might be able to connect to streaming accounts through your TV. Or maybe you have a gaming box or a DVD player that can do that.

      We live in an area where we can’t get broadcast channels, like NBC, without cable; even an antenna would only get us a pbs station. But that’s because we live in a rural, mountainous area. Most people can get all the major broadcast channels without an antenna. As an experiment, you could try disconnecting the cable from your TV and see what broadcast channels you can easily get. Maybe keep it that way for a week. There’s a website where you can enter in your zip code and see what broadcast channels you can get with an antenna. And if you already subscribe to a streaming service you could see if you can connect it to your tv now with what you have. Then it’s simply a matter of calling to disconnect the cable.

      1. Tennie*

        Another vote for roku. We subscribe to Netflix, Acorn (lots of British, NZ, Australian shows), and Classic Reel (old movies). Saved a significant amount of money and have lots more to watch. The only shortcoming is the lack of sports — those channels are very expensive and, oddly, require you to be a cable subscriber. I just won’t shell out the $ for what little sports I’d like to see.

      2. Catherine Tilney*

        Is there a good way to just get ESPN? We went without cable/ satellite for a few years, but my husband is a sports fan, so we went back to cable. Does Roku or any of those systems have a good sports package?

        1. JamieS*

          You might be able to add the ESPN channel to your Roku and just pay for that. There’s an ESPN+ subscription service but not sure if that has the same lineup as regular ESPN. If not, Sling has a sports package add-on for $10ish but you have to subscribe to a Sling channel lineup which are $20-30+ a month.

          Other than sports, there’s always Amazon Prime video if you have a Prime membership and you can get free TV from a variety of Roku channels by just searching for free TV. However it’ll either be older shows or indie/less known shows.

    7. Pharmgirl*

      Yes! It’s been about a year now – I found that I was really only watching on-demand or specific DVR recorded shows, and the cost of cable just kept going up. So I switched to Internet only and got Roku. I LOVE the Roku – I have the stick so theoretically I can take it anywhere, thought I haven’t needed to. I already had Netflix and Amazon Prime, and decided to go for Hulu w/o commercials, with the HBO/Shotime add-ons, and I’m still saving almost 50% from when I had cable.

      I don’t feel like I can’t watch any shows I watched before, with the caveat that I never watched sports or reality TV, so I’m not exactly sure what those offerings are. There are some Roku channels that ask for cable provider logins before giving you access, and I used the login’s of a family member who still had cable. But I’m really glad I cut cable, I’m saving more, and as was mentioned by Madge I feel I’m more deliberate about what I want to watch.

    8. Overeducated*

      I’ve never had cable and for some reason reception in my building is so bad we can’t even get the public access channels, but we have Netflix. I mainly only miss it for big live events like the Olympics and Oscars but you may get those if you can get the public access channels.

    9. Rebecca*

      I’d ditch it in a minute – I called Comcast/Xfinity, their recommendation was for me to buy my own modem and get a Roku stick for the other TV to save money. BUT – my mother is still unable to correctly work a simple Comcast remote after years of having it. She calls me at work “Rebecca, the screen is black”. Yep, you pressed input again. She can’t use the guide. And, she watches weird stuff that’s only on cable. All I care about are sports, so that’s another issue. I can watch reddit streams for what I want to watch, but she isn’t able to learn or do anything regarding technology.

      I’m trying to figure out what Verizon offers. I just wish I could get a channel list so I can see if the channels she watches (usually Hallmark movies, QVC, Fox News, and fire and brimstone televangelists are covered).

        1. Rebecca*

          Thanks, I’m aware of that, and still can’t find an actual list. “And many more” isn’t helpful, as my mother watches specific things, is set in her ways, and will notice immediately if one of her programs isn’t there.

          1. CB*

            I have a quasi-solution! The TV Guide website has channel listings for every provider. You can visit the link below, click “customize your listings”, and once you enter your zip code it will let you pick a specific provider. I don’t believe you can see specific packages, but you could at least see what channels are available.

    10. Red Sky*

      Yes! We cut the cable cord about a year ago when Google Fiber internet finally became available in our neighborhood and haven’t looked back. We purchased an HD Digital Antenna for our local channels and a Roku for streaming Netflix and DirecTvNow. There are also a lot of free streaming platforms available on Roku, we’ve added PBS, Pluto and a few others. At some point we’ll probably cancel the Directvnow and switch to Sling if Sling ever gets Animal Planet.

    11. ATX Language Learner*

      I haven’t had cable in 6 years or so. I use Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, sometimes I’ll sign up for Hulu if there’s a show I want to watch. I love Amazon Prime, they have channels like showtime you can subscribe to. All in all, I probably pay on average 20 dollars a month.

    12. Falling Diphthong*

      We have never owned a regular TV, which over time has meant less and less as to whether we watch TV.

      For stuff airing live–Amazing Race, Brooklyn 99–I watch the next day (or at some point in the next few weeks) on the channel’s website. I have Netflix for most shows, Amazon Prime for the shipping and hey there’s TV, and am unwilling to pay for more streaming options, though I will straight buy a season from Amazon if it’s a cable show I really like.

    13. NewKicks*

      I have a Roku and will watch YouTube videos and recently aired TV shows that some networks let you stream for free (like if you go to the CW website you’ll see a bunch of shows are available for streaming). I also subscribe to Hulu, Netflix or Prime (I only subscribe to one at a time…I choose a few shows or movies I want to watch, then subscribe for a month or a few months until I finish, then switch to another provider for a while).

    14. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      Most TV channels stream on Youtube. Sports events are behind a paywall and stream with significant delay, but there are exceptions (usually there’s an IP restriction in place). My favourite TV shows are not aired here, so it’s either Netflix or Torrent. And if I too bored, I listen to the radio.

    15. DataGirl*

      We have Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. I mostly watch Hulu. The only irritating thing is how so many networks/entities are breaking off and making their own streaming services, like BBC, CBS all access, and now Disney is making their own service. Those shows then disappear from the main services and you have to subscribe to more and more if you want to watch a variety of shows.

      1. JamieS*

        With Disney starting their own branded streaming service I’m hoping Hulu, and other channels Disney owns like ESPN and Fox, will eventually be merged with it for an all in one platform.

    16. OperaArt*

      To combine streaming with channel flipping, try PS Vue or Sling TV. They give you most of the usual cable channels. I use PS Vue (PlayStation Vu) on my Roku along with Netflix, Amazon, PBS, and YouTube.

    17. Book Lover*

      This is the opposite of what you asked, sort of, but for what it’s worth – when we canceled cable I stopped watching tv. We have Netflix, amazon prime, Hulu, and Crunchyroll, and I don’t watch any of them. I used to enjoy having home improvement shows on in the background and I know these are on these services but it just doesn’t happen. I do have some regrets about that.

    18. Aphrodite*

      I watch what I want online on my laptop. But then I don’t care about current shows. I haven’t owned a television in about 27 years so that’s easy for me.

    19. Peggy*

      Hulu plus is $40/month and you can flip channels through live TV. for me, it’s perfect – it has every single channel I watched on regular TV as well as full seasons on demand, DVR, and tons of movies. I cut cable a year ago and added Hulu plus and have saved about $65 a month. I was paying over 200 for basic cable and internet, now I pay $130 for internet and Hulu. it’s not CHEAP now but I’ve saved something like $800 in one year without sacrificing a single show I used to watch on regular tv.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yeah, when my folks move in next door we’re actually going to do Hulu Plus and split it. They currently have cable and a land line but when they move they’re getting rid of both and just doing internet, Netflix, and Hulu Plus.

    20. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Call me old fashioned…. I have an antenna for my TV and our landline comes with internet service. Amazon Prime videos and full-season DVD boxes from the library could fill more screen time than we have.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Only frustration is that we’re rural enough that we need to upgrade the antenna before we’ll get to watch ABC again!

    21. Sara*

      I can’t say I fully dropped it because I sign into my parents’ cable account to watch certain things (mostly sports), but I haven’t personally had cable for nearly 2 years. I have Netflix, Hulu (through my Spotify Premium subscription), and Prime. I’ve also tried Sling, Playstation Vue, and Hulu live TV – if I didn’t have access to my parents’ account, I probably would’ve kept one of those.

      Hands down the best $17 I ever spent, though, was on an HD antenna. It won’t work for everyone—it depends on where you live—but it’s basically a thin sheet of plastic that hangs in my window. That takes care of network TV (ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, PBS) which goes a long way. I bought it with the intention of returning it if it didn’t work well before I stopped my cable subscription. They’re inexpensive enough to test out like that.

    22. CatCat*

      We have a wall mounted antenna that gets us network TV (there are also a ton of “in between” channels that I’d never seen before like we have channel 3 and then also channel 3.2 and these channels are kind of specialized like one just shows old timey TV shows). We mostly use the antenna when we want to watch PBS.

      Otherwise, we stream things. We have Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu. We also will add on things like Starz, HBO Now, and CBS All Access when there are shows we want to watch on those and then we drop them when we are done with the show. We stream through our Playstation or through our Google Chromecast. Easy peasy.

      We also check out DVDs for free from the library.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        Yeah, if you’re a channel-flipper and aren’t married to specific shows (or sports) broadcast has a ton more options than it did before the switch to digital. There are pretty much always old sitcoms and movies on if that’s the kind of thing you want to watch.

        In the last year or so, I moved out of a shared living situation in which someone else was paying for cable (due to wanting to have every sports channel in existence) to my own home, and I realized that the only two channels I was DVRing things off of that I couldn’t get with an antenna were Food Network and Pop (which re-runs Beverly Hills 90210, and I was catching up on a couple of seasons that aired after I lost interest initially). There used to be a bunch of stuff I watched on BBC America, but they’ve had less and less stuff for the past 5 years or so, and every time I like a show on SyFy they cancel it, so I realized I could buy DVDs of those few seasons of 90210, let the Food Network stuff go for a while since it’d been a while since they’d started a new series I found interesting anyway, and really, the only thing I miss cable for is sports.

        The NWSL streams their games, so this time of year it mostly means that I focus on women’s sports rather than men’s, which isn’t a bad thing. It was annoying when our local basketball team was still in the playoffs, though, since before the current era of big money tv contracts those playoff games were always on broadcast as long as the local team was still in and now the NBA won’t let them do local market broadcasts after the first round. I don’t care about baseball or gridiron football enough to know the broadcast versus cable status for those sports. I mildly enjoy watching some of the “Olympic” sports such as gymnastics, field events, curling, and so on, but there are only so many hours in the day and if I want to watch random people curling and don’t care if it’s live, there are probably a bunch of amateur matches on YouTube. As it happens, I have still not gotten around to looking for them in over a year, so apparently I’ve just found other things to fill that time with. I’ve been meaning to start attending local high school track and field stuff live with some of that time and money I’m not spending on cable, but I haven’t actually followed through with that either.

      1. Trixie*

        I also wanted to add I like the idea of DirectTV but as a renter, options are limited for space/duration. I needed streaming options that offered multiple benefits (Amazon Prime, Hulu with spotify, etc) or carried the current shows I watch such as AMC, BBC, etc.

    23. The Other Dawn*

      I’d love very much to cancel cable; however, I can’t seem to bring myself to do it. I don’t know why since I don’t watch a ton of shows anymore. I do, however, love my Golden Girls. If I knew I could still watch that then I might try cutting the cord. (I haven’t done any research, so there is likely a way to watch.) I think being able to channel surf is something I feel like I would miss, although I don’t spend all night or weekend watching TV like I used to. I DVR my shows usually, but even then I don’t sit down more than a few times a week to watch.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        If it’s one or two specific shows like that, you can also cost out how many months of cable bill would it take to buy the series on DVD. For Golden Girls, it appears that you could buy it for about $60 on Amazon, so depending on your cable bill and if there are also other shows, that could be something that you’d make back your investment on in a month or two.

    24. Lilysparrow*

      Yes, we have cable internet only, and a Roku box on the TV.

      We watch Netflix, YouTube, occasionally get something on Amazon, and our public library has a free streaming service for movies and TV shows that has many things that aren’t available elsewhere online.

      From time to time we’ll borrow DVDs from the library as well, to watch on the computer. But that’s only if there’s a particular show we’re looking for. It’s not conducive to browsing.

      If keeping current on the latest episode of popular shows is important to you, our system wouldn’t work. But there is more than enough good, new-to-us content that we still bingewatch more than we should.

    25. bunniferous*

      Roku box. We have Amazon Prime, but we have access to both free and paid programming. I have more than I can watch. I watch Youtube on Roku too.

    26. De Minimis*

      Netflix, YouTube, AmazonPrime. I get my news from various news websites. The only issue I ran into is when I lived in places with severe weather, I usually would try to get weather updates on the radio. I haven’t been into network TV shows in a long time, so don’t really miss those.

      The only real “sacrifice” I guess is that I often won’t watch a TV series on its initial run unless it’s available on a service to which I subscribe, but there’s so much out there to watch that I don’t really care.

      I’ve also just discovered that the streaming service my library uses has a Roku app, so that’s great too.

      1. De Minimis*

        What really caused me to cut the cord a few years ago was when I had cable and realized that I’d go days without even turning the TV on [this was before I had a Roku setup.]

    27. Jaid*

      My Roku has a lot of stations on it, so you can pick and choose what you want to watch. I don’t pay for anything (my BFF gave me her Netflix password for Hanukkah), except for Britbox. PlutoTV is a station with different shows on it like cable…just with ads.

    28. Elizabeth West*

      Netflix, Hulu, Britbox, and PBS. I need to watch more of the last two to justify keeping them.

    29. Bluebell*

      Never had cable. We have a Smart TV and also Netflix and Hulu, so we always feel like there’s something to watch, even if just on YouTube.

    30. Ella Vader*

      I ditched cable years ago and don’t miss it. I kept my high speed Internet and use Netflix, YouTube, and buying seasons of TV shows on iTunes. It still is cheaper than when I had cable.

    31. Sam Foster*

      I have an over-the-air digital antennae for live TV like Super Bowl and Apple TV and its various apps for everything else. I buy subscriptions to things I know I want to watch (Good Place, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, etc.), sign up for month(s) of things like HBO (Game of Thrones) or Starz (American Gods) and have Prime from already having an Amazon Prime membership. I also have Netflix. Between those and buying/renting things I want to see I’m plenty entertained and spending a TON less money than cable.

    32. Lemonwhirl*

      We got SkyTV when our son was an infant because we suddenly had a lot of time to sit on the couch. We used it less and less as he got older and used Netflix much more. Then Hurricane Ophelia came and our Sky was out of alignment and we didn’t even notice for a couple of months! That was our cue to cancel the service.
      I watch a lot less crap (no more Teen Mom, Extreme Couponers, etc) and also now have no way to watch news channels, which I think is a positive change.
      Try not using the cable for a week or so and see how it goes. It might be easier than you think.

    33. Kanopy is the best*

      Another great thing in the world is Kanopy – a streaming service that a lot of libraries offer as a service. I have a library card for a library system that makes Kanopy available – there’s a wide variety of stuff available (and some are real rare gems) and you can watch a lot of movies. We get 50 credits a month, which is more than enough. Even with my tendency to “waste” credits on short films.

        1. Karen from Finance*

          Film theory: Lindsay Ellis, Folding Ideas, The Film Theorists, and for a more humourous take Jenny Nicholson.

          Politics: Contrapoints, Some More News, Philosophy Tube.

          Entertainment: longer interview videos like the THR roundtables, or the occasional TED talk or similar.

    34. Little Tin Goddess*

      I got rid of cable last Sept. I have Netflix, Prime and YouTube TV. I had Hulu too but got rid of that just last week. Hubs amd kids watch stuff on YouTube as well. Best decision I ever made. Cable bill was just over $190 a month. My internet bill is $65 a month. YouTube TV is only $45. I already had Netflix and Prime so Im not counting those on my savings. Just try it. You can always go back.

    35. Slartibartfast*

      I have Hulu with live tv and it’s honestly not much different than having cable. I don’t watch the live channels nearly as much as I thought I would but I like having the option.

  2. Stuff*

    So, I’m rewatching Star Trek Deep Space 9 right now, and Season 1 Julian Bashir really is HR’s worst nightmare. It’s actually fascinating how much of a textbook case of sexual harassment his behavior is.

    Chief O’Brien and Kira and the relationship between Quark and Odo are great as always. Can’t wait for Sisko to shave his head, because that’s just plain the right look for him.

    1. Melody Pond*

      Season 1 Julian Bashir really is HR’s worst nightmare

      UGH I know, right?!?! It’s amazing how growing up a little more, especially in the context of a society that is becoming less tolerating of that nonsense, has ruined pieces of shows that I always loved.

      1. Goose Lavel*

        From your question you say you don’t watch cable, it sounds like you don’t watch TV at all.

        But if you do watch TV, what is it you’re watchin? I’d start off by listing the channels and shows you watch to understand your viewing preferences, then you can look into streaming services that provide the program you like.

        Due to disabilites, my wife and I watch a great deal of cable programming and have just about every package available from Comcast Xfinity – HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, Netflix, YouTube and Tubi, with over 200 channels for surfing bundled with internet, phones and Home Security for $350 a month.

        Sounds like a lot per month, but it’s our primary source of entertainment and when you calculate the cost it’s only $.80 an hour.

        I just read an article on the internet yesterday regarding the “true cost of cutting the cord”. Streaming was $200 a month for everything the author and his family wanted to view. He did not not include the cost of an Internet provider as he would have to purchase a HDTV antenna.

      2. Ruffingit*

        I feel the same about Everybody Loves Raymond. That show is basically emotional abuse on the part of Ray toward his wife and severely toxic family members. No thanks.

    2. Concepts*

      Oof, yeah, Bashir is really hard to watch in the first season. The saving grace is most of the other characters don’t like him much at first either, and he changes a lot, but I really could have done without the sexual harassment.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I never really liked DS9 and now I feel the urge to watch a few episodes and find out if that was what I was reacting to. It wasn’t long after I’d had a run-in with an inappropriate craft teacher that caused me to drop something I loved.

    4. CatCat*

      Bashir was so irritating in the first season. Season 1 was one I overall didn’t care for except for the episode “Duet,” which, imo, was one of the best episodes of that show and maybe one of the best episodes of all the Star Trek shows.

    5. Mae*

      I’m watching for the first time, and am at the end of season 2. The past couple of episodes are the first time I have been able to tolerate Bashir. I took a long break to rewatch Buffy though, and I like DS9 more now than when I first started.

    6. Lady Of Tropes*

      TBF, Trek has always been stupendously bad at any kind of romantic stuff. There are exceptions here and there, but even Picard would make any decent HR department facepalm (ref. “Lessons”). Even the movies screw this up, and they don’t have the excuse of being old.

      I love Trek, but they need some writers who don’t write romance like middle schoolers (with apologies to middle schoolers).

  3. Chylleh*

    I couldn’t stand TV ads and got rid of cable about 11 years ago. I borrowed TV shows from the library at first. I eventually rented DVDs from Netflix, then transitioned to their streaming service. If there is a show I really want to see now not available on Netflix or Hulu, I’ll buy a month or two of streaming service to watch the show (American Gods on Starz for example). Shows tend to be short seasons so it’s easy to do and then I cancel.

    I guess it mostly depends on what you want to watch and what you think you’ll miss. There is typically a way to get what you want streaming wise for less cost and no ads. Good luck!

    1. Clisby*

      We’ve never had cable, so no issue with getting rid of it. (I’m always surprised when we go on vacation and think we’ll indulge ourselves in cable-watching, and there’s hardly anything we want to see.) However, we do subscribe to Acorn TV and have Amazon Prime; and for the last season of Game of Thrones I subscribed to HBO through Prime for a couple of months.

  4. matcha123*

    Someone commented in maybe a Thursday thread about the policing of poor people’s spending habits. That reply really resonated with me. Especially the part where she wrote that people want the poor to just go to an empty home and stare at a wall rather than spend money on any kind of entertainment.
    I find it so weird how people who are comfortable will race to put down someone with less money.

    1. Melody Pond*

      I fall prey to this, myself. I’m trying to correct it, as I’ve become more aware of it. I think it’s because our society has a tendency to view “poorness” as a moral failing or character flaw, which I have gradually come to see as ridiculous. I still struggle with not judging other people when I see them make really big financial decisions that seem obviously terrible, but I will say that since stumbling onto Elizabeth Warren’s “All Your Worth,” I’m much better about not internally nit-picking people over how they spend mere pennies.

      (One of Warren’s main things in that book is, “count the dollars, not the pennies.”)

      1. Ms Cappuccino*

        “Our society has a tendency to view “pooorness” as a moral failing.”
        It makes me wonder if this is a cultural thing, because where I am from this tends to be the opposite. If you are rich, something must be wrong with you, you must be dishonest. If you are poor, you are probably honest and a victim of capitalism.

          1. fposte*

            I’m not sure that’s a lot better, though; it’s still “there’s something wrong with people not like me.”

          2. Square Root Of Minus One*

            I don’t think it’s incredible either.
            I live in a country where it looks like everyone fancies themselves “middle class” (I promise, sometimes I think everybody’s definition of wealthy is “wealthier than me”).
            So we get both the attitudes about looking down at the state-subsidized and thinking anyone wealthier profits from the system.
            I don’t believe our system is perfect, far from it, but that’s honestly just annoying.

        1. Wishing You Well*

          “Poorness as a moral failing” started in the U.S. with the Puritans. Being prosperous back then was taken as a sign God favored and approved of you. So…being poor would mean the opposite. The Puritans really had some messed up thinking, but their attitudes persist. We need to drop this idea about poverty.

        2. Anon Anon Anon*

          I’ve seen that in the U.S. too. It can go both ways here.

          I finally noticed that the people who will fault you for being poor are generally the same exact people who will fault you for being rich. It’s a bully thing – looking for differences to ridicule. Of course picking on poor people is more damaging.

          1. JustKnope*

            I disagree that faulting the rich is “looking for differences to ridicule.” This isn’t different music choices or a difference in personality. Being rich in the U.S. gives you disproportionate access to healthcare, safety, and opportunities to get more money. I’m not saying the rich are necessarily moral failures, but the existence of ultra-rich people in a society IS a structural/societal failure, and that’s not really about “differences” it’s about the system being stacked against poor people. Critiquing the system that causes fundamental inequality isn’t ridicule.

            1. Anon Anon Anon*

              I agree! My post wasn’t very well worded. I was referring to criticizing individuals for “being rich” (plus negative stuff about rich people) when it’s a relatively minor difference – or no difference at all – from the criticizer. For example, when someone makes snide remarks about your “rich” house or car or job even though your expenses and income levels are about the same. The people who call me a “spoiled rich b-” when I have a new (used) car or an office job are the same people who call me “stupid and lazy” when I have an older, beat-up car and/or work in a restaurant. That kind of thing.

              1. Anon Anon Anon*

                I mean not actually being rich but having one thing that appears to be “nice” – like just having a 9-5 job. I’ve never actually been rich so I’ve never been attacked for actually being in that situation. Just for random things that were situational (house sitting in a nicer house than I could afford to rent!).

        3. Weeping Willow*

          I think it also goes both ways in the US. I’m not 1% wealthy but I earn a very good income. I often feel like people think I’m somehow gaming the system. Even in this thread, father down, someone commented that only 10% of Americans are able to take the mortgage interest deduction and they assume that 10% are extra wealthy. I was able to claim the mortgage interest deduction. Not because I have a million dollar home, but in large part because I also donated several thousand dollars to non-profits. I’m paying my fair share. And then some!

          1. Budgie Buddy*

            It’s true. If people do have benefited from some good financial habits I say more power to them. I’d rather see people doing okay for themselves financially than stressed out because they’re living paycheck to paycheck.

        4. Jules the 3rd*

          “Poor is a moral failing” is very strong in America. Puritans were really into it.

      2. Madge*

        I wonder if some people have a Great Depression era mental image of what “real” poverty looks like, and if people don’t meet that stereotype, including the clothing, then they’re not really poor and must be scamming.

      3. anonagain*

        I love this comment, Melody Pond.

        “All Your Worth” is my favorite book on personal finance because it is realistic and humane. If I remember correctly, and it has been quite some time, I think Warren and Warren Tyagi also briefly touch on some of the structural issues that have made it harder for people to buy homes, retire, etc.

        Another book you might find interesting is “Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much” by Sendhil Mullainathan (a behavioral economist) and Eldar Shafir (a psychologist). They talk about the ways that poverty is expensive and how scarcity of any kind can trap people in a cycle of more scarcity.

      4. dumblewald*

        I’m by no means poor, but I did have a contractor job for two years where I was living paycheck to paycheck, and that alone gave me a little bit of insight into what it might look for working class, economically insecure people in the US who don’t have stable, salaried jobs. It was really hard to plan out my life and spending in advance, because I didn’t know how much I was going to make next month or even the next 2 weeks. It wasn’t as bad as not being able to pay rent/utilities (a reality for poor people), but it was still very annoying. I also couldn’t pay upfront for a lot of things that would save me money in the long run, because I didn’t have the cash on hand. So overtime, I was spending inefficiently because I had no choice. I have since gotten a better paying job, thank goodness, but I recently moved and was surprised by how few things I own.

        There is a really good book called “Poor Economics” that really explains how poor people spend money very well. Most of their case studies are from the South Asia region (it’s written by an Indian economist). They talk about some case studies in the US as well. A lot of poverty alleviation programs try to focus on increasing poor people’s access to capital to get them out of the poverty trap.

    2. Asenath*

      I think some people just like criticizing other people, not just the poor. Certain people are always gossiping and complaining about their neighbour’s spending practices, or that relative who works, but is always looking for a bit of extra help while spending on expensive food and toys for their kids. But the poor make an especially easy target. I think it’s worse in a way in countries where the poor get government help. Sure, it all comes from taxes, and I think it’s wrong to pretend that any government service is “free” – but there are people who will look at the spending of those on social assistance and think “that’s MY money they’re spending, and they shouldn’t be spending it on (entertainment, cigarettes, etc) because I wouldn’t waste it that way”. Some of that group might be just as critical of their employed neighbour’s wasteful ways, but they’re more critical of those who waste tax money.

      1. Penny Parker*

        Actually, they THINK they are ” more critical of those who waste tax money”, but they are not. They are more critical of those whom they can look down upon and feel superior to. If they were worried about “tax money” then they would care about all the coporate welfare. Do you realize how many large corporations get tax refunds and/or pay NO taxes at all? The real tax scamming comes from the richest among us.

        1. Overeducated*

          Yup. People also don’t think about things like the mortgage interest tax deduction as a benefit they are getting with other people’s money….

          1. Clisby*

            Or about h0w taxpayers often are essentially subsidizing health insurance provided by employers.
            (With the passage of the new tax law, it’s estimated that only about 10% of people paying mortgage interest will be able to take a deduction – I can only assume the 10% are extra wealthy).

            1. fposte*

              It’s about how much you deduct, though, not how much you make. So while it’s true people with much higher property taxes will be much likelier to find it advantageous, there’s a cap on what you can deduct there, and it’s also advantageous to people who had high medical costs or who had losses in natural disasters.

    3. Anne (with an “e”)*

      When I was growing up my mother used to say that no one truly knows another’s finances. I remember her pointing out that some families, who on the surface, appeared to be doing very well could be living “pay check to pay check.” Whereas a family that appeared to be poor might have quite a lot in savings. She always stressed that no one truly knows anybody’s sources of income nor, likewise, all their expenses. She always emphasized that appearances are very deceiving. Anyhow, I quickly learned to never judge another family’s, or person’s spending habits.

      1. Thursday Next*

        This is a really valuable lesson for parents to impart to their children. Your mom was wise.

        1. Anon Anon Anon*

          Yes! I wish this was more widely known. Someone’s fancy house and car could be rentals or on a loan that most people would qualify for. I mean they didn’t necessarily buy those things outright or start with a standard down-payment. Whereas the person with the old car and modest house could be spending their money on other things.

    4. MissDisplaced*

      I’m not surprised at all. In America we are indoctrinated constantly with the message that ‘if you’re poor, it’s your own fault.’ Once you become aware of how these messages play out, you see things clearly.

    5. dumblewald*

      Ugh, some people are just assholes who undermine other people, especially minorities. EVERY poor person is a self-sabotaging sloth, rather than a victim of a systemic issue, given how many of them there are? Please! It’s like how EVERY woman who claims to be sexually assaulted is a sociopathic liar who is scheming to get rich.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        What is even worse is that more and more formerly middle class Americans are sliding into poverty.
        Many are only 1-2 paychecks away from becoming homeless. Or, a sudden job loss or illness will completely devastate whatever savings they may have had and they become poor. There is no safety net for these people!

        I found that out the hard way in 2009-2011 in the worst recession I’ve ever seen. Once the unemployment ran out, there was nothing.

    6. knead me seymour*

      I think it’s very much Just World thinking in action. If you choose to believe that poor people are poor because they’ve made bad choices, that means that if you’re wealthy, you must have made good choices and deserve it. I doubt many people actually articulate it to themselves that way, but all the people I know who subscribe most to this belief about poverty are at least upper middle class.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        Actually I very much believe they DO articulate it to themselves this way! I see it all the time on LinkedIn and repeated over and over on Faux News and people being told that by politicians.

      2. That Girl From Quinn's House*

        I think this is also why people are so harsh on crime victims and parents whose children are injured or die. They must have done something “wrong” = this will never happen to me because I do things “right”. It’s pure denial.

      3. Thursday Next*

        I think a lot of middle class and less affluent people believe this, actually. If poor people are “other,” and not them, then poor people must deserve to be poor.

        Think about areas of the U.S. with high rates of people drawing disability checks. Many of them believe people on welfare are *other* people, instead of recognizing that they are receiving state benefits as well.

    7. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It’s easier to ignore injustice and society failing humanity by placing blame on the victim. It’s less scary and not a threat if you fool yourself into believing poverty is just an easy fix. All you need to do is dust off your gumption and shine your bootstraps!

      It’s the same issue with how homeless folks are made into the laziest of all who choose a “lifestyle”. Addicts “choose” drugs. The mentally ill “choose” to listen to the voices,etc etc.

      It’s sadly a survival coping mechanism in a way. If you realize how close you may be to being poor or homeless,it’ll shatter the comfort.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      This makes me so mad. What are we supposed to do, sit in the ditch in rags with a begging bowl? Then we’d just get spit on even more.

      I go to the movies now and then to get the hell out of the house. I need the stimulation. Plus, wild horses couldn’t have kept me from Avengers: Endgame, not even if I had to roll pennies for a year.

    9. Alston*

      This reminded me of an essay and eventually a book Linda Tirado wrote. People were like ” why do poor people make bad financial choices?” And she was poor, and mad and wrote out this amazing essay. Like you think I make stupid choices buying the same cheap shoes that fall apart in 2 months, but I have $10 to spend, not the $200 to spend on ones that will last years. And if you try to save for the more expensive ones something will always get in the way and take that money.
      Her essay and book are fantastic. I’ll link it in a follow up comment. She goes into people policing time, money, and experiences of the poor as well.

    10. Rebecca*

      It’s easy to become poor and very difficult to reverse once it happens. A friend fell and broke her leg, required surgery, there were complications, and she was off work for 4 1/2 months. Her job provides sick time (only 5 days) and short term disability, but only $200/week before insurance payments and taxes. She carried the health insurance for her family, husband and 2 kids. At the 90 day mark, HR asked her boss if he was going to terminate her employment, as was his right. Think about that. Instant COBRA, no more short term disability, husband working but doesn’t make enough to cover all of that and a mortgage. And who would hire her when she’s still recovering? Thankfully boss said no, they were able to stay afloat, but what if he had? This could have easily spiraled into getting behind on bills/mortgage/car payment, which damages credit, in turn making it harder to get a loan or help, and then if someone else got sick and no insurance, because very few people can afford COBRA, game, match, set. You’re poor, your credit is ruined, and then it’s all “BOOTSTRAPS” and “look at her with that iPhone, and she gets SNAP benefits”, never mind the iPhone is an older model left over from better days.

      I find all of this very sad. People like my mother like to sit there, with her investments, and say “people should save money” “people should invest” and I say in what, and with what? Almost everyone I know lives paycheck to paycheck, and even if you do manage to save money, what’s the savings rate? .0001? It’s not even worth putting the money in the bank where someone could scam your account and steal it. Just keep it at home in a coffee can. If you have extra to put aside, that is.

      1. Ruffingit*

        THIS! So well said. I’ve always maintained that we’re all one accident, divorce, death of a spouse/partner, away from total ruin. It’s not hard to have that happen in the U.S.

        Whenever I see someone on SNAP who is driving a fancy car or has their nails done or has a nice phone or whatever else, I think that I know nothing of their circumstances. Could be they have a friend who does their nails for free, could be someone gifted them the phone, could be they borrowed the car to drive to the store. I don’t know what someone is going through and it doesn’t hurt me one iota to assume the best.

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

      Not entirely sure this belongs here but… on Friday I did a cash out refi of my car. No, the terms weren’t great, though I can afford the monthly payments (less than what I paid before) but it was the best solution I could think of. I need to buy things, the car is aging and needs repairs, where else could that money come from? But honestly it made me, and still makes me, feel very small and worthless. I even paid extra for the insurance program they offered, mostly because it will save me money on repairs, but also because it will make the payments if I get laid off – and I do not trust my employer to not lay me off, like they did to my coworker last June.

      I have no actual security, and no feeling of security either. And I do not expect to ever get either.

      1. Sam I Am*

        I hope you have good luck with the vehicle and the refi.
        In good times, try to admire your own best traits. Then in tough times, lean on these traits and remind yourself of them, as you are not without worth.

    12. Anon due to hard luck childhood*

      Some of us did have parents who would take much-needed money, that might often be donations from friends or relatives or welfare payments, that would otherwise go to feed their children, pay rent, or buy shoes to spend on pyramid schemes and televangelists. Then end up with unfed, poorly clothed children and evictions. Some parents spend the same money on addictions. Poverty is not a sign of goodness, either, just as it is not a sign of badness. But irresponsibility when poor has a much worse effect than irresponsibility when rich. If you have parents like I did, and if people see how they acted, you can see why they would draw negative stereotypes about poor people.

  5. Tonya*

    Hi all. Random request to pick your brain. I’m in China (Beijing, Shenyang, Shanghai) for a couple of weeks for an MBA course and need to dive into a few topics for short essays. There’s a few obvious ones due to current events (err trade war) but I need to write a few and am blanking on topics for the last two. Anyone have a topic related to the culture or business that they’ve heard about that might be an interesting thing for me to dive into, an emerging trend etc.? My professor is a finance doctorate so I’m steering clear of those topics.

    1. Messy Bun*

      Wow, that sounds really exciting, enjoy that!
      Topics that come to my mind (I have a background in sociology so I’m sorry of the focus is not quite right for an MBA)
      urbanization in China and its socioeconomic effects (you can find very specific case studies)
      the development of the elderly tourism in China
      tipping in the hospitality industry

      Good luck and let us know when you discover something interesting.

    2. Effie, who gets to be herself*

      My favorite Chinese cultural topic is food & love: how Chinese culture limits expressions of love to mostly feeding.

      1. Charlotte*

        My husband confirms this is true. He’s a second generation American whose parents immigrated from China. He says it’s common to open a conversation by asking if the other person has eaten today.

    3. Femme d'Afrique*

      China’s incursion into (invasion of?) Africa has generated quite a bit of panic in Western countries. That might be an interesting topic to explore.

      1. Reba*

        Yes, Belt and road! Little watched, hugely impactful across the African continent and in SE Asia as well.

        1. Femme d'Afrique*

          Very controversial in several African countries, with quite a lot of domestic opposition. I’d be interested to hear what ordinary Chinese people think of it. Also, there are very real cultural and social differences for populations that weren’t at all prepared to deal with each other. There have been quite a few racist incidents both on the continent and in China itself, and I’d be fascinated to hear what Chinese businesspeople make of it all.

    4. Silver*

      An interesting thing about China has been the rise of the payment apps like AliPay and the use of QR codes which aren’t very common in the West. That might be an interesting thing to look into and a shopping trip could double as research.

      Another thing thats starting to get noticed is the social credit scores that the government now assigns to people and the different ways that small infractions (jaywalking, littering) can lower your social credit score. This can then affect all sorts of things in your private life.

      1. Also a librarian*

        And in general, social media use/differences in China. They dont have FB, etc.

    5. Madge*

      Broadly applying the principles of LEAN manufacturing is trending in the US. Do any Chinese businesses use LEAN and how do they apply it and is it effective. LEAN cam out of Toyota in Japan, so it would be interesting to see if and how other Asian businesses apply it.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Cultural differences would make an interesting topic. Perhaps too broad? Maybe tackle a couple norms in China vs the counter-part norms in the US?

      One thing I see in my own town is the recycling piling up all over. There is no where to go now that it can’t go to China. A lot of it now ends up at the burn plant. (yeah, I know.) And within the past few months we are now being charged to drop off our recycling (paper, cardboard, plastic etc). Granted it’s a small amount but the folks at the collection center are suggesting neighbors pool their recycling together into larger loads and split the cost.We can’t even throw out electronics here- there’s no where to go.
      Just a suggestion but it might make an interesting story on how that is impacting China or not.

    7. Bex*

      Global implications of the Belt & Road Initiative; shifts in Beijing’s monetary policy; China power market reform; implications of growing global pressure for supply chain transparency; pandas (China owns all of them, has used them for diplomacy in the past, but just repatriated the two in San Diego.); impacts of chinese tourism;
      chinese philanthropy

    8. Policy wonk*

      Transportation – use of bikes vs. cars and how it varies from city to city.
      Demographics – observations on the number of old people vs. children
      Influence of foreign cultures – e.g., prevalence of McDonalds or KFC.
      Enjoy your trip – China is fascinating.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I was just listening to a piece on the radio about Greenland and China’s investments in their harbors.
      Also possibly of interest a few years ago I had read something about the Chinese government cracking down on tourists and locals alike stealing bricks out of the Great Wall of China. I haven’t seen anything new and when I went looking on the internet everything there was a few years old too.

    10. Tonya*

      Wow, you guys are awesome as always. I hadn’t thought of, or even heard of, most of these! Thanks!

  6. Another Manic Monday*

    I have been told that I can come across as quite cold and emotionless in my comments and emails. I have been quite reserved since childhood and don’t like to show my emotion and share them with others. It doesn’t feel safe for me to do so. I come from an emotionally neglectful home and it has made lasting impact on my life long after I left my parent’s home.

    My father was a big man with an explosive temper. I can’t recall any of us being physically abused by him, but I definitely feared him whenever he had one of his explosive episodes. I don’t remember it, but my sister insists that I often cried in terror in my bedroom whenever my father and our brother was arguing and shouting behind closed door. My father is quite brilliant and a jack of all trades, but he didn’t understand that my interest might be different than his interests or he didn’t care. I was basically relegated to be his faithful sidekick and he was dragging me around to whatever thing he wanted to do. I was there to support him in his hobbies and interests and not the other way around.

    I really was a mommy’s boy in early childhood. Looking back, however, I do realize that she was emotionally manipulative toward me. She would “borrow” money from my savings and do other things that our father did not know about. My mother would ensure my silence by saying that really bad things would happen if I told my father about it, e.g. “he will kill me if you tell him”, “he will divorce me if he finds out”, “I will have to commit suicide”, etc. I know now that she wasn’t telling the truth, but back then I believed her and she made me fear my own father even more.

    My older brother was physically abusive toward me and my sister on a daily basis. He would regularly hit me for no other reason than me being in his general presence. He would lay traps for me to walk into, e.g. he once placed thumbtacks immediately outside my bedroom so I stepped on a bunch of them when I tried to use the bathroom. He never got in trouble for being abusive as my parents ignored his behavior toward his younger siblings. My brother had a hard time in school and was often arguing with our father. I suspect that he thought that I was the perfect release for all his builtup anger and frustration. His continued to be abusive toward to me until I was 16 or 17 and big enough to defend myself. At our very last confrontation he walked away with a broken nose. He left me alone after that.

    I love my older sister and she’s the only family member that I would trust with my life. She was my defender and supporter when I was growing up. She was unusually tall for being a girl and she beat up some of the schoolmates that bullied and teased me in elementary school. My father didn’t protect me, my mother didn’t protect me, my brother didn’t protect me, but my sister did. When us kids got older, she became the black sheep of the family. My father would constantly rag on her and often voiced his disappointment with her over this and that. She got tired of it and moved out with the first boyfriend she could find.

    I was constantly bullied and teased in elementary school. I had a speech impediment and whenever I opened up my mouth, they would laugh at me for my struggle to properly pronounce common words. During the winter it wasn’t uncommon for me to get pelted with snowballs on my home from school for shits and giggles. I had poor body coordination so I didn’t do well in sports, so I was always among one of the last picked for any team. I wasn’t bullied or teased in junior high because I was always hiding in the library by myself during recess and avoided to get involved with the rest of my class. I enjoyed high school much better. My classmates were nice and tried to include me their activities, but I was basically the quiet person in the group just hanging around with them and a permanent wallflower fixture at any of our class parties.

    I can’t remember a single time in my whole childhood when my parents asked me about my day and how I was doing. They never asked me about how I was doing in school and if I had friends. I didn’t make noise or cause trouble, so I guess they assumed that everything was okay. I never shared my thoughts and feelings with them because it didn’t feel safe and I had also gotten the strong impression that my thoughts, feelings, desires, interests, etc, didn’t matter unless they were the same as my parents. Until this day, I do not share my thoughts and feelings with my parents. I don’t see any purpose for doing so. They weren’t there for me when I was a child so why would it be different now?

    I did really poorly when it comes to grades in school. I didn’t get grades high enough to even attend a community college. I ended up having to go back and take several tests the following year to get my grade point average above the cutoff needed for general college admission. I did, however, test really well in the national SAT and was in the top 1% of all test takers. I ended up being accepted a prestigious law school and attended it for one year. I did get decent grades, but I lacked the motivation to continue after the first year. I had grown weary of not fitting in and wanted to drastically change my life. I got the opportunity to move to the United States and start a new life there so I took it and never looked back.

    Once in the United States, I quickly got married and then I joined the military. After 9/11, I would go to both Iraq and Afghanistan for a total of two years. It was very stressful and I did lose a bunch of friends while we were there. I was a foreign claims investigator and pay agent in Iraq and Afghanistan. That basically meant that I was there to pay “blood money” to local nationals for accidental deaths, injuries, and property damage. It was hard to look somebody in the eye and express and express my regret over the death of their loved one and try to explain to them why their son was only worth $2,500 in the eyes of the US government.

    I worked in the criminal justice field for the military back home. I was reviewing police reports and criminal investigations on a daily basis. Plenty of those reports contained crimes against children and it was really hard to read about the abuse and look at the pictures. You have to emotionally detach yourself from the horrific things you are reading or you can’t do the job.

    In the end, I couldn’t deal with it anymore and ended up retiring early from the military with a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder. I still work in the legal field, but I no longer have to read those reports.

    I’m still officially married, but we haven’t lived together for several years. My spouse is a very dominant and strong-willed person who wants things her way. She only valued my opinions if they agreed with her opinions, so I catered to her demands for more than ten years. I thought that if I could make her happy then she would make me happy in return, but that never happened. We took different sides on a social issue a few years back and I decided that the issue was a hill that I was willing to die on. I officially resigned from church we both belonged to due their stance on the social issue and that was more than she could handle. I ended up being relegated to a glorified roommate instead of a husband, so I decided to leave because I will not be a second-class citizen in my own home.

    I am doing relatively okay right now. I have a good and secure job that I enjoy. I just wish that I actually had a social life. I don’t have any friends except my best friend and coworkers (at work only) and I am not dating anyone. It gets very lonely when I am not at work. I would like to have friends and somebody to love, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

    I’m uncomfortable with emotions and how to handle them. The only way I can deal with them is to suppress them.

    1. matcha123*

      I feel like emails can be pretty cold, regardless. I’m a woman and I use :) and … a lot in emails to coworkers that I’m friendly with. But, honestly, I’ve gotten emails from them at times that seem cold. And I just remind myself that they probably didn’t mean anything by it.

      If you want some phrases to sound friendlier, I’m sure you can find some with a google search.

      I don’t know if you wanted to write as a kind of stress release or so people know you a bit better. I remember a lot of people came on harsh last week re animals. When you’ve grown up in an abusive house, it takes a long time to work through things. The best advice I can give is to be aware of the situations that set you off and prepare ways to diffuse them. And take things one step at a time. I have been working on my relationship to money and other various annoyances from growing up. It’s like exercise. You’re not going to drop 20lbs the first time you do 10 push-ups. You have to deal with a lot more stress than other people and it’s not fair. Just keep that in mind and good luck!

    2. Not A Manager*

      I think you had a thread last week about some compulsive spending/collecting? Please find some good professional support. You’ve been through a lot and it’s clearly affecting your functioning and your happiness. You can gain some insight and control over these issues that seem really overwhelming right now.

    3. Anon for this*

      That is a lot of living. As someone who has tried to deal with depression on my own, I am finally taking steps to make an appointment with a therapist. Some work places have employee assistance programs which are confidential and free for a couple of appointments. It might be helpful to talk to someone neutral about your feelings. You are not alone.

    4. Lena Clare*

      I don’t know if you were just venting or wanted some advice?
      It might be that you’re not coming off cold in emails. It might be that you’re not able to recognise what’s appropriate in writing or not. For example, this post is a lot of personal information – it doesn’t come off as ‘cold’ though. It seems like you’re going through an enormous amount of emotional turmoil.

      I’m so sorry you’ve had that experience. Every child deserves love and it’s horrible that your parents were not able to love you in the way that you needed.

      I recommended therapy. Can you get it?
      Reading about attachments might help also. A good book is “Attached: the science of attachment…” it’s got a long title I can’t remember it now.

      In terms of feeling connected to others, you could go to classes just to participate in them. Yoga or aerobics or art history or anything where there are other people to help you feel less lonely. You don’t need to chat to people but if you do just keep it light and friendly.

      Wishing you the best.

      1. Another Manic Monday*

        I do sign up for a lot of classes, meetups, social events, etc, but I end up not going at all or I just show up for an hour and then leave at best possible opportunity. I have a gym membership, but I haven’t been there in over a year despite being within walking distance. I have been paying for a dating site for the last six months, but I still haven’t worked on my profile and it remains hidden from sight. I went to the last social mingle event that I signed up for, but ended up sitting by myself quiet in a corner and then I left after just an hour. I just don’t know how to break the ice and start a conversation.

        1. Sam I Am*

          If you’re looking for a script to start a conversation, what works for me is going full kindergarten and saying really basic things. At a meetup maybe “I’m looking to make new friendships and am just getting to know new people. What drew you to this event today?” Listen, try to remember their name and something about the conversation to ask about the next time you go to the meetup.
          If you want to continue the conversation after the event, ask them if they want to join you “I’m going for ice cream, want to join me?”
          If you want to ask for a date be specific, “You seem really interesting, and I’d like to take you out sometime. How’s lunch on Saturday?”
          Make sure you know if you’re asking for a friendship or a date and of course be as gracious as possible if your serve isn’t returned.

    5. misspiggy*

      You’ve clearly been through a lot and have coped enormously well in many ways. You appear to have developed coping strategies that helped you survive, but have protected you too well from others to give you the connection and intimacy you want.

      Therapy does seem relevant. Challenging, if you don’t feel safe with strangers, but it could be very helpful. Would online therapy over text be an idea? You write very well, and the distance might feel safer. Would journaling help to identify things you want to change?

      Captain Awkward’s blog has a lot of strategies on all sorts of friendship and relationship issues. Developing ways to be calm and not retreat when you feel threatened could also be worth looking into. Meditation? Mindfulness?

    6. chi chan*

      Hello, that must have taken courage to write. I have to ask, do you want to get more comfortable with emotions? It would be a long process. So I would advise starting small and with the low cost resources around you. Moodgym is an online resource for mental health you can work through. Read Captain Awkward archives, whatever appeals to you and Dear Sugar archives on the Rumpus. I would recommend starting with ninety four ways of saying thankyou. Journal your thoughts everyday. Also volunteer. From your writing you seem to empathize with people in unfortunate circumstances a lot. So spend some time walking dogs at a shelter, making up boxes at a food pantry, fostering a dog, at a hospice. Do try not to spend money. The currency here is time, that you invest in yourself and others. There is a post about doing money on Captain awkward that is gold. Look around for veteran support groups for depression which you can join. Mentor someone, teach someone something. And accept help too.
      Also look for people helping out in any disaster. You mentioned working with reports on children. So I am recommending some books. Will you love Me and The Saddest Girl in the World by Cathy Glass. Also Just Another Kid and Silent Boy by Torey Hayden.
      Eventually you may be comfortable with the idea of therapy and with all this work you may have a clearer idea of what you want to work on. Reddit r/talktherapy has a lot of people discussing therapy and can demystify it.
      Once you have a Team You it may be easier to tackle things and I would advise taking a look at your marriage. Right now you and your wife may be responsible for each other’s debts, and medical decisions should one of you become sick.
      As for email, please at the end of a sentence softens almost anything and thankyou before signing your name. Generic things like pleased to hear from you, instead of sorry for the late reply also softens things.

      1. Another Manic Monday*

        Thank your for your comments. I would like to more comfortable with handling negative emotions because my inability to handle them properly do impact negatively on my life.

        I will read the online resources that you mentioned. I don’t think that I can journal. I have tried in the past, but I get stuck immediately. I’m not an author but I still got writer’s block and can’t really put my thoughts to words in the way I want.

        I’m aware of the legal aspects of staying married. Unfortunately, I don’t really have anyone else do medical decisions for me. The only family I got in the United States is my wife and my under-aged daughter. The rest is still living in my old country and would most likely be unavailable in a medical emergency. My best and only friend isn’t a suitable option due to her own medical issues. There’s no other option unless I want some attorney to make decisions for me.

    7. Amethyst*

      Wow. I’m so sorry. I hope you’ll accept a hug for Child You. If not, a handshake. :)

      I also come from an abusive home. I was the surprise child (firstborn) & the one who shattered my mother’s dreams of having essentially a doll to do whatever she wanted with, with no resistance from me. The instant I broke those dreams of hers, I became forever black in her eyes. Many a wooden spoon has been broken over my butt, so I get it.

      I’ve been in therapy for the last 8-9 years. At first, it was to unpack my childhood, & then it morphed into managing my trauma & PTSD from an abusive grandparent/waking up to an extremely toxic family system in which they piled onto the abuse I was already receiving from said grandparent, then realizing BOTH parents’ families are extremely toxic. (Yay me.) Now it’s back to unpacking that childhood & putting names to emotions I have. I’m a helluva lot better at that last bit than I ever used to be. Emotions were never safe to express so I turned to food. I ate my feelings, basically.

      Anyway, I’d definitely suggest you go to therapy to unpack all of what you described. It’s really rough going; some sessions ended with me in tears. But afterwards, even though I was emotionally & mentally wiped out, it felt better to have done that work. I’d also suggest you look into Reiki for additional help. It’s energetic healing, so it’ll work well in tandem with therapy (or on its own or in combination with traditional Western medicine, etc.). I’m a Reiki Master Teacher & I’ve found it helps me to tap into that part of me that’s suppressed & give it a voice. Once it’s done, it’s done. It’s out of my body, & I feel lighter after a session of that type. (Not recommended for frequent use as it can be very emotionally draining, but I’ve found it’s highly effective to tap into Child Me every so often to lend her Adult Me’s voice.)

      Also, I’d seriously consider looking into severing ties with your estranged wife. It sounds like you haven’t lived together in years & don’t even share a life together either, so having this loose end tied up might be good for you to know that this part of your life is over & done with & you can begin the process of moving on. (I don’t like loose ends so this bugs me, so take this with a pile of salt, lol.)

      I hope this helps. Good luck.

      1. Another Manic Monday*

        Thank you for your comments. I will look into your suggestions as they sound helpful.

        It would make sense to sever ties with my estranged wife and that’s something that I want to do. Being still legally married to her makes it more awkward to pursue other relationships. It also a convenient excuse for me to avoid getting the thing I desire to have, but at the same time fear. The fear of failure is quite intense for me when it comes to relationships and it can be self-defeating.

        We have agreed upon a divorce and the terms for it, but we are waiting for our child to turn 18 due to financial reasons. My wife is saving quite a bit of money on staying married to me and in turn she can spend more money on our daughter. They also live several states away and I would have to file for divorce in their home state which makes things more challenging as I just can’t walk to my local courthouse and file the paperwork. It’s also another convenient excuse to avoid something that causes a lot of stress and fear in me.

    8. Formerly Known As*

      I’m sorry for what you went through growing up. Would you consider seeing a therapist? It helps to have someone to talk to, and a therapist could help you with ways to handle your emotions or offer suggestions for how to make new friends,.

      1. Another Manic Monday*

        I have seen therapists in the past for almost two years. I did enjoy talking to them on a regular basis and it was helpful to some extent, but I didn’t make the progress that I wanted so it fizzled out. I think one of the big problems was that they were only focusing on my experiences as adult I can’t recall ever taking about my childhood and adolescence. I guess it’s difficult to make satisfactory progress if a significant portion of somebody’s life is ignored.

        1. Mananana*

          Many modalities of therapy don’t go into childhood issues, with the exception of a brief overview, as they are more solution-focused. Part of that is practical (many insurance companies will only pay for a limited number of counseling sessions; delving deep into a client’s childhood would mean less time for problem-solving. However, there are those who practice psychoanalysis, which is a long-term talk therapy; perhaps that would suit your needs.

        2. Ethyl*

          I don’t want this to come off as flippant or making light of your issues, but therapy isn’t supposed to be “pleasant,” or a place to “enjoy talking to” someone. I suspect either the type of therapy wasn’t connecting with you or you weren’t willing or able to be honest enough to make progress with your therapists.

          1. Another Manic Monday*

            I’m sorry that I enjoyed being able to talk to somebody who was willing to listen to what I have to say. I don’t think you have any idea how refreshing that felt to me after having been ignored for most of my life. You might have a ton of family and friends to talk with to fulfill your need for social interaction, but I don’t have that. It’s a three-day weekend, I haven’t had real social interaction with a human being for almost 72 hours. It’s not good and I want to change that.

            The lack of progress was mainly caused by the difficulties to do the “home work” assigned to me and not any lack of candor toward my therapist. Anyhow, my therapy fizzled out because I got a full-time job and moved. Since then I put all my energy into my job.

    9. WellRed*

      Please seek out some help. This post adds so much to last week’s post. You deserve happiness and love in your life but it will take work and time and can’t be bought in one of every color. Maybe someone here will have some practical advice on next first steps.

    10. Troutwaxer*

      I have a similar problem, which is that I come across as someone who’s generally too intense, so I made a decision to start all my emails with “Hi _________” just to keep things relaxed and informal. Maybe you could structure your emails a little informally with some canned elements like “Hi ________” or end with “Hope everythings chill with you.” Not exactly those, of course, but something that’s appropriate for your particular situation.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      You are one very strong person. And you are smart. You have survived all these situations in life and still managed to have achievements. This is amazing. This is what strength and smarts looks like. I am sure that you do not always feel that way but it happens a lot that people do not realize how strong or just how smart they are.

      You say you are still married. This does not seem to fit with the rest of your story, because your story moves along and you keep doing different things. For your marriage to remain in a limbo state does not seem like something you would chose. Perhaps resolving or dissolving that would be a good starting point for you.

      Others have mentioned therapy and I will add my vote for that here, if that is doable for you.

      But you are looking for friends that is what you mention as your current focus. Can you go with your best friend and meet some of their friends? Can you do volunteer work? Could you and your bestie join a volunteer group together? Since you have seen a lot of harshness in life I would suggest something that is tamer- such as volunteering for a library. Chose strategically, don’t put yourself where you are saving drowning puppies or other traumatic things. Someone else will volunteer to take care of the puppies, you don’t have to. Chose volunteer work that is relatively low key and something that fits your skill sets or something that you know you will catch on to.

      You know what is nice is to have an older friend in your life someone who is more than 10 years older than you. While this could involve some care giving on your part depending on the age of the person, older people can tell us about life stuff that is just not available in books or any other place.
      The reason I am saying this is that if we want to change something about ourselves we have to stand next to people who are already doing it, so we can see how it is done. Role-models. Perhaps you can find an older friend who is already doing what you would like to see yourself doing.

      Sometimes older people can see that we need someone just to play a “Rock of Gibraltar Role” in our lives. Have you noticed an older person who always seems happy to see you? Or who always takes an interest in you somehow? If no, start paying more attention going forward, you might find a helpful companion who over time helps you in ways that I can’t fully describe here.

      Have you thought about writing? Even just journaling or your own purposes? You do write well, you are very clear.

      As far as opening up to people I have two thoughts:

      Learn to pick people. We all have to do this to some degree so this is not a “lacking” on your part. We can’t do what our parents and those around us can’t or won’t teach us. Learn about healthy relationships, this could mean reading about relationships. Relationships are a back and a forth, each person puts into the relationship. Learn about boundaries, there’s some great boundaries books out there.

      Learn about emotions. Just sit and read. Anger itself is not bad, we are supposed to feel anger or feel a sense injustice. It’s what we DO with that anger that matters. Learn about channeling anger for positive purposes. Learn about grief. Learn the stages of grief and the symptoms of grief. Read what others describe as their experiences in their grieving process. Grief can be for many reasons not just the death of a loved one.
      I believe that underneath anger many times there is a lot of tears/grief. Of the many people I know, you are most certainly justified in crying as you have had one heck of a road. Crying is okay, we are supposed to use our tears to help us. Crying does create a chemical reaction in the brain that helps the brain to stay healthy.

      Last. Consider getting a check up with a GP and consider going to a nutritionist. Life’s sadnesses have a way of pulling down heart function, thyroid function and we can have stomach trouble. This list goes on. Life sadnesses can also leave us eating whatever food is around whenever it occurs to us that we should eat something/anything. Take a look at working plenty of fresh veggies and fruits and water into your routines. Yeah, it matters. We have to fortify our bodies so our minds can work and we can think clearly about what we are doing.

      Keep reading here. I can’t think of a place where you can see a wider variety of people with such an array of ideas. If you don’t feel like typing, just keep lurking and absorbing. This is a crockpot idea, it takes time. I suspect that a chunk of your loneliness comes from a sense that your life has been different from other people’s.
      And this is probably true. So what you can read for is the times you relate to what others are saying, and you will find those times, I can assure you. In between those moments you will find good advice on just about everything else in life. That can be comforting in surprising ways, also.

      1. Another Manic Monday*

        Thank you for your sharing your thoughts.

        My bestie (and basically only friend outside work) is actually considerable older than me (about 21 years) and my complete polar opposite when it comes to personality. She’s an extreme extrovert, no filter, proud tramp, habitual drunkard, glass half-full, who is always looking for a good time. We are an odd couple when hanging out together because were have so little in common when it comes to personalities. I don’t think we were ever meant to be friends, yet here we are. It’s really odd to be honest.

        Unfortunately, she was in a very serious accident (got run over on a crosswalk) a few years back that left her unable to work. She had to move a city with a lower cost of living as she now had to live on her savings and disability retirement. I try to go visit her once a month or so to help her with things around the house and just to hang out with her and her dogs. I’m just happy that she survived. She was in a coma for several days and the doctors thought she would have to be a care-facility for the rest of her life.

        I would like to volunteer again, but I’m not ready to do it yet. I’m worried that I will try to do too much and take on too much responsibility. I have that tendency and I don’t want to get overwhelmed and burned out again. At this time, I am satisfied to give monthly donations to charities and causes that I care about (ACLU, SPLC, HRC, RAINN, NCMEC, KIND, PP, and ASPCA. Maybe one day I will do more than just contribute financially.

    12. Thursday Next*

      Please seek out therapy. Do you have an EAP? That would be a good starting point. If you have health insurance, many insurance providers have a mental health/behavioral health contact number, where they can assist you in finding in-network providers. It can be hard finding a good therapist, and expensive, so I don’t say this lightly: I think it would be a good investment for you, based on what you wrote here and last week. That is a lot to be dealing with, and a professional can help you unravel and process your history.

      1. Another Manic Monday*

        I do have good health insurance and the cost isn’t an issue. I would like to see a therapist, but I do struggle with poor executive functions which makes it difficult to make the arrangements needed see a therapist, e.g. get the referral, locate a provider, schedule an appointment, etc. It’s quite overwhelming for me to do the leg work needed. I got referral for a psychologist a few months back, but I have yet to get an appointment scheduled due to difficulties locating one who can see me.

        1. MindoverMoneyChick*

          Check out betterhelp(.)com. It’s online therapy and the logistics are easier.

        2. Thursday Next*

          Would it help to break the task down? For example, if the referral is still valid, the next step is to find providers with availability. Maybe your to-do list will have one item: call insurance company’s behavioral health number to ask for providers with availability. That’s it. Then deal with the next step after you clear this one.

          I hear you on the executive functioning issues getting in the way; it’s a feature of many conditions that the condition itself makes it difficult to go about the tasks involved in obtaining treatment for those conditions. So for me, when I’m at my most depressed, it’s very difficult to articulate that and ask for help, because the depression itself is so draining, and makes me feel that any effort I expended wouldn’t pay off anyway.

    13. Lilysparrow*

      I really appreciate you writing all that out. It must have been difficult.

      You know, it’s ironic – your ability to compartmentalize may have been the very thing that made you so valuable in those emotionally intense career roles. Many people would “wash out” or bail out before they even got into the field. Nobody could do that forever, but I’m sure you made really important contributions during your tenure in those jobs.

      You have been through an awful lot. I think I recall from your post about collecting that you are getting mental health care? That’s good, because anybody who has survived as many trainwrecks as you have, is bound to need medical attention afterwards.

      I don’t have much to offer, except I wonder if you read much fiction?

      It sounds like your detachment from feelings is bothering you, but approaching them directly is too much to contemplate. And no surprise, right? It makes perfect sense.

      One of the great pieces of advice that’s come out recently for parents is that reading fiction helps kids learn to deal with their emotions and develop empathy in a safe, gradual way. Because you can always put the book down whenever you want.

      So that might be something enjoyable to add to your life – books or audiobooks, any genre you like, that take you into somebody else’s life, in a less intense way. For practice. And it enriches your inner world.

      1. Another Manic Monday*

        Thank you for your comments.

        I used to be an avid reader of fiction in my youth. I was basically living in the library and reading 200+ pages a day and dreamed about becoming a librarian. Today, I have significant struggles reading a book. I just can’t keep my attention for more than a few pages and I end up having to reread the same page several times to get the progression of the story line. It currently takes me about a year to get through a single book. I have thought about getting audio-books instead, but the extra cost associated with them have dissuaded me so far.

        1. Pharmgirl*

          I believe you can check out audio books at your local library (mine does it through Overdrive). Maybe that can be an option?

          1. Lilysparrow*

            Overdrive, Libby, and Hoopla are all services that different library systems offer. Or you can try the “old fashioned” way and check out CD’s.

            Some libraries also check out pre-loaded ebook players, if you don’t have a smartphone to stream.

    14. JediSquirrel*

      I’m going to second everyone here who recommends therapy. Two thoughts:

      First, therapy can be really difficult at first. It does get easier, or at least, less difficult, with time. Stick with it. Therapy is a marathon, not a sprint.

      Second, not all therapists are the same. It may take some time to find a therapist you can work well with.

      You are an incredibly brave person. You can so this.

    15. Jaid*

      I’m sorry I have nothing to offer you but a virtual hug. It breaks my heart to know how sad you are. I agree that you need a safe space to vent your feelings and someone to practice talking to. Therapy would be best.

    16. Batgirl*

      What your post tells me is that you are incredibly resilient. You can use that to find happiness, the same way you used it for survival.

  7. Gir*

    I am going to be in the Columbus area for about 18hrs next week. I’m driving in on Tuesday (probably arrive between 8pm and 10pm depending on when I leave). I’ll actually be in Westerville/Polaris area of town.

    Any recommendations for late night eats in that area? I like to eat a light snack before I leave, then eat a late dinner wherever I end up at.

    I’m also going to be in Grand Rapids, MI the first weekend of June. Any suggestions for there would also be greatly appreciated (except The Beltline Bar… I’m not a burrito person, wet or otherwise).

    1. Lady Jay*

      I was just in Columbus & really enjoyed Brassica–like Chipotle, but for Mediterranean food. I think it closed at 9?

    2. Reba*

      I don’t know about late, but I have gotten really, really good Indian food in the Columbus area several times.

    3. TurtleIScream*

      I am still trying to process the whole “not a burrito person” :) Beltline Bar’s Tex-Mex Bean Dip is only the best food ever created.

      Festival of the Arts is June 7-9; there will be lots of food tents and trucks downtown GR to check out.

      Other good places – Uccello’s (pizza/Italian), Herb & Fire (pizza), HopCat (American pub), Sheshco (Mediterranean), Kitchen 67 (American), Gravity (Taphouse), Slows BBQ. I’m sure there are many I’m missing, but I am not much of a restaurant explorer at home.

    4. Stanley Nickels*

      101 Beer Kitchen has a location in Westerville open until 10 on Tuesdays. I’ve had great food every time I’ve been there and it’s a nice setting with friendly servers. Enjoy your time in the area!

    5. cat socks*

      There’s a large mall at Polaris with lots of food options in the area. Starbucks, Steak and Shake and Waffle House are open 24/7.

      BJ’s Brewhouse has an extensive menu and is open until 11. Matt the Millers and 101 Beer Kitchen are good too.

      There are also chains like Cheesecake Factory, Red Lobster and Olive Garden.

      There’s also fast food like Wendy’s, McDonald’s and Sonic. I think Jason’s Deli is open until 10. There’s also a Panera bread, but they might close at 9.

      That’s just a few options. If you drive up and down Polaris Parkway you’ll see lots of other places too.

      1. cat socks*

        Sorry, I don’t think Starbucks is open 247 but Steak and Shake and Waffle House are.

    6. Zips*

      Marcella’s is one of my all time favorite restaurants. They have a location on Polaris Parkway. Their Calamari starter is out of this world! My top choices for dinner would be the Spaghetti and Meatball or the Spaghetti Alla Carbonara (really you can’t go wrong. everything is delicious!)

      1. San Juan Worm*

        Western Michigan has an amazing craft beer scene, if that’s your thing (Bell’s, Founder’s, New Holland, Dark Horse). In Grand Rapids, my favorite restaurant is the Electric Cheetah, which has an interesting food menu and 50 selections of root beer. Be sure to check out the Lake Michigan sand dunes.

      2. Cherry Sours*

        I ha never been to Marcella’s, but it’s owned by Gary Callicote, who owns nothing but awesome restaurants, like The Rusty Bucket in the Clintonville area. Sounds to me like it’s a go. ;)

  8. coffee cup*

    I am running a 5k today, but last night I got my period and I have my usual pain and discomfort. My body couldn’t have timed it worse! I’ve paid for it and I’m going with friends, so I have to see it through, but I’d never usually run when I feel like this. I can’t say it’ll be the great effort I’d hoped. I’m just glad I didn’t sign up for the 10k… that would not be happening!

    1. Ethyl*

      Ugh bodies. It never fails that I get my period at the absolute worst times. Could you take an iron pill or eat some red meat beforehand? Idk what your pre-run regimen is, and you’re not “supposed” to self-treat suspected anemia, but I’ve been anemic and I feel similar when I’m on heavy flow days so I usually go ahead and take some iron for those days. Take it with food and get the SlowFe brand if you go that route.

    2. Beaded Librarian*

      Definitely do it your body might surprise you! Apparently for many (not all) women they have some of their best performances the days of their period and a day or two after. Something to do with hormones.

      1. coffee cup*

        Ha, weirdly, I did! I was the fastest of my small group of friends and did my best time of 32 mins (not fast compared with some, but fast for me). So maybe there’s some truth in it!

    3. LGC*

      …well, that’s really inconvenient! (Understatement of the century.)

      No advice for dealing with your period, but for the race…it’s definitely okay to adjust your plans! If you’re one of the faster people in your group, run with your slower friends. If you’re not, then…hey, as long as you still finish you’re good. Good luck and hopefully things go well enough!

    4. Grace*

      There’s an interesting BBC article of female athletes (including runners) discussing the impact of menstrual cycles on sport and why they track them – maybe check it out? Their findings suggest that the raised oestrogen increases the chance of soft-tissue injury, so maybe take it a bit slower than you would do otherwise.


    5. I Work on a Hellmouth*

      Oooooh, I have had this happen to me. It is the worst. Sometimes really dark chocolate with chili peppers seems to help me? But not always.

    6. coffee cup*

      Turns out I managed 32 mins (that’s fast for me!) and actually felt good during the race. Really pleased with what I did but very glad to now be on the sofa! I think it’s catching up with me…

      1. Emily*


        Periods are weird – sometimes I’ll feel really gross and sluggish (and it’ll carry over into exercising), but other times I’ll feel fine while doing the activity and only yucky before and/or after.

  9. PX*

    Good morning! Despite having to travel this weekend and therefore wanting to take it easy, I am determined to clean all the things today! Mainly because some bedroom furniture arrived earlier than expected.

    On the one hand – yay; I finally get to deal with the annoyance of not having enough storage and my room might actually feel tidy for longer than a week.

    On the other hand – I need to make space for it and clean. Which I’ve been putting off for the last couple of weeks….. so now I no longer get to procrastinate. The cleaning also needs to happen for the sake of my brain which will also appreciate the mental space of not having this hang over me anymore!

    What long overdue chores are you tackling this weekend?

    1. MatKnifeNinja*

      My bedroom. Purging books, clothes, and some keepsakes (yearbooks) that don’t mean much to me anymore.

      I wish I could just scorch Earth it. So much easier!

      Good luck!

      1. Nynaeve*

        I also have to mop the kitchen floor and hang a picture! Spooky! But if you can do it, so can I.

        Off to get started…

    2. VlookupsAreMyLife*

      Cleaning the exhaust fans & bleaching/re-caulking the shower seams in the bathrooms. SO gross, but I’m pretty sure it’s part of what’s making us all sick.

    3. Trixie*

      Almost identical plans for weekend. Some reorganizing, making donations, clean floors. Then look at remaining large items one by one and decide if I need or can let go. For example, I inherited two arbors which were placed near windows for cats to enjoy while looking at outside. Current cat doesn’t tend to do this plus the large pieces block the little sunlight I get. So those are two large pieces I know are going curbside.
      Big project is renting (?) small steam cleaner for $20 sitting chair I picked up a few weeks. Overall in good condition but needs a cleaning.
      I know what you mean about reclaiming mental space. When I look back at old To Do Lists, I see the same things multiple times. That’s when I know it is time/opportunity to get this done.

    4. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I really need to vacuum the pool. I’ve been putting it off because it’s much easier with a second person to help, but I haven’t yet found a sucker to be my second person this pool season and the pool is apparently not going to magically clean itself.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I think that I will begin actually packing as if I’m going to move.

      I feel like this is the only way I can get rid of some of the crap I’ve been vacillating about. I’ve already started purging books. The library always takes them for book sales and they let me unload on a cart so I can keep my boxes. I’m trying to empty at least one entire bookcase completely, but it’s slow going. Surprisingly, I’ve let go of quite a few. Since I have tons of non-fiction stuff, one criteria really helps: if I can find the info on the internet, the book goes.

      I’m operating under the assumption that a new place will be smaller than this house (which is already tiny, at 780 square feet). That’s smaller than some 2-bedroom apartments. If I end up in a bigger space, I’ll have less stuff and can spread out a little. If I know what I want to take with me, I can get rid of the rest. Plus I’m not likely to have a yard any more if I move. I can have a huge garage sale at the last minute and dump that stuff.

      It will save me a ton of time. I can just slam it into a truck and go. It’s sort of like Swedish death cleaning but I call it escape cleaning. :)

    6. LizB*

      If all goes to plan, I’ll be getting my kitchen knives sharpened tomorrow, which is looooooong overdue. It’ll be so nice to have sharp ones again!

      Potentially doing a bunch of decluttering of our computer room, but that’ll depend a lot on energy levels tomorrow afternoon.

    7. PX*

      Reporting back that I did…most of what I wanted…but also bit off more than I could chew. But still, cleaned my room, did some tidying, rearranged and put stuff in the new storage -yay!

      But it appears I have more things than I thought so need to work on donating a bunch of things. I also struggle with wanting to do ALL the things once I start cleaning so need to accept that one day was not enough time for all the stuff I wanted to do.

      Which is a long way of saying I achieved about 65% of my goal but more importantly – mental space cleared!

      1. VlookupsAreMyLife*

        Congrats!! I’m also a “let’s do ALL the things TODAY” cleaner. I have to remind myself that 65% of ALL THE THINGS is so much better than my usual metric of 100% of none of the things.

    8. Sleepless*

      Destroying a bunch of financial records from my husband’s office and organizing the ones we have to keep.

    9. CB*

      I’ve been making great progress on my health and fitness goals and have gained ~35lbs. Understandably, a good number of my clothes don’t fit anymore but I’ve had trouble getting rid of them. I took this weekend to do a full spring cleanout – including trying on every item of clothing I have and donating everything that didn’t fit. My closet is so happy!

  10. Spoilers for Big Bang Theory Finale*

    Probably a silly thing to get annoyed about, but I was really disappointed they went down the ‘surprise-pregnancy-makes-woman-realise-she-wants-children’ route with Penny. I know that happens to a lot of people, and that people who were on the fence just fall on either side depending on circumstances. And I know the writers/producers etc. want to hark back to the first episode (‘our children will be smart /and/ beautiful’), so maybe it was inevitable.

    But I feel like the whole plot about her /not/ wanting kids is so contrived and seemed to come out of nowhere. Even if they just wanted her to be ambivalent that would’ve been fine. Instead, once again the idea that all women – no matter what they say – really, actually, DO want children. She just needs to get pregnant/have a baby to realise that!

    Sigh. Yeah, it’s just a sitcom so of course they’d go with a fluffy ending. Would’ve been a nice change though.

    1. londonedit*

      Ugh, I’m not a fan of the show but that would have annoyed me too! It seems like every single TV programme/book/whatever that features a heterosexual relationship has to end with them getting married and having babies. I get so disappointed when a character who says they don’t want to have children ends up with a surprise pregnancy and then it’s oh! Of course she always wanted a baby all along, she just didn’t know it! It feeds into the ‘You’ll change your mind one day’ rubbish that childfree people (mainly women) have to put up with. I really don’t feel like there’s enough representation of people living happy and fulfilled lives without kids. I even wish real-life house-buying programmes like (in the UK) Location Location Location would feature more couples who don’t want or have kids.

      1. LaDeeDa*

        I was annoyed by this, she has spent the entire series saying she doesn’t want kids. THIS is part of why people think we will change our minds.

    2. Formerly Known As*

      I was extremely annoyed by the finale and especially because this wasn’t the first time they pulled that stunt. Bernadette had told Howard years ago (before they got married, I think) that she didn’t want kids and then bam–she had 2 kids back-to-back. Why couldn’t they have let Penny and Leonard live as a happily childfree couple? I feel like they ruined the characters all in the name of wrapping everything up in a bow.

      Slightly different topic–we’re supposed to believe that Sheldon and Amy flew all their friends to the Nobel ceremony, but not one family member was there? Not even Sheldon’s mom or mee-maw? That bugged me. I only watched the episode once, so I don’t remember if they addressed this in the show.

      1. Lc*

        I think Bernadette wasn’t so much “didn’t want to have kids” but rather didn’t want to be a stay at home parent. Of course they went back on that one as well.

        1. Oldster*

          She works. They have had scenes of her and Penny armor work. You have to remember this isn’t about the workplace.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            My memory was that she didn’t want to be point on childrearing. But Howard, who doesn’t even have a PhD, could do that.

      2. That Girl From Quinn's House*

        The second kid was because Melissa Rauch was pregnant IRL and the decided to write it into the show, rather than spend half a season hiding Bernadette behind tote bags and props.

    3. Venus*

      The show used to be about goofy nerds, and it celebrated that nerdiness. Then it became popular, and it shifted to mocking nerds (society’s tendency) and focusing on relationships.

      I gave up when they announced the first baby. I had been watching it only occasionally at that point, but that decision killed it for me. Bernadette had been adamantly against having children. The female characters had become awful (I can’t remember her name, but I liked Leonard’s earlier gf and their arguments about string theory). I’m not a fan of the male-dominated nerd sitcoms but they are better than the nerd sitcoms where the women only talk about the men…

      1. Formerly Known As*

        Bernadette and the Wolowitz kids (even though we never saw the kids until the finale) made the show jump the shark for me. That said, I kept watching. But reruns? I stick with the early seasons.

    4. WellRed*

      Hah! I just finished a British detective show that ended with DS so and so “keeping the baby.”

    5. A D Collins*

      I was disappointed in this, too. And, yes, I know birth control isn’t 100% effective, all the show’s pregnancies – among a group of scientists, no less – were accidental.

    6. Blarg*

      Yup. I mean they had that whole ludicrousness with Zach wanting Leonard to be a sperm donor earlier this season and the conflict was Leonard wanting to spawn and Penny being utterly opposed. It seemed like a betrayal of Penny. The one thing she’d always been sure of… she gave up her acting career, married Leonard (who, honestly, she has nothing in common with), and they saddled her with the baby she always *always* knew she didn’t want. And yes, Bernadette was the same thing although she was more open to Howard staying home with the kids (or, eventually, Stuart…).

    7. kittymommy*

      Yeah, it pissed me off too. Granted I still like the show and I did enjoy the last episode for the most part Penny being suddenly pregnant and happy about it (especially when couple with the change with Bernadette and the kids)….why?? What was the point? Why can’t Penny and Leonard’s happy-ever-after be them being the fun uncle and aunt to everyone’s kids and very content being childless? Why is that so horrible?

      I also don’t understand the whole Raj/Sarah Michelle Gellar ending. WTF? The poor guy, probably more than any of them just wanted to be married. Nope, can’t have that.

    8. JSB*

      I realize weekend is over, but only just now got a chance to read the column. I wasn’t thrilled with the BB ending but mostly because I felt 1) they should have included some beloved secondary characters like the various parents, 2) they left Raj out of the equation almost entirely in terms of a happy ending for him (meeting “Buffy” aside), 3) virtually no wrap up for Stewart. Also, I would have liked to see some professional “win” for Leonard – not to compete with the Nobel Prize, but something.

      Penney’s pregnancy was fine for me as I found it entirely representative of real life. My kids have finished college, so I’m looking back on all this but I can only think of ONE female friend who steadfastly claimed to not want children and then followed that path intentionally. Many of us, myself included, expressed at some stage that we didn’t want kids, didn’t want kids YET, probably didn’t want kids – and then later changed course. Some looked at having children as a natural phase of life, some stumbled into, some didn’t really have plans but OOPS, and a few – sadly – wanted children but that didn’t happen for them for one reason or another.

      I definitely feel this is a personal choice and support a person’s right to do just that. But I also support the right for anyone to change their mind, which is what I’ve seen far more often than not. Penney’s accidental pregnancy and subsequent acceptance and joy seemed very normal.

  11. Relax*

    How do you feel about clutter?
    Since moving out of home around a decade ago, I’ve mostly lived in small apartments (in big cities where rent is insane for anything larger than a shoebox) so have tried to go minimalist as much as possible. Sometimes I think it’d be nice to have shelves full of little tchotchkes, lots of cushions/throws etc. to add to the coziness factor.
    Last weekend I was at someone’s home out in the suburbs, and their house was like an extreme version of that – just full of stuff. It was all organised and not like they were hoarding or anything, and in theory should’ve been the type I’d like, but I found myself feeling overwhelmed and closed in. Also the thought of having to clean/dust so much made me tired.
    So I’m not sure whether I’m just used to being minimalist now, or if I just like the idea of ‘clutter’ but not actually be around it.

    1. Koala dreams*

      I’m the opposite! I like the idea of minimalism but in reality I prefer my home with a lof of things laying around, decorations in front of the TV and full book shelfes. Minimalist blogs can be a great inspiration when I need to do some de-cluttering to make things more functional, but the thought of really getting rid of all the stuff makes me sad.

      That being said, all clutter is not equal. Just because you have cushions and a blanket in your sofa, doesn’t mean you need to surround your tv with lots of decorations. You also doesn’t need to go find the most bright and colourful cushions and blankets, maybe you rather get a cushion and blanket in the same colour as the sofa so they are cozy and fits the minimalist style.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Same! Seven years ago (I pulled out 7 years ago today on the nose, in fact) I had pared down enough that I moved out of Seattle in a Smart car to return to the midwest. I … now have enough Stuff to fill a 4 bedroom house. I occasionally look around and go “Good grief, where did all this nonsense come from,” but I like my little doodads and nicknacks and whatnots, and not having stuff didn’t make me happier, so I just roll with it. :)

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I have cushions on my couch because I use them behind my back, being short.

        My bed has 3 pillows–mine, my husband’s, and a bonus pillow one or the other of us can use to prop ourselves up higher. I have never grasped the piles of pillows on the bed that you move to the floor before sleep thing.

    2. rider on the storm*

      I think there is a compromise between ALL THE STUFF and no stuff at all. I have a friend who sounds similar to the example you give – when I go to visit, I feel overwhelmed with the stuff. In my own place, I do have stuff – candles, books, ornaments but grouped together in certain places.
      I’ve also moved several times over the last few years; my friend hasn’t.

    3. Square Root Of Minus One*

      I’ve moved to an expensive city and had to deal with shrinking space as well.
      That has made me very weary (and wary) about clutter. I need breathing space, and seriously I just can’t take it anymore with things invading my living space. It annoys me to no end. Having to push them around to sit at the dinner table, at my desk, having to dust them all the time when they’re in the open… Ugh.
      I have in my life a long-distance ex-boyfriend/friend/occasional FWB (yes, all of that). He wants us to rekindle a real thing and one of the things stopping me (one: some of you might remember me posting about another here two weeks ago…) is his hoarding. When we lived together I kept the house under control but since I left, it’s been back to square one.
      Going to his place last time was anguish-inducing. Things piling on the floor, on the table, reducing the floor surface by a half, lost of dust around because of that. There were tires near the bed in his bedroom. This place will be impossible to clean for real unless it’s decluttered. Most things break for lack of maintenance, which is a financial disaster.
      I’m too lazy to deal with this, honestly. I’d rather not have things than have to maintain them.

      1. Square Root Of Minus One*

        Reading the other comments I feel I need to be clearer : I’m open to having things, I have loads of books and kitchenware for instance, but they must have a proper place in my house (shelves, cupboards, drawers) where they’re organised and not (or at most mildly) exposed to dust and dirt.
        And not everywhere in sight.
        Other than that… I’d rather not.

      2. Tired room-mate*

        I feel very cynical writing this, but I do wonder if my partner wants to live with me because I force things to be more clean.

        He does a lot of cooking, and he does clean, so he’s far from lazy. But I have lived on my own for many years and now find that I do a lot more cleaning with him around (we’ve had to share for a few years) and I am tired. But when I even suggest him living elsewhere for a time he gets very defensive. He complains that he does a lot of cleaning, and I agree he does a lot more than he used to but it’s *because I can’t live like that, so he has to do more work than before*. And he’s convinced himself that we were both messy when we lived alone so it’s equal, right? Yet I would have a few things laying around while his place… I think of it this way: I grew up surrounded by hoarders so I always aim to be able to clean up my place within a few minutes if someone comes over, whereas his place would take hours and hours. I’m not perfect with my tidiness but it’s worse with both of us living together because I have less time to clean up after myself.

        I will have the chat with him as we now have an opportunity for a different living situation and we need to pursue it. (I’m not looking for suggestions or advice on any of this – please). But when I read j’s comment I felt empathy. It was a reminder that it does frustrate me that he might be reluctant to change because he doesn’t remember how much of a mess he was in before we moved in together, yet knows that he’s better off now and doesn’t want to lose that.

        1. Square Root Of Minus One*

          Thanks for the empathy, I appreciate it. It’s so difficult to be with someone with different standard, for both people.
          He would do things too, mostly cook and dishes… but furniture-dusting, sink-cleaning, kitchen-surface washing, if I didn’t do it, it wasn’t done on a regular basis. Even with deep-cleaning from time to time (guess who initiated every time and did 90%), meanwhile, it’s hard to feel clean in an unclean bathroom, or to cook in an unclean kitchen. So he worked more, admittedly, but… I was still the one taking the mental load and busting my a**.
          I wish you luck with your chat.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        My husband travels to Asia a lot on business and they will often give him tchotchkes. Olympic bears, little enamel boxes. Individually they are nice objects, and if I’d picked them out as a memento of my tourist visit I’d like them, but my home already has tchothkes that hold some emotional memory for me, and adding these is just clutter.

    4. Washi*

      Someone gave us the nicest compliment the other day – he said that he felt like our apartment was full of conversation pieces. I think/hope that what he was picking up on is that we do have stuff out, but only stuff that is really special to us and that makes us happy to look at it every day.

      One of my favorite parts of Mari Kondo’s book is the “click” she describes when you have just the right amount of stuff. I’ve found that’s really true, and that being in a space where I love everything in it makes me very happy, and also disinclined to go out and buy more stuff. I don’t think of it as minimalism vs. clutter, but just what the “right” amount of possessions is for us.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        My favorite AirBnBs are like that–there’s art, pillows, blankets, books. But not a ton of it. (Sometimes these are second homes, or intended retirement homes.)

        1. Elephant in the room*

          I just stayed at a place where there were so many decorator items that there was no room for my bag and toiletries let alone me. Seriously, I had to remove 5 candles/statues/pictures from the vanity, 9 pillows and layers of bedding from the bed, and left my suitcase up on the other half of the bed because there was no room on the floor or dresser. I like having things to look at, but one also needs room to occupy…

          1. ShortT*

            I recently visited someone who couldn’t/didn’t offer anyone a place to sit because the couch and settee were covered in crap, such as old receipts and empty paper bags. WTF? Why have people over if there won’t be a place for them?

    5. MatKnifeNinja*

      I’m 54, and decluttering like there’s no tomorrow.

      I grew up when people bought crap to collect. You see estate sales now with Hummels (which were supposed to be an decent thing to collect), Beanie Babies, heck even higher end jewelry. No one wants this stuff.

      My Salvation Army is getting picky. They wouldn’t take my friends excellent condition china buffet. Those just sit and burn up floor space.

      I think there is a difference between a well thought out space where you put candles, or a throw cushion, and my friend’s place that is crammed with stuff he never uses.

      I think my clutter hate comes from going through my parents home, and filling a roll off dumpster full of stuff. I don’t have money for a house keeper to keep up with the dusting/vacuuming of little knick knacks. If I have stuff, I have to maintain it. Don’t have the energy or time.

      I think the “sparks joy” view point is a little much for me. I look at things now more, “Why is it here?”. A good 8/10, after I ask that question, it’s going.

      British castles with paintings, and antiques everywhere is nightmare fuel for me. Lol.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      My parents have a lot of clutter, and I am allergic to it. Though in my grandmother’s very full (decades of collecting) but clean and orderly house it didn’t bother me at all–not what I would choose for myself, but something that could feel comfortable. It’s the piles of clutter that make me want to flee.

      Even books, which I love. My husband’s siblings are much older and have opposite approaches–one has tons of clutter, including books; the other dislikes “books as wallpaper” and hands off books after he reads them. After a few decades for these styles to work on their habitats… definitely down with the latter. My husband has described his brother’s and my approach to clearing out as “burn everything, then buy new things that fit” which is not accurate in practice but captures the spirit… if you asked us what we’d ideally like to do with a space with no constraints from spouse, cost, feeling wasteful, etc, that would be it. We are not the person to ask “But shouldn’t we save this thing we haven’t used in two years in case we do want it one day?” because we take that as rhetorical the opposite from how you meant it.

    7. ThatGirl*

      I tend to be a little cluttered but I’m trying really hard to curb that. My mom remarried a guy who collects all kinds of crap and their little townhome is so cluttered. I like my house to have personality but I don’t want it to look like that.

    8. Aphrodite*

      I used to have a decluttering/organization business back in the 90s and did fairly well. But it burnt me out quickly. I found I only rarely had the kind of client one can help–someone who is emotionally as well as physically willing to get serious about cleaning out. It seemed that most of the time the clients didn’t really want to do it. Well, they said they did, they may have believed they did, but they didn’t. It usually took the form of a variation of “not now” or “later” about any decision. I recall one client who, among other things, received catalogs from a clothing company on a near-weekly basis. And kept all of them even though the products rarely changed (the covers did). I just couldn’t take it after a few years because it was so exhausting. So I stopped.

      My own home is what I describe at “just right” (like the porridge Goldilocks ate). But it leans toward the minimalism of the spectrum. I love having enough furniture to sit and chat but not one piece more. I like having small decorative/personal items around but the shelving unit I have still has plenty of white space. I seriously downsized my library over the last several years and now I have 119 books as opposed to 2,500. (As I read them they are donated though I do keep favorite.) I do have autumn and Christmas decorations since I adore decorating the house during the last three months of the year.

      I rarely go shopping for things but if I am out and about and see something I love (rule #1) I ask myself if I am willing to spend space on it, whether it is to display or display/store it (rule #2). And I think now that I’ve written that, that I see that “spending space” on it is probably even bigger than spending money.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        This is fascinating, thanks.

        A big reason I am able to help my mom in clearing out her clutter is that I mostly don’t ask. She’s in another room and a high proportion of stuff I just dump without asking if she thinks maybe she might find a use for it someday. This is exemplified by the plastic-wrapped spork we found several layers down in the bedroom, which she wanted to move to the kitchen because what if she wanted a pre-wrapped spork someday and remembered this one and where she put it? I threw it in the trash bag as soon as her back was turned.

    9. Elizabeth West*

      I’ve been the opposite but slowly am transitioning to having less clutter. My mum’s house is like the one you described. There isn’t an ounce of space that isn’t curated and decorated somehow, but it’s neat as a pin and looks like a magazine spread. It IS overwhelming!

      I like a few things around. I like to have things on the walls to look at, art and pictures. Part of the problem with my house is that it lacks storage, so things end up crammed on shelves, which take up more space and make the rooms look packed.

    10. MagicEyes*

      I’ve recently discovered that I like having a shelf (or two) full of fun and interesting little objects. I don’t like clutter, but right now I’m living in an apartment that doesn’t have much storage space, and I have too many hobbies and a cookbook addiction that’s out of control. I don’t know how people live in houses that are crammed full of decorative things.

      I don’t have much artwork, and I would like to have the kind of house where I would have a place to put a few art pieces.

    11. HeyNonny*

      I’ve found that there’s a difference between my own clutter and other peoples clutter. I like mine, don’t like others. I think it’s some kind of territorial thing.

    12. ShortT*

      In my personal space? I detest clutter. In anyone else’s? IDGAF, unless its at the point ate which it’s dangerous, such as entry or exit being hindered, or there’s a fire hazard, so that, in case of an emergency, the risk of injury is multiplied.

    13. Seeking Second Childhood*

      There’s a scene in Connie Willis’ “To Say Nothing of the Dog” where a time traveller winds up in the parlor of a Victorian country house. The setting is acurate …and to me hilarious.

  12. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    I haven’t had much time this week, we were doing the last rehearsals for our play. Thursday was sold out (!!!!!) and went really well, tonight we’re doing it for the second time.

    1. Laura H.*

      Break legs. :)

      Little progress on my end but a little progress is still progress.

    2. Troutwaxer*

      I’m letting an 11,000 word novella sit for another week or two before I do a reread and contemplating major surgery to a novel that doesn’t quite work right. I’d be happy to trade beta-reads of the novella to someone who knows science-fiction really well.

    3. bibliovore*

      Met with the book designer, yesterday. A few formatting changes, finding some better photos, and two chapter revisions. The end is in sight!

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Mentally stewing right now. I feel the need to work on a new project but I’m not sure just what yet.

      The software company that makes my writing program pushed out an upgrade, and it updated my project and ate my entire conlang document, which had me panicking until I remembered that IT MAKES BACKUPS. Found it, whew.

  13. chip*

    Now that the show is over can people please stop using GoT character names in their stories?

    1. LGC*

      To be honest, I kind of liked it. I was imagining Sansa Stark hate writing thousands of letters to Alison about how her sister is SO ANNOYING.

      (Also, “Cersei” turning into the female version of “Fergus” was great, too.)

      That said, I can see your point since SO MANY LWs and commenters did it. It’s like the teapots thing – it sometimes comes off more as a way to signal you’re an AAM reader than a way to hide identities.

      1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        The teapots thing is too intense IMHO. Most jobs are common enough that listing your real job is not going to be identifying information. If the job doesn’t matter then it doesn’t matter but all the advice asking about “teapot handle specialist.” Maybe people would get better advice on open threads if anyone had any idea what real job they were talking about.

        Eg, “how do I job search for a teapot position in California from Maine?” I have no clue because this might be industry dependent and teapot positions don’t actually exist?

        1. WellRed*

          I actually got confused recently in the open thread. It was a longish comment that used the llama metaphor to death. A+ for creativity, though.

        2. Courageous cat*

          Agreed. It seems bizarre to me to not get even in the neighborhood of what you do unless it’s insanely, unusually specific.

        3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          I think part of the point is to keep that letter from appearing in industry-specific Google searches. It’s easier to follow than someone who says something like “I work in Job A and I have a co-worker with Related Job B, and another co-worker with Job C, and our problem is that someone in another department, let’s call them Department D, keeps telling the person with Job C to…” since it gives you a visual, even an incorrect one, to keep the players in place rather than a bunch of letters or numbers. I know there are not many people with my particular job, so I try to expose only the bits of it most needed for whatever I’ve talking about at that moment, since I don’t want someone else in my field to be searching for solutions to a field-specific problem, find my comments about it, and then find my comments more generally. This is particularly true if the searcher is the co-worker I am having a difficultly wish!

          As a non-GoT-watcher, I am getting tired of the names, though, because it seems like sometimes people are using the specifics of the naming scheme to also imply related information not stated, and I’m not going to be able to follow that implied information.

          1. Goose*

            YES to your last point. I didn’t even bother to read questions that used Sansa or John or Aria whoever because I wouldn’t know if Sansa was a good or bad person in the question.

        4. Patty Mayonnaise*

          I thought part of the teapot thing was also to make something technical and specific to the industry easier for laymen to understand. Sometimes letters say something like “we change the teapot handles from red to blue” and I assume that means they are putting data into a different database or switching coding systems or fixing mechanical problems or whatever.

        5. tamarack and fireweed*

          I like the teapots thing. It forces the letter/answer writer into a tiny abstraction away from the specifics of the situation.

          I also have no issue with GoT names, even though I didn’t follow the show.

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

      I kind of agree. “Bran” is a food, not a person’s name. But I think it’s something we’re just going to have to roll our eyes at.

      1. Bagpuss*

        Actually, Bran is a Welsh name with a very long history!
        Bran the Blessed appears in the Mabinogion.

        1. AL*

          Yes! And it’s not short for Brandon, as I’ve seen some people ‘expanding’ the name. It’s a name of its own.

          I don’t know how it was pronounced in GOT, but it should be with a long ‘a’.

        1. MMB*

          I think the Grey King might have been my favorite book in that series, but DIR got me hooked :).

    3. Formerly Known As*

      I would love to see GoT character names stop being used as aliases here when people write about colleagues or whatever. I never watched the show, but I’m glad it’s over with.

    4. GoryDetails*

      I don’t mind the GoT names, but I do think it’s more fun when people switch up the themed naming – so many possibilities, from Alice in Wonderland to the Avengers to Wolf Hall. (Side note: the third volume in Mantel’s “Cromwell” series has been announced as coming out in 2020, hooray!) The latter would work well for many offices, what with it being full of political infighting, social and power-based maneuvering, and some very colorful characters…

      As for teapots, I admit to being VERY fond of both those and the llama-based business references, but I wouldn’t mind seeing some different euphemisms – and as Cheesesteak in Paradise pointed out, in many cases there’s no need for euphemisms at all.

      1. Mystery Bookworm*

        Agreed. I don’t have a problem with the GoT names, but I find it charming when letter writers put their own spin by picking names from other places. What with variety being the spice of life and all.

        1. Myrin*

          Yeah, I’ve never watched or read GoT/ASoIaF but I don’t mind the names – they’re just names, after all, and it honestly makes no difference to me whether a person in a letter is called “Cersei” or “Catherine” since I care about the actual scenario first and foremost. But oh yes, I agree with liking names from other places although honestly, I rarely get that mental “kick” because most of the times, I don’t recognise where they’re from! :(

        2. JediSquirrel*

          When I finally write in, it’s all going to be AtLA: “I was busy writing the waterbending reports when Sokka stole my stapler and wouldn’t give it back.”

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Hahahah that would be awesome. Let’s all do anime.

            “Dear Ask a Manager,

            I’m the owner of a large estate, and I’m having an issue with my ditzy maid Mey-Rin. She breaks things sometimes and it’s beginning to concern me. I put my butler, Sebastian, in charge of her, but he only takes orders directly from me and won’t use his initiative unless I say something. I’m busy with other concerns, and besides, I’m already paying him with my soul. How can I deal with this situation?”

          2. Jules the 3rd*

            Well, at least AtLA has enough women to work with! That is the point of GoT, it’s got more than 2 women in it. Even AtLA only gets more than 2 by including the murderous fire princess and her minions. Korra might work better for those.

            Do the thing!

      2. BerkeleyFarm*

        I will be looking for that book when it comes out. It will be bittersweet as I have grown fond of the old duffer and it will all come apart.

        With GoT over people might switch it up a bit for names, but it does have the benefit of “hello this is an alias” for most of the characters. “Thomas, Henry, Anne, Edward, Jane , Call Me Risley … wait, what?!?”

        Teapots are a vital industry and people do need to be able to fictionalize things.

    5. Troutwaxer*

      From now on I will use “Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, Anguirus, Ghidorah, etc.

      “So today at work my two coworkers Godzilla and Mothra got into it over the Teapot reports, and my boss had to use an oxygen destroyer to restore order. Unfortunately, my only skillset is destroying Japanese cities, so I’m wondering if I could use those skills in a related field such as fighting off alien attacks, stopping the evil plans of mad scientists, or reversing Climate Change. Does anyone have experience transitioning into such fields directly, or would I have to go back to college first?

      1. Windchime*

        This is how many of the posts read to me, honestly. Fake names, fake scenarios, so much fake stuff that it’s hard to understand what’s being asked. It really doesn’t always have to be about llamas or teapots; sometimes we can just be BI Developers or Admin Assistants or Waste Water Treatment plant operators.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          You’d be surprised by how much teapot stuff I remove! My preference is actually to print letters without it; I think it’s confusing to new readers, and sometimes makes the letters harder to follow for old readers too. I take out most of it, and sometimes when I want to answer a letter that’s too full of teapots for me to edit it out accurately, I’ve asked the writer to submit a version without it. (And sometimes the details actually matter — I need to know more about the task you’ve been asked to do than just that it’s “teapot polishing” or whatever.)

          1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

            Here here. No one responded to my original remark but the teapot stuff is needlessly complicated…

          2. AcademiaNut*

            Thank you!

            I find that things like themed names and fake professions work in very small doses, but quickly end up distracting from the question and the discussion about it.

            Also, I really appreciate the effort you put into keeping the comments section on topic and polite.

    6. Mimmy*

      My thoughts on this topic:

      I never watched GoT (my husband was an avid watcher though) but I never minded the names nor did I mind the teapot and llama euphemisms.

      I tended to use these pseudonyms myself because my current job, as well as my interests, are not very common. I guess I should be okay with naming my interests–it probably would yield better responses–however, I am not comfortable with identifying my actual job because my feelings about it aren’t entirely positive.

      I can see why some of the euphemisms can be tricky in understanding a reader’s situation. However, I think they’re fine for making names anonymous.

    7. Stanley Nickels*

      I kind of like it because it can give me an idea of who the person is (from the view of the writer), like when I see “Cersei”, I gather that they will be the villain in the scenario. That said, a few “Miranda Priestly”s, “Michael Scott”s, or even “Darth Vader”s thrown in would be equally appreciated.

      1. Courageous cat*

        True but on the other end, I think it’s good to have an objective view of the situation and NOT be given insight as to who the OP thinks the villain is. OP may very well be wrong.

      2. Observer*

        Which means that any reader who didn’t watch the show is missing an important piece of information. I don’t watch the show, and it’s only relatively recently that I discovered that Cersei is a major villain. But, I don’t know enough about her particular brand of villainy for it to be useful if someone is trying to convey relationships or behavior patterns.

        It’s not the end of the world, and I get enough out of the letters that I’m not complaining. But, while I really don’t care about the use of the names per se, I do prefer when they aren’t used to convey the character or scenario.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          They’re not being used to convey that much. Sometimes they seem to be random, and when they’re not they’re not conveying anything more than “person I don’t especially like,” which you’re going to figure out from the rest of the letter anyway.

          (I’m sick of the GoT names too, but they’re really not conveying anything you’d only get if you watch the show.)

    8. The Other Dawn*

      I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it either. It makes it confusing since I didn’t watch the show. Without Googling, I have no idea that Cersei is a villain.

  14. BeanCat*

    Good morning! I tried a Krav Maga class on Wednesday this week and WHOOF. I still hurt to move. I want to try to go again, but I could barely summon up the wherewithal for a run yesterday. I’ll try again when the studio opens again Monday.

    Oh! Related! I signed up for my first 5K in August! :) I’m really excited – any tips you can share for me for training, preparing, day of?

    1. PX*

      I started Krav Maga about a year ago and it’s great but there is absolutely a fitness/pain tolerance curve to get over! I think the first 6 months I was just like: I’ve hurt so many things and am bruised so many times and in so many places it’s unbelievable. But you do toughen up if you stick with it.

      Now I can walk off pretty much anything except for training 360 defences (which will never not be really bloody painful.)

      1. BeanCat*

        Thanks for the encouragement! I’m still in the free trial week but wanted to try again.

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

      I can’t comment on Krav Maga, but good luck with the 5K! Biggest piece of advice I have is to build your mileage gradually if you’ve never run before. Make sure you have the right pair of running shoes to avoid an injury. On the day of the race, get there early; it may take longer than you think to get there and/or park, and even if you don’t normally have a nervous bladder, you probably will on race day. Good luck!

      1. BeanCat*

        Thank you for all the advice!! I can currently run a 5K (I just do our one mile path a few times), but I want to really focus on a consistent speed for that day if possible.

        Oh dear, I have the worst nervous bladder so thank you for the heads up!!

    3. CatCat*

      For the 5k, make sure you have properly fitted running shoes that are broken in. I’d get them before you start training. Go to a running store and have them fit you. Proper shoes are critical. You may need inserts. The running store people fitting you should be able to tell you. Also, don’t wear cotton socks. Get synthetic material or wool running socks. They can be pricey, but you will not be sorry.

      For training, I like the “Zombies, run!” app. It’s a story-based running app and they even have a specific 5k training app. Apps are great for 5k training since they can give you the audio cues of what you should be doing and they’re structured.

      1. BeanCat*

        I have a single pair of moisture wicking socks and I really like them! I’ll try to find more. I also have to replace my current shoes; I’ve run them hard.

        I loved C25K! I hadn’t heard of Zombies, Run! before but it sounds fun!

        Thank you for all the advice!!

  15. Anonymity is my middle name*

    I’m going more anon than usual. I guess because I’m embarrassed although I shouldn’t be, I suppose. But there it is.

    So…I’m a middle aged woman with bladder problems and it looks like the solution will, in part, require me to self-catherize several times a day to urinate. I’ve been catherized before during surgeries and have been awake for the removal. And it hurt. A lot. So I’m really worried about self-cathering.

    Does anyone have any stories about self-cathering? I will take both bad news and good news about it. I just want to be mentally prepared in a couple of weeks when they tell me that this is, indeed, going to happen.

    1. MatKnifeNinja*

      Remember, there are a zillion different types and styles of catheters out there. Do not settle!

      I’ve never self categorize myself, but took care of patients that did. The was the one thing they told me is make sure you get a good medical supply place that has knowledgeable people.

    2. Anon for this*

      My brother self-catheterises multiple times per day and has done since he was a kid. It doesn’t hurt him. He uses disposable catheters that are pre-lubricated. I believe the ones you only use for a few seconds are quite different in feeling from the long term type you get for surgery. Don’t assume you will have a bad experience with the short term self use disposable ones just because you had a bad experience with the surgery ones.

      Good luck

    3. Wishing You Well*

      Self-catherization is not anywhere near as painful as surgical cath’ing. You might find it’s not painful at all, depending on your sensitivity. If you have a lot of pain down there, try a juvenile-sized catheter. Some catheter designs claim to be less painful. Insert only far enough to get urine flow and NO farther. If you touch the bladder wall, you could have more problems. Cath’ as needed; don’t hold your urine to the point of pain. Some health care plans require you to reuse catheters. If so, be diligent about washing them. Don’t hesitate to call your urologist for more advice or help.
      I’m sending you my very best wishes. You got this. It’s do-able.

    4. Courageous cat*

      I had a friend who had to for a shy bladder and it was nothing to her. No issue apparently.

    5. WS*

      My mother did this for about 14 years and she says it’s much, much easier to deal with than the larger surgical ones, even when you first start. After the first few weeks it was no big deal, and she said it made her life much better overall.

    6. Anonymity is my middle name*

      Thank you all! I am relieved to find out that it likely won’t be a big deal. That’s a load off my mind.

      Really, thank you.

  16. Washi*

    Plant lovers, please help me! Every spring I get occasional wafts of what to me smells like rotten banana farts – sweet and putrid at the same time. It’s been bothering me for years and no one else seems to smell it like I do. Finally I traced the smell to its source, this plant! https://imgur.com/a/MNrJTUe

    Can anyone help me identify it? My husband says that to him it just smells very strong but not disgusting.

      1. Washi*

        That could be it! None of the articles about it mention what is to me a truly pungent scent, but I do think I maybe have some sort of special reaction to it. (Part of why this plant intrigues me so much is that normally I have a very poor sense of smell, but I can smell this plant from much farther away than other people.)

        1. Ali G*

          We had an azalea in our yard that smelled like skunk spray. It took us the longest time to figure out why that one part of the yard stank. We ended up pulling it out because it smelled and was also in a spot that you had to walk by every time you came into the yard through the gate. Everyone who I told about the stink was surprised (as we were too) because you never hear about stinky azaleas. So, maybe you just have an oddity, or there is something in the soil chemistry that plant is reacting to.

        2. fposte*

          I hope Penguin will chime in, as I believe she’s something in the botanical line. But I’d be surprised if it was mahonia/Oregon grape holly–the flowers are very similar, but the leaves for mahonia are opposite and hollylike, whereas the leaves here are whorled and lanceolate. It’s a very distinctive leaf, in fact, so I’m pretty sure whatever it is doesn’t get grown around my area of the Midwest or I’d have seen it.

          If I solve this one later I’ll come back, as I’m really intrigued.

          1. Penguin*

            *amused* What gave away my botanical inclinations, fposte? Starting a weekly thread here for plant talk?

            So I’m going to second Cynara’s ID: Oregon grape holly, aka Berberis aquifolium aka Oregon-grape aka hollyleaved barberry.
            I don’t recognize the plant (but I’m a U.S. Northeasterner who’s lived in the Midwest, so that tracks) but a) the flowers said “barberry” to me, which is the right family and genus, and b) the photos Washi shared look VERY similar to the ones that turn up when I go looking for B. aquifolium.

            Washi, if your plant is in full or partial sun and seems to be fairly drought tolerant, and if you’re in Zone 5 of the Plant Hardiness Zones, that would also support it being Oregon Grape holly!

    1. Lilysparrow*

      I don’t recognize it, but can you add what climate zone or part of the world you’re in? That could help folks narrow it down.

    2. Competent Commenter*

      Betcha it’s female ginkgo trees. Google the Washington Post article “Mapping the Ginkgo Trees”.

      1. Washi*

        That was the first thing I thought of when I started smelling it, but it’s definitely not! Gingkos are trees, and this is very much a bush. Plus the leaves are completely different.

    3. Autumn Wind*

      Possibly Andromeda shrubs (Pieris japonica)? I think they’re also called lily of the valley bush. From what I’ve read, they can be quite pungent, and some people have a strong aversion to the scent.

      1. fposte*

        I think that’s closer–the leaves are whorled and lanceolate–but it’s still not right, as the flower form is different and the leaves don’t have the same spines.

    4. only acting normal*

      Certainly looks like a mahonia of some sort. A lot of articles on google about how wonderful they smell, but people say jasmine smells lovely too and to me it smells of open drains. Not all noses smell the same notes in a fragrance.

    5. jzreid*

      Maybe wintergreen barberry? I did find a mention of occasional unpleasant fragance online.

      1. Jenny F. Scientist*

        It is definitely this! I have one in my back yard and also I just spent 15 minutes googling pictures before I saw your comment. As a special bonus the leaves/spines sting! (I am not a fan.)

  17. Sparkly Librarian*

    Baby’s turning one month old today… and we still haven’t been able to tell people. Our adoption agency recommends “no big announcements” until paperwork for both birth parents is complete/approved by the court, and they consider the adoption “safe”. But that could be another month or more to file the last piece, even though the risk of a disruption is very very small. At this point I could be back from maternity leave before we can tell my coworkers why I’m out!

    I ordered birth announcements from Vistaprint (using professional photos because we did that at 2 weeks), and they arrived today. I REALLY want to send them out, and am contemplating overriding the agency’s recommendation (it’s not a rule). It’s really weird to have the routine of our lives radically changed, but not be able to tap into conventional support systems or share about it the way I’d normally do. We want to be proud! And happy! And let our community know that it finally happened for us!

    1. chi chan*

      Congratulations and best wishes for the future. Tap into online resources. Reddit, and any other forums for now. Once you get into routine time will probably fly and then you can send out announcements.

    2. rider on the storm*

      As I’m sure you know, the agency has seen it all before – they will have seen parents in your position do exactly what you want to do….and then it all goes wrong and there is no baby.

      Congratulations on the baby!

    3. Ella*

      If the baby, god forbid, went away, would it feel better or worse to have sent announcements?

      Maybe doing something lower key, like emailing close friends/even colleagues to say we have a baby, we’re excited, but it won’t be final until approx x date, so we’re cautiously excited? Or something?

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        Well, the last time it happened, it sure sucked. And that was an email/FB post within 24 hours after that baby was home with us. I know how it can turn out poorly. I wish the agency had warned us then against telling everyone.

        This time around, I understood being cautious. I felt like waiting a week or two (5 business days, but 2 weekends in our case) for the first bit of irrevocable legal stuff was reasonable, even though it was hard to keep the news secret. If something had happened to disrupt the adoption at that point, I wouldn’t have wanted to have to walk back an announcement again. But now, a month in with a month or more to go? It’s starting to seem ridiculous. Not only could my wife and I use a little help navigating this transition, but if I were in my friends’ place I’d feel taken aback and maybe even hurt that such big news was kept a secret. Also, I’d like to be able to leave the house at some point. It’s all mixed up together. (Note that I posted at like 4AM. New baby time is weird.)

        1. Venus*

          My thought would be: who was your best supports last time this happened? Maybe tell them. You could use help now, and if the worst happens you will also need support. I suggest you ask those who are best able to support you.

        2. Ella*

          I totally hear you on weird baby time, lol. My girl is 8 months.

          Then I say you do you! You know the risks, but it would definitely be good to have the support, like people making meals for you and stuff.

          Congratulations on your new baby!

        3. PetticoatsandPincushions*

          It’s not the same, but when I found out I was pregnant, I told people strategically- we told our immediate family members at 7 weeks because it was Christmas and a great time to announce, but we let them know it was NOT public, and that with the pregnancy being so very early, we were aware that anything could still happen. I told my two closest friends a few days later with the same caveat, and then we did the public announcement about a month after, once we hit a ‘safer’ period. That way we got a solid support system and we got to have the thrill of celebration, but if anything bad had happened, the amount of explaining would be contained (and we would still have people to lean on and not feel like we were keeping some sort of horrible secret). For our family, it was the perfect strategy, although it does rely on a certain amount of trust in the locked lips of those you tell. Can you triage like that, by strategizing an extra special ‘private’ announcement now and following up with a more public one once everything is done?

          1. Sparkly Librarian*

            Yes, we had similar staging when we were starting our homestudy, when we got “the call” (just our parents and a catsitting friend), etc. Pregnancy having a limited term, and being so commonplace, lends itself to a well-known timeframe for releasing info.

            Although it’s an imperfect analogy, I’m seeing this situation more as when your baby was born and you knew they were healthy. Would you have wanted to keep the birth secret? Wouldn’t you have wanted to celebrate, to have some casseroles dropped off? Wouldn’t it feel weird to run across a friend in a grocery store, with your 6-week-old baby in your arms, and have that be the first time they knew you were expecting?

            1. PetticoatsandPincushions*

              That makes a lot of sense- the support you need in each stage is of a very different type! It seems like the choice you make seems to really depend on how ready you feel to ‘take it back’ as it were, should anything (blorg forbid) happen within the next month that changes the situation. I can well imagine looking at the risk/benefit list and deciding that feeling like I wasn’t keeping an actual human a secret was worth the relatively small risk of having to explain why that human was no longer there should anything awful happen. Either way you do it, waiting or not, seems like a perfectly valid decision. It’s just about your personal comfort level surrounding risk.

        4. Quandong*

          I suggest that you don’t give any weight to how your friends may feel that you kept this big news secret. You have excellent reasons to delay telling them about the new baby, and you’ve been instructed to delay.

          If people feel hurt that you didn’t tell them sooner, that’s not your responsibility.

    4. Lore*

      I have a friend who adopted twins earlier this year. They shared the news privately with a group of close friends and asked us not to spread the news until they gave the go-ahead, then waited to announce publicly, share pictures, etc, till all the legal stuff was final. I think it worked well for them!

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        I can’t imagine not sharing publicly for the rest of the year! Finalization takes 6 months minimum in our state. I think the problem is that the people I will encounter most often — coworkers, customers, neighbors, etc. — aren’t in that circle of close friends.

        [I’m not just arguing that I should do what I want; I see strong cases on both sides of the question. Might just be working some of this out, out loud, because I have so little adult contact these days.]

    5. Sparkly Librarian*

      Thanks all for helping me work through this. I had a nap and then discussed with my wife and a private online adoption group. Came up with a couple of points to inform our decision.

      First, the enforced secrecy was causing a lot of emotional turmoil because it felt rooted in fear and shame. Our failed adoption a year ago looms large, but that was a different situation with different circumstances, and the risk of separation now is much much smaller. If I’d experienced pregnancy loss or infant loss, it would be normal to feel apprehensive with a new baby, but not healthy to refuse to announce her birth. This actual human being is a real part of our lives, and she deserves to be celebrated!

      Second, a lot of these feelings are similar to how I felt as a queer person getting married before the Supreme Court decision in 2013. On one hand, there are legal hoops to jump through in order to obtain many privileges accorded this relationship; on the other… Fuck that. The state doesn’t get to legitimize my family. We are not a second-class family because of how we are formed, and we need the support and acknowledgement of our community whatever our legal status is currently.

      All that to say that we pulled in a number of close friends and shared our news with them. We released the embargo with our family members in the know. On our adoption page we shared that we’re matched (but not that the baby is here already), and in a private group for adoptive families we shared her picture but not her name. I’m getting the acknowledgment and excitement that feels so much better than hiding. Someday soon we’ll send out those announcements.

      1. HAP*

        I’m so happy for you. We are in the waiting to be matched phase. We are working with a law firm to help us find a placement. Could you tell me a bit more about your process? I believe in my state the birth parents only have 72 hours to change their mind so I don’t think we will have to keep our hopeful eventual placement a secret for too long. I know finalization takes a lot longer but here, that appears to be more of a formality since the Birth Parents don’t have legal rights during that time anyway. It’s more to meet the follow up home study requirement.

        1. Sparkly Librarian*

          In our state there is a 30-day period where a birth mother can revoke the papers she signs to relinquish her parental rights. There is also a waiver she can sign to eliminate the 30-day period, so that her relinquishment becomes irrevocable at the end of the business day after her paperwork is filed. (But you do have to wait for the state to acknowledge filing, which takes 7-10 days usually. They like official stamps.)

          All of that has been done for our situation. The other part of the piece is birth father rights. An “alleged father” has the right to notification of the adoption if he can be found and served. He can sign that paper consenting to the adoption or waiving notice, or deny that he’s the father, in which case we proceed immediately with post-placement visits and moving toward legal finalization. He can ignore the notice until the 30-day period is up, and then we move forward. He could contest the adoption, but not only is that unlikely in our case, it’s extremely unlikely that a court would rule in his favor. Or, if he cannot be located, the attorney petitions the court to terminate the rights of any/all alleged fathers, which takes as long as it takes depending on how busy the court is (our attorney estimates 3 weeks in our county). We’re in the middle of that.

          Finalization will take 6 months and 4 post-placement visits, then however long it takes to get a court date, but there’s no reason to think that it won’t go through once rights of both birth parents are relinquished/terminated. We’re hoping to finalize by the end of this year.

          Good luck in your wait! Ours was about 3 years, and I did not like it one bit. I hope things go smoothly for you.

          1. The Rat-Catcher*

            I work for a child welfare agency. Please take with a grain of salt because I am probably not in your state, but have you thought about telling others that you’re fostering and are pursuing adoption? I know “fostering” may not strictly describe your situation, but it might be a term that helps manage the expectation from others, as most people are aware that fostering is often not permanent.

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

    Depressing running thread!
    I’m sidelined due to plantar fasciitis. I was advised to rest for a week or two (and almost a week has already passed), but I have a hunch I will be shelved longer.

    The good news is that the pain in my heel is slowly lessening. The bad news is that now the side of my foot hurts, so I’ve essentially supplemented one problem with another. (I have a feeling that either the heel pain or the generic orthotic I got from a less-than-great podiatrist caused me to change the way I walk, but who knows.)

    AAM runners – when you folks can’t run, what do you do as an alternative? I’m not athletic, and I’ve never even considered any alternatives besides running, even though I’ve had 15 years to contemplate the possibility (I’ve been *really* lucky to have gone that long without ever being totally sidelined). There’s no pool near me so swimming is out, I’m not interested in weight lifting, and I’d basically rather step outside and walk in front of a bus than do yoga. What else is there that’s low impact on my feet? By default, I’ve been using my wife’s exercise bike for 30 minute bursts, two days on and one day off. The bike gets the job done as far as getting exercise, but it’s kind of like drinking weak tea when you’re accustomed to coffee.

    Those of you who can run… enjoy it this weekend!

    1. chi chan*

      I am trying to come up with something similar to running for you but I can only think of skating, cycling or skateboarding all of which will probably be hard on the feet. I don’t know. Can you do something like aerobics or zumba?

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’ve never had any feet issues myself, so grain of salt, but would something low/no-impact like an elliptical work?

    3. anonagain*

      I’m not a runner, just a perpetually injured person. My own preference is to rest the body part fully (or as fully as I can) right off the bat. It’s miserable though. Did your doctor clarify what counts as resting your feet? I think cycling can exacerbate plantar fasciitis, so the bike might be prolonging things. Of course, if your doctor said it’s okay, go with that. And even if they didn’t, this might still be the option that makes sense for you.

      Are chair/seated workouts something that might work? There are lots on youtube, but you’ll want to specify that you are looking for difficult/intense/hard workouts. There are many videos designed for people with limited physical capacity, which isn’t what you want. (There are some that are for disabled or injured athletes that could be more interesting for you. I remember liking KymNonStop when I was restricted to seated exercise but ready for more of a challenge.)

      I hope your recovery doesn’t take too much longer and that you find something to do in the meantime.

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

        I’ve actually found the bike to be adequate. It’s a lot more of a workout than I was expecting and I feel something of a high afterward. It’s a recumbent bike; I didn’t ask the question specifically of the doctor (who wasn’t really all that forthcoming with my other questions–I’m going to see a different doctor if it turns out a follow up is necessary), but based on what I’ve seen, it shouldn’t exacerbate plantar fasciitis. There doesn’t really seem to be any impact to my heel at all while I’m doing it. But I guess we will see.

        I just miss running — but I totally realize that on the Richter scale of things in life I can complain about, this doesn’t really rate.

        1. anonagain*

          I’m glad the bike has been a good workout. Being injured sucks. When I was dancing, I found that my body craved dance specifically. I would swim, do PT, etc. when I was injured and get a decent workout, but it was never as mentally or physically satisfying as taking class or going to rehearsal. It was frustrating.

          I imagine not being able to run is similar. This doesn’t sound like a trivial complaint to me at all.

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

            That’s EXACTLY how I feel. You nailed it. But hopefully it won’t be for a long period of time.

    4. Lady Jay*

      I mean, I do yoga on my days off, so I’m not sure what to tell you?

      What is it that you don’t care for about yoga or weight lifting? Sometimes it’s possible to change a workout to make it doable–say, only doing seated poses and dropping the mystical part from yoga and calling it “stretching.” :)

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

        One of my biggest pet peeves of this site is when a poster says they’re not open to something and then someone suggests it anyway.

        1. Lady Jay*

          Sorry. I started with the question because I was hoping you’d actually answer it–like, if you really hated how boring weight-lifting was, maybe the answer would be to listen to podcasts or something. I guess I thought were could brainstorm solutions, but clearly that was a wrong assumption on my part.

          I posted yesterday in the work thread about earplugs, specifically said earplugs don’t work for me, and still got people suggesting ways to make earplugs work. And . . . y’know, some of the ideas might actually work.

        2. coffee cup*

          That read to me like ‘what is it that you don’t like about those things?’ (mainly because that’s what it said, I guess), like if you don’t like X about those then you probably also won’t like Y, or you might instead like Z.

      2. Reference interview*

        Hi Lady Jay,
        In libraries we ask patrons questions like, “what don’t you like about yoga” as a traditional part of the reference interview. It is how we narrow down what the person wants and find answers that help them. I thought yours was a helpful question.

        I would also have assumed that different information about yoga might have helped. For example, I do Iyengar yoga. The precision, anatomical focus, and length of holding poses often makes it popular with folks who dont usually like yoga.

    5. gecko*

      I don’t particularly like cardio exercise other than running, but doing high-intensity interval workouts isn’t bad. I use one of the zillion 7-minute workout apps out there. There can be a lot of jumping around, but if I need something quieter or lower-impact I just replace jumpy intervals with squats/shadow boxing or other substitutes. It wouldn’t be the same as distance running but it’d probably give you a hit of endorphins and a tired feeling if you calibrate it to your fitness level well enough.

    6. Emily*

      Sometimes I use the elliptical (I used to hate it, but I got more used it when I was rehabbing an ACL reconstruction) or stairstepper at the gym. Maybe you could get an actual bike that you could ride around outside? I don’t know what exactly you don’t like about weight lifting, but maybe you could find some strength training routines that you don’t hate – bodyweight moves like squats, lunges, glute bridges, core work, pushups?

      I like running (both in the context of distance running and ultimate frisbee), but I also like indoor climbing, strength training, and a few other things – sometimes when one activity is limited by injury I can still do other stuff.

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

        I’ve been told that an outdoor bike runs the risk of exacerbating plantar fasciitis due to the bumps and sudden changes in terrain – more impact to the heel than an indoor bike. I would actually love to ride a bike; what’s stopping me is the lack of protected bike lanes and the positively psychotic drivers in my area.

        As for weight lifting, I find myself intimidated by it. It brings back bad memories of high school gym class, which was an intensely awful experience. I also just don’t find the actual activity of lifting enjoyable. But as you said, there’s more to strength training besides the actual lifting of stuff, so I may need to change my pre-conceived notions.

        1. Emily*

          That’s too bad about the outdoor biking being potentially aggravating to your symptoms/dangerous because of cars. I like to bike occasionally, but I live near a canal trail. I don’t think I would bike very much either if I had to do it on the roads. :/

    7. CC*

      What about rowing? I can only do low impact exercises and that’s a great one for huge expenditures of energy without pressure on the feet.

    8. early morning tea and biccies*

      Can you bike outside? For me, one of the things I enjoyed most about running was being outside, fresh air etc. Cycling was good cross-training too. A bike inside would not have hit all those points for me.

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

        I’d like to and eventually might. I live in a frightening area for cyclists. The one appealing bike path near me that is scenic and protected from cars is dangerously unmaintained. That’s unfortunate, but it seems that cycling on an actual bike is more likely to exacerbate plantar fasciitis than riding a recumbent bike indoors anyway.

        1. early morning tea and biccies*

          Having a good cycling path is important. But you can get a recumbent for outside.
          In response to your other comment about finding new exercise: I’ve had plantar facitiis for a year now. I’ve found that my trapeze class doesn’t aggravate it at all. :)

    9. CatCat*

      I am also a sidelined runner due to bursitis caused by a bone spur one one of my feet. It’s been going one for about 6 months now. I am hoping if I lose some weight, that will help make the inflammation stop, though I may ultimately have to have the spur removed (frowny face!!)

      I walk a lot since that is low impact. I enjoy outdoor cycling. Indoor cycling just sounds like a total bore to me. But outdoor cycling is quite pleasant.

      Do you have any natural bodies of water within driving distance? Kayaking is super fun and great exercise with no impact on the feet. I have an inflatable kayak that I got for pretty cheap off Amazon that is great to take to a nearby lake.

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

        Kayaking is an interesting idea. The one time in my life I did it, I really liked it, even though I largely went in circles and I fell out of the kayak trying to get out. It’s almost free kayaking season where I live.

    10. LGC*

      Ouch! Hopefully you’re back on your feet soon!

      It really depends. But you just drove a bus through my first three suggestions. You actually hit on plan D, though – get a bike. Cycling is low impact, which is good.

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

        “Drove a bus through”…haha. Sorry, LGC. I’m realizing by reading this thread that no one has invented a new sport or exercise that I’ve missed all these years, which I guess is good? But the bike is turning out to be somewhat better than I probably made it sound above. I can do it while I watch a game show or a rerun of a baseball game.

        1. LGC*

          I mean, I’m just a guy on the Internet, you’re the one that has to deal with the injury! Glad it’s working out well (or…well enough), though.

    11. MindoverMoneyChick*

      Search “hurt foot workout” on YouTube. There’s a trainer with a whole series of floor and seated workouts you can do with an injury. Very helpful to me when I was sidelined from my normal workout routine recently.

    12. Nacho*

      I really want to run right now, but it’s raining out. Trying to decide if it’s worth just putting on a rain coat and going.

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

        I’ve found that if it’s warm enough and the rain is not that hard, the rain actually acts as a cooling factor and it feels good. Sucks to do a long run in it, though.

    13. Bulbasaur*

      When I had plantar fasciitis I was back on some limited running fairly soon – I just needed my foot strapped when I did it. So that might be something to look into, although it may depend on how bad your particular case is.

      Also, the physio gave me a bunch of stretches and exercises to improve strength and flexibility for the muscles that weren’t pulling their weight (which was what led to the condition in the first place). So if you have something similar then throwing yourself into that might be a possible substitute – as you say, exercise comes in different forms. They can be discouraging early in the “this should be the easiest thing in the world, why can’t I do it” sense, but you can often see some progress fairly quickly. Seeing how successfully you can do that can work if you need something goal oriented, and it might be a good complement to the heart rate elevating options like the stationary bike.

      In general I think talking to a physio or sports oriented doctor might be worthwhile if you haven’t already. In my experience doctors without a sports focus are more likely to prescribe complete rest for everything, even though modern research suggests that’s often not the right treatment for a lot of conditions. Physios are also more familiar with the scenario where they know their patient is going to disobey if they forbid exercise entirely, so they need to offer options that allow it to proceed alongside the recovery process.

      In my case there wasn’t really much else I could do (the great appeal of running was that I could just throw on a pair of shoes and be off, and nothing else offered that convenience) but I was able to get by with the above suggestions.

    14. Diamond*

      I find yoga and regular pilates so boring, but I like the ‘Pop Pilates’ that Blogilates on Youtube does. It’s fast-paced pilates to upbeat music which makes it more interesting and immersive to me.

  19. AvonLady Barksdale*

    We’re moving in a month (less than that, depending on how this weekend goes) and I have completely had it with our landlord. He’s selling the house and apparently needs/wants cash quickly. Luckily for him, our neighbor (with whom we’re friendly) wants to buy the house and keep it as a rental property. This would also be great for us, because our neighbor will buy our washer/dryer and save us a lot of headache!

    However, our landlord is being a giant pain. Every time he schedules someone to come and do something– yard work, pressure washing, that kind of thing– he reschedules at the last minute. Our neighbor has arranged inspections, as he should, and instead of planning to show up, our landlord expects my partner to be home and take care of it. The workers my landlord hires are never on time and not particularly respectful. On the other hand, everyone who has come from our neighbor’s side has been communicative and conscientious– because my neighbor hires actual companies who do these things, not just “a guy” with a pressure washer.

    But the latest thing takes the cake. During the inspection, the inspector was checking out a window frame and made a giant hole– because the frame is rotted. I don’t blame the inspector one bit. My partner sent a photo to the landlord, kind of as a heads-up, and… nothing. Not even a, “Oh wow, sorry.” I also heard that our landlord is getting impatient with our neighbor because our neighbor won’t make a deal until the inspection reports come back– which is his right! Which is smart! But the landlord knows there are problems with the house and he’s being an ass about it. We’ve been renting this house for five years and our landlord never once came by to inspect anything, he has never checked in, he just takes his rent and makes repairs only when we bring it up (and even then, it takes at least two weeks to get anything done). And now he wants us to do his work for him without any consideration for our time or for the fact that, you know, we rent the whole property from him.

    I would really love to ask him to release us from our lease a couple of weeks early– and I would spin it as, getting us out early would give him free access to make repairs– but I know he won’t because he wants the money. So I’m prepared to be petty and tell him he can’t take possession until the 30th even though we’ll probably leave before then.

    1. Alex*

      Is he giving you 24 hours notice for all appointments? You do not need to accommodate him within less than 24 hours and you do not need to be the person managing his work people. I’d simply say “sorry, we can’t do that time,” and not show up for whatever appointment he makes. That’s his problem, not yours.

      You only need to give him access (ie, allow him in) when he gives you 24 hours notice or it is a time sensitive emergency (like a gas leak or a fire hazard).

      1. Wishing You Well*

        I agree with Alex. Now is a great time to practice assertiveness with the landlord. What’s he going to do? Evict you? Stand on your rights, if only to gain experience with drawing appropriate/legal boundaries.
        I suspect you’ll continue to have trouble with this landlord no matter how ‘nice’ you are.
        Glad you’re moving out! Good luck!

    2. bunniferous*

      Not your job to be present for the inspection. Is he selling FSBO or is he using an agent? He can have his agent be there or he can be there. You do not have to be there.

      1. only acting normal*

        Just say no to meeting landlord’s appointments for him.
        In general I’d advise landlords to not have their tenants around for selling. As a buyer I’ve had several tenants obviously try to torpedo sales with horror stories about house or neighbourhood (even one who was renting from a friend). It’s not in the tenants’ interests to have their home sold out from under them, so I get why. Not that this behaviour applies to Avonlady!!

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Ha! We do try to be neutral, if not positive, but the funny thing is we told our neighbor about some of the house issues before it was going to be sold– and it turns out we were pretty on-the-nose (I’ve been saying for years that the windows need to be replaced), and our neighbor still wants it. So our landlord would be smart to just take a few grand off his asking and be done with it.

  20. traveling*

    Any places you could recommend for short trips that are accessible by train around NYC (could be in another state, just NYC is my starting point)? I don’t drive so that eliminates some places. I’m looking for nature, quiet, hiking, good food appreciated. Beacon for example is on my list but I’m sure there are lots of other places I have not heard!

    1. GoryDetails*

      The Sleepy Hollow/Tarrytown/Irvington area is lovely, with lots of beautiful hiking trails, historical spots, magnificent houses (from Washington Irving’s Sunnyside to the lovely Lyndhurst Manor), riverwalks along the Hudson… Lots of good restaurants, including the high-end Blue Hill at Stone Barns.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Oops, forgot to add: some of these places are readily accessible from the train stations, but for others you’d need local transportation of some kind. I don’t know what the taxi or Uber/Lyft situation is there – when I’ve visited I’ve taken my own car – but that might be an option for you.

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

      The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is spectacular. You can take the A train to the Broad Channel stop. There are many restaurants one train stop away in Howard Beach.

      You could take the Long Island Railroad to Oyster Bay — there are water views, good restaurants and shopping, not sure about hiking though.

      Over the summer, you could get to Jones Beach by transit; take the LIRR to Freeport and transfer there to a bus to Jones Beach (it might be weekends only; check the MTA Web site).

      I’m sure there’s a lot more on Metro North and NJ Transit but those are the things that immediately popped into my head.

    3. Llellayena*

      My initial thoughts died at “nature, quiet, hiking.” I’m most familiar with the Northeast Corridor line into NJ but most of that goes to built up areas. Princeton is a great place to walk around if you like that though. You might check the train lines that go across the north part of NJ toward the Poconos. It seems like that would be more nature-like. Most of the other places I can think of don’t have a train line nearby. Though if you like more structured nature Grounds for Sculpture is pretty close to the Hamilton train station.

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

        Seconding Princeton. It’s gorgeous around there, and easily accessible by NJ Transit. The Grounds for Sculpture is peaceful and spectacular!

        If you’re willing to go to Staten Island and ride a bus for varying lengths of time, there are a few good options where you can enjoy nature/go to a good restaurant afterward:
        –Snug Harbor (ferry to the S40 bus)
        –Clove Lakes Park (ferry to the S61 or S62 bus)
        –The Greenbelt (the S74 bus will probably get you closest)

    4. Femme d'Afrique*

      Check out Bear Mountain State Park, it’s perfect for what you’re looking for. The Metro North will take you to Peekskill (and then it’s a cab ride away). Lots of hiking trails etc, it’s a really beautiful place and you won’t believe you’re only about an hour away from Manhattan. You may need to pack a picnic or something, but I highly recommend it.

      1. CC*

        I second this! You can train up directly or if you’re open to renting a car we trained up to a nearby town and rented a car from there. We made a weekend of it at a bed and breakfast and hiked all weekend. We also saw an old mansion Kykuit,old home of Rockefeller and full of modern sculptures in the area, highly recommended as well.

    5. LGC*

      If I remember correctly, Storm King is not too far from the Campbell Hall stop on the Port Jervis line.

      The NJCL gets pretty scenic when you get down to the shore, but the northern shore towns tend to be a little…chaotic at times? Belmar is fairly mellow, if I recall.

    6. Young coworker*

      It’s a long trip from NYC I’m guessing but harpers ferry is crazy accessible from DC’s union station and absolutely gorgeous without needing a car

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      The LIRR goes all the way out to the eastern end of Long Island’s North Fork. Much is within easy stroll of the train station. Great biking, and rent kayaks or just laze on the beach.
      Going the other direction, Metro North gives you easy access to Connecticut as far as New Haven. From there head north to Hartford & Springfield MA, or East to Boston. Downtown Hartford itself has a decent bus system, and there are now bus connections to other areas.

    8. Ulf*

      If you enjoy hiking–did you know that there is a stop at the Appalachian Trail on the Harlem Line of Metro-North? It is situated where the trail crosses the tracks by route 22 in/near Dover Plains, north of Pawling. I believe trains only stop there on weekends and holidays.

      I’ve never done the train, but have parked there and hiked to the southwest–you cross a swamp first before reaching a forest and dried land. Hopefully someday I’ll return and go in the opposite direction. Anyway, can’t speak for the train ride itself, but the combination of train from GCT and hiking along the most famous trail in the US makes this seem like a good potential fit for you.

    9. Katefish*

      It’s paved, but the Dutchess Rail Trail and the Walkway over the Hudson are accessible by Metro North. The walkway is crowded but the rail trails are quiet and peaceful. We rented bikes, but there were many hikers as well. You’re near the Culinary Institute and Lola’s, a personal favorite for good food.

  21. GoryDetails*

    Bird watching, anyone? I enjoy it – in a casual way; I’m more likely to admire birds as they visit my yard than to be up at dawn with binoculars in a neighboring marshland. I live in New Hampshire and there are lots of handsome birds that visit the area. I put out nectar for ruby-throated hummingbirds, jelly-and-orange feeders for orioles and catbirds, and peanuts and suet for a variety of woodpeckers from the tiny downy to red-bellied woodpeckers and flickers. The area gets birds of almost every color – though green is rarer, only on the necks of mallards and pheasants. We also have LOTS of wild turkeys, and it’s possible to spot a flock of them stalking around suburban yards on occasion.

    What kinds of birds do you see? (Or are you like a friend of mine who, whatever the species I’ve excitedly pointed out, will glance at it, shrug, and mutter “It’s a bird” {grin})

    1. Reba*

      We recently saw a long-tailed duck at a public garden in northern Virginia. And gorgeous bluebirds. When we lived in New England, seeing various fancy ducks was my favorite (buffleheads! so cute!).

    2. londonedit*

      GoryDetails, are you a Bookcrosser by any chance? If so, you might remember me from the very old days of the BC forum…!

      As for birds, I live in London so you might not think we’d get many interesting birds, but there are plenty around if you look for them! I often run by the river and canals, and you can see herons, cormorants, swans, ducks and moorhens there. And as well as all the usual British garden birds (robins, blackbirds, tits etc) we have loads of green parakeets which I love. Some people think they’re a pest as they’re non-native, and no one really knows where they came from (one of the many brilliant rumours is that Jimi Hendrix released some pet parakeets one day) but I think they’re lovely.

      1. Reba*

        No, the parakeets are jerks!!!! They are very charming but very destructive (they attack bats).

      2. GoryDetails*

        [GoryDetails, are you a Bookcrosser by any chance? If so, you might remember me from the very old days of the BC forum…!]

        I am indeed! Same screen name there as here. I don’t recognize your screen name from BC, but it’s good to see another BCer here even if you haven’t been active lately!

        1. londonedit*

          No, different screen name but I was one of the London Renegades :) Haven’t done any Bookcrossing for many many years but I remembered your name!

      3. DrTheLiz*

        If you keep your eyes peeled and get a bit lucky, there’re kingfishers on the London canals. I’ve seen a nesting one in Vicky Park (it caught a fish and took it into the nest, it was so cool) and a flying one on the Grand Union around Uxbridge.

        1. londonedit*

          Yes! I’ve actually seen one before too, also near Uxbridge on the canal! And terrapins, but they’re not birds :)

        2. GoryDetails*

          Oh, kingfishers! So very cool… I’ve lived in New Hampshire for about 40 years now and have seen a kingfisher in the wild exactly once. Diving from a tree into the brook within a mile of my house, yet… After that I kept watching for them for years before realizing it was better as a one-time thrill than a constant frustration! (May have been a weird season, too; I saw a kingbird in the same general area, and haven’t seen one of those since either.)

    3. Penguin*

      There’s a pair of cardinals that often perch right outside my window and I smile every time I see them! Otherwise, we get robins, grackles, English sparrows, blue jays… nothing terribly exotic. I did see several talkative mallards land in the neighbors’ pool last year, and I’d swear I’ve heard wood ducks once. I’m close to some of the fall migration routes down the Great Lakes, but I’m not so enthusiastic as to go camp out in the actual flight paths, so you’d never know it from my watch list.

    4. Emily*

      I don’t go out of my way to see birds (although it’s funny that I say that now, since I’m hoping to visit a raptor sanctuary next weekend), but I like looking at them when they’re around me! And I live near a canal and some small wooded areas, so there’s a decent amount of variety.

      Recently I had one of my first wild turkey sightings! I couldn’t really stop and look because I was driving, but it was exciting. We have cardinals and Canadian geese pretty much always, ducks and occasional herons on the canal, pigeons in a particular spot where people feed them, occasional seagulls (we’re not near the sea), blue jays, woodpeckers, and some smaller birds that I’m not very good at identifying. There were some goldfinches recently that were a lovely bright yellow.

      Controversial opinion of the day: I like pigeons; I think they’re really pretty and mostly good-natured. I also read somewhere that they were once mostly domesticated birds, and so now they’re more feral than truly wild.

    5. CAA*

      I live near the ocean, so we get a lot of sea and shore birds here — we have several different species of herons, egrets, gulls and terns. I especially like watching the brown pelicans feeding. It’s also really awesome, but rare, to see an osprey catching fish in the estuary.

      On land, we get the usual crows, robins, sparrows, hummingbirds and there’s a flock of feral parrots and conures. The most annoying land bird is the mockingbird. Every few years we get a bachelor male that can’t find a mate and sings all night in the tree outside our bedroom window.

    6. GoryDetails*

      Just saw a rose-breasted grosbeak! While they’re not uncommon in the area, it’s rare that I see one in my yard. Love the dramatic patch of red on the breast. (And I forgot to mention great blue herons, which are quite common here; sometimes one will be standing rock-still in the suburban ponds, looking like a statue until suddenly it jabs at a fish or frog. I love to see them take off, too; something so large doesn’t seem as if it could become airborne, but they do.)

    7. CatCat*

      I’ve gotten a lot more interested in birdwatching over the past few years than I thought I would have. Even got a little “urban birdwatching” notebook to note what I see. There’s a site called What Bird (https://www.whatbird.com/) that has helped me identify birds I’ve spied.

      This week’s highlight was seeing a wild turkey with her two chicks!

      1. SPDM*

        I use the Cornell app Merlin Bird ID, which is good if you’re not home. I’ve seen lots of turkeys where I live, but no chicks. So cool!

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Eagles are coming back.
      We also have the large blue heron.

      But they don’t show up in my yard. Of course.

      We did have some Harlequin ducks a few towns over.

    9. Clisby*

      Cardinals, mockingbirds, and robins are the most frequent in my yard (in SC). We used to get blue jays, but in the past 5 years their visits have really diminished. (Not birds, but there also used to be a lot of bats flitting around here at dusk, but I hardly see them anymore).

      1. Clisby*

        Adding … we hear migrating ducks and geese, but see them only in the park across from our house. My favorite birds near me were the pair of anhingas in the park, but haven’t seen them at all this year.

    10. AnonBirder*

      My favourite hobby!

      The good season here has wound down – most of the ducks, shorebirds, wagtails, thrushes, etc. migrate north for the winter (I’m in Taiwan). We’ve got nesting blue magpies, treepies, swallows and barbets near my apartment, and I can hear the serpent eagles circling this morning. At work, there’s a regular kingfisher, lots of bulbuls, moorhens, egrets and magpie robins. I also managed to ID a Savannah nightjar the other night, by sound.

      We don’t get songbirds much, except in the high mountains. Birds in more tropical climates tend to chirp/squawk/call, but not sing, as the larger more reflective leaves on local plants tend to break up longer songs. Taiwan’s a pretty amazing birding place, as it’s a small area, but spans tropical/sub-tropical, and goes from sea-level up to high altitude montane forest, plus rivers, lakes, marshes and seashore, *and* it’s on a lot of migratory routes.

      I’d say I’m on the moderately obsessive end :-). I make lists, own a spotting scope, but don’t do dedicated international travel for birding. I do take my binoculars and a book when I travel, though, and have hired guides in other countries for a day trip (something I highly recommend). Even on a business trip, it’s fun to pull out the binoculars and look for new birds.

    11. The Other Dawn*

      I’ve learned to appreciate casual bird-watching in my backyard. I moved to the middle of the state a few years ago, and it’s more country-like than my previous area. My husband–a city boy–has discovered a love for feeding the wildlife, so it brings lots of birds, squirrels and deer to the yard. Every week he has to go to Tractor Supply and stock up on bird, squirrel and deer food. And yesterday he saw ONE bunny in the yard and immediately grabbed my bag of carrots from the fridge to go and feed it.

      We see: blue jays, cardinals, robins, goldfinches, red-winged black birds, black birds, crows, chickadees, finches, sparrows, woodpeckers, and mourning doves. I saw a couple ducks yesterday. We also have a hawk that hangs around–very noisy bugger–and we see a crane occasionally (there’s a small area of wetlands in the back). Oh, and a family of geese use the wetlands in back to have their babies every year. I love seeing them lead their four or five little ones across the yard.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Just realized it’s an egret, not a crane, that visits the area at the back of our yard.

    12. HeyNonny*

      I saw an eagle with out for a hike today. Wow, it was gigantic! It lowered down to look at me (maybe my hat looked tasty?) as it swept by and I instinctively tried to look bigger.

    13. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I lived walking distance to the near the CT River for 20 years, and now just 5 miles east towards the hills I’m seeing different birds. The ones I saw&heard by the river that I don’t get now — flicker, blue jays, mockingbird, and (I think) song sparrow. We had more robins there. We had red tailed hawks, Cooper’s hawks, and once a kestrel. Once saw a bald eagle from my front yard, on his migration no doubt. Regular flyovers by a great blue heron.
      We had a nesting Red tail somewhere in my new area, and those adolescents are funny to watch when they aren’t getting fed anymore. I hear a lot of song birds I haven’t identified yet….they’re way up in 70 yo trees. Both places have lots of chickadees, the juncos already headed north. I have a pair of crows in the area, and we had a huge vulture flyover last month.
      Once driving across the bridge near Hartford I saw the fastest moving pigeons ever….being followed by a Peregrine falcon. That’s right up there with the bald eagles.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        My husband used to see a green heron near his office. Tons of water birds. Once a huge flock of night jars, but only y that once.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          And my daughter just reminded me of our occasional flock of turkeys.

  22. NewKicks*

    I’m not sure if I should update my beneficiaries for my savings account and retirement account. Right now I have both my parents listed as my primaries, and my two siblings listed as my secondaries. When I got an e-mail reminding me to make sure my beneficiaries were up to date this week, I wondered if I should change it to just my mom as my primary and just sibling 1 for my secondary.

    My dad is a jerk in many ways and I don’t even talk to him anymore except when forced to at family gatherings. Sibling 2 isn’t a good sibling in the sense that they never volunteer to help with anything and never have time to do favors or keep in touch, but if they want to vent or need a favor then they expect you to drop everything right now. I don’t *hate* hate them because they’re still family, but at the same time I’m wondering do they really deserve to get money if I die? My mom and sibling 1 are wonderful and supportive and deserve the money. I have good relationships with them. But if i die and they see my beneficiaries then there’s going to be hurt feelings and my mom and sibling 1 might be upset with (dead) me.

    Any thoughts or suggestions or experiences to share on how to do this? I’m young enough and healthy enough that it’s not an immediate concern, but it does weigh on my mind a bit.

    1. only acting normal*

      It’s your money so up to you where it goes if you die (although it’s nice of you to worry about others feelings, you can’t control that, you can only control you).
      Also, that reminds me – I need to update my beneficiaries too!

      1. valentine*

        Make the changes. I assume you trust Mom/1’s judgment and, if they want to share, they can.

    2. WellRed*

      My mom is my beneficiary if for no other reason then my student loan debt needs to be taken care of ( co-signed debt, long ago) so keep anything like that in mind. Also, if you were to actually predecease mom, I’d be wary of whether, as her next of kin, your dad would receive it should she pass.

    3. Not A Manager*

      Leave your money to the people that you want to have it. If they choose to share with other people, that’s their business.

    4. Venus*

      Would they be upset if you did or didn’t include everyone? You aren’t clear.

      Either way, one thought might be to make mother and sibling 1 primaries, and father and sibling 2 secondaries (assuming different tiers result in different amounts). Personally I am planning for my mother to get more than my father, based on their financial situations.

      1. Anonymous Pterodactyl*

        Tiers do not result in different amounts. Primary beneficiaries inherit first; only if all primaries are deceased do the secondary beneficiaries get any share of the funds.

        NewKicks, from what you’ve described, I do think it makes sense to have Mom and Sib1 as your primary beneficiaries. If you want Dad and Sib2 to inherit your funds if Mom and Sib1 die before you do, then by all means make them secondary. But if you would rather not leave anything to Dad and Sib2 if they outlive all the rest of you…. I don’t recommend having them as contingent beneficiaries. A friend, a charity, a romantic partner… all better options than meh family members.

    5. Auntie Social*

      Make your mom primary on your checking, with your sib(s) secondary. Do the reverse for the retirement accounts.

    6. Blarg*

      My cousin and I are each other’s heirs and POAs. Keep in mind that if you don’t have a spouse or adult child, your parents will be expected to make medical decisions for you should you be unable — unless you designate someone. That’s a way bigger deal than your assets. I trust my cousin to respect my wishes more than anyone else, and thus she gets any assets I may have (although she’s getting the short end — she has way more assets than I do).

  23. Anono-me*

    Good morning,

    Does anyone know if Library checkout and/or used book sales in the USA are tracked to contribute to an author’s popularity ranking?

    Here is the reason for my question.

    I am a bibliophile. But I have a small moral dilemma. There are several authors where I love the books, but very much unhappy with the personal and political views the author expresses via their platform as a popular author. (Yes, everyone is entitled to their own opinions and to share those opinions as they see fit. However being an author gives someone a higher profile and sometimes more credence when sharing their opinions. ) I don’t want to contribute to this person’s financial or social stature as an author by buying their books. I use the library or I buy books second hand. If I recommend this author, it is with the warning that the books are good, but the author’s personal views may be problematic .
    Unfortunately, now I have been told that there is some sort of Matrix that tracks Library checkouts and Used Book Sales from the larger chain of used book sellers. Does anyone know if this is the case? If so, any suggestions on how to get around it (other than to read the book in the library)?

    Thank you.

    (PS-I do try to be an ethical consumer in other ways also.)

    1. Beaded Librarian*

      I work at a library and I’m not aware of this being the case although I think I would have to ask our integrated Library software vendor to be sure. It’s possible the collect the data without the library’s knowing.

      1. Also a librarian*

        I do think book sales to libraries are tracked; we do track check outs (not you reading habits but the library as a whole) but I dont know if that info goes to publishers.
        I dont think used books are tracked in most library bookstores, they would have to have barcode systems to track the titles and ours does not. It is just a set price per paperback, hardcover, CD etc for most items. Q

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I don’t know if it’s a thing that is actually tracked, though both would make SENSE to track–the data is out there, it’s highly relevant to libraries and used book stores in figuring out where to invest their limited resources, so why wouldn’t tracking systems have grown up as tech made that easy?

      I don’t think the line you’ve drawn–trying to consume things but ensure that the author can’t get any credit for creating something you want to consume–doesn’t make much sense. Like, I can see both “I’m just watching a movie, all I care about is that the story is well told” and “I can’t enjoy movies with that person because I can’t dissociate them from their actions to lose myself in the story, or am just not willing to”–but not trying to watch all that person’s movies but only in ways that no one could know about.

      1. Grace*

        “I don’t think the line you’ve drawn–trying to consume things but ensure that the author can’t get any credit for creating something you want to consume–doesn’t make much sense.”
        No, I get the line, and I do the same.

        There is a certain author who has been very public about their opposition to LGBTQ right, including the fact that sex between men should have stayed illegal, and actively campaigned against same-sex marriage. I haven’t read their books, but I’m aware that they’re iconic in the genre. If it wasn’t for the author, I would have read them already, and maybe I still will.

        But I will not give this author my money and I will not give them my sales to increase their numbers – because that money and that prestige all go straight back into pressuring governments to erode my rights.

        Maybe I’ll read those books someday. I doubt it, because I don’t think I can separate them from the author at this point, but I understand why other people would want to. But even if I do, I am not going to let this author benefit in any way from my reading their books, and I support other people doing the same.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I am truly not grokking this distinction. It seems like a cousin of the excuses made to try and get free copies of stories because “well I want to read/watch them, and I want the creators to make more for me to read and watch, but I don’t want to pay anything”–where it’s public acknowledgement rather than money that’s being withheld from something.

          I don’t think shame is the right word, but it seems a similar negative emotion: that reading these books would need to be done in secret and not admitted to, at least not via any public accounting. Just… don’t read him if you don’t want people to be able to count you as his reader.

          1. The Gollux (Not a Mere Device)*

            It’s not, in my opinion and experience, necessarily “I don’t want to be seen reading his books” but “I don’t want to do anything that might send money his way, even indirectly.” Some people draw the line at not buying books by certain living authors; they figure that increased or decreased sales won’t help a dead writer. And yes, refusing to buy someone’s books (or music, or other works of art) may decrease the chance of them writing and publishing more books; that’s a risk some of us are willing to take.

            On the other hand, I have also decided that if I can’t find my CDs of certain albums, I won’t be re-buying them, because a really vile person was in the band and gets a share of the royalties. And that’s an emotional reaction: he’s no longer working as a musician, and probably has significantly more money than I do.

            (On yet another limb, some people would probably refuse to listen to those albums now that they know more about the performer in question. There are people who have gotten rid of books because “now that we know how the author abused her daughter, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy rereading those books.”)

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              The part I’m not getting is that it “may decrease the chance of them writing and publishing more books; that’s a risk some of us are willing to take.” Because on the one hand if they write/film/record a new piece of art, you’re going to try to read/watch/hear it because you enjoy their work. But on the other hand you want to discourage them.

              If I would prefer that someone’s status decrease and no one be interested in paying them to make more books/movies/songs, then the logical thing to do is not consume those things. Not try to snag them on the down low where no one notices.

              1. Grace*

                It’s nothing to do with me wanting them to stop creating art, it’s because I do not want my actions to benefit this person. You can enjoy someone’s music or film or writing while still thinking “Wow, this person supports causes that I find to be really reprehensible and I don’t want to contribute monetarily towards that.”

                If buying a book or CD from a second-hand shop means that I consume that media but my money doesn’t go into that person’s pocket, that’s all I want. Bonus points if I’m buying from a charity shop, so my money is going towards causes I support rather than a person who donates to causes I don’t. That’s literally all it is. Does my buying this thing – or borrowing it from a library – put more money into their pocket, directly or indirectly? No? Then it’s all good.

                1. valentine*

                  Unless you’re keeping tabs on the enemy, within politics, for example, and/or they’re a subject of study, why would you read the work of a deplorable person?

    3. NewKicks*

      I feel like if you’re reading an author’s books, then you’re still supporting them whether you’re getting the books from a library or second hand. Even if there isn’t some way that libraries or used book stores track the information for the author’s publisher, the library and used book stores themselves will still track it for their own inventory purposes (that’s how libraries decide what to buy/cull from their collections, and how used book stores decide if they want to buy more of which books to sell). And recommending the author (even with a warning), or doing things like leaving reviews or carrying around the book and allowing other people to see it (if you do those things too), still seems like you’d be supporting the author.

      I know one of my friends uses a book swapping website where you earn credits from listing and shipping your books to other people, and then you use those credits to get books from other people. Maybe that’s less likely to be tracked?

    4. Lilysparrow*

      Well, first of all, there’s no such thing as an official or mathematical Popularity Ranking for authors.

      Authors get onto bestseller lists based on retail (new) book sales. (The main bestseller lists are usually gamed in some way, fwiw.)

      Advertising and distribution on the retail level are business arrangements that reflect the publisher’s promotion budget and projected (guesstimate) sales, not some kind of objective ranking. Media appearances, press reviews, and “buzz” are managed by professional PR agents. So from that perspective, the author’s “Popularity Ranking” is whatever their PR team can convince you it is.

      Appearances on lists like “the best of the year” or “the best of all time” are the subjective opinion of the people compiling the list. Reviews on blogs are either sponsored placements or the subjective opinion of the blogger.

      Authors and publishers do not get paid for used book sales. Even if sales are tracked, publishers do not consider used book sales in deciding to offer contracts or advances. Because they only care about sales that make money for them. Used book sales are lost sales from a publisher’s POV.

      Any author who makes a really noticeable share of their income from library sales is not prominent enough for anyone to know or care anything about their politics.

      So, even if these types of tracking exist as management tools for the libraries & bookstores, there is no appreciable benefit to the author.

    5. karou*

      I’m not sure what you mean by “popularity ranking”, but in terms of whether an author gets royalties — used book sales, no. Some countries have a Public Lending Right programs, which allows authors to claim payment for their books available in libraries, sometimes based on the number of times it’s been borrowed, but not the US. However the more a book is borrowed, the likelier it is that the library will buy more copies of that book or their future books, which means more money for the publisher and author in the long run.

    6. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

      Libraries do track. Not who reads them (because that’s considered private data) but how many checkouts and returns a book gets. That helps us decide what to order.

      Now, usually one checkout will not be the difference between us keeping or withdrawing an item (numbers are typically much further apart), but it does count towards that author’s overall *popularity score* (which doesn’t really exist, but that’s what we will call it).

    7. Book Lover*

      This is from Seanan Mcguire’s Tumblr, fwiw
      Because if you acquire a book, it presumably means you want to read it, and hope to find enjoyment and entertainment in its contents. Those contents were generated by someone who is very likely living below the poverty line for their region, who depends on book sales (new book sales) to eat. If no one buys my books, I stop writing or I starve. Those are my choices.

      Your choices are buy new, buy used, go to a library, or illegally download a file you have not paid for. The first benefits the author. The second benefits your local economy. The third benefits your community. The fourth benefits no one, and it violates copyright law.

      I gather this suggests that buying used doesn’t result in any formal tracking (though yes, the bookstore may then be willing to do trade ins for more) and tentatively the same for the library, but I know our library buys more copies of things when there is a waitlist or significant demand.

    8. smoke tree*

      I work in publishing but have never worked in libraries, so I may be off-base on this, but my understanding is that the popularity of a library book (how often it’s put on hold or checked out) affects how many copies of the book, and future books by the same author, the library buys. Library purchases are something that publishers track. So it does financially benefit the author in a small way, although not as directly as buying a book would.

  24. Sled dog mama*

    I’m working on revamping some childhood favorite recipes for myself and my two brothers. (One brother’s wife can’t eat dairy so he doesn’t either, the other brother is type 1 diabetic, and I’m insulin resistant).
    I’m thinking of occasionally taking things in to test on coworkers as well and trying to figure out the best way to to ask for feedback. I was thinking a note saying something like “trying a new recipe, feedback appreciated -Sled” would work and I could note common allergens there too.
    Is it too strange to take things to coworkers? (My office frequently has food items brought in by clients so I feel like just putting it in the break room would be within the culture)

    1. BRR*

      It’s going to depend on your workplace but I would guess that you won’t get honest feedback from your coworkers. If someone brings in something to the office, I’m going to say thank you and maybe it’s delicious. I’d feel weird saying this could use more salt or it’s a bit dry.

      1. Overeducated*

        Yeah, exactly. I think you’d have to enthusiastically rope one or two specific coworkers into agreeing to be test subjects and making it sound like a huge favor. (If you know anyone at work with those dietary needs they might be up for it?) I’d never leave critical feedback on food left in the break room, ever!

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Maybe a more specific note–“I’m trying to make a dairy-free version of a childhood favorite; feedback and advice appreciated” might garner more useful feedback. Though it depends heavily on your office personalities and their food knowledge.

      It’s free food, though, and the standard there is to not look a gift horse in the mouth. Plus “These cookies are a) free, b) right here, unlike all other snack options available to me, so these are great” is honest feedback. You can just track how fast the food vanishes. (Thus do I evaluate the pastas I send to my son’s sport team–if none comes back with him after the party, I keep sending that recipe.)

    3. Middle School Teacher*

      We used to have a secretary who would do it all the time. We got the free food so we were happy to be her test subjects :)

    4. Lucy*

      My OldJob was the kind of place where this was absolutely acceptable – you could leave trial versions in the kitchenette and then email round “experiment chocolate cake in 3rd floor kitchen (vegan, no nuts in recipe) – please let me know what you think” and by 2pm the plate would be scraped clean.

      That said, I think people were too polite to say anything actually critical. They might have said something like “this version is lighter than last week” but they wouldn’t have said “this is a bit heavy” the week before.

      How quickly do celebration cakes or leftover meeting sandwiches tend to last in your office? If they go quickly I would say it’s probably safe to try it once, but be very open about what you’re doing.

    5. Parenthetically*

      You know, this is going to be so culture-dependent! I had a coworker who ALSO loved to cook and we brought stuff in specifically for each other to taste… I’d say regularly — a couple dozen times I reckon in the time we worked together. And we tasted each other’s breakfasts or lunches more like weekly. Feedback like, “Hmm, I think it could take quite a bit more ginger” or “Yeah, chicken thighs next time, the breasts got a little dry” was always most welcome.

  25. ATX Language Learner*

    Looking for some good shows in this style: CIA espionage (Homeland, Hana, Jack Ryan), murder/detective/thriller (The Killing, The Fall, Dexter), con artistry drama (Sneaky Pete).

    Tried The Americans but can’t get into it. I’ve watched about 5 episodes of season 1.

    Tried The Wire but also can’t get it into it, although I’ve heard it’s worth it.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Welcome to the dozen or so people who tried the Wire and couldn’t get into it.

      For light and breezy con artistry I like Leverage and White Collar.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        For detective I really love Justified. Great work with even minor characters, each of whom feel like they are starring in their own TV series that just happens to have intersected the main character’s this week.

        Spy: Alias and Nikita. Haven’t watched the former in quite a while. Despite an illogical third season I really liked Nikita in part because they actually changed things up–Team Nikita was one person when she started and grew over time, which is a logical yet surprisingly rare take on how you have a revolution.

      2. CC*

        Yes for leverage and white collar! This is what I watch for a pick me up and generally, a happy ending. Also castle!

    2. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

      If you can find casa de papel , it’s great. (Season two was called the money heist.)

    3. Fey*

      Killing Eve
      The Victim
      The Bay
      The Cry
      The Replacement
      Happy Valley
      The Night Of
      Escape at Dannemora

      I can’t get into The Wire either but I really want to!

      1. DataGirl*

        YES! was also going to suggest Leverage, it’s the best. I saw someone mentioned White Collar, that’s great too.

        For espionage stuff there’s The Enemy Within (season 1 just ended) or Quantico (season 1 was great, then it went downhill). Madame Secretary isn’t directly about the CIA but has similar themed plots. Alias and Nikita are much more far fetched but again similar themes. Numbers is awesome but about the FBI. Criminal Minds is also FBI but pretty gruesome. If I binge watch it I get nightmares. NCIS and all it’s spinoffs deal with military crimes and have a great deal of espionage too.

        Detective stories: Sherlock, Elementary, Wallander, Luther, Murdoch Mysteries, Death in Paradise, Broadchurch, The Fall, Ripper Street… Really there are tons. Good watching!

    4. Handy Nickname*

      Dead to me is fantastic. It’s… kinda of a little bit of all those, but not quite anybody then. Wasn’t what I expected but I was hooked and finished it all the same night.

    5. rider on the storm*

      – Line of Duty (UK)
      – The Bridge (Sweden/Denmark) There is also a French/UK version called The Tunnel but I haven’t seen it to recommend it
      – Spiral (France)
      – Crossing Lines (Ger/Ita/Fra/US)

      Spiral and The Bridge are subtitled.

      1. Thursday Next*

        I recommend the Tunnel—I’ve only seen the first season. (Season #2 starts with a plane crash, so I’m out.)

        1. Mari M*

          Seconding the rec for the first season of The Tunnel… and couldn’t watch S2 for the exact same reason.

    6. Anono-me*

      I like the British series called New Tricks. It’s not as dark and edgy as some of the shows you mentioned , but it does have the murder mystery aspects. There no new episodes but I think there were like 10 or 11 seasons.

    7. CAA*

      I like Unforgotten, which is about cold case detectives. It’s a British show that PBS runs on Masterpiece, but it’s also available on Amazon.

      1. Thursday Next*

        A new season is coming up on PBS! I liked the detectives’ characters a great deal.

    8. VlookupsAreMyLife*

      For the love of all that is holy, do NOT watch Covert Affairs! We muscled thru all 5 seasons. And it just kept getting worse & worse.

      I had high hopes for both The Americans and Narcos, but neither really did anything for me.

      Bosch on Amazon Prime is pretty good, especially if you’re a fan of the books.

      I also really liked Damages with Rose Byrne & Glenn Close. Each season has it’s own plotline, so I didn’t get bored. More of a legal dramas but heavy on crime/corruption/scandals.

      If you’re at all interested in legal dramas, Better Call Saul is a great spinoff of Breaking Bad but without the gratuitous violence. The character development is really fantastic and you don’t have to have seen BB to watch it.

      Next up for me: American Crime, HANNA, Sneaky Pete Season 3.

    9. Nessun*

      Miniseries (6 eps or so), The Night Manager – BBC production iirc, and it is phenomenal. Based on the Le Carre novel.

    10. LK*

      Imposters! It’s a fun con artist-y show on Netflix. I wound up binging the entire thing after finals week was over!

    11. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I have to agree with all of the recommendations for Leverage (full disclosure: I am totally biased as that’s where my user name comes from), Justified, and Bosch. Leverage and Justified are two of the shows I will watch over and over.

    12. Parenthetically*

      I tried The Americans and couldn’t get into it either. I recognized it as objectively really good, but it just didn’t grab me. Same with How to Get Away With Murder, and Scandal.

      My watchlist skews heavily Brit for detective stuff especially:
      Unforgotten (new to me, EXCELLENT and very twisty cold-case)
      Broadchurch (TW: seasons 1 and 2 focus on the death of a child)
      The Bletchley Circle (one of my favorite shows of the past decade, just such a great premise)
      Prime Suspect (this is a classic for a reason)
      Endeavour (technically a prequel to Inspector Morse, but I’ve never watched a second of Morse and still loved it. Very moody.)
      Luther (Dark, dark, dark. Darker than The Fall, IMO)

      1. Eleanor Shellstrop*

        Seconding Broadchurch!! Great show, very twisty turny and some excellent characters. Reminds me a lot of The Killing actually.

    13. Lemonwhirl*

      Happy Valley – a police drama set in Yorkshire. Not sure if it’s still on Netflix, but that’s where I watched it.

      Love/Hate – an Irish gangland drama. No idea how/where you’d be able to get this one, but it’s one of those things that practically all of Ireland was glued to when it was on.

    14. Pharmgirl*

      I just discovered Babylon Berlin 0n Netflix and am loving it! Also watched Fallet on Netflix recently and enjoyed it.

    15. Curiosity thrilled the cat*

      Some suggestions- most are British, but are available on Netflix. (Sorry if these have been mentioned already.)

      Broadchurch, The Fall, Happy Valley, Bodyguard (British show, not the movie), Secret City (Australian),

      Hustle (Not on anymore: British show, similar to Leverage, my library has it on DVD and it’s really good.)

      1. Curiosity thrilled the cat*

        There is also a really good Italian show called “Anti-Drug Squad” (Caccia al re – La narcotici (original title)). It’s not on anymore, but it’s worth watching as well.

  26. Lego My Eggo*

    I’m several years post-college graduation and have two friends who dated each other in college, both female, Emma and Katie. I’m pretty close friends with Emma, more distant friends with Katie. Both of them live several states away from me now and both were two years ahead of me in college. I became closer friends with Emma when she dated someone in my year, a girl she’s now married to, and is someone I actively strive to hang out with. Katie is someone I haven’t seen in years but is an old college friend that we like to share social media comments back and forth.

    While I never knew the details of their relationship, wasn’t even friends with either of them when they were dating, Emma has made it very clearly that Katie was abusive towards her and wants nothing to do with Katie. She’s made comments, in person and on social media, about being angry that other people in our social circle are still friends with Katie though they supposedly know the details of what happened between them.

    I don’t know the actual details of what happened between, only that Emma wants nothing to do with Katie. But being friends with both of them on social media, I feel guilty when both respond to the same post so that Emma sees I’m still friends with Katie. Honestly I’m not sure I’ll ever hang out with Katie again outside of a someone else closer to Katie organizing a big gathering, especially with her living room elsewhere, so should I just ditch her as a social media friend to appease Emma?

    Note than both are the kind of people to carry a grudge and would notice who is friends and chatting with each other on social media so I don’t think this is an issue of me overthinking things and more that I want to be on Emma’s side even if Katie never gave me reason to doubt her.

    1. ATX Language Learner*

      From my perspective unfriending someone on social media won’t solve the problem.

      1. Sam Sepiol*

        Maybe not in general, but in this situation and purely for the OP, I think it really would. Can you expand?

        1. ATX Language Learner*

          Because the problem doesn’t lie within her being friends with Katie on FB, the issue is her past relationship with Emma and no unfriending of anyone will make that better. FB is not a real friendship.

          1. Sam Sepiol*

            But that’s nothing to do with OP. That’s Emma’s and Katie’s issue and lego my eggo can back far away from it by unfriending Katie.

    2. Penguin*

      If you’re “not sure [you’ll] ever hang out with Katie again outside of… a big gathering” then what do you have to lose by unfollowing or unfriending Katie?

      Do you disbelieve Emma, that Katie abused her? Because if you DO believe her, then ethically the thing to do is act in such a way as to SHOW that you believe her, namely by ceasing to interact with her abuser.

      Abuse is… not really a thing where one can be “neutral”. Attempting to “stay out of it” means tacitly endorsing the status quo, which- given the power imbalances between abused and abuser- usually means supporting the abuser, if only by refusing to support the abused.

      Unless you think Emma is lying, then support her by respecting her and her trauma- stop treating her abuser like a friend.

      1. valentine*

        Because if you DO believe her, then ethically the thing to do is act in such a way as to SHOW that you believe her, namely by ceasing to interact with her abuser.
        I agree with this.

        It sounds like you’re trying to have it both ways and not have anybody potentially mad at you. As you don’t feel Katie’s a threat, what do you have to lose by cutting contact? Some abusers strategecally keep people onside by treating them well so they can later use them as character witnesses against their targets. If Katie’s an abuser, do you really want to even appear to be her character witness? You overwhelmingly favor Emma and her wife, so why not do as much as you can in that direction? Why keep hurting them?

    3. Emily*

      I’m with Penguin in this case. If you believe Emma about the abuse and aren’t that close to Katie, do you really want to be friends with your friend’s abuser?

    4. Not A Manager*

      I don’t agree that you always have to cut someone out of your life because of vague claims of abuse in a different relationship. I think a lot of that is very relationship-dependent and context-dependent.

      In this case, though, the stakes seem pretty low if you cut your social media ties to Katie. You’re actual friend with Emma and her wife, and you want to foster that relationship. If that means not letting Katie comment on your social media posts, it’s a small price to pay.

    5. Sam Sepiol*

      I mean, if I was Emma, I would have blocked Katie, so I might see from context there are comments I can’t see (maybe) but wouldn’t see the actual comments. (This is how I deal with the fact my abusive ex is in Facebook groups I’m in for my kid’s school).

      But honestly given everything you’ve said – I’d just unfollow Katie and put her in my restricted list so she stopped seeing me but we were still friends, then after a few months defriend. I agree with the other comments about not being able to stay neutral. Not picking a side is kind of picking a side, when you are close to the putative abused party and not to the abuser.

  27. Lucky Penny*

    When you volunteer your time places, do you usually do it alone or with friends/family? I found an organization that does monthly volunteer days that conclude with them providing food and liquor to the volunteers for their hard work. It sounds like fun and I’d like to go, but my first thought was to see if anyone wanted to come with me. Maybe it’s the social element afterwards with food and drink, but it seems odd to invite people to work their Saturdays away. Just curious if you consider volunteering a group activity or a solo one.

    1. DataGirl*

      If my friends/family were into volunteering is definitely enjoy the company. But they aren’t so I do almost everything solo. I can be a way to make new friends.

    2. Weeping Willow*

      I think it depends on the activity. I do a lot of volunteer work with my local Habitat for Humanity. If I’m volunteering to help build a house, that’s a lot more fun with a friend. But if I’m updating their database, that’s a solo gig.

    3. Loopy*

      I do my volunteering solo since no one’s schedule works as consistently as mine. But it’s really social and enjoyable and I have never thought of it as working my Saturday away. It’s something I would have consisted as a career in the past and I truly enjoy the people and work :)

  28. Overeducated*

    Is anyone else uncomfortable with the increasingly widespread references to “toxic people”? In other contexts I see a lot of efforts to not identify people’s substance with qualities or behaviors (e.g. “people with disabilities” instead of “handicapped,”) or avoid dehumanizing language (e.g. “undocumented immigrants” vs “illegal aliens”). Toxicity is an inherent quality of a substance, not a choice like behaviors. It seems like calling people that is writing them off AS people, which goes beyond the definite necessity of drawing boundaries and objecting to unacceptable behaviors, but I see it a lot among people who are concerned with sensitivity in language. What’s up with this, am I missing something? I still see this more online than in person so I’m just wondering.

    1. Washi*

      I’m not uncomfortable about the specific reason you mention – to me saying that you’re distancing yourself from toxic people isn’t any different than saying you’re distancing yourself from annoying people. To me, if people started using like, “toxins” that would be dehumanizing, but describing someone as toxic isn’t offensive.

      That said, the term toxic has lost a lot of its punch to me. I would only use it for incredibly egregious behavior, and I wouldn’t even say that I have any toxic people in my life at all, maybe ever. It’s like “abusive” – not a word I would throw around willy nilly. But as it’s gained mainstream acceptance, I feel like it’s gotten a bit diluted and I’ve heard people use it to describe behavior that I would have just said was rude or crass.

      Basically, I’m not offended by it, but I also don’t really find much reason to use it.

      1. Observer*

        I think you make a good point about the overuse of the word – of the word abuse, as well.

    2. dumblewald*

      It doesn’t bother me because it’s usually used to describe people with terrible behavior. It’s not a signifier for any sort of demographic (immigrants etc.). It’s just a way for someone to articulate whether a situation they’re in or someone they know is causing them long term emotional stress, which is helpful.

    3. fposte*

      I don’t know I’m disturbed per se, but I agree with your underlying point. I think it’s part and parcel of a current cultural tendency toward black and white thinking, which I don’t like. (It doesn’t help that the media *loves* this tendency and amps it up–think food and diet research clickbait.) I’m not a fan of “garbage person” either, for similar reasons. We are all somebody’s toxic person.

      That’s why I thought the pettiness thread was so fascinating–it illuminated how people could perform an act that would lead to somebody writing in to AAM in horror about their co-worker and still feel completely justified.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Sincere question. I am putting it under reply to fposte because she will know I am asking an actual question. What do we call these folks that we need to just stay away from?
        I am thinking of people who have really suffered because of another person’s abuse.

        1. smoke tree*

          I know you didn’t address this to me, but in the context of abuse, I wouldn’t criticize someone for using whatever language they find most helpful to get through the situation. It’s more in general analyses of these kind of behavioural patterns where I think it’s probably more beneficial to focus on toxic behaviours rather than toxic individuals. (Also, as with all phrases like this, I think there is the risk that it will eventually get watered down to the point of meaninglessness, where everyone you happen to disagree with or find mildly annoying becomes “toxic.”)

          1. Overeducated*

            Yes, I agree, if (for example) someone used it to describe people who’ve hurt them here I would never jump into comments to police their language. I was hoping raising the abstract discussion would not hurt anyone’s feelings.

          2. fposte*

            Yes, it’s that last thing that I see more often than I’d like. It’s oversimplifying to opt for “because I have a bad reaction to something or someone, they’re toxic.” Or, as you suggest, you *can* frame things that way but it therefore makes “toxic” meaningless because everything and everybody has elicited a bad reaction at some point.

            To NSNR–I don’t have an easy answer for that question; it’s not like I’m saying in some quasi-religious way that we must never name the person as bad. But I think that people who are abusive can be called abusive, and people who commit crimes can be referred to by the name of the crime. If somebody tells me their ex was an abusive thief, I have a clearer and more convincing picture than I do if they just call him “toxic.” I also think it’s common for a relationship to bring out the worst in both people without either of them being inherently bad; I think often it would be more accurate to say “I’m leaving my toxic relationship” than “I’m cutting off my toxic friend.”

            And I also do think it shuts off somebody’s humanity, which I hate to see a rush to. I think of the behaviors OPs here have engaged in in their own letters. We’ve had somebody deliberately bite a person; somebody whose anxiety drove them to show up at a co-worker’s house and frighten them to the point of a restraining order; somebody whose high-school behavior left such a mark on an agemate that years later that person blackballs their hire, and so on. I think these kind of people can get called toxic, but I think when you have more information about them and their feelings you can see that they’re more than that behavior. If you reduce them to “toxic” then there’s no potential for anything else for them, but we see repeatedly people on AAM who’ve been spiraling down pretty far who then work their way to better things. I don’t for a minute mean that victims of bad behavior need to let it all go and be happy with these people again, but I also think that the reasons we damage people are complicated, and I’d like to avoid a term that suggests we could never get better.

            1. Observer*

              Well, some people are toxic and then change. I don’t think that the term implies an immutable trait. But it does imply a pattern that is more pervasive than naming specific behaviors is. “abusive” is one of the exceptions, but that’s because that’s also not really about specific behaviors but behavior patterns.

              It’s also badly overused in much the same way toxic is overused, in my opinion.

              1. smoke tree*

                As fposte says, I think it’s always going to be more convincing to describe specific actions than to use a label anyway. I think there is a depth of nuance to interpersonal relationships that tends to get flattened out in these discussions. Two individuals can develop a toxic relationship without necessarily being toxic people–a lot of behaviour is situational. On the other hand, I can appreciate that for someone who is trying to escape an abusive or otherwise unhealthy situation, it’s often easier in that context to employ some black and white thinking for yourself.

            2. Not So NewReader*

              You know sometimes it goes beyond religious beliefs. There are just some situations that are not acceptable, period. Turn the other cheek is NOT the answer because the person could end up dead or reduced to a shell of a human being because of using that advice. I no longer believe that turning the other cheek is appropriate advice for many situations. I don’t think we are supposed to allow ourselves to be rendered into something less by another person. What is the point of a life, if we allow ourselves to be made into mashed potatoes on a routine basis?

              Going the opposite way, labeling someone as toxic can be a crutch, as in “Can’t fix this so I am (or, “society is”)off the hook here. I (we) don’t have to do anything to help. There. Done thinking about that.” Or even worse, “I am not responsible for my actions that contributed to this other person’s high level of discomfort.”
              Unfortunately, we are all stuck on this planet together and we are all interwoven and interconnected. That is reality.

              Right now I am watching a father grieve his son. Oh, the son is still alive, but the son is so very lost. The courts and the counselors have deemed the son unrehab-able. I think this is in part due to the limits of our knowledge of how to help a person climb up out of their disarray. In this story here, Dad is waiting for one of two things: re-imprisonment or death. There are things worse than funerals and this is one of them: the slow unraveling of a life.

              I think at some point we have to start insisting that our systems do better than what they are doing.

              IRL, I won’t go near the son. I can’t afford to get caught up in his stuff. Dad is okay so the best I can do is be a supportive friend to Dad.

          3. Parenthetically*

            (Also, as with all phrases like this, I think there is the risk that it will eventually get watered down to the point of meaninglessness, where everyone you happen to disagree with or find mildly annoying becomes “toxic.”)

            Yeah, this is exactly what I’ve seen happening! “Cut toxic people out of your life” becomes “cut anyone out of your life if they dare to criticize your weight-loss-tea MLM ‘career'” or “cut people off who push back against any of your choices in any way.”

        2. Overeducated*

          Depending on the circumstance, an abusive person, a person you need to stay away from, a person who’s treated you terribly, maybe? The need to stay away from someone for good is not something I am questioning. But I’ve also seen “toxic” used in contexts like “my coworker who complains all the time” so I don’t think it’s unambiguous.

          1. Observer*

            That’s a problem, but that’s not about whether “toxic” is about who the person is vs what the person does.

            It’s about over-reacting in general. And using language way too strongly. It’s like the over-use of the word abuse.

        3. Not So NewReader*

          Thanks, all. I appreciate.

          FWIW, working in human services I clearly saw that many abusers were abused themselves. Younger me never realized how abuse can be a circle like that and so often.
          It does not make it right, nooo, don’t mistake this for something else. But I often wondered how we break the legacy. It’s such a powerful stronghold.

          All this insight did help me with stuff at work, but that is another post.

          1. fposte*

            I’ve been thinking a lot about your post last week, about how there was just a day of the week where the parent beat the kids as part of the routine. If you grow up with that and the people you know all do that, it’s really hard to find a new way on your own. I’m amazed that so many of our parents did manage to find a better way than they grew up with, frankly.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Yep. It’s a show of strength, intelligence and a bunch of other things.
              Even now when I think of my father at his worst with his running temper, I can still see that little boy saying, “Parents. do you love me?”, and not getting an answer or hearing the answer of NO. As much as I can say my father was unfair at times, I can also say that he climbed his own Mt. Everest to move above what he knew/saw. There was no how-to manual either. It really tugs at the old heart strings.

              That dual thinking what do we do with stuff when we understand where it comes from but what is happening currently isn’t right either. It’s like trying to jump the Grand Canyon from a standing start. The only semblance of an answer I have ever found is, “It might not be the right time to fix it because the person is not ready. Or you may not be the person who is supposed to help fix it.” This is a hard answer to swallow.

          2. Good luck with that*

            Re: breaking the cycle of abuse
            My parents chose not to allow my mother to spank me (or worse) because her father used to “beat her with the razor strop” (her words). It was all “Wait until your father gets home.”
            He had been subject to corporal punishment, too, but just the way anyone was in that generation. (Born 1912) He wasn’t angry when he punished me, which made a huge difference.

        4. pancakes*

          Surely the most fitting language depends on why one needs to stay away. “Toxic” is imprecise because it covers such a wide range of different behaviors and mindsets. It’s applied to people who are spiteful, vindictive, angry all the time, acting out all the time, self-pitying, belligerent, manipulative, untrustworthy, excessively or aggressively self-regarding . . . I’m sure I’m leaving a few out. And these behaviors and mindsets don’t necessarily occur in isolation, they might coexist in a particular person, or alongside other characteristics that make them difficult to be around. Regressive politics, ascetic or puritanical religious views, etc.

      2. Observer*

        I don’t agree that “we are all someone’s toxic person.” But it doesn’t really matter. If someone’s behavior is such that the behavior is toxic and suffuses the relationship, then it’s fair to call that person toxic. Maybe that person is not universally toxic, but they certainly are toxic to “you”.

        One can use the term “toxic” for a person without being in the trap of black and white thinking. There are situations where high levels of nuance are not really relevant or useful. Say you are in a relationship with someone who makes you cry every time you have an interaction with then. That person is toxic (to you at least). And there is not a lot of nuance to be had there.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I do agree that I have to go think about this- “we are all someone’s toxic person”.

          So far I can agree that we are all “an irritant to somebody”. If I am honest with myself then I must acknowledge that I have ticked some people off permanently. That person is going to stay out of my path for the rest of my life. It would be superficial to ignore WHY this happened.

          In some cases, I can sit smugly and say, “Well Jane wanted a friend who would sit and do drugs with her. I won’t, so, phew, glad that friendship is over.” It’s shallow of me not to realize that Jane’s story goes on even though I am not there to see. Jane is in pain, hopefully, the right person will come along who WILL effectively help her. I was probably a toxic person or at least an irritating person to Jane because I stayed out of the drugs and she felt implied pressures because of my abstinence. Jane was probably glad to be shed of me also.

          There is always a bigger and bigger picture to consider.

          1. Observer*

            So far I can agree that we are all “an irritant to somebody”.

            But this goes to the very real danger of over-using a given word. “Irritant” and “Toxic” are not the same thing, and shouldn’t be used as such.

            1. fposte*

              Right, and that’s another problem for me–since there’s no fixed definition for toxic, and people use it in situations where it doesn’t mean that much, I basically hear it as “I don’t get along with this person.” It may be for reasons why I wouldn’t get along them either or it may not; it may be because they committed a crime or because they wouldn’t support an MLM. Usage just isn’t enough to make the term less broad.

              Actually, now that I think about it, I mean “problem” in the mathematical sense; since the use is not usually something that comes with an actionable expectation, it doesn’t really matter what my understanding of it is.

    4. Anon Anon Anon*

      I agree. We could do better. We’re really talking about behavior with toxic effects. “Toxic people” is basically name-calling, which is a toxic act itself, so it’s all kind of hypocritical and ironic. There must be another short-hand out there that would work better.

    5. smoke tree*

      This is an issue that I often have with language used in social justice-oriented spaces. It can be very difficult to thread the needle of holding people accountable for bad actions without engaging in the kind of us vs. them thinking that often leads to the need for these discussions in the first place. On the one hand, I appreciate the need to identify people in your life who it’s healthiest to avoid, and it can be helpful to have language to express that. On the other hand, I feel like when it’s used more generally, this language contributes to drawing focus away from behaviours and social patterns and toward placing blame on individual bad actors. On the whole, though, I don’t think this particular use bothers me as much as others, because it is more grounded in personal experience.

      1. fposte*

        Right, and I’m never going to say to somebody “You can’t call your ex toxic!” Call them whatever you please; it’s your relationship to define and no skin off my nose.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Thank you for this.
        Since I don’t use the terms willy nilly, I guess I was not aware that the terms were getting used in a sloppy (or worse) manner. Society has done this with other terms also. Words get overused and applied in ways that have nothing to do with the original use of the word. This makes the word empty/meaningless.

        Perhaps one of the things we need to consider is how do we express that we see a person underneath all the issues. I know of two people who will put up with nasty, nasty stuff from their brothers because they see the person underneath the mean mouth. One of the two people recently lost his brother. The bro never stopped using the mean words. Somehow it made the bro’s passing even harder. Surviving brother knew and understood why his brother was like that, but surviving brother was not able to stop it. In the end, the brother who passed had become their father, the very person the deceased brother wanted to get away from.

        I like the idea that we work at remembering there is a person underneath the easy to see issues.

        1. smoke tree*

          I agree, I think online especially it becomes easy to suggest dumping boyfriends or cutting family members out of lives, when everyone involved feels so abstract. I hesitate to say it, but I also think this rush to pin labels can also shut down productive conversation, when certain gatekeepers seem more intent on catching someone out in a poor wording choice than facilitating a meaningful discussion. But I realize that exact argument is often made by people who don’t want to take responsibility for educating themselves and learning not to say misinformed things. And I do appreciate when outright bigoted speech is shut down. So it’s a hard balance to strike, for sure.

    6. Windward*

      I’m with you, and agree with fposte about the problematic increase in black and white thinking. I’m all for calling out bad behaviour, and (to partially answer NSNR) for avoiding people who are bad for us entirely. But to label individuals toxic seems to obviate their ability to change their behaviour and perhaps become people we would trust and appreciate. Doesn’t mean those folks will choose to do so, but few people make happy choices that lead them to terrible behaviours. At this point in my life it’s easier, for me, to look at the behaviours as ways to determine whether or not I want to be around individuals rather than condemning individuals as people in my own mind or words. I’ve met some people who have turned their lives around in astonishing ways. I’d rather help leave the door open for that than slam it closed, with the caveat that some behaviours must be stopped in order to keep that door open.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I think that part of the problem is people start with “science can’t fix this” and jump to “therefore they cannot change their behavior”.

        That is a huge leap, because we just don’t know.

        And indeed, we don’t have to go too far to find folks who have done an exemplary job of redirecting their lives. We have some of those people right here.

    7. My cat is my alarm clock*

      I can’t describe my parents as abusive because I will freak out and start dissociating. Toxic is a word I can cope with using. I don’t really care about the linguistic ins and outs.

      1. Running start*

        I sometimes use words like toxic because I don’t want to go into the details. I might say I wasn’t close with my parents, or that my father was an asshole alcoholic, and I don’t want to have to justify my reasons. I’m not interested in having an in-depth analysis of my family of origin in the work breakroom.

        1. pancakes*

          Good point, I suppose it is a good euphemism for all sorts of very problematic behavior in those circumstances. Or on a first or second date, or chatting in other casual situations. There are a lot of social situations where it would be too intimate too soon or too dour to get into alcoholism, drug dependence, compulsive lying, personality disorders, etc.

          1. pancakes*

            (I don’t mean to imply anything about 3rd dates being an important marker in any way, just meant to give examples of casual situations!)

    8. Sparkly Lady*

      I’m not uncomfortable with it in theory, but I’m uncomfortable with how I see it used in practice. In a lot of my social circles, I’m seeing a move towards a binary, rigid approach to dealing with people as either Bad or Good. Toxic people are Bad and can never become Good, so social shaming and ostracization is the only way to deal with them. There’s little distinction made between toxicity and genuine abusiveness, or that one person’s toxic may be another person’s boundary setting.

      1. pancakes*

        People can be genuinely abusive, though, physically or emotionally or both, without every acquaintance of theirs having an accurate sense of how pervasive the abusive behavior is. It sounds more like you’re upset about particular people being unjustly ostracized, in your view, than by the language around toxicity being too fuzzy. If that makes sense. I mean, it sounds like the problem is with people being shunned in circumstances you think are unfair, and you’re trying to rebrand it a bit by saying other people’s standards are too rigid. Whether their standards are or aren’t rigid, if they object to particular behavior that doesn’t bother you, you’re not all going to be equally content to spend time with people who engage in that behavior.

        1. LGC*

          I actually…kind of agree with Sparkly Lady. My read on the situation – and it’s something I’ve had to deal with IRL – is that…sometimes, it feels like the decision to associate with a person who did a Bad Thing is a value judgement on you. That is, it’s not so much about whether the person themselves is a Bad Person, but whether you yourself are a Bad Person by association. And that can be a lot to take on.

        2. Sparkly Lady*

          This is a heck of a lot of reading into things I never said: “I mean, it sounds like the problem is with people being shunned in circumstances you think are unfair, and you’re trying to rebrand it a bit by saying other people’s standards are too rigid.” It also blithely dismisses what I actually said.

          I meant what I said. If I had meant something else, I would have said something else.

    9. BelleMorte*

      I try to refer to it in terms of the relationship. i.e. toxic relationships rather than people. Relationships can change over time, but if you identify a person as toxic there is no room for growth later should you need it.

      1. pancakes*

        That seems arbitrary. I can easily imagine circumstances where it could indeed be situational — someone who is an alcoholic or drug dependent, for example, could get sober and be capable of not-toxic relationships with people who once might’ve fairly described their behavior as toxic.

    10. Observer*

      When applied to people, toxicity IS about choices and behaviors. People are not toxic because they have a condition or quality. They are toxic because they have patterns of behavior that infuse an entire relationship. So that it’s no longer about drawing boundaries around specific behaviors but around the person as a whole.

  29. WellRed*

    Are you hiding the baby from everyone? How is that even possible? Congratulations!

    1. Sparkly Librarian*

      Sounds like this might have been for me. And, well, sort of. Social media blackout, no events or gatherings, off work (with my boss and boss’s boss knowing why I’m using FMLA), not leaving the house. The social worker visited, and my sister and parents came by because they know. It’s furtive and isolating and weird.

      1. pancakes*

        That does sound isolating. It seems like it would be helpful to discreetly tell a few trusted friends / another family member or two that you’re tentatively hopeful you’re finalizing an adoption and could really use some support. That would still maintain privacy on social media, which I do think is sensible, for just a little longer. If you do reach out to anyone, tell them to please keep quiet about it on social media until you’ve been authorized to share the good news.

      2. I don’t post often*

        @sparkly Librarian I can’t seem to find your original post. I’m waiting to adopt. I have been waiting almost two years. I told manager and Sr manager (I needed help with HR paperwork for homestudy) and I have told part of my team. My problem now is, I do many things that are undocumented within my department. I’m training one teammate to be able to catch things while I’m on FMLA, but much of my work is specialized. With those outside my team I’ve been using a “oh I need to document this/ cement this Incase I need to be out of the office during month end… or in case I hit the lottery you never know!” But I’m close with some of these people and it feels weird not to tell them… I’m super cautious because when my daughter was born, the company laid me off when I was 38 weeks pregnant. I don’t want to announce we are adopting with an unknown timeline because there are several re-organizations happening in the next year, and well… I’ve been burned once. (I was re-hires when daughter was 16 weeks old.). I was wondering how you dealt with the wait time during adoption?

        1. Sparkly Librarian*

          Hi! (Original thread here: https://www.askamanager.org/2019/05/weekend-free-for-all-may-25-26-2019.html#comment-2490768)

          We had a long wait and I changed jobs in the same organization during it; due to staffing turnover I’ve also had a handful of bosses in that time. I’ve been fairly open about being a hopeful/waiting parent, in part because there’s a large network of library staff and you never know how a connection will be made that might lead to a match. Also, we tend to talk about family stuff and I felt comfortable sharing that status (although not many details). But I also feel secure in my position and supported by my bosses. If you don’t have that, or your previous negative experience has colored your perspective, it makes sense that you’d opt out of telling everyone!

          In terms of informing people at work, I thought it was important that my supervisor(s) know for purposes of coverage. I have one extremely supportive boss in my current position, and I presented it to her after accepting the position as, “At this point I should share with you some personal news that you’ll need to know when you’re my manager. My wife and I are in a pool of waiting adoptive parents. We haven’t been matched yet, so it’s a bit like being pregnant without a due date. In most cases like ours, there’s a couple of months’ notice before a baby is born and placed with the adoptive family, but it could also happen very suddenly. I will give you as much notice as I can when a situation presents itself. As I transition, let’s talk about what kind of backup plan should be in place for when it’s time for me to take parental leave.” Sounds like you’ve done that part yourself. I don’t think you need to announce to anyone else until something happens, whether that’s a match with an expected due date or you choose to keep it under wraps until baby is home with you. Think of how pleased they will be to learn your good news! And how much better work will go with your extra documentation and backup staffing! I couldn’t do much about the staffing myself, but I proposed a multiphase leave that helps to cover some of the key work during our busy season. That manager has been very appreciative that I was prepared even with only a moment’s notice.

  30. Beaded Librarian*

    Does anyone have any advice on how to deal with my mother who is upset my sister won’t fly up to our brother’s high school graduation since her daughter started puking yesterday? They were supposed to drive but the puking nixed that and sine it looks viral my sister is opting to not spread it.

    My problem is my is a boundary pusher and is now complaining my sister doesn’t ever call (she doesn’t call me either we text) and doesn’t seem to like them. Hint: She doesn’t like our mom/ is limiting the chances of her being able to go damage to her family because of past history. My mom texted me saying she hopes we have a chance for a woman to woman talk and it’s making me a bit anxious. I’m dependent on them for transportation when I get up there and will be there for four days!

    1. Reba*

      Oof. All this relationship stuff can definitely be amplified around big life moments like a graduation!

      I would say that you need to resolve not to get in the middle of your mom and sister. “You need to talk with her about that” “I really can’t say how she feels, you will need to take it up with her” “I will not carry any messages from you to her” “You should know that I’m not going to be telling her about this conversation” “Let’s change the subject to something happy! Brother looks so good in his shiny robe!”

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I would suggest a rotation of firm variations on, “She’s preventing all of us from getting sick; that’s the right thing to do.”

      With people like your mom I suspect there’s a tendency to say “Mmm” while she complains; laying out a polite, handleless “I am not engaging on this one with you; her choice was reasonable and responsible” will probably really surprise her, but she will eventually probably give up.

      (I am trying to gently prod my mom that, hey, if she still has the bronchitis in a week don’t get on a plane to come see us. In addition to her health there’s our health, and the fact that my family is going on vacation right after the graduation and we would rather not have bronchitis.)

      Also, my experience of graduations is that other people’s are more meaningful than one’s own, so I am confident that your brother isn’t fussed.

    3. Alex*

      Deflect as much as possible! Make it boring for your mom to complain to you. When she complains just make vague sounds. “Mmmhmmmm.” Or “sounds like you should talk to Sister about that.” “I know you’re upset but we’ll just have to have a nice time without Sister.”

      Also, try refocusing the conversation on your brother, since it’s his freaking day anyway, it’s not about your mom! (My mom is the Expert at making other people’s big days about her, I assume your mom also has this skill.” “Doesn’t Brother look handsome in his graduation gown!” “I’m so excited for (Brother’s post college plans.)” “I can’t believe Brother is so grown up!”

      1. Beaded Librarian*

        She is although she’s going on about how Brother is really down but trying not to show it that they can make it. It might be true but telling me that as a not so subtle way to try and pressure me to pressure my sister doesn’t help.

    4. Clisby*

      Your mother is expecting someone to *fly up* to a high school graduation???? I think I live in a parallel universe, where family members who live in the same town (or certainly no more than an hour’s drive away) might show up. High school graduation is no big deal.

      1. Beaded Librarian*

        Actually am already flying up myself and my layover is in the city my sister would have to fly out of. I think part of it is in her mind since they are offering to pay for her ticket she should do it.

        It’s the older of my younger brothers he has Down Syndrome and while he is very high functioning it’s pretty cool her graduating and has plans to go to college.

        1. Thursday Next*

          Oh, that makes a difference; I can see how his graduation might be especially meaningful to your mother.

          Is your brother upset your sister can’t come? Is your mom projecting that he’ll be upset?

          While I think ultimately you should go the disengagement route, I can see having one more conversation where you stress your sister’s good parenting, and conscientious sister-ing (she doesn’t want to get the new graduate sick!). And redirect your mom (and your brother, if necessary) to the people who do attend, and to your brother’s accomplishments and future plans.

      2. Book Lover*

        High school graduation is a very big deal, but if someone is sick they are sick – I doubt the graduate wants to get norovirus or whatever.

    5. Lilysparrow*

      For me, I’d focus on your niece – her grandchild, fcol.

      “Poor niece, I’m so glad she doesn’t have to travel and sit through a ceremony when she’s so sick. And honestly, I don’t want to get sick either.”

      For the other stuff about your sister, just bite your lip and try your best not to get sucked into triangulating about her. “Hmmmm” and “How so?” And “It sounds like you should talk to her about this,” are the way to go.

      It’s not going to be easy, because your mom knows how to push your buttons and draw you into these conversations. But do your best.

      Needing a lot of time in the bathroom, taking walks, and listening to a really great audiobook that you “just HAVE to hear the end of this chapter” are helpful, too.

      1. Beaded Librarian*

        Ooh thanks for the audiobook suggestion. I actually have one I’m listening to for the book club I help run for at our library for work and I do need to make sure I have it listened to. Bonus I’m really enjoying it even though it’s short.

    6. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Do you HAVE to be dependent on them for transportation? I know my relationship with my father got much better after the time when, after a fight out someplace, I got in my car and drove to the beach rather than home to continue the fight (this was when I was living with him on either a summer break from college or shortly thereafter – I was definitely a legal adult and I don’t think he’d quite shifted his thinking about me accordingly yet). We get along better and better as I’ve gotten older, and a large part of that is that I am not dependent on him for money or transportation, so he can’t arbitrarily control my location or purchases if he doesn’t like my choices in those areas, but rather has to use his words to create a compelling argument about why I should or shouldn’t make a particular choice. (Sometimes he has a good point and wins the argument, and sometimes I do whatever-it-is anyway because I still want to, but either way we both understand that the choice resides with me now, which is what needed to happen.)

      Anyway, if Uber and/or Lyft are available wherever you’re going, you may want to keep that in mind as a possible “spontaneous separate cars” option. If this is where you grew up and you still have friends there, putting out feelers about whether any of them have younger siblings also graduating and will be attending with them may also give you some additional spontaneous transportation options.

      1. Beaded Librarian*

        My sister pointed out a rents would be a good idea and even offered to help pay for it. I didn’t take her up on it but I did decide to go ahead and get one. Thanks for pointing out why it’s a good idea to do it. And thank you for the alternate suggestions. I’m going to a largish city but not sure how much they have in the way of lyft or uber. But it’s definitely a good thing to remember for other situations.

        1. valentine*

          You’re going to have to choose between Mom and Sis. Your mom won’t accept anything less. As long as you’re placing yourself under her control (I hope you’re not staying with her or anyone else she might deputize to harass you), you’re choosing Mom.

          I assume you’re walking eggshells and the fine line to keep the peace, for whatever reason, but, unless you depend on Mom for food/clothing/shelter in your regular life, you can refuse to be deputized or interrogated about Sis, champion her right to do as she pleases, and say no more about it. You can also suggest that Mom will get better results if she backs off and lets Sis decide on the level and forms of contact. Tell her the alternative is nothing, not more/a return to the fold/Sis’ place under Mom’s thumb.

          If you’ve not read the Captain Awkward letter about Alice who rules her roost, it may ring some bells for you.

          1. Beaded Librarian*

            Oh honestly I firmly side with sister and thank goodness I’m in a hotel. Their place doesn’t have a spot to crash anyway. My mother is a hot mess to put it mildly. I try to limit contact with her myself but I try and be there for my brothers even though I don’t do a great job of it.

    7. Good luck with that*

      Hang on, your sister is staying home to take care of her sick child, and your mother thinks that’s wrong?
      The minute she started on that with me I would ask her whether she would have abandoned her children when they were sick.
      Not only would I not help guilt-trip your sister, I’d expand on the topic of how much I agree with Sister’s sense of responsibility, how much I think she’s being a really good mother, putting her child’s wellbeing ahead of her own pleasure, and so on. The more Mom complained, the more I would praise Sister.

  31. Penguin*

    Plant thread! How does your garden grow? Which weeds just won’t die? Discuss and commiserate with fellow botanically-inclined folks!

    1. Penguin*

      The wisteria is starting to bloom, most (but not all!) of the tulips are done, and the lilac is full and purple and lovely. Also, I found and pulled three second-year garlic mustard plants yesterday, so that seed bank is still producing, drat.

    2. Bluewall*

      Just repotted some yarrow last night; I hope it survives!

      I found some large round black disks at the scrap store. They’re plastic and have a mesh pattern. I put them on top of the soil on my tomato containers; hopefully that’ll keep the squirrels from digging in them. Still have to figure out some sort of fencing so that the squirrels don’t go after the fruit too.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My peach tree has some kind of fungal something, red blisters on the leaves – like, ALL of them – and I am waiting (and waiting :P ) for the tree guy to call me back and tell me if there’s anything I can do about it or if it just needs replacing.

      My lawn is full of these broad-leafed prickly weeds that I don’t know how to get rid of, and they’re low, so the lawnmower just goes right over top of them and leaves them alone. OUCH.

      My front landscaping is somehow, god knows how, full of random vegetables that we didn’t plant. AGAIN. (That one’s not bad, just funny.) I was joking that between this year’s random green onions and last year’s random tomato plants that took over the front landscaping, all I need was peppers and I can have volunteer salsa, but the tomatoes haven’t come back this year. (Yet, at least. I keep hoping.)

      But I ate the first strawberry out of my hanging baskets yesterday, and it was delicious!!

      1. Penguin*

        Any chance those prickly weeds are thistles? Either a “dandelion weeder” (two-pronged tool for cutting/prying out a plant with a taproot) or a triclopyr herbicide (e.g. Garlon 3A) will probably take them out.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I have thistles elsewhere in the yard, but I think these are something different. I’ll compare though!

    4. HeyNonny*

      Cold wet spring is delaying the basil. The tulips were great, but are done as of yesterday. Still trying to kill the forking garlic chives.

    5. GoryDetails*

      (Southern New Hampshire area): Lots of flowering trees and shrubs, plus the assorted spring bulbs. (My favorites are the small ones, especially the intense blues and purples – scilla, grape hyacinth, dwarf irises etc.) Lovely aromas from the flowering crabapple and the (invasive but sweet-smelling) honeysuckle.

      As for vegetable gardening, I’m woefully behind; I generally have several intense-grow planters in place by now, with heirloom tomatoes and eggplant and sweet and hot peppers, plus some amount of squash, beans, and other strays in the garden beds. I expect I’ll be making a run to my favorite provider of heirloom-variety seedlings some time next week…

    6. fposte*

      I have a beautiful doublefile viburnum that is too small for the space I planted it in, and I have cleverly resolved the situation by deciding it gets to keep more space.

      And the peonies are continuing their reign!

    7. CatCat*

      Geraniums are still going gangbusters with flowers so that’s been nice :-)

      Herbs are all going strong (the only edibles we can grow in our north-facing container garden). I got to use some of our parsley this week in a salad and it was satisfying to go out there with the kitchen shears and harvest some. Tasted great!

    8. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I planted 44 plants yesterday and have 28 to go. Mostly perennials, but some herbs and container annuals too. I found a pink lupine this morning to go with the blue and yellow I planted yesterday. It looks like none of my lupine came back this year, as I had three last year plus I usually have a few volunteers pop up. My hollyhocks also didn’t come back. But, my peonies are very tall and I found a volunteer oriental poppy. Everything else will get planted tomorrow morning, very early to avoid the sun.

    9. Ali G*

      The fruit/veggie garden is all planted. Trying melon for the first time! But I am sad my milkweed didn’t bloom this year. I was hoping this year I would get blooms (it’s their second season). Maybe next year!

    10. NeverNicky*

      Mixed fortunes here (Eastern UK) The winter pansies are over after being amazing, my aquilegia look great, as does my Gertrude Jekyll rose (which smells divine). The snow-in-summer is a pest and swamping everything I planted this year and next door’s cat has been nesting in it… 《sigh》

      The birds are failing at controlling the slugs and snails so I’ve lost a couple of plants and the seeded bits of our wildflower lawn haven’t really taken.

    11. Elizabeth West*

      No garden currently but I’m having an issue with gnats in potted plants. Currently waiting (and swatting) until I can get some Mosquito Bits to water them with–I hear that helps.

      Yes, I tried hydrogen peroxide; no, it didn’t work.

    12. Annie's Mom*

      Midwest here– so much water lately, but even with all of that, I found 3 ferns that I planted last year finally popping up, and a peony bulb that I had given up on sprouted up like 4 inches overnight. It won’t do much this year, but once they are established, you’re usually good to go. Otherwise, tulips and daffodils are done (and I planted the last of the clearance bulbs in the bed today– 0.01 per bulb tulips from Walmart!), lilac is blooming. Some irises are almost done, and so are just abt ready to bloom. I’m waiting for the peony bushes to start blooming any day now.

    13. Rainy*

      Some of my strawberries bit it–we’ve had 3 hard freezes and a bunch of snow on 5-6 separate occasions since our “last frost” *hollow laugh*–but there are blooms on one of the ones that didn’t. My tomato seems to be recovering from having been crushed by snow, and the petunias are bouncing back. The mint and the pansies are bulletproof, of course.

    14. Tau*

      Despite a lot of stuff going on in my life right now I finally managed to make time to sort out my garden (= potted plants on the terrace, really, but who’s counting.) This was an experience that involved transporting 75l of earth on my bike and being rather afraid my trusty luggage rack would break, but all plants and materials made it back successfully.

      I picked a relatively random assortment of veggies to plant and will be curious to see what comes of them:
      – cherry tomatoes (these are a must for me)
      – snack bell peppers
      – zucchini/courgette
      – eggplant/aubergine
      – sweet potatoes
      In addition, all my strawberries from last year survived the winter – some barely, but some are already blooming like mad, so I’m hopeful there will be berries from that side of things.

      I do want a few flowers too, mind you! Last year I mixed the strawberries with flowers, but the flowers were all single-year and I’d planted them too close together, so this year I’ll just leave the strawberries alone in their pots… the result is however that I have barely any space for flowers :( The garden center had a few freaking gorgeous ones, including these fantastic hanging petunias that may make me see if I can somehow attach a hook to the balcony above me. And I may have to buy another container for just flowers as well… the question is really just how to find the time for it.

      1. Penguin*

        Gardens are whatever you make them! If a collection of plants in pots is your garden, then it’s a garden!

    15. The Other Dawn*

      I had my flower garden demolished a couple weeks ago, because I couldn’t handle the near-constant weeding of grass, poison ivy, vines, milkweed and whatever else was in there. It’s been two weeks and the damn milkweed is coming back!! I realize it’s not a weed and the monarch butterflies love it, but I don’t want it spreading and it’s in totally random spots. I’d love to know how to get rid of it for good.

    16. Loves Libraries*

      My plants are wilting in our Georgia heat despite much watering. I’m glad we are only dealing with early extreme heat and not tornadoes and flooding.

  32. KatieKate*

    Acid reflux help! I cannot figure out what’s causing it. I don’t spoke, I only drink socially, my diet hasn’t changed at all. I just picked up some heartburn meds from the drugstore but they don’t seem to be helping. I’ve made a doctors appointment but it’s not for a few weeks. Help me manage until then?

    1. BRR*

      Is there a way for you to prop up one side of your bed? That was a huge help for my husband. Also some nights were so bad he slept in a slightly reclined chair.

    2. Lcsa99*

      What OTC meds have you tried? If you’ve only tried stuff like tums, try zantac (lower strength first) if that doesn’t work, try prilosec. I think both you have to take every day but they do work and you should notice a difference by the second day.

    3. gecko*

      I started getting it–I changed my pillow orientation, made sure to eat something before drinking my coffee since coffee’s so acidic, and grinned and bore it for a while. Didn’t really do tums or meds. Good call on going to the doctor, though.

    4. HeyNonny*

      Is it worse at different times of the day? Nighttime? Before eating? Drink anything carbonated? Have relatives with reflux (ask them what they do, causes can run in families)?

    5. fposte*

      I think there’s a hopeful but faulty theory in there–the fact that you haven’t changed anything in your diet doesn’t mean there’s no dietary cause. So caffeine, including chocolate, is probably the first thing to take out of your diet if it’s in there. Keep in mind that even if that’s the irritating agent, quitting it won’t make you feel better immediately–it will probably take a few days.

      In the meantime, ranitidine or famotidine and Tums.

    6. Lena Clare*

      Spicy food makes my heartburn worse, as does sugary and processed fatty food like pastries, biscuits, or cakes, but cooking in oil and using oil on salads seem to be ok.

      Not eating too late at night. Eating upright, I.e. sitting at a table not curled up on the couch where your innards are all squashed up:) That’ll help.

      Some people report good results with ginger or mint tea. They didn’t work for me, but I’ve liked fennel and more bitter teas to calm my digestive system.

      What I also did, which I don’t know if you’re open to, is look at any causes in my personal life that might have led to a change in my physical self. I tried to attribute feelings to it and tried to work out what my body was trying to tell me.
      For me, it was anger at some BS that someone was trying to make me ‘swallow’ which was simply ‘undigestible’ to me.
      That helped greatly once I realised that and could take steps to stop it.

    7. VlookupsAreMyLife*

      I have it so horribly some times that I can’t breathe & the pain makes me cry.
      Here’s what I’ve found aggravate it for me: stress!!!! When I am stressed, I am less able to tolerate the following:

      Eating within 3 hours of bedtime;
      Lying down/sitting on the couch too soon after eating;
      Strenuous exercise after eating;
      Eating mint, tomato sauce, garlic, alcohol, caffeine, high fat foods.

      When it flares up, I take Omeprazole daily and it makes things manageable, but it takes a day or 2 to build up in your system. I also recommend elevating the head of your bed 2-4″ (I used some old textbooks) and drinking LOTS of water throughout the day.

    8. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      If you have access to a free nurse advice line (my health insurance offers this as a benefit but I’m not sure how common that is), they may also have suggestions to tide you over until your doctor’s appointment. I’ve had good luck with mine giving good suggestions for soothing stomach bugs and things like that, although I’ve never asked about heartburn specifically.

    9. Elephant in the room*

      I gave up acidic foods including anything with tomato sauce (which used to make up a large part of my diet) and started walking after dinner. I also stopped eating after 6:30 PM. I hope you find something which works for you.

    10. Tennie*

      Just know that what triggers heartburn in others may not be your triggers. For example, coffee and spicy foods don’t hurt me at all but tea and salty foods will send it through the roof. It may take time and experimentation to figure out your triggers. Also, most meds will take at least a couple of days to help. Tums and the like don’t do a thing for me, but they might help short term for you. Good luck!

    11. Kama'aina Kitty*

      My triggers are caffeine (particularly brewed coffee), chocolate, carbonation, and alcohol. All things that never bothered me until I was about 40. Now, I can consume two per day from the above categories and feel okay, but if I start having three or all four every day (like when I’m on vacation), I get GERD attacks. YMMV. For coffee, I switched to decaf and started cold brewing it overnight; less acidic that way. I cut way back on chocolate, carbonated drinks, and alcohol. At the first sign of GERD, I take a Nexium (purple pill, now available OTC). I had a gastro guy tell me that all PPIs are basically the same, but his wife insisted that Nexium works differently and that he had to bring those samples home for her. I agree: Nexium works for me and the others are a waste of money.

    12. Blue Bunny*

      Things that help my severe GERD:

      Strictly consistent meal times
      Remaining upright for several hours after meals (no gobbling and then flopping down on the couch)
      Small portions, slow pace, careful thorough chewing
      Emphasizing protein and limiting simple carbs
      No fried or greasy foods, limited salt
      No artificial carbonation (soda and seltzer are bad, beer is okay)
      Drinking a ton of water (at least 4 liters a day, more if possible)
      Propping up for sleep

      Medication can also be an issue. Most OTC allergy/sinus pills give me horrible stomach pains.

      1. LCL*

        Thanks for posting that bit about OTC allergy medicine. I’m tired of explaining that allergy relief isn’t as simple as taking an allergy pill. I weigh how exhausted I am with allergies vs. if I am willing to put up with two days of gastric upset, whenever I think about taking an allergy pill.

    13. Star Nursery*

      Alot of the comments already shared have a good list of possible food and beverages that could be causing acid reflux issues. What about your stress level? At one point I was feeling too stressed status for too long of time (working too many hours for weeks, not getting enough sleep, worried, poor self care) and ended up starting to get insomnia issues, lost weight, felt like I couldn’t take deep breaths, chest felt tight, acid reflux and also what I think was an Ulcer. When my stomach started feeling like it was cold fluid and would not improve for days or with Tums. I made a lot of changes to de-stress, change jobs to a less stressful role, cut my hours back to closer to 40-43 /week, found ways to have fun and practice good self care. Overall worked on reducing stress, worry and anxiety. Drinking raspberry flavored Calms mixed with water helped. I think having a small amount of baking soda with water first thing in the morning, pulled back from spending time with certain family members (the ones that only raised my stress level) really helped! The acidic level in my stomach was off so things I could normally have were not ok at all during that period. At that point any alcohol or caffeine made everything worse! I think I had to eat really bland food for a while and tried a lot of suggestions for what to eat to avoid acid reflux / Ulcer.

    14. Ella Vader*

      I manage mine with Bragg’s Apple cider vinegar with mother, and my sister used it when she was pregnant with my nephew. It sounds nuts but does work. I took a coffee cup and put 2 tbs of acv, tbs of honey, and filled the rest with warm water and drank it all in one go. It’s not the best tasting thing, ngl, but it’s done wonders for my acid reflux.

    15. Unacademic*

      Just one more thing since no one else has brought it up – developing lactose intolerance (which can happen with age, since the point of being able to digest lactose is for babies to be able to drink breast milk) really kicked heartburn into gear for me. I had some other symptoms too, but the heartburn is still the first one to show up if I’m eating too much dairy.

      Things that help me, besides what’s already been mentioned: having my coffee a little later after eating, eating more slowly, not drinking tons of water with meals since that just fills your stomach up, and having rice with simple, easy to fishers veggies like zucchini.

    16. Jabberwonky*

      One word of caution when taking standard acid reducing pills, esp. if it’s for a prolonged period of time, is that it can contribute to anemia. I’ll spare you my long reflux saga that lasted about 2 years total but it led to me eventually becoming severely anemic (I had been assuming that my fatigue was due to poor sleep because of the reflux) and since the doctor’s couldn’t pinpoint a reason, I was researching possible causes out of desperation and acid reducing meds came up as a more obscure cause. My reflux is under control now as is my anemia but I don’t think the link is talked about much so wanted to show.

  33. Curiosity thrilled the cat*

    I went to the Retina specialist on Tuesday afternoon. They dilated my right eye and it lasted until yesterday afternoon! I called and the nurse said not to worry. 3 days! They said that they have weaker and stronger drops, but I’ve never had it last that long. Has anyone ever had anything similar?

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      My daughter used to be dilated more than a day. We switched eye doctors and the cur