weekend free-for-all – May 4-5, 2019

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

Book recommendation of the week: Lights All Night Long, by Lydia Fitzpatrick. An exchange student from Russia spends a year in America after a tragedy befalls his family at home.

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

{ 1,302 comments… read them below }

    1. Lemonwhirl*

      Have you read any of Tana French’s books? Her Dublin Murder Squad series is not really a sequential series as much as a group of books that populate the same universe. A minor or side character from one book becomes the narrator/main character of the next book in the series. There might be mild spoilers for the previous book, but I am not super-spoiler-averse, so I don’t think they necessarily need to be read in order. Something like “The Secret Place” definitely falls under the “book-clubby and not too fluffy” umbrella. But if you don’t like reading out of sequence, “The Witch Elm” is a stand-alone book and with a lot of twists, turns, and interesting themes.

      1. Anna Vine*

        Commenting just to say I LOVE Tana French. I think her ability to write different voices and character is second to none. Have you read her latest?

        1. Lemonwhirl*

          Yes….well, I listened to it. I listen to all her books. They are amazing when read out loud.

          I find it very interesting that she was an actress and directly attribute that to her facility with voice and character.

              1. Jack Russell Terrier*

                I check the audiobooks out of the library using overdrive – love em, and the audiobooks are very done.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        I read that at the beginning of the year. Apparently it’s the first in a series with the same detective.

      2. Cosima*

        I’ve read all three of her books (The Dry, Force of Nature, and The Lost Man). The first two are with the same main character. I liked them all a lot but The Dry and The Lost Man are a bit repetitive as far as setting and themes go. Force of Nature was my favorite.

    2. Traveling Teacher*

      I’m re-reading Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood and just loving it. I watched the miniseries on Netflix last year (also loved) and decided it had been too long since I last read it.

      Also starting Barkskins by Annie Proulx. Dense read but very good. All about the state of the forests in the “new world” from French voyageur presence through today and stories of the families descended from that epoch.

      I’m also doing a CAL (crochet along) inspired by the book, which is on the blog and FB page of ASpoonfulofYarn. The CAL happened last year, but I only now have time to do it. Hooray for mat leave! Just hoping the baby waits one more week to come till my due date….

      1. CTT*

        I just finished Alias Grace last week and loved it! I had seen the show first, and I think they complement one another nicely. One review I read of the show said that visually it’s a love letter to Canada in a way the book couldn’t really be. But the book was just lovely and harrowing.

    3. Eilyk*

      I just re-read Rebecca by Daphne DeMaurier. 4 stars, a great Gothic mystery although a bit dated now in terms of how women were treated.

      1. PhyllisB*

        If you like Rebecca, you need to read Heroes are My Weakness by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. A modern Gothic.

    4. FD*

      I’m listening to the Safehold books by David Weber.

      Definitely a YMMV series but I’m enjoying it a lot.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        How are those as a listening experience? I’m definitely a reader rather than a listener (I even turn on captions when watching video), and I find that series kind of dense at times, where I have to stop and visualize something or sometimes look up what a word means (David Weber is one of the very few popular fiction authors that I actually learn new words from while reading). There are also times when I just can’t care that much about the specific detail he’s talking about and start to read more quickly.

        It seems like it would be challenging as a listen just because you couldn’t go faster and slower as needed like that. I do enjoy the series, though.

        1. FD*

          They changed audiobook readers a few times. You’ve got one reader who does books 1-2 and 7-9, one who reads 3-4, one who reads 5, one who reads 6 (DO NOT get that one, the reader is awful), and one for the most recent book 10. It’s sort of annoying that the audiobook reader changes, and the pronunciation isn’t consistent across readers.

          That said, I can deal with it for everything but Book 6.

          Personally, I find they’re better to listen to than to read, but part of that is that I have a hard time reading them due to the way I read. I have a touch of dyslexia so I adapted a bit. I don’t sound words out in my head; I basically encode them with first letter, last letter, and a vowel in the middle.

          Needless to say this scheme DOES NOT WORK especially well in series where there are a lot of similar names. Which…yeah.

          1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

            Ouch, yeah, first-vowel-last would be a totally non-viable strategy for keeping track of characters in the Safehold books! I struggle with keeping the characters straight as well, and often find that I have to slow down and sound out the names of minor characters to even have a shot at it.

            I struggle with keeping track of large casts of characters in general though. I generally can keep track of maybe 15-20 humans or 5 elves (where by “elves” I actually mean “characters with goofy fantasy names that I have trouble parsing”, although books with lots of elves in them are often the worst for this). This is one reason that I tend to read more SF than fantasy, since the names are usually, but not always, easier for me to keep track of in SF.

    5. The Other Dawn*

      I’m reading Gideon’s Corpse by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. The Gideon Crew series is OK, but I feel like it doesn’t have the same quality writing as the Pendergast series they write.

      1. VlookupsAreMyLife*

        Just finished up “My Lovely Wife,” by Samantha Downing – psychological thriller, highly recommend it! Would be great for a book club/discussion group.

        Two books that were highly touted, but I couldn’t get into: “Educated” by Tara Westover and “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens.

        1. PhyllisB*

          It took me a while to get into Where The Crawdads Sing but once I did, I really enjoyed it. The one I just read that I wasn’t too enthused about is The Weight of a Piano by Chris Cander. To me, it did not live up to the hype.

          1. VlookupsAreMyLife*

            That’s interesting because I started out really liking WTCS, then felt it slipped away toward the end. The “twist” was unsatisfying and the last 1/3 of the book seemed rushed.

    6. Book Lover*

      Finished Magicians Impossible but sadly can’t recommend it. Almost the whole time I wondered if there was supposed to be a sarcastic and knowing undertone to it and decided that there wasn’t and it is just derivative and more interested in cool imagery than in a good story.

    7. WellRed*

      Currently reading a Swedish crime novel by a newly discovered (to me) author. Have the latest Jonathan Kellerman waiting at the library. Finished the latest Fay Kellerman last week. I miss when she wrote her books like she wasn’t sick of the characters.

      1. New ED*

        I can’t believe she’s still writing these books! I started reading them in high school almost 25 years ago. I stopped reading at least 10 years ago when it seemed like she exhausted the character arc.

    8. Lady Jay*

      Just finished Octavia Butler’s Wild Seed–my second Butler book (first was Xenogenesis) & a great read; she does uncanny sci-fi so well.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        If you liked those then I really recommend Kindred by Butler. I enjoyed it so much that I read it in a day because I couldn’t put it down. Dana is such an interesting character.

    9. WhatHappensInvegas*

      I know Irish (or British) “cuisine” is sometimes considered an oxymoron; but the bacon and cabbage meal I had at an Irish pub in one of the strip hotels in Las Vegas was absolutely the tastiest meat I had ever had from a pig. Still would consider it destination dining.

    10. Library Page (but in which book?)*

      I just read Moo by Jane Smiley. Some of the characters are the same ones that get written about in questions to AAM! It’s a sly, behind the scenes look at academia, research, tenure, funding and politics.

    11. Emily*

      The most recent book I finished is The Black Tides of Heaven by JY Yang. Pretty interesting fantasy worldbuilding, but shorter/faster-paced than I wanted – it’s really more of a novella.

      Within the past few years, I’ve noticed myself wanting more out of several of the novella-length books and/or shorter YA novels that I’ve read – I guess my personal preferences have shifted towards slightly longer, fuller narratives?

    12. Nicki Name*

      Just finished Trial By Treason, a magical murder mystery set about a century after the Norman conquest of England. Terrific stuff. Now very sad that the author died last year. :(

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I loved it and couldn’t put it down. I thought it was nuanced, beautifully written, not at all straightforward… Just loved it.

        1. PhyllisB*

          I’m enjoying it so far. At first I was irritated at all the cliches and slang. But one that really tickled me was about having both pot and window. If you don’t know what that means, ask a Southern friend to explain,

      2. Luisa*

        I read that last year (I think? Whatever year it came out.) and I really, really enjoyed it.

    13. Librarian here*

      I’m in the middle of Elizabeth McCracken’s Bowlaway, which I am both listening to in the car and reading. The audio is read by Kate Reading, who is sublime as always, and McCracken’s just the best. The subject matter almost doesn’t even matter (though it’s a great story) – her use of language is so delightful. I’m trying to stretch it out but I suspect I will finish it this weekend.

      1. Bluebell*

        I’ve finished the first hundred pages or so. Trying not to rush through it. I love her writing.

    14. HamlindigoBlue*

      Currently reading A Woman of No Importance by Sonia Purnell. It’s about the WWII spy, Virginia Hall.

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

      Do It Yourself mystery series by Jennie Bentley. It’s cute.

    16. MsChanandlerBong*

      Just finished “The Silent Patient.” It was a pile of garbage, and I can’t believe it’s a bestseller and has so many good reviews. Now I’m working on another book from the Body Farm series.

      1. BikeLover*

        I agree! I couldn’t even finish, which is very unusual for me. I keep looking at those glowing reviews and wondering if I read the same book.

    17. Always Anon*

      Currently reading My Dear Hamilton. Historical fiction, the Alexander Hamilton story told from the point of view of his wife. It’s excellent. Have also been listening to memoirs on audio book. I highly recommend those by Michelle Obama, Neil Patrick Harris, and Sally Field.

    18. Just us chickens*

      I read My Ex-Life by Stephen MacAuley, based on an episode of NPR’s Fresh Air. It’s sweet, nothing depressing and I think would be a good book club book.

    19. AdAgencyChick*

      About to finish “American Gods,” which started out great and isn’t quite as good through the middle, but it was enough to keep me reading.

      1. Luisa*

        Related (ish), I just started rereading Good Omens in preparation for the series later this month! I’ve only read the book twice before, but when my mom and I first read it (at the same time, over 10 years ago), we immediately started discussing our casting choices for the movie/series we were sure would eventually be made. We picked Hugh Grant to play Crowley back then, but agree that David Tennent is a great choice!

    20. What the What*

      I just finished The Witch Elm by Tana French (good read) and Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb which was a wonderful non fiction book. Very entertaining and insightful.

    21. Marion Ravenwood*

      I just finished a YA novel called Anna and the French Kiss. It’s a pretty predictable plot (girl moves to France for her senior year, meets dreamy French-American-British boy who happens to have a girlfriend, cue falling in love) but it’s very well-written and just the type of light and fluffy thing I needed after a fairly intense week.

      Now I’m reading Circe by Madeline Miller, which I’m really enjoying so far.

  1. Olly Oxen*

    What would teach someone who wanted to learn to cook but was a real beginner? My roommate wants help learning to cook. His skill level currently is he can make things like spaghetti and omelets but nothing past that basic level. I’m excited to help him and consider myself a pretty good cook but can’t decide where to start. I suggested we flip through recipe books together but he seemed overwhelmed.

    1. Chocolate Teapot*

      On Youtube, somebody has uploaded “How to cook” by Delia Smith. Each episode starts with basic techniques, so the very first one is about cooking eggs, then dishes with egg whites or egg yolks for example.

      1. Batgirl*

        Her book of the same name is how I learned to cook. It’s divided into handy sections for beginners like ‘sauces’ and ‘cooking meats’, uses simple ingredients that won’t cost the earth or go to waste, assumes no knowledge (goes over how to boil an egg for different yolk softness), but each section still has a number of recipes which are quite exciting and special.
        Oh! The first chapter is a really sensible one about equipment. You learn a) the names of the tools b) which ones are truly necessary.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      I would start from spaghetti sauce and work outwards using the same techniques – start with a basic tomato meat sauce, then a chili con carne, then a beef or chicken stew, then a curry. The techniques are very similar (sauteeing onions, browning meat, adding vegetables and a liquid, simmering and seasoning), but by varying the ingredients and seasonings he can learn the “how to cook” part, rather than simply trying to follow random recipes. Along side that can be basic side dishes – boiled pasta, steamed rice, baked or mashed potatoes, a garden salad, steamed vegetables.

    3. Grace*

      I don’t know if you’ve seen anything by Andrew Rea (Binging with Babish on YT – he’s fantastic and very funny) but he has a series called Basics with Babish – soups, pasta sauces, tikka masala, quesadillas, risotto, things like that. Even his Binging series (recreating foods from movies and TV shows) has Easy/Difficult/Vegetarian/Carnivore/etc playlists.

      Since binge-watching a YT playlist seems less… hard-core cookery(?) than going through recipe books, maybe suggest that he check out things like that and see what interests him? There are a lot of different channels, but my first thought was Basics since it’s explicitly targeted towards people who want to cook like he does but have no idea where to start.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yes! Basics with Babish would be a great primer for someone without much experience.

      2. Loopy*

        As a fellow person who can’t cook, this does sound much less intimidating! Thanks for sharing. I want to check it out now!

    4. Everdene*

      As well as Delia, Jamie Oliver has written a couple of books about learning to cook. He takes basic concepts and then goes in different directions so the would be chef sees how a simple sauce can be turned into 3 different, tasty meals.

      There is also a book for teenagers called ‘cooking up a storm’. There are some fantastic recipies in there for any age but the author explains why to do certain things not just a list of instructions.

    5. Angwyshaunce*

      Rather than echo the already good suggestions, I will just add what helped me. Get a properly sharpened chef knife and learn/practice cutting techniques. There are obviously lots of good tutorials on YT.

      Also, if they’re looking to burn some time in front of the TV, watch cooking shows. Jacques Pépin is great for seeing technique, and Alton Brown’s “Good Eats” dives into the science of cooking.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Also make sure the student knows so tools *really*?make a difference. It wasn’t until I was in my late 20s that I started dating someone with a restaurant background and learned that my mom’s thin steel pans were the reason I couldn’t make a fried egg without it sticking to the pan. Cast iron for the win.

    6. gecko*

      I think Good Eats is a good resource—there’s so much of it!

      Also, you two could cook together. My mom taught me to cook by cooking something, and as I helped, she’d explain what she was doing, and I got to practice.

      Why don’t you include him in making a few of your regular dinners? It’s going to be more valuable for him to cut stuff, stir stuff, and measure stuff for regular food than for a special recipe.

      1. Trixie*

        Second suggestion for Good Eats. While we may recognize what ingredients work well together, I love how Alton Brown also explains the process in a style similar to Mystery Science Theatre.

        1. ThatGirl*

          He also has a few cookbooks that are more like textbooks, if technique and flavor are more interesting than recipes.

    7. Blue Eagle*

      My cousin said he learned to cook by ordering the Home Chef cooking boxes. They came with all of the ingredients needed and easy to follow instructions and make a complete meal, not just one part of the meal (like a regular recipe would do). Then after getting boxes every other week for about 3 months, he had a good collection of easy meals that he could pick and choose from himself.

    8. Peggy*

      In 10 years I’ve gone from being able to make spaghetti and bake chocolate chip cookies to being a seasoned home cook. My tips:
      A) watch food shows that get you excited about cooking. Whether it’s a top chef type show (aspirational, high end food competition) or a pioneer woman type show (here’s how to make this specific item, explained in a not-intimidating way), just watch people making food. You pick up a lot. Netflix is the best at this point – mind of a chef, chef’s table, salt fat acid heat, and a billion other cooking or food appreciation shows.
      B) try a cookbook that really explains food and cooking and not just recipes. Personally I think salt fat acid heat is one of the best books out there; Samin Nosrat is a genius at breaking down really important information and masterful tips and sharing it in a casual, fun to read way.
      C) a box like plated or blue apron does help if you’re starting at the beginning. You learn a lot and it’s easier than following a recipe book because some of the work is already done for you. We’re both excellent cooks in our house but we get plated probably 8x a year when we feel like we’re in a rut and eating out too much or cooking the same things over and over.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yes to watching a lot of food shows! I watched the Food Network a lot over the years and I didn’t realize how much I’d picked up until I was making something (don’t remember what) and my sister asked me, “How did you know how to do that and what would happen?” By watching TV!

        Oh, and reading cookbooks is helpful, too. I admit that when I buy a cookbook, I tend to read it rather than cook from it. I do on occasion, but I much prefer reading the recipes and techniques. I’d suggest the roommate checking some out from the library, then if he likes them, buy them. I’ve done that a few times and it’s helped me avoid spending money on a cookbook that wasn’t as good (for me) as others had said.

    9. Ranon*

      Omelettes is a pretty good start! Eggs are tricky, if he has repeat success with them he’s got a better foundation than he realizes.

      What does he like to eat and how much prep time does he want to spend? Lots of simple recipes can teach a skill or two without throwing him totally into the deep end, but it’s always more fulfilling to make food you really like to eat.

      Things like refried black bean tacos (using black beans from a can) with, say, a light cabbage slaw (cabbage + lime + salt) are really easy but also feel like a real meal. Budget Bytes has recipes that are pretty consistently low to moderate complexity and has a wide range, so that might be a recipe source if you’re providing instruction.

    10. HannahS*

      What does he want to make? Start there. Does he want to learn how to make a beef stew? Maybe a nice salad with homemade dressing to go with the omelette? Roasted vegetables? Pasta primavera, now that it’s spring? Start with what he’d like to eat. Another way to look at it is, does he want to learn how to make quick, healthy, weeknight basics? Or a three course meal to impress a date? Or Italian food, or Thai food?

    11. BRR*

      Maybe start with his favorite dishes? Or maybe start with more simple recipes that websites would call like “30 min dinners” or “easy weeknight dinners.”

    12. Jett*

      Recipes dot com often have videos attached to recipes. The way I am teaching my son to cook is by having him choose something he loves to eat, then using the recipe. I know I’m there to help, but when it’s something he is excited about eating I try not to interfere with him. Making a favorite dish seems like a good place to start. My favorite cookbooks are Thug Kitchen, and the China Study Cookbook. Good luck!

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

      Soup is a good thing to start with, if he likes soup. Soups are usually easy to make, won’t necessarily require cutting and chopping (which is personally my least favorite part of cooking — many supermarkets sell pre-cut fresh ingredients and some recipes don’t need those ingredients at all), and are pretty inexpensive — so if his first couple of attempts don’t taste very good, at least not much is lost!

    14. PhyllisB*

      Taste of Home has a cookbook titled “How Do You Make?” that has tons of recipes for basics such as meatloaf, mashed potatoes, ect. That might be something useful. If he finds cookbooks overwhelming, ask him what some of his favorite dishes are and work from there. I don’t where you are located, but some of the hands-on dishes I’ve taught my children without recipes are: pot roast, potato salad, pimento and cheese (Yes, I live in the Southern USA!!) deviled eggs, corn bread, chicken salad, and cooked vegetables. If he’s interested in learning how to grill, steak, chicken, salmon are pretty easy. (My husband is the grill master in our family. I know nothing about it and would like to keep it that way.)

      1. PhyllisB*

        Funny story about potato salad: when my son was away at college he and his fraternity brothers would cook on weekends when their regular cook was off. One weekend they decided to do picnic food and he called me to ask how to make potato salad. Well, when you have been doing it for years, you forget all the little steps involved. It took ten phone calls to get that potato salad made!! :-) Thank goodness for cell phones!! He got declared potato salad king and was told from now on when they had potato salad he was in charge.

        1. PhyllisB*

          One more comment about cooking: (I’m sure I’ll think of something else before the day is over.) Be sure to tell/show him all the steps. My daughter in Chicago asked me to text her my recipe for cornbread (BTW, DO NOT EVER put sugar in cornbread. If you do, some Southern grandmother will come and take away your cornbread pan.) Anyway, I was in a van with six other ladies and was thinking on the fly when I got her text. I told her in great detail how to make it…but forgot to tell her to grease the pan before she poured in the batter. She was making it in a cast iron skillet, so you can imagine what happened. She said the crumbs were delicious.

          1. The Other Dawn*

            Ah, cornbread. I plan on making it today. I’m trying to find the recipe I made a couple years ago and can’t find it, so I’m trying to find something similar. It had cheddar, scallions and bacon in it, and it was cooked in my cast iron skillet. The leftover bacon grease was the grease for the pan. So delicious!

    15. Not A Manager*

      This might be too advanced, but I love Julia Child’s The Way To Cook. She’ll give a “master recipe” for something like roast chicken, which will be extremely detailed and illustrated, and then she’ll provide additional recipes for other roasts. The additional recipes aren’t one-line “variations,” they are complete recipes in themselves, but they aren’t as super-detailed as the master recipes.

      It’s easy to think of her as a fussy, fancy cook, but actually a lot of her recipes are for basic things like roasts, soups, and simple vegetables.

      I’d start your friend off with the tutorials, etc. that other people have suggested for just getting used to being in the kitchen, but then if he likes cooking and wants to be more methodical about it, he might want to look at The Way To Cook.

    16. JediSquirrel*

      A lot of Mexican food is really easy to make, and because the Americanized versions are often variations on a theme, you can make a variety of different dishes with just a few techniques and ingredients.

      Ground beef + taco seasoning = tacos.
      Shredded chicken + taco seasoning + cheese + flour tortillas = burritos.
      Shredded chicken (or beef or pork, or vegetables) + taco seasoning + cheese + corn tortillas + sauce = enchiladas.

      You get the idea. Also, homemade refried beans are super simple and taste far better than anything out of a can.

    17. Kuododi*

      My one recommendation would be to start with recipes that are 3-4 steps at most. (Also known as “dump and stir” cooking.) I had to use that option while relearning how to cook after diabetes diagnosis. I am a respectable cook ( nothing fancy) and I found the 3-4 step recipes to keep me interested without aggravating my low frustration level. There are oodles of food blogs that cater to beginning kitchen skills just type in what he’s looking for and take it from there. Best wishes!!!

    18. Woolf Song*

      I taught my husband how to cook when we were dating (best thing I ever did in our relationship, because now he cooks for me! And he’s actually, arguably, a better cook than me now)

      Two ways I went about it:
      1. Let him pick meals that he really liked and helped him make them, even if they were complicated, so he could see what was possible and get excited about cooking. One of the first things we made together was scallion pancakes and he was awed that you could make them at home.
      2. Taught him how to taste as he cooked, so he could feel like he was really part of the creation of the dish, no matter how simple. (This is good cooking practice in general, but newbie cooks tend to just follow the recipe and only taste for the first time when they sit down to eat)

      Easy meals: various pasta sauces — pesto is easy if you have a food processor, bolognese takes time but is easy. If you have an oven, making pizza at home with store bought dough. Stirfry is fast and easy and will get him knife practice. Frittatas are also pretty versatile. Other easy things: pancakes, Shakshuka, baked potatoes, quesadillas. Smitten Kitchen is one of my favorite blogs (try the “weeknight favorite” section).

    19. BerkeleyFarm*

      If I were a woman of independent means, I’d run cooking bootcamps. It’s great that he wants to know.
      I’d start with some of the “oh you don’t have to make that from a box?” stuff – brownies, mac cheese, pizza dough – for some super easy successes. Make a salad with salad dressing to go with it.

      Then I’d do something like roast chicken/roast veggies. From there you can start to branch out.

      Techniques is what he needs and a lot of things to have in his back pocket!

      1. BerkeleyFarm*

        Techniques *are*. Sorry about that.
        Once he understands those he should be able to read recipes and put them together.

    20. Jemima Bond*

      As well as Delia Smith as recommended (although NB my mum is a veritable domestic goddess says she finds Delia sometimes uses a bit more salt than is necessary, and her oven cooking times can be on the longer side – so taste, and check your dish in the oven a bit earlier than she says, in case it’s done) how about writing down a couple of things your friend likes to eat and would make for dinner every week or so if they could. Then learn those. After all, usually people enjoy cooking because they enjoy eating what they’ve made, so it will add to your friend’s enthusiasm and encourage him to practice, because he wants his favourite tuna steak and ratatouille for dinner.

      1. Jemima Bond*

        Ooh I thought of something else – consider going to the supermarket with him to buy the fresh ingredients for his cooking lesson. If he doesn’t really cook now hell have been eating a lot of pre-prepared dishes so he’ll not harm for a few tips on how to choose basic things. Like looking out for meat content in sausages as opposed to the ones with a lot of fat and binders, how not to buy veg/salad that goes brown on Tuesday when you wanted it for Wednesday, etc etc.

    21. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Look at your local community college — ours has a culinary arts program whose facilities are also used for teen classes & summer camps.
      Town adult ed programs often have classes too– and usually request suggestions for new classes.

    22. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Late to the party… but I love Mark Bittman’s book “How To Cook Everything: The Basics” — great pics and clear step by step instructions. And the recipes are not gimmicky or too boring.
      Everyone should have a Betty Crocker cookbook for the homey everythings, but Bittman teaches you how to make simple food that will impress a date, and will make you feel accomplished. I give it to all college grads.

    23. Anon Anon Anon*

      If he likes art or chemistry, it should be easy. It’s all about understanding how things mix together and what happens under different conditions. There are categories of flavors, categories for herbs and spices, principles of how ingredients interact, etc. It’s very logical and artistic at the same time. I would approach it that way instead of learning recipes. Recipes are easy to figure out – and to modify to your taste – once you understand everything behind it.

  2. Phoenix Programmer*

    Man it’s been a tough week!
    Thankfully my sister did not take off with the kids (although she threatened it) and seems to be doing better now that she has been in our home about a week. Detox + calm house can go a long way.

    However she is now a chain smoker and although she takes many steps to mitigate my house reeks of smoke.

    My remaining kitties hate our home now and try to or successfully escape regularly. They never tried to get out before!

    My sister’s add is so bad she creates many disasters on her own. Like she’ll start laundry, forget about it, then I find it at bed time and no one can sleep because the linens are sopping wet! Plus things like leaving cleaning supplies out. Poor nephew got sprayed in the face by toddler with cleaning vinegar.

    Nephew and sister fight all the time. I had to speak to sister about her attitude towards nephew and she improved. Nephew is so mad at sister though and really says mean things to her. On the one hand, I get where he is coming from but man – he isn’t helping his cause of having her move here though!

    Finally sis has destroyed the bedtime routine. Even though toddler literally asked to lie down at 6:30pm (she’s sick too) she did not lay down until 11:30pm!

    My home is not a place where I can even get a moment’s respite and now work is going bad too (see Friday thread).

    I need a week’s vacation on a solitary island or something! I love my family but gah!

    1. LivingMyLife*

      Wow! Does sound like a rough week for you. It’s very generous of you to let your sister and her kids stay with you, but your peaceful home has turned into chaos. Is your sister getting any help with the issues that resulted in the state she is in? If she isn’t, then don’t expect much to change. What are your hopes for her and her family? Does your sister want positive changes in her life?

    2. Forestdweller*

      Sending you good vibes for strength and patience! I second that sister needs to be actively engaged in getting help and pursuing activities to improve- ADHD is a huge struggle for me, but there are a lot of strategies that help, and even if it isn’t in the budget to see a professional, there are a lot of resources online that are free and have been so helpful to me. Lists and phone timers are imperative- I make a list of all that I want to accomplish on a notebook that stays with me, and every time I start a task that requires follow up, like laundry, I set a timer on my phone. I know it sounds excessive, but I specifically name the timer and everything so I know what it is for. I’m bad about letting bedtime drag out, too- again, the timer helps tremendously. I set 3 recurring alarms: one that sounds half an hour before bedtime, one that sounds 10 minutes before bedtime, and one that goes off when it is absolutely bedtime. Again, maybe excessive for some people, but for my non-neurotypical behind, it really helps to have 3. At 30 minutes, I tell darling kiddo to finish anything she’s got going on- lay out her clothes, put her school stuff away for tomorrow, etc. At 10 minutes, I tell kiddo that we’re out of time to add anything else, so she needs to brush her teeth and put on pajamas. Usually at that point, I head into her room to wait for the last alarm. I do understand that it is a lot, but if your sister is anything like me, creating hard structure is the only way to “adult.”
      It is very generous for you to open your home, but there need to be expectation on her end. You said she improved her interactions with nephew, and that’s great. It shows she’s willing to work for change. It may be really helpful for her if you provide a written document of the expectations- kids will be in bed by this specific time, etc. so there is no excuse for not knowing what she can do to help.
      Don’t forget to take care of yourself. It is really ok to say “From this time to this time, I need to be able to step away to read/take a bath/ scream in the backyard/whatever. I need you to hold down the fort with the kids and give me this time to recharge.”
      This situation sounds very difficult. Wishing you patience and peace!

    3. fposte*

      Was the plan always that sister was going to stay with you? I only remember the kids.

      It sounds pretty intense with all of this. I know you want your sister to be okay, but you need to be okay too. Is having her there a sustainable arrangement for you?

      1. Sam Sepiol*

        What fposte said.
        At the very least, you get to make her go outside to smoke.
        Good luck. This sounds like an awful situation.

      2. Wishing You Well*

        What fposte said. Is this permanent? For your sake, your living situation has to get better.

      3. Phoenix Programmer*

        The original plan was sister finishes rehab and then moves on with me AFTER so she could move here and get on her feet.

        But because of the issue with Toddler she came hoping she can calm things down before rehab and prevent fostercare.

        The main problem is the waiting for rehab honestly. It feels line our lives are on hold until then and if we say – sorry it’s too much poof my niece and nephew are on foster care. I’m the last resource there.

        1. fposte*

          I don’t have any solution for you PP, but I wish it sounded less like a hostage situation. What does “calm things down before rehab” mean–she is on a waiting list, right? Because if not, I’m worried that “calming things down” will just take forever.

          1. Phoenix Programmer*

            I appreciate just the support and sympathy here! Even though I have gotten some ideas too.

            She is on a waiting list. She meant calm down toddler because we were at the point where we could not handle toddler without more resources.

            1. fposte*

              Oh, that’s good; I was afraid it meant that she was waiting for a magical perfect rehab moment. Obviously rehab isn’t magic, but this sounds like a legitimate holding pattern with a next step in view rather than just limbo.

  3. anon moose, anon mouse*

    So I’ve been seeing news articles and pre-release interviews everywhere about how Avengers Endgame had Marvel’s first openly gay character.

    I finally saw the movie. And wow, what an insult their “openly gay character” was to the LGBT community.

    It’s Disney doing the same thing they did with Beauty and the Beast. Saying there’s a gay character, and giving them 20 seconds of screen time, then patting themselves on the back for being woke and inclusive.

    What a slap in the face to all of us who actually want representation. This is the problem with Disney buying up all the other movie studios and streaming services. They’re going to push back on actual LGBT representation. Saying inclusivity is important but then relegating that inclusivity to a nameless one minute character and saying we can all “relate” to that more than a LGBT hero? What a cowardly way out. So far 20 of their 22 movies are about straight white dudes as the hero. Will it take another 20 movies to get an openly gay hero?

    I’m so angry right now. What a joke. I now feel betrayed that they talked this up to make more people excited. I should have known better than to trust straight people who preach about LGBT inclusivity. Never ends well.

    1. Perplexed*

      This is a sincere question, I’m not trying to provoke, and I apologize for my English. I live outside the US and where I live the openly gay character was well-received by our LGBT community. My question is: what should precisely do “an openly gay character” to satisy your expectations or the US community?

      1. Amtelope*

        Be a recurring superhero character, to start with? There are so many heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe now, and they are all depicted as straight. That’s really not cool.

          1. anon moose, anon mouse*

            To be honest, I don’t know how much of that was intended by the writers or Disney. There was also a big uproar about queer coding with Steve after The Winter Soldier, and I think part of it is fans being so thirsty for LGBT rep that we’re willing to look at anything with queer goggles on.

            1. TL -*

              I never read Steve as being queer coded; I always read him and Bucky as platonic soulmates. :) Though I know a few old lesbians in relationships which look exactly like Carol and Maria’s and no older gay couples, so there’s definitely some recognition bias.
              That being said, there are a few editing/framing/script choices that have me seriously believing Carol is going to come/be out in her second or third movie and I have a fairly good track record with these kind of predictions. Only time will tell, of course, but I do think Marvel is playing a long(er) game with her.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                Me either–Steve and Bucky’s relationship is more akin to BFFs who are so close they’re like brothers. They grew up together. Same with Sam and Frodo. That was never intended to be a queer relationship; it was modeled after batmen (soldiers assigned to officers who were personal body servants) during WWI and WWII. At the beginning of LOTR, Sam is Frodo’s gardener. He’s clearly not meant to be gay; he goes back to the Shire after the quest and marries Rosie Cotton.

                I’m straight, but I agree it’s long past time for an openly gay superhero. I would love it if they queered up Captain Marvel. So many people are shipping her and Valkyrie. I’d watch the hell out of that. There’s an Asian superhero in development but I’d like to see a Native one too.

          2. Person from the Resume*

            “Queer coded” is a huge part of the problem. That is not representation. That’s throwing the LGBTQ audience a bone so they can imagine a character is like them without the character being acknowledged as queer. Queer coded means character isn’t ever revealed as queer.

            Also I’m frustrated with idea that any close friendship especially close male friendships look romantic to so many people. So many people queer up straight characters on tv or in movies when characters who are straight coded like by maybe dating people of the opposite sex or something else super obvious.

            I’m gay. I’m a adult with a good job living in a blue city. I’m out. I have mostly gay friends, I talk about dating people of the same sex, I talk about wanting to marry someone of the same sex, I wear rainbows, go to Pride, and go to all kinds of gay events. I’m out. That’s the kind of representation I want. Being gay isn’t EVERYTHING but people don’t wonder if I’m gay for very long or have to interpret signals to figure it out. And it’s not because I super butch, though I am a tiny bit butch, but because I don’t play pronoun games or hide who I date.

            The character doesn’t have to say “I’m gay”. They can just say “my ex-girlfriend” or “I’m still looking for the right woman.”

      2. WS*

        Not the original poster (and not American), but personally I think that the character was fine in himself – the problem is that he was hyped up as FIRST OPENLY GAY CHARACTER YAY…oh here you go, one minute cameo so you can see that Cap is open-minded about gay people. If the character was one of many, or just quietly in the background without Marvel/Disney telling us that we should be super grateful for this representation, that would be okay.

      3. Jill*

        The way the fandom is, nothing ONE film does can satisfy every part of it. If they re-wrote one of the main characters to be LGBT there’d be complaints on how they only represent caucasian people, or if they chose one of the non-white characters they’d be accused of tokenism. If they chose a male couple there’d be complaints that lesbians aren’t represented, if they chose a female couple there’d be accusations about it being fetish for straight males. So really there needs to be a lot more of it in the fandom (or in media in general) to even come close.

        1. Curly sue*

          The trouble for me is that they went out of their way to actively remove representation of a canonically bisexual character already. Valkyrie is bi in the comics, and Tessa Thompson fought to keep and film a scene from the Ragnarok script where we see a female partner leave her room… Which then got cut in editing “for time.” It’s hard not to see that as creators of colour being pushed aside to give the props to the Russos for doing something that had already been done, and with more lasting in-universe impact.

          1. anon moose, anon mouse*

            Yes, this! The fact that they erased Valkyrie being bi so Joe Russo could personally play a one minute gay character is more than a little suspect.

            The whole thing has been handled so poorly.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            This this this.

            Although during her flashback to when Hela kills all the Valkyries and she falls back as one of her fellow warriors is struck down, there’s a LOT of subtext in her facial expression. I remember thinking how awful it was that she had to watch her lover die in front of her. It’s not as good as the removed scene would have been, though.

            1. Grace*

              There was an article in the BBC today about the ‘first gay Marvel character’ (that included fans saying pretty much what is being said in this thread) where they quoted Tessa Thompson as saying that apart from the explicitly bi scene, she deliberately played Valkyrie as bisexual – even though the directors didn’t tell her to. Sure, there’s subtext, but it’s all her doing, not a decision by the directors.

      4. FD*

        Not the OP, but a gay woman in the US.

        First, I think a lot of the frustration is that we KNOW they could get away with more. Public backlash is, unfortunately, real and a concern for a studio who at the end of the day wants to make money. But at this point, there’s been a major syndicated kids show that featured an actual same-sex wedding among two main characters, and you didn’t see parents protesting in the streets (Steven Universe). In this country, pearl-clutching and ‘think of the children’ tends to be a big thing, so if they got away with that on a kids snow, they could definitely get away with a larger role in a movie targeted towards older teens and adults. So, we know that they could push the envelope a lot more before they ran into major controversy. As a result, stuff like this feels lazy, like wanting to get the points for including a gay character without really doing any of the work.

        In a more general sense…incoming TLDR.

        Who a character is and how that affects them always informs their experience and their behavior. This is true for everyone, but in general, we tend to write from a position of assuming the most dominant narrative.

        So, for instance, let’s take a character like Gaston. His straightness informs his character arc. Not because he couldn’t be an abusive jerk if he were queer (he could be), but because he wouldn’t be a jerk in the same way. A big part of the way he’s a jerk is that he assumes that any person he desires MUST be desperate for him to notice them in return. This is shown to be generally true–most of the town’s young women do in fact feel that way. But if Gaston experienced a significant degree of same-sex attraction, it would be extremely implausible for him to have gotten to that age and never encounter a situation where he was interested in someone who wasn’t interested in return.

        Compare that to Thomas from Downton Abbey. (Spoilers? Not sure if we’re still tagging for the later seasons.) He’s an undeniable jerk at least at first, but the way that he’s a jerk is clearly informed by his sexuality. Because of the way that his attraction is dangerous, he’s developed a very ‘dog eat dog’ attitude that informs his behavior. That doesn’t excuse it, but if Thomas weren’t gay, he wouldn’t be the same character.

        In general, when movies set in the present throw in a gay character, they often fall into one of a few pitfalls. 1) They don’t give the character much character besides their sexuality–this was one issue with LeFou in Beauty and the Beast–or 2) They throw in a character without giving any thought to how their sexuality informs their character. This tends to create a character who feels…inauthentic, and kind of feels like checking a box instead of trying to tell a good story.

        (The one time I have seen #2 done well–and some people disagree with me on this–was in Star Trek Beyond. The character of Sulu is shown to have a same-sex partner and a daughter. This generally worked because Star Trek has always been portrayed as a utopian future without discrimination. Moreover, showing his family served a purpose within the narrative; Kirk sees him rejoin his family and wonders if he (Kirk) wants more. Later on, Sulu’s family is in danger on the space station which is at risk of being destroyed, and that raises the emotional stakes because the audience knows that the crew has to try and stop it or else the character’s family, as well as many unnamed people, will die.)

        1. Forestdweller*

          +++ Another gay woman in the US, and I couldn’t have said any of this better. Alllllll of it is great. Also, I did think it was done well in Star Trek Beyond, but I admit that am biased in favor of the Start Trek franchise in general.

        2. Gatomon*

          +1 It’s so important to not only have LGBTQI characters that exist but to also have them depicted as fully three-dimensional characters, like all the other straight-by-default characters. When an LGBTQI person is added in to “throw us a bone” or “test the waters,” it’s only marginally better than using sexually or gender diversity as a punchline, in my book. They are still signaling that we are not the same as our cis-gender and straight peers.

      5. An Elephant Never Baguettes*

        I mean they did film a scene which confirmed Valkyrie’s bisexuality in Ragnarök. I don’t care how much they talk about how it was cut for other reasons, it would have been reeeeeally easy to leave that in and wouldn’t have felt even half as patronising as what they did now.

      6. anon moose, anon mouse*

        Not be a nameless character that shows up for less than a minute who has no characterization beyond their sexuality and has no impact on the plot. There’s a sense, often from straight people, that we should be grateful for any small sliver of representation. But the problem is we’re still at the point where LGBT characters in fiction are still heavily stereotyped or have stories that revolve around their sexualities. Very few movies or TV shows have LGBT characters as the lead and when they do, the stories are often centered around their sexuality and nothing else. That’s slowly changing, but the change also needs to be led by the major franchises that focus on mainstream straight audiences.

        If we had a lot of LGBT heroes in a wide variety of movies, Grieving Man in the Avengers would be fine. But there are no LGBT heroes who are lead characters in franchises. The Russos were out there hyping up this character as if it were one of the superheroes, and they were talking about how the LGBT community would look at the character and see themselves reflected on the screen. No one is going to a superhero movie wanting to relate to a random nameless character. You want to see yourself in Captain America or Black Widow or Gamora or Thor. It’s basically saying, “you’re not important enough to be a hero. You get to be the nameless person in the background who doesn’t exist beyond saying I’m Gay so we can check off one more diversity quota”.

        The thing is, Marvel/Disney would have faced a lot of controversy for a superhero who was LGBT but they’re one of the few big companies who could do it and get away with it. The people who went to see the movie just because it’s a Marvel movie would have outweighed the people who protested. Homophobic markets would have just cut those scenes out of the movie, the way they did for Bohemian Rhapsody when it played in certain homophobic countries.

        Basically, it’s a gay character written by straight people who think they’re woke allies who had four movies to add in LGBT inclusion, but chose to wait for the last movie they created and do the bare minimum. And then they had the gall to get out there and tell the community that we should be happy they decided to grace us with a LGBT character, never mind that it’s incredibly patronizing. It’s sort of like “allies” who tell the community that we should be satisfied with same-sex marriage and are greedy or whiny for also wanting legal protections or the same medical care as straight people.

        It’s not enough. Not yet. We still have a long way to in regards to LGBT characters in fiction and Marvel gave a giant leap backwards for representation.

      7. pcake*

        To be a character with some personality who appears throughout a movie or TV show, and who has dialogue and isn’t created just to be a funny character.

    2. WS*

      Ugh, I feel you on that one. My bet is that they did it that way so they can easily cut out that part of the scene for other markets.

      1. Book Lover*

        Yes, I was just going to say that. In theory they could have chosen to not let it be available to markets that don’t allow gay representation. In the actual world they want to sell to everyone.

      2. BugSwallowersAnonymous*

        That would make sense considering their history. My other thought was that they’re testing the waters and very quietly setting up Captain Marvel to maybe come out in a later movie. but super slowly in case they chicken out and decide not to do it.

      3. anon moose, anon mouse*

        To be honest, I find the argument Disney has aways made about not including LGBT characters in Marvel/Star Wars/Disney live action really weak. They’ve always known that certain markets would cut out any related LGBT scenes.

        Bohemian Rhapsody had a $11M opening weekend in China with LGBT scenes cut and was successful in a lot of markets where homosexuality is still outlawed. While I don’t really agree with pandering to or allowing government censorship, if that movie can be successful in a homophobic market, so can a Marvel movie. There’s no excuse of “foreign markets” any longer.

    3. I Work on a Hellmouth*

      Definitely not trying to step on your anger here, or say that anything you’ve said it less than valid. I think you’re right, and I think that just showing that LGBT people exist in the world isn’t enough. But I also wanted to say that I don’t think it’s going to be another 20 years before you get an openly gay hero in the MCU–word on the street is that there is going to be an Eternals movie, and that it will have an openly gay or bi character. I think the initial chatter was that it would probably be Hercules, although I’m not sure if there is still talk about using him or switching to someone else, and I have also read that there is a push to cast more talented openly gay/bi actors (which, eff yeah).

      Also, we have had a heck of a lot of Young Avenger-ish kids showing up in the assorted movies so far (and by 2023, when Endgame, er, ends, a lot of them are at that Let’s Start Super Hero-ing age) AND (thanks to the shenanigans of certain characters in Endgame) we have some real multiverse possibilities soooo… maybe America Chavez is on the horizon? I see a lot of set up and possibilities.

      Again, not invalidating anything anyone else has said! Just saying that I think we’re going to see more inclusivity and that it’s closer than we might realize. Of course, that doesn’t mean that everyone shouldn’t scream bloody murder until it happens.

      1. anon moose, anon mouse*

        I’ll believe it when I see it, to be honest. Disney has said similar things before about Star Wars and nothing’s happened there and I doubt it will happen in episode 9. It’s always seemed like their way of getting LGBT fans off their back for the time being.

        Considering it took them 20 movies to even get a lead that wasn’t a straight white dude, I’m not holding out too much hope for LGBT rep any time soon.

    4. Karen from Finance*

      (not from the US)

      I had missed the press around the gay character because I’d been avoiding Endgame articles like the plague. Just saw the movie this week and after seeing your comment I actually had to go back and google to see who the hell you all were talking about. I thought maybe Valkyrie or Cap Marvel had had a moment that I’d missed? But no.

      Yeah, that’s not a “character”, that’s an… NPC. What a joke.

      1. anon moose, anon mouse*

        Right?! It’s a blink and you miss it moment, like that “gay moment” from Beauty and the Beast (10 seconds of two guys dancing at the end).

        I wouldn’t be nearly this upset if they had never mentioned it in interviews, but they made such a big deal about it being the first openly gay character over here in the media that it feels more like an insult than something to be happy out.

      2. Batgirl*

        Yeah me too! All of these hints went whooshing straight over me.
        The only significant gay characters or relationships I’ve seen lately were on Star Trek Discovery or Killjoys.

        1. Karen from Finance*

          I appreciated Negasonic Teenage Warhead in Deadpool 2. And then on TV, there’s some fair representation in the Arrowverse with several characters. The most recent I’ve seen that I liked was in Umbrella Academy.

          But they’re still too cowardly to do it properly on movies, specially from Disney.

    5. dumblewald*

      Haven’t watched the movie yet but Disney bought up Marvel too?? I love Disney as much as the next person, but I’m very anti-corporate consolidation in the entertainment industry (and any industry really). There will be even less innovation and creativity, and more repetition of the same old same old. The Disney brand doesn’t and shouldn’t apply to everything.

        1. dumblewald*

          LOL I’ve definitely been living under a rock. Please excuse. But I still have the opinion about consolidation.

          1. anon moose, anon mouse*

            I agree with you about the consolidation. It’s not only representation that I have an issue with, but Disney has always been focused on making mediocre franchise movie that make money rather than truly original movies that stand alone. They just want to make 800 more movies based off Disney owned properties instead.

            The merger with Fox already saw them scrapping a lot of original movies in development under the claim that they weren’t franchises so they wouldn’t have made money. Disney never would have greenlit movies like Love, Simon or The Hate U Give, but Fox 2000 did. We’re going to see less and less of those types of movies now, and we need them more than ever.

            The fact that Disney is probably going to own Hulu as well makes me worried as well.

            1. Mari M*

              “The fact that Disney is probably going to own Hulu as well makes me worried as well.”

              Oh, great, Gilead’s going to turn into a utopia…

    6. Zona the Great*

      Wasn’t LeFou from Beauty and the beast a major character? Aren’t you talking about Josh Gad’s character? He had as much screen time as the original, I thought.

      1. anon moose, anon mouse*

        He wasn’t written as openly gay, though and the only “gay moment” was 10 seconds of him dancing with another man at the end of the movie. His “crush” on Gaston was played for laughs.

    7. BelleMorte*

      I don’t even know which character you are referring to at all.

      I do think its interesting that Marvel Studios/Disney is removing a lot of diversity of Marvel’s original characters. Like Hawkeye was hard of hearing, Valkyrie was bi, there have also been several other gay characters as far back as the 80s. This is not something in lines with Marvel’s original mission which was to represent marginalized groups and have adequate representation.
      The whole mutant thing was just a parable for racism after all.

      1. anon moose, anon mouse*

        There’s a scene where Steve is part of a therapy group and one of the male attendees mentions a date with another guy. It’s such a throwaway line that I’m not surprised you missed it, but there were so many articles or interviews leading up to the movie’s release that they made it seem like a larger moment than it was.

    8. Mashed potato*

      As a gay Asian male who have not watched a lot of tv shows and movies I a while, I do not trust mainstream media to properly represent and portray a gay character or an Asian male character without resorting to stereotypes from 1960s, and also who cannot create an original character that is compelling and stand out.

      And my boycott is going to resume. Disney and superhero flicks won’t be seeing my dollars

      1. Ccc*

        Try crazy ex girlfriend for some varied representation of Asian males and queer characters

    9. Ccc*

      Did they forget about Negasonic and Yukio in Deadpool? That’s Marvel and awesome!

      1. anon moose, anon mouse*

        Deadpool was released by Fox, not by Disney/Marvel Cinematic Universe so they can’t really claim it as their own.

  4. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

    Alright, something has been bothering me lately, and I was wondering if any current or alumni Sbux baristas could clarify for me.

    Im in the middle of a really awful, stressful project at work. Usually when that happens I “bribe” myself to get going in the morning with the promise of a grande iced black Americano. My preferred branch is in a busy tourist area, but when I hit it at 7.45 am its usually office workers. The head barista knows me and my order, and my drink is usually done before I’ve even paid with my card!

    I think they do a lot of training at this branch too but this week I got two horrible coffees – one on Monday and one on Friday – and both were made the same way, by new trainees. Is it:

    – cup FULL of ice while brewing espresso shots, dump in shots on the ice, then fill with water OR
    – guess at the water, add the espresso shots, then add ice in a half assed way on top

    The first approach I still have ice like a an hour later, the second way I get watered down coffee and the ice has melted by the time I get to my office (literally around the corner). Perhaps someone just hasn’t trained them on that coffee yet? I’ve even said “lots of ice” and that usually gets me a few more cubes. I didn’t want to complain in case they were trained in the latter approach, but how do I kindly ask for what I actually want?

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        I’ll try this next week when I see the New Crew working – thanks!

    1. Jill*

      Slightly off-topic, but have you tried cold brew? The ice stays around even longer.

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      If you can, I’d recommend getting a hydroflask, or some other insulated thermos. They’re so amazing at keeping cold things cold (or hot things hot) that you won’t have to worry about your coffee getting watery, no matter how they make it. Plus the added bonus of reducing plastic waste.

      I love my hydroflask so much, it can literally keep ice solid for days.

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        I really hate the plastic waste Im generating as well with this, but I thought iced coffee was more due to concentrate that is then diluted and iced? I have looked up concentrating my own brew, perhaps I should try that again.

        1. Valancy Snaith*

          Iced coffee is made by brewing hot coffee at double strength, then diluting it with ice, and then it’s kept at room temperature. Then poured into the cup and iced again to keep it cold.

        2. ThatGirl*

          Coldbrew, on the other hand, is brewed by steeping grounds for at least 12 hours, and can be made standard strength or concentrate. I much prefer it to coffee brewed hot and then cooled.

    3. Valancy Snaith*

      I’m a Starbucks supervisor. (We don’t have head baristas, so to speak.)

      The problem is that an iced Americano is not the most common drink and it sounds like the new trainees are confusing it with iced coffee or cold brew. Your best bet is to either try to ask for a supervisor and explain, or specify “can I get the shots and then water and extra ice?” If you’re asking for extra ice, though, the chances of you getting something a little off what you want increase because there is no standard for “extra ice” like there is for regular ice.

      The standard build is espresso shots, cold water to the top black line, and then ice to fill.

      1. noahwynn*

        Interesting. During the summer I almost always order an iced Americano as well and I’ve almost always seen them dump the shots over a cup full of ice and then top it off with water.

        1. Valancy Snaith*

          It’s common but it is not the standard and should not be made that way.

        2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

          This is how the supervisor/’better’ team members make it at my Starbucks and how I prefer it, but I didn’t want to go off on the trainees as they may very well be making it correct by the book (and it looks like they are), it just doesn’t taste very good.

          I tend to get this drink because its quite a bit cheaper than a cold brew and it meets my needs.

  5. Blarg*

    Any tips on sublets or short term rentals in DC beyond the usual (craigslist, AirBnB)? I’m planning on being there for (at least) a couple months in late June. Thanks for any advice!

    1. Blarg*

      I should clarify I’m looking for a whole apartment — no roommates. Could go either way on furnishings. Thanks!

    2. Exceler*

      There are a lot of good options just outside of DC. Depending where you will be working, Arlington, Bethesda, and Silver Spring are good places to live with easy commutes on the Metro. When I first moved to DC, I found a small studio in Arlington on craiglists that let me do a month-to-month lease.

    3. Dan*

      I live out in the suburbs (and in the same place for way to friggin’ long) so am not up on the latest on how to actually secure short term rentals, but…

      I think your ease of securing what you’re looking for is a function of your budget. There’s a decent short term rental market, I think, but the easy to get stuff is going to be targeted to those with expense accounts. You might be able to find those by going to apartment websites directly.

      Second, for strictly summer rentals, there’s a decent “budget” market geared toward Hill interns that come in for the summer, do their thing, and leave. These are usually going to be sublets off of students who are here for the academic year on a one-year lease, but leave for the summer. Universities themselves will sublease dorm space for interns as well. But I would thing this sort of market is only appropriate if you will be gone before the academic year starts.

      Also, depending on where you need to be, consider looking in Northern Virginia/Maryland.

    4. Jack Russell Terrier*

      Nothing helpful to add about finding accommodation but assuming you’re not going to have a car. Try to be near a metro. Walking in DC in high summer is … incredibly hot and humid.

      1. valentine*

        Consult a map whenever ads claim the Metro is “walking distance” or x blocks.

        ~Post classifieds
        ~Apartments Showcase
        ~local property management companies
        ~grocery store bulletin boards

      2. Young coworker*

        And confirm that your metro is working (lots of station shutdowns, especially when you live kinda far out)

    5. DC living*

      Craigslist is awesome
      Student housing boards – Georgetown in particular has lots of near university housing but generally roommates.
      You’re pretty late to the game for DC proper to be honest- you may want to target the suburbs. There’s also a few DC housing groups on Facebook that usually have good leads to options too!
      Also- DC is a big roommate town, supply is short demand is high
      If you want to be in the city to minimize your commute and maximize fun you will pay through the nose for a no-roommate scenario

    6. Blarg*

      Thanks, everyone … we shall see what happens. I don’t have a job lined up or anything. Being mildly irresponsible for the first time in my life, nearing 40. I hate where I live and if I keep waiting for the perfect situation to arise, I’ll be here forever. I have several months of living expenses saved. And I love DC. But who knows….

      1. Washi*

        Ah ok, based on the timing I figured you must be a student with an internship! If you can wait, it tends to be much much cheaper to move in the winter, plus if you don’t have a job and want to spend time doing tourist things, everything is packed. (I love living here but hate it most in the summer so that’s why I’m surprised it’s what you’re aimong for).

        This complex company The Point that I used to live in has locations all over and has a variety of lease lengths, but the shorter ones are twice as expensive. I had a 5 month lease when I first came here and it was me and a friend renting a lady’s basement (with no kitchen!) so she was more flexible.

        1. Blarg*

          There’s a baseball timing thing happening. I’m not missing another MLB season. :) Anyway, I’ll figure it out. The Post sites have been helpful. And I have a whole day (ha…) coming up soon when I’ll be in town, to make something happen. I only live about 3,000 miles away (AK) so none of this is stupid at all.

  6. Margaret*

    Hello from Sri Lanka, where the situation is stabilizing. The bombings have finally stopped, offices are reopened (albeit still keeping altered hours- ours is 6:45 am to 4 pm because people are afraid of being caught in traffic) and life is slowly returning to normal. It’s hard to be out in the streets and seeing a returned military presence, ten years after the end of the civil war- people talk a lot about how long this is going to last, whether it’ll be the new normal.

    People are working extremely hard to fight rising Islamophobia, which is sad but expected now that ISIS has taken credit for the situation. The big scary thing is that some of the offenders seem to have ties to government and police officials, so everyone’s holding their breath to hear if that had anything to do with the security failure that let it happen.

    One slightly uncomfortable thing for me is that I’m a foreigner placed here by an agency with a different security standard than the office where I work, so even though my coworkers are back at their desks I am not. The rationale is that I’m more conspicuous in public and more at risk (since tourists have been specifically targeted and I read as one at first glance, even though I’m on a residence visa) but it’s odd knowing my colleagues are all at their desks.

    I’ve just yesterday been released from full lockdown and am now allowed to go into work when there’s a meeting I’m leading or a workshop I’m delivering- which is technically work related discussion but really nice on a personal level just because I was starting to go totally stir crazy. In the end I did thirteen days without setting foot outside of my one bedroom, except to come to the door to pick up grocery deliveries. The government shut down social media- banned facebook, whatsapp, etc, to control the spread of fake news and propaganda, but they were turned back on a few days ago.

    I’ve been on a huge netflix binge- Queer Eye, Umbrella Academy, Dirk Gently, Series of Unfortunate Events. Apparently my bag right now is bright and shiny witty fantasy, so if anyone has any recommendations hit me up! I’ll be majority housebound for the foreseeable future.

    1. Awful Annie*

      Glad to hear you’re safe and well in a difficult situation. Thanks for sharing your perspective with fellow readers.

      For series to watch, how about El Ministerio del Tiempo? Witty fantasy about the civil service department tasked with managing history while trying to sort out their personal lives.

    2. Traveling Teacher*

      I hope that the situation continues to stabilize for you and that you and your community will start to feel safe again.

      For recommendations, I just love Call the Midwife. Not quite quirky, but it’s like a warm hug because of the strong sense of community. (Also, I think Sister Julienne, who manages both the midwives and the convent, is a great TV boss/workplace leader!)

      For podcasts, in case your eyes can’t watch another screen, I love The Moth, and their story catalog is huge. Steve Zimmer’s stories stand out as fun/quirky. “Neighbirhood Watch” and “Stars, Rockets, and Moons” are two of my favorites. Also, “Joy” by Ashok Ramasubramanian makes my day every time I listen to it!

      1. Mari M*

        Seconding Call The Midwife! You’ll be laughing and crying and laughing again in the space of an episode or two.

        Please stay safe, Margaret. You are loved.

    3. Asoc*

      I can see why you’re uncomfortable, but from a security perspective having you there makes your co-workers a target too. I’m sorry it’s isolating though.

    4. alex b.*

      Wow that’s intense. I’m glad to hear people are resisting Islamophobia and that things are calming down.
      I recommend The Good Place on netflix for bright/shiny/witty fantasy. :)

  7. Kuododi*

    I’m looking for a needle in a haystack! I want to find a source for dried African Red Pepper. (DH was introduced during his Peace Corps time in Liberia, West Africa.) The peppers are dried and turned into a fine powder the color of red bricks. It has a wonderful flavor and a blistering heat. Other peppers are a poor substitute, particularly in Ground Pea Soup. I’ve looked everywhere I can think of online. The last time we had access to the stuff we we’re in Atlanta and found a hole-in-the-wall shop dealing in African spices, foods and assorted handmade crafts for gifts. (I have no idea if the store even exists anymore. We shopped there during the mid 90’s. ). I’m in SE USA and hope to find a resource to either call and pay to have it shipped to us in our corner of Paradise. Prefer to order through website if possible. Thanks for the help. I’m going to be on and off the net over the weekend so if you have additional questions about the peppers, or anything related to my search, I will be happy to address them here. Have a wonderful weekend.

    1. legalchef*

      I did a google search for “dried African red pepper” and there are a ton of places…

    2. Femme d'Afrique*

      I’m not familiar with the specific pepper you’re referring to but – this will probably take some sleuthing skills – there is a large Liberian community in Florida (I want to say Jacksonville?) and they might provide some leads. So many African diaspora communities have pages on Facebook, it might be a good place to start? There are a lot of West African communities scattered around the US, I’m sure they’d have some ideas. Hope this helps.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Sounds like piri-piri peppers to me, but it could be something else. My source for every spice, pepper, salt, and spice blend known in this world is Kalustyan’s in Manhattan. You can buy from them online as well. A quick search turned up what you might need; I’ll put a link in a reply to myself.

      1. Femme d'Afrique*

        I doubt it’s peri-peri/piri piri/pilipili as that’s more of an Eastern/Southern African plant. West African peppers tend to be really, really hot!

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I think piri-piri peppers ARE super hot! :)

          Whatever the peppers are, if they’re imported into the US at all, Kalustyan’s will have them. Every time I go back to NYC, I wander their aisles and come back with all sorts of goodies.

          1. Femme d'Afrique*

            I hope Kuododi orders some and lets us know if she finds what she’s looking for. If her husband ate it as part of home cooking in Liberia, chances are it was made from a traditional blend that won’t be available in American wholesale stores.

            Pilipili peppers ARE hot, but they’re not West African; those tend to be on a whole other level.

      1. Kuododi*

        Thanks everyone for your quick response!!! Y’all are correct the peppers are not Piri-Piri. DH has always referred to it as “Dried African Red Pepper.”. I’ve checked the links provided and Jaid… I think the link you sent me has what we’re looking for!!! ;)
        I’m going to put in a small order and see if we are really on track. I’ll keep y’all posted. Thanks again.

    4. Kj*

      World Spice in Seattle! They have everything and if they don’t have it, they will find it for you if you call them.

  8. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    Deadline for that writing competition I’m doing is tomorrow. Send help, I don’t feel ready.

    1. Grace*

      You know that thing where you have some fiction-y ideas floating around that have been slowly coalescing over the course of a few years and you know where it’s going now and you want to write the hell out of it, but you have a 10,000 word dissertation to finish by 13th May? Yeah. That.

      The writing of said dissertation is…going. It’s going. Not as well as I’d hoped, but not as poorly as I’d feared, either.

      1. Laura H.*

        Why do plot bunnies breed only when we can’t give em proper attention?…

        Good luck with your dissertation!

        1. PhyllisB*

          For sure!! Last week I shared my ambition to someday write short articles/essays and I get the most amazing ideas when I’m soaking in the tub. By the time I get to where I can actually put it on paper….it’s gone. GRRRRRRR!!

      2. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Oh yes, I know the feeling. My class notes sometimes have random story ideas crammed into the margins because if I don’t write them down immediately I will forget them.
        Good luck with the dissertation!

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      I’ve been able to finishing editing a chapter a week in advance so the pressure is off a little there.

      I’m toying with an idea for a new novel at the moment but I feel like it would be a huge undertaking right now, but I haven’t been able to get it out of my head for a long time so I’ll probably have to sit down and write it at some point.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Maybe you could write down the basic gist of your ideas (sort of a basic outline) to get it out of your head while you continue editing the thing you’re working on right now?

        1. Foreign Octopus*

          I’m doing that today actually!

          When I started writing, I thought I could edit one thing but write another at the same time. I very quickly discovered that I couldn’t. It’s all or nothing for me, so hopefully by getting this story out of my head, I’ll be able to focus better.

    3. Bibliovore*

      Copyedited last week. Got the design proofs back yesterday ! It looks like a real book!

    4. Claire*

      I finally got back into the headspace for writing a couple days ago. This coincided with working out some issues with the Publisher A that had me extra stressed. Chapter completed and the next one started.

      Oh, and I had the glorious news that my novel coming out from Publisher B this summer received a starred review from Publishers Weekly! *does the happy author dance*

    5. Elizabeth West*


      A query for Tunerville has been sent to a small press and I got a nice note in response to indicate it was received but am now languishing. I should be working on Book 2 (why tho) or better yet, something new entirely. But all my ideas seem horribly derivative and/or stupid and I can’t seem to focus.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Honestly, even the horribly derivative and/or stupid ideas can turn into something good. I mean, I ended up with an excellent villain when writing a random drabble involving Darcy from Pride and Prejudice being a time traveller and apparently actor in the 21st century where his latest role is that of a werewolf in a horror movie (pulled the random words “Darcy” “Dog” and “Horror movie” out of a hat, really)
        It is just as bad as it sounds.
        I’ll keep my fingers crossed that you’ll receive good news from the press!

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Honestly, even the horribly derivative and/or stupid ideas can turn into something good.

          Not always. Ask me how I know LOL.

    6. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Update: I’ve sent in my short story. I very much doubt I’ll win (not quite happy with it myself) but…Well, you can’t win if you don’t participate I suppose.
      At least it kept me writing when I wasn’t actually quite feeling it.

      1. Claire*

        I was talking with my son, about how artists need enough confidence to put their work out into the world, but enough self-awareness and humility to know they can always improve.

    7. AngelicGamer, the visually impaired peep*

      Sloooowww. I’m writing a retelling of Robin Hood and adding new stuff in, but it’s just slow. I hope it picks up soon – I’m picking at my outline/characters to see what can be done – but it might just be me.

  9. Sir Freelancelot*

    How can explain to my US friends that are preparing a “food trip” in Italy that they are living in a fantasy idea full of food-cliché??? Also, what is the most famous food-cliché in your Country, whatever your Country is?

    1. WS*

      Is it a fantasy, though? My dad, who was born in Italy, organised a food trip there for himself and some friends and they had a great time!

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        Can you list what are the cliches you’re worried about? Because I spend a lot of time in Italy (some of my family lives there) and I’d definitely recommend it for anyone who likes to eat.

        Rolling hills and vineyards: Yup. Go to the Tuscany area. Get a BnB or hotel somewhere outside Florence and enjoy. I like this place http://www.torreacona.com/ but you can get cheaper accommodations in the area (one place has a pet goose and cats) and just hang out there for the tastings. Ask them to recommend some nearby restaurants as well – all very good.

        Other restaurants: Just use google reviews or yelp to find food. It’s not perfect, but entirely serviceable.

    2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I think its important to remember that food in Italy is made with different ingredients that will taste different to what Americans are used to. For example – flour in pasta or pizza – or the use of fresh herbs in a different way. I still remember some of the dishes I had on my first trip to Italy, even though they were probably pretty pedestrian in a way. Its all discovery for them – though you may want to perhaps warn them away from obvious cliches or outlets like dont get X from Y.

      I was in Borough Market yesterday here in London and there was a huge line of people for fish and chips (many Europeans and Americans) from this one stall and its something similar to this – people come to England and expect to have fish and chips (and apparently take a photo with their dinner). But they are on vacation and enjoying themselves so why not?

      In the US I guess its burgers? to me it depends on the region. But I like to try and stay gracious when visitors excitedly share something they ate, because eating new things is part of traveling and exploration too.

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        Here here to your first paragraph. I went to Italy a few years ago, and everything just tasted better, even small simple things. In the US things tend to come with a lot of preservatives and are made to last and be shelf stable, whereas in Italy (in my experience) food was made to be consumed at that moment. Even bread and butter felt like an amazing feast, so fresh and delicious. I don’t like raw tomatoes, and yet in Italy I was practically eating them like handfruit. The food was so amazing that when I came home I started making a real effort to focus on fresh ingredients and locally sourced food to try and recapture some of the magic. (Though sadly it has not been recreated T.T)

        To be fair, I was traveling with chef friends who own a restaurant and had ties/connections in Italy, so maybe my experience was enhanced by their expertise, but I think Italy’s food gets most of the credit!

      2. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff*

        Seconding your first paragraph! I’ve seen quite a number of tourist being surprised (or worse) by what they were eating. We tend to prefer foods with less ingredients, for example. I think maybe it’s because we like to track down every flavour, because we also eat things separately, instead of putting everything in a single plate.
        Anyways, as long as friends avoid the obvious tourist traps, everything they’ll try should be fine. Just don’t ask for pizza with pineapple, ever: you’re going to be kicked out and banned.

        1. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff*

          Oh, wait, there’s one more important thing. I was once in Denmark with colleagues from all over the world and we went to an Italian restaurant. There was a bottle of olive oil ready on the table and while they were waiting for their meal, my colleagues filled their plates with oil and started dipping bread into it. I know, Italian olive oil is unresistible and the little plates were apparently there for that purpose, but dipping bread in sauce is considered bad manners in Italy. You can do it within family and friends, but NOT at the restaurant! Just saying this in case Italian restaurants in the U.S. also have this weird custom.

          1. Book Lover*

            Yes, Italian restaurants in the us do that! I was really surprised the first time I saw it.

          2. Modern gal*

            Was someone at the restaurant staring over their shoulder watching how they ate their bread? I’m sure not. I guess I’d avoid it if I was visiting an Italian client or family but honestly…who cares how some Danish guy eats his bread in an Italian restaurant. Seems pretty uptight.

            1. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff*

              In fact my point was that since it’s ok to do it in other countries one may not realize it’s not ok in Italy. You are definitely going to get some weird looks if you do so in an Italian restaurant in Italy.

          3. Llama Face!*

            Also you have to pay for the bread if you eat it! That was an odd thing for a Canadian visiting Italy (personal experience) since if we get bread brought to the table at restaurants here it is free with the meal.

            1. Hellanon*

              No, it’s really more that in Italy, at least in the north, the prices are broken out more – in the US and Canada it’s all factored in. So you pay coperto, which is an itemized table charge, or you only pay for the vegetables or salad you order rather than having your meal “come with” those things already factored in.

              1. ket*

                I guess I’d agree with Llama Face, though — if you ask for bread not to come in the US, there is no discount, so it’s not a matter of the prices being broken out more to me. At most restaurants in the US that serve bread at the beginning, it is not possible to receive a different price for the meal with bread and the meal without bread.

              2. Someone Else*

                I think what’s confusing me here is: in Italy they being bread to the table without you asking for it? And if you eat if you’re charged and if you don’t you are not? Because that’s totally weird to me. The situation described in the US is that many restaurants bring bread to the table, without you asking for it, and there is no charge for that bread. Not eating it means it gets thrown out, because it was already served to you and can’t be served to someone else (unless the place breaks health codes). But eating it or not doesn’t change the price of the meal overall.
                Meanwhile, other places, if you specifically order bread, yes you’re charged for bread. That’s normal.
                The only way I could see confusion happening in Italy is if someone thought they were in the first kind of restaurant, where bread is free, and thus asked for it, not realizing they were now ordering it and thus would have to pay. But I wouldn’t have much sympathy for a customer being confused by that as there are plenty of places in the US where bread isn’t free and you have to order is specifically and thus there’s a clear cost somewhere on the menu.

                If the issue is they bring it unasked, and then charge you, that I do think is confusing.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        But you have better fish and chips than we typically do. :)

        However, the British pasty stand we have here (it has two kiosk locations–one in the mall–and a food truck and is owned and run by a Brit) has started serving fish and chips on Fridays. They did it during Lent and I’m hoping it lasts forever and becomes a regular menu item, because it comes with curry sauce and authentic mushy peas and is every bit as good and I am drooling just thinking about it.

        Side note: they modeled their business after West Cornwall Pasty Company, which I have tried, and IMO their pasties are better than WCPC.

        1. Arts Akimbo*

          I love mushy peas to a ridiculous extent, and none of my city’s fish and chip places serve them! At least none that I have found. Also I would loooooove to get a good Cornish pasty in Tennessee.

      4. Happy Lurker*

        Also jumping on the first paragraph bandwagon. The food was amazing. Even the items purchased at the grocery store or produce stalls.

        On a side note. I cannot eat pasta/bread or dairy in the US. Not allergic, it just doesn’t sit well. The pasta, pizza, cheese and sorbet I had in Italy were all fine. I had one of each almost daily for 9 days. Actually, once I realized the sorbet was completely different from here – I did have it daily. Once home all symptoms returned, unless I was eating the pasta I brought home from Italy.

        1. Kuododi*

          My darling nephew has full blown Celiac. His mother, (my sister) has a pet theory that the reason the US has so much trouble with Celiac as well as other food sensitivities is our reliance on GMOs, assorted preservatives and all the other related food nonsense in our country. Neither of us have the skills or resources to launch a formal studying on the problem….. like I said, just a pet theory.

          1. Agnodike*

            Italy actually has very high rates of celiac disease relative to its population, so I’m not sure how that factors into your theory.

          2. catsaway*

            There’s no commercially available GMO wheat (or barley or rye) so I don’t think GMOs have anything to do with celiac disease.

    3. Lemonwhirl*

      I live in Ireland and feel bad for anyone who expects to get corned beef and cabbage here. That’s an Irish-American thing, because beef was cheaper than pork and a beef brisket was salty and kind of similar to what the Irish would eat – bacon and cabbage. Not bacon like American bacon but cut of pork back that’s boiled and served with cabbage and a white sauce. But then again, no one comes to Ireland for the food or the weather, although we have lots of good restaurants now and occasionally get decent weather.

        1. Lemonwhirl*

          I stand corrected! And I hope that Ireland delivered all the dreary, cozy rain that you could hope for. (Any chance you were married in summer 2007 or November 2009? those were doozies for rain! :))

        2. PetticoatsandPincushions*

          Same! We went in August and it was high 60s and low 70s the whole time and I LOVED it :) Accidentally got sunburned on the Aran Islands though, because I sort of forgot that the sun still works even if it’s not 85 out…

      1. Parenthetically*

        I really loved the food we ate in Ireland — maybe we were just lucky, but we always got great bread, excellent seafood, and very fresh produce prepared simply and beautifully! But yes, the stereotypes about green beer and corned beef and cabbage… absolutely false.

        1. Autumnheart*

          I had a seafood pasta dish at Wallace’s Asti in Dublin in October 2018, and I am *still* dreaming about how good it was. So delicious. The seafood in it was so fresh and sweet…man. All the food I had in Ireland was as varied as it is in the US (Italian, steak, fish and chips, seafood, French, etc) and honestly, seemed very reasonably priced too. I live in the Midwest, and I paid the same to eat out in Dublin that I would at home.

          I had also gone in 2015, and at two different restaurants, had a take on a Caesar salad that had lettuce swimming in dressing and hot bacon bits, which made for a very sad salad. That was not a win. So, okay, not EVERY place has great food, but it’s still easy to find great food.

        2. PetticoatsandPincushions*

          Ireland had the best cheese plates so far that I have ever experienced. And since my husband and I stayed at a lot of AirBnBs instead of hotels, we cooked about half our meals at ‘home.’ I’ve never had a plain roast chicken or grocery store scone that tasted so good, and I’m sure I never will again.

      2. AnonForToday*


        I was last in Ireland last June, and we nearly died of heat stroke and sunburn!
        Guess it is a good thing Alison wasn’t honeymooning then….

        1. Lemonwhirl*

          Last year was a freakishly good summer. Like the last time a summer had been that dry and sunny was 1995. :)

      3. Public Sector Manager*

        My mother-in-law is in the northwest (Co. Donegal) and she boils absolutely everything. Except fish fingers. So when my wife and I go back to Ireland, we tend to eat out quite a bit.

        The one thing I miss more than anything is Club Orange (the drink, not the candy version). There is just no American equivalent. There is a place in New York that I can order from online, but they ship by weight. So getting Club Orange becomes a really expensive habit!

    4. Maggie*

      Is there anything inherently wrong with food cliches? So long as they’re open to trying new things if they come across them there’s no harm in indulging in that fantasy. I’ve never been to America but I imagine even the most ‘authentic’ Italian restaurants would be a bit different to the real thing, so no harm in that.

      1. anonamerican*

        Yeah – even if they do have misconceptions, part of traveling is learning what’s real and what’s hype. Exposure is good!

        1. AcademiaNut*

          It’s a problem if the person’s ideas about what the food is like don’t match reality. If you go to Italy expecting to get Italian American food and a giant bowl of pasta swimming in sauce for dinner at 5pm, you’re going to be unpleasantly surprised.

          But for the original question – I’m well travelled and very food oriented, and the food in Italy knocked my socks off. It’s completely different from the Italian food I’ve had abroad (on multiple continents). A well planned food vacation in Italy sounds amazing – work your way up the country trying all the regional specialities, various food based tours and tastings (vineyard, olive grove, cheese & prosciutto tour), some cooking classes where you shop at the local markets.

    5. Amtelope*

      I’m not sure what you mean? There is plenty of great food in Italy, a “food trip” sounds like fun.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Seconded. Are you trying to mitigate their disappointment? Or just tell them off for being stereotypical? If the former, why do you think they’ll be disappointed? If the latter, definitely do not do that.

    6. alex b.*

      I dunno; I have a new student from Milan who is absolutely scandalized by the produce and, generally, the food here (NYC! it’s not freaking suburban Iowa). I thought things were pretty good at Trader Joes or Whole Foods and our restaurants, but she is like….NO that is not real food. Maybe you’ve got something going on there that we don’t….

      1. Dan*

        Iowa doesn’t have suburbs… did you mean rural? But the funny thing is, Iowa has lots of farm land, so I would expect decent, fresh produce to be easy to come by.

        1. Wake up !*

          What? Of course Iowa has suburbs. Des Moines is a city, smaller cities adjacent to it are suburbs like every other part of the country. What a bizarre thing to nitpick.

        2. Valancy Snaith*

          Iowa may be largely a rural state, but there are certainly suburbs outside of Des Moines (and Davenport, Cedar Rapids, and parts of Omaha over the state line). Something like 400,000 people live in the suburbs of Des Moines.

        3. Not A Manager*

          Hi Dan! “Farmland” does not equal “truck farm” in almost any area of the U.S. In my experience, U.S. farming regions are some of the most difficult places to get good fresh produce in regular grocery stores, although sometimes you will pass a good farm-stand.

          1. ket*

            Agreed. I was in North Dakota for instance recently, and while you can be surrounded by hundreds of square miles of agriculture, getting local produce may be impossible (and not because it’s winter, but because in the area there are no commercial vegetable producers that sell locally).

    7. Weegie*

      Food cliches: Haggis. Or deep-fried Mars Bars (yes, they are an actual Thing, but mostly made only as a joke).

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        I’ve had one of those, actually! They were…surprisingly good? Taste like smoutebollen (no idea how to Translate that) with a Mars filling, basically.

        1. Weegie*

          You do surprise me! I’ve never actually met someone who’s eaten one. They tend to rear their head when some fish ‘n’ chip shop wants to get publicity so they put deep fried Mars bars on the menu so that the local paper will write an article about them. (The journalist covering the story always says the end result is surprisingly good, though.)

          1. A.N. O'Nyme*

            We had ours in a smalle chip shop near Fleshmarket’s Close, during our walking tour someone had noticed the sign and we got curious. About 7 of us tried it, with everyone else watching and taking pics. Before pics have us all looking like either this is going to be great or we’re about to make the biggest mistake of our lives, after pics have us looking confused (except for one guy who was immediately sold)

      2. Kuododi*

        Deep fried Twinkies is another delight of state fairs and bar b que festivals. DH and I were at a festival some time ago and got fried Twinkies in order to say we’d had the experience. The ones we ate had lost structural integrity during the frying process. What was left was a wad of hot sugary goo dusted in powdered sugar. Oh well… we have now had the experience!

        1. Autumnheart*

          Oh man, your Twinkie fryer sucks! The ones we have at the State Fair are delicious. Like a fresh warm donut filled with cream.

      3. Akcipitrokulo*

        I hated haggis as a kid… school dinners did that. Cooked in a long cylinder, sliced, cooked and reheated until some hockey pucks finally bounced onto our plates….

        Now I’m veggie and veggie haggis is awesome…

        1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

          Tere’s vegetarian haggis? please describe. I’m veggie and am interested.

          1. Akcipitrokulo*

            Mostly mushrooms and pulses replacing the meat … still has spices and veggies like onions. It was a big hit when I did a Burns’ lunch at work last year!

        1. Rainy*

          I prefer white pudding, but haggis is also delightful.

          I would knock over little old ladies for black pudding though.

          1. Life is Good*

            We had haggis and black pudding in Scotland last summer! We ate both after a couple of strong scotch and water drinks, so I can’t say that we “really” tasted either. ;)

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      I think life is too short to worry if my vacation might risk skirting a cliche.

    9. Marion Ravenwood*

      I’m British, and I would say the biggest food cliché here is probably afternoon tea. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still definitely still a thing in a lot of fancy/trendy London hotels and restaurants, and I’ve done it a few times for birthdays and hen parties (and it’s always been perfectly nice), but there is still a persistent impression amongst some people that when the clock hits 4pm here everyone’s stopping for tea and cake. I wish it worked like that!

      And personally, I have to say I think a food trip in Italy sounds amazing. So much delicious pasta and pizza and wine and ice cream, and that’s just for starters…

      1. Femme d'Afrique*

        On the other hand, whenever I watch a British series or movie, I make a bet with myself about the number of times the characters make or drink a pot of tea. It’s surprisingly (?) many, many times! Even in gritty dramas like Luther or other police procedurals. ;)

        1. londonedit*

          Oh yeah, we make cups of tea all day, but it’s a casual thing. You just drink your tea while you’re working or whatever. Sometimes you might sit down with a cup of tea and a biscuit at the weekend. The notion that everyone in Britain sits down to tea and cakes at 4pm is a total cliche and it’s not something that happens. Afternoon tea is something we might do for a birthday or a hen party, it’s a novelty just as much as it would be for a tourist.

          I absolutely hate the cliche that British food is terrible. It comes from the years and years of wartime food and rationing in the 1940s and 50s – and the hard times that followed the country well into the 1970s. When America was booming, Britain was on its knees and people couldn’t afford anything more than the basics. But food here nowadays is excellent – especially in the cities, you can get all sorts of global cuisines and really exciting British food, and everywhere there’s a huge focus on local produce and quality.

          1. Rainy*

            When I was in England a few years back we had just incredible food. I’ll say that the beer wasn’t what I like, but I have very particular tastes in beer. :) Also, the place we stayed in London did an incredibly filling breakfast that really fortified us for our days of walking all over the city.

      2. Lena Clare*

        Cucumber sandwiches, tea and scones. Yum. Now I want an afternoon tea!
        I do love going for afternoon tea, but it’s definitely a treat and I always end up going somewhere else for it like a tourist myself!

        I think biggest food cliche here in the UK is that the food isn’t good!

      3. Akcipitrokulo*

        It’s soooo expensive too! Went for a pre-wedding do and it was about £50/head…

      4. Teapot Translator*

        I was surprised when I realised that tea was also an evening meal? I think I figured it out while watching Foyle’s War?

        1. londonedit*

          It’s just names for things. It’s very regional and also has some class implications. Some regions say breakfast/lunch/dinner, some say breakfast/dinner/tea. And then some people say supper for the evening meal. Tea is the same evening meal as dinner; it’s just different regional names for the meals. Traditionally maybe tea would be a smaller meal; dinner would be a regular evening meal and supper would be a small snack before bed, but they all also mean ‘the main evening meal’ in different areas of Britain.

          1. fposte*

            Then there’s “high tea,” which used to be tea-as-supper, but Americans took the term for fancy afternoon tea, and now I’m seeing UK establishments that do teas offering them as “high tea.” Better sell than fight, I guess.

            1. londonedit*

              Yes; ‘high tea’ was the early evening meal for children – in the days of ‘children must be seen and not heard’ they’d eat in the nursery at a high table, hence ‘high tea’. I guess people thought that sounded posh but it’s not the ‘afternoon tea with posh cakes and sandwiches’ meal.

          2. Akcipitrokulo*

            We used dinner and tea interchangeably to mean “main evening meal”.

          3. Batgirl*

            This is why I say lunch + tea. I move in so many different circles that I am bound to confuse someone with the word ‘dinner’. The only time I would use it is I’ve emphasised that its formal/timing like “They’re out for dinner at Fancyshmants restaurant that evening”.

            1. coffee cup*

              Ha, funny that I think ‘tea’ is more confusing! I forget that people use ‘dinner’ to mean ‘lunch’. The only time I’ve heard people use that here is for ‘school dinners’, which baffled for a bit, because it’s lunch!

              1. PhyllisB*

                In the South, when I was growing up, lunch was dinner (heavy meal) and supper was evening meal which could be leftovers from mid-day or a new meal. Maybe not as heavy as lunch (dinner) but not necessarily light either.
                This came about when more people farmed and worked so hard they needed that heavy mid-day meal to keep going. I still remember going to my aunts’ and having this heavy meal then they would throw a white tablecloth over the left-overs and leave until the evening meal. Maybe make some fresh cornbread/rolls/biscuits. Some of the older people wouldn’t even eat a real meal at night, they would just crumble some cornbread or biscuit into a glass of buttermilk or sweet (regular) milk. Now it’s lunch and dinner and most people eat their heavy meal at night.

          4. coffee cup*

            I’m Scottish and always have said ‘tea’ for evening meal. I tend to say ‘dinner’ when I’m in mixed company (mixed being hey we’re not all from exactly the same part of the world!) because if they don’t know ‘tea’ it sounds like I just drink tea for my tea. Which, y’know, I drink a lot of tea, but I draw the line there!

      5. anonamerican*

        Haha – I grew up in a similar culture (my family is South Asian), and we definitely take afternoon tea and snacks breaks, but it’s more casual and fast than the fancy “high tea” stuff. It’s also more a thing on weekends than on weekdays. But the habit is so ingrained in me that even at my office, once the clock hits 3 or 4, I make myself a cup of tea and grab a cookie or something.

      6. Jules the First*

        It astounded me when I started, but the company I’m currently working for does afternoon tea daily. And yes, the entire company (1,000 people or so) downs tools for 20 minutes and has a cuppa and a slice of cake. Because we’re now so many people, “tea time” is staggered, so your team might go at half three or half four instead of 4 on the dot because we no longer all fit in the canteen at once, but very few people skip it (though you might work through if you’re in a meeting – you still get tea, from our lovely catering team, it’s just that you keep working while you consume it rather than stopping to socialise). It’s both weird and lovely…

        1. Anu*

          Oh that’s reminding me of when I worked at research institute in India that had a similar custom. At 2 pm everyone would congregate in the canteen for cups of hot milky tea and delicious shortbread-like biscuits. Everything was served in proper crockery and it all seemed so very civilized.

    10. Babycarrot*

      Food cliché from where I’m from : Poutine. Yes it can be great in certain places but not something I would eat everyday!

      1. Modern gal*

        But it’s a vacation, not every day. People obviously eat and behave differently on vacation than they do in their daily lives (like…not working? Eating out every meal?) I don’t see how eating well-known regional specialties is a cliche.

        1. fposte*

          I think Babycarrot is just responding to question two about the food cliché near her, though, not talking about the behavioral side so much.

      2. Rainy*

        I love poutine but when I was living in Canada I probably had it once a month tops.

        I mean, when I go back to visit friends now, I eat all the things that I miss, so it’s a few days of nonstop poutine and sushi.

    11. La strega*

      What food cliché is it? Garlic bread? Fettuccine Alfredo? Pasta carbonara made with cream? Chicken in pasta? Those are the only ones I can think of that non-Italians have about Italy. A lot of the others are pretty on-point, except that the Italian version of Italian food is a million times better than the version anywhere else.

      I’m really curious what your US friends’ ideas are!

      1. anonamerican*

        Yeah the OP needs to be more clear about what the cliche is. The cliche that Italy is good for food is very much real and true. But yeah, Americans should get educated on what Italians in Italy actually consider food. I remember being surprised to learn that while Italians love eating meat, they consider eating meat WITH pasta a cardinal sin. They can’t imagine why Americans would ever eat their pasta with chicken breast or meatballs.

    12. Book Lover*

      I am not sure I understand? I’ve spent years in Italy and whenever I think of going back my mouth waters. The vegetables and fruit actually taste of something and the strawberries smell amazing and the gelato is always delicious. Anyway, totally would enjoy returning for food and the food varies based on region. I remember stopping at a little town and having the most amazing meal, don’t remember at all which town or restaurant. Ah well.

      1. anonamerican*

        I remember being blown away by now delicious the strawberries and fruits were! Also the meat and dairy as well. Idk what it is, but they are so much tastier than what I get here.

    13. HannahS*

      Why do you need to? Let them enjoy! It’s not your holiday. Pizza Margherita and gelato are delicious in Italy.

      In Canada, I guess it’s just maple syrup. Which is honestly pretty great! It’s just really expensive. The thing is, we don’t have much of an international travel reputation, so I don’t always realize when things are particularly Canadian, like butter tarts in Ontario. I didn’t know they were a regional food until I was in my 20s!

      1. Llama Face!*

        Yeah maple and poutine are the only Canadian clichés I can think of (and I’m not a fan of either, except for actual maple syrup on waffles).

      2. Life is Good*

        I second pizza Margherita and gelato in Italy! And the bread they store in a big wooden bin and cut just before bringing to your table! And gnocchi! Holy cow, so yummy! Who cares if it seems cliche?

      3. coffee cup*

        Maple syrup IS great. Yum. I ate so much good food when I lived in Canada, I think because there were so many different people from different cultures and the food was cheap and delicious in many places.

    14. WellRed*

      Don’t know that it’s a cliche, but lobster is what visitors to my little corner of the world want. However, the novices are always surprised that it’s an actual whole boiled lobster, staring at them. Not picked and buttered or whatever they imagine ; )

    15. Dan*

      I have to join the “please explain” crowd. I travel all over the world, mainly for food reasons, and what you want to caution against is something I’m really looking forward to when the occasion arises. Sorry-not-sorry about that.

      In the US, I’m trying hard to think about what a general cliche would be. Maybe a buffet of sorts? The thing is, our country is huge, with a large immigrant population who have made their way into the restaurant business. So there are large regional variations and international influences which probably meet your “cliche” thought. E.g., in New England (northeast US) “Maine Lobster” is very much a local thing. The south has “shrimp and grits” and fried chicken.

      I’d say, though, if I were to paint American understanding of food with a broad brush, is that, um, we paint things with a broad brush. Such as, we buy “rice” at the grocery store. Never mind that there are a lot of variation that many people don’t understand. It took me a long time to figure out that not all rice was created equal. Likewise, “Indian” food can come from different regions. That and we have Americanized versions of many things, and don’t realize what the “authentic” version looks like.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I have a running joke with an Italian co-worker about Spaghetti Bolognese. He was horrified when I described it, and keeps reminding me it is Ragu served with Tagliatelli.

        1. Jemima Bond*

          True but I have to put in a spirited defence of spaghetti bolognese whilst recognising it as a seventies English take on Italian food, from a time when pasta was spag bol or macaroni cheeee and that’s your lot.

      2. Modern gal*

        I think this might just be a “you thing.” There are different kinds of rice at every store I’ve been to. And in every language I know the umbrella term is “rice” so idk what is American about this?

    16. anonamerican*

      Ah but it’s not! I’m American and lived in Italy for a year – the food is MUCH better and more fresh tasting. Part of this due to the fact that many of your cities in the north are in close proximity to farms and agrarian lands, which is not so much the case in the U.S. (at least not for every food item). It seems much easier to import farm to store overnight. I still miss the apertivos and spritz aperols and the pasta.

    17. Sleepless*

      Visitors to Atlanta want either Southern food like fried chicken and sweet tea, or barbecue. Bleah. I really don’t care for Southern food…as soon as I realized there were other kinds of food when I grew up, I never voluntarily ate fried chicken and black eyed peas again. I can do barbecue, just not too often.

    18. Need a better name, CPA*

      Food cliche for Chicago: deep dish pizza. Not every pizzeria makes good deep dish, any more than anything else.
      Also, Chicagoans don’t always have deep dish. We just don’t believe pizza should be so thin and limp that you can fold it like a taco.

    19. Jemima Bond*

      Relevant info for a food trip to Italy: unlike restaurants as I understand is the case in the US, european restaurants including in Italy don’t do doggy bags as a rule. Probably because I believe US portion sizes are quite large. So your friends will be full of delicious food no doubt about it but it’s not a case of having another small meal’s worth of leftovers that can be boxed up for you. Nor (as a friend described to me after a trip to New York) ordering a single dish, say at lunchtime, to share because it would be enough for two.

      1. anonamerican*

        In my experience, portion sizes are MUCH smaller that you don’t need one. The menu is organized into courses – the pasta course and the meat course are always separate. So if you order pasta, it’s technically 1/4 of the meal! However, I recall that at least in the city I live in, some resturants do takeout, so that’s an option.

    20. Ginger ale for all*

      I live in Texas and when relatives visit, they seem to expect chili everywhere. You just don’t see it a lot here in the DFW area though unless you deliberately seek it out. My friend from Hong Kong loved to visit so she can eat steak and Tex Mex. I met someone at a conference who was told to try Dr. Pepper, Whataburger, Big Red, and Schlotzsky’s. I couldn’t argue with that list, it’s pretty representative of Texas favorites for a quick lunch that you might not be able to easily get out of state.

      1. Anon in Texas*

        What a lot of people miss about Texas is that there are different regions. I’m in the south, the home of Tex Mex. Our food is really different from what you find in DFW or Houston.

  10. Everdene*

    I posted 2 or 3 weeks ago about a rotten week where not only did I go to the funeral of a dear friend but had a terrible time at a hospital appointment. The short version is the consultant and his team were dismissive, rude, patronising and refused to carry out the treatment in an effective way (think having 2 rottinng teeth, pulling out one bad one, one good one and saying I’m the dentist). I’ve had this problem for several years and my previous medical team spent a long time working with me to find he best solution and how to carry out the treatment most effectively. I left the hospital upset and in pain with the doctor in a huff.

    This week I got a letter saying they will not treat me anymore but will refer me to nearest big city if I want (although God knows how long the waiting list will be) but they will set up an appointment with a Clinical Psychologist who can help with my anxieties about recieving treatment. I am so furious at this Victorian attitude – young woman is upset with doctor therefore she must be hysterical – and the wilful ignorance that the only ‘anxiety’ I have is that I don’t get the treatment needed to allow me to live my life. That is something my relevant doctor/nurse could fix not a psychologist.

    I wrote a strongly worded letter immediately, which my family helped smooth down to factual and professional and sent it by return post. My GP seems suportive but there is little they can do outside our health board. I’ve been procrasting on my complaint letter as I’m struggling with the areas not treated, and they continue to get worse (a rotten tooth won’t grow back healthy). So my family suggested using a patient advocate to help with the conplaint. I like this idea as I could advocste for others (and do in my job) but its much harder when you are the one hurt and exhausted. Has anyone used a patient advocacy service before? How did you find it?

    1. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Considering they did a treatment you didn’t fully consent to,would this also not be considered assault? Not saying it is, just genuinely curious.

      1. fposte*

        I don’t know where Everdene is, but that’s pretty unlikely. Either it’s a deliberate containment strategy that’s part of acceptable treatment or it’s a doctor’s error, but neither of those would be considered to be assault in the U.S.

            1. Everdene*

              Yep, teeth is a metaphor! I was trying to say that of the area needing treatment the doctor treated half of it and used the other materials to treat an area that was fine.

              I did actually have to sign a consent form for the procedure but the exact area was not covered in the document. Having had this done many times without problem I never considered having the area spelt out before signing it.

    2. Jean (just Jean)*

      Oof. Curses to the lousy dentist and his equally lousy team and your health board (the people who recommended the Clinical Psychologist). I’m furious on your behalf. Kudos to your family for helping you polish your letter.

      Can you contact your elected official(s), meaning elected at any level that knows enough about constituent services to be helpful? Bonus points if the elected official is someone for whom you voted. (If not, no problem: Elected officials are elected to serve All the People not just Their Particular Voters/Supporters.) Super-bonus points if the elected official and/or the office or agency they represent strikes fear into the heart of your former dentist.

      My other idea is to see if there are any non-profit patient advocacy groups? Or advocacy groups in general? Sorry for the question marks. If my advice isn’t completely on target, I hope it sparks someone else to think of a better idea. You have my good wishes for getting past this medical/dental insult.

      1. Everdene*

        My local MP is actually a doctor (I’m in the UK) and while not from a party I agree with she doesn’t seem terrible.

        I’m interested in using a patient advisory group but not idea if they have any clout. My family are great but not local so it would be good to have gelp from someone on my side and who knows the system.

        1. Akcipitrokulo*

          It is worth talking to MP – also they seriously don’t know or care who you voted for. My current MP is pretty useless, but have had some awesome constituency MPs – including the late Sir Hector Munro for whom I would never have voted, but was a very hard working constituency MP.

          (If you’re in Central Ayrshire then, personally, I love her ;) )

    3. Anon Anon Anon*

      That sounds terrible. I’ve had similar experiences. I’ve been forcibly medicated for asking reasonable questions while hospitalized (“What are the side effects?” “How did you decide on this treatment plan?”). I’ve been forcibly medicated during an office visit. The doctor just took out a needle and injected me.

      It’s ridiculous. It’s so hard to find good medical care these days. I’ve pretty much given up.

      Do you have any other options? Can you go to another country and seek treatment there? Is there any other kind of treatment that you can access where you are?

  11. Lena Clare*

    Hi! Hope you’re having a nice weekend so far?

    I’d love some tips on how to stop my two cats (actually I think it’s mainly my male cat) from spraying everywhere, if you have any? I’m paranoid my house is beginning to smell :(

    The vet says there’s no physical issue, it’s most likely behavioural. I’ve got the feliway (cat pheromone) plugged in, put 3 litter trays around the place which they use occasionally but they also go outside too, but they do pee outside the litter trays occasionally too grr, and I have put more drinking posts around the house.

    Is there anything else I can do? They’re kind of wrecking the place!

    1. Lena Clare*

      Also I don’t know if Alison will read this but I ended up not getting the other 2 rescue cats in the end bc I thought it’d be too disruptive for my male cat who appears to be having a hard time with the cat next door. Ty for the tips though.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        UGH I hear ya on this. It’s exhausting. I have a cat that sprays and, boy, it’s really exhausting and infuriating sometimes–I’m going through a very active phase at the moment (spring time!) and I just want to lock him in a room where everything is covered in plastic (obviously I wouldn’t do that, I’m just really annoyed right now). I’ve never gotten him to stop completely, but there are times when it’s been reduced a lot.

        He may be spraying because of that cat next door. Does the cat next door hang around your perimeter a lot? If so, you could buy the motion-activated air cans. I haven’t bought them yet, but I’ve seen them on My Cat From Hell and they seem to work. You put them in the places where the cats hangs around. When it walks by, they get a blast of air. It trains them to stay away from that area. Although since your cats go outside they would get the air blast, too, since they’ll be walking around out there.

        I use lots of Feliway Multi Cat plug-ins, like at least two per room. If you’re only using one for the whole house, I’d add several more, especially in the places where he hangs out the most. And try the multi cat one if you’re not currently using it. I found it works better than the regular one. You can also use the spray on things they like mark.

        Good luck! This is such an annoying thing to deal with.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          I meant use the Feliway or Comfort Zone spray on places they like to mark.

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

      You need an enzyme cleaner, like Nature’s Miracle. It will go a long way towards cleaning up. Unfortunately cat spray is intended to be pungent.

    3. Lucy*

      Our cat does this too – he’s neutered but it still smells.

      In his case it’s definitely in response to a local invader. My cat marks to establish territory; invader marks to push back on boundaries; etc etc, until the front line settles on our house. They liberally mark the front and back doors – invader from the outside and our cat from the inside.

      Vet has recommended Feliway and we’ve repaired the fence where invader was getting in at the back (our cat is younger and slightly smaller so can climb in) but that feels like the limit of what we can do.

      We have a special spray cleaner from the pet shop which genuinely neutralises the unpleasant smell at least from a human perspective. Beyond that I’m reluctant to take major steps as it’s totally natural behaviour.

    4. cat socks*

      I’m dealing with this with a stray cat I’m fostering and one of my resident cats. I talked to my vet about it and she said having cats go outside can increase the chances of them spraying inside. They may mark outside based on smells of other outdoor cats and then feel the need to defend their territory inside.

      The other suggestions are good too – more Feliway diffusers. There is also a Feliway spray you can apply to areas previously marked. Also an enzyme cleaner.

      I’ve considered looking into CBD oil for cats because it’s supposed to help calm them. Gabapentin is another calming medicine for cats. Something Prozac is even used for cats that are very anxious.

      Good luck. I love having multiple cats, but the peeing can be difficult to deal with.

    5. Lena Clare*

      Thanks all. Yes, I think that the behaviour is related to the cat next door and is stress related. I was hoping to be able to stop it as I don’t like him being stressed, and also I hate cleaning lol. I have enzymatic cleaner, but it only works if you use it on the spray just after it has happened, otherwise you can still smell it, and unfortunately I can’t use that type of cleaner on the wood floor in the hallway.

      But I will buy more Feliway plug ins and I didn’t realise that you could buy a Feliway spray to eliminate the scent so I will do that too, plus I get the carpets cleaned fairly regularly and was hoping to replace the stairway carpet this summer if I can afford it although I am dreading him spraying on the new carpet :( One thing at a time though!

    6. Lena Clare*

      Oh ffs I’ve just gone into the bathroom to get ready for bed and he’s p1ssed all over the windowsill on my toiletries and it’s gone EVERYWHERE.


  12. Sam Sepiol*

    One of my friends posted something on Facebook this week that I loved and I want to post it here. Hope that’s ok. Not sure if it was an actual Thing on FB or whether it was just something one of her friends started. I liked the “permission” to share things I’m proud of.

    Hey friends! You’re all awesome. Tell me something awesome about you: something you’ve achieved or something you’re good at, or just that you think is brilliant about yourself.

    1. Sam Sepiol*

      Today: I am working through my traumas. I’m still very much in the weeds, but at the same time, I’ve come an awfully long way from where I started.
      I realised how awful my marriage was when I was finally able to see it, and I left, and doing that has been SO VERY BLOODY HARD and still is but it’s been like taking the lid of my career -two promotions in six months, I’ve been told by my line manager that I’m promotable (again!!) in the next year, and I’m on leadership training.
      I’ve been able to let go of unhealthy friendships and I’m connecting with new people and also choosing to reconnect with old friends who I’d dropped out of touch with.
      And I am really good at my specialism at work. People respect my opinion: they don’t always agree with it/use it, but they seek it out and find it useful to discuss it with me.
      Also parenting yadda yadda really proud of my kid and how I try and teach him stuff re politics, economics, consent, blah blah blah ;)

    2. LivingMyLife*

      Can’t really take the credit for this myself, but I have survived a very aggressive form of leukemia three years ago. Thankful to God, my stem cell donor and my wonderful medical team. Life has a very different meaning for me now – fully enjoy each day, reclaim and thrive in the life I am living. I guess what I see as awesome is that half a year ago I moved over 2000 miles to start a new very high pace job at a large university in CA and I am able to keep up with it. Nobody here has a clue how sick I was. To all my coworkers I appear as an older person who is very physically active and eats healthy. I’m tempted to share my story with them, but not at this point.

      1. Sam Sepiol*

        That is awesome. I wish you continued good health and I would also really relish having the choice whether to share your history or not. Everyone knows about my depression. I would love to one day be able to live with it to the extent I can share only with my friends, not line managers and other people who are affected.

    3. Marion Ravenwood*

      Stuff like this always makes me feel a bit awkward because I’m not used to bigging myself up, but here goes:

      I can run a 5k without stopping, even if I’m not super-fast. I’m a good writer. I’m proud that I can be a good friend to my friends and be there for them and stand up for them when they need my help.

      1. Forestdweller*

        That is awesome! Being able to run a 5K without stopping is one of my goals, and I am always so pumped up by people who are already there.

      2. Sam Sepiol*

        That’s amazing, is been a long long time since I ran any distance without stopping! Writing and being a good friend are also worth celebrating <3

    4. Forestdweller*

      I’ve been an HR Manager for about 5 years, and am new-ish to my current organization (6 months). This week, two different managers in production specifically sought me out to tell me how glad they were to have me here and how much they feel supported. One stated that she and the general manager were talking about how I really care about doing right by my people, and that just made my heart explode. HR gets a bad name sometimes, and I work really hard to be the kind of HR person who advocates for my employees in addition to upholding company standards. It really just meant the world to me to get the unsolicited positive feedback.

      1. Sam Sepiol*

        Awww that is lovely. Always good to hear that people are spreading positive “isn’t Forestdweller good at their job” gossip about you! :)

    5. Smol Book Wizard*

      I have started doing beadwork recently, and I’m now wearing a pair of earrings I made myself to replace a set I lost one of years ago!
      I’m by no means an expert but I love doing little wire-and-bead projects and making jewelry for my friends. It’s a lovely productive fidget and lets me enjoy my shinies. :)

      1. Sam Sepiol*

        That sounds like something really rewarding :) glad to hear you enjoy it!

    6. Karen from Finance*

      I am proud of myself for my resilience. I have survived depression, I have survived Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I have survived growing up in a toxic environment, and left the second I was able. I have built and rebuilt my life through surroundings and my own self telling me I’m not worthy, and every day I’m still here trying to better myself, in spite of everything.

      1. The Original Karen from Finance*

        I am proud of you. This is amazing and you are worthy of all good things.

    7. Jemima Bond*

      I am genuinely the scourge of the evildoer and I have thwarted many bad people. I can even do the fancy driving with the lights and sirens!
      Also, I can make wonderful Yorkshire puddings. UK readers will know they can be tricky beasts but I have The Power!

      1. Grace*

        A good Yorkshire is a wonderful thing! Our family recipe is the classic 1:1:1 ratio for milk, flour and eggs, and they’re giant misshapen delicious lumps of a thing. Bonus points if you make enough to have some with golden syrup or butter and sugar later.

    8. Jemima Bond*

      I wanted to comment on more of these achievements individually but it always sounded sarcastic or patronising. “Well done” sounds so lame! But well done, go everyone!

      Also how many times do I have to type well before it stops autocorrecting to we’ll? Gaaaaaaaah

    9. Batgirl*

      My 12yo students who had reading ages of 7 year olds last year are now not only up to speed but are enjoying English lessons.
      The newer boys I’m teaching this year are making faster progress and we’re having more fun.
      I’m having to kick my former graduates out of my intervention room because they come to hang out at break when I’m busy.
      Except I don’t, because it’s nice to hear how transformed their day is and see that they don’t feel ‘naughty and lazy’ any more. Some of them were actually nasty and disaffected in attitude. I like being called ‘Miss’ and to be asked the kind of questions they now ask.

    10. Alpha Bravo*

      All I could come up with is, I’m a survivor and I’m capable of a rather surprising amount of hard physical work. Or to put it another way, I’m a lot tougher than I look. I get knocked down, but I get up again. My daughter pointed out I have a lot of actual survival skills and told me I should do this exercise more often. Snort.

  13. Carolyn*

    Every now and then there’d be a post on Twitter that’s something like “my sister is sad because this boy called her ugly, RT if you disagree” along with a photo of the sister, and it’d go viral with people reassuring her how gorgeous she is.
    Does anyone feel like that’s kind of an issue on its own? Not the part about wanting to make someone feel better, and not even the part about asking for RTs, but rather that they’re focusing on the wrong thing? Surely the message here should be ‘don’t be an ass and make people feel bad’? Like, what if the sister /is/ unattractive, at least in a conventional sense? Does that somehow make it okay? Moreover, doesn’t this just reinforce the notion that your worth is somehow tied to whether other people perceive your level of attractiveness?

    1. Angwyshaunce*

      I like the points you make. I remember seeing something like this from time to time on FB back in the day – pictures of deformed babies with the tagline “She is beautiful”. I always got the impression it was a way for people to say “look how progressive I am!” when in actuality they were exploiting these individuals to make themselves look like decent and tolerant human beings.

      1. Budgie Buddy*

        Yeah, it honestly doesn’t come across as genuine. Like, saying that people with non-standard features are “beautiful” does not erase the difficulty they will face. People deserve to be loved whether or not they conform to societal beauty standards. So mouthing “But you’re beautiful tho!!!!!” gives the impression that the only way to give people with facial deformities value is to deny reality. Ouch.

    2. Lena Clare*

      Yes, absolutely agree with you. I remember when the press were disgracefully focused on Chelsea Clinton’s looks during the time that Bill was President. What an awful thing for her to have to go through, and to have people defending her attractiveness when that wasn’t the issue!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Ugh. I hope they asked their sis if it was okay to plaster her face all over Twitter. jeepers. I think at that point, I would be just as upset with my sib as I was with the ex-bf.

    4. annakarina1*

      I agree, it still holds up being physically beautiful as the ideal.

      I felt similarly when news stories would report on a young teen suicide, and if the teen was cute or pretty, it was considered way more tragic and sad than if they were gawky or homely. It did make me uncomfortable to read comments by adults saying how beautiful the kid was. I got that they were praising their spirit as well, but it still felt like stories about teen suicides got more traction when the person was good-looking, which sets a dangerous mindset for other suicidal teens, either wanting to be appreciated more in death, or feeling like they’re ugly and nobody would care if they died. Basically, the whole praising beauty thing by strangers about teens can get squicky.

    5. WellRed*

      Ugh to that! I am also disliking all the videos of military parent showing up at Event to surprise kid, who is then crying all over the place for the world.

      1. valentine*

        I hate those because it sets the kid up to expect future surprises and extreme denial if that parent dies.

        The beauty thing is a large-scale version of gathering around and supporting a dumped friend.

    6. kc89*

      I like social media for jokes/memes but any blatant attention seeking like that is pathetic imo

    7. Lilysparrow*

      You are correct. And if it were true, I suspect a large part of the reason why the sister is vulnerable to that type of verbal abuse is that she was brought up in a family with such skewed priorities. Obviously the answer to “Bobby said I’m ugly” isn’t “No, you’re pretty.” It’s “Bobby is an asshole who’s trying to upset you, don’t give him the satisfaction.”

      But I strongly suspect that none of those are real anyway.

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        Yeah. Women have worth outside of their appearance, and also I don’t repost any of this “RT if you love angels/hate cancer/want this kid to have a happy birthday/agree that bad things suck/etc” shit so I don’t care.

      2. Anon Anon Anon*

        “Bobby wants to make you feel bad because he sees you as above him in some way and he wants to cut you down so he can feel better about himself/convince you to make out with him/convince you to give him money. Or something else. Who knows. Bobby has something to gain by making you feel bad. Avoid him. Take it as a compliment. And focus on people who are nice, who appreciate you, who make you feel good.”

    8. Panda Bandit*

      Yeah, they’re definitely focusing on the wrong thing. I also have an issue with it because validation is supposed to come from within. How many people do they need to get compliments from?

    9. Anon Anon Anon*

      Yes. And that you should care what other people say about you. The real issues are: 1) Don’t be a jerk, and 2) When people are jerks, ignore them. It’s kind of counter-productive by drawing attention to the jerk and making the incident into a bigger issue than it needs to be. But there’s this stereotype that women are supposed to be REALLY SENSITIVE to what other people say about them, especially if it’s related to attractiveness. It re-enforces that stereotype.

  14. Lol*

    Watched a recent episode of Big Bang Theory and there was a comment from Bernadette that she wanted to see the new Avenger’s movie in 3D to better enjoy Thor’s abs. That was inadvertently amusing.

    (Glad this show is coming to an end, I can’t say for sure when it started going downhill but these days I can’t even remember how I got hooked at the start.)

    1. bassclefchick*

      I agree! It was wonderful, but I think it’s about 3 seasons past when it should have ended. Howard and Bernadette are just MEAN people and I don’t find them funny at all anymore. Though the whole thing with Kal Penn this week was hilarious! The ending of that story line is pretty obvious, so I’m not sure what the point is of dragging it out like this.

      Don’t get me wrong, I am going to watch the last 3 episodes, but I’m OK with it ending. Now, if only NCIS would pack it in. That show is about 5 years past when it should have ended.

      1. Grace*

        See also, Supernatural. Supposed to end after season 5 in 2010. Surprise – they didn’t. I watched the backlog of episodes right up until I had caught up back in…I think in 2014? At that point, I decided that it had run its course, at least as far as I was concerned. Five years later, they’ve only just now announced that it’ll be coming to an end.

        1. Marion Ravenwood*

          The one I’m glad has called it quits is Criminal Minds. Don’t get me wrong, I love that show, but I’m a firm believer that these types of police procedural shows stand and fall on the chemistry between the cast members, and generally once the second person leaves (there’s always someone who goes in an early season when it’s not working, then the new person comes in and it all seems to click) they’re just not the same. CM took two departures to get it right – for me it didn’t work until Rossi came in – but I really think they should have ended it once Hotch and Morgan left rather than dragging it out.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      I agree. I think what made the show so funny, four social misfit nerds who actually did cool nerd stuff, long passed. I get they had to move on, find relationships and such, but a lot of the fun teasing has become Seinfeld-like general jerkiness.

      And the elevator still is not fixed.

      1. JediSquirrel*

        Yep. When it was nerdy and geeky (were those Feynmann diagrams in the first episode?) it was fun and relatable. When it became more about relationships, it became just like every other show. Even Evil Wil Wheaton couldn’t make me watch it again.

        1. nonegiven*

          I don’t remember the first one, not sure I’ve seen it. There was one where they had the Feynman family’s van, it had the diagrams on it.

    3. Mimmy*

      I still love the show, but I’m totally okay with it ending. Sheldon in particular has gotten on my nerves in the last few years.

    4. T3k*

      I’m personally sad it’s ending, it’s only 1 of 2 shows I care to watch on TV :(

  15. DanaScully*

    Good morning! Warning – discussion of gynae related issues ahead.

    I’m in the process of being referred to a Gynaecology specialist as I suffer with the most excruciating period pain each month. It all came to a head when someone at work found me lying on the floor of the accessible restroom in the fetal position, and I realised that the level of pain I’m experiencing probably isn’t “normal”. I was nauseous, faint, pale, cold and shaking but having hot flushes so I’d stripped most of my clothes off.

    I went to see my GP initially who referred me for an ultrasound. The technician who did the ultrasound mentioned that my notes said I had been referred for the ultrasound to ‘rule out endometriosis’, however she told me that this isn’t possible and that it can only be confirmed via laparoscopy. When I went back to my GP for the results, she said,
    “Good news, you don’t have Endometriosis!”.
    I relayed what the ultrasound technician had told me and it appeared to be new information to her. After a while of us sitting in silence as she clicked around on her computer, she asked me if I would like to be referred to a specialist, which I agreed to. I’m very hopeful that I’ll be able to see somebody who can help me.

    Gynae issues do run in the family:
    My mum had undiagnosed Endometriosis and fibroids with no pain, but very, very heavy periods. She didn’t tell anyone she was suffering and ended up needing a six unit blood transfusion and a full hysterectomy.

    Does anyone here have any experience of going through this process? I would really appreciate any insight or advice. Thanks!

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      My first suggestion would be to go to an actual gynecologist and not a GP (which it sounds like you are in the process of doing). General practitioners are just that – general, you need someone whose whole knowledge and expertise is based around your issue. I def used to think my GP was the way to go for gyno-related issues until I went to an actual gynecologist, what a difference! They’ll be able to help you much more.

      As for the other things – I don’t have endometriosis, but I used to have insanely heavy periods and debilitating cramps to the point that I would be vomitting from pain and completely incoherent (happened to my mom too). Granted I didn’t have the incapacitating cramps every single time, but it got more frequent in my mid 20s. What solved it for me honestly was getting an IUD. I went in for long-lasting birth control and ended up with the added bonus of regular, light, non-crippling periods. I have a skyla IUD and it’s absolutely amazing and I recommend it to everyone. It has a very very small amount of hormones (I tried the pill in high school and had an awful experience with it so I was apprehensive to try hormones again) and it just kind of smoothed things out for me. That might be something to try if they can’t find anything “wrong”. But a specialist will definitely be able to help you more than a GP or regular X-ray technician could, so you might find another solution with them.

      In the mean time, try topical cbd oil (if it’s legal where you are). There are a lot of brands out there (Whoopi Goldberg actual has her own brand of products specifically for period pain relief I’ve been dying to try but sadly they don’t ship to my state). I have a cream from Herbstrong that I love – just smear a little bit over your uterus area and boom – relief. It’s not cheap but it is sooo effective and a little pot of it will last you a while. It’s also good for muscle and joint paint so it has many uses.

      Good luck with everything, I hope you find a solution/relief soon!

    2. Ada*

      You just gave me flashbacks to sitting on the ground in the middle of an aisle in Wal-Mart, waiting for my cramps to pass so I could move again… Also had crazy-heavy periods (think: put on a fresh pad, walk down to the school bus stop, get on the bus okay, get off the bus having already bled through my jeans). Had multiple ultrasounds (including one done internally), they found some benign cysts, but that was about it. For me, they first tried the pill, but I kept throwing it up, so they switched to a transdermal method (the patch at first, and later the ring). That pretty much did the trick. I rarely get cramps or ridiculously heavy periods these days.

      Also, I may or may not have grown out of it at some point in my twenties. A few years back (before bc became free) I stopped taking it to try and see if I could save money by toughing it out, and was surprised to find my symptoms never really came back.

    3. fposte*

      Tangentially, if you have any intestinal symptoms, you might want to bring a GI into the mix. Hormones can affect GI stuff, and my then-undiagnosed Crohn’s meant horrible periods for a long time.

    4. Slartibartfast*

      Limited experience in this, I have been working as an assistant in a gyn office for about 6 months now. I gotta say, I like your doctor. Taking what the tech said and doing some more research is a great response. I will say be patient, endometriosis is not easy to diagnose or treat but an experienced gyn is going to be a big help. It’s important for them to know how much pain you’re in, so I would definitely tell the bathroom story and don’t try to minimize it. There are a lot of options, some people respond to hormonal birth control. There’s newer drugs out there if you don’t, but they are expensive so it can be difficult to get insurance approval. And surgery is an option if all else fails.
      This is going to take months to get a handle on, but there’s definitely help out there. Best of luck to you.

    5. PhyllisB*

      I know we are not supposed to diagnose, and I’m not sure if you are in US, but perhaps check for PICOS? I hope I have this acronym right; if not someone please correct. My son’s girlfriend has this, and she is miserable every month that she has a period. It’s somewhat similar to endometriosis but there are differences.

      1. Julia*

        PCOS? Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, not usually known to cause extreme pain (as endometriosis does), but it’s a catch-all term for symptoms like irregular periods, weight gain, hair growth etc.

    6. Nicki Name*

      I was just about to suggest PCOS too. I had years of debilitating period pain, followed by a stretch where I bled nonstop for months (but at least it didn’t hurt!) before finally getting a diagnosis. It turned out I had a bunch of other symptoms as well, that I never realized were the same problem. Do any of these sound familiar? https://www.webmd.com/women/symptoms-of-pcos

      PCOS is currently estimated to affect 5-10% of women, so please get that explicitly ruled in or out with an actual gynecologist.

      The good news is that PCOS is easy to treat! Birth control hormones work great, and there’s a wide variety of formulas and delivery methods to choose from.

    7. DanaScully*

      Thank you all so much for your replies.

      I’m based in the UK so we generally have to go via our GP for referrals to specialists on the NHS. The good news is that they offered me a referral to a private hospital which is great (usually it means shorter waiting times and you’ll have your own room for recovery if you need any operations etc, rather than being on a ward).

      fposte, interestingly my periods do seem to have a huge impact on my gut, and it’s something I told my GP. When I have a particularly painful month, I also experience excessive wind, diarrhoea and an intense stabbing type pain during BMs. I’ll make sure I mention this to the specialist.

      Regarding PCOS, I believe this would have shown on the first ultrasound I had, and that came back as normal. I’ve also had internal ultrasounds in the past and they’ve never found evidence of cysts, but I’m sure the specialist will explore this further, as well as any potential treatment which may help my symptoms.

      It’s so frustrating that the pain is having such an impact on my personal and working life, and it’s difficult to have the feeling that people think you’re just being dramatic or exaggerating the pain.
      I think the only people who can truly understand are the ones who’ve experienced similar themselves or have watched a loved one go through it.

      Thank you for the luck and well wishes. I’ll update here when I see the specialist.

      1. Lilysparrow*

        I’m fortunate to have normal periods, but even normal cramps affect your gut. As does labor.

        It’s all connected.

      2. Carbovore*

        As Lilysparrow says, it’s all connected. I’ve been amazed at how my digestive system, bowels, hormones, and reproductive system all play into one another now.

        It’s also part of the problem of why conditions like this affecting multiple systems go undiagnosed for so long–doctors keep focusing on one or two symptoms and are unable to consider everything as one big picture. My gyno kept telling me my diarrhea had nothing to do with my pelvic pain and “diarrhea isn’t [his] area to treat.”

        Well–if endometriosis is on your bowels! Like me! Then YEAH, it DOES have something to do with it, now doesn’t it….

        Good luck, again–keep seeing folks. If you see a doctor who seems to be dismissing you and not understanding all your symptoms, move on. Try to find specialists. General doctors I have found are not adept at treating multiple system conditions, particularly chronic pain issues.

      3. ThePinkLady*

        I have every sympathy with you as I suffered similarly for almost 30 years before I finally had some treatment that worked. You’re right that the small,pearl-like cysts on your ovaries which give PCOS (which I have) it’s name would have been visible on an internal ultrasound – but as the condition is a syndrome, not all symptoms are present in everyone, and it’s possible to have PCOS without having polycystic ovaries. Who knew! So the ultrasound itself isn’t diagnostic. Your gynaecologist will go through all possible symptoms to diagnose properly. I found it useful to mention absolutely everything, however unconnected it might seem, so don’t worry about doing that. I used birth control to help in my twenties, but once we were trying to conceive I obviously stopped, and from there my symptoms got worse. We weren’t successful in having children and a few years ago (I was 44), knowing we weren’t going to try any longer, my gynaecologist suggested I could try an endometrial ablation, which was very unpleasant but has given me normal periods for the first time in my life. I was at the stage where I was bleeding through a super plus tampon AND soaking a pad every hour, for up to seven days a month, so it was having a huge impact on my life and work, not to mention my iron levels. If your family is complete then that might be something you want to explore.

        1. Nicki Name*

          I don’t have cysts, but still have PCOS. At the time I was diagnosed, I was told that around 30% of women diagnosed with PCOS did not have ovarian cysts (and it was suspected there were a lot of cases of PCOS without cysts being missed).

          Good luck with the specialist, DanaScully.

      4. ket*

        Good luck getting endo checked out — one friend had some surgeries for it and it literally changed her life in every way, for the better. Others have been able to manage it with hormones, etc.

        I’ll throw out two other things from my personal experience: for me, menstrual cramps & GI distress also went along with migraines and allergies. There’s a complex cascade of physical actions & reactions to histamines and estrogen and all sorts of things…. but if you observe you have headaches or migraine pain, that’s something to note down as well as it may be related.

        But then to complicate things I’ll throw out that for GI reasons I did some elimination diets and ended up dropping wheat/barley/high-starch processed foods from my diet (I eat rice but I avoid most store-bought gluten-free goods and limit cassava flour intake), and my migraines also became rare and I have had menstrual cramps twice, three times since, and no longer have the diarrhea and migraine that always preceded my period by two days. My blood tests did not indicate I am celiac and I chose not to have a biopsy of my intestine, so I have no label to put on what I dealt with, but I’m happy with whatever works! So if you’ve got a long wait for a gyn and want to experiment with an elimination diet & systematic reintroduction of things, keep notes & see what happens.

    8. Carbovore*

      Ultrasound is not a conclusive way to rule out endometriosis. I was diagnosed with endo this past January and the only way to definitively know is through a diagnostic laparoscopy. There is no test or scan for this–a surgeon has to SEE it physically via surgery. My journey resulted in me doing everything I could think as I was experiencing GI symptoms as well as deep pelvic pain and back pain. So I hopped from doctor to doctor for awhile–first, they thought it was a parasite and gave me crazy strong antibiotics that ended up just completely destroying my stomach flora and made me sicker, then I got sent for cat scans and mris and ultrasounds… I tried elimination diets, wondering if it was something I was eating that was suddenly making my system run amok… then I went to my gyno in complete desperation around Xmas because the pelvic pain was extraordinary. THAT idiot asked me if I was PMSing and told me to go home and take Motrin. As you can imagine, I was livid. I went home and continued my own research and given all the symptoms, really felt it was endo. I basically went back and DEMANDED a diagnostic laparascopy.

      I was right–stage two endo. Currently I manage the pain and symptoms with a mostly anti-inflammatory diet (I avoid dairy, gluten, and red meat), continuous birth control, supplements and vitamins, CBD oil, and lots of rest.

      I hope you find your answer, whatever it is! For me, that was truly the worst part of it–not knowing and all the doctors not knowing. Also, don’t let anyone–doctors too!–make you doubt yourself. YOU know your body better than anyone else.

    9. Temporarily Anonymous*

      I also had severe cramps and was told based on an ultrasound that it wasn’t endo (and years later told that you can’t determine that from an ultrasound). Based on some other symptoms I might have a variant of PCOS but it’s still unclear. I went almost 25 years without effective pain control or relief . I tried birth control pills and strong painkillers, which I am apparently resistant to (doc said next level of painkiller would have been morphine- which she wouldn’t prescribe- just to give an idea), but nothing worked until I got the Mirena IUD. It has taken my frequency and severity of pain down to a few times per year, compared to several days of bad cramps almost every month. It is also not reactive with my migraines like birth control pills were, if that’s a concern.

      I’d encourage you to try the various options! Don’t just live with it like I had to.

      (Also, just fyi, weirdly enough you can have PCOS aka polycystic ovary syndrome without actually having ovariam cysts.)

    10. Jen Erik*

      I don’t know how relevant it is, but my daughter began having bad period pains (to the extent that I took her to Casualty because I was worried it was her appendix) and the GP wasn’t very interested, apart from putting her on the pill to see if that alleviated things. She was referred to her gynaecologist later, for other issues.
      So it’s more to say that her gynaecologist is brilliant, and she was referred for gynaecological physiotherapy, which happened really quickly – and that physio has also been great, and she’s also on a waiting list for a gynaecological therapist – hasn’t happened yet, but you can imagine the waiting lists might be long.

      Anyway, I know these things vary by region, but our experience with the NHS was that once we got to the specialist, the care was thorough and excellent.

      (She has scoliosis, and it turns out that for her it’s all spine-related – you wouldn’t think that would cause painful periods, but seemingly so.)

    11. Quandong*

      I don’t have experience with endometriosis but my closest friend was diagnosed after years of symptoms but without the expected level of pain.

      My advice is to look for Endo support groups and advocacy groups, and others like them – I hope there are some in the UK. Getting in contact with other people with lived experience of diagnosis and treatment is important.

      These are a couple of groups from Australia:

      I hope you get effective pain management very soon, and a speedy diagnosis.

    12. Observer*

      Two things. Find an endo specialist and make sure you get a really good blood workup. PCOS is not likely, but possible and the best way to check that is blood work. Thyroid is another thing that can totally mess your periods up, and again, blood work is your friend.

  16. Kali*

    Aaaaaaaaargh! I’m in my penultimate year of uni. Last year of exams and group assignments, since next year will be a year-long solo project. Wish me luck!

    1. Grace*

      Good luck!

      I’m in my last year of a history BA – diss deadline 13th May, one exam on the 21st and then one on the 24th. And then that’s it. It’s terrifying. All of my deadlines are so close together and it’s not great.

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

    What a handsome kitteh! I miss my own so much. Both passed in January, three weeks apart. I’ve considered getting another one, but vet care is so expensive. And I had to spend so much time watching my seniors for health problems that I’ve developed anxiety over caring for another living being. I’ve set a mourning period of a year, I’ll see where I am then.

    1. Angwyshaunce*

      I’m so sorry to hear about your losses. My kitty turns ten this month, and sometimes thinking about the inevitable makes me sad.

      When we got our bunny, we were considering getting pet insurance. But then I realized if I just put that money aside in saving, I wouldn’t lose it if we never used it (this only works if you don’t need a lot up front). Maybe setting aside a nominal amount each month ($20 or $40) will help in the future if you do decide to adopt again.

    2. cat socks*

      I’m so sorry you lost both kitties in such a short time period! I know what you mean about watching for health problems. I lost a kitty unexpectedly last year to heart failure. Then in February made the choice to say goodbye to another who had kidney disease and intestinal problems. The vet bills are so expensive.

      I have three other kitties and paws crossed they are healthy for now.

      Good idea to take your time and see how you feel!

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I just lost my older one last week. Been a rough week. I still have one at home, but she’s traditionally anti-other cat, so holding off on any decisions until I’ve got a good sense of what she ultimately wants.

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

        I’m so sorry! It’s really hard to wake up and your loved one is just gone forever.

    4. StudentA*

      I am so sorry for your losses. This is heartbreaking. I hope you get over your anxiety soon.

  18. Loopy*

    Hmmmm this might be more of a work question though it’s firmly related to my hobby. Alison, please remove if I’m on the wrong side of the line.

    I want to basically try and financially cover my baking hobby. I was thinking of offering to bake for people just for the cost of ingredients (for special occasions) and just by word of mouth through coworkers/friends/family. But I’m not in business- I’m working out of my home and not insured yet. I read for my state that even cottage laws don’t apply if you net under 500 dollars.

    Still, is this type of arrangement going to get me in trouble if it looks like I’m selling/advertising? My biggest concern is being uninsured and working out of a home with a pet. I’d never try either if I was going to truly be in business!!! I feel like it’s toeing the line but I’m not really trying to be sneaky. I wouldn’t seek out profits or anything. I really just want to get a chance to build up my knowledge and maybe just cover a portion of the cost of doing that.

    Anyone want to weigh in on how risky something like this is?

    1. Lena Clare*

      Absolutely fine I’d think. You’re not making a profit and it’s not a business.
      People frequently buy me the ingredients for a cake and ask me to cook it.

      My mum gives me money for the Christmas dinner…eh, it’s fine.

      Consider that it’s a gift from a loved one which you pay back by baking them something nice :)

      1. Loopy*

        I thought it would be mostly okay at first but… others are making me worry :/ I’m so afraid of it going badly on me.

    2. foolofgrace*

      It’s one thing if people buy the ingredients and give them to you to bake, but it’s another thing altogether if you buy them and bake. I am thinking of someone having a bad reaction to something you baked and suing you. We live in a litigious society. I would up my insurance before doing this.

      1. Loopy*

        This makes me so sad but I see the reasoning. So basically unless you give baked goods away for free, there’s risk of litigation?

        1. Lena Clare*

          In the UK, you cannot sell them without some legalities and insurance in place. But you are allowed to make cakes and people are allowed to ‘make a donation’ and then it is not classed as a business transaction (that’s how cake sales for charity usually work as most don’t advertise as “for sale”).

          You would always be at risk of litigation if your cooking makes someone ill whether they contributed any money for it or not, but I think you will need to get legal advice before you embark upon this just to make sure you are within the confines of the law and also because it is worrying you so you can out your mind at rest.

          1. Loopy*

            I didn’t know the last bit about being at risk even if no money is involved. How do people ever host dinner parties then? I’d be constantly having an undercurrent of worry and cooking for anyone would never be fun for me.

    3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Have you thought about baking at the other person’s home rather than yours? “Someone showed up at my house and baked me a cake with stuff in my kitchen, using ingredients that I’d already bought and had on hand, and didn’t charge me for it” sounds really, really different than “I bought a cake from someone” when trying to explain it to a third party later, so it might keep it further away from sounding like a possible business. (It would also keep any issues involving your pets or aspects of your home kitchen that might not meet commercial standards from coming into play.)

      1. Loopy*

        Honestly, I don’t know many people I’d bake for well enough to suggest I come over at bake at their place with all their stuff. It’s too bad it seems like people are leaning towards it being too risky, even when it’s just using my very immediate network.

        Now I’m wondering what happens if I offer to bake for free and they insist on paying. Do I have to refuse then? Just yesterday someone said they’d love one of my cakes for the boyfriends birthday and I said I’d happily do it for free and they said oh no, I’d insist on giving you something for it.

        Even just baking for free seems complicated :(

        1. AcademiaNut*

          I would think that it makes a difference who you’re doing this for. Baking for a good friend or family and having them cover the cost is one thing, but once you start going beyond that (friends of friends, coworkers, people you don’t know personally), you really are running a business, even if you aren’t making any money off of it (not making a profit is pretty common for newly started businesses, after all). That means that local laws regarding food prep apply, but it might also make your taxes a lot more complicated (again – not making a profit doesn’t mean it’s not a business).

          For the actual rules, it will vary depending on your area. The other thing, of course, is how likely you are to be caught and what the consequences are. There are a lot of people making money on enterprises that run cash under the table, word of mouth, not listed on taxes, after all – you’re supposed to declare things like babysitting income, after all. How much you are willing to risk on that is up to you.

          1. Helpful*

            Yeah, I think this comes down to assumption of risk— you can either fly under the radar and keep your fingers crossed, or you can build a legitimate business with the costs and protections thereof. Which do you want to do more?

    4. Just us chickens*

      I see so many people posting on the FB marketplace for food, and it always makes me wonder if the people putting up those posts make their food in a licensed space, or if it’s just out of their kitchens?

      Would you be able to sell your baking at fairs? I see a lot of people selling baked goods at the craft fair/markets I go to, and they tend to be small fairs, so I don’t know how strict the organisers are about having to have a license and all that.

    5. Traffic_Spiral*

      Well, we don’t know what state you live in so we can’t give you good advice. Apart from cottage industries, there’s also heath regulations once you start making food for money. So, yeah, google those.

    6. anonagain*

      I think you might be better off consulting an expert for advice on this. My best guess is only a guess, you know?

      Everything else aside, I personally would not bake for a coworker’s outside of work event, even for free. This is the kind of situation where I think people’s expectations can get out of hand really quickly and I wouldn’t want to find myself arguing with a coworker about cake.

      I hope you are able to find a solution that works for you. I’ve had some expensive hobbies in the past and it’s frustrating not to be able to do as much as you’d like.

      1. Helpful*

        Great point— I wonder if you could chat with someone who bakes for the local farmer’s market and ask how they approached these beginning questions.

  19. Falling Diphthong*

    Petty rant: The neighbors feel very strongly about the plants along the property line. While simultaneously being extremely indecisive. And mind-changey, so when you think you have pushed through the indecision and reached a decision *poof* it’s back to square one.

    1. Blue Eagle*

      Had this same issue. Resolved it by planting the plants I wanted on my side of the property line rather than ON the property line. Hope you are able to get the plants you want!

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        They have rejected both “We’re fine with what’s there now and want to keep it” and “Look, we don’t care, if you want to replace those two plants just choose something and do it and leave us out of it” as things we can’t possibly mean.

        They are good neighbors in many ways, and an example of how “no is a complete sentence” doesn’t apply so easily when you want to have an ongoing positive relationship with the person.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Are there set-backs written in the zoning codes?
      Who will maintain the plants? Will that person be allowed on the neighbor’s property to maintain all sides of the plants?
      Set-backs, a distance in from the property line, can be a good thing.

    3. CoffeeforLife*

      I’m petty enough to plant just inside my property line with what I want and eff ’em.

    4. Wulfgar*

      We got new neighbors a few years ago. They just started cutting down trees without a proper survey. We got one later, and they had taken half a dozen of our trees. Their side had a lot of dead trees, but we had some little ones that were doing really well. Then we put up property markers, and their kids took them out and used them as swords.

      This was before we moved in. A couple rows of pines had been planted on a little rise on the property line because the neighbor was an alcoholic and kept driving over the hill into our yard. Her husband was tired of fixing the yard, so he planted a lot of pines. Forty years later…

  20. LibbyG*

    I got a new shower curtain and for some reason I’m just delighted with it!

    What are some other cheap (say, less than $50) and fast (say, less than 1 hour) home spruce-ups have a nicely outsized impact?

    1. Lena Clare*

      Ooo good question.

      Clean the windows and the curtains. Wash the cushions and couch covers.
      Get a throw over the couch, or a new rug.
      Bleach the grout in the bathroom tiles.
      But a new bath towel set.
      Buy some new ceramic dishes for your kitchen.
      Get some grow-your-own herbs along the window sill.
      Move your bed to another side of the room.
      Change the bedding!

      I’m sure there’s loads of other things.

      1. PhyllisB*

        I just bought a new bed set for our bedroom on clearance for $38.00. Has bedskirt, cover, shams and decorative pillows. It really brightens things up. Even my husband commented that he likes it, and he’s usually meh..about such things.

    2. Wren*

      A ceiling hook or wall bracket for hanging plants. I had a decent amount of plants in the normal places: on window sills, end tables, big plants in a corner, and so on. Adding a few spots of live green at eye level or or in an otherwise empty corner of the ceiling really highlighted another dimension of those rooms. White space is really important to me and I can’t have too much on my walls or it doesn’t look restful, but a wall of living green somehow doesn’t ever look full or cluttered.

    3. Grace*

      This seems to be the week of me recommending YouTube channels (see up-thread where I ended up recommending a cooking channel) but there’s an interior design channel called Mr Kate that has a lot of low-budget room makeovers. Things like an entire bedroom/kitchen/living room for under $300 and so on.

      Because they give themselves a pretty low budget to do an entire room, a lot of it involves repurposing items that people already have in their homes – repainting drawers and putting new knobs on them, gallery walls, reupholstering stools (which appears to be surprisingly fast and easy for the cost of a bit of fabric, that could even be repurposed bedding or curtains) and so on. I’m already stockpiling ideas for my own place in the future (aka for when I actually have a place that I can decorate how I like), so I reckon it would be worth browsing a few of their ideas.

      1. LifeOrDeath*

        Oh may I recommend the YT channel clean my space – so motivating bc I loath cleaning

    4. Ranon*

      Decluttering a corner that’s been lightly bothering me
      Not appearance, but life quality: rearranging the pantry to make the thing that most annoys me about the current arrangement go away
      Deep clean the fridge
      Clean the mirrors
      Hang a picture or piece of art you’ve been meaning to hang
      Tidy the bookshelves, make room for art/ knickknacks/ plants
      Rearrange the furniture

    5. fposte*

      My bathroom cabinet makes me bizarrely happy.

      I wanted to group stuff, and I wanted to use things that could go in a dishwasher. Result: 3″ plastic kiddy cups in a bright array of colors, augmented by vintage sets of Japanese handle-less cups (that sounds fancier than it is–I mean getting off of Etsy the kind of stuff that was everywhere in the 1970s) for heavier things that would tip the cups. Toothpaste is standing upright and not gooping on my cabinet, tubes for eye stuff are all collected together, and it just looks very pleasing to me, and I have to look at it at least twice a day so I’m getting good mileage out of it.

    6. MissDisplaced*

      I’m like you in that changing out your bathroom theme (shower curtain, rugs, towels, caddies, etc.) really perks up the house.

    7. Kathenus*

      Rotating wall art – either relocating existing ones to new places or if you have more than you can fit (like me) change some out occasionally.

      New welcome mat or small area rug.

    8. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      New regular curtains can also be pretty inexpensive and change the look of a room. I’ve been slowly replacing all of the curtains in my house’s bedrooms with blackout curtains as I find ones I like on clearance.

      The home change that’s made me the happiest lately is that I got a big vertical organizer for my shower and it includes a soap dish that my soap does not fall out of, and a place to hang washcloths where they stay hung up. I didn’t realize how much the tiny built-in tub-level soap dish had been annoying me until I had the new organizer in place. It was only $20 and was theoretically a “tool free” assembly (which meant I needed a rubber mallet), so it was very little one-time hassle and has meant I am no longer picking soap or washcloths up off the bottom of the tub in my middle of my showers.

      1. Kathenus*

        In one room I rotate ‘summer’ curtains (that were ridiculously inexpensive) in summer with the blackout, better insulated curtains in winter. I agree that it’s a great quick makeover!

    9. JediSquirrel*

      Gallon of white paint plus random dark mistints. (These are paint that people have returned because it was the wrong color. My local place sells gallons for $10.00, quarts for $5.00, and the little tiny cans for $1.) Pour some white paint into a disposable container, add some mistint and stir. Add more until you get a pleasing color. Use to paint some window trim or a bathroom or bedroom door. If you can get the small cans of mistints, you can get a lot of different colors out of a single gallon of white paint.

      When my parents finished their previously empty basement, I did this with a five gallon bucket of white paint. Every room got painted a different pastel shade, and I think I spent just under $60. Not bad for an entire basement. (Of course, it took more than an hour, though.)

      1. LibbyG*

        I’ve scored some great mistints in the past, but I never thought of mixing them. Genius!

    10. Elizabeth West*

      I bought a bigger and cushier rug for my bedroom at Tuesday Morning. I’m very happy with it, although it’s a floofy tufted rag-style rug and I’m not sure how to vacuum it, LOL.

    11. Overeducated*

      I finally bought a cute cloth shower curtain after years and years of just using the clear plastic liner because “I shouldn’t spend money until I’m more settled down.” It made me soooooo happy.

    12. Marion Ravenwood*

      New cushion covers! I make a lot of my own because they’re super-easy and quick (it’s basically a square and two rectangles sewn together, so I can normally make one in around an hour), but they’re not expensive to buy and you can get so many fun designs. Depending on the season you can rotate them in and out too.

      I’m also a sucker for new bedlinen, especially in quirky and/or bright patterns.

    13. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Clean windows and/or window frames. Helps my mood like some people get from a shiny kitchen.

    14. HannahS*

      I bought one of those microwave egg cookers for six bucks at Walmart, and I’m SO excited. I grabbed some whole wheat buns at the store and I have shredded cheese in my freezer, so it’s going to be breakfast sandwiches for me from here on out! Woo hoOO!

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

      It looks like an amazing race. I think my full marathon days are over, but I’ve wanted to do the half marathon for awhile.

      1. Wulfgar*

        It’s hilly! I have to work, but my husband is doing it. There’s free beer at a few stops, which is fun.

  21. LuJessMin*

    I’m about ready to strangle my 16yo orange girl cat. She has started howling in the wee hours of the morning. Took her to the vet on Thursday, and $254 later got a diagnosis of possible arthritis. They gave her a shot of Adequan Thursday and no howling that night. This morning she started howling about 6 am, but I think she was hungry. She ate, and she’s currently on the enclosed front porch, howling to come inside. She gets another shot on Sunday, and I hope that shuts her up for a couple of days because I work on M/T.

    1. Quandong*

      Please be patient with your poor cat! My 12-year-old was diagnosed with arthritis when he was 10. Once his pain was managed and he was comfortable, he was much more settled.

      I hope your cat responds well to the Adequan and that she can sleep more easily during the night soon.

    2. ATX Language Learner*

      CBD all the way!! I have a 13 year old dog and he has bad arthritis. Can’t jump on the bed, barely on the couch, he can’t get comfy laying down and his little back legs shake all the time. I started giving him CBD (had to mess with the dose because the recommended dose for his size was not enough, I have to give him double) and after a few weeks of taking it, he’s like a little spry pup!

      I also give it to my other dog who is 10, no arthritis but he’s a timid little thing and after taking it he’s frolicking around the house all confident and sassy like.

      Really cannot recommend CBD enough. It’s a miracle worker.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        CBD has been great for our dog’s anxiety. He doesn’t have physical problems so I can’t speak to that, but since we started the CBD treats he’s stopped barking for attention at 3am. The stuff is great.

        Now if only I could get him to stop waking up at 5:30am with the birdies…

        1. ATX Language Learner*

          Hahah that is too cute though! I am an early riser (even on weekends) and the birds are chirping away :P

    3. cat socks*

      Hope the medication helps! Did they check for thyroid and kidney levels in her bloodwork? Two of my kitties had those issues and I always reccomend checking for those, especially in older cats.

      1. JaneB*

        My girl was on slow dose of metacam for arthritis for the last couple of years of her life and was a much happier kitty for it – hope you find a regime that works!

        Also seconding the thyroid check – my sisters senior cat was so LOUD and ANNOYING until he got on a thyroid med, apparently yelling a lot at inconvenient times is a known symptom of thyroid issues in older cats….

    4. Hellanon*

      My old girl started developing some level of dementia at around that age, and would get distressed and start howling when she couldn’t figure out where she was supposed to be. I mostly solved it by going in and picking her up and putting her in her cat box – she’d scratch around for a bit, hop out and come find me. It was like reset button, for a bit anyways.

      1. Grace*

        Yes to the suggestion of dementia. We lost our darling girl at twenty-one last summer (well, less than a week before her 21st birthday) but she’d been yowling at the top of the stairs or in the downstairs bathroom for a few years before then. Until she went deaf, yelling her name (not aggressively or yelling *at* her, just alerting her that you were downstairs or whatever) usually worked, and she’d come to find you. After she went deaf, we went and found her and got into her eye-line, and then it was just “Oh, here’s my human, I guess it’s okay now.”

  22. Must sees in Spain*

    Good morning everyone! My husband and I will be spending 3 weeks in Spain in September. I have a great list going of some fun things to do in the areas we’ll be in but would love some recommendations!

    We enjoy outdoor activities (hiking, kayaking, paddle board, waterfall searching), LOVE hidden beaches in coves, cute intimate restaurants/bars, city exploring, wineries (I prefer small producers that use natural wine making methods vs mass producers), craft beer (IPAs and barrel aged stouts are the fav). We’re not religious so aside from visiting cathedrals to admire the architecture, we don’t have any interest in doing things like that.

    Here are the cities we’ll be in: Madrid, Pamplona, San Sebastian, Lloret de Mar (Costa Brava), Barcelona, Mallorca

    1. An Elephant Never Baguettes*

      We did a day trip to Sa Calobra/Torrent de Pareis while on Mallorca which was VERY worth it in the hidden coves department. It’s not hidden as in unknown so expect lots of people but we were there in high season and it was still the highlight of our trip. You need to be comfortable with serpentines/switchbacks though – it’s 12km of twisty road to get to Sa Calobra, and you’re already going through the mountains before that. The landscape is spectacular.

    2. Lena Clare*

      I used to live in Barcelona, and even though you’re not religious (I’m not either) it’s really worth seeing the black Madonna at Montserrat monastery I’d say.

      Otherwise las Ramblas (buy a book ;)) and walking round Parc Güell are probably worth doing.

      Also if you can get to Las Figueres to the Salvadir Dali museum, and to Tossa de Mar or Roses for the beaches (Tossa is nicer and has coves etc, and go to the restaurants away from the front in the little alleyways) then you may like that.

      Oooo and the Camp Nou tour is fab even if you’re not a massive football fan…I mean, obviously don’t do it if you HATE football though!

    3. Apoch*

      The royal palace in Madrid is amazing, there’s a few food art galleries too if you’re into that sort of thing. In Barcelona the sagrada familia is worth visiting.

      I haven’t been to Mallorca since I was really young but the beaches there are awesome.

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        Agreeing on the sagrada familia. I generally don’t care about cathedrals, but that one’s special. Also, in Barcelona, spend a day getting lost in the gothic quarter, eating lots of ham and cava, churros, and various tapas. Good fun.

    4. Jemima Bond*

      I swear by the Rough Guide series of travel books. You can get the one for Spain on Amazon. They cover all types of touristing, accomm, eating/drinking, transport, varying budgets, emergency scenarios, hidden gems…plus they have interesting snippets to read about the culture and history of where you are. I recommend buying beforehand to read on the plane
      And help plan your holiday.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      If you’re close enough to the border with France, check the distance to the Dunes at Pyla (or Pilat, I’m seeing both spellings). It was one of my favorite day trips out of Bordeaux France.

    6. Jenny P*

      From San Sebastián you can do some of the Camino De Santiago heading east, and it’s a spectacular if hilly walk.

    7. Young coworker*

      Cuenca is a day trip from madrid and is fantastic. Google the pictures, the mountain landscape lookouts are amazing

  23. Coughy McCougherson*

    I want to thank everyone who mentioned pelvic floor therapy. My year long violent cough has induced stress incontinence and I thought I was stuck with it at least until the cough clears up, possibly forever, but now I won’t be! Thank you thank you thank you!

  24. Hopeful Future Accountant*

    (Please no mentions of Endgame in reply to this comment. I have not seen it yet.)

    Happy Free Comic Book Day!

    Is anyone going to be participating?

    My local comic book store is having a giant get together! I’m taking my service dog (who’s in the last couple weeks of training) so that he can see cosplayers for the first time! He’ll be coming with me to a weekend long convention this summer where I will be staffing (I’ll be on security, so I’ll be sitting outside panel rooms making sure people have their badges). I want to make sure he’s solid around cosplayers before then.

    1. Smol Book Wizard*

      That sounds awesome! I hope you and your dog have a good time!
      If it is allowed by his training, I might suggest bringing some treats that a few costumed folk can give him – that is how I got my little beastie to get used to small kids. She’s slow to trust new things and people but gets much more positive if food is involved.
      I had forgot it was Free Comic Book Day but I will have to drop by a shop later and see if I can join the celebration…

      1. Hopeful Future Accountant*

        That’s actually exactly what the trainer suggested I do! She told me to bring higher value treats so that he associates people in costumes with good things – especially since at least some cosplays aren’t easily recognizable as humans.

  25. Clever Pun Name*

    Not sure exactly how to word this, but I’d love some advice on how others have experienced the transition from working adult to full time stay-at-home parent. I’ve spent so much of my life in pursuit of shaping a career and cultivating a professional persona that now I’m a bit adrift. I mean absolutely no disrespect, but for me, I can’t help feeling like “just a mom” now. Even reading AAM feels a little like clinging to a past life! Thanks in advance!

    1. Kate*

      I strongly recommend reading some expat-type blogs— there are tons to choose from and this is a HUGE issue in the expat community.

    2. PhyllisB*

      I feel you, Clever!! I keep thinking about retiring, but I’ve worked since I was 16, and staying home full-time sounds scary to me!! (Retiring is not really the right word, I would just quit, I don’t get a retirement from this job.) As much as I love AAM, I know I have to find productive things to do when I make that decision.

    3. Helpful*

      Find something that is just for you. It might be an artistic hobby, a class, a sport, or some other activity. You’ll have something “going on” to talk to friends about and it will invigorate the time you have at home!

    4. Slartibartfast*

      I always liked home improvements, but I really got into it when the kids were small. I learned to set tile and change light fixtures, simple plumbing, small appliance repair and furniture refinishing. It gave me a sense of accomplishment to see my completed work around the house, and it felt like I was contributing financially, saving us money by not hiring these jobs out.

      1. Life is Good*

        This! I was able to stay home after the birth of my first until our second son was 5, nearly 30 years ago. I did a ton of home improvement tasks during that time and actually had the time to shop for the best prices and didn’t have to race through the weekend to do projects. I checked books out at the library (internet in its infancy, then) to learn how to tile, refinish furniture, garden, etc.

    5. Lilysparrow*

      Meeting people and finding a way to use your gifts and skills are really important. Even if they aren’t the same skills you used at work.

      Also, creating structure and working toward short and long-term goals, whether they’re creative, financial, household projects, or community oriented.

      There are many, many important roles in making society work that can’t be monetized. Parenting is one.

      Your career wasn’t 100percent of your whole life, but it was a keystone that shaped the way other things worked. So in leaving the job, it disrupted that pattern. That does make you feel adrift.

      Parenting is your keystone now, but it still isn’t going to be 100 percent of your life. You need to rebuild a new pattern around it.

      Best of luck!

    6. Slow crawl to SAH*

      Well, I haven’t. I’ve eased more and more out but am hanging on to consulting 10 hours/week. I have 3 kids 5 & under and some days I wonder what kind of crazy person does this to one’s self. I don’t miss the daily grind/tons of travel but I *do* miss Quiet Adult Time. My oldest goes to Kindergarten next year, and my other 2 will be in 1. preschool 15 hours a week 2. 10 hours/week of a “mom’s morning out” program + napping 1-3. So in theory I’ll have 3 days to myself from 9-3. I plan to work for those 10-15 hours.

      Part of the answer depends on how old your kids are and how many you have. You won’t have time to “find a hobby” with kids in diapers. My rising kindergartner does dance, soccer & tennis and that, plus preschool, plus play dates, plus my other 2 kids is a lot to stay on top of!

      If you have one and s/he’s an infant, try and make mom friends. Go to local library or town/community things for new moms. Be *very* aggressive/outgoing re: setting up meet ups and play dates. Don’t make it A Big Deal- just ask! “Hey, can I have your #? Would love to text you next time we’re headed to the library/playground/etc.”. And then just text and leave it open- “hey this is X from the library. We’re headed to the ABC playground this AM, would love to see you guys if you’re free!” Invite everyone you know. And don’t be offended when people are flakey or no-shows. Naps/tantrums/Bad Mornings happen. Eventually, you’ll make a friend or friend group and plan weekly casual gatherings. In no time, your kiddo will be in preschool. Then you can start inviting kids (or kids & moms) over for plaudates/group paydates. Just keep inviting and leaving it open/casual. My oldest is in preschool MWF now that it’s nice and every Tuesday or Thursday some mom or dad says “hey we’re going to be at playground ABC around 10 this morning- would love to see friendly faces!” And usually a handful of the class shows up and hangs out all day.

      1. Slow crawl to SAH*

        Oh, and if you are finding yourself with time, get active in the community. If your kids are in school, that’s one place. But the town, local charities, etc are others.

        Many SAH parents I know have taken up disrance running or signed up for a gym with childcare (I have done this but haven’t gotten the routine down) and start working toward fitness goals.

        As my oldest gets to be school age, many of her peers are the youngest- so parents that have been in the thick of babies are now looking for things to fill the days a bit more. THIS is the time for home improvement projects, part time/gig work, or even starting a new career or monitoring a hobby. A former SAH friend of mine has gotten to be a very well known floral arranger, another went into real estate sales. One went back to work PT as an attorney. One went back to work full time.

    7. They Don’t Make Sunday*

      Hi! I’m a SAHM who is addicted to AAM. Before my child was born I was a workaholic. This blog and its commenters give me my office life/office politics fix (thanks, everyone!).

      I haven’t really resolved the feelings you’re describing, but to echo Slartibartfast, solving problems around the house does help me feel productive. I can address issues I never would have had time to when I was working, and that does feel satisfying.

      I’d like to push back gently on the “just a mom” thing. Of course, you have every right to feel how you feel, strangers on the internet be damned. But I prefer to reframe that feeling for myself. The way our culture is dismissive toward moms (while relying utterly on them and their labor) is so backward it’s actually absurd. Before I was a mom, I felt dismissive too. When I would pass moms pushing strollers on the street, I would literally think, oh, they aren’t anyone who really matters. And I called myself a feminist.

      It’s well established that anytime a type of labor is feminized, both its status and its compensation drop (teaching, if I recall, and definitely nursing). It’s impossible to study this phenomenon with motherhood because, well, biology. But you don’t have to run a rigorous study to know that all the dismissiveness aimed at mothers sure isn’t coming out of egalitarianism and wokeness. Just picture yourself pushing that stroller right side up in an upside-down world. We’re right there with you! What you’re doing matters a great deal.

    8. tiasp*

      When I became a SAHM, I had this conversation a lot:
      Random person: “Are you still working?”
      Me: “I work all the time, I just don’t get paid.”

    9. Traffic_Spiral*

      1. Consider taking up writing.
      2. Get a kettlebell. You can always do a few reps in between other stuff, and it keeps you in shape.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      A thought… My child’s elementary school benefitted greatly from a PTO president who started volunteering when she took time off for family medical care, and then decided to stay home for longer. Her organizational skills helped the school create an incredibly vibrant community of regular events that *the kids* tell new students about.
      Best part for her, the school had an actual desk space & mailbox for the PTO so she could go for an hour or 4 and no paperwork followed her home. Made it easy to transfer management to the next president too.

    11. ImJustHereForThePoetry*

      It takes a while to adjust (especially if you have an infant) It took me almost two years.

      Find some classes, clubs or other activities to get you out of the house.

  26. Doubts of the Eldest Kid*

    My younger sister is graduating from college next week and my younger brother will be doing the same in December. I’m really proud of both of them. They both had different medical issues that forced them to drop out of college for a time, my brother’s issues even bad enough we didn’t think he’d ever graduate, so it’s awesome to see them overcome their difficulties and complete their undergrads. But I have to admit I’m feeling slightly envious.

    When I graduated, I did a couple years in retail before getting a full-time job in a very toxic environment that did a lot of damage to my emotions on confidence. I got out of there and am in a much better place building myself back to who I was, figuring out where to go from here, in a job that is considered entry level. My sister, an Arts major, has a very prestigious internship in the UK lined up and my brother, a Business major, will have his pick up jobs thanks to our Dad’s business connections. I feel envious that they both have bright futures they’ll be immediately jumping into after graduation, where I had some major struggles and am still trying to rebound back to myself.

    The last thing I want to do is let my envy and self-doubt come through at their graduations, but we’ll be seeing family that only come out for big life celebrations, and I know they’ll turn to me after hearing about the plans of my siblings to say ‘And what are you up to nowadays?’ The answer is probably to just suck up my feelings because these are big days for the both of them but I can’t deny that the feelings of less successful than the two of them are sitting in the back of my mind.

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      I think you’re downplaying your own accomplishments! You graduated college (on time it sounds like)! You got a job! You survived a toxic job and was able to leave said toxic job! You worked hard on yourself and have made great progress on undoing the damage caused by a bad job (which is a major accomplishment)! You have another job! You’re planning out your future! Sounds like you’re doing pretty dang good to me. Be proud of everything you’ve survived and accomplished, it’s certainly nothing to sneeze at.

      I bet if someone asked your younger siblings, they’d be just as proud of you as you are of them.

      1. tangerineRose*

        I agree – they probably see you as having overcome stuff (and you did) just as you’re proud of them for what they overcame.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      “I have decided to go in a different direction. Currently, I am doing X. How about you, what have you been up to these days?”
      Stick with current time as in, here is what I am doing now, then go right into the redirect. They will never notice you did not tell them about your future plans.

    3. Hopeful Future Accountant*

      I completely understand. My situation is similar but different. I’m the oldest of 2 (by two years) & and my sister is going to be finishing her bachelor’s this summer (graduation is this month but her class technically ends in June), has had a job she loves since before she finished her associate’s, and is likely going to be applying for a higher level job at the same place since the person currently in that position looks like he may be moving up as well. Meanwhile, I’m still trying to finish my associate’s degree & manage health issues. I’m hopeful I’ll be able to apply for internships soon, but that’s the most I can manage for now.

      Unfortunately, I don’t have any advice for you, but I wanted you to know that you aren’t alone in feeling like this.

    4. StudentA*

      Would it help to remember that when someone is asking you what you’re up to, they are not asking because they want to be impressed, they are asking because either a.) they care about you and are just catching up, or b.) they are making small talk?

      You say you are just getting around to building your life up after graduation. It sounds like that’s what your siblings did–build their lives up after illness. To be honest, they could *easily* look at *you* with envy. You have your health. And that is something many of us can’t ever have, no matter how much we build ourselves up. We kinda learn to live with it. And frankly the path you took is all too, too common and it doesn’t diminish you.

      There is no “probably.” The answer IS to suck up your feelings and focus on being happy for your siblings. And I agree with A Simple Narwhal. You sound way more accomplished than you give yourself credit for!

    5. Zathras*

      +1 to what A Simple Narwhal says – make sure to be proud of yourself! And I get a vibe that you feel like your job history is some kind of failure – it’s not! SO many people have that story where graduation was not followed by immediately living happily ever after. I did time in retail and in a (mildly) toxic job before getting the job I have now. (And I would guess that a lot the people that look like they have that story would disagree.)

      Also, distant relatives (at least the well-meaning ones) tend to take their cue from you. So if you respond to the “what are you up to?” question with”Oh, I got a new job at XYZ Corp, it’s been great so far! I love ABC thing about it. How have you been?” they will come away with the impression that you are kicking butt. (Which you are, by the way! Do not underestimate how many butt-kicking points you get for leaving a toxic job.)

  27. Bibliovore*

    Working on my commitment to have time off from work. Limiting to one hour on the Saturday and Sunday mornings to relieve the pressure then on to other things. Already did my email, and had a walk with the dog.
    Have house guests and we are doing lovely “staycation” things. Leisurely breakfast, a visit to a writing center, the Walker Sculpture garden (it is a spectacular day here) lunch at my favorite The World Street Kitchen then visiting 2 or 3 independent bookstores around town. This evening a performance at The Brave New Workshop.

    Thank you all for modeling sane and fun time off.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My big thrill when briefly in MN was crossing the Mighty Mississippi at a point where it was tiny. For some reason that stuck in my mind all these years.

  28. heckofabecca*

    I’m prepping to move into my first apartment, and I was wondering if there are any things that I might be forgetting to add to my shopping list :S (Bed is already on it, haha.) What’s something that seems to be left off of “get this!” lists that you’d recommend for someone who’s never lived on their own?

    1. Sapphire*

      A garbage can, garbage bags, a bath mat, a toilet brush, a broom, a mop, dish towels, dish rags. At least, those are the things I forgot when I moved into my first apartment. I’m sure you’ll encounter more as you go, but those are a good start.

    2. Ranon*

      As long as you have toilet paper, basic supplies for cleaning the place (no apartment we’ve ever moved into has been as clean as I prefer, professionally cleaned or not), basic supplies for feeding yourself, and a place to sleep, the rest can be sorted out over time.

      I really think it’s better to start with too little than too much- for starters it’s much cheaper to only buy what you need. And taking a little time means you can get exactly what suits you. I have no regrets about taking a few months to find just the right dining table on Craigslist, I love this table.

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        this. So long as you can survive, just go and figure the rest of your stuff out later.

        Find some good thrift stores so you know where to go when you need another pan/spatula/chair/whatever.

    3. An Elephant Never Baguettes*

      Bottle opener and corkscrew! I didn’t have those in my first flat and it led to some issues, as I am incapable of opening bottles with a lighter or on tables (I tried. It didn’t work out).

      1. Sapphire*

        I have learned how to open a beer bottle with a house key in a pinch, but a corkscrew is definitely a must!

      2. Traffic_Spiral*

        Ooh! big swiss army knife (or other multitool) with stuff like that in it.

    4. Anono-me*

      Tp and light bulbs. A dual purpose plunger, a fire extinguisher and a small tool kit (Most hardware stores have utterly ridiculous pink “ladies’ tool kits” that contain the basics for non handy people.).

      I have found it helpful when I move to have a suitcase with every thing I will need for a few days for the first couple of days.

      Congratulations on your new home.

      1. Ada*

        Seconding the plunger! That is NOT something you want to need and realize you don’t have!

        Also, look around the apartment and identify any rooms that don’t have a light source built into them, and make sure to get some kind of lamp for each one.

      2. Professional Merchandiser*

        I have one of those “utterly ridiculous” pink ladies tool kits, and it actually has been pretty handy. (I know you weren’t being insulting, I thought the same thing first time I saw one.) When I was doing resets, the men wouldn’t bring their company-issued tool boxes because they were bright yellow and they felt like that was to feminine for their tastes. So of course, they never had any tools (company issued those, too.) Well, they would “borrow” mine and then I’d never see them again. I got enough of that, so I bought one of those pink tool kits and put them in my tool box. Those guys couldn’t return those things quick enough!! Or some flat refused to use a hammer, whatever with a bright pink handle. Never lost a tool again. That is, until my grand-daughters got old enough to want to borrow them because they were “pretty.”

      1. Combinatorialist*

        This. Having to go to the store after a long gross day of moving in order to be able to shower is just sad

    5. heckofabecca*

      Thanks everyone!! I think the scariest part is that I’m moving things into this little studio from 3 different places (current living situation, my ex’s/my former place, and a storage unit) plus a bed delivery, so I’m kind of stressed about all the logistics! But it’ll work out in the end I’m sure XD

      (Don’t need a bottle opener/corkscrew since I don’t drink but that’s SUPER SMART.)

      1. Femme d'Afrique*

        Get something for yourself. Something that marks this moment.

        Something new and pretty. Maybe something that has no utilitarian value whatsoever: a pretty picture, a piece of fabric that is beautiful and of no (immediate) value, but that could one day be a table runner/a scarf/nothing at all, but that you like because it looks good, or because it reminds you of that time when you were a kid, or because it looks so sophisticated it makes you think of where you’d like to end up.

        I’ve moved several times before and I know that after I’ve unpacked, and I’ve finally allowed myself to lie back and admire my new surroundings, it’s made a huge difference to see that one thing that’s reminded me who I am and to kind of, I guess, mark this new moment. My old posters didn’t have the same effect because they were part of the things I’d moved with and were therefore part of the stuff I’d moved with. Indulge yourself.

    6. kc89*

      I always tell people for your first apartment just make sure you have a plate and a fork and you’ll be fine

      I think people can over-do it with the giant list of new things to buy

    7. Lilysparrow*

      Fire extinguisher and smoke detectors, if not already installed. Batteries in sizes to fit the detectors & any other items you have (clocks, remotes, etc).

      1. Alcott*

        Also lightbulbs. It always happens within a month of moving into a new place, the bulbs in the fixtures and the smoke detector batteries need to be replaced.

    8. Jemima Bond*

      Bin bags, cleaning cloths, some sort of general kitchen/bathroom detergent.
      Tin opener.
      Hanging rail if you haven’t got a wardrobe yet and there isn’t a built-in one.
      If you were British I’d say for the love of god make sure you have a kettle and some teabags but I’m not sure what the equivalent disastrous-if-forgotten item would be in America! Coffee filters?

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Windex. Everything’s brighter when my windows are clear. (And I don’t like the smell of plain ammonia.)
      A potholder–or a cotton towel you know won’t melt when used as a potholder.
      And stamps to keep in the spot you deal with mail.
      Good luck!

  29. Roy G Biv*

    Kitchen remodels – we were hoping for cabinet refacing, new counter tops. Maybe swap out the oldest appliance. But noooooo, we have rotted floor joists. May be looking at a complete gut job. We’re waiting on a contractor friend to come over and give a second opinion.

    Has anyone got advice/similar experience/how to preserve sanctity of marriage during a major renovation?

    1. LibbyG*

      Ugh! We had a surface-remodel turn into a big structural rebuild (adding greatly to the cost!). My mantra was, “Well, we had to fix it.”

      Maybe this is an invitation to rethink the kitchen layout more thoroughly? Since moving plumbing and electric around is now easier?

      Good luck!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Sometimes couples have to decide how to decide. So how do you guys make decisions as a team?

      My husband and I landed on playing to each person’s strengths. I got to decide the color of the siding for the house because in his words, “You are FAR better at it than I am.” He picked the tractor. He knew more about the machine just from looking at it, than I would ever know. I picked the pups, hee-hee, that was a FUN one. He had never had a dog and was perfectly content to let me decide for us.

      So what do you do when neither one of you knows? Well you bring in an outside expert. You talk to friends you both respect and see what they think. And you look at your budget to see what is doable. We had family and friends who knew more about fixing houses than we did and we were in agreement that we would both go along with what ever Frank said, or whatever Sue thought. We knew they had been through it themselves.

      Sometimes the real problem is not the decision itself, the problem is how do we make decisions that are inclusive of each other’s concerns.

      And get extra rest. Home remodeling is a major brain drain. It’s pretty normal to be tired and cranky, cranky and tired. Give yourselves extra down time on a regular basis to recoup.

    3. Bluebell*

      Hi! This forum gave me lots of good suggestions for the 7 weeks we were without a kitchen. We set up a temp kitchen in our dining room, moved the refrigerator and the microwave oven there. We ate a lot from Trader Joe’s and also relied on wonderful friends to feed us. It wasn’t easy but the results have been great. We have been in this house for 20 years and the kitchen needed updating when we moved in. Keep your expectations realistic and expect it will take even longer to finish everything. Good luck!

      1. Roy G. Biv*

        Do we live in the same house?? – “We have been in this house for 20 years and the kitchen needed updating when we moved in” is it in a nutshell!

    4. Wishing You Well*

      Set up a temporary mini-kitchen somewhere with a microwave and hot plate. Consider using paper plates during the project. Find a refuge outside the house – the library, etc. for some peace, if you need to. Put a lot of thought and effort into the design phase if you’re changing the kitchen layout. Budget for cost overruns – they always happen.
      Best Wishes for a new, wonderful kitchen!

    5. FancyNancy*

      We are 5 weeks into our “3-4 week” kitchen remodel, so I’m in the thick of it. I hear the loud noises of them installing cabinets now. I’m hoping that by the end of the week it will be done.

      A few words of advice for the contractor – will they assist with design decisions, or should you use an outside designer and they’ll just execute the plan? Do you want custom cabinetry or out of the box? Definitely take this time to rethink your layout and see how you can optimize the space – including things like light switches, lighting and outlets. But make as many of those decisions as you can on day 1, otherwise it could slow things down.

      As the contractor a lot of questions about what to expect – when will you get updates on the job (daily, weekly, etc)? How often are the “bosses” going to be at your house vs their employees or subcontractors? Will you be expected to step in and direct any work? How do they best want you to communicate questions or concerns to them along the way? How often do they complete in their estimated time and on the estimated budget? Do you need any permits from your local government for the job?

    6. university minion*

      Figure out your cooking/kitchen space ahead of time and make it a designated area.

      For some folks, weather permitting, that’s their gas grill, cooler, a rubbermaid tub and a garden hose outside (that’s actually my hurricane/power’s out for 10 days setup). Since you’ll have power, you might be able to just move your fridge to another room and still have cold stuff. Yay!

      If you prefer to do all your cooking indoors, a table/desk/cart with a toaster oven or microwave, coffee maker and induction burner or hotplate will get you far. If you have a bathroom with a bathtub, do your dishes there. It sucks somewhat less than trying to do them in a tiny bathroom sink. One pot meals are your go-to. Doing dishes sucks.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Sounds familiar…for us its the Instantpot on a picnic table under a popular tent next to the grill… and yes a garden hose.

    7. bunniferous*

      Get or borrow an instant pot along with your microwave, etc. Honestly depending on recipes I can get by with using my stove very little-it sucks not to have your kitchen during a remodel but you can do this!

      1. FancyNancy*

        The cooking part hasn’t really been that hard for me – between meals that need no cooking, the crock pot, electric skillet, grill and microwave we are eating really well and only getting takeout or going to a restaurant once or twice a week.

        It’s the doing the dishes in the tub that stinks the worst.

    8. Roy G. Biv*

      Thank you all for good ideas, things to watch for. Contractor friend works with a kitchen designer and she is coming over this week to take a look. I like the idea of putting the refrigerator and microwave in the dining room. We have a utility sink in the laundry room for doing dishes, if/when it comes to that. And luckily, it is officially Grilling Season in the Midwest, so I suppose this is the year to step up and learn to make lots of things on the grill.

  30. OperaArt*

    I was peripherally involved in an air rage incident this week.
    Our plane landed about 30 minutes late, so a flight attendant asked people in the front of the plane to stay seated so two people from around row 20 could catch a connecting flight.
    A man at the front of the plane ignored the request and jumped up to wrestle with his carry on bag in the overhead bin, effectively blocking the aisle.
    When Mr. Connection reached Mr, Overhead, he couldn’t get past. I don’t know what was said, but Mr. Overhead shoved Mr. Connection hard, causing him to fall and land on me. I was still seated.
    That’s right, the man who was causing the blockage did the shoving. Everyone at the front of the plane started yelling at Me. Overhead. The flight attendants told everyone to calm down. Since we were all at the very front of the plane, both Mr. Overhead and Mr. Connection dashed off as soon as they could.

    I got up and asked the flight attendants if they had seen what had happened. They had not, so I told them. Suddenly things got very official. The head flight attendant questioned me for her report, informed the captain, and requested a paramedic because I had a minor shoulder injury and we all wanted to make sure there was nothing worse. My adrenaline was so high I was shaking.

    The flight attendants had me stay on the plane until everyone was off, then walked me to the gate agent who had me wait in the boarding area. The paramedics showed up and established that my injuries were minor but my blood pressure was through the roof, which made sense in the circumstances.
    Then an airline supervisor showed up and I repeated the details to him, showing him on a seating chart where Mr. Overhead and I had been sitting. He also asked if I wanted to press charges. No, I wasn’t the person who was shoved, both the major players had disappeared, and I wasn’t hurt very badly.

    About an hour later, someone from the corporate office called to see how I was, with a little undercurrent of “Are you going to sue us?” No, the airline did nothing wrong, in fact they were friendly and professional the whole way.

    I do hope they ban Me. Overhead, but I didn’t ask them if that would happen.

    Pro tip—don’t try to catch someone who outweighs you by 60-80 pounds when you’re an older, not particularly muscular woman.

    1. Grace*

      Yikes. It sounds blood-pressure-raising even without someone landing on top of you.

      1. Pomona Sprout*

        I think my blood pressure went up just reading that!

        Mr. Overhead sounds like an entitled asshole.

    2. Rebecca*

      This post makes me ask “what is wrong with people?” Why can’t we be kind to that poor soul who is stressing about trying to make the next connection? Really, another few minutes isn’t going to matter, but it could matter a lot to the person trying to make that flight.

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

      Ick! I hope the airline offered you some frequent-flyer miles or a discount for a future flight or something, not just an undercurrent of “Please don’t sue us!”

    4. Mimmy*

      It always irks me when people ignore flight attendants’ requests to stay seated to allow people with connecting flights to get off first. I’m glad you are okay. It would’ve been nice for the corporate office rep to show a little kindness and not jump to conclusions.

      1. OperaArt*

        She never specifically asked if I was going to sue. It was more of an undercurrent based on a few things she said.

        1. Mimmy*

          Oh I know she didn’t say anything directly. Even the undercurrent would’ve bothered me.

    5. Windchime*

      I’ve been on planes several times where they make the request to let people from the back of the plane get off quickly due to tight connections, and the request is always ignored. It’s maddening, and I wonder how many people actually make those tight connections. It reminds me of horses sprinting from the gates at a racetrack; as soon as the seatbelt light goes off, belts are unclicked and people spring to their feet and start trying to snatch their bags out of the overhead bin.

      1. Le Sigh*

        I was in a window seat next to a man traveling with his elderly mother. he had to turn her legs out into the aisle) (she used a wheel chair) to get his bags and help them along. People could not wait the minute required to let him maneuver her, instead pushing past this woman instead of letting him just get on their way.

  31. Sam Sepiol*

    I have a really stupid question.
    I don’t know how to put pictures/prints/photos etc up.
    I have recently bought some prints and want to get some photos printed to display but… I don’t know how to put them onto the wall. Do I just hammer a nail into the wall? (When I’ve done this before the plaster has cracked even though we’ve had what seemed to be a decent plastering job not that long before.) One has little screws and D ring kind of things. I don’t have a clue what I’m supposed to do with it all.

    1. Grace*

      Search for “picture hooks” – that’s what you want. Technically they involve putting nails in the wall, but the nails are tiny, and the holes they leave are barely bigger than push-pins. There are also hooks that come pre-loaded with tiny nails (your best bet would probably be searching for “plastic picture hooks” or “hard wall picture hooks”, you’ll know them when you see them) so you don’t have to mess about holding the nail in place before hammering.

      When you say “D ring things”, do you mean on the back of the picture frame? If so, that’s where the hooks for the picture hooks slip into.

    2. WellRed*

      Picture hanging hooks. You use a nail to attach to wall (tap gently). They come in varying sizes. A small lightweight picture can go up with just one.

    3. Persephone Mulberry*

      The screws and D rings are for attaching picture hanging wire, which it sounds like you’ll need to buy separately. “Google how to attach pictures hanging with” and you’ll have lots of step by step results to choose from.

      As for how to hang, look for the picture hanging kits in the home improvement section at Target, etc (near the lightbulbs, paint and duct tape). They come with a thin nail (so to minimize the hole in your wall) and a little J-hook thing to hang the picture from. The J-hook helps distribute the weight of the picture and is less damaging to the wall than hanging the picture directly on the nail.

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        **”how to attach picture hanging WIRE”, in case that wasn’t obvious.

    4. fposte*

      Yes, don’t use the hooks that were included with the frames. Get Floreats.

      I also highly recommend making a color copy of the artwork in question and sticking it up on the wall first just in paper form to make sure it’s placed where you want and give you a chance to get used to it and move it around. Ideally you’ll hang on a stud, but 1) it can be hard to find studs behind plaster and 2) it doesn’t sound like you’re hanging anything so heavy that a Floreat in plaster couldn’t manage.

      My house has a lot of plaster (it’s a mix), and I do have one spot that just crumbled for the hell of it when hanging something; I don’t think it’s always something you have control over.

      1. Sam Sepiol*

        I also highly recommend making a color copy of the artwork in question and sticking it up on the wall first just in paper form to make sure it’s placed where you want and give you a chance to get used to it and move it around.
        Fantastic idea! Never would have thought of it! Thank you.

      2. Weegie*

        What an excellent idea to place a copy on the wall first! Stupidly never thought of that before. I always end up leaping on and off a chair and moving the hanging pins and hooks.

      3. Old Cynic*

        Yes, use Floreats. The nails are thinner than the other kind of standard picture hooks so it’s less likely to shatter the plaster. The frame weight is transferred from the nail to the hook, it kind of bonds to the wall.

    5. Sam Sepiol*

      I love you all so much.
      I wasn’t “allowed” to do this stuff while married so it feels both Really Important but also Really Scary.
      I’ll report back!

      1. BelleMorte*

        You can also use command hooks and Velcro stickers. I have a 120 year old house with plaster lathe walls that can’t hold a nail, so I use command hooks with some extra Velcro stickers for more support, works pretty well.

        1. CoffeeforLife*

          Yes!! I used the command velcro strips and they are awesome. Picture hanging was a breeze.

          1. Jemima Bond*

            That’s interesting, we used the Velcro strips for some fairly light canvases on my OH’s modern flat walls (so nice and regular and smooth and painted not rough or wonky) and they were rubbish. All four canvases fell down within a week!

          2. Marion Ravenwood*

            Thirding Command Velcro strips. They were a godsend when I lived in rented accommodation and couldn’t mark the walls, as well as being super easy to put up.

          3. Seeking Second Childhood*

            IMHO Command hooks should be heavier rating than you need because the Christmas decoration ones fall fast even if it’s just a kid’s beads.
            Real plaster has its own issues, I was once told to put a tiny piece masking tape at the spot where the nail needed to go to keep the edges from crumbling. If you have strong moldings consider hanging pics from wire attached to those. pre-drill holes with something smaller than the fastener you’re using….and consider molly bolts for heavy things.
            Readers Digest has a great intro book…it’s on my to be replaced list because I haven’t seen it since our move.

    6. Sideboard*

      Sam, I had the same question!! Glad you asked :)

      Now, Floreat hangers or Command strips? Pros and cons?

      I can’t wait to make color copies of my artwork for placement testing!

    7. Everdene*

      If you have a lot of pictures to hang ikea have a kit with about 4 different types of hook. That would give you a way to experiment cheaply with what type of hook works best on different surfaces and different types of frame. (I’ve used more than one of these kits as all the hooks are useful for my variety of pictures. Used 2 just today for different things.)

    8. Jemima Bond*

      If you do use picture nails, as in thin single nails, tap them in at a slight downward angle. This is more secure.
      My thoughts are above re the sticky strip things!
      I really like the plastic hooks that have four tiny pins on the reverse. They don’t make big or deep holes but stay in place well and are easy to use.

      Whatever you do, don’t accidentally put a nail through your electricity wires or water pipes. It’s easy to figure out where the pipes are by starting with your main feed probably under the kitchen sink and going, yes that goes towards the bathroom there and nowhere near this living room wall, type thing. For the wires unless your home is very unusual the wires will be on a straight line vertically or horizontally from the plug sockets. So as long as you are not hammering directly above or below a socket or switch plate, or on the same horizontal line, you should be fine.

  32. Jaid*

    My car had a weird start (all the lights flashed and the engine didn’t sound like it was catching), so I’m taking it into the dealers on Monday.

    I wanted to go to the movies today, but not if I have to worry about the engine crapping out on me.

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

      If the car cranked for longer than usual but then started on the first or second try, my experience suggests that it’s more than likely a fluke. Could be a low battery, if battery hasn’t been changed for a few years, especially if it’s unusually cold or hot where you are.

      If, on the other hand, the dashboard lights came on but the engine initially wasn’t cranking at all, you may have an electrical connection at the battery or starter that came loose, or the battery or starter may need to be replaced. In that case, I wouldn’t feel comfortable driving the car anywhere but the dealer either.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Hopefully it’s something like the key switch or the starter. But yeah, wise to get it to the shop. I hope it is not as bad as an engine problem.

    3. Jaid*

      Thanks guys! Fortunately, I didn’t really plan on going out, except for the movie, so I have my groceries already in the house.
      And I have PTO and nothing pressing at work, so I’m not worried about that!

      1. JustDesserts*

        If they are keeping your car for a long time, some dealers will give you a loaner so you can still have your day or provide a shuttle to bring you home (or the movies :)). I’ve gotten dropped off at the train station so I could still go to work.

        1. Jaid*

          My shift starts at 6, is in the city, and I take public transportation in. I can’t bring the car in until 8.30. Being driven to Regional Rail (runs once an hour, BTW), I still will have missed half a day and they don’t offer loaners like that. Hell they don’t even have their own shuttles anymore, they use Lyft!

    4. Mike C.*

      You didn’t try it again? This happens from time to time and it’s not a big deal. This isn’t a sign that there’s a problem with your engine because the problem occurred before your engine even started.

  33. Sapphire*

    Hey all! So all things considered, my relationship with my new partner is going fairly well, except for it being difficult to see him. He started a new retail job (with all that that implies, so random schedule changes and having to cover shifts on his day off).

    Does anyone have advice for making sure there’s time together? Have you ever worked a 9-5 while your partner works retail? How did you work it out? Moving in together isn’t an option right now, since I want to wait at least a year before taking that step.

    1. ConflictingSchedulesIsTough*

      You may already be doing this, and it doesn’t solve the problem of not being able to see each other as often as you want but one thing that helps my partner and I feel connected during times when our schedules don’t align (we both have irregular, changing schedules) is to make use of the phone. It’s not as good as seeing each other in person but chatting on the phone during his 15 minute break at work is almost like a mini date, much more personal than texting or instant messaging. Being able to talk about our days aloud is helpful when we can’t see each other in person for a while. Also, I totally understand your reasoning for not wanting to live together yet but if you’re open to sleepovers I find they help a lot too. Even if you’re not able to hang out much because they get off late at night or something, cuddling and sleeping beside each other can be a big bonding activity/connection builder to make it easier, even if it means they come over just to go straight to bed.

      1. Sapphire*

        We’ve been doing more phone calls, and that helps a lot. I even said to him “Even a phone call is better than not seeing each other,” so that’s helping. We’re also trying to get away for sleepovers at my apartment since I have the queen bed, but that’s been a little harder to schedule. It’s good to know that we’re in the right direction, at least. He’s also been better about letting me know in advance if plans need to change, rather than me asking.

    2. university minion*

      For many years, I was your partner. First off, is retail a career for him or a stopping point on the way to some other career? That makes a difference.
      If it’s a career, you’ll need to understand that his schedule will come first 100% of the time. He doesn’t have a say most of the time. People who get promoted are always available. It sucks and is a lot of why I am no longer in retail.
      Other than that, it sounds like you’re doing things right. My now-ex used to – in all seriousness- ask me, “So what do you have planned for today?” after I got home from a 14 hour overnight shift. Sleep. Survival. That’s literally it. It really got under my skin that he’d give me hell for scheduling stuff that was completely not in my control. I needed commiseration, not derision.
      Does he share his schedule with you? If so, start looking at events on weeknights or weekdays when he’s off. If you see something awesome, consider taking a few hours of leave to have a date from time to time.

      1. Sapphire*

        I’m not sure it’s a career for him, but I know he doesn’t have a bachelor’s degree, so it’s kind of a survival strategy at this point. He also is very frustrated by retail because of the things we’ve both brought up regarding schedules. I’m trying to keep in mind to be patient with his schedule because I know this isn’t what he wants either, but thank you for reminding me that I don’t need to make it worse. The taking leave is also a good idea because I have a flexible schedule, though I do have to save my PTO for a Europe trip soon.

    3. Batgirl*

      When I worked shifts, I did the following:
      – Asked for a standing ‘do not schedule me’ slot. No one cared about Wednesday afternoons so those were for us.
      – We calibrated our calendars weekly. If you book in some time with each other as soon as you get the shift rota you won’t lose any more time to mis-scheduling other commitments (and it’s less annoying than checking everything with them). Expect some plans to go under and schedule a bit more than necessary. Make the plans quite casual too like ‘pizza and a movie on day A; to be possibly rescheduled for day B’. Make your own ‘me time’ plans so if you can go to a yoga class on either A or B, or catch up with Netflix then plan to do that on the day he ends up working.
      – Unusual date times. As a shift worker I really enjoyed getting picked up and taken out for pizza while I was still pumped or meeting up for breakfast or going to the zoo in the afternoon. Car journey time together is vastly underrated too.
      – If he gets weekdays off he could see you at lunch.

      1. Sapphire*

        I may ask if he could ask for a “do not schedule me” time, but the store is understaffed and he’s new, so I don’t know how well it’ll work right now. We were supposed to get together last night, but his roommate was sick so he had to stay there. I had to tell him that if we weren’t going to see each other as often, I’d like to hear from him more in other ways to cope until I can actually see him.

        1. Batgirl*

          Sometimes you can ask rather than insist, like: “I have a standing weekly appointment I need to make (ask which day is best) then say ‘Try not to schedule me in that day except for emergencies. I can cancel it if you really need me though” Then if they call him in he should barter to have the plan B day off.

          Make sure he is engaging with you you on this topic. If he’s very ‘meh’ then just make whatever plans you want for yourself, give him a few options of days to wander by and see if he sinks or swims.

    4. Dr. Anonymous*

      Can he meet you at work for lunch on the days he works late or has a surprise day off?

      1. Sapphire*

        The other complicating factor is he doesn’t drive and lives and works in the suburbs. And he doesn’t really get breaks. So everything does have to be planned out.

  34. AvonLady Barksdale*

    Our lease is up at the end of June, we’re definitely moving, and our landlord wants to sell the house. He tried to sell the house a couple of years ago, 6 months into a 2-year lease with us, and his real estate agents were annoying as hell. That sale failed and he ended up re-financing. This time it sounds like he has a new real estate agent and that he’s serious about selling, so I’m trying to look on the bright side here– for one thing, his real estate agent suggested he make some improvements to the home before listing it including sprucing up the yard, so I won’t have to pay to have it mulched and weeded as I planned to do before we moved out. I’m also pretty certain that no one will buy the house itself– it needs a lot of work– but the location is extremely desirable and people often (sadly) buy these old houses for the land and tear them down. If that happens, we won’t even have to spackle or deep clean, which would be a huge relief. Just crossing my fingers that this will be less annoying than last time.

    1. Wishing You Well*

      Your landlord might be eager to keep your security deposit, given the chance. Use text or email to get agreements in writing on what you need to do or can skip to get your money back upon leaving his house.
      Hope you find a great place to live!

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Oh, he would keep it all if he could, so yes, EVERYTHING is in writing. And I keep all the emails. Every communication with this guy from the last five years!

  35. Lady Jay*

    Audiobook recommendations, please! I’ve got a 6-hour, 1-way drive for work next week and would love something to listen to. I like nonfiction for my audiobooks; previous favorites include Born a Crime (Trevor Noah), The Disappearing Spoon (Sam Kean), and North (Scott Jurek).

    1. Ada*

      It won’t get you through the whole drive, but I highly recommend If You Ask Me (But Of Course You Won’t) – read by the author herself: Betty White! One of the best audiobooks I’ve listened to to-date.

    2. BRR*

      Tina Fey’s Bossy Pants. Amy Porhlers Yes Please. Mindy kaling books but I cant remember the name.

    3. LibbyG*

      You might like Tara Westover’s Educated. I print-read it, but I think it would be great in audio too.

      1. Lady Jay*

        Thanks! I read that last Thanksgiving on a 13-hour, 1-way drive home for the holiday. I pressed “play” as I left my driveway and didn’t stop listening until I pulled into my destination. It was such a compelling narrative.

    4. Lemonwhirl*

      “Say Nothing” by Patrick Radden Keefe is a fantastic non-fiction book about The Troubles in Northern Ireland. It juxtaposes the disappearance of Jean McConville, a widowed mother of 10 who was accused by the IRA of being an informer, and the story of Delours Price, an IRA member who was convicted of a bombing in London.

      The audiobook is incredible – the narrator has a Northern Irish accent – and the material reads so well out loud. It’s a compelling story with a lot of shades of grey. I found it both riveting and informative. (It’s also super-long too.)

    5. Aphrodite*

      I love nonfiction audiobooks. (Even though I don’t read fiction, I find some to be great in audio, especially classics like Dracula and Frankenstein.) Some ones I have now include any of Simon Winchester’s books that he reads, especially Krakatoa and In a Sunburned Country, most of Bill Bryson’s (that he reads), The Path Between the Seas, The Johnstown Flood, Michael’s Crichton’s The Great Train Robbery, the surprisingly good novel by Nelson DeMille called Night Fall, Ruth Reich’s My Kitchen Year (the only frustrating part being I couldn’t fix the mouthwatering recipes she was reciting), another surprising novel called April in Paris.

    6. GoryDetails*

      Second some of the previous suggestions, including David Sedaris and Mary Roach. I also love Sarah Vowell’s books. And a recent discovery for me: the wacky travel-narratives of Tony James Slater, narrated marvelously by Tim Campbell. Whether he’s recounting a year-long trek around Australia (Kamikaze Kangaroos) or six months in the Far East (Shave My Spider!), I find him hilarious.

    7. Sungold*

      Hi! Lurker here and another fan of Born A Crime. Nonfiction books that particularly held my interest on some recent 8-hour drives, as well as a trip across country and back again:
      -Becoming by Michelle Obama
      -My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor
      -Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
      -Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir by Ruth Reichl
      -Notes from a Young Black Chef: A Memoir by Kwame Onwuachi (very-well-ghost-written by Joshua David Stein)
      -Across that Bridge: A Vision for Change and the Future of America by John Lewis
      -And I second the recommendation for Educated by Tara Westover. The miles flew by though I had to skip a couple of gory descriptions of injuries suffered by family members

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My two favorite non-fiction audiobooks are Salt, and Cod, both by Mark Kurlansky.

    9. No fan of Chaos*

      Grey Day-the true story of getting the goods on long time spy Robert Hanson. I couldn’t turn it off and every one of my family who heard 5 minutes-bought it.

    10. 00ff00Claire*

      For nonfiction audio books, I recommend The Lost City of Z by David Grann and The Republic of Pirates by Colin Woodard. Also anything by Bill Bryson that he narrates, but especially the one about the Thunderbolt Kid.

  36. lemon*

    I need new (women’s) undies and my go-to gap body just don’t hold up anymore. All the podcasts are advertising online brands these days, Tommy Jon, MeUndies, etc. Has anyone tried any of these? Good, bad, recs?

    1. MeUndiesReview*

      I like MeUndies a lot, I find them a bit expensive so I had to stop the subscription but if you can afford them, I think they’re worth it (I’m a broke student who can’t afford much at the moment). They are very, very soft and have held up well so far. I’ve only tried the women’s boyshorts and my partner likes the men’s boxer briefs (I do too, actually, I ordered a few pairs for myself because they’re longer in the leg than the women’s which I prefer for sleeping in). I also have the U back bralette, which I like a lot but it doesn’t have much support for larger breasts. I wear it around the house because I live with my in-laws and I’m not comfortable being braless around them but I don’t want to wear an uncomfortable underwire all the time.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      IDK, I really don’t get spending a lot on undies. I wouldn’t buy online because they’re something I need to see and feel.
      Generally, I’ll just get at Target or Walmart in multi-packs. If they have a Burlington Coat Factory store near you, it’s a good place for underwear and shape wear.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I wore Hanes for years but honestly they weren’t that comfortable and didn’t fit well. It’s ok to spend a little more for higher quality that hold up better and feel better on you. I wear Aerie now and get them on sale for $2.50-$3 a pair and the difference is noticeable.

      2. PhyllisB*

        I understand not wanting to spend a lot on panties, slips and such, but buy GOOD bras. No, they’re not cheap, but cheap bras are not worth what you pay for them. I usually wait until my local department store has a sale and replenish/stock up then. The one I’m wearing right now I’ve had for five years, and still looks/supports great. Another suggestion: if you go the Good Bra route, get a professional fitting. I finally broke down and did that when I bought afore-mentioned bra, and was shocked to discover that I was wearing too big a band size and too small a cup size. I had been buying 44D when what I really needed was 40DD. It made all the difference in the world in how my clothes fit and “the girls” look pretty good, too.

    3. fposte*

      Wirecutter recommends Patagonia if you’re willing to pay the higher price, Uniqlo if you’re looking for a lower price point and run small enough to fit into them.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yes, I swore by Aerie until they stopped making my style. (Jesus wept, why is it so damn hard to find plain black cotton string bikini underwear. Everyone has discontinued them.)

        1. Arts Akimbo*

          Oh! Em! Gee! You are preaching my sermon here!!! I only want plain black cotton string bikini underwear, too, and I just don’t understand why the concept that grown-ass women might want grown-ass-looking underwear that doesn’t give us yeast infections is so completely alien to the fashion industry! I don’t want colors and prints that make me feel like I’m wearing little girl’s wear. And I don’t want anything not cotton. (The new synthetics and even the wool undies can say all day long how healthy they are, but my body reacts badly to anything but cotton.)

          Then again, this is the same industry that insists ankle pants make great businesswear and won’t put pockets in women’s blazers. (Can you tell I’ve been embittered by recent shopping trips??)

    4. Book Lover*

      I just go for jockey and buy online. I did try meundies and they are very nice and soft but I am not sure I think they are worth the price. Customer service was very good when I got the wrong size though.

    5. Lepidoptera*

      I bought a giant box of Victoria’s Secret cotton low-rise bikinis when they started to phase them out. I have no idea what I’ll do once they’re all worn out. I hate artificial fabrics for underwear, but it’s getting hard to find anything else.

    6. blackcat*

      What are you looking for in your undies?
      If you want basic cotton and don’t mind helping Jeff Bezos become even richer, I am weirdly pleased with some Amazon Basics panties. Cheap, comfy, holding up well.

    7. Aphrodite*

      I buy Jockey’s for Her. I find them very comfortable, well made, and they hold up extremely well–and come in a wide variety of sizes and styles.

    8. mreasy*

      I also was betrayed by Gap Body. Do you have a Muji nearby? If so, theirs are fantastic, not too expensive, and seem high quality. I have to size up when I buy them.

      1. AlaskaBlue*

        Oh no! Long time gap body underwear wearer and will ned to restock this summer. So sad to hear they don’t work anymore. What’s gone wrong with them?

    9. LizB*

      I was kind of disappointed by MeUndies after hearing a million podcast advertisements for them — their women’s underwear sizing doesn’t go up very big, especially for the fun patterns, so I bought the biggest size and they’re on the they-fit-but-they’re-kinda-small side for me. If you’re not in the plus size range, though, I think they’re probably great! They are absolutely as soft as advertised and I love the strawberry print.

      I had better luck sizing-wise with TomboyX, which I get a lot of facebook ads for because I’m queer and the algorithms know it, lol. They’re not as soft, but there are more fun patterns and I like the y-front style I got more than I expected I would. My fave part of my purchase was a set of briefs and a soft bra (basically a bralette) both in a matching pattern of dinosaurs.

      1. Arjay*

        I’m sized out of MeUndies too, which is irritating since the men’s sizes go firther into an extended range than the women’s. I bought sone for my husband, and while they are soft, he has no butt and they slide down on him. He also finds them, uh, unsupportive.
        I had a Spendies subscription for a while, but the sizing was all over the place since they ship multiple brands. If I could have gotten 3 cute pairs that fit most months, I might still be suscribing, but I’d get maybe 2 orut of 3 that worked for me. Sometimes only 1 out of 3. My underwear drawer is full of lacy little scraps that I save for my “gosh, I really need to do laundry” days.

    10. ImJustHereForThePoetry*

      I go to Soma and get lace trimmed bamboo fiber. They are pretty and comfortable! Soma frequently has sales so the prices are good as well

  37. Anon anony*

    I woke up last Sunday with pain on the right side of my jaw. I have a dentist appointment this morning because it still hurts, I can’t chew on the right side, and my bite is off. (My teeth aren’t touching on the right side.) Has anyone had this? I just hope that it’s nothing bad or serious. I had to have eye surgery and now this. Not to complain, there are people with worse situations, but I’m getting tired of this.

    1. WellRed*

      It could be serious, it could be as simple as a seed or kernel got caught somewhere.

    2. Amber Rose*

      Sounds like a TMJ issue, which can range from extremely minor to somewhat more complicated. I’ve had it a handful of times and always managed to fix it myself.

      Google TMJ massage and see if any of those exercises help.

      1. Anon anony*

        That’s what the doctor said. They said to come back Mon. or Tues. if it gets worse. I feel stupid, but at least I know.

    3. Wishing You Well*

      You might need a night guard if you’re clenching or grinding your teeth while sleeping.
      Hope it’s something easy to address.

  38. Rebecca*

    I sent my PA a big thank you via my physician’s practice website. I cannot tell you how much the new meds have helped my pain levels! After just 3 weeks, I feel so much better, and while there is still pain and stiffness, it’s so drastically reduced, and now I feel like I can get back on my bike, and actually go for real hikes again. I may have to have knee replacement at some point, but at least for now, I can go up and down steps one foot after the other, both ways, I can drive for more than 15 minutes without my leg cramping up and my knee feeling like it’s in a vice (no more oh, man, do I really need to use the brake now, why can’t I just coast into that car in front of me to stop, this really hurts!!), I can sit at my desk at work and not worry about when I stand up how long it will take me to get moving, or if I’ll get some sort of muscle spasm, that type of thing. And so far, so good with the side effects, as in, I don’t seem to have any, so that’s good. Keeping the appointment with the specialist in September.

    On the EXH front and the rogue prescription, I sent all of the info to my attorney just in case the bill does go to a collection agency, and I’m not going to think about it further unless something happens.

    I finished reading “In Defense of Food” and it has made me think about what’s on the label and what is actually in the food I’m eating. I’m trying to eat more real food and a lot less processed food. Right now, I think I’m about 80% real food and 20% processed most of the time. Hoping to take off some weight as well now that I’m not in pain all the time and I can get more exercise and fresh air. It’s also on Netflix, so I think I might watch the episodes, too.

    Does anyone else like to go back and rewatch older TV series shows? Right now I’m rewatching NYPD Blue, and enjoying it quite a bit.

    1. WellRed*

      I’m on a big Law and Order kick. A few years ago, I found a bargain DVD of the show Hunter, which I loved when it was on tv. My roommate and I watched an episode every night for 2 weeks. Boy, was it dated.

      1. Weekend Warrior*

        I’ve been watching Season One of Law & Order. So far I’ve seen the young Cynthia Nixon, Aida Turturo, Patricia Clarkson, Samuel L. Jackson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and others in bit parts! It like a game to Spot the Future Star. :)

        1. Rebecca*

          That’s my favorite part, seeing future TV or movie stars in an early appearance!

        2. rider on the storm*

          And John Spencer is in the very first episode! (Well, the pilot was moved into season 1)
          Law and Order (also Criminal Intent) are my go to’s, especially the early Briscoe years. I also go back to ER (pre -Mark Greene/Benton/Carter leaving).

          1. MsChanandlerBong*

            I recently watched all 15 seasons of ER. “The Beach” gets me bawling every time. As well as the episode with Carter and Lucy (not mentioning what happens in case some of you haven’t seen it yet!).

        3. SpellingBee*

          Oh, I have a story about bit parts in Law & Order. When I lived in New York one of the attorneys I worked for there had done some acting work on the side, which I knew but never really thought about. One night late I was surfing around on TV and came across an old rerun of Law & Order and to my surprise there was my boss in a bit part! It totally ruined the TV story for me, though, because I couldn’t reconcile the person that I knew into the part he was playing. I told him about it the next day and he said “Great! That means I’ll be getting a royalty check!”

        4. Rebecca*

          I just saw Kyle Secor in a role in NYPD Blue, season 1, who went on to play a detective in Homicide Life on the Street. It took me a few minutes to place him, but then it clicked!

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        You want to talk dated? My 12yo loves Macgyver….the ORIGINAL one!

        1. Arts Akimbo*

          Haha, that’s awesome!! My teen loves the Golden Girls and the Dick Van Dyke Show!

    2. Aphrodite*

      I watch online because I have no television but I enjoy the Rockford Files, the Bob Newhart Show (the original), Mary Tyler Moore (I”ll never tire of Chuckles the Clown’s death). I tried Hill Street Blues, which I loved when it originally aired but even now I still cringe and even hide my eyes at the shows. Man, that was brutal. So after six episodes I stopped watching. I also tried LA Law but hadn’t seen it in its original airing past the third season–I had gotten rid of my television by then–and it got WEIRD. I felt so uncomfortable with the direction and storylines and new people that I stopped altogether. I do wish I could find all (any actually!) of the Murphy Brown ones; I only vaguely recall the constant line of new secretaries who didn’t work out, and the writing was truly outstanding.

    3. Arts Akimbo*

      My spouse is currently re-watching Cagney & Lacey– it’s on Netflix now, I think. He’s really enjoying it! I’m re-watching all the Time Team I can get my mitts on!

    4. nonegiven*

      90% of what I watch is older shows, some I have seen before, some I haven’t

    5. WoodswomanWrites*

      A bit late to the party, but really glad to hear about your regained mobility and leaving the pain behind!

  39. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    So my anxiety is really bad, and I’m starting to look into half day intensive outpatient programs or similar. Gotta be able to come home to my jerk kitties!

    I guess now I’m just really anxious about THAT. I hate the idea of group therapy because of the other people and the vulnerability, and I’m worried about people finding out what’s going on and it impacting my career (eventually want a good and stable lawyer job). And insurance coverage. I mean, I am not trying nor want to kill or hurt myself- I‘m just extremely anxious!

    And since the stress has led me to stutter noticeably on normal topics and incomprehensibly on difficult ones, I don’t even know, practically speaking, how to pursue treatment when I cannot really make myself understood! Argh.

    1. LGC (I go by Barebecue IRL)*

      I’m really sorry about that! Hopefully you’re able to get the care you need.

      I think most partial-care programs do have group components, unfortunately – and it might be hard to find one that’s completely individual (partly because that’s…a lot of therapy for one person). Unless I’m misreading what you wrote.

    2. Smol Book Wizard*

      YMMV cause we are all different folk, but I’ve found 2 things helpful when I’m trying to get in touch with mental health providers and making a bungle of it due to my communication switches going bad:
      – scripting. Quite a number of phone calls I have made with a Notepad document open on my laptop in front of me, with the information I wanted to make sure to convey typed up in a more or less conversational format. It helps get one over the initial silence and through the needful facts.
      – reminding myself that these aren’t professors/job interviewers/opinionated relatives/fellow grad students… there’s no way they’re going to judge me for losing my words; they are here to help people like us. If I sound the way I feel, that’s useful information for them about how to help me.

      Best wishes! I’m afraid I can’t help on the insurance coverage – am currently trying to unboggle myself on that too.

    3. chi chan*

      Hang in there. Until you find a program maybe I can recommend a book. Rewire your anxious brain by Catharine M Pittman. Sending good vibes.

      1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

        Is it available as audiobook? I spend a lot of time in my car and have Audible.

    4. Arts Akimbo*

      My childhood best friend was a stress-stutterer, and what really seemed to help her was to write things down whenever she could. For instance, if you were to see a therapist and worry about saying all the things and making yourself understood, write it out in advance. Many therapists have seen it all and will be patient with this kind of thing, especially if they specialize in treating anxiety. Good luck, and many good wishes from the internet!! :)

  40. VM*

    Hi all! I live in an apartment complex that’s usually pretty quiet. I’m in a building with a lot of couples and we don’t interact much, just kind of leave each other be.

    I went to work yesterday and saw a note on my car. I thought perhaps someone damaged my car, but when I read it, it was from the truck next to me telling me “I should park inside the lines” and to “stop being such a f-ing inconsiderate dick”. I checked my park job, and he was right, I parked right on the line on the side he was parked on. But that’s all, I was right on the line, not half way into the next spot or anything.
    The policy at our complex is unless you paid for special covered parking, it’s first come, first served. You can park anywhere. The spots are also a little hard to park perfectly straight in unless you back in or hit the angle just right. We have other truck owners in our building and they usually snag the slightly larger end spots or they park in overflow parking about 50 feet away. This truck always parks in regular spots, even if these other spots are available.

    I told a few people at work and we had a good chuckle about it. But is there anything else I should do about it? I’m going with this guy had a bad day and lashed out at me because it was convenient. I took pictures of the note and park job in case it happens again, so I can report it to the property manager.

    1. kc89*

      I think taking pictures was smart and for now just to ignore it

      I’m biased though because I think people who own giant trucks/SUVS/etc. and then expect to park in compact spaces in apartment parking lots are stupid

      I see it in my neighborhood, escalades and hummers trying to fit into spots designed for compact sedans, just stupid lol

      1. Rebecca*

        When I drive my Dad’s giant 4 door Ford off road truck, I just find two parking spaces at the very end of the lot, park there, and walk. There are literally times I cannot find a spot it will fit into, so I just park as far away as possible to make sure I don’t inconvenience anyone.

    2. ATX Language Learner*

      I got one of these notes one time at an apartment complex I used to live in and it made it laugh. Whoever wrote it got SO riled up that they felt the need to leave me a note. Sometimes people park shitty! Hope your note leaver is watching their blood pressure closely.

    3. ATX Language Learner*

      I would also not report it to the property manager. What are they going to do about it?

      1. MatKnifeNinja*

        You are so not going to win this battle.

        Park away from this person. This is a shot across your bow that they are crazy.

        Where I live, parking nonsense escalates to broken valve stems, side wall punctures and broken windshield wipers. Our leasing management goes *meh* .

        Where I live many many many people get the huge SUVs because of they (or a family member) works for the Big Three auto companies, and they get an employee discount. Our parking slots are almost too small for them. They really need two spaces, and their back ends hang almost into the street. It is funny seeing them trying to cram a Hummer 2 into a subcompact spot.

        Much of the parking in my area was put down in the early 1980s. It was figured out for sedans, minivans and the occasional truck. Not a pontoon boat on wheels. They get pissy because parking is such a hassle. No place is easy to park for those big SUVs.

        I drive a subcompact, and stay out of the cross fire. Right now management is talking about labeling spaces subcompact or car because of how much the SUVs just out. The screaming should be glorious.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Prepare for the size ratings to be ignored… seriously, I saw a dualie in a compact car spot at our library recently. Which put it hanging out into the travel lane…. those are compact because the spaces are shorter as well as narrower!

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

      There’s probably no action to take other than, unfortunately, remembering the vehicle and not parking next to it again. This time it’s a note; next time it may be a slashed tire. Unfortunately, in the area I live, it happens all the time. It’s probably not someone having a bad day; it’s probably a jerk compensating for other shortcomings they might have by driving an oversized vehicle. It sucks.

      1. VM*

        That’s what I find so funny, he parked next to me. He made the choice to park in a tight spot, even though there were other spots available.

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

          Oh, you were there first! I missed that, and that makes it an already absurd situation absolutely ludicrous. I don’t get people sometimes… well, most of the time.

    5. Anonymous parker*

      So, a slightly different take on it. I admit it bugs me when people park poorly in crowded parking areas. Not to where I’d leave a note, or do anything to their vehicle, but it does annoy me. Less so in a case like you describe, where it seems inadvertent, but there are times that people with big vehicles seem to park over the line in an apparent hope that no one will park next to them. And having a very small car, I fully admit that I will squeeze it right in there if it fits, as much to deny them this as anything. I fully admit that it might be petty of me, and it has a lot to do with whether or not I think it was intentional, but right or wrong it brings me a small bit of satisfaction.

      1. T3k*

        lol I do this sometimes too. My last car was too wide to get away with it, but it’s the only spot I can find in a reasonable distance, my tiny car can easily fit in there, even if they parked over the line.

    6. gecko*

      There’s really nothing else. I live in Boston, a city notorious for people saving parking spaces they dug out of the snow and then getting vicious when those spaces aren’t eternally reserved for them–so nastygrams on cars abound. I got one last winter, and yeah, there’s not much to do but let it go. (And keep the note as you’ve done, just in case.)

    7. Aly_b*

      I had to leave such a note once! I felt bad but in our complex we had assigned spots and there were only inches to spare for me to park between them over the line and a concrete column, in my nice new car. Sounds like your situation is different since they had options… I was really thinking about whether I’d have to just leave my car in the aisle blocking them in since I couldn’t get into my spot. Took me about 10 tries but I didn’t hit anything!

      1. Epiphyta*

        Oh, hey, I dealt with that this morning! My neighbours are my grandparents’ age and just at the moment, I am happy to be driving a twenty-year-old car: if they scratch it with their terrible parking, I won’t cry about it that hard. There have been times when I’ve had to put it on the street or use one of the guest spots until I could knock on their door and ask them to straighten it out.

    8. Gatomon*

      Sounds like you have an “awesome” neighbor. I’d give them a wide berth if you can for a bit, maybe keep an eye out on your park job. Unfortunately since it’s where you live, I wouldn’t respond or escalate (unless you’re moving out tomorrow). People get really agitated really quickly when it comes to driving and parking. I’d bet you’re not the only person who’s gotten a note from the truck owner.

      If it helps you feel better, I have had a neighbor (kindly) let me know that I had parked horribly in our shared carport a few years back. I think we’ve all been guilty of parking line fouls at one point or another!

      I don’t honestly understand the desire for truck owners to park in tight spaces. I assume it’s a “might makes right” type thing.

    9. TacocaTRVA*

      My boyfriend has a Ford F-450 dually, and while I couldn’t park his truck in a space that’s designated “small cars only”, 95% of the time, neither he nor I have any issues parking his truck in a regular parking spot. We are usually touching the lines on both sides, but that’s OK; we don’t park somewhere where we’re going to impede someone else’s access to his/her vehicle that is already parked there, and we obviously have enough room to get in/out ourselves. If someone else chooses to park next to us after we’re already parked, then that’s a “them” problem. Seems like that truck chose to park next to you after you were parked, but I could be wrong. If that’s the case, though, that’s on him. If the spaces are specifically designed for small cars only, however, then the complex should make signs noting that. But anyway, I think you’re right to just ignore.

  41. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    A new mom friend invited me and hubs and a few other friends to meet her baby. I’m bringing dessert and a couple dishes and a small gift for her and the baby. Anything I need to know/do besides that? What can I expect?

    1. WellRed*

      If you like babies, you’ll be good. Plan to bring your leftovers home (unless mom says otherwise) so you don’t burden her with dealing with them.

      1. Anona*

        I’d be sure to ask about this versus assuming they don’t want them. I welcomed all food when I had a baby, though I probably wouldn’t have said anything if they took the leftovers. I would have just been slightly disappointed.

    2. LibbyG*

      Fun! I would just suggest you brightly announce that you’re going to wash your hands before you hold the baby. It can feel weird to ask people to do that.

        1. Rezia*

          My friends really appreciated me going straight to wash my hands when I came to meet their baby.
          Offer to do dishes if there are dishes in the sink, and take out the trash when you leave.
          I’d also not expect to hold the baby, wait for the parents to offer.

      1. Dee-Nice*

        I would add, depending on how old the baby is, don’t be surprised/offended if they don’t want you to hold the baby, period. I didn’t really feel comfortable letting anyone outside immediate family hold mine until about four weeks.

    3. Lucy*

      How new is the baby? If brand new (still counting in days) then plan to leave after half an hour, unless you’re actively washing dishes, see below. If baby’s age is counted in weeks, try to be sensitive to the family’s energy levels and see if they seem desperate for company or desperate for silence. If baby is fussing a lot then they may want to be able to focus on her for feeding/changing/settling but they may feel rude saying so.

      Plan to make the coffee and wash up afterwards. It is not the new parents’ job to wait on you. This is an occasion where normal hosting conventions are suspended.

      Depending on your relationship, you might be asked to hold the baby so your friend can use the bathroom or some other two-handed chore. Again, normal hosting rules are suspended!

      As Libby suggested, hygiene is very important. If there’s any chance you’re contagious (cough? end of the flu? upset stomach?) then decline to hold baby and consider staying away.

      Make sure you visit with the parents and catch up with them properly. It’s horrible as a new parent to feel like you’re just the vessel/carer/feeding station for the miraculous new arrival. They probably haven’t seen Endgame but maybe they’re up to date with GoT and would enjoy chatting about (spoiler) and (huge spoiler).

    4. Occasional Baker*

      Bring the food on something that doesn’t need returning or emptying for them to keep the leftovers if they DO want them. Like, they even have paper bake ware now. I realize it’s not ecofriendly, but not having to wash dishes or return or repack really can be helpful to new parents. And wear something machine washable, in case of baby accidents ;)

    5. Lilysparrow*

      Very smol hoomans get overstimulated easily, which can make them fussy and make it harder for them to eat or fall asleep when they need to. When interacting with a new baby, think Daniel Striped Tiger rather than Tigger.

      If your friend is breastfeeding, follow her lead on privacy. If she is okay staying in the room with you, just talk to her normally as if she were giving the baby a bottle, don’t make a production about “not looking”.

    6. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Are you current on your vaccines? Whooping cough is serious for very little babies. I got to visit my friend’s new baby, and I just straight up told her that I’d gotten a booster x date.

    7. Anona*

      That’s so sweet of you to ask! I’m the mom of an 8 month old. It was super nice when people brought food (especially food in a container that I didn’t have to wash and return). It was also super nice when they visited, but didn’t stay forever (someone else suggested 30 minutes which sounds about right). It also might be nice if you offer to take a picture of the mom with her baby. I always took pictures of people visiting and holding the baby, but it was and is rare for me to get a pic taken by someone else of me and the baby together. If she has a partner, you could offer to take a pic of them together with the baby, but also of her alone with the baby. She may not want it, but I would have been ecstatic if someone offered that!

      Also, on your way out it might be nice to offer to take out the trash. Or to offer to get the mail from their mailbox. Even little things like that were so overwhelming at first, and when we were doing disposable diapers, there was a lot of trash!

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My SIL showed up to visit when I was just home from a C-section and after 10 minutes of talking said “you look tired, do you want a nap?” She’s raised 3 so I took her up on it!

  42. Amber Rose*

    Can anyone recommend a woman’s belt that is comfortable and easily adjustable?

    I hate the way belts cut into my skin, but in the interests of my health I’m currently dropping weight quite rapidly and my pants are in danger of just falling straight off.

    I literally just bought these and I can’t afford new pants so a belt is all I can think of. I just don’t want to be sitting all day with a buckle digging into me.

    1. Middle School Teacher*

      I saw one at a store recently that was more elastic, and adjustable. I’ll try to find a link. As I recall, you’re about three hours south of me in Wild Rose province so it shouldn’t be hard for you to get.

    2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Have you tried double D ring belts instead of ones with a typical buckle? Those might dig less.

    3. Occasional Baker*

      Seconding double D ring belts. Many are fabric or canvas, and therefore are more forgiving. Tip: put the ring over your hip, instead of starting in the center. Reduces that belt lump on your midsection

    4. RainToday*

      I’m currently looking at getting new stretchy belts because I hate the bulky buckles on my old ones. These are the two I’m debating between right now (they’re on Amazon):

      Beltaway SQUARE Adjustable Stretch Belt With No Show Square Buckle

      Buckle-free Elastic Women Belt for Jeans without Buckle, SANSTHS Comfortable Invisible Belt No Bulge No Hassle

    5. Me75*

      I’ve taken a long piece of cloth, like a belt on a bath robe, but thinner and narrower, and just tied a bow in front. Or even a shoelace if it’s long enough.

    6. Not A Manager*

      You might consider suspenders. Also, there’s a product that I used when I was pregnant, that I have no idea what it’s called. It’s a small strip of elastic with a clip on either end. You clip one side on the back of your clothing, off-set to one side, pinch as much fabric as you want in the space between the clips, and then clip the other side.

      1. Not A Manager*

        Enter “Fashion Fit Dress Cinch Clip” on amazon and you’ll see an image. IIRC, the elastic on mine was longer.

    7. Samsally*

      This might be too weird for you, but if asymmetry doesn’t bother you why not put the buckle at your hip?

      Its something I’ve done for so long I don’t even think about it, lol. I’ve always hated belt buckles digging into my stomach.

    8. Female-type person*

      You might try the shoe string trick. Nice for when you need a belt but not the bulk. You just literally tie a shoe string in a bow thru your belt loops.

    9. Dr. Anonymous*

      Do you sew at all or is there a cheap dry-cleaner/alterations place near you? You could get some elastic from a fabric store the width of the waistband, stretch it across the back of the waist band, and stitch it down at the top and bottom edge. It doesn’t look terrible and if you’re losing weight you’re probably not tucking your shirts in anyway because your pants are probably baggy in the seat.

    10. nonegiven*

      Can you sew a little elastic to the inside of your waistbands? Maybe a piece on each side.

    11. Advice*

      UNBELTS. They are designed in Edmonton and readily available in boutique clothing stores in Alberta, or you can order online. I have 2 of these (the original style which I think is around $35 CAD) and found them perfect when I was losing weight, since they cover a vast range of sizes and can be adjusted in a jiffy. They are stretchy, and have a thin buckle, making for a comfortable belt that doesn’t dig into my waist, and keeps a nice slim profile under a shirt. It’s also stopped my problem of t-shirts and sweaters getting tiny pinholes from constant rubbing on a regular belt buckle. The only thing I don’t like about them is that the elastic is like a lint brush and catches fuzzies off the inside of my sweaters/hoodies. You could use a sweater shaver on the belt, or do what I do and keep one for a good belt, worn only when I’m tucking in my shirt. The other one is for under sweatshirts where no one will see it and it’s fuzzballs anyway.

  43. New Girl*

    What are your plans for this weekend? I have nothing in mind and looking for some inspiration on how to spend my time!

    1. londonedit*

      It’s a long weekend here in the UK (the May Day bank holiday is on Monday).

      Today started out for me with parkrun as usual, it was my 150th parkrun so I brought cake to share with everyone! You get a t-shirt for the 50, 100, 250 and 500 milestones but not the round numbers in between – but I still feel like it’s worth celebrating! Then I went for coffee with some friends, did my food shopping, and I’ve done a bit of housework. Normal Saturday!

      Tomorrow morning I’m running with some friends, then in the evening I’m going on a mini pub crawl with some friends. We have a little local high street with a pub at each end, so we’re starting at one pub, having dinner at one of the restaurants in the middle, and finishing at the other pub.

      Monday will be a chill-out day I think, depending on the weather (it’s not great at the moment!) Might go for a walk in the park.

        1. londonedit*

          Important question! It was an ordinary sponge sheet cake with sprinkles mixed into the batter, with chocolate buttercream icing and ‘150’ in white chocolate chips. Disappeared in about five seconds flat and I had people literally chasing after me asking for a piece when I was handing it out after the run, so I’m taking that as a success!

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      I don’t know if it’s inspirational to anyone else, but today I’m working on an art project that will be a donation to a silent auction at a benefit I’m attending tomorrow afternoon. And then I have tickets for my son and I to see Endgame.

  44. Not Quite Mashed Potatoes Bod*

    I am not unfit, exactly — years ago I was the captain of my high school tennis team (meaning only that I once actually was quiet active in competitve sports). I my 20s and 30s I had no car so walked everywhere — not sports-ish but not casual, I mean I walked miles a day without blinking just as part of my regular day, and often on top of that worked jobs where I was on my feet the whole day. In my 40s I did yoga classes on and off, and started driving — so now, when I walk, it’s far far less, and I usually do it as actual exercise, but I average about 3-5 miles, and I use a Fitbit to track it. Anyway.

    So now I have hit 50 and am grateful I am generally healthy, but for the first time am considering some sort of weight-lifting program to get fit. I’m afraid I’m so far out of the norm for people who go to places for that (and I also worry that I have to start at pre-beginner, and that any coach wouldn’t really believe that, but it truly has been decades since my body did anything remotely competitive.) Does anyone have recommendations? Is it even worth setting a foot inside, say, a Gold’s Gym, if even for a lesson or two from a personal coach on how to correctly use the equipment?

    1. Amber Rose*

      Do it. In the health forum I frequent there are beginners in their 20’s, and beginners in their 60’s. Age is irrelevant.

    2. Nessun*

      Golds wouldn’t be my choice, as I find them rather clique-ish, but that could just be my city. But I do recommend finding a gym where you like the vibe, and asking for a training session to learn the equipment. A lot of places will give you a session for free to get you to think about buying training sessions (mine does so, with no obligation to buy), and better gyms will talk with you first to make sure you are paired with someone whose personality suits yours.

      Absolutely get a pro to show you the weights (or machines, if you prefer), and talk to them about the difference.

      I’m 42 and overweight, and I lift with a trainer each week and I love it. I only got into it about 2 years ago. It’s made me feel strong and confident, and its built up muscle and bone density. My balance is better too. I’m a huge advocate for lifting at any age. It doesn’t have to be heavy to be helpful, with the right instructions.

    3. JediSquirrel*

      Do go. Just not to Gold’s.

      If you have a Planet Fitness in your area, check them out. They advertise themselves as a “no judgement zone” and I always enjoyed my time there. Any gym with “Family” in the name often has the same sort of policy. Most gyms will give you a tour and let you check them out before joining, so it’s worth looking around.

    4. Kuododi*

      I’m a member at my local Y. It’s cost effective (a serious issue in our lives RT now.). It is well equipped and they’re scrupulous about cleanliness and safety. They also provide limited consultations with a trainer as part of the membership fee. (If a person wants more intensive training support, that’s also an option for a minimal additional fee. My particular location will give 12 sessions for $40.) Best regards.

    5. Lilysparrow*

      Our city’s YMCA network is hands-down the best value, and most of them are either fairly new construction or newly renovated. There’s usually a special on, like 3 free trainer sessions when you join.

      A diverse age range, including lots of folks in their 40’s – 60’s who are training hard on weights, and a good choice of machines, free weights, and group weight training.

    6. Wishing You Well*

      You probably mean weight TRAINING, not weight lifting classes.
      My older doctor says age is very relevant concerning fitness classes. He advises older patients to find a class where the instructor has grey hair and a bad back, because they know the limits older bodies have! Also, avoiding injury is very important for older bodies.
      Find a gym that’s inclusive and focus on good form and good training. I hope you find a gym and exercise you really enjoy!

    7. Hannah*

      I think you’d be surprised about not being the “kind of person” who goes to gyms. Lots of different people go to gyms. If you have a local Y or other local gym, that might be a good choice (in my town there are two non-chain gyms). Otherwise, a planet fitness or something like that will also have a range of different kinds of people.

      If you have the money for it, you can also see if you can find a personal trainer and sign up for 5 sessions or something to get you started on a program. If your end goal is to work out at home, that might be a good choice.

      1. Lilysparrow*

        Yes to the kind of person thing.

        Some days looking at the lady who is my age but totally ripped is really motivating for me.

        Other days, the 80 year old guy who parks his oxygen tank next to the treadmill is the one who gets me moving.

    8. Quandong*

      I took up weight training in my early 40s as a way to increase bone density. Prior to that I had no experience with gyms at all; I’d avoided them and was extremely loathe to expose myself to groups of young dudes in a macho environment.

      I can’t recommend weight training highly enough as a long-term practice, with a good teacher and a supportive environment. This is super surprising to me, and not at all what I expected!

      DEFINITELY seek some individual guidance at the start, this is so important for injury prevention and to learn good form.

      I live in Australia so I can’t speak to your question about Gold’s Gym. My suggestion is to do some research for places that run ‘rehab’ or ‘seniors’ classes. They are most likely to have both experienced staff who can teach people at any level and make adaptations when necessary, and a more diverse clientele. Ask around for recommendations (this is how I came across my excellent trainer) and if you’re in the area, stop by different gyms/organizations at the time of day you’re most likely to go to a class.

      Ask questions about the qualifications of the people running classes/individual training sessions. Find out if you can have a try-out session before committing to joining any particular gym.

      Good luck finding something that suits you!

    9. SpellingBee*

      Joining the chorus to say do it, and get some individual help at first. Our gym is populated with folks of all ages and degrees of fitness, all of us working on improving our strength, mobility and flexibility. I am myself a “woman of a certain age,” as they say (and a fair bit older than you) and love weight training and all my gym work. Senior fitness a big market and becoming increasingly popular, so most gyms have programs or even specific trainers that are geared to older folks. You may have to visit a couple of places to find one with a vibe you like, but it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.

  45. coffee cup*

    What’s the last frivolous purchase you made for yourself just ’cause? You can define ‘frivolous’ however you wish!

    Mine was a £5 bag of coffee. Not really a massive deal, but I never thought I’d spend a fiver on coffee. But the bag has a tiny hole in the back so you can smell the coffee, and it just smelled SO GOOD I had to get it.

    1. Amber Rose*

      I just bought a takoyaki pan.

      I don’t need it, but I want to learn how to make my own.

      1. Nessun*

        Good for you!! I love takoyaki, but I’d never have the courage to make it – cooking is not my forte.

    2. Nessun*

      Gourmet gummies! Not the kind of thing I usually buy, but they’re so good! And they’ll last for ages because they’re not something I want many of at once.

    3. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      Shimmery gold nail polish, but only $3 and surprisingly durable.

      1. Roseberriesmaybe*

        Nail polish was my last frivolous purchase also! It’s an extremely obnoxiously yellow that I love

      2. coffee cup*

        Nail polish is a great one. I almost caved and got a new one today, but decided against.

    4. An Elephant Never Baguettes*

      Shoes!! I have more than enough but I allow myself one new pair of sneakers every year and I just ordered them.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      The other day, I bought an Avengers color-changing mug at Walmart. It was just sitting there all by itself begging to come home with me, lol. I enjoy my giant morning espresso from my French press but now I’m enjoying it even more. :)

      It looks like this (sorry there’s not a bigger pic) https://i.imgur.com/NOhCJjz.jpg

    6. LNLN*

      This week I bought a pretty note pad to write my To Do lists. I have plain, white, cheap pads somewhere in the basement, but the flowers on this pad make it so pretty!

    7. Emily*

      Running thread! I have an accomplishment to share and a couple of questions. I’d love to hear how everyone else’s running is going, too – how you’re feeling, if you have any races coming up, etc.

      Accomplishment: Last weekend I ran my second-ever half marathon! Because I hadn’t trained very rigorously, I tried not to set my expectations too high, but ended up surprising myself and setting a two-minute PR! I’d like to run one in under two hours one day – I’m not that far off (chip time was just under 2:05) and don’t feel like I’ve reached my full potential yet (my highest weekly mileage leading up to the race was probably in the low twenties, with only 2-3 runs a week).

      Question 1: How do you fuel on longer runs, and do you treat races differently from slow training runs? I didn’t take anything (except for a couple sips of water) at my race and was mostly okay, but am wondering if I could’ve pushed even harder/recovered faster if I had taken in more sugar/fluids/electrolytes mid-race.

      Question 2: Have any of you trained for a full marathon? Did it take up most of your free time?

    8. Laura H.*

      A bag of cheddar popcorn from my work! And promptly stuffed my face and emptied the bag upon arrival home… oops.

    9. Kuododi*

      Actually, DH was frivolous on my behalf. About a week or so ago he decided I really need to have a Brighton handbag. (OMG). Normally, I get a $20-$30 purse from someplace such as Kohl’s or Target every couple of years when the old one falls apart. This Brighton will probably last until the heat death of the universe. The really nifty thing is that once a year, I can send the purse back to the company. They will inspect the purse, condition the leather and check all the fasteners/ metal accessories then ship it back good as new. Well, we shopped all through the internet as well as at the local shop. I was able to pick out a really spiffy crossbody bag in black leather with a snake print panel on one side. DH got lots of”good husband” gold stars that day. It was by far the coolest “honey just because…..” gift he’s ever purchased for me. ;)

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Neat! I used to play mandolin… need to work that back into my routine!

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I dropped $30 on geraniums and a hanging fuscia this week. And yesterday afternoon I sat outside reading and looking at my garden. It was pretty awesome… even knowing I have to bring them all in tonight because of the weather forecast.

  46. :/*

    Happy Star wars day! May the force be with you.

    (Is anyone going to free comic book day? )

  47. Trex*

    Does anyone have experience with Trex or a similar wood composite/PVC board substitute? Our deck is in need of work, but we also have a major wasp problem in my area. Wondering if fake wood will deter the insects.

    1. Old Biddy*

      We put Trex on our deck a few years ago. The carpenter bees seem to ignore it, although they’re still going after anything made of real wood.

      1. CoffeeforLife*

        Hate those carpenter bees. Two just made their home in our mailbox! Now it’s a mad dash to check the mail.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          FWIW my then-boyfriend caught & examined one and it had no stinger! Tennis rackets ever since.

  48. Penguin*

    Hey all, for those who wear dresses, blouses, skirts, etc. can anyone comment on the company eShakti? I have heard that they’re a really good place to go for clothing that is not just scaled up from the smallest size but actually designed to fit people across a whole range of sizes, but I’d love to know if anyone here has had any experience with them!

    1. gecko*

      Yep, I’ve gotten a good number of dresses there. My review is…it’s ok, and it’s better than ok if you’re not picky about precise fit.

      That they let you enter measurements is really nice, but fit still depends a lot on the cut of the dress, so you have to be really willing to order, try on, and send back. It’s a cycle that takes a while, but they’re great about returns. And the dresses are the size you want, it’s just the details: for instance I just got a dress that has very startlingly sharp darts on the butt to adjust the fit and I don’t like ’em. Also, a lot of the fabric they use can feel pretty cheap. None of the dresses I’ve gotten there are favorite dresses, but they’re pretty ok.

    2. Number 1*

      eShakti is amazing! For an extra cost (I think $10) you can give them your measurements and they’ll cut whatever you order to them instead of a standard size. You can also customize sleeve length, skirt length, and the collar. It’s been great for me because I’m so short I have problems finding dresses and skirts with both sleeves and that are a length I can wear to work with small children. I have 5 dresses from them and love them! One thing I did find is that their shipping takes a lot longer than they say it will (I’m in rural Canada).

    3. Middle School Teacher*

      Personally I love them. I like that the dresses are usually made from like a T-shirt material. They go in the dryer, and they have pockets.

    4. HannahS*

      I know a girl who absolutely adores them. I know in the past there were complaints of the plus-sized clothes not fitting well, especially at the upper ends of sizing–like, unwearable. So if you’re in that size range, check for reviews specifically from plus-sized customers. To be fair, I’m talking at least five or six years ago, so things may have changed, but caveat emptor and all that!

      1. WS*

        I am in the upper size ranges and have had not had these problems! eShakti has only become available in my country in the last year, though, so maybe they’ve sorted it out?

    5. Hannah*

      I LOOOOOOOOOOOOVEEEEEEE eshakti. I just ordered another dress today!

      I already have….5? dresses from them. Every one was made perfectly. I’ve gotten compliments on every single one. I often have trouble buying dresses because of my shape–big hips/butt, big boobs, tiny shoulders and underbust. I also hate certain necklines and am super picky about my dress lengths. All of these things are customizable! I usually end up paying around $60 per dress with customizing fees and shipping, and I think that’s a good price for something custom made.

      They also send you the names of the people who made your dress and you can send them a message.

      Regarding the actual styles, they have so many different kinds you’re sure to find something you like that will work for whatever shape body you have. What’s great is that almost all of them have pockets (you can ask for no pockets if you wish), and bra strap holders. You can feel in the styles and details that women had a hand in the designs!

    6. OperaArt*

      Another eShakti fan, here. I have over a dozen dresses from them. Also blouses, which come with hidden modesty buttons at the chest area.
      One suggestion—if you are getting a custom fitted item and the fabric isn’t stretchy, tell them an upper arm measurement slightly larger than your own.

    7. Anona*

      A really professional woman of size mentioned that she got her dress from eshakti when I complimented her on it in a meeting. She said she really likes them, and her clothes always looked great. She mentioned that she uses the customizing service.

    8. Kate*

      I really like eShakti, with a few caveats.

      1) you have to figure out what material you like from their range. I got a few pieces whose fabric felt really cheap, others where it was amazing. Now I know which is which, and avoid the former.

      2) I use the customizing service, for sure, otherwise there’s no point!

      3) wait for sales. They frequently have at least 40% off.

    9. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Back when I wore dresses and skirts, I bought frequently from eShakti, and generally loved what I got.

      A few observations:

      – The sizing does tend to run a little small; size up if you’re borderline and don’t hesitate to give custom measurements.

      – A lot of the fabrics tend to be quite thin, though I didn’t find them to be poor quality, just lightweight. If you live in a cooler climate, assume you might need to layer what you get from them.

    10. ket*

      Absolutely customize. It may take a bit of time to figure out what fabrics and cuts you like from their selection (for me the cotton is a total win in certain cuts, but not others; I prefer the very tailored dresses rather than the looser or more flowing ones; etc.). I like a lot of their stuff (some are summer favorites, others got me through winter maternity without being maternity) and have had just a few fails.

      It is true that they’re not making a drastically different pattern for different body types, just adjusting the measurements on a base pattern. As I’m petite, wide-shouldered, and incredibly short-waisted, with a 7 and 12 inch difference between waist and bust/hips respectively to boot, this has mean that I have sometimes had dresses that were hard to get on because of the way the pattern and the zipper were set up. Like, I need to bend over & wiggle to get it on over my shoulders but it looks great and is comfortable once zipped (and it’s not hard to zip). So no, it’s not quite scaled up from the smallest size — but making adjustments like mine can make certain pattern constructions work better than others. I still keep buying because it looks nice and is fun to wear, even if I have to wiggle to get that waist part of the dress over my shoulders. One woman I talked with had a figure that just made their pattern template not work at all (just the shape of her torso) but it seems like they can accommodate many shapes.

  49. gecko*

    I have a really large poster-type thing I want to frame. It’s along the lines of 4′ x 3′ though those aren’t the exact dimensions. Does anyone have advice for DIY frames, reused frames, premade frames ?

    I’m good with anything that doesn’t cost more than a hundred bucks, definitely not more than two hundred. I’m fairly handy and up for projects but don’t have a ton of woodworking space.

    1. Paralegal*

      I worked in a frame shop when I was first out of school. You’re not likely to find a premise frame that size. It’s such a large size that it’s have to be custom made. I’d say Michael’s but they’re pretty overpriced and so are places like Hobby Lobby. You might check your locally owned frame shops to see if they have some cheaper frames by the foot and frame it. You’ll also probably need to get plastic for the glass rather than actual glass. I don’t think regular glass comes in that size.

      1. gecko*

        Thank you! Yeah, I’m ok with that plastic covering. I figured I wouldn’t be able to find something premade, and I appreciate the confirmation.

    2. Occasional Baker*

      Just as an option, have you gotten any sort of quote from Michaels? Often they’ll have sales on framing, and if you can wait, it might be a great option. We once had a whole page of newspaper framed, but with really expensive preservative glass, and I think it was about $250. But I also think you can sometimes see sales of up to 40 or 50% on the framing. Might be something to consider. I once tried to frame a poster myself using a very inexpensive frame, and it was a catastrophe. They’re very unstable

      1. gecko*

        Yeah, my worry is that the cost is going to increase significantly with the big size—but I’ll keep an eye out for sales. Thank you!

    3. noahwynn*

      If there’s an Ikea close by they have some large frames in that size. They come with a print but you can swap it out or just put your poster on top. I bought one because I actually liked the print even though I’m sure it is in 1 million households. It was around $65.

    4. Red Sky*

      I’ve had really good luck finding large frames (with horrid art) for cheap (like $5-$10) at thrift stores and then getting a mat professionally cut to fit the art to the frame, that way the frame doesn’t have to exactly fit the art’s measurements. I’ve also saved any mats I’ve gotten in those thrift store frames because sometimes they can be trimmed to fit other art and frames.

      In fact, just glancing around my house I’d say 80% of the art on my walls is framed in thrift store frames. I also keep notes and pics in my phone of measurements for art I want to frame in case I see something that might work whenever I’m randomly browsing a thrift store or garage sale. Just don’t forget to bring a measuring tape.

      1. fposte*

        Yes! I did a custom frame like that–I just miter-sawed the frame and reglued it together, with extra spackle and brackets because my work is shoddy.

        I’m not sure if that would work for something as large as 3’x4′, though–you’d need to combine frames, and I’d want them lightweight but wide enough to take screws for reinforcing brackets across joins, especially if you were going to put glass or plastic over it. But it’s worth considering.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I have heard of people using molding from lumber stores. Sometimes you can find decorative pieces on their clearance racks. I have had a lot of luck in the early spring or checking out clearance stores for building supplies.

      By the time you put backing on this, it could be very heavy, so you may want to think about weight before you start.

      You might get lucky at a tag sale and find an old window or mirror that is close enough in size. And you might be able to piece together a clever set up. I do love the look of old windows decorated up and hanging on the walls.

    6. They Don’t Make Sunday*

      A design blog I read recommends Framebridge. At that size, you may be pushing $200 with them, though. I have used Poster Frame Depot; it’s as cheapie as it sounds but it gets the job done.

  50. QuittingSocial*

    Have any other millenials had difficulty in their social circle while stepping away from social media? I’m guessing this is easier if you’re older than that which is why I’m putting the call out to my fellow 30-ish people lol.

    I deleted facebook off my phone months ago on a whim to help me stay more productive. Turns out it helped my mental health A TON so I’ve basically quit using it and only go to Facebook to check in on certain groups every couple of weeks for professional things. Basically, I’m not getting any updates from my friends via FB anymore, nor am I sharing. But I am still active on Instagram (where I post my artwork) and Twitter (where I tweet mostly as a professional).

    Trouble is, people are surprisingly bothered by my FB absence. Which is odd to me because it’s not like I was ever super active. I’ve actually had people mention that they’re upset that I haven’t posted photos/videos from various things (every time this happens I send the photos to the person so THEY can post them). It’s also happened a few times that I’ve texted a friend to ask what’s up and they’re kind of upset that I don’t know something that just happened to them already. Naturally I don’t know about people getting married, having babies, getting sick, etc which– I hate to say I don’t care but– honestly, some of my “friends” on facebook I barely know so I kind of don’t.

    I’m not sure I’m really looking for scripts or anything– just like– some sign from someone that’s done this that people eventually actually get over this and accept it. These are all people I’ve known for 10-15 years (more if family) so I’m fairly confident our relationships will ride this out but idk what to say or do in the meantime to not offend them. I do know that a couple of the people that have gotten upset with me have wanted to quit in the past, so maybe I’m touching nerves in that way?

    1. Kathenus*

      I’m not the demographic you’re directing this to, but I get it. I’m not on FB, never have been. I have had some colleagues in non-profit volunteer orgs I’m involved in, and some family, that seem to take it personally that I won’t join to be able to connect with them that way. It’s taken a while, and a couple of people didn’t get over it, but I just don’t keep up the conversation about it.

      It’s their issue, not yours. If you are happy with your choice, stick to it. You don’t need to justify it, nor disparage their being on it, but also shouldn’t engage in a debate about your rejoining if it’s not what you want to do.

    2. fposte*

      Could be. But it’s also kind of like if you’d said you won’t text with anybody or talk on the phone anymore. Some people are going to be sad and hurt that you’re not going to be in touch with them. I think that’s a valid emotion on their part, and it doesn’t have to mean they’re insecure about the medium.

      I’m not saying you need to engage on FB–I don’t really either. But that means I’m not in contact with some people I really enjoy, because our communications preferences just don’t mesh. If they’re ragging you about it they should stop, but their acceptance won’t necessarily mean that the relationship gets transferred to a different platform. (And again, maybe that’s an okay thing if you were mostly getting buried under FB-only friends.)

    3. noahwynn*

      34 here and have a Facebook I never use. I have people comment that I never post on Facebook, and it is true, I don’t. I deleted the app from my phone and basically only have a FB account because it is used to sign in to other things. I primarily use Instagram and prefer it because of the focus on photos.

      If someone makes a comment to me I generally just mention that I don’t use FB but I post on Instagram so it’s better to catch me there. That seems to end most conversations about it and we move on to something else.

    4. Grapey*

      I’ve never been a huge SM user, but when the few people that gave me crap about how I use it complained, I ind of just dropped them. I don’t want friends that get dramatic over social media. It’s not about “people getting over it”, it’s about YOU getting over their reactions. What you’re doing now by sending pics directly after someone complains is perfect. The other people, well if they freak out over a “I’m too busy for FB”, do you really want them in your life?

      I’ve found that most people that were obsessed with SM to the point they would criticize my use for it were not really very interesting people to be around in the first place. People that are off having real lives that I want to be a part of don’t share it all over FB.

    5. Lepidoptera*

      I never joined any social media, and it does have a cost. I miss out on a lot of announcements, milestones, and even a couple of funerals. But it’s both a lifestyle choice and an infosec choice, and in your case it’s also a health issue. Anyone who refuses to accept that is an obstacle to your wellbeing.

      Think of it in more literal terms, because mental health can sometimes be harder to define in concrete terms. Would you feel guilty if these same people were hassling you to be more sedentary, or to binge on junk food, or to stop seeing the dentist?

    6. PX*

      I’m in a similar position, I also stopped using Facebook regularly – mainly because I hate what it’s become. I miss the days when I would actually see what my friends had posted in chronological order vs random comments and likes from who knows when…

      I guess I’m luckier than you in that I’ve not really had much pushback from it. Most people in my circles have moved away from it as well and for me, the way to keep touch with most people is via phone (WhatsApp as I’m in Europe). I very occasionally log in just to check if I’ve missed something (party invites tend to be the one thing that happen via Facebook ) but honestly, most of my close friends would invite me personally anyway, so if I miss something from a vague acquaintance – I’m not too fussed.

      So I would say – wait it out. But also, feel free to push back a little on people who rag on you about missing things. I find it helps to always have an alternative contact means (so I go: ” oh I’m not on Facebook but you can always find me on Whatsapp!) and sometimes remind people that if they only posted things on Facebook you wont have seen it. After that, like you say – just own your decision and if people are upset about it – that’s their issue, not yours!

    7. Washi*

      Honestly, you’re just doing what a lot of teens are doing! Among the younger people I know, there’s a feeling that FB isn’t really cool anymore and other forms of social media are taking over. I’m in my 20s and lots of my friends now organize events by email because so many aren’t on FB anymore. So if this is a trend, you may eventually find more and people joining you!

    8. Lora*

      Am an older Gen Xer and people get up my butt about not being on Facebook. My cousin recently posted her father’s funeral info only on Facebook, I found out too late to request the time off work, sent a card to cousin with a donation in his name to his favorite charity and now she’s Not Speaking to me. A bunch of friends and acquaintances only do Facebook and act like I’m asking them to send smoke signals or carrier pigeons when I tell them they can email, WhatsApp or text if they want instead. There’s a lot of reactions from various social circles where I’m told I did (whatever) thoughtlessly – because someone announced to the world a thing only on Facebook and I had no idea.
      So far:
      -Was completely unaware of various break-ups, A cheating on B, romantic changes in my social circles. One couple in particular apparently broke up years ago but still live in the same house, have a child together, own a business together…but broke up on Facebook and I was supposed to know this by magic.
      -Colleague came out as non-binary…only on Facebook. Didn’t correct me when I used old pronouns, just got annoyed with me.
      -Side gig that’s more of a hobby only announced opportunities on Facebook. Owner got pissy when she couldn’t get hold of me and had to cancel events…but didn’t try to call, email, text, etc. Even though she has my contact info and has used it before.
      -Have missed, in addition to the funeral, various family events, birth announcements and holidays. Nobody bothered to tell me, then got pissy when I didn’t show up and created a whole narrative of how I hate them in their heads. Um, I didn’t go to Thanksgiving because you didn’t invite me…”we put it on Facebook!”

      On the plus side, I’ve also missed a TON of drama from the A-hole Ex; a lot of political arguments with, apparently, Russian bots; scammers, Raising Awareness Challenges, teenagers acting foolish, and asinine marketing schemes; infosec compromises and other hazards of these modern times; distant acquaintances picking nonsense political fights; loss of respect for many people who feel compelled to publish foolishness, who nevertheless I must interact with daily; pleas for Thoughts and Prayers for self-inflicted bullsht. On the whole it’s a win. Agree strongly with whoever said, you kinda don’t want to spend much time with people who are really into social media. It’s insanely frustrating to me to make time in my schedule for someone, and they spend the whole time on their devices doing that SIWOTI thing while I’m trying to have a conversation.

      1. tangerineRose*

        One thing with Facebook – it’s easy to miss stuff on it even if you check it regularly. I wouldn’t post a big announcement on Facebook unless I was OK with people missing it because even people who use it might miss the announcement.

    9. zyx*

      Another millennial not on FB/IG here! I’ve missed lots of invitations to things, and I assume I’ll miss more in the future. Leaving social media weakened my relationships with friendly acquaintances—I would have occasionally shown up to see their bands, attended their loosely organized events (like park hangouts), or congratulated them on their baby/artwork/new job/transition if I’d known. As a result, I’ve also probably missed opportunities to turn some friendly acquaintances into good friends.

      But after a couple years, my actual friends now know I’m not on FB and care enough to contact me separately. IMO, since I’m the one that opted out of their usual communication method, it’s up to me to contact them to catch up if I want to maintain our relationship. This was especially true right after I quit FB since not everyone knew I’d done it. But by now, my close friends remember that I’m not there any more. I feel like I have fewer but deeper connections, and that’s fine.

      One of my friends quit FB before me, and for a while her texts often started with something like, “Hey, I’m not on FB and would love to catch up in person!” Maybe that would be helpful to you while your friends adjust.

    10. Anon Anon Anon*

      I’m 40 (though often thought to be younger) and I get a lot of judgment for being low key on social media. I think it’s a good filter at times, but it can cause problems. What a world we live in today.

  51. Lucy*

    I’m poorly and cross about it and spouse is taking the offspring to see Endgame so I can have some peace and quiet but I’ve been waiting all week to go with them instead of going alone the day it came out so I’m extra annoyed about that!

    Any light sympathies for what ought to be short-lived and forgotten about gratefully accepted!

    Hope everyone else is in better health this weekend and that those with chronic conditions are doing ok.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I’m sorry you feel bad and can’t go. I hope you’re better soon and get to see it. It’s the kind of thing that benefits from more than one screening, so your spouse may not fuss about seeing it again with you.

      1. Lucy*

        Thank you! That’s good to hear. I usually geek out with eldest child so I plan to go alone or take him for a second viewing.

    2. StrikingFalcon*

      Sorry you’re not feeling well! Hope you feel better soon and get to see the movie soon too.

  52. Roseberriesmaybe*

    Americans! My dear friend is moving to your shores to marry her (currently) long distance partner. I want to get a gift voucher for her- can you please advise what are the most popular vouchers over there? She won’t be able to work for a few months with her visa, so I want to get her something useful, like are there pre-buyable grocery vouchers? She’ll be living in Florida. Thanks for any help!

    1. Kathenus*

      If she’ll be in Florida, Publix is a great grocery store chain for getting a gift card/vouchers.

      1. Almost Academic*


        Publix is basically the FL state grocery store, even if it’s not my favorite. They have a huge selection, which might be overwhelming to someone new to the area. Definitely a good “welcome to Florida” gift.

        I also really like Target as well.

    2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Target too – she can get groceries or house stuff or clothes if needed!

      1. noahwynn*

        Target gift card would be my vote as well. They have pretty much everything.

      2. Lilysparrow*

        Target is probably going to be the most all-around useful because it’s a full grocery store & pharmacy as well as a department store. Some people even do a wedding or baby registry there.

        For just housewares, Bed Bath & Beyond is a popular nationwide chain. And for specialty upscale/gourmet kitchen items, Williams-Sonoma.

      3. Lcsa99*

        Yup! Do this. She can get food stuffs if she needs, but she can also get stuff like makeup or toiletries that might feel like a splurge if money is tight.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Amazon is universal. If they’ll be in a place they own, another idea is one of the big hardware chains. I prefer Lowes over Home Depot partly because they have more home decor options, but maybe check the websites for location(s) near y I ur friend’s new town.

  53. Fisher*

    I have a weird thing, not exactly a phobia… When I see photos of the earth from space, I get freaked out and I can’t look. Or if I’m reading about a city or country in Wikipedia and a picture of that place taken from space appears, I sort of whimper and close the screen fast. It doesn’t really bother me if it’s just land, but if there’s any water in the picture, I can’t look at it. And an island surrounded by water? OMG. Can’t handle it. Am I the only one in the world with this strange problem?

    1. JediSquirrel*

      I’m not a doctor, but it sounds like astrophobia, which can be treated just like any other phobia. Cognitive behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, medication, etc., can all help you with this. This is not common, but you are not alone. If it’s affecting your quality of life (or not, and it seems to be getting more intense), please know that you can get help for it.

    2. Dee Em*

      I am kind of opposite, but have a similar phobia/reaction to stars, planets, solar systems, black holes, etc. Just cannot deal with the concept of the universe at all. Cannot look up in the sky at night. No TV shows or planetarium visits for me! Lots of moon and mars and black hole news lately with pictures I cannot look at in my twitter feeds. So I sympathize. Sorry no advice. Also close up photographs of insects in books freak me out. I drop the book, I am even afraid to touch the page!

  54. StudentA*

    Meditation or spa retreats!

    Tell me about your experience. I’m looking for ideas for a week-long or more meditation or spa retreat, anywhere in the world. I work from home, so I would prefer the option to do some work on the retreat (eye roll–I know I’m lame, LOL.) Have you tried it? Was it worth the money? Details!!!!

    1. Nessun*

      I have no knowledge, but I love the idea! I’d really like to hear people’s answers too.

    2. Bluewall*

      Generally on meditation retreats you are actively in the retreat at all times – the two I’ve been on, not even time for reading. I am hoping to go on another soon!

  55. Detective Right-All-The-Time*

    This might be too work-related, but it’s not actually about work.

    There is a little coffee shop run by high school students at my office. They get school credit for it, and are paid on days they work that school is out. It’s a really neat program and I’ve built some sweet little friendships in passing with a couple of the kids. A lot of them will be graduating soon, and I’ve been thinking about getting them graduation cards/gifts but I don’t know how to go about it without making anyone feel left out. I would only want to give substantial gifts to the few I actually chat with on a regular basis, but I don’t know if that means I need to give gifts to all of the students or if they’re old enough now to not expect to get the same as everyone around them.


    1. Lilysparrow*

      They are 18 or about to turn 18, right?

      If they haven’t learned by now that individuals have different relationships with each other, and that comparing gifts is crass, they never will. Treat them like grown-ups, and be just as tactful about giving gifts privately, as you would with your adult co-workers.

    2. Bagpuss*

      I think you are fine giving gifts to just a few. You can write in the card that you’ve enjoyed your conversations.

  56. Elizabeth West*

    I don’t know if I was off base on this, but it worked out in my favor anyway. I’m struggling with a vague sense of guilt about it.

    Last week, when I went to see Avengers: Endgame at Alamo Drafthouse, I ordered the chicken shawarma wrap (haha) off their special event menu. It came with a side of couscous.

    Both items were cold. In the case of the couscous, it was like it had just been frozen and barely re-thawed before I ordered it. I know you can serve couscous cold as a salad and this was kind of like that, but it was so frigid it was flavorless, like eating an ice cube.

    The sandwich was barely room temperature. Am I incorrect in thinking that a kebab-style sandwich is supposed to be hot? I have never before had a cold shawarma or gyro.

    They initially messed up my order and brought me a shawarma bowl instead of the wrap I asked for (there were minor differences in ingredients), but the pre-show was kind of loud and the server probably didn’t hear me. I put up a note and they fixed it right away, so no problem there. I still left a tip.

    Later, I messaged Alamo on Facebook and very nicely said something to the effect that while the menu items didn’t suck, they were disappointing because of the temperature issue. I told them I just wanted to let them know. They were incredible— they put a voucher thingy for a free entree in my Victory account.

    Now I feel bad because I ate most of the sandwich. But the movie had already started, I was hungry, and I didn’t want to miss anything or disturb anyone else to deal with a minor food issue, so I ate as much as I could before abandoning it. It wasn’t like it had glass or a mouse in it or anything! Am I wrong to feel bad about the freebie?

    1. Bagpuss*

      I don’t think you need to feel bad. You didn’t demand a refund or anything, and it sounds as though you were polite when you let them know about the issue.
      So I would see it as them apologising for the problem you raised.

    2. Lilysparrow*

      Unless you lied and said you couldn’t eat it at all, or otherwise misled them, then you’re fine.

      The freebie is not to replace an inedible item. It’s to make you more likely to come back and spend money on other things, and bring people with you.

      You had a story about yucky food. If you tell that story to yourself or friends when planning an outing, you might decide to go elsewhere.

      Now you have a story about enthusiastic customer service, with a tinge of guilt/obligation. This story is more likely to make you a repeat customer.

      It’s a well-established and effective business strategy, and well worth the cost of a sandwich to them.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Unless they actually, literally punched me in the face, I’d be a repeat customer regardless, haha. I ADORE Alamo.

    3. T. Boone Pickens*

      I wouldn’t worry about it. It sounds like they messed up your order and did their best to rectify the error after you made them aware of it. If you’re still feeling guilty next time you go, maybe kick a couple extra bucks to your server/bartender for good karma purposes.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Thanks, y’all. I kind of felt like one of those people who goes to a restaurant, eats the entire meal, and then insists on being comped. I didn’t ask for the freebie; I just wanted them to know that the sandwich probably needs to be hot.

      My anxiety has been through the roof lately and it’s not confining itself just to big things.

      1. Book Lover*

        Sometimes I find it easier to be anxious about small things because the big things are overwhelming. If that makes sense. I find myself worrying and anxious about things that don’t matter because I am trying to avoid thinking about other things that are too scary. Anyhow, I get it. That said, this is a nonissue – you should have had a brilliant experience and instead the food wasn’t enjoyable. They value you as a customer and regret they didn’t meet your expectations. Enjoy the free entree. And virtual hugs from me if you want them.

      2. valentine*

        You reported a problem and they gave you a thrilling solution. Even untouched, the food would be trashed, so eating it wasn’t a problem and you very kindly sacrificed your food-based comfort for your neighbors’ environmental comfort. Everybody won here.

    5. Lepidoptera*

      If you’ve put this much thought into it, then I have no doubt that your letter was kind and respectful in tone, which put you above 99.5% of what their complaint department deals with on the regular. Reframe it in your mind: you gave someone with a difficult job one easy, pleasant task during their work day.

  57. Semi-new crafter anon*

    So if other crafters are packing it in early (45 min left) is it reasonable to forgo the usual rule about never doing it?!

    To be fair we’re in a little side room behind the main crafter room and it’s been slow all day … I don’t think anybody in here sold much of anything…..not sure about the other room …

    1. Kathenus*

      As someone who frequently tries to get to events like this after work since I work weekends regularly, when people have closed up early I always find it very disappointing. Understandable, maybe, but disappointing nonetheless.

      1. Semi-new crafter anon*

        That’s fair and I probably shouldn’t have done it just because most of the room was already doing it but what’s done is done… .oh well.. I didn’t peak into the other room to see what it was like in there as I left but I’m pretty sure it was just the people in the small room that I was in that were giving up in the last hour. That room was larger and PACKED with crafters so…. I don’t know how many people made it over to the small room compared to the larger room …

    2. Tris Prior*

      I try not to do this unless I am literally the only one who is not packing up yet. Though, I have on rare occasions when the show’s a real dog and I know I am not going to do it again (as sometimes doing so will result in not being invited back; some organizers are sticklers about staying until close).

      Sorry about the bad show. Been there many times, it sucks!

      1. Semi-new crafter anon*

        Yeah – I’ve already decided I won’t even bother going back to this particular one next year and I’m debating continuing them anyway – So far I’ve only made back a little over what the entry fee actually was and at this I didn’t even make that … so it’s kind of pointless… but we’ll see. I was doing it as a side gig to see if I could make a little extra money but so far it hasn’t done much but cost me money.

    3. CoffeeforLife*

      Hi Crafters!!! I didn’t know there were any here :) I’m a jewelry maker/silversmith.

      I have had quite a few last minute sales that I wouldn’t have had if I’d packed up early. I also fear getting yelled at by the organizer so I just painfully wait it out if the show is terrible.

      I’m bummed that I moved from a place that has so many shows every weekend to a state that…doesn’t. It’s like a craft fair black hole.

    4. ImJustHereForThePoetry*

      Please don’t pack up early. It is rude and I don’t know why so many crafters seem to do this. After spending so much time setting up, they should be able to wait an extra 20 minutes until the end of the show to pack up.

      (When I was a craft show organizer, I would take note of the people who packed up early and not invite them back the next year.)

  58. Carbovore*

    I’ve been having a really hard year for a number of reasons and some of you may recall a letter of mine being posted here regarding my toxic work environment and the dept. lead in particular being a real hellbeast to deal with. I’ve been doing a lot of self-introspection and came across an article called, “Are You a Highly Sensitive Person?” Woof, it hit me in my core. I’ve since bought the book, “The Highly Sensitive Person” and I think this is TOTALLY me and why I have been unable to deal with toxic/difficult workplaces more than others. (In basic terms, a highly sensitive person is constantly thinking, very easily overstimulated by their environment, and can be incredibly empathic and emotional.) In lots of chats with my direct supervisor, she feels she too is a highly sensitive person but as she is two decades older than me, has told me she has learned how to “shut off” work when she leaves for the day. I have found this part of it particularly challenging. I derive a lot of purpose and satisfaction from work–I have a chronic disease that often leaves my afternoons filled with relaxing and rest–so diving into an after-work or weekend hobby isn’t really something I can do (or even want to, most of the time). So, I end up constantly thinking about work, to-dos, future projects, how will crazy dept. head react to X, etc. and it adds to my stress.

    My question to the commentariat is: Are you able to “shut off” work? If so, how do you do this? What tricks have helped you? How do you “mentally go on vacation”?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Make a list of what you will do at work the next day. I made my list right before leaving. This does help because you can see in front of you the things your mind keeps going over and over.

      At home you can also have a list of to-dos for home to keep yourself busy.
      You are saying that you need your down time, so in this case I would have some reading materials lined up. For me, I would have to be reading to teach myself something. It’s one of the few ways I can read and drown out the world.

      And I do work with a drink with electrolytes in it. A tired mind will go over the same things over and over… minerals can in some cases allow us to be more in control of our thoughts. We can tell ourselves “enough!” and be more apt to stop repeating the same tiring thoughts if we have some minerals in our plan.

      1. WrenF*

        Can I ask a question about those electrolyte drinks? Do you drink those in the daytime or the evening?

  59. Ginger Sheep*

    Hi! I’m heading out to a professionnal conference in Washington DC the last week of May, and have set aside one day for sightseeing. I’ve never been to DC (I am based in France), and would like to know what readers would recommend doing/seeing, since I only have one day, and there seems to be so much to see and do! The conference is at the Folger Library, so I am guessing we will get a tour of it, and I am staying not far from the venue.

    1. BRR*

      I would try and hit the sites along the mall. The Lincoln memorial is at one end and it’s free. You can then walk down and see the Washington monument, the white house, and the congress building at the other end. The Smithsonian Museums along the mall are wonderful but you won’t be able to see all of them.

    2. Llellayena*

      The Spy Museum is awesome! Also, if you like news, definitely see the Newseum, I’ve heard they’re closing (or maybe moving?) in the next year or so. I could add much more but you did say one day!

      1. Dan*

        The Spy Museum on 7th street closed awhile back… they’re building a new one that is supposed to open this month. The Newseum will close its current location on Dec 31 this year.

        For the sake of conversation, both museums are paid entry, whereas Smithsonian is free.

    3. esemes*

      The Library of Congress is close to Folger and gorgeous. I prefer any of the Smithsonian museums and the National Gallery of Art to the Newseum and the Spy Museum. Walking the monuments at night is amazing (and the weather will be fabulous in the evenings this time of year). It is super safe to walk around at night near the monuments. If you are alone, I recommend taking a cab or ride sharing service home from the monuments (note: it can be hard for drivers to find you when at the monuments, so try to find a waiting spot with a fixed address).

      Everyday at 6 pm there is a free show at the Kennedy Center.

      DC has so much wonderful culture! Enjoy!! :)

    4. Washi*

      The Phillips gallery in Dupont is free on weekdays! It’s a lovely building if you feel like you just want a mouthful of art, as opposed to the National Gallery, which is more of a banquet.

      If you’re not originally from the US the American Indian museum would be one of the more unique experiences, and the food is great.

      If you want to do something non-museum, there’s a boathouse in Georgetown that rents kayaks. Theodore Roosevelt Island is also a lovely little green getaway.

      If you want something truly off the beaten path in a non tourist area, the Frederick Douglass house in Anacostia is free, has awesome tours, and has a lovely view of the city. You might be better off ubering though because it’s a good 15 min walk to the anacostia metro station.

      1. ket*

        As someone from the US, the American Indian museum was fascinating — I felt like I really learned something about the place *I* grew up, even though I was in DC! And the food was really good.

        Other than that I did was outdoor monuments, Ethiopian food, and bookstores.

  60. fposte*

    Anybody keep chickens? I have a weird chicken question.

    My neighbors are away and their backyard chickens are getting chicken-sat while they’re gone (in a drop-by-and-feed-them way, not a staying in the house way). It worries me a little that I haven’t seen the chicken-sitter. How would I know if the chickens are being fed and watered by looking at them or their enclosure?

    1. Bluebell*

      I have no idea, but just love the fact you are asking about chickens. If no one answers by Sunday I can ask a friend who has chickens.

    2. Lilysparrow*

      Can you see food and water in the coop from your vantage point? My neighbors used to have chickens, and their food was scattered all over the place – grain, veggie scraps, etc. Water was in a sort of plastic bucket/bottle contraption to prevent spilling, but you could see if it was full.

      I would think they would flop over and look pretty sick if they hadn’t had water in a couple of days.

      1. fposte*

        I can’t see without getting close enough to look weird to the rest of the neighborhood. They seem contented, though, and are making happy noises and looked curiously at me when I peeked my head around the corner. (They are very handsome chickens.) Are there automatic feeders/waterers for chickens the way they are for house pets? I could totally see these people having something like that.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Yes, there are definitely automatic feeders and waterers for chickens. Do they have a coop or a shed they live in? The feeder might be in there if it’s a shed. My ex and I had a great big buckety-type thing that hung from the roof of the shed that you could fill with grain. The grain spilled out the bottom into a rim they could eat from. They could peck around in that for a solid week before running out. Plus, if they’re out in the yard, they’ll eat grass and bugs — the bugs are starting to come out now.

          If they look happy and perky, they’re probably okay.

          1. fposte*

            Yes, there’s a shed! It connects on to the chickens’ screened/roofed outdoor run, and while I don’t think the chickens have full access to it (I’ve seen the door left open when they’re doing yardwork–the people, not the chickens) I think they can get in. So I bet that’s what’s going on.

    3. Ellen*

      I’m assuming that you can’t see their waterer or their feeder. If you can get a look at the chickens, their crop will bulge on one side after they’ve eaten.

      1. Healthcare Worker*

        We often leave our chickens with someone checking on them once every 3 days. They have automatic feeders and waters; we have several of each. If the chickens look and act happy, I imagine they’re fine! I love that you’re concerned about them.

    4. Not A Manager*

      Do you have your neighbors’ contact info? I don’t think it’s intrusive or weird at all just to text them. If I had pets, I’d be really happy if my neighbor were concerned about them.

      1. fposte*

        I don’t, unfortunately. But I’m pretty sure there’s a feeder in the shed from what Elizabeth says.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          If you want to take a closer look, go over with some lettuce or other greens–kale stems even. They love that stuff, and you’re just giving them a treat if anyone comments.

    5. paul*

      It doesn’t take long to feed and water a small flock (even in the absence of automated equipment), so it’s 100% possible you’re just missing them (I’m assuming we’re talking like, a half dozen backyard hens or something here, not dozens and dozens).

      I haven’t raised any poultry in years, but if they’re acting and sounding normally they’re almost certainly fine. Your other comments make it clear they have shelter and I’d bet the food and water are kept in the coop (to avoid things like skunks or possums or other birds going after it).

      If they were hungry enough you’d start to see them turn on each other; chickens get *nasty* quick.

    6. All Hail Queen Sally*

      At a previous place I lived, my next door neighbors had a few chickens. One day I noticed that every time I went out in my back yard, the chickens would scream. It was so odd that I went over in their yard to check on them, and they had not a drop of water and hardly any food. I knew the people were out of town and a friend was pet sitting, so I just went ahead and gave them food and water. (I had chicken sat in the past.) The chickens drank for 45 minutes straight and I had to go give them more water. After the neighbors returned, I told them about it. They told me later that the friend had forgotten about the chickens.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        OMG the poor chickens. They were screaming for help! I’m so glad you saved them!

  61. Goose*

    Hope everyone is having a lovely day! I’m headed off to my first concert/festival in IDK how many years later this afternoon.

    I have a roommate dilemma of sorts. Some background: DH is deployed for a year, BIL is 35 and the roommate, I am 32/no siblings.

    To make a long story short, the three of us have lived together for a long time and DH and I always bought all the groceries (to my annoyance). Now that DH is deployed, I buy my own groceries and BIL can buy his own.

    I recently left for a month long business trip and ate all my food before leaving. BIL complained to DH that I left the fridge empty. I told DH this was true, however the food I ate or gave to my mom before leaving was a few fruits and vegetables. The fridge was otherwise pretty bare already. BIL does not eat fruits or vegetables and does not cook. BIL buys fast food or frozen meals. I asked DH if he expected me to go grocery shopping for his brother and he said no, but I “could be nicer to him”. I told DH that I am not his brother’s housekeeper, chef, sister, girlfriend, wife, or mother.

    Now, it’s not that I won’t get things for him at the grocery store if I’m there. I’ve asked if he wants anything and so far he’s said no and I am not a mind reader. I know BIL is struggling to go because it’s a chore. This is actually the second time DH has been deployed, leaving BIL and I as roommates. The first time I made the mistake of continuing the family grocery runs and, admittedly, I grew resentful. Before DH left this time, I told both I would not be doing that again. I do not think BIL took me seriously until I left for my trip and “left him with no food”.

    So, I don’t know. Part of me feels bad, but I am mostly annoyed. As I mentioned above, I don’t have any siblings and I wonder if I would think differently if I had that type of relationship growing up. I don’t know what it’s like to love or have a bond with a sibling. Maybe I would have more empathy for BIL, but I really don’t. He is an able-bodied, 35 year old man who has repeatedly said he is going to move out on his own. Isn’t this good practice? Am I missing something?

    BIL and I actually get along really well, but I hate that I am expected to coddle him* with DH being gone.

    *BIL has made other complaints to DH, including I do not greet him cheerfully all the time and I don’t share my left overs (aka my work lunch for the next day).

    1. fposte*

      “I know BIL is struggling to go because it’s a chore.” Uh–isn’t it a chore for you too? Is the grocery store magically closer when you go?

      Maybe BIL has some mental health stuff going on that makes this life stage more difficult for him, but even so that doesn’t translate into you being obligated to be his keeper. DH is, I think, sucked into family narrative that life is harder for BIL in some way, which may be true, but you’re letting the dude live with you rent free, which I think is about as nice as anybody could ask for.

      1. Goose*

        LOL, oh it’s definitely a chore for me too! I go to grocery store at like 8/9 pm and Costco on Friday nights to avoid as many people as possible.

        I’ll come back and comment on the other things you mentioned. But you’re basically spot on.

    2. Kathenus*

      I think you’re handling it perfectly. You gave a heads up that this time you won’t be getting the groceries, and you ask BIL if he wants anything (which TBH is above and beyond given the past situation). Be nice and courteous (consider if your frustration is causing you to act differently to BIL in non-grocery situations), but otherwise stand your ground I think you’re striking exactly the right balance.

    3. Bagpuss*

      Idont think you’re being unreasonable but I would question why your BIL would complain to your husband rather than speaking to you, if he is unhappy.
      It’s not reasonable to expect you to cover his groceries or cook for him

      1. anon for this*

        I agree that you handled this perfectly.

        Will say that some families have weird dynamics. Why did my mom ask me to tell my brother to bring his Lactaid to a family event this weekend? Well, because in my family we have bad habits; sister A should tell sister B that brother C’s event is going to be good for brother D’s child to go to. What are the event details? Well maybe ask dad. But doesnt’ brother C know? Good point. Never thought of that.

    4. Lilysparrow*

      This isn’t a sibling thing. This is some kind of weird dynamic between your husband and his brother, possibly from their upbringing. Was their mom an over-doer who didn’t require them to learn “women’s work”?

      He’s a grown man. He can either accept your thoughtful offer to pick something up for him, or go get his own food.

      The problem isn’t that buying groceries is a chore. The problem is that he doesn’t want to have to plan or make decisions. He wants magic fairies to make food appear so he can just show up and grab it. Five bucks says he’ll be wiping his behind with paper towels before you get back, because it’s too complicated to buy TP.

      And a grown man should be able to speak to you directly if he has a problem with you, instead of triangulating with your husband and stressing out his brother with this nonsense while he’s deployed. What a brat. Your husband needs to have his mind on his work, not mediating ridiculous complaints from a man-child.

      1. StellaBella*

        was going to say something similar. this is a grown-ass man. he can shop and make his own food just fine.

      2. tangerineRose*

        I agree with Lilysparrow, but if she’s right about the paper towels, it might be worth making sure you’re well stocked with TP :)

    5. Myrin*

      This is absolutely not some special sibling thing (as a point of reference: I’m 28 and have a 23-year-old sister, who I also live with), so don’t worry about having missed anything just because you’re on only child. Honestly, your BIL simply sounds like a whiny and immature person and you’re very rightfully annoyed!

    6. Elizabeth West*

      BIL is being a jerk, frankly. He’s 35 years old and expects his sister-in-law to shop for him and take care of shit for him? Grow up, guy.

      1. tangerineRose*

        Yeah, this is weird. He should be able to take care of himself and not go whining to his brother about this.

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Query: would you be willing to continue the grocery shopping if he was contributing to the bill? I do all the grocery shopping for me, my husband and our housemate, but we established ahead of time that the boys each pay a flat monthly fee along with their rent to contribute to groceries, TP, household supplies etc. And they only get what I buy unless they put specific requests on my list, I don’t ask them every time I go.

      “No” is also a totally valid answer to that, just a point to consider – namely, which part of the situation is the problem part, and how can that part be fixed. Unfortunately “BIL grows up overnight and stops being a pain” is not as easy a fix as it should be and there’s no magic button you can push to make it happen.

    8. LNLN*

      The loving, kind, supportive, respectful thing for you to do is to expect your BIL (a grown man) to be responsible for his own meals and grocery shopping. You are/would be doing him no favors by providing his meals. Again, he is a grown man. It would be insulting to treat him like a 5-year old who needs his food selected and his meals prepared. And he should keep his mitts off your leftovers/lunches! You could even go so far as telling your BIL directly (and your DH) that you are backing off on being responsible for your BIL’s food so that you do NOT become resentful of that responsibility. That would make you a more cheerful roommate and a more loving SIL. Good luck!

    9. Hannah*

      Um. F that.

      A 35 year old otherwise perfectly capable man is complaining that YOU DIDN’T SHOP FOR HIM? And that you don’t give him your own food that you purchased and prepared yourself?

      Seriously. F that. I had roommates in college who were more mature.

      I mean, if he did everything else around the house with the expectation that meal prep was your part of the household contributions, OK maybe, but from what you said here I’d be surprised if he manages to wipe his own butt adequately.

      Let him get a little hungry! See if he figures out where the grocery store is.

    10. WellRed*

      Your BIL is ridiculous. I also don’t understand why DH didn’t shut.this.down. ages ago.