weekend free-for-all – June 1-2, 2019

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

Book recommendation of the week: The Great Believers, by Rebecca Makkai, about a group of friends during the early stages of the AIDS crisis. I loved it so much. The first half was good, and the second half made it one of my favorite books of all time. You will cry multiple times.

{ 1,129 comments… read them below }

  1. Workerbee*

    Removed because work-related. Sorry!

    Regulars who know the site rules: Please don’t post answers to work questions on the non-work thread. It creates more work for me to remove the responses.

    1. Workerbee*

      Yeah, it might just (work-territory). I’ve got it all saved in a text file in case I have to repost on the Friday thread. :)

      You’re right: Cultural shift is a big deal.

    2. Workerbee*

      Ah, a clarification: The publisher I have now only does children’s picture books and I don’t know if that will ever expand, so I’ll have to dive back into shopping around for the novel. Which will also take time and energy. O, the crafting of synopsis and queries, all with their own nuances per agent or publisher, how I missed thee. /s

      Congratulations for finishing two books! That’s the biggest step right there. When I think of all the unfinished stories and scraps of ideas stuffed all over the house…

      10 years down the road, I will absolutely regret not finishing this book. I have determined it’ll be finished this year, however, including the editing if I’m lucky. So that’s foremost in my mind. I would also regret not taking a good opportunity in the meantime, though. Arrgh.

    3. Workerbee*

      Holy crap in turn! #kismet

      I’ll be 44 soon, though I plan to live to at least 100 so I don’t consider myself middle-aged yet, ha. I have spent way too long just Thinking About Writing–well, authoring–in sharp contrast to having it be my dream since forever. There are a ton more opportunities now for young writers to get published than I remember “back in my day” but that could be also due to perception/area I grew up in. Or maybe I lacked gumption. I’ve been writing since I could write, but not always, you know?

      But yes, I guess I’ve always defined myself as a writer even as I have definitely not always put it first, by far. That’s a key distinction and I can spend a bit too long kicking myself for not being a writing-Mozart ere this.

      I envy your full-time remote opportunity even as I appreciate the potential pitfalls. :) I encourage you to apply anyway–why not?–and in any event, maybe it’ll help put good vibes out there to get the creativity out of your head and manifested.

      I think successful negotiation with some kind of remote work will be the key to moving my decision forward or not at all. Thank you!

    4. Workerbee*

      No, I had to keep things a bit vague just in case, so you didn’t miss anything.

      I hadn’t even thought of the risk that other aspects could seep into my writing, to its detriment. Begone, foul spot! /bastardizing Shakespeare

      I like reframing it as “and” instead of “or”! You’ve given me things to mull over that feel more positive. Thank you!

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

    Favorite overnight getaways from New York City?
    I’d like to take an overnight trip the last weekend in September – just one night – and I’m looking for ideas. I like scenic outdoor places, beaches* and wineries most of all (we already have a trip planned to the north fork of Long Island this summer), but I’m open to other ideas too. I’m not really up for more than about a three hour drive each way — so 150 miles or so from NYC.
    Thoughts? Thanks in advance!

    *My first choice was Asbury Park, NJ, but the prices at the nicer hotels there and in the immediate vicinity are stupid expensive — think $600+ per night. I’d be willing to pay half that.

    1. Lore*

      Have you done the Hudson River Art Trail? I tried a few years ago but it was a ridiculous heat wave so we drove to Olana and the Thomas Cole farm—still worth it. You could stay in Hudson or anywhere up there—west side of the river is often cheaper.

    2. I need more chocolate Häagen-Dazs*

      Ooh! My mom and I are hoping to go to NYC in June this year! I’m super excited because I’ve never been before.

      I don’t know if this is more than what you’re looking for (we’re looking at three nights, less outdoorsy, and we need to fly; too far away just to drive), but we’re using Marriott Vacations and they have great deals on hotel packages and activity ideas.

    3. Overnighter*

      Cape May
      Fire Island
      Newport, RI
      Poconos
      Martha’s Vineyard (end of Sept. might be too late to travel easily to the island though)

      All of these places are nice and scenic and pretty affordable. I’m planning on doing something similar right before the summer is officially over.

    4. Katefish*

      In Long Island, East End Bike Tours has really nice winery bike tours with lunch.
      We just had a wonderful day on the Dutchess County Rail Trail/Walkway Over the Hudson/Beacon/Henry’s at the Farm. Hiking in the Mohonk Mountain House area is also really nice.
      Seconding Newport, RI, above. The Red Parrot there might be the best restaurant in the US.
      Enjoy!

    5. Hodor*

      You should be able to get a hotel room in AP for under $200/night. We just stayed at Hotel Tides for about $150. Or try the Berkeley, the Empress, or one of the B&Bs in Ocean Grove.

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

        You’re right about Hotel Tides! I hadn’t heard of it before, but it is indeed right around $200/night.
        I’ve been leery of the Berkeley because it’s gotten scathingly bad reviews.
        The Empress was in the $300s… which maybe I can stomach… I was surprised to see, though, that it has smoking rooms! I’m astonished that’s still possible in 2019.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      North Fork girl here. Good choice… if your first motel is on the Sound, pick another on the Bay. Or vice-versa.
      Or go wild&crazy and see if you can get something South Fork for the Atlantic.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I hit send too soon…
        Also consider eastern Connecticut — Hammonessett is beautiful.

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

      Thanks for the suggestions so far!

      Cape May and the Hudson Valley are wonderful places that I love. The Hudson Valley is badly in need of some good hotels, though.

      Fire Island is high on my list. I’d love to go there. My understanding is that overnight weekend stays (or any overnight stays at all) are not really possible there, though. I may do a day visit via the ferry sometime, since I live close enough.

      Asbury Park is insanely expensive the last weekend in September. It is definitely not possible to stay there for $150 or $200 on a Saturday night. For some reason, September 28 is still considered peak season for these places. My mind is blown. $200 looks very possible on a weekday; unfortunately that’s not an option this time.

      Rhode Island and Martha’s Vineyard are also on my wish list, but probably too far for this trip (considering the horror that is I-95 weekend traffic; trains are far more relaxing but not any faster, since I have to first get to Penn Station, not an easy feat on the weekend).
      Thanks, everyone!

      1. LSC*

        Just a quick recommendation on hotels in the Hudson Valley – I loved staying at Buttermilk Falls Inn! Lovely inn with a great restaurant – Henry’s at the Farm, which Katefish mentioned above.

      2. Lore*

        Hudson itself has some lovely B&Bs and one former cheesy motel that’s now a redone swanky motel. I’ve only been in the summer so I don’t know about September pricing though.

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

          I love Ocean Grove. I’ve never been much of a B&B person (the only option in Ocean Grove) but I may need to change my thinking. But I’ve done many day trips there. It’s like going through a time warp.

    8. Non-prophet*

      Maybe New Hope PA/Lambertville NJ? Both towns are on the Delaware River. There are some pretty walking trails, great B&Bs, as well as very cute shops and restaurants. Several wineries aren’t too far away. And if you like antiques, it’s the perfect place to that. Probably about 70-75 miles max from NYC.

    9. Flying Ghoti*

      Try Point Pleasant Beach, NJ. After labor day the prices drop, so you should be able to get something there within your budget. The Windswept Motel is nice and right on the beach.

    10. Upstater-ish*

      Have you ever been to the Capital District. We are Fall. The Albany, Schenectady Troy area is as historic as it gets. Think Hamilton. We are full of craft beer, wine, small batch distilleries, and hard cider.
      And the ride from NYC is beautiful and a lot less stressful than driving to the Jersey shore.

    11. Kimmybear*

      Kennett Square/Chadd’s Ford PA – Longwood Gardens, wineries, Winterhur Museum – Bed and Breakfasts as well as hotels. Wilmington DE isn’t far for “nicer” hotels

  3. Lena Clare*

    Hello, people on sertraline/Zoloft! I commented on the thread about SSRIs last week that the side effects didn’t seem to be too bad but I think I was premature.

    I’m really struggling with them this week. Ive been on them 10 days.

    I’m sweating way more than normal and it’s really uncomfortable, plus dry mouth is so horrible – I have a sore throat and sore tongue and am getting ulcers.
    And I’m not really sleeping well at night but am shattered in the day.

    I’ve been off work ill for a week then had a week’s annual leave, I go back on Monday and I’m highly anxious about coping in work with these physical effects.

    Does anyone please have good stories about sertraline and how to cope with the dry mouth/ insomnia/ sweating? Do the side effects go away because I don’t want to carry on with them if they don’t but am scared to come off them bc my depression was pretty bad.

    Good stories only! If you wouldn’t mind keeping any horror stories to yourself :) sorry I don’t think I can manage them atm!

    1. BRR*

      I believe dry is a pretty common side effect for all anti depressants. I use biotene toothpaste and sometimes their mouthwash. They also have a dry mouth spray.

      1. Thursday Next*

        Yes to this and Blue Bunny. Dry mouth is a scourge! I also drink lots of water during the day, and I feel it makes a difference for me.

      2. tangerineRose*

        You may want to try a different anti depressant – sometimes, even if 2 different ones have dry mouth as a side effect, only 1 of them will affect you.

          1. tangerineRose*

            Yeah, it’s strange. Zoloft was a problem for me, but Prozac works fine. Of course, your results may vary.

        1. hermit crab*

          Yeah, I had a terrible time on sertraline – jittery and ill, like from too much coffee. Not great when you are trying to treat anxiety! I switched to citalopram/Celexa and have taken it on and off with no issues for years (other than withdrawal symptoms when tapering off it periodically). If the side effects are affecting your daily life like this, definitely talk to your doctor and/or pharmacist!!

    2. Blue Bunny*

      Dry mouth is so common. I needed to coat my lips and mouth corners with Aquaphor before bed, and wake up at least once to re-spray with Biotene. If I skipped those steps, I’d wake up with a mouthful of blood because my tongue cracked open.

    3. Windchime*

      I’m on sertraline and didn’t realize those were all side effects. I take a different medication to help with sleeping, and the first thing I do in the morning is take a drink of cool water to un-stick my dry mouth.

      10 days isn’t very long, so you may still be adjusting to the medication. I find the benefits outweigh the side effects for me and so I’ve been on it for over 3 years. I’m taking it combined with buspirone and I have to say that I feel better than I have for decades.

      Good luck. If you find you just can’t handle the side effects, maybe your doctor can tweak your dosage or switch you to another med.

      1. Lena Clare*

        Thanks. I’m hoping it’s because it’s still new.
        I see my GP on Tuesday so I guess I’ll have a clearer idea about what to do after I speak to her. Pretty sure the anxiety around taking these tablets are also because I’ve… you know… got anxiety!

    4. Book Lover*

      That sounds pretty bad, actually. I’d make sure I was started on a low dose, and even back off on the dose, potentially. That said, after about two weeks the side effects improve and the benefits start coming along, so it is up to you and how tolerable it is. The sweating and dry mouth are really expected, but the severity varies.

    5. Kuododi*

      I can’t give you medical advice however on a personal note I have been taking a medicine called Sucralfate for decades. It’s an old school ulcer medicine which has the happy side effect of addressing dry mouth. The brand name is Carafate. I’ve never had trouble with negative effects of this medicine. Best regards and hope things improve quickly.

      1. Lucien Nova*

        Sort of butting in here but–

        Sucralfate combats dry mouth? Maybe that’s why my melange of other meds don’t leave me parched as a desert…

        I’ve learnt a thing, thank you!

        1. Kuododi*

          Oh…I never knew about Sucralfate until years ago. I was fortunate to have been seeing an integrative endocrinologist at the time. I was desperate to get relief from the dry mouth and this Dr simply pulled out the script pad and wrote for Sucralfate. I’ve been on the stuff since then. (I’ve got a laundry list of meds at least half of which have dry mouth as a primary side effect.).

          1. Lucien Nova*

            Yeah, I’m on a bunch that do the same – actually was put on sucralfate because antacids alone don’t do much and the reflux was so bad I couldn’t eat, but hey, knowing it has other delightful side effects like that is a bonus. Thank you again!

    6. Noodles*

      I’m on sertraline and I don’t have the side effects you mentioned but I did get lots of headaches and nausea, took me about a week-two weeks of being on my final dose (worked my way up, upping the dose every week for the first three weeks) and then the side effects largely went away.

      1. Lena Clare*

        Hi, what dose are you on now? I’ve been started off on 50 mg. I had headaches and nausea for a couple of days then they went away.

        1. Noodles*

          I did a week at 25 mg, then a week at 50 and now I’m at 75 mg/day until my recheck with my doctor!

    7. anonagain*

      If you can, try to talk to you dentist about the dry mouth if it persists. Mine gave me prescription toothpaste to help prevent tooth decay when I had dry mouth.

      I really like the slightly sour dry mouth lozenges, but sugar-free hard candies also work. Lime, lemon, or any other sour flavor works to make me salivate.

      I hope you find something that works for you.

    8. Koala dreams*

      Dry mouth: I quite like the sugar free dry mouth candy that melts on your tongue. At night, put a glass of water next to your bed and sip on it before and after sleeping.
      Sorry, I don’t have any advice about the rest. Take care!

    9. Daphne*

      Just another voice to say I’ve been about two months on sertraline and the dry mouth was my worst side effect for the first two or three weeks. I’m still on 50mg a day but either I got used to it or maybe I’m making sure I’m drinking more to combat it. Can you experiment with taking it at a different time of day to help the insomnia?

      I tried citalopram years ago and only managed a week on them – felt so woozy/spaced out and there was no way I could go to work on them. Had no support from my doctor at the time so it was never followed up. This time around I’ve got a different doctor who’s checking in to see I’m doing on the meds but it’s so much better than last time!

      So I would give it another week to see if the side effects reside at all, then bring it up with your doctor to try a different brand.

    10. Socks*

      Do you take it in the morning or at night? Sertraline made me unbearably sleepy, and so I decided to just try a different med, but if I’d wanted to stick with it, my psych suggested taking it at night instead of in the morning. I guess that way, the sleepiness would be, like, at a useful time? You could ask yours about that, or just give it a try if you’re feeling experimental- it might help.

    11. Public Health Nerd*

      My mom got the sweating side effect, and it never did get better. She would drench shirts and it really bummed her out. I’ve been on zoloft a long time with no problems, but some other ssri’s have given me problems. I would say check in with your doc, maybe they could decrease your dose or switch you. If this is the first one you’re trying, it’s possible that there’s a better match for you out there.

    12. WS*

      The side-effects really are the worst in the first few weeks, but do talk to your doctor about this: it’s common to have to try a few different anti-depressants before you find a good balance of effects and side-effects, but ten days is long enough to get side-effects without getting much in the way of anti-depressant!

      Dry mouth is my major side-effect, but it definitely has never been as bad as it was in the first few weeks (unless there was another cause entirely like a virus). It also gave me dry eyes, but they got better.

    13. Double A*

      I’m on a very low dose of Zoloft and I feel like it took about 10 days to adjust. Also I started taking them in the morning but was super groggy, so I switched to night and that worked a lot better for me. But I haven’t had many side effects and my dose is super low.

    14. pickled tomato*

      from my limited experience with sertraline i’d say 10 days is not that big a term, but it’s better to consult with your doctor. and also check your diet for grapefruits.

    15. ..Kat..*

      Just don’t stop the medication suddenly – with some of the medications in this class (SSRIs), stopping suddenly can be dangerous. I am glad that you are seeing your doctor soon. I have been on 4 different medications in this class. One worked fine and then gradually stopped working. Two worked fine, but after years of success, I developed unpleasant side effects. And now I am on a fourth that works well with minimal side effects. So, I am confident that you and your doctor can find one that works well and has minimal (or even no) side effects. Good luck.

      PS. You get the most benefits from medications plus therapy. I hope that therapy is a possibility for you.

    16. Srah*

      I have been taking it for… shoot, at least 2 years? With an increased dose towards the end of last year/start of this. Have never had side effects, though my GP recently mentioned that it often keeps people awake if you take it at night, so have switched to having it in the morning. Hoping for your sake it is just an adjustment period!!

    17. ShortT*

      I started at 25mg of sertraline per day. Now, I’m at 100mg per day, which is working for me. At first, I took it in the morning, but, because it made me drowsy, I began to take it in the evening. That switch eliminated the sleep disruption.

      I had an angry headache for the first two weeks. That went away.

      I’m still battling dry mouth. I’ll take that because I feel like myself, now that my anxiety and depression are managed.

    18. Common Welsh Green*

      I don’t have depression; I have Sjogrens syndrome, and it causes constant dry mouth. Besides being hella uncomfortable, dry mouth causes cavities and gum disease. Look for gums and candies sweetened with xylitol, which increases saliva flow. There’s a product called Xylimelt which is 100% xylitol with a vegetable gum backing that will stick anywhere it’s placed on your gums and teeth, without being visible. It takes 4 to 5 hours to dissolve, and you can talk, sing, and sleep while you use it.

  4. Nervous Nellie*

    Oh, happy cat! What a terrific picture! It’s early Sat AM and this has already made my day.

    What is everyone reading? I get the best library list recommendations from you folks! Bring it on! I am finishing up an AAM recommendation – the fifth book in the vampire accountant series by Drew Hayes. What a blast those have been! Thank you, all!

    And I am also halfway through the DVD set of Hannibal, which many of you told me to stick with after I reported not loving after only a couple of episodes. You were right – it took shape and is incredible (literally and figuratively – the creativity of the killers boggles the mind). The glamor shots of the meals and the wonderful classical music all add up to wow. I will never hear Faure’s Requiem in quite the same way again.

    And thanks to Amazon announcing a miniseries of Good Omens, I finally dragged it off my shelf and am giving it a go. I love Neil Gaiman’s seriousness, but sometimes find Terry Pratchett’s frenetic jollity a bit tiring (Except for the Bromeliads – love that!). The collaboration on this book seems to have tempered them both. How sad that they can’t do another one.

    And fposte, if you are here, I ordered the last Bonnie book (Barbara Van Tuyl) but it’s taking forever to arrive. Have you read it yet? I can’t wait to catch up with Julie & Monty.

    1. BeanCat*

      For reading, I’m reading 3D Wolfenstein! It’s a book written by the programmers of Wolfenstein about their experiences with the game – I have a super rudimentary understanding of coding and got it from my software developer father. Behind the scenes stuff is just so cool to me!

      1. Nervous Nellie*

        Oh, neato! Thanks! Is that the Game Engine Black Book? I have looked at those before, but never dug into them. Down the rabbit hole I go!!!

      2. Lemonwhirl*

        Oooh, I will need to check that out! That game (and the entirely unrelated Operation Wolf arcade game) got me into video games in college.

    2. The Original K.*

      Zone One, by Colson Whitehead. It’s a post-apocalyptic novel. If that’s not your thing I highly recommend Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, which won a Pulitzer.

      1. Nervous Nellie*

        Great minds! I looked at Zone One in the library just yesterday, but turned it down because I had too much to carry home. I just reread the reviews on Amazon, and plan to zip out later this AM when the library opens in the hope that nobody grabbed it yet. Thanks!

    3. The Other Dawn*

      I’m reading Redemption, the next book in David Baldacci’s Memory Man series.

      I just finished The Pharaoh Key, which was the last book in Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s Gideon Crew series. I wasn’t thrilled with this series in the beginning; however, the series improved over the course of several books and I enjoyed them. The Pharaoh Key, though, I’m not sure how I feel about it. I realize it’s fiction, but I think the story was just a little far-fetched. I liked it overall, but not as much as the last couple books.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I’m just finishing up The Plot Against America by Philip Roth. I forgot what a slog his writing is — I mean, it’s good, but some of his sentences should really be multiple paragraphs, they’re so long and convoluted! (I should talk, I love the semicolon and em dash.) Very interesting story, especially in today’s political climate…is about all I can say without spoiling it. I was surprised by the pacing and the progression of the narrative…mostly pleasantly, although mostly it was just a little unconventional.

    5. dear Liza dear liza*

      I really liked JANE DOE: A NOVEL. Sympathetic sociopath helping to smash the patriarchy.

      1. Red Sky*

        Yes! Right now I’m all about female rage and smashing the patriarchy. I loved this book but kinda wished for a bit more bloodshed; I also pictured Villanelle from Killing Eve as Jane, so that might be why ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        Somewhat in the same vein, I’ve only just started Save Me From Dangerous Men by S. A. Lelchuk (which I think I picked up from someone’s rec here). Right now the heroine seems a little too perfectly bad-ass, if that makes sense, and how the hell can she afford a building in the Berkeley/Oakland area, even if she bought it during the recession, is beyond me. But it’s early on yet, so maybe there’s some reasonable explanation forthcoming.

      2. Lemonwhirl*

        Adding this to the list!

        I love that sort of book.

        Have you read “The Power” by Naomi Alderman or “Vox” by Christina Dalcher? They’re both smashing good reads. I’d say “The Power” is more literary in nature, but Vox conjures a world that is absolutely terrifying.

    6. Merci Dee*

      I’m going back through and re-reading the Wonder Cats mystery series by Harper Lin. It’s a series about a woman, her cousin, and her aunt… and all three women are witches who end up using their powers (and the powers of their feline familiars) to help solve murders in the small town of Wonder Falls. The series is totally puff-ball cozy mysteries, but I love it and always look forward to the next book when it releases. I’m rather jealous of the narrator of the books, Cath Greenstone, because her particular talent is communicating with animals, especially cats. I’d love to be able to converse in such a way with my own cat, just to see if the dialogue I make up for him is anywhere near what he’d actually be thinking. :)

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I just finished a YA fantasy — “The Girl Who Drank the Moon” by Kelly Barnhill. It won the Newberry on 2017 and oh it’s lovely. It’s hard to do really new things and this manages it.

    8. fposte*

      Nellie, my copy has arrived but I haven’t read it yet. Mine came really quickly–maybe the supply is intermittent or she’s doing print-on-demand and I got lucky?

      1. Nervous Nellie*

        Hey fposte! Happy weekend! Ah, worth the wait, I am sure. I hope mine comes soon. Even when listed as in stock online, they then suddenly seem to announce delays. Heck, if I have to put in my Christmas stocking, will do! :)

        When you have read it, let me know what you think! I hadn’t really thought about how many years (decades!) had passed since she wrote book 1, but I am just a tad fearful that the new book won’t have that earlier sound. I hope that it’s a time machine and that Bonnie and her twin babies are going strong!

    9. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      I just started Binti by Nnedi Okorafor. I’ve wanted to read the series for a while and finally got it (yay Cloud Library!). Her writing is gorgeous. I’m taking a break from The Parasol Protectorate series & the Finishing School series – I read too many in a row and got bored. I’ll be back because Gail Carriger is delightful.
      I’m IMPATIENTLY waiting for recently released books to arrive, and for books that will be released later this year.
      And I just picked up The People’s Future of the United States. Nope, not political – it’s ‘a blend of the distopian and utopian’ short stories. I’m excited because while I do know some of the authors, many I don’t.
      I actually haven’t been reading much, which is unusual for me, but I’d been busy with Faire and a new Blackwork sampler that I started (Acorns & Columbines, by Practical Blackwork, if anyone is interested).

    10. CoffeeOnMyMind*

      I found an amazing book at goodwill that is a rare snapshot of time: it’s about the invasion of Shanghai in 1937, written by a guy who happened to be caught in the chaos as war erupted around him. The book was published only one month after the war started … its an absolutely fascinating glimpse into history as it’s happening.

    11. HamlindigoBlue*

      Earlier in the week I finished Amity and Prosperity, the Pulitzer winning story about the effects of fracking on a Pennsylvania family. Then, I started Sparkling Cyanide by Agatha Christie.

    12. Marion Ravenwood*

      I’m currently reading The Stranger from the Sea, the eighth Poldark book, ahead of the new series starting. Only just started it but so far it’s good, albeit quite a departure from the earlier books.

    13. Lemonwhirl*

      I’m reading Wild Fire by Anne Cleaves. It’s the last of her 30-book Shetland Island murder mystery series. I’m enjoying it even though I’ve only read maybe 3 of the series.

  5. I need more chocolate Häagen-Dazs*

    This is more of a rant than anything else, so apologies in advance if I sound whiny or anything; I just need to vent. I don’t really have friends and I’m getting increasingly aggravated by being ghosted and ignored in situations where I feel like there was a clear expectation that the other person would respond. To be fair, I know there are situations where people feel the need to ghost someone for safety purposes and of course people have a right to do whatever they want. However, I’m becoming really disheartened and feel like in a few specific instances, it was unkind for the other person to do so because there was a pretty clear expectation that they would respond, even just to say no. Specifically:

    1. The editor of the official website for a YouTube series I love publicly stated for people to email him if any fans were interested in writing for the site. I sent him an email about three months ago stating my interested. (And they seriously need help. The people currently writing are incredibly bad at leaving in spelling, grammatical, and even factual errors related to the show in their articles.) However, I got nothing from him. Even worse, later on, I saw him respond to someone in the comments on one episode on YouTube encouraging them to email him if they wanted to write for the site. There could be an innocent explanation for it, like it went into his spam, but I don’t know how likely that is and I don’t want to keep emailing him repeatedly if it didn’t.

    2. One of my closest friends is currently in grad school in a different state and I’ve only seen her twice since she’s been up there. FWIW, she’s never been great at communication and is the type to completely ignore certain texts or just disappear in the middle of a conversation. However, a few weeks ago, she mentioned possibly visiting the city I’m currently in to see a few people and wanted to get together. I was excited and told her to keep me updated if she came. I never heard from her one way or another and we haven’t texted since she said she’d keep me updated, though this wasn’t that long ago and I’m not deliberately not talking to her, I just don’t have anything specific to say and I’m not sure if it’d be appropriate to call her out on it. She did just start an internship, but I don’t feel like that’s an excuse for saying nothing. (Additionally, I’m a little sour because she completely forgot my birthday two months ago, even though we’ve done things together in the past. I’m also accepting that we may just be drifting apart, but it stills hurts.)

    3. I generally have had terrible luck with Meetup, but I thought I finally hit gold when I found one specific group and had a great time at one of the meetups. It consisted of me, one of the organizers, and three others. The organizer and I both mentioned a movie we hadn’t seen yet and talked about seeing it together (but of course anyone who wanted to go was invited and we could possibly make it a meetup). Later that week, she messaged ME directly asking if I’d be interested in going next weekend. Unfortunately, we both had conflicts, so it didn’t come to fruition. Thursday of the week after, I message her directly again mentioning the movie for the coming weekend but also asking about making movie-related meetups in general. And…nothing. Eventually, she then started posting other meetups for the group, so it’s not a case of her not being on the website. I was just confounded and haven’t said anything to her since. There’s only been one meetup since that I didn’t go to, but now I just feel awkward and unsure of what happened and why she didn’t even bother responding just to say she didn’t want to/couldn’t go.

    I know this is ultimately a minor problem in the scheme of things, but it’s just a bit of a blow. And like I said, people are free to do this if they want, but it’s just getting frustrating when I’m trying to get out more and don’t know if I’m doing something wrong.

    1. WellRed*

      I’m little confused. Of the three examples, there is only one actual relationship, but it’s the other two that you seem over invested in. 1. You are taking this waaaay too personally. YouTube is not a forum for making friends or finding work. 2. It’s hard to drift from friends and some people just suck at communicating. But, I don’t see why you feel you can’t shoot her a txt. 3. Frustrating, but that’s the nature of meetup. I do wonder if you pushed too hard by jumping to suggesting movie meetups ( I may be misreading). Friending as an adult is really difficult, isn’t it?

      1. I need more chocolate Häagen-Dazs*

        1. I’m not moaning and groaning over the fact that he didn’t respond and I’m not saying I’m trying to make friends that way. I just thought it’d be fun to do and it’s just weird for the guy to be encouraging people to reach out to him just for him to ignore them (assuming, again, that there isn’t any innocent explanation). I’m just simply irritated, not losing my mind over it. I apologize if I came off too strong on that one, it was just an example of people ignoring others, which I think is just generally impolite, even if the stakes aren’t big.

        2. I’m tempted to do that. My mom said not to call her out on it at all and to just accept that some people are like that, but I’ve been friends with her for over four years. If I can’t have a heart-to-heart with her about something like this, then maybe we should just drift away.

        3. I don’t feel that I pushed hard whatsoever. This is the exact sequence of what happened: She messaged me first asking to see it with her. I had conflicts for most of that weekend. She had a conflict for the time I was available. We said to each other to have a good weekend. About a week later, I messaged her ONCE about trying to find time to see it and maybe making movie meetups a thing for the group. Crickets.

        Again, I apologize if I’m coming off too strong, but I think it’s reasonable to tilt my head at this kind of general ignoring when it’s not hard (and just simply polite) to respond when someone reaches out to you.

        1. valentine*

          I’ve been in your shoes and I think people are generally doing what they want to be doing. I used to feel I had to respond to every email. It didn’t occur to me not to. If someone had questions, I answered each one thoroughly. Really aggravating, then, to receive an answer to only one of three questions or to be the only one initiating contact. Others just aren’t on the same page, but we never described our pages or agreed on terms, did we? I think people do consider wanting a response to be too rigid. If you’re putting all your eggs in one basket, it’s time to cast a wider net.

          You’ve mentioned 1 before and I don’t think the guy’s request was honest. What if you think of it like any other job? Many potential employers never respond. Your being a fan is coloring this in a particular way and possibly means the (volunteer?) position wouldn’t have been good for you.

          For 2, the fact you don’t know if you can mention how you feel tells me you possibly don’t have the relationship you think you have. Is this like the catsitters where one person saw it as a favor and would’ve understood a conflict and the other saw it as a solemn vow to be broken only by serious circumstances? You can tell her you thought you’d hear back and you think x interval is reasonable. She’s unlikely to say she agrees and owed you a text. Maybe she’s said nothing because she also doesn’t have anything specific to say yet. Are you always the one to initiate? If you never texted her again, would the friendship be over?

          With 3, unless you’re obliged to go through the one organizer, you could message the whole group asking who wants to go to movies regularly. Is it possible for you to be an organizer? If nobody joins, at least you see the movie you want to see and aren’t waiting on anyone. Join as many different groups as possible. Cast your net wide and see if you enjoy events even if it’s always with different people.

    2. Dan*

      These… Don’t seem like that much of a big deal TBH. As much as it would be more polite to close loops, our culture is shifting away from outright saying no to people. I don’t know why that is, but on the whole, it’s a trend. I don’t necessarily like it either, but it is what it is.

      I think now the norm is to give someone 48 hours to respond, and if they don’t, take the hint and move on.

      1. I need more chocolate Häagen-Dazs*

        I agree that it’s not a big deal in the long run, but it doesn’t excuse it from being impolite IMO and I’m just simply frustrated so many of these instances happened in quick succession.

        1. WellRed*

          Oh, it’s definitely rude and so easy to close the loop, as Dan says. As to the friend, shoot her a txt! “Hey, saw this ( fill in the blank) that made me think of you.” Or similar.

          1. I need more chocolate Häagen-Dazs*

            Yeah, I’m considering texting her soon to ask about the internship just to see how it’s going. She interviewed for 20+(!) and is the hardest-working person I know, so I’m very happy for her.

        2. Dan*

          I think what I’m saying is that our cultural definition of “polite” is changing.

          For whatever reason, Americans have a weird aversion to the word “no”, and we go to great lengths to avoid saying it. That aversion may be justified in some cases, but by and large “don’t use the word NO” has taken on a life of its own.

          1. Pnut*

            I agree. I think, OP, that you would benefit from lowering your expectations. It’s not ideal, and of course people should be more responsible, etc. But you will save yourself tons of resentment by lowering your expectations of people, especially in the non-established-relationship category. What’s that old saying, “Expectations precede resentments” or something?

          2. I need more chocolate Häagen-Dazs*

            Ah, I get what you’re saying, and I do agree. Being too straightforward with people has a huge stigma attached to it, even though it would clear up any doubt. Like as long as someone is ignoring someone else, they technically didn’t say no or reject them in any way. And absolutely, I do think it’s justified in some cases, particularly if someone would act abusively in retaliation for being rejected.

            I think I’ve just gotten to a point where ideally, I want myself and everyone else to just say what they feel and get the uncomfortable stuff out of the way so no one’s questioning anyone, but I know that’s much easier said than done.

            1. Jasnah*

              I think you need to find those kinds of friends–friends who are blunt and will answer “No, actually I’m going to see that movie with other friends without you” or “Sorry, I’m really busy and don’t have time for our friendship anymore”. Maybe that would feel better for you because you know where you stand and no one is questioning anyone.

              Personally I would not be friends with those kinds of people, and I would rather maintain a vague or polite facade than explicitly reject someone without a good reason. I think it’s better to have some doubt or awkwardness about where I stand in a friendship than to know exactly why a friend doesn’t like me. Maybe these people are like that.

          3. ShortT*

            I have no problem saying no. Politely, of course. I do have a problem with some people who have a problem hearing no.

    3. I need more chocolate Häagen-Dazs*

      Just to reiterate, I KNOW this is far from being some kind of massive issue and I apologize if I seem like I’m taking it too personally, which I admittedly may need to work on. It’s just a trend I’m not fond of occurring more frequently and I think it’s fair to say that it’s impolite overall.

      (Also, for transparency, I don’t subscribe to comments on here, so apologies in advance if I miss anyone’s responses.)

    4. Llama Face!*

      I can understand your frustration with feeling ignored in these situations. One thing I notice is that you are assuming the worst option (them rudely ignoring you) when you haven’t really tried anything apart from that first single communication. Especially for the first and last ones (number 2 seems like it’s standard operating procedure for that friend), there are plenty of good reasons why the response may have failed/fell through the cracks. Why not send a follow up email saying “Hi there, I sent an email on TOPIC a while back and never heard a response. Are you still looking for writers?” Give them a chance to respond in the event that you did get spam foldered or your email got buried under a more urgent task. Ditto for the meet up. Maybe the organizer did respond and the message got dropped. Maybe she had two Haagen Daaz in her contacts and sent it to the wrong one. Maybe she thought about responding and then thought she already did (I have absolutely done this and if I was reminded that I forgot I’d be grateful because it was not intentional). It doesn’t sound like she was just ghosting you on purpose so why not try to clarify before convicting in absentia? :)

      1. I need more chocolate Häagen-Dazs*

        You have a great point and I think in certain cases, people who appear to be ignoring have non-nefarious reasons for doing so. I guess part of my fear is coming off like I’m pushing too hard if I try to follow up and/or it comes off like I’m trying too hard if they did mean to ignore me after all.

        1. Llama Face!*

          I absolutely get that worry. I feel the same way, especially in newer situations. But I don’t think following up once would look like you are being pushy; that’s just normal levels of responding. I mean, maybe if you texted/emailed five times in two days… that might come across as excessive! But following up after a dropped message is totally not over the top.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Just let’s be sure before you send that… Make sure you have calmed your own Spam folders. Because sometimes emails from people I have actually written to are showing up in my spam folder.

    5. Workerbee*

      For #1, sounds like the editor isn’t great at follow-through, even when it’s something he actually asked for! Could be he’s scatterbrained, could be he’s just not the right person to oversee emails, could be anything–but I highly doubt it has anything to do with you as a person, if that helps. If you want to pursue it, stick to the comments section on YouTube since he seems to be better at responding to those.

      #2. From what you said, I think you may either need to take on the burden of always being the initiator for conversations or find a different way to communicate that works for you both. Some friends do great with calls; others want texts using a particular app; others insist on Facebook Messenger. The myriad of options we have to communicate seem to have ironically fractured actual communication. I tend to keep only a few ways & means “alive” because I know my own preferences and limits of clicking and checking on channels.

      And when you do reach out, definitely ask about her internship as you already suggested in one of your comments. It’s probably foremost on her mind, and I’d venture a guess that if she hasn’t updated you on visiting your city, it’s because there is no update to give as yet.

      #3. Here I think this is a case of people being people. She could have read your message, for example, intended to respond, got caught up in something else, and then just never returned to it as it was now a “read” message. I’ve done it and it’s been done to me. You are not alone! But as she did start posting other meetups, I’d take that as a cool sign that she read what you said about making more (I’m not sure if they were movie-related or not). You could either reach out to her again, or let it slide and make an effort to go to the next meetup and talk to her/others in person and help cement connections that can remain nebulous otherwise.

      1. I need more chocolate Häagen-Dazs*

        1. That’s a valid point. Honestly, and I hate to be so harsh, but the website has so many issues that I wouldn’t be entirely shocked if he is scatterbrained and completely missed emails. And that’s a good point, I’ve unjustifiably taken it more personally than I should and have paranoia that this person, who is essentially a stranger, must specifically not want me.

        2. Yeah, I’ve mostly accepted that burden at this point, even when we lived in the same city, and it’s frustrating. Text has always been our method of communication and I’d ask if there’s a better way, but I don’t use any social media anymore, so I don’t think there are really other options.

        I apologize if I wasn’t clear, but there should’ve been an update by now because she very specifically said it’d be a specific weekend (May 17th) that she’d visit, so she either didn’t come or she did and didn’t tell me.

        3. Those are all valid explanations. I feel like it’s unlikely because it was fairly soon after our last conversation and she had been active on the Meetup’s page, plus as an organizer, I kind of assumed she’d be more on top of actively checking the page and not just suddenly forget that we talked about movie meetups, but that could be my own faulty assumption. I’ve considered reaching back out, but that was a month ago, so I’m not sure if that’d just come off as me not moving past it.

    6. Kalico*

      I know these types of experiences suck, but honestly I think they are definitely normal! At least based on my own experience in trying to forge connections (social or otherwise), failure and feelings of rejection are the norm. It is very, very frustrating and easy to take personally. What I’ve found that helps me are: 1) Put myself out there more – the more connections I try to make, the more likely I’ll be successful with a couple of them; 2) Expect failure – it helps me to think that a high failure rate is normal and natural in pretty much every endeavor: think about how many seeds a tree has to drop for even one successful baby tree to make it to maturity, or, check out Brene Brown’s latest Netflix special about what it means to be in the arena; 3) Nurture the connections that DO work out; 4) Accept that if a connection doesn’t work out, it wasn’t supposed to, EVEN if you really, really felt like it was supposed to.

    7. RainbowPencils*

      You’re not doing anything wrong at all and you don’t sound whiny, though I didn’t think there was a clear expectation for responses.

      1) This situation is basically the same as applying for a job (or volunteer position if it was unpaid) where you shouldn’t expect a response unless they’re interested. If it’s a popular channel, a lot of people may have e-mailed him so he probably wouldn’t respond to every single person. And I wonder if he was serious about having fans write for them. Might have just been a way to seem nice and make people feel involved. It’s also really easy to reply to a comment saying “let me know if you want to write for us!” just for the sake of appearing to interact with fans. If he was serious wouldn’t he have sent them a private message? It’s been three months. I would just move on and maybe take a break from watching the channel if you’re feeling bad about it.

      2) You know this friend isn’t good at communication, so it’s expected that she might not follow up like she said she would. If having friends respond to you without reminders is important, maybe you should just let the friendship drift apart so you don’t keep feeling hurt by it? If the friendship is important to you, I’d just send a quick followup yourself (“Hey, did you ever figure out if you were visiting [city] for sure? Just wanted to see if I should reserve a day to hang out.”) More communication effort on your part might just be the price you have to pay for this friendship.

      3) I think for any sort of dating site or meeting friends site, there isn’t a lot of incentive for someone to respond just to be polite–there isn’t an existing relationship to worry about maintaining and people just seem careless about how they treat relative strangers in general nowadays. Or, like other people said, they could have just missed your message somehow or read it and forgotten to respond. It sounds like you only spent time with her once? You’re not a high priority at this point so it’d be easy to accidentally let your message slip through the cracks. I’d just bring it up in person at the next meetup so you can get an immediate response and then leave the ball in her court from there.

      I understand why this is frustrating and disappointing. I think you’re more sensitive to this stuff right now since you feel that you don’t have many friends and are purposefully trying to make friends and get out more. I hope things start going better.

    8. anactoria*

      Just another data point — as an organiser for multiple meetups and local events, I’m often on the other end of #3, and sometimes I drop the ball on communication because I have a ton of anxiety and I overthink things a LOT. So, if someone sends me a message and I have the time/mental capacity to read and respond that day, all is good, but if I let it slide for a day or a couple days or even a week, I get into this crazy headspace where I beat myself up for not responding and have too much anxiety to even open the message. Not saying that is necessarily what’s happened here, but sometimes people do drop the ball because they overthink and get anxious about late responses.

    9. Nita*

      I think what’s adding to your frustration/confusion here is the digital communication… you’re always left wondering if the person saw your message and dropped the ball on responding, or legit did not see it. I imagine it nags at you more than knowing they don’t want to be in touch. I’ve been there and I don’t know what the answer is to that! I guess a phone call or a meeting are better in this sense, so for people you’re close enough to call, go with that… or if you’re in a Meetup group, save making plans for when you meet in person. For others, maybe just let it go… P.S. I know many people hate phone calls. I’m one of them. But at least phone calls take some guessing out of this guessing game. You’d think texts would do, too, but I know a handful of people whose phones don’t get texts – so when I text a near-stranger, I’m never 100% sure if they got my text.

    10. Washi*

      Ahhh, I feel this so hard! I have a tendency to be annoyed about exactly this type of thing. So as someone who is very similarly wired, I just want to point out that there are a few unstated assumptions that may be useful to unpack.

      The biggest one is that if you send someone a message and don’t get a response, the other person has chosen not to respond to you for a reason. Which on the one hand is fair, because I at least tend to be pretty responsive and if I don’t respond to someone, there often is a reason! But that’s just not true of everyone. For some people, forgetting to close the loop is truly accidental and for them, this whole thing is like if you accidentally knocked your cup off the coffee table and someone said “why did you throw your cup on the ground?! you obviously weren’t being careful enough!” Some people are clumsy with their bodies and some people are clumsy with their communication. My best friend tends to drop the ball sometimes on non-urgent texts. I’m not that good at being totally open and honest. We both try to do better with each other, and sometimes she has to remind me to be honest and I have to remind her that I’m hurt when she doesn’t answer my texts and we have a beautiful and occasionally frustrating friendship.

      I’m also getting the sense that you’re feeling like you’re alone like this? Like maybe really popular people with lots of friends don’t have this issue? And to that, you’ll have to just look at the comments in this thread – this is totally normal! In fact, I think often really popular people (in a nice way, not a mean girls way) have lower standards for friends (again, not in a bad way.) I’ve noticed that my popular friends are generous with their definition of “friend”, don’t mind ups and downs in communication, and barely notice missed texts. Not that you have to adopt this strategy! But when this kind of thing happens it’s easy to imagine that everyone else you know is surrounded by a circle of perfect, available, reliable friends, and that’s just not true most of the time. It’s a rare person who feels like their social life is completely, permanently sorted out.

      Lastly, I’m noticing that maybe you worry about being the one who “loves more” so to speak? One fear that crops up in my mind is being blindsided by rejection, so sometimes I’m tempted to pull away prematurely or label a friendship over because I’m afraid of being exposed as caring more than the other person. I don’t really have any words of wisdom there, since that’s something I’m still working through myself. But one thing I ask myself is what kind of person I want to be, in the end, and my answer is that I want to be the kind of person who loves openly, who is brave enough to try and fail. I remind myself all the time not to hide, and to feel my feelings.

      Wow this was long! Dangerous of empathizing/possibly projecting too hard :)

    11. Not So NewReader*

      Years ago, younger me used to get really hurt by this stuff. That happened for reasons. However, knowing the reasons did not help it to “roll off my back”.

      In thinking about this I realized there are two types of people in this world regarding these types of situations. There are people who place a high value on follow-ups. And there are people who place little or no value on follow-ups. While it’s true there are people in between, those in-between people seem to kind of explain why they disappeared for a moment. Their reasons might be transparently flimsy but at least they offer some reason.

      You could decide that you are a person who places a high value on follow-ups. This is fine and it’s really good to know yourself. I place a high value on follow-ups. People who don’t follow up aren’t your people. Bump to trying again with someone else. Eventually, you will find like-minded people who also value follow-ups the way you do.

      Keep the door open for the people who do not follow-up. They may circle back into your life later. Or not.

      Here the tricky part is to quit counting how many failed attempts we have had. If we tally up our failed attempts we will never get off the couch again. Keep going back to the people who keep coming back to you.

      And something I observed with my own life: I was so busy trying to be friends with Jane, who only returned every third phone call, that I never noticed Sally who was really interested in us doing stuff together. I had made myself into someone else’s Jane because I was not paying attention.

  6. Weegie*

    I moved house today – into a house I just bought! (I’ve never owned a property before.)

    So far I seem to have spent the whole day cleaning: first the rental I just moved out of, and now the new place which the previous owners didn’t clean before leaving. Now I’m snoozing on the couch, with the back door open. The sun is shining, birds are chirping, and I can hear cows from the neighbouring farm. Bliss.

    1. Marion Q*

      Congrats on moving! And to your very own house! It sounds like a lovely place to live.

      1. Weegie*

        It is! The neighbourhood is so quiet, and my street backs onto farmland. Yet it’s only a 10-minute walk to the nearest train station, so it’s good for getting in to the city (where I’m hugely glad I don’t live any more!).

    2. Alice*

      Congrats!
      Did you have any anxiety about taking the plunge (as I do for sure)? Or have you always had this plan that has now come to fruition?

      1. Weegie*

        Anxiety, you ask??! I wanted my own house for ages, but when it came to actually making an offer I went into spirals of self-doubt, sleeplessness and hyperventilation. The process of getting a mortgage was a nightmare. More than once I half-hoped it would all fall through and I could just go back to my renting comfort zone… But now that I’m here, it’s great! I’m cleaning the house from top to bottom and listing all the things that need to be done to make it better and make it MINE!

      1. Weegie*

        Thank you – and ‘buzz’ right back at you. Bees are already gathering to sip from my strawberry plants; it’s great to be in a country town!

    3. Steve*

      Congrats! I tell people that the first year is the most stressful, because there are often unexpected costs and repairs. Nothing big, just… the change from renting is that a home owner has to deal with all the problems themselves. Although most of my unexpected costs happened before I moved in, so you’re doing well. And it will be okay, and once one settles in to the concept it’s a decision that they appreciate.

      I’m jealous of your cow noises, as I have birds and crickets, but no farm animals.

      1. Weegie*

        Thanks for the first-year heads-up – I’m already plotting what I can afford to do right now (I want a red front door! New carpets!) and what will have to wait for a while (new boiler /central heating system).

        The cows are great. And it just went one better: a deer grazing in the fallow field this morning while I was making coffee :-)

  7. Madge*

    Can anyone recommend women’s and juniors brands that have extra room in the rear? I’m trying to find camp clothes for my teenager and we’re not having any luck locally.

    1. I need more chocolate Häagen-Dazs*

      I’m not sure what kinds of shorts/pants you’re specifically looking for, but I had great luck at Old Navy when I was looking for denim shorts. Very roomy without being overly baggy.

    2. Alex*

      Second Old Navy. I have a large rear and am able to wear their shorts.

      I’d also just go to someplace like TJMaxx where there are a lot of different brands and see if you can find something there.

    3. Workerbee*

      Hmm…you could try Talbot’s if you have one (they are also online). I have found that their pants/capris/shorts tend to have extra room in the rear, though mileage may vary! And they’re not inexpensive, though they have frequent sales.

    4. MissDisplaced*

      If you have a Burlington Coat Store in your area, I’d recommend it for teens. The clothing is inexpensive, and they have a huge JuniorsPlus section. Not always great quality, but if it’s for camp and summer, I suppose it won’t matter.

    5. NoniMouse*

      I’m in the “extra rear” category, and my go-to for bottoms has become Lee Jeans, which they sell at Kohl’s. This time of year they will have shorts. There are a few different cuts (“curvy” is one of them but I’ve had great success with other cuts too) that have room in the back with a little stretch in the fabric, and I get less gap at the waist than in other brands.

    6. Ranon*

      I’ve found outdoors brands like Columbia and REI are good- they’re designed for people to move in so they usually have more space. Those brands can be pricier but I’ve had good luck finding them in great condition on Thredup and Poshmark once I know my size.

      1. LCL*

        Beware though, those brands are usually cut a little short, and their “woman’s” sizes run small. What I mean is, if she’s tall and curvy, forget them.

    7. tab*

      I’m a fan of Eddie Bauer curvy pants and shorts. I only purchase their pants and shorts now, and no more gaping waistband for me.

    8. Owler*

      I like Columbia brand for fit and durability. My kid also like the Columbia women’s “Saturday Trail II Knee Pants”, which we found at REI outdoor store. We’ve occasionally gone the men’s-pant-with-belt route when the women’s version didn’t fit her bum and thighs well.

    9. Engineer Girl*

      You’re looking for a curvy cut Vs a modern cut. Curvy cut has a 10 inch difference between waist and hips. Modern cut has a 5 inch difference between waist and hips.

      Curvy cut: Royal Robbins, Columbia, Prana

    10. Lobsterp0t*

      I have a huge ass and I buy men’s plus size ASOS shorts and jeans!

      But I’m a butch lesbian and I like the way they sit on me and fit. I wear a US18/UK22 and order a size 46 an it fits every time without fail.

      The chino shorts are great.

      1. Elephant in the room*

        I also buy men’s pants, they are roomier and have REAL pockets. I’m not fashion conscious though, and guess a teenaged girl might be.

    11. critter*

      I don’t have any specific brands, but I had very good luck with Stitch Fix’s delivery. (Well, I had good luck with finding pants with more room in the rear. I had awful luck with their shirts, though.) I explicitly told them that was what I was looking for in pants (along with really long pant legs), and they nailed it on the first pair they sent me.

    12. LCL*

      I reread your post so had to add this. Stop looking in the junior department, they don’t allow for curves at all. I was out of junior sizes by age 12, and I was bone thin then.

    13. HannahS*

      Gap’s “girlfriend” chinos work well for me. Probably a bit formal for camp clothes, though!

    14. Pat Benetardis*

      Go to Modells. The athletic shorts (like soccer shorts Umbros, but you can get other brands) are roomy and perfect for camp (ay least for my teens).

  8. RainbowPencils*

    I posted here recently to ask for advice to manage chronic wrist pain. I started trying a few posters’ suggestions (trackball mouse, using a bowl of ice water instead of heat, wrist brace at night). Thank you for taking the time to respond! :)

    My therapist also told me to try wrist compression sleeves since the wrist braces are starting to get uncomfortable. I’ve ordered them in adult/normal sizing from two different brands, and even though the small sizes should have fit well according to the manufacturers’ measurement charts, they were loose and would never provide any sort of compression or support. I did a quick google search for pediatric/children’s sizes, but it seems like only braces are available. Does anyone know of any brands that have compression sleeves in children’s sizes?

    I cut an elastic bandage in half to wrap around my wrists and am trying that right now, but I’d really rather have something I could just slip on and off and that was more comfortable.

    1. HeyNonny*

      I have a friend that uses socks for this (with the end cut out, obviously). She says it’s because they are much cheaper than the pre-made medical sleeves, and come in a better range of sizes. Looking at it, I whether this would work for you depends on where exactly you need compression. It looks good across the wrist, but doesn’t do much for the hand and thumb area.

      1. RainbowPencils*

        That’s a really cool idea! I just need it for my wrist, not my hand and thumb. Maybe children’s sized crew socks would fit me. I could double them up for extra compression and cushioning. Bonus if they’re a colorful and fun design. :)

    2. Rainy*

      There are compression material rolls that are tubes–my dad had some like that–that are meant to be cut off in usable lengths. If you could find some of that in a small size, you’d be able to cut off wrist-compressing lengths. I think Dad got his from the doctor, so maybe ask about that?

      1. RainbowPencils*

        Googling these, I actually see them sized for children! So that might work. I’ll check with my therapist to see if she has any at my next appointment before buying it myself (shipping is super high).

      2. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

        May sound weird but look at pony exercise wraps. They may be something you can use.

    3. Kathenus*

      I have psoriatic arthritis and one wrist and thumb were the first and worst areas affected. Back before I had better control, I loved using a paraffin bath on my hand and wrist. Basically it’s a specially made crock-pot type device that melts bricks of paraffin and keeps them at the right temperature – melted but not dangerously hot. And then you dip in your hand and remove it, let the wax start hardening, and continue doing several layers this way. Feels great.

    4. Beaded Librarian*

      Maybe look at sports compression sleeves? Only problem with them is they go all the way up you arm but the brand 2xu has xs sizing and I think several others do as well.

    5. Call me St. Vincent*

      Do you know what’s causing your wrist pain? The answer to what to do about it will be different based on the cause of the pain. I have arthritis in my wrists (among many other joints) and I take a biologic medication for it which works great.

    6. WS*

      I have psoriatic arthritis that affects my wrists, and it can be hard to get the compression in the right place – I have very small wrists but regular sized arms, so anything I can get on my arm doesn’t give me the compression where I need it! I got out the sewing machine and took it in over my wrist, which looks stupid but works right.

    7. pcake*

      I use the Ace Deluxe wrist brace at night because it has three bands that can be tightened enough to give just the right amount of support directly over the wrist, less tightness at hand and below the wrist. I also find that some sleeping positions are better for my wrist than others. You can’t just slip this one and off, but if you wash them in warm water and soap each morning, then rinse, I find the Ace braces stay pretty comfy. you can also wear nylons or a thing sock under the brace if you want.

  9. First time baker(?)*

    What are healthy alternatives for granulated sugar? I’m thinking of making no-bake oatmeal cookies, but the recipe calls for granulated sugar and due to health concerns (history of diabetes in family), I’d rather use healthier alternatives. And I don’t have an oven, so preferably not ingredients that have to be processed in an oven.

    1. Rebecca*

      I don’t want to rain on your parade, but if I remember from making no bake cookies in the past, you need to cook the sugar, butter, etc. in a pan, add vanilla, then add oats…I’m not sure you can substitute cane sugar out because of the chemical change when you cook the sugar and other ingredients. I could be wrong, though –

      For me, I look at it as making a treat, trying not to hog into all of them at once (because face it, they taste much better than healthy food!!) and make it a few and far between thing. You could also cut back on other carbs that day and figure in the cookies that way, maybe that would help?

      1. First time baker(?)*

        Do you think reducing the amount of sugar will help? The recipe asks for 2 cups of sugar, which is the problem. It just seems … too much?

        Cutting back carbs on the day sounds great. Thanks for your help!

        1. Me75*

          I think you could totally cut back on the sugar. I’ve been trying some monk fruit too. It looks like sugar but doesn’t mess with your blood sugar levels. It’s usually suggested to replace half of the sugar with monk fruit and then use regular sugar for the other half because it doesn’t have the same properties as sugar, particularly for baking. I also have a recipe for oatmeal cookies that you bake, but that have no added sugar beyond the chocolate chips. https://www.pastryaffair.com/blog/2010/7/15/chocolate-chip-raisin-oatmeal-cookies.html?rq=oatmeal%20cookies

        2. Rainy*

          Consider that if you are cooking a syrup to bind the oats with, reducing the amount of sugar is going to change the chemical composition of the syrup you’re making. Sometimes you can reduce the amount of sugar in baking recipes, but usually not by half and come out with anything that’s going to be a successful product.

      2. Policy wonk*

        I’ve successfully used Splenda in baked goods. Don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t work in no-bake, but I’ve never tried it.

        1. Lilysparrow*

          Well, stovetop no-bake cookies are really a type of candy. You boil the sugar, which turns into caramel, and it’s the sticky caramel that binds the whole thing together.

          I’ve never worked with Splenda, can you make candy with it? I’d expect you’d need to make other changes for it to work.

      3. Sister of the Idea Gal*

        Stevia in the Raw acts like sugar, but with zero calories, and it’s plant-based so much healthier than artificial sweeteners.

    2. WellRed*

      Baking is a science as much as a craft and substituting isn’t usually a good idea, especially if you are a novice.
      I’d find a different recipe or enjoy this one as a treat. I am T1D and have had people try to bake healthier for me, to often disastrous results.

      1. Dan*

        Yeah, IMHO, “baking” and “healthy” don’t go in the same sentence. So much of it involves butter, sugar, and/or cream, which while permissible in moderation, is very hard to moderate in a baked sweet.

      2. Parenthetically*

        Yep, sugar does some really important chemical things in so many baked goods! I’m a much much better cook than a baker because it’s so easy to substitute and improvise in cooking compared to baking.

    3. Alex*

      Sugar is sugar. There aren’t really healthy alternatives, especially for baking (for stirring into coffee, you can use stevia or something. But baking is different.)

      I do often reduce the sugar in recipes by 1/4 or 1/3, though. I’d try that before using something else.

    4. Parenthetically*

      It’s never going to be a direct substitution because chemistry, but I just did a bit of googling and found a few promising looking recipes. Searched for “no bake cookies with no refined sugar.”

    5. CoffeeforLife*

      I just googled “healthy no bake cookies” and came up with quite a few results. One replaced granulated sugar with honey, another used coconut sugar (my go to sugar), and a third used stevia. I think doing a recipe search will help give you some options and perhaps also exploring information on the various types of sugars and their glycemic impact.

      1. Lilysparrow*

        Bear in mind, “healthy” means different things to different people.

        You can have a “healthy” treat, in the sense that it has no artificial or highly processed ingredients, that is going to spike your blood sugar exactly the same as a Twinkie.

        Honey and coconut sugar are delicious, but they don’t have any fewer calories or carbohydrates than the white stuff.

    6. Madge*

      With a history of diabetes you’re probably looking for recipes that won’t raise your blood sugar as much as a white flour, white sugar recipe. So I’d look for recipes that use things like whole dried dates to provide the sweetness. I reallly like Chocolate Covered Katie’s recipes and she has a German chocolate energy ball recipe that I really like.

    7. ThatGirl*

      There are some baking blends out there that are low sugar (usually half sugar, half substitute) but as others have said, it can change the properties of the cookies. But honestly it’s hard to “bake” low sugar items, and I’d recommend just going easy on the carbs in general. Your best alternative to granulated sugar is something like stevia or monkfruit, which can have an artificial taste and aren’t really healthier, just lower carb.

    8. lapgiraffe*

      I second (or third? Fourth?) the reply that there isn’t going to be a healthy alternative. Sugar is sugar is sugar. You can use less of it, you can add fiber, and you can’t eat less of it, but I’ve found (as a person who had to cut the back on carbs for health reasons) that having one fantastic full fat full sugar pastry a couple times a year is better than eating “healthy alternatives” more regularly, both for my health and my joy/pleasure/satisfaction. The alternatives are barely any “healthier” and they always disappoint.

    9. Mephyle*

      The only “healthy” alternatives for sugar are low-calorie sweeteners, if healthy means low-carbohydrate (as it does, when there are diabetes concerns). But there are some doubts about the safety of those sugar substitutes, too.
      The thing is, if you substitute sugar alternatives that are often touted as “healthier”, such as honey, coconut sugar, agave syrup, raw sugar, brown sugar, etc. they still deliver a similar carbohydrate count for a similar amount of sweetening power. Fruit, such as raisins or dates, also contain sugar=carbohydrates. The reason they are slightly better alternatives is that their natural sugars come packaged along with fibre, which mitigates the effect of the carbohydrates on the body, slightly.

      1. Lilysparrow*

        Yes, if your concern is natural vs processed foods, substituting a different type of sugar might fit your goals.

        If your concern is blood sugar, it’s not going to matter enough to bother with.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      I did this for years.
      There are charts that show conversion tables how much of substitute sugar is necessary to equal a cup of sugar.
      Some sugar replacements are used in such small quantities that you have less batter. A recipe for 18 muffins goes down to 12 muffins for example with the sugar substitute.

      Sugar draws water. (Same idea as salt drawing water.) Recipes without sugar tend to seem dryer. Sometimes things just crumble because there is nothing “gluing” them together.

      Your best bet because of starting out is to get premade mixes or recipes with the ingredients you are searching for.

      I agree with the others who pointed out there is not a lot of room for many baked goods in a diabetic diet. I was married to a diabetic for decades. I baked maybe once or twice a year, if that. I baked so little that I am no longer confident about bringing an item I baked to a group get-together. I can make a soup or something.

      I did end up using substitute sugars for myself and I played with that for a bit. I finally moved away from it in my own food choices. I still like a little stevia in my coffee once in a while, chocolate flavor stevia is my fav.

      You might check books at health food stores to see if you can find something. Or you could check your library. Swapping out sugars is a huge topic. I learned a lot and in the end, stopped using all that I had learned.

      1. Penny Parker*

        “Recipes without sugar tend to seem dryer. Sometimes things just crumble because there is nothing “gluing” them together.” — add applesauce. It makes the product sweeter while it allows one to reduce the sugar. It is sometimes necessary to reduce other liquid in the product (just a tad) as well.

      1. Free Meerkats*

        Somehow I copied the wrong link, but the one I gave will give the same info as the Alton Brown info.

    11. First time baker(?)*

      Thank you for your answers! I’ll look around for other recipes, and also learn more about healthy food. I didn’t know that honey isn’t necessarily healthier than white sugar :(

      1. Srah*

        If you are concerned about diabetes, it’s all about how many carbs you consume, and honey is basically the same as sugar. Some fruits, too. But not strawberries or blueberries!

      2. ThatGirl*

        Well, as others said, healthy means different things to different people. In the case of diabetes it’s more about carbs, and honey and white sugar are roughly the same there.

      3. nonegiven*

        Flourless cake – Dana Carpender

        2 cups pecans (don’t use salted pecans!)
        1/3 cup cocoa – *I use special dark
        1 t baking powder
        1/4 teaspoon salt
        4 eggs
        1/2 cup (I stick) butter, melted
        1 teaspoon vanilla
        1/4 cup erythritol
        Artificial sweetener equivalent to 1 cup sugar I use zero-carb liquid sweeteners .
        1/2 cup water

        Preparation:
        Heat oven to 350 F. Grease a 8 or 9″ round pan or springform pan.

        1) Process pecans in food processor – pulse until they are meal –
        but they won’t get quite as small as corn meal.

        2) Add the rest of the dry ingredients and pulse again.

        3) Add the wet ingredients and process until well-blended.

        4) Pour into pan and bake. The exact time will vary with the pan. Start checking
        at about 25 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

        5) Cut when cool. If desired, serve with homemade whipped cream and/or chocolate sauce.

        Nutritional Information: Each of 8 servings has 2 grams of effective carbohydrate plus 4 grams of fiber, 6 grams of protein, and 334 calories.

      4. TL -*

        Healthy isn’t about one item in your diet. It’s about the total makeup. Cookies aren’t bad or unhealthy treats but having a diet primarily made up of cookies is unhealthy.
        Treating items/ingredients as ‘bad’ is a lot more counterproductive to a healthy diet than aiming for no more than X grams of sugar/day and allowing for the occasional exception without stress.

    12. pcake*

      You can add stevia extract as a substitute for some of the sugar. I use the Trader Joe’s version – some brands taste a little like licorice, but TJ’s tastes more like a package of artificial sweetener even though it’s a leaf.

      You can substitute erthyritol, as it’s made from sugar, but it has a cold taste on top of the sweetness. What I usually do is use 25% sugar, 25% erthritol, 20% xylitol and the rest of the sweetening – NOT the volume – is from stevia. You can go with more xylitol, but I find this mix produces the best taste to me.

    13. Belle di Vedremo*

      Honestly, I’d look for sugar free recipes rather than ways to replace cane sugar with something else. You’re likely to get recipes that work better, and that won’t be as sweet or hit your blood sugar as hard. I did a year or so “sugar free” (so only naturally occurring sugars, as in dates) and needed to really switch to change my taste and texture expectations. There were some delicious recipes for muffins that I treated like cupcakes, etc etc. My experience as that subbing things for cane sugar was like subbing carob for chocolate, it just doesn’t work even if you like carob. I never did lose my taste for sugar (see, did this for about a year) but it did change my approach to sugar and recognition of what sugar does to my blood sugar in a more detailed way. Context: I’m “insulin resistant.”

      One thing I experimented with was when I ate what; eg starting my day with proteins rather than carbs made everything better. It did mean breakfast for dinner more often, which was a bit odd when dining out with others, but is was great for me overall and I go back to this frequently.

    14. JediSquirrel*

      Try searching the Minimalist Baker website. She has a lot of no-bake cookie recipes, and many of them are vegan, to boot. She generally uses some sort of natural sweetener.

      1. Mephyle*

        But keep in mind, as noted above, that while natural sweeteners may be healthier in the sense of being less refined, and/or containing extra micronutrients that are missing from white sugar, they are not healthier from a diabetic point of view, because they still contain just as much carbohydrate from their naturally occurring sugars.

  10. Laptop Case*

    Can anyone recommend a strong laptop case? Not a bag to carry the computer in, but one of those snap-on shell kits that comes with a keyboard cover. I’ve purchased two from Bezos, and they both broke within a month. Needs to fit a 15″ MacBook Pro.

    1. WoodswomanWrites*

      A great source for computer accessories is B&H Photo, which ships all over the country. They not only have high-quality products, but also excellent customer service. If you want advice on which of their products to get, they’re available by live chat, phone, and email. When I wasn’t sure what to order, I explained what I was looking for and my price range, and they pointed me to a few options so I could pick the best one. Note that they are closed on Saturdays.

      1. Laptop Case*

        Thank you! I love them for lenses but hadn’t thought to check for laptop stuff. They don’t seem to have anything MacBook compatible at the moment, but I do see a good option for my husband’s laptop, so win!

  11. Blue Koala*

    I have to toot my own horn.

    I have 7 years clean today!

    The last two years have been rough with life and I’m so happy I’ve chosen not to go back out. The site has helped me tremendously during this time.

    I hope everyone has a fantastic Saturday!

    1. anon24*

      Congratulations! This is an amazing achievement. This random internet stranger is so happy for you :)

    2. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      Woo hoo, internet high five!!! Glad this site is so helpful… just reading has gotten me through some rough months… the AAM family here (hug)

    3. Srah*

      Yasss!!! Go you :):):) hope you have treated yourself to a hot coffee, a new book, watching your favorite show or an intense workout class (or somerhing else) to celebrate!

  12. Antagonist Relations*

    Ask a Manager D&D and RPG fans, I’m advertising the Ask A Manager RPG club again: https://groups.io/g/askamanagerRPGclub

    Everyone’s welcome; whether you’re completely new to the hobby and looking to try for the first time or you’re an experienced player looking for a new online game or just more people to talk tabletop roleplaying games with.

    Come and chat, find an online game, talk about gaming podcasts, ask for playing or game-mastering advice and delve deeper into the RPG hobby.

    The online 5th Edition D&D game that came out of Ask A Manager last year made it through an update of the classic Against the Cult of the Reptile God module and then completed Curse of Strahd. Now, unfortunately, three members of the group are stepping out due to changing life circumstances and we have two openings. We play Saturdays, 11:30am-4pm Central every other Saturday, our next session will be June 22nd, so there is plenty of time to reach out and get set up if you’re interested.

      1. Antagonist Relations*

        I had a friend who was working on an add-on for Dungeon World that would simulate the office politics of working at a business between dungeon delve missions. I could see if he could find that again to send me…

      2. JediSquirrel*

        I would totally go for MTG style cards with “Fergus the Manager” and “Sansa the Office Manager”.

  13. The very long weekend*

    CW: serious mental health issues and self harm
    So yesterday as I was coming home from work I met the police at the door. Apparently my husband called the self-harm helpline and they sent the police to bring him to the hospital. He spent the night there and is waiting for evaluation. Im terrified and tired and upset and also relieved that someone took action and he hopefully will get some help. He has struggled with depression for years but somehow took a serious turn for the worse this week. Please send good vibes.

    1. Marion Q*

      So sorry to hear that. Hopefully your husband will get the help he needs. Good vibes sent!

    2. King Friday XIII*

      That sounds really hard! Please know we’re thinking of you both, and take care of yourself too.

    3. fposte*

      Oh, that is so hard! I’m sorry!

      The good news is your husband called the helpline. He wants to be helped. That is *major*. I want to give him so much recognition and reward for doing that.

      But that doesn’t rid you of the fundamental fear and sadness, and also the hard work you’re going to be doing for a while. As much as you can, please find activities and people that not only help you support your husband but can put you at the center sometimes, too. It will be better for both of you if you can avoid depleting yourself.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Agreeing with fposte. He called for help. That is huge.

        And building your own support team is important. You do not have to walk alone, there are many good people out there who are willing to be on Team You.

        Many, many good vibes going out to you and Hubby and to those who love and care about you both.

        1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

          Sending a good vibe email for you from here. Know you are being thought warmly of and wished the best – do take care of yourself, too. (hug)

    4. Observer*

      Whew! Rough stuff.

      Accept all the support you can get. I hope you can find a really strong network. It really helps.

    5. Marion Ravenwood*

      Sending good vibes and Jedi hugs (if you want them) to you and your husband, and hope he gets the help he needs.

    6. Belle di Vedremo*

      Good vibes for both of you. I hope you are calling on Team You for support, and that you are looking at ways to build in support for yourself long term, for yourself and for your ability to partner with and care for him. I’m so glad he called for help.

    7. ValaMalDoran*

      I am sending so many good vibes your way. I have so much empathy for you. I have been, if not exactly where you are, in the same neighborhood: I was eating a bowl of cereal after getting home from work when my cell phone rang. My husband was calling from his therapist’s office, to ask me to drive him to the psychiatric ward, because he was suicidal. Driving away and leaving him at the psych ward was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, but it where he needed to be. It’s been almost three years now, and while there have been bumps in the road since then, he’s doing much better these days.

      I wish I had magic words to reassure and comfort you. Please take care of yourself during this, and as other commenters have said, reach out for support. Know that you are not alone. This terrible time will not be forever.

    8. TheOtherLiz*

      Good vibes and prayers, too. Having walked with friends through mental illness episodes where they required police and medical interventions, I am praying all went and continues to go smoothly and you keep talking about it, reaching out to your trusted community for support, reassurance, meals, and listening ears.

  14. Grand Admiral Thrawn Is Still Blue*

    My fav auto repair shop got bought out. I had inklings they weren’t nearly as good prior to this morning but things went south rapidly. I was the very first person in the door, but took them an hour to get to me; the assistant manager was rude…. Again… And he’s brand new. The price quotes I had been given were not in the system. Then I hear the tech talking to the assistant manager. Apparently they were told to work on my Honda Fit but got confused and pulled in the Odyssey. Because they are so similar, clearly.

    Then they lost my keys and took awhile to find. Then I lost it – no way I’m letting these people work on my brakes now! I told off the assistant manager and left. ** I didn’t yell or insult him but I was extremely clear about my feelings.

    I have no regrets about scorching earth here. They are horrible. There was also stuff from Tuesday.

    1. WellRed*

      Good for you! That sounds like a comedy of errors, so to speal. Also, I am utterly fascinated by your seemingly random last sentence.

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

        I was fairly dramatic. I turned at the door and spoke in a very loud voice… don’t see how I can return, not that I want to!

    2. T. Boone Pickens*

      Ugh that is the worst. Having a go to auto body shop where you’re treated fairly and you don’t feel like you’re being taken advantage of is such an underrated life perk.

      1. Alice*

        YES! I thought I had one, and I do trust him not to advise unnecessary work, but last time he asked me to pay cash so he can avoid taxes. I don’t like paying taxes either, but I do like have roads and schools and firefighters…. I feel awkward about going back.
        BTW it’s not an informal spare time kind of thing – it’s a business.

    3. Mimmy*

      Niiiiice!!! I wish I had guts like that!

      I’m just curious how you laid it out for him. I’m trying to be more assertive myself when things aren’t going right but always worry I’m going to lose it and say something I’ll regret later.

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

        I am a Southern woman “of a certain age” (47). At this point, things just kind of come out by themselves if I’m mad enough, as I was today. But it’s always good, if you can, to take a moment and decide if you are sure you want to go that route.

    4. buttrue???*

      I don’t know what I would do if my mechanic closed up shop. Daughter in grad school has one of our cars and 2 different places have either done horrid work or more work than they needed too (and of course more money to them) so I have told her from now on take everything to the local dealership.

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

        I have another choice but they are a bit more expensive. They will get my business now, though.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      The place we used for years lost its lease and moved 3 towns east (and in my yard that’s 3 really long towns). While my husband was working out that direction we jumped through hoops to keep going to them, but now it’s just too far. It stinks to lose someone who knows what they’re doingď

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

      I’m sorry this happened. I FINALLY found a good neighborhood shop that has friendly mechanics, doesn’t upsell things I don’t need, seems to do good work, and charges realistic (maybe a little high) prices. It only took me 20 years of driving a car to find a shop I’m satisfied with, and it kind of feels like I hit the lottery… which is almost kind of sad. The owner has been at it for 35 years and is getting on in years, and I’m really hoping the same thing doesn’t happen to me.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I had a shop like this in walking distance from my house. Then the owner (who is also getting on in years) started appearing in the shop less and less often, and was having one of his senior employees run things. And the senior employee turned out to be, to put it mildly, not as customer-centric as the old owner! I left that shop a year ago, after six months of back and forth with them over my broken AC that was leaking freon. Found a shop that is just as good and charges less, but it’s an hour away, so I can only use it for extreme emergencies (the new shop did fix my AC). I told everyone I knew about New Shop, and also warned them that Old Shop was no good anymore and to take their cars elsewhere… But it really sucks not having a reliable mechanic close to home as I used to. It really is like hitting the lottery.

  15. Parenthetically*

    My folks and my husband’s dad are coming for a nice long visit starting next Tuesday. I’m really excited for us all to get to spend time together. We all get along really well and it’ll be good to help mom and dad start getting settled in their new place — they’re moving close to us in a few months.

    I swear the tension in my body just melts away on June 1. I love summer even though I don’t love heat or humidity — it’s the light. Absolutely love long days and long light evenings.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I just sent off the project I thought I would finish Tuesday or Wednesday, preparatory to going on vacation next week, and all the tension is melting out at last.

    2. fposte*

      That sounds really lovely, and how nice for you that people you love and enjoy are moving closer to you.

    3. Nervous Nellie*

      If I may say, it is a refreshing & lovely piece of news that you have parents and an in-law who enjoy each other, whom you enjoy, and whose visits & permanent moves you are anticipating. I had to read your note a couple of times to absorb that you were just announcing happy news, and not asking for suggestions about navigating family tensions. How rare that is! I don’t think I have seen a family comment as positive as yours in years.

      My mother and now-departed MIL declared open war with each other, and the anxiety/madness/judgement world my family lives in made, and still makes any kind of détente with anyone impossible. If my folks announced that they were moving closer to me, I would have some hard decisions to make. I would not rule out joining the circus.

      Your comment was a cheery & positive note to me that family peace is not only possible, but thrives in some homes. Enjoy that, and delight in your awesome family! And yes to the sunshine! It works the same magic on me. :)

      1. Parenthetically*

        Thanks for this! We certainly do have our issues, all of us, but yes — I definitely recognize what a blessing it is to have a basically good, solid, healthy relationship with my family.

  16. Lucette Kensack*

    For the past year or so, my husband and I have been thinking about selling our house and buying a condo. We’ve looked at about a dozen places and made offers on two. Both fell through because of the contingency of selling our house.

    (The second one is actually in the process of falling through right now; the sellers got annon-contingent offer and called our contingency less than 18 hours after signing our purchase agreement, so we rushed our house onto the market in 24 hours. We’ve gotten one offer that won’t resolve in time for the condo sale to go through, so unless we get a good offer in the next 24 hours or so we’ll lose this condo too.)

    So now we just feel… stuck. My husband isn’t willing to sell the house before we find something we want to buy (he doesn’t want to live temporarily in an apartment while we wait for something we are excited about to come on the market). It seems like, in our current market, carrying the contingency of needing to sell our house is going to get in the way of most deals (multiple offers, etc.).

    So… what’s left? Stay in the house that we’re not happy with? Spend money on the house to make it something we’re happy with (but some of the things we’re not happy with are unresolvable — it’s bigger than we need, it’s a 100-year-old house that will constantly need a lot of maintenance, there are tens of thousands of dollars of necessary repairs/updates coming in the next few years — mandatory things like replacing the roof and the HVAC and etc.).

    I feel frustrated with my husband because he seems closed off to the two obvious-to-me answers: sell now and wait until we find something we’re excited about, or commit to this house and pour some money into liking it more than we do. But I’m sure he could say the same thing about me (I don’t want to, say, buy a condo I’m not thrilled about to avoid having to temporarily stay in an apartment; I’m also much pickier, so while I’ve only liked 2 of the 12ish condos we’ve looked at he would have been willing to make offers on like 8 of them).

    Now we’re sitting in our carefully staged living room staring at our phones and feeling crappy. (And I feel angry with him, but he’s nicer than me so he probably isn’t radiating frustration in my direction in the same way.)

    Ugh, this is crummy.

    1. MOAS*

      If its too big is it possible to convert in to a multi family home and rent out portions?

    2. RemingtonTypeType*

      That’s a tough spot to be in! You could list your home and if you do get an offer just ask for a long closing or to rent it back for a bit. I know it’s not guaranteed, but it might be just enough to settle your husband’s mind.

    3. WellRed*

      I think you posted before about your house buying difficulties? I thought then, and even moreso upon reading this post, that it doesn’t sound like your husband wants to move, but maybe he’s like this in other aspects of life.

      1. Lucette Kensack*

        I don’t think I’ve posted about this before, but I could definitely be remembering wrong.

        My husband definitely wants to move; he’s the primary catalyst.

        1. valentine*

          It’s like a sitcom where the husband doesn’t want to go to Aruba because it’s too hot, but gets ahead of the message by surprising the wife that he is totally, radically thrilled to take her to Aruba as soon as x, y, and z occur, because at least two will never happen, so he’s safe. Of course, freak occurrences cause all three, so she’s thrilled and he’s despondent.

          I don’t get why he’d rather buy something you don’t love and possibly be regretful and stuck, than rent something temporary. Maybe you can sell him on renting a condo?

    4. I'm a Little Teapot*

      Are you sure he wants to move? Because that kinda sounds like he secretly doesn’t want to sell.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I have been that spouse thinking “Wait… I don’t even want to move. So why am I trying to talk you into it while you cynically dismiss options as no-doubt doomed?” Which is why we are still in the same house.

        If you’re simultaneously the person driving the move and the person who is pickier about the new place, this is probably going to devolve mostly to you to fix. Because your spouse can always deploy the “Fine, let’s stay here” card.

        1. Lucette Kensack*

          This is so interesting, that several people have the impression that my husband secretly doesn’t want to move! It’s worth examining and talking about with him, but I suspect that impression is coming more from my description and tone than from his actual behavior. He absolutely wants to move; he’s been the driver of this whole process.

          1. WellRed*

            I think our reaction is that he sounds like he’s put up some pretty big roadblocks, especially if you are in a hot market.

    5. Brandy*

      How long would it take to get to a financial point where you could buy without contingency? Could you get a bridge loan or pull equity from the house in a Home equity loan to fund the purchase? And if not, could you save aggressively until you can?

      I do agree that it sounds like your husband isn’t quite interested in selling.

      1. Newbie*

        How about renting a townhouse/ condo for a year (or 6 months)? There are plenty of options in my area. You can “test drive” townhouse living for a period of time while you are looking for your new more permanent place.

      2. Lucette Kensack*

        We actually could qualify to buy without the contingency! We just aren’t willing to risk carrying two mortgages.

        1. Nye*

          My brother and his partner did this – bought a second home and then sold their first. They loved the new house (on a pond!) and would have lost it with a contingency clause. They were sweating for a couple months while paying both mortgages, but didn’t have to wait long to sell their first house. My brother was fine taking a reasonable offer without waiting for the best possible, which helped expedite things, I think.

          Depending on your housing market, being willing to buy without a contingency clause might let you wait for something you really like and have a good shot at getting it. It’d be more expensive, but if you can afford it, it might be a worthwhile compromise to get something you like without having to move temporarily.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      If you don’t have pets or kids at home, then I am inclined to your solution in some perfect world where short-term at-will rentals are easy to arrange. With the big BUT that it does start a ticking clock where you have to close on the new house within a year for the taxes to be “person moving” rather than “person who invests in real estate.” So you would need to be confident that several options you really like will be on the market in the 3-6 month timeframe.

      1. Newbie*

        True about the tax implications.

        YMMV – in my area, a friend recently found a 6 month rental townhouse and had several to choose from.

        And the rental wouldn’t have to be exactly what you want- just what you could deal with for a finite period of time.

        1. Ali G*

          I just need to note that if you have lived in the house as your primary residence for 2 out of the last 5 years, and you do not net more than $250k in the sale of your house, there is no time clock for purchasing a new home. I’ve been involved in the sale of 2 properties in the last 5 years (my condo and my husband’s townhome). While we purchased our new home before my husband sold his place (in 2016), I sold mine back in 2014 with zero tax implications (in the US).

    7. Moocowcat*

      My opinion is that you guys should continue with the plan you’ve had. Its crummy, but eventually selling the house and a wonderful condo will align at the same time.
      Otherwise, consider selling the house and temporarily rent. Maybe rent in the condo area that you might want to buy?

    8. Wishing You Well*

      First, find out if your husband is really willing to move. Then go with your husband to a real estate expert. Get advice from them. Hopefully, you’ll develop a plan of action.
      A big house has big bills. You’re likely better off in a smaller place.
      Best of luck.

    9. Not A Manager*

      If your husband doesn’t want the obvious solution, which is to sell your place now and rent until you find a new place, then maybe he really doesn’t want to move. Why don’t you ask him what he is specifically worried about w/r/t a temporary rental? Maybe he’s irrationally afraid that you’ll move into a rental, nothing will ever come on the market that fits your needs, and you’ll be renting forever. Or something. Maybe if you talk about it, you and he can find a way to rent that feels safe to him.

      If that doesn’t work, then I’d shift ALL of the burden of this move that *he* supposed wants, onto him. How does he think you should plan and organize buying a new place in a hot market that doesn’t tolerate contingencies? Whatever his plan is, that’s fine, but agree that if you’re not in a new place within, say, a year, then you’ll stop looking and plan to pour some money into your existing home.

      1. Clisby*

        I second this. I can’t imagine a case where I’d try to buy a house with a contingency clause. Well, OK, if it was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to buy some incredible historic property, maybe … but not just to get a condo.

    10. acmx*

      I disagree with the others and wonder if you really want to move? Are you being too picky to delay moving?

      Also, as someone who has moved 4x in less than 3 years and half of them halfway across the country, I get your husband not wanting to move someplace temporarily (where you have to unpack) it’s a huge pain.

      1. Lucette Kensack*

        Hey! I read this out loud to my husband and he nodded emphatically (about the unpacking thing).

    11. Silver Fig*

      My take, as someone who also struggled with this: pack up your belongings to absolute minimalism, put it all in storage, and buckle down on selling while buying. The time frame is always going to be tight, but if you pre-work as much as you can (get your stuff out of the house, pre-approvals for mortgage if that applies, etc.) then you can strip the process down to a bare minimum of time and effort.

      Plus, if husband IS actually dragging his feet due to unacknowledged reluctance, Spartan living may kick him into firm decision mode, once and for all.

    12. Lucette Kensack*

      What I think is happening (for both my husband and I) is that we’re struggling to let go of the “perfect” outcome: we find a condo we love, get an offer with contingency accepted, and sell our house such that the contingent condo offer goes through.

      We’ve come SO close on these two we made offers on. The first one had been on the market for a couple of months and had escaped our notice (this was before we had looped our Realtor in — we were just idly browsing). We saw it online, called our Realtor, saw it in person, and made an offer that weekend. The same day they got another offer at the same price… but if we had stumbled across it a week earlier, or if we had been willing to throw another $5k at it, we might own it now. (And in retrospect we should have thrown that extra money at it.)

      In any case, we did just decide to accept the offer that we got for our house. It’s very likely that the condo deal will fall apart (because the offer on our house is also contingent on their house selling; they are through inspection but that doesn’t satisfy our contingency on the condo), but we’re going to go for it, throw ourselves into looking for a condo, and be willing to end up in a rental for a while. Herrrrrre we go!

      1. Not A Manager*

        Good for you both!!

        Regarding unpacking in the rental – I’ve done a LOT of living in rentals while selling/buying/renovating my “real” home(s). IMO, the key is to pack up almost everything and put it in storage. It’s okay to pick a more remote and less expensive storage, b/c you will never ever pop in just to grab one item, or even one box.

        If you rent a furnished apartment, all you really need to bring is some clothes and toiletries and maybe your favorite kitchen knife. If you rent an unfurnished place, you’ll save on storage fees but even so, try to bring mostly items that your movers bring in for you and unwrap, like a sofa and your bed, and not a lot of books and clothes and tchotchkes.

      2. Ron McDon*

        I was going to suggest renting out your house – if you could rent it at a high enough price to cover the mortgage cost, you could buy the condo without contingency. Then sell the house with a bit more breathing space.

      3. Lucette Kensack*

        There were a couple more twists and turns, as it turns out! We decided to wait one more day to accept the offer, in the hopes that we could get a last-minute offer that would get us the condo we had an offer on. While we were waiting to hear from a couple of agents that showed the house today, our buyers upped their offer by $10k if we would sign by the end of the day today. We heard from today’s showings that they weren’t going to make an offer that would satisfy our contingency on the condo, so we said yes to our buyers and signed everything an hour ago.

  17. Strawberry*

    I hope this is ok to ask here. Am I thinking/behaving normally or not? I am open to therapy but I am worried and want to let out my emotions

    I am ashamed to admit that I am really attached to a friend. This is not a romantic relationship. I just enjoy their company and friendship. But lately things feel different and I fear they’re pushing away from me. I relayed this and they said they’re not and that I am overthinking things. I definitely feel like I am taking things way more seriously than they are. I wish I wasn’t so emotional.

    This is the first friend I’ve made as an adult so I want to tread very carefully. This is someone I can see being in my life for long term. I don’t want to ruin a good friendship by being myself.

    1. WellRed*

      I think therapy is a good idea. Nothing pushes a new friend away faster than an imbalance like this and the constant need to reassure.

      1. Ethyl*

        Yes and a note on reassurance and assurance seeking — it actually harms us in the long run! Constant reassurance keeps us focused on the things that are causing the anxiety/bad feelings, and keeps us from learning how to self-soothe, manage our emotions, and get a handle on runaway thoughts. Plus, I know for me at least it never actually helps me feel any better at all!

        This is actual mental health science too, I can’t find the original article I read about this but if you Google things like “mental health and reassurance seeking” you’ll be able to find plenty of resources.

        1. valentine*

          Like commenter I need more chocolate Häagen-Dazs, you want to cast a wider net. Go to a ton of meetups and enjoy hanging out with people. Change the definition of success. You’ve got too much pressure on yourself and on this person, especially if you’ve told them they’re your one and only and how much they mean to you.

    2. Alex*

      I think therapy probably is a good idea for you.

      I think part of this may be from your own sense of self worth, which therapy can help with. What makes you feel that they are pushing away from you, and more importantly, what makes that scary? Is it that you are afraid you want to be friends more than they do? Are you afraid you aren’t cool/interesting enough for them? Do you feel like you need to earn their friendship? Is there something about being yourself that makes you afraid they won’t like you? If they don’t like you as yourself, are they someone who belongs in your life long term?

      When you don’t have great self-worth, it can feel scary when a friend wants time to themselves, because you may not feel like you are needed. If you aren’t needed, you have to rely on being wanted, which is much more precarious. You can make yourself a needed friend by trying to be that friend who is indispensable–always “being there,” solving that person’s problems, being the go-to person in that person’s life. But being wanted relies on your own characteristics, like how interesting, fun, cool, you are. If you don’t have a great sense of self worth, being wanted feels much harder and may feel like your friendship is on the rocks.

      When you feel good about yourself, being confident that you are wanted in a friendship comes much more easily. If you are confident that you are a person your friend wants in their life, you don’t need to read in to every little interaction with “is this person pulling away? maybe they don’t need me anymore!” because you know that you are worth friendship and that that person has reason to seek out your company.

      What if you said to yourself, “I’m going to decide that this person likes me and wants to be my friend, and I will view our interactions through that lens.” They’ve told you that you are overthinking–so, they have SAID that they like you and want to be your friend.

    3. ThatGirl*

      This sounds like anxiety. I’ve seen it in my husband. I definitely agree with therapy, and if you find yourself anxious in other ways, a low dose of medication might also be helpful.

      Also, I want to push back on the idea that “being yourself” will drive people away. You should only want to be friends with people who you /can/ be yourself around. But that voice telling you that you could ruin things isn’t “yourself” — it’s a jerkbrain anxiety voice.

      1. Strawberry*

        It could be anxiety. I’ve had it for over a year now and take Xanax occasionally. I lost a parent last year and have had a difficult time coping with it and feel very disconnected from my other friends. For a while I’ve felt this person was my only friend, etc. and it’s frightening to me how much they mean to me.

        1. fposte*

          That sounds like a lot to deal with. I do think it can happen that when we narrow our circle the individuals still left carry more weight with us. I also think that, from what you’re saying elsewhere, you’re still figuring out the shadings of honesty and expectations in friendships generally, so it’s understandable that your muscles are getting a little tired here.

          I know this feels counterintuitive if you want to feel more confident in this friend’s affection, but I think it might be worth considering exploring some new friendships–not instead of this friend, but in addition to her. Especially if you can take some agency here in initiating something, because it can be really empowering to realize that friendship is a choice on both your parts, not just something that was brought to you and that you need to gratefully accept.

          1. fposte*

            Another thought, Strawberry, is that you might find some Captain Awkward columns useful–she has a lot of discussion about figuring out and negotiating friendships that are helpful in making the implicit explicit.

            I was just reading this one that you might find interesting, for instance–not because you remind me of either person in this, but because it’s a really good reminder of the way stories intersect and yet we each have our own.

            https://captainawkward.com/2011/12/11/question-149-the-sad-cat-neighbor-feelings-situation/

            1. Basia, also a fed*

              Wow, fposte, this Captain Awkward post blew my mind! It describes my relationship with someone with whom I’ve been friends with since elementary school exactly! This actually might change my life. Thank you. Strawberry, I hope it helps you as well.

        2. ThatGirl*

          It does sound like a lot to deal with, and I’m so sorry for your loss. Please consider both therapy (for grief and anxiety) and expanding your social circle a bit. Having a safe place to dump out all your feelings will give you space to deal with them without taking that anxiety (and grief, and so many feelings) out on your friend. You’re not alone.

    4. King Friday XIII*

      “I don’t want to ruin a good friendship by being myself.”

      If you’re thinking like this, you’ll almost certainly benefit from a therapist even if you’re really good at not letting that come through, honestly. You are worth having friends and being loved exactly as you are, but it sounds like you’re having some trouble seeing that.

    5. Alpaca Tourney*

      I can relate, it took me 5 years of adult life to realize that my idea of friendship was much more involved than my friend’s definitions. I did not go to therapy but that would have really helped, I didnt know who to turn to and had to figure it out on my own.

      I learned that first of all, no one is going to me as first priority in their life, that is my job. And I want to be friends with people who genuinely appreciate me for who I am. I also needed to do some personal work and change my perspective of friendship to a healthy one – one where my thoughts, feelings, and opinions mattered enough to be voiced and acted upon, not something to push aside in favor of the friend. It is inherited unhealthy to invest more time and effort in a friendship than the other person.

      Lately I’ve been having a reassurance issue as well. I realized I want my friend to not feel like she has to mother/mentor me constantly. I started catching myself about to ask for the reassurance, and was able to self check/encourage. Still implementing this but it appears to be helping. Its also fair to allow people to push away from you, if they want to come back into your life, they will do so. If they stay pushed away, then it is time to invest in a new friend, or reinvest in old friends!

      Anyways just some quick thoughts from a stranger on the internet who knows how difficult this can be emotionally – You will overcome this! Also will be following this thread so I can get some extra mental health tools in my own toolbox!

    6. Not So NewReader*

      You know, grief can do real odd stuff to our thoughts.
      It can make us cling to people or things for dear life. And sometimes what or who we are clinging to makes absolutely no sense.
      To make matters even more complex, a person can know why they are acting clingy and STILL remain clingy. (Raises hand here.)
      This can be one of the many costumes of grief.

      You might benefit from reading about the grief process, symptoms of grief and all the various things that cause us to grieve. There’s many good books on grief out there. Pick the one that sounds like the author is talking to you personally.

      I lost my husband and a number of family members in a five year period. I would return home from my work day and CRY because I was so happy to see my house again. (Clinging to my house.) I would fret everyday about leaving my elderly dog alone for the day. (Clinging to the dog.) If anything broke I would cry over the cost of the repair. (Clinging to money/security.)
      I knew why I was doing this and I still kept doing it. The more I read about grief and handling grief the easier things got. For me, the primary thing was validation. Hey, my world is upside down. And I learned from reading that is correct, our world can go upside down when we lose someone. (And it does not matter if the relationship was positive or negative, we can still be impacted.)

      A pet peeve of mine is when people set time limits on grief. no. We can grieve a loss for the rest of our lives. Granted, I am not crying the way I did when my father died 25 years ago. But I still get a pang in my heart sometimes when I think of him. That pang is grief. I expect it will always be there for the rest of my life.

      I could be totally off base here, but my thought is if you have narrowed your world down to one person then your road is pretty rocky. People who are just bumping from one day to the next can withdraw from other aspects of life. If you lose the one person left in your world, then you might be worried that could be a huge problem.

      Now is the time to bring in other help, while you still have this one friend active in your life. Go bring in some support for you. Life does not have to be this hard. And life can get easier.

      My guess is you are grieving. But I am a random internet stranger and I know zero about you and what it is like to be you. I am offering a starting point. Grab the advantage of still having that one good friend and add more to your support system.

      Let us know how you are doing.

    7. Lilysparrow*

      I’m going to answer your question very literally – are you thinking & behaving normally or not. But since normal is just a setting on the dryer, I’m going to say “healthy”.

      Being very attached to a friend, enjoying their company, and being concerned if things seem to have changed, are all quite common and healthy.

      Being ashamed of your attachment is not healthy. Having a close, dear friend is a lovely thing and nothing to be ashamed of.

      Worrying that being yourself will ruin the friendship is not healthy.

      Being uncomfortable with the intensity of your own feelings, and unsure if your behavior is appropriate, is a sign that something is unhealthy or not calibrated correctly somewhere. We all have times when we overreact or get in over our heads, or say and do things we’re embarrassed about later. But if you’re dwelling in a state of uncertainty about where those lines are, that indicates there’s something amiss.

      I agree with the others that therapy is probably going to help you a lot in sorting this stuff out.

      Best of luck to you!

    8. Koala dreams*

      I think that’s pretty normal. Some people see friends as the most important people in their life, some see friends as people you meet for fun stuff. It sounds like a mismatch between your styles. Enjoy the fun stuff and keep looking for friends with a similar friendship style to you.

    9. Strawberry*

      Wow thank you all so mu,ch for the kind and thoughtful replies. I viewed this on my phone and screenshotted replies.

      I decided that I will try to be more easy going. I see this person almost every single day and plan to just have our usual banter but not initiate as much.

  18. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    This week, I’ve killed some people. (And yes, secret service person watching me, I do mean fictional people).
    There’s this meme going around of someone wondering what writers do when they kill a character: cry, or have a cup of tea with Satan? Personally, my tea goes cold while I cry on Satan’s shoulder, but what’s about you peeps?

    1. Laura H.*

      See below for my update- I’m so happy, you have no idea!

      I don’t have the stomach for a long drawn out killing… short, sweet, and to the point. (Like in that bear of a chapter mentioned in its own post.)

      How was that play you were in, O’Nyme?

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        It went really well! We did have some hiccups but we managed to overcome those easily. The audience was super happy too.
        Also we got the pictures earlier this week and I’m actually pretty proud of how much I looked like a man. That said, standing in the ladies room dressed as a man feels really weird :p.

    2. Workerbee*

      First time entering this writing thread!

      I’m halfway through writing my first novel, and I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT. It feels amazing having the creativity coursing through me and out onto the screen. Major difference from when I’d let it stagnate and fester because there was always something else that needed to get done first (even if it was just sitting on the damn couch).

      I say “halfway” because I’m keeping an eye on word count. I intend to write until the story is done–at least this part of it, as I’m planning a series–but it seems that agents/publishers like that word count to be within a set ballpark range. Of course, self-publishing is a viable option, but I do like having someone else help with the marketing & printing. I need to get better at doing my own marketing, but I’d so much rather just write. I find myself wishing I had the money to hire someone to market me for me.

      I haven’t overtly killed a character yet but as I still wish several persons were alive from the Potter books, I would withhold tea from Rowling until she resurrected them. :P

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Welcome, and good luck with the rest of the novel!

        I’m currently working on a thing with a serial killer so, yanno, characters kinda need to die for plot to happen. So far no major characters (yet…) but still.

        Yeah, I remember the first time I read the 7th book I was so heartbroken. On the other hand, that did drive home the point that this was a war.

      2. Claire*

        Congrats on your progress!

        I’ve self-published a few things, and I’m happy with the results, but yeah, it’s a lot of work, and far too expensive for me to do that for all my novels. Content editing, copyediting, proofreading, cover art, cover design, interior design, marketing… Even if I could get all that for free–and I can’t–it still costs me time.

        That said, I know some writers who are very good at marketing their books, and who can invest the money to do the job properly. More power to them!

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I killed someone in my bank robber book, a very likable character. I’m afraid I enjoyed it way too much. Not from the actual killing standpoint, but from imagining someone reading it and yelling, “NOOOOOOOOO!”

      Heh heh.

      Also, I finally, FINALLY created all the words for cardinal numbers in my conlang, from 1 to 100,000. And they make sense! I’m so proud of myself, as I was really stuck on that. The hardest one to think up a word for was the number 4 for some reason. Now, on to ordinals (groan!).

      It doesn’t matter if they change a bit later on. Just getting past that roadblock seems to have re-energized my brain. :)

      1. Lucy*

        Another laughing/smirking killer here, sorry! A death is just so dynamic, and often cathartic to construct.

        My “backburner” project is a reluctant serial killer, so this comes up often.

      2. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Congratulations on the conlang! Creating languages can really take up a lot of time.

    4. Claire*

      I just got back from Japan, so I got very little writing done this past week. However, I did work out some plot points for pirate #2, and my agent reports that a publisher is interested in picking up my Watson/Holmes series. First, though, I need to rework the opening chapters and the synopsis.

      When I kill off a character….it depends. When I killed off a villain, I rub my hands and chortle with glee. When I kill off a sympathetic character–whether a major character or simply a walk-on, I confess I get sad, but that doesn’t stop me.

    5. Lilysparrow*

      My designated victims are usually pretty unlikeable or we don’t see enough of them to get attached. With likeable characters, I usually just read it over and over to make sure it’s working, and I’m happy/satisfied when it does.

      Does that count as “a cup of tea with Satan?” I don’t know.

      The one killing I wondered if I’d gone too far was a cat. My beta readers said it was too upsetting. I wound up rewriting it to make it less graphic, but kept it in.

      The villain was evil, dang it! You gotta have plenty of reason to hate him!

    6. Smol Book Wizard*

      I’m still revising my fantasy novella. Sigh. Hehe. But I have found some freedom in completely re-writing a few scenes and copy-pasting anything I really want to keep instead of trying to work on an already-present text. Now, if I get through this scene, I will get to work on a scene I actually like…

  19. BeanCat*

    I can’t remember if I’ve said it before, but fiancé and I have mostly finalized our wedding plans! We both have separated families who don’t really get along with the people on their own “side” (my parents don’t get on, etc) and it was really stressing us out. On my stepmom’s advice we decided that our honeymoon cruise would actually be our wedding cruise – we’re going to get married at sea! Our families have mostly taken it okay; we’re going to take long weekends the rest of the year to visit each part of the family so everyone gets a bit of time with us and we don’t have to stress over awkwardness or “Oh god what is my grandfather going to say to his mother?”.

    All in all I think it was the best decision for us :)

    1. Workerbee*

      That sounds wonderful, and also a good tradition to start among both your families! I swear I’ve read something about a Wedding Journey like that, where the newlyweds travel from house to house. Regardless, it’s brilliant.

      1. BeanCat*

        Oooh, I wonder if I had heard about it and subconsciously did it because it sounds familiar now that you’ve said that!

    2. Nervous Nellie*

      What an absolutely inspired idea! You will have a joyful cruise spared the concerns about family interacting with each other, and they will each feel special since you will make long weekend visits with them where you will spend far more one-on-one time than you ever could at your wedding ceremony/reception. Brilliant! Congrats and many years of happiness to you!

      1. BeanCat*

        Thank you so much! That’s exactly how I framed it and what I was hoping to achieve.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      I’m a big fan of visiting when you don’t have to do a bunch of other ritual things, like Thanksgiving dinner. It’s much easier to do what people would like to do, rather than everyone make a big pile of stuffing, eat it, and then sit around feeling bloated.

      1. BeanCat*

        So true! Holidays are so hard since we each have family and those families are split multiple ways! That was partly why we decided to do this.

    4. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      I remember the happy weekend post for the engagement – and this is great. Be sure to chronicle the visits to family with great pictures – they will cherish them. The best part of our wedding was the pictures of us with the family members who were so happy for us…. there’s a special glow of joy. And taking pictures at each family visit may not occur to you if you don’t have a “wedding photography” package for these visits… but they will be so precious for the future years. All the best!

      1. BeanCat*

        Thank you so much! My family has always been big on pictures and that has passed down to me. I will definitely remember to take pictures! :)

  20. Laura H.*

    I finished a fic update this week. Was a bear of one that took 8 months to finish. And the reviewers seem to like it, so yay coauthor and I weren’t just busting our own ovaries!

    I’ll probably start on the next chapter tonight after my shift at the jewelry store.

  21. Rebecca*

    Mom update – she kept the appointment at the urologists office on Tuesday. I’m really glad about that. Her urinary issues are much worse than I thought. She’s been keeping copious notes on how much she drinks vs how much output she makes, and she told me when she went for the appointment, she went twice before she left the house, office is 10 minutes away, and when she got there, they catheterized her to get a clean urine specimen and got 13 1/2 ounces. They did an ultrasound, and said she needed a cystoscopy right away, and gave her the option of Friday (yesterday) or next Wednesday. Of course she choose Wednesday, ugh. So yesterday I got home from work, and she had gone back to the office because she was peeing even more frequently, and having a lot of pain too. She gave another sample, and they confirmed it’s another bacterial infection, but they’re doing a culture to find out exactly what it is. She’s in misery, again, and this is 4 weeks after completing a round of antibiotics for the same problem (the 4th since last September).

    She didn’t tell me much, but I overheard her on the phone with someone saying she may have to have surgery, she doesn’t want to take antibiotics, she doesn’t want a catheter, she’s not going to take “powerful drugs” to stop this…I didn’t interrupt then, but later, I said “Mom, you have a choice. You have put this off for 8 years, and now you have to make a decision. Either listen to the specialist, let him treat you, and get some relief, or live the rest of your life basically home bound and in misery”. She didn’t like it. But, it’s no wonder she can’t sleep – she gets up to go to the bathroom 4 of 5 times a night, is stressed about that, then can’t sleep, she’s sleep deprived and miserable.

    So Wednesday afternoon I’m taking her for the appointment, and while she’s out of earshot having the procedure, I’m going to make sure the nurse knows exactly who they’re dealing with – retired RN who thinks she knows more than the doctor, untreated anxiety, won’t take meds due to side effects, etc.

    Other than this, I guess everything else is going OK. Hard to believe it’s June already. Oh, and the rain can taper off any time now. I feel like I need to check myself for growing moss like a sloth in the Amazon! I don’t know about where you all are, but here in PA it feels like it’s been raining since Summer of 2017. We had double the amount of rain we normally get here in 2018, and 2019 seems to be right on target to hit that record again.

    I had some gall bladder issues this week, a few semi sleepless nights due to the pain, but that’s straightened itself out, and I feel so fortunate to have meds for the muscle spasms and cramping in my legs – OMG I cannot believe the difference!! Not one cramp in my feet since I started taking it, no thigh cramps, no “my knee is in a vice” feelings – and when I stand up to walk, I can actually walk at a normal pace without feeling like the Tin Man. I’ve been able to hike more, and am going to take a longer hike on an old road through our local state forest soon, maybe not tomorrow but hopefully next weekend. And no side effects from the meds that I can see, I’ll have follow up blood work but I feel confident this will help me for now. And it’s the lowest dose, and there are higher doses, so if it starts to not work maybe I can bump up the mg’s. I’m still taking the glucosamine and MSM too.

    Wish me luck with Mom!

    1. Myrin*

      I’ve been following your story(s), Rebecca, and man, you’re one tough cookie dealing with all of this. Best wishes to you and your mum!

    2. Ruffingit*

      I hear you so much on the mother who won’t follow the doctor’s instructions. My mother had chronic UTIs to the point where she was on a lifetime course of antibiotics. But she refused to quit eating poorly or exercise despite having diabetes. It was just crazy at some point and I felt like there was no point in even going to the doctor because it was a waste of their time since she wasn’t going to follow their instructions/advice anyway.

      I know how hard it can be with a stubborn mother. You have my sympathy!

      1. Rebecca*

        It’s an anti inflammatory, Piroxicam – What a relief it is. Plus cyclobenzaprine, muscle relaxer, if I need it at night. It makes me really tired, so I don’t take it if I know I’ll be driving.

    3. Wishing You Well*

      Wishing you good luck with your mom. I really feel for you.
      I have an elderly relative who just WON’T take doctor’s advice. Keeps causing herself pain and asking for more pain meds instead of stopping the pain-inducing activity. It’s frustrating and exhausting to hear her complain. Nothing can be done for her, so I use “radical acceptance” when I can. I cannot imagine living with her.
      P.S. Your mom should use adult diapers at night. She might refuse, but that kind of sleep disruption will make anybody lose cognitive function.

    4. buttrue???*

      I’m in Central Pa and have had enough of the rain. Although it seems we’re having a little bit less than last year. Grass never went dormant last year in the late summer. Felt like all I was thinking about was mowing the lawn. When would it stop raining so I can mow the lawn. Is the grass dry enough to mow the lawn? Should I mow now even thought it doesn’t really need it so I’m not mowing 6 inches the next time there is a break in the rain. And the shadiest part of my roof grew moss. At least that was in the back.

    5. AlaskaBlue*

      Good luck with Mom! As someone with female bits who has had cystoscopys regularly for 12 yrs now I have three recommendations: 1. For the numbing agent I prefer it to be introduced with a syringe. With female anatomy the nurses have tried to tell me that my urethra is short and a swab with numbing agent is fine, but I’ve had both methods and the syringe is much less uncomfortable. 2. Probably moot now, but for future appointments I recommend having the last appt in the afternoon if at all possible. Contrary to most dr visit appt, I know, when you want the first one of the day. However I find the cystoscopy irritates my bladder and by having my appt in the afternoon I have fewer trips to the bathroom before I head to bed and my bladder can rest and rejuvenate overnight. 3. Even though my bladder is grumpy afterwards, I still maintain my normal fluid intake after thr procedure. It’s hard, but I think my system feels better overall from keeping to my usual schedule.

      I hope they can figure out what is going on with your mom!

      1. Rebecca*

        I hope they can too, and the specialist wanted this done right away. A bit of history – she had that mesh surgery in 2011 to put her bladder back into place, the mesh was faulty (tons of class action suits, etc). I begged her over and over to go back, get it fixed, and she refused. It’s totally undone, and this what’s probably causing most of her problems. She’s also a retired RN, and thinks she knows everything. The specialist is worried that somehow what’s left from the mesh may have folded her bladder somehow or somehow gotten through the wall of it.

    6. Secret Service person watching*

      Glad things are going better for you physically, Rebecca.

      On your mom–do you know if the doctor has mentioned the risks she may be running if she doesn’t get treatment? Persistent bacterial UTI in an elderly person may mean more than just being homebound–the risk of sepsis is a real concern there. I know you can’t make your mom do stuff, but I wasn’t sure if the conversation had touched on the potential for things to get worse here.

      1. Rebecca*

        As a retired RN, she knows exactly what will happen, and she will take antibiotics if it’s totally necessary. Part of the problem is she reads every side effect, and once, she literally thought she had every single one for one of the pills she was taking. That’s really not possible, I wouldn’t think. But, if the pharmacist didn’t give the sheets to her, she’d go to the library and get the PDR, or make me look it up on the internet for her. She even keeps and reads them for her thyroid medication that she’s been taking for years, I guess in case something changes? Honestly, she makes me tired.

    7. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      Sending Mom vibes….. I am so sorry you are going through this, but so grateful you have your own leg muscle cramping situation under control…. at least one of you (and IMHO, you deserve rest!) is getting better sleep.

      I hope the car, tractor, and home dryer situations are all as peaceful as possible, given the rest of the fun you are having?

    8. ..Kat..*

      Good luck with Mom.

      One side effect of UTIs in the elderly: they show dementia. A lot of what you have described about your mom in other posts could be symptoms of her UTI!

      Does your mom wear thong underwear? This is a common cause of UTIs.

      Again, good luck.

    9. WoodswomanWrites*

      I’m glad your mom kept the appointment, an accomplishment in itself. I hope that when she gets a diagnosis, she follows through with treatment. Good call to take the nurse aside and give them the background. I once had to call my senior mom’s doctor’s office to give them some background ahead of her appointment, and I think it helped them to be responsive.

      Great to hear that your own challenges have been addressed and that you’re out of pain and able to hike again. Time in the outdoors can be so grounding during chaotic times. I’ll be watching for an update on how things are going. Wishing you the best as always!

  22. T. Boone Pickens*

    Hello AAM!

    I’ve been rolling around the idea of learning Italian in my head and I think I’m ready to take the plunge. As anyone had any luck with Rosetta Stone, Duolingo or Rocket Language?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Pnut*

      Pimsleur is great for speaking only and Living Language is also very good. I don’t like Duolingo.

    2. Judgment day*

      My advice–find a class or tutor to use with these apps. It’s tough to stay motivated on your own. The apps can be great but no matter what you use, you’ll still need to practice talking with another human being. Good luck!

    3. coffee cup*

      I like Duolingo but I think it’s much better for keeping up with languages you already know some of. I find it’s not great when starting from scratch because I need the grammar and the structure of a class.

    4. Cambridge Comma*

      Duolingo isn’t great but you could see if you can stick with it e.g. every day for a month before spending money on something expensive like Rosetta Stone.
      I learned Italian by watching the breakfast show on Rai Uno an hour every day while eating breakfast and getting ready. Don’t know if that’s your kind of thing but it worked amazingly for me.

    5. A.N. O'Nyme*

      As an Italian student who has also used Duolingo, I’m…On the fence on that one. Like others have said it’s probably better to actually get a decent class or even watch some shows in Italian (or if you like video games, see if you can find some with an Italian language option. European (PAL) versions usually do) if you intend to actually learn properly. Duolingo is a great place to start to maybe see if you like the language as much as you think you do, but I wouldn’t count on it to learn the language with any sort of fluency.

    6. FD*

      I’ve been using Duolingo for a bit over a month to pick up Spanish (by which I mean, I’ve only missed on day in my streak so far). Today, I was with a contractor and we were talking to a tenant, with the contractor translating. I found I could understand about 25% of what was being said, at normal speed, between two native Spanish speakers, which to my mind, is not bad progress and is more than I’d have expected from a being in a formal class for the same time.

      (I do have some advantages. I took French in high school and a bit of Latin in college, so there are a lot of cognates with Spanish.)

      What I like about Duolingo–it’s cheap (I went with the paid version), and I think they did a good job of gamifying language learning. I like that they teach you vocabulary by building on what you already know–e.g. you learn new vocabulary through context. I also think the lessons are short enough that you don’t get bored before you finish one.

      What I don’t like–I’m not convinced you can really learn some of the grammar with Duolinguo. You really need to learn the regular verb patterns, and I’m not convinced the way Duolingo teaches lets you really intuit what those are. I’m planning to supplement Duolingo with Conjuguemos (a conjugation practice website we used when I was in HS) to memorize the irregulars and to learn the verb endings.

      1. Ron McDon*

        Thanks for the Conjuguemos rec – that’s a really good site. My son is doing well with conjugating French verbs, and this could be a good practice for him.

    7. Nicki Name*

      Rosetta Stone really helped me with Japanese, though that was years ago when it was the only option available.

  23. Rikki Tikki Tarantula*

    Been nose-to-the-grindstone these last few months (spouse is on disability and I’m trying to bring in more income to compensate). So getting some much-needed relief this week with a family trip to Vegas. The plan is for lots of pool time and hitting three Gordon Ramsay restaurants.

    1. Ruffingit*

      Sounds like you need some serious downtime! I’m glad you’re going to get it. We ate at Hell’s Kitchen in Vegas last September. Excellent!

      1. Rikki Tikki Tarantula*

        We went to Hell’s Kitchen and the Pub and Grill last year, loved them both. This time we’re going to those again and to the Burger restaurant.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Nice! I’ve only eaten at Plane Food in Heathrow. The food was fantastic! But I was really disappointed that they didn’t have the little picnic hampers when I went. The server said they were remodeling and had no space for them. I also want to go back to London and have a meal at The Narrow in Limehouse.

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        I stopped in for a drink there once when we were having a stroll along the river and I think we had some nibbles. Good service and a nice space. Seriously, we are morons, didn’t even REALIZE that was a Ramsay restaurant. No wonder everyone was more nicely dressed up than the crowd down at the Town of Ramsgate!

    1. WellRed*

      Best: Super fun Memorial Weekend with friends.
      Worst: another friend’s mom, and they are really extended family I’ve known my entire life, died.

    2. Ruffingit*

      BEST: Had an at-home pampering night on Thursday, which was lovely and much needed.

      WORST: Scheduling stuff that was difficult. And also just being really tired.

    3. CoffeeforLife*

      Best: last week went home to Hawaii for little sis’ graduation – we moved away in Oct :( Saw family and friends, ate delicious food, and played tourist

      Worst: stayed with my mom.
      I truly believe she has undiagnosed personality disorder including narcissism.

      1. ..Kat..*

        If you need help dealing with your worst, you might find the book “Will I ever be good enough?” by K McBride helpful.

    4. The Other Dawn*

      Worst: I’m apparently a walking disaster these past two weeks. I face-planted walking into work from the parking lot last week. The only thing that saved me from a broken nose was the boxed cheesecake I was carrying. Surprisingly, it remained intact! Not so much my knee and the upper calf behind my knee. Still hurts a bit. Last night I was doing wall ball while working out in the shed (a home gym in process) and the 10-pound ball bounced off a stud, hit me in the face and snapped my head back. Then while getting into bed I pulled a muscle. I normally lean on my left elbow while putting the pillow between my knees and pulling up the covers. I leaned too far and I felt the pull. It’s very painful and I can barely move it today. Feels like the very top of the bicep. Then coming down the stairs this morning, I slipped and missed the last two stairs, which jarred my healing knee. All of this is in addition to the elbow tendinitis I’ve been dealing with since February (cortisone shot on Monday I hope!) and the usual back pain from the bulging discs. And it’s all on the left side of my body. Somebody just put me out of my misery already! Oh, and my tenants didn’t leave so will have to evict.

      Best: Not seeing it yet…

      1. Alice*

        Oh my goodness. A string of luck that bad can’t last forever – but while it does it’s rough. Good luck!

      2. Mimmy*

        Dang, when it rains it pours!!! Please be kind to yourself this weekend. Wishing you speedy healing!

      3. Joie De Vivre*

        I hope things start going better for you. You may want to go to a doctor and be evaluated. Your string of physical klutziness might be due to a physical issue.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Right on. And it could be as simple as fatigue. I know I get pretty klutzy if I have not had rest. I am just not thinking about what I am doing. I have my brain on the next thing not the current thing.

      4. The Other Dawn*

        Thanks, everyone. My arm is very painful today so I’m headed to the walk-in. I was hoping to wait until I see the orthopedic tomorrow for the tendonitis, but the pain is near-constant. Percocet isn’t even helping other than to take the edge off a bit. I only take half a pill at a time, which could be why, but if I take more I feel sick for a bit and then it hits me like a ton of bricks. I had a hard time sleeping since I couldn’t sleep on my side. I’m trying my muscle relaxers to see if they help. UGH I had gardening plans this weekend! :(

    5. Jaid*

      Best: Making a shrimp boil using my Instant Pot for the first time.

      Worst: Dumping the lovely liquid out because I didn’t think to save it for dunking bread in and not wanting the shrimp to keep cooking in the broth.

      Next time.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        How do you do a shrimp boil in the Instant Pot? I admit, I don’t even know what a “shrimp boil” is.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      BEST: My birthday on Tuesday wasn’t too bad. Alamo Drafthouse sent me a free birthday ticket so I used it on Godzilla yesterday. Honestly, I went in for giant monster fights and was not disappointed, but I’m glad I didn’t have to pay for it, because other than that, it was dumb as hell. I should have picked Brightburn or just seen Endgame again. Oh well; I ate a giant pretzel, which was delicious. :)

      WORST: Realizing that if I don’t get out of here soon, somehow, I will never have the life I want.

      1. Morningstar*

        A belated happy birthday to you. If you sign up for ultra and Sephora rewards (free), they give you a free sample during your birth month if you’re into that kind of stuff.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Oh darn it, I do have an Ulta rewards card and I knew that. Well, too late now.

    7. Raia*

      Best – getting a new card game!
      Worst – realizing I’ve been doing the anxious reassurance ask from my fave coworker for a while now, ugh! Now I seem to be catching my asks before they occur and resisting, but I know this is frustrating on the receiving side.

    8. Miss Astoria Platenclear*

      BEST: Rocketman!!

      WORST: Car’s key fob not working. A new battery didn’t help. Hoping the fix isn’t expensive.

      1. Trixie*

        Car battery instead? I had same thing last fall after new fob battery didn’t help.

      2. WS*

        Is the key fob not working everywhere, or just in one place? My key fob wasn’t working at home and it turned out to be interference from next door’s baby monitor. A local supermarket had the same problem with 90% of the cars parked near it, and it was their intercom system.

    9. Anonyby*

      Worst: Work is really, really showing me how much they undervalue me. And that left me feeling really, really mentally crappy last night. Which is spilling over to today and since I”m determined to not think about work, the feelings are redirecting to other parts of my life…. Not fun.

      Best: Today is the first day of my birthday vacation and I’m determined to pack fun into it! There’s also going to be less-fun parts (getting my car serviced, for instance), but I’m planning on going to three local amusement parks this week and I WILL have fun!

    10. Tilly*

      Best: a much-missed friend came to stay and we had a whale of a time including going to a gig at the Barbican (such a good venue). Also I made myself go to a party even though depression brain wanted me to say no and had a wonderful time.

      Worst: kicking myself for not going for an internal opportunity that would have been a better fit than one I was turned down for.

    11. Pam*

      Best- my external fixator (think a leg brace that’s nailed to your leg) is off.

      Worst- my work PTO has run out, and getting disability/donated time takes a while

    12. Trixie*

      Best: A short work week after an extended holiday weekend, best way to kick off summer.
      Worst: Nothing serious. Feeling grateful.

    13. Lemonwhirl*

      Best: Having a four-day weekend and getting most of my chores done on the first day.
      Worst: ….There’s nothing worst about a 4-day weekend. :)

    14. Jules the First*

      Best: it was a good week! I went to a friend’s dinner party last night, even though I was feeling tired and antisocial and had a ball; today I took a horse I’ve been eyeing up out for a ride with friends and she was marvellous, so there’s my summer project sorted.

      Worst: my top two team members both resigned this week for shiny new opportunities.

    15. ShortT*

      BEST: I aced the most recent exam in my child development course. Studying is going well. I’m on track to take the next exam this coming Wednesday, as planned.

      WORST: I miss the friend from whom I took a break because she had trouble accepting that I wouldn’t automatically say yes or bend over backwards because I don’t have kids.

  24. WellRed*

    What is the word for expressions like “throw them under the bus.” It’s not really metaphor. Idiom?

    1. Myrin*

      Yeah, idiom. You could also use “saying”, I guess, although I suppose that leans more towards “proverb”, which this definitely isn’t.

    2. WellRed*

      Thanks, guys. I had thought idiom but google was a bit vague and I started to second guess.

    3. Dan*

      Idioms fascinate me. In my line of work, I deal with a lot of ESL speakers. Most have a very good command of the English language, but idioms are another beast. Except to me they are so ingrained I hardly recognize when I’m using them, let alone a non-idiomatic alternative.

      1. WellRed*

        So my boss, who is American, mixes up idioms (throw the bus at them). Her parents are too, but maybe just first generation, so this is probably where it comes from. Where we live there’s a lot of French Canadian heritage.

    4. Jemima Bond*

      How is it not really a metaphor? You aren’t really physically throwing someone under an actual bus, it’s metaphorical.
      A simile would use “like” or “as” – as green as grass, I need that like a hole in the head. Your example is a metaphor.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        It is a metaphor, but it’s also an idiom. I think the point wasn’t that the particular phrase involves literal throwing and/or buses, but rather that’s not the term they were looking for/asking about. Not all idioms are metaphors, even though that example happened to be.

    5. Iron Chef Boyardee*

      I would just describe it as an “expression” and leave it at that.

  25. Myrin*

    So it used to be that when I had to stop watching a video on Youtube, I could come back to it later and it would re-start at the exact same spot I left off. This stopped happening a few days ago, along with videos’ auto-starting, and while I don’t care much one way or another about the latter, I really, really liked the former. I think this started to happen after the most recent Firefox update? I’m not sure, though. I’ve looked through all the settings I could think of but didn’t find anything which could reasonably relate to this issue – do any of you guys know if there’s something I can do to go back to the former model of videos starting where I left them?

    1. Aphrodite*

      I simply bookmark the page and as the “title” of it simply add the time. It would read something like this: Project Runway 13:45. That tells me exactly where I left off.

    2. Square Root Of Minus One*

      I can’t know what you’ve thought of, so maybe stupid ideas but:
      – Have you been disconnected from your Google account on YT?
      – Maybe check if the new version of Firefox isn’t parametered to have the cache emptied/cookies deleted at closing.

      1. Myrin*

        I… have indeed been disconnected from my Google account on youtube.
        I have literally nothing to say for myself.
        *slinks off in shame*

        (For real, though, I have no idea how it didn’t occur to me that the two things might be connected! I realised that the update had disconnected me from my account and I’ve been meaning to login for a few days now but kept forgetting. Upon logging in just now, the problem promptly disappeared. Apparently I can’t put two and two together, sometimes. Thanks a bunch!)

    3. Silver Fig*

      IIRC you’re in Germany, correct? Could the new-ish web privacy restrictions be part of it? Does that affect how browsers handle cookies?

      If you were in the U.S., I’d suggest checking your cookie settings as well as your use of ad blockers, if applicable. I’d also suggest trying it on Chrome and/or Opera, just to see if the behavior is limited to Firefox.

  26. CoffeeforLife*

    Thank you to all who commented with support two weeks ago about my kitty loss. Thank you for the letter suggestions. I think we’re going to do a little memorial with his ashes to just celebrate the light he brought us. I find myself waiting for him to jump on my lap and then have to remember that’s not going to happen.

    1. Workerbee*

      I empathize and am sorry for your loss. We still think we catch glimpses of our departed cats out of the corners of our eyes, or hear them in the house, or feel part of the bed sink down just a little–and it’s been several years. For all I know, they’re there, checking up on us; cats do move in mysterious ways.

    2. Jaid*

      I’m sorry, I don’t know if I said anything then. My sympathies on your loss.

      When my kittyboy passed, the vet took imprints of his paw, which was turned into a clay marker. I later took it to an artist, who made a lovely framed ceramic plaque and turning the imprint into two 3d paw prints attached to the plaque.

      If your vet saved a paw print this way, it’d be a good thing to do, I think.

  27. The Original K.*

    Tooting my own horn because I went on a really good run this morning. I’m not the best runner (I’m training for a triathlon and running is my weakest area) but my run this morning went very well. I felt really strong and happy afterward.

    1. CoffeeforLife*

      Yay! Running is my enemy and shin splints are my constant companion. Best of luck in the tri and all of your training!

  28. CoffeeforLife*

    I have a 12 year old pit terrier mix who is healthy but has pretty high anxiety/fear which is mostly fear of sudden noise, brooms, open doors, boxes…really anything out of place (probably abused as a pup but we’ve had her for 9 years). I started her on trazodone two days ago and I’m hoping to improve her quality of life and (waiting for the lethargy to pass).

    She has always been scared of her food bowl and I recently changed to using a mat (seems to work better) but it’s a challenge to get her to eat. I’ve started mixing in wet canned food, using broth, fresh cooked meat, cheese. Today I poured a little fat on her food to coax her -she ate half her serving. I feel like I’m punishing her by commanding her to eat but if I don’t she can easily go days without eating. Any suggestions?

    1. Ruffingit*

      You might try giving the Trazadone to her at bedtime if you’re not already because Trazadone can cause drowsiness so that may help with the lethargy. As far as eating, if she’s eating half her serving, that may be enough. What does your vet say in terms of how much she needs to be eating right now?

    2. University Minion*

      When she’s hungry, she’ll eat. An otherwise healthy dog will not starve itself. If the noise of a bowl freaks her out, paper plates are always an option. Otherwise, offer food for an amount of time, and if it’s not eaten, put it away and try again later. Make it a non-event.

    3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Every dog is different, but here are some things that have worked with my reluctant eaters:

      – Having their bowl kind of near where I’m eating, and then they’ll decide to eat when I do (I am, obviously, eating different things than they are, but dogs are social creatures and want to be where you are and doing what you’re doing, so this trick sometimes works – it may work a bit better if you can find a little bit of something you’re eating to add to their dish, but it’s worked for me even if I’m having something totally non-dog-sharable.)

      – Cheap, powdered Parmesan cheese crumbles. They smell strongly enough to be interesting, are easy to keep around the house, and tend to fall through the kibbles to the bottom of the bowl and generally mix in well even if you just shake a little over the top.

      – Praise. Make sure your dog knows that you want her to eat by telling her what a good dog she is for eating if she does go do it on her own. If she was abused by someone who did a lot of the “I want a dog who will stare at a steak on the ground and not eat it unless I tell them it’s ok” kind of “obedience training” she may still worry that she’ll be in trouble every time she eats without your ok.

      – Have another dog come visit, and she may eat when they do. This option is fraught for a lot of reasons and usually not practical, but I used to have a terrier who would ignore his food quite a bit, but when his dachshund buddy came over for a visit, she’d always go snack a bit on his ignored kibble, and he’d watch her eat and then when she was done he’d go eat the rest of it since he had competition now and/or was reminded of the existence of food. (This is not so much something we tried as a method to get him to eat, but more something we noticed once the two of them had been socialized together long enough that we didn’t worry about leaving food out while they were on playdates. I am not suggesting that you bring over a strange dog and immediately see how well your dog does sharing food. It’s definitely more a of a long-term thing.)

      – Keep track of how much she eats, and, more importantly, if she’s maintaining weight (or gaining/losing at an appropriate pace if that’s what she needs to be doing) and seems healthy, and if she is don’t stress about it too much. Wild relatives of dogs tend not to eat the same amount at the same time every day, but be on more of a boom/bust cycle depending on their luck hunting and scavenging. If your dog is getting enough to eat averaged over a week, doesn’t seem stressed or unhealthy, and is maintaining a healthy weight, then maybe they just prefer to eat more food less often and that’s working for them.

      1. university minion*

        Yes to all this. I have one dog who will happily fast for 3 days just because and another who will do her damndest to convince you she’s starving to death 5 minutes after she finished eating. It’s just one more thing that makes dogs such fascinating creatures.

    4. Animal worker*

      One strategy that could help is to consider eating a behavior you train, just like going in a crate, sitting, shake hands, etc. Figure out what she DOES like – praise, belly scratches, a favorite toy, a run in the backyard, and use these to reward eating a small amount.

      Start with a high value food or treat item, introduce a verbal cue like ‘eat’. Say ‘eat’, offer the food, if she eats it then reward her with one of the above or whatever works for her. I’d start this in short sessions, don’t try to get her to eat her whole meal this way right off the bat. The goal is to take eating from being a fear-based activity and slowly transitioning it to something with a positive association. Keep her free-fed food available between the sessions, but by thinking of this as training versus eating you may be able to build the eating behavior through operant conditioning.

      Also look for patterns to her eating – is she most successful at certain times of day, certain foods or food combinations, when a certain person feeds her, with other animals around or not around, with a quiet house or an active house, etc. Then in addition to the ‘eat’ behavior, try to use the information on patterns for successful eating to feed her in ways that have a higher chance of success. For right now, let her eat her favorite food or food combo (obviously of healthy foods, not just a treat food) and as she gets more consistent with eating a favorite meal, then slowly add in the other types of food you’d like her to eat long term.

      With eating issues it’s sometimes hard to get out of the mindset, from a training standpoint, that eating is its own reward – since food is one of the most common reinforcements. But in a case like yours, eating is the behavior she needs to learn, using whatever non-food reinforcers she responds well to to build the behavior. Good luck.

    5. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

      Many vets use wet cat food to entice dogs to eat. Maybe mix a little with her dry food. If you have the finances, a lot of poeple feed raw.

    6. Pam*

      Will she take it as treats or as a reward? “Sit. Good girl- here’s some dinner. “

    7. Twinkle*

      My 14 year old terrier mix has always been a bit anxious (also rescue dog, evidence of prior abuse) and she’s never been a big eater. But until about 2 years ago, she’d always maintained her weight. Then when we went in for her annual checkup, we realised she’d lost some weight – only 500g, so not huge, but that was 10% of her weight, so significant for her. The vet suggested we bring her in to weigh her monthly, as they have good scales, so we did that. We started by giving her some different kinds of food to see if that would help, adding a sprinkling of grated cheese to her food (she loves cheese!) and adding warm broth too, like you’ve done. But after a couple of months when her weight had gone down further, the vet prescribed appetite stimulants. These helped a lot, just getting her to start eating. She still doesn’t eat a lot, and not a lot at a time, but it’s a lot better. We feed her twice per day now, with a small amount each time. She needs a lot of structure around eating (same time, place, and people around when she’s eating). We also went to a food that contains more calories in the same volume (but still nutritionally balanced). She’s not back to her prior weight and at this point we don’t expect that she will necessarily get back to that, but she’s only about 200gms of it, so we’re all (including vet) happy with that.

    8. NibbletheKibble*

      Sorry to hear that! I do wonder if eating in a (covered) crate would feel more peaceful for her.
      We found using raw frozen food really helpful with our dog (https://www.stellaandchewys.com/dog-food/frozen-raw-dinners#idfrozenpatties) – somehow our dog can’t resist it and scarfs it down. Her health actually improved with it too. We’ve used raw goat milk for dogs and all sorts of broth. However, we are lucky to live in a metropolitan area with dog food stores that carry this type of stuff, and able to fit it in our budget.
      And, have you tried kongs for dogs? Would she be exited to lick (frozen) peanut butter and then get to some kibble inside? So it’s more like play than about food per se and she is in control?

  29. Kali*

    I finished my undergrad degree yesterday morning. ^_^ I’m doing an MSci, so I do have a project year left, but I could theoretically choose to leave now with a Bachelors. Either way, I’ve finished the final exam!

    1. Ruffingit*

      That’s an incredible accomplishment, congratulations!! No better feeling than finishing that first degree and knowing you did it and no one can take it away from you (unless you’re one of Lori Laughlin’s daughters). ;)

    2. Dan*

      Congrats. I have some advice, just in case you are wishy washy:

      FINISH YOUR MSCI!

      Sorry for the shouting. It can be tempting to forget about the whole thing if you have a job already, but these days, jobs are not forever, and when you need to move on, you will be happy you have the MSci.

      1. Kali*

        Oh, I’m not actually planning on not finishing the MSci. I only mentioned it to illustrate that I have done the work of a complete degree, even though I won’t be graduating this summer.

  30. Marzipan*

    I finally got my shit together to choose an egg donor (frozen eggs this time, rather than an egg-share donor, where it was more that they just allocated me the next one who came up). They sent me her goodwill message, and honestly, she sounds so lovely! She wrote a lot about her values, and causes she thinks are important, and they’re so similar to mine (I’m pretty sure we must even have been at a couple of the same protest marches) so I’m just generally feeling very warm and fuzzy about the whole thing.

    1. Marzipan*

      Thanks guys! I do also need to get my shit together to choose a sperm donor, so on to that…

  31. Ruffingit*

    That’s really exciting! It must feel so good to know you have a donor who has similar values and beliefs. I wish you the best with your IVF!

  32. PhyllisB*

    Haven’t given an update on my son in a while. He left the halfway house early, against our advice. Not by much, about two weeks, but I still felt like he should complete. Actually, I would have rather he stayed for the full six months, but he was told he needed to complete at least three. At first we told him if he left earlier, he could not come home.
    I told all of you about his girlfriend and how she didn’t like him being so far away. Well, of course when he decided he was ready to leave she went and got him. I had refused to, and I told her I didn’t think she should either, but if she was determined, then not to bring him here.
    I was willing to stick to that, but after three days my husband folded like a house of cards and allowed him to come back. I allowed it with conditions. 1. He must attend a meeting every day and bring me signed proof that he did so. 2. He must find a sponsor in two weeks and 3. He must find a job. He is fulfilling the first, working on the second (my daughter who works in this field told me it might take him longer than two weeks to find someone) but nothing on the third. We’ve had a lot going on; three deaths, a graduation and a houseful of company, but I’m putting the hammer down this week. As y’all can see, hubby is no help in this. He will rant and rave and cuss to me (not at me, just upset about situation) but will not enforce.
    Back to the girlfriend: My husband feels like she is to blame for son not completing the program and has banned her from the house. She of course is very upset about this. They have been dating for a long time and we have built a relationship with us, and she misses us. She wants to meet and talk to us, but my husband refuses.
    I can see both sides. On the one hand, I was aggravated that she kept trying to get him to come home (she wanted him to do a program locally, but that wasn’t possible.) However, he is an adult, and he makes his own decisions, and even though she had a part in this, I don’t think it’s fair to blame her for everything. My beef is I feel like she needs to educate herself about addiction and learn how to be supportive of him. I have offered to attend Al-Anon meetings with her, but so far no go. Plus, if they end up getting married one day, she is not going to forget this, and this could mean us losing contact with them and any future children they have. I feel caught in the middle. I understand her feelings, but don’t feel I can go against my husband, either. I would appreciate any words of wisdom.

    1. Aphrodite*

      Go to Al-Anon by yourself if necessary but see if you can get your husband to go. Ask if he would be willing to commit to six weeks of 2-3 meetings per week and then you can both reassess.

      1. Brilliant Mistake*

        I totally agree with Al-Anon for you and your husband! Is it possible to “negotiate” with the girlfriend to also go as a condition towards reconciliation/being welcome in your home? (Both husband and gf would have to agree, of course, but it may help your son if everyone in his life understands addiction better and the issue of enabling.)

        Also, it’s interesting husband caved to let son come home and is enforcing a hard line on the girlfriend. Not sure what he hopes to accomplish realistically with that, but it’s easier to blame gf than son, I’m sure.

        It’s great you are looking at the bigger picture long-term, also. Best of luck to all of you!

        1. Kathenus*

          Great comment and ideas. And an addition to this comment:

          “Also, it’s interesting husband caved to let son come home and is enforcing a hard line on the girlfriend. Not sure what he hopes to accomplish realistically with that, but it’s easier to blame gf than son, I’m sure.”

          Also easier to blame girlfriend than himself as another enabler.

    2. Ruffingit*

      I work as a substance abuse counselor and here are my words of wisdom for what they are worth:
      – The girlfriend is not the problem here. At all. Your son is the issue. She is enabling him to make some bad choices, but then…
      – So are both you and your husband. You’ve both caved on what you said your boundaries would be. You said “I was willing to stick to that, but after three days my husband folded like a house of cards and allowed him to come back. I allowed it with conditions.” What you said to your son with that is: We’ll tell you we have strong boundaries, but we don’t. We will totally fold if you just do this or that and/or fulfill conditions that you don’t really need to worry about fulfilling because we’ll keep a roof over your head regardless.
      – He could fulfill those conditions without you putting a roof over his head. He could have done those things at the Halfway House, he could move in with his girlfriend, etc. You told him you wouldn’t house him. Then you did. So, he knows you and your husband BOTH are going to fold like a house of cards.
      – Your beef with the girlfriend is that she needs to educate herself on addiction and how to be supportive of him. So do you (and your husband).
      – All of you are enabling your son. None of you is more to blame than the other. ALL OF YOU need to go to Al-Anon and/or family therapy together – that is to say, you, your husband, and your son’s girlfriend should go without your son so you can all be educated about how to deal with this. Find yourself a good LCDC/LPC who can help you navigate this because none of you are helping at this point.
      I’m am not intending to be harsh and I certainly hope you take my words in the loving spirit in which they are intended. I’ve worked with so, so many substance users and the families are almost always doing the exact same things you’re doing and then wondering why nothing changes/blaming each other, other people, etc. It’s not helpful. Get the right help through Al-Anon and therapy. That’s way more productive than blame. I wish you all the very best, this stuff is not easy.

      1. fposte*

        Yes, my concern is not just that the girlfriend is unfairly carrying the blame, but that husband feels like pushing girlfriend away is solving the problem, and it’s not.

      2. PhyllisB*

        This is to Ruffingit and Alison. I had typed a lovely, long reply but forgot to put sender name in it, so it disappeared. GRRR!!! So I will make this short and sweet. Ruffingit, you are right on the things you said, and I appreciate your blunt response. You have given me some things to think about. The ironic thing is, my daughter works with addiction, and she begged me to let him come back because he would die otherwise. I reminded her that she didn’t die when we put her out, but I realize it’s hard to be objective about your own family.
        To Alison: No, I am not happy with being overruled on these decisions, but unless I pack up and leave myself, I really don’t know what else to do. I am going to work on trying to get some useful counseling/help and I do appreciate everyone who has given input. Thank you.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      To point out what might be obvious:

      You said your son couldn’t live with you. Your husband overruled you.

      Then you said you want to maintain a relationship with the girlfriend. Your husband overruled you again.

      Your husband is making all the decisions on really big, important issues here. You have opinions, but he decides for both of you. Are you okay with that?

      1. Observer*

        Thanks for pointing that out. It’s a big deal and can get buried in the rest of this craziness.

    4. WellRed*

      Go to al anon. While your son shares the blame with gf, I think it’s OK for her to suffer consequences temporarily for her enabling behavior. I also think it’s better to focus on today, rather than future hypothetical grandchildren. Remind us how old these two are?

      1. Observer*

        Shares the blame with GF?

        No! The blame is HIS. Totally and completely. She is an enabler – but no more nor less than Dad.

    5. Marzipan*

      Drawing on what others have already said, I think my main suggestion would be that moving forward you need to think through the boundaries and consequences you intend to put in place, in very clear detail. Because my observation here is that, not only have the boundaries you’ve set shifted from what you initially put in place, but they’ve shifted into things that are in some cases unclear/unachievable. So, for example, your expectation that he should find a sponsor within 2 weeks – you had to later find out from your daughter that this basically isn’t realistic. And, was ‘find a job’ something you clarified in more detail? Because, although on the surface it sounds clear – he either finds a job or he doesn’t – in practice, what are you after there? It’s it about earning, or about how he spends his time (in which case, maybe volunteering or some form of education or study might be equally beneficial)? What are you actually, truly going to do if he doesn’t find a job?
      There’s really no point setting boundaries and conditions that you and your husband aren’t going to enforce consistently. Less than no point, in fact – each incidence of blurred boundaries or going back on what you previously said will make it harder to enforce a boundary the next time, because your son won’t ever believe you’re actually going to.
      I absolutely agree that Al-Anon would be beneficial for everyone here, but I’d also suggest drawing on whoever in your lives can be trusted to sense-check whatever boundary or plan you’re proposing *before* you put it in place. So, someone level-headed who can help you think about the practicalities, think about the exit strategies, and help you and your husband to jointly follow through on what you eventually decide on.
      And you know what? I know you said your husband is raving and cussing ‘not at me but to me’, but tbh I feel like he needs to take that stuff somewhere else because he’s been particularly active in the boundary-blurring, here, so ranting about it to you seems unreasonable. (I also think that he seems willing to put strict boundaries in place for the girlfriend but basically none for your son, which seems like something that would be worth him exploring.)
      And yeah, I am also Team Right Now rather than Team Possible Future Grandchildren.
      Take care, and best wishes to your family.

    6. Koala dreams*

      From what you write, it seems like you are unhappy about your husband unilaterally deciding who to invite and disinvite from your house without taking into account your opinions. Maybe you should sit down the two of you and discuss this together. If your husband won’t relent, you could move out and live separately. Then you could each decide over your own house.

      As for the girlfriend, you have written about what she wants and what your husband wants, but nothing about what you want. Do you want a relationship with her? What kind of relationship? A writing postcards only, a meeting for coffee now and then, best friends, mother and daughter? If you are unsure, why not meet her for coffee or s short walk and take it from there? Choose a neutral location and make sure both of you have your own transportation if it goes badly.

      Good luck!

    7. Observer*

      Your husband is being ridiculous. Sure, she was wrong for bringing him home. But why is he dumping on her when he did the exact same thing?

      Honestly, going to Al-Anon or some other therapy with your husband sounds like it would be useful to both of you.

    8. Belle di Vedremo*

      This is a huge amount to deal with, and I’m sorry to hear your family is in the midst of it. I encourage you to find a Team You that is not made of family members. Your son’s issues aren’t the kind that usually have a quick and tidy resolution, so what would be most helpful to you in the long term? Al-Anon is a solid step, whether anyone else goes with you or not (and maybe better if you each go to different groups some/all of the time), and folks there may have great suggestions for ongoing support for yourself. Jedi hugs if y0u’d like them.

    9. Not Alison*

      Interesting. You say “I don’t feel that I can go against my husband” but on the other hand your husband has TOTALLY gone against you by caving and letting him back into the house.

      Any chance that you can convince your husband that since you gave in to him and allowed your son back in the house that he can give in to you and meet with the girlfriend to talk.

  33. Penguin*

    Plant thread! How does your garden grow? Which weeds just won’t die? Discuss and commiserate with fellow botanically-inclined folks!

    1. SAHM*

      There is some kind of vining weed that keeps popping up all over my flower bed! I know it originates from the neighbors yard and I’m half tempted to offer to pull their weeds for them just so I can get rid of the main cause. Other than that, everything is growing nicely, my dahlias are growing and apparently I planted some gerbera dasies over some tubers (ooops) so they’re a bit crowded. I’m going to have to keep an eye on the ones I want to move for fall. I ran out of slug bait and thought I was doing ok without it, only to realize a few days later that my dahlias were getting munched on. So I had to order some and wait a couple days bc my local Home Depot doesn’t have the pet safe slug bait.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      Milkweed. I know it’s not a weed, but since I don’t want it in the garden, it’s a weed. It won’t go away. We demolished the garden–literally–and it’s still coming back. Apparently the landscaper didn’t go deep enough. The demo got rid of a lot of it, but some of it is coming back. We’re pulling them up as they emerge, but I found out today that we need to dig up the root. I didn’t know the root was so big!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        That doesn’t sound like milkweed to me. Milkweed is an annual. Try Googling Japanese knotweed, it has a lot of weird local variation names because it’s not native. And that can regrow from a root chunk about an inch long.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Apologies I just did my OWN GoogLe search and learned they are indeed perennial. I did not know! I’m still such a sucker for Monarch butterflies that I’m trying to get it established here.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I am in my 3rd spring at this house and was ecstatic because our mint transplants had finally decided to do what mint is famous for and GROW. I had visions of mint juleps, mojitos, sekanjabin, tabouleh, mint ice cream… all the treats I haven’t been able to make since the rabbits invaded our old place.
      And our mint doesn’t taste good. It’s not minty, it has more of a dirt taste.
      I’m hoping this is just a weird strain and not a reaction to my soil! I haven’t yet emailed the neighbor who works for our state’s agriculture extension.
      On the more positive note, the grape irises that a friend gave me have successfully flowered. They smell so sweet and strong it’s like openinga bottle of Grape Nehi.

      1. lapgiraffe*

        I have had this problem as well. I don’t know why but the mint that proliferates our community garden just doesn’t taste all they great. And I just had some tarragon reappear from last year, only it is less fragrant and not very tasty. I wonder if the strong (weed) elements take over but the better tasting elements require more of a selection and cultivation process (beyond my ability and interest). But yeah, I feel ya.

      2. Sutemi*

        Herbs tend to have more flavor when they are grown in poorer conditions. Less amended soil, etc. Have you been fertilizing?

    4. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      None of the weeds will die. They are immortal and will outlive us all. One day the sun will grow cold and go out, and then maybe, just maybe, the weeds will also die, but I am not counting on it.

      I am picking my battles, and mostly focusing on keeping the blackberries vines under control. I also pulled a bunch of ivy off of the fence by my pool shed, but I know it’ll all come back. (The next door neighbor likes to have ivy on all of their fences, and it’s a landlord-tenant situation so it’s hard to actually talk to them about things since the “decider” doesn’t live there. I am tired of ivy in my yard, but have settled for only completely pulling the fenceline ivy in that area since it’s behind some other bush-tree-vine things that I also cut back to the fenceline because I’m tired of squeezing past a bunch of overgrown greenery to clean the pool filter. Otherwise, I’ll focus on the (plentiful) ivy that’s completely in my yard and work my way toward the fences, since there is no point in going through an elaborate attempt at communication with absent neighbors until I’ve done all I can without that.)

      I need to do something about all of the various “meadow” type weeds as well, but by the time I’m done with the blackberries and ivy I just lack the energy. Long-term, I plan to solve a lot of this by re-landscaping, but that doesn’t solve all of the weed-pulling this year.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        >>”None of the weeds will die…”
        A very poetic and funny paragraph.
        I’m now thinking of all the other weeds I’m ignoring…. chickweed, creeping Charley, Plantain, bittersweet, violets, dandelion, hairy bittercress, clover of 3 sorts, and some I have no name for. Many of them my druid boy scout farm boy husband has us eat.
        The ones I’m trying to do something about are poison ivy, Japanese knotweed, Scottish thistle, and autumn olive. The one I moved away from is Bishop’s Weed, and I’m worrying because I saw the domesticated variant in a neighbor’s garden and if it revert to the solid green kind, it spreads badly enough to choke out rhubarb, horseradish, and garlic chives!

    5. Elizabeth West*

      There is some kind of weird evergreen plant that has taken over my neighborhood. I see it everywhere. It’s nearly impossible to root out. I think it’s Winter Creeper. Also, there was a lot of star jasmine and morning glory just damn everywhere, choking out everything.

      In my backyard, it’s honeysuckle. It’s completely taken over the fence on the east side of my yard. I don’t mind that but now it’s starting to choke my lilac! Ivy on my house, too. I know where it’s coming from and I keep cutting the stem but it keeps coming back. Ugh.

      As far as planting, I bought two little heirloom tomato plants yesterday to grow in pots. I loved the Cherokee Purple I had last year, but they only had something called Black Prince. It looks good so I got that one. And I got another Golden Jubilee–these beautiful yellow tomatoes made excellent soup. My pots from last year were deteriorating, so I grabbed two more along with saucers and some potting soil. I think I’ll pinch them as much as I can so if I end up moving suddenly they’ll be less leggy and more squat and I won’t have to deal with a big old vine-like climbing thing in an apartment. Right now, they’re so cutely tiny and the pots seem huge, but they’ll grow fast.

      I also, after much searching, found some Mosquito Bits! One or more of my pots indoors is harboring gnats, and I can’t tell which one so I’m gonna treat all of them. Bye, gnats!

      1. fposte*

        Ugh, I just discovered a massive honeysuckle invasion this year, and it’s fighting with my lilac, too.

        The peonies are just about done. My least favorite poppy has popped–I was trying get pale coral, like Coral Reef, and this is more 1970s safety jacket orange–and I’m hoping others I like more will join it and drown it out. The Clair Matin rose is blooming, as are a lot of Siberian iris; I need to figure out what the double pink one is (I think I bought it two years ago) because I really like it and I want more. I love the purples but I’ve got a *lot* of purple right now.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          My mom used to have Belgian poppies in her yard from her mom’s yard, in memory of lost uncles & cousins (“In Flanders fields the poppies blow…”). I’m still bitter that an overenthusiastic gardener uprooted it when she asked them to “weed lightly”. Which reminds me to go back onto our town’s FB group and see if anyone has some to spare.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Still no leaves on the redbud tree. I keep hoping… The wood still has plenty of life in it, the branches are not dead at all. Just no leaves. I have started talking to it….

          1. fposte*

            Oh, no. Are there any buds at all?

            Mine is leafing out, finally, partially, but I’m afraid I’ve arranged to get it taken down. It’s been struggling and dying off in bits for several years and it’s also hitting the neighbor’s roof. I think it’s probably a child of their bigger redbud, which is now hitting *my* roof. I’m sad, but I’m thinking about whether I want to put in a new one and if so where. I’d like one in a location I can see a little more readily.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              There are tiny buds at the nodes. But they look dark, almost too dark.

              Now I have to see what their life expectancy is in general. Do you have any idea how old yours is?

              The one I bought said it would grow about 8 feet high. I am reading “garage roof” and gasping. Mine is under one of the wires running into the house because I wasn’t worried about it if the tree was only going to 8 feet. ugh.

              Well mine is a weeper and the adult leaves are red. I think it got grafted on to green stock because last year I had to cut away a lot of green leafed branches coming out of the base. That’s sort of a tell-tale.

              If it ever leafs-out this year, I am going to make a note of the date in my garden binder so I am not checking it every day. Catalpas are late this year also, they are just thinking about starting buds now.

    6. lapgiraffe*

      I wrote in a couple weeks ago about how my seedlings succumbed to the same depression the humans have had in this cold rainy miserable spring. Well, I went to buy some veggies (my first time in years!) and May have gone overboard on tomatoes. 11 plants eeek!! I’m a single woman with plenty of tomato loving friends but I think I’ve still done too much. But after another week of rain we had a nice weekend and I got all the babies in the ground, gotta mulch later this week, and then I need to check out the bed mason jar deals around cause it’s gonna be tomato madness before long!

      1. Ethyl*

        I’d be more than happy to talk canning/preserving tomatoes should the need arise :)

        1. lapgiraffe*

          Let’s talk in a few months :-) I’ve done well with paste but never done much with sauce. I grew up with a cooperative cannery and did many veggies and soups there, but home cannery/jarring is still new to me. We shall talk…

      2. AnonForToday*

        We discovered years ago that quartering and freezing the tomatoes works great — they taste even fresher in the middle of winter and no heat and mess of canning in the summer.

        Of course, we have a chest freezer. We also do dry them , but always end up with more than we use.

      3. Penny Parker*

        If you have extra tomatoes or other produce food pantries are always happy to get fresh produce donations. I volunteer at my local food pantry and we get a lot of local people to donate produce from their gardens. It is all so very much needed! Donate extra produce and feed a child!

    7. KatieKate*

      I posted before about a plant I was having trouble with–I checked this morning and found white bugs building a web all over the leaves o_O Google informed me that they’re probably spider mites, so I rinsed the plant with water and wiped it down with a mix of dish soap and water.

      I am now officially squicked out. Thankfully my other plants seem to be safe so far!

    8. LibbyG*

      My love of the week is my mountain ash – now about 15’ high, such a graceful shape. And it’s not a true ash, so I don’t have to worry about the ash borer.

      My pain is catchweed. Also called bedstraw (used to be prized for mattress stuffing, I read) and a lot of charming names: sticklejack, sticky bob, robin-run-the-hedge. It exploded seemingly out of nowhere two years ago, and I’m really focused on getting it under control this year. I’m yanking away trying to get as much as possible before it seeds.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        We used to try and plant mountain ash trees in the yard in Anchorage when we lived there, but the moose kept eating them. This…may be less of a problem in other states.

    9. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

      OMG, goatheads AKA punctureweed. Nothing anyone has listed yet is this nasty.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      SQUEE I just found Lady’s Slippers in my woods. I am ecstatic. All the annoyances of this property just paled, because I have one of my elusive favorites. Haven’t seen one in bloom since I was a child….haven’t heard of anyone having success transplanting it either. But they do now know it’s a symbiote with a very specific fungus so it’s science as well as art.

      1. fposte*

        I didn’t realize they were a fungus–that’s interesting! I remember them from Minnesota childhood days–they do seem magical.

    11. Jen Erik*

      The weed Jacob’s ladder (not the plant). Having defeated the bindweed – for the moment – in the herbaceous border this is just growing through in different places – through the azaleas, through a planting of evergreen shrubs. You can’t even spray it, because that would kill whatever it’s sprouting through. I just pull the tops off, and watch it come back. I have no plan.

    12. HannahS*

      A bird (small, black with yellow beak) is eating my tomato plants! The plants themselves, down to nubians! I’m on a 14th floor balcony; I have no idea what to do. Anyone have ideas?

      1. fposte*

        Bird netting is a thing–see if a garden center has some. The challenge may be finding a small enough piece rather than buying a fruit-tree’s worth.

    13. Nye*

      This spring I got a lovely surprise: morel mushrooms popped up in our side yard! I found a few too late to eat, and am planning to try a trick I heard about to encourage their return. (Grind them up with water and wood ash and pour the slurry on the ground where you want to encourage them to grow.)

      Otherwise, mostly lots of weeding. So much weeding. And trying to work out what to do with a front bed we re-started that’s fairly shady. I planted zillions of seeds there this spring and only the lupine has deigned to geminate. I think it’s ultimate fate might be a shade perennial bed, but we already have several of those so I was hoping for colorful annuals. Oh well.

      Second year in the house, so just getting comfortable with it and familiar with what’s already planted. Former owner was an avid gardener, so I’m starting from a great place.

    14. The Other Dawn*

      What I thought was a scary looking weed has turned out to be Japanese Wineberries. I heavily pruned it a couple weeks ago thinking it was a weed so I’ll have to let it grow and see what happens.

  34. Not A Misery Guys, Honest*

    Advice requested on how to develop self-control in situations that don’t come up much.

    The situation: I was at a semi-regular thing with some friends that was an all-in three-to-four-hour high interaction deal, and for various reasons I was not at all into it that day. This happens on the order of maybe twice a year. Trouble is I just could not keep my polite face on, and I’m sure the others knew I was frustrated and unhappy and didn’t want to be there. That’s not a vibe I want to put out and it’s not the person I want to be, but I’m not sure how to grow my self-control against something that honestly comes up so seldom. Help?

    1. Ruffingit*

      You know, some days we just can’t do it. We can’t put the happy, polite face on it. We’re just not feeling it. And that’s OK. Even if these events come up seldom, if they fall on a day where you’re just not feeling it, don’t attend them. That is better than trying to put on a happy face and not being able to do so.

      1. Not A Misery Guts, Honest*

        It wasnt a predictable thing, is the thing. It started “going wrong” fairly shortly after the start and it’s not possible to extricate at that point without being super duper rude because we can’t do the thing without everyone present.

        1. valentine*

          I couldn’t deal with this pressure, so if it’s not possible to have alternates, I wouldn’t go.

          Would it help to say now that you were having an off day?

      2. Lis*

        I was really grumpy one day and I didn’t get ahead of it and when my office mate asked me “what is going on” I said it was me not him and I was sorry. Since then I say upfront “I’m in a really bad mood today, sorry, it’s no ones fault just me” to the people I work with that day and something similar to people I only work with occasionally if I mess up.

    2. All monkeys are French*

      I’ve found that just acknowledging it can help. If I can bring myself to say “Hey, I know my attitude isn’t the best today. I’m distracted/cranky/what-have-you, but I’m trying,” it can help defuse the situation. I think the trick is to keep it short and informational, not an excuse-fest. People will often surprise me with empathy and then I actually feel less cranky.

      1. Kathenus*

        Absolutely this. Everyone gets these moods at times in certain situations. This way you’re acknowledging that you’re not ‘all in’ that day, and you’re letting them know that it’s not them or the activity, just your mood that day. This approach can be helpful in so many situations in life – “Hey all, just letting you know that I’m in a bit of a mood today, so if I seem distant or tense it’s not you”. It can help proactively defuse situations that otherwise might become an issue if people are left to put their own interpretation on your behavior.

        So in my opinion the goal isn’t self-control, it’s open communication.

    3. fposte*

      Did you figure it out midway? If so, sometimes what helps me is to take a break, drink some water and/or splash my face with it, and talk myself into putting on a game face. “Okay, you’re not feeling it today, but you’re here for two more hours. If you can’t be peppy you, can you be quietly supportive you just until 4?”

      1. Not A Misery Guts, Honest*

        Yeah, it was a case of maybe an hour in realising that this really wasn’t working. Tried taking a break, kept me from actually losing my temper but I wasn’t able to rein it in all the way. I think it’s a question of practiing keeping “game face” on, except how can I practice when it so seldom comes up??

  35. Bitter Old Owl*

    Does anyone have advice or resources on how to somehow come up with extra money to pay rent or make ends meet? In short a parent is kicking me out by the end of the year (I get the feeling they just want to party and don’t want me around for that, despite me telling them I would have moved out long ago if I could afford to do so).

    To put it into perspective, my only income is my job that pays less than 30k a year and it’s unlikely I’ll get a raise (customer service field). I also live in an area where renting a reasonable room (not mold infested, an ok area, etc.) is about $800. No matter how I try to re-work my budget, I can only come up with a max of $500 a month (after dropping my student loan payments and car payment to their bare minimum). Also I’ve asked the few friends I have in the area and none of them have room for a roommate and moving further out isn’t an option as the really cheap areas are out in the countryside (an hour+ away from work) meaning I’ll have to lower the amount I could throw at rent as I’d then have to pay more for gas and car maintenance (not to mention some days I do work from home so I need stable, fast internet).

    At this point I’m at a loss of what to do and feel I’m going to end up living under a bridge by the end of the year as I don’t have any money to afford rent here. I had been throwing all my spare money (at the time I was throwing $300 at my student loans and the extra $300 I had left over after all bills were paid at it) but now that my loans are in deferment (I just started to go back to school for an associate’s and taking 1-2 classes a semester) I’m thinking of throwing that $600 at my car loan and get it paid off by the end of the year, which could then boost my leftover money to to just over $600 (which could possibly find a not too shady room while allowing me to continue paying the bare minimum on my student loans).

    That said, I might be overlooking something obvious and hoping maybe someone has other resources to check or such.

    tl;dr: parent is kicking me out and I don’t make enough to afford reasonable rent for a safe apartment room.

    1. Ruffingit*

      That’s rough, I’m sorry you’re having to deal with this. A few suggestions:
      – Can you find several students to rent a place with? If rent on a house is $2000/month for example, you could find 4 people to go in on it and that means your rent would be $500/month. This is something people did a lot when I was in school.
      – House sitting gigs. You can actually do pretty well with this using sites like Trusted Housesitters or Rover if you’re good with house/pet sitting.
      – Is there a subject you are really good in at school? If so, tutoring can get you some extra cash.
      – Ask your professors if they know of any other profs who are going on sabbatical in other areas and might need a trustworthy student to house sit while they’re gone.
      – Babysit. Get on sites like sittercity or care dot com.

      1. Bitter Old Owl*

        Thanks! I didn’t actually consider the first as all my friends either also live at with parents as well or have their own places already so it might be difficult to find people willing to split the price for a house but I’ll definitely see if I can find others somehow :)

        As for house sitting/pet sitting, I have actually done that a few time through Rover. Short term it works for extra cash so I’ll see about getting back into that if there’s anything in the area.

        I’ll have to pass on the babysitting though xD thanks again!

    2. Judgment day*

      I’m very sorry you’re going through this. It sounds really rough.

      One strategy I’ve heard for finding cheaper places is looking on Craigslist and going to see the properties that are listed without email addresses or photos. Sometimes they’re rented out by an old person who is not tech savvy but they get way fewer inquiries and might be open to negotiating the amount down. If it’s a whole apartment or house, you could take on the role of finding roommates.

      Another strategy I’ve heard of for negotiating cheaper rent with landlords is to promise/put in a contract never to bother them with anything. You’ll take care of all the repairs, not complain about anything broken, keep the lawn looking nice, etc. This only works when it’s one person renting out a house who doesn’t want to be bothered with it at all, won’t work with a big rental company.

      1. Bitter Old Owl*

        Ah thanks! I didn’t consider that about the ones without pictures (I’m already wary of Craigslist so ones with no photos or it’s clear they’re stock photos really set me on edge). I’ll see if I can wrangle up a friend or two to check it out with me though if that’s the case :)

        And yeah, I have to agree with WellRed, the second one sounds like a really bad idea and just open to too much liability there :/

        1. Judgment day*

          Fair enough! It’s not for everyone and I wouldn’t do it myself either. The people who I know who used that strategy were very handy and comfortable tackling household repairs themselves.

    3. SophieChotek*

      I am sorry you are going through this too!

      – are you connected to any churches? There may be some additional resources there? Or at my church, I often see posts of people either looking for a room to rent/have a single room to rent
      – you’ve asked your friends if they have room (and they do not) – have you specifically asked the to ask their friends for the same? Who knows? Someone might know someone who knows someone….
      – I like Ruffingit idea of house-sitting/pet sitting. It sounds like you do not have a lot of things you would need to bring with you; I’ve heard of people who are minimalists who have lived for years doing long-term house sitting projects
      – based on what you’ve shared about your economic situation, and acknowledging I know nothing about camper laws/parking fees/hookups, etc., is there anyone you could borrow/rent/buy second-hand a camper? (I happen to know two families that are doing this/recently did this: one, the husband lost his job, so now the family is living in their camper and in the other, my friend’s parents wanted to move to assisted living, but their house sold so fast they did not have time to find assisted living they liked, so they moved into their camper for several months)

      1. Bitter Old Owl*

        Yeah, the friends I’ve asked did put out feelers for me as well but so far it sounds like no one they know (or those people know) are looking for a roommate in the area yet (but as I only started checking, holding out hope maybe someone will pop up in a couple months).

        I’ve actually been looking into something similar regarding campers :) In particular, I’ve been looking at tiny homes and while they definitely don’t work for most, as it’s just me and I don’t have a lot things, I could see myself making that work. That said, I’d have to find a place to park it and that’s the more difficult issue. Thanks for the suggestions!

        1. ..Kat..*

          Since you are in college, can you put up a flyer on campus looking for someone with a room to rent?

    4. Anono-me*

      You might find it helpful to check specialty publications in your area. (I have a friend who advertises only in the local women’s magazine and the local lgbtq magazine. As it is a house share, compatibility is more important than top dollar.)

      As your deadline is the end of the year, if you are in a cold-weather climate; house sitting for a snowbird might be a nice window of opportunity for you. I know of at least two Snowbird groups in my area that have an online presence. Maybe you could Google for snowbirds in your area and post something abot house sitting on their website.

      Good luck.

    5. Trixie*

      I’ve lived in apartments where the landlord reduced my rent for taking out the trash bins each week, vacuuming, etc. It made a difference in my budget and was easy to see through. Landlord was still responsible for major repairs, management, etc.
      Also, would your students loans give you an extension or grace period? Worth a phone call to explain your situation. Explain you intend to make good on your loans but circumstances are about to change drastically. Know you wanting to keep up with your loans may encourage them to work with you. Similar tactic worked for me with credit card debts.
      I’m also wondering if any stable adults/families you already know have an empty room you could rent. Do you have a trusted individual who could help put out feelers on your behalf? Something through church, community group, YMCA, etc.
      I’m sorry to hear this happening to you. If anything, some distance from your parent may be for the best. Keep us updated and know we’re sending good vibes your way.

      1. spiralingsnails*

        There’s a senior houseshare program in my area that tries to match elderly people with younger roommates. You might be able to get a low room rate in exchange for taking care of the house cleaning & yard maintenance, & simply being present to call 911 if they break a hip or don’t wake up some morning. You could also try talking with students involved in college study-abroad programs because some of those students need part-time subleases to cover their room while they’re away.

        And seconding the suggestion to learn more about personal finance and budgeting because money issues aren’t going vanish even if you do find a good place to live. Get Rich Slowly and Donna Freedman are two of my favorite PF bloggers.

    6. CoffeeforLife*

      To piggyback on the side gig suggestion: Uber/Lyft a couple of nights a month, grocery delivery (shipped, instacart), dog walking, charging scooters, task rabbit. Yes, theres some cost/risk involved but I found the pay and time investment worth it for me.

      Check your school’s student union/message board/student affairs office for roommate postings. Also possible work study programs. Last resort, increase your student loans to help cover the cost of housing. Is your current job worth the pay? Could you do work study/part time plus a side hustle to cover expenses and then have extra time to actually study?

      Do you keep a spending journal to see where all of your dollars really go? Like my partner’s
      $8 a day Red Bull habit -it was rolled up in the gas/convenience store column of our online budget until I started digging. Now we are getting cases at Costco because it cut it in half.

      1. Bitter Old Owl*

        Yes, I do keep an excel sheet dating back to 2014 of all my expenses/where all my money goes each month (I don’t break it down as nuanced as say “bought cake slice for self” but I do separate it by must haves (groceries and gas for example) and extras, like entertainment, and I try to set aside a little amount (about $25) for large things that are coming up that have to be paid at once (for example, car tags/inspection cost about $260 each year). It’s why sadly there’s really no other room safely in my budget to push it further.

        1. ..Kat..*

          Can you go cheaper on some budget items. For example, only buying used clothes at Goodwill. Or grocery shopping at super budget discount store?

          By the way, congratulations on having a good budget and setting aside a little at a time for the big expenses that come up periodically.

    7. StudentA*

      I’m not clear on something. Are you paying your parent rent? If not, is that an option?

      The only other thing I can think of that hasn’t already been mentioned is to ask around at work. If you have a community bulletin, put up an ad there. Ask everyone you come across. Don’t worry about coming off as annoying. Someone out there needs a roommate.

      1. Bitter Old Owl*

        I did offer to pay some, but what I didn’t go into (as it’s a long tangent) is ultimately I think the parent just wants me out of the house so either 1) they can party/hang out with their partner more and/or 2) thinks pushing me out will get me to be more social (no, no it wouldn’t. I like sitting in my room and between work and school, I barely have time to attend the one hangout I go to once a month).

        And thanks, I’ll try to ask those at work (just once!) if any of them are looking for roommates.

    8. Morningstar*

      Can you move to a lower cost of living area? Customer service jobs pay about the same everywhere (poorly), so if your anticipating doing one for awhile, you might as well go where the $ stretches further. If you work for a large retailer or chain, you could look at all their locations and see if you can transfer to one in a city with cheaper housing options for example.

      1. Bitter Old Owl*

        Sadly no. While my job pays crap, I am an actual employee with them (not contractor) so I actually have decent healthcare after several years without any, and they don’t have any other branches in this country to transfer to :( (they do have a separate department but it’s in San Francisco so yeah… that’d just make it worse).

    9. Melody Pond*

      First, I’m sorry you’re in this situation – this sounds really sucky and stressful and scary.

      But second (and I’m going to say this bluntly) – your budget priorities are out of whack. When you don’t have enough money to live, your top priorities should be, in this order:
      1. Food
      2. Housing (and lights/water/utilities come before rent/mortgage)
      3. Transportation

      Of course, you should do everything you can to try to keep those items as cheap/affordable as possible, but it sounds like you’re trying to do that already. Try to do everything possible to get your “must-have” expenses (this includes the items above, and also minimum payments on debt, like cars and student loans) down to no more than 50% of your income. But if you can’t manage that, then the items above take priority. If you don’t have enough money to pay your student loans after that, then your student loans don’t get paid.

      If they’re Federal student loans, you should be able to set up an Income Driven Repayment plan, but heads up – many Federal student loan servicers (like Navient, Nelnet, etc.) are crappy and will try to redirect you to deferment or something else that ultimately gets them more money or lets them end the call sooner. If that happens, stick to your guns, insist on help with setting up the Income Driven Repayment plan, don’t let them dissuade you or push you into something else. (Deferment ultimately means you pay more interest.)

      If they’re NOT Federal loans/if they’re private loans, and you don’t have enough money to pay the minimum payments, call them up and tell them that you won’t be making the minimum payments. If you only have $200/month, instead of the minimum payment of $500/month, tell them that you’ll be sending them $200/month. They may yell and scream about it, but that’s okay – if you don’t have enough money, you don’t have enough money. But in the meantime, you should work on a longer-term plan to come up with a larger monthly income, and tell them what that plan is, and how soon you expect to reach it.

      I’d recommend picking up a library copy of Elizabeth Warren’s book, “All Your Worth”, and also start listening to the Dave Ramsey Show podcast. I don’t agree with a lot of Dave Ramsey’s more conservative bents, but if you listen to enough shows, he’s had tons of callers in situations similar to you, and he is very good at talking people through how to deal with crappy creditors in situations like this – where you just don’t have enough money to pay the minimum payments.

      1. valentine*

        Seconding the income-based repayment. You will want pay stubs with no overtime or a letter from your payroll person saying your take-home is $x/month. Pay the minimum on all your loans. Your priority is moving somewhere safe you can pay for. You’ll probably have to look into rooming with strangers. Do your friends have any relatives that might rent you a room? If you’re paying rent now, maybe your parent will let you out it towards moving costs.

        If you have good credit, see if they offer you no-interest transfer balances you could use for high-cost things like car maintenance. Be sure to pay it off in the 12+ months allotted so they will keep offering. Get credit cards with rewards, such as points you can put back on the card, making it pay for itself, in part.

      2. Bitter Old Owl*

        My problem is a mix of a Catch-22 and the fact I get paid very little (let’s say I make less than the $15/hr. they’re pushing to be the new minimum wage now).

        I have an Excel sheet dating back to 2014 to track and budget myself and have even put my student loans on forbearance several times (I know, not the greatest thing but as no money was coming in on account of being unemployed then, nothing else could be done to even make a small payment). Even when I tinker with all the numbers though, the only way I can get the couple hundred extra dollars for rent is if I quit going back to school (I take 1-2 classes a semester) which would defeat the purpose of going back in the first place to try and get a higher paying job so I can afford my own place. While my loan provider has been decent, they actually got bought out by Navient :( I haven’t had to call them yet to try and lower the amount, but am dreading if it comes to that so I’ll give Dave Ramsey a go to see what he suggests for that, thanks :)

    10. Wren*

      It’s possible, just not fun. Source: my job paid $27k/year, required a car, and was just outside of Boston (yay, lab research!). This was 11 years ago, but it was still really tricky. I just checked and that same job now generously pays $33k, still at Boston cost of living.

      My car lease was $113/mo. I literally bought the cheapest car I could find (Nissan Sentra, last year’s model, $1500 down). My rent was $700/mo, with 2 roommates. I lived in a safe but boring suburb outside Boston when all my friends lived in the cool part of the city. My 2 roommates were entry level local newspaper reporters among about what I made. We qualified for food stamps (or very close- we didn’t apply but *did* look at the limits! Clearly the university paid just above poverty for a reason).

      My student loan payment was $182/mo. I paid for my own cell phone (~$80), and 1/3 of utilities (it was about $150/mo in total). I basically never ate out, and cooked cheaply. My roommates and I had a meal together a few nights a week.

      It was too close for comfort. I added side gigs. I babysat and made $15-$20/hr (usually $80-$120) at least one weekend night per weekend. One of my roommates tutored. The other was a part time bartender. I didn’t have enough money to upgrade my work clothes, so I got a part time job at one of the stores I wanted to buy clothes at. I spent my paycheck on wardrobe items and saved a bit on the side to cover taxes. I probably made $7-8k doing the side gigs.

      Eventually, I applied to grad school and this craziness got crazier. Then eventually I graduated and got a job making $60k and felt like the richest person in the world.

    11. Jessen*

      Also look into what your welfare options are. You may qualify for food stamps, although there’s a good chance you’ll have to be moved out first before applying. Even if you don’t, it’s likely your area has some sort of food bank or something. If there’s a local St Vincent’s or similar (I don’t know what your area has), go in and talk to someone and explain the situation to them.

      1. Anon101*

        In several cities I’ve lived in they have “no questions asked” food pantries. Sometimes you would do an intake form (for basically grant/funding purposes), but it wouldn’t impact who was eligible. The limit for both of those was 1X/week I believe, but even getting groceries from there could save you some vital money. At my current city the food pantry has a lot of other wrap around services attached—even hooking up for some car repairs. But I know options like that are super limited, but it’s worth a look.

        1. Bitter Old Owl*

          Thanks, I do feel I’m fortunate enough to at least afford basic groceries for myself, but I’ll check just in case I ever need to call on help regarding it.

          1. Parenthetically*

            Groceries are SO expensive, though. If you can make use of these food pantries as a way to put another $100/month toward your rent, surely that’s a good choice.

      2. Parenthetically*

        I’m surprised I had to scroll down this far to find this suggestion! Apply as soon as possible for income-based help with rent, utilities, food, even transportation (if your city has public transit). Apply for everything. The worst that can happen is they say “no” or “not now but if XYZ happens you can apply again.”

    12. Lilysparrow*

      Is there a reason you have to stay at that job? If you’re making under $15 per hour, there is always room to move up, especially in a HCOL area. It might take a concerted effort, but even a small increase is going to help.

      And – forgive me, I’m not sure how all this works, but you mentioned being in school. Can’t you hold off paying your loans back until you finish?

      1. Bitter Old Owl*

        So my deferment on the loans is only good for about 2 years as long as I’m in school, and as I don’t know what my salary will be like then, I don’t want to move to one place then have to move again so soon once the loans start up again.

    13. TL -*

      You might just have to live in a crappy place or in a not nice neighborhood. That might suck for a few years but eventually you’ll make more and be able to move out.

    14. Jessi*

      Do you like children?

      People are always looking for a few extra hours help with their kids, or weekend babysitting. You may even be able to find a family who are looking to swap some hours per week for room and board?

    15. LittleBeans*

      Please ask your school counselor for help! My college offers a food pantry and has a social worker to help students with housing insecurity. Yours probably has something too.

    16. ThursdaysGeek*

      Here are a couple more ideas that you might not see, and might not work for you.

      I have a tracfone and it’s a smart phone, and costs me about $150 a year. There are other cheap phone options. You won’t be able to watch movies, but a much cheaper phone will work for some people.

      If you’re in a place that has decent public transportation, or aren’t too far from work, would it be possible to trade in the car altogether and use a bike? That saves costs on car, gas, and insurance. But it’s certainly not for everyone, and not possible in some situations. It can save a lot of money in the situations where it does work.

  36. coffee cup*

    For a long time now I’ve wanted to go to Argentina. I’ve never done anything about it except think about it. If I’m ever going to go, I need to actually decide if I’m up to it. I am starting to consider planning it for next year and giving myself lots of time to save money, organise things and brush up on my Spanish. I’ve never been to South America and wondered if anyone has gone to Argentina and could advise where to start (or recommend things)? I don’t mean plan the trip for me, hah! Just it’s quite daunting because I’m in the UK and I’ve never been that far away by myself and it seems a *massive* thing to think about. I want to go to Buenos Aires and I also want to go to Patagonia, which I realise are not close to each other. I will be 36 this year and figure surely I can do this on my own, and I really want to, but I’m also a liiiiiittle bit nervous about the idea.

    1. Texan In Exile*

      Hi there! I have been looking at my old journals from when I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Chile (1993-1995). I took a trip to Patagonia and I also traveled through Argentina when I left Chile. I was in my early 30s and I did most of it alone.

      So – it’s do-able! And even more do-able now that it’s so much easier to get information.

      1. The intercity buses are great. Comfortable and easy.
      2. I had no problems finding decent, relatively inexpensive places to stay (outside of Patagonia) and that was without internet. (I used the South America Handbook and the phone.)
      3. Torres del Paine is amazing and you should go. However – be warned. I don’t know what it’s like now but in 1993, it was crazy expensive compared to the rest of Chile. I was used to spending ten dollars a night for a hostel, even in Santiago, but my friend and I paid $25 for a room so small that we could barely open the door. In addition, the restaurant at the place we stayed (I think we stayed in the park, but that information is not in my journal – so mad at 1993 Me for not writing down the relevant details!) was soooo expensive that we ate the dried apricots and peanut butter we had brought instead. I think we might have bought french fries a couple of times. So – what I am saying is, budget for Patagonia. But do go because it’s amazing.
      4. I loved Mendoza. It’s gorgeous. Go there if you can. Salta, I don’t think I was that impressed with, but maybe my memory is tainted by being sick because I was taking too large a dose of malaria prevention drugs. I didn’t go to BA because I was worried it would be too expensive.

      Summary – Argentina is completely accessible for solo travelers in their 30s. Go and have a great time!

      1. Trixie*

        Would you also recommend Argentina for women traveling solo? And I don’t speak Spanish, unfortunately.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      Think about booking a group trip for solo travelers.
      Some years ago I booked a horseback riding trip to Costa Rica that was for solo travelers (my boyfriend does not ride horses). It wasn’t completely solo as some of the other women were friends, but mostly it was.

      Granted, this was an active horseback riding, but I’m sure there are trips for all sorts of hobbies such as cooking, art, or just general tourism. I loved it because I felt much safer, my Spanish isn’t great, and most of the activities were planned. All I needed was airfare. We were even picked up at the airport as a group.

    3. Lora*

      Yes. I go about every other year to BsAs for dance stuff. There are cutesy bed and breakfast places in Palermo and Recoleta which are cheaper and nicer than the hotels. There’s an app called Como Llego that is very helpful for getting around, and cabs are cheap and available even at 4am. The big things are:

      Credit cards aren’t widely used. In the mall, in nicer restaurants yes, but a lot of places are cash only. You will have to get cash at the airport. ATMs are fitful and won’t work every day, even the ones run by large international banks.

      Your cell phone won’t work unless you have the changes made and a new Argentina-compatible SIM card *before* you leave. Burner phones are outrageously expensive, don’t anticipate buying a burner phone for the trip. The cell signal carriers in Argentina are Claro and Movistar and they won’t touch a Verizon or AT&T phone for you. There is WiFi widely available though, you can get by using WhatsApp mostly.

      The accent, slang and curse words are very different from other Spanish speaking countries. They speak clearly, but some words are just very different. Even “how are you” “fine, you?” Is different. No amount of Spanish lessons prepared me for it really.

      I hope you’re not vegetarian. Beef and cheese are what’s for lunch and dinner, just about everywhere. They have a great many steakhouses, which, if you eat meat and dairy, you will have the best steak on the planet and a sort of melty cheese dish called Provoleta. If you don’t eat meat I suspect you will have to work harder to find restaurants.

      It’s very safe for women alone by my standards, but I am American so “only harassed on the street twice a week and nobody tried to touch” is like, really good for me.

      1. Karen from Finance*

        This comment made me chuckle, it’s pretty accurate.

        I’ll say that credit cards in Buenos Aires have become A LOT more widespread in the last 6 months or so due to a company that sells those credit card systems that can be attached to cellphones becoming a lot more popular. But it’s recent. Also recent, Google maps now has public transport information as well, though Como llego is still good too.

        About our slang and food: heh, true. Our vegetarian options are pretty much pasta, pizza, and hipster joints in Palermo and San Telmo.

        1. Lora*

          You can laugh at my name. Nobody explained it to me for about three days the first time I went.

          Point of interest on the slang: in other Spanish speaking countries, a Lora is a female parrot. In Argentina it means prostitute. “La Concha de la Lora” is how they say Holy Fking Sh!t. If you listen to Colombian slang in movies about cocaine trade, it’s a bit like that.

          1. Karen from Finance*

            IS it slang for prostitute? Ha! Honestly I always thought we were referring to parrot’s genitals when we say that!* That’s probably the origin of the phrase, though. We just don’t use Lora by itself with that meaning anymore.

            *(Concha is seashell in other Latin American countries, it’s a rude word for female genitals in Argentina).

            1. Texan In Exile*

              And in Panama, if I remember high school (in the Panama Canal Zone) correctly. “Concha madre” was incredibly insulting.

    4. Karen from Finance*

      Hi! I actually live IN Argentina! How exciting, let me know if you want any specific recommendations.

      General advice:
      – Argentinian Spanish is VERY different than anywhere else. We use way too much slang, so you might want to read up on lunfardo if you really want to follow our conversations. There’s a good guide for foreigners out there called Che Boludo which I thought was hilarious and informative. However a lot of aegentines speak pretty good English, si specially in Buenos Aires you’re likely to get by well in your own language if you need to. We’re used to it.
      – Be careful of con artists and pickpockets. I hate to have to tell you this, but I do. Everywhere you go, be very mindful of your belongings. Thieves target foreigners here because they tend to be more careless, while we e grown used to being hyper aware. It is what it is.
      – Patagonia is huge, I’m assuming you mean Tierra del Fuego, maybe Peninsula de Caldes? Definitely go to those places, but also don’t miss out on the Iguazú Falls! You won’t regret it, they are wonderful.
      – I will +1 the recommendation of Mendoza, specially if you like wine. Go there in late February/early March for harvest festivities, or in the winter to see the snowy mountains. Don’t go there I January unless you have a high tolerance for heat.
      I will think some more about this. Let me know what specifically you’re interested in and I’ll let you know.

    5. Marion Ravenwood*

      I went to Argentina when I was backpacking in 2012. I did most of it with a group tour (I used G Adventures but there are others), but because I had a gap between trips I spent about 10 days in Buenos Aires. It was great – I did have to move around hostels a couple of times, but I was basically spending my mornings taking Spanish classes and my afternoons taking tango lessons. I loved it.

      Some of my top tips:
      – If you’re into cooking, I really recommend The Argentine Experience in Buenos Aires. You get to make empanadas (pastries with savoury fillings), then there’s a steak dinner and alfajores (biscuits filled with dulce de leche and dipped in chocolate). It was great.
      – Take US dollars not pesos – the exchange rate will be much better.
      – If you get an overnight bus, it’s definitely worth paying extra for the reclining seats, dinner and wine.

    6. Nye*

      I was in Argentina last fall, it was great! Couple thoughts:

      1) It’s a BIG country, but domestic flights were fairly inexpensive and very nice. I thought Argentine flights felt safer and more comfortable than US domestic flights. If you want to see several parts of the country and don’t have a ton of time, flying might be a good option.

      2) Patagonia is BIG. I went to both Ushuaia and Puerto Madryn, both in Patagonia. I flew between them. Ushuaia was neat but VERY expensive and touristy. If you’re on a budget, that’s worth considering. Everything there was considerably more expensive than in Puerto Madryn or Buenos Aires. Puerto Madryn had a very different feel, but taking a day trip out to Punto Tombo was absolutely worth it.

      3) If you’re American, I think lots of domestic costs will be fairly inexpensive. Inflation is a big issue for the Argentine peso right now. This is a financial boon to American travelers, but really stinks for locals. Areas that rely on tourism, like Ushuaia, are still expensive since the market is priced for visitors.

    7. cuppa tea and a biccie*

      I travelled Argentina, (solo female) about 20 years ago. Loved it! went to BA, Bahia Blanca, Patagonia,Bariloche, Foz do Iguazu, and some place with an old mission in the north. It was beautiful, I didn’t go out very late in BA, but felt safe everywhere else. In Bariloche, I went on a hike out of town, and in the afternoon waited at the bus stop. A pick-up truck stopped, the driver said “the bus doesn’t stop this time of year” and drove me back to town. She even knew the hostel owner of the hostel I was staying at. Go to argentina.

      1. Karen from Finance*

        The place with the old mission was probably somewhere in the Misiones province, same province where Puerto Iguazú is (Foz do Iguazú is the same place but on the Brazilian side.lf the border). There’s a bunch of mission sites, but maybe San Ignacio? That’s the largest that I know of.

        OP if you go there, these days they’re having a lovely hologram show at night at San Ignacio that is a great experience for understanding the significance of the site. Or at least, that show was there when I went 5 years or so ago.

  37. SophieChotek*

    Thanks to all who commented gave me feedback on iron deficiency a few months ago.
    I had a physical Oct/Nov and mentioned that I was rejected from donating blood due to my hemoglobin (?) often being below 12. (It was often 11.3-11.7, and when I was not rejected it was like 12 or 12.1) So the doctor agreed to have blood work done (sadly not completely covered by insurance, oh well.) Whatever the numbers were, doctor told me start taking 250 mg ferrous sulfate (?) every other day and come back and get tested. I got tested again about 3 weeks ago; doctor said my hemoglobin was better (I think last time I went to donate blood it was 13), but my iron was still low so she said I should do 325 mg ferrous sulfate (?) every other day. But she also said I would not be taking supplements forever. I asked about seeing a nutrionist and she said that was a great idea, but it was not covered by insurance. (On my list of things to do: call insurance and verify that is true – not being covered). (As already mentioned in earlier post, even before I was diagnosed with the low iron, I ate a fair amount of meat, leafy greens, broccoli, cashews, fish, etc. many of the foods that are said to naturally have iron.)

    I guess my question is: how will this resolve itself? how will I not need to keep taking supplements the rest of my life?

    Thanks – Happy Weekend

    1. Not A Misery Guts, Honest*

      1. Stop donating blood until your iron levels are good. You need to take care of yourself and it’s making the problem worse.

      2. If you’re a person who menstruates, that will be a drain on your iron levels as well, and that’s a thing to factor in (eg it’s not forever).

      3. It can take 6-18 months for iron levels to come back up to normal, it needs to build up all over your body. If the level before was stable but low, and now it’s increasing slowly, then the goal is stable-and-normal and you’ll probably get there in the bed, though it’s a bit of a slow process.

      4. There’s a thing called a Lucky Iron Fish which is a little metal fish which you put in water when boiling pasta/rice/etc and this makes the food more iron-rich which might be better for you? If you buy one from the right places they give another to people in poor countries who are systemically at risk of anaemia.

      (5. I’m pretty sure it’s ferrous fumerate, that’s what I was prescribed).

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        I’ve never heard of that lucky iron fish before, and now it’s something I’m tempted to get since I don’t eat meat and do eat pasta fairly often, so it might be a good way to add in a tiny bit more iron to my diet. Anyone else here have anecdotes/opinions to share about it?

        1. fhqwhgads*

          Is there a Whole Foods near you? Frosted Mini Wheats have a TON of iron. But if you’re vegetarian you probably don’t want the major cereal brands’. They contain gelatin (bovine, I believe). The Whole Foods store brand Frosted Mini Wheats equivalent have just as much iron as the brand name stuff, but they’re vegan.

          1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

            I’m not a regular cereal eater – I don’t eat very many pre-packaged foods because I need to avoid soy, caramel coloring, and a few other things. (I buy store brand bran flakes in a large sack and eat those if I’m really in the mood for cereal, which sometimes happens in the summer when it’s really hot and I just don’t feel up to cooking a hot breakfast like I usually eat.) Pretty much the only brand name product I buy regularly is Triscuits.

            Whole wheat flour has some iron in it, and some veggies have iron in them, but I since I don’t eat typically fortified foods (since I buy whole wheat flour and pasta rather than enriched white flour) I’m probably on the low side for iron in general. That’s why the appeal of something I could add to pasta water is appealing, since that’s something I eat anyway. (I could also saute spinach and add it to the pasta sauce, which I do sometimes anyway on the theory that hey, I have some spinach, but that gets an extra pan dirty and I’m lazy.)

            1. Ron McDon*

              I just add the spinach to the pasta sauce for the final couple of mins, so it wilts – no extra pan required :)

              1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

                See, I’m so profoundly lazy that I usually make pasta by boiling the noodles in a pot, dumping them into a colander to drain, and then adding jarred sauce and the noodles back to the now-empty pot to warm up together for about 5 minutes. I suppose I could add spinach at that time, too…it would probably wilt fairly quickly if it were fresh rather than frozen spinach, which I think is still pretty attainable at the farmer’s market right now. (I suppose pasta sauce is another thing I buy that’s a brand name product, but I buy a year’s worth once a year at Costco so I don’t think of it as something I buy “regularly” even though I eat pasta about once a week. The reason I buy pasta sauce this way is that Costco only has the one I like seasonally, so if I don’t stock up I’m out of luck on it until next year.)

    2. Wishing You Well*

      Read up on the foods and supplements that interfere with iron pills. Make sure you’re not doing something that sabotages your efforts.

    3. D'Euly*

      Iron, especially plant-based iron, is tricky for your body to absorb, so make sure you are giving your supplements the best chance: for me that was on an empty stomach and then following with something containing vitamin C, and not when drinking tea/coffee, which can inhibit absorption. Cooking in cast iron also helps, if that’s a possibility for you.
      In my experience, it resolved itself over a span of several years, including changes in menstruation. In the meantime, I did stop trying to donate blood and, when my numbers were high enough, donated platelets instead: it’s a longer process (but arguably more valuable) and you don’t lose your hard-won iron.

    4. Ron McDon*

      I was put on iron supplements about 2 years ago, and came off them about 6 months ago. It does take a long time for the stores to be replenished. I was also eating lots of iron-rich foods before starting the supplements, and it didn’t do the trick.

      I find it goes in cycles – I have low iron, am prescribed supplements, take them for a year or so, my levels go back up, I come off the supplements, am fine for anything for 6months to 5 years, then need to go back on the supplements.

      It sounds like you’re doing everything you can, you’ll probably find that after a year or so on the supplements your iron levels will be back to where they should be.

      I wouldn’t donate blood for a while though, sadly that will not help your iron levels.

      1. SophieChotek*

        Thank you! This is the first time I have had my iron tested – and only reason I knew to ask was because of my low hemoglobin when donating blood.

        I would not be surprised to hear that it goes in cycles – it will be interesting to see if mine goes up, then goes back down again.

    5. Jules the First*

      Did your doctor check things other than your iron levels? Low folate or B12 deficiency can prevent you from absorbing the iron. Once we got my folate levels sorted, my iron levels came back to normal quite quickly.

      1. SophieChotek*

        Honestly, I have no idea. Doctor never said either way. Insurance probably does not want to pay for any test not “needed”…

        1. Ron McDon*

          When I had low iron I also had low B12, and it was getting my B12 levels up which made the difference to how well I felt. So, worth getting your B12 checked, as it could be low too. However, I am in the UK where insurance etc is not a consideration, so that makes a huge difference to whether this is something you are able to look into.

    6. Anon101*

      I’ve had a lot of problems with anemia in the past, so I’m going to throw out some info I wish I would have had at the time (& I apologize if you already know). There’s two types of iron, heme &non-heme. The difference between the two is that the absorption of non-heme iron can be inhibited or enhanced, while heme iron (found mostly in meats), is absorbed at a constant rate.

      So the rub is that calcium (yogurt cheese milk), tannins (tea/wine), eggs, oxalates (leafy greens like spinach), Polyphenol (cocoa, coffee) all inhibit the absorption of iron. I was eating foods high in iron, but eating them with tea—which was part of the reason I had a hard time increasing iron. Things that increase the absorption of iron are vitamin C & beta-carotene, so I made sure to drink lemonade or eat veg/fruit to enhance absorption. I hope that helps! My doctor never gave me that info, and when I took a nutrition class in university I was sort of agape at how much that information could have helped at the time, and then did later on.

  38. Dan*

    Planning a trip to Argentina… My favorite subject!

    I live in the US and do quite a bit of foreign travel, many trips which are planned close to a year out.

    Except Argentina. The time between thinking a trip would be nice and getting on a plane was a whopping four days. Loved it!

    The back story was that I had gotten laid off in late October a few years back. Before getting laid off, my plan was to just spend the winter holidays doing nothing. Except getting laid off meant I spent plenty of time doing nothing.

    I got a job offer the Friday before Christmas, decided I wasn’t spending the holidays doing nothing. So I booked a trip somewhere that I didn’t need a visa, I hadn’t been before, and the weather was tolerable.

    Moral of the story? Who needs to plan! The one thing I will say about Buenos Aires is that most of the local parillas are located in one neighborhood, so if that’s your thing, staying in that area would be a good idea.

    Serious note about planning: book your flights and hotels ahead of time, and wing the rest of it. Patagonia might require a bit more planning, but BA won’t.

  39. Wrench Turner*

    Gardening type question- Best measures to control invasive vines including poison ivy?
    We’ve got several varieties of really super fast growing invasive vines – Virginia Creeper, Kudzu, English Ivy, Poison Ivy (several varieties maybe) – around our property and they just grow so dang fast. It takes so much time to control them and they’re so very destructive. My thumbs may be TOO green…

    1. Ranon*

      Kind of serious, kind of joking- goats? There are places that will rent them for that kind of vegetation control (my parents live across the street from one and are using them this summer) and they’re aces at mowing down vines like that (even poison ivy).

      1. lapgiraffe*

        +1000 the goats are fabulous for this and it’s a growing biz to loan out goats for this very kind of thing

    2. HeyNonny*

      OMG! It’s the 4 vines of the apocalypse!
      Poison ivy and virginia creeper can be killed with roundup or similar herbicide. English ivy and Kudzu can be slowed by herbicides, but seem to be less susceptible, so they are better killed by chopping it off at the ground and then covering the root area with black plastic. Digging out any root crowns you can find is also good. This also works for the other two vines if you don’t want to use herbicides, but I have the fantastic luck of not being very allergic to the poison ivy, so I can do that. Fire also works on poison ivy, but is rarely practical. Make sure to absolutely get rid of all clippings so they don’t sprout.
      This will not be a fast process, and will need to be repeated several times.
      I am happy to now live in the desert, where my worst weed is chives.

      1. Llama Face!*

        Oh no! Hard NO on using fire on poison ivy or poison oak: the oils that cause the reaction can become airborne and that is not a good thing for you or any neighbours. You risk getting it in eyes or lungs. All gardening advice I’ve seen warns specifically against doing this.

        1. Llama Face!*

          P.S. I am so jealous of yor poison ivy immunity HeyNonny! We had that horrid plant running rampant in my neighbourhood when I was young and the reaction was worse than chicken pox. :(

        2. Wrench Turner*

          An old friend had the misfortune of being downwind of a poison ivy pile bonfire and had some hospital time as a result. Hard pass on the burning! Goats aren’t a bad idea in the short term. Maybe if we just keep one or two…

    3. Penguin*

      Invasive plant biologist here! The answer is probably “herbicide”. I know many folks don’t like that answer, but it is often the most (sometimes ‘only’) cost-effective and/or efficient solution.

      English Ivy has particularly waxy leaves; odds are you’ll want an herbicide that a) specifically targets it (like “English Ivy” or “Hedera helix”- its Latin name- are on the label) and b) has a surfactant (also noted on the label).

      Poison Ivy will also need a surfactant if you go for an herbicide. And for the love of god do NOT burn it; that volatilizes the oil, which puts it into the air where you can breathe it in. That’s a hospital trip right there.

      For Kudzu, you can try smothering it with plastic; keeping the area completely dark for two years may kill it all. Other alternatives are one of several herbicides/herbicide mixes, burning, and livestock (goats and sheep especially).

      Virginia Creeper I can’t help with, other than to say that an herbicide for woody vines is probably the way to go.

      For a book that offers specific details on Kudzu and English Ivy, see “A Management Guide for Invasive Plants in Southern Forests” available at [www.srs.fs.usda.gov/pubs/36915]

        1. Penguin*

          Sure! If they’re isolated plants, you can dig them out if you get all the roots. Otherwise, some combination of cutting, smothering, and/or herbicide should help, but the timing of treatment versus growing season/plant flowering, seeding, etc. is fairly important. Can I ask (roughly- state/province level) where you are?

    4. Ethyl*

      I’m working with a landscaper on getting the invasive species (wild grapes and, GRRRRR, trees of heaven) out of our yard to the extent possible and agree with Penguin that you may need to bring in some herbicide. It doesn’t have to be scary! The company we are working with will cut everything back, apply the herbicide as needed (i.e., not indiscriminately), and will also cover the treated areas so that area critters won’t get any on them. Our landscapers are very serious about protecting the environment, and sometimes that does include using herbicides, because getting the invaders out is the greater good, y’know?

    5. Lilysparrow*

      If you have a big area of poison ivy, like on a tree, we had some success by cutting all the vines off at ground level and leaving them in place for 2 years until they were completely dry. Then they were safer to pull down. If you are getting lots of seedlings, the only thing I know is constant vigilance to pull them up. The birds love the berries & drop them everywhere.

      If you have well-established kudzu, the only thing I know to do is to define a boundary and defend it. That stuff swallows everything.

  40. The Cosmic Avenger*

    Ugh. Ever since I read that Google is basically going to block ad blockers in Chrome, I’ve been trying to set up Firefox to do everything the way I like it. It’s been a pain, but I did figure out how to add a search engine shortcut that isn’t preset (right-click in the site’s search bar, “Add a keyword for this search”, and choose your shortcut). That helps, because I search IMDB a LOT. :) Also, the right-click behavior bothered me, so I found the flag to change to make the “Open in new tab” open to the right of the source tab (skip the part about adding an extension, you can do it in FF without any add-ons).

    1. valentine*

      I thought tabs opening to the right was the default.

      I miss tabs on the bottom, where they make sense.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Well, when you right-click a link and choose “Open Link in New Tab” (what’s with the title case anyway, Moz?) or just click on a link on most sites, the default behavior is to open a new tab all the way to the right of all tabs. In Chrome, the default is to open it to the right of the active tab. I currently have 8 tabs open, which is low to average for me, so keeping, say, the articles I clicked on from Facebook right next to my Facebook tab is very helpful.

        If you’re interested in tab management, a very smart, very technical friend of mine recommended the Tree Style Tab add-on for FF. It lets you view a tab list as a nested list, so it’s easy to close a group.

        1. Myrin*

          That’s so strange! I use Firefox exclusively and any new tab I open does indeed open right next to the active tab. Now I wonder if I actively made this a setting a long time ago and just forgot about it or if we’re in parallel universes where online search engines works slightly differently from one another.

    2. Lady Jay*

      Yeah, I need to switch to Firefox too. Functionally blocking ads is very important.

      What extension (app? program? I haven’t used Firefox in yeaaaarrs) do you use to blocks ads in Firefox?

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I was using AdBlock in Chrome, so I just subscribed to the same lists and copied over my custom filters — there are a LOT of those! AdBlock Plus is also available for FF.

      2. Nicki Name*

        I don’t have a dedicated ad blocker, but NoScript winds up blocking most ads as a side effect of removing unwanted JavaScript.

        (Yeah, Firefox still doesn’t have site-by-site JS whitelisting.)

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      An additional benefit to using Firefox is the ability to set a master password on saved passwords. This makes the saved passwords an encrypted database and makes it so you have to know the master password to get to the saved passwords (this is assuming you aren’t using a separate password manager like 1Password or LastPass).

      In Chrome, when you save passwords, anyone with admin access on the computer can access your saved passwords. So if you have an account on the computer, and the other person has an account on the computer, she can copy your Chrome preferences folder from your account to hers, and then view your passwords by authenticating with her computer account’s password.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        That’s a good point, a master password is better than nothing, but I still don’t trust any browser with my password. I use LastPass, with two factor authentication required for all new computers. But for a lot of people, including many of my friends and family, Firefox would be more secure, good to know.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          LastPass is a great option, but I find this rationale a bit odd:

          I still don’t trust any browser with my password

          Firefox isn’t any browser. It’s an open source web browser run by a non-profit foundation. The code is open source, and you can actually see how your passwords are secured.

          But to each her own…

        2. Elizabeth West*

          I don’t trust browsers either. I have KeePass on my computer (had A-Z Notebook on old laptop, but Bad Wolf Software killed it so I couldn’t put it on my current one). I also have a document in my flash drive, and that’s Bitlockered so nobody else can get in it.

  41. BelleMorte*

    How do people network or even meet people at social events or conferences or general meet and greets where people are just mingling around?
    I have an added issue of being completely deaf, so while I often have sign language interpreters, it seems so freaking awkward to try to break into little groups that are chatting. Most of the advice I’ve seen is to listen to the conversation and jump in with a “oh you are talking about x.. I love x” or something similar, however being deaf, I don’t have that option as interpreters have a hard time with this and the awkwardness is palpable.

    I hope this isn’t took work-related as this tends to happen in more casual situations… What can I do to be less awkward yet still meet people?

    1. Alice*

      Hmm. I usually find someone not actively in conversation (near the door and the bar are good for this), offer my hand to shake, introduce myself, and ask a question about the other person. Maybe if you introduce yourself and your interpreter?
      I don’t know if you or the interpreter would be speaking out loud, but maybe offering your hand to shake will position you as the principal and the interpreter as the staffer in the interaction.
      If you walk up and offer a handshake, and you or the interpreter says, “Hello, I’m Belle, and this is my interpreter. I’m here because I love oolong. What brings you to this tea fanciers meeting?” Maybe that would work?
      My other practice is to try a lot of people. Don’t stick with one conversation after it’s gotten boring for fear that another one will be hard to start. If you graciously excuse yourself (you don’t even have to give a reason, just say thanks for telling me about your tea blend, smile genuinely, and walk), you can do the whole thing over again. That gives you more chances to meet interesting people who can get over the novelty of an interpreter quickly.
      Oh, maybe the more experienced interpreters have some good gambits they’ve seen other clients use?

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        I have also had good luck talking with fellow conference attendees at the bar in the conference center/hotel. I am not sure quite the logistics of doing this with an interpreter, but generally one of my go-to conference “social mixing” gambits as someone who has trouble socializing in large groups is to sit at the bar, order a beer, and strike up conversations with whoever else is also sitting at the bar by themselves. The social conventions around bar versus table seating seem to be that people sitting at the bar are open to talking to their neighbors, so this often works. (I am also capable of chugging a beer pretty quickly because I “need to get to a panel” if I decide I don’t like my barmates, so if you’re not and it’s a situation where you can’t easily leave while taking your drink with you you may need to factor that in to your plans.)

    2. spiralingsnails*

      The first thing I look for is body language: a tight cluster of several people or 2-3 people standing very closely & turned towards each other are a bit less likely to welcome a newcomer. I have better luck when I target a small group standing in a loose C-shape so there’s an opening for me to sidle into. After standing for a few minutes together, listening to whoever is already speaking in the group, it will feel more natural to start joining into the conversation.

      The second thing as I join the group is trying to make eye contact and giving a friendly smile, and maybe a tiny nod, to one or more members of the group. It asks very little in return since all you’re doing is listening at that point, but if they acknowledge your presence then you’ve established a polite connection. If everyone is wraptly focused on a single speaker they might not be able to pay attention to me right away, but if they spend several minutes looking back & forth at each other while ignoring me, I sometimes walk away without even bothering trying to speak.

      Third step is waiting for a conversational hook to jump into the conversation with. I would imagine it’s much harder to do this via interpreter; once you’ve joined a small group, does it get easier for them to give you a summary of the current conversation topic? Exactly what I say is very situational but it could be a follow up question about the story they’re telling (“So did your dad ever find out who took the truck? I’m BelleMorte by the way, the person speaking for me is my interpreter Lumiere.”) or a comment on whatever experience we’re sharing, (“So what did you think of that speaker?”)

      I’m an introvert by nature so it took a lot of embarrassing trial & error to figure these out, but having a plan helps me feel more confident about approaching strangers now.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t have any magic advice on this, but I will just say this is one more reason I hate these sorts of situations where everyone is just awkwardly standing around in groups of 3-5 holding drinks or whatever. One great way to avoid this awkwardness is to get everyone involved in non-stressful group activity in which you’re all doing something together and can talk but can also not talk and have the lack of talking not be awkward, because you’re doing something together. Frankly, sometimes even having people sit at actual tables with actual seats instead of standing around for a “cocktail hour” can make things super less awkward.

    4. Lemonwhirl*

      I wonder if this is something you could game plan in advance with your interpreter. Like you could say to them “I’m hoping to network with people at this thing. I’d really like to meet people who are knowledgeable about X. During the downtime, can we look for loose groups to get into and then, if X comes up, I would like to jump in with a question. Can you help me do that?”

      I find all interactions with people I don’t know to be awkward as all heck, but I think there is huge benefit in just powering through the awkward. So maybe it would help to use a lens of “we’re all here for similar goals – to network and get to meet people – and a little momentary awkwardness is a small price to pay.” Also, networking is a two-way street! You have all kinds of skills and knowledge and experience too that people are missing out on when you hold back.

      I can’t promise you that everyone is going to know how to deal with an interpreter, so having a couple of canned responses that will educate people can also smooth your way. (And I know it’s not your job to educate people, and I truly wish people were better, but a lot of awkward comes from people being terrified of doing the “wrong” thing and would appreciate some tips on how not make asses of themselves!)

    5. BelleMorte*

      These are all really helpful! I think looking for looser groups might be worthwhile. I also suspect that people get intimidated from coming up to me because I’m often chatting with my interpreters. I’ll have to consider working out a plan with the interpreters in advance as well.

      Man, making friends as a kid was so much easier, they were drinking cherry coke, you go up to them say hey I love cherry coke too, lets be BFF! *sigh*

  42. dear Liza dear liza*

    I have a big road trip coming up and I need some new podcasts. I’m looking for limited run podcasts, where the story wraps in 5 to 10 episodes. I like nonfiction, and it must be professionally produced (podcasters who tell me how their cat just made a noise in the other room, ha ha ha- NOPE.). No violent crime (white collar is fine.)

    I’ve liked:
    Serial (Although Season 1 obviously breaks the violent crime rule)
    The Dream
    The Habitat
    The Dropout
    Making Oprah
    Slow Burn
    The mini anthologies in You Must Remember This

    TIA!

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Ponzi Supernova, about Bernie Madoff
      Uncover from the CBC, Season 1, which is about the NXIVM cult
      Who The Hell Is Hamish from the Australian; Teacher’s Pet is actually better, though I don’t know if it would break your violent crime rule (it’s about a disappearance that is suspected to actually have been a crime), and it has a ton of episodes
      Heaven’s Gate, about a Jonestown-like cult

      1. alex b.*

        Ooh if “no violence” is a requirement, I’d issue a mild content warning on S-Town. (I loved it but have a high tolerance for disturbing material.)

        I listened to and enjoyed most of the ones listed here, and for this specific format, I’d add:
        -Missing Richard Simmons (strong recommend; definitely sounds up your alley!)
        -Dear Franklin Jones (ditto)
        -The End of the World w/ Josh Clark (very cerebral; requires concentration but extremely well researched and well done; Josh is the cohost of Stuff You Should Know, one of my constant listens, but that’s not an anthology)

        I’m enjoying It Could Happen Here, but in only low doses b/c it stresses me out. It’s sort of speculative journalism about how America could dissolve into civil war in a not-so-distant future.

        Yikes– looking through my others, they all involve at least some violent crime. Time to get introspective lol.

    2. a teacher*

      Mystery Show, hosted by Starlee Kine! It was very limited run, I think less than ten episodes, but it involved her getting to the bottom of some very bizarre (real) mysteries, like a video store that just disappears overnight.

    3. Weegie*

      Death in Ice Valley – it is about a crime, but it’s more mystery than the usual true crime story. It’s truly fascinating.

    4. Ain't no party like a podcast party*

      Business Wars – series on how business competitors went to war and came out on the other side. My faves ate ‘Mattel v. Hasbro’, ‘Burger King v. McDonalds’ and ‘Southwest Air v. American Airlines’

      American History Tellers. Loved the one on National Parks but the others are great, too.

      Excellent narration on both.

    5. Awful Annie*

      The BBC has many of its radio programmes available as podcasts, with huge amounts of factual programming – just say the sort of thing you like and we can recommend.

    6. Lemonwhirl*

      I absolutely love “You’re Wrong About”. It’s two journalists who research a hot-button topic or event of the 80s/90s and then talk about what we got wrong about it, either in the journalism or the ethics or the framing or the symbolism. The hosts are great – very funny and knowledgeable – and I’ve learned so much and have really had to rethink my memories and biases. You don’t have to go in order and can just drop into the subjects that seem most interesting.

    7. PetticoatsandPincushions*

      Dr. Death is a great one about a surgeon convicted of gross malpractice- 10 episodes, well produced, and both horrifying and fascinating! Some vivid descriptions of messed up surgery but its not violent crime in the usual sense, just graphic.

      Article of Interest is a limited series from the producers of 99% Invisible, and each epidsode talks about a particular type of fashion (jeans, children’s clothing, plaid, etc.). It’s easy listening and pretty entertaining!

    8. Kate R. Pillar*

      The Brady Heywood Podcast has a mini-series about the Apollo 13 mission starting at episode 20 or so.
      I have heard great things about this!

  43. AvonLady Barksdale*

    Our new lease is signed, the movers are booked, and we move in three weeks. I am VERY excited about this and just hoping things go smoothly. One of the things I insisted on this time was getting the movers to pack as well. Not just the kitchen, but everything. It will help my sanity and our dog’s anxiety (he’ll go to daycare in our current city on packing day and for his trial in our new city on moving-in day, so he’s all set).

    However… I don’t quite know what to expect. Besides putting some things in the car, like small suitcases with clothes/toiletries for overnight, the dog’s crate, and a bag with basic household stuff like toilet paper and paper towels, what should I do to prepare? Do I really just open the door, greet these guys, and get out of the way? (With, of course, a little direction in terms of telling them if there’s anything they shouldn’t move.)

    1. I hate the offseason.*

      I’d pack my valuables myself. Anything you would hate to lose or have broken. Family heirlooms, for example. Also I was there to mark the boxes with what rooms they need to go to when delivered.

    2. dear Liza dear liza*

      Basically, yep. I just stayed out of the way and offered them water now and then. Oh- throw out all your garbage, as they will otherwise pack it- yes, the garbage in the kitchen/bath trash cans! I was also surprised when .i unpacked to discover a box of old takeout menus and ketchup packets, so I recommend purging your junk drawer.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Oh, the water’s a given! And Gatorade– every move I’ve ever done has been in awful heat and I am always prepared, on both ends. :) Good tip about the drawers, thank you!

      2. That Girl From Quinn's House*

        Yes, this. Packing service is *very* literal. They will pack everything exactly how it is. There was a chunk of burned English muffin in the toaster…they packed it. My toothbrush was in the bathroom? They packed it and I had to go buy a new one at 11 pm. Pieces of shelving that belonged to the apartment and were supposed to stay behind? They packed it. The quart bags we needed to get through the TSA checkpoint? They packed it.

        They also packed everything by wrapping it in those big 3 x 3 sheets of packing paper, so if you have anything you’d prefer to pack in a Ziploc bag (small items, liquid items, stuff that might spill or explode like Sharpies or art supplies) you have to do that first too.

        1. valentine*

          Packing service is *very* literal.
          This is one of the most reassuring and satisfying things I’ve ever read. My kinda people.

        2. Jessi*

          I wanted to chime in and second this. The day or night before go through and think about what you might need the next day(s) – the packers almost packed my car keys and wallet (meaning no money and no way to get from Oldhouse to Newhouse)

        3. Myrin*

          Yeah, we had some stones on our patio which I’d used for different little gardening endeavours (like weighing something down or leaning a little plant against it) and had simply forgotten to release back into the wild, and the movers packed them all. I had a good chuckle when I discovered but also ha!, I get to continue using the stones I’m used to. ;)

        4. Slartibartfast*

          Yes they are *very* literal. I told them not to pack the cat’s litterbox. They didn’t, but they did pack the extra litter, scooper, and the mat in front of the box. Also packed the bread. We were moving cross country. That was fun to find a month later.

    3. Windward*

      Talk with the moving company about the best way to collaborate – be available to field questions, be in the room to notice something that requires more info, etc. See what they say, but also remember that the people answering the phones often don’t have the practical experience of the people who do the packing and moving so it’s a good place to start but expect to have a similar conversation with the team who arrive at your door.

      You might want to get some bottled water/juice/etc a day ahead and put it in the fridge to have available for the team. They’ll be more comfortable and you’ll get points for being a friendly customer.

      Movers may pack electrical and other stuff (eg, lamps, vacuum cleaner) without testing it before they do, and mark it as “mechanical condition unknown” which they take to mean that if it doesn’t work on delivery that it probably didn’t before they moved it. Talk with the company about how to demonstrate that things work without adding large delays in the process. And, movers have been known to pack *everything* – eg, the trash in a trash bin. Try to make sure that anything they can see is something you’d like packed.

      Get colored tape for your boxes – all the same color – as that makes it easier for the moving co to identify your boxes on the truck. I got some ridiculously bright “duck” tape from a craft store, and asked the moving crew to put their customer labels *on* the duck tape.

      Labels for your boxes: provide them by room; eg Living Room, Kitchen that they can slap on the boxes so the boxes can be delivered to the correct room on arrival, or sorted in the main room if you folks will be sorting/unpacking yourselves. You may want to lurk around the movers, and slap your labels on boxes yourselves.

      Pack a Need it Right Now box to take in your car – an “instant kitchen,” a shower curtain, doggy treats, to add to your list above. Take enough that if the truck doesn’t make it for an extra day that you can get by. I’ve had the experience of the truck arriving at the right address in the wrong town, and being quite surprised that we weren’t there to meet them. So I’d double check what they have for your delivery address just in case.

      I agree about packing valuables yourselves, and taking them in your car as you can.

      Congratulations! We’ll look forward to hearing how this went, how you are settling into your new place, and the fun you’re having revisiting old favorite places.

    4. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I also recommend packing all of your important household papers yourself, and keeping them with you. Also take any bills you haven’t paid yet with you. You do not want to find your final water bill and copy of your new lease have been packed in one of 15 boxes marked “office” that now need immediate unpacking.

      You may also want to pack up your remotes. I still haven’t figured out which box the remote for my adjustable bed is in! (It was a hand-be-down and I don’t use the adjustable features regularly, but it’s still irritating that I have no idea what box that remote is in since I didn’t ask the movers to “finish packing” the boxes that weren’t done yet, just move the stuff that was packed since I was mostly hiring them for furniture, but they chucked loose things into nearby boxes that weren’t sealed yet anyway to be “helpful”, and I’ve been looking for a couple of things ever since…)

    5. Twinkle*

      You’ve got some great advice here and I don’t have anything to add that hasn’t already been said, but I just wanted to congratulate you on having all this organised already, with 3 weeks to go! My husband and I are moving to New City 1200kms away in 3 weeks (for my new job) and we don’t have anything booked as yet. I’m hoping this week we’ll book the removalists and organise the temporary accommodation for when we first arrive (we’ll look for an apartment when we get there). You’re totally on top of this to have it all in hand already! And good luck with the move :)

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Well, we’re a lot closer than 1200 km away! Best of luck to you; that’s quite a move, but you’ll be fine. Finding housing in NYC can seem difficult, but if you’re prepared to jump on something immediately, it’s not that bad and can be really exciting. If you need a local mover when the time comes, ask here– the moving company that moved us from NYC to our current home was wonderful, especially in a really stressful situation, and I sing their praises every chance I get.

        I’m starting to feel a little TOO organized, to be honest, but the last move traumatized me so much that I decided to spend money if it meant I could reduce stress. Just hoping all goes as it should. We went out this afternoon and ordered a new sofa (that will be shipped to our new home), so things are definitely coming together!

    6. Not So NewReader*

      When my stuff arrived at my new place, the movers said they did not want me lifting. They wanted me to stand near the door and direct traffic. When I saw how fast everything came off the truck, I realized that “traffic cop” was a necessity- they were not pushing me out of the way with nonsense work. They needed me to do that.
      As each person walked in, I told them which room to put the item in. I distinguished between the two bedrooms by naming them the color of their respective rugs- blue bedroom, beige bedroom. They had the truck unloaded so fast.

    7. TMO Yo!*

      10 moves and counting (military and we’ll probably move a few more times).

      Introduce yourself to everyone on the team. Most of the movers we had are hard working, and they come with personalities. Knowing their names makes this very long day more enjoyable and you can chat them up if you need help with something. If you see a mover that’s not working well you can tell the team lead about it and they can work with that mover to do better. (We’ve had movers that packed half the boxes we packed in the same amount of time). some movers like to sing, lots of movers have a lot of chitchat, so it helps them move things along.

      The team lead will want to walk through the house make sure they understand the layout and what’s going or not going. if you tell them that you moved everything that’s not going to another room they will really appreciate that. If you did not have a pre-move survey with someone who gave you an estimate for the project, you should point out all the high-value assets that they need to take care with such as furniture, TV, electronics. if you did this survey they’re aware of these items and you just need to point them out to them.

      Show them the bathroom and make sure there’s plenty of paper towels, soap and toilet paper

      Make sure there’s enough cups and water or if you’re providing Gatorade/drinks make sure everyone has at least three or four throughout the day.

      Buy them a real lunch, not pizza. They get pizza from everybody else but they’re going to remember you as a great client (and yes they will pack better if you treat them right) if you provide something like sandwiches, chips and/or picnic salad.

      Secure a room that has nothing but all the things you are going to hand-carry to your next location which includes your documents, personal items, dog items. Label this room ‘no pack’.

      Agree on the valuables: pack yourself but know if you pack them yourself they may not be covered under any type of movers insurance or liability.

      Simply be available for questions because there will be a lot of questions. It’s okay to watch what they’re doing and suggest that they do something different if you have concerns.

    8. AnonForToday*

      Food and cooking/eating supplies and utensils for the first couple of days!

  44. Newbie*

    From past moving experiences-

    A box with kitchen stuff – paper plates and cups,etc. so you can function without digging through boxes.

    A box with your sheets, blankets, etc. to make it easy to set up your bed.

    A box with all your dog’s stuff to get him set up easily.

    And I bet your movers would be grateful for cold water while doing the hard work.

    1. Kuododi*

      Additionally, if medication is a concern…a separate, labeled container to transport safely to the new location. (Include a small cooler if any meds need to be kept cold.).

  45. So she darkled in the corner...*

    (Some diet and weightloss talk coming up in case that’s not your bag)
    Guys please pray to the house buyer gods for me that our home will reveal itself online and not get snapped up by anyone else. Or just let me vent.
    I am so fed up of living in two places because we are living with our respective mothers while we house hunt. This means that fiances energy is whittled down to naught because his mother likes to leave her anxiety mouse on his pillow. “I have too much money and I must spend it! Oh no; now the things I spent money on need to be delivered and experienced!” Exhausting.
    She interrupted our movie night to show me some clothes that are obviously completely outside my taste and I had to thread the needle between ‘that’s nice’ and ‘Oh no, I didnt mean for me; I already have an embroidered pastel cardigan!”
    Cut to my house where the monkeys have descended to spend half term with nana. My zumba disc is missing from the Wii and my shoes are out from under the bed and the pillows make up part of a fort. But niece hugs me like ive been gone for years and nephew tells me he remembers which treats match my diet restrictions and they saved them for me. Gah, I want to yell at you!
    So, I eat allllll said treats even though my scales tell me I’ve put back on half the weight I worked really hard to lose this month. I cant weigh myself or measure food at boyfriend’s place. Then I realise it’s only four pounds and it’s probably my period/plateauing. I hate plateauing. And periods.
    All the life admin stuff I tried to do back at home that had piled up while I was at his, took forever because I have ADHD and I forget where I put things and this is twice as hard to work out when possibly little monkeys are moving things too. But it gets done. Back to fiance’s house where he is being told by his mother that she is spending too much money on groceries but she doesn’t really go shopping, as she has her meals delivered? Last week the complaint was that he was buying and making his own meals. It’s a puzzle.
    Fiance and I are now too exhausted to go look at houses this weekend without bringing our ‘meh’ moods with us.

    1. Lena Clare*

      Not your monkeys, not your circus.
      Take your meh moods with you – that’s ok!
      Give up the diet for now. You’ve got other stuff going on. Try to eat when hungry and stop when full. Don’t worry if it doesn’t happen – be kind to yourself.
      Self care isn’t just about glasses of wine, hot baths, and massages. Self care is about self preservation. Look after yourself!
      Yes, periods are crap, for sure.
      And I will keep my fingers crossed for the right home for you :)

      1. Lena Clare*

        When I said ‘not your monkeys not your circus’ I was talking of your respective mothers’ stuff not your niece and nephew :)

    2. Jaid*

      You’ll probably have “meh moods at your new home, too, so you might as well see how it works out for you then, too. Bring the mood with you and head out.

      Virtual hugs.

  46. Have any of you used matchmaking sites?*

    I think this is an appropriate question for the weekend, because I’ve seen similar questions here before that have gotten helpful responses.

    Anyway, I’m essentially wondering if any of the matchmaking sites out there (eg. ThreeDayRule, Tawkify) work and if so, which one/s is/are best. If any of you have experience with them or know people who do, I’d appreciate your input, especially if you/they have had challenges with dating.

    I’ve had basically no success with the dating apps/sites, including Bumble, OKCupid, EHarmony, and others. Part of that is I have no interest in having kids (or being with someone is already a parent). I’m 31/M and have never been in a relationship for various reasons. I’m also asexual (not opposed having sex but indifferent to it and inexperienced) and possibly aromantic, and I have some difficulty connecting with people on an intimate level (I’m not on the spectrum or anything like that – nothing wrong with that of course – but it’s challenging all the same). I attribute that somewhat to my personality (INTJ for those into MBTI, which I’ve found useful even though it has its flaws and lack of scientific basis), but there might be other reasons that I haven’t figured out yet (before anyone suggests therapy, I’ve seen therapists for that and other reasons but have found them unhelpful).

    I’ve met with one of the matchmakers in person so far, which was somewhat helpful, but at this point I’m only submitting my info into their databases so that I can potentially be matched with someone, as opposed to paying them a substantial amount of money to find matches for me, though I’d consider that in the future.

    Any input would be appreciated.

    1. Silver Fig*

      The childfree subr3ddit has some links to CF-friendly dating avenues, which could be a start. I’m no help with the other aspects, though, I’m sorry.

    2. Datingworries*

      Even if you matched with someone, lacking the ability to connect with people on an intimate level will stop most long term relationships from happening. I suggest finding specific lgtb dating sites or forums that have an asexual community so you can learn how they approach dating. Knowing if you’re aromantic is pretty important to figure out before the dating scene as most want romantic relationships.
      On another note, I’m an INTJ. I’ve had relationships. It’s probably not that. It’s probably because of being aromantic and asexual. Which is not an issue in itself! However, the majority of people on those days sites usually are the opposite of you. The key is finding someone like minded or open minded people.

    3. Jane of all Trades*

      I am on 3 day rule, but just in their database, rather than paying $$$ for their services. When you are in the database they will only contact you if they think your profile matches for a paying customer. They contacted me twice in the period of about half a year – one person I don’t know at all why they thought we would be a match, and the other person seemed interesting but I was traveling at the time so I couldn’t meet with them. I think that if you want to focus on starting a relationship, 3 day rule only works if you sign up for the paid services, because otherwise the odds are that you will be contacted quite rarely.

  47. Gloucesterina*

    Can anyone advise as to saving greeting cards in an album-type setup?

    The background is that I am preparing for a move, and need to get rid of a lot of paper. There are some personally meaningful messages on greeting cards that I wish to save in a way that I can view both sides of the card (the graphic side and the side with the person’s message on it). I know I can just dump them into a transparent plastic sleeve and store them in a binder. Are there any other items (akin to a photo album) that will fit non-uniformly sized cards and which will allow me to view both sides?

    Thanks!

    1. Anono-me*

      I think I’ve mentioned this before here. A while back I bought this ‘thing for Christmas cards’ and have since made additional ‘things for cards’. It’s super simple and quick to make. (I am not a good craft instruction writer.)

      Get a big piece of cardboard as tall as your tallest card and 2 & 1/8 to 2 & 1/4 times wide as your widest card. Crease (fold and unfold) the cardboard in two places, so that you have a left side as wide as your widest card and a right side as wide as your widest card and a small middle section. Put a bunch of rubber bands around the middle section. Insert each card individually into one rubber band. (It should look kind of like a full three ring binder when you’re done.)

      You can cover the cardboard with fabric or decorated it if you are so inclined.

    2. SophieChotek*

      You can buy Ultra Pro Hologram Pages – one page size has two 5×7 slots per page. (Many other sizes available also.)
      They have three-holes for typical 3-ring binder
      You can buy them online in hobby shops/some comic stores/baseball card store by the box (I think 100 per box). If none around – check Amazon or eBay
      Because they are for archival/collectibles/ephemera, supposedly “acide-free” etc
      I collect Victorian-1940s cabinent photos/CDVs/postcards and other paper ephemera and I used these for oversized items
      I also use them, like you, to save special greeting cards/notes, etc. that have sentimental value (keep those in a different 3-ring binder)

  48. Amber Rose*

    We got a new puppy! She’s so tiny and cute.

    I have a rough plan for introducing her to our 9 year old cat but would welcome any insight others have to offer.

    1. tangerineRose*

      Make sure the kitty has an easy way to escape. Keeping the puppy on a leash is a good idea.

    2. Kuododi*

      No suggestions, just hoping to see a picture of the little love muffin. For the record, anything on four legs with dog breath turns me into a pile of marshmallow goo! Congratulations on the new family member!!!

        1. Isabekka*

          Aahhh oh my word the fluffy cuteness! I just want to hug her, she looks so adorable. Mistral, I think that suits her. Enjoy your pup,

        1. Kuododi*

          OMG!!!! Those eyes!!! They say “I’m so happy you are my human. I will love and adore you until the end of days.” As much as I adore my silly boys, sometimes I miss having a puppy. I’m delighted for your new family member.

    3. MonteCristo85*

      I’ve always been of the opinion that the newbie should be the one confined, not the resident. My dog and cats were all 9 months old when I got the dog, but she was new. So I put her in her crate, and let the cats wander around and check it out. Once everyone got bored with that, I let her out, but with a harness/leash so I could rein her in immediately when she got rambunctious. I kept this up for a couple of months to be honest. When I was at home I had the dog on her leash and attached to me, when I wasn’t, she was crated or in a room by herself. After a while, I left her off the leash, but I had baby gates set up to separate the main living area from both the kitchen (food) and bed/bath (sleeping areas/litter) with them about 4-5 inches off the ground. That way the cats could quickly and easily escape, and having them off the ground meant they could duck under then rather then have to jump up right at the dogs head level to escape. They all ended up good friends, and they all sleep in a giant cuddle pile most of the time now.

  49. Lucette Kensack*

    The Great Believers is the best novel I’ve read so far this year. I loved, loved, loved it.

    1. Patty Mayonnaise*

      Agreed. I think it has the best opening chapter of any book I’ve ever read. Haunting and unforgettable.

  50. Veggiesforlife*

    I’m reading a book called, “Becoming Vegan” it’s packed full of multiple scientific research articles on topics about nutrition and vegans. I’m loving the book and thinking about becoming vegan for health reasons. I never thought I would be in this place to admit that as I thought I could never be vegan diet to my wheat allergy. Right now I’m not strict vegan because I want to finish off the animal products I do have and not waste them.
    Anywho! Any tips for beginner vegans?

    1. Lena Clare*

      I’ve just gone vegan, and did what you’re suggesting – used up the dairy and other products first.
      Some people say to make meals that are naturally vegan (lots of veggie Indian and other Asian dishes e.g.) rather than taking a loved meat dish (say, spag bol) and making it vegan.

      Personally I don’t have a problem with making meat dishes vegan bc I’ve been vegetarian for ages so it wasn’t that hard.
      If you have been a meat eater, you can buy vegan meat substitutes and try cooking your meat dishes with the substitute to start with.

      It depends on if you like cooking or not though.
      Best bet is to buy a basics vegan cookery book and try some simple stuff from there to get a taste for it.

      The best cookbooks I’ve tried are BOSH! (the 1st book) and Jackfruit & Blue Ginger.

      I found lunches the hardest. Now I have a selection of sandwiches I make which I just repeat, or I have noodles or soup which is usually vegan.

      Oo also, google accidentally vegan foods in your country – you’d be surprised.
      I found BelVita strawberry soft bakes are vegan and omg they’re gorgeous. Also Oreos are vegan ;)

      Have fun experimenting!

      1. Lena Clare*

        Oh sorry I just realised you said you have a wheat allergy!
        The Jackfruit cookbook has got GF versions in it.

    2. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

      I love Vegan with a Vengence and The Vegnomicon cookbooks. And making vegan versions of dishes really isn’t that bad.

    3. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

      Oh, the Minimalist Baker blog does vegan, gf recipes!

    4. They Don’t Make Sunday*

      More recipe sources:
      The Vegan Experience series on Serious Eats
      Isa Does It, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

      Some favorite dairy replacements:
      Oat milk (Oatly or Califia barista blend)
      Lavva nondairy yogurt (esp. strawberry)
      Coconut Bliss nondairy ice cream (there’s also a very good salted caramel ice cream bar)
      Coco whip by So Delicious

      1. Ethyl*

        The Serious Eats vegan ramen is unbelievable. It takes a day to make but you won’t be sorry!

    5. ..Kat..*

      It is extremely difficult to get enough iron on a vegan diet. Also, you literally cannot get all of the needed B vitamins. So, I recommend some vitamin supplements.

    6. ..Kat..*

      I feel better if I don’t eat dairy products. Anyone have recommendations for vegan cheese? For sandwiches? For cooking? Bonus points if you recommend something other than the product that starts with “d”.

      1. Jenny F. Scientist*

        I’m not vegan, just deathly allergic to dairy – the cashew ‘fake cheese’ recipes I found pretty tasty, including on pizza. I don’t have the recipe any more – my daughter is, it turns out, deathly allergic to cashews! – but they’re all pretty similar.

    7. Lemonwhirl*

      I became vegan for health reasons two years ago by taking the Heart Healthy Course from the Happy Pear (twin brothers who run a veg shop outside Dublin). I think the course was about 100 euro and it definitely focused my mind for sticking with it. It came with a meal plan and recipes, although I quickly just found the recipes I liked and stuck with those. The idea is that you eat strictly low-fat vegan for a month to get the habit ingrained. I’m not as entirely LF as I was the first month, but I am still about 97% plant-based in my diet and am working this month to kick my chocolate habit to go entirely vegan.

      I concur with the advice to eat things like dahls and curries that are naturally vegan rather than eat meat substitute products. I also found that going all-in was the right choice for me, but then I know myself and know that there’s no having a little of something for me.

    8. Veggiesforlife*

      It’s hard to reply to everyone but thank you for all the suggestions! I’ll be looking up everything that was suggested.

    9. Sopranistin*

      It’s important to keep in mind that just because a food is vegan doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Oreos, for example. Many of the vegan cheese and meat alternatives you find at the store are full of questionable ingredients and high in fat.
      I would suggest looking at a whole food plant based diet. It’s vegan, but with a focus on healthy, real food. You’ll find lots of info with a simple Google search. Some of my favorite resources: NutritionFacts.org, Forks Over Knives, Happy Herbivore, Minimalist Baker, Oh She Glows, Starch Solution, Engine 2 diet.
      I do my best to follow a plant based diet and I feel so good! I have more energy than I ever had before, lost weight, my skin cleared, seasonal allergies improved, less random headaches, etc. I highly recommend it!
      Keep in mind that changing your lifestyle and habits takes time. For me it was a very slow process, over 5 years, to finally feel totally satisfied without cheese! Your tastes will change and adapt to your new diet. You don’t need to be perfect. Be kind to yourself.

  51. Beaded Librarian*

    Just wanted to say thanks for the advice and support I got last week. I survived the graduation without too much trouble. In fact the only direct question my mother asked me about my sister once I got there was “why doesn’t she seem to like us?”

    On the flip side it turned out it wasn’t so much my niece was sick as both my sister and brother-in-law are struggling with major depression right now and couldn’t hadn’t dealing with my mother. My sister is feeling both guilty I had to deal solo and grateful that I was able to do it and livestream the graduation for them. I’m just glad she didn’t tell me until I was well on my way home or it wouldn’t have worked. I can’t lie worth shit.

    1. tangerineRose*

      Sorry you had to deal with this. I can understand why your sister didn’t want to deal with your mother.

  52. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

    My grandmother lives with my mother, and is in a slow decline (this has been going on for over a decade – grandma is in her 90s now). She fell twice at night over Memorial Day weekend, and I’m pretty sure mom is no longer sleeping through the night and getting up every time grandma does so she won’t fall again. This is exhausting and not sustainable.

    Also, the one not-me person (grandma’s DIL/my aunt) who was willing to stay with her when my mom needed a weekend off is no longer willing to do that since grandma now needs more care and DIL is not getting any younger, either. I work an exhausting full-time job and have certain months of the year that I cannot “take the weekend off” to go sit with my grandma, not get a full night’s sleep, get none of my personal chores done, and then stumble into work on Monday behind and exhausted.

    I ended up spending my Memorial Day Monday (which is during the time of year when I have no spare time due to work) at mom’s house watching grandma for over 5 hours because my stepdad cut himself while doing yard work and mom had to take him to the ER. I have no idea who else could have possibly done this had I said no, and I know mom didn’t want to make grandma sit at the ER with them for 5 hours when she wasn’t the emergency, so I made it work, but I really want a new plan here.

    What kinds of services do you hire to do this kind of thing? I don’t even know what to look for, how to choose one, and how much it should cost, but we really need someone to stay at the house at night on fall watch, and cover occasional days or chunks of hours as well so mom can leave the house sometimes. Mom can’t do this all herself, I can’t take it on, and I think we’re out of relatives interested in helping now. (The other two grandchildren can’t help – one lives out-of-state and the other has two small children. More distant relatives are either known flakes, equally busy, or live out of state.)

    1. Kuododi*

      I don’t remember your particular location…but in the US I would look at Palliative Care services and or home health care. Both should be able to access through her health care provider. When things change to the point that Dr will certify in their best medical opinion she has 6 months or less to live, then she’s eligible for Hospice. (There will be other eligibility criteria depending on the specific Hospice program. ). With those resources, she’ ll be able to have as much or as little care as requested. Also, Hospice is covered by Medicare, it’s a Federal rule here in the US. Best wishes and hope for daily strength.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        Yes, we’re in the US. She’s on Medicare, and they suggested hospice care to use before, but really, she isn’t dying of anything in particular so the 6 month thing is an issue. (Also, the rule we were told is that once she is on hospice care, she is not allowed to leave the house for anything other than medical appointments – no visiting family or going out to dinner, for example. It’s a big production, but she does visit family once or twice year still, and I think mom still takes her out to lunch sometimes when they’re already out for a medical appointment if she doesn’t seem too tired. That may not be the case any more, though.)

        1. Washi*

          What?? I worked for a hospice and not leaving the house was definitely not a rule there. We even had a patient take a trip to the beach! The biggest struggle folks usually have with hospice is that you’re not supposed to call 911 in an emergency, you call the hospice because if you go to the hospital, they have to take you off hospice then put you back on when you’re back.

          The bigger issues would be her eligibility in the first place – if her main issue is dementia, it’s really hard for physicians to certify eligibility unless she is actively losing weight or has another life-limiting illness. And even then a lot of our patients with dementia would be on hospice for 8 months, then improve too much and go off, then decline and go on…and that fluctuation of support can be really challenging for the family.

          1. Kuododi*

            I share your confusion!!! Before DH and I moved to our current location…he was a Hospice chaplain for many years and I volunteered for the same program. There were multiple occasions where patients were stabilized and made comfortable to the point they were able to do some “bucket list” activities out of the house. As far as eligibility goes, I even remember a patient who was >100 years old. That person was admitted to the program simply because of extreme advanced age. I was always told the 6 month rule was more of a guideline. As long as the Dr would recertify every 6months…that was all that was necessary. Hope that helps.

          2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

            It didn’t make any sense to me either, but her doctor told my mother that the rules our insurance had for hospice is that she had to be too infirm to leave the house for social/non-medical reasons to qualify. It may be due to trying to qualify her under something other than a specific, obvious illness, though. I don’t know – everything I hear is secondhand.

            We don’t have a diagnosis of dementia at this point. She’s having some trouble keeping track of the passage of time, but a clock with the days of the week on it seemed to help and really, if you don’t go anywhere or do anything it’s hard to keep track of what day it is anyway. She’s frail, and can barely move, and is in a lot of pain from her back, but still seems to know who and where she is, and can keep track of the progress of the sports team she cares about during basketball season. (She’ll occasionally call me by my mother’s name, but my mother will occasionally call me the dog’s name, so there’s that…) The problem is, no one dies directly from a bad back and barely being able to walk. They’ll possibly die from complications from a fall once they land badly and break something, but so far she hasn’t seemed to have broken anything when falling. (She refuses to go to the hospital and get x-rays after these falls, including the one where the paramedics came because mom couldn’t get her up again and called the non-emergency line. So far, she has always been fine the next day.)

    2. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Home health aide – if you can find a reliable individual, that’s ideal because an agency will charge you high rates very little of which goes to the aide. The advantage is they can find a substitute if you need and it’s less legwork for you (background check, taxes depending on how much you are paying).

      As grandma gets sicker you could also look into a night nurse. But that would be more expensive.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        How would we go about trying to find an individual? The family already hires an accountant for taxes (stepdad is a commission-based saleman with a home office and a large travel territory, plus rental properties, so taxes are already pretty complicated), so adding more complexity there wouldn’t be a big deal.

        1. ..Kat..*

          Google elder care services in your area. Home health aides through an agency have been vetted and background checked. While the agency gets a lot of the money, you risk a lot by trying to find your own. If someone is a CNA (certified nursing assistant), they have a certain level of training, and are certified through your state board of nursing (which includes criminal background checks). If you live in a city with a nursing school, nursing students are great, especially if you are offering lodging as part of compensation (just don’t expect them to be always working). And many nursing students are CNAs.

          Keep in mind that grandma needs to be part of the interview process. If she is not comfortable with the person that you are hiring, it won’t work.

          Also, it sounds like you need more than just a sitter. You need someone to help with ADLs (activities of daily living – bathing, toileting, dressing, etc). Even just 8 hours a day of a home health aide can give your Mom a significant break and greatly improve her quality of life.

          To verify a CNA, you need an ID document (like a drivers license to verify that they are who they say they are) and their state license number. You go on the website for your state board of nursing, type in their number, and then you will find out if their license is current and in good standing. (If it is not, move on. Accept no excuses.) Do not accept a physical card. Get the number and go online.

          I am a nurse myself, and personally, I would get a CNA if I were you. I think they are best trained to give you the quality of care that you are looking for.

          1. ..Kat..*

            While a CNA can be more expensive than a home health aide, home health aide can mean so many different levels of training and quality. And no criminal background check. I think a CNA is worth the extra money.

            PS This comment is not meant to denigrate home health aides. I know many high quality people who do this work. But, CNA comes with a standard level of training, skills, and knowledge.

    3. Washi*

      Sounds like you need an aide! If your grandmother doesn’t need any toileting or bathing help, you might not even need a CNA, just a regular person working as a care provider (which will be quite a bit cheaper.) Since nighttime care can be really hard to find, I would recommend calling some homecare agencies to check if they have aides who do overnights. Your family might also find a couple consultation sessions with a geriatric care manager helpful – and I think A Place for Mom offers a first session free.

      Good luck!!

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        She usually falls on her way back from using the toilet, and it would probably be useful to have someone other than mom who could help with bathing as well since that’s been a struggle recently too (we used to drive her to a salon for weekly hair washing and setting, but that’s become too exhausting for her lately), so we’d probably need a CNA. I guess I’ll try to see what homecare agencies exist around here.

        1. Washi*

          Yeah, for bathing you ideally want someone who is trained in how to do that safely. I second the recommendation of the eldercare locator and you could also contact your local Area Agency on Aging for other resources. ARCH Respite Locator may also help connect you with respite programs in your area. In my county, the local respite program is not means-tested, which means that basically anyone can qualify for a certain number of days per year if they demonstrate a need.

    4. Anono-me*

      Your best bet is to probably contact the social worker in the same geographic area as your grandmother. They’re going to be the most knowledgeable about the resources available.

      Right away, I would see about getting an alarm to put on your grandmother’s bed. Any home medical supply store should be able to set your family up with a pressure monitor / fall monitor alarm. Basically when the alarm sensor no longer senses the person’s body weight it sounds an alert. This will help your mother sleep better in the short-term.

      It probably would also be helpful to have the home evaluated for trip and fall risk. There are lots of cheap and easy changes that can make a home easier and safer for someone with mobility issues. (There are lots of expensive things too, but maybe start with the easy and cheap.) For example adding some automatic nightlights, replacing the throw rugs with rubber backed rugs, putting a rummage sale walker over the toilet in the bathroom, and getting a plastic seat riser for the toilet.)

      Some Faith groups have nurses that will visit the home and check on people. I know my grandmother’s church had a visiting nurse that came once every two weeks for about an hour or so. It’s probably not nearly what your family needs, but if your family’s Faith group offers that, every little bit is going to be a help.

      A local nursing student might be willing to come in as a part-time job to assist with overnights. Your family might also be able to work something out in exchange for room and board.

      Medicare may be an option, but the threshold for when someone will qualify is pretty high.

      Also, be aware that sometimes as people age they can have circulation issues that men when they get up they need to wait a moment or two before they go from sitting up to standing, otherwise they get dizzy. This might be something that your grandmother might want to discuss with her doctor.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        I’m…not sure sure how to find that kind of social worker? In my head I think of social workers as the people you end up working with when there are neglected children involved.

        We’ve already made lots of changes to the parts of the house she uses. There are handrails all along the hallway and in the bathroom, grab bars in the bathroom, rails and a higher seat on the toilet, and grandma uses a walker. (She is tiny, and uses a side walker as a front walker because it is lighter and easier for her to manage.) There are no throw rugs in that part of the house. We leave the hallway light on at night, and right now she’s been falling between the hallway and her bedroom so it’s not a light issue. (When we ask her, she doesn’t know why she’s fallen.)

        Mom can hear her getting out of bed without an alarm (mom’s room is next to grandma’s room, and walkers are not quiet), so I don’t think a bed alarm would help – the issue is that mom needs to sleep at night too rather than get up whenever grandma does.

        Her church doesn’t have a visiting nurse. It’s a small, graying congregation and there isn’t the money to pay for anything like that, although it would probably be a really good idea for a lot of the congregation if they could swing it somehow. The minister does come by to meet with grandma sometimes, and some of her church friends stop by socially. (She doesn’t go to church any more because it’s just too hard for her to get there and then sit through the services in a pew. She has scoliosis, among other health issues, so her back hurts a lot of the time and she generally needs to sit in a padded armchair rather than a hard seat.)

        She qualifies for Medicare, because that’s age-based and she’s certainly old enough, but my understanding is that she will never be poor enough to qualify for Medicaid, which is income-based, because she has a pension. She has no assets unless you count a bunch of VHS tapes with old movies taped off cable (some of them even don’t have the end of the movie cut off!), and her pension plus social security used to be enough for her to rent a regular apartment in an inexpensive complex, but would not be enough to pay to live in an assisted living complex as near as we’ve been able to figure out. She doesn’t want to live alone anyway, and we suspect she’d just let herself be neglected if she moved someplace like that if it was short of a full nursing facility since she “wouldn’t want to be a bother” and wouldn’t tell the staff when she needed help with something. Medicaid is the one that would pay for a nursing home, so I don’t actually know what people with small pensions are supposed to do in that situation. (This worries me for my own future as well, since I am also a future-pension-haver, but I kind of assume the whole system will have toppled over by then anyway.)

        1. Washi*

          Sorry I’m all over this thread, but if a long term care facility ends up being needed, you may want to research the rules for “Medicaid spend down” in your state. People with low income and assets can essentially move into a facility with Medicaid beds and “spend down” their income/assets there until they become eligible for Medicaid. The asset spend down is relatively simple, but income spend down rules are tricky so you would need to figure out if your state has what’s called the “medically needy pathway” depending on the amount of your grandmother’s pension.

        2. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

          You can also look at income diversion trusts for people who actually make too much for institutional medicaid. The nursing homes should be able to help some with that as in giving you help or your state human services department.

        3. Anono-me*

          You may be able to find an elder/senior citizen social worker on your county website. If not, try calling the general information phone number for your county or your local hospital and asking for help finding a social worker for your grandmother.

          Also, this may be old age, but sometimes other stuff gets written off as old age. If it hasn’t already been done; someone should make sure your grandmother is not dehydrated, doesn’t have a uti, and that none of her medications separately or in combination are causing dizziness or lightheadedness. (Check the study before you rule out a medicine as sometimes odd side effects are just under the required reporting number.)

        4. ..Kat..*

          Social workers are licensed by your state. Google your state plus social workers agency. Then call and ask them how to find a social worker that would meet your needs. Since grandma has Medicare Medicaid, does she have a case worker?

    5. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Finding a caregiver to give you a break or respite for a day or part of a day every so often is usually referred to as “respite care”. You can google “Eldercare Locator” or call 800-677-1116. They’re a service of the Administration for Community Living and the Administration on Aging, and they can help you find state and local services for older people. If you really don’t know what she needs, you might want to try to find a geriatric social worker, who can help determine how to best meet her needs and set up a plan for you.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        Thank you! I will look into this. I’ll see if I can find a time when mom and I can go through this together. I’m visiting on Sunday, when the phone probably won’t be answered but I assume the website will be up, and maybe I can leave mom with some next steps to try during the week while I’m at work.

        1. ..Kat..*

          If your mom is already overwhelmed, it would be a great kindness if you could do the calling for her. You would need grandma’s SSN and Medicare number. This stuff can take a lot of persistence and waiting on hold on the phone.

          Please update us with how you are doing. We care. And can possibly help you trouble shoot any problems you encounter.

          PS Medicare has a vested interest in supporting your mother in caring for grandma at home – it is a lot cheaper for them than a nursing home.

    6. Aphrodite*

      My sister and brother who live around the corner from my parents (my mom, actually, dad died in July 2012) found neighborhood caregivers, a mother-and-daughter Filipino team who take turns being with Mom all the time. It’s easy now that Mom is, alas, on hospice and in a hospital bed all the time. I think they are getting about $8/hour, down from $12 because they just need to be present and do bodily care. Other than that, they do their thing as long as they are in the same living room with Mom or in the kitchen making small meals for her.

      I believe they asked around their neighborhood for recommendations and references. The women are fantastic, and have become close friends with Dad (before he passed) and Mom.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        I’ve tried asking around but not found anyone yet. I know mom is asking her network as well. It’s probably hard because we’re in such a high COL area and mom’s neighborhood has gentrified pretty hard in the decades since she bought her house, so it’s unlikely that anyone in her neighborhood can afford to work at those kinds of jobs. (Every time a smaller house in the area is for sale, it’s bought by a developer and torn down to be replaced by 1-2 much larger houses, which then sell at ridiculously high prices. We’re losing our working-class folks left and right. I couldn’t afford to buy anywhere near there, and live about 30-45 minutes away.)

        1. ..Kat..*

          If you find a good CNA, you may need to offer help with transportation. Like Lyft.

    7. Asenath*

      We briefly hired a woman who does home care to sit with our mother at night. I can’t remember how much, but it wasn’t extremely expensive, and we found her by asking a sister of a friend who also did that kind of work for a recommendation. The sister of a friend was working full-time so couldn’t take the job. Unfortunately, it became necessary for my mother to move into a home with staff available 24/7, since she got to a point where she needed much more support.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        Thanks for sharing your story. I’ll keep asking around to see if we can find someone. It sounds like a lot of this is recommendation-based, so maybe I should start asking more friends-of-friends to see if they have any ideas.

        1. fposte*

          In my area, I see home health care “matches” made on Nextdoor.com fairly often. Especially if there’s no lifting involved, you may even find a retired nurse or nursing assistant who’d be up for doing some home care.

    8. Not A Manager*

      When my husband was ill, I needed a lot of home help for him. The posters above are correct that agencies are VERY expensive, and maddeningly, they pay their workers close to nothing. Also, in my experience, the agencies will promise the moon (you’ll get the same three people in rotation, etc.) and then severely under-deliver. A few of the agency helpers were great, but most were not.

      My suggestion is to lean into your network. Definitely ask acquaintances, friends of friends, etc. Online boards like Next Door weren’t available when I needed help for my husband (or I didn’t know about them), but I’ve used Next Door very successfully to find employees more recently. Even bulletin boards like at the YMCA or the JCC can be an option.

      Don’t limit yourself to “elder care” and certainly not to CNAs. Your mom is a reasonably intelligent woman of good will, right? And she’s not a CNA or certified in elder care. Whatever she can do, she can train a reasonably intelligent person of good will to do. And if there are specialized skills that are needed sometimes, like administering shots or specialized bathing, then get a specialized person to come and do those tasks. Don’t think your 24/7 or overnight helper has to have All The Skills.

      I had good luck with child-care providers. IIRC I found some helpers by asking neighborhood nannies and babysitters for recommendations to their friends. I also used agencies that place live-in housekeepers and nannies. Usually they charge a one-month commission rather than the ongoing fees that home health services charge.

      The downside is, that with an agency you are theoretically guaranteed back-up coverage if your person calls out for some reason. (I found this not to be entirely the case.) When you hire your own help, you’re responsible for your own emergency coverage. That’s why I preferred to hire several people part-time rather than one person full-time, but YMMV on this.

    9. AnonForToday*

      Is there an adult day program near them? That can give your mom daytime to get things done and take care of herself, and nap, and tends to be more affordable than one-on-one in home care.

      1. BunnyWatsonToo*

        One of the nursing homes in my area has a respite care program, by the hour or even a whole day.

    10. Elf*

      If you are in the Westchester NY area NeighborsLink is doing really good work training immigrants for a variety of work, including as home health aids. If you aren’t you might check with immigrant service organizations in your area that do job training and placement as an additional way to find candidates.

  53. Grits McGee*

    Does anyone have recommendations for portable air conditioners/dehumidifiers?

    I live in a basement apartment in the DC area with non-functional air conditioning, and I need something that I could potentially move from one room to another* and wouldn’t overload a normal circuit. Are there any brands that people have had good experiences with? The wiring in my apartment is possibly a little dodgy, so I’m trying to make sure I find something that isn’t going to cause an electrical fire.

    *All of the rooms in my apartment have windows for the vent, so there’s no issues on that account.

    1. CoffeeforLife*

      Check with Costco. They usually have portable ones this time of year, but be forewarned they are a huuuggggeeee electricity suck. Speaking as a former user!

    2. lapgiraffe*

      I went with a portable AC last summer (LG, probably $400) before my central ac was installed and I have to say, not impressed. I bought a bigger unit than needed and it barely cooled, plus loud and obnoxious. I ended up getting a cheap GE window unit (sub $200) for my room and it was both amazing at cooling and also had an app that worked great. It doesn’t make sense but get the cheaper GE window, it worked great and kept me cool and the portable I want to throw OUT the window.

      1. Grits McGee*

        Yeah, in an ideal world I would definitely go for a window unit (or, functional central ac). My landlord had a window unit installed in my living room, but the bedroom was still 85 at night, so I would sleep on my couch.

        When my apartment got inspected a month later, they told landlord that the window unit wasn’t up to code, so I’ve been AC-less since.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          Was the issue that the specific window unit you had was not to code, or that the presence of the unit in the window violated code (presumably because it occupied the window thus preventing egress)? If the latter, even a portable may not solve your problem since those aren’t really as portable as they advertise themselves to be. They need to vent outside and that generally goes in a window. It takes up less of the window, but to get any kind of good seal they still kinda need to be screwed in. And the units themselves often create so much heat that even with proper venting, unless you’re right in front of it, you don’t really feel to cool, at which point, you might as well have a fan anyway. They’re also, unfortunately, fairly likely to overload the circuit unless you have a receptacle with nothing else plugged into it (or only things with minimal draw…or that will never be on at the same time as the unit).

    3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I found that it was too much hassle to wheel a portable from room-to-room throughout the day, and ultimately just tended to keep it in the same room and mostly ignore the rest of my apartment when it was hot out, but your mileage may vary on that one. Mine’s a Royal Sovereign and probably at least 10 years old (it was a hand-me-down from my dad, who decided it was too loud to use in his bedroom). It works well, but the lights in my house dim briefly when it comes on so it must draw quite a bit of power on start-up.

      In your climate, you’ll probably also have to deal with the hassle of draining it pretty regularly since it’ll also dehumidify and can’t just drip to the outside like a window unit – you might even have to do that before moving it each time. (We have much lower humidity here so that wasn’t an issue for me, but I seem to recall DC as being pretty humid. Apologies if I’ve gotten that mixed up.)

      1. Grits McGee*

        Oh yeah, DC is definitely humid :) I have between 1-3 small dehumidifiers running at all times, so I’m very used to the drain game.

  54. Aurora Leigh*

    I think I’ve mentioned here already, but I got engaged a couple weeks ago!

    I’m thrilled! My fiance is a great guy and so sweet.

    The only tiny hiccup — I’m not crazy about the ring . . . actually, I love the stone and setting, but he got a yellow gold band. I don’t really wear much jewelery, so when discussed this I mentioned that I wanted something small, not flashy, and not yellow gold. From the time I was a little girl, I just haven’t liked yellow gold.
    I mentioned rose gold and white gold, but I think he probably just heard gold.

    I know the ring was pricy, and he even got the band engraved with a sweet message. It’s not a set, so I’m wondering if I could pair it woth a rose gold wedding band of some sort?

    I don’t want to hurt his feelings, but I also don’t want to end up with yellow gold for all my jewelery forever. . .

    1. WellRed*

      You have to say something. Think of it as practice for all the difficult marriage conversations ahead.

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        Yeah, I know. And it’s not like we haven’t had difficult conversatioms before. I just want to have a more actionable idea of what I want do I guess. Get it dipped? Get the stone reset? Go with a different metal for the wedding band?

    2. Overeducated*

      I think a rose gold wedding band and a yellow gold engagement ring would look very nice together. I’ve also seen people with flashier engagement rings stop wearing them on a daily basis and just wear the wedding band, but not sure if that’s less common in younger generations. I also think you don’t have to worry about all your jewelry matching it, engagement rings are kind of their own thing worn all the time and people don’t expect that all your accessories will coordinate with it for the rest of your life.

      Many congratulations! I remember when you first posted here about meeting him!

    3. Southern Metalsmith*

      You can absolutely mix metals! I love the way different colors play off each other. One idea might be to get two bands, one white gold and the other rose gold, and wear them on either side of your yellow gold engagement ring. If you think all three is a little too much, then maybe two thin white gold rings to wear on either side. (Can you tell I really like the look of three rings?). But even if you don’t like three rings, you can still mix metals and it will look lovely.
      And congratulations! I hope y’all have a long and happy life together!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Mixing is totally a thing. My e-ring is white gold (or maybe even silver, I don’t know for sure, maybe I should ask) with orange fire opals, my wedding ring is titanium and copper.

        (Now-husband, when he proposed: “Do you know how hard it is to find a ring with orange stones??”
        Me: “Oh? Why did you need a ring with orange — oh. OH.”)

    4. Maya Elena*

      I’m partial to the gold wedding band, and you can take your engagement ring on and off. It’s simple, classic, and I don’t think it’s a big deal if it doesn’t match the rest of your jewelry. Also white gold needs to be rhodium dipped; I pecified I preferred white but don’t like it as much, in part for that reason.

    5. LadySmalls*

      I worked at a jewellery store for a while and heard all the stories! I agree with WellRed that saying something is a good idea. Being able to have that conversation is challenging but it will provide you good information as well. Either he understands that you had a lifelong dislike of yellow gold and wants to work with you now (or in the future, because money) to change this around to something that suits you better, or he gets very upset. Either way, data point.

      That being said, feel free to mix and match!! I am a late 20’s F and fully endorse the idea of mix and match! I personally don’t have a collection of rings (because I have expensive taste) but while working in jewellery saw many hands that were mixed. Especially wedding sets. Do something that feels right for you and makes you happy.
      There is always the option in the future of changing the whole set as well. Using the stones etc and making a set custom for a future anniversary. YMMV, some people are very set as rings as a symbol and that they cannot ever change, I personally don’t subscribe to that view.

      A funny note, last Christmas season I had a gentleman come to purchase a gift for his wife. He was looking at earrings and was very concerned that they wouldn’t be the same colour gold as her wedding set… but couldn’t remember the colour of the set. I asked him if he noticed that my earrings and rings didn’t match and if it bothered him. It truly does not matter.

    6. KR*

      You gotta say something. My husband got my engagement ring with zero input from me and honestly I really don’t like it and rarely wear it. We got married almost three years ago and I’m still frustrated thinking about it. I think you could get it reset with a different band.

      1. WellRed*

        I agree. Get it reset. If you don’t like yellow gold, I don’t see how getting a different metal for the wedding band changes that. Admittedly, not a fan of mixing.

    7. Policy wonk*

      Go to a jewelry store and try on various bands with the ring, see what works. With the right match you may even like the ring he got you. And congrats!

    8. Tilly*

      You need to say something. You told him what you wanted and he didn’t listen – so it’s not really just you hurting his feelings, you know?

      FWIW I would have to speak up in this situation as I hate yellow gold!

    9. Aurora Leigh*

      Thanks everyone! I will talk to him about it when he gets home from work tonight!

      I do like the mixed metal look, and also the idea of just wearing the wedding band later, most people I know always wear their set.

    10. ShortT*

      I, too, dislike yellow gold. Years ago, I was gifted a pair of large amethyst stud earrings set in…yellow gold. I had them dipped. I paid approximately $40.

  55. Zephy*

    Man, I’m sure glad I have three umbrellas…in my car.

    It’s pouring down rain outside and I’m supposed to be leaving in half an hour. Bluh.

    1. NoLongerYoung*

      Too late probably to help you…. the plastic trash bags make a decent emergency poncho. My two were in the house and the other in the car… during the torrential downpour when I most needed it.

  56. Mimmy*

    I’m getting physical therapy for my foot, which has a neuroma. It’s only twice a week for 5 weeks (but I can stop early if I feel I’m doing okay).

    The thing is, I have never been to any sort of therapy so I don’t know what’s normal. What’s bugging me is that I get different people every time I go. The center has physical therapists plus assistants, and I don’t think I’ve had the same people more than once except for maybe one assistant. I’ve had 3 physical therapists work on me over 4 visits. Aside from my evaluation, the time of day I go is the same. Thus, I think this place lacks consistency. I don’t care as much about having different assistants leading me through my exercises; I just think it would be better to have one therapist who can actually see if I’m making progress. I also thought it’d be a bit more like having a personal trainer who works with you rather than them juggling 2-3 other patients.

    Is this normal??

    1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Most of the places I’ve gone have assigned me a specific PT and then had me schedule appointments with them specifically, but I once went to one that seemed to be more on that “team” model where I didn’t have a consistent PT. I didn’t like it very much because it meant explaining to some other new person what limitations I had as we worked on exercises and such. (I was in for a knee problem, but also have a lifelong Achilles tendon issue that I do maintenance exercises for and that can limit which knee exercises are possible for me, as well as some ankle issues that are probably related to the tendon thing. I wear orthotics and specific shoes that are supposed to help with all of that ankle and tendon stuff plus a foot issue, so it’s very much a complicated lower-body system built around nothing working right to start with.)

    2. Christy*

      Sounds normal to me! You might see if you can be scheduled with one assistant specifically. My PT office had that option but it was less convenient for me so I didn’t do it.

    3. ..Kat..*

      You should be able to pick a therapist to stick with. Tell them you want the consistency of one therapist, tell which one you would like, and then schedule your appointments. You may not be able to have the same day-of-the-week and time for each appointment, but you absolutely can ask for one therapist. And one therapist that you like working with can give you better continuity of care.

    4. Oldster*

      Normal to see PT for evaluation and then assistants for actual therapy. Depending on size of facility and schedules could be different assistants. But normally you would have the same PT for the duration but wouldn’t interact with them much except at the beginning and near/at end to determine if need longer therapy. When you schedule your appointments ask if you can be assigned to the same person every time and make all the appoint e nuts at once.

    5. blaise zamboni*

      This is normal in a lot of offices but many patients understandably don’t like it. Ask if you can stick with one of them going forward. If they can’t schedule you that way, are you able to change offices? My office gets a few “transplants” from a nearby office because of a similar policy there.

      For what it’s worth, your PTs should be able to see your progress even if you’re seeing different people. They’ll all have access to your clinical notes, which contain your objective and subjective measurements from each visit. If the PT seems unfamiliar with your case, somebody is dropping the ball—either not documenting well enough or not reading notes well enough.

      Regardless, I’ve found that patients do a lot better when they form a personal rapport and trust with their PT, so I personally don’t like this type of model. If it’s your only option, just make sure you’re really compliant with your program and advocate for yourself with the PT assistants. I hope you find something that works better for you!

      1. Mimmy*

        Thank you so much! Everyone’s replies were helpful, but yours is particularly so.

        If the PT seems unfamiliar with your case, somebody is dropping the ball—either not documenting well enough or not reading notes well enough.

        I went for PT because of a neuroma. However, the woman I saw on Friday said, “How did you hurt your foot?”. I explained that I have a neuroma.

        I’m actually thinking of dropping out and either getting a cortisone shot, which my podiatrist keeps trying to offer, or switching to a different PT practice. Plus, the transportation hasn’t been working out as smoothly as I’d like (I don’t drive).

  57. Not Rich*

    Anyone have any experience with relatives who constantly complain about being poor with numerous and unrelenting tales of woe. Almost too many problems to be believable really. I have a distant relative who constantly tells me her poverty woes, hinting that she could really use a handout, but she does it in such a passive aggressive way that you are never sure if she is really asking for money. It seems like it is constantly thinly veiled begging. She is in her 60’s, but from what I understand she has been like this her entire adult life and a lot of relatives feel she either exaggerates her troubles greatly or is flat out lying. I’ve also heard skepticism about how poor she really is. She has lived in the same house for the last 40 years, so I can’t image that she would even have a mortgage payment. She even complains about only being able to afford to eat one meal a day, but she is overweight. She has NEVER had a job in her life and the last decade has been living off of her husband’s disability payments. In recent years, she has some minor medical issues, but there are no physical or mental disabilities which would have prevented her form working earlier in her life. She has never even held any part time employment whatsoever. I do feel bad for her but am not in a position to give her money. The most I have done is treated her for restaurant meals a few times, where she rambles on and on how it is such a treat because she is not used to eating normal meals. I understand she has 2 very successful adult children, so I’m not sure if they help to support her or not, but I don’t know why she doesn’t lean on them, instead of distant relatives? Just wondering if there are any other people who have dealt with any one like this? Should I just continue to pretend I don’t understand her hints for handouts?

    1. Noot*

      Her children may have distanced themselves from her for the same reasons. You can’t help everyone, and you can’t let yourself be taken advantage of either. Even taking her out to dinner…is that really how you want to spend your time, or is it a draining and exhausting experience you dread because you have to hear her complaints for an hour and a half during every meal?

      1. valentine*

        It sounds like you don’t like her. You don’t need reasons to give/not give her money and there’s no need to judge her the way you are. So. Mix & match:

        ~give her $x/month for the rest of her life
        ~don’t give her money
        ~assume she is just into troubles talk
        ~tell her you can’t be her audience/no more money talk
        ~accept her as-is
        ~distance yourself

        She even complains about only being able to afford to eat one meal a day, but she is overweight.
        These aren’t necessarily related.

        1. ..Kat..*

          I recommend giving her a thing, rather than money (if you want to give anything). For example, give her some groceries that you know she will eat. But, keep in mind that if you give anything, the requests/demands for more will escalate. And if she truly lacks food, a local food bank may be what she needs.

          Now that I have said this, I think contacting her children first might be better. Tell them that she is always asking you for money and ask if they can give you any insight. She may really need help. Or she may not. Possibly, a referral to local services that could help her might be the best thing to do.

          But, it sounds like you don’t really have money to spare. And your need to use your money for you may be a lot greater than her needs.

      2. Not Rich*

        Honestly it is a draining and exhausting experience. She is visiting another nearby relative soon and she wants to see me. But she is hinting greatly that she wants to use me once again for free rides because she said they can’t even afford public transportation to get around. BUT, she strangely can buy plane tickets and a 5 day hotel stay, although she was sure to let me know the hotel is a dump.

        1. ..Kat..*

          This changes my answer. Don’t see her. Don’t give her money or anything else. Don’t give her rides, because these rides give her access to you where she can press you for money that she doesn’t really need.

    2. fposte*

      Her children may have pushed back more effectively than you on the being leaned on, or maybe she does this to them too; I think your assumption that she wouldn’t do this if she weren’t lacking elsewhere might not be true.

      So I think the question here is what do *you* want to do? Do you want not to see her so much, or at all? Do you want to enjoy the occasional restaurant meal with her but not feel guilty about resisting pressure to do more?

      Right now it sounds like the latter, and I think most of us here would be happy to encourage you not to feel guilty about not just handing over money because somebody thinks you should. I will say that it sounds like there’s a “Jane’s just lazy” narrative in the family but it sounds to me as an outsider like her situation might be a little more complicated than that, so I wouldn’t assume Jane had the capacity to change things if she really wanted to. That *still* doesn’t oblige you to give her money, though.

      So if you want to keep seeing her, I think your options are 1) ignore her hints or 2) address them directly but kindly. That can be “Jane, I can’t help you with money. Would you like me to get you information about local senior meal programs/SNAP benefits/job boards [whatever]?” if you’re game for that kind of assistance, or you can simply say “Jane, I can’t help you with money, but I enjoy seeing you and am happy to keep doing lunches.” Another possibility is “What do you want to do about that?” That works better, though, with people who are usually functional but caught in a localized spot of stasis; with somebody like Jane, I’m not sure she’d have the wherewithal to make a viable answer.

      I think you’re kind to treat her, and you’re wise to think about where your limits should be.

      1. Not Rich*

        Thank you for your responses. Some really good suggestions. You reminded me of the time many years ago that I tried so hard to help her with ideas and information that she may not have been aware of for various assistance programs. She pushed back so hard on every suggestion that I made, it was as though she didn’t want a solution to any of her problems.

        I shouldn’t have said she claims to eat 1 meal a day but she is overweight. I guess I was trying to make the point that I doubt she is starving as much as she claims to be. I’m even more overweight than her so I didn’t mean it the way it sounded.

        1. fposte*

          I think ultimately you make your decision because it’s right for you, not because you do or don’t believe Jane’s narrative. You can’t solve the world for somebody with a disability or without one.

          But you absolutely get to decide what you want to do here. I could see bowing out of the Jane show because she’s a chore or deciding that you want to maintain some kinds of contact but sticking firmly to your boundaries (and not being at home to Mr. Guilt :-)). They’re both valid plans.

          And if you’ve got the nerve, it really would be fine to cheerfully name what’s happening with the hinting. “Are you asking if I’d drive you, Jane? I’m afraid I won’t be able to do that.” “Are you asking for me to give you money? I’m afraid I won’t be able to do that.” That could have the upside for you of feeling like you’ve emotionally closed those doors. If it comes up again, you can do a callback, but you’re on the record with your safe no.

    3. fhqwhgads*

      My situation is similar to yours, but I’m the successful adult child. I’ve basically completely cut her off. I can’t trust what she says because she too frequently misrepresents things I know to be misrepresentations. I found myself needing to cross reference whatever she might tell me (for things I couldn’t know about other than her version) with someone else who is actually there. It’s hard to tell if she’s lying or delusional. I am under the impression it’s often a bit of both. I try not to interact with her at all because, while I care, it would take all my mental energy to be involved and it’s too exhausting. Hell, it’s practically too exhausting now with very very minimal contact. I’m not so successful that I could completely support her. So I went with nothing. If your relative is like mine, she’s not capable of changing or even comprehending what’s she’s doing. It’s not even calculating or intentionally passive-aggressive. It’s just what she thinks is a normal thing to do. I wouldn’t be surprised if you even described the behavior back to her in very direct terms that she’d deny she does anything like that, and she’d believe herself.

      If you like her enough to continue to spend time with her, do so and ignore the behavior. If that feels too callous, or you don’t actually want to spend time with her anyway, just stop. You’re not in a position to help anyway, so there’s nothing wrong with just staying away and ceasing the guilt-trippy interactions.

      1. Not Rich*

        Thank you so much. That is really interesting, sounds like you could be describing the same person. I appreciate your thoughts on this!! Thank you to everyone for your comments which are so useful!!

    4. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Yeah – we have this in my family with a great aunt. She grew up with a very complicated, traumatic past and very poor. Latched on to my great uncle in high school (the family was quite well off) and never.let.go. Followed him around through military training etc and he is a nice guy so just ended up marrying her. They never had kids and only had minor savings for retirement. So she latched on to her brother and sister in law (who maintained the family wealth) also with no kids and a sense of charity. Well, when those two died (and she pestered my great uncle on his deathbed to change the will to give her more money) she went after their money and their stuff (in order to sell) like crazy and my poor great uncle was shoved to the side. Eventually the family had to counsel him to divorce her (in their 80s!) because she was becoming more and more unstable due to a variety of mental illnesses she refused to treat and it was getting to the point of elder abuse and they were going to be destitute if she was allowed to continue to mismanaged their finances.

      She has been crying for years that she was broke and poor etc, but a lot of their money went on her spending on useless things. She is a very, very good manipulator – I haven’t seen her in some years, but I believe my aunt, who manages the estate, gives her a small allowance, as a result of their house sale and what was provided for her in the will, and thats that. She is not invited to family parties any longer and if she calls anyone they usually keep the chat high level and general. As far as we are aware, the nieces and nephews from her side of the family maintain a similar level of interaction (its a small town so our family talks to theirs when needed to manage her).

      The reason your relative is going with the distant relatives is because they are still easy to extract something from – they haven’t heard all the stories or made the choice to ignore her requests after hearing them for years or seeing their help squandered or abused. The distant relatives don’t know the truth about her actual finances (in a way her adult children may). What you can do is set a personal limit – maybe its to be ok to take her out for lunch but not give her money – if you want to stay in contact with her.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      If you find yourself stuck, that you do have to see her then you can redirect her to her kids.
      “Oh, this is something you should ask your kids about.”

      You could escalate to, “Let’s get the phone number for Child and call them right now.”

      Often a good way of stopping these folks is focusing on how they will fix their own problem. “Have you tried x?” can help.

      I don’t know your setting and I am not you, but you could say, “I can’t tell if you are asking me for money or not. But in case you are, I’m sorry, I cannot help. Let’s talk about something else.”

      Here’s the key, she may have nothing else going on in her life to talk about. Sometimes things go this way.

  58. NYC COL?*

    Someone sent me a job description for a non profit in Manhattan. The salary looks low to me; how does $50-55,000 sound as a living wage to local folks? It’d be fine in many places, but in NYC? What would that mean for standard of living?

    1. alex b.*

      I make 60k in NYC and have to scrimp A LOT. You’ll have a hard time finding decent housing, and you’re not going to be able to save much or have/do many “nice things.” Just being real.

    2. Alex*

      That’s “survivable but not comfortable” in NYC. You’re looking at roommates for sure.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I didn’t feel truly comfortable in NYC until I made $75k, but I did alright before that. I lived in a studio in Queens and my rent was about 50% of my salary. I did a lot of cheap/free stuff in the city and didn’t go out that much. My mother helped out quite a bit, though not regularly– she would pay for my trips home for holidays, for example. That was about 10 years ago, though, so I don’t think it’s quite as do-able now.

      1. alex b.*

        OK-ish studios in only-kinda-shady Queens/Brooklyn neighborhoods go for $1500/mo. and up now. Fun times.

    4. Dan*

      I live and work in suburban Washington DC, and while not quite exactly the same, I make almost tripple that and feel like I’m finally able to live the life of a (semi) accomplished adult.

      To be blunt, depending on where you are coming from: no f’ing way.

      1. Christy*

        God, Dan, don’t I know it. You could be DINKs on $100-110k in New York and have an okay life of renting a small place, but I can’t imagine you’d ever even be able to get ahead. (I’m in DC with my wife, we earn close to $200k, and we feel comfortable and lucky and we STILL can’t buy a house rather than a condo in our suburb.

      2. Washi*

        Idk, depends what “comfortable” means to the OP! I lived on 17k in DC by myself and felt comfortable, because I didn’t need much beyond the room that I rented and enough money to occasionally travel to see my family. I wouldn’t feel comfortable on that amount now because my wants/needs have changed.

        I find it kinda tricky when these questions come up because each person’s situation is so different. I have friends making 6 figures and feel like it’s not enough, and friends making 40k who feel satisfied.

    5. Patty Mayonnaise*

      I’ve lived this life (my husband lives it now as a Brooklyn non-profit guy). It’s doable, but depending on where and how you are living now, it will be a big sticker shock. You would need a roommate, and probably can’t afford anywhere in Manhattan, which means a longer commute from Brooklyn or Queens. Queens has some solidly middle-class neighborhoods that have lower crime and are lovely, but not “trendy” or “cool.” There are so many hacks to getting into cultural things for free or lower cost that I never feel like I’m missing out on that stuff. It’s really a personal choice of what you feel you need to be satisfied, but if it’s a question of “can anyone live on this income in NYC and not feel like they’re scraping by?” then the answer is yes. I think when people think about NYC they forget that Queens exists and you can still make a middle-class life there.

    6. Anonymous Educator*

      Would you actually be living in NYC? Or just working there? Do you have a significant other or roommates you can share rent with? $50-55K would be tough to live alone on in NYC. If you can’t get roommates, you might want to consider New Jersey. There are some affordable-ish parts that are on the NJ Transit that can get to Penn Station within about a half hour.

    7. Lcsa99*

      I am surprised at all the answers here. I was able to live on about 30k without roommates 10 years ago. Granted they were tiny apartments, and I was living check to check, but 50k would have been joyous.

      1. Lcsa99*

        I should add that I lived in both Brooklyn and Queens. They were tiny apartments, but fine for one person living alone. You just need to know how to budget.

        1. alex b.*

          Just saying… I’ve lived in BK and Queens w/ roommates since 2006 and am currently apt-hunting (landlord is selling) to live alone in a studio or 1-bed in BK or Queens. I see absolutely no rentals, even tiny/crappy, that would even accept anyone with that salary nor any rentals that would be feasible at that salary, even with great budgeting.
          $35,000-$50,000 you can live very frugally with roommates in one of the outer boroughs.

        2. Patty Mayonnaise*

          It’s possible OP will find a studio somewhere in Queens or Brooklyn that they would be able to make work, but those kinds of rentals are super few and far between. I think the responses on the thread are representative of what most likely would happen.

    8. Overeducated*

      My brother does it at this salary level. He lives in Park Slope with roommates, has a good commute, and is pretty satisfied with his standard of living. That seems to be the key to me, whether you need to live alone or are happy with roommates.

    9. NYC COL?*

      Thanks for all the replies thus far. For clarification, I’m interested in the descriptions of what life on that income would be like now in NYC. The job itself is in Manhattan, and one question would be where to live and what to expect presuming that as a sole income for now. It’s been a while since my last stint in a major city (DC), so wondering what it looks like to manage on this kind of income these days. And yes, I’m inquiring further about this possibility at the same time. Thanks again.

      1. alex b.*

        I commented above– you’d be looking at Brooklyn or Queens non-gentrified or gentrifying neighborhoods and at least 1 roommate. And good budgeting and frugality otherwise.

        For $1000/mo, say– you could get your own bedroom and then share with 2-3 others a kitchen, bath, and maybe a living room. Maybe laundry is down the block or in the basement. You work out chores and habits with those people.

        You won’t need a car; unlimited MetroCard is $127/mo now. Utilities/internet could be $40-80/mo depending on number of roommates and layout of apartment.

        Commuting by subway is fine, probably 40mins at least to the job depending on locations. You get to read on the train and not drive! Plus you walk a lot (both big pluses to me).

        Also–many Queens and BK neighborhoods are great! Manhattan has much greatness! A lot of people end up leaving in their 30s b/c it’s just hard to carve out a nice life and really hard to build up savings. But depending on life goals, it could be a great move.

        Sorry to go on and on; so many of my friends are leaving right now, and I’ve decided I’m staying for now, but the pros/cons are really worth contemplating. It’s not easy to live here; you have to be ready to be toting laundry and groceries up several flights of stairs, dealing with bad landlords or living arrangements, having your train randomly shut down, and seeing your money go away. But also you live in the best city in the world.

          1. Patty Mayonnaise*

            I’ll also add to this that you can generally improve your living situation the farther you get from Manhattan. For example, being an hour away from Manhattan might buy you laundry in the building or a dishwasher that you wouldn’t get for an apartment for the same price and 45 minutes away. It’s hard to get into specifics because there are so many neighborhoods and ways of making it work.

            1. alex b.*

              Yeah, this is mostly my experience, but it’s definitely not absolute. IMO you have to go there to examine safety (!), ambiance, and surrounding amenities. Your last sentence sums it up.

  59. misspiggy*

    Hello everybody,
    Just hoping for some advice on what to do, or think, when your resilience is low.

    My ongoing crap health situation flared up on Thursday after trying to do too much. I’m out of action for a few days and have major work and life commitments going unmet. Again. Combined with the pain itself, this is hard to bear.

    I’ve been in this situation for more than twenty years. I feel I’d be happy for my life to end if it weren’t for the distress it would cause others. I’ve committed to staying around for those people, I’m getting treatment, but the cycle of trying to live and getting punished hard will continue. Along with frequently apologising to clients and loved ones for not delivering what they want.

    How do I find a way to be OK with that, when I’m in screaming physical distress so much of the time? Any insights gratefully received.

    1. Lena Clare*

      Ah I’m so sorry you’re going through this. Honestly though, I found therapy the most helpful in building resilience, but it took time. I’m glad you’re getting treatment.

      Mindfulness meditation has been shown to be effective for pain management and relief. I find it helpful in accepting what I’ve got going on, which is what you’re asking. Personally, it hasn’t eliminated the pain.
      Danny Penman has written a book (with a CD) about it called Mindfulness for Pain Relief, but you can get the meditations for free on YouTube.

      And I try to be kind to myself, which is very, very hard. Try to be kind to yourself too.

      1. valentine*

        Something’s gotta give and it needs to be work. You’ll have to close things out with some clients or shift to a different workload/work type. Start from what you can do with zero to tolerable (twinge-level) pain. If that’s your goal, what does work need to look like? What do other activities need to be? It will be a loss, perhaps many losses, but you’ll be gaining less pain/guilt/cycling.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Just my theory and may not work for people: Resilience comes from taking the time to put things into ourselves and our lives. Picture a gas tank on a lawn mower. If we don’t put enough gas in we aren’t going to finish the lawn.

      That is really simplistic, humans are much more complex. How do we put things into our lives and ourselves? We exist on several levels, we have a physical aspect so we need to do thing to help our bodies. We have an emotional/spiritual aspect so we need to do things to help our emotions/spirit. Last, we have a psychological aspect where we need to help our minds. (Again, my way of thinking about things and nothing formal here.)

      It can’t be all about what everyone needs from you. You literally need points during each day where you put “gas” in your own tank. Yeah. Self-care can get time consuming.

      You may need to shuffle things around so that you can manage what you have. You may need to rethink how important some of these things are in the big picture, for example if you are making yourself attend every family christening you don’t actually HAVE to do that.
      You may need to put more strategic thinking into projects that you take on. This could be padding your time to give yourself extra time in case you need it for personal care. Try to position yourself so you can have some successes. Success is very good for everyone, we all need to know that we doing something.

      I am a big fan of watching what I read. There is so much garbage going on, how much of it do we need to take in? Read positive stories or read about positive subjects. We can help ourselves feel stronger by deliberately looking for these positive things to think about.

      Ask people to help you. If you are not used to doing this, then start small with asking for small helps. Learn to say yes more often when people offer help. If you were 100 years old, this would be more clear cut because OF COURSE you’d need help. But the truth is people want to help others, period. And they are unsure how and they worry about being insulting.

      I don’t have any major encumbrances and I just asked my friend today to help me move a very heavy water -soaked rug because my hot water tank peed all over the floor. I kind of worried about asking. You know what? He did not bat an eye. He went right over and started moving things so we could lift the rug. I don’t think he would have just done it on his own… because he would not want to accidentally insult me by assuming I could not lift the rug by myself.

      In a nutshell, be strategic about what you are doing. Don’t run at everything and get overwhelmed. The emotions tied to that feeling of being overwhelmed could jack up your pain levels. I heard something for diabetics that I think actually applies to all of us. Try to keep your activity levels the same every day. Aim for doing the same activities around the same time each day, regardless of how “good” you feel. Many people have a “good” day and they try to cram everything into that day, then they have three “bad” days, in part, from pushing too hard on the good days. Try not to get on that roller coaster.

    3. misspiggy*

      Thank you lovely people, you’re right of course – sometimes it really helps to hear these things from others. And Lena Clare, I think you’re dead on that acceptance is the key. Acceptance without giving up the hard work needed for improvement is always a difficult balance to keep.

      1. Thursday Next*

        This last sentence is so insightful. You’re right—it’s remarkably difficult to hold both those things in one’s mind at the same time.

  60. Friend of divorced couple*

    Long-time friends of mine went through an acrimonious divorce a couple years ago. While I originally had met the husband through work, I subsequently became friends with his wife. I adore their two sons, now in middle school, who I’ve known since they were born. They are wonderful kids.

    I reached out to the ex-wife soon after the separated to make sure she knew I wanted to keep in touch and then stood back to give her whatever space she wanted. After about a year she responded. She said she had gone silent because she needed to regroup after the divorce for a while, which I totally understood. She said she was glad to reconnect and we had what seemed like a lovely visit with her and kids. She mentioned staying in touch and hugged me when we parted, and I was relieved to have her back in my life.

    Since then, I think she’s come to a place where she’s once again not comfortable with me because she hasn’t responded to a few attempts to get in touch, including a voicemail wishing her son a happy birthday. I realized things had changed. When I sent her a card for her birthday, I included a note that I respect her silence and I’m here to reconnect should she decide to do so.

    In the meantime, I now feel less close to the ex-husband for reasons. If I reached out to him, it would be to see his children which feels disingenuous. So I’m feeling a sense of loss, missing this whole family.

    1. valentine*

      It’s weird that you want to see the kids and are considering going against their mother’s wishes to do so. That’s contrary to the aforementioned respect. What’s going on there? Is it the kids you really want in your life? If not, if you’d really be glad to befriend this woman, even if you never saw the kids again, I’d leave both parents alone and let her take the lead. If the guy’s a jerk, he may be stirring the pot by claiming to be close to you or she’s wary because she doesn’t know what you may share with him. If she resurfaces and wants to stay in touch, let her do that. And tell her she needs to be direct, that she can just say when she needs to go no-contact, so you don’t overstep without knowing. But…were you on the same page? Did she maybe not want you calling her son with birthday wishes? Did she want you to relate to her and be the conduit for anything kid-related (like asking her to pass on the wishes)?

      1. Friend of divorced couple*

        I’m not reaching out to the kids’ dad. That’s what I meant when I said it would be disingenuous to do so. I guess that wasn’t clear from what I wrote. As for leaving a message on her phone for her son’s birthday, that was before I realized that she’d gone silent. I would not do that now.

        Yep, I’m not reaching out anymore. I agree it would inappropriate to do so. You make a good point about what her ex may have communicated. The whole thing is just sad, and it was good to write it out. Thanks for your reply.

      2. Middle School Teacher*

        There is nothing here that says the mom expressly doesn’t want Friend to see them. Where are you getting that??

    2. So she darkled in the corner...*

      I had to cut off all the husband-people following my acrimonious divorce. It was particularly hard with his family, especially since they were supportive of me, but whenever I spent time with people who reminded me of my marriage it was back to day one of the trauma clock.
      One of my friends said it was possible to reclaim stuff for myself (like mine and my exes favourite band) by listening to it while we redecorated my space.
      If she does reconnect, you could possibly offer her time doing something different, future-focused and out of the ordinary. You could reframe how you interact or offer to babysit so she has more time to go off and make her own life.
      But I don’t think you can talk about him or be friends with him as well. And it really may just not be possible in any case.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        I appreciate your perspective. I’m thinking that the challenge of staying in touch with mutual connections for her could be comparable. While I can hope that this might change over time, I’m also accepting that I have to let the relationship go.

  61. Tilly*

    Cat owners – any tips on checking out boarding catteries? What should we look for and what questions should we ask?

    We’re going away in September and boarding our cat is the best option for various reasons (so am not looking for alternative ideas – just tips on catteries). We’ve never done this before and don’t really know how best to make sure we’re choosing a great place, so any advice is hugely appreciated!

    1. Free Meerkats*

      Ask you bet for recommendations. Ask friends who have booked their cats. Ask for a tour. Does it look clean? Are the employees interacting with the cats? Do the boxes look clean?
      We normally have a cat sitter come in, but had to board our three when my wife had thyroid radiation treatment. Our cat sitter recommended a couple of places and we toured them.

    2. They Don’t Make Sunday*

      Some possible questions/things to look for: Is there a play area for the cats and do they let the cats out of their pens to use it? Do they pay attention to which cats should only be let out alone and not with other cats? Are there toys and do the staff play with the cats? How big are the cats’ quarters? If you’re leaving the cat for more than two days you want something at least the size of small coat closet, with vertical space that has perches and places to hide.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      We’ve boarded cats several times, and they’ve hated it every single time. But since you’re saying you’re not open to alternatives, the only tips I have are 1) look for a boarding place that boards only cats—we did one once that had a cat area set off from a dog area, and the dog barking was really loud and disturbed the cats; and 2) look at the kind of space the cats get… not just the amount of space (sometimes too large an area may make the cat feel unsafe) but what the layout is like… can your cat perch and look down? Are there little places to hide?

    4. Kuododi*

      I haven’t been owned by cats in years but another suggestion on boarding facilities. … If it’s an option in your area look into boarding options which are part of a veterinarian practice. I don’t know the health of your babies however, I find it comforting to know that my boys have immediate access to their vet in case of crisis. (Our oldest has chronic medical concerns) We take our doggos to a full service vet practice both for medical needs as well as boarding. The boarding staff are wonderful and thorough with the care of my babies. They have regular playtime with each animal in their care. They also text regular updates with pictures of the boys overall health and behavior while we are away. Hope this helps!!!

        1. Aurora Leigh*

          It might be worth asking your vet about . . . I know my small town vet used to board animals at the clinic, but I don’t think it was really an advertised service.

      1. MatKnifeNinja*

        My vet boards animals. Their cat room looks like an upscale cat spa. There are two cat rooms. One with cages, and another for free play. There is no way for a cat to bolt and escape, which for my sister’s cat is an issue.

        The intake sheet is like signing a human child up for daycare. It’s long. Lol! All the caretakers are going through the veterinary assistant program at our community college with an eye on a veterinary technician program or vet school.

        The vet has it you can get text/email status report with either picture or a small vid clip of kitty each day. You will get the the entire daily status report when you pick up kitty anyway.

        The nice thing is, if something medical happens, they can start treatment there. You don’t have to arrange transport elsewhere.

        The costs are in between a house visit and higher end ca