weekend free-for-all – June 15-16, 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: Crampton Hodnet, by Barbara Pym, recommended by a commenter last weekend. A paid companion to an elderly spinster finds novelty when a handsome clergyman moves in as a boarder. Scandals abound, and it’s a delight!

{ 1,217 comments… read them below }

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I am, thank you! Totally back to normal, after a deeply unpleasant few days. I got some fantastic book recommendations from people here during it, all of which are now on my list to check out, so thanks to all who offered those. (Although I was so sick that for a while I couldn’t even read, so I downloaded audiobooks. The audiobook version of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand is wonderful.)

      1. tangerineRose

        Yay!

        I forgot to comment on that thread, but if you like light-hearted mysteries, Donna Andrews’ bird series is good. If you like funny, Dave Barry’s books based on his humor columns are amazing.

        1. Liza

          I’ve been zipping my way through those Donna Andrews books on audiobook as fast as the library will let me check them out! I enthusiastically second the recommendation. (The first book is Murder with Peacocks.) Bernadette Dunne does a beautiful job of reading them, too.

      2. Jack Russell Terrier

        Oh yes love the audiobook of Major Pettigrew’s last stand. I’ve listened to all her books – love them

      3. Over 60 & Forever Young

        Happy to hear that you’re feeling better, Alison! :) Especially since you have such adorable kitty nurses! (Fellow cat meowmy myself.) Although I don’t often have a chance to comment, I wanted to pop on here for the Weekend Free For All and wish you well! I’ve been reading your posts and the related comments since earlier this year, and how I wish I’d done so long ago. AAM is the best resource out there and I recommend to everyone. Champagne Meows & Floofy Purrs

  1. Kate

    I sure hope you’re on the mend, Allison!

    I am a major lurker who only posts periodically but I’m here and it’s early.

    I’m deep in wedding reception planning mode (we eloped in December but are having a wedding for family and friends). What details did you forget to worry about at your wedding? Or, what did you worry about a lot that ended up not mattering at all?

    1. Lucy

      The right people, sitting on enough chairs, with enough to eat and drink. The rest is unlikely to be remembered, so go with what gives you joy rather than what you are told you “should”.

      1. Reba

        Heh, I went to a really lovely wedding a few months back where there were NOT enough chairs … The rental vendor made a mistake! But we still enjoyed ourselves!

        I will note that we prioritized spending on food at our celebration. People still bring it up almost 7 years later, it was so good! But depending on what time of day, light reception (desserts, snacks) food is totally in bounds, you are not required to give people an elaborate meal, as wedding planning guides sometimes make it seem.

        I also second polyhymnia’s comment below!!!!

        Good luck and hope you have a fantastic party, Kate!

      2. Aurora Leigh

        If you can spring for it . . . get nice chairs. Somehow I always get the folding chair where the seat is bent and one leg is shorter than the other! :)

    2. Polyhymnia O'Keefe

      Designate someone trusted to be your proxy for the day. Dealing with caterers, answering questions, making decisions on your behalf, paying vendors… the more you can hand off on the day of, the more time you’ll be able to spend with guests and the less you’ll have to worry about, period. Even if you don’t have a professional wedding planner, it’s worth it to find an organized friend who can be that person.

      1. SwingInTheShade

        this. I made zero decisions on my wedding day and having someone I trusted also freed up my mom to enjoy the day too! But you have to be honest with yourself and really let them make decisions without fear of guilt or disappointment from you! You need to go in with the correct mindset. And congrats!

    3. Anona

      I worried about centerpieces/flowers and spent months saving and scrubbing jars for centerpieces. They were beautiful, but so much work, and honestly it would have been fine without centerpieces.

      1. Ali G

        Yes this. I spent like $200 on flowers. I got my arrangements from a Wegman’s (that’s a grocery store chain in the US). Unless your venue needs them, don’t waste time or money.

        1. Mari M

          That honestly never occurred to me to do, and so my fantasy wedding eschewed flowers altogether, but you know? I live in Wegmans Central. It’d be a crime not to at least get my bouquet there, years from now when I am walking down the aisle (I hope).

    4. Seeking Second Childhood

      We forgot to plan for presents to be brought home, and our families are big carpoolers with small cars. My husband &his brother did a lot of extra driving and schlepping….and the LR in our dinky place was unusable afterwards.
      We *remembered * that some of our friends liked the idea of cards with cash so we got a young family member to gather them…but she was VERY enthusiastic and also gathered every card off every gift. We had a challenge figuring that out…I never did figure out who the flannel sheets came from.

    5. Valancy Snaith

      People are not going to remember your centrepieces, your favours, or any other random extraneous decor. My cousin got married a couple of years ago and stressed endlessly about random bits of decor (“I have a little balloon display for the washrooms!” NO ONE CARED) that no one ended up even noticing. I would actually stay away from your centrepieces being TOO over-the-top, because the tables are going to get cluttered with plates, glasses, favours, handbags, phones, you name it, and no one is going to notice the tiny details anyhow. No one will care about favours, they end up going into a junk drawer or just being left on the way out.

      Make a list of the things that are really important to you: food? music? alcohol? and budget appropriately for those. Skimp on the other things. If you really, really, really love flowers, budget a lot for flowers and enjoy them! If you live for music, budget for a live band or an excellent DJ. Food is usually a safe bet to spend money on with good returns. An open bar almost always goes over well unless you have guests with addiction concerns or who will create a rowdy spectacle.

      A Practical Wedding is the best, least-dramatic wedding planning guide out there.

      1. PhyllisB

        I totally agree about the favors!! When my youngest daughter got married, it was an outdoor/beachy theme so I got coaster sets with starfish on them. I think maybe three people took them. Anybody need 100 sets of coasters with starfish on them?? :-) I also got beach balls for the kids’ favors. That went over a little better, but we still ended up with a lot left. The grands enjoyed them, though. When my oldest daughter married, we didn’t do favors, but we way overbought champagne, so we gave out bottles of champagne as favors. That was well-received.

      2. PetticoatsandPincushions

        I love desserts so we did several extra trays of baked goods at the reception, and I bought little take-away boxes so people could bring home some treats as favors. I felt like people could walk away with something in hand if they wanted, but none of it went to waste because we just ate anything that was left over :D

        1. Tango Foxtrot

          We did glow sticks as favors at my wedding. A little cheesy, but a lot of guests seemed to love it, and we used the leftovers three days later for Halloween.

          1. Anathema Device

            We did little jars of homemade jam. People loved them, and what we didn’t see coming was that they then texted us when they were eating the jam, tagged us on social media etc. That was fun.

      3. Kate

        Yes! My recently married friend gave me the A Practical Wedding book as an engagement gift! It has been super useful.

      4. Le Sigh

        Yeah, we skipped favors — I already had about 30 wine stoppers from other people’s weddings, which hey, I use, but I didn’t see the need to spent the money.

        Don’t feel like you have to do everything to the nth level to be a good host. Ex: Full open bars are great, but you can also stick to beer and wine open-only open bar and people will generally be happy. Our venue had the option to buy your own cocktail at the bar, so people could do that if they wished. But beer and wine only works, plus we felt like it kept the drunken-ness down a notch.

        Have enough chairs and make sure priority people have a place to sit (your fam, people who are older or have mobility issues or need similar accommodations). We didn’t do a seating chart, so we made sure those folks had reserved space if they needed it.

        Be realistic and know thyself. Ex: I know people who are amazing DIYers and have pulled off amazing weddings in backyards. I liked that idea and tend to overestimate how much I can take on but … we are not those people and we went with an option that suited us. Every DIY wedding project you dream up — assume it will take twice as long you think it will (and ask yourself if it’s truly necessary to calligraphy 150 invitations). I really loved our wedding but the planning was stressful as it was — I’m glad I didn’t try to convince myself I was up to a DIY challenge.

      5. LittleBeans

        Im so glad everyone is saying favors and centerpieces don’t matter. Im getting married in 4 weeks and am not worrying about either of these things but I keep feeling like I am being judged by (mostly older) family members who keep asking about them…

        1. AdAgencyChick

          Basically I found favors useful only as a way to give my family members something to do and feel like they had control over some aspect of my wedding. My sister in law in particular LOVES to run the world, and she likes that crafty shit, so I sent her to the craft store to buy some silly kit with mini wine glasses that she filled with Jordan almonds and wrapped in tulle.

          I don’t think more than four people took one, but if that was the price to get her to shut up about aspects of our wedding that were actually important to my husband and me, it was well worth it. I’m sure she went on and on to the rest of the family about how much time she spent wrapping little wine glasses in tulle and how she totally made my wedding perfect.

    6. Everdene

      I’ve just seen that is is the first annivesary of our engagement today and 4 1/2 months since we got married. We prioritised what mattered most to us, that everything felt ‘right’. That made all decisions easy- does it fit woth our intended feel; yes or no? Awesome live band, yes. Fancy food, no. Abundant and variety of food, yes. Name places, favours, complex decoration, no. Everyone feeling welcome and catered for, yes.

      I wish we’d been clearer with our photographer. I thought he knew what we wanted, however he spent ages taking photos of us as a couple and not time on all the people we loved (we were meant to have a post wedding couples shoot, there was no longer a need). A couple of things meant that I was a bit too insistant on not being a ‘bridezilla’ stereotype that I wasn’t as assertive as I should’ve been at times.

      1. Jack Russell Terrier

        Do as much in advance as possible so you’re able to relax in the days running up to The Big Day. This will help you feel less frazzled on the day and give you best change of starting it out ready to enjoy it.
        Yes – make sure you have a good handle on your priorities as there’s so much out there, and yes, don’t sweat the small ‘favors’ type stuff. To me, a photographer was incredibly important – that was the single most expensive part of our wedding and well worth it.

      2. Booksalot

        I had the opposite problem. Our photographer used multiple rolls (yes, real film, I’m hella old) on my second cousin’s three daughters that we barely knew because “cute kids in fancy pink dresses”.

        These days I would make a tutorial family tree for the photographer with pics of everyone and highlight “must haves”.

        1. Pommette!

          At a good friend’s wedding, the photographer did the same thing with one of the (uncommonly beautiful) bridesmaids. Like, there were more photos of her than of of the rest of the bridesmaids combined, and almost as many as of the bride. Looking at the montage was awkward for everyone involved. The pictures do look good in his portfolio, though!

          At another’s photo-shoot, the photographer kept trying to push for “stereotypical” photo arrangements that would make sense for lots of families, but made no sense for this couple’s families (e.g. lots of father of the bride and bride pictures, when the relationship is in fact quite strained). He came with a list of pictures to get, and wouldn’t pick up on any hints or body language indicating that a different approach would be better. The tutorial family tree is a great idea in general, and it gives you a chance to talk about those things ahead of time.

          My takeaway: when choosing a photographer, ask how they understand their job, and see if it lines up with what you want (capturing generically beautiful pictures vs capturing more idiosyncratic pictures of the couple and their loved ones celebrating).

    7. Booksalot

      YOU NEED AN ENFORCER. Someone who watches for your discrete “save me” gesture and comes over with a fake crisis to drag you away from Aunt Edna’s twenty-minute monologue about your cousin’s internship.

      People who have not seen you in ages are going to try to talk your ear off about random shit you do not care about. My reception was basically ruined because I couldn’t extract myself from a friend I hadn’t seen in several years who followed me around to recite her life story. Everyone was eating, drinking, and dancing, and I was frantically trying to get away from Stacey. My plate was cleared away before I was able to eat. The only bite of cake I got to enjoy was the ceremonial one, led by the DJ.

      Do not be me. Assign an enforcer.

      1. TechWorker

        And Jesus people, don’t be a Stacey..! It’s pretty basic social etiquette to realise that at a wedding you may not get a whole load of catching up with the bride and groom because they have so many people to talk to! Even moreso if you’re not a close friend!

    8. Policy wonk

      Plan for comfort over style. As many have already said, make sure you have plenty of chairs, food and drink. Fancy favors and centerpieces are a waste of time. Have an enforcer, have minders assigned to any problematic relatives (drunk uncle, auntie complainer, overly boistrous cousin Bob). Agree on the list of must-have photos and do them early. (Family photo at a recent wedding was missing youngest brother and family beacause they had to take cranky baby home.)

    9. Ruffingit

      If you’re going to do favors, make it something practical – like small amount gift cards or something. I’ve gotten so many favors at weddings, baby showers, etc that are nearly useless. They aren’t even necessary honestly, but if you do decide to do them, make it something useful.

      1. Pommette!

        I agree that they favors 100% not necessary. If you decide not to give anything, most people won’t even notice, and the ones who do won’t care.

        That said, I don’t think that practical favors are necessarily the better way to go. Nothing will be practical/useful to everyone. Giving everyone a $5 gift card ends up being expensive if you have a lot of guests; some people will really appreciate the money, but lots won’t care, and some won’t even bother redeeming the cards… which isn’t an argument against gift cards, if that’s what you want to give! The fact is that no matter what you give, some people are going to throw it out immediately, some people are going to stuff it in the back of a drawer and forget about it, some people are going to eat or use it, and others are going to keep it forever as a memento of your wedding. Nothing will please everyone, so just give whatever makes you feel good (whether something useful, food, or a useless trinket, or nothing at all!).

    10. AL

      Happiest decision I made was to have artifical flowers for the bouquet and for the tables.

      I echo other commenters, don’t worry about favours etc, people aren’t fussed…

    11. Loopy

      I just got married at the end of Feb! I was so glad I didn’t spend much money on decor (as many others have said). Spending money on a photographer and telling them to focus on people and esp. candids was something I’m thrilled about. Other things I’m glad I did:

      -Gave myself lots of time before the event and had a SUPER relaxing getting ready morning/early afternoon with all my family around. Yes everyone saw me before the wedding, but there was also great time spent with family in a relaxing atmosphere that distracted me from the big event. Almost too much, haha. I was like oh, yeah gotta go get married now!

      -Had others to set up and take down. I totally underestimated how much work this would be- when they all bailed early because it was friends, it was a huge headache to rush around at the end of our own wedding. Have this super locked in and dont feel bad. If you can hire someone, it’s 100% worth it!

      – Had fake flowers, I saved them and now have a lovely sentimental/nostalgic centerpieces for my kitchen table and entranceway flowers.

      -EAT! We had a coordinator make us plates and have them already waiting for us while everyone else was getting their food. It creating a nice pocket of uninterrupted time for us to enjoy the meal while everyone was busy getting their own food/eating.

      One weird regret is not many people signed out guestbook and poster. I would have loved to have the Dj give a reminder some point before dancing. If you have one, definitely work in a reminder for people to go sign it! One they pass it, they forget about it!

    12. Coco

      Have envelopes of cash to tip vendors prepared. Make sure you have enough room in your car to take everything out of the venue (gifts, leftover favors, leftover food, etc). Have comfortable shoes ready to swap out. If you’re wearing one, know your dress (how easy is it to go to the bathroom)

    13. Double A

      We totally didn’t think about doing a receiving line or visiting everyone’s table during dinner and I regret that (we had a very casual wedding). There were some people I never even talked to! So have time built on to make sure you say hi to everyone if you’ve got a largish group planned.

      Also we didn’t do assigned seating and that was a good choice. Glad I didn’t spend any time on seating charts.

    14. Janet

      Have someone to make sure you eat. I know so many brides who complain about never being able to eat the great food they picked out; My parents have been married for 55 years, and my mother still complains about this.

      My twin sister had this assignment at the cocktail hour. We had an amazing buffet and passed hors d’oeurves. Every 10-15 minutes, as I circulated around the room to chat with my guests, my sister would sidle up next to me with a full plate of food to give me , and take away my empty plate.

    15. Ginger ale for all

      I am planning my wedding now, a year after we were supposed to get married (various family emergencies and long hospitalizations have delayed us) and after seeing one family member in and out of ICU/regular hospital/rehab/and back again and again for the past year, we are definitely going to be putting a lot of money towards family and friends photography. We are just so grateful for their love and support this past year.

    16. Clisby

      My husband and I just had a courthouse marriage, but after being at a bunch of family weddings (and bridesmaid in 3) I know one thing I would not bother with is finding matching bridesmaid’s dresses that suited everybody. One of my nieces chose a color and general style (full-length) and told her bridesmaids to go pick out their own dresses – no need to be all matchy. (My mother told me this was typical when she married in 1950, but it was the first wedding I’d attended where it was done.)

      1. Everdene

        I said that to my bridesmaids and they decided they’d rather all wear the same! So I left them to it to decide.

        1. Clisby

          Really, whatever they want. At least in my experience, bridesmaids pay for the dresses, so they should be in charge of it. One thing the bride shouldn’t have to worry about.

      2. Nana

        Even easier…DD told her bridesmaids to get something in navy, long or short. Made life easier for her sister, flying in from London for the weekend. And two friends picked the same dress, one long and one short.

        1. Corndog Tacocat

          My younger sister did this: gave us all the specific color of choice (specific to a certain store, but you could order online), and it was up to us to pick out whatever dress we wanted in that color. There were 7 bridesmaids total, and it worked out to a couple long, a few above the knee, and a few at the knee or mid-calf. My older sister’s wedding, we all had the exact same long dress, which was supposed to have come with shawls, but some of them did and some of them didn’t somehow. My wedding, I said “Pick anything [they] want to wear, doesn’t even have to be a dress” (my wedding had 13 people in attendance, including the bride, groom, and chaplain who married us). My bridesmaids were my three sisters, and my Mom was the one asking about dresses (sisters were 23, 14, and 12 years old at the time, so Mom was buying all the dresses), so I finally just said “My dress is pink”, and she bought them all different shades of pink dresses.

    17. Artemis

      Our wedding improbably went off without a hitch. The one thing I wish I’d done differently: I wish I’d thought to put someone in charge of reminding me to mingle. I didn’t get around to some of my relatives—we were having a great time, a lot was going on, there was lots of hugging and dancing, and the whole night passed in a blur; the next day I realized there were a few tables of people that I hadn’t had time to have real conversations with (beyond quick hugs and greetings). You’re constantly being pulled this way and that at your wedding and it’s all really fun and exciting, so having a bridesmaid or something to remind you to get around the room to see everybody might be good.

      Our caterer and my best friend were great at reminding me to eat, which is the other thing people forget to do! But I’m sure you’ve been told that by now.

    18. Wander

      Plan for people (especially vendors) to be early! My officiant showed up 30 minutes early and my photographer 20. The photographer was able to just start detail shots early, so that worked, but if we hadn’t been able to move the ceremony time forward (small wedding, all the guests were already there), it would have been half an hour of awkwardness because we had no plans for keeping them entertained.

    19. Little Tin Goddess

      I had all my bills paid in full including the open bar, the DJ, and the photographer. I only had to pay tips the day I got married. It was a HUGE relief the day of and after knowing I didn’t owe a dime to anyone after the reception was over. We spent about $15K almost 17 years ago but otvwas sooooooo worth it to send vendors money through the year planning.

      I know one woman who spent $45K on her wedding to be divorced 2 years later AND still owe on it.

    20. Observer

      I’m repeating some things, but it’s easier to just put in the list than trying to make sure I’m not totally repeating.

      1. This one bears repeating – Deputize someone to deal with all the things that wind up happening on the day of.

      2. Food. It does NOT need to be fancy or elaborate.
      It DOES need to be
      * Sufficient quantity for the amount of people.
      * Appropriate to the time and place. (eg cake and soft drinks are fine for an afternoon backyard wedding, but not for a dinner time wedding or one that is held in a venue that is 3 hours away from anywhere anyone lives.)
      * Reasonably tasty to most of the people in your circle. It doesn’t matter if you go vegan, vegetarian, paleo or any other diet variant as long as most people are not going to feel like they were invited to eat cardboard (you’re never going to please EVERYONE, so that shouldn’t be your aim.)
      * Properly cooked, prepared (and transported, if applicable). This should go without saying, but it’s surprising how often that one gets messed up. If there is ONE thing you should really, really check about a venue / caterer is their food handling. This is an especially tricky issue if you are using a venue that doesn’t have its own kitchen.

      3. Enough reasonably comfortable seats. Sure, a wedding can turn out ok without enough seats, but not having a place to sit for a wedding is one of the few things that can really sour even reasonable people, especially if it’s a long event or they had to travel to get there.

      4. Music. You don’t necessarily need music, and even if you have music you don’t necessarily need a band or big DJ. But whatever you do, you want to make sure that the music is appropriate to the event and your guest list.

      Congratulations!

    21. RubyMoon

      Shoes.
      I totally forgot to put on my brand new oh-so-gorgeous shoes, and walked down the aisle barefoot. My da realized it halfway down the aisle and proceeded to give me Super Concerned Dad Face and as “Did you put panties on?!”
      And that is why I walked down the aisle barefoot and howling with laughter.

    22. Quinalla

      The most important thing is to enjoy yourself and not let anything get to you, don’t get hung up on something going wrong (something will always go wrong). I agree with others recommending a person to handle the details for you. I recommend a non-family member if possible or at least more distant family so your close family can enjoy the day too, but just make sure you have someone to do that worrying and last-minute-whatevers for you.

      As far as what I paid attention to that mattered, I thought about things I really remembered – good and bad – from others’ weddings and also what I really cared about. Decorations? Invitations? The location? – Only if they were just amazingly bad or good or there just was not enough space, most are totally forgettable. Music, food, logistics – yes yes yes! I have been to far too many receptions (and even wedding ceremonies) made either wonderful or terrible because of the music or jerk DJs. Far too many where the food was bad and I know they probably paid a premium for it! And far too many where the logistics were so bad for the guests – way too long of breaks between the ceremony and reception with no place for guests (especially out of towners) to go in between. Really far drives between, no directions (not as needed now but back in the day) to get to places, not giving people food until 9pm or 2pm or whatever. Sometimes you have to work with what you can book, so I get it to a point, but sometimes people just clearly did not think about their guest at all! Bridal dress – something forgettable when I went to other weddings, but was important to me that I felt special and that I could be comfortable and dance in it, so I took some extra time picking it out and getting the bustle I wanted and comfy shoes. Wedding traditions – I did the ones meaningful to me, specifically avoided ones I found problematic and didn’t worry about the rest (I did not have an official bachelorette party because I didn’t care and was not interested in the cliched strip club/bar antics and my MOH was my younger sister who really wasn’t able to plan anything – was in college and busy – so we had an unofficial playing of Pinochle after we had our hair done on the day of as a stand-in for it which was perfect for me :) )

      The best was getting several emails and notes from friends in the follow up of my wedding saying is various ways that I was so happy and they hoped they would be that happy at their future wedding. I knew I did something right as I truly enjoyed myself and my guests seemed to as well!

  2. Road trip recs

    We’re flying to Calgary for a 3 week roadtrip to Vancouver next week and I would love recommendations for stops/must sees. We already know pretty much what we’re gonna be doing in the Rockies, but if anyone has any tips for things to do and see on the general route Salmon Arms – Kamloops – Lillooet – Pemberton – Whistler – Squamish, I’d love to hear them! Roadside stops, short walks or hikes, local things we might otherwise drive past…. whatever you can think of.

    1. Polyhymnia O'Keefe

      If you’re looking for recommendations in Calgary, I’m always happy to share ideas! I actually have family coming in for a few days this summer and staying in our place, and I just put together a document for them, since we’ll be out of town while they’re here. If you’re spending a day or two in Calgary before setting out, here are a few of the recommendations I’m giving them! We live downtown, so these are all in walking distance from the city centre.

      Some of our favourite places to visit in the area are the zoo, the National Music Centre, the Central Library, and the Glenbow Museum. National Music Centre has some great exhibits on Canadian music icons as well as super interesting instruments, technology, and interactive displays. The library is less than a year old and has some really stunning architecture.

      If you want to go for a bike ride, all the green bikes that you see around downtown are available to rent on the Lime app. You can grab any bike and go for a ride, and just leave it where you end up. At Eau Claire Market, there’s also a rental place that does bikes, quad bikes, roller blades, and river rafts – if it’s a nice day out, it’s totally worth renting a raft, driving west, and floating down the river to end up back downtown.

      If you don’t get to the Calgary Tower, I recommend going to MobSquad, a coffee shop on the 21st floor of The Edison (150 9 Ave SW). It’s not open on weekends, but go on a weekday for a free way to get a skyline view of the area (although not a 360-degree view like the Tower). Plus, good coffee and pastries.

      If anyone wants to go shopping and take advantage of the really good USD to CAD exchange rate, I highly recommend Simons, a fantastic Canadian clothing store. It’s in The CORE shopping centre, which is Calgary’s downtown mall, and it opens onto Stephen Avenue/8th Avenue, a pedestrian mall with lots of shopping and outdoor vendors, especially on weekends.

      Calgary has great food trucks — they congregate at most festivals and events, but there are also often trucks parked around downtown during the week.

      1. Road trip recs

        Thank you this is great!! We’re only in Calgary for a day and I’m afraid we’ll be trying to get through the jet lag, but we do want to see something of the city :) we might do bikes if the weather’s good! Any areas which are particularly good for a ride?

        1. Moocowcat

          The downtown bike path along the Bow River is quite nice

          Go to the Regal Cat Cafe in Kensington! Cats. Coffee. Wifi.
          And it’s close to the river bike path.

          1. Polyhymnia O'Keefe

            Agreed on both counts. If you start downtown, you can go either direction on the riverfront bike path and stumble on (or be only a couple blocks away from) parks, festivals (on a weekend), neighbourhoods with personality, places to eat, etc.

    2. Tailored

      Stop in Canmore and walk the trail up to Grassi Lakes. Its a pretty easy hike and the three lakes at the top are spectacular, as is the view.
      Banff is always great but always so busy. Lots of hiking trails for all experience levels. Stop of course at Lake Louise as well, an iconic spot and busy but well worth it.

      1. Venus

        Morraine Lake is the less touristy twin to Louise, and has a beautiful yet short trail around it. I also think it was Johnson’s Canyon that I hiked years ago.

        Kananaskis Park has a lot of hiking trails and is less busy than Banff. It depends on your preference for touristy names or more quiet spots where the locals go.

        There’s also the hot springs which are pools in abeautiful setting!

    3. Glomarization, Esq.

      When we did that trip a few summers ago, we were on a little bit of a timeline so we didn’t take too many side trips. But I’m always good for food recommendations: We had a lovely dinner at the Wolf Den at 1105 9 Street South, Golden BC V0A 1H0, on that trip.

      My favorite cafe in Vancouver is Melriche’s Coffeehouse, 1244 Davie St, Vancouver BC V6E 1N3. They have a menu that’s more extensive than you’d expect for a little coffeeshop.

    4. Skeeder Jones

      Capilano Suspension Bridge near Vancouver is amazing! I’m assuming you are going to Vancouver Canada

    5. VanCityLou

      Vancouver native here. Sounds like a great trip!

      Abundance Artisan Bakery in Lillooet for a baked treat, coffee, or lunch.

      Mile One Eating House in Pemberton is great for breakfast or lunch, and is on my must-do list when I’m in the area.

      In Squamish, the gondola takes you to some great views and hikes of varying degrees of difficulty.

      If you’re into beer, A-frame Brewing and Backcountry Brewing are nice little breweries and tasting rooms. Backcountry makes great pizza, too.

      Between Squamish and Vancouver the Britannia Mine Museum is a fun little stop, especially for kids.

      Have a great time!

    6. Polyhymnia O'Keefe

      The Enchanted Forest was a favourite of many kids who grew up driving through the mountains. Or, if it wasn’t someplace a particular family stopped, it was stared at wistfully from the car because it looked so cool. (My husband’s family was category 1; mine was category 2.) It looks like they’ve also added a sister park with activities for bigger kids and adults, too — giant swing, ziplining. etc.

    7. Naptime

      I really liked revelstoke -great bookshop, cooking toy shop, museum, and cafe with organic or veg sandwiches. Depending when you drive between lilooet and pemberton joffre lakes is a famous stop.

      1. West Coast at heart

        Please go to Deep Cove in North Vancouver and eat at Honey Doughnuts. Kayak the cove. Hike up to quarry rock. It’s the most magical place.

    8. jennie

      We did this trip 10 years ago and it was so amazing. I know you have the Rockies sorted, but I highly recommend spending as much time as possible in Jasper. It’s stunning and very quiet compared to Banff and Lake Louise. We spent a week there last year and loved it again.

      The views in the Rockies will blow your mind, then once you get into BC, things get a little less spectacular with different types of mountain landscapes. Make sure you take the Sea to Sky highway from Whistler to Vancouver. Once again, the most incredible mountain and sea views right from your car.

  3. Anonymouxxx

    Embarrassing issue which I would never discuss IRL. I’ve been on hormone based contraceptives for most of my post pubescent life. I have decided to go off it earlier this year. Since then, I have noticed that I become…amorous during my ovulation period. Like, a lot. I will be sitting in meetings and fantasize about coworkers for whom I usually have as much attraction towards as I do an ironing board. Or have all sorts of R18 thoughts about random strangers. This is pretty much all I think about during ovulation days. It’s ridiculous and embarrassing.

    I have zero interest in putting any of my fantasies into action. But it’s becoming rather annoying. Does anyone else experience this particular “issue”? Does it go away over time?

    1. Melody Pond

      This happens to me, too – it’s totally a thing. I often get the same effect around menstruation, I suspect because of the dive in estrogen and progesterone and the “unmasking” effect that has on what little androgens are in my system.

    2. A person with cycled

      If it’s been less than 6 months, wait and see if it lasts (I needed about that amount of time to get into my new normal post-pill).

      I’d suggest that when the thoughts pop up you have a ‘oh look, there’s that thought again, ha ha no, now moving on to that work file’, rather than any shame or trying to suppress it (trying hard not to think of something doesn’t work). Treat it more like an annoying song loop, it’ll be less distracting than if you assign moral value to those thoughts.

      I have a case of serious ‘my life is awful and I’m worthless’ premenstrual syndrome, so 24h every month-ish, I’m like ‘hi anxiety-inducing hormones, didn’t miss you, I guess tomorrow it’ll be cramps and crankiness’. At least periods have never crept up on me thanks to that. Little blessings.

      1. VictorianCowgirl

        It takes me a bit to realize it’s the PMS making me someone I don’t like so now I have a calendar reminder in my phone so I can handle the anger and sadness before I act on it. Always 6 days prior for 24 hours.

    3. 30ish

      I definitely experience this! I find it pretty amusing. Do you notice that you have a lot of positive energy during that time? I tend to channel my ovluation energy towards being extra nice to people and do all the tasks that require me to make phone calls, small talk etc.

    4. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

      Happened to me too! And weirdly more often lately now that I’m 40-something and my formerly wildly erratic cycle has decided to become more predictable for the first time ever. I do my best to just enjoy the feeling and find it amusing.

    5. Anon for this

      I think this is normal, at least for some of us. You just never noticed it before because the bc suppresses your normal hormone cycle.

      Will it go away? Sure. Pregnancy, or menopause, will disrupt it. Meantime, just up your usual sexual practices during that time…. with an emphasis on non-potentially reproductive activities if you’re worried whatever other method you are using might fail.

      If it’s any consolation, I have heard from some men that this is how they feel all the time. Testosterone poisoning is so insidious. Gets easier to handle after adolescence, whether it diminishes or they just get used to it, I don’t know.

    6. Anon for This

      I definitely also experience this! I’m 30 and it got more pronounced after 22 or so when my cycle stabilized (I’ve never used birth control and my periods were very irregular when I was younger).

      If it’s practical, I’ve found that leaving some extra time for…self-care, as it were, on those mornings helps my hormones be more reasonable for the rest of the day.

    7. CatCat

      This used to happen to me, but stopped when I started taking BC pills. I actually kinda wish I could get that back because I’ve had pretty much the opposite problem on BC pills :-( (which I only take to control my periods).

    8. Parenthetically

      Definitely was VERY like this before my first pregnancy. It makes sense from a biological perspective, but my guess is you’re experiencing a rebound effect and/or aren’t used to having a heightened sex drive during ovulation. Do you track your cycles — not just time of the month, but recording data throughout? I think seeing this as a piece of interesting data and observing it as it ebbs and flows can help take the weirdness out of it, and also prepare you for it (not to be too TMI, but as you see your cervical fluids start to march toward fertile, you can kind of brace yourself for the oncoming storm of horniness or whatever).

    9. Dontforgettobreathe

      Heya, when I had my hormone spiral removed, I experienced a similar thing. After some time it becomes less extreme though. It’s just your body re-adjusting. I can happily report that being without the hormones has allowed me to be more in touch with my body and 5 senses. When I confided in a friend, asking “is this normal?”She assured me that the same thing happened to her, for her it also became less extreme. You kind of mellow out.

    10. Gaia

      This is completely normal. Women don’t tend to talk about it (we should!) but it is a basic biological function which serves an evolutionary purpose. Your body is most fertile and it is your brain saying MATE! PASS ON YOUR GENES.

      Unfortunately, that is really awkward in 2019 civilized society. I feel for you. It was a shock for me when I went off hormone contraception. It never went away for me but I found ways to…ahem…control the issue. We’re all adults: I find masturbating regularly really helps. Start your day off right!

    11. epi

      Yes, the same thing happened to me when I stopped using hormonal BC. I had one transition when I switched to Mirena– still hormonal but a way lower, local dose– and a bigger one again when I had a tubal resection.

      It was not that intense every month forever. You get used to it so it doesn’t feel as distracting and overwhelming. Plus you are still you, other stuff in your life will still intervene to make some months feel sexier than others. I chose to have fun with it and keep my husband informed of when that week would be. Now that I am better at putting those feelings aside when they’re not appropriate and the whole thing feels more optional, I look forward to that week and feel disappointed when it’s not that big a change.

    12. CoveredInBees

      Lol, yes, totally normal. When I had a hormonal IUD, my sex drive basically disappeared. When I took it out, WOW it really came roaring back.

    13. Lilysparrow

      I have mostly not been on hormonal bc, and this is a normal part of the cycle. It doesn’t really go away as long as I’m otherwise healthy and rested, but…you just get used to it and don’t pay much attention anymore.

      Or redirect the energy toward your partner when the opportunity arises.

    14. Elizabeth West

      Yep. I went off hormonal BC some time ago. I’m not done menstruating yet, and yes, it happens to me. And I get very *wink wink* around my period too. I remember once long ago where the stupid hormones had me thinking about a boss I hated in a very I-don’t-hate-you kind of way. Uggggghhh!

      Also, after I quit the pill, I noticed I would just start crying around those times. Like, out of nowhere. These things are annoying, I know, but no one else can hear your thoughts (thank GOD).

      1. Loubelou

        Oh my gosh yes, it’s so bad when it happens at work! I was on a business trip with a colleague I rarely see in person, and it was just a month after coming off BC. What a strange trip that was! Tried to call my husband as much as possible and thanked God I wouldn’t be seeing him for another six months!
        So glad to hear this is a totally normal thing. It took me a while to figure out what was going on..

    15. condomsFTW

      Yes, absolutely this is a thing. I love it.
      I have never wanted hormonal bc precicely because I treasure my sex drive.

    16. Clisby

      Isn’t that how it’s supposed to be? I mean, biologically speaking, the purpose of sex is to procreate. If you don’t do anything to interfere with biology, then it makes sense that you’d be most interested in sex at the time you ovulate.

      1. Lilysparrow

        Yes, but loss of libido is rarely discussed as a side effect of bc, and depending on one’s reasons for taking it (like horrible debilitating cramps), it may seem worth it.

        And for many women who were put on it as very young teenagers, they never had the opportunity to even experience a normal adult sex drive, so there’s no basis of comparison.

      2. it's me

        Yes, it’s normal.

        When it happens to me I find myself wanting to listen to a LOT of music. heh.

    17. Ciscononymous

      Yes, this is your body’s ages-old way of trying to get you to make babies. The birth control plays a huge part in tbis because as the hormones balance back out, they will sometimes overcompensate. Additionally, since you’ve been on hormonal birth control since puberty, you’ve probably been below your body’s baseline drive for quite a while, and recalibrating is tough. I switched from estrogen pills to POPs earlier this year and went through a similar thing. You should notice it fading each month as your body adjusts, so I’d try to wait it out if you can. If it doesn’t fade at all and is causing you problems, it might be time to talk to your doc. Good luck!

  4. Flash Bristow

    Hi all. Short version: Please don’t worry about me, but I’m struggling and need some ideas for coping.

    Longer version: I’m really not enjoying existing at the moment. Don’t worry, I’m not about to take drastic action, but I could really do with some tips to get through the day. I bought myself some Lego recently which has helped for the time it takes to assemble, but I can’t keep spending. I’m also not big on fluffy things or “count to x and take a deep breath” or “look at the sunshine” or whatever; I need something practical for when I wake up and realise, shit, another day is here.

    Also, I’m physically disabled so “go running!” “Go to a coffee morning!” etc won’t help – sorry, not trying to be negative, just clear. I spend most of my time in bed online from my phone. I’m sure there must be things I can do online though? And I have alexa primed to my favourite station as background; music can really help, although negative / “depressive” stuff helps a lot from making me feel understood… but obviously isn’t cheering, per se. Stuff which is lighter feels too trivial and pathetic. People being “nice” to me makes me feel guilty – I’m not the sort who seeks attention at these times.

    So, I’m really sorry to bring this to anyone and get your weekend down at all, but I’d be very grateful for some solid ideas to try, to get through another day. And another. And so on.

    And I wish the best to everyone. Alison, I hope your health has improved and you feel better and ready for the new week when it comes.

    1. Akcipitrokulo

      Writing? It’s cheaper than lego :) Dorothea Brande’s book recommends writing at the start of the day to get into the habit/ get creatibity flowing.

    2. tangerineRose

      Do you like looking at cute animals online? That usually makes me feel better.

      At a zoo, the keepers take 2 adorable young goats to visit other animals.
      https://www.facebook.com/goatvisits/?eid=ARCaTaSvlkS430dJbiRDEYoagJDwBvdWmweAubOEgHFw_m9kCLg_yp2yNVB3P8lwgZQE52q-dJjEq1-j

      Panda cams: https://nationalzoo.si.edu/webcams/panda-cam
      Aquatic animal cams: https://www.seattleaquarium.org/live-cams
      Monterey Bay Aquarium cams: https://www.montereybayaquarium.org/animals-and-exhibits/live-web-cams

      1. Lena Clare

        OH MY ACTUAL GOD THE PANDAS ARE SNORING! That’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.

    3. All Hail Queen Sally

      I hope you feel better soon. One thing that has helped me is to write down (and carry with me) a list of special memories. I just look at the list and I am transported to another time and place. A couple of examples on my list are a truly spectacular sunset I saw once while driving, and once when I was a little girl, my dad woke me up at night to see the northern lights (rare in northern Indiana). No one else has these memories but me. It always makes me feel special to look at my list.

    4. Lena Clare

      Hi! Have you talked to your doctor? Antidepressants with counselling can be very effective in combating the kind of demotivation and lack of interest in life you’re describing.
      If you can’t afford counselling, then antidepressants in their own can really make a difference and you can just take then in the short term.

      I also agree with writing. A good rant on paper then ripping it up is very therapeutic! But maybe also some fiction writing or poetry writing if you fancy it.

      Music helps me but I absolutely have to listen to upbeat stuff because otherwise i get massively down listening to downbeat music – it reeeeaallly affects my mood negatively.

      Do you like cooking? Perhaps you could bake?

      Online depression forums might be a source of support.

      All the best :)

      1. 30ish

        100% this. See a doctor. I waited too long when I was depressed, a lot of suffering could have been prevented if I had done that earlier.

        1. Falling Diphthong

          Looking back I shake my head at how long I recognized I was depressed (by the return to blah after a vacation) and tried “get some exercise, get some sunshine” (we had new dogs so this was built into my day) in the face of blindingly clear evidence that this wasn’t actually working. Finally told my spouse, took another couple of months before I admitted the failure pattern on sunshine and exercise and went to a doctor. And the pill was an instant boop of “oh, right, this is what it’s like not to struggle to do basic things.”

          As with the ovulating lust upthread–brain chemistry is an astonishing thing, not really subject to your logical lectures to it on how it’s not being sensible.

      2. Lena Clare

        Oh! I Love Hue is a really fun mobile phone game you can play anywhere. Someone recommended it on here ages ago but I can’t remember who.

        1. fposte

          I heard about it here too and I *love* this game! I thought I was going to finish them all and then realized that it has a humongous number of levels. It also progresses very smartly so you get “trained” for higher levels that you couldn’t have imagined doing otherwise.

          For the unfamiliar, it’s an untimed game (key to low stress for me) where you assemble tiles based on color gradient.

    5. anonhere

      Digital dress-up dolls? Doll Divine and Azalea’s Dolls have both released some mobile-compatible games lately, and their dollmakers are far more elaborate than just “dress Anna and Elsa in one of six outfits”. Heromachine has a much steeper learning curve but is much more versatile; it says it doesn’t work on iOS devices, but that implies it does work on other systems (and it works all right on my Mac laptop, too).

    6. Hazy Days

      Have you come across the online Citizen Science projects? They’re asking people to contribute to research by, for example, counting penguins caught on camera In the wild.

      It’s helpful and relaxing, and people who do it well are very much appreciated by the scientists.

      There are also arts equivalents – tagging photos of paintings in museum collections, for example.

      1. Lemonwhirl

        There’s also deciphering the handwriting in historical records. I find this very mentally challenging plus I learn a lot and feel like I helped out.

        Zooinverse.org is the site I use, but I’m sure there are others.

        1. Jedi Librarian

          There’s National Archives as well, where you can transcribe historical stuff.

      2. Falling Diphthong

        My dad volunteered with the Gutenberg Project, which takes scans of old books and turns them into digital files and needs humans to proofread. It’s great for a volunteer activity that you can do sitting down at home, completely on your own start and stop schedule.

      3. Reba

        Transcribing letters or audio recordings in museum or other archives is another remote volunteering job. One opportunity is at the Smithsonian, which uses zillions of virtual volunteers. transcription dot si dot edu.

      4. Grey Coder

        I do online mapping for the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team Missing Maps project. We use satellite data to map disaster areas, targets for public health initiatives, etc. Full mapping is easier on a computer than a phone/tablet, but there is a related MapSwipe app designed for those. It’s not as technical as you might think and makes me feel like I’m contributing.

    7. misspiggy

      Phone games can be a good distraction. I Love Hue is a good one for feeling better.

    8. Buu

      Do you play any online games? If you like Lego the obvious thing to try is Minecraft. It’s available for pretty much any platform. There are a lot of multiplayer servers about, so you could potentially find one that is run by other disabled people. So might be a chance to connect with other people in similar situations to yourself?

      I agree about doing something like writing or other creative projects, because I get the impression you want to be doing things and finishing projects .There are a lot of things you could do with that, blogging, creative writing. I used to write scripts for drama podcasts for example.

      This is a really supportive site, so you never need to worry about bothering people here.

    9. Akgal

      Have you tried doing some online learning. I like doing languages.
      I am physically disabled as well. I find learning more about languages and culture make me feel less disabled. I also like to watch Asian historical dramas.

    10. Falling Diphthong

      I spend most of my time in bed online from my phone.

      I wonder if having the “just click one more button” option right in front of you is part of the problem? Watching YouTube etc are right there and clicking again is the lowest energy way to decide what to do next… but then you look up and hours have passed when you meant the online thing to be a 10 minute stop. I’ll do this with “Just going to read a couple of columns before I start work… delve into comment thread… how is it 10:30?” If you had asked me if I wanted to spend 3 hours reading comments online I would have said no, yet somehow I just did–and in a low-energy click-one-more way, not that the column was unexpectedly gripping.

      Is there any way to build in an outside commitment that you have to disengage for? Are meat-space human visits an option for you?

      Closing note–“get some sunshine” and “get some exercise” are on a par with drugs for mild depression, but NOT moderate or severe depression. If this could be biochemical is a doctor visit and generic drug trial an option? One of the really insidious things about depression is not remembering how normal feels, and so you can’t figure out how to get back to it. When I struggled with this a few years ago, even though it took me a few trials to find an antidepressant on which I didn’t have any side effects (Welbutrin) the immediate fog-lifting was really helpful–it gave me a recent memory of normal to refer to.

      1. anonagain

        My read was that Flash Bristow is looking for more ideas for things to do online because that’s what is physically possible for them.

    11. Madge

      It sounds like you buy LEGO kits to build a specific thing and once you build it you’re done with those pieces. You could get a set of regular bricks or break up your kits and create other things. There’s lots of patterns online and there are pattern books like “The LEGO Ideas book.”

    12. Not So NewReader

      I enjoy reading AAM because of the practicality. I can lose hours doing this. I find that it helps me to carry a practical mind set when life throws curve balls.

      Going a different direction I love looking at cake wrecks dot com. Sometimes I get to laughing so hard, tears are running down my cheeks. Laughter can be just as therapeutic as crying but in different ways.

      Oddly, online games that are simple can be satisfying in peculiar ways. Time spent NOT thinking about life issues is just as important as time spent thinking about life issues. I call time away from a problem (s) as incubation time. Getting lost in a simple online game can actually offer my brain a break/mini-vacation that my brain needs. I have a very smart boss who I think the world of and she does the same thing, she says it just gives her time out from rehashing and rehashing on going stuff.

      Some folks do get a physical as well as mental benefit from pushing back from the computer and doing something non-digital. Have you considered puzzle books or adult coloring books? Again another example, I had a boss who used to color regularly before adult coloring books became popular. It helped her to clear her brain of all the noise going on inside her head. When she resumed thinking about life stuff she found she had a bit more clarity.

      I am a big fan of keeping it simple so we actually do it. So I think you are on a good path with the types of solutions you are looking for.

    13. Lady Carrie

      Sunshine helps me. Morning coffee or tea outside. Or just opening the blinds first thing.
      I have not used a Happy Lamp, but my mother has one. She sets it up next to her in the morning for 20-30 minutes and says she feels happier.
      And a trip (or trips) to my doctor to get the antidepressants dialed in.

    14. OhGee

      I second writing or drawing. Even if you think you’re terrible at it, or that there’s nothing to write about/draw, try just letting your hand move on the paper, let words flow out of what you see, how you feel.

    15. Ali G

      Does your disability or living situation preclude you owning a pet? An older/mellow cat would be a great companion for you. It would give you a reason to get out of bed and lots of cuddles and love :)

    16. WellRed

      Do you have to stay in bed? At least move to the couch, open some blinds/curtains for light and then partake of some of these suggestions others have offered (I really like the online volunteering stuff). Good luck.

    17. Miss Astoria Platenclear

      Suggestions for online fun:
      *Satirical news sites like The Onion and The Daily Mash (British).
      *Facebook fan groups for obscure musicians, TV shows, etc. People who join theses groups are often interesting in and of themselves.

    18. Gaia

      First, please don’t feel like you’re bringing us down by simply discussing your experiences right now. It is normal and healthy to talk about these things. We’re a very open community when it comes to mental health. We’re here for you!

      There are a lot of things to do online. Look up MOOCs on topics that interest you. They are often completely free and include structure in their setup so that will give you something to focus on. You can also seek out active forums or commentariat (like here! We’re a pretty active bunch) even if you just read and don’t reply.

      Whatever you do, take care of yourself and don’t judge yourself harshly. We all struggle sometimes. You’re doing the best you can. Keep that up.

    19. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy

      If you like legos, do you like puzzles? You’d have to get a lap table, I guess, if you can’t sit at a regular table. Puzzles are expensive brand new, but like 50 cents each at the thrift store. Some of them will be messed up or missing pieces, sure, but for 50 cents each I don’t mind if a few are unusable. I had to stop myself getting more-I have over 30.

      It does sound like, if legos help, you might just really need something to do? I know my days are much brighter when I have something fun I’m working on or planning, but weeks where I do nothing much besides work and dink around online tend to just… drag. In which case I’d recommend some sort of hand craft. Fiber arts (sewing, knitting etc.) are generally easily done in your lap. If I had to pick one, embroidery. Google types of embroidery…there are lots besides counted cross stitch, which always looked flat to me. Embroidery floss is cheap on Amazon, like $8 for 50 different colors.

      1. Not A Manager

        I was going to suggest jigsaw puzzles also. I really like the 1000 piece ones, but you need a large work surface for that, and to be able to stand or at least sit for some concentrated period of time. They’re addictively fun, though.

        For in-bed kinds of things, I like crossword puzzles.

      2. de Pizan

        And if doing puzzles on your lap is too unwieldy or painful (when I do them on my lap I tend to hunch over and then my back hurts for the rest of the day); there are digital jigsaw puzzles you can do online. They are usually ones you can do in a single session, most max at 150 pieces.

    20. KR

      My sister went through a period where her illness was flaring up and she was couch or bed bound for a long time. She started doing little cross-stitch kits. They are inexpensive and there are a lot of different patterns out there. I’m sorry you’re having a tough time. Is there a nice window you can look out of? I find even a half an hour of sunlight makes my day so much better.

    21. Gala

      For me learning new things really helps me raise my mood without feeling like I’m wasting my time. Coursera and other online platforms have lots of interesting and challenging classes, and they also run on a schedule which helps me feel accountable and finish them. All the best to you!

    22. PetticoatsandPincushions

      Do you have access to your local library? Even if you can’t go there physically, many library systems now have huge digital archives. There is so much you can do with books, whether you revisit nostalgic old favorites, try to read a certain number of a certain type of author a month (women, people of color, exotic space fantasy, etc.) or just start at the first shelf and work your way through. Stories can also be a way of transporting outside yourself, to help get you through a day that feels especially tough or mundane.

      1. Jedi Librarian

        There’s also databases! Genealogy is the biggest one that libraries usually have but there’s usually academic databases, or newspapers, or something. If you’re not tech savvy and can’t get over, the reference librarians can still answer any questions via phone and maybe email (in my experience).

    23. Lilysparrow

      Do you have a spiritual tradition, or are you open to seeking one?

      The strong suit of most major religions that have been around a long time, is that they have theory and practice to confront the various pains of existence and cope with them constructively. Just seeing how others have found meaning and purpose in their difficulties could be helpful, even if you don’t subscribe to the same beliefs.

      Best wishes that you start feeling better soon.

    24. Jenny F. Scientist

      You might check out Zooniverse- it has a whole variety of crowd-sourced research project. I’ve been volunteering for about a year on the Anti-Slavery Manuscripts project (though I think it’s not compatible with a phone?) but there’s also ‘ID the animal’ and ‘transcribe army records’ and plant things and so on. It might be interesting, it’s free, you’re doing good in the world and can feel a little warm and fuzzy.

    25. Smol Book Wizard

      Apologies if this is irrelevant/uninteresting/not possible for your situation, but for what it’s worth – one of the best things to get me out of bed in a time when that was hard, was going to volunteer at the Humane Society. I was a dog-walker, but they also need people to work with cats or older/shy dogs who just benefit so much from positive human contact without any particular physical demands. So if going to another location and then sitting somewhere while cats purr on your lap is possible and desired, I’m sure the cats would also be fans of it.
      (alternatively, fostering or adopting at your own home… There are a lot of senior animals who would be more than happy to be snuggle buddies.)
      Best wishes in any case.

    26. bunniferous

      re music, here is a tip-make a playlist starting with music that matches your current move then start adding songs that are more and more cheerful ending with something really cheery that you like. You can seriously treat music like an elevator that way. The key is starting where you are then aiming for where you want to be! Hopefully that along with the other suggestions will help.

    27. WrenF

      Flash, have you ever heard of LEGO Digital Designer? It’s freeware, by LEGO, that allows you to build virtually on your PC. (Maybe onMacs too, I’m not sure.) If you enjoy building IRL you might enjoy it virtually.

      My son started LDD when he was….8 or 10? It’s very user-friendly and also very cool. There are YouTube how-to videos.

      We love LEGOs and have also loved LDD.

    28. Ginger ale for all

      I have heard of native English speakers helping young students learn English over the internet. It’s a paid gig a lot of the time. I think you can get assigned to a few students individually rather than a classroom. It might be nice to form a relationship with someone who would need you and have a better time learning with individual attention.
      I also echo the jigsaw puzzle suggestion. You can ask to borrow some friends and family.
      Another idea is to go to reddit and find the subreddit named Am I the Asshole (aita). It’s a chance to try out any Dear Abby instincts you might have. People write in with problems and the commentators give opinions and advice.

    29. OyHiOh

      Are you physically able to do hand crafts? I use knitting as a sort of meditation. Knit, crochet, cross stitch, embroidery – all of these sorts of crafts have a calming, meditative quality to them once you’ve learned them.

      A religious tradition or philosophical lifeway might be helpful to you also. Not so much for specific spiritual belief but for gathering with a group of people, for a purpose, on a regular basis.

      And another voice in the chorus suggesting talking with your doctor about how you feel and if there’s anything they can recommend.

    30. sunday anon

      This is late, sorry.

      I agree with writing.

      But I also don’t know how active you can be, you mention being online on the phone, do you have a computer?

      Because here’s the thing, I think when we – as humans- don’t have anything to actively engage in then we get to a point where existing is…well, not very interesting. And I don’t mean running or sports or what have you, I mean something to do with your brain. I know that my depression gets worse when I can’t spend time writing, it’s my outlet and the way I process even when I’m not writing about myself (so, hey I’m writing fiction, I don’t journal, journalling makes me actually more depressed).

      So long suggestion short, would you be able to volunteer online for something a few hours a week? I’m personally partial to Archive of Our Own, but that’s a fanfiction site so I’m not sure you much it’s your thing, but it comes with community build in and you can be as active or not as you want to be. Just to keep you busy and make your brain turn around something else… Idk if it would be possible for you though, sorry.

      1. Mobuy

        Excellent comment. We humans are working animals, and without a puris purpose, we are unhappy. You need a purpose. You are sitting in bed all day on your phone. Of course you are unhappy!

        There are good suggestions here. Handicrafts are great — donate blankets to OBs for babies, sell crocheted animals on Etsy. Do genealogy (familysearch is free). Get a freelance job — other people have mentioned them before here. Subscribe to Great Courses and learn something. Exercise, even if it’s just lifting 3 lb. barbells. Meditate. Volunteer for a charity that you care about. Lots of places need work done on a computer.

        The point is, no matter how fun the online game is or how cute the baby animals are, internet surfing will not improve your depression. Right now, it will only make it worse. Meds may help and you should definitely look into them, but having a purpose will almost certainly help you.

    31. Not Me

      I realize how cliche this sounds, (but I swear it works!) making someone else feel better always makes me feel better when I’m having a rough time. Even just small things like an unexpected compliment making someone smile is helpful.

      Good luck!! I hope you find something that helps!

    32. Quinalla

      I think there are some great ideas above! I really enjoy board game apps, they are challenging enough to keep me engaged, but not as intense as video games (which I enjoy too, but sometimes want to chill more).

      My other suggestion is maybe bringing a loose routine to your day, something you can disrupt if you want to, but something to fall back on and make sure you are doing things you want to do and not getting sucked into the internet black hole or netflix binge. Nothing wrong with those, but as others said above me, sometimes we don’t realize we just wasted a few hours on something we didn’t really want to spend that much time on. So yeah, I’d try and get a loose routine going and fill it with things you WANT to do. Maybe keep track of your progress in a non-judgemental way so you can see that yeah I did write for 30 minutes every day for a month or read for at least an hour on book on “insert-subject-you-love-here” 3 times a week or whatever fun goals make sense for you. This kind of stuff really helps me when I get down on myself, even the smallest accomplishment I can mentally point to really helps.

    33. Roy G. Biv

      When I am sick in bed, or feeling rundown, I like to peruse websites that sell really nutty things, just to read the descriptions and wonder who buys such items. A couple favorites are Archie McPhee and RocketFizz. I also like to look at makeup palettes (and I don’t even wear makeup), to see the new colors and the infinite variety of naming colors such as “pink” anything but pink. The packaging can also be quite novel.

    34. MonteCristo85

      I find coloring to be very calming and relaxing. There are a lot of adult (not in the x-rated sense, but not kiddie) coloring books these days, plus you can get that 100+ crayon set you always wanted as a kid. :)

  5. Sam Sepiol

    The kittens arrived on Sunday. They are SO VERY CUTE. This got really long so I’ll put it into a reply to this so those who aren’t into kittens don’t have to scroll for hours to get past :)

    1. Sam Sepiol

      Their mum had been put out by her owner for being pregnant (grr) and my friend took her in, but friend already has lots of animals so couldn’t take them all on permanently.
      So while they needed a home they have been very well cared for and are quite confident and used to being handled by humans.

      Their first night, they found a hole in the base of my sofa and hid *inside* my sofa for over 8 hours (they disappeared while I was brushing my teeth; I had absolutely no idea where they were and cried because I thought I’d lost them) – they hid there Monday too when a guy came round to install work broadband but other than that they’ve not hidden from me again. Which I feel is a good sign?

      I’m relieved I got two – someone mentioned last weekend how exhausting kittens are and that they’re only moderately less demanding than human infants – but it’s been ok, largely because I got two, so they can exhaust each other, chase each other (they have actual races to the top of the cat tree!) and wrestle. I would absolutely have struggled to make one kitten happy! …but also they are MUCH less stressful than human infants. I don’t have to sit for hours breastfeeding, they poo far less frequently, they don’t cry as much, I can leave them for longer than the time it takes to go to the loo :) so while I appreciate the thought, that warning terrified me but hasn’t come to pass!

      (.….. having said that though, I was much more freaked out about bringing them home than I was about bringing my human child home from the hospital, so maybe that warning actually was on point?)

      Anyway, I feel like I am finally a Proper Grown Up, in a way I didn’t for just having a child. People are laughing at me for this but it’s true. A family of one grown up and 65% of a child doesn’t really feel like a family when the kid isn’t there. A family of one grown up, 65% of a child and two kittens feels much more complete, and although it’s not their job, they have helped a part of my heart to heal a little more, the part that was broken when the ex refused to discuss his change of heart on having more than one child.

      Oh also so far neither the child nor I seem to be prohibitively allergic to them which is a relief -I’m officially allergic and they are long haired which I didn’t think to ask about. But we both seem fine. Thank goodness!

      1. Akcipitrokulo

        Two are a lot easier! It’s also a bit of reassurance for each other.

        Lots of handling and hugs helps too :)

        Congratulations!

      2. Sam Sepiol

        Oh I have a question. How do I tell the difference between play fighting and actual fighting? I suspect this morning it’s switched to actual fighting. Also, WHAT DO I DO WHEN THEY ACTUALLY-FIGHT?!

        1. Vincaminor

          I don’t think you need to interfere unless it looks like someone is going to get actually hurt. They’re working things out between themselves, as long as whoever is losing has space to escape and they can get away from each other, I wouldn’t worry too much. OTOH, I acknowledge that I’m pretty laissez-faire about play fighting / real fighting between sibling cats, and you know better the level of what you’re seeing.

          Re:allergies, it’s very possible you’ll get used to them as they share your home and allergies will taper off. (Signed, a person allergic to strange cats but not my own.)

        2. Vincaminor

          Sorry, to answer your question about how do you tell: my standard is that someone suddenly sounds like they’re really not having fun! Clapping your hands or doing something that is a mild startle for both of them can redirect attention so one of them can leave if wanted.

          1. Sam Sepiol

            Thank you, that’s good to hear! It’s hard because I’m keeping them both in the living space with then being so young and still new to the house, so while they can get away one can still chase the other.
            They are cuddled up and fast asleep together now, so that’s a relief.
            I know I’m tempting fate saying this, but I have to say other than losing them on the first night it’s gone far smoother than I could have imagined – no accidents, nothing broken and nothing dangerous chewed! They’ve run off with my work headset twice but that’s the worst of it :)

          2. Lcsa99

            I agree with this. You can usually tell by the sounds they are making so just startling them with a loud sound will break it up. But it’s good to let them fight and play – they teach each other boundaries as kittens so they can play nice with humans and other kitties when they get older.

            1. Venus

              That’s a good point – young (under 3 months) kittens are almost never going to be ‘real’ fighting, but they often make noises which may sound that way. Squeaks and high-pitched screams of protest are typical while they sort out how hard to bite each other. If they are under 3-4 months old then don’t break them up as they are learning how to play.

                1. Venus

                  Oh yeah, at 11 weeks they are totally learning. In some litters there is a big whiner – a kitten who screams like it’s being murdered with even the gentlest of play – and even those ones eventually grow out of it.

                  It is also recommended that humans make those noises if they have bitey kittens as it is their way of understanding feedback. I find it works quite well.

                  It’s funny that I have thought about this, yet can’t describe what is healthy play vs fights, likely because it depends on the cats. But the simple answer is that age makes it obvious.

                  Oh, and as to the couch: they probably didn’t think of it as hiding. It was very unlikely fear. It was ‘This is the coolest club-house ever! Full of soft places to curl up’ and they could sneak around and surprise each other in play. Cats love boxes and hidey-holes, and the inside of your couch would be a delux version!

                2. Venus

                  P.S. In my experience, the whiner who screams bloody murder is almost always a calico runt. Adorable, yet full of personality from the moment they are born!

        3. Not So NewReader

          This sounds stupid to say, but you will catch yourself thinking, “This time is not like the other times they have played together, something is different.” That is probably the first thing that will jump into your mind.

          It is okay to correct them and be wrong. You are the boss of them and sometimes you will mis-read a situation. As soon as you realize you are wrong, just change your tone away from the serious, instructive tone. Go back to your usual happy/soothing voice, tell them you are sorry.

          Yes, I apologize to my animals. They seem to understand and in return they apologize to me when they accidentally hurt me. Their apology usually comes in the form of touching me gently. This type of interaction takes time to build, so just keep apologizing when you realize you are wrong, such as stepping on a tail or misreading a situation.

          I think you know not to put your hands into a fight between two animals. You can use a loud voice, you can drop something or bang two random items together. Sudden loud noises work well. You can also use a spritzer of water. I used to spray just over their heads, because ONE droplet of water was the end of the world to them.
          With larger animals, simply picking up a chair, holding it against me and walking toward them was enough to confuse the crap out of them and stop the dogs from fighting.

          For the most part, healthy animals make their own peace agreements with each other. I often remind myself, that animals are not like some humans they work toward peace, they accept apologies and so on.

          1. Sam Sepiol

            I apologise to my child and have done since he was far too young to understand… Yeah, if I do something wrong, I apologise, in whatever way I can. Thank you for this.

        4. Ask a Manager Post author

          If they are friendly/cuddly with each other the rest of the time, what looks like real fighting to you probably isn’t. The sign of a problem is if one seems genuinely scared of the other when it’s not play time (avoiding them, cringing when they walk by, etc.). But cats and kittens play fight a lot when they’re close. They’ll let the other know if it’s gone too far by squawking, and typically the other will back off when that happens. You’re seeing them cuddling later, so it’s all just play.

          1. Venus

            This.

            Also, I think this comment might have given me the right clue… If they are playing then when things get noisy then they take a short break. If not then the bully just gets worse.

            My dogs love to play and anyone unfamiliar with dogs would think that it’s a big fight. They are big dogs and are always biting at each other. Yet it’s balanced (sometimes one is more submissive, and a few minutes later the other one chooses to be) and they often stop for a sec to play bow or pant happily or get a pet from a human. I have also seen dog fights and they are much faster and more fierce than this play. I can’t easily describe the difference in words, but I can easily know.

          2. Sam Sepiol

            I have discovered that girl cat can actually growl (her brother was eyeing up her treats!) so I feel much better knowing she can stand up for herself :)

        5. Minocho

          If they are vocalizing, they are having a real fight. If they are silent (other than thumps and running), they are not having a real fight.

      3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy

        So glad you’re loving your experience :)

        One more suggestion we actually got from our vet – if you have room, leave their carrier out and open and make it a cozy cave they can hang out in and get used to. She points out that too often, carriers are purely negative associations for cats, which makes it hard to pack them up for vet trips or emergencies – if your cat hides when you get the carrier out, how can you safely evacuate (or corral) them from a house fire or tornado warning or such. Ever since then, we keep ours out and at the bottom of the cat tree, and it’s become one of their lounging spaces.

        1. Sam Sepiol

          I actually did this by accident. I didn’t put it away because I was overwhelmed and they started wandering in and out of it, and I suspected that this might be true so I’ve gone with it. Glad to know my suspicion was correct!

        2. TL -

          I’m trying to get my cat comfortable in her crate before her international flight. It’s not going so well.

          1. Windward

            Treats. Mine *only* got food treats in her carrier. She’d chase the treats when I tossed them in every day. I made sure there was something cozy lining it.

            Airports: KittenLady says that (in the US) you can request a private screening room, which means if your cat escapes the carrier that she’s somewhat contained. KittenLady says this is a free service.

            Sounds like you’re moving again, hope your next stop is a great fit.

            Easy travels to you & your cat.

            1. TL -

              She’s getting fed in there but it took me a week to convince her it was on purpose.

              Right now I’ve got her favorite bag in there, see if that’s helpful.

              Moving to the USA, so that might be helpful on the tail end of the trip! Fingers crossed.

      4. Falling Diphthong

        According to our kitten’s fosterer, the first time she was let out into the whole house she vanished. Fosterer eventually located her inside the grand piano.

          1. Lcsa99

            Sorry, posting fail. He decided to hide on the wine rack of all places. On top of the wine. Seeing how big he is now it’s impossible to imagine he was ever that small.

        1. Kimmy Schmidt

          When I first got my kitty, she climbed up inside our fireplace flue for vseveral days!!! Luckily it was fall and we weren’t using it. This was how she earner her name – Spooky, because boy was she spooked.

          She’s now 12 and the best cuddler.

        2. Windchime

          I was moving once and one of my two cats disappeared. I thought for sure she had escaped to the great outdoors on accident, but eventually located her inside a bathroom drawer. She knew how to open cupboards, so she opened the cupboard under the bathroom sink and then somehow slithered into a drawer.

      5. fposte

        Ha, I mentioned the inside-the-sofa thing with a friend’s cat a few weekend threads ago, and somebody else had the same experience. It must be shared intel in the cat community.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy

          We were hosting a douchekitten at one point – she clawed open one end of my couch, spent two days stuck inside, and then clawed open the other end to get out. (Her favorite activity was finding new ways to upend the 3qt water hopper and watching it spill.)

        2. Sam Sepiol

          Cats: They’re Not Stupid. I quite like the idea of them passing around intel like that.

        3. Lana Kane

          When we first adopted one of our kittens, he hid inside both the sofa and the bottom of our box spring. He’d spend hours and hours in there.

      6. kittymommy

        I have 6 cats, ages 9- under a year. Even now some of them like to hide once in awhile. My oldest loves to find little hiding places and I will not actually see her for a couple of days (she is currently hiding in the top shelf of a little cubby hole in my closet. Behind some boxes). Sometimes it is terrifying , especially when she finds a new spot and I can’t check on her. One night a few years ago I couldn’t find her anywhere and I thought she actually got out (I live in the country so this would be very bad. Plus my cats are all indoor cats – they would have no interest in the outside nor have any ability outside),,, anyway, it’s around midnight I’m in my jammies with a maglite trying to find her. I’m also trying to not find any other creatures (foxes, possums, armadillos, coyotes, you get the idea). I go back inside, sobbing — like full on hyperventilating, splotches on my face, one of my friend’s is ready to come get me crying. There the little snot is sitting on my bed looking at me the way only a cat can. But we still love them!!

        Congratulations on the kitties (and if you want to share a pic it would be fabulous!!)

        1. Sam Sepiol

          Oh god I feel your terror. That first night I thought they’d found a way out of the house and I went outside to look. They’d been there less than 6 hours, they are babies, they aren’t microchipped yet ( will sort that this week)… It was awful. I’m so glad she came out!

          I’ll try and figure out pictures for next weekend!

    2. Smol Book Wizard

      Congrats on the new littles! It’s kitten season here and I keep being surprised all over again by the incalculable cuteness.

  6. tangerineRose

    I’ve discovered the color inversion option, and it is great at preventing eye strain! If you bring up the Magnifier on your computer and type ctrl-alt-i then the colors on the screen change. White becomes black and vice versa. There are so many mostly white screens online, and using the inversion makes them much more comfortable to read.

    1. Miss Astoria Platenclear

      Great!
      I do wish people would use Arial font and black type in Outlook. So much easier to read.

    2. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)

      I use Stylish with the “Global Black for AMOLED Displays” syle. It’s a lifesaver for me because bright lights give me horrible headaches.

        1. Claire (Scotland)

          Settings – General – Accessibility – Display Accommodations – Invert Colours

          Then you have the choice of Smart Invert (doesn’t invert images etc) and Classic Invert with toggles. Turn on the one you need and you’re done.

    3. Emily

      I use a browser extension called Dark Reader that does something similar! It took me a little while to get used to, but my eyes don’t get tired as frequently any more.

  7. Villanelle

    Hello everyone!

    Bit embarrassing really. I…have the thigh rub. I have got shorts but is there anything specific for the already damaged skin? Am in the UK.
    TIA :)

    1. Roseberriesmaybe

      The dreaded thigh rub, ugh! There’s a powder from Lush called ‘Silky Underpants’ that really works well if you don’t want to wear the shorts. It’s light and natural so it won’t hurt your skin more. Plus it smells delicious.

      Love your username/ in love with your username btw

    2. Jemima Bond

      Try “Silky Underwear” by Lush; it’s a very fine powder that you can dust over the chub-rub area and it makes it all smooth and slidey whilst being dry. Good for preventative measures as well as if your skin is already a bit sore.

    3. Another anon

      Lanacane gel – soothing and anti rub. You only need a really small amount, too!
      I have very sensitive skin and a lot of contact allergies so I’m really cautious about what I use on my skin, especially when it is already irritated, but this works for me!

    4. Lcsa99

      Whenever I have problems chafing, I usually use a combination of a&d ointment (not sure what the uk equivalent would be but it’s used for diaper rash) and baby powder – if I’m gonna be doing a lot of walking I use the powder, if I am just sitting, the ointment. It helps it heal fast and keeps it from coming back.

      Good luck! It is so miserable so I feel for you.

    5. Cheesesteak in Paradise

      Aquaphor is good not for all day but for putting on before going to bed for healing.

    6. WS

      For super cheap effective healing, zinc and castor oil cream. It’s for nappy rash so it’s usually in the baby section. It’s quite oily and thick, but it works wonders on any kind of skin issue where contact makes it worse.

    7. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

      I got some inexpensive chafing cream at Savers (one of those no name brands) that worked pretty well. Also nappy rash cream helps once the damage is done.

      1. The Grammarian

        Yes, I have used Desitin in the past to fix it. Aquaphor is also good for healing. I have found cotton pettipants to be a good preventative measure.

    8. IntoTheSarchasm

      I know this is weird but it probably has a UK equivalent: if you are a US country/farm person you have probably heard of Bag Balm, literally an antiseptic salve for cow udders which also works wonders on irritated human skin. More for healing than coping, it is sticky so you would want to put it on at night when you don’t need to have clothes over it and it can be a bit difficult to wash off but it is great stuff. It will soothe and heal thigh rub, have been there myself. So commonly used for people it sells in the grocery store/variety store. We us it for all sort of wounds and abrasions. Good luck!

    9. gecko

      Not embarrassing at all!

      If there’s any broken skin, just gotta keep it clean and let it heal—wear shorts/clothes instead of powders etc. If not, just try not to make it worse. Best thing for it is a good night’s sleep.

      Because it’s irresistible to offer personal chub-rub solutions, if you have to go with bare legs, antiperspirant on the thighs is the only thing that’s ever worked for me. Chafing for me occurs with sweat, and antiperspirant prevents it, and doesn’t get sweated through as fast as other powders/things.

    10. HannahS

      Oh the dreaded rub! I’ve had my thighs bloody from it. I’d say, wear loose fitting, soft clothes until it scabs over, if you can. Think cotton pyjama bottoms versus heavy denim–one is more gentle on raw skin! Obviously you can’t wear pyjamas to work, but once the skin isnt raw, I think soft leggings or drapey pants are better than, say, khakis, at least for a while. It’ll heal on its own. I’d avoid creams, other than the gentlest of moisturizers if necessary.

    11. Sprechen Sie Talk?

      In a pinch I have been known to use deodorant (from a stick) on inner thighs. Worked great last month in Morocco when I forgot my US-bought chub rub glide stick from Gold Bond.

      When I got home I put on some Germolene and then tried to keep the area protected and dry the next few days, and made sure to wear spanx–ish under shorts under my work dresses.

      I hadn’t heard of this Lush product yet, if I can steel myself to go into one of their stores I may try it…

      1. Short Time Lurker Komo

        I just looked – you can order Lush products online! So if the smell/people are overwhelming, online comes to the rescue!

    12. fposte

      I like Body Glide, and I’m trying their new Foot Glide for feet; it’s on UK Amazon so I imagine it’s available there. I’d still consider using it during the wandering-around hours rather than lotion unless the skin is open blisters.

      1. Reba

        Strong second for Body Glide! We got it at an outdoor type store, if that helps anyone. They have a couple formulations and no scent. Indispensable for hikes in hot weather.

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people

          This is what I use for breaking in hiking boots! It works well for that, although in some cases I’ve also had to add sock liners and/or duct tape to the mix if I needed to break in a new pair in a hurry. (Serious hiking boots are weird. When you first get a pair, they are massively uncomfortable and it’s a major project to break them in. Once you get through that initial period, they’re wonderful and totally worth it. I get ones that are resoleable so I can break in new pairs as infrequently as possible.)

          I also used it the one time I forgot to pack my split slip (slip material but shorts instead of a skirt) and needed to wear a dress, and it worked well for that too. (I also forgot my dress shoes and ended up wearing the hiking boots with the dress. I think I’m bad at dresses.)

    13. Karen from Finance

      I know you said you already have shorts, but for the future I want to really recommend looking into anti-chafing elastic bands. They’re life-savers for preventing chafing when you really want to wear a dress on a hot summer day. They’re cute as hell too. You can find them on Amazon.

      1. Elizabeth West

        These are what I was going to suggest. I haven’t tried them but I want some. Go to Amazon and look up Bandelettes (I looked and found them on UK Amazon).

    14. Jane of all Trades

      I use a product called “butt shield” which I found on amazon. You can apply it to the thighs to prevent shafing!

      1. Sheepy

        From 2Toms? Seconded, this stuff works miracles; I used to have real problems with chubrub when hiking and thought I was going to have to quit a multi-day hike 5 days in because of the chafing, then someone gave me a spare roll on of SportsShield and I never had any more issues even though I had already done quite a lot of damage.

    15. Le Sigh

      I really like monostat chafing gel. It’s good for chafing prevention but also good after it’s happened — creates a barrier so you’re not rubbing sore skin and making it worse.

    16. dealing with dragons

      If you’re in a pinch – stick deodorant. There are products made for chafing but sometimes you’re out and about, or something!

    17. Alston

      Monistat makes a chub tub chafing cream that is amazing. Will help sooth it, and prevents. Goes on as a cream but dries sort of powdery? Apparently it makes an awesome makeup primer as well.

      You can also look for body glide sticks for runners. Sort of like a deodorant stick, but I prefer the chafing cream.

  8. Anonymouse

    I love Barbara Pym’s Excellent Women. She is so gentle with her characters’ foibles and so perceptive.

    1. fposte

      I read a pile of Barbara Pym years ago, and so many Barbara Pym lines and thoughts still echo in my head. “Really, did one look like the sort of person who had a bucket?”

      Plus those were the editions with the beautiful patterned images on the covers. Aaand in looking for an example I found somebody with a blog post about the cover designer! I will append in followup–scroll down her post to see many lovely covers.

    2. SophieChotek

      Yes, I agree – it is a lovely book! I have a copy and found an extra copy in a used book store and am waiting to give it to a friend – who would appreciate it. (Friend yet-to-be-determined.)

      Definitely an underappreciate author.

  9. Lena Clare

    Is there anyone else from Romancelandia on here?
    I love paranormal romance, so stuff by Zoe Chant, T. S. Joyce, Terry Bolryder, Chloe Cole, Holley Trent and some others I already read, and I’m pretty discerning (!) – there are some paranormal romance authors who are awful so I won’t read them. I’m only talking about books, by the way – I hate romance films in general. I’ve rarely seen a good one.

    Does anyone have any recommendations for ‘normal’ romance authors who are good that I can give a try?

    TIA.

    1. Ninja

      KJ Charles, if you’re up for some beautifully written queer romance. Some of her books have magical/paranormal elements. The Charm of Magpies series is a great place to start.

      1. Claire (Scotland)

        Seconding the rec for KJ, she’s my favourite. Jordan L Hawk is also good for paranormal queer romance (their Whyborne and Griffin series is fantastic, the last novel in the series is coming later this year). And I love Cat Sebastian too for queer romance, especially her Turner series.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood

      The Queen’s Wings, fIrst of 3 by Jamie K. Schmidt. I have to confess we’ve known each other for years….but it is good on its own. Some fun hijinks. Definitely R rating
      which I argued with her about because I wanted her to spin it YA. Nope.
      I’ve just found the Hidden Legacy series by Ilona Andrews.
      I picked up a couple by Mary Ellen Taylor at the library book sale. The Union Street Bakery, think Debbie Macomber with ghosts. The second, At the Corner of King Street, explores issues of slavery as well as the romance and business challenges the characters are facing.

    3. Lcsa99

      My favorite paranormal romance author is Kay Hooper. Specifically the Special Crimes Unit series. The books usually are written in sets of three with a theme in the titles (blood, shadows, etc) and all of them sort of tie together, but you can really start anywhere. I got hooked reading Touching Evil.

    4. Hmmmm

      Casey McQuiston and Jasmine Guillory are both excellent. Definitely no paranormal but also much more about normal people than say Nora Roberts and that crowd.

    5. Claire

      If you think you’d like historical romance, I highly recommend Courtney Milan’s work. My favorites are her Brothers Sinister series and her Turner series.

      1. Ginger ale for all

        Courtney Milan also has some great posts on how she and other authors were recently plagiarized. It’s a story by itself.
        I also recommend Julia Quinn and if you enjoy vintage romance (and can accept the things that were normal when these books were written would not fly today), try Betty Neels. I love her writing but for goodness sakes, we have come a long way since then thank goodness.

        1. Claire

          Oh god, yes. The #copypastecris plagiarism story is so bizarre. And the plagiarist was ill-informed enough to plagiarize Nora Roberts, who has now sued the person.

    6. Nessun

      I’m afraid I dont know regular romance, but the Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carrigan is awesome for supernatural, and it’s sister series that I have forgotten the name of.

      1. Winnifreddy

        There are a couple of spinoffs to the Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carriger – there’s the prequels Finishing School series, and the sequel series The Custard Protocol. I think the novellas are technically a spin-off series too – Supernatural Society.

    7. Lena Clare

      Thanks everyone for the recommendations, I’ve downloaded some samples. I’ll do some reading tomorrow :)

    8. Jenny F. Scientist

      I enjoy Patricia Briggs’ books, which are more fantasy with romance than romance with fantasy, but you might like them.

      Sharon Shinn’s series might hit the spot? Again not super paranormal- though there are shapeshifters.

      1. SophieChotek

        Yes, I like Briggs’ Raven’s Strike and Raven’s Shadow series.

        Also agree – I do like Sharon Shinn’s 12 Houses.

    9. SophieChotek

      For “normal” historical romance, I always recommend Carla Kelly. She’s a regency author. Her books are sweet, but at the same time can deal with some trigger issues – rape, abuse etc.

      Libby’s London Merchant
      One Good Turn (sequel to Libby’s London Merchant)

      Doing No Harm (Stand alone, though one minor character has appeared as a minor character in other Regencies by Carla Kelly)

      Able Six is the hero
      “The Christmas Angle” from “A Country Christmas”
      continued in
      “The Unlikely Master Genius”
      “The Unlikely Spy Catchers”

      Also
      “A Civil Contract” by Georgette Heyer – much less “fluffy” than her usual Regency romances – a rather serious and thoughtful portrayal of a marriage of convenience

      1. Clisby

        I’ll second “A Civil Contract,” althought I like her fluffy ones too. My favorite Heyer books are her mystery novels, though.

  10. English majors, please help

    I am looking for the name of a short story. This is the way I remember it.
    Writer: Irish writer of the early 20th century
    Setting: Irish village, late 19th or early 20th century
    Plot: An elderly upper-class woman wants to give a party. Preparations are made. Noone shows up except 2 or 3 crashers. The invitations had not been mailed.

    Anyone recognize it?

    1. Gaia

      Can I jump in here? I have been trying to remember the names of two stories I read when I was much younger

      One was about a family, during (I think) the early 1900s who traveled from place to place as migrant farm workers. I think they picked oranges at one point. I am almost positive it was told from the perspective of the daughter

      The other was a story about Chinese-American laborers building the railroads out west.

      Both are novels – I know, really terrible descriptions (I read them 20+ years ago). Any ideas!?

      1. Daydreamer

        I don’t know about the first one, but maybe the second one was Dragon’s Gate by Laurence Yep?

        1. Elizabeth West

          Strawberry Girl! They picked strawberries and were growing them and oranges in Florida. The main character’s name was Birdie Boyer. The family feuds with another family called the Slaters but it all works out in the end. I love Lenski’s regional books.

      2. Hodor

        The first one sounds like “Blue Willow” by Doris Gates. I must have read it a hundred times when I was in grammar school. :)

      3. Ginger Sheep

        Could the second one be Judy’s journey by Lois Lenski? (though I believe it happens during the Depression, not in the early 1900’s)

  11. Kuododi

    Well, I have the needle biopsy in another week and a half ish. Found out a couple of days ago I additionally have a “spot” in my rt lung. Had a PET scan and the Dr isn’t happy with what he sees so I’m set up to meet a Lung surgeon and discuss his recommendations. According to my Pulmonologist, the lung problem is probably linked to my breast mass. (Having a difficult time not “reading between the lines” regarding that pronouncement!). I’m splitting my time between panic and exhaustion at having to see yet another Dr and plan for yet another string of tests. AAACK!!! When it rains it pours!!!

    1. TL -

      I’m sorry. That doesn’t sound promising, but the reason they do all the diagnotic tests is because the scans aren’t definitive – there’s still a number of possible diagnosis. Good luck!

    2. WS

      My grandmother had the same lung problem come up on a breast scan – it turned out to be scarring from years-ago pneumonia and totally unrelated to the breast lump (which was also benign.)

      Best wishes for a good result and make sure you have plenty of things to distract you from the eternal waiting for results!

    3. Worked in IT forever

      I know how nerve racking this can be, but there are definitely other possible reasons.

      I had a “suspicious for cancer” so-called emerging node show up in a lung CT scan. That was according to the doctor who read the scan. The scan was done because I had some minor breathing issues. I then had to have a needle biopsy to get more definitive results.
      My respirologist thought that doctor who read the scan “over read it”—that it was more likely not to be cancer, and the respirologist was right. (The actual problem is a bit hard to explain, but it’s basically some benign junk from an old infection.)

      Best of luck to you.

    4. fposte

      Oh, the waiting stress is the worst.

      I had a relative with a surprise lung shadow, and the docs were willing to wait a few months to see if it grew rather than going in for a biopsy immediately. Maybe if the needle biopsy is negative that’s a possibility? It certainly seems like a negative result on the biopsy would recast the approach to the lung.

    5. Not So NewReader

      Docs don’t seem to do a good job of calming us. Be sure to deliberately seek calming activities. Walking is a good way to dissipate the extra nervous energy. It can also help you sleep some.

      Keeping you in my thoughts, Kuododi.

  12. Fisher

    Any other St Louis Blues fans here? I’m beyond excited that we finally won the Stanley Cup!

    1. Bowserkitty

      YES!!!! My whole family is from that area (we’re all formerly from Iowa) so everyone is REALLY excited. Are there still plans to petition for an annual parade?

      1. TL -

        Bruins fan but it was a good series and I’m glad the Blues won rather than a powerhouse team :)

      2. 653-CXK

        Another Boston fan…St. Louis was much stronger this go-round and deserved to win the Cup.

    2. Let's Go Blues!

      Yes! Another one here. Rocking a ‘Gloria’ shirt at work today. So exciting, the Blues and the city really needed this.

    3. Booksalot

      I am not into hockey but as a music junkie I greatly enjoyed seeing Phish cover Gloria at their St. Louis show, so thanks for making that happen!

    4. Canucks4Life

      Die-hard Canucks fan here who was cheering for the Blues all the way! I think seeing Boston lose in game 7 brought closure to many still-devastated-from-2011 Vancouverites. What a run the Blues had in the 2nd half of the season. Congrats!

  13. Bowserkitty

    YAYYYYY I MADE IT IN TIME FOR A WEEKEND FFA!!!

    I’ve been trying to clean and stuff, made some headway. I’m taking off Monday because I’ve got a ton of comp time saved up and I neeeeeed some time away. :D

    1. Bowserkitty

      also Bowser is here with his mama again (it’s been almost 3 months!) and he’s plump and happy and turning 7 on Thursday. <333333

    2. fposte

      Bowser! Happy cleaning!

      And for those who missed this delightful trick with Bowserkitty’s avatar, if you click and hold you can pull it around and make it attack things :-).

  14. chi chan

    A friend made caramel milk today and added a drop of vanilla essence. It was so good. Anyone have any other interesting recipes for milk drinks?

    1. AcademiaNut

      My favourite for cold winter nights – hot milk with rum, molasses, cinnamon, cloves and vanilla (also hot milk with brandy, honey, cinnamon, cloves and vanilla). I just put everything into a cup, microwave until hot and mix well.

    2. Booksalot

      I do a fake Horchata with vanilla, cinnamon sticks, and a splash of almond extract. I’m too lazy to actually cook down the rice.

      1. Not a cat

        I love Horchata to the point where I have no portion control around it. Your recipe sounds wonderful!

    3. Mom of girls

      Just popping by to tell you I misread this as “camel milk” and had to read it 3x!

  15. Seeking Second Childhood

    Gardening thread! What’s blooming for you? What pests are pesky? Those of you with container gardens, how do you plan to have things survive over a 5-day absence?
    (Posting into the comments because that’s a great idea that takes advantage of ‘collapse by default’.)

    1. Seeking Second Childhood

      My over -wintered dahlia finally came up…AFTER I’d given up on it and put other things in with it. I will have to move something out of the urn… 2 geraniums, several inch- high bits of Dianthus I’m trying to split, and a volunteered tomato was a lot to begin with!
      I have a couple of volunteer lilies at the new house. One a deep orange/red combo, the other not yet blooming. I’m torn…at our old house red lily beetles destroyed my bank of tall showy lilium (volunteers, the first year almost 6 ft/2m tall!) until I just gave up. I love them, but I’m afraid of having those things find us here…it’s only 5 miles away, albeit mostly uphill.
      My husband isn’t going on vacation with me & daughter next week so he’ll be here to water the potted plants…but he has over-watered my geraniums in the past. So I’m still worrying.
      The gypsy moth caterpillar explosion of the last 2 years seems to have subsided. There are enough that it’s nasty, but not so many we can’t go barefoot. We definitely lost an oak tree though…thankfully not endangering anything but lawn & woods & driveway.
      Lots of seedlings I bought on a whim to get in the ground before I let myself pack for the beach…that’s today’s thing.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy

      My cherry tomato plant in a container was doing GREAT, lots of beginning tomatoes and flowers and getting big, but we had a lot of wind the other night so my husband set it down off the table onto the deck surface so it didn’t blow off the table. Sometime during the night one of the deck chairs blew over on top of it and completely broke off two of the main stalks down to the base, and pretty badly bent the third :( I used coban wrap (the stretchy stuff phlebotomists use) to “bandage” the bent one and basically just jammed the butt ends of the two broken ones back into the dirt – hopefully they might reroot? But I might pick up a couple more this weekend just in case.

      1. WS

        Poor plant! During a windy night, my neighbours lost a piece of tin off their roof and it blew into my tomatoes. One plant was completely mashed, but the next one survived with bandaging just like you did.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy

          Husband feels terrible. It was obviously an accident, though I was teasing him that just because my plant was outproducing his didn’t justify sabotage :)

    3. Grits McGee

      Hooray gardening! When I travel, I get a bunch of plastic bottled, poke about 4-7 holes in the cap with a push pin, fill them up with water, and then stick them upside down in the container. It’s a nice steady amount of water without drenching them.

      I didn’t get a chance to put my tomatoes and peppers in the ground until almost June, so hopefully that won’t cause problems. (I’m in the DC area, so that’s pretty late for us.) I have a ton of turnip greens that I need to pick and freeze waiting for me when I get back in town.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood

        Great idea! And I’m reading this just before the recycling run too!

      2. Reba

        You can also get plastic or ceramic sort of spikes that hold plastic water bottles for this purpose. I’ve found them to work a little better than bottles alone, mainly because they seem to stay upright better. Great tip.

    4. The Other Dawn

      It’s looking like my apples trees might actually produce well this year. We had the two very large, very old trees heavily pruned last year after three years of terrible production. It seems to have helped because I have tiny apples all over the trees. One of my two new trees has a few apples on it. My herb garden has absolutely exploded. My other veggies are doing well–I planted tomatoes, carrots, habaneros, jalapenos, and cucumbers. I planted some seeds for green beans, scallions and radishes. The radishes are sprouting already.

      Recently I discovered that I likely have Japanese wine berries growing in the side yard. When getting ready for a picnic I saw this scary looking (bright red fuzzy branches!), viney bush and cut it down. I then Googled and found out it’s wine berries. I’m letting it grow back to see what happens.

      My husband is still fighting the battle of the Japanese knotweed. It’s improving, but it’s such a PITA.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood

        I hear you on the knotweed. After I get back I’ll be diving into my FIL’s back yard (our old house) to tackle two recurrent scourge: Japanese Knotweed and Bishop’s Weed.

      2. ket

        I am also fighting the battle of the Japanese knotweed. So scary!

        Peonies just bloomed, alpine strawberries are ripening… one of my gooseberry plants has black spots on the berries. This one has always had trouble with disease — just take it out, or what?

        Planted lots of things this year so interested to see how their first year goes. I didn’t realize how slow growing some of the prairie plants in particular are.

        1. JobHunter

          Have you tried taking a sample to your nearest plant diagnostic lab? The lab in my state can use good-quality photos to identify a problem for free. Be sure to include a picture of the whole plant, and a close-up of the diseased spot.

        2. Not So NewReader

          Gooseberry. If you go to a local nursery they will know what is going on locally and probably be able to tell you what to do. They may say remove it.

          If it’s a plant that always has trouble, my default is to just remove it. Some plants are just not that strong and seem to go from one issue to another. I don’t see this too often but yours sounds like one a candidate because of recurring problems. Just to be safe you may want to leave the space empty for this year. I remember a hosta that always had bugs. All the hostas around it were fine, but this one poor hosta could not catch a break. I dug it up.

          I tried googling quickly and quickly does not work.

    5. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

      Somehow the buddleia in the front got damaged, either by wind or heavy rain, but it seems like the main trunk was half rotten anyway. I spent an hour or so yesterday cutting it down. I never really liked it much but the yard looks oddly empty now.

      The garden was left to its own devices for a month and it has gone absolutely crazy. I have tons more weeding to do and a small tree to cut down before it becomes a huge tree. It looks nice but it’s in entirely the wrong place so it has to go.

      Hopefully later today I’ll have time to go shop for plants. I want to get some vegetable seedlings if I can find any.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood

        Just a heads-up that the buddleia will probably come back–you’re supposed to hack it back each year. Its hardy to the point of being considered invasive by many. If my experience was typical, it will be smaller for the hacking, and bloom more per branch.

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

          Oh it’s more or less toast. It might come back but the main bit has broken off completely from the roots, which surprisingly came out of the ground quite easily. I was trying to coax it into having a shape like a small tree but it’s no great loss to me if it is truly dead!

    6. SpellingBee

      Japanese beetles are the bane of my roses! Of course they ignore the knockout and drift roses (mostly – one of the light-colored drifts gets a few) and concentrate on the Austins. I won’t spray because I have a lot of bees and other pollinators, so I’ve been going out several times a day with the Sudsy Jar of Death and picking them off by hand. Fortunately I don’t have that many bushes to go over, and it’s oddly satisfying to plunk the little buggers in, but I hope they subside soon. There have been fewer this week than last so maybe this wave is almost done.

      In other gardening news, the rudbeckia that I put in last summer didn’t come back this year, which surprised me a bit – I thought it was one of the perennial varieties but maybe it was an annual. However, I’ve replaced them with some gaura that usually does spectacularly well in my yard, so I’m hopeful they’ll take hold. Oh, and I moved 3 penstemon that were languishing in a slightly-too-shady area and replaced them with heuchera. We’ll see how that works. My sister claims that a plant isn’t in the proper place until you’ve moved it at least 3 times, and that’s sometimes true! Especially when you’re starting in a new area and still learning the plant palate, microclimate and sun/shade patterns.

      1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy

        Milky Spore for Japanese beetles! It takes a few years to really get going, but it does work. And it’s the coolest pest control ever.

        Milky Spore is a disease that lives in the soil and only attacks Japanese beetle grubs (ok, possibly a few other grubs too, but ones that are also pests.) You put teaspoons of it in a grid pattern all over your yard (might need to get the neighbor’s yard too, if you’re close together). Ever time the milky spore kills a grub, thousands of bacterium are released to kill more beetles. Biological warfare FTW!

      2. fposte

        Oh, I love the Sudsy Jar of Death. It’s a bit of a fairground game–can I shake this cane so that the beetles above my reach fall into the opening of the jar?

      3. The Other Dawn

        How do you like the knockout roses? I’m thinking of getting white ones for my newly-bare garden and putting them in front of the rock wall. It says they’re easy to take care of. Is that true?

        1. SpellingBee

          As specimen plants they’re not my favorite, but for mass plantings that require little to no care, the knockouts are great. You do need to trim them back in the spring or else they get too big and leggy, but that’s true of almost all roses. You don’t have to be careful about pruning them, just whack them with loppers or even a hedge trimmer to about 18 inches right as they start to show leaf buds. They’ll reward you by growing even more lush and full. A word of caution, though – they will get to around 6 feet tall if you don’t do this, and start to look a little scraggly. Other than their once-a-year haircut I do very little to them, maybe throw a little fertilizer their way if I think about it, and a bit of water if it’s been extremely dry and they’re looking sad. Mine are on the hot side of the house that gets full afternoon sun and they love it there.

          Elspeth, I do know about milky spore and have started to treat the yard, but we have an acre of land so it’s taking awhile! I’ve convinced one neighbor to do it also beginning this year, and I’m hoping to get everyone on board eventually. A couple of the neighbors just look at me quizzically when I mention it, and then recommend that I use a systemic insecticide. “It’s great! You just sprinkle it around the plants and it takes care of the bugs all year!” Um, no.

          1. fposte

            I saw some study a few years ago that found trimming roses with a hedge trimmer got equally good results to pruning. I’m sure there are some rosarians who refused to believe it, but I thought that was brilliant news.

          2. The Other Dawn

            Thanks! I’m definitely looking for something I don’t have to babysit. I’m getting better at plant maintenance, but only when it comes to hanging baskets and my raised beds housing the veggies and herbs.

      4. Seeking Second Childhood

        Japanese beetle traps with pheremone & flower scent work! They won’t prevent damage but can reduce population significantly. One brand marketed in the US is “Bag A Bug”. Prepare to change the dead-bug bag a lot if you’ve got a population surge.

    7. Penguin

      My strawberries are flowering (and fruiting, yum!) and so are the yellow irises (at least they’re constrained to the pond). The bindweed isn’t… yet… but soon it will be. Anyone got any tips other than “pull it” to get rid of it? (Herbicide isn’t an option; it’s intermingled with too much else.)

      1. fposte

        In my garden bindweed is an easy pull (and we’re pretty clayey, so it’s not because of the soil). Is yours fighting back, or is it just the scale that makes it daunting? I’m a messy, lazy gardener so I’ll often just yank until I can tell I’ve got the root and then leave the plant until it dies back enough to be easily distinguishable. TBH, sometimes I don’t even go back and get the plant.

        1. Penguin

          It’s… sort of fighting back; you could say that it has hostages. It grows up and over and through EVERYTHING, meaning the only way to pull it out would be to uproot ~40% of everything in the garden. It’s also in every single bed, so yeah, overwhelming. I’ve no problem pulling out mint plants- I won’t run out of those any time soon- but once it gets into the stuff that my housemate planted because, you know, it looks nice, indiscriminate yanking stops being a good option.

          (I am a kill-the-invasives-plant-something-and-leave-it-alone kind of gardener, so repeated and repetitive weeding is kind of my purgatory. *sigh* Might be the only thing I can do, though.)

      2. All monkeys are French

        Word on the street is that bindweed roots are so deep that you will never pull the whole thing out, and they form clusters of new shoots wherever they’ve been yanked out. It just never goes away. That said, I still pull it just to keep it from choking out other plants.
        I had some minor success last fall applying Roundup (which I hate and can’t believe I bought). I got the kind that looks like a deodorant dispenser that you can just touch on the leaves of the specific plant you want to kill. It seemed to work, but the bindweed still came back this spring.

        1. fposte

          Holy cow, I always thought bindweed was an annual because of the seeds and the morning glory connection, but it looks like you’re right and it’s a rhizomatous perennial. Great.

          I will redouble my efforts.

      3. Jen Erik

        Theory is, you put a bamboo cane in, let the bindweed clamber up – and then you can use a systematic herbicide on it. Having said that, we did that for several years, and it just kept coming. In the end, we lifted practically everything, covered it with black plastic for a year (brings the roots to the surface according to the RHS) then my husband spent a month excavating the border to a depth of about three feet. (Though I think the roots can go down to six). Then we recovered it with the plastic, and left it until this spring when we replanted. So far, no bindweed. (In that border. It pops up in other places – but those I can spray, and do. )

        1. Penguin

          Oh, good call! We’ve got raised beds (fallow this year) covered in plastic; maybe it’s worth covering the worst bindweed-infested areas of others to at least start chipping away at it. Thanks!

    8. fposte

      It’s still high-flowering time, with the roses in full force (though I wish I’d pruned back my big climber and fixed the trellis in late winter). I’m also puzzling over a patch of veronica. For years I have had several patches of pink “Fairy Tale” veronica, which I really like, but haven’t seen sold around much since. And this year I’ve got in addition to the pink a lovely patch of cornflower blue veronica with the same habit. Did it revert? Did I plant what was supposed to be another one and forget I did that, and then end up with a different plant anyway? It’s a cool effect either way, but I’m mystified.

    9. SAHM

      I’m going to be potting my dahlia tubers today. Lowe’s has a 75% off their bulbs/tubers, so I grabbed all the dahlias that were sprouting. My kids learned how to identify a healthy dahlia and they dug through the clearance bulbs and we’re like “Mom! This one has a sprout!” “Mom! I found one!” So exciting! Overall I spent 22$ on 33 tubers, now to go dig through my garage for more pots. The kids are gonna learn how to pot the dahlias and put bone meal in with the soil. Today will be a good day.

    10. Grey Coder

      Recent aha (or maybe “duh…”) realization: the plants near the birdfeeders have much less slug and snail damage than the plants farther away on the other side of the house.

    11. Middle School Teacher

      My columbines and my strawberries are gangbusters and blooming (and fruiting) like crazy, my Japanese astilbe is growing like it’s on steroids, and my lily of the valley and irises are doing well. My tomatoes have tiny flowers on them, but I think the columbines are blocking my peppers and they aren’t getting as much sun as they need. I’m hoping my hosta survives. My sunflowers did not sprout, so I think they’re not going to grow. We’ve had lots of sun, and then a few days of rain, and then more sun again.

    12. Elizabeth West

      I have planted two heirloom tomato plants. One is Black Prince — they didn’t have any Cherokee Purple, although I might have some seeds around somewhere — and the other is Golden Jubilee. I put them in pots in case I moved. To avoid the problem I had last year with them getting too leggy, I’ll take some advice I got here and pinch them off. If I end up at my mum’s, I can provide some tomatoes. :)

    13. Lizabeth

      What to do with “excessive” mulch put down by landscaper? Working on the parents home and pulled the mulch away from the foundation and siding in the back. Luckily no damage to siding or insect infestation, but boy do I have a LOAD of mulch. And that’s just from the back…I’ve moved the bedding line out as far as I want to take it. The side planters and the front ones are also overloaded. Everybody else in their neighborhood has the same issue, same landscaper does all the maintenance.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Compost it?
        Donate it to a near by NPO- library, church, something else.
        Use it to fill in annoying dips or holes you always hit with the lawn mower. It will decay in a bit.
        If you have a woodsy type area use it to create a little path. This will give you a place to put the excess next year too.

    14. Liane

      Something is eating up my 2 Attack Roses* and I have no idea what. I keep looking to find bugs or larvae, but nothing. They chew up leaves & buds alike. I know I have a problem with that white fungus but I am going to pick up some neem oil for that, it works quite well. Any ideas of what might be doing the chewing and how to stop them, besides the Death Ray I’ve been fantasizing about?
      I have no idea what kind of roses they are except a pink and a yellow one and the pink always has gigantic hand size blooms, while the yellow seems to go back & forth between large and small blooms. They were in pots and neglected at my mother-in-law’s house and I adopted them. They are well over 10 years old, because I have had them that long. They are pretty tough, having been left on their own before I claimed them, but I am kind of protective of them, since they remind me of my MIL and I loved her.

      *they have very nasty thorns and Morticia is envious.

      1. Not So NewReader

        The last time I could not find what was eating a plant, it was a tent caterpillar. They were very good at stealthing. Are the roses outside at all? See any caterpillars anywhere, I mean like within 40/50 feet?

    15. The Other Dawn

      I bought a blueberry bush yesterday. It’s one of the compact varieties and will grow to only about two feet wide. I’ve been wanting berry bushes, but didn’t want to get into planting too much this year. I saw this yesterday and thought I’d try it out and see how it goes. I bought the Bushel and Berry Peach Sorbet blueberry bush. I’m not sure if I want to plant it or just get a bigger container for it.

    16. Seeking Second Childhood

      The deer ate the hosta I’d wanted to transplant. They did this last year too. I’m tired of mowing around it… and was thinking of putting it along the street so the town gets less likely to run the ‘country-road mower’ over my attempt at wildflowers.
      The frequent rain that kept me from transplanting it already also has given me rust on the flowering cherry and both roses. We thought we’d lost one rosé completely. ..but it’s coming back from the base. So I get to prune out 3 ft of old dead branches with thorns and figure out what to do with them until the next brush-disposal day in October. Eep.

    17. Lora

      Tons of bok choy. So much bok choy. Can hardly give it away. I’m just letting some flower and seed, figured if it makes a fall garden by accident that’s fine. Also lettuces. Many, many lettuces. I am very tired of baby beet salad. Lots of cilantro, lots of marjoram.

      Peas are just now flowering, at the same time as the green beans because that’s how chilly and wet the spring was. The tomatoes look like they’ll be good.

      Problems: goosegrass and tradescantia. I keep pulling it up, to no avail. More appears. I will just keep pulling, I’m 100% sure both live in the wood lot edge where it meets the lawn and I will never kill it all short of napalm. Oh well.

      None of my cucumbers came up at all and the ones I transplanted all died. I had some melons coming up for a while but they are gone now. The zucchini, pumpkins and winter squash are going like gangbusters, go figure.

  16. Akgal

    Has anyone ever been in over their head and not realized it until later? My sophomore year in high school was miserable. I had one guy ask me out and then hassle me about not wanting to. Another guy kept going to my house and staring at my bedroom window. And I was a witness for the prosecution in a court case. How I even survived I have no idea.

    I do feel bad about one thing though. My friend group added someone that I felt very uncomfortable with and I ended up going off on her one day. She was a bit clueless and she always say a bit to close for my comfort. Looking back now be I realize that I hadn’t told her not to get too close I thought my nonverbal hints were enough to get her to stay farther away. Now I would use my words. I wish I could tell her sorry.

    Anyone have anything similar to share. I feel pretty alone about this.

    1. TL -

      I was in way over my head from high school through to college (with family stuff.)
      I didn’t really think about what was happening until I had space from it all – if I had, I probably wouldn’t have been able to function.
      I definitely responded badly to things but honestly most of the time I couldn’t tell you if it was because I was a teenager or because I was going through it.

      The one exception to that was in college, where I had a bunch of friends and peers relatively unscathed by life who had a bunch of “enlightened” opinions about things that were pretty much defining my life. There were a few conversations that did not end well – I would handle them much better today but don’t necessarily regret my reaction at the time.

      1. Akgal

        Oh yes it was years before I could even think about this time period. Admitting to myself that I had been stalked was tough. Now I’m trying to forgive myself for the mistakes I made during this time.

        1. TL -

          I mean – you were a teenager. It doesn’t sound like you did anything that caused lasting harm or that even out of the norm for teenage behavior. Lots of teens don’t know how to handle social things like asking for space and end up instead just losing it at people.

          I definitely did that to my boyfriend. I had a few friends do it to me. Some of us had stuff going on, some of us just were learning social norms. But teens are supposed to make those kinds of mistakes. If you learned from them, it’s all good.
          (Now I’m 30 and so I reasonably make *different* mistakes.)

        2. Not So NewReader

          I think before forgiving ourselves we have to decide that we learned something. Sometimes vowing to let X or Y not get by you again may be a supportive activity on your journey to forgiving yourself. Don’t under estimate the power of accepting learning experiences and the power of changing how you handle things. These two actions can help you to soften your view of what you did/did not do and gradually you may feel forgiveness creeping in.

          I think my time in my teens and early twenties were a very isolated time in life. The full-fledged adults took the stance of “you should know”. I make damn sure I work at not using that attitude with anyone, ever. It’s a sucky attitude to use. I know first hand how lonely those years can be and I vowed never to forget.

          However, I can also tell you this: My teens and twenties were probably some of the hardest times in my life. And life from 30 on has had plenty of moments. BUT. I started developing resources. I started learning how to handle life events. I felt more fortified on the inside as I read and learned about family issues, grief, and other hard to deal with topics.

          Younger people need established adults around them validating, “Yeah, this is tough stuff. You are right to be concerned here. NO this is not normal.”
          I hope you smile knowingly- Alison makes a living telling ADULTS, “Yeah this is tough, it is concerning. You are right to think this is not normal.” Alison earns money doing this! Adults still need support because weird crap happens.

          You may find rebuttals to your situations, such as, “I promise me that I will never stop learning” to be something that actually strengthens you in unexpected ways.

      2. TL -

        Sorry – one example that I remembered was an English class where we read a book about a teenage sister and her profoundly (mentally and physically) disabled, wheelchair-bound brother. In it, the sister was always happy to take care of her brother and every moment spent with him was joy and lightness that he brought to her life. The caretaker (aunt) who did not feel that way was very clearly the antagonist in the story.

        So I had previous experience with light but longer-term caretaking and…did not agree with that portrayal of the relationship.
        Today I would frame it as “caretaker burnout is a real issue and not adequately acknowledged in society.” But at the time I said, “this is totally unrealistic, there’s no way she wouldn’t resent her brother and/or her obligations even though she loves him.”

        And ye gods the reactions! The discussion took over the rest of the class because there were a whole bunch of people who had zero experience caretaking who could not conceive of A Good Person struggling with being a caretaker. There were a bunch of “Well, my siblings aren’t disabled but…” and one or two “I babysat a child with Down’s syndrome and he was a delight.” (If someone had provided intense care for someone, they didn’t choose to share it.)

        Looking back, I think my professor was highly amused that I had the cojones to say such a thing, but for me it was a very real expression of how frustrated I was that you aren’t “allowed” to feel angry or frustrated or resentful because of impact of a (for me) chronically ill loved one in your life, regardless of how great the impact is.

        1. TL -

          To be clear, I’m pretty sure I was an @ss during this entire conversation – I would handle it a lot better now, with a lot more understanding of where they were coming from.

          But I also feel that a) I learned from it and b) I was in pain and a college student dealing with some pretty scary stuff that people were carelessly commenting on left and right. It was definitely a forgivable mistake.

        2. Akgal

          Honestly as a disabled person stories like this don’t do us any good. We need to acknowledge caregiver burnout if life for us to get the care we need.

          1. TL -

            Yeah, I’m still not fond of the story and I think it does harm on multiple levels. But now I would be able to have a more nuanced and respectful discussion about it.
            I would know to lead with “I have some experience with caregiving” and also to be like, people are complex and can silmultaneously bring great joy and great frustration into our life and also running away with your boyfriend and profoundly disabled brother at 18 with $1000 and a dream is not a good life choice.

            1. Akgal

              Definitely not a good life choice. OMG that is halarious. I almost want to know what the title is so I don’t read it. No one’s life is all sweetness and light. My life is pretty good now but as a youth it sucked. Especially since I was made to feel like I couldn’t complain because I got to live when others like me died.

              1. TL -

                Lark and Termite, I think? It was well-received on the literary fiction market but has had zero staying power as far as I know.

                Also, everyone is lucky to be alive to some degree or another, even if it’s just that your parents didn’t wait five minutes to conceive you. And everyone has the right to be upset and complain when life sucks, because it does for everybody at some point.

      3. LTPC

        “a bunch of “enlightened” opinions about things that were pretty much defining my life.”

        This happened to me as well, by close family, when I was a late teenager. One family member; or similar age, was son passionate about his/her beliefs that he/she would purposefully tell others I was unstable, purposely twist facts, and get upset when I spent time with anyone else.

        I was just a dumb teen starting out in the world and could never recover from it as he/she had all the social capital in the area. Having the minority opinion or perspective was unacceptable and made the manipulation worse.

        Many years later I see how manipulative and emotionally abusive said family was.

    2. Parenthetically

      You are definitely not alone! Massively in over my head in grad school, not just with studying and work, but my mental health was in a horrible place and I was… not using healthy coping mechanisms to get by, let’s just say. I don’t know how I made it without blowing up my life. I wasn’t a very good friend for a long time, and I’m very grateful for the people who stuck with me. It still, more than ten years later, makes me feel tense just thinking about it.

    3. Not So NewReader

      My wise friend use to say that sometimes not realizing how bad a situation is protects us and gets us through the situation. Sometimes our innocence works in our favor. So there is that side of the coin also.

      Every life story has so many sides/aspects. It could be the rest of your life that you discover more and more about what you went through, what you saw and what you learned. This is actually okay to have more and more revealed to you, many people are having a similar journey.

      I was 48 years old, recently widowed and I went to a double funeral. I thought my knees were going to give out, I knew it was emotions not a physical problem. Later someone said, “You know when widows resume going to funerals they do not pick double funerals with hundreds of people.”
      NO. I did not know that. Now where would I have learned that??? Why didn’t I ever think it might be too much, what is wrong with me that I missed this point?
      The point is our own naivete never stops “getting” us. It slows down, we do become more aware of the complexities of life. But I seriously doubt it ever fully stops. Being willing to learn a new lesson can lighten the overload of the situation. I don’t go to many funerals now. I realized that I needed to build up my knees (emotions) more first. I think my knees are doing better, now.

      1. Not So NewReader

        PS. I wanted to add something else my wise friend used to say: When we find ourselves contemplating things that happened in the past and we realize that we have never thought about it before, a reason this can be happening is because it is safe to think about it now. We have to get to safety before we can sort what happened. Look around, do you feel safer somehow? If yes, then my wise friend’s explanation might fit your setting.

    4. chi chan

      Definitely been there and only a few years ago. I was in over my head with too much work and my brilliant idea was to choke off any leisure/sleep/food time in order to get the work done. Needless to say that failed badly. I still have trouble properly pacing myself with work and leisure. And the opportunity I lost still makes my head explode so I don’t think about it much. But I also learnt that I needed more support systems in place and my family that followed a policy of benign neglect with occasional guilt trips were not healthy.

    5. Anon for this

      Yes, yes, yes. And maybe it is more common that we individually think. I was also in over my head in my teenage years. In retrospect, being raised under the typical “Good girls are always nice and don’t make waves,” approach favored by my Silent Generation parents, I didn’t understand I could firmly yet politely say “No,” and it was ok. It took a long time for me to realize problems that I thought were of my own doing were the result of creepers or manipulative people taking advantage of my naïve, trusting nature. I had to learn to forgive myself for making such “mistakes” as trusting the wrong person, but really, these things formed me into the person I am, and I am stronger for it. But it took a long time to reach come to that realization!

      I volunteer with children now, and wish to instill them with these ideas: treat other with kindness and courtesy, but if you say NO, it means NO, and that is OK. Respect each other’s boundaries at all times.

  17. A.N. O'Nyme

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    Still in the middle of exams, so my only progress is on a fluffy little slice-of-life side project I have going that I don’t intend to publish, it’s more something to just keep me busy when I have five minutes to spare.

    1. poetry writing

      I’ve started a poetry writing class and had my first one last week and it was good. Although I find it so hard to do free writing that is to be shared with others. My first writings are generally pretty awful and unfocused, and the anxiety can kill my creativity. But I look forward to the structure of the class.

      I want to apply for a writing workshop but need to send in a brief statement introducing my creative process. What does this mean? I don’t think they want me to say I sit with a pen and notebook then when I think the poems are at a certain point, type them out and of course, keep editing them.

    2. Booksalot

      I am struggling so much with one specific poem, and it’s making me crazy! Usually they either fall out of me fully formed, or else it’s like pulling teeth the whole way through. This one halfway wrote itself, but there’s a second part that feels fuzzy and I keep starting over. I’ve got several great phrases that I end up putting aside for another piece, but this damned thing just won’t come together. It’s been about four months of aggravation.

      1. poetry writing

        I’m like you, and that is so frustrating! What helps me sometimes when I am stuck this way is to write in prose what I am trying to say, unedited, almost a stream of consciousness kind of writing, and that seems to loosen things up so I can get to what I am actually trying to say in the poem. Sometimes I have to do this many times if I keep getting stuck. Good luck!

  18. A.N. O'Nyme

    “So you guys go home, do Christmas, then come back for exams? Wow, that really stinks!” – An American guest professor.
    So just because I’m curious: people who have experience with education outside of your home country, what was something that struck you as weird/surprising about their system in comparison to yours?

    1. Lena Clare

      This is a really good question! I’m looking forward to the answers.

      Yeah, having exams after the holidays is always a bit rubbish, but when I was a teacher it gave the teaching staff time to rest and the students time for quiet study, so I get the idea behind it.

      I did part of my degree in Spain and Portugal – their days are much better suited to how I like to work with a LONG lunch break.
      Lessons/ lectures were in the morning then again between 5 and 8 in the evening.

      Their holidays over the summer were also much longer than ours (UK).

      I miss that.

    2. Cheesesteak in Paradise

      HS students getting smoke breaks between classes in France. I think the US has less overall smoking but teenagers here who smoke mostly have to be sneaky about it – not like the whole school gets to troop outside to smoke at once.

      1. TL -

        France’s smoking rates are more than twice the USA’s (and the difference in smoking-related health outcomes is starting to show up as well.)

      2. Texan In Exile

        They do now. :) When I was in high school, there was a place for the smokers and another place for the chewers.

        In addition, the pot smokers would hang out on the curb next to the school.

    3. WS

      I am always a bit surprised when school years don’t run to the calendar year. I’m in the Southern Hemisphere, so it makes perfect sense to have the Christmas/New Year/summer break then start a new school year in February. But obviously the seasons don’t line up that way in the Northern Hemisphere, and school starts in September or April (and probably other months in systems I don’t know about!)

      1. CoffeeforLife

        I did a year of HS in Australia. I though how they do math is so much better than the US (and I floundered). Each year, more stuff was introduced rather than devoting an entire semester to Algebra, the next Geometry, next Calc. Instead, you built on your skills and continued to use it all together (like the SAT, GMat, GRE have you do).

        1. Elf

          Math teacher here: that varies a lot state by state, and sometimes gets changed with curriculum changes. What you describe for Australia is what NY was like when I was in HS, but it is now like what you describe for the US (except way worse, because Common Core).

      1. D'Euly

        They switched to the more typical American practice in the early 2000’s. For what it’s worth, I far preferred the after-Christmas exams – so much better to go home and get some sleep beforehand!

        1. BethDH

          Yale used to do this (they may still, just know it was the case for my father’s generation). For him it was terrible, because he had to take all the books he needed for studying or writing papers back with him on a multi-day bus ride. I can see that being more rested would be good, but I would worry about the students who don’t have access to all their resources at home, or who work jobs over break (I always did, even at Christmas — prime time for short-term retail or banquet waitstaff positions!).

    4. CoffeeOnMyMind

      I studied abroad in Australia (I’m American), and I was surprised by how finals were held. In the U.S., college finals are proctored by your regular professor, and you take the exam with your fellow classmates, in the same room you’ve had classes all year. In Australia, my finals were given by a person I’d never met, with people I don’t remember seeing in class, and the exam was in a completely different building from where we’d had classes all semester. And everyone was given a seat number before the exam, and we had to sit in that exact seat in the room. I couldn’t bring in anything with me except my ID and a pencil. It was very different from what I was used to.

      1. WS

        I’m Australian and that’s how we do exams all right! I think it’s because every subject in every undergrad year levels is doing exams all at once, so they just send people off to the biggest buildings on campus – we were often sent off campus entirely, to the Caulfield Racecourse! Thinking back, I’m astonished that all our stuff left in the designated area never got stolen.

      2. Quinalla

        Hmm, finals were done like this for classes with multiple sections (ie concurrent classes happening during the same semester at different times with different professors), now often my professor would be in the exam room, but yes it was a different, larger exam room with all the students taking the test at once since you couldn’t have section A running off to tell section B & C what was on the test :) For smaller classes, sometimes the exam would be in the standard classroom, but not always.

        Seat numbers were not a thing in my university, so yeah that would have been odd. ID and pencil only would have been odd too, you could only have certain things out for the exam (usually a calculator in my engineering classes), but people brought their bookbags or whatever with them and no one cared. Honestly, I think it is unnecessary to have restrictions about what is brought in unless space is an issue as it is really, really easy to tell if someone is cheating. I TA’d for a class and it was painfully obvious when someone was cheating.

    5. An Elephant Never Baguettes

      I think this is more my home system being weird, but for the first couple of weeks studying abroad you could always spot the German students at the end of the class/lecture when they had to visibly stop themselves from knocking on their desks.

    6. Catherine

      I was only at Oxford a year so I could not get used to the weird names for each term. Why can’t they just be called Fall, Winter, and Spring instead of making me try to learn Christian festival patterns?

      1. Lena Clare

        They pretty much do in most universities. I’m not very sure, but my opinion is that because Oxford is very traditional and old and was a Christian college it still refers to the terms that way!

    7. Washi

      I was surprised that in most of Europe (as far as I know) you have to choose your “major” much earlier, and compared to the US, don’t get to take as many classes outside of your field. It seems great if you definitely know what you want to do, but I don’t know how most people choose at age 17!

    8. Anonymous Educator

      I know this isn’t the question you asked, but random fact: at Harvard and Princeton (both in America), students go home for break around Christmas time, and then they come back for exams afterwards. And, yes, that really does stink.

      1. nonegiven

        MIT has, between fall and spring classes, IAP (Independent Activities Period) in January. One year, my son got to travel to Lowell Observatory and program the telescope to follow a particular object in low earth orbit so they could try to calculate it’s tumbling pattern. It was a small class, 3 or 4 people, and they got mentioned in the paper.

        1. BethDH

          They do something similar at some other colleges I’ve seen (a couple from my own experience — Williams in MA, Elon in NC). I’m curious to know how common it is, and if it’s at all a thing outside the US. I’ve enjoyed it both as a student and as an instructor!

    9. Diamond

      This is state or school specific rather than country, but I find it so weird that some schools have their graduation party (i.e. prom for Americans!) at the START of the school year?? Or before exams?? How does that make sense! The party is for when everything is over!

  19. coffee cup

    I have a low-level background kind of depression that has been around a few months now. I experience PMT-related depression anyway, but this is more like an irritating hum at the back of your mind that you’re aware is always there, even as you may function pretty much normally. I am able to go to work, chat to people, laugh, sometimes be social, but it’s still there. The effect is that things I enjoy I find much harder to do. I lack energy to tackle personal development stuff I’d ordinarily love to do (e.g. learn a new language or skill). Some days it’s an effort to walk across my small living room, roll out my yoga mat and do a bit of yoga (though I know I like it and that it’ll probably help in a small way). I still manage running but less often than I’d like. Basically, I feel like I’m operating on two of four engines, or something!

    What to do? I am so wary of antidepressants because this doesn’t feel serious enough, and I know they can have side effects that might be worse in some respects. I can’t afford to pay for therapy, although I’ve tried some counselling in the past and never found someone I clicked with or who understood what I needed (although they were nice people). I know one or both of these things is probably the answer, but I feel stuck and unable to see the way forward. Although I can keep going like this, I don’t really want to (as in, I would like to feel back to myself, not that I can’t go on full stop, just to be clear!).

    1. Lena Clare

      Zoloft/sertraline is great for PMS-related depression. It may make you feel worse in the first couple of weeks but if you can hang on, the side effects pass and you may even be a person who gets mild side effects or none at all! It does happen :)

      If you definitely don’t want to try antidepressants (although I get that the anxiety around taking them comes from the depression itself) then exercise, fresh air/ sunshine daily, and a healthy balanced diet are very effective in reducing depressive symptoms. Cut down/ eliminate alcohol too.

      Some people have different foods that make them feel a certain way. For me, caffeine had a really negative impact on my PMS so I stopped drinking it and my PMS is much better. Likewise dairy (I’m now vegan and enjoying it!) and processed sugar although I eat a lot of fruit and fruit juice still.

      And I hope this is not TMI but being able to poo regularly works WONDERS for my mood. Constipation is just so…eugh.

      Just experiment with what works for you.
      All the best.

      1. coffee cup

        I have to say I do pretty much all of these things already. I’m not depressed in a way that would be obvious to anyone, I think. I walk a lot, I go running, I eat well (mostly veggie now, although not interested in being vegan), I take care of myself as I can… It’s just *still there*. I don’t think I can fix it with just my usual routines, but that’s becoming a vicious circle, I guess.

        1. Lena Clare

          I’m sorry to hear that! The next step for me when all of those things didn’t work either was to speak to my doctor about treatment.

    2. WS

      To change specific behaviours and try to get your brain/motivation in gear, there’s online programs like MoodGym. They are obviously not going to work for every person or every condition, but it might be a good place to start.

    3. No Name Yet

      Maybe a first step would be a self-help book focused on managing depression? There’s a ton out there, I’d recommend one that uses a cognitive-behavioral (CBT) approach. If you can, it’d probably be helpful to flip through a few before you pick one – just like a therapist can be good but not a good fit for each person, you may find the approach/exercises/voice of some authors to be a better fit for you.

      Oh, and if you haven’t lately, go to a physician to get checked out/labs done. A lot of physical problems (eg, hypothyroidism, anemia) can look a lot like depression.

      Also, I’m sorry you’re feeling that way, it is a rough way to be living.

    4. TL -

      The side effects of antidepressants aren’t permanent. So you can try them out (usually you need 6-8 weeks, but your doctor will provide guidance) at a low dose and see how you feel. If the side effects aren’t worth the improvement in your depression, your doctor can help you get ease off them and you can discuss options – other meds, maybe using the time you’re weaning off the meds to look for sliding scale therapies, ect…

      Also, get a physical checkup while you’re at your GP, if you haven’t ruled out underlying physical problems. That was basically how I felt before I got diagnosed with hypothyroidism, just with a lot of dizzy spells thrown in – fine, but a noticeable lack of energy all the time.

      1. Elf

        This is not true. Usually the side effects of antidepressants are temporary, but a friend of mine has permanent dry mouth from an antidepressant she hasn’t taken in years and only took briefly.

        Definitely get other possible medical causes checked out (especially your iron levels if you’re mostly vegetarian – some people don’t absorb iron well from plants and if you’re still eating dairy calcium can inhibit iron uptake, particularly from plant sources).

        Maybe try to fiddle with your social stuff? Some people get lots of energy from being around people (me), while others just get sapped. It seems like you are already doing most of the other exercise/diet things that get recommended, though you should make sure you are getting plenty of time outside in natural light.

        I am glad that some people are really helped by antidepressants, but I wish people would not be so cavalier about them, and dismissive of people who are worried about side effects. I will never under any circumstances take antidepressants again, because the first one I was prescribed gave me full-on mania (which felt awesome, but not sustainable), and the second one caused severe personality changes (which I later found out was a relatively common side effect. This was over a decade ago, and while the personality changes largely went away when I stopped taking the drug, I still am not the same as I was before I took it.

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

          I was coming to say something like this. I have taken SSRIs on and off for years, but I have recently become aware of a body of research that shows that the whole alleged mechanism by which they work may in fact be false. There is also a lot of evidence to suggest that they can permanently alter your brain function over time. Look up Irving Kirsch and RxISK, for instance, for more info. They do help people, and they helped me, but over time I think they have caused me some problems which I might not ever get over.

          In my case I have quite a bit of emotional blunting or flatness and apathy, which I first thought was a depression rebound or a constant low-level depression. However, many people report this as a side effect of SSRIs. The other problems I’ve had in particular are restless legs/general akathisia, “brain zaps”, and excessive sweating. I had no idea that any of these things were associated with SSRIs until recently. In all honesty none of these are debilitating for me, but they are annoying and I feel like I have lost any ambition or drive to do things. I often feel very distant from my emotions as well. It’s hard to definitively attribute these to using SSRIs but I do wonder if I some of the problems I currently have might be a result of them. Then again, I might have harmed myself if I hadn’t started taking them, so I can’t say they didn’t help me at all.

        2. coffee cup

          I’m going to give blood soon so they’ll check my iron then. Good point, though, as I’ve recently dialled way back on meat and hardly eat it at all now. I’ve been trying to incorporate spinach a bit more, but not enough! And I need to get back on vitamin D. I take in the winter, but apparently I should have it all year round because I’m Scottish and we have hardly any natural vitamin D!

          I turned down a night out tonight because how I’m feeling exacerbates my natural introversion. Not great, but I have to pick and choose what I feel up to doing and I’m trying to be kind to myself. I’ll see a friend during the week instead. One on one seems easier for me at the moment.

          Thanks re antidepressants – it’s useful to know different perspectives and experiences.

          1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

            Oh yeah, if you live in Scotland you should definitely check out vitamin d! I live in northeast England and I am sure I have a chronic, low level deficiency. There’s just not enough opportunity to expose my skin to sunlight!

          2. misspiggy

            Seconding Vitamin D, it’s definitely helped with the low-level depressed person in my life. You could also try high dose St Johns Wort (the one Boots do helped my person), as long as you check for drug interactions like the Pill.

    5. OhGee

      Reconsider medication. Seriously. I was in a very similar situation to what you describe for at least 8 months. I started bupropion (Wellbutrin generic) a week ago and am already noticing a change.

      1. Christy

        Yes! I started Wellbutrin for my anxiety/depression and it’s a lifesaver. (I’d started with Lexapro and that wasn’t the med for me but no permanent side effects.)

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

          Hard to get on the NHS for some reason, alas. I asked about it because I had good experiences with it in the US but was told they only prescribe it for smoking cessation in the UK. Definitely not common to get it for other things anyway.

    6. ThatGirl

      Consider medication, but also be sure you don’t have a thyroid or vitamin deficiency or something else easily treatable. One of my friends started thyroid meds after years of insomnia and low level blah, especially around her period, and feels so much better now.

    7. BeenThere

      Check out books by Richard O’Connor, especially Undoing Depression: What Therapy Doesn’t Teach You and Medication Can’t Give You. Neither therapy nor medication worked for me, but his books gave me a roadmap out. He is a psychotherapist who himself had/has depression so he has a different perspective.

    8. Kuododi

      I’d like to challenge one thing you SD in your post about your depression “doesn’t feel serious enough.”. If the situation is such that the depression is negatively affecting your quality of life than it is important to address. The counseling can be addressed without putting yourself in bankruptcy court. If you have healthcare coverage through work than I’d suggest starting at that point. There’s also EAP if that’s a resource through work. Additionally, if faith traditions are important in your life, I would investigate churches with an active pastoral care provider. (They will have clinical training and licensure as well as pastoral counseling training.). You can look into providers who will give low-cost/no-cost counseling. Best wishes

    9. Not So NewReader

      Go for a check up with a GP, have your heart and thyroid checked.
      You may want to consider if you have allergies. (It’s amazing how allergies mess up the body and mind.)
      Do you drink a regular amount of water every day? Hydration is critical for every organ in the body, including the brain.
      Bowels working regularly? Don’t answer here. People with prolonged constipation can find their thinking tanks.

      This is sort of an answer similar to “car won’t start, does the tank have fuel?” Build yourself a list of basics and see how many of them you are hitting. If you still don’t gain any ground then consider some type of counseling.

    10. Qwerty123

      Have you heard of Alpha Wave music? It’s music designed to trigger your brain to make happy (aka Alpha) waves. There are lots of examples on YouTube.

    11. anon24

      This may not be helpful to you, but I am very similar except sometimes my depression gets more severe. I used to run myself dry and every month or so would have a day that I just could not get out of bed. After spending a day in bed reading, watching Netflix, etc. I would feel better but yet so guilty for being a “failure” and would beat myself up and undo all the good the day had done.

      I ended up talking to my doctor about it and she told me I should be taking that day for myself, I should be doing it regularly, and if it is helping me why should I feel guilty? I’m clearly doing what my mind and body need so why would it be any different than any other sort of treatment? Hearing that from a medical doctor gave me the freedom to forgive myself. I now have regularly scheduled days where I don’t schedule anything, I put off my to-do list, and I just do what I want. Some days that involves going to the gym, going for a walk, doing yoga, and some days I spend the entire day drinking tea and reading a book. Now that I don’t feel guilty anymore it truly is self care and I always feel recharged afterwards and it truly has made a difference. Sometimes it’s ok to slow it down.

  20. AcademiaNut

    My new Kobo Forma arrived yesterday! I replaced an 8 year old Kindle 4 (pre-touch screen) which I had used so much the finish wore off. So far I’m pretty happy with it – it’s got page turn buttons, the lighting is subtle and you can change the colour, and in spite of the 8″ screen it’s still light enough to hold in one hand on the subway, even in my small girly hands. And if I had a bathtub, I could read in it.

    I do like paper books, but English books are limited where I live, as is storage space.

    1. Reba

      This is good to read!

      I also have an ancient kindle that’s reaching material collapse. I’ve been doing ebooks through Kobo bc they throw a few pennies to my local bookstore. And of course, Overdrive / library!

    2. Quinalla

      Awesome! I got my first Kindle a few years ago and I know the joy and also why did I wait so long!

  21. The Other Dawn

    This week I finally made the call to my orthopedic doctor to ask to get a regular prescription for Percocet for my ongoing back pain. It took me about a month to make the decision, because all I can think about are the addiction issues in my family and the fact that I feel the need for an opioid for pain relief. Plus I feel judged, even though no one has actually said anything to me. I think that I’m really judging myself and projecting that.

    Anyway, the reason I decided I need Percocet more regularly is because I finally realized that I feel my worst when I’m a work, which is because I have a desk job and sitting is what makes my pain kick in. Having back pain while having to sit at a desk all day long really sucks. It makes it hard to focus and I’m distracted much of the day, which affects my productivity. For so long I just thought that I have a short attention span, or that I’m bored. The back pain was a fact of life and I didn’t factor that in, except for late 2017/most of 2018 when I was first diagnosed with bulging discs. Even though I have a Varidesk and a decent chair, I still spend a lot of the day at a pain level of about 3 or 4. Not horrible, but enough to make it distracting. Another argument for Percocet is that I’ve built up a high tolerance for Tylenol (it works for headaches and not much else), I can’t take NSAIDs, Tramadol makes me sick, Tylenol with Codeine just knocks me out with no pain relief, and things like Dilaudid are way too strong.

    What made me realize that I need Percocet for work is having to take it during the day for the weird string of accidents I had recently: a fall at work in which I pulled a muscle, my wall ball workout incident, and then pulling a bicep muscle getting into bed (so painful!!). I had to take it at work for about three days. During those three days, it dawned on me that I was actually focused and getting more work done and getting it done faster. I suddenly realized my back wasn’t bothering me. It sounds ridiculous now that I never thought of taking it during working hours before. I always took it at night since the back pain would wake up at like 2 am and I’d toss and turn until it was time to get up. I’ve discovered recently that I’m OK without anything at night, or just a half a Tylenol PM.

    Oh, and the ablation I had is still working. It’s the sciatica I get from the bulging discs that’s the problem; the ablation was for the facet joint pain. There’s nothing to be done about that until I have fusion, which I can’t do this year due to a new job, dealing with evicting my tenants and then unloading the old house. The pain doesn’t stop me from working out or doing other things, and that’s the gauge I’m using to determine when I have it done.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood

      Pain sucks. I had two years of a frozen shoulder and it still creeps back if I mis my stretches. …and as far as I’m concerned back pain is even worse.
      Obe thing for you to look into if you haven’t already. Adjustable-top desk units that let you move from sitting to standing and back. My office recently started getting them. Many people say it helps a lot. I’ve had erratic results because my knee bothers me more than my back. They go on top of existing desks, so cost isn’t as high as some companies might think.

      1. The Other Dawn

        That’s exactly the type of desk I have. Because the disc presses on my sciatic nerve, I can stand about 10 to 15 minutes before it starts so then I sit, and after about a half hour I need to stand again.

    2. Rebecca

      You need to do what helps ‘you’ and it’s no one else’s business what meds you take for what issues. Constant, nagging pain drags down your body, mind, and soul. There’s nothing noble about suffering! In my case, I’m now on a prescription anti-inflammatory for osteoarthritis, have a muscle relaxer to take at night if needed, and I feel so much better! I too woke up with terrible knee pain or muscle spasms in the middle of the night, I was getting sleep deprived, and it was getting to the point I would have taken just about anything for relief.

      I’m so glad this works for you! Please don’t judge yourself. You’re using the meds for exactly the prescribed purpose, they allow you to function, and that’s a good thing.

      1. Texan In Exile

        Exactly. Nobody should be in preventable pain. Nobody. Take the pills and live your life. I hope you feel better soon.

    3. Elf

      I think you should definitely work on solving your pain issues. Have you tried medical marijuana? It is very promising for chronic pain, and not addictive. It may or may not work for you, but if there aren’t prohibitive barriers in place against trying it, it might be worth a shot before you start taking the addictive stuff regularly.

      Hope you have reduced pain in the future!

    4. fposte

      Not prescribing, but I know we’re in a similar boat here. Have you considered asking about medications specifically for nerve pain? IME, the opioids aren’t all that helpful for sciatica. Lyrica has been *much* more helpful for me, and while it’s a scheduled drug, it doesn’t have the pharmaceutical/social flags of an opioid; the advantage on that to me is that I don’t have to worry about governmental policy changes or health care policy changes in the same way. (There’s also gabapentin, which isn’t even a scheduled drug. My doctor had gotten better results with Lyrica so that’s what I took.)

      It takes a while (2-4 weeks, maybe?) after starting for it to really have an effect and it initially made me dopey, but that’s pretty much evened out. I can’t tell if you’re looking for occasional relief or ongoing management; if it’s the former, the nerve pain meds aren’t going to be as useful, but for management, I’d definitely consider them.

      1. The Other Dawn

        I would say occasional relief. I’m usually feeling decent when I’m active. It’s sitting that gets the pain going. I find that I have little pain when I’m away from work or not sitting around the house. I can manage it better at home, but I can’t really quit my job.

      2. Loose Seal

        Lyrica is going generic in June supposedly so yay for that. I take it for nerve pain in my legs (not specifically sciatica but similar). My legs jump when I lie down because of inflammation to the nerves in my lower back and the Lyrica has calmed that right down so I can sleep better. I had tried gabapentin first because it was already generic but it didn’t work for me.

        1. Kuododi

          I found Gabapentin to be quite helpful for pain management with carpal tunnel in my hands. My only issue was I wanted to eat everything except the paint on the walls. :(.

      3. Texan In Exile

        Just an FYI for lyrica – I tried it for migraine. Not only did it not work, but my hair fell out in clumps. However, I always get the weirdest, rarest side effects of any drug.

    5. Wishing You Well

      The benefits of opioids tend to last a MAXIMUM of 12 weeks. Then the relief stops, but the side effects keep going. People assume the pills are still working but their pain is worse. Often patients ask for higher doses or a different, more powerful pill for more pain relief, not addiction. Doctors are now very reluctant to prescribe opioids long term.
      You need to stop sitting at work. You need to stop aggravating your pain. If your company is big enough, they have to accommodate your back pain by changing how you work. Consider getting the fusion soon. Pain is a warning sign and delaying treatment is never a good idea.
      Managing chronic pain is a full-time job. Successful pain management includes more than taking a pill. Take a pain management class. It will have the latest information and techniques.
      Please save yourself from learning all this the hard way. I really do wish you the best.

      1. fposte

        As somebody with some similarities with Dawn’s situation, I sympathize with your point but have a few issues as well. “Managing chronic pain is a full-time job.” Cool, but I *have* a full time job, and there’s no neat accommodation work can provide that would accommodate my back pain; my goals in life are better met by dealing as I can with work rather than going on disability. Nor is fusion a get-out-of-back-pain free card–even if it does help at that site, which is highly variable, it makes arthritic changes likelier at the neighboring sites, and there’s some evidence it’s becoming an overused cash cow.

        I think all the tools should be up for consideration–I’ve had a couple of surgeries I don’t regret–but I think this comes perilously close to telling people they’re doing disability wrong.

        1. The Other Dawn

          Yes, thank you, fposte! This has cemented in my mind that I’m doing the right thing. (Honestly, I shouldn’t have even posted today, because it was making me doubt myself yet again, which I’ve been doing for over a month. I should have known better.) I get how people feel about opioids and the stigma around them, and I’ve seen addiction in my family. It’s not as if I haven’t tried other things and it’s not as if I haven’t considered what using opioids means–I have on both fronts. At this point, I need to be able to do my job. I can’t just quit my job, or stop sitting at work. The nature of my works means it’s a desk job. I have a stand/sit desk and a good chair, but both sitting and static standing bother me after a period of time. My job doesn’t allow me to walk around the building all day long. And fusion is not an option at this moment in time. I very heavily weighed the options before making this decision.

          1. fposte

            If you’ve got a good doctor, you’re also hopefully getting some guidance about maximum benefit and you may even be on a pain contract.

            The conversation about opioids is interesting because of where it does and doesn’t tend to go. For instance, it’s only recently that there have been studies of how long post-surgical patients generally need/want them; they’ve been sent home with round numbers of drugs based on standard duration practice rather than likely necessity. Opioids have also been a common response for conditions like migraines instead of better targeted drugs.

            So my personal take is that they’re a flawed tool that professionals have been unskillful with, and in the traditional American tendency of all-or-nothing we used to go for all and now we’re going for nothing, but that they’re still a useful tool when thoughtfully applied in the right circumstances.

            1. The Other Dawn

              I’ll be going to see him Tuesday to talk about it. Yesterday was just the call to find out what I need to do to find out if I can get a regular prescription.

              I’m surprised opioids would be prescribed for migraines, although I admittedly have only my limited experience with Percocet. I found out early on that if I took it for back pain and happened to already have a headache, it actually made my headache worse. I know now that if I have a headache, take some Tylenol and then take the Percocet maybe an hour later if I still need it, which I usually do since it doesn’t help the back pain anymore. I when I say “take Percocet” we’re talking half a pill. I can’t tolerate any more than that and it always does the trick. Except for the muscle pull a couple weeks ago. It didn’t help much with that.

              1. MatKnifeNinja

                You are lucky your doctor will even will discuss Percocet.

                My GP punted all his chronic pain patients to the local pain clinics this January. He will not write out any CII scripts. This included Neurontin and Lyrica. The most pain relief you’ll get from him is any variation of Motrin. He also stopped writing benzos and sleeping pills.

                I’m really lucky my back pain is not that severe.

                The bigger suck part is if you test dirty for marijuana, the pain clinics discharge you. Medicinal marijuana is legal in my state. Doesn’t matter.

                PT is great. Mindfulness and massage helps. Losing weight. This and that all helps, but what do you do with a crap job who won’t let you take time off three times a week for PT? Pain clinics around here treat you like a drug seeking sub human.

                You do what you gotta do to keep the job that has the medical insurance. If Percoret makes it tolerable, so be it.

                I hope you get what you need. Where I live, you’d have a better chance finding ice cubes in hell than a monthly Percocet prescription.

                1. fposte

                  Wow, that’s an extreme move by the GP, but that’s also the kind of thing I’m talking about as an obstacle. Then throw in that I, like Dawn, can’t take NSAIDs. I guess maybe he’d just send in somebody’s mommy to kiss it better.

                  I love the theory of PT and recommend it, but once you have a couple things going on it’s a bit of a crap shoot. I’ve had a lot of PT that did nothing, a lot of PT that did good, and some PT that made things worse. Even good PT can try something that backfires now and then, and there are you are again needing time off work; good PT also takes a fair chunk of time, and again, often during the workday.

                  Unfortunately, best practices medically aren’t always going to be best practices lifewise.

                2. The Other Dawn

                  Wow, that’s terrible! I’m not going to a GP. It’s a specialist–orthopedic doctor–and his office has a pain management doctor that deals specifically with any orthopedic-related pain, and that’s the guy I’ll be seeing.

                  I wouldn’t call my pain severe on the pain scale. More like chronic, low-level, very distracting at work and annoying. While taking Percocet the last few weeks for the fall I had, a couple pulled muscles, etc., I discovered that I’m better off taking it at work than saving it for nighttime. I’ve talked it through with several people close to me, including a friend who was on opioids for many years due to several back issues, rheumatoid arthritis, etc. and decided I’ll talk to the doctor about it.

                3. Old and don’t care

                  I have a relative with very similar circumstances, only with a “lesser” narcotic, has to go to a pain clinic for a script. It’s not a small thing to deal with.

            2. Texan In Exile

              Opioids have also been a common response for conditions like migraines instead of better targeted drugs

              Which would be nice if they actually worked for migraine. They don’t for mine. They’re a lot cheaper than imitrex and don’t have the side effects.

              1. fposte

                Yeah, there’s a study that said the same thing–that they’re not good for migraines so it’s been really foolish for doctors to be using them for it.

            3. Call me St. Vincent

              First, I want to say that I respect you greatly as a commenter, fposte! I think you are very thoughtful always. I just want to point something out based on your comment. Part of my job involves working on this very issue and in that capacity I have worked with both law enforcement and physicians to collaborate on solving this issue. Most doctors who don’t specialize in pain management (in general, and I don’t like talking in generalities) are extremely uneducated when it comes to opioids and addiction. Believe it or not, the biggest prescribers of opioids are primary care doctors.

              The pain management doctors I have spoken to (and I’m talking about academic anesthesiologists specializing in pain management who do research in this area as well as have clinical practices–not pill mill pain management doctors), ONLY prescribe opioids for patients with cancer or those in hospice. That isn’t based on a knee jerk reaction to the opioid crisis, it’s using evidence-based medicine. Opioids are rarely appropriate for longer term prescriptions for chronic pain. There are a host of other, better, pain management treatments available.

              1. fposte

                Thanks, Call, that’s interesting input. Can you share any more info about the kind of protocols they’re recommending now?

                In my experience, the daily life problem for me is reflected in what Wishing You Well said about the time devoted to management and what you’re saying about the difference between a research hospital’s medicine and primary care. I’m not near a research hospital, and I had to pay extra for insurance that covers me when I occasionally manage to schlepp out to one on a one or two-day jaunt, which also requires time lost from work. So I’m a lot luckier than many chronic pain patients, but I still need to rely on my local area for my regular service. And that means I have to work with the tools they’ve got for me.

                1. Call me St. Vincent

                  Thanks, fposte. I should clarify that I’m not a doctor but I work on this issue with doctors from the law enforcement perspective. I don’t want to get too specific and dox myself but hopefully that frames it somewhat. I understand though that there are non-opiate medications that can work on pain some of which were not even designed to treat pain such as some antidepressants and some anti-seizure medications. Also there are additional non-medication forms of pain treatment such as “tens.” I also understand that they are incorporating acupuncture and even yoga in addition to traditional physical therapy. All of this will of course depend on the individual situation and the patient’s condition and how each patient might respond uniquely to each therapy. However, the risk of trying any of these will be far less to a patient than chronic opiate use. I hope this helps.

              2. Not So NewReader

                Thank you so much for this, Call.

                I heard a story of one man at the pharmacy near tears, hoping to find a substitute for his script. He had just gone through rehab for the last time he was on the script and here he was being told by a doc to get the script again. When he questioned the doc, the doc said, “there is nothing else out there for your to take.”

                I hope there are many more of you out there sending your message out, Call. People are desperate and lives are falling apart.

              3. MsChanandlerBong

                It would be great if we could all access these treatments. When primary care docs refuse to prescribe anything other than Motrin and try to shunt you off to a specialist, only people who can afford a specialist ($60 copay vs. $20 copay for a PCP visit with my insurance) and afford to take time off from work to get there can get any help.

    6. Call me St. Vincent

      You aren’t asking anyone to talk you out of taking opioids so I will make a quick point about this and will not say anything about it ever again. I apologize in advance for the unsolicited advice. If you have addiction in your family that you know about, I STRONGLY urge you to consider every other option for pain management besides opioids. I work with families who have lost a loved one to substance use disorder. The strongest indicator for not using opioids is being aware of addiction in your own family. Please go see an anesthesiologist who specializes in pain management. There are other options. These medications destroy lives and it’s worth exploring every and any other option first.

      Signed off by someone who has seen way too much misery related to opioid use, who has done dozens of presentations about the dangers of opioid use, has hugged too many crying parents who have lost people to opioid use, and who understands chronic pain (I have inflammatory arthritis and spondyloarthropathy). I am so freaked out by what I have witnessed regarding opioids that I had major abdominal surgery and refused opioids in recovery.

      1. Anona

        Yeah. My husband’s dad is addicted to opiods. My husband has chronic back pain severe enough that he’s missed weddings, of course work, and so many random life events. His back goes out on a dime. He won’t take them because of his dad. Stretching/physical therapy has helped some, but the reality is he can’t watch our child alone because of his back. But I’ve seen the havoc addiction causes. My husband has a very very limited relationship with his dad now. I wish Dawn well, and it sounds like Dawn is ok with the risks. I hope it works out for them.

      2. Corndog Tacocat

        There is significant addiction in my family. However, I am a chronic pain sufferer (EDS and Fibromyalgia). I’ve asked my doctor for prescriptions for hydrocodone (I’m not sure what the brand name equivalent is) a few times. The first time was in 2015 after my stepdaughter passed away, my husband was getting treated for stage 3 rectal cancer, I had a full-time job, two kids at home who’d just lost their sister and who was worried about Dad dying too, and was also a full-time caretaker for my husband and his ileostomy bag. My doctor knew about EDS (wasn’t diagnosed fibro then), and I got to the point where I flat out told her that I was in too much pain to live, so I needed some hydrocodone to take the edge off sometimes. She gave me like 60 pills. They lasted me a year. I’ve never been addicted to a substance. And even though there is addiction in my bloodline, I made the right choice for me and my family at the time.

    7. Koala dreams

      I hope the medicine works!

      In addition to medicine, see if you can work with an occupational therapist or someone specialising in ergonomics to see if you can improve your work space, both at work but also at home if you get pain at home too. Sometimes there are simple things that can make big improvements.

      Good luck!

      1. The Other Dawn

        Actually I already did that and I have the desk and chair that’s best for me. It’s just not enough.

    8. Skeeder Jones

      Have you tried a TENS unit at all? I get incredible pain from fibromyalgia that isn’t helped by medication but the TENS unit does help me get through the day.

        1. Skeeder Jones

          That’s too bad. I know how hard it is to try to do anything when you have that kind of pain. I ended up quitting a job and being unemployed because it was just too hard to sit at a desk. I hope the Percocet brings you some relief!

    9. Belle di Vedremo

      Something you might want to add to the mix is lessons in the Alexander Technique. Alexander described it as “use of the self.” Lessons generally involve learning about making subtle changes for more efficient movement for any and all activities – including sitting – for greater ease, freedom, range of motion, etc. If memory serves on Dawn’s state, there are some folks giving lessons there though don’t know how close they are to you (looks like the folks in fposte’s state are mostly near the big city, but someone on campus may have more local connections). This is gentle, subtle work.

      I got a lot of my lessons, including tools for finding relief from tension patterns, greater comfort over time sitting, standing, walking; I use the info from my lessons to carry things heavier than are initially comfortable, finding greater ease in most anything I’m trying to do. This might take the edge off for you. Lots of people use it for performance enhancement in the arts, some for sports, etc etc.

      If you’re interested, I’m an advocate of group lessons to start; lots of teachers want to work one on one, but I benefited from being able to see changes in other students when I couldn’t wrap my brain around my own, subtle, experiences. Some students get everything they want from a lesson or two, I needed a lot more than that to be able to use the ideas on my own. Online browsing you might look for video of Marge Barstow giving lessons.

      Hope you find relief, however it comes to you.

    10. Buffay the Vampire Layer

      Opiates work. Pain prevents your ability to concentrate effectively enough to do your job. Do what you need to and ignore the current opiate panic that has about the same basis in reality as the satanic panic of the 80s. (For example, the stats on most heroin users starting with pills don’t add the important caveat that most of *them* started by stealing pills, not with their own scripts.)
      If you start having trouble getting your scripts you might want to try kratom. It makes me so sick, but it does work on opiate receptors in the brain and does help the pain.

    11. Quinalla

      Sounds like you are making the right decision for you. Talk to your doc about what you need to do to avoid addiction. I know the few times I have been prescribed Percocet (c-section, broke my hip), I was always very quick to stop taking them, probably too quick honestly, but I was very fearful and wary of addiction even though my family doesn’t have that particular addiction (that I know of) in our history. I don’t know enough about them myself to give you any real advice, but hopefully your doctor can help with that and if your doc doesn’t know, hopefully he can refer you to someone that does. I definitely understand the difference between pain-filled day that you get by and oh shit, I took pain relief for some unrelated reason and now I am finally able to think! I’ve been there and I too would be asking for a prescription as well.

  22. Missing fandom and LiveJournal circa 2009

    I was super into fan fiction and fandom back in kinda 2008-2010, especially Leverage and Friday Night Lights. I loved the LiveJournal communities to discuss the shows and the fan fiction challenges.

    Now, all of fandom seems so fragmented and everyone fled LiveJournal when the servers were all moved to Russia. Anyone have any idea where I can find these kinds of communities again? I love The Good Place, Killing Eve, Billions, Stranger Things, Atypical, and am just getting into Game of Thrones (yeah super late to that one and not sure I’d want to be fannish about it, but I’m curious about communities of fandom).

    I know a lot of people went to Tumblr, but I’ve never gotten Tumblr – it seems more like a mechanism for re-posting other people’s stuff and collecting images/screenshots than for creating fiction or discussing a show.

    1. Venus

      The few pages I know from LJ went to Dreamwidth. Not all did, but might be worth checking?

      1. valentine

        It’s tough to find text-post-heavy Tumblrs without being on it, but start with show/ship hashtags or fandom-related URLs you can guess at.

    2. I remember Strikethrough

      There is a lot of fandom on Twitter and Discord. I also mourn the loss of LJ. It had some good qualities in its community systems.
      Also, Dreamwidth is a good spot for RP and has some active fandom communities, though nothing like LJ back in the day…

    3. Fishsticks

      Check Dreamwidth, definitely Tumblr, ummm maybe pillowfort??? But if you are looking for purely fic try Archive of Our Own since a ton of livejournal authors migrated there. Also reddit? Depending on the show the reddit fandom might not be crazy.

      Just try googling fandom name and see what pops up. For example try “the good place” and dreamwidth. Also if you check out TVTropes and Fanlore to see what communities are listed there for the show or book. Good luck!

    4. FD

      A lot of the RP community migrated onto Dreamwidth, which is very similar to how LJ was. I’m mostly in Sherlock fandom, and the RP wing of that pretty much imploded after the least season. Most people still playing in that have collapsed into PSLs (private story lines) on their own journals by now. That said, there may be more active communities in the more popular/active fandoms right now.

      In regards to fanfiction–Archive of Our Own (Ao3) is the major player for fanfiction these days. It’s extremely active, and it’s pretty common for major fandoms to regularly get 50,000+ word fics uploaded. The writing standard is a bit higher than Fanfiction.net was too, I find (I think Ao3 has an older demographic?).

      Obviously you still have to sort through a lot of crap, but there’s a LOT of extremely high qualify fics and their search tools are much better than Fanfictions were. You can filter by a lot of different categories. The only downside is that creating an A03 account is still either by invitation or you have to wait in a queue (I think)? If you know someone who can invite you (and any active user can), that helps.

      I believe there must be some communities doing fanfiction challenges on A03 still, based on some of the collection tags I see on fics I read, but I’m not sure exactly how they’re organized or run.

      Also, Discord is popular for chatting about fandom matters. I don’t like it myself, but I know a lot of people have joined Discord servers dedicated to their favorite show/ship/etc.

      1. Daisy Avalin

        I’m on AO3, if anyone wants invites yell for me and I can send you one! Admittedly I’m mostly a reader rather than writer, but I have a few bits on there.
        I agree that it’s not quite as community orientated as LJ seems to have been (I wasn’t on LJ so no real experience of it) but depending what you’re into the community feel is there.

        1. SophieChotek

          Yes, was coming to say same thing. if You want to read, A03 is great. Fanfiction[dot]net hast stuff too. But i just am a reader.

          I’d love to post some prompts, but don’t want to /have ability/have time to write.

      2. sunday anon

        I’m on AO3, I have invites, and if anyone wants to do community I’m all for it (though my fandoms are a tad old/obscure, I’d be THRILLED to just email with fandom people, especially the older fandom people).

        hit me?

        1. sunday anon

          If anyone wants to email me, you can do so at liafail at gmail dot com, this isn’t my main email address but I would get your email there and would email you back via my fandom mail….

    5. Sorcha

      I mod a comm for The Good Place on Dreamwidth (completely by accident, but hey). It’s pretty quiet right now, but it’s there. I’m hoping to kickstart it again before the new season starts. DW is where I find most of the LJ people and communities. It’s not nearly as active as LJ used to be, but it’s enough that it still feels like my online home.

      Fandom is pretty fragmented these days compared to the heydays of LJ. My fandom stuff is spread across DW, Twitter, Tumblr and the AO3. A lot is also on Discord but I can’t figure that out.

    6. Usually Lurks

      I’m pretty much 100% on AO3 these days (I had reluctantly shifted to Tumblr but got annoyed with it last year for Reasons and haven’t really gone back; I keep meaning to go back onto Dreamwidth I know a lot of my former LJ people are there and I think picking up activity as the deficiencies of Tumblr for fic have worn people down.)

      Anyway, while AO3 doesn’t seem like a community in the same way of LJ/DW/Tumblr, it can function in many of the ways those communities do. The search features are robust, and you just need to find some things you like and that makes it much easier to find more. I like using the Bookmarks feature to find new things — I go to the page for a writer I like and see if they have a public bookmarks list and scroll through that to find new things. I like being able to subscribe to things — individual works, series, authors — so I don’t have to keep up with WIPs (always nice to get a surprise notification of something that had slipped your mind!) Some works have very active comments sections that give you the kind of interaction you got on LJ. And yes lots of challenges are housed there now, those can be great to dig into.

      And finding things you like there can lead you to where people are hanging out elsewhere — a link to someone’s Tumblr or wherever a challenge is being organized — and going to that targeted place might help you find the show discussions you want.

      (I think the queue is very short now, like less than a day; I could send you an invite but I’m not actually sure how people trade email addresses here? )

    7. Laura H.

      It does depend on what kind of community you’re looking for/ what you’re wanting to get out of it….

      Fandoms as a whole are nuts (nuts used in the chaotic sense mostly) but you find what you want from it: i.e. your fic “type”, what topics are ones you’re willing to discuss, what size of community you’re looking for, individual correspondence vs. group chats etc., you can find your little niche.

    8. blaise zamboni

      I haven’t been in the fanfic realm for many many years so I don’t know about that (though I am fascinated to learn of Dreamwidth–I’ll have to check that out.)

      But for Game of Thrones specifically, there’s the ASOIAF subreddit (/r/asoiaf) which is a big fandom encompassing the show and the books. There are a few other GOT-related subreddits but this is my favorite–lots of interesting and in-depth discussion about the series, and as a non-book reader I appreciated the insight and connections to the books specifically. There are spoilers but they are fairly well marked IME.

      I also imagine you could find thriving subreddits for the other shows, though I’m not sure of their quality. I have found reddit in general to be a good platform for specific interests though.

  23. Perpetua

    I’m almost 6 weeks pregnant and experiencing some spotting, so I could use some encouragement and coping strategies. Potential TMI for pregnancy issues.

    This is my first pregnancy and everything is new, scary and so uncertain. I know the statistics, I know there’s not much to be done other than wait, but still, it feels so weird to just wait, right?!

    I had an ultrasound done this Monday, the doctor said that everything seemed fine for this phase, and we scheduled another ultrasound and “proper” exam for this Monday. Yesterday I noticed some light pink/brown spotting (very little, just on the paper), called my doctor, she said to take magnesium and call her if anything changes significantly, and if not, we’ll see what’s going on at the Monday appointment.

    The spotting seemed to have stopped after that, but I just saw some light red marks on the paper, so now I’m worried again. The internet says that it’s fairly common, and that it could go either way – continuing on to a healthy pregnancy or signifying a miscarriage. These marks don’t even show up on the pad so far, so I’m hesitant to call the doctor when the intensity or the other symptoms haven’t changed since yesterday, just the color.

    Does anyone have any experience with this? I’d prefer not to hear horror stories, I’m trying hard not to get sucked into an anxiety vortex, but I’ll accept advice if you think I should call the doctor anyway (might do it anyway once I post this, ugh).

    How do you cope with this type of uncertain situations? I’ve cancelled my previous plans for yesterday and today because I don’t feel like being around people and not being able to talk about this (only my partner and my closest friends know at this point), so I’m staying in and doing some puzzles. This works for a while, then I freak out again, cry a bit, then calm down and do the puzzles again – or write here, as it turns out.

    Anything else that has worked for you in similar situations?

    1. Overeducated

      I am in the middle of my second pregnancy, I had light spotting in the first trimester this time, and I think I remember a little the first time too but I’m not quite positive. My doctor the first time was like “probably nothing,” which is probably why I didn’t worry that much this time. My current doctor definitely worried more than me. But it also sounded like the kind of changes she was really concerned about were a heavier, period-like flow – a tiny bit on paper is not what a miscarriage looks like.

      I can at least tell you that result of pregnancy #1 is now building a dinosaur with Legos. Not at the end with #2 yet, but made it through that particular early concern. So you can have this symptom and be ok. Your statistical chances of that happening are pretty good too, the glass is half full. I hope everything is fine and you are out of these woods soon.

      As for coping – it sucks that so much of pregnancy is literally just waiting. It’s really hard at the beginning when things are more uncertain. That’s why there are all these customs around not telling or buying anything before certain points. This is, unfortunately, a widely shared part of the experience, if it makes you feel better to know how much company you have. But this time around, I told the people I would want to know if things went poorly, not just well. And distraction helped me so I wouldn’t dwell on it, but it sounds like that might not be where your instincts lead you; be gentle with yourself, whatever form that takes.

    2. Valancy Snaith

      If data helps you, the Miscarriage Odds Reassurer offers the statistics on how likely you will be to remain pregnant with every passing day. It’s at Datayze.com and friends of mine going through risky pregnancies found it immensely helpful.

      When I miscarried, the doctor and nurses were absolutely not concerned unless it was actively period-like bleeding. Light red or pink or brown spotting was perfectly normal and not a concern one little bit.

    3. First Tome Caller

      I had spotting early in my pregnancy, around the time I would have gotten my period, and what helped me was taking a pregnancy test like every day. Sort of expensive and ridiculous, I know, but it helped me.

      1. Overeducated

        I actually thought I GOT my period at 4 weeks and didn’t realize I was pregnant until I clearly missed one at 8; the doctor and i were both surprised at the dating ultrasound. (I was lucky to miss a few weeks of early pregnancy anxiety, at least.) Bodies are weird. Pregnancy is extremely weird.

    4. OBMD

      I am an OB. Soooooo many women have spotting at this gestational age. Most of the time (not all of course) everything is just fine. Rest up this weekend and have a positive attitude. Good luck to you

    5. Agnodike

      I had light spotting between five and seven weeks. I’m typing this while trying to fend off my two-year-old’s attempts to steal my phone. I had a very high risk pregnancy and I spent eight months telling myself “You’re not in charge. The baby is in charge, and she knows what she’s doing.” That was the only thing that calmed me down.

    6. Elisavet

      I also had spotting in my first trimester after some moderately vigorous exercise (but I’m not sure if that’s what caused it). It lasted a couple of days and really freaked me out too. But as others mentioned, it’s apparently pretty common. I had to do an extra ultrasound and everything checked out ok. I was a little wary of cardio after that (for better or worse), and stuck to prenatal yoga and walking for exercise. But it’s definitely not uncommon!

    7. Sam Sepiol

      With my healthy pregnancy (child is now 8) I had spotting. With my miscarriage no spotting. Thinking good thoughts and sending good vibes.

    8. Swingbattabatta

      I had spotting the entire first trimester of my first pregnancy- baby was totally fine, and it stopped right around the beginning of the second trimester. I didn’t have any spotting with my miscarriage, or with my second pregnancy (my 3 week old is snoozing as I write this)- every pregnancy is different! This stage is so tough because all you can do is wait, but you’ll make it. Then you get to experience the fun of anxiously counting baby’s movements every time you get nervous :)

    9. legalchef

      I have no real advice, but I had the same thing happen at around the same time. I had an early miscarriage a few months prior to I was freaking out. My doctor basically said what yours said – it’s pretty normal, and if it doesn’t get worse likely means absolutely nothing.

      As for how I coped… I didn’t really do anything. Just tried to keep myself busy pretty much. Stay away from google if you can. Google says every little symptom is either absolutely nothing or absolute tragedy.

      My son just turned 2 and is perfect. :)

    10. CoveredInBees

      Yup. it is super common. You might just have an irritable cervix and pregnancy does a number on it. I had spotting and even small clots with two totally healthy pregnancies. Yes, it is scary, but pushing on with normal life until you know is all that worked for me. I say this as someone who lost two pregnancies before my first healthy one. One of those losses was life-threatening and traumatic. In both cases the bleeding was much heavier.

      Journalling helped but also thinking about the fact that people who are either unwilling or unable to care for their bodies give birth to healthy children all the time. Most pregnancy loss issues are outside of your control and you need to keep living your life until you find out one way or another.

    11. karou

      I had spotting at 6 weeks in the middle of the night and freaked since I had no bleeding with my first pregnancy. I went to emergency the next morning and during triage they asked me about how many pads I’d gone through, if there were clots and whether I was having painful cramps. My bleeding had stopped by morning, so I was reassured even before getting examined and an ultrasound. It did turn out I had a bladder infection, which might have caused to the bleeding. Maybe ask your doctor to get checked for a bladder or UTI infection?

      As someone else mentioned, don’t Google and stay off parenting message boards — I found they really ramp up anxieties and are full of people pushing their own agenda or misinformation, and can be really harsh and judgemental. I found a book about pregnancy I liked to look up stuff I was worried or curious about instead (I got “What to Expect”, but know some people don’t like it). This is my second pregnancy and weirdly I’m finding it much more anxiety-inducing and uncomfortable; it’s so stressful waiting for my next OBGYN appointment to hear everything’s fine.

    12. ImJustHereForThePoetry

      I had light spotting during the first trimester for all three of my (healthy) kids. It’s more common than most people realize.

    13. Lilysparrow

      I know I had light spotting early in my first pg, and I believe I did in #2 as well, but I didn’t realize I was pg until about 8 weeks along, so I probably thought it was mittelschmerz or something.

      The results of both those pregnancies are bickering in the back seat of the car right now. One was born at 40+5, 6lbs 8 oz. The other was 39+6, 9 lbs 4 oz.

      Best wishes and peace of mind to you!

    14. Jenny F. Scientist

      In addition to the reassurance above, I’m going to mention that pregnancy-related depression and anxiety are a real thing, and if you keep feeling so anxious you can’t function (this seems normal for now, but imagine another eight months of this much worry?), there are a lot of very safe antidepressants during pregnancy. Motherisk has sadly closed, but here’s a link to a paper from one of their clinicians: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25764038

    15. Kimmybear

      I had the same thing at about 6 weeks and now have a healthy giggly 3 year old sitting on my lap. Take care of yourself is all you can do.

    16. Clever Name

      I had some brownish/redish spotting early on when I was pregnant with my now 12 year old son. I was super upset and freaked out by it, but in the end I went on to deliver a healthy baby.

      Trying to conceive and pregnancy are fraught for many women because most of the time, there is literally nothing (besides the obvious when trying to get pregnant) one can do. It feels so disempowering to have so little control. I was raised to believe I can be anything I want to be, if I just put my mind to it and work hard enough. I still believe it. But there’s just some things we can’t control, and it’s so frustrating. I’ve been there. You’ll get through it. :)

      1. Perpetua

        Ooof, your second paragraph describes it really really well. Thank you for the support, it means a lot.

    17. bunniferous

      I had this with two pregnancies and both resulted in healthy babies. The doc back then called it implantation bleeding.

    18. Perpetua

      Just wanted to say a big thank you to everyone, you’ve really helped me get through this weekend. Even though I know rationally that these uncertainties are common, it has helped me feel not so alone, and I was able to calm down for most of the rest of the weekend and just let things be. I’m both excited and dreading the doctor’s appointment tomorrow, but it looks like I better get used to feeling conflicting emotions. :)

      Thank you from this internet stranger who appreciates your kind and supportive thoughts!

  24. Hunted by the Neighborhood FB Group

    I’m a guy. I decided to take my daughter (under age 10) to the neighborhood pool. I used my pool card, got us in, had a great time. My wife did not go because she was writing a paper for her Master’s. We’ve all been numerous times before, but for some reason, so busybody woman didn’t like the idea that I was: 1. A man. 2. Brown. 3. Alone with my daughter who looks more like her mother (fair skinned).
    Next thing I know, there’s a post on the neighborhood FB page talking about how people need to be careful about “human trafficking” and if you “see something, say something.” The woman goes to mention that she saw something “suspicious” at the pool–a man alone with a little girl who seemed very interested in the little girl! She states she has called the County Sheriff to report this because it was “so troubling.” And that “men groom small children for sex trades.”
    Yes, you fool. I am very interested in her because she is not as strong a swimmer as she thinks she is! Fuck FB Neighborhood groups. I called her out but she then said, “oh I wasn’t talking about you!” Yes, you are. I know exactly who you are, Karen.
    I guess Dads can’t take their young daughters out in public anymore. Y’know, because I’m gonna kidnap her.

    1. TL -

      Ugh I’m sorry. My friend’s neighborhood Facebook group has horrible classist crud all over it – and a messenger group to boot, where it gets really nasty.

      That sounds awful but you sound like an awesome dad. Your daughter is very lucky!

    2. Miss Astoria Platenclear

      That’s awful! I hope neighbors in the group called her out.
      Guess I’m in a better-than – average Facebook neighborhood group.

      1. Hunted by the Neighborhood FB Group

        A few did. Others praised her on being “so vigilant.” Fuck these people. She is apparently very popular in the neighborhood. IDK why…her page is all MLM bullshit and how she’s so excited for her daughter’s cotillion. Seriously.

        I also hate the posts of “I was at Walmart and two Hispanic men were following me…” I didn’t expect that to dribble down to my own pool!

    3. Athena X

      How completely ridiculous.

      Getting off Facebook was the best thing I did for my peace of mind in terms of my neighbors. Sometimes it is better to have no earthly idea what those crazies are thinking.

    4. Dino

      I’m sorry you were targeted like that–truly awful. You don’t happen to live in Oregon, do you? They just passed a law where victims of racist 911 calls can file for $250 compensation through small claims court. I hope more states do something similar.

      1. Hunted by the Neighborhood FB Group

        No, not in Oregon. She states she didn’t call 911, but that she called the “non-emergency line.” I guess me kidnapping someone wasn’t enough to rate a 911 call.

    5. Gaia

      That is so gross and I’m so sorry that happened to you. People suck. I’m afraid this has more to do with race than gender. I imagine plenty of white men with white daughters would get nothing but “good daddy” praise for taking their kid to the pool.

      I am all about See Something/Say Something, but what you see had better be more than a person existing normally while being not white.

      1. Geezer With Laptop

        First, I’m sorry as heck, Pool Dad, that you got that response—likely from a brainless, thoughtless busybody who didn’t bother to observe the affectionate connection you have with your daughter. It sucks.
        My youngest brother, a white guy, is also a single dad and Gaia is right, he does often get the “what an exceptional man you are!” reaction. But not always, and sometimes it takes a while.
        When my niece, Bro’s daughter, turned 13 and it became clear she now needed a starter bra, he decided to take her to a store where she’d get advice that was more expert than he could provide. So after school one day, Bro and Niece went to a store I’ll call the Secret.
        At 13, Niece was already 5’7″, and (I say objectively) has always been pretty cute. My brother is 6’2″, reasonably fit, and a warmhearted guy, but he’s kinda big and gruff-looking and doesn’t go around smiling all the time.
        They’d been in the Secret for a very few minutes when Bro became aware that he was getting side-eyes from several of the store’s workers, who had all somehow found different things that needed attention within a few yards of where Bro and Niece were browsing. One employee stood behind the counter, pretending not to be watching them, with a cell phone in her hand (which may have been coincidental, but still). Finally, a woman wearing a “Manager” button came over and, cordially but cautiously, said, “Hello. Can we help you?”
        Brother gave his “single dad, daughter needs undies, I’m clueless” explanation, and boy, did the waters part. Suddenly every employee’s face had an “Awwwww! How sweet!” expression, and undergarment suggestions were flying in from all directions.
        I think it helped that Bro and Niece have an obvious we-kid-each-other-with-love dad-daughter connection (which I’m sure Pool Dad was also demonstrating with his daughter, if Nosy had bothered to notice). Anyway, Niece ended up well-supplied, Bro and Niece left the store with the manager’s business card and “Please call me if you have any questions,” and friendly farewells all around, and The Secret is now Niece’s (alarmingly expensive) go-to place for needed undies.
        Bro did tell me, though, that for a few minutes there he was genuinely concerned that the next people to walk in the door would be carrying badges and demanding his identification.
        And Gaia is also right that the See/Say business should be put into action only AFTER the observer’s brain is in gear.
        And for what it’s worth, Pool Dad, you and your daughter would be welcomed and un-challenged at my neighborhood pool.
        Sorry about the long story, but thanks for listening.

        1. Traffic_Spiral

          Yup. If little Ms. “See something” really felt there was something wrong, she could have walked up to him and been like “Hi, I’m so-and-so, I’m your neighbor, how are you, nice to meet you. you here with your kid, etc.” Just glaring and then talking shit about someone later isn’t appropriate.

      2. Akgal

        My husband is white and while I was pregnant with kid 3 we were at the store. I was about 8 months pregnant and had to sit down when she needed to go to the bathroom. So as she was 3 and a half my husband took her so I could keep sitting. This total busybody threw a fit because my husband took her into the single occupancy men’s bathroom. She tried to get the manager to force open the door to rescue her. The manager said no because father’s are allowed to help their children. He said he would ban her if she kept it up. He was horrified when the door opened and he recognized my husband,who worked there, and our daughter. He told us the story so if she called the cops we would know what was going on. I have busybodies.

        1. Gaia

          Sure, it does also happen to men that are white sometimes, but it happens way more often (and with far more serious consequences) when the man in question isn’t white. It shouldn’t happen ever, but we can’t ignore that living while brown seems to be a crime in the eyes of many people.

          1. Geezer With Laptop

            Absolutely agree, Gaia, and apologies if it seemed I was suggesting otherwise.

          2. Akgal

            Where I live doesn’t have a lot of black or brown people. The dominant minority group is Alaska Natives /American Indians. We get kicked a lot. It gets worse when the kid passes for white and the parent they are with does not. I just wish those busybodies would cut it out.

            I didn’t mean to imply that black and brown people didn’t suffer from this as well. I probably shouldn’t post before my morning coffee kicks in.

          3. Gaia

            For me, and many people I know, black or brown is a shorthand for anyone who is not immediately recognizable as white. That would include Alaska Natives, American Indians.

            I lived in Alaska for a few years it is such a beautiful part of the world. However, I was surprised at how much discrimination against Alaska Natives there is in an area where they were the majority. I was rather young and naive at the time, but that really opened my eyes to how big of an issue we have in this country.

          4. Gaia

            I don’t think either of you suggested otherwise, I think people just often do like to suggest otherwise and so it felt worth clarifying.

      3. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)

        I’m with you. I never ever ever ever considered myself PoC, but in the last few years I was profiled as such. For example:
        * Someone at a client’s office kept leaving dirty dishes by my side and saying “Can you take care of these, too?”
        * A kid wearing sportswear from an exclusive rugby club threw pebbles at me when I was going home with the groceries.
        * A mother tried to scare her kid saying I will kidnap him I he didn’t behave.
        * The security employees of a supermaket chain always ask me to show them the contents of my bag. It happened in two different stores.
        It’s super annoying.

    6. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

      Oh my god, this makes me so angry on your behalf. WTF. I’m sorry that your neighborhood has racist curtain twitchers.

    7. Elf

      I’m sorry, that sucks so much.

      This is giving me lots of feelings and thoughts, but I don’t want to hijack your thread so I’ll make my own post.

      I think racism should be the new focus of “See something, Say something.” I hope others in your community spoke up in solidarity.

    8. Auntie Social

      I’m so sorry. Now you have another DWB to worth about, Dadding While Black, because of horrible people like that. I wish there was a video of old Karen.

      1. LCL

        I wish people would stop using a common name to call out racists, casual and otherwise. It’s considered bigoted when done with people of some ethnic groups. If someone leads with ‘so there was this Karen’ I know it will involve stereotyping from the narrator as well as from the villain. FWIW, the only Karen I knew in school was SE Asian.

        1. coffee cup

          My mum is called Karen, so when I hear this it does bother me. When she was born, no one else was called Karen, no one even knew how to pronounce it, and now it’s way too common, really.

          1. Lady Jay

            I feel this thing about using “Karen” to denote a racist person. I have three Karens in my life, one of them a close family member, and together they’re responsible for equipping me to recognize and care about injustice, and show compassion to other people. (I also have a “Becky” in my life–she’s a close friend and is the furthest thing from the stereotype possible.) I guess I’m just uncomfortable with using real names, that belong to real people, to connote racist behaviours; it seems like problematic shorthand.

            That said, the OP’s story is awful. How absolutely frustrating. As a white person, I am embarrassed and ashamed that so many people feel that black & brown people living their lives are a threat. I’m afraid I don’t have anything helpful to add, but I’m so sorry this happened to you, Pool Dad.

        2. Anonymous Educator

          I don’t know that using Karen or Becky in this way is bigoted (substituting action “against” white people for action against non-white people is pretending we live in a cultural vacuum—we don’t; it’s a false equivalency). That said, I’m not a fan of the practice, and I agree with you that there are lots of great Karens and Beckys out there, and using their names to sub in for “clueless and dangerous white person” isn’t great. On a tangentially related note (not to do with race), I know someone named Debbie who really hates the term Debbie downer.

          1. Mary not so contrary

            “Mary Mary quite contrary” was pretty miserable to hear when I was a sharp-eyed 4th grade geek-in-progress who didn’t know how not to point out an error…

        3. I heart Paul Buchman

          The Karen are a persecuted minority from Asia. The use of Karen for this reason has always seemed really off to me. Not that I expect everyone to be aware of this issue, because the world is a big place but yes, not the best term.

    9. Call me St. Vincent

      I am so sorry. That is just so gross. I have no words. What in the heck is wrong with people!

    10. Kathenus

      I’m so sorry, people can be so absolutely horrible. I’m not on Facebook but our local Nextdoor can be sooo bad, as well as the Ring alerts. The number of people who call out POC for doing normal things as being suspicious, and warning people to be on the alert, makes me so furious. This woman sounds like a deeply unhappy person and projecting at anything/everything that she can to make herself feel superior. So she may be hurting others and spreading this, which is awful, at least you know that you are most likely a lot happier than she is in her life.

    11. Booksalot

      Swimming pools are the worst for this sort of Karen. I have an autistic adult male relative, and every summer he gets hassled for being a solitary man at the pool. He’s not after your kid, lady, he IS a kid in a grown-up body. Let him do laps in peace. We’ve made sure that the pool staff and the local cops know his situation.

    12. OyHiOh

      My husband – older than me and frankly looked like our children’s grandfather – had police called on him multiple times when our kids were little. Generally for trying to get an overtired not well spoken toddler out of a store mid meltdown. Once at a park. Another time, told to leave the kids section of the library because the librarian didn’t realize he was there with our children and he couldn’t be there as an unaccompanied male.

      We owe it to our children to be cautious of course but caution and unconscious bias get tangled up in each other far too often!

      1. Not So NewReader

        wth.
        There used to be a time where we could go up to people and just start a chatty conversation. Through the chatty conversation we could ascertain that all was well or that there was a problem. What happened to that tool we used to use? I guess we have just grown to afraid of each other…..

        1. Auntie Social

          Exactly. I mean, you know the old biddie was prying, but you also knew she had a big mouth so you’d tell her “confidentially” and then everyone in your zip code would know it was a family relationship and they’d never say a word. “You know my wife Susan, the tall redhead? Well she’s working on her masters and told us to leave her alone and go to the pool. Get out, is what she said. I’ll tell her you said hi”.

    13. Public Sector Manager

      I’ve been off Facebook for the past 18 months and I don’t regret it at all!

      And Facebook groups are the worst. Like where one of my neighbors was complaining about the “dark skinned man” driving slowly through our neighborhood and stopping to check out each house early in the morning. Yeah, his name is Steve and he delivers the morning paper.

  25. Fishsticks

    Does anyone have any advice on writing a speech for a wedding? I’m in the wedding party for two of my closest friends who are getting married in like 2 weeks. However I volunteered to write a speech and I have no idea what to say???

    Thanks!

    1. TeeVee

      A lot of speeches I’ve seen start with how you know the couple and include your favorite memories of them. Don’t know if that’s helpful but it’s a common thread I’ve seen.

      1. Reba

        Yes, I think simple and sincere is best!

        You can tell a funny (G rated!) story or two, but IME the speech givers that try to be really clever or hilarious often fall flat. What’s wanted is just some nice words about how great the couple is, and all the good things you hope for them in their married life.

        Is there a quotation that means something to all three of you… or that you think they would like? That might be a good way to get started!

      2. Mary not so contrary

        My favorite was a sister sharing stories of Barbie & Ken games from childhood and relating them to bride&groom in real world.

    2. Vincaminor

      Go to the library and ask for help! From what I’ve seen at my local branch, there are lots of books that deal with just this sort of thing!

      1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis

        The internet can be your friend here – just be careful if you use a template and edit it that the timing still makes sense. My hubby got much of his speech template online, but forgot to make appropriate adjustments to the gaps between toasts – the guests were up and down like yoyos until he decided to run with it and ad-libbed some joke toasts towards the end!

    3. Agnodike

      Try answering a question. What makes this couple special? How has heir friendship made your life better? What about their relationship inspires you, or makes you happy, or any other positive metric you choose? Keep it short, simple, and sincere.

    4. Patty Mayonnaise

      Check out the A Practical Wedding archives, they have tons of advice about this! Enjoy the wedding!

    5. Lady Jay

      I gave a wedding speech last year for a close friend of mine (I was part of the bridal party & it was expected). I identified a few memories of my friend, positive ones that showed how he’d matured and how his character complemented his new wife’s, retold the stories, and then congratulated them both. I kept the whole thing short (2-3 minutes).

      One thing I personally would advise against doing is telling raunchy stories, meaning stories that cast your friends or their marriage in a bad light. I’ve been to weddings before where an attendant recounts their friend’s prior exploits in ways that throw shade on his character or indicate that the groom would be better of UNmarried. (I suppose the same speeches might be told for the bride as well, I just haven’t been to any of those weddings.) It’s a happy day for the couple, and they’re likely in front of a large crowd–bland and a little boring is better than tasteless.

      Good luck, you’ll do great!

    6. kc89

      People love any speech that starts with “webster’s dictionary defines ‘love’ as _____ “

    7. Angwyshaunce

      I had to write a speech for my brother’s wedding (which I did not enjoy doing). It was four sentences – intro, words to groom, words to bride, and closing. I timed it at 30 seconds (as opposed to the bride’s sister who talked for ten minutes).

      I definitely got the most compliments on the speech.

    8. BRR

      I like the format of say how you know the couple, funny story but remember to stay far away from inside jokes, and end with a heart felt message. Lean towards keeping it short and I like when people don’t read the entire thing from a piece of paper or phone (aka look up). If you’re going after someone, pay attention to what works and what doesn’t work so you can adjust.

    9. Fishsticks

      Thank you all so much!! My speech is supposed to be 2-4 minutes with no toast. Its complicated by the fact I literally have no memories of meeting them since about a week or two after I got a bad concussion lol. I’m thinking about joking about that.

      Thank you all so much! I’ll let you know after the wedding how it goes (:

    10. Daisy Avalin

      My OH was best man for his friend in April. What he found worked was instead of telling funny/mildly humiliating stories/jokes about Friend in the speech, he gave the titles of the stories (which would remind Friend about them) and suggested anybody who wanted to know the details asked OH at the bar afterwards. I think the only person who took OH up on this offer was Friend’s dad !

  26. 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.

    Looks like the 5th Edition adaptation of the classic 1st edition puzzle dungeon, White Plume Mountain, is what I will be running next.

    The adventure will start on June 22nd and will be for 8th level characters. I anticipate it will take 2-4 sessions to complete. Anticipated session dates are Saturday 6/22, Sat 7/6, Sat 7/20 and Sat 8/3

    White Plume Mountain was well received by critics. It was ranked the 9th greatest Dungeons & Dragons adventure of all time by Dungeon magazine in 2004. One judge, commenting on the ingenuity required to complete the adventure, described it as “the puzzle dungeon to end all puzzle dungeons.”

    If you’re interested, reach out and I can provide additional details.

    1. Angwyshaunce

      Oh man. I’ve stuck with 2nd edition for like 25 years. This is tempting, but I am unable to commit right now.

      1. Antagonist Relations

        I am not seeing any new member applications on the groups io page, can you double check or you can use the group owner email address at the bottom of the main page to contact me directly.

        1. Liane

          I am going to register with my newer email. The one I used is now saying there’s something wrong with the certificate. I bet that’s it.
          I don’t do too well with the more puzzle-y modules, but I would like to chat and meet some other gamers.

          1. Liane

            Okay, that was the problem. I was able to request membership. It sounds fun.
            I had a Discord Mutants & Masterminds game tonight, but the GM isn’t feeling well, so we called it off.

    2. CoffeeOnMyMind

      My 8yo niece is interested in D&D. I’ve tried playing but the game didn’t get very far (our DM ghosted us). Any advice for newbies/getting started with D&D?

      1. Angwyshaunce

        Finding someone with knowledge of the game is the best way to start learning.

        You can also buy the main book for the edition you want to play, and just spend some reading. I imagine there are forums online if you have questions.

          1. CoffeeOnMyMind

            Those are both really good ideas! Her birthday is coming up, and the book sounds like a great gift. Thank you!

            1. Antagonist Relations

              A local gaming store might have games, but there are also some kid-centric RPG options that are not full D&D.

              Wizards of the Coast has an adventure made for introducing kids to D&D: https://dnd.wizards.com/articles/features/monsterslayers

              A friend of mine used Hero Kids for his son and friends when they were around 9-10: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/106605/Hero-Kids–Fantasy-RPG?affiliate_id=386172

              And Monte Cook Games has a full RPG for kids called No Thank You Evil: http://www.nothankyouevil.com/

              Here is a pretty good article on the topic too: https://www.tribality.com/2019/02/19/playing-dd-with-kids-and-how-to-do-it-properly/

              1. Antagonist Relations

                Also, I can endorse the main 5e D&D starter set, but I would give the Stranger Things Starter set a pass as it was kind of a dud when I ran it for friends a few weeks back.

            2. Aly_b

              Maybe also track down some podcasts that are kid-friendly that she could check out? I don’t have any specific recommendations for an 8-yo but there’s lots out there.

              1. jay

                Can I recommend Dames & Dragons for being goofy wholesome fun? To the best of my knowledge, none of their jokes would be inappropriate for a child, and the tone is a lot more like a child’s fantasy novel than the gritty serious tone of a lot of d&d out there (which isn’t a bad thing, but maybe not as suitable for an 8 year old.)

            3. Seeking Second Childhood

              Depending on age, there are also some animal themed RPGs. The Warrior series has one where you all play cats. And we just learned of Realms of Pugmire, which is a post-apocalyptic dogs and cats are now the intelligent race kind of setting.

    3. anna

      Sorry for the odd question, but do you tend to play through voice calls, video calls, or by typing in a chat? I find myself curious about joining but haven’t played online before.

      1. Antagonist Relations

        For the games I run, we use Roll20 for the virtual tabletop and then voice chat through a discord server, so it’s voice calls.

    4. Ktelzbeth

      Coming in super late, but I just applied for membership. I think I was an instigator way back when you started the group, but got busy going through a divorce, so I’m glad it’s been going well!

  27. TeeVee

    Has anyone canceled their cable and switched over to only subscription options like Netflix and Hulu? My roommate and I are thinking about it. My first thought when my roommate suggested it was an instant ‘no’ but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I don’t watch much live TV anymore. I’ve gotten into the habit of saving up several episodes of a show to binge them back to back so even the shows I do watch live, I could save them until they’re on a subscription service. Also I’m at my parents at least once a month to dogsit so if there was something I really wanted to watch, I could ask them to record it.

    Anyone have this sort of set up with their TV? Any pros or cons to share?

    1. Applesauce

      I’ve never had a cable service, I moved out of my parents house a few years before Netflix and couldn’t afford cable. I got Netflix shortly after it became popular and it’s the only “tv” I’ve ever had as an adult. I’ve never had any issues or really wanted for cable (which I did have growing up at my parents). The only thing I will say is it’s kind of annoying to watch sports on tv without cable, though I’ve been able to find an internet stream of some kind for most games I’ve wanted to watch, or else had a viewing party at a sports bar or friend’s house.

        1. Parenthetically

          We subscribe to Hulu Plus for the world cup and the Olympics, then cancel when they’re done. It’s pretty reasonable, and prorated IIRC

        2. Patty Mayonnaise

          We have an antenna and can at least watch local sports and NBC coverage of the Olympics.

      1. Everdene

        I live in the UK so a bit different but… 2 years ago when Oak was negotiating our Sky subscription there was a issue at the final hurdle so we left. We now have a TV licence (essential for live broadcast tv), Now TV (approx £5pcm), my BiL’s Netflix account, all the free apps and we’ve just swapped my student Prime for his free with health insurance Prime. We’re saving around £50pcm.

        The only thing I miss is that when we had Sky all our shows were recorded and accessible on one platform. Now we have 6-8 ar any one time and I can lose track, especially as some only stay for 7 days. The saving is worth it though!

    2. valentine

      The greatest pro is no ads, and I didn’t even know the deep grace of that until years later when next I heard a shouting political ad. Next pro is clicking into another tab for research.

    3. Valancy Snaith

      My husband and I haven’t had live TV ever since we moved in together about seven years ago. Neither of us are big TV watchers, but we get by with Netflix, Crave (which is a Canadian subscription service), and borrowing stuff from the library or friends. It does suck for live sports and news, but a lot of news channels will show you the clips of whatever story you’re interested in via their website. It helps that we’re not into TV, though, and it saves an absolute bundle.

    4. Not All

      I did. Hulu was offering $1/month for a year on Black Friday and I already have Amazon Prime for shopping. I don’t regret it at ALL. I did add the “live” package during the Stanley Cup playoffs but that’s the only time I cared about not having live tv.

      I’d make a list of the shows you really care about watching (if there are any) and see how many of them are available with the streaming services…or if there is something comparable. I like to have cooking or DIY shows on as background noise sometimes. The ones I had been watching weren’t available, but I’m just as happy with old episodes of Good Eats or Iron Chef.

      1. merope

        I cancelled my cable this year, and decided that for the money I would save, I could splurge on iTunes subscriptions to shows that weren’t popping up immediately on Netflix or Hulu. I have not missed the cable, but I do miss having the commercials to do some quick household task and feel productive!

    5. Texan In Exile

      Not only did we cancel our cable, we didn’t get anything to replace it. I get DVDs from the library with the TV shows I want to watch. Only in a few cases have shows not been available – seasons 4 and 5 of Friday Night Lights* and any season of 30something, so I just bought used copies of those online and will donate them to the library once I have watched them.

      * Fun fact. I just watched the last season of Rake, an Australian comedy that I highly recommend. Wendy is talking to someone and asks, “Have you ever seen ‘Friday Night Lights?’ It’s the best TV show that’s ever been made.” She is correct!

    6. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

      We have a TV license (UK) but I hardly ever actually watch anything that isn’t streaming. My husband works in another city and so we have a flat there, and he doesn’t even have a TV. He exclusively watches Netflix and YouTube. I’ve never been much of a TV person anyway so I really wouldn’t miss it at all myself.

    7. Moocowcat

      What’s a cable bill? *silly joke*
      Pros to Canceling Cable
      Cheaper
      Interesting content
      Many live events are legally available on websites. (Such as Saturday hockey on CBC).
      Cons:
      Maybe a delay in viewing prime content

    8. Angwyshaunce

      Our cable box is stuff unplugged in a closet. We have a PC with wireless keyboard and mouse, so we can stream, watch youtube, even Homestar Runner (flash). I love it.

    9. YouTube TV

      Yes, we ditched cable after getting a free trial of YouTube TV and loving it. So much cheaper and it has channels we actually want to watch instead of a bunch of ones we don’t. No interest in Hulu but we do subscribe to Netflix and MLB TV (to watch “my” baseball team in another city). We are big-time sports fans – not just baseball – and see all the games/matches we want to, college and pro, with YouTube TV. Currently watching the World Cup and we get all the channels that the Olympics are on so no trouble with rare/special sporting events either. Highly recommended.

    10. Booksalot

      We have cable because it would cost more not to (need cable internet and landline, but paying a la carte is $$$) and literally never use it. We only use streaming. I can’t be bothered to keep track of when shows are on. The only value I see to watching the original airing of a show is if it’s time-sensitive and you talk about it with friends, like with reality talent shows.

    11. Elizabeth West

      Yes, I cut the cord when AT&T bought DirecTV in 2015. I knew the price would go way up and I was only watching about four shows, so it was no longer worth it. I only have Netflix, Hulu, the PBS app, and Britbox now. There is more content than I could possibly watch on those. I barely watch anything on network anymore. Nothing now, since they just canceled my favorite sitcom!! #SaveTheKidsAreAlright >:(

      If you like sports, you might want to look into add-ons. I don’t care except for skating, and I only generally watch sports over the air during the Winter Olympics, so this is perfect for me.

    12. A Nonny Nonny

      If you have a PlayStation you can do Vue instead of cable. We do Vue, Netflix and Prime and the only thing I miss is baseball because of my team’s owner and the deal he has made with Comcast.

    13. Forrest Gumption

      Yep, for about five years now I have only had a Roku with subscriptions to Netflix, Amazon prime and HBO, plus an antenna to receive terrestrial broadcast channels. I watch series-based television and movies through the Roku, and breaking news and live sports events on the antenna TV. Cost: $50 for internet, $13 for Netflix, $13 for prime, and $15 for HBO. So, about $90 a month, which is the equivalent of some basic cable TV packages, but there’s way more that I actually WANT to watch on the Roku + antenna TV combo.

      1. Not a cat

        Over the last 5 years, Spectrum has doubled the cost of my high-speed internet. And I need high-speed because I work remotely and deal with big files and VPN. I think BIG CABLE knows people are dropping cable, so they plan to make up revenue with raising the cost of internet. In my area of Los Angeles, they are the only “choice”–thanks to crappy politicians who care more about corporate contributions then they do about the citizens. Frankly, at this point, they are a utility and should be regulated as such.

    14. Koko

      I cut cable and home internet a few years ago. (I live in an apartment complex with free wifi, have a smartphone and cell service for light internet, and am online at work). Now, instead of paying $140+ a month, I pick a few shows to buy seasons of and download the episodes on my complex’s free wifi or at Starbucks. Many you can subscribe to in real time as they are airing in iTunes or on Amazon and download to watch on your smartphone. (Caveat: For some reason, Survivor and/or CBS, for example, have gotten ridiculous about releasing their episodes to iTunes — it used to be the morning after they aired and can now go several days and even into the weekend and following week before releasing an episode, which is insane in this 24/7 era of digitsl news and entertainment cycles AND PEOPLE ARE PAYING FOR THE SEASON. I don’t experience this with other shows I purchase as season passes but if others follow to try to get people to their own platforms, it will be a deal-killer. I know I won’t subscribe to Survivor ever again for a season currently airing and I DEFINITELY will not pay CBS for any kind of access after this.)

      I also subscribe to audible, which again, I can download my books on free wifi and listen to back at my apartment. I have subscribed to Netflix for short periods specifically to see certain shows.

      Even buying, say, 2 TV season passes to weekly series per month — I rarely do even that much, most series I buy run for more than one month anyway — and the audible subscription is still less than half the $140 I used to pay monthly, so adding Netflix even full time year-round would still would make it far cheaper than paying for cable and internet, though I download Netflix episodes rather than stream.

      1. Reliquary

        After doing a good bit of research on pros and cons, we’ve decided to eliminate our cable service, and we will be adding Hulu + Live TV.

        The only real downside is exactly what Koko described, but you have to figure out whether it will apply to your favorite shows. I am a huge RuPaul’s Drag Race fan, and it is not included in Hulu + Live TV, so I will have to purchase each season from Amazon. But the episodes are never immediately available, and sometimes it takes two or three days for an episode to be released.

        It’s important to know that kind of thing going in, so you don’t get surprised by that inconvenience.

    15. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser

      I bought one of the High def antennas (an indoor one, but I’m in a metro area), so I “can” get local news and sports – like the Olympics, if needed. There’s 65 stations on that. (sale, $20)
      I got Hulu for $1 on black friday.
      And I have Amazon Prime already.
      I use a Roku (got a great deal on black friday, too. ($50 for the one with headphones).

      I already had high speed business comcast internet because I work from home.

      So for the cost of less than we were spending one month on cable, I have more than I ever watch. (I haven’t had time – work too much and still sorting through estate stuff). And I can stream some great stations via the Roku, as well, so I do use it for music too.

  28. Lucky Penny

    An artist I follow online talked recently about being asked what their goal in life was and that their answer had been pretty consistent since they were younger: to make a living off of their art.

    I thought it was an interesting question because more often I feel the question is what do you want to do with your career rather than what you want out of life. So when I thought of it for myself, my answer came to I want to have a comfortable living that allows me the time and finances to travel and have fun with my friends and family. That’s what’s important to me.

    So I was curious to ask what is your life goal? Is it tied to your work that you want to lead your company or get the highest paid salary? To raise a family? To travel? Become famous? Spend every free moment volunteering to help those less fortunate? To complete a particular hobby? What is your life goal?

    1. Agent J

      One of my life goals is that my friends and family know that I love them and I’m there for them. That means traveling to see them, celebrating their momentous occasions, supporting their dreams. Basically, when it comes time for my funeral, they may not remember what I did with my career but I want them to remember that I loved them as best as I could.

    2. CoffeeOnMyMind

      My brother’s “I know I’ve made it when” moment is getting a boat. Mine is buying fancy cheese without feeling like I’m splurging.

    3. Angwyshaunce

      Moving out of the suburbs, buying a large plot of land, and living simply while pursuing crafts. That’s my goal.

    4. Loopy

      To have a life full of family and friends with minimal drama/stress. The is 100% when I feel happiest with life.

    5. Marion Q

      Mine is to save up/get enough money to retire early and live comfortably. I’ll buy a secluded house in a mountain and finally live a life of solitude.

  29. Works in IT

    This may sound like an odd question, but does anyone have any recommendations on kitten proof shower curtains?

    So far the score is kittens 1, shower curtain 0…..

    1. Not All

      It depends on what your definition of kitten proof is…and which aspect they are attracted to. I had some where their fascination was with the water running down the inside…so switching from clear vinyl to a fabric one was effective. The ones I have now like to play with one on each side of the fabric and “pounce” through it onto each other. It goes down a lot! For them, the clear vinyl works well because it isn’t as fun to attack your sister when she can see you!

      I gave up using the pressure mount shower rods a decade ago…they are just a lost cause with pets!

      1. Works in IT

        They seem to be ridiculously attracted to the idea of jumping at the thing that moves when they touch it. Last night one of them sprang at the curtain, stuck, and tore it in half.

    2. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy

      Can you just loop the curtain up over the rod out of the way when you aren’t using it?

  30. Yucky Feet

    How can I get a pedicure when I have some fungus under my toenails? It’s not that I’m vain but that I need help getting my feet ready for sandals. I’d really rather not do it myself. My hands aren’t steady and the results aren’t good. Places l have called and asked say no. Do I just call and not tell them?

    1. Works in IT

      I would suggest trying to get rid of the fungus first, and then making the appointment after the fungus is gone. It will be very obvious that the fungus is there if you lie when making the appointment, and they’re not letting you make the appointment because they don’t want their employees or other customers getting the fungus.

      Also, getting rid of the fungus will have a side effect of making your feet look better for sandals weather. Foot fungus, all on its own, can discolor nails or affect the way they grow.

      1. ThatGirl

        I’d agree on treatment but I will also add that nail fungus can take six months or longer to treat. I dealt with this myself years ago. You can’t just neglect your feet for months while you wait.

        A podiatrist would probably trim your nails but not paint them. Consider a salon with disposable liners and sterilized equipment, they may be willing.

    2. Fungi Nails

      I’ve had toenail fungus for 20 years. It does not go away…and I am allergic to all the drugs available. I get pedicures once a month. It has never bothered the tech I go to. I asked her once if it did, and she told me it is very common and she’s used to it. Don’t be afraid! Go enjoy a pedi!

    3. Book Lover

      Go to a podiatrist instead – they do nail care and so on for diabetics and people who struggle to take care of their nails safely.

    4. Falling Diphthong

      Have you seen a podiatrist for the fungus?

      My mom’s pedicure place discovered she had a fungus. And the doctor took a sample and sent it out, and then prescribed antifungals based on the exact problem the lab tests reported, and it was a short course of pills (I think) and goo for the toe for a year. I would not assume that the fungus will go away with otc treatment.

    5. Agnodike

      The places you’ve called said no because nail fungus is contagious. Don’t try to circumvent their infection control procedures by deceiving them, please. If you can’t afford medical care to treat your fungus, call your local public health unit and see if a foot care nurse is part of their services.

      1. Nail Tech

        Depends. I work on clients with toenail fungus. My tools are sanitized the way medical tools are–the state requires it. The foot baths are cleaned after every client and I wear medical grade gloves.
        I’m not sure where she lives, but I would work on her.

        1. Agnodike

          Sure, but then presumably if she called you wouldn’t tell her not to come, as the nail salons she did call did do.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy

        Yep. You probably want to ask your doc about Terbinafine. Took mine 3 months to do the trick.

    6. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people

      My grandmother use to go to a foot clinic at the senior center here. Some kind of health care workers would trim nails and keep an eye out for foot problems. Something like that may or may not be available where you are.

      For treating foot fungus OTC, my doctor recommended iodine. It’s not fast and it is messy, but it’s very cheap and it works if you’re consistent and apply it every day for about 6 months to a year.

    7. Fungus!

      You should read up on what kind of nail polish can go on your nails while you have fungus. Warm and no oxygen makes fungus thrive, so my podiatrist actually told me not to paint my nail while I was getting treatment, but she said if I REALLY insisted to paint my toenails there is a special polish that somehow has air channels (??) so the nail can get ventilated to help get rid of the fungus.

      1. Grace

        It’s probably the same sort of technology as the water-permeable nail polish that can be used by observant Muslims (who need water to reach the nail when washing in order to properly pray). Technology and innovation in the beauty and skincare world are coming on leaps and bounds.

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

          Whoa, I had no idea this was a thing! I would totally have used that on my recent trip to the beach.

  31. Teapot Translator

    Exercise thread!
    I want to thank those who suggested cycling last week (because I have plantar fasciitis). I went to the Y and tried a stationary bike. My bum fell asleep, but I got some cardio done and my foot didn’t hurt afterwards! I may try the rowing machine one of these days.
    What are you doing this week-end? I may go for a tiny hike tomorrow even though my foot will hurt afterwards. :( I just like walking and I hate my foot. :D

    1. CoffeeOnMyMind

      I’m slowly getting back into running after pulling a leg muscle last summer. My sister is amazing – she’s training for a half triathlon at the end of the month. She’s putting in 10 miles each day at the gym. So inspired by her!

    2. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)

      I’m glad that cycling worked! The exercise bike has been a godsend for me, allowing me to at least get some exercise.
      I’m disproportionately excited about going for a short run today. We’ll see how it goes. Even with the bike turning out to be an acceptable form of exercise, not running a normal schedule for a month has been very strange.

    3. Melody Pond

      I went to the community center pool today! I don’t love lap swimming, but I played around in the deep end, mostly treading water, the entire time (90 minutes). I really needed it, I’ve got an overuse injury in the ball of my left foot, so I’m supposed to stay off of it, and I’d been feeling trapped at home for the past week.

    4. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

      Presumably you’ve had the usual suggestions on plantar fasciitis, but I just wanted to encourage you that it can get better. I had this for a while and it was so bad I couldn’t stand up or flex my foot in the mornings, but with frequent stretching etc. it eventually went away entirely.

  32. Loose Seal

    Things that happen in fiction that never happen in real life. Go!

    My contribution: In books, someone (usually the protagonist) says or does something that makes someone else (usually the love interest) hunch over with their hands covering their face, shoulders shaking, as they apparently cry. The protagonist hesitantly goes over and awkwardly pats the love interest and says something inane like, “There’s no need to cry over it.” The love interest looks up and it’s obvious they haven’t been crying at all but, instead, have been completely subsumed by silent laughter. They continue to laugh at the protagonist while the protagonist gets flustered. This scene usually indicates a shift in the feelings of the two people as they inexplicably find love amongst the ruins of society or whatever.

    I’ve never confused crying with laughing in my life but this scene takes place in a lot of books. What else does fiction have that real life doesn’t?

    1. Catherine

      Oh, I have absolutely done what you mentioned–but it was because one of my newer friends, unaware that my father was dead, had made an extremely on-the-money joke about what he assumed my father’s personality must be like. Everyone at the table who knew my history thought I’d burst into tears!

      1. L.S. Cooper

        I’ve had to do this at a wedding once– it was a Very Serious And Very Catholic ceremony, complete with a priest whose Latin came with what I could only describe as a Texas accent, and little tinkly bells ringing at random intervals to… indicate the Holy Spirit, or something? It was all very solemn and very important and so, so silly, and I was struggling to keep myself in check. My mom passed me a tissue so I could have plausible deniability, which honestly just made me laugh harder.

    2. Samsally

      (tw for non-graphic fictional murder)

      I really like mystery books with female protagonists, which always seems to veer weirdly into the protag and her love interest giving each other cow eyes over a corpse. I’m… really baffled by the frequency of it, tbh. I guess I don’t hang around dead bodies enough to know for sure, but it seems unlikely to be popular in reality, lol.

      I always remember Watson from Elementary chastizing Sherlock “We are NOT having a moment right now!” lol

    3. Hazy Days

      I had the crying / laughing situation at my ex-fiancés wedding to another woman. My friends thought I was in tears at a moving song – I was shaking with laughter as I knew there was a silly in-joke behind their choice…

    4. CoffeeOnMyMind

      Fiction: when a woman falls, a handsome, single guy is there to catch her. And he always shows romantic interest in her.

      Reality: when a woman passes out and collapses after giving blood, no one catches her and she hits her head on the hard floor. She comes to and pulls herself up to the recovery table while a guy sitting at the table just sips on his coke while watching her struggle and slur that she is ok. (Note: this really did happen to me)

    5. Angwyshaunce

      I’ve always been fond of the “person overhearing an innocuous conversation and interpreting it as inappropriate” trope.

    6. NewReadingGlasses

      Short person needs a book off a tall shelf, tall person gets it for them (without being asked!), they have a moment. Reality: short person drags a step stool or chair over, gets the book down, no interpersonal interaction happens.

    7. Gatomon

      This is TV/movie fiction, but I really hate scenes where the whole family is getting ready for work/school, and it’s as bright outside as a mid-summer day. I don’t think I ever got up for school after the sun was up, and as a working adult at best the sun comes up between my alarm and when I leave the house.

      Just once I want to see a bunch of miserable family members staggering about looking for the light switch at 6 a.m. on a Monday morning.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people

        This varies by how far north you live. This time of year, the sun definitely gets up before I do, to the point that I buy blackout curtains so I don’t short myself on sleep by waking up because my bedroom is so bright so early on weekends. (I am an evening person, and this time of year is rough because the sun is also still up so late that it throws off my “go to bed” cues so I forget to go to bed until midnight or so.)

        On the other hand, in the winter when it is cold and miserable out, the sun is definitely not up yet when I leave the house.

      2. Sam Sepiol

        I mean the sun is currently rising at 4.30am here which I think is before most people got up.

        As for people staggering round looking disoriented when they get up, have you seen The Middle?

      3. MsChanandlerBong

        That used to annoy me when I watched Grey’s Anatomy. It’s set in Seattle, but they’d show the interns waking up at 4 or 5 a.m. with the sun shining outside. I’m no meteorologist, but I don’t *think* the sun is shining at 4 a.m. in Seattle.

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people

          It’s close in the summer! Sunrise in Seattle is at 5:10 am tomorrow. Granted, there are often clouds.

    8. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people

      In fiction, it seems like the main characters can just focus on the plot and not stop to, say, pay the electric bill while they’re off on their adventures. Fiction just seems to lack the maintenance aspects of real life. Who is watering your plants while you’re off fighting space pirates?

      1. spiralingsnails

        And they might come home to slightly dusty surroundings, a pile of newspapers, and a stack of mail, but nobody ever mentions the vomit-inducing stench radiating from the trashcan!

        1. Jaid

          That’s ‘cos they had the forethought to empty the trash!

          Unless they were kidnapped by the MIB to fight said space pirates. Then Vicks Vapo Rub is your best friend.

      2. Loose Seal

        Also, when do they stop to poop? I don’t want to read about *every* bathroom break but I’d like some indication that they have bodily functions and might need to evacuate one’s body in a not so convenient time and/or place. In Hunger Games, Katniss does pee one time while she’s in the arena, for instance. I thought that was a perfect compromise. We know she’s human and we identify with her but we don’t read about any other pee the rest of the time even though it’s established that she has sufficient water after that point and ought to be peeing on a regular basis.

    9. Lissa

      Fiction: someone says something ignorant, mean etc. and the protagonist gives them a paragraph-long dressing down eviscerating them and exposing them as ignorant. The ignorant person just stands there and takes their medicine, maybe trying to say something but being immediately cut off until they subserviently listen to the protagonist. Everyone listening immediately are moved and their opinions change, and the ignorant person is shamed, or at least other people now are aware of the inherent superiority of the protagonist.

      Reality: Protag. gets out a sentence or two snarky remark, and then the ignorant person either argues back and it turns into petty sniping, or walks away. Any people standing around feel uncomfortable and annoyed. Nobody sits and lets someone give a Tyrion Lannister style speech.

      Also hate-to-love. While certainly hatesex is a thing, typically most people I dislike I..dislike, and any expression of romantic interest would be horrifying. I’ve seen people start off not liking each other, then realize they’re not so bad, then become friends and then romance happens, but the way it’s presented in fiction I have never seen irl – two people screaming at each and then start making out. (like, i could see that with an established couple having a fight but not like, two rival politicians or whatever.)

    10. Ginger ale for all

      In tv and movies, they always seem to be able to get a great parking spot in front of where ever they are going . . . unless it is a crime story and then they will be in a poorly lit back alley where no one can hear you scream for help.
      Also, in books, characters don’t seem to have budgets to follow. I also rarely see folks with side jobs. And why in the world are minorities so underrepresented? My world is filled with people from different countries and cultures and people who have different skin colors and I want to see that in what I read too. The stereotypes of LGBTQ people also drive me batty. You can be LGBTQ without being sassy and flamboyant. I know introverts who are LGBTQ but I don’t see that in books.

    11. Nana

      Rom-Coms with a single mother…where her kids never get in the way of her new relationship, after that first [semi-cute] misunderstanding.

    12. Pocket Mouse

      Animals making their animal noise every time the focus is on them, and never making noise when it’s not.

  33. Mammo-anonymous

    I am going for my first mammogram next week. How does that work when one is extremely small breasted? I’m too embarrassed to ask anyone in real life. Plus, none of them would understand.

    1. Falling Diphthong

      It’s exactly the same screen they do on male testicles. Squeeze the tissue of one breast flat between two plates and take an image. They will have dealt with plenty of people at your size. I personally find them uncomfortable, while being average sized, but I think this varies a great deal.

      Because it took me half a dozen visits to work up the nerve to ask: The machine is supposedly defaulted to open if the power goes out.

    2. Texan In Exile

      I am in your situation, Mammo-anonymous. It used to be a lot more uncomfortable than it is now. The technology has improved. It’s far less uncomfortable than a pap smear, so if you can make it through that, you can sure make it through a mammogram.

      It does take the tech a little longer to get things adjusted when you are small breasted, I think (my D-cup friends say, “Yep. I just plop ’em on the plate and done”), but the techs I have had are really, really nice (I think the clinic puts their best women on it) and make sure their hands are warm and talk through every step of the process. The whole thing takes maybe 20 minutes? Most of the time is spent positioning the breast and the body (three angles for each breast, I think?), not squeezing the breasts.

    3. AnonymousTweet

      I also am small breasted but they make it work. I’ve had two. The first time it wasn’t that bad. The 2nd time was a bit uncomfortable but the second the image is done, the plates release. Try to schedule it when your breasts won’t be tender, if that’s an issue for you. And you could probably take some over the counter pain relief an hour or so before if you’re nervous about the pain. Be sure to skip the deoderant, as that can obscure the image and they do one set that is kind of aimed into your armpit. My clinic has a basket of chocolate in the room where you change clothes so I always treat myself for having done something important but a bit uncomfortable. And although there’s no way for me to know, I wonder if large breasts would actually be more uncomfortable because there’s more tissue being dealt with.

    4. Catherine

      I’ve only had one but I absolutely popped a painkiller beforehand as my similarly endowed friends had warned me it’d hurt. That 34A life!

    5. Anonymous for someone else's privacy

      I recommend calling the mammogram center and asking. You don’t even have to say it’s about you. I genuinely did call on a friend’s behalf recently, to ask what they do with/for patients with anxiety, and the tech was very helpful, answered my questions, and offered that I/my friend could ask for her specifically.

      Your question is exactly the sort of thing they should, and almost certainly will, know the answer to. (And on the slight chance they can’t explain this to you, I’d recommend calling your doctor and asking to go somewhere else. Tell them why: “the place you referred me to couldn’t explain how they would scan someone like me” is a good reason to go elsewhere.

    6. Loose Seal

      My mother is very small-breasted and she says that they still have to get all your tissue up between the plates even though you don’t have a whole lot of tissue to work with. She says that the plates do pinch but the most annoying part to her is that the technician has to really pull at her boobs to get the tissue in there. Of course, they are completely professional but she still feels like her boobs are made of taffy and they are having an old-fashioned taffy pull with her in the center. Her verdict: not the most uncomfortable thing a person has to go through in life — certainly not enough to make her want to put off her appointment— but not really a fun afternoon either.

      My advice is to take 800 mg of ibuprofen about an hour prior to your appointment. Even though you likely won’t actually be bruised by the procedure, you’re likely to *feel* as though you were. The ibuprofen helps.

    7. MinotJ

      I agree with everything that’s already been said. But also, the mammogram techs I’ve seen have been the freaking nicest healthcare workers I’ve dealt with! They do what they do alllllll day and they are so good at it. They’ve seen everything and dealt with every concern.

    8. Close Bracket

      Painfully! A lot of people have told you to take ibuprofen, but no one so far has explicitly said that because it effing hurts! They get as much tissue as they can and squeeze it between two plates in various directions — horizontal and angled are the two I remember. Is there a vertical squish? I do not recall.
      Of course, breasts are individual, and it’s possible that my breasts are sensitive for reasons other than the fact that they are small. However. Squeezing them between those two plates really really really hurts . The worst part was that the last one when I was trying to breathe through the pain and the technician said, “OK stop breathing now!” It was awful. I’m due for another one, and I am not looking forward to it. I feel really sorry for men who have to get mammograms.

  34. Red Sky

    I posted a while ago asking the pros and cons of a hysterectomy. Well, after hearing about y’all’s experiences and talking with my doctor, I’ve decided to go ahead and get my stupid uterus out. My surgery is scheduled for late July and we’re 90% sure my insurance will cover it, but can’t submit the pre-approval request until it’s 30 days out. I wanted to thank y’all for your feedback, it was incredibly valuable and informed the discussion I had with my doc.

    1. No fan of Chaos

      You are going to love it. Best decision I ever made and I was so much healthier after. No longer did I catch your cold from 50 feet.

  35. Agent J

    I’ve been feeling really down about my personal relationships lately. I’m not close to my parents—my mother has a lot of emotional issues and my father is just not around. I’m not close to a lot of my extended family. I don’t go on a lot of dates. And I’ve had little patience for getting to know new friends. How do you go about reviving old and making new relationships without feeling like you’re the only one making an effort and giving up?

    1. Dino

      No advice but commiseration. I have a very difficult family of origin and I think that has made it harder for me to have personal relationships in the way that other people seem to. You are not alone and I hope someone has more helpful suggestions for you!

    2. Wishing You Well

      Join a mutual-interest group – photography, charity, yoga, etc. While you’re in the awkward new stage, you can always chat about your mutual interest. Meeting new people in groups sweeten the odds you’ll find someone you like. Happy Trails!

    3. Una

      I’ve accepted the fact that it’s going to be awkward and going to suck sometimes. I don’t enjoy making new friends either, and don’t get much out of superficial friendships (whereas some people love having lots of casual friends, which is totally fine but not my personality).

      It’s uncomfortable when what you crave is the deep, long term connection, because that’s not what you get when you’re making friends with someone – when you don’t know each other, a lot of fairly surface level interaction has to happen before it goes deeper.

      So while I prefer old friendships, the only way to get there is to have new friendships first, and I choose to see those awkward early stages as an investment in future old friendships. Practically speaking, I set some simple rules (ex: ‘accept all social invitations for the first three months after moving someplace new’) and stick to them by reminding myself the discomfort of friend-making is normal and will pass, and will pay off richly in the future.

  36. KatieKate

    How do you stop thinking about everyday things as, “what, again?” Feeding myself three times a day. I tidy the apartment and then a week later it’s covered in clothing. Laundry. These things need to get done (I am give myself a break on tidying but I know I’m happier with a clean apartment, so) but it feels like I’m dealing with a toddler brain where everything is a fight for no reason.

    1. Qistina

      I turn mundane chores into a fun activity where I’m also watching tv (while eating and ironing) or listening to a podcast (while cleaning and doing laundry) and it’s no longer a “what, again?” thing but a time I’m getting entertained. Basically I need a distraction from feeling yucky about having to iron a week’s worth of clothes yet again but that’s okay with me. Could that work for you?

    2. fposte

      Oh, I so get that. “OMG, I *just* brushed those teeth!”

      For me it can help to get a little Zen about it all and remind myself that human life, like the ocean, has regular tides and that originality of experience is not automatically the point. Or, to put it another way, “Eh, it’s not like I was going to spend those three minutes curing cancer anyway.”

    3. No Name Yet

      I am absolutely this way, primarily about showering. The other stuff I can do (or my wife and I have balanced out the stuff that we each dislike), but having to shower and deal with my thick hair…ugh, I am totally a toddler about it.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people

        Me too! I really dislike taking showers and dealing with my hair. I’m pretty sure that if I did not need to go out in public I just wouldn’t shower. (I have never tried being a total hermit long enough to find the amount of time it would take to genuinely want to take a shower, because it turns out that I like leaving the house more than I like not showering. I also swim a lot and need to shower before and after that, so that often becomes the limiting factor on shower frequency in the summer rather than needing to go someplace.)

        Also, why do I always need to vacuum? I swear it would be more efficient to just vacuum the dog directly rather than collect their fur from all over the house.

        For a lot of these things, I find that it helps to designate a certain day of the week as x chore day. So, I have a certain day of the week that is always laundry day so it doesn’t surprise me that I need to do laundry AGAIN. This works better for things that make sense to do about once a week, obviously. For dishes, I just decided that I wouldn’t buy/use any “everyday” kitchen stuff that didn’t survive the dishwasher, and I run the dishwasher every night rather than let dishes build up on the counter until I feel like washing them by hand. (If you scratch-cook your meals at home and use the dishwasher for the pots and pans, it fills up pretty fast.) I unload it the next morning while making coffee, since I need to get the coffee pot out of the dishwasher anyway.

  37. What's Up With This?

    So, I don’t really even know what I’m asking but I can’t talk to anyone in my personal life about this so here goes:

    I’m 33. I’ve never dated outside of two super inappropriate “relationships” when I was in my early teens. Like literally never been on a date. In my 20s this was because I really didn’t “put myself out there” due to serious insecurity issues. I’m now well past that but I still find myself not putting myself out there.

    It isn’t that I’m not social. I am very social and I love being around people.

    I’m a cisgender, heterosexual, and female and I definitely feel a physical attraction to men. If not for the very real risks it presents, I think I might be fine with just sex. I’ve done that before (two years of casual hookups with a guy was fun until he told me he loved me….) So I’m not asexual.

    I have, at various times, wondered if I am aromantic. In theory it seems nice to have someone to spend your life with and to do things with but for me that is my friends. I don’t think this really fits though, because I definitely feel romantic crushes. I don’t think I would avoid being in a romantic relationship, I just don’t feel a compelling push to have one. For what it is worth, friendship is similar for me: I have very few people I would call a friend and those people are people I am incredibly close with. I have many others that are people whose company I enjoy. I just don’t feel a need to develop more close relationships. It feels like it is more trouble than it is worth.

    And here I will admit: I have no model of a healthy romantic relationship. My mother raised me and I watched her choose man after man that took advantage of her. My own father physically abused her. I have reason to suspect others may have, as well. My aunts and uncles have a similar history or worse. My grandparents have, what I think is, an incredibly unhealthy relationship. All of the people in my social group who seemed happily coupled have split and not one of them was amicable.

    So I guess…what’s up with me? Do I need to do something about this? Am I literally the only person out there that thinks it might be okay to just platonically love my friends and occasionally throw caution to the wind for a bit of sex with a stranger for the rest of my days?

    1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

      If it works for you I don’t see why you should change it!

      I have a friend in her early 50s with a similar kind of history. She has had various longer-term relationships but never married or lived with anyone, and never had children. At this point she is mostly content to be single with occasional flings and friends with benefits. I suppose it might be different if you wanted to establish a two-parent household, but I don’t think you are obligated to follow any “shoulds” unless they are causing you distress.

    2. Angry Kitty

      I don’t think there’s anything up with you because you just described me nearly perfectly. I’m a 30 year old female who has never been on a date. I consider myself pansexual as I’ve had crushes on people regardless of gender but none ever lead to dating. I was asked out twice in college by guys I didn’t have any interest in. I also think of my friendships life-lasting relationships that would be enough to sustain me if I didn’t have a romantic partner, maybe because there are at least three in my friend group who are aromantic/asexual and don’t want a partner or children so I know I’ll never get the cold shoulder from them spending more time with a partner or children.

      I’m definitely interested in a relationship, it just hasn’t happened. When it comes up with my friends, I say that I feel like I’m waiting for someone who hits all the right buttons for me. I haven’t gone searching for it, haven’t put myself in a setting to pick up dates (like online matching or singles mingling). There is a guy I’ve met who I have a bit of a crush on that I’d probably agree to a date if it came up but I’d also be happy just to have him as a friend.

      So I don’t think anything is up with you or different about you because I’m very much in the same boat. As long as you’re happy with your life and your single status, embrace it. If you want to change it, go out and look for it. I think the key is to figure out what will make you happy and go for that, even if it may not be considered ‘normal’.

      1. What's Up With This?

        I don’t even know if I’d call myself interested in a relationship. I am kind of ambivalent to the prospect. I don’t think I would turn away from an opportunity but I just can’t imagine expending the energy to seek one out when I could do other things with my time.

    3. Anoncorporate

      I recommend therapy – it seems like you want to date, and you know who you’re attracted to, but you still seem to feel insecure about going after what you want. A therapist might help you unpack these issues and help you find your confidence.

      1. What's Up With This?

        I appreciate you responding but no. I actually specifically said I dealt with my confidence issues (through a lot of therapy) and I am not really interested in dating. This feels a lot like telling me it isn’t normal to not want to date and there must be something wrong with me if I don’t.

        1. Courageous cat

          Jeez, I wouldn’t ask for advice if you don’t want any that doesn’t fall perfectly in line with what you think. I think nearly everyone should be in therapy personally (not even the person who wrote that comment) so it seems like a valid enough suggestion to me.

    4. Parenthetically

      Seconding the therapy suggestion, not because you’re, like, broken or something, but because it might help you sort out your personal history and figure out how to nail down what it is you want out of relationships. But nah, I don’t think that sounds like a bad life! Just good to always make sure you’re making choices fully and freely rather than encumbered by past, unexplored baggage, you know?

      1. What's Up With This?

        Thanks for the response. I’ve done a lot of therapy in my 20s and still regularly check in. Big fan of it, and the benfits!

        I’m very aware of what I want out of relationships I think it is just that I don’t feel a compelling need to seek out a romantic relationship. I am satisfied with platonic friendships and random flings.

    5. Dan

      I’ll third therapy for unpacking issues, because nah, you don’t have a problem to fix.

      American society places a huge value on being coupled up. I’m not sure why, as being single is a hell of a lot more preferable than being coupled up in a not-happy relationship.

      I’ve got a sleep disorder (apparently being a night owl is now a diagnosable medical condition) such that I don’t go to bed before 2am and don’t make it into work much before 11am if I can avoid it. But given the nature of my preferred work habits, I don’t get home until 10 pm.

      And when I come home, it’s the dog and peace and quiet (he doesn’t bark that much, so it really is quiet.). And you know what? I LIKE IT. There’s no rushing to get the kids from daycare or school or whatever, nobody to nag at me for stuff that needs to get done, no having a to rush dinner on the table to feed a bunch of hungry mouths. The weekends? *They are mine.* No having to go to children’s school performances, shuffle them from practice to practice or game to game.

      Oh. My money, that I earned, *gets spent on me.* (I grew up just shy of the poverty line, and my ex wife didn’t feel the need to work and didn’t tell me until after we got married. So the money thing has a different significance to me than it may others.)

      As far as healthy relationship models go, I’m in your boat but with different circumstances. My dad spends all of his emotional spoons tending to my mother’s happiness. My mother doesn’t reciprocate. I look at that and say, “what’s in it for me?”

      1. What's Up With This?

        I have always known I do not want kids and the primary reason was I like to spend my money on me and I like to not have to consider the needs of a dependent in my choices. And I have like zero maternal instinct. Love babies, just don’t want my own! So I am with you on the nice peaceful quiet of home.

        But the constant push towards coupling always makes me wonder if I am just broken! I do not feel broken. I do not think that I am. I just seem very different than others in that regard. I had a friend ask me what I will do if I am 90 and still single, at the end of my life. I figure I’ll do what I do now, but hopefully in a nice senior community on a beach! It actually sounds kind of nice to me.

    6. SophieChotek

      Like many have said, I don’t think there’s anything you must do with this.

      I feel like I maybe am a lot like you – never dated period, and never been in any relationship. Got lots of close friendships….

      If what you have works, for you – just ’cause society says one “should be in/should want” a “romantic partner.”

    7. Lora

      I don’t think you need to do anything about it!

      I was married 15 years to an abusive jerk. Since then I’ve had only flings and a few dates here and there with both men and women, and I have come to conclude, like Dan, that I HATE sharing my space with anyone else. My life is full of hobbies and friends and I like CurrentJob that brings a lot of travel and new experiences – when I am home I want to enjoy my pets, do mindless work, exercise, fuss at the garden, listen to music at top volume, dance around the kitchen, drink good wine, work on sewing projects, etc. I don’t want to tiptoe around because someone is napping, clean up someone else’s dishes, run a bunch of kids around to their recitals, all the things I see my coupled friends do.

      I hate dating. HATE. As in, I will take picking up dog poop from the yard over putting on a nice outfit and making awkward small talk, any day. I have tried, at the urging of my friends, because American society insists that being coupled is the ne plus ultra. I HATE it, like other people hate public speaking or spiders or driving in downtown NYC. I just HATE every second of it. It’s barely tolerable, like a trip to the dentist. I don’t have to do it in order to meet interesting people – I meet plenty of people through hobbies, travel and work, and I don’t want to have an awkward coffee or fancy supper with any of them. I’m good. I’ll pick up the dog poop in the whole neighborhood before I do that again. It feels extremely artificial and gender-performative in a way that gets right up my nose. Every time I tried, it was followed by a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking and weirdness and there were a few instances where a polite, “sorry, I don’t think this will work out” led to a REALLY bad reaction. The whole thing just seems excessively risky.

      Not many of my coupled friends seem to really enjoy being coupled, either. They seem really stressed, and treasure the one hour of yoga class or whatever they get per week, because the other 167 hours all are in service of other people, mostly unpaid. If they aren’t working in the office, they’re working on their kids, working on laundry, working on their partner’s dirty dishes AGAIN. And that’s the good, supposedly happy ones. No thanks.

      1. What's Up With This?

        This describes me so well. I think of what it would be like to be in a romantic relationship and I think stress. Having to consider someone else in my plans. Stress. Sharing my space. Stress. Someone else being involved in my finances. Stress to an extreme. Having to date or god forbid use those stupid apps. Stress. I know there would be nice points. But I do not think those nice points would outweigh the stress for me. I do not see it happening with couples around me. They all seem deeply unhappy with a thin layer of “but we’re a happy couple” on top.

        I know some people surely are very happy in romantic relationships. I just think it would take such a rare unicorn and the process of finding that unicorn would be so exhausting and frustrating and stressful. And I am happy now. So why go through that?

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

          I think this is where my friend is at. She has certainly been desperately lonely and wanted a partner for years, but never found anyone. But by this point the idea of having to make space in her life to share all that stuff with anyone would be more trouble than it would be pleasant. She still wants someone who is a longer-term prospect, but wants them to have their own place and their own life.

    8. Isabelle

      Hello ! I hope what follows will not be considered as oversharing, and at least will be helpful if you come back to your post.
      I have never be really interested in dating, nor feel sexual attraction for others, either male or female. I learned the term asexuel during my twenties, but I could not let go of this image of an heterosexual couple in a monogamous relationship as the gateway to perfect happiness. I also have to admit that I had issues with body image due to being overweight, even obese at a certain point, and what I like to call functionnal depression. My thirties brought a lot of asking myself what was wrong with me and feeling so foreign to my own life. I sought out relationships through a forum where meeting people was not the main focus. It took me three times, but I did meet someone, and convinced myself I was in love. Our “relationship” lasted about 18 months, the first 12 were long-distance. And when it all came to an end, after much anguish and sadness on my part, the only thing left to feel was relief.
      I needed to go through this relationship to admit that there was nothing wrong with me, but something different. I am an heteroromantic asexual woman. And currently, I hold no interest whatsoever in an other relationship. I am a single woman, living in a big city, having a good job and earning enough money so that I can afford to travel several times a year. I am no longer depressed nor overweight. From my point of vue, I am living the good life !
      I have plenty of love going around : I love my family, I love seeing my nephew growing up, I have two close friends, both female and in relationships, and I love them. I also love the cat I share living space with, she is the perfect companion.
      All of this to say that I wish the majority would stop define normality. Not every one want a relationship, not everyone want sex, not everyone want to share their life with a significant other, not everyone want to be a parent. And every one is perfect as he is ! Except, you know, those who want to harm others.

  38. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD

    A friend had a stray cat follow her home. She doesn’t want the cat because she’s grieving over her deceased-of-3-months cat. Hubs and I met the stray cat yesterday and the kitty is super affectionate. Since hubs and I are moving (nearby, different place) in a few months, and didn’t want to put a cat through the trauma of moving, a couple friends of ours offered to foster the cat for a couple months then hand over the cat to us.

    What are the odds friend would change her mind and keep the cat? I say close to zero but hubs wonders. Basically she knows what she can/can’t emotionally handle, but we want to avoid getting attached in case she changes her mind.

    1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

      Hard to say without knowing your friend, but if she’s used to having a cat and is already caring for this one I would guess that she might end up keeping it. My dad did something similar with a colleague’s dog years ago — brought him home with the intention of looking after him for a few weeks, but one thing after another happened and he ended up becoming our dog for good. If you’re not moving too far away that might mitigate things somewhat but I don’t know that I would invest a lot in making this cat yours just yet!

    2. it happens

      I’m confused. Is the person who found the cat fostering or another couple? Because if it’s the latter, then the cat will be moving twice either way, with the added change of not just a new space but new people. I think if you want the cat, take the cat, now. And you and your husband will be very responsible caretakers.

      1. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD

        True. It’s another couple. We’re worried the cat would get stressed out by a moving van and moving of large furniture. We’re moving from a small 1 BR to a house (more space). Also, the apt requires a $600 pet fee nonredundable but this could be avoided if the cat is fostered by the friends who live in a house, until hubs and I move. Tl;dr: avoid giving cat claustrophobia and spooking due to moving furniture

        1. fposte

          It’s not likely to stress the cat out any more than moving homes twice, though; the change of routine is an issue, noise or not. (And claustrophobia isn’t a likely outcome–when things get stressful, cats *like* being in a safe, enclosed space. See above for the cat who hid inside the sofa.)

          I think it’s perfectly valid to wait for *human* issues, though: the pet fee issue is a good one, and the logistics of moving is another. However, I also think this isn’t your cat in the mean time unless you’re paying the friends who are taking care of him and doing any registration your area requires; if you’re not and they keep him or the friend changes her mind, I’d be prepared to graciously let go.

        2. tangerineRose

          Last time I moved, I kept the cats in 1 room (with litter boxes, food, water) while the moving was done. That way they felt safer (I think) and couldn’t get out and get lost while stuff was being moved. I did this while moving out and moving in. It seemed to help. I don’t know that the cat will be traumatized by the move.

        3. cat socks

          I think it would be ideal if you could get the cat after you move into your new place. I moved twice in 6 months with three cats and it’s doable. But my main concern would be avoiding the nonrefundable fee.

          It’s nice of you to give a stray kitty a home. That’s how I ended with all of mine!

      1. fposte

        Yeah, I don’t see much difference between the cat’s moving from one friend to the other than to the household’s moving.

      2. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD

        Thanks. Yeah, mainly at this point it’s whether to wait 4 months till we’re in a house, or spend a total of $850 purely on apt pet fees (non refundable plus monthly). While we can afford it, we could just as well wait 4 months till we’re in a house so we don’t have to fork over $850….decisions…

        1. WellRed

          Oh, if fostering means saving that much, that’s a different thing to me. Foster away.

        2. Venus

          At that cost I would sneak the cat in and if they ever notice just say you have it for the weekend. Then again, our state doesn’t allow discrimmination based on pets.

          When you move to the new place, I suggest having the cat in a washroom a few days before the move, and leave them in there until a day after.

          And as to your original question: there are so many very friendly cats looking for homes. It sounds like worst-case the friends adopt this one and you can save another one?

    3. Pam

      I think that if the foster turns into ownership, it’s good for the cat. If the foster goes as you plan, it’s good for the cat.

  39. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

    People with boiler + radiator heating systems: is flushing out the system a normal and reasonable thing you have to do every once in a while, or is it one of those overpriced services of dubious benefit (like having your roof coated with special waterproof rubberized paint)?

    I have a combi boiler that is at least 13 years old, possibly older, and I have never had the heating system in my house flushed since we bought the place in 2007. Over the years I’ve had to have the boiler fixed a few times, always the same problem with one of two parts getting clogged up. In the past I’ve declined to have the system flushed but I don’t recall why now (maybe it was just too expensive?). I just had to have the boiler repaired again and the guy said the system really needs to be flushed or the whole system might fail altogether. Is this a real thing? Somehow I have gathered the impression that flushing the heating system was not really a thing that you need to do but I don’t know where that idea came from.

    1. White Mouse

      Yes, it’s a real thing. It’s completely normal if you have central heating. Rule of thumb is it should be done every 5-6 years. Oxide sludge and calcium deposits build up in the pipes and radiators, reducing the efficiency of the system, increasing heating costs and risking severe damage to your boiler. Failure to flush the system regularly can also invalidate your boiler warranty.

      If yours hasn’t been done in at least 12 years, I’d be pretty concerned about that.

    2. Bagpuss

      It’s a real thing and it’s worth doing.

      When I moved house,I thought I was going to have to replace all the radiators. My (excellent) plumber suggested I have the system flushed instead,which I did. Much, much cheaper than a whole house full of new radiators, and it’s been toasty warm when I want it to be, ever since!

    3. Weegie

      Definitely. I had it done a few years ago when several radiators were failing to heat up properly – the system was somewhere between 5 and 7 years old at that point. You have to do it to get rid of sludge build-up. Worked a treat!

  40. Square Root of Minus One

    Glad you’re better, Alison.

    I’m rolling my eyes so hard now I think they might fall off soon.
    My boyfriend is a financial disaster. He’s been carrying a huge overdraft on his checking account for years now. He has an overdraft limit of about two weeks of salary (what is his bank thinking, honestly, I wonder – at another branch of the same bank I have a much stricter limit, good thing I never overdraft). And he’s just messaged me for me to loan him €100 to avoid the overdraft fee. Again.
    Every time I loan anything, I ask for actions in exchange for it, in order to get rid of (or just even decrease) the permanent overdraft, he says OK, I trust him… but I’m forced to conclude that after all these years, the overdraft is still here, intact, carrying on its merry way.
    Today’s loan marks a new one: the first time he hits me up for a long before reimbursing me the previous one. NOT a good first.
    And while discussing: “yeah, expenses are unusually high this month because […]”. Because something. Something wrong on the car, too much gas in the car with our travel this month (planned since January, I paid half of it with the money I had saved since I’d learned).
    There. Is. Something. All. The. Time.
    I’m unkind to him, and I hate myself for it, but I’m just so tired of this. He earns about the same as me, but he lives way above his means. Most loans aren’t for necessities. I need financial security, I need to move forward, I’m very careful with my own finances, and his indiscipline is making me want to take my marbles back and run the hell out of Dodge.
    I just don’t know what to do anymore. Please send me a reality check if I’m overreacting, please commiserate if I’m not.

    1. Square Root of Minus One

      Let’s get it out of the way : yes, I mention a long-time boyfriend and I posted about a crush a month ago, obviously on someone else.
      My boyfriend knows. I developed this crush at a time we’d broken up, and I told him about it when he wanted to start over. He said he still wanted to try, and I agreed as well. We’re long-distance, not exclusive.
      We’ve known each other 11 years, lived together half that time, we know each other well. Together or not, we’re still very close friends and I thought I’d get over my crush and we’d make it work. This clearly doesn’t help, and really saddens me now.

      1. NewNameJustForThisBecause

        Run. I know, you have no reason to listen to me. But I married this guy. And now I am bailing myself out (he finally died) and heart sick. I’ll be working until I’m 70 (As someone else downstream is).

        If you can make your salary work, and he can’t and won’t – and you keep bailing him out – you are not equals. You are an enabler and he is the taker.

        Please get a good counselor and read up on boundaries, too, please, please, please. Of course, the younger me didn’t listen to anyone back then. Now, I’m so very sorry. I ignored my gut feelings – to my disaster.

    2. Dino

      Listen to your brain and your gut. You want to get the hell out of Dodge. You don’t have similar values/philosophies. You know he won’t/can’t provide financial security, which is a very normal thing to want (and lack of it causes stress, health problems, etc.). And his financial situation is worsening and he sees you as an out. If this is a dealbreaker for you, I think it’s a completely reasonable one.

    3. Reba

      If anything you are underreacting.

      You already know this, but please do not financially yoke yourself to this person (sharing accounts, buying property).

      It sounds like he may never be able to do things that you may want for your future, like moving in together, getting a mortgage or other credit, saving for a vacation or a rainy day fund. I’m sorry.

      1. Parenthetically

        Yes! This is the perfect frog in the pot scenario. He’s getting worse. Don’t let the fact that he’s always been irresponsible blind you to that fact.

    4. Alex

      For me, this would be so stress inducing I’m not sure I’d be able to take it.

      I don’t think you’re overreacting, especially if you are going all-in-long-term with this guy, and ESPECIALLY if you are thinking of marrying him, as as soon as you are married, his financial problems become your financial problems.

      Different people have different levels of tolerance for being in relationships with someone who has a different approach to money than they do, but it isn’t easy.

    5. Texan In Exile

      Oh I am so sorry. This is very hard. But I think being in agreement on money is even more important than agreeing on religion or politics.

      And your asking him for actions in exchange for loans – seems like you are being forced into a parental role.

      You say he lives above his means and the loans aren’t for necessities, which to me sounds like he doesn’t have an income problem – super low wages that do not cover basic living costs – but an outgo problem – he spends more than he has, which is a choice, which he could control but chooses not to.

      I could not live with this.

    6. TL -

      I can’t believe you’re still with someone so financially irresponsible! I think you’re actually too nice about it.
      Do you want a relationship to progress to marriage or kids? Because that doesn’t seem feasible with this guy, whatever his other good qualities are.

    7. Rainy

      Whatever else you do–and you’re grown, I trust that you can handle your own ish–don’t become financially entangled with him. He doesn’t get passwords. Don’t add him to your credit cards. Don’t open a joint account. Don’t file taxes with him. Don’t move in. Stop giving him money.

    8. fposte

      I’m sure there are many things you love about him.

      But. This isn’t going to change. It’s just not. It would be an absolute dealbreaker to me, for a mix of reasons (a few of which might be different in other countries, most of which wouldn’t).

      I think either you let him go, or you find a way to live with his habits without being involved with them: you don’t give/loan him money, he never asks you, and you and he don’t talk about money. I’d bet my hard-earned, carefully shepherded money that he wouldn’t be able to abide by “he never asks you,” though.

      1. Square Root of Minus One

        Thank you for the kind phrase of introduction. I noticed you do it a lot, and it’s always nice to remember that.
        Right now, I wouldn’t take that bet :)
        (I didn’t get what you meant about other countries?)

        1. fposte

          Sorry, didn’t mean to be cryptic! I was thinking about the liability of commingled finances, which is going to vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. It’s a thought that was jogged by your use of euro, since it made me realize I had no idea what your liability would be.

          Life would be so much simpler if people with big flaws weren’t also people who loved us and were good company and shared history with us. We want so much to keep that good stuff, and it’s especially hard when it seems like such an unnecessary problem that you’d hope would be fixable. But at this point I think you have to operate on the assumption it’s not getting fixed and decide accordingly.

    9. My Brain Is Exploding

      Not overreacting! There may be different reasons he does this: he’s clueless (never had to make a budget), he feels entitled (but I waaaant it! I deserve it), he’s lazy (and had someone to bail him out). Personally this would be a red flag for me; at the very least it would seem wise for you to hand him a book on budgeting, firmly tell him NO MORE MONEY NO MATTER WHAT and let him struggle with it. One time “helping” doesn’t bother me … but you are doing him no favors if you allow this to continue! It is really a kindness for you to allow him to adult. Plus no good for your relationship if you are resentful. You can break up; you can say no and you can resist the whining that will result from that and the “you don’t love me” that will possibly ensue. You sound smart and well-grounded and compassionate and you CAN handle this. Please post an update!

      1. Square Root of Minus One

        Thank you for the encouragement :)
        The book… mh. Did that with blogs. Didn’t help much. A blogger I follow said it’s about “making the switch”, like quitting smoking. I don’t know what could do it. And will he even struggle, I’m not sure. He will pay the fees, wait for next pay period, and go on slowly to the abyss – too slowly to notice, like the boiling frog. But indeed, helping is off the table for now.

        I think it’s somewhere between feeling entitled and “turning a blind eye” (I’m sure psychology has something to say about that), heavily weighted toward the blind eye.
        And I will post an update :) (I don’t make any promise on when though)

        @ all others, if you read: I’ve posted a general answer below, I’m still not thinking clearly and so emotionally tired I just want to cuddle with the cat in my bed (it’s 11 pm here). But thank you all, really.

    10. Utoh!

      Yeah, this is not going to be easy, but the first thing you have to do is let him know you won’t be giving/lending him any more money. How would he ever even think to change if you are willing to bail him out? Hell, if he goes to someone else so be it, but at least you won’t be putting yourself out. My husband and I have always been savers, neither one of us would be able to put up with someone who was so financially irresponsible. Have you told him that you’re ready to break it off with him because of this? If I’m not mistaken, money is one of the top three deal-breakers in any relationship.

    11. NewReadingGlasses

      Ughhh. This is bringing back bad memories of having a boyfriend that was bad with money. Veerrrry bad! Credit card debt larger than his annual salary, home loans, loans from his 401k. Then he buys a new car with 100% financing, hadn’t even paid for the previous car. Then gets mad at me because I wouldn’t lend him money to buy a case of wine, even though I was a graduate student at the time, living on a stipend. Breaking up was such a relief.

      It’s possible your guy can change, but I wouldn’t count on it. Also, if you’ve been lending him money for years, he has probably subconsciously included at least your income to his mental calculations of available funds.

    12. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy

      I divorced this guy. Twice. (Except that mine wouldn’t even hold jobs.) It took a total of like fifteen years for my credit to recover. Take your marbles back and run like your heels are on fire and your butt is catching. Don’t be that me. (The now-me is much happier, much more secure, and still doesn’t share finances with her husband, but while he sometimes makes sketchy financial choices – NO, you do not need a damn 70” tv – he never borrows from me to do so.)

      1. Rainy

        My first husband was really irresponsible with money, and once drained my savings account by overdrawing my checking account with transfers to his account, to siphon money off from my savings (overdraft protection) because he wanted to buy something and didn’t have enough money of his own to do so.

        Things I’m grateful for: my current (second) husband is responsible with money, and my first husband couldn’t spend into his life insurance. :)

    13. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device

      You’re not overreacting.

      I’m sorry this person you’re dating can’t, or won’t, give you what you need.

      There are different levels of trust–maybe he can be trusted not to lie to you, or to keep your secrets, or remember your birthday and not stand you up for dates, but it doesn’t sound as though you, or anyone, can trust him to handle money responsibly rather than overspending and expecting someone else to bail him out. That he asked for a second loan while he already owes you money is a bad sign, especially since he’s essentially asking to borrow money to pay an existing loan. Whether you say yes or no to that, he’s likely to ask again, as long as you’re dating, probably even if you break up but stay in friendly contact.

      Beware the sunk cost fallacy: if you decide you want to break up with him, be prepared to mentally write off the money he currently owes you. (Don’t tell him that it’s forgiven, though, even if you say “I’m breaking up with you, and I don’t want to hear from you, about anything.” )

      1. Lilysparrow

        If he said he would reduce his overdraft, and instead is going in debt to her, then he’s lying to her already.

    14. Booksalot

      You’re under-reacting. Stop loaning him money, get back what he owes you, then dump him. In that order.

    15. Dan

      I have to make this quick, but your boyfriend is a financial disaster and you are in for a world of hurt if you commit to him and especially if you comingle finances.

      In the USA, shrinks (psychologists) can’t/don’t tell you what to do, they try to help you figure it out for yourself. But I’m going to save you the trouble, ’cause I’m not a shrink:

      Run.

    16. Gatomon

      I would walk away, you’re incompatible in a major area and you may be signing yourself up for a lifetime of instability and stress that’s not necessary. My dad was a walking financial disaster in this sort of way – always living beyond his means on whatever credit he could get, never could seem to grasp that bills are due monthly, scraped by with occasional self-employment work because he couldn’t work well with others, etc. My mom went and got a high-paying career to try and make it work, but it only enabled them to recover from his failings easier (and to fail harder). Mom would also let my dad handle the finances because she’s old-fashioned and didn’t want to “emasculate him.” Over their 40 years together there were numerous home foreclosures, a couple car repossessions and countless instances of paying late fees on bills and even times where the water company came to dig us up at the street. Not because my parents didn’t make enough money to live comfortably, my mom just refused to get a handle on my father’s spending and allowed him to blow through every dime she made.

      Since he died she’s admitted that life is much less stressful on her own with herself in charge of finances. Unfortunately she’s still trying to dig out from under the debt he created.

    17. Square Root of Minus One

      Oh dear :)
      First, thank you all for these answers, and thank you for making me feel legit.
      Second, don’t worry, no entanglement there. No marriage, no living together, no joint accounts, no common credit cards (none at all actually, we use common debit cards here for everything), and no common mortgage (I have one on my own and on my sole income). My finances are safe and will remain so.
      It’s not every week that he asks me anything ; a few times a year and not every year. We did a lot for each other in our student years, we helped out each other in times of need (both, honestly, not just me). But now, it’s the second time this quarter and I’m just angry it doesn’t get better.
      In June he has double salary, so I really expect to get my money back in three weeks. Always had before. If I don’t, clearly, I’m done. For the rest… Resolving to break up might take a while, honestly… I just don’t know now, and I need to go past the anger for now. I’ll check back tomorrow evening/afternoon. I’m on vacation, but I’m thinking on seeing a therapist when I return. It’s all such a mess right now (see answer upthread complicating things).

      1. Jaid

        My girlfriend would always lend her boyfriends money and never get repaid. She finally stopped doing that, but her credit was in the toilet for a while.

        Don’t even get started.

        And he’ll be resentful too, because that’s the way people like that are, when you expect them to repay.

        1. valentine

          Your finances aren’t safe because you keep pouring money into the sieve of his overdraft (assuming that’s where he puts it). Also disturbing is that he’s happy to continue like this, knowing it makes you unhappy.

          Stop giving/loaning him money. Whenever he asks, transfer the amount to savings or otherwise set it aside. Watch it add up. Right now, it’s piecemeal, but what if you write down each instance over the years and take a good, hard look at it?

          Let’s assume you’re okay with saying no and he’s okay with hearing it; he doesn’t guilt you or keep arguing. Is that a relationship you want? The overdraft seems like a big deal to you and he’s lied to you about it (multiple times?), yet you haven’t held him accountable and are going into round x of a neverending fight. Why? Either this is a tax on the great stuff about him or you’re borrowing trouble with each loan.

      2. Courageous cat

        Curious, what’s the point of even being in a relationship if you can’t start sharing things financially to some degree? Unless you’re happy keeping him at arm’s length forever, I can’t imagine a way in this would work out.

        1. Square Root of Minus One

          Well, I’ve been mostly happy (except for that financial problem) with our relationship “at arm’s length” so far (I believe “forever” is irrelevant: the concept dies as soon anything significant changes). The day I’m not, I have to make a decision about it. Same for him. The day he isn’t, he has to make a decision about it.
          Being in a relationship is also about sharing some hugs, some fun, having an arm to reach out or a shoulder to cry on when you falter, providing one when he falters. Things of the present are a point, a valid one, if you ask me. Even without entangling our lives, our finances, our homes. That can come later when the trust has been built.
          Obviously, seeing the trust can’t be built, and thus that we can’t move forward, is disappointing to me. But moving toward married life isn’t the aim of any and all relationships ever.

    18. Mindovermoneychick

      You are far from overreacting. I work with couples where one person won’t live within their means. You can’t fix it on your own and it will be a source of stress both in your life and in your relationship long term. It’s a really big deal.

    19. Lilysparrow

      You are not overreacting.

      Don’t lend him any more money. He’s already not paying you back. And your attempts to parent h into dealing with his overdraft are just making you resentful and mean-spirited.

      Unless your commitment to this relationship includes being willing to support h in the style to which he’d like to be accustomed, you need to back way off.

      You can’t fix his money problems. He possibly could if he were willing to do so. (But he isn’t.)

      You can prevent his money problems from becoming yours, and you should take proactive steps to ensure they don’t.

    20. bunniferous

      Time for a new boyfriend. This is basic incompatibility. Very unlikely he will change. And he will NOT change if you or others continue to bail him out.

    21. Not So NewReader

      Echoing, friend lost hubby of 50 years. Finances were a deep dark secret until he passed. Then she found 15 surprise credit cards, an extra home loan and she found out that the insurance he said he had did not exist.
      I don’t want to say she is relieved he is gone, but yeah….

      There’s a thing called financial infidelity. You might want to see if it relates to your setting. Link in my reply to this post.

    22. Ginger ale for all

      If you want to give him one last chance, why don’t you both take Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace class and see what he says and does after this class. I took it with my fiance and it got us both talking about how we are going to handle money together once we are married. Dave Ramsey makes a lot of sense to me but there are some definite downsides to his beliefs. Look it up online and evaluate it and see if it suits you both. It’s not for everyone but it is a good choice for me.

    23. Traffic_Spiral

      Ok, I know literally one person whose SO changed out of this. He sat her down and basically said “you are destroying our relationship by doing this and I won’t stay unless you stop.” He was then supportive of her finding ways to change her money habits, but didn’t appoint himself her life coach or anything, and she decided that yes, she did want to change, and did the work to learn how to budget.

      That being said, she’s the only one I’ve heard of. All the other ones ended up divorcing.

      1.) they ran out of money 2 weeks before payday because he spent their last $200 on hiking boots (after she’d spent all her savings paying off his new car, secret credit cards, and a few other things) and she had previously told him “one more overdraft and we divorce” and he was like “fuck you – I won’t do ultimatums! Also, the only reason we overdrafted was because there was more money in the account when I bought the boots, but the payment didn’t go through until later (when there was less money in the account because they’d just paid the rent) so it’s not my fault.”

      2.) He divorced her for the aerobics instructor, and their house (that she’d been paying the mortgage on for the last decade or so) got repossessed because he’d taken out another mortgage on it. She also had to pay him alimony.

      3.) She found out that his mom gave him a car and was paying his share of the rent for their condo, but he was telling her that he couldn’t afford rent so she was covering it all while he spent Mom’s rent money on Yeezys and going out with his other yeezy-wearing friends.

      I mean, I realize I’m adding my voice to what is basically the Mormon Tabernacle Choir of “Leave Him” at this point, but well… Oh heck, why not?
      [ahem]
      [sung to Handel’s ‘Hallelujah’]

      Yoooou should leave him
      Yoooou should leave him
      You should leave him
      You should leave him
      You shooould leave him

      Foooor, he will not stop his spending
      You should leave him
      You should leave him
      You should leave him
      You should leave him

      Foooor, he’s a black hole for money
      You should leave him
      You should leave him
      You should leave him
      You should leave him

      And well… yeah. Unless you’re ok being a sugar mama who constantly pays his ever-increasing bills (because once he factors your money into his budget he’ll spend even more) you just gotta walk away. Or keep him as a FWB that you never give a dime to and don’t plan on a future with.

      1. Lora

        #2 is the point where I say, get a shovel and dig a big hole somewhere quiet and cook him a really nice dinner… He is lucky to be alive.

    24. Ginger Sheep

      I’d live to give a slightly differing opinion – the overdraft thing might be cultural. (What I’m going to say doesn’t apply to the borrowing, though.) I had never overdrafted my bank account when I met – early twenties – my ex-husband (same age). I was horrified to learn his balance was almost never positive : he’d go from zero when he got his paycheck, to minus his overdraft allowance at the end of the month, and cycle back again. But he actually was a good budgeter : he’d never go over his allowed limit, and had small but careful savings. He was very amused at my consternation : for him, this is what everyone did, and why would you put more money than needed in an account that didn’t bring in any money? And actually, when he came in a small inexpected sum of money, with which he could easily have but his account back into the positive, he prefered to put it in savings and to continue cycling between the barely positive and deeply negative on his current account. I’ve since met quite a few other people who work this way – I still don’t, but it appears more common than I would have thought. So just to say the constant overdraft is not necessarily a red flag. (I’m in the EU for what it’s worth.)

      1. Square Root of Minus One

        Thank you so much for your comment. That’s exactly that. I’m from the EU too (you know that already, I said €), and we’re talking about a very similar habit – except his is not based out of calculation.
        He budgets a bit as well, but quite loosely, and neglects to keep an eye on it. And it ends with me bailing him out because he’s forgotten to plan for a bill or a tax.
        And that’s where it annoys me. Your ex’s reasoning is flawed if you consider any life accident coming your way.
        Going with a bank account riddled with that overdraft is, however common, a very unhealthy habit, regardless of earned interest. What happens when you need a loan? Well, they look at your account history, and you look unreliable. And if you get anything, it’s with crappy rates that will wipe out any of that “earned interest” tenfold.
        That how I knew that with buying a home, I was on my own this time.

      2. fhqwhgads

        I’m confused and wondering if there may be some terminology differences here but…I still don’t understand this strategy. The amount of money one needs to keep in an account to prevent from overdrafting is minimal. I can’t imagine how that money could be earning more by being elsewhere than what’s being spent on the overdraft fee every time it happens? I can see someone with a strategy of having very very little buffer in their account, but not going to zero or negative on a regular basis.

        1. Square Root of Minus One

          In France, and probably most of the EU, it’s very common for banks to allow going negative on a checking account without penalty, to an agreed upon extent. You don’t incur any fee at all if your overdraft is under that limit, but as soon as you go over, BAM, heavy fees. If it’s set at €200, you overdraft €199, you’re fine, you overdraft €201, you have a heavy fee, repeating as long as you haven’t gone back to normal.
          I wish I’d explained that better first, but I misunderstood the cultural difference when I posted.
          My understanding is Ginger Sheep’s ex was optimizing on that, keeping his money in savings instead, so it could earn some interest, instead of balancing the checking account where it would earn nothing (checking accounts offering interest isn’t a thing here).
          In theory it works, but it’s a risky bet, because any error, any incident and you lose. And for me, it would earn less than €5 a year. Not worth the risk.

          1. fhqwhgads

            OK I think we’re on the same page. $200 wouldn’t get me even a dollar in interest in a savings account so I think the point is the same: the risk here isn’t worth it, but I can see how if there’s a fee-less buffer zone someone might risk it. It still seems ridiculous to me. My savings and checking are tied together so there’s a certain number of times I could technically overdraft without incurring fees as long as I had enough in savings to cover it. But I think they’ll only do that feelessly twice a year, and the way it works is it basically triggers an automatic transfer from savings to checking…of a specific fairly high amount (because it’s trying to prevent you from overdrafting again). So you have to have that amount in savings in the first place. I think it’s a couple thousand. That’s not necessarily standard here, but is a feature of some banks or types of accounts. So if I overdrafted by $200 but had $5000 in savings, instead of going to -$200, instead I’d suddenly see $1800 in checking and $3000 in savings. But if I did it three times in the same year, hefty fees.

    25. Nana

      Sure…just keep bailing him out, and paying for things yourself…and end up paying off his debt and having to work into your 70’s. [Ask me how I know!]

    26. Seeking Second Childhood

      I’m totally on the side of the little voice telling you he’s bad news.
      I had a boyfriend like that. I overlooked the credit card debt for a longtimr because that’s how he was funding college . But then I saw his spending habits. High-end bike that he never used, expensive wines, too lazy to pack lunch so he ate out daily, then he said he was gaining weight so he bought an expensive gym membership…. and then he started pushing for a wedding date. I realized that I had savings & he had tens of thousands of dollars of debt, and we were in a community property state, so I ended it.
      A friend had a boyfriend like that. They married. She divorced him AFTER he talked her into taking her retirement savings out of 401k so they could buy not rent–and gambled it all away before closing. The last straw was “borrowing” $50 from her 16yo’s piggy bank without telling him.

  41. Writing a will

    I’m getting around to making a will. I don’t have anything amazing, but I’ve got a little bit. I’ll get help with the legal part and all. But my question is about fairness.

    I have a sister with 2 kids and a brother with 1. Those kids are the main beneficiaries. My sister would be executor.

    The kids have different financial situations. How do I figure out the most equitable split? Or do I do something else? Any input? Thanks.

    1. Rainy

      You might want to appoint an unrelated executor if you think things are likely to get hairy. Especially if you’re planning to leave more to your sister’s offspring than to your brother’s–as in, is your brother likely to complain because he thinks it should be half and half to his kid and your sister’s kids? Or will your sister be resentful that you’re leaving something to your brother’s kids? An executor who isn’t also a beneficiary might be a good idea.

      In the end, though, whatever split you want should be fine. Don’t worry too much about everyone feeling like it’s fair–and I wouldn’t tell them about it. Let them find out after you don’t have to worry about their reaction.

      1. Writing a will

        Added detail: my family is really good about being fair about things. Logical thinkers. But I don’t want to cause any problems.

        The situation is that all three of these kids are pretty ok for money. Anything their poor old auntie would leave is fun money (I think). Given that, maybe I just divide equally?

        1. Rainy

          I’d just divide it equally. I think I might also consider, at least initially, if your niblings are currently small, having the money go into some kind of fund so that they get it at their majority or something, which you could then of course change as you and they get older.

        2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

          I’d be inclined to just divide it equally, too. I’d only split it between your siblings if they were getting the ultimate benefit, but as it’s going to the niblings I’d just bypass the siblings altogether. Especially as it may just be “fun money” or go toward some larger purpose I don’t think I’d worry too much about one or the other sibling thinking they should have had more.

        3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy

          When my dad’s brother passed, he had no spouse or children of his own, so his will directed that a portion of his estate be divided equally among his five nieces and nephews. I don’t know about the rest of them, but he and I were distant enough that our only contact in like ten years had been a single back and forth exchange of Christmas cards. And nobody had an issue with his choice to divide it evenly (except their sister, my cousins’ mom, who was largely pissy that she didn’t get a dime and in fact the estate called due a large sum of money that she owed him, my uncle was a stickler for the official paperwork :-P )

          I think equal is probably your best bet, absent any reasoning you haven’t mentioned so far.

      2. FD

        You might want to appoint an unrelated executor if you think things are likely to get hairy.

        Please consider this seriously. Making someone do all the work of an executor and also deal with intense family drama while grieving a sibling’s death is…not necessarily the best.

    2. Lucette Kensack

      I’ve wondered about that from the other side! My husband has one sibling, who has just never quite gotten his act together. He’s doing fine, but struggles financially. My husband and I are in good shape financially (in part due to being married and having two incomes, in part the result of my husband’s professional choices and hard work). I assume their estate (such as it is) is split evenly between the two sons, but if I were them I would consider offering more to my brother-in-law.

      1. fposte

        Would your husband be okay with that too? It might be a relief for his parents if he were willing to tell them that.

        1. Lucette Kensack

          Huh, I hadn’t even thought about talking to them about it! Talking about money is super taboo in our cultures, but you’re right that it might be a gift to talk to them about it. (My husband would definitely be ok with his brother inheriting more.)

          1. fposte

            I had a sib with significant money troubles, and it meant a lot to my dad when I said “Nah, go ahead and give them money, I’m fine.”

      2. Grey Coder

        You can also just rebalance when the time comes. My parents had a windfall and gave my sister and me equal amounts. My sister was trying to establish herself as a freelancer in a very uncertain (and poorly paid) field, whereas my spouse and I had solid jobs with good prospects, so we gave my sister a chunk of what my parents had given me. We told them that we appreciated the fact they had treated us equally, but that we chose to use the money to support my sister. They were happy with the result.

    3. CoffeeOnMyMind

      You can talk to your lawyer about your wishes, and they’ll give you advice on what to do. I used to work in a law office and I suggest you also think about getting a power of attorney and a health care power of attorney. People tried to change their parents’ wills all the time when their parent was in the hospital, which we can’t do. So I strongly suggest getting all documents so that you’re covered no matter what happens. Also, wills made online don’t always have legal binding, so get your will drafted by a real lawyer if you’re not already doing so.

    4. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device

      I’d say an even division is fair–either name all three of them as sharing it, 1/3 each, or , if there’s any chance of more siblings, get a lawyer to write the appropriate phrasing for “to be divided equally among all the children of my brother Ruthven and my sister Iolanthe, including $name1, $name2, $name3, and any other children they have in my lifetime.”

      Doing it that way is fair to your actual niblings as people in their own right.

    5. Traffic_Spiral

      You don’t really know what their finances will be like when or after you die, so unless one’s a millionaire and one’s broke from paying for their child’s chemo, just do an even split and leave it at that.

      1. valentine

        Also, if a nibling dies after you but pre-execution, do you want the money redistributed or are you fine with the local inheritance scheme?

    6. Ginger ale for all

      I outed myself in a previous post as a Dave Ramsey follower and one thing he says about wills that I agree with is that nothing in wills should be a surprise. So let folks know ahead of time about your choices, it will hopefully cut down on fighting and hurt feelings after you pass away.

  42. Elf

    The neighborhood facebook group post, above, reminded me of why I’m feeling so down on people lately.

    I went to the local village fair last weekend, and one church group had anti-gay signage up on their booth, and a catholic priest came out of a different booth to shove a fetus doll in my face. I’m in a liberal part of the NYC metro area, I just can’t even. I argued with them, because people like that who are trying to make people uncomfortable can’t be allowed to do so with impunity, so I take it upon myself to spread the discomfort around, but it is a lot. My babysitter got in FB neighborhood group trouble over making some comments about how shameful the anti-gay signage was.

    Some busybodies stopped my son on the street and hassled me the other day. He’s four, and I take him the half mile to nursery school on foot. He has a balance bike, and I have the baby in the stroller. On downhill and flat he’s faster than me, and particularly when we leave the house there’s a long downhill block to the corner and he gets quite a way ahead. He’s very responsible and knows the rules (wait for me at the corner to cross the street, stay on the sidewalk), and we do this every day, but these ladies stopped him and were trying to make him go in a different direction, and made nasty comments about my parenting when I told them he didn’t need any help. If I were black or brown I think they would’ve called the cops. If I were a different color than him I’m sure they would’ve.

    I’m just so tired of people being crappy, and I’m dreading going back to work in the fall and having to share space with a couple of coworkers who are extra crappy about this kind of thing.

    1. Elizabeth West

      I know how you feel; I just want to slap everybody right now and scream, mind your own f*cking bidness!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood

        Some days I want to move into a short story called “Fighting Words”…. Janet Kagan’s world has this as the citizenship swearing-in: “I pledge to help my neighbor at my inconvenience. Other than that, I pledge to let my neighbor sin his own sins and never force him to do something for his own good, ’cause it’s none of my damn business how he goes to hell.”

  43. Lucette Kensack

    I posted over Memorial weekend about our house-selling/condo-buying dilemma. We did sell the house that weekend and now we’re getting ready for closing and it is a NIGHTMARE.

    Our buyers have an FHA loan. Never again. The FHA appraisal is super picky, so we have to catch and touch up every piece of chipped paint, straighten a fence section that’s off-kilter, add handrails to the porch steps, and on and on and on. It’s a beautiful house in an upscale neighborhood, and it passed the buyer’s inspection, but, y’know, it’s 100 years old and we’re chewing our fingernails getting it ready for the FHA.

    1. fposte

      A friend is encountering the same thing. The chipped paint was what drove her over the edge.

      I can kind of see both sides. I have an old house, and repainting the whole thing for a chip would infuriate me. But FHA is basically “government buys the house.” The government doesn’t have to settle.

      1. Lucette Kensack

        The FHA appraisal is focused on safety, so I get it. The chipping paint could be a health hazard if it were lead-based. It’s just a pain in the butt, and the result is that we wouldn’t sell to an FHA buyer again (and the point of the FHA loan is accessibility; you can get an FHA loan with a lower credit score and lower down payment).

        Anyway. We’re just throwing money at the problem and have a contractor coming in to paint all the trim (uggggggh). But I’m fantasizing about how we’d be all done and focused on our own search if we had conventional buyers.

        1. The Mayor

          I’ve been in the mortgage business 30 years, I deal a lot with FHA. I always advise my FHA buyers to offer to do those kind of small repairs, especially minor exterior scraping & painting, as a goodwill gesture. Maybe, you can ask the buyer to do those?

          1. Lucette Kensack

            Like, actually come over to our house and do the labor themselves?? Whoa. That never even occurred to us!

            Anyway, we’re past that. They threw some extra money onto the offer and we agreed to handle the prep for the initial appraisal. We didn’t commit to doing any additional work if we get a punch list from the appraisal, so maybe we can explore that possibility of we get to that.

    2. SezU

      We sold a house to someone with an FHA loan. Once. Just be aware that they may not even come back and check that it’s fixed. If they do, you can sometimes kind of fake it. The appraiser told us the the spigot and handle in the tub needed replaced (on a 7-year old house). Instead, I took the handle apart and cleaned it real good. Then polished the spigot. It looked new. He didn’t even test it to see if it worked!

      We also had to put in a handrail, which the buyer promptly removed because the stairwell wasn’t wide enough to bring furniture in and out with it in the way! LOL

      I didn’t prep the very minor chips and just painted right over the porch rail they wanted painted. They did’t say I had to do it right. (It didn’t look awful. I am probably the only one who could tell I had half-assed it.)

      Don’t sweat it so much. It will be fine. And then you will never deal with FHA again if you can possibly help it!

    3. bunniferous

      The handrail thing is probably the rule that if there are two steps and a landing there Must Be A Handrail. I sell VA foreclosures so I am very familiar with the pickiness. That said, some appraisers are pickier than others. You have my sympathy.

    4. Katefish

      Having dealt with FHA loans professionally, my condolences! They are insanely picky.

    5. Pat Benetardis

      Hen we sold our last house, we had 2 similar offers and took th slightly higher one. That couple had an FHA loan and it was a major PITA. They were insisting on ridiculous things and wouldn’t take a credit because the buyer was afraid FHA wouldn’t close. When it’s time to sell my current house, I hope I have the luxury to say no to FHA buyers.

  44. Shaken and stirred

    The thread for people who struggle with Father’s Day!

    With the help of time and therapy, I have employed very strict boundaries with my father. I treat him like a distant relative- we keep in touch, and if I’m in town we’ll grab a meal at a restaurant. Two of my siblings have completely cut him out, so he doesn’t push me for more. It’s fine in a really sad way.

    It took trips to two stores to find a Father’s Day card that wasn’t “You’re my hero/you were always there for me/no one will ever treat me as well as you.” It was slightly traumatic as I reflected that some people could buy such cards with authenticity. But I found one that was, again, fine, and he texted me to say he got it. I sent him an emoji response.

    Internet hugs to those in similar boats.

    1. CoffeeOnMyMind

      Rowing in the same boat here. I’ll share a life vest with you. Can’t wait for Monday.

    2. Wishing You Well

      Attention all greeting card companies: PLEASE make neutral Father’s Day and Mother’s Day cards!
      Like “Enjoy your day.” or “Thinking of you” (without getting into what I’m thinking).
      Even people with no-problem parents would buy them, because that mushy stuff is too much.
      Please.

      1. Parenthetically

        Yes! I feel very lucky to have a good relationship with my dad, but 95% of the cards out there for Father’s Day are just so OTT.

      2. Acornia

        YEEEEEESSSS. Definitely. A whole set of cards that are for people who will face wrath if they don’t send one, but can’t legitimately send the “you’re so awesome!” ones, either.
        And please, don’t make them about BBQ, farting, fixing the car, golf, or beer, either. The world has plenty of those.

        1. Venus

          I once bought a train-themed father’s day card for a coworker. I asked that he give it to his young daughter to give to him, because it was just too perfect (he gets train magazines, and everything else related to trains). He found my request amusing at first, but admitted the next Monday that it was the perfect card.

          And that is the only time I have enjoyed buying a father’s day card…

      3. kc89

        yes, I don’t know why there aren’t more cards that are blank on the inside and say “happy father’s day” on the outside

        I’m happy to wish my father a happy father’s day but those super gushy cards feel very inauthentic to me and I won’t buy those

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people

          Nah, I want one with a big, generic Vague Wishes for A Broadly Acceptable Father’s Day printed on the inside as well as the outside. Makes it look less odd when I don’t handwrite a long message in the card myself.

          I have been putting off buying my Father’s Day cards this year. Dad and Step-dad will be getting whatever the dollar store still has in about an hour. I know Dad will recycle whatever card I get him before I leave the house, at the same time that he recycles the wrapping from the present, so 50 cents is about my price point for him. (I like my dad, but he’s definitely not sentimental and he’s not very rewarding to buy cards and gifts for. I usually get him kitchen gadgets as presents since they’re in the rare sweet spot of being something he’ll use but hasn’t developed a complicated list of preferences around.) Step-dad and mom display all cards for months and I’m not sure if they recycle them after that or keep them indefinitely, so I try to get him one that looks nice, but I really don’t have much of a relationship with him and feel kind of uncomfortable around him because of some homophobic things he’s said in the past, so it’s hard to find a card for that either. (“I’m glad I never had to live under your roof, but I’ll try not to antagonize you when I come visit” is not a sentiment easily found on cards.)

        2. fhqwhgads

          I frequently find myself wanting this for any number of holidays. “Happy whatever it is” on the front and blank inside would be amazing. Card companies probably feel like that’s phoning it in, but seriously, I’m constantly shopping for this. Or, frankly, constantly finding a card whose outside was just fine for various reasons, but the inside ruined it with some saccharine bullshit.
          I find myself pretty strictly going with either blank cards that have any interesting/relevant to the person image on the front, or comedy-only. And even the comedy cards sometimes are hard to sift through, because they don’t necessarily have the saccharine problem, but they do have the Giant Cliche problem. Now that I think about it, I usually end up with cards that are just puns. That seems to be the safest, but still takes a lot of sifting to find.

          1. Lora

            If you go to art museums, the gift shops usually have boxes of very nice blank cards that are good for everything. It looks like you spent money on a super nice card, you can scribble a generic “happy day / sorry about your misfortune” inside, and you have them handy. I have a stash of 3-4 boxes of fancy blank cards from the art museums for exactly this reason. Bonus, my handwriting is terrible so it doesn’t matter what I scribble because nobody can read it – they assume it was something nice.

      4. Courageous cat

        Well what about the generically funny ones? Some of them have absolutely zero substance, ha.

    3. Texan In Exile

      Putting in a plug for mildregards dot com. (I think she’s an AAM reader.) Lots of great non-committal cards for situations like this.

      1. Paperwork

        Those are lovely and I’m sure the profit margin is slim, but telling people who are dealing with a rough emotional situation to spend double-digits on a card feels a bit off.

    4. bunniferous

      This is the first Fathers Day since I found out my dad…..is not actually my dad. (Thanks, Ancestry Dna! ) The biodad is deceased. It is a long story….meanwhile, like you, picking a card was not easy this year. (I chose not to tell an 80 year old man what I had found out. He probably knows but I not risking it.)

      Internet hugs to all of us who have triggers great and small connected to this day…..

      1. Bluebell

        If you haven’t read Inheritance by Dani Shapiro, I highly recommend it. The author confronted a similar situation.

    5. Not A Manager

      I’m sorry that you and other commenters are experiencing this. I think it’s perfectly okay to select a pretty card that’s blank inside, and write whatever you want. “Thinking of you on Father’s Day.” There’s no reason that you *have* to find something pre-printed.

    6. Anonadaughter

      Yeah….my relationship with my dad has been so rocky since my mom died several years ago. I live in another country and have young kids who keep me busy so I have kind of plausible deniability. I maintain very limited contact with him because he’s the only living grandparent my son has.

      But yeah, I’ve had to realise that he’s just not capable of having a healthy relationship and it’s important for me to keep him at arm’s length because I cannot depend on him to be empathetic or understanding of my feelings and experiences.

    7. Teapot Translator

      Yeah, Father’s Day is not fun. I’ve grown very distant from my dad since my mom died. We don’t have a lot in common, and I don’t like to spend time with him, and it makes me feel guilty. I need to call him sometime today, but ugh.

  45. Smelly Cat

    TL;DR – I don’t want to share my crafting space with my roommate’s cat’s litter box.

    My roomie and I rent a house that is one ground floor (2 bedrooms, 1 full bathroom, living room, kitchen) and a finished basement (living/rec room, 1 full bath, laundry room, spare room, 2 storage closets). Roomie has a cat whose litter box is in the basement spare room. We’re thinking of doing some reorganization and Roomie suggested we move our crafting stuff into the spare room and make it a craft room. Our craft stuff takes up a corner in the basement living room, with a table and tote boxes. Roomie thinks we could spread it out more in the extra room (plus, though the craft corner is organized, I think Roomie doesn’t like the clutter in the open).

    However I don’t think I want to share my crafting space with the cat’s little box. Roomie does clean it on a regular basis but the cat can still drop some stinky business that can be smelled in the connecting living room. But there’s nowhere else to put the litter box (bathrooms are too small, laundry room has holes in the walls, Roomie doesn’t want it in her room) so all of our crafting stuff would be in the same confined space as the litter box.

    I don’t think of myself as a germaphobe (though I do keep my toothbrush in my bedroom and walk it into the bathroom so it’s away from the flushing toilet) but am I over thinking this? I’ve always wanted a craft room of my own where I could spread my stuff out so I should be jumping on this but the litter box is holding me back.

    1. Rainy

      Would kitty be cool with a less open litterbox? Maybe either one of the jump-in bin types or a schmancy one built into a piece of furniture?

      If kitty would deal okay, that might make it less icky for you?

    2. anonagain

      Can you put up a room divider in the rec room to turn half of it into a craft room?

      Of course, I would probably just turn the entire rec room into a craft room and then turn the spare room into a cat palace, so maybe don’t listen to me.

      1. Lucette Kensack

        Her cat, her problem. It’s not cool for the litterbox to essentially command a whole room to itself. The litterbox needs to go in her room.

        (I’d actually put it in the downstairs bathroom, myself, since I don’t tend to use the extra bathrooms in my house. But it sounds like you want that room to stay usable.)

        1. Rainy

          Now that the litterbox is where it is, you can’t really remove it.

          I’ve never had good luck moving a litterbox more than a few incidental feet–cats are creatures of habit.

          1. Acornia

            We did! For us, it took buying a second litter box, putting it in the new place, and once she started using the new one, we cleaned it more often than the old one until she preferred the cleaner new one. Once she was using the newer one 75% of the time, we took away the old one and replaced it with a piece of furniture.
            She used the new one 100% after that and has never had a problem. The whole process took maybe 3 weeks.

    3. Nacho

      I think that’s a reasonable enough stance to take, not wanting to hang out in the same room as the cat’s litter box. Then again I’ve never been a fan of cats precicely because I hate the idea of my pet pooping indoors, so I’m a little biased.

    4. Glomarization, Esq.

      Can you maybe get a small litterbox, or a non-litterbox bin that you can re-purpose as a litterbox, that would fit in the bathroom? I’ve always preferred to keep the box right next to the toilet, and I lived in an apartment one time where a regular-sized box wouldn’t fit. I found a small size box that did the trick.

      TBH I’m no germaphobe but I have never kept a litterbox any place but the bathroom. In any event, I’d never put it in a room that people use all the time for living/relaxing/entertaining/working/etc.

    5. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people

      I wouldn’t want a litter box in my crafting room either. I assume the holes in the laundry room would not be easy for you to fix/cover somehow? If the storage closets open onto the hallway, could you remove the door from one of them and put the litter box in there?

    6. Lilysparrow

      I like cats. I can’t stand the smell of a litter box.

      I wouldn’t be squicked out by the germs, but by the smell permeating my craft supplies. Then again, if you live there it’s probably already there.

    7. WS

      I have two sometimes stinky cats, and I love them very much, but I would not keep their litter box in the same area as any permeable crafting supplies (paper, fabric etc.) because the smell, any strong smell, can get into it.

  46. WellRed

    So I am going to a party next weekend for a milestone birthday for a dear friend. It sounds fun, but a bit pricy (for me anyway). I know there are advice columnists who rail against the idea of a person asking guests to pay (I agree with this in principle, but am frankly used to it). But, it’s usually dinner. In this case, it’s a sailboat cruise followed by dinner. Not only is the boat ticket alone nearly $50, I had to go online and make my own reservation. I think the “host,” who is not the birthday person, could at least have done that. Sigh. Just venting. It’ll be fun. Who cares if I have to eat ramen for the rest of the month?

    1. Traffic_Spiral

      I think the rule is that if you’re going out to a restaurant or other sort of event, everyone buys their own ticket.

    2. AcademiaNut

      My rule of thumb for pay your own way events is that if the event is a celebration (like a birthday), the event should be of the same level as things you normally do with that group of people.

      So if you and your friends periodically go out for dinner or drinks, you can say “How about drinks on Thursday – it’s my birthday and I want to do something,” and go to a restaurant that’s in the same price range as the type you usually go to. But you shouldn’t invite people to a pay your own way dinner at an extra fancy restaurant, or a full day extravaganza, or a sailboat cruise, to celebrate your birthday, unless you’re picking up the tab.

      If it’s not a celebration, messaging your friends and saying “I’m thinking of doing a sailboat dinner and cruise – is anyone interested in joining me” is perfectly fine.

      1. Hazelthyme

        Agreed. I also think it’s nice if the person planning the party provides a little something extra. If it’s the norm in your circle to go out for people’s birthdays, with everyone paying their own way and a portion of the guest of honor’s, that’s fine … but extra props to the host if they buy a round of drinks, or some appetizers, or bring in a cake for dessert (check with the restaurant first) to thank their friends for celebrating with them.

    3. Hazelthyme

      I don’t love the idea of asking guests to pay, but I don’t absolutely loathe it, provided everyone knows what they’re paying for and about how much it will cost beforehand, and provided the inviter doesn’t get salty with people who politely decline due to cost (or for any reason, frankly).

      FWIW, the celebration you’re describing sounds pricy enough that I’d probably decline. I know you said it’s a dear friend, and you may be exaggerating about eating ramen for a month if you spring for this event … but I’d hope that a dear friend wouldn’t want you to stretch your finances that thin just for their birthday party. You’re talking about over $100 a pop once dinner and drinks and transportation are factored in, and I can’t imagine you’re the only one for whom that’s a stretch. Could you possibly decline, and invite your friend to a more modest celebration with just the 2 of you at another time?

  47. Aphrodite

    You know how sometimes odd thoughts come into your head and you just have to google them? I just spent some time googling “eating the same breakfast every day” because it occurred to me–certainly not for the first time but this time I decided to explore it–that it was the lack of decision making which made breakfast so easy. Naturally the articles that came up roamed widely and I found out a lot of people do the same for lunch: same thing every day or at least every working day..

    So … what do you do for lunch? Do you bring it or buy it? Do you have the same thing every working day? How long has it been going on. If you do eat a lot of the same thing for lunch, what is it? Why do you think it works for you?

    I bounce back and forth as regards lunch (and dinner) regularly, which I view as a hassle. I’ve tried doing a week’s worth of the same thing but found I got bored. Now I wonder if there is something easy I can do without much variation and without much boredom. I could even throw in the same vegetable every day or in the summer microwave an ear of corn.

    1. WellRed

      I have the same thing (cereal, soy sausage ) for breakfast on weekdays. It’s the right balance if carbs, fiber protein for me and holds me to lunch. for lunch, I will usually do the same, but each week will be different (salad with a protein last week, salad with chili this week, salad with black bean soup the next). Dinner tends to be more varied, but also more stressful. I believe we crave what we eat, so if I eat salad all the time, I eventually crave it. Not to say I don’t ocassionally get sick of it.

      1. WellRed

        I do often treat myself to a different lunch on Friday. Or, at least a lunch I didn’t make ; )

    2. Parenthetically

      My husband has a sandwich, trail mix, and fruit for lunch almost every day. The fillings are the only thing that vary, and they vary a lot. PBJ, turkey/tomato/mayo, cheese/lettuce/mustard etc etc. He doesn’t have to think about it.

      There are lots of dinner-by-numbers strategies out there that can save you a lot of hassle. I teach meal planning classes and a LOT of people have the “but what am I actually supposed to EAT every day?!?!” frustration. I often recommend a 10 day or two week menu rotation — i.e. the same 10 or 14 dinners on repeat, changing things up as you need seasonally or with sales, but following the same basic plan. Or a template where you change the TYPE of thing from week to week but never deviate from the pattern — sandwiches on Sunday, pasta Monday, stir fry Tuesday, baked potato Wednesday, salad Thursday, grilled cheese and soup Friday, leftovers Saturday. So one week you have meatball subs on Sunday, but the next week it’s BLTs. Or whatever. The whole idea behind it is to take the thinking out of it.

    3. Hazelthyme

      When I’m on the road, my breakfasts & lunches don’t vary much: spinach salad with turkey & hard-boiled egg, and plain Greek yogurt with fruit for breakfast; single-serving supermarket salads for lunch. I have breakfast at a diner once a week, and vary the exact salads (and sometimes the grocery store) to keep it from getting too boring, but otherwise I’m limited to what I can keep in a small dorm/hotel room fridge or at room temperature.

    4. Square Root of Minus One

      Currently, I eat outside every work day. Costs me €4.50 ($5) every time, the price for diversification. My kitchen is super small and difficult to operate, and with just one stove it’s just too long to cook for all meals.
      With the next kitchen (new apartment in December), I think of implementing batch cooking : a skeleton of soup, salad, pie/quiche, stew, bread and spreads, sandwiches, fruit salads, yoghurts, cakes, with ingredients varying, to go Monday through Friday.
      Breakfast is the European traditional coffee, OJ, whole wheat bread and butter. Add-ons on weekends (jam, hot chocolate, eggs)

    5. Lemonwhirl

      I eat the same three meals (red lentil daal, Ethiopian lentil stew, green lentil daal) for most meals. Breakfast is definitely always red lentil daal. Lunch and dinner can be any of those three, or, more rarely, something else.

      I batch-cook meals for two weeks at a time. Sometimes, I get it in my head that I want to try something new, but I rarely like what I make and then my freezer slowly starts to fill with these less-wanted meals.

    6. Lora

      When not traveling I pack lunch. If it isn’t leftovers from a meal prep Sunday, it’s pretty formulaic:
      Salad
      Yogurt and fruit
      Beans and quinoa with meat or fish and at least one cooked vegetable

      The beans and quinoa get cooked in an Instant pot and reheated at work. I have a bunch of sauces / salad dressing type things to put on top.

      It requires minimal effort on my part – the fruit is normally something that doesn’t need chopping or peeling. Salad gets prepped in a big plastic bag on Sunday. Everything else goes in the Instant pot and push the button. I pack it up in Tupperware and just grab and go in the morning.

      It’s filling, it has nutrients, I can eat while I’m on a conference call as waiting in line during the lunch rush is not often feasible.

  48. Nacho

    I live in a place where year round highs are around 80-90 degrees during a heat wave; hotter than I’d reasonably like, but not hot enough to invest in an Air conditioner I’d only turn on 4 times a year or spend $600 to buy and install a ceiling fan. Has anybody tried using one of these plug in ceiling fans before: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B078BRBQMF/ ? Are they a decent budget replacement for a real thing?

    Thanks.

    1. MissKatie

      Where are you located? A ceiling fan for $600 seems quite outrageous.
      My husband and I like a chilly bedroom so we keep the thermostat on 69 and have a pedestal fan. It’s not super pretty but it was only $40 on amazon and it does the trick. We cant sleep without it and even have another smaller one in a closet that we take when we spend the night anywhere but a hotel.

      1. Nacho

        I was including the installation in that $600 figure. My room doesn’t have any lights I could replace, so an electrician would have to drill a hole and wire it into the system from scratch. I’m estimating $200 for a very good fan/light and $400 for the installation

    2. A different anonymous today

      I got the (LG but brands vary) rolling, portable AC on wheels. Only needed a few days a year, about $400. It also will function as a dehumidifier/regular fan though. Haven’t tried it as a heater.

    3. Pam

      I use a standing oscillating fan in my bedroom. That works for.most times. (Southern California)We have a window unit AC in the living room, but it doesn’t reach the bedrooms.

    4. Anonymous Educator

      Many years ago, my spouse and I bought a portable air conditioner, and it was only a few hundred dollars—definitely not anywhere close to $600. Why not get a portable air conditioner if you need it only when a heat wave occurs? Yes, a portable air conditioner cools only one room, but maybe that’s all you need during a heat wave—one cool room.

      1. Nacho

        A portable air conditioner is still about 10 times as expensive as a small fan before factoring the electricity it takes to run it. That’s why I asked if anybody had any experience with smaller plug-in ceiling fan.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood

      We have several wall-mount oscillating fans. No ceiling hole needed, no hard-wiring, and they mount with a couple of standard screws. Probably molly bolts if it’s not going into a wall stud.
      They work very well. My difference, I’d get an easier to clean model if replacing them.

  49. Non-smoking smoker

    I could use some advice on how to handle secondhand smoke in my home. I have a chain-smoking neighbor whose smoke infiltrates my house. I smell it many times a day, at all hours. I don’t have asthma or allergies, so it’s mostly a nuisance, but it’s starting to spike my anxiety. I’m not 100% sure which neighbor, but I have a good idea. Even if I could identify them, I feel uneasy about approaching someone who is doing something they have every right to do in their own back yard.
    My neighborhood is single family homes in close proximity. There is no HOA. The region I live in has a bit of an outlaw reputation and people resent being told what to do (even leashing and picking up after your dog is a relatively new concept here).
    Is there an effective way to talk to someone about this? If so, I would love ideas. Also welcome are ideas of how to mitigate the smoke smell in my house. It doesn’t seem to matter if I have windows open or closed. I already have a few air purifiers running in my home and they don’t help much.

    1. fposte

      I wouldn’t say “never,” but I think I’d say “rarely.” If it were somebody I was already friendly with and if I had a clear and easy mitigation that didn’t involve much of a change for them (“Would you be willing to move the fan to the other side when you’re smoking out back?”) I might try. But I wouldn’t do it with people I didn’t know, and I wouldn’t do it to ask them not to smoke in their backyard or to move where they smoked.

      Sorry, that’s a nightmare of mine too.

    2. Parenthetically

      Oh man, that is so frustrating. I can’t really think of a way to talk to a stranger about it.

      I’ve had a lot of luck with a box fan with a 20×20 furnace filter on the back side of it (the force of the air blowing through holds the filter on) — in my experience it clears the air REALLY quickly, much moreso than any air purifier. If you get a good high MERV rating filter that’s designed for smoke, it should have things smelling a lot nicer pretty quickly.

      1. fposte

        This is a brilliant and simple kludge! I wish I’d known about it at my former residence.

    3. Ranon

      Looking at your neighbor as the problem is one perspective, but also it sounds like you’ve got a leaky house- otherwise the smoke wouldn’t be coming in (or at least closing your windows would solve the issue) Weatherizing your house and making sure your air-sealing is complete all around (including windows, doors, foundation/basement, soffits/attic, and penetrations), even blower for testing to be sure, and making sure your HVAC isn’t running at negative pressure (that is, there’s enough air coming through the HVAC that it’s not trying to suck in outside air from other places) is probably your lowest confrontation but most complete solution.

      Plus side, it would almost certainly also increase the energy efficiency and comfort levels in your house, if the second hand smoke is getting in sometimes the unconditioned air is getting in all the time. Down side, might be more than you want to spend on this level of inconvenience (although you’ll definitely get some pay back in lower utility bills and better comfort levels) – worth checking to see if any of your utilities have incentives or rebates for this type of work.

  50. Ewesername

    Leaving on a train journey tomorrow- maybe Monday. (Checked this morning and it’s already 10 hours late.) Need train snack ideas. Its a 34 hour ride, probably longer due to epic delays. I have the normal carrots / hummas/ chocolate stuff. Any other ideas?

    1. Kathenus

      Pretzels, and in addition to the carrots I also bring celery and sugar snap peas for my raw veggie snacks.

    2. Parenthetically

      Can you make a batch of nut butter muffins or something beforehand? I’m baking some banana-bran muffins for my FIL for a big road trip he has coming up. If you can take an ice pack with you, maybe some cheese or cheese sticks? Dried fruit and trail mix are always in our long trip stash.

    3. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

      Jerky, if you like that? Small jar of peanut butter + crackers? Instant soup or oatmeal that comes in a cup? I’m picturing Amtrak cross country where you could probably get hot water on board.

      1. Ewesername

        VIA rail Manitoba to Toronto. Like Amtrak with more rattling. I am reluctant to bring peanut butter on public transport in case I accidentally kill someone with allergies. But the instant soup idea is good. I have some in the cupboard I could pack. Thanks!

    4. Overeducated

      For that long a trip I’d want something that feels like a meal. I’d probably go with a hard cheese, fruit, some nice bread or crackers, maybe a cured meat if you eat meat.

      1. Ewesername

        I will be having breakfast in the dining car, cuz it’s the least expensive meal. (And they make the most amazing maple waffles). Will add some jerKY to the mix.

    5. Cheesesteak in Paradise

      Pesto pasta salad is good room temperature – you could add peas, tomatoes, sundried tomatoes or olives as toppings.

      Cubes of cheese and cured meats if you do that? With nice bread and fancy mustard.

      Soup in a thermos should stay hot for a while or you could do cooler soups like gazpacho or chilled fruit or vegetable soups.

      Pita bread plus dips – baba ganoush, tabbouli, whipped feta, olives, tomato/cucumber salad.

    6. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people

      My usual train food plan is to have a couple of different kinds of snacks. I get a little package of donut holes for when I want something sweet, baby carrots for when my mouth is bored, and nuts for when I feel hungry. I also have a metal growler that I fill with water before I get on the train and refill my smaller water bottle with, because I’m not a fan of the taste of train water. For actual packed meals on the train, I tend to go with cheese and crackers since I can either graze on them or decide it’s a meal. I’ve also gotten little travel pouches of nut butter before to have nut butter and crackers, but those are a little harder to find. I’ll also usually pick up some of those shelf-stable milk boxes (like juice boxes) so I can have milk as a snack. Sometimes I’ll take nut butter and jelly sandwiches, pre-cut in quarters so I can once again decide if I’m snacking or having a meal when I decide to eat it.

      On your way back, if you don’t have a kitchen to prep in at your destination, string cheese and baby carrots are some of the easiest pre-prepped things to buy for the ride back. Grocery stores with delis will also often make cold sandwiches for you, and those are easy to pack too. Coffee shop type places that sell bagels and toast will also sometimes make you a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to go since they have all the ingredients handy.

    7. Not A Manager

      34 hours is a long time. I’d bring those instant noodle cups that you just add hot water to. Hard boiled eggs are a nice meal. I have a small soft sided insulated lunch box. If it were me, I’d pack some cold cuts and cheese in there, and bring crackers.

    8. Ewesername

      Thanks for all the ideas, guys! I made focaccia and muffins last night and have added pepperoni and cheese to my insulated lunch bag. Will pop in a frozen water bottle and a couple of juice boxes just before I leave tonight.

  51. Nessun

    Just got back from a trip to my parent’s home province (was a working trip, but I made a lot of time in my schedule to visit them). My sisters were also both there, with their children. I’m the eldest, single, and not likely to have children in this lifetime. I have a great job, and a wonderful life…except when I go to visit and get treated like chopped liver. My mum is so absorbed in the grandkids, I get ZERO time – even when they’re asleep, all the talk is on them. When they’re not around, she’s (understandably) tired and cross, and has to lie down/rest/recuperate (she’s not a well woman). So every time I saw her, I got a passing smile, not even a hug – and it makes me wonder why I go. I love her, I love all of them, but I never doubt my own worth so much as when I have to justify my online life (gaming) to my father, explain why I don’t “get out more” to people who’ve never seen my home, or get passed over even for the simplest common courtesies of hellos and goodbyes because I haven’t popped out a child of my own.

    I…just don’t want to be in that scenario anymore. Any time I go, I know what will happen, and I THINK I have my mental preparations done, and then BANG…I’m upset/frustrated/annoyed and no good to be around for anyone, including at work. It hurts. And my mum is not going to change…she’s 70 and has always behaved this way. You’d think I’d be used to it by now.

    1. tangerineRose

      Captain Awkward might have some good advice for this. I’d suggest maybe making your visits shorter or else planning other things to do while you visit.

      1. valentine

        Yep, shorter or no visits because you’re wanting to visit people who are proud of you, treat you well, and are eager to hear your news and that’s not your parents. If your sisters aren’t backing you up, that’s worse. Less FOO and more found family?

    2. Wishing You Well

      Time for you to make a change. Spend some time figuring out what you want to do, assuming your family will never change. You don’t have to spend time with them. You don’t have to visit just because you’re in the area. What do you want to do? Try an experiment and see if you like the results. Try a second experiment, if you like. Find what works best for you.
      I’m sorry you’re going through this.

    3. KR

      It almost sounds like a potential solution would be to arrange some solo time with you and your parents where there aren’t kids involved at all.

    4. WS

      This isn’t going to change on your family’s side. It sounds like it would be a good idea for you to visit when your niblings aren’t going to be around, or take your parents out somewhere for lunch/dinner/a drive to have some personal time.

      Also, when you visit, are you stuck there for a long period of time? I find it much easier to visit my family but stay elsewhere, so I can visit several times and also have breaks!

  52. NicoleK

    Looking for recommendations for decently priced probiotics for digestive health and etc. It’s overwhelming between all the different options.
    TIA

    1. fposte

      What specific gains in digestive health are you hoping for?

      There are some problems with taking probiotics. There’s a little evidence for some strains and some conditions, but it’s not overwhelming, and there’s no general cure-all strain. Another is the usual dietary supplement problem of getting what you’re buying–a lot of probiotics don’t, when tested, contain what they say they do.

      Depending on what you’re looking to do, you might find making your own yogurt a better solution: you get really fresh cultures there, too, with a larger microbial population. That’s what I ended up doing–I use the Yogourmet starter off of Amazon. (I don’t use the named “probiotic” Yogourmet as it includes bifidus, which there are some recommendations against.) I make a new batch about once a week or 10 days. Is it doing anything? I don’t know for sure, but I at least like yogurt, and it’s cheaper than pills.

    2. misspiggy

      Gastro doctor in UK recommended Probio 7 as an effective all-round probiotic. Also VSL-9, which is only available on prescription here, for people with significant digestive problems.

    3. Lilysparrow

      We take store brand generic when we need them after an upset. They appear to work exactly the same as the pricier brands we’ve tried.

  53. Sail On, Sailor

    Does anyone have a recommendation for a bra for a person who hates wearing them? I’m not well-endowed; in fact, the opposite. But I hate underwire and back clips digging into my back and the adjustable-strap clips digging into my shoulders.

    I’ve tried the basic bras with simple foam cups, but they only come in S, M, etc. so I can’t get a good fit. Any ideas on what I can try next? Thanks!

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy

      I’m a fan of Uniqlo’s, if you have one anywhere nearby and can try them. (You could probably order online and return too, I guess, but that’s more hassle than I’m generally willing to do.) They used to do S/M etc, but they’ve changed their sizing now, and the chart on their site is pretty straightforward. No underwires, and I’ve found them pretty unobtrusive myself. I haven’t worn any other bras in probably two years.

    2. Parenthetically

      I haven’t worn a bra-bra in a couple of years. I’m a large B or small C. I wear stretchy camisoles with built-in shelf bras. I have a million of them, and the best ones I’ve found have slightly wider, adjustable straps (bra-strap width rather than spaghetti straps), are made of a thicker cotton blend rather than just thin t-shirt jersey, and have a thicker, fabric-covered band in the shelf bra, which is ruched/gathered or shaped and not just a panel. I’ve found a few stretchy bralettes that are similar in construction — wide band, slightly wider straps, etc.

      1. Washi

        Yes, I do this too! I really love the Pact camisoles – they hit me right at the hip, they’re organic cotton, and the straps are sturdy (more like fettuccine than spaghetti).

        When I do need to wear something closer to a real bra, I hate anything with any kind of cup/padding/wires, so I have a bunch of the Hanes Ultimate Comfy Support bras, which are wire-free and soft and cheap. I ten