weekend free-for-all – June 22-23, 2019

He is enormous!

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

Book recommendation of the week: The Body in Question, by Jill Ciment, about two sequestered jurors drawn to each other during the trial they’re on.

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

{ 1,296 comments… read them below }

  1. Delta Delta*

    I work from home (this isn’t work-related, I promise). I had a serious flurry of activity this afternoon between 3:45-5:30. I went downstairs to find… a dead bird under my coffee table. I have 2 cats, and neither of them seems to be taking responsibility. Given the number of feathers all over the place (so, so many feathers), I’m pretty sure one or both of them is to blame. The weird part is that I didn’t hear ANY of this going on down there.

    There was a subsequent bird funeral and then a rum-based beverage. Ok, there were 2 beverages. The afternoon called for it.

    1. Pam*

      I am sure that the cats are perfectly innocent. Clearly, the bird broke into your house and committed suicide.

      1. Lena Clare*


        I had to get rid of a still live baby crow (EEK) which was hopping around the house trailing fluffy black feathers being chased by one of my cats. I did capture it, poor thing, and I had to hide behind the front door while I let it out so that the crow parents didn’t see me.

        Crows have a frightening ability to recognise human features, like faces, clothes, and even your car. I didn’t want to be stalked by angry crow mum and dad!

        Anyway, sorry to hear about the feathered massacre Delta. Cats are horrid sometimes :-)

        1. Clisby*

          A few years back my son woke me up in the middle of the night to tell me a bird was in his bedroom. A fledgling crow had gotten in the chimney somehow and ended up in the house. Fortunately, it wasn’t that good at flying yet so it couldn’t zoom around – it pretty much alternated between fluttering to the top of the armoire and then back down to the floor. We captured it and let it out in the back yard; it was gone the next morning (with no sign of bird carnage.)

            1. Clisby*

              Yeah, I left out that the first thing we did was shut the cat out of the room. He sleeps with my son, and by the time I got there he was prowling around with great interest. Really, we were very lucky this wasn’t a full-grown crow flying around in there; heaven knows how hard it would have been to capture him. Or, actually, we could have opened the windows and it might have been able to escape fairly easily. I didn’t feel good about shooing a fledgling out of a second-story window. In case anybody encounters a situation like we did, we waited until he fluttered to the floor, and turned a wire-mesh trash can over on top of him (that way we could still see him so we knew we weren’t hurting him.) We then carefully slid a sheet of poster paper under the trash can, and the little bird helpfully jumped on top of it. From there it was easy to get him to the back yard.

          1. KoiFeeder*

            We’ve got a pileated pair near my house, and the fledglings use the wedding willow arch near the koi pond to practice how to fly. Pileated fledglings are very clumsy, very dumb, and very easily startled. There is very little funnier than watching a giant teenage bird scrambling out of the water with nine hungry koi hot on its tailfeathers (koi don’t have teeth).

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Eep! Was it okay?

          I went outside one day last month to get in the car and there was a baby robin sitting on top of it (I park under the tree when it’s hot). It had feathers, but I didn’t know if it was capable of flight. I decided if it couldn’t move under its own power, I would just put it back on the tree branch, since I needed my car at the moment. So I reached out for it and actually closed my hand gently on it before it squirted through my fingers and flew up into the tree. Then I spent the next minute getting yelled at by the parent, lol. Listen, momma, I was just trying to move your idiot child to safety so I could go to the store!

          1. Lena Clare*

            I looked outside a few hours later and there was no sign of the bird or any further damage or feathers, so I’d like to think ‘yes’! Baby birds are cute but not the smartest lol.

      2. MsChanandlerBong*

        It’s possible! I once rented an apartment in a building that had an opening up near the roof. Apparently, birds had been flying in and out of the attic. I found this out when a ceiling tile crashed to the floor of my kitchen, nearly giving me a heart attack. The bird crash-landed on the kitchen floor.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      As someone with multiple cats, I totally hear you on this.

      Last week I was getting ready for work–getting ready to step into the shower–and my one indoor/outdoor cat, Lou, was crying to come back in. He was using his weird cry, which is his “Ma! I caught this cute, fuzzy animal and killed it for you! Come look!!” I know to check and make sure it’s dead and laying on the patio, not in his mouth and alive. That was followed by normal cries so I didn’t check like I usually do. Well, I let him in and he’s got a live chipmunk in his mouth. He trotted in like he’s all that. The other cats were VERY interested. He proceeds to drop it on the floor in front of me. It promptly plays dead (chipmunks are smart) for a few seconds while the others look on. Then it gets up and runs around the house. So there’s a chipmunk running around with no less than six cats chasing it. Bailey catches it and runs off in another direction, the others follow. Bailey drops the chipmunk and they all race to get it. Bailey gets it again and runs into the family room. Luckily it has a door so I thought to shut it so at least it’s contained to one room. I then had to figure out how to get the chipmunk out without getting bit (those things have jaws like a vise!). I grabbed a bath towel and flung it over Bailey, who still has the chipmunk by the tail, the pick them both up and bring them outside. Since Bailey is an indoor cat I couldn’t just put him out. He wouldn’t let go so I shook him until he dropped the chipmunk…and then the chipmunk clings to the towel! Rather than put the towel on the ground like a normal person, I started shaking the towel until it let go and ran away. Cat went back in the house and I got on with taking a shower. Took me just a few minutes to contain the situation.

      My cats have brought me so many gifts over the years, especially when they were all indoor/outdoor. I’ve received live birds, mice, and my favorite–a snake. Yes, a live snake. That was especially fun. Oh, my favorite dead gift was a catfish from the pond out back at the old house. I was actually impressed by that one.

      1. Grand Admiral Thrawn Is Still Blue*

        Ok that was a better plot than most action movies these days.

      2. PhyllisB*

        These “gifts” is one of the reasons I don’t have cats anymore. I have a morbid fear of mice, and of course that’s what they always brought me. Never to my son or husband, me. And then kitty would look so puzzled as to why I was freaking out and screaming on top of the kitchen table.

        1. Auntie Social*

          I woke up on Mother’s Day to see my gray cat Slater on my chest, and little wiggly lizard feet hanging out of his mouth. We all went very carefully to the front door and lizard was okay.
          Slater rescued himself from the humane society—I was bent over looking at kittens in the playpen, and felt someone playing with my butt. It was Slater, who had reeeeeeeached out of his cage to do a “don’t forget me!” thing.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Hah! My husband’s cat picked me similarly – I (not a cat person) was standing in the cat-filled lobby of the humane society waiting for the boys to run out of cats to coo over, when suddenly I could no longer move my head. Because a wee black kitten had reached out of her kennel with both paws and grabbed hold – quite firmly – of my bun.

            That one leaves me alone these days mostly, but her sister has decided she’s actually a dog, so because I am the dog lady, I am favorite person.

            1. Seal*

              One of my cats did the same to me when I made the mistake of visiting the local shelter “just to look”. He was also a wee black kitten with a hair fetish and has lived with me for the past 7 years.

              1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

                Just this morning, her sister also grabbed me by the head from the top of their cat tree and got her claws stuck in my headscarf…

          2. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

            Ha! Not very often a dude pats a woman on the butt out of nowhere and ends up getting taken home.

          3. Pam*

            My mom had the story of the time when she out her foot in her slipper, only to find half a snake.

      3. CatMom*

        Fun fact – your cat might have been trying to teach you how to hunt so you don’t starve! My 7th-floor-apartment-dwelling cats don’t get much opportunity to do this, but one of my childhood cats brought a live adolescent possum inside one time. Mom was not pleased.

        1. Mouse House*

          One of the funniest memories from life with Wasband was seeing him try to get the cat to pick up the mouse she’d just brought in. Neither of us wanted to handle the mouse, so the idea was to get her to pick it up so we could eject both of them at once. But would she pick it up? The mouse she theoretically wanted enough to bring in? Noooo. Held her mouth firmly shut and turned her head adamantly to the side every time she was set over it. She didn’t want to eat it; she practiced mouse husbandry—just wanted a good supply inside so she’d always have something to do.

    3. Lcsa99*

      I think the rum based drinks were definitely the right call. Cats are wonderful but sometimes ridiculous. I still remember the time my mom’s cat left a gopher on the porch for her. Yes, a gopher. I can’t even imagine having a bird IN THE HOUSE.

      1. Sunny Saturday*

        Been there, done that, with the bird. It was loads of fun to have multiple cats chasing it, jumping in the windows, trashing the blinds.

    4. Jemima Bond*

      Innocent my eye, they probably arranged it on purpose so it was looking at you…

      My brother and SIL used to live in a small terraced Victorian house with a front door opening straight into the pavement (sidewalk) – google “Coronation Street opening credits” for a sample. Their cat, Steve, was a mighty hunter and once SIL came down before work to find he’d brought a massive rat into the kitchen. Still alive. SIL grabbed a shoe box and scooped up the rat then opened the front door to release it into the street. She sort of threw the box (probably slight panic and disgust reaction!) and it landed upturned on the rat, which made off as best it could. Imagine if you will my SIL in her fluffy dressing down and slippers, at seven am, running down the street after a shoebox with a tail… Fortunately she caught up, retrieved the box and the rat ran away down the drain. The End.

      Until the time Steve brought a mouse (deceased) in and hid it under the sofa, but they didn’t realise until it started to smell and my bro accused SIL of being in, ahem, digestive distress…

    5. Sparklingstars*

      My cat brought a live mouse into the house a few days ago. As far as I know, it’s still somewhere in the house. Every once in s while she starts sniffing around the furniture in the living room like she smells it, but then she loses interest and wanders away. I may have to start doing an intense mouse search here soon.

    6. GoryDetails*

      Ah yes, cats! I used to let my cats go outside during the day, and there were many souvenirs brought back to me, from mice to birds to bugs. I recall with pleasure the vastly entertaining sight of Big Fluffy Grey Cat trotting down the lawn with a live garter snake in his mouth, curling down on either side of his head like a Fu Manchu moustache. I rescued the prey whenever I could and dispatched those too injured to release, but I never convinced the cats that I didn’t really want them to bring me their toys.

      My last several cats have been indoor-only, but that doesn’t stop the surprises. My lively young ginger cat finds mice that get into the basement, and brings them upstairs and puts them in the bathtub, presumably so he can chase them around and around as in a miniature velodrome; I generally become aware of this through the bumping sounds as the cat darts around the tub after the mouse. Somehow he never harms them – he just wants to play… Over the last year I’ve found and released SIX mice, and am thinking of getting some little mouse-shaped stickers to put on the side of the tub to mark his trophies!

    7. MissDisplaced*

      Yes, this is Life With Cats!
      My kitties are both indoor, so the prizes are much smaller fortunately. My little orange girl loves to hunt the basement for silverfish, centipedes, crickets and the occasional spider. One time a spider must’ve bit her, because her lip swelled up and we had a trip to the vet.

      I’m also glad I don’t live in an area with poisonous spiders like the brown recluse. I’m curious if anyone’s had that happen to a kitty?

    8. Rebecca*

      I just love how cats are always like “who, me?” like when my sweet boy knocks the one of the little clay cat statues off my nightstand, leaves a long white whisker as evidence, and then looks totally amazed and shocked when I call him out on it.

    9. CL Cox*

      When we lived in Japan (military housing) our tomcat used to bring my mom presents. Dead birds, bunnies, bugs, etc. We know they were for her because he’d put them on the porch next to my parents’ bedroom window, then he’d find her and bring her to them. She was…..less than enthused by his offerings. He also wouldn’t let anyone else clean the offering up, he’d attack any of the rest of us if we tried. Nekko-sama was a right asshole.

    10. CFrance*

      Do you know how big a dead city pigeon is compared to your dining room? I was doing laundry in the basement when out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw my Siamese of 15 years racing up the basement stairs.

      This was back in the day (1984) when the kitchen phone reached only as far as the curly cord would let it–the dining room.

      A two-scotch day.

    11. I'm a Little Teapot*

      The worst ones for me were always the lizards. Because, where’s the tail? I never found a lizard with a tail in my house, but I also never found a tail without a lizard. Plenty of lizards without tails though. I prefer to assume that the tail was left outside.

      1. tangerineRose*

        At least 1 type of lizard can shed its tail, which is supposed to help it escape predators.

    12. JobHunter*

      Our Mighty Hunter once brought home a baby weasel. It was salty about the encounter with the cat, and my mom got bitten several times (through thick leather workgloves!) trying to extricate it from the mudroom after discovering the cat staring it down in a corner.

      1. Canadian Attorney*

        My cat found a bat (or maybe the bat flew into the house? It was injured). The cat then proceeded to poke at the bat, which would make a sound as though an alarm was beeping. Took me forever to figure it out in the middle of the night (and man, bats are scary).

    13. Kuododi*

      For the record, I think I did myself an injury laughing at these hysterical, “kitty great hunter” stories!!! The best my silly Siamese was able to do was massacre her favorite mice toys and hide the evidence under my pillow at night. I miss my kitties!!!

    14. Engineer Girl*

      I woke up in the middle of the night to find something very soft on my face. My cat had placed a live sparrow on top of my eyes. The sparrow was so terrified it didn’t move until I did. I spent the next hour chasing it through the house trying to catch it. My cat was utterly disgusted with me when I put it on a bush outside my house.

  2. Jean (just Jean)*

    A different “when do you know” question: When do you know it’s really, truly, waay past time to accept that some dreams (usually involving craft supplies) are just Not. Gonna. Happen?

    It’s sad to abandon all the creative sketches in my mind, but I’ll be gaining multiple cubic feet of living space. At least as soon as I can clear enough time amidst the usual whirl of work, eat, sleep, wash dishes and clothing, keep up with a few close friends and family, rest on the weekend, and repeat.

    This is not my first time posting about having a staring contest with my clutter. So far, the clutter is winning. So I’ll toss out this question. If nobody answers that will in itself be a response: Hey, Jean (just Jean), just get on with it already.

    1. Marzipan*

      I have been taking a crack at doing KonMari (somewhat modified, I’ll admit) and I’ve definitely found myself better able to say goodbye to things. I haven’t totally got rid of all the craft stuff, but I did take a lot to the scrapstore when I realised it was stuff I didn’t even actually like all that much. Going through the process first with low-stakes items like clothes and kitchen utensils got me into a better frame of mind for recognising what stuff actually did have a place and what didn’t.

      I’m also consciously trying to use the actual supplies I already have, rather than buy more. So, for instance, I’m crocheting a baby blanket to give to a colleague going on maternity leave and I forced myself to use stash yarn rather then succumb to the lure of the lovely yarn shop round the corner. And it’s turning out gorgeous, actually, and probably not a combination of colours I’d have bought to put together but one of those times when limitations drive greater creativity. I’m also doing another stashbusting project which is running my supplies down a lot.

      So, question. Are these supplies ones you have for specific projects you just haven’t got round to, or genetic ‘just in case’ things that you maybe intended to use at some point but haven’t? Are they all the same craft, or lots of crafts? Are they crafts you already know how to do, or ones you plan to take up? Because the other side to this coin is, can you actually carve out some time to do craft projects? Could you decide they actually are going to happen, and make it so?

      It sounds like your problem here is basically one of inertia. (I don’t mean that in a nasty way; I’ve often had the exact same issue!). Life has shrunk down to a routine of things that have to be done, and not much else is getting a look in. But when that happens, it’s equally hard to clear out and get rid of the stuff as it is to do the craft project! But really, either way, it’s a question of starting, doing a little bit at a time, and keeping going. Can you find half an hour today to make a start, one way or the other?

      1. Llellayena*

        Oh yes I understand this one! I try to focus my crafting to ONE type so I don’t get pushed out of the apartment by the craft supplies. The quilting supplies are doing a good job of that all on their own! I’ve got a bunch of beading supplies (and metalworking and cross stitch and non-quilt fabrics) that I’ve been thinking of finding a new home for so I can use that space for quilt stuff. I need to keep reminding myself not to take up another expensive hobby!

        1. valentine*

          I read on Tumblr that collecting supplies and using them are two separate hobbies.

          What if you give away the stuff you can’t reasonably use this summer, giving you a clean slate, and then buy stuff when you’re ready to use it?

    2. All monkeys are French*

      A couple of years ago I rid myself of most of my fiber stash. It stung a little at the time, but it was so, so liberating. Recognizing that it ain’t gonna happen and letting it go feels really good, especially if it goes to someone who might use and appreciate it.
      It helped that my partner approached me on a Saturday to say he was going to get a table at the flea market the next day and did I want him to sell anything for me. I could have made more money selling it off bit by bit, but purging it all in one go made it simpler – like pulling off a band-aid.
      I did keep a small amount of good stuff and I’m glad I did. I’m actually more inspired to use it now.

    3. Sam Sepiol*

      Funny you should post this. I am so overwhelmed with my clutter and am at the point of spending this weekend getting rid of pretty much everything that I don’t Need. Creating the space so I can tell what I actually want and what is just taking up space. And I might end up replacing some stuff, but I’m ok with that.

      Interested to read what everyone else thinks.

    4. Lucy*

      This is when the 20:20 rule is useful.

      When considering whether a thing gets to occupy your valuable living space rent free, ask yourself if it could be replaced in twenty minutes or for under twenty bucks. If it can, then it’s more expensive to keep it than get rid of it.

      If it’s more emotional than practical (which is totally normal when decluttering) then it can help to know that the stuff is going to a good home and you aren’t just throwing it away. I gave up my hoard of never-used crafting materials to the local elementary school, but otherwise youth groups such as Scouts or community/religious groups will make good and grateful use of them.

      I love having a crafting drawer which only contains materials I’m excited to use soon on identified projects.

      1. lizzy*

        A Minimalists reference (20:20 rule), love it! I do my own a combination of the Minimalists, Marie Kondo (sans the folding, I don’t have drawers), and Courtney Carver of Project 333/Be More with Less. I even teach a class in it at my library.

        Here is how I declutter:
        Tidy by category & Focus on what brings joy (even discarding gifts!)
        • Books, clothes, tools, etc
        • Do one category in one day

        I use a Space & Packing method to limit/manage what I own:
        • Limit what you own to what fits on the closet hangers, kitchen drawers, garage shelves, etc
        • Which means decide on the space allotted for each category – I have one shelf for books, if I buy another one, something has to go. I have one cabinet for games; I get another, something has to go. Etc., etc.
        • Box the rest
        • Revisit in 3 months – adjust the space and/or get rid of anything not used or needed. This 3 month cooling off makes it easier to get rid of things – I realize I never missed them or I do want them and find a place in the newly decluttered house.

        • It has to fit or be less than the available storage space for the category
        • 90-90 rule – be brutal! Defer to the Perspective Rule
        • 20-20 rule – defer to the Perspective Rule
        • Perspective Rule: this is not about deprivation OR about a race to the least # of items – it should be fun, bring joy, make life better, etc.

          1. Thankful for AAM*

            90:90 if you have not used it in 90 days and don’t have specific plans to use in the next 90 days, then get rid of it.

            Of course, it is not a rule saying you should get rid of it, but if you are wavering, the rule could help.

    5. The Other Dawn*

      This used to be me with multiple crafts. I take after my mother in that respect. Now it’s just cross stitch kits. I have so many of them and I’ve been working on one for like 15+ years. I haven’t picked it up in years, but I find myself wanting to buy another kit. Somehow I think if I buy another one, I’ll actually want to do it and finish it. But I likely won’t so I’m resisting the urge to buy one. They’re all in a spare dresser I have so at least they’re not laying around.

      1. Book Lover*

        Ooh – what do you have? There are lots of destash groups – you could always sell what you have and pick up something new and fun with the proceeds if you want to see if it does activate a stitching bug. I put things down but the bug always comes back eventually. At least, that has been true for over 30 years for me.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          They’re all kits I like, so I’d probably have a hard time giving them up. But then again, I haven’t touched them in years! I have mostly cat-themed kits, as well as one with the Irish blessing, and I think a couple others. One is very complicated–writing, french knots, removal of canvas threads to make a cutout pattern–and it’s kind of a castle theme in shade of purple and gold.

          1. Book Lover*

            Teresa Wentzler? She has a gorgeous cat one and a teapot one that I am still thinking about. I believe all her dragon patterns are out of print sadly.

            1. The Other Dawn*

              It looks like there are, but yes, it’s one of hers that I have. I also have the “Welcome” one. All my others are Dimensions or Dimensions Gold Collection.

      2. Marissa Graham*

        I like giving cross stitches as gifts! I get to be thoughtful and I also have a deadline to finish it.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          I’ve done that a couple times. Actually, the one I haven’t touched in many years was supposed to be a gift, so I guess that didn’t help me!

    6. Ranon*

      I found our local creative reuse store and once I realized I could fairly easily get whatever I needed for a craft when I wanted it for very modest amounts of money, I packed up the craft stuff I wasn’t using and donated it. Now I joke that my craft closet is at the creative reuse store and I’m making more things than ever- with a wider variety because I can get the 6″ of Velcro or whatever I need for 25 cents!

      The other thing is to just give yourself a half hour an evening to tackle something you really want to make and just see how far you get. That’s how I got all sorts of things made with a baby in the house- a half hour at a time. And if you can’t find the half hour, well, probably other things in your life are more fun than crafts and it’s time to pass the fun to someone else.

      1. No Name Yet*

        A creative reuse store??? That sounds both fascinating and slightly dangerous, LOL. I’ve never heard of something like that, what types of names does it go by?

        1. Washi*

          I’m sure it’s not exhaustive, but if you go to artofrecycleDOTorg and click on the home menu, there’s a link to a “scrapstore list.”

        2. All monkeys are French*

          Scrap USA is one place to look. Limited locations. I’m lucky enough to have one nearby and it’s awesome.

    7. Overeducated*

      I think when you’re fantasizing more about getting the space back than the project, that’s the time.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      Er, is there a person you trust who would be willing to shovel through some of the clutter and dispose of 90% of it without asking you if maybe you would use it someday? I am slowly working on decluttering sections of my mom’s apartment, and it is much easier if she is reading a magazine in another room so I can have free range to conclude “the church bulletins from this layer say 2012, so I’m confident this project is abandoned.” Likewise fabric pinned to a girl’s size 6 pattern when my youngest niece is 11.

    9. Reba*

      Yeah, I have been gradually shedding art supplies over YEARS of moves and clean outs. At a certain point I realized that it was hard to do not just because of the perceived value of what I had invested in the materials, but more because they were part of my vision of myself as an artist, or at least “person who paints sometimes” (or perhaps might again someday :) ) and to get rid of them was to say I’m not really that person, you know?

      I realized that A) other people could use this stuff if I sold or gave it away, and B) having this identity question or dream-thwarted emotional thing every time I looked at the heavy bins was frankly making me feel bad and have less good experiences with art making! it was tinged with guilt and weirdness about life regret!

      So I made a decision to keep 2-3 kinds of supplies only, left a lot of stuff on the “free” table at my local university art department, and disposed of large items for free on craigslist.

      I actually use the colored pencils, chalks, and sewing stuff that I kept, because I can actually reach them without digging through layers of stuff and emotional baggage.

      Good luck, Jean (just jean)!

    10. Ewesername*

      The last time I moved, I took a long hard look at the art supply stuff. It’s overwhelming, isn’t it? I divided everything up into three piles- art I do now, art I could do next month and stuff I wouldnt get to for a year. That third pile went out the door to an inner city art program. Then I took a break.
      The following week I took my time going through the second pile and told myself I could keep half. The other half went to an art recycling program we have here. Then I took another break.
      When I started the first pile – this was mostly the fabric / yarn pile, I decided I would try to donate 1/4 of it. If u could think of a project I could use it for that I didn’t have to buy anything else to go with it, I could keep it. Otherwise -bye bye. I donated a pile of fabric and yarn that was “really pretty but needed x to go with it” to the seniors residence by me. They were very happy to receive it and sent me pictures of the things they made.
      It was hard to do, but I’m much more productive now. I think having too much to choose from was becoming a problem.
      Take your time. Allow yourself your feelings. Don’t be afraid to rescue things from one pile and dump stuff into another.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      At first I challenged myself not to buy any more. Some people have noted the attachment, they love the project or craft. This meant I to stop looking at the stuff.
      I allowed myself to use coupons to get stuff that would finish a project. But found I could fudge most of them really well with what I had on hand.
      I went through a few years of do -it or lose-it. For every one I did I ditched two, it just went that way. This is because I learned to picture myself CLEANING IT! Things went from cute to NO very quickly.
      I have little bunnies that I made and put a lot of time into. They really excel at collecting dust and washing them is such a hassle. The bunnies are now in a box.
      I still have the kit to do the teddy bear with posable limbs. But much of the other stuff is gone.

      An interesting thought I learned: It’s in us to want to create, that is normal and healthy. So that just leaves – what do we want to create? I think that shifts. We gravitate to creating different things as we go along. My suggestion is to reframe and think about what you enjoy creating now. It sounds like you enjoy happy times with friends/family now and you value decent rest. Clutter does detract from our ability to rest. Maybe if you focus on which projects or materials are your absolute favs and you can see what you are able to part with.

      1. BunnyWatsonToo*

        I finally bought one of those large decorative Cynthia Rowley storage boxes from Staples. I allow myself to keep as many craft supplies as will fit in it. If I buy something new and the box is full, something has to go. That helps curb my buying impulses, plus the box looks nice.

    12. CL Cox*

      I am finding that having someone to give it to helps a lot. So, it’s not just being thrown out or donated to Goodwill, it’s going to my friend who makes cards or the art teacher at my school or the after school program. I keep those things only that I know i’m going to use. And now it’s much easier to find those things as well. One box with all the crafting supplies, boom.

    13. Lilysparrow*

      I go through them and cull the obvious no’s, and let myself keep the ones that are still maybes.

      Obvious no’s: I don’t actually like the project anymore or would never actually wear/use it. Or the technique isn’t fun for me anymore.

      I don’t know anyone with kids the right age for it.

      The people I know who might have a baby aren’t close enough friends/relations to justify that amount of time, I’d make something quicker.

      I have a different project in the same category that is cuter/quicker/more fun. Or several.

      The supplies are going to degrade in storage by the time I get around to using them, or there is a better material available for cheaper if I decide to do it later.

      One good compromise I have found for my urge to hoard “someday” projects is saving patterns online. My Ravelry library and my browser bookmarks are overrun with patterns. But they don’t take up any space in my house or on my hard-drive.

    14. Wishing You Well*

      I’ve tried to give craft supplies to the “best use” place or cause, but I’m done with that. For me, donating to Goodwill is the answer. I spent so much time and effort on stuff I just wanted gone. Advertising free stuff online has led to a lot of emails with people who claim they’ll come get it and never do. Bags of stuff sat on my front porch for days waiting to be picked up and eventually was sent to Goodwill anyway.
      A very good friend suggested I consider the money spent on craft stuff as the same as vacation money. (It’s spent and gone.) De-clutter as efficiently as possible. Your time is more valuable than you know.

    15. PlatypusOo*

      I recently donated all my yarn and knitting needles to Goodwill. Any projects that I hadn’t touched in 5 years (yep that many years :/)I tossed. It felt great and I regained most of an entire closet. Highly recommend.

    16. Elizabeth West*

      Oof. This will be my bugbear, especially when moving. I love dolls houses and miniatures, which takes up the most room of all my crafts.

      Someday I hope to have a place where I can dedicate one room just to crafts with storage and a table, etc. When I saw Hereditary, I was soooo jealous of the main character’s miniatures studio!

    17. Jean (just Jean)*

      Thank you, everyone! Much wisdom to consider and absorb here. Unfortunately this weekend I’ve been mostly trying on ideas for size while lying around flattened by a respiratory infection. Between sleeping and blowing my nose I have tried to accept the limits of my time and energy for activities beyond that required to support full-time employment and maintain joyful connections to other people.

      My head knows that it is better not to live amidst the clutter of another life stage. My packrat heart and over-ambitious inner crafter still seek the same enlightenment.

    18. Anon Librarian*

      Look into community art centers, places with low cost studio space (or any art studio spaces if you can afford it). You might be able to get studio space for free or at a very affordable rate. Having a studio could also be motivation to work on stuff. Other options: renting space in someone’s garage / workshop etc, using a storage unit as a studio . . . There are a lot of options.

      If you know you won’t have time to work on it now, could you put the stuff in storage? Could you plan to make time? Say, schedule a week off, rent an art studio for that week, and put the supplies in storage until then?

      As for giving it up or not, I would think of it in terms of what you want. Is this less important to you than it once was? Are other things now more important to you? What is the trade-off in terms of time, money, space, etc? What exactly do you have to gain by deciding not to do these projects?

      But please don’t give it up just because it’s been a long time and it hasn’t happened yet. If it’s important to you, make it happen.

    19. Mrs_helm*

      What if you aren’t giving up anything? What if you are actually clearing out the “good idea” supplies so you can focus on the “what I really want right now”? It doesn’t mean you’ll never do a macrame owl – it just means that *when you have set aside both time + money*, you’ll do it.

      Also, in my experience as a crafter, I learned that the longer I held onto something, the less interesting it was. Trends that were popular 10 years ago – not as cute now! Especially true when what you’re holding onto is leftovers from the first time you did the craft. Then there are the things that you thought you would do, or somebody suggested you do, or that you got for free. But you didn’t actually use. (Ex: I love to make cards but apparently I don’t love rubber stamping them. Huh.) So, I narrowed down to *current* things, and also just what I actually use.

  3. PermAnon*

    Any tips on figuring out when it’s time to end online (or offline) friendships? If so, how do y’all do it – tell the person directly, or just let things fade out? I have a handful of people I’ve gotten to know online (through email, apps, various sites/message boards – we’ve never met in person and live far enough away from each other that we’re not apt to run into each other) who I used to be quite close to. I’ve felt like we have had a genuine connection, have a lot in common, and have mutually supported each other through rough times. However, over time the relationships have gone from mutually beneficial to very lopsided – I feel like I’m more of a free counselor (or doormat) listening to their problems (which in several cases have included mental illnesses on their end) than a friend, and they don’t seem to take genuine interest in me anymore even when I bring up things I’m struggling with and ask them for advice or support. In an attempt to save the friendships, I’ve had conversations explaining that I’m noticing a pattern of X behavior on their parts and it’s making me feel Y, and that in order for things to get better, I really need their help in making Z happen – and while they say they had no idea I felt that way and still want to be friends, their actions say otherwise. It’s getting to the point where I don’t think a friendship can be salvaged. Have any of you been in similar situations, and how have you dealt with them?

    1. F*

      I’m wondering what “ending the friendship” looks like? — I’ve rarely had friendships with an official ending like a relationship and am finding it hard to imagine in my head.

      1. PermAnon*

        The next time they contact me wanting me to help or support them with an issue they’re struggling with (since these days, that’s pretty much the only contact we have), instead of saying something supportive or noncommittal, I would be more direct and say “I’m sorry you’re struggling, but going forward I don’t think I’ll be able to help. I wish you all the best.”

        1. Lena Clare*

          That sounds really good! If you think it might be difficult to say something so final, you could go the “sorry you’re struggling, but I’m not able to help as I’m very busy at the moment” route and then just repeat ad nauseaum until they get the message and the contact becomes further and further apart until not at all. But I think the final one is clearer, and although it is uncomfortable it is ultimately fairer on both of you to not prolong the agony.

          I’ve been both the recipient and the instigator in fading out a friendship. It’s hard, but it is a relief. When it happened to me, I was both hurt when I realised what was happening but also relieved because I knew we’d grown apart and I didn’t have to end it.

          Have you read Captain Awkward’s ‘purple violet of friendship’ post? I recommend it, it’s good, and she gives better advice than me :)

          1. valentine*

            I would send a goodbye email now (nice knowing you/best wishes), block them, and bask in the sweet relief. You can stop waiting on them.

        2. Sam Sepiol*

          Honestly, I suspect that if you just kept it to the first bit, this would have the desired effect.

          I’m sorry you’re struggling, but I’m not able to help. I wish you all the best.”

          And then if they keep doing anyway you can go back to your phrasing.

          When I effectively said this to an ex friend, I basically had an extinction burst of ALL THE MESSAGES but basically I didn’t engage and it lasted less than 24 hours.

          Good luck. It sucks having to negotiate this.

      2. Virginia Girl*

        I actually ended a few toxic friendships recently. I had a conversation with them to tell them, “X makes me feel Y way. Either knock X off or we will have to end it.”

    2. Ron McDon*

      I’m afraid I’ve always been guilty of ghosting when I want to get rid of a friendship that’s run it’s course, mainly because I’ve usually spent so much time and mental space trying to salvage things that I just get to a point where I can’t expend any more energy on it.

      So, not answering phone calls, breaking commitments to meet up, generally just being very unavailable for a sustained period of time. But, this is only after I’ve already expressed that I need to pull back for whatever reason, or tried to sort out our issues.

      Good luck. I think it’s well worth ditching friendships that have run their course; just as a lot of people feel that they grow out of their relationships as they age, so does what we want or need from our friends change over time. If you’re not feeling fulfilled by your friendships it’s time to free up some time/space in your brain.

    3. patricia*

      Captain Awkward has a lot of good scripts on exactly this. Google “Captain Awkward African Violet” (I’ll post actual links in the next comment, which may take awhile to show up). She starts by stating how our society has a bunch of scripts for breaking up with a romantic partner but so few for ending a friendship, and goes from there. I love her advice generally, especially because she gives actual scripts like Alison. Good luck!

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      I think it’s a genuine conundrum arising from social media technology–that the slow fade out of someone’s life doesn’t happen naturally but has to have some deliberate fini! action to it.

    5. LadyAbhorsen*

      I actually wound up having to do this after a woman whose (online) friendship I’d cherished since early high school but who wound up, by the year after college, become so toxic that I was spiralling in my own depression.

      It…. didn’t go great? I felt like I owed it to the history of our friendship to lay it out for her rather than disappearing, but it wound up being fiiiiiiiivvvveeeee hours of recriminations and “I’ll send back the gifts you’ve sent me over the years since I guess I’ve just been a burden this whole time” thing. I honestly waited for a ‘she’s committed suicide’ call from her mom for days afterwards.

      So uh…. I would honestly try to stay away from being drawn into that. If you feel guilty ghosting, perhaps send an email—not anything instant-message-y—stating that while you’ve appreciated this friendship over the years and wish them the best, you don’t feel that staying friends is the best for you or your mental health at this point/you’ve grown apart/etc. And then block, block, block.

      1. Former Employee*

        With a link to Roy & Dale singing “Happy Trails”.

        It does end at “Til we meet again”, but that’s pretty indefinite.

    6. Auntie Social*

      I’d say that I’d noticed that I’m online too much, internet addiction or whatever, and I’m going to take a break for 30 days to see what I need to do. Kinda reboot. Anyway, everyone wish me luck, it’s going to be a tough 30 days but I’m going to see if I can do it. Then after 5 weeks you can say hi, or bye, or give them parameters about friendship. But they’ll latch on to someone else PDQ.

    7. PermAnon*

      Thank you all for your thoughtful comments! I hadn’t seen the Captain Awkward posts, but they make a lot of sense. It’s reassuring that I’m far from the only one to have been in this situation.

      To give more context, I’ve felt guilty about wanting to end things because I know that several of these friends are still struggling with mental illness, and despite the fact that they’ve sought care and are getting treatment (therapy, medication, etc.), they still seem really unhappy and mired in their own issues. I don’t want to be That Bad Friend who abandons people in rough times of their life. But, at the same time, they have established mental health providers, local resources, and offline people to help deal with issues of suicidality, hopelessness, intent to self-harm, etc. that they frequently bring up with me (and I’m not a mental health provider nor have I experienced these depressive symptoms firsthand myself – I’m just trying to be a supportive, nonjudgmental listener and encourage them to get help). I thought things would improve somewhat once they actually sought help and started on a path toward recovery or stabilization, but unfortunately, they haven’t — in some cases it’s been over a year since they were diagnosed and started getting help, and yet our friendship has persisted in the unwanted (by me, at least) counselor-counselee mode. Worse, when I’ve brought up issues I’m struggling with to them, they effectively ignore them by giving a one-line, noncommittal response and seldom ask further questions…in contrast to the paragraphs I write back to them. Even when I’ve pointed out this pattern to them and say that I would like to see more reciprocation on their parts, things haven’t improved. I feel very used. I’m not sure if that’s their intent or not, but that’s how it’s making me feel. I keep hoping that once their mental health issues are improved, they’ll return to to compassionate people they used to be, but at this point things have persisted this long in this unhealthy pattern that I doubt it.

      1. LadyAbhorsen*

        This feels very much like the situation I was in, though with only one person on my end—I don’t know how I would have coped with multiple people being such a mental and emotional black hole.

        I understand the guilt and worry, but you need to look out for yourself and your own mental health. These ‘friends’ are taking advantage of you; don’t emotionally blackmail yourself for their sake. They have their own support network, and it’s time for you to focus on friendships that are actually equal and fulfilling.

        1. PermAnon*

          Thank you – I appreciate that. These friendships at one time were equal and fulfilling, and I guess I’m just sad that it looks like they’ve changed permanently for the worse.

      2. Unknown*

        I had a somewhat similar situation where I ended up with an online friend that I started exchanging e-mails with. They would mainly talk about problems in their life, and I would write substantial responses being supportive and sympathetic and talking them through things. Once in a while I would bring up my own problem, and the response would literally be “That really sucks. Hope you figure it out! [Insert several paragraphs of complaints about their life.]”

        After 6 months of this I just sent them a short e-mail saying I’d realized I was spending 8 hours on the computer a day at work and then spending even more time on the computer at home after work and on the weekends. It was causing eyestrain, bad sleeping habits, wrist pain, stuff like that, so I was going to cut my home computer activities down to necessities like paying bills. This meant I couldn’t talk to them anymore but wished them luck. They didn’t even respond. So you could make up an excuse about how you’re cutting back on screen time for health reasons or cutting internet service to save money. Can’t really argue with that.

        1. PermAnon*

          That definitely rings true for me….I’ve literally also experienced some of these folks responding to me with “that sucks” or “oh, I’m glad I’m not in that situation” and literally nothing else when I try to get their advice on something that’s really bothering me, after taking hours and hours to try to help them…it’s infuriating. I’m glad you were able to cut that relationship out of your life, though I’m sorry they didn’t even give you the courtesy of a response when you told them.

          1. Unknown*

            The lack of a response just emphasized that it wasn’t a real friendship. They didn’t care about me. I was being used, like you feel is happening to you. :/ I hope you cut your “friends” off soon!

    8. Beatrice*

      I usually ghost. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes not. If it’s intentional, I just make talking to me about problems really unsatisfying and boring.

      I’ve had two situations where I needed to have an explicit conversations with online friends about stepping back – both times because the level of contact was so high and I needed to reduce it quickly and ghosting would have taken too long. Both involved fairly unstable people using me as an emotional dumping ground and then getting controlling/demanding/abusive. Both escalated in the next few weeks to me saying “I don’t want any further contact, please never talk to me again” because they reacted poorly to me setting boundaries.

      1. PermAnon*

        “I just make talking to me about problems really unsatisfying and boring” — I think I’ve unintentionally been doing this lately, just because I’ve been so busy at work and with other life stuff. When I come home and check my messages only to find that they’ve messaged me five times in the span of 24 hours without waiting for a response after sending one or two messages, I’m more inclined to just respond with some one-liner about being busy, or just not respond at all. So far that’s been working well with one of these bad relationships. The other one remains to be seen.

        I’m glad in your case that you were able to untangle yourself from those unhealthy relationships, even if it didn’t happen in the most ideal way!

    9. Star Nursery*

      I have had to end friendships or at least cut back to much more casual and less contact with them. One of the ways I knew it was time was when it was deeply stressing me out to hear from them and that I felt like it was all one sided; just me giving and they were taking. Sometimes I just reframed the friendship in my mind that this person is someone I care about but right now I cannot turn to them for a close friendship and need to limit how much time I spend with them. I think it helped me to lower my expectations for the friendship and either take a break or just end it. In one case I explained it to the person that I was not going to talk with them as much was too stressful and I needed to focus on improving my physical and mental health and I did end up a year or more later having a friendship again; with others I just didn’t explain it but turned down future invites and cut back on conversations : slower to respond to a text and didn’t initiate conversations. Some people are in our lives for a season and that’s ok. I found the following book helpful “Safe People: How to Find Relationships that are Good for You and Avoid Those That Aren’t” by Cloud and Townsend. They also wrote Boundaries. It might not help everyone and YMMV but I really found Safe People to be helpful both with friendships and romantic relationships.

      1. PermAnon*

        Thank you for that! I think a lot of us are conditioned that in order to have friends, we have to be friends first, and that’s how we get into this trap of being in one sided relationships where we do all the giving and let others do all the taking. I really like what you said about some friendships lasting for a season; I’m struggling with a few of my friendships because they were once fulfilling, and now they’re very ungratifying and draining, but framing them as lasting for a season is a good way of acknowledging that the overall relationship wasn’t a waste even if it won’t continue into the future. Thank you for the book recommendation! I’ve read Boundaries and enjoyed it, and I’ve requested Safe People from my library. There are a lot of books (and blogs, like this one!) that focus on how to set boundaries at work, and a lot that talk about how to find or how to end a romantic relationship, but it seems like from a platonic friendship perspective there’s not a ton out there on how to deal with relationships that were once good that now aren’t anymore.

  4. Marzipan*

    Went and had my planning appointment for my next round of IVF this week. This time it’s frozen donor eggs rather than fresh, so I got to choose the donor and her goodwill letter is just lovely – she talks about her values and they’re basically identical to mine, she even mentioned some protest marches she’d been to which are ones I was at too.

    It’s also way more straightforward with frozen eggs; I pretty much already know the gist of when all my appointments are likely to be. Which is a refreshing change from the usual carnage. I still don’t think it’ll work, mind you – at this point I basically find it hard to believe any human beings exist at all, we’re all so improbable – but anyway it’s paid for and planned out and good to go.

    In other news I have a stinking cold. Which is less pleasant.

    1. Sam Sepiol*

      I basically find it hard to believe any human beings exist at all, we’re all so improbable
      I remember this feeling and it was so painful, seeing all the people around me who didn’t seem to have to fight with the improbability.
      Good luck Marzipan. I’m rooting for you and sending good vibes x

      1. LibbyG*

        I remember when I was in the thick of infertility treatments and learning an acquaintance was in late pregnancy. I thought, “Oh, her long, painful struggle to conceive and carry a full term pregnancy is almost over! Good for her!” Before realizing that it isn’t a long, painful struggle for some people. That’s how skewed my perspective was!

        Warm wishes for all kinds of success, Marzipan!

    2. Anona*

      Wishing you a successful cycle, and sooooo much self care. You’ve earned it! I hope you can do something fun for yourself, because fertility crap is demoralizing. Congratulations on finding a good egg donor. Love and peace to you.

    1. CatCat*

      I want to know if it’s a trap. My past experience with my own cat says it’s a trap. But I know there are outliers out there where this may not be a trap.

        1. Lcsa99*

          So does our Marlowe! He’ll have the most satisfied look on his face if you scratch that belly.

  5. Tango Foxtrot*

    CW—sensitive topic ahead.

    I had an early miscarriage this week. We weren’t trying to conceive, and I was only about six weeks along, so I’ve been surprised at just how hard this hit me. I’m a little short on coping strategies and would welcome suggestions. I live across the US from most of my friends and family and spend most of the week home alone with the baby, and I’m feeling lonely and sad.

    1. Marzipan*

      I’m so sorry, that’s really tough.

      Honestly, my coping strategy was pretty much to watch Keeping Up With The Kardashians from dawn to dusk, which is neither practical nor sensible. But I guess the takeaway would be, it’s OK if you’re not feeling like your usual self, it’s OK if you’re finding things hard and can’t cope with as much as you can at other times. Be kind to yourself, distract yourself if that helps, and if what you want right now is the support of your friends and family then don’t be afraid to reach out even if they aren’t nearby.

      Thinking of you and your family.

      1. Sam Sepiol*

        My coping strategy was to sit in Starbucks as long as I could cope and read babyloss blogs. Honestly, I think KUWTK might be a healthier strategy, but didn’t exist back then.
        I’m so sorry, Tango Foxtrot. Thinking of you.

      2. WellRed*

        Two days after my father died, I collapsed on my sofa and spent the next 12 hours watching Law & Order re-runs. I think I got up to order a pizza, but that’s it.

    2. Kuododi*

      Oh my dear…my heart aches for you. Anything related to pregnancy is outside my frame of reference. I can say, while counting down to these blasted biopsies I’ve spent a great deal of time with good music. My doggos are very alert to their mommy’s well being and they’ve kept me at the bottom of their puppy piles as much as they can manage! I’ve also been pushing myself to get out a bit more frequently than the usual. (Solitude for me becomes counter productive after awhile ). Of course all the standard stuff applies as well to this situation: eat well, go easy on the caffeine, alcohol (if that’s an issue) exercise as you can tolerate, get rest, and reach out to your support people both online and IRL. You and your partner are in my thoughts. Grace and peace.

    3. Lucy*

      I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. I don’t know anything but time to make things feel easier (it doesn’t go away, but you get better at it) so all I can recommend is to give yourself time. Don’t let “should” into your mind or out of your mouth. Do what you can and what you must, whatever that looks like on any given day.

      Ninja gentle squeezes if they’d be welcome, otherwise solidarity fist bump.

    4. Anona*

      I had such a hard time with my miscarriage. I watched a lot of comforting tv like parks & recreation. I also ate good things. And I bought myself the really nice memory foam pads. I felt like I’d earned them. I also reached out to friends and others who had had miscarriages. I also eventually ate some good sushi and had some good wine, just things I wouldn’t have had while pregnant. And I eventually adopted a wonderful dog. She needed love, I needed comfort and something to take care of, and we were a great match.

      There’s an essay called “Grief comes in waves” that I love that captured my experience. And also- however you feel is the right way. There is no one way to process this.

      1. Anona*

        Also, it helped me think how I was part of the female experience. So many of us have walked this shitty, shitty road. You’re a part of a club that no one wants to join, but there are many of us here.

      2. Sam Sepiol*

        The first things I wanted after I found out the baby died were a bottle of wine and a joint, and I’d not smoked pot in a lot of years before that.

    5. I don’t post often*

      I’m so sorry! I have no advice other than to just say I’m so sorry this happened.

    6. PhyllisB*

      I’m so sorry. I have had two miscarriages, so I understand your pain. My first was like yours. In fact, I didn’t even know I was pregnant until I lost it. People don’t seem to understand that miscarriage is a death, and feel like you should get past it quickly. Take care of yourself in whatever way helps for you and allow yourself to grieve. Hugs if you want them.

    7. Parenthetically*

      Oh I am so sorry. My coping strategy was to drink really delicious beer and cocktails, and spend as much time with my husband as possible. Hoping for the best. Be gentle to yourself.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Only from my own experience. I was totally shocked by how my whole body felt really weak. I later figured out that I had probably lost a lot of vitamins and minerals. This vitamin and mineral loss did not help with processing thoughts either. If you can hack something like soup or veggie drinks that might be an easier way to get some nutrition into your body, which in turn could help support your mind as you grieve/process this loss. No magic, though. So very sorry.

    9. orchidsandtea*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. I desperately needed rest and solidarity and time, and to honor the little one’s brief presence in my life. In 2016 FPoste described miscarriage as “a ravine of suck”, and that rang true for me. It’s a long slog.

      For solidarity, I got great solace from Reddit’s r/ttcafterloss. It’s for anyone who has experienced miscarriage and wants to talk about it with people who Get It. You are not alone.

      For rest, give yourself permission to do anything non harmful that you need to make it through. Hiring babysitters, eating takeout on paper plates, putting the takeout on a credit card, eating anything nourishing you otherwise might deny yourself. Don’t carry any mental or emotional loads you can possibly dodge for a month. Your husband needs to be your buffer against the world. Even at just 6 weeks your body has done a lot of work and your brain made a lot of changes. It’s normal and expected for you to feel awful. This will end.

      And I second the comments about not telling yourself you should feel x or y. Be where you are. This hurts so much. I’m sorry. It gets better, just not yet.

    10. A Non E. Mouse*

      I’m so sorry. I’ve had two myself and they are just awful.

      Coping: rest (LOTS of rest), comfort foods, water, and something to help you with any cramping or pain.

      Also please please be gentle with yourself – your hormones will crash and it will make your body and your mind all wacky. It will be okay, and you will get through it, but please be kind to yourself for any mood swings, hot flashes, etc.

      I would also suggest you have your partner take a day or two off to care for your other child (forgive me if I read that incorrectly) so that you can properly recharge – miscarriages are a physical event as well as emotional, and you really do need actual time to heal.

      1. Observer*

        This is true. Keep in mind that although it’s early, it’s still a lot more significant than most people (especially doctors!) realize.

  6. TheYoungWan*

    I’m going to Paris (France, not Texas) on Monday for the first time. Has anyone here ever been and have some tips?

    1. Elf*

      Sacre Coeur is one of my favorites, and if you are less broke than I was at the time you should totally pay one of the artists who hang out in the street nearby to sketch a portrait.

      Most of my tips are for trying to do it on as few euros a day as possible, and are from over ten years ago, so reply if that’s useful to you.

      1. Interrodroid3000*

        Don’t go straight up the steps of Sacre Coeur, though. See the neighborhood & wind your way uphill.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I was there last weekend, just to go shopping, but the public transport system (RATP) is brilliant. A carnet of 10 tickets is less than EUR 15 and covers the metro, buses and RER (Suburban trains). You will see more on the bus, but the traffic can sometimes be bad. There are also several companies offering Hop-On Hop-Off bus services, which are a good idea if you need to get your bearings, Bateaux Mouches river trips and day trips to Disneyland or Versailles.

        The main tourist office is on the Rue de Rivoli, but it’s really part of the town hall. The staff are really helpful and can provide maps, itineraries (I got a guide to Montmartre) and advice.

    2. Square Root Of Minus One*

      I live in France – not in Paris (and never gonna happen), but I’ve been there quite a few times. If you reply with more specific questions, I’ll be glad to answer as well as I can.
      Off the top of my head:
      – Landmarks : there are just so many and you haven’t mentioned any preference. The Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the Sacre-Coeur… where to begin? I really enjoy going to the Luxembourg Gardens, the Orsay museum and the Lachaise graveyard.
      – I think you can forget about Notre Dame. It’s still healing from the fire.
      – If you’re moving around and keeping in Paris itself (not going to one of its many satellite towns), better avoid the “RER” (interurban metro). I believe you can take it with metro tickets in you remain in Paris, but you’re looking at dense crowds and long times of dark corridors and stairs.
      – “Châtelet Les Halles” station is my personal hellmouth. It’s crowded and super big: honestly I’d rather make one more connection at a small stations than going there. If you have difficulties moving, the metro generally won’t be easy on you. There are stairs everywhere. Keep an eye on that.
      That’s it for now, but as I said, ask away :)

      1. Doc in a Box*

        I was just in Paris. Notre Dame is still beautiful. You can’t go inside, but much of the structure was built of stone and is still standing, including the iconic bell towers. There is scaffolding over the part of the nave that burned. I did have to sit down on the steps leading down to the Seine and cry a little, but I don’t regret going there.

        In addition to the other great suggestions, I’d also add the Pantheon (in the 5eme) and a night-time view over Paris from the Tour Montparnasse or from the steps leading up to Sacre-Coeur (not the Eiffel Tower … if you’re standing on the Eiffel Tower you can’t see it!). You can apparently also get a free city view from the top floor of the Galeries Lafayette (huge department store) but I haven’t done that so can’t verify.

        The RER from Charles de Gaulle to the city was perfectly fine. The station at the airport has escalators, and the station near my hotel (Port Royal) had an elevator. But in general, elevators and air conditioning are not common in Parisian establishments. (Restaurants with A/C will have a sign in the window: salle climatisee.)

        Make sure your credit card has a chip. If you are an unmanned kiosk (like buying a train ticket) it will also prompt you for a PIN. I withdrew some money from an ATM on arrival but used < 10 euros in cash, as nearly everywhere will take a credit card.

        Etiquette: always greet the shopkeeper when you enter. "Bonjour" is fine for most of the day, "bonsoir" after about 5pm. Waiters do not hover; if you want the check, ask for "l'addition" (la-dish-ON with a very nasal final syllable) or make the "scribbling" gesture. Tip and tax is included in the listed price, but if you want to add something extra for good service I'm sure it's appreciated! Many restaurants do a fixed-price lunch on weekdays (le formule or le menu) but you can always order individual dishes (la carte) if you prefer.

        Enjoy your time in Paris! It's such an incredible city.

    3. Lucy*

      When you’re at a bar, prices vary by seating. Allow extra in your budget to sit outside somewhere with a great view, and get the full experience!

    4. A Parisian*

      Lived a decade in Paris.

      Basic safety tips : especially if you look like a foreign tourist, beware of pickpockets and avoid the roma (they usually beg or ask you to sign stuff, don’t do it), especially around the tourist places (Sacré Coeur, Eiffel tower and Champs Elysées are the worst).
      Buy your metro tickets in official places (all stations have machines or sellers), not off people reselling them.

      If you want a nice view of Paris, I think climbing the Eiffel Tower is a waste of time. You have a great view from the Sacré Coeur, but if you want to go even higher, you could pay to climb up (Elevator) the Tour Montparnasse (Montparnasse Metro Station). It’s higher than the Eiffel Tower, less wait times or crowds, and you actually get the Eiffel Tower in your pictures.

      You’re going to have really hot weather, don’t forget water bottles (indoor places will have air conditioning but nowhere near as cold as in the US. You’ll need less layers).
      And know that tap water “une carafe d’eau” is free in all restaurants (and quite safe to drink, and it tastes fine).
      Also, there’s no tipping culture in general (except leaving loose change, or a couple of euros, after a meal- it’s appreciated but not common). The price you’re asked is exactly what you’re expected to pay.

      If you want to ask for directions or get into a shop a “Bonjour” (Hello) first is essential (seriously, a very polite and friendly “excuse me could you help me with directions” without that first “Hello” will still be found rude by some people, and Parisians are already a stressed out busy bunch). Most students and people under 40 speak decent enough English to get by. A little French will go a long way to gain sympathy.

      To visit:
      Free concerts in churches (especially on weekends but not only) are a thing. Keep an eye out (it’s usually pasted on the church, and I’m sure one of the many tourist offices keep a list). Churches (usually catholic) are generally open and free to visit, there are a lot of beautiful ones pretty much everywhere in center Paris.

      If you like walking, I’d suggest walking along the Seine (from the bottom of the Champs Elysees to Notre Dame it’s an hour’s walk or so. You can stop 2/3 of the way at Hotel de Ville, the very center of Paris. Nearby is the Louvre and the Tuileries Garden). Next to Notre Dame, the quartier latin with the Luxembourg Gardens and the Pantheon is a great walk. One of the main metro stations there is Saint Michel.
      The small streets there full of little restaurants, at midday you can sit down for a 10-15€ meal or just grab a kebab or equivalent for half that and eat in the Luxembourg gardens or on a bench near the Seine.
      The “Marais” on the other side of the Seine is beautiful, easy to walk in, and has a great bar scene (it’s also the historical gay and jewish districts, with loads of history attached and things to visit). You can walk from there to the Louvre.

      There’s the “Invalides” 10 minutes’ walk away from the Eiffel Tower. Worth a look.
      If you really like walking (I know I do^^), you can walk “down” the Champs Elysées (with “up” being the Arc de Triomphe) until you get to the Alexandre III bridge (which is really beautiful), then cross a whole boulevard/park (the Esplanade des Invalides) until you reach the Invalides. The Eiffel Tower is 10mins’ walk on the opposite side.

      The sacré coeur and “Amelie Poulain” 18e (Pigalle and nearby streets) is also a nice walk, but it’s pretty much on the opposite side of Paris to the things above, so keep in mind you’ll need transport to get there.
      In the 18e you also have Barbès, which has a bad reputation because it’s a hub for african immigrants (purse warnings apply here), but if you like the bustle of people, good oriental pastries and a million shops selling just about anything for relatively cheap (it’s still Paris), it’s a place I like.
      I also love the Saint Denis Cathedral for the sheer history of the place (huge Cathedral, lifesize tombs of dozens of medieval French Royals – which means they all look like children-), it’s the ‘nice’ part of a Paris suburb that has a bad reputation, but except for pickpockets there’s nothing to worry about.

      Versailles is 20 min away from Paris, and since you’ll be there on weekdays before official holidays, it could be worth spending 1/2 a day at (as in, the crowd should be manageable). You’ll need to take the RER C.

      I mean, there are a million things to do.^^.

      1. Sammie*

        ‘avoid the roma’

        Seriously, that’s not okay.

        There are safety issues in Paris (and other major cities) and you can help a person out without castigating an entire group, whose history includes a hideous amount of discrimination, one aspect of which includes not being able to get jobs.

        I’m originally from a country where there are Roma and other traditionally nomadic communities and the settled people are always very quick to notice when those in the former groups do something ‘untoward’ – a helluva lot less likely to pay attention or generalise when someone from the settled community does the same thing.

          1. Sammie*

            I missed that, which is my bad. So, it seems like there’s a whole lotta nastiness going on.

        1. Traffic_Spiral*

          Also, how is some rando gonna even know what roma look like? I don’t know what they look like. If you’re not from a country that has roma, you might as well be told “be wary of the glip-glops.”

          LW, take standard pickpocket precautions (like not keeping valuables in easily-reached pockets) and don’t waste time trying to ID who looks pick-pockety because even if all the stereotypes were true, you don’t know what to look for.

        2. Lilysparrow*

          The useful information can be conveyed without these issues:

          Don’t give to panhandlers or sign any petitions, they are often “fronts” for pickpockets.

          Don’t be turned off by the bad reputation of the Barbes area – watch your purse, there is street crime, but it’s interesting and has good food.

    5. Not A Manager*

      If you like museums, look into the all access museum pass (I don’t remember its exact name or parameters). It’s expensive, but individual admissions add up so if you’re going to more than 2 or 3 museums it might be worth it. The best part is that it lets you bypass the ticket lines in order to enter the museum, which can be a huge timesaver. Many times the lines are outside in the hot sun, as well.

    6. Dismuse*

      I missed Sacre Coeur this time, but my friends said it was amazing. The Cuban Quarter is probably my favourite though, for all the little streets and shops. If you want to be an real tourist (I did!) the boat tours are amazing!

      Plus whatever you want to do, if you need tickets make sure you go straight to the official site and don’t get discouraged by the ‘packages’ and stuff. I was all affronted at the tickets for the Eiffel Tower (which you do want to see at night!) until I realised the official site was like the second on the list.

      There is excellent pho to be had in Paris, but I have yet to have a good Indian meal (although I am sure there are great restaurants somewhere).

    7. Samwise*

      Don’t try to do everything. Unless you are really a gotta-fill-every-minute-moving sort person , stroll, sit on a bench in park or on the street, sit by the window or outside in a cafe and take your time drinking your coffee or kir, don’t rush to the bus or metro— if you miss one, another will be there soon and you can enjoy people watching and eavesdropping while you wait. Get an ice cream and eat it by the river. Go to monoprix (supermarket) for the best prices on picnic things (baguette, cheese, pate, bottle of rose — choose a screwtop, some fruit, a small knife) and have lunch by the river.

      We came across a lovely little outdoors bird market — sorry, don’t remember where! Look for things like that — you will find them if you just wander.

      Explore the neighborhood around your hotel or apt.

      Gifts to take back for yourself or for friends and family: monoprix has a great selection of pate in tins, little jars of fancy mustard, chocolates, jams…you get the idea!

      And eat at Chez Janou if you can. Make a reservation. Chocolate mousse for dessert….

    8. OlympiasEpiriot*

      I like the venue La Maroquinerie, a restaurant, bar and music place that gets a lot of good acts from all places, including France. It’s in Ménilmuche, not too far from the Ménilmontant Metro, or Gambetta (which is one of the stations close to Pere-Lachaise). Last time I was in Paris, I stayed in a little hotel in this same neighborhood.

      Depending on what kind of music you like, you might enjoy one of the concerts. I looked at their events list and on Wednesday, there’s a concert by Pigalle (aka: François Hadji-Lazaro). Eccentric songs in French. (I like his recent song “Je Suis Un Guichet Automatique D’Autoroute.”)

    9. Rainy*

      If you actually want to SEE the Louvre rather than just end up with a violent case of ennui toward fine art, I’d do two mornings rather than trying to spend one day seeing everything. The Mona Lisa is extremely small and will be surrounded by tourists taking photos with upraised phones. It’s probably not going to be a transformative experience in art for you.

      Go see the Eiffel Tower at night. They light it up on the hour and it’s pretty freaking magical. There’s a lot to see. Take comfortable shoes with you or you will feel dead from the ankles down most of the time you’re there. I loved loved loved the Jardin du Luxembourg. I found it utterly charming and very fun to wander around in. Be sure to walk along the Seine, as it is a lovely thing to do. Please don’t buy or bring a padlock for the Pont des Arts–I think they’ve started making real efforts to lock-proof the bridge since I was last there, but don’t be that person.

      When you get blisters, there’s a german type of bandaid–ugh, I wish I could remember the brand, but look for the blarenpleisteren in a drugstore. They are the best for walking blisters, hands-down. If you travel outside the city–and you should! There is so much more to France than just Paris!–the trains are great, and everyone is extremely cheerful even when there are issues. If you’re American know that renting a car in Europe almost always involves needing to know how to drive a stick. I would advise against renting a car in Paris, though. :D

      It’s going to be a lovely time; I am so excited for you :) Eat lots of cheese.

    10. NewReadingGlasses*

      If your luggage gets lost, you can buy basic stuff like underwear and socks for lowish prices at Monoprix. There are several around Paris. If you are feeling a little fancier, you can try Printemps.
      If you don’t know what street you are on, look for a pharmacie – they usually have the street name on the front of the shop.
      I enjoyed the Musee Rodin more than the larger museums I made it to, likely due to smaller crowds. I tried to go to the Louvre on a free/reduced admission day, and it was solid people so I went and had an extra lunch instead (recommended!).

    11. Kimmybear*

      I love the Musee d’Orsay and Sacre Couer! Eat bread and cheese for lunch. Drink coffee at an outdoor cafe. Eat crepes from a street vendor. If you want to get out of the city, take the train to Versailles.

    12. Sacre Coeur*

      I love Sacre Coeur. Was walking through it once and came to a full stop. There is a window there for the woman who was the topic of my senior thesis, Mere Marie de l’Incarnation! She was an Ursuline nun who led the first French nuns to what is now Quebec. ( The window shows crossed arrows & says, “I will love you for those who do not” (in French). )

      Leave yourself time for wandering around. Leaning against the wall of a small stone church during a concert & coming away with powdered stone on my shirt; seeing a single flower blooming 10′ up on the side of a building with a plaque reading someone “died here for France”, are memories that remain vivid.

      Have a great trip! Paris is a wonderful city.

    13. Just us chickens*

      If you have a chance, go by Debauve & Gallais. The time I was there, they had the most amazing chocolate display in their shop. This is the store that made chocolate pastilles for Marie Antoinette.

    14. WillowWeep*

      Listen to Ernest Hemingway’s “A Movable Feast” on CD, it will make you fall in love with Paris before you even get there.

  7. Sleep strategies*

    Anyone have tried and true methods of staying asleep? I can fall asleep easily most nights but wake up after 2 or 3 hours and can’t get back to sleep. Lactose intolerant and hate the taste of dairy so warm milk is out. Chamomile tea makes my nose runny. Melatonin helps but worry about dependency if I take it every night. I usually don’t drink alcohol and prefer to exercise in the morning so they aren’t really factors. Thanks.

    1. Sparkly Librarian*

      I’ve found that a weighted blanket helps me stay asleep long and fall back asleep quicker. It also makes it harder to get out of bed in the mornings, though.

      1. Elf*

        Ooh, yes, second. I have a really small one (approx. 2ft by 2ft) that I put just on my torso.

      2. Star Nursery*

        I’m interested in getting a weighted blanket too. Let me know if you recommend a certain brand!

    2. Elf*

      I need to listen to something to fall asleep. (not white noise). You can try the Sleep With Me podcast, that’s great. I actually quite like Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me for that – the humor keeps my mind from wandering but there’s no plot to engage me too much. Get a sleep timer app for whatever device you use; the one on my Mac is called Sleepytime.

      1. cat socks*

        Sometimes I’ll watch ASMR videos on my phone. They help relax me and make me feel sleepy.

    3. Julia*

      Are you me?
      Have you always had that issue? For me it’s newer (either I can’t sleep at all or I wake up a few hours too early) and I wonder if it has any underlying physical cause(s), so maybe we should both observe and maybe see a doctor.
      For now, I try to count backwards from 100 and that seems to work sometimes. If I can (husband away), I put on the Calm app and try some meditation or music.

    4. CoffeeforLife*

      Is the temperature set for sleeping? If it’s too warm you’ll wake up or never actually get into a deep sleep. Try adjusting that. I kept waking up to use the bathroom so I tried to watch my bedtime water consumption.

      1. Old Biddy*

        I second this suggestion. I’m in peri-menopause and don’t get hot flashes during the day, but have become a very warm sleeper. I put the flannel sheets on the bed last December and that just put me over the edge, even though the bed temperature would seem ok when I went to sleep.

    5. Pistachio*

      Reading something challenging works for me. Like, a news report in a foreign language.

    6. Insurance mom*

      Benedryl at bedtime. Usually generic or Tylenol pm generic. Don’t take it at 2 am or waking up is difficult.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Just FYI that there are some newer studies out that show that long-term use of anticholinergics like Benadryl is linked to memory loss and dementia.

        1. Wishing You Well*

          Yep. My pharmacist really frowned at my taking any antihistamine as a sleep aid for an extended period of time. Temporary use might be okay.
          My advice: NO screen time an hour or 2 before bed – no phone, no tv, no ipad etc.

          1. Angie*

            Yeah that’s probably for the best but realistically speaking that doesn’t work for me and some other people. There are apps called blue screens that you can use on your devices that’s change the lighting to make it easier for you to sleep. The one I use on my phone is called Twilight. Some devices like Kindles come with it as a default you just have to check the settings.

      2. NewReadingGlasses*

        You can develop a tolerance to the sedating effects of Benadryl over a few weeks time, and increasing the dose can cause insomnia (depends I the person). As ()’ly says there are other not good long tern effects. That said, it can be a short-term or intermittent solution that can get you some relief. You could also try Dramamine. This works for me when I am a bit desperate.
        If this is a long pattern over years (get to sleep fine, wakefulness in the middle, more sleep afterwards) there are a lot of people who have the same pattern. I just go sit in a chair and think in the dark until I get sleepy again. Somehow actually getting out of the bed helps, but no lights is important. Also, try not to look at the clock.

    7. Annie Moose*

      You likely have already considered this, but don’t forget medical factors, both physical and mental. Personally, when I start not being able to sleep, it’s often stress-related, or depression/anxiety flaring up–even if it doesn’t seem that way on the surface, for me it’s often a symptom of something deeper that I need to address. Worth looking into if you haven’t already!

      For me personally, when it’s stress-related, meditation-type activities help a lot… prayer (I’m religious), muscle stretches/relaxation, or even just thinking calming thoughts. Part of the problem for me is that if I wake up in the middle of the night, I tie myself into knots worrying about whether I’ll be able to fall back to sleep… which obviously makes it harder to fall back asleep! So if I’m able to focus less on that and more on general relaxation, it can help.

      1. Rainy*

        My husband has some mild depression, and I can always tell when an episode is coming on because he starts doing a lot more tossing and turning, and has a lot more trouble getting to sleep. Using his happy light in the morning when that starts seems to help reset things a little.

      2. Star Nursery*

        Same with me. Usually it’s an uptick in stress/anxiety when I have more issues staying asleep. I have found things that help: journaling, praying and regular exercise, listening to podcasts or sermons (some type of talking interesting enough that I have to stop my loop of worries running through my head; music doesn’t help me- I can still worry loop with just music). I sometimes take over the counter Hyland’s Calms Forte Sleep Aid (homeopathic medicine for sleeplessness and stress) that I get from either Walgreens or CVS. But I think The Vitamin Shoppe carries them online as well.

    8. Glomarization, Esq.*

      A lot of people just don’t sleep straight through the night. Have you read about biphasic and polyphasic sleep? The idea is that one, single, 8-hour block of sleep is really only a product of the Industrial Revolution. Historically, people would fall asleep sometime after their evening meal for their “first sleep,” then wake up in the wee hours and this was considered normal. Maybe that’s what your body is trying to do.

      Personally, thinking about sleep in this way helps me not feel so worried or stressed if I have a bout of insomnia.

      1. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff*

        This is probably the most amazing discovery that I made this year! I tested the biphasic for a while last February and it was nice, but it doesn’t work so well in the northern summer, when there’s light for all the 24 hours…

      2. Myrin*

        I’ve read about this some time ago but sadly no one has ever been able (or willing?) to give me their sources for it! I’m a medievalist and have never encountered this idea before – all the medieval texts I know which mention sleep definitely do so in a “go to bed in the evening, wake up in the morning” fashion -, so I was really curious but couldn’t really find any actual reliable information on it – do you happen to have some?

        1. curly sue*

          I read a paper about this in a seminar a number of years ago… I’m pretty sure this is where the idea came from, because it was the first I’d ever heard of it (early modernist here):

          A. Roger Ekirch, Sleep We Have Lost: Pre-industrial Slumber in the British Isles, The American Historical Review, Volume 106, Issue 2, April 2001, Pages 343–386, https://doi.org/10.1086/ahr/106.2.343

        2. curly sue*

          My reply had a url in it and I assume will get released eventually, but here it is without the link and with a page number – A. Roger Ekirch, Sleep We Have Lost: Pre-industrial Slumber in the British Isles, The American Historical Review, Volume 106, Issue 2, April 2001, Pages 343–386. The discussion of biphasic sleep starts on p. 364.

          1. curly sue*

            (And from a cursory skim his sources look to be primarily early modern – seventeenth and eighteenth century.)

        3. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

          Being awake in the wee hours in an era with no electric lights or central heat does sound a bit impractical, doesn’t it?

        4. Glomarization, Esq.*

          The wikipedia entry on “biphasic and polyphasic sleep” links to primary sources.

    9. cat socks*

      I bought some CBD gummies and I take one at night before bed. I find I don’t wake up as much in the middle of the night and feel pretty well rested in the morning. I try not to drink liquids too close to bed. I’ve found before when I feel restless that it’s because I have to pee.

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

      If you’re in the US and can tolerate sports, listening to a baseball game on the radio can work wonders — or at least it does for me. Bonus points if you’re not a fan of the team that’s playing or if the commentators are super boring.

    11. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff*

      At painscience dot com they have an extensive guide to tackle insomnia, based on solid science. If you prefer a traditional book, I enjoyed Night School by Richard Wiseman a lot and it’s also as scientifically sounded as possible. Melatonin should not be taken for extensive periods of time, and I personally find it gives me nightmares. For me, the best thing is having a long ritual to unwind, which I repeat every evening in the same way and at the same time: herbal tea with book, shower, a bit of beauty stuff and then straight to bed. I also don’t use the bedroom for anything else than sleeping, and keep it always dark, quiet and cool.

    12. Ewesername*

      I,um, listen to Dame Judy Dench reading “The House at Pooh Corner”. It puts me out, part way through the first story. Every. Darn. Time.

    13. Auntie Social*

      I build my dream house in my head, from plans to the lot to construction. I’ve never gotten past the rebar.

    14. Claire*

      I started to have that problem a few years back. Melatonin helped me fall asleep, but I’d wake up 2-3 hours later, so my doctor prescribed Trazadone, which has worked beautifully.

    15. DrTheLiz*

      I like a sleep mask for those nights I struggle – both the total dark and having something physically (gently) holding my eyelids shut helps a lot.

      1. londonedit*

        I’ve just started using a sleep mask too – I finally worked out that my pattern of waking at 4:45am over the last few weeks probably has something to do with the fact that sunrise has been around 4:45am for all that time! It has really helped – I do sometimes take it off in my sleep, but if I wake up I just replace the mask and I soon go back to sleep.

    16. Newbie*

      We purchased a white noise machine about 6 months ago. It really helps me get back to sleep when I sort of wake up in the middle of the night. I know there are apps but I am trying to keep my phone out of the bedroom.

    17. Anoncorporate*

      I’m a struggling sleeper, but something that helps me generally is turning down my AC. I usually prefer warmer temperatures, but you want a cooler temperature at night. I’m also currently trying to cut down on caffeine (idk if this is even relevant to your situation.) I’m finding that skipping coffee in the afternoon is making it easier for me to sleep. I also take a warm bath at night before bed.

      Also, you definitely don’t want to take melotonin every night. Just every couple days. (This is totally not kosher, but I currently have some prescription muscle relaxers that I occasionally pop if I’m really having trouble falling asleep. It works better than melotinin for some reason. But I DON’T recommend getting muscle relaxers for sleeping.)

      1. Anoncorporate*

        Oh! And I switch all my screens (laptops, tablets, phones, etc.) to “Night Mode”. It gets rid of the blue light in your screens. I actually have all my devices to be set at Night Mode all day long – gives me less headaches.

    18. Lcsa99*

      You should talk to your doctor. My husband was always worried about taking too much melatonin but when we talked to the doctor she actually recommended he take it every night for a while – not just when he needs it. Since it’s natural the thought was that it would help his body build up more appropriate levels so he could sleep more easily and sleep through the night.

    19. Madge*

      Most people wake a few times during the night and immediately fall back asleep. So it’s not that you’re waking, it’s that you’re not falling back asleep. Just knowing that waking is normal might help reduce any anxiety about it happening. I think it’s called secondary insomnia. Another thing is to make sure you don’t need to visit the toilet, and if you do, to make it as quick and quiet as possible. You can also make sure your environment is good for sleeping. And muscle tension can keep you awake. New Hampshire Extension Service has a progressive muscle relaxation video on YouTube that puts me right out.

    20. Observer*

      I’m going to agree with the folks saying to have a chat with your doctor. Also, “no screens” is not always practical, but every smart phone from the last 4-5 years can be put into night mode (either through the OS or with an add on) and you can do the same thing on your computer.

      That’s a good idea that you should most definitely try if you have not yet – there is no real downside nor do you have to pay any money for it (unless you need the “prime” version of the app on an older phone, in which case you’re looking at $4.99). Also, consider putting your phone into automatic silent about an hour before you are supposed to be going to bed – the notifications sounds can be surprisingly disruptive.

    21. FloralsForever*

      i have two, both related to lowering my heart rate:

      weighted blanket. its funny bc before weighted blankets were a thing my family and i would argue over who got to use my dad’s old army blankets. those things were heavy and an wonderful. i now use a large cotton thermal blanket bc its heavy (ish) and breathes really well.

      sometimes i will take an ibuprofen. its a muscle relaxant and helps me relax so i can lay still and have my heart rate can go down enough to go back to sleep.

      ok ok 3: sometimes i just lay really still and count backward from 100. the idea is to lay still and have your mind distracted enough so you don’t move. then my heart rate drops and helps me sleep.

  8. Ginger Sheep*

    Aquarium thread? I’d like to hear updates from Fishstick, Pinstripe and their friends! And from anyone else who has a fish tank, large or small, old or new… I’ll present my newish friends in a reply!

    1. Ginger Sheep*

      So I bought two months ago a 60 litre (15 gallon) aquarium – I wasn’t really planning on getting any more pets, and don’t really need the time suck in my already overcommitted life, but I had to honor a promise I made a year and a half ago to my daughter : that when she turned five, she could have an aquarium. She, of course, remembered it perfectly well, and claimed her due, so here I am with my tank and fish. And I actually love them!
      The tank is planted with three different types of plants, that are really growing well. I have five red platies, five gold cloud mountain minnows, two otocinclus and two nerite snails. And about twelve baby platies – after two weeks one of my females gave birth to four babies, and a week later a second female added about ten of her own. I’m not entirely sure of the exact count, and I’m really not sure of what I’m going to do with them when they grow up, but they are really cute and it’s so much fun watching them grow up!
      But I’m really a newbie in fish keeping – I read all I can on the internet, and probably go pester my kindly petshop vendor every week (he’s actually quite good – he’s specialised in fish and has several tanks himself), but I’m sure I’m going to make some mistakes (apparently, overstocking is going to be the first). How about you?

      1. teashirt*

        I also got my daughter a fish tank when she was 6. She’s 16 now. We still have one of the original angel fish. And some lemon tetras and some new tiger barbs, who are big meanies. We had some African dwarf frogs for a few years, and they were a lot of fun to listen to, but they were nocturnal.

    2. AnnaNotherthing*

      I’m hoping at add two algae eaters to our goldfish tank this weekend. I’ve been trying for months and am losing the babies the day before the transfer from quarantine to the Big Tank. So this time we’re moving them sooner but I’m afraid they are too tiny and Fiona the big Goldie will get the wrong idea.

      So. Much. Tank drama.

    3. Rainy*

      My shrimps are still going strong. I’ll add some ember tetras eventually but I don’t feel a lot of urgency about it, plus I need to wait until I can get a whole school at once for their optimal mental well-being.

    4. Llama Face!*

      My fish are doing well. I had bought a couple of julii corys (Jules and Lee) a while back to keep my pepper cory (Jerry) company. He had gotten really depressed after his cory friend Mary died; he would just sit on the bottom without moving and not eat or swim around. Now that he has tank buddies he’s swimming happily and has his appetite back. :)
      I also have a blue platy- named Blue for the irony since blue platy are not actually blue, they’re irridescent white- and two neon tetras collectively named The Rainbow Brites who are all happy and healthy.

      I could get one more fish or a snail but I’ve been holding off for now since I’m not sure what I want.

      1. Nana*

        I’m impressed with all of you! We got some guppies and some neons (the latter are fun because they’re bright AND they school)…and one catfish for clean-up. All was well for quite some time (I’d promised the kids we’d get a dog if we got a house…and it came to pass, and we re-homed the fish in their aquarium.)

    5. KoiFeeder*

      Not an aquarium, but my koi have been in fine fettle. Queen Fattyfats tried to eat the milkweed tiger moth caterpillars, Katherine Edward has destroyed the plants for the umptillionth time, and poor Peekablue got stuck up on the top of the biofalls again because he is an adorable fool who we love.

  9. Elf*

    People with Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria – I clicked through a link at Captain Awkward yesterday and my reaction was “Yes, this! This is exactly the thing I have been trying to describe to people! There is a word for this!”

    I’m looking for any tips on managing it, since the articles I was able to find were all pretty much “Medication is the only possible treatment nothing else works” and medication is Not Going To Happen.

    Also interested in descriptions of how it manifests in you (for me, the primary emotion involved seems to be disappointment resulting from a wide variety of situations, but having my plans overset seems to be really particularly triggering)

    Particularly interested in responses from those on the Autism Spectrum, as that is where I live.

    1. ThatGirl*

      I’m not autistic and don’t have RSD but to me it sounds like a form of anxiety — and because of that I feel like some form of therapy could be helpful in treating or managing it.

      1. Elf*

        The literature about it mostly says therapy is ineffective; I’m not writing it off but I’d like to hear from some others dealing with it about whether there are particular types or aspects of therapy that were helpful so I know what to look for.

        1. Close Bracket*

          The literature says ALL therapy is mostly ineffective? Bc there are many therapeutic modalities, and there are many newer cognitive-based therapeutic modalities. I just have to wonder whether there are specific types of therapy that have been shown to be effective.
          What does the literature have to say about mindfulness practices? Learning to sit with your feelings, meaning just feel the feelings without judging the feelings, judging yourself, or acting on the feelings, has been shown to make a variety of negative reactions easier to bear. I’m raising an eyebrow at the idea that this specific type of negative reaction is somehow exempt.
          Many forms of therapy have been shown to be a little use for people on the spectrum (of whom I am one). I don’t know what the literature says about mindfulness practices and people on the spectrum. I do a lot of sitting with my feelings for everything from devestating misery to awkwardness. It doesn’t make me any less miserable or feel any less awkward, that’s not really the goal of mindfulness. It does help me to just experience those feelings without frantically scrambling to stop experiencing those feelings. It helps me to function even though I am feeling devastated or awkward. I recommend trying it for RSD.

          1. Elf*

            “Therapy can help with other symptoms of ADHD, but doesn’t do much for RSD. This is because RSD episodes happen suddenly and without warning.”

            That’s from WebMD, but there is approximately equivalent text on every other page I’ve been able to find thus far. (They all recommend alpha agonists or MAOIs).

            Note from my comment above that I am not dismissing therapy on the basis of this, but since this is rooted in a physical brain difference and therapy is generally considered ineffective, I would like to hear from others actually living with RSD about what has worked for them so I have a specific useful therapeutic avenue to pursue. I am not going to invest large amounts of time and money in attempting therapeutic approaches when I have absolutely no evidence that they will work, especially given that therapy has been generally unsuccessful for me in the past on other issues which are generally considered to respond better.

    2. DerJungerLudendorff*

      I’ve got autism, not sure about RSD but I have lots of Issues and Feelings around rejection.

      It mostly manifests as a fear to dissappoint or burden people, and that that would lead to being rejection/abandoned.
      This then leads to lots of anxiety about how people will react to something, what they think of me, and if i’m actually hurting them but they’re trying to hide it and what if i’m actually screwing up everything and oh god I’m RUINING EVERYTHING.

      Unsuprisingly, I’m also pretty sure that I’m suffering from imposter syndrome.

      I’m still trying to find ways to cope with it. Therapy has helped to some extent. Specifically digging into the source of all this anxiety and laying it all bare for analysis, as well as trying to look closer at common scenario’s and trying to see how much of this fear and anxiety is actually justified and likely to come true.
      Spoiler alert: It’s usually going to be fine, or at least managable.

    3. Stormrunning*

      For me, knowing that it exists and is a thing I’m prone to has in and of itself been a huge help. When I can feel myself having one of these intense reactions, I pull back and try to measure if it’s really realistic for what has happened.

      For me, it mostly manifests in seeing my friends making plans or having enthusiastic conversations with people who aren’t me. RSD tries to tell me this is a sign that I’m at the bottom of their priorities and they’re abandoning me forever, and knowing that it’s an unreasonable reaction gives me the prompt I need to stop and recalibrate before reacting.

    4. Emac*

      I very recently learned this is very common with ADHD, which I have, as well. I don’t think I have ASD, though.

      I’m still trying to figure out how it manifests in me and how to deal with it. I take Ritalin but I don’t know that stimulant medication helps with RSD. The doctor that I’ve heard on podcasts talking about RSD the most, who is an expert in ADHD, recommends alpha agonists; I don’t know what medications fall under that category (don’t even know if I’m spelling it right!).

      I do think that therapy and mindfulness have really helped. In particular, cognitive behavioral therapy and a newish kind of therapy that my current therapist uses called Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy have been really useful in giving me the tools to be able to step back from thoughts or emotions to decide if I think they’re true or useful. Mindfulness/meditation really just strengthens that ability. And all three have taught me how to sort of ride out an uncomfortable/intense emotion without being taken over by it or going into defensive tactics to stop it however I can.

      Oh, and another type of therapy that has really given me a lot is called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, which I mostly got from a book called The Happiness Trap. It focuses a lot on getting to know your core values, desires & needs which I think has helped me to develop a stronger sense of self and self confidence. And that in turn makes it easier to evaluate negative/difficult/uncomfortable thoughts & feelings.

      All of which is especially helpful when it comes to a situation like I recently had with roommates, where they just do not like me (despite them not really knowing me) and have made all these negative judgements about me based on sort of their own fantasy of what my personality and life are like. Even a year ago, I probably would have been absolutely devastated and either would have lashed out in a totally petty and passive aggressive way or been in constant fights with them trying to change their minds or something equally destructive. Now it’s actually been fairly easy to put all of their judgements and criticisms to the side. And to know that even if some of their criticisms are accurate, they’re already things I know about myself and am working on. But the absolutely awful & destructive way they’ve framed these flaws as making me an absolute monster is not true and letting that get to me is not useful.

    5. Observer*

      Do you have any other diagnosis? Like ADHD? Because if you do, sometimes dealing with the other condition helps.

    6. Lilysparrow*

      ADDitude magazine talks about this a good bit, and I’ve read a few opinions that CBT can help – not in the middle of an episode, but in reducing the frequency of episodes over time by de-escalating your emotional triggers. And by overall reducing your stress, which helps with a lot of things.

    1. Lemon_tree*

      I have started making a big bunch of white and red cabbage with carrots, sellery, red pickled peppers, lemon juice and olive oil. It stays good for at least 4 days and I can eat salad every day which I have been neglecting to do.

    2. Lena Clare*

      I just bought a very beautiful Middle Eastern cookbook, so would like to try a couple of the more simple recipes from that this week.

      I prepared some teriyaki tofu the other day but found I just couldn’t be bothered cooking it, so if it seems edible still (it’s been marinating for 2 days lol) I’ll be having that with boiled rice this evening.

      The recipe is from the Jacfruit and Blue Ginger cookbook and I want to try cooking more from there this week, probably the split pea and fennel tarka dahl. If I have time, I would like to try making the chappati too since my local store has stopped stocking it.
      I tried the spinach curry with crispy tofu from there last week – oh my gosh, it was gorgeous!
      I find I tend to eat the same stuff over and over again, hence I bought myself a couple of nice cookbooks to try to vary what I am eating.

        1. Lena Clare*

          Jackfruit and Blue Ginger by Sasha Gill has the teriyaki tofu, spinach curry and crispy tofu, and tarka dahl recipes in! There are absolutely loads of things I want to cook from this book. It’s why I also bought a bamboo steamer but I want to try something simple in it first.

          The other cookbook is Vegan Recipes from the Middle East by Parvin Razavi. I just made the hummus from there for my lunch and it was really tasty.

          1. Lemonwhirl*

            Thank you so much. (I’m not sure I could ever get jackfruit where I live, but I’m sure there are other recipes in there that I would love. :))

            1. Lena Clare*

              The author is a student so apart from the odd dish here and there, the recipes are really affordable and made from common ingredients!

    3. Lemonwhirl*

      I’ve already made a double lot of red lentil daal and a double lot of Ethiopian lentil stew, so my freezer will be back up to full.

      My carnivores are getting Philly cheese steaks, spaghetti + meatballs, sweet and spicy tofu bowls, a chicken stir fry, and pasta surprise. Although I under-bought sweet peppers so I’ll need to pick some up when I go into the office on Monday. They will also have the chipper for dinner tomorrow night because we’ve got a lot going on.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I am doing a new experimental variant of mac and cheese – so far the successful variations have been plain, ham-and-veg (or smoked sausage and veg), taco mac, pizza mac, and spinach artichoke chicken bacon mac. My folks are coming through this next week on a road trip, and my dad is a bbq nut, so I’m going to try a variation with bbq sauce, chopped bacon and possibly baked beans. (Pulled pork on the side – I’d add some of that in too, but my mom will have just had dental surgery so she asked if I could keep it on the side just in case.)

      Taco mac has chili beans, so I’m not worried about the texture of adding beans, just the flavor of the baked beans. Fingers crossed!!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          My normal baked mac and cheese recipe starts with a roux, to which I add milk and then cheese to make the cheese sauce. For taco mac, I first brown a pound of ground beef and season it like tacos, then scoop out the meat with a slotted spoon and set it aside and use the seasoned drippings to make the roux. Add flour to make roux, add milk (about 2 cups, slowly, whisk in a couple tablespoons at a time until it’s thinned out a lot so it doesn’t get lumpy), add a can of mild red enchilada sauce, add either a can of chili beans or half a jar of chunky salsa (or both!).

          Two pounds of cooked mac elbows in a big mixing bowl (I always do the pasta first, otherwise the timing never works out right :-P ), pour over the cheese sauce, add the taco meat, mix it all up, dump it into a 9×13 baking dish and cover with more cheese, bake at 350 for about 20 min.

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              I just realized that, in my fast recap, I left out the “putting the cheese into the cheese sauce” part :P I usually add the enchilada sauce before the cheese, so it mixes well into the milk, but the cheese before the beans and such. I don’t measure much anymore, but I’d guess probably about 3/4 pound of shredded cheese (sharp cheddar is good, or the “Mexican blend” type if you get pre-shredded), but I’ve never heard anyone complain that Mac and cheese had too much cheese in it, so more is fine too :) Last time I made it, I also had a side order of queso dip from Qdoba in my fridge, so I tossed that in too, and the household approved with much enthusiasm.

              Pizza mac is similar, albeit with pizza sauce instead of enchilada sauce, Italian blend cheese instead of Mexican, and your favorite pizza toppings instead of beans and taco meat :) these two are the most popular versions in my house.

              They also both freeze well (the freezing point is right before the “slather more cheese on top and bake for 20 minutes” bit), though you’d want to take them out of the freezer the day before to let them thaw some, otherwise they’ll take forever to heat through in the oven. I always make one of the two the week before I go on vacation, in a double batch, and put one pan in the freezer for them to work on while I’m gone.

              1. The Other Dawn*

                Cheese absolutely cannot and should not be measured. Ever. There’s no reason. I will never say, “Yuck! There’s way too much cheese in here!”

                I bought the enchilada sauce this morning and of course forgot the beans. Story of my life. I think I have some salsa, though.

                Thanks again!

                1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

                  surely! The first time I did it, I just added the meat and enchilada sauce, so it’s still good that way — I just added more and more as time went on :)

      1. PhyllisB*

        My husband make baked mac n cheese with cauliflower in it sometimes. It’s really good. Or broccoli would work.

    5. Overeducated*

      I don’t know but I completely failed at cooking and eating vegetables this week, so I need to figure out some very low effort, healthy, mostly meatless ideas I won’t abandon after biking home in 90 degree heat and humidity. I was even too lazy to make an instant pot curry and chopped tomato salad after work, so the bar has to be really, really low. Any suggestions?

      We do have to eat bagel pizzas one night, though. Not so healthy and vegetable based, or much like real pizza even, but spouse suggested it and he and kid got super excited.

      1. WellRed*

        Frankly, when it’s that hot for a stretch I’ve taken to stocking up on frozen entrees at the store.

      2. Jackalope*

        I don’t know if this would work for you but I like to make up a couple of big batches of things on the weekends so for dinner (and lunch!) I just have to reheat.

      3. Gir*

        On weeks I don’t feel like cooking, I cheat and by a variety of pre cut fruits and veggies, dip, etc from the grocery store. A few favorites are baby carrots and tzatiki dip, 3 ingredient triscuts I recently discovered with spinach dip, pre cut melon or apples or grapes, etc. Kroger has a quite a few dips made with Greek yogurt so they’re relatively healthy and low calorie. I’ll throw in a few slices of quality deli meat (we prefer Boars Head) and call it a meal.

    6. Teapot Translator*

      I’m going to make Martha Stewart’s 15-Minute Lentil Soup and probably something else. I just need to decide.

    7. PhyllisB*

      I made a new coleslaw recipe that went over really well last weekend. Coleslaw mix, green grapes, red grapes, sliced almonds, bleu cheese crumbles and coleslaw dressing. HOWEVER, I made these two changes. My son can’t eat almonds so I use diced pecans (walnuts would work, too.) And don’t use coleslaw dressing so used ranch dressing. Everyone really liked it.

    8. MsChanandlerBong*

      Today: Lasagna with garlic bread
      Sunday: Steak and baked potatoes
      Monday: Sticky ginger chicken and roasted sweet potatoes
      Tuesday: Angel-hair pasta with a red sauce
      Wednesday: Melt-in-your-mouth chicken with baked potatoes
      Thursday: Meatloaf and mashed potatoes
      Friday: Leftover meatloaf and oven-roasted potatoes
      Saturday: Garlic broccoli bowties (bowtie pasta and broccoli with a creamy garlic sauce)
      Sunday: Creamy herb chicken and buttered noodles
      Monday: Cheesy noodle casserole and roasted asparagus

        1. MsChanandlerBong*

          It’s really nothing fancy. It’s mayonnaise (you could use Greek yogurt for a lower-calorie/lower-fat version; I use the mayo made with olive oil to reduce the fat and cholesterol), Parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes (to your liking), garlic, seasoned salt, pepper, and Italian-seasoned bread crumbs. I mix it up and slather it on chicken thighs and bake at 425 for about 40 minutes.

      1. Gir*

        Care to share your meatloaf recipe? I love meatloaf (it’s like the perfect meal prep recipe!) and am always on the hunt for a new one, as I have not found “the one” yet.

    9. Parenthetically*

      I think I’m going to make mujadara today. It’s been endlessly rainy and dark and stormy and a nice hearty lentil-rice dish seems like just the ticket. Corn and potato chowder and Hainanese chicken rice are also possibilities.

    10. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff*

      NOTHING!!! :) I’m leaving for France and I’m already dreaming of all the delicious things I will taste…

    11. Alexandra Lynch*

      I am the cook and meal planner for our household.
      Today there is a ten-pound pork shoulder and a bottle of crisp hard cider, along with a diced onion and a couple cloves of garlic, in the slow cooker, cooking down to rags. That is for three days’ lunches for the two workers in our household. Worker #1, having had WLS, gets pulled pork with sugar-free BBQ sauce, cauliflower florets in cheese sauce, and green beans with bacon and pepper. Worker #2 gets pulled pork with her favorite BBQ sauce, mac and cheese, and green beans with bacon and pepper. They eat that M, W, and F.

      Tuesday and Thursday worker #1 eats white bean chili with ground turkey, and I usually send sour cream with that. Worker #2 isn’t so fond of chili, and so is going to have arroz con pollo with refried beans and tortilla chips, and I’ll send a little tub of sour cream and of guacamole with her because I know she’ll stir it all up into a mess and eat it that way.

      I meal plan our dinners five weeks at a time. That way I don’t repeat dishes often enough to get bored, but about the time someone says, “We haven’t had X in ages,” I can say, “Oh, that’s next week.” It’s important that the one who had the weight loss surgery doesn’t get bored because he’s really got a pretty limited diet, and if he gets bored with something and goes off it that could be very problematic for me to work around. So if I vary it as much as possible, I preclude that.

      This week: Monday: Curried pork with cashews, spinach, and mushrooms. White rice/cauliflower rice.
      Tuesday: Homemade pizza to taste. (I make them on naan breads, which saves me the real work of making my own crusts, and it comes out at a hand-tossed thickness.)
      Wednesday: Chinese barbecued spareribs, hot mustard, and vegetable fried rice/caulirice.
      Thursday: Tacos, hard and soft. Chips and salsa.
      Friday: Wraps, leftovers, and soup.
      Saturday: Hamburgers. Steak Diane, mashed potatoes/mashed cauliflower, pan seared asparagus, homemade rolls.
      Sunday: Homemade breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches on buns. Chips. Sunday night we go out as a family, usually to the Mexican place down the street.

    12. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I went to the farmers’ market this morning (we have markets twice a week that I can walk to, and one of my summer goals is to shop at the markets regularly) and got two kinds of kale, blueberries (season is just starting here!) and asparagus, which it’s probably the last week for. I also got a bottle of whiskey.

      I’m going to go to the store and get a few things to make salad dressings with (balsamic vinegar mostly) and between other stuff I already have on hand (I have a big jug of cashews I forgot about and should use up, a lot of carrots, and I shredded an entire brick of sharp cheddar cheese yesterday to use in various things) and the things I bought at the market, I figure I can make salad for dinner for a while. I also used the blueberries in oatmeal this morning, and will probably do sauteed kale as an omelette filling tomorrow.

    13. Elizabeth West*

      Ooh, I don’t know yet. It’s supposed to rain tomorrow, so it would be a perfect day for cooking up some stuff. Maybe some quinoa, rice (I can freeze it), and some veggies I can throw into a tofu bowl.

      I have portioned firm tofu in the freezer; it’s easy to thaw out a chunk and whip up something with it. Long ago, I tried it and wasn’t really impressed, but now I’m getting into it! I also want to try this recipe I found for taco tofu crumbles. It looks just like taco meat and apparently tastes like it.

      1. Gir*

        What’s your recipe? I love mushrooms and am always looking for new ways to prepare them

    14. Aurélia*

      I bootlegged a chicken and dumpling recipe in the instant pot which turned out well. Then used a bunch of leftover dill for a decent pesto (pine nuts, lemon zest, dill, GARLIC, olive oil, salt, and pepper) over spaghetti with freshly-grated Parmesan. Planning to make a broccoli salad from Food 52 with dates, walnuts, and goat cheese tonight. And there are my lunches and some dinners for the week!

  10. Hermyown*

    I’d appreciate some advice. Is there a point when dating where the default turns into that there will be another date, rather than there won’t? (Does that even make sense). Does that come after date three or four?

    1. Catherine*

      Oh boy I hope not because if that’s the case I’m about to have a lot of explaining to do.

    2. Anona*

      I think it’s once you’ve had the “are we exclusive” conversation. For us it was maybe a month or two in.

    3. Clever Name*

      I think it can be different for everyone and dependent on whether you are dating casually or dating to get in a relationship. For me it was after we talked about being exclusive. For some people, exclusivity is the same thing as being boy/girlfriends and for others it’s an interim step in that direction. For me and my boyfriend, we had the exclusivity talk maybe a month into our relationship and after we had already been intimate. And at the time I had thought of exclusivity as a step towards a relationship, but it was pretty clear to me soon afterward that we were in a relationship.

    4. Dan*

      I’m not sure that I fully understand what you’re trying to get at. There’s another date if two people make one, and there won’t be if there isn’t a plan.

      That said, I think that phrasing might be a little strict, so to speak. Either way, it’s not X number of dates. It’s probably closer to what Anona says with having an actual conversation. I say this because I’ve dated a couple of women for a few months and then things just fizzled out. I could be accused of ghosting, but the flip side is that they didn’t reach out to me either. (E.g., “stopped calling” and “stopped returning my calls” are different, and to me, ghosting is about the later.)

      At the same time… I’ve been casually seeing the same woman for like four years now, and we haven’t had an actual DTR conversation either. Is there an assumption there will be another date? At this point, I suppose so, because if there won’t be, I’d really expect a conversation (on both our parts) acknowledging that. At what point did we evolve from “I hope he calls” to “I know he’s going to call” (and likewise, whether or not she’s going to say yes one more time, to just assuming she will)? I have no idea, but it was a long period of time, measured in months. (We see each other a few times a month, it’s not a she-stays-over-every-night kind of thing.)

      1. DerJungerLudendorff*

        I think I understand what Hermyown is getting at.
        The initial part of dating is supposed to be to find out if you’re compatible and want to start some kind of relationship. At that stage, the idea is basically “we wont have a relationship, until we both decide to do so”.

        Once you’ve both committed to some kind of (romantic) relationship, you have a social obligation to invest your time and energy into the other person to try and make the relationship work (like by going on more dates).

        I agree that it’s highly dependant on the people involved, what they think of each other, what their plans are, and their relationship at the time. Certainly nothing that can be easily boiled down to X number of dates.

    5. Lilysparrow*

      I think there’s a point where the conversation changes from “do you want to go out this weekend?” to “what are we doing this weekend?”

      But, as with platonic friends, there’s no hard and fast rule about when that happens, it just comes organically out of the situation.

      I do think if one person had decided they definitely don’t want to go out again, it’s courteous to say, “hey, I don’t think this is working out.” But that’s less about number of dates and more about frequency and tone of the dates.

      Four dinner & a movie dates with a peck on the cheek spread out over several months? No obligation to give “notice”, just stop calling or decline the next invitation.

      Four dates in 4 weeks or less, that included long vulnerable talks and/or physical intimacy? Yeah, that merits a breakup call, or at least tell them you’re ending it the next time they call.

    6. Jackalope*

      For me, when dating a stranger (say, someone I met on a dating website), my personal rule was 3-4 dates and then we would have the talk about whether it was going somewhere. That gave us enough times to see if we liked each other and were compatible, if the other person had any waving red flags, and so on. At that point we would have some sort of conversation and then either decide not to see each other any more or decide that we were in an exclusive relationship and from then on deciding not to go out anymore would require a breakup. Again, that won’t work for everyone, but for me as someone actively seeking a longterm serious relationship, that was how I did things.

  11. Gir*

    I am going to LA, with plans to stay in the Marina del Rey area and intending to visit Venice Beach and Santa Monica. We’ve been to LA proper, and have done a lot of the touristy stuff like Hollywood, etc.

    Any recommendations? I’m traveling with a 15yo if that makes a difference

    1. Gypsy pepper*

      I used to live in Santa Monica! Santa Monica Pier is lovely (be sure to ride the Ferris wheel) as is Palisades Park. For beaches, Will Rogers beach is the least crowded, unless you want to go up to Malibu. Venice Beach is full of fun and interesting characters. For museums, try the Museum of Jurassic Technology and the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum. For shopping, the 4th Street Promenade and Montana Avenue are nice.

    2. Bluebell*

      We were there about 4 years ago. Eat at C&O Trattoria in Venice – very teen friendly. Also fun just to get on the Marina Del Rey water shuttle and see all the different stops.

    3. Lulubell*

      You can rent paddle boards and kayaks out of MDR – fun for a morning or afternoon. You can also rent bikes and rollerblades all along the Santa Monica boardwalk. Nicer to do in the AM before it gets too busy. Spend a day walking down Abbot Kinney in Venice – lots of fun stores and food. More upscale than the boardwalk area but only a few min from the beach. There is a whale watching tour out of MDR that can be fun – even if you don’t see whales, dolphins abound, and it’s a half day on a boat, which is nice. You can google it but they usually have better prices on Groupon.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      There’s a very yummy restaurant in Santa Monica called Fritto Misto. I’d highly recommend their Pillows Checca.

    5. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Ah, my favorite part of the LA area :)

      Not much to add that hasn’t been said, but last time we were there about two years ago we went to this fab donut shop – DKs Donuts on Santa Monica Blvd- which looks small and tiny in your average strip mall but had all sorts of neat flavors. However, it looks like there is an even BETTER donut shop 8 blocks closer to the beach on Wilshire – Sidecar Donuts and Coffee. You gotta get some decent donuts in LA, its like required.

      If you do head up to Malibu (can be worth it but the traffic can be a mess) The Sunset (on Zuma Beach but off to the side) can be a good shot for a decent lunch with fab views of the water, and its a bit closer to Santa Monica. Its not hoity-toity at all, and while they have a kids menu, all the adult dishes are very accessible so I can imagine a 15yr old would still find something to eat. I wouldn’t go all the way up there to just eat at that place, but if you are in the area, its not a bad idea.

  12. Julia*

    Sims 4 Island Living! I don’t usually buy expansions right away, and this one was especially pricey considering it doesn’t add a lot of new gameplay, but that island is beautiful and people were saying there are turtles! <3
    Is anyone else playing?

    1. Lonely Aussie*

      I am, it’s lovely. Mermaids <3 So many awesome new hair options and I'm loving it.

      1. Julia*

        I need to try that mermaid thing. Today of all days my dominant arm feels strained, so I’m watching TV instead of building and playing. :(

    2. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      I don’t play, but my daughter and I LOVE ‘Single girl has a 100 babies’! Kelsey is a hoot, and it’s funny/interesting how some of the kids are turning out.

  13. Lena Clare*

    I just bought a steamer, but I don’t know what to cook in it really. I am a bit nervous about using it and I don’t know why. It’s a bamboo steamer for putting over a saucepan.

    Do you have any recipes for beginners that I can try out? Anything vegan or that can be adapted to vegan would be great, thank you!

    1. AL*

      I just used to layer vegetables in mine, and then melt blue cheese over, but a non dairy dressing would do.

      So slice new potatoes, in for 5-10ish mins on their own
      Then seasonal veg, e.g broccoli, carrots, greens,
      Then spinach at the end

      Then a dressing and maybe croutons for crunch?

    2. Jack Russell Terrier*

      It’s a great way to cook veg and keep the nutrition. When veg are cooked, just add to your plate and enjoy naked or with a spritz of acid like lemon or rice vinegar / pour a sauce over it / add to whatever saucy food you’ve been making at the end so it doesn’t over cook.

    3. Parenthetically*

      We do dumplings in ours! They tend to stick but if you put down a little bit of parchment under each one, they won’t. Trader Joe’s has vegan dumplings!

    4. jDC*

      I get most of my recipes on Pinterest. There are sooo many. My one tip. Put broccoli in for zero minutes just let it come to pressure, otherwise it’ll be mush.

    5. Lena Clare*

      Thanks all. I just steamed some veggies to go with my dinner and it was so easy I don’t know what I was worried about! I’ll definitely try something slightly more complex next time :)

    6. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I’ve never used a bamboo steamer, but one of my rice cooker and steamer meals (I have a rice cooker with a steamer tray) is to do brown rice with turmeric, coconut oil, and ginger added to the water in the rice portion and then throw some broccoli in the steamer portion right at the end of the cook time for the rice.

      I think of steamers as more “a way to cook vegetables that I’d rather eat cooked than raw” rather than “something that uses specific recipes” in my own cooking, I guess. I’m the kind of person who will eat plain broccoli if I don’t have any better ideas about dinner plans, though, so I may not be a “recipe” person outside of baking. Steamed vegetables + rice + some kind of sauce would be the “recipe” version of how I’d use a steamer, I guess, although I tend to get lazy about sauces. Some kind of nuts could be added to that if you want more protein in the final dish – I tend to use cashews or hazelnuts depending on what I have on hand. If you don’t want to cook rice separately but want a starch, potatoes and sweet potatoes work well in a steamer. Just cut them up into chunks and give them more cook time than you would non-root veggies. For a vegan creamy sauce to over something like that I’d probably go for something cashew cream based. For a non-creamy sauce, there are lots of different spicy sauce options to try, but I know very little about them because I can’t eat peppers or soy.

  14. Moving Along the Kinsey Scale*

    I’m on an internal journey that I haven’t felt comfortable sharing with anyone I know. I’m female and grew up identifying as heterosexual, first noticed being attracted to women as an adult, and eventually came out as bisexual in my 30s. It’s been a part of my identity for about 25 years. I’ve been active as a volunteer for LGBT events and causes, and being part of the LGBT community has meant a lot to me.

    Much to my surprise, in recent months I’m finding myself feeling straight. I know that sexual orientation can be fluid for many people, just never expected it to be me. In meeting a gay man the other day and talking about our identities, I found myself feeling like saying I’m bisexual would be dishonest. Maybe it’s hitting menopause that has flipped a switch, who knows.

    I know that coming from the straight world and eventually identifying as bisexual is a common journey that I share with many people. What I’m at a loss about is subsequently retracing my steps back toward the straight world. Of course I remain connected to my LGBT friends that I love, and I’ve had queer friends since back before I identified that way myself. I think what’s going on is that I’m feeling a loss of part of my identity and connection with queer culture and community. As I write this now, loss seems to be the dominant feeling.

    This is the first time I’ve put how I’m feeling into words, and I appreciate hearing any experiences from others who have gone through a journey of transitioning sexual orientation and how you navigated that.

    1. fluid*

      You get to define your identity in the way that feels right for you.
      You can call yourself heteroflexible, or bisexual but currently with a strong preference for men … all those are equally valid.
      Or honestly it’s okay to not put a label on yourself at all — you’ve been attracted to women in the past and currently mainly date men.
      If an identity feels true and right for you, then there’s nothing “dishonest” about claiming it. And no matter where you land, it can still be your community. <3

      1. Moving Along the Kinsey Scale*

        That’s a good perspective. Labels can box me in and I don’t have to define anything.

    2. The Kerosene Kid*

      Thank you for sharing! If I may respectfully comment, I think you’re doing yourself a disservice by framing it as “retracing your steps” back to something. You’re evolving and growing! IMHO, sexuality and gender identity (among many other aspects of being human) change over time and in different contexts. This doesn’t invalidate your life experience up to this point. In fact, I think acknowledging that desires change is actually a pretty queer thing to do, in that it’s pretty subversive (in a good way). For context: I’m trans masculine and have come out in various ways for several different reasons, but I’m for sure not an expert. Just hope you feel less alone and more validated.

      1. Moving Along the Kinsey Scale*

        You’re right, it’s not helpful to look at my evolving orientation as a step backward. I appreciate your pointing out the judgment I’m unnecessarily placing on myself. It’s good to remember that.

    3. EtherIther*

      This is just my experience as a pan/bisexual woman (though admittedly not menopausal), but maybe it will be helpful… I hope so!

      I feel as if over the years I’ve had moments where I wonder if I’m actually straight, or a lesbian, or even asexual… I think there’s still a lot of societal messaging towards bi/pansexual, and queer people in general, so we tend to doubt ourselves. And our own determinations of our sexuality. It’s harder when I only have one or no relationship at a time, as I can’t “practice” them all at once. But my own sexuality is just a bit variable sometimes, it’s not a constant. But I’m still queer, and I’ll be honest that I’ve never felt straight to the extent that you seem to feel, more so lost in identity and what that means.

      So I’d say regardless, it’s okay that your sexuality is fluid!

      1. Moving Along the Kinsey Scale*

        I am someone who consciously validates the fluid sexuality of others when they have been questioning themselves. From the comments here, I’m realizing that I haven’t taken that to heart for myself. It helps to get others’ perspective for sure.

    4. Courageous cat*

      If anyone’s still here, would love to talk other advice columnists. Here’s my take:

      Ask Polly annoys me deeply. Her advice is LITERALLY always the same, and it’s almost completely inactionable (if that’s a word). It always has to do with being your true honest self and showing all your messy disgusting aspects and finding them beautiful and accepting them and letting them sit in the light and blah blah blah. I can nearly guarantee each answer of hers uses that concept. It’s so… abstract and not really usable advice for most situations. Just makes me mad.

      Dear Prudence, I like Daniel Ortberg a lot but I find his advice to generally be kind of… mild. One thing I really miss about Emily Yoffe is that she was never afraid to just call something as it is. If someone was being cheap, or an asshole, she’d tell them so. Meanwhile recently it’s been more wishy washy and less inclined to make a solid judgment call.

      Care and Feeding is my favorite. I have zero complaints. Nicole Cliffe is my favorite. She does what Emily Yoffe did but better.

      Captain Awkward is also great, she phrases her answers in ways that would never occur to me which I love. But I think the constant comment closing and heavy moderation can be annoying, because I personally think it’s good to trust people to be adults and have different opinions and talk it out. It’s not always healthy, especially if the post is bound to be super controversial, but it can be more often than not. And I love comment sections.

      1. Courageous cat*

        Fuuuuuuck meeeeee this was supposed to be its own comment. I never knew how people made nesting fails but now I see that it was… really easy to do :(

      2. Washi*

        I love Ask Polly but I don’t read it religiously – more when I need a pick-me-up because as you say, she tends to hit the same themes pretty hard and sometimes I feel like it’s a wannabe Dear Sugar/Cheryl Strayed column.

        Totally agree on Care and Feeding – Nicole Cliffe was born to write advice columns!

        Do you ever read Carolyn Hax or Ask a Fuck Up? I don’t read those as regularly as AAM or CA, but enjoy both for the occasional advice-binge.

        1. Courageous cat*

          No but I could always use more to read so I will def check them out!

          Dear Sugar was also great. Some really hard-hitting relationship advice there.

      3. Former Employee*

        I’d never heard of Ask Polly and I stopped reading Dear Prudence when Emily Yoffe left – it’s not the same.

        Carolyn Hax is interesting – she’s syndicated, but based at the Washington Post. There is quite the commenariat at the Post. She also does an online live chat most Friday’s.

    5. Traffic_Spiral*

      Just ID as queer and don’t sweat the details. Maybe if one day we get a good word for someone who has a variable orientation (orientation fluid?) you could use that, but until that day, ‘queer’ is a big tent and there’s room under it for lots of people.

    6. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      One thing that might help is the idea of labels as descriptive, rather than prescriptive. And what you’re describing can be some combination of how you feel and how you act, and not just in June 2019 but into your past and what you think is likely in your future.

      In those terms, you could describe yourself as bisexual and expand that to something like “I’m bisexual, and have been out for 25 years. These days it seems I’m mostly attracted to men.”

      You might also want to think about whether “heterosexual” and/or “heteroromantic” (which are specifically descriptions of your feelings and attractions” feel either more accurate or more comfortable than “straight,” which has more cultural baggage.

      1. Moving Along the Kinsey Scale*

        I agree that the word “straight” feels uncomfortable to me with the cultural baggage. I like your suggested phrasing. Really helpful.

  15. Lemon_tree*

    I have started getting white hair. It looks like I should start dying it soon. Any recommendations for good hair coloring products? I have light brown hair.

    1. Lucy*

      “Should”? Do it for yourself or not at all.

      I colour my hair because I love the bottle colour, not because I subscribe to the societal disdain for grey-haired women. I started my colour journey with an appointment with a hairdresser who advised on good colour choices for my complexion, natural hair colour, etc; I now colour at home using the home version of that salon colour.

      I therefore highly recommend L’Oréal Casting Crème Gloss. I use 645 Amber which ends up a glorious chestnut on my brown hair. It’s very easy to apply and smells lovely. Semi permanent – it says 28 shampoos so as I don’t wash my hair every day it lasts two to three months.

      I also use Head & Shoulders Supreme Colour Protect as recommended by my hairdresser. A colours shampoo keeps the colour stable and longer lasting, and my sensitive scalp can’t cope with the other high street colour shampoos.

      Have fun! Go blue or pink if it gives you joy!

      1. Lemon_tree*

        I like my natural hair colour and I would like to keep it. I like blues or pinks on others but I think it will be harder to maintain than something close to my natural color.
        Thanks for the recommendation.

        1. Lucy*

          They have a very broad range of colours and in the UK at least it’s very widely available – my local 200sqft pharmacy stocks it! I’m sure you’d be able to find a good match easily and maintain your colour.

          (I couldn’t rock unnatural colours either but I adore them on other people)

    2. CoffeeforLife*

      I have a few white hairs that I decided to stop plucking. I’m seeing if I can embrace the change and enter this new phase. I have waist length, brown hair (virgin for the last decade).

      I don’t want to start ther cycle of dyeing unless I’m sure that’s what *I want* and not what I’ve been conditioned to want. It’s a conversation I’ve been having with myself as I approach 40.

      1. Lemon_tree*

        I appreciate that. I have never dyed my hair and so far I have just a few whites but I do not think the natural look is for me. Not at the moment anyway.

      2. Alexandra Lynch*

        For the record, I always thought women with long white hair or long hair with silver streaks in it were really gorgeous. I’m letting my silver grow in, because apparently I’m going to grey like my grandfather and stay dark, with lots of silver streaking the front and sides.

    3. Jack Russell Terrier*

      You could consider playing about with a lighter shade of your hair color – you might find it more flattering. Our skin tones change with age and that can affect how hair color looks against the face. My mother, who had chestnut hair, ‘went ash blond with age’ and it looked better than when she dyed it the chestnut of her natural. You should go the color you like of course – but thought I’d just put a lighter color out there for consideration. When you start, I would go to a high end salon that fits your vibe even if it’s expensive. That should give you something good to work with if you fancy transitioning to doing it yourself.

      1. Lemon_tree*

        I do not think blonde is for me but maybe a light brown. I have heard though that blonder tones or highlights are easier to maintain when having lots of whites.

        1. Ladyb*

          I started putting highlights through my mid brown hair once the greys started being noticeable. I found that the greys fade into the highlights and just seem to add colour texture (if that’s a thing).
          I did try the dye it yourself route first, but I found that the solid and consistent colour – even though I tried to match it to my natural shade – just looked too unnatural.

          1. The New Wanderer*

            Me too – I always liked high contrast highlights anyway and I continued them a bit more regularly when my grays started showing up en masse. I found that my hair looked overall blonder to the point where matching my ‘natural’ ash brown color was increasingly difficult and when I first went to all-over color, I went lighter.

            Eventually I got tired of maintaining the lighter color (medium blonde per the hair color box) because my roots would show up both darker and lighter. Now I color with something close to my natural color. I don’t like the salt-and-pepper distribution I’ve got, but I do have an almost pure white streak at my temple that I’m no longer coloring (the roots there were showing up super early anyway). When the rest of it goes that way, I’ll phase out the dye.

            Currently I use Garnier Olia because I like the color overall but it isn’t great at covering the grays 100%. I’ve tried a few other cheap boxed kinds and never had much luck with gray coverage but it hasn’t reached a critical state for me. I’m tempted by the custom dye online sites and I really should go over to the Sally Beauty supply near me, but ultimately I’m kind of lazy. Even the worst dye results I’ve had (one went orange-y, one was the color if I had soaked my hair in Cabernet) didn’t put me off doing it myself. I just learned never to choose a “warm” hair color!

        2. Kat in VA*

          Lighter tones are easier to manage with gray – because the silver/white hair ends up being lighter anyway when you dye it darker (something something coarser gray hair takes up less dye something).

          I have a fat streak of gray hair that show up when I was 14 (I’m 48 now). I have dyed it off and on over the years, but finally decided that I preferred having long hair (bra strap length) over damaged, colored, shorter hair. However, hair dyes have come a long way, and as was mentioned, the glosses tend to do minimal damage but can cover grays. You have to color more often and stay on top the of the roots, though, which is why I ultimately gave up and just let my silver (now white) skunk stripe fly.

          Oddly, people think I have the streak intentionally – my hair is dark brown fading toward light brown/golden brown on the ends. Nope, just my hair and my family’s weird history of graying early!

      2. PhyllisB*

        I agree with Jack Russell about going to a professional. I’m a natural blonde who turned into a muddy shade of ash that is not at all flattering. I couldn’t get make-up or clothing that looked good with it. I got highlights for years, but when I reached a certain age, I decided I wanted to be a redhead. So I did red with blonde highlights for a number of years, but now I color it myself with Nice & Easy (no highlights) and it looks fine. I get complimented all the time; but if I hadn’t got it done professionally first I would not have known what looked good. I wish it would turn white or silver but it doesn’t seem to be in the cards for me. The people on my dad’s side of the family tend to not go totally grey, just a smattering. I have some grey, but just enough to make it look drab. My stylist told me if it’s not grey by now it probably won’t be. Great.

    4. jDC*

      My hair gal does highlights and lowlights which makes the white blend so I can go a very long time between touch ups. They white just ends up looking like blonde highlights.

      I have been very grey and white since a very young age and will not be embracing it ever probably ha, but that’s me.

    5. Parenthetically*

      I’ve been dyeing my own hair for 25 years. Do yourself a favor and go to a beauty supply place like Sally rather than the drugstore or grocery store. You can buy professional-quality products at Sally, including PROPER developer and not just the crap in the box kits that’ll make your hair color come out like mud the more you dye it. However, given that you’ve never dyed your hair before, I’d recommend starting with a demi-permanent color rather than going straight to permanent — demi is a lot more flexible and easier for a beginner. Tell the person in the shop you want to match your own hair color as closely as possible. Good luck!

      1. ThatGirl*

        I have no problem with recommending Sally but I’ve been using L’Oréal
        Preference for ages, every 6 to 7 weeks, and my hair color looks great and very natural. People rarely believe it’s not my natural hair color.

        1. Parenthetically*

          For me, it 100% depended on what color I was dyeing it. When I was VERY dark auburn or dark brown, using the box drugstore kits was fine. But I had to switch to a different strategy using 20 or 30 volume developer when I started wanting to do lighter colors. My hair is naturally a dark ashy blonde, and the 10 volume developers in the “light red” or whatever kit just absolutely did not have the power to lift and deposit properly. After 25 years my standard advice to anyone who is trying to go mid-brown or lighter/brighter is to skip the headache of the too-weak developer in the box dye kit and go straight to Sally.

    6. Booksalot*

      I have resistant gray and boxed color just does not take, it’s like the grays are coated with Teflon. I have to get it professionally done, and the stylist coats the coarsest parts with developer to soften it before dyeing.

      If you do end up going to a salon, I highly recommend trying a beauty school. Students are heavily supervised and are working for a good grade, so they’re motivated to get it right. The prices are great compared to a salon–I pay $30 for a root touch up, and $45 for whole-head color. The only drawback is the time, since they’re still learning and their technique is slow.

      If you are interested in DIY, Garnier Nutrisse was the worst boxed result I’ve gotten. Their dark brown did nothing to my grays. John Frieda was the best boxed result I’ve gotten, with their dark brown turning the grays light brown.

  16. Square Root Of Minus One*

    Hello everyone,
    A bit of an update from last week about the boyfriend borrowing money.
    I’ll post it in a reply comment, because it’s very long.

    1. Square Root Of Minus One*

      So, there goes. It’s not exactly the update you might hope for, but still, mostly optimistic for now.

      First, thank you for the answers again. I got completely overwhelmed last weekend, by the number and by emotions (I was a wreck, more or less), so I only answered a few of you.
      My BF and I are long distance and communicate a lot via instant messenging, and the rest of the weekend was *crickets*. Quite unlike him: busy or angry, I don’t know and I’m not asking.
      Channels returned on Monday, when he asked about the cats (whole other story here), and I told him we needed to talk. I spelled out my worries, pretty much as I had told you, and then walked on eggs, trying to remember the friend of Traffic_Spiral (THANK YOU – got a laugh out of the Haendel, BTW).
      To my surprise, it went well. No anger or frustration (at least, none expressed), but acknowledgement of the problem and the need for results. He admitted problems with planning unfrequent expensive events and following up with the set budget. I did three things. 1) Stating I was done with loaning, 2) stating I wanted to see a strategy to get the finances sane by December (I of course wished for earlier, but setting too steep a curve would have been counterproductive – and either way, I’ll see much earlier if he doesn’t take the steps), and 3) offering my help to elaborate said strategy, 4) telling him if he didn’t take it and it wasn’t getting better, I was walking.
      He accepted the help. We spent about three hours on Wednesday night revisiting his budget on my Excel template, and made a plan. I should recover my money by the end of the month, and the overdraft should go away as well (thank you double salary in June). The final minutes were a little tense, we were tired, he was saying his eating out and leisure allocation was too small, and I was trying not to be frustrated when I saw it was still twice as big as mine and the budget was hardly ambitious.
      We had another tense moment when I named my terms. He said he doesn’t want to be a hindrance for me. I answered he has to act toward that. The budget is hardly ambitious but baaaaaby steps.
      Anyway, I should be getting my money back next payday. And then, either he keeps to it, and it’s fine (unless something else comes up, and it might); or he doesn’t, and I’m gone. I have warned him. I have told him how I felt. It’s up to him now.
      I know you’ve all told me to leave already. I hear you. Honestly, I’m still thinking about it, even though I really want to see if he can set the record straight now and keep at it for 6 months. After I said I’d give him a chance, it’s the least I can do, so now I’m standing in the bleachers, mostly.
      I still feel conflicted about him. Still cringing at some things he said, like he prefers to buy an expensive apparel than start walking to lose weight (Seeking Second Childhood’s comment really struck a chord), or the concept of bringing something from home rather than eating out so much being so hard to understand… but well… I can’t dictate that, can I? And there’s only so much I can ask, from him and from anyone.
      I still need to give it a bit of time.
      So, there I am. I really appreciated your answers, I shuddered at the stories and they’ve taught me I needed to make a harder no on loaning.

      No intention of marrying, no kids, not living together, no joint accounts or any kind of shared credit. I’m not legally accountable for anything about him.

      Cultural differences :
      – We don’t have credit scores here. His habits don’t show on my documents, and don’t affect my relationship with banks in any way.
      – About overdrafting : Ginger Sheep made a cultural point I missed. In Europe, many banks allow an overdraft on your account, to an agreed upon extent, without a fee; my boyfriend has been sailing close to that limit a long time. But his bank records don’t look good and the overdraft authorization is supposed to be a buffer in case of mistake accident, not the common ground. (If you’re curious, there more into the thread generated by Ginger Sheep’s answer.

      A few particular posts that appealed to me:
      fposte: as I say, I fear nothing legally. We don’t have credit scores here (mostly, when one needs a loan, banks examine one’s account activity, and mine is pristine).
      Ginger ale for all: not sure of Ramsey’s class is accessible in France, if at all, but I’ll look it up.
      Traffic_Spiral, if you’re still in touch with this friend, please tell him he inspired an Internet stranger.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Good thoughts. :) I know it can be hard to have those conversations.

      2. Sam Sepiol*

        If it doesn’t work out, you’ll know it’s not because you didn’t try <3 good luck x

      3. My Brain is Exploding*

        I hope you feel better now (I find the anxiety about taking an action is often worse than actually taking the action!). You created a nice actionable plan. Yay, you! Please note that there is a wide range of spending v. saving that is still within maintaining a reasonable budget, and you are on the less-spendy side of things (such as less eating out). When two people are planning a joint budget they have to negotiate all kinds of these things! You don’t have to push so much because it’s not a joint budget (but obviously you are trying to get him on track as fast as possible). A couple of things that really help with a budget (or “spending plan”) are: use cash; remember that it may take 3 – 6 months to fine-tune the budget; having a small “allowance” that doesn’t have to be accounted for seems to be helpful. FWIW I don’t think everyone told you to leave him. I hope things work out for you, and I am impressed with the thought, care, and effort you’ve put into this! Again – yay, you!

        1. Square Root Of Minus One*

          Well, thanks a lot :)

          Yeah, being annoyed by that is on me entirely. But seriously, being “less spendy” doesn’t come naturally. It’s a big effort. We planned that allowance, which we call “residual”; cash is impractical, sadly, and the fine-tuning will come – I’m still fine-tuning my own budget actually :)

          Not everyone, you are correct. But the chorus was quite deafening :) and I’m not dismissing them at all on that. Staying on guard.

      4. Not A Manager*

        “I know you’ve all told me to leave already. I hear you. Honestly, I’m still thinking about it, even though I really want to see if he can set the record straight now and keep at it for 6 months. After I said I’d give him a chance, it’s the least I can do”

        Not really. You’re allowed to be done just because you feel like you’re done. I understand that right now you’re not done, and you want to see how this works out. But if you do find yourself just waiting for the clock to tick down, or dreading that maybe he WILL meet the 6 month goals and then what? – it’s okay for you to end it. Your deal with him isn’t an unbreakable contract.

        1. Anono-me*

          This. Stay if you want to be there after 6 months. You owe the people you are dating honesty, courtesy and as much kindness as you can muster. You don’t owe them half a year of your life. (Although if they are mid surprise expolosion type crisis, it is kind if you can give them a week or two.)

          1. valentine*

            it’s the least I can do
            You’ve gone and are still going above and beyond. It’s fine to reassess anytime, especially if/when he repays you in full.

            Is this sunk-cost fallacy? Do you feel like if you leave he’s unfinished or the matter is unsettled and what if you had done x, y, or z? It’s not yours to do. You shouldn’t have to impose a budget and the fact he’s chafing has me thinking maybe your worldviews and values are just too different. There’s nothing inherently wrong with his choice to live on the edge of an overdraft fee. It just doesn’t work for you.

            1. Observer*

              It’s fine to reassess anytime, especially if/when he repays you in full.

              I’d say the reveres is true. If he fails to pay his debt to you after all of this, then you know something really important about him, and it’s NOT a good sign for your relationship. If you think that you need to stick around in order to get your money back, I’m pretty sure that it’s going to be a waste of your time and energy. You’ve been very explicit with him, so if he doesn’t pay you back it means that almost certainly won’t. If you stick around it’s just going to reinforce that even if you SAY it’s not ok, it really is.

        2. Square Root Of Minus One*

          Indeed, I am, and it isn’t. But that’s a different emotional clutter entirely – one I need to deal with. As I see it now, he needs time to figure his mess out, I need time to figure my mess out, so better stay put until circumstances justify otherwise.

          And then… he’ll go on on these new financial rails, hopefully? Should he go off, I’m not above nudging him back.

          There may be sunk-cost fallacy, but not like this. We’ve taken ten years to build this relationship. We’ve gone through a lot. Communication problems, negotiation, honesty, trust issues… we’ve dealt with all that. We’re very close, and enjoy being together. It is not exactly easy for me to imagine putting it all to waste.

          1. Jasnah*

            I want to gently push back on this idea that your relationship will “go to waste” if it no longer serves your needs. What you’re describing is exactly the sunk-cost fallacy: that you must/should put more into this because of what you have already put into it, even if you don’t want to invest anymore.

            “I’m not above nudging him back.” You are taking so much of this on yourself. Is it your job to help him reach the ultimatum you set for him? Has he truly learned to fish if you have to keep helping him to do it?

            What if you looked at your relationship not as a house that you have filled with all your things and memories that you are rooted to, but as a beloved pair of shoes, which have served you well and have formed to fit your feet exactly, but when they get holes or start to fall apart, it’s OK to let them go and get a new pair of shoes that fit your current style better, and maybe they give you blisters at first but soon they fit you just as well as the old ones did.

      5. Not So NewReader*

        Well done. And you sound really good, really put together about all this.

        What’s next is up to him.

        For yourself, your next step is to ask yourself are you able to rise above this past if he fixes himself? Or will you be wondering and worrying? This can change your choices as a couple also as a major life change impacts what couples do. It’s subtle but it’s there.

        My husband and I decided to give up the drinking scene entirely. We were just spending too much money there and we decided our goals as a couple were more important. Well this was not as simple as it appeared. We had to reconfigure how we saw our friends (not in bars). We had more time available but because we were trying not to spend money so we had to work on finding forms of cheap entertainment. And we had to find things that were fun or gave us the mental break (escape) that we wanted.

        My point is that these changes turn into work for both people in order for the pair of people to continue on as a couple. My husband (we were not married then) and I both told each other that the other person was worth the extra work. I think it was about six months to a year to reset our new normal as a couple. We both had to bring ideas to the table to help us through to our goals.

        Continue sorting from your own perspective as you go along here. And keep in mind, just because he does a rehab on his finances does not mean you have to stay if you do not want to.

        1. Traffic_Spiral*

          Why would you say “the other person was worth the extra work” if it was something you both wanted to do anyways? I mean, if you both just didn’t want to go to bars, wouldn’t you just not go to bars even if you broke up?

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I think that was the key, given our own choices we probably would have continued losing money in bars. But because we decided that our goals as a couple were more important we let go of the bar scene. It was work in that we just automatically went to see friends or whatever and did not think about the bucks we were spending. We deliberately planned out other activities so we would not just cut to our old default choices. And we also worked on budgeting everything better.

      6. Traffic_Spiral*

        So I assume you mean the one friend I sorta know about 2nd hand and not the 3 I know about first-hand. We’re not that close, but I ‘m glad his story helped.

        And yeah, nothing happens overnight, and if he’s young, well, people grow up and learn better adulting – sometimes. Even the mild resistance at the start isn’t necessarily a red flag. Some people will say “yes” to anything you ask of them and then not do it, while other people don’t take things too well at the start, but when given a little time to mull it over, go ‘ok, that does seem like the right thing’ and then get it together.

        Time will tell. Good luck.

        1. Square Root Of Minus One*

          The first friend you mentioned.
          I agree with you on mild resistance. Seriously, I thought it would be much harder, and I’ve been known to be mildly resistant too to that kind of necessary changes in the past myself, so I should be forgiving.
          And thanks :)

    2. Dan*

      I think you did well. It’s a hard conversation to start, and a hard conversation to hear. But it’s admirable that you laid it out. (BTW, sorry for the double negative, but if you had just peaced out, that wouldn’t be not admirable.)

      I’m not surprised he’s whining about the fun budget — having a conversation about spending too much money means *something* has to get cut. But it also requires a lifestyle change that he has to be ready, willing, and able to make. There was a point with my ex where she would tell you anything you wanted to hear at the moment to get what she wanted (“sure I’ll cut back on X”) but then she’d continue on as if nothing was different.

      As for now, you definitely met him in the middle. If he’s able to meet you there, then awesome. But I wouldn’t give him any more “chances” after that either. If he gets the slightest hint that you don’t mean business now, he’ll never change.

      1. Square Root Of Minus One*

        Yeah, I agree with that. I’ll monitor how it evolves in the next few months. I honestly believe he didn’t do all that to mellow me; it would have been much easier to say “no, don’t need help, I’ll figure it out on my own”, so I tend to believe he’s game.

    3. Engineer Girl*

      I just went back and read the original post (I missed it)
      I dated one of these guys. It ended in my only really bad breakup.
      The issue is the lack of discipline. This is a maturity issue for the most part, but it leaks into all aspects of the relationship.
      • He isn’t accountable. That means he isn’t invested in bettering himself. You will outgrow him. (You have already)
      • He can’t be truly honest with you, which destroys intimacy. You struggle to have conversations with him that are a normal part of being a couple.
      • He doesn’t respect you. If he did, he wouldn’t be asking for your hard earned money all the time and certainly wouldn’t force you to float him across weeks
      • You can’t rely on him. Part of the joy of being a couple is to be there for each other.

      He’s in compliance now because he knows he’s going to lose you. Not because it’s the right thing to do, but because there are consequences involved. That’s immature.

      You can love someone and they can still be the wrong person for you. As a person of discipline, you deserve your equal. You don’t need to play mommy to some man-child, as much fun as he can be.

      1. Square Root Of Minus One*

        Can’t say the maturity issues (this one and others) don’t give me pause. Clearly, they do.
        For the rest… Thank God I think a little bit higher of him, or I would be long gone. Only time will tell if he’s compliant or not, and if he can keep up. The good thing is, I don’t even need so much time to know :)
        I won’t be looking for the right one either way. If I fall in love, I’ll reconsider. But I’m way past seeking Prince Charming.

  17. still anxious*

    A few weeks ago there was a break-in at my flat (I posted about it, but probably used a different name), and it really rattled me. I’ve tried my best to get back to normal and resume normal routines, but it’s hard to put it completely out of my head. My landlord has changed all the locks etc. and added reinforcements to the doorframes. The local council will also be sending someone at some point to assess the building to see if any further measures need to be taken.

    The thing I’m having trouble with is that I’ll be going away this weekend, and it’d be the first time I’ll be away overnight since this has happened, and I’m wracked with paranoia. I really don’t want this weekend (that I’d previously been excited about) to to be constantly filled with anxiety. It’s not that I don’t feel safe, exactly. It’s that I’d always felt so safe before and it turned out I was wrong. So now I just keep second guessing myself beyond what is logical.

    Does anyone have advice on tackling this kind of anxiety?

    1. Lemonwhirl*

      In the long term, some therapy, particular cognitive behavioural therapy, and maybe a Nest cam or similar could give you coping skills and peace of mind.

      In the short term, whenever your brain tries to make you worry about it, say “Oh yeah, thanks for the reminder, now let’s focus on having fun”. Also from a practical standpoint, it might help if you have someone check on the place and text you updates. (If your paranoia is about your place. If your paranoia is more about general anxiety and safety, then you can have a mantra “I am place, this place is safe” and repeat it to yourself.)

      Having your place broken into is traumatic and a violation, but it doesn’t mean you wrong to feel secure in your place. It means that some asshole did a crappy thing to you in general. If you can internalise that idea, it might help.

      1. still anxious*

        Thanks for replying. I think one of the mental hurdles I have is that the night it happened, I was out having a good time and really enjoying myself. When I look back I just feel like such an idiot – having fun and totally ignorant of the fact someone was burgling me. Logically I know that’s a silly way to look at it, but as I said I’m not exactly in touch with logic right now.

        1. Lemonwhirl*

          It sounds like you’re being awfully hard on yourself. Stuff happens. Lightnings strikes. Burglers burgle. If you left a door unlocked or something, then yeah, that’s a lesson to learn. But your brain is doing you a disservice if it’s trying to make you feel bad for having fun and not knowing that a robbery was happening at your place.

          I hope you’re able to have a great time on your weekend away. You deserve it.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          You are totally correct in your assessment here. We don’t think that such an awful thing would happen just in the course of doing ordinary life stuff. The contrast is, indeed, stark as you say here.

          Perhaps you remember me talking about being robbed. I was in my own neighborhood. I “knew” for a fact that my neighborhood was safe. This new information (my robbery) took what I knew to be true and turned it totally upside down. I was no longer safe. Even back then the news on the tv was never good, but, hey, I could turn the tv off and go back to my safe neighborhood. Well. That was no longer an option and it was not even an illusion anymore. I could no longer lull myself into believing I was safe in my area.

          Action steps are a concrete way to respond to your unease/discomfort.
          Can someone check your place for you while you are away?
          Can someone walk into your place with you when you return?
          Do you have a fire safe or locking file that you can put important things in and a trusted person who would hang on to the safe/file for you?
          Would a friend apartment sit for you?
          Can you ask the police to check the exterior of your building randomly while you are gone?

          You know you best. For me, I think of everything on this list I would want someone to walk into my place with me. But that is just knowing how I am about things.

          One thing I did that may or may not help you, is I constantly reminded myself that the robber did not hurt me. Someone had been robbed at another store the previous week. The robber stabbed her multiple times. So one of my calming tools became, “he did not physically injure me”. In your case, the robber made sure he was gone before you came home.

          This is hard stuff. You might be able to help yourself by saying, “I won’t get over this today or even this week. It will take time.” Our expectations can hurt us, if the expectation is too demanding. Along with everything else you also have grief for your loss of a sense of security. So go easy on you, take extra safety steps when you need/want to.

          1. Lemonwhirl*

            I agree with everything you’ve said, especially your last paragraph. “Our expectations can hurt us” is something I now want to embroider on a pillow and look at every day. Such a good reminder about an important way to be kind to yourself.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      We have a motion activated camera in my husband’s office because the critters like to hang out in there and it’s fun to watch what they do when we’re not right there. The notifications are turned off, but we could set it to ping our phones when it detects motion. Would something like that make you feel better (“no news is good news”) or worse (“what if it just isn’t going off”)?

      1. still anxious*

        I’ve thought about it – getting sensors or cameras – but I don’t know if that’ll be a reassurance or if I’d just become more obsessed.

    3. Jen RO*

      No advice, but I’m sorry that this happened. I can imagine how you feel.

      My house was ‘broken’ into years ago (I actually forgot a window open and they climbed through) and it took me months to truly feel safe again. I was fine at first and I was sure the robber wouldn’t return, but the anxiety hit me after a few days and I had to sleep with all windows closed for quite a while. Eventually, it got better, but I was truly surprised by how rattled I was.

    4. CoffeeforLife*

      Can you get a sitter? Someone to stay there while you’re gone? I’ve paid for a service before ($30-60 USD) a night but that included animals.

    5. Lilysparrow*

      For the overnight trip, I think getting a housesitter or checker is a great option.

      Do you have anyone you can be with/stay with for a few days without it being a Huge Hairy Deal?

      When I had roommates, I was lucky to be friends with them, and when I was single and living alone, I had a circle of friends who were casual and easygoing about couch-surfing, so “I’m nervous since the break-in, could you come hang and stay over for the weekend” would be an acceptable request with no baggage, just like asking, “hey I have stomach flu, could you maybe drop me off some Gatorade?”

      Sometimes we just need other people around. It helps.

  18. Jaid*

    Itch. Itch. Itch.

    It’s been ridiculously wet around here and so the ‘skeeter season is in full bloom. I have this one bite on my ankle driving me crazy. What’s worse is that the dang thing is situated so that it rubs against the bed when I’m sleeping on my side.

    Cue me contorting myself using the body pillow to keep that leg elevated enough not to touch a dang thing.

    1. CoffeeforLife*

      I have a cluster on my ankle that I woke myself up from scratching so hard! I resorted to using Icyhot to try and numb the area so I could sleep. Went to the pharmacy the next day for ointment.

      I am a human mosquito magnet. Hate it.

    2. Llellayena*

      Put itch cream of your choice (or maybe Vicks) on it and cover it with a bandaid overnight? Then it won’t rub on things and get aggravated.

    3. jDC*

      Ugh I have a cluster on the back of my thigh. I thought leaving the Midwest would save me but some spider found me. You have my sympathy. They love me and I’m so over it. Another reason i really dislike summer. I know that I’m the minority in that but I just despise summer completely. Sweating, having to wear work clothes that cover so I’m always hot, having to wear clothes that don’t cover as much to not die of heat stroke when I really want to be more covered up, hearing people tell me how pale I am (shut it people), seeing everyone’s butt hanging out all summer, kids out of school running rampant. Grumpy over. Haha.

      1. Jaid*

        Oh, you and me both. The only good thing about summer is being indoors and looking out at trees and flowers in bloom.

        Other than that, forget that noise.

    4. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      I recently learned that heat denatures the venom in a lot of insect bites, causing them to stop itching. I have a hot pack for my neck, which I just put on the bite until I can’t stand it any more…and lo and behold, no more itching! It is magical.

      1. Kat in VA*

        We do something called “hot spooning” here – run the hottest water your sink can produce over a spoon (common sense applies here*) and hold it against the bite for at least ten seconds. Yeah, it’ll burn for a moment, but the itch magically goes away.

        Side note – do not do this on your face. I hot spooned a mosquito bite on the bridge of my nose and it blistered, then scabbed. Skin is thinner on your face, a fact I forgot. Did I mention I was attending a Renaissance Faire the next day and was wearing a leather half mask? Good times.

        Our water heater is set at 140. It used to be set at 160. Obviously don’t use boiling water or you’ll literally burn yourself. It has to be hot enough to denature the proteins that cause the itch but not so hot as to give yourself a first degree burn. Sometimes you’ll have to tap it on the bite a few times or let it cool a tiny bit before holding it on there. You’ll know it worked because yeet! No more itch!

        1. LCL*

          Recommendation for home water heaters is between 110-120. Please reconsider that setting of 140, it’s not safe.

    5. Lucy*

      Are you taking any antihistamines? An evening dose of something otc like cetirizine or loratidine (sorry, I don’t know the US brands, so those are the generics) should reduce the itch and make you drowsy enough to ignore what remains. Sorry if that’s obvious and you’re already dosed up.

      Normal white toothpaste is surprisingly soothing on new stings and bites.

      I have been thoroughly DEETing myself this week as I seem to overreact to bites and don’t want to swell up

      This year I also have an air freshener in the house which is supposed to repel flying insects. Fingers firmly crossed!

      1. Lilysparrow*

        In the US, loratadine is Claritin, fexofenafine is Allegra and cetirizine is Zyrtec. But the generics are all available as well.

        Though none of them make me or my kids sleepy. Benadryl (diphenhydramine) does.

      2. Jaid*

        I take loratadine at night on the daily, for post nasal drip. I only take Benadryl if I have a all over itch.

    6. Kama'aina Kitty*

      Try heating up a spoon in hot tap water and very carefully pressing it on the bite. The heat takes the itch out of the sting.

    7. GigglyPuff*

      Clear nail polish. Live in the southern u.s., only thing that stops the itch for me. It blocks the air from stimulating it. The itch should go away in about 5-10 mins depending on how fast you can stop thinking about it, lasts for a couple of days depending on where it’s located, just reapply the nail polish when it starts flaking.

      1. jDC*

        Thanks for this. I will try it. Hydrocortisone is doing zero for me. I happened to have a doctors appointment the other day and showed him and he just said “that sucks”. He’s really nice he was being funny but i was hoping there was some miracle he could give me because it drives me nuts.

      2. valentine*

        Clear nail polish.
        Never heard of this.

        The Don’t Bite Me! patch significantly reduced bites for me. Smelly, though.

    8. Lilysparrow*

      Sympathy. My reactions seem to be getting worse every year. Last night I slathered both legs in solarcaine, the kind that has aloe + lidocaine. It was the only way I could sleep. And that was on top of the hydrocortisone cream.

      1. Engineer Girl*

        Moist heat releases the histamines all at once. The hotter the better (but don’t scale yourself)
        The release is a few seconds of super high intensity itch. Then you get an hour or so relief.

      2. Reba*

        Do you take an oral antihistamine? Maybe it’s placebo, but I think I get better relief from those than topical, especially wrt to the extreme swelling I sometimes get. I am one of those people who is delicious to mosquitos, and my doctor actually recommended just taking an antihistamine before going somewhere I know I’m likely to get bitten.

        Since itching always seems worse at night (side note, has science figured out why that is?) why not knock yourself out with a Benadryl, if you can tolerate it?

        1. Lilysparrow*

          Yep, daily maintenance dose for seasonal allergies. And it’s always allergy season here. Our seasons are not spring, summer, autumn, winter, but Pollen, Mold, Pollen, and Pollen + Mold.

    9. Lena Clare*

      Bicarb of soda mixed into a paste with water then applied to the affected area helps ease the itch of insect bites.

      The scent of citronella keeps them away, but you can’t leave a burning candle or scent diffuser on at night! Mix a drop of citronella oil with a cupful of light carrier oil (I mean, you could use olive oil but it does have a strong smell) then massage it into exposed skin.
      I’d wash it off before going into the sun as citric type oils can ‘bleach’ in the sunlight.
      Hope this helps.

    10. Sparkly Librarian*

      I react terribly to mosquito bites, and always have (but I was an adult before I learned that “skeeter syndrome” was a thing), and my go-to was Rhuli-Gel. When they stopped manufacturing it, I found that one of the active ingredients, camphor, was a huge help. I have a tiny bottle, like an essential oil vial, that I picked up at the fancy grocery pharmacy, and just dab at the bites with a cotton swab drenched in it. Kills the itch. Sometimes reduces swelling.

    11. No fan of Chaos*

      Insects love me-bees, wasps, fleas, and mosquitoes. I read somewhere that garlic pills would keep them away and they do. Has to be smelly garlic pills and now I have to get them off Amazon as the local shops no longer carry them. I take 3 a day for 3 days when I know an outdoor event is coming up. My fair hair friends are so envious that I’m no longer bug bait and they have started taking them, too.

    12. Jaid*

      What is everyone watching?

      I’ve been watching beauty drama videos (OMG Jacquelyn Hill finally began to recall her nasty metal/plastic/hairy lipsticks), Vocaloid concerts (Vocaloid is a singing voice synthesizer software and the industry evolved to having 3D animated avatars performing full concerts), and ball culture videos, this past week.

  19. coffee cup*

    Weekend plans for today? I had plans to go hillwalking today for the first time in ages, as it’s sunny and fairly warm. But I have surprise early menstrual cramps so I’m feeling exhausted and a bit sore still. No hillwalking for me. :( I also don’t want to stay in all day, though, so not sure what else to do instead. I’m considering going for a drive and trying to find a quiet place for a short, easy walk, but I also feel like I could sleep for the rest of the day!

    1. londonedit*

      Look after yourself! I’m just at the end of my period and it’s been a rough week. Bodies, eh?

      Anyway, this morning I did parkrun – actually ran a surprisingly quick time given how tired and sluggish I was feeling! First sub-28 since Easter Saturday. Then had coffee and cake with friends, did the food shopping, and I’m now chilling out watching the Queen’s Club tennis.

      Tomorrow I’m planning to run along the river and then have more coffee and cake, and then I want to tackle my massive pile of running kit and maybe take some of it to the charity shop. And I need to do some housework!

      1. coffee cup*

        Yeah, I’m trying! I’m considering coffee and cake soon, too (solo, with a book). I went for a run on Wed so I don’t feel quite as bad about not exercising much today, but hopefully I can get out tomorrow instead. Haven’t done Parkrun for a while, maybe I’ll try next week (definitely not as quick as you!).

    2. Database Developer Dude*

      I’ve got Battle Assembly this weekend (US Army Reserve). Classes in the morning, mandatory training in the afternoon that I’ve already completed, so I get to do my own thing. It’ll be a relaxing weekend.

    3. jDC*

      Going to do some damage at Ulta as I am out of everything. Hate when that happens all at once since then you have to pay all at once. Haha. Also going to check out a couch. Not buying just yet but saw one I liked online so wanted to see it in person. And excited to drive my new car as I’ve had it two weeks and been traveling the whole time so it’s sat in the garage.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I did a little trimming on my tree after meditation, including sawing off two rogue limbs that were headed for the road and my neighbor’s house, respectively. It’s supposed to storm this evening and tomorrow, so tomorrow will be all about packing up stuff I want to store and cleaning the house. Tonight will find me bingeing TV, since season 2 of Dark just dropped on Netflix! Woo hoo!

    5. Victoria, Please*

      I wanted to do a whole bunch of fun and useful things but I am huddled on the sofa with the Vicks and tissues, ugly-sneezing and coughing. At least I get to binge watch Agents of Shield. :-/

      1. jDC*

        You have my sympathy. I’m just getting over something and still am all phlegm filled. So attractive. I sound like a phone sec operator so, side job

    6. Beaded Librarian*

      I did a VERY could Aquabike today but I FINISHED! And I’m happy with the average Speedo managed.

        1. Beaded Librarian*

          They might call those Aquabike as well but in this case it’s swim and then bike. I did a mile swim and a nearly 30 mile bike.

  20. Ange*

    Using herbs in recipes: I’ve just started growing my own herbs and now need to find ways to use them up. I have: basil, dill, oregano, tarragon, rosemary, coriander, thyme, sage and mint. I’m not worried about the mint, I can always use it for tea. But I would love suggestions for using the rest. I’m not vegetarian or vegan, but happy to eat meat free.

    1. CoffeeforLife*

      Ooohhh yum. Make a chimichurri with them. I use it on meat and veggies alike. Just a nice herbal kick.

    2. Lemon_tree*

      All of them would work on a lentils-bulgur dish I make. Boil 2 cups of lentils and when they are almost ready add 1 1/5 cups of bulgur. Add 2 onions thin sliced and sauteed in olive oil and season with salt and the herbs.

    3. Overeducated*

      Yum! A lot of Middle Eastern foods have quite a lot of herbs mixed into soups, pastas, savory pies, etc. Google Ottolenghi’s green couscous, or check out the cookbook Plenty for ideas.

      1. Bluebell*

        I’ve been making a lot from his new Simple cookbook. I made a pasta with lemon and anchovies last night, which also had thyme, zaatar, and parsley, and the chard and tomato dish had mint, and dill. Both were delicious.

    4. Llellayena*

      Thyme is great in scrambled eggs. Baked rosemary chicken. Pasta with oil and herbs. Pesto uses a lot of basil in one go. Dill is fantastic on salmon (and also works mixed in cream cheese and served with lox). Pizza! Basil and oregano would be great on homemade pizza! Hmm, I should probably use some of these ideas myself, my parsley is taking over the porch!

    5. AcademiaNut*

      Sage and browned butter makes a lovely topping for winter squash or pasta, or mashed potatoes. Oregano, thyme and tarragon are good steeped in vinegar (add garlic and/or lemon zest if you want) for an easy salad dressing or marinade. Make tatziki with the dill, or mix chopped dill with sour cream and use as a dressing for radish and cucumber salad. Make pesto if you’ve got enough basil. Use cilantro in home made salsa. Add basil to a hummus recipe when pureeing the chickpeas. A similar method with fresh edamame, dill and lemon makes a great dip (or a sauce for pasta). Make spanokapita with the dill, or make spinach dill meatballs.

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        Yup. Sage and browned butter on pretty much all potatoes, squashes, pastas, and chicken.

        For basil, I do caprese salad (fresh mozarella, tomato, and basil, salt, pepper, olive oil, balsamic vinegar).

        Rosemary is good on roasted potatoes and chicken.

    6. Jemima Bond*

      Fattoush is a really delicious Lebanese salad with crumbled up toasted pitta bread. It uses lots of mint and parsley.
      Oregano is good dried and lovely with any tomato-ey Italian or Greek dishes.
      Tarragon is nice in a simple chicken casserole (chicken pieces, maybe lardons, leeks, carrot, stock, salt and pepper, tarragon) or when cooking a simple piece of white fish en papillote (use lemon as well).
      Fresh rosemary is lovely in a risotto with lemon (google Nigella Lawson lemon risotto) or with chicken breast, lemon, garlic, broccoli, spring onions, a splash of white wine, all mixed up with orzo pasta.
      Sage is lovely with pork, or make lentils with softened chopped onion and garlic and sage and serve with sausages (that’s another Nigella Lawson one).
      I like thyme in spaghetti Bolognese or to season roast chicken.

      Coriander is, imho, fit only for the bin! But I guess if you don’t taste the soapy evil then guacamole?

    7. The Messy Headed Momma*

      The ones with soft leaves can be cut up into salads. You’d be surprised how delicious they are, surrounded by lettuces. And, I’m a carnivore! Also, dill is yummy on buttered corn on the cob. Thyme is oddly delicious with roasted apricots. Learn how to make your own salad dressing too.

    8. Agnodike*

      Tarragon goes beautifully in a white wine sauce to put on roasted chicken or (with or without mushrooms and courgette added) use on pasta. For basil the classic use is pesto, or use with oregano to make tomato sauce for pasta or pizza. Dill adds so much flavour to potato salad and smoked salmon sandwiches, or you can mix it with apple cider vinegar and pour over thinly sliced cucumbers to make a quick pickled salad. Fresh coriander brightens up salsa or guacamole, or it’s delicious sprinkled over top of Mexican or Indian inspired dishes – and don’t forget that when it goes to seed, you can dry out the seed pods and grind them up to use as ground coriander. Rosemary pairs well with chicken or lamb – one of my favourite dishes is chicken thighs blew in Dijon mustard and maple syrup with loads and loads of fresh rosemary in it. Or if you like cocktails, a sprig of rosemary is a delicious addition to a gin- or whiskey- based drink.

      1. Agnodike*

        I don’t know why it says “chicken thighs blew” but you should bake them, not blow them.

    9. GoryDetails*

      If you’re feeling adventurous you can make your own pasta, embedding fresh herbs in the dough; makes a nice variation on sprinkling the herbs on top or putting them in a sauce (though you can do that as well, to punch up the flavor). Oh, and for the sage: try frying individual sage leaves! It’s very quick, and the resulting leaves make a savory/crispy snack in themselves, or can be sprinkled on a salad.

    10. Kathenus*

      Tarragon is one of my favorites, dill is another. Both are great just put on cooked veggies, chicken, fish. You can use them in something fancier like some suggested already, but I’m a pretty basic cook and tend to use them just for seasoning as is. Even though it’s breakfast-time where I am right now, just reading that list of herbs makes me hungry – I’m very much a savory person. Enjoy!

    11. londonedit*

      My mum makes a really lovely pie (well, technically not a pie because the pastry is only on the top, but you know) with tarragon.

      It’s really easy – just cook off whatever veg you have in a pan (she usually sautés an onion with some garlic, then adds chopped carrots, mushrooms, green beans, courgette, butternut squash, leeks, etc) and then off the heat stir in some crème frâiche and tarragon. Spread all of that out in a baking dish, top with puff pastry, brush it all with egg and bake in the oven at 180C/350F until the pastry is all puffed and golden. You can also add chicken – chicken and mushrooms both go particularly well with tarragon. Just sauté the chicken in a separate pan while you’re cooking the veg and then mix it all together.

    12. Database Developer Dude*

      If you’ve got cilantro, I have a few suggestions on what to do with it. You might not like the suggestion, though ;)

      Oregano is -always- appropriate for spaghetti sauce, as is basil.

    13. Parenthetically*

      Dill, coriander, and mint by the handful, chopped fine, with tomatoes, peppers, red onions, lots of lemon juice and olive oil.

      Sage, rosemary, and thyme stuffed with a lemon inside a roast chicken, and/or blitzed up with salt and rubbed all over the skin before you roast it. Gorgeous.

      Sage, lots of it, roasted with pumpkin and onion and garlic, then tossed with pasta and goat’s cheese. One of my favorite flavor combinations.

      1. Jackalope*

        I see your sage, rosemary, and thyme chicken rub and would add garlic, onions, and olive oil to keep the mix on the chicken. I haven’t tried the lemon one bcs I am not as much a fan of lemons but that would prob be good too. Rub everything on a whole chicken, let it marinate for a bit if you’d like, then toss it in a crockpot for a few hours. The chicken stays moist and doesn’t dry out. I personally also toss in a few carrots and potatoes, and/or make mashed potatoes, and it’s one of my favorite simple meals.

    14. AL*

      Finely chopped tarragon added when making scrambled eggs is very nice…

      I use rosemary and thyme in a bowl with boiling water as an inhaler when I have sinus problems and it’s very nice…

      1. teashirt*

        My mother used to make spanakopita with ~1/3 of the spinach replaced by basil. Yum!

    15. PM-NYC*

      A few things come to mind: a lot of herbs are great in compound butters which can last a long time in the freezer, Kuku Sabzi (sp?) is a baked egg frittata type dish that uses lots of herbs in the egg mixture, and if you drink iced drinks that could use sweeteners (lemonade, limeade, iced coffee, etc) you can make a simple syrup infused with an herb. I’ve only done it with rosemary but I think that could work with a lot of different herbs.

    16. Bye Academia*

      Homemade hummus is way, way better than anything you can buy in a store. Not all recipes will call for basil, but I think it tastes amazing to add a bunch of fresh leaves of it. You can google the recipe pretty easily, but it’s basically just chick peas, tahini (cheap at Trader Joe’s), olive oil, salt, pepper, cumin, garlic, lemon juice, the basil, and a little water. Dump it all in a food processor and tweak quantities to your preferences.

    17. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff*

      From Italian perspective:
      Basil goes with any vegetable (except maybe pumpkin?) and you can use it both fresh or cook it together with the rest. It also goes in many pasta sauces.
      Dill is perfect with tomato and with fish, especially fatty fish like salmon.
      Oregano: where you want, this is probably the most versatile.
      Rosemary and thyme are good with both meat and fish, and in the pan with carrots, aubergines or peas.
      Sage: with fish or inside omelette; mint is very good in omelettes, too. If you have the one with very big leaves you can also fry them individually. If you want a taste of northern Italy, try pasta with just butter and sage. Well, maybe wait for the winter: it’s a bit heavy :)

    18. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      An absolute favorite is rosemary roasted potatoes: Cut new potatoes into large chunks. Toss in a bowl with salt, generous olive oil, and finely chopped rosemary. Roast in a single layer at 400 or 425 until fork tender and crusty on the bottom, maybe 30-45 minutes?

    19. Troutwaxer*

      If you like spicy food there’s an Indonesian dish called “rendang” which is very good over rice and uses lots of coriander.

    20. Lost in the Woods*

      Rosemary is heavenly with roasted beets!

      A shredded basil leaf or two will instantly make most pasta sauces better, and if you have enough then a pesto (I like mine with walnuts).

    21. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      You might also try tarragon in sweet things. I’ve never grown it as an herb, but tarragon soda is one of the things I used to buy all the time back when I lived near a Russian import store/deli. I don’t have any specific recipe suggestions, but if I had a lot of tarragon I’d probably try making a tarragon-infused sugar syrup for homemade sodas/shaved ice/etc. Actually, I may try doing that anyway with store-bought tarragon because I miss that soda and I don’t think my current area has a big enough Russian immigrant population for anyone to sell tarragon soda around here.

    22. dealing with dragons*

      Dill is amazing on eggs. -like fried or omelet. And you could make some Italian meals with that, and they’re all good on chicken.

      I dry mine and grind them up

    23. chi chan*

      Mint lemonade is awesome and wonderfully refreshing. Grind the mint with salt, sugar and pepper and add paste to ice cold water.

  21. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    Making a bunch of jam this weekend! Old favorites, raspberry (my mom’s) and blueberry-peach (mine), and new experiments, strawberry spiced rum and peach bourbon. Batches should do 8-10 jars of each, plenty to share with friends and family.

    Discovered that my shiny aluminum pots do not work well on my flat top stove – apparently flat tops work by radiant heat rather than direct heat and the shiny pots reflect most of it, so my pasta pot was taking almost an hour to bring a gallon of water to the boil. Luckily most of my cookware is anodized, just the pasta pot and the giant canning pot are shiny. So husband is going to fire up the grill to heat the canning pot so I can hot water process all the jars. And then afterwards we’ll have burgers. :)

    1. The Mayor*

      I am thinking, there are high-temperature black spray paints made for outdoor grill, that you might use to paint the bottom of those pots & increase the heat transfer. If you only do the bottom, it does not ruin the finish on the rest of the pot. Just an idea.

    2. Earthwalker*

      My plain electric stove has in its owner’s manual a warning never to use a standard canning kettle on it, and when I heard that my neighbor had blown out burner elements twice with his canner, I took it seriously. So I tried my old blue-speckle soup kettle with a mini-canning rack (got it from Pine Tree Seeds) and discovered I actually like it better. The old canner was so big that it took forever to come to a boil while the soup kettle is fast enough to make it worth canning a jar or two of jam from a morning berry picking. Mine is tall enough for quarts but only fits three at a time, so I make the applesauce in smaller batches and end up getting through two crates of apples in the same amount of time as I used to with the big canner. If you have a big pot that works on your stove and is tall enough for your canning jars, a mini-canning rack is great for boiling water bath canning.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Ooh, good to know. I tend to do great walloping batches, so I’m hoping the charcoal grill experiment works okay with the big canning pot, but I’ll keep that in mind!

    3. Pam*

      I love jam making. We just bought lots of strawberries and apricots. Rather than do summer jamming, we freeze summer fruit, and jam in Winter.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I do that too, but I managed to run out of both frozen fruit and jam backstock at the same time! So this weekend I’m jamming, and the next few weeks I’ll stock up, purée and freeze :)

    4. Alexandra Lynch*

      My parents had apple trees and put up about 80 quarts of applesauce a year, and I remember having apples cooking on: the stove, the stove in the garage, the stove in the camper, parked beside the house, and the BBQ grill. I had a large spoon and walked a circuit, stirring pots.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Oh gosh! I just do applesauce in the crockpot, but I never have more than about ten or twelve pounds worth at a time.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Made strawberry-spiced-rum jam. (Turned out amazing.)
      Discovered that I bought the raspberries too early and some were fuzzy, so chucked them and ran to the store for more.
      Made raspberry jam.
      Had extra raspberry, so made a 1/4 batch (like, 2.5 jars) of raspberry spiced rum jam. (Also amazing.)
      Made blueberry peach jam.
      Discovered, now out of jars AND sugar. So I need to go back to the store before I can make the last batch, which will be peach bourbon. (Luckily the store is five minutes up the road. Husband is like “how are you out of jars, you had like twelve thousand!” Apparently I only had 27, sorry! But I have lids and rings coming out my ears.)

  22. Washi*

    Anyone read Heather Havrilesky’s advice column this week? I’ll post the full link in a reply, but her main point is that she’s never regretted following her instincts in her career or romantic relationships, but that they’ve often led her astray in friendships. She says it’s both her internal personal stuff, but also there just isn’t the same amount of discussion of friendship in popular culture, and people differ so wildly on the way they treat and prioritize friends.

    The whole column resonated with me sooo much, and I’m wondering if it struck a chord with anyone else? Like Heather, finding the right path in my career and marriage has been so much simpler (though not always easier!) than with friendships, even though I’m lucky to have people in my life who also consider it a priority and not a distant third best behind marriage and blood family.

    1. matcha123*

      I just Googled and read the article.
      I total felt her when she wrote about high expectations for friendships. This is something I struggle with, but something I recognized pretty early on. It did take me years…decades? to figure out methods that helped me cope and understand that my assumptions about what a friend were were not shared by everyone.

      Unlike you or the author, I have terrible luck with jobs and relationships. Friendships, I don’t have too much problem with. I do, however, have to make sure that I don’t fall into my habit of reading the person and giving too much to the point where I’m drained.

      One huge thing I wish we as a culture could push back on is this notion that ONLY romantic partners and children deserve an important place in our lives. I would do what I could to help a friend or a friend’s parent, to the same extent of my own. I’ve never understood why my way of thinking is so incompatible with the rest of society…

      1. DerJungerLudendorff*

        Yes to your last paragraph especially. Our culture (and a lot of cultures in general) put great emphasis on our romantic partners and birth family, but far too often ignores the families we make ourselves.

        I think you’re not completely out of step with the rest of society either. Yeah, we practically fetishize romantic relationships and often hold up birth family as sharing this deep, amazing bond that means we must always support and like each other. But we also have cultural staples like the constantly unhappy married couple, the terrible second degree family members you have to endure during family celebrations, the neglectful parents or hellspawn kids, and so on.
        In our fiction those roles are usually reserved for anyone outside our protagonists direct family (other families, the extended family), but our society is aware that family can be far from perfect. It’s just expected that that is either not YOUR family, or that you’ll endure it because of True Love or Family Must Stick Together.

    2. Spencer Hastings*

      I’ve noticed that my first impressions of people are often wrong. A professor who seemed cool the first couple of days turned out to be draconian, paternalistic, and condescending. Some people I tried to befriend ended up annoying the heck out of me once I’d hung out with them a few times. I am just really bad at figuring out whether I’ll like people, professionally or personally.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I got a lot happier when I decided to think of everything people do as a gift.
      I think my disorientation had its roots in my childhood, and many people can say that of their own lives. But thinking of everything people did as a gift helped me to remember that nobody HAS to do anything. And that is a fact, no one has to anything for anyone.

      My learning curve got lengthen because of working all the time. I really had no focus left for much other than home and hearth.
      I also made myself list off the times where I probably failed someone. And that kind of levels the playing field. Quickly.

      I do think that our 20s and 30s even into our 40s we spend so much time building up our own lives that there is not much time for anything else. And for some reason these years can feel very competitive and needlessly so, which is just not helpful.

      I feel bad for the LW, there was a lot to unpack going on there. I got very lucky early on. A boss, who is on my life long list of top favorites, said to me, ” I really like how all your friends know each other and have relationships with each other.” That really made me stop and think about many things. When a person’s friends all like each other there is a special kind of wealth that money can never buy.

      But if your core question is how we rate ourselves with career/SOs/friends, I think that I am average over all. There are times where I do very well but there are enough times that I do less than which drives down my average. Each area takes a concentration of effort. If I am building a family, I have less energy for building a career. If I am running at building a career with everything I have, then I am probably slacking on my friendships, and so on.

    4. I haven’t had my coffee yet*

      I think her advice was a bit too handholding to be honest. If you don’t get why your friends with young kids want to hang out over that, you need therapy.

  23. Flinty*

    Etiquette question: there is a lovely tennis court in the public park next door where my husband and I sometimes play. However, it’s almost never free, sometimes because others are playing tennis, but also because small children are riding tricycles in it, or most frequently, people go there with their dogs and have effectively turned it into a dog park (it has high fencing all around.)

    So, if my husband and I want to play tennis, can we ask the dog people to leave? What about the small children on tricycles?

    1. Lemonwhirl*

      Tennis isn’t something you can play just anywhere, so I would feel fine about going in and being a little loud about selecting a court and getting the rackets out, etc, to see if the other people were going to take the hint and clear out. If they didn’t, then I would absolutely say something politely but firmly like “We’re going to start a tennis match now, mind yourselves, my partner has a pretty strong backhand. You’ll be more comfortable on the other side the fence.”
      If the tennis court area is multiple courts, you can pick one at the end and hope that everyone else clears down the other side. But if it’s just one court, I don’t think you should avoid playing just because other people are using it for purpose other than tennis.

      1. valentine*

        mind yourselves, my partner has a pretty strong backhand. You’ll be more comfortable on the other side the fence.
        This is aggressive.

        1. LCL*

          That’s not aggressive. I would appreciate hearing it in the situation described. Backhand is referring to a tennis action, not a punch.

          1. Sam Sepiol*

            It sounds threatening to me. Like, if you stay here we’ll hit you with a tennis ball and it’ll hurt. Just because you don’t hear it as such (and I’m not even saying it was meant that way) doesn’t mean it doesn’t sound like that.

            1. Flinty*

              I think anything can sound threatening if you say it a certain way! Even “I wouldn’t want to hit you with a tennis ball by accident” could sound menacing if said in an ominous tone :)

        2. Lemonwhirl*

          Oh yeah, I totally didn’t mean it in an aggressive way. Just if someone didn’t feel comfortable telling someone to leave directly. I dunno. Could be a cultural/regional thing – I am not in the US.

          1. Kat in VA*

            How about, “We’d like to play a game of tennis and don’t want anyone to unintentionally get hit by a ball. Would y’all mind moving?”

            Short, to the point, informative, and…not really asking.

            I’m a big believer in mean what you say, say what you mean. The point of a tennis court is to, well, play tennis. If people are doing other things on a tennis court that are not tennis, asking them to move so you can use the courts for their intended purpose – and also warn them politely that if they don’t move, they might get popped by a ball if they choose not to move – isn’t aggressive at all. It’s stating a fact and couching a request in with a statement of possibility.

    2. alex b.*

      I was that dog person sometimes before our dog run opened; if someone came up and politely said, “Hi, we’re here to play tennis; can you please give us the court?”, I would do so immediately and in a friendly manner. I would think the same about the adults with the children. If the dog/kid people don’t, they’re jerks. If they’re considerate, they’re using that space only because no tennis players are around but will vacate as soon as tennis players arrive and make themselves known.

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        Yup. There’s nothing wrong with other people using it if no one wants to play tennis, but it *is* a tennis court, so if you’re there for tennis, you get to (politely) tell them to scram.

        1. Clisby*

          Unless these dog people are 100% sure they’re dogs aren’t going to pee/shit on the tennis court, there absolutely is something wrong with it.

    3. londonedit*

      People wanting to use the tennis courts for actual tennis definitely take precedence over people using them for other activities. You’re definitely well within your rights to ask them to vacate the court if you want to play.

    4. Flinty*

      Thank you everyone! Since it’s a public park, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t out of bounds in thinking that playing tennis would take precedence over other uses of the tennis court. (There’s only one court, so it’s kind of a zero-sum thing.)

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Dog person here.
      It’s never occurred to me to take my dog to tennis court. What if he messes on the court? Even if I clean it up with some water that I found some where, there’s still residual and someone may want to play on the court. They have every right to want the court clean.

      Just ask politely if you can use the court to play tennis. I bet half the dog owners will just think to themselves, “Well that was a nice idea while it lasted, but now we must go.”

        1. Not So NewReader*

          He’d rather climb the chain link fence. I am not sure if he knows he’s a dog.

    6. Utoh!*

      Yeah, I never understood people who hung around tennis courts doing everything but what it was designed for. I would think as soon as someone showed up with their tennis racquets, most people would get the hint and move on…

  24. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    Mostly some loose snippets of conversation between characters here, didn’t have a lot of time this week.

    1. Claire*

      I finally nailed the ending plot points for the current WIP (aka, #pirates2), and I made good progress with fleshing out the middle section. Good thing, because the deadline, it looms.

      Oh, and my editor emailed me with the proposed cover copy for this novel and asked if it “resembled the book I’m writing.” Which made me laugh, because yes, plots do sometimes evolve.

    2. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff*

      Do you also notice your concentration coming and going in waves? It’s driving me crazy, how I can barely put together a crappy paragraph in one week, while in other weeks I vomit 10 pages a day. This was my last week before a two-weeks, full-time course in another country and I wanted to write as much as possible to make up for the future busy days… but nope! Did nothing! :c

    3. Troutwaxer*

      I’ve just finished up a short story of around 10,000 words, and would happily trade beta-reads with someone who has a story of similar length.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Zippo has been happening because of job-hunting / life stress, but I spent my entire meditation sit this morning thinking about Book 2 revisions.

  25. Loopy*

    I was on a work trip this past week where the food options were not great (think all chain restaurants) and my choices were not great (portion wise) and all in all, it’s going to be rough going back to my routine. I would put it almost akin to splurge vacation eating. I expect to be hungry and struggle a lot this upcoming week. Anyone have tips for a week after lots of eating to make it less difficult getting back to normal eating habits? Or should I just brace myself to argue with my body a bit (no, I don’t need a big restaurant lunch five days a week stomach!)

    1. It's a fish, Al*

      Ohhh I go through this so often – I travel for work about 120 days a year, and usually have bad and worse choices available for eating (consistently eating with people who are on vacation is a terrible challenge!).

      I can’t offer perfect advice, since I’ve put on 20 lbs in the three years I’ve been working this job, but I think what’s allowed me to not have made it triple that number is a two pronged approach: intermittent fasting when returning to real life (for me that usually means skipping breakfast), and when I can’t convince my body that it is not STARVING just because it’s not getting 3 restaurant meals a day, I hit the gym for some intense activity that will hopefully partially offset my incredible calorie intake.

    2. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Years ago, I got myself into the habit of reaching for a small glass of water the first (or the second, third, fourth, etc.) time I feel hungry. It seems to help me avoid eating when I’m not actually hungry, but really just bored, or thirsty, or feeling a stupid craving to have something in my mouth.

      You know how, as you get out of your 20s and 30s (I’m nearing 50), you can quietly gain 5-10 pounds per year as your metabolism slows down and you get a little less active? I think that my water habit has helped avoid that a little. Maybe it can help reset your stomach’s expectations this week.

    3. cat socks*

      Agree with drinking lots of water. I also loosely follow intermittent fasting where I skip breakfast and just eat lunch and dinner.

    4. Roly Poly Little Bat-Faced Girl*

      I agree with water and IF. I find if I can just get through a day or two of reducing the amount (and increase quality), that gives my body the reset it needs. Not easy, but the short amount of time to ride it out helps.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Dinner should not be the biggest meal. This is my biggest downfall. And dinner was big because my other meals were too small.

      Make sure you eat a good breakfast before you start your day. How you launch the day can make a difference in how the day goes. Carry healthy, wisely chosen snacks with you. I like this because I don’t have to eat them but it reassures me that I am prepared if I do get hungry.

      If you can bring your lunch to work and tell yourself, “This is it. This is what I am having.” Then read a good book or visit with cohorts who are also taking a lunch. Let the book/conversation distract you from the fact that the lunch you are eating is NOT your first choice of food.

    6. Fish Microwaver*

      If you find yourself hungry, snack on fruit and leafy salads. This will help you feel full without excess calories and will nourish your body.

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        Yup. Focus on more good food, not less bad. Make a point of eating more veggies and fruits, instead of focusing on not eating all the other stuff.

    7. Gir*

      Another agreeing on the water. I also try and double up on my veggies when I get back.

      I travel about 4x a month for 1-4 days at a time. My strategy lately is to try and research where and what to eat before I go. I’ve been about 50% successful in this, as sometimes I’m too tired to care.

  26. AvonLady Barksdale*

    We moved! It went as smoothly as it could, but I’m TIRED. And dusty. We hired packers and it was great, but we still ran into:

    – A torrential thunderstorm with heavy winds and low visibility about 30 minutes into our drive north
    – The discovery of some kind of mold or mildew in the bedroom of our old house (I wiped up most of it with soap and vinegar, but now I wonder if that’s what caused some of my headaches in that house)
    – A chirping smoke detector in our new apartment, which completely freaked out the dog (luckily this was the evening we arrived, when we weren’t planning to stay there anyway– the building’s maintenance guy came and fixed it right away, but it delayed us getting to our hotel– and to sleep!– and the poor dog had to be forced back in)
    – Our dog’s crate is missing and I have absolutely no idea how that could have happened, since the movers definitely took it with them. I called the moving company and hope it’s on the truck and can be shipped to us. Poor bud. He doesn’t need his crate, and we have a pet store in the building where we can get one easily, but he likes having his own space.

    But all in all, things went smoothly. It feels very weird. I didn’t like our last city very much, but I did make some friends and the move happened so fast it basically wasn’t a proper goodbye. We hosted people on Monday evening, which was great, but it’s still odd.

    The dog had his trial day at his new daycare (I wanted him somewhere else while our movers brought in our stuff) and did swimmingly. Plus we really love our new neighborhood. However, I am still having trouble sleeping and now I have a wretched headache (probably from the stress and the dust). I think there will be a long hot bath in my immediate future. Sigh.

    1. Twinkle*

      Congratulations, glad it went (relatively) smoothly! Also been wanting to say thanks for your advice a couple of weeks back. I’ve been crazy busy and didn’t see your reply until almost a week had passed but it was much appreciated :). The packers come to pack up our stuff tomorrow and then uplift it on Tuesday, and we start the drive first thing on Wednesday. Feeling less nervous now and more excited.
      Hope your new home works out well for you!

    2. Clisby*

      But sounds like the worst is over! I’ve always liked moving in the sense that I like being in a new place, but I absolutely HATE the process of moving.

  27. Sunny Saturday*

    TMI warning–IUD talk. Sorry, I don’t like to post stuff like this, but no one I know has one of these.

    So, I got an IUD for the first time this week–Kyleena. It went very well and wasn’t as horrific as I was imaging (I really need to stop Googling…). I made sure not to look at all those instruments on the table, even though I know what they’re for. It was very fast. I felt the pinches, but I was able to talk and laugh with my doc throughout. She talked through everything she was doing. I was crampy the rest of the night and had a few cramps the next day. But that, as well as the spotting, has stopped.

    My question: if it dislodges, would I feel it? Not the strings, but like a pinching or something. I didn’t think to ask when I was there, and my pelvic ultrasound–to check position–isn’t for six weeks. I know to check the strings, but I’m thinking that wouldn’t tell me if it just kind of moved or came halfway came out, only if it wandered further up or came out completely. The reason I’m asking is because yesterday I was straining quite a bit in the bathroom a few times throughout the day and last night when I used the bathroom, it felt like something was pinching inside. I didn’t feel anything while walking around or sitting on the bed, and today I don’t feel anything. Maybe it was something else?

    1. Ranon*

      If you can still feel the strings, you’re probably fine- the amount of moving they’re concerned about is more “can’t find the strings anywhere” deal, not “shifted 2mm to the left” – especially if they trimmed your strings pretty short there’s not all that much moving that would happen before you’d lose the strings.

      Having something new camping out in your cervix can make it grumpy for a while, though- I had some cramping after mine went in as did most of my friends with IUDs- it could definitely feel pinchy.

      But if you’re worried, you can also always call your doctor and ask them if your symptoms are normal, that’s what they’re there for.

    2. Database Developer Dude*

      Any man squeamish about IUD talk needs to turn in his man card. None of the women in my life have them, so I have no second-hand experience or knowledge to offer, sorry. Having said that, there are no apologies necessary. Post what you like.

    3. Reba*

      You would know!

      Within probably the first 6 months I had my first IUD, I accidently yanked on the strings (take care with tampons!). It hurt–not like the insertion (or the later removal) but yeah… I went pale. I called my doc and she got me in for a quick ultrasound to check its position. It was fine and we left it in place, a couple mm off where she had installed it.

      You are probably still sensitive from the insertion. If the feeling doesn’t come back, I wouldn’t worry.

    4. KR*

      It is totally normal to feel a little wonky when you’re straining for the first week or so… At least in my experience. I’m not a doctor. I’m on my second Skyla IUD. And yes they should tell you if it’s out of place at all when they check on it, or you could just ask. If you can feel the strings it’s still in place (but also don’t freak if you can’t find them because they might be just out of reach – if that happens just go have a cup of tea or a drink of water, relax, try not to think about it, and try again in a few hours. Eventually it will get to a point where you forget it’s in there and you won’t feel wierd straining.

    5. Sunny Saturday*

      Thanks, all! I seem to feel fine today. I’ve never had a baby, but I have sisters and they all had multiple babies. All I could think of last night was that when a woman has a baby, she has to push. And when you’re a bit constipated, you’re doing the same thing basically, which is what made me worry that I had pushed it out somehow. Yes, I know, separate areas, but it still made me worry!

      I’m kind of amazed that the first day I had it (Tuesday), I didn’t even think to take my BC pill that night, which is something I’ve done every night for 28 years pretty much without fail. I thought for sure I’d forget I have an IUD and try to take the pill. I’m also amazed that I don’t even feel the IUD (except for whatever that was last night). I guess I thought I’d be able to notice that I have it.

    6. Zona the Great*

      Thanks for posting this. I need to go off hormones due to migraines with aura and when my doctor was explaining IUDs and the procedure, I passed out and off the exam table right onto my face. I don’t know if she’ll agree to perform the procedure after that.

      1. Sunny Saturday*

        I’ll be honest: I was absolutely dreading it, but it turned out just fine. She put the speculum in, which is the same thing she uses to prepare for the PAP smear. Then she inserted something (forget what it’s called), but I don’t remember feeling it. She told me there would be three clicks and to imagine it like the hands on a clock turning. I assume it was the instrument she used to dilate me. (I was trying not to look at all the instruments on the table; however, I know not all of them were for the IUD–I was in the room where they do the ultrasounds and all that stuff, not a regular exam room.) She told me right before each click. It definitely pinched, but it wasn’t some terrible pain at all. She then inserted the IUD (I think–I kept talking so I wouldn’t be concentrating on it) and it was done. It took only a couple minutes. There was some blood, but not much. I was crampy all night and a bit sore inside, but it wasn’t bad at all. I felt much better the following day and had a cramp here and there, very mild, and spotting for a few days.

        She prescribed a couple tablets that I had to insert about four hours before the procedure. It’s supposed to soften the cervix. I have no idea if that helped or not. It made me crampy, but it wasn’t bad at all. Regular period cramps. I also took a heavy dose of Ibuprofen about 45 minutes before I got there, which may have helped.

        All I can say is, every person’s pain level is different. And definitely don’t read all the horror stories on the Internet. I did and it made me even more nervous than I already was. As it turned out, my experience didn’t come close to what people described. Good luck!

    7. blackcat*

      My second one fell out.
      Well, it didn’t *fall* out.
      It decided to hang out, part way out of my cervix.
      The night before a job interview.
      That was fun.

      If it dislodges, you’ll most likely know. It will not be fun. But it is very, very fast to have them pull an errant IUD out.

      1. Sunny Saturday*

        Thanks! I’m feeling fine and haven’t had any pinching feeling since that night. I assume all is well. I now have to try finding the strings, which I plan to do later on.

    8. ramonon*

      When I had an IUD in, it messed up my bladder in a similar way. Pinching, straining, more frequent urination, the works. Now that it’s out, I still don’t have the same bladder capacity that I did before.

  28. KatieKate*

    I got my first cat!! She’s a gorgeous three year old I adopted and she’s already the queen of the apartment. We’re still working on things like “breakfast is at 7 am not whatever time you wake me up” and “you can’t have a second dinner even if you scratch at the bowl and cry” but otherwise she’s a cuddly, affectionate lady and I am so happy I went for it.

    But seriously. Aside from getting something to slow down her eating (i would DIY but I think she’s smart enough to knock the thing around to get the food) how do I make her calm down about food?

    1. Quandong*

      Congratulations on adopting your cat!

      I await the replies of other cat people with interest.

      I’m afraid I have no answer for you, my cat not only wants food on his schedule but quite often won’t eat unless I’m watching from the distance he deems necessary – usually around 2m, sometimes more.

      I have heard from some cat friends that food puzzles helped slow their cats down, you might consider trying one out.

      Alas my 12 year old cat completely ignored the ones I got for him, but he’s quite a grump about food in general and also quite persnickety about which type he deigns to eat.

      1. tangerineRose*

        When I adopted an adult cat, at first he was very very interested in food, and eventually he relaxed about it somewhat. He still is interested in food but not obsessed. I think that after a while, having food available easily helped him calm down. I also keep dry food out so that they always have some, but that doesn’t work for some kitties.

    2. RMNPgirl*

      Was she a stray? My girl had been and when I brought her home would freak out every time her dish was empty (I free feed her). It took a couple months for her to realize that she would get food and didn’t need to wake me at 2am when her food dish was empty. She also ate quickly, probably afraid the food would be taken away, but that fixed itself too after some time.
      I recommend always having a little dry food available for her (unless there’s a weight issue most cats are good about self regulating food intake). By having a little food always available it should help her realize she won’t starve and you’ll proved for her.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      She may get over the food thing, but she may not. I have one that is very food driven. She goes from dish to dish to dish when it’s feeding time, even after having her for about four years now. She’s also a bit high strung, so that may be part of it.

      In my experience, you can get the cats used to eating at a certain time, but they’re always going to be looking for food at least an hour or more before feeding time. It’s just the way they are. Or mine are, anyway. (Maybe it’s just mine??) And they do like to pretend that no one fed them so they can scam a second meal out of the other household members. They act as though they’re starving, laying around and looking pathetic as if they haven’t been fed in days rather than hours.

      Congratulations on your new kitty!

    4. Annie Moose*

      If your schedule allows for it, you could try three meals instead of two, so she doesn’t have to go as long between meals.

      Wet food tends to take longer to eat than dry food, so if she’s simply eating too fast, you could incorporate wet food (if you aren’t already).

      Free feeding is always an option but it sounds like she wouldn’t necessarily self-regulate, so it could be dangerous for her weight.

      Other than that, I concur with RMNPgirl that if she was a stray or in a situation where she had to compete for food, it’s likely a mental thing and will hopefully get over it in a couple of months as she realizes you’re not going to stop feeding her! When I first adopted my boy, he was fine about food when I was home, but if I went away overnight and left out extra food, he would vaccuum it all up immediately. It was like he had a mental process of “lady who feeds me is gone -> what if lady who feeds me doesn’t come back -> what if something happens to this food -> MUST EAT ALL FOOD IMMEDIATELY”. But over time he’s realized that I do always come back and the food won’t vanish! And he’s slowed down a lot.

      1. Grace*

        Yes, ours have always got three meals a day, and although we’ve tried two, it doesn’t work for us. It’s usually wet and dry food when we get up, ditto for after we eat in the evening (about 8pm) and then half a handful of dry food as we go to bed a couple of hours later so she can graze overnight. She sleeps downstairs with the door to the stairs closed, so she always knows that when we start getting ready to go upstairs, the last thing we do before we close the door is feed her. Although she does start bugging us earlier than that, having a routine that means she always knows we won’t go without giving her food makes her slightly less pathetic about it.

        But this is just a cat thing. Our old cat who passed a year ago was nearly 21 and meowed for food constantly. Not an exaggeration. Obviously, thyroid troubles were kicking in by the end, but that doesn’t explain the previous eighteen years. Some cats are just like that, same as our other old cat followed you constantly until you picked her up and carried her around with you. They like attention, and they like food.

    5. Red Sky*

      Not sure if this is the case with your cat, but I had a cat that had food insecurity from living on the streets before he found us. He was always anxious about where/if/when his next meal was coming from. I found that having a very rigid schedule for feeding wet food twice a day (7 am and 5 pm) and having dry food out all the time for him to snack on and be reassured by helped lessen the anxiety and food seeking behavior. At first he did gorge himself on the dry food, but I’d just refill it and he eventually caught on that there’s always going to be food available, just not the yummy wet food he gets twice a day. I’d say after about two weeks he chilled out and only occasionally grazed on the dry food.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      For a slow-down – if you have one, might try sprinkling the food across the cups of a muffin tin to see if slowing her down actually helps? I’ve known friends who used them both right side up (putting the food in the cups) and upside down (putting the food in between the bumps of the upside down cups). If it’s upside down, there’s pretty much no way she’s going to be able to tip it over or anything, and if she’s fishing the food out with her paws, she’s still slowed down some. Then if slowing her down helps, you can debate whether you want to stick with the muffin tin or try something purchased specifically?

      1. Kathenus*

        I love this! I use muffin tins with my parrots for forage feeders but had never thought about the upside down option. Thanks for the inspiration.

    7. cat socks*

      Lots of good advice already about being a stray and having food insecurity.

      If you’re interested in getting a puzzle feeder, I have the Catit Senses 2.0 Food Tree Cat Feeder. It took a little while for my cats to start using it. In fact, I almost contacted Chewy about trying to get a refund when all of a sudden they figured it out.

      My big floofy boy knocked it over once when I didn’t have the base attached properly, but otherwise u haven’t had any issues.

    8. Anono-me*

      You may want to check out the dog section of the pet store.

      I know that there are multiple brands of slow eating food dishes. Usually food grade silicone things that look like mazes. Great they work great for dry dog food.(Unless/until the dog figures out how to flip it over.) There are enrichment balls with weird shaped holes. Food falls out as the ball gets battered around. (My dog just got POed and barked at it.)

      Congratulations on your new friend.

    9. Catherine*

      When my former roommate and I adopted cats a few years ago they were former strays with a history of food insecurity. He tells me they’ll still pace and whine a bit right before breakfast, but what worked for us was:
      – predictable feeding times (8 am and 8 pm) for wet food, with a phone alarm that’s set to a different ringtone than other alarms (be warned daylight savings time can screw everyone up for a few days)
      – dry food available throughout the day in food dispenser ball toys. you want your snack? work for it!

    10. KR*

      When you find out let me know. My cats 12 and she still hasn’t figured out that bit about dinner and breakfast being when I say it is, and still eats so fast she throws up unless I do tiny portions a little at a time.

    11. Worked in IT forever*

      We have a formerly feral cat (now a sweet, affectionate girl) who, even many years after we got her, will gobble her food and eat as much as she can. At this point, she must just love food—she can’t be worried about a lack of food now. She’s on the heavy side, which doesn’t help with her arthritis, and if she eats too fast, she occasionally then throws up. So we got an automated feeder that works on a timer. The feeder has five openings, so she gets five little meals a day. She seems to sense when it’s almost time for the timer to go off and sometimes waits nearby!

      1. Worked in IT forever*

        P.S. we use the feeder for dry food. She also gets a separate end of day snack of wet food.

    12. Alexandra Lynch*

      Is she food insecure? She might do better with a small bowl of dry food that is always there for snacking on, plus her regular food at regular times. A lot of cats who spent time fending for themselves are food insecure. Which only makes sense to me.

    13. MCL*

      We spent $$$ on a Petsafe Healthy Pet automatic feeder (Amazon). We have it scheduled to distribute 4 meals per day on a slow feed mode (it parcels out the food in a few stages each meal). I think we change the batteries every 8 months or so. It does take careful reading to program it. Protip: write down what amounts you were distributing and when whenever you need to replace the batteries/reprogram the machine. Our two cats have not tried to break into it.

    14. KatieKate*

      Thank you everyone for the advice so far! She was actually an owner surrender, so I’m not sure where the food insecurity comes from. I like the idea of giving her a little bit to nibble at night, especially because I won’t be able to do three meals during the day

      1. Grace*

        I mean, being owned rather than stray doesn’t necessarily mean that she doesn’t have food insecurity… You’d be surprised at the number of grown adults who seem to be unaware that living animals require regular feeding. Of course, it’s also just as likely that she needs to settle into a new routine with you, and once she understands when her next meal is coming, she might calm down.

  29. Overeducated*

    Please advise me, o wise ones of AAM. It’s lease renewal time in a week and I still haven’t decided whether to rent my apartment longer or buy a house. I was waiting on a job rejection yesterday so it’s painfully close to the wire.

    Tl;dr: The issue is that whether it makes sense financially is so dependent on how long you stay and whether values rise or fall, and I’d need a crystal ball to tell. Due to available stock and current prices, renting a house does not look like a viable option right now.

    Here’s the longer list. Pros:
    +More space is the big one: extra bedroom for guests, dining room, possibly family room. Our apartment is not a place we can host overnight or even dinner guests comfortably, which we miss. Outdoor space is a wash – our complex has a shared yard kids play in that we don’t have to maintain, but nowhere to sit, grill, or eat outside.
    +Could get a dishwasher and in unit laundry! Have a baby coming this fall so those would be really really nice….
    +We expect to be in this area at least 3 years (have been for 3 so far, not in love with it but it’s been good to our careers)
    +Fix monthly payment and start building equity before oldest starts school next year
    +Move before baby is born. Easier logistically than after, and we moved after #1 was born and I lost a group of new mom friends from maternity leave, would hate to build and lose another.

    -Move pretty close to birth – oldest would have to adjust to new house, neighborhood, preschool, AND baby all within about 2 months, is this cruel?
    -Higher costs – PITI would probably be $200-400 month more than rent, plus higher maintenance costs and possibly higher utilities.
    -Slightly longer commute – My 40 min bike commute option would be over an hour on streets instead of trails (I’d keep the hour+ subway commute). My spouse would have a long car commute reduced by probably 30+ min, or a longer transit option opening up, but has much more flexible hours and telework.
    -Possible recession. In January when we started looking we were worried about getting priced out, now we’re worried about buying high and being unable to sell.
    -Spouse will need a new job in a few years, and I will probably want one, but if we buy we’ll definitely be more tied to one side of our metro area.

    We’d both rather LIVE in a house, but we can’t expect prices to keep rising to make transaction costs back in a short time anymore, and we’re no longer in the age of “work one job until you retire,” or even for more than 5 years. So both choices seem risky. Thoughts?

    1. Gypsy pepper*

      Having recently gone from renter to homeowner, I’d also factor in the amount of time and money you’d spend on house maintenance. It is not insubstantial.

      1. Overeducated*

        Yup, I am thinking about that. We would be paying more for more space but also have more respnsibilities.

        On the other hand day care costs and gas would probably go down by a few hundred a month if we moved, so it’s not a total financial loss.

    2. Ranon*

      Out of everything, I’d be reluctant to significantly up your commute time right before you have a baby – another 40 minutes a day commuting is pretty significant! I see that your spouse’s commute gets shorter, but if they already have flex work it seems like you have more options for mitigating their commute as is.

      Have you all owned a house before? The other thing to think about is whether taking on all the tasks of home maintenance is what you want to do early in your new kiddo’s life- if the current place has good maintenance staff the difference between that and doing it yourself can be a real pain.

      Your oldest will adapt, it’s a lot of change however it’s spaced but you’ll hardly be the first to make those kinds of changes. Equity wise you’re not building much the first few years of ownership since you’re mostly paying interest, so that might not be a huge factor. Buying might also just take longer than you’d want, depending on your market, so you may want a quick chat with a relator to talk timelines, too.

      1. Overeducated*

        With the baby the commute will be moot the first year anyway, I can’t bike home from day care with an infant until at least 10 months, and my current public transit commute including day care pick up is almost 1.5 hours due to a transfer. I might be able to get more telework but probably not flex time.

      2. Overeducated*

        Sorry to reply twice but on your second paragraph – how would you compare the time tradeoffs of doing house maintenance with young kids vs having to do all dishes by hand and leave the house for laundry with young kids? We find dishes take up about half an hour on a daily basis. Laundry is hard to do more than weekly because of the in-and-out logistics (and costs around $75/month), but we’ll have to try with an infant because things get smelly fast. So those are time costs we have currently that we could improve if we moved. I haven’t had to do house maintenance though.

        1. Ranon*

          Maintenance is so hugely dependent on the place you wind up with- yard size, age, quality of maintenance by previous owners, sheer bad luck- it can be a huge range.

          Have you looked at moving apartments to one with a few more amenities and a better commuting location? It sounds like you really do want/ need some improvements to your living setup but home ownership isn’t a clear yes, would a different apartment make more sense?

          1. Overeducated*

            I have looked into it, but I live in an expensive metro area and we can’t afford to get any closer to the center where my work is unless we go for even less apartment and possibly wind up with a long commute to a charter school or something. We have also moved every 2-3 years since college, so moving apartments for one upgrade at a time and knowing we’ll definitely have to move again to get what we actually want is exhausting to think about. I’ve been thinking about the alternatives for six months and staying or buying are basically what we have come down to.

    3. Insurance mom*

      Sorry to be a naysayer. Longer commute x two kids short time frame. Better stay in the apartment

      1. Overeducated*

        Does it make a difference if longer commute is inevitable first year after birth anyway? (Since I can’t bike with an infant, public transit commute to apartment will be an hour without pickup as well; including pickup it will be about 1.5 hours.)

    4. Dr. Anonymous*

      Three years is a gamble to get your money back out of a house. Closing costs eat up a lot of money. What if you looked at the increased costs in time and money to buy the house and spent some of that on making apartment life better? Send out laundry sometimes. Do a drastic rearrange and consider a drop leaf table so you can have people over more. Go to a park to play in a fraction of the time a commute would eat up. It’s not at all the same, but a few little treats like that can help make your life feel fresh and new.

      Full disclosure: my dad was a residential realtor in Louisiana during the oil bust and I’m a bit skittish about home ownership.

      1. Reba*

        I really like these suggestions! Since it seems like a lot of decision making is resting on lifestyle stuff, these are worth working on in your current abode.

        Can you go to a month to month lease on the apartment?

        Regarding the financial side, have you done recent rent vs buy calculators online, Overeducated? (I say recent bc of the mortgage tax deduction changes.) How much does your rent go up each year? In my area for example, property prices are extremely high but generally stable, not going at a crazy rate but didn’t lose as much in the great recession. Meanwhile the rental landscape is BLEAK. My relatively affordable, rent controlled (!) place goes up 3.5% a year!

        Good luck.

      2. Overeducated*

        Thanks. I have tried hard to make it better since I started getting the urge to buy (always had a drop leaf table, did a huge rearrange and purge and some furniture changes and redecoration this winter, play at parks on way home frequently), but space in a small apartment is just limited and there are some things you can’t do. Like have family stay with you after a birth, or have kids playing in a different room than adults are eating if you have anyone over. But we’ve never sent out laundry, maybe a lot more takeout would make life and dishes easier post-baby.

        Maybe we should go month to month and just wait for a rental house to go on the market – it is true that even if we spent the same as a mortgage on rent, we would still not be spending closing costs….

    5. Not A Manager*

      It sounds to me like you’d really like to buy a house now. While that would potentially give you less flexibility in the future, you seem to be in a position to manage that in a safe way. There are costs and benefits on either side. So I say, do the thing you want to do.

    6. Dan*

      I grew up in the midwest where property values are cheap, and live in an HCOL area where property values definitely are not cheap.

      I don’t know where you are, but my take on “whether it makes sense in the long run” is that it isn’t quite as dependent on the crystal ball. What does buying do to your finances *today*? Are you 100% (or anywhere near it) dependent on expected appreciation to make the finances work out ok? If you took that bath on closing costs in the next three years, is it devastating? That’s a quick period to plan for, I’ve usually heard 5-6 years.

      1. Overeducated*

        I think I live in the same metro area you do, so waiting another 3 years and NOT moving away does make getting priced out a real possibility (we already can’t afford the city proper). We could survive closing costs, but not a huge drop in value and an underwater mortgage if the market changes drastically like it did in 2008.

        1. Dan*

          You’re only stuck underwater if you’re forced to sell. If you can ride it out (or stick around) then you’re fine. There are parts of this metro area that are bubble-ish (the far out ex-urbs, and a couple sketchy ones closer in) but by and large, most of this area is unlikely to get stuck in an underwater down market for very long. What I *wouldn’t* do is stretch too thin now “just in case” because that same action will leave you hanging in a down market. If you can buy comfortably now, it’s a different story, but I wouldn’t stretch oneself thin at the moment.

          I’m not terribly worried about getting “priced out”, that’s a line realtors like to use to encourage people to “buy now”. The last time getting priced out was a real concern, we ended up in a bubble and a lot of people ended up with mortgages they couldn’t afford and there was a crash later.

    7. orchidsandtea*

      We had to move right before the baby came and my toddler didn’t take it easily. She adores the baby, but it was at least 2 months of her grieving her entire old life. Sleep became terrible, tons of potty accidents, she woke up at night and just sobbed for an hour.

      It worked out. She’s well adjusted and happy. But if you’re on the fence, I would probably just invest in making apt life easier. All my non-kid energy has been going into finding solutions to New House Problems like toddler proofing and where the hell do we store Christmas ornaments.

    8. Ginger Sheep*

      You say you are asking readers wether you should buy or not, but your responses to comments actually suggest you have already made up your mind to buy. You turn down every argument suggesting you would be better off renting, and rather sound like you are seeking validation on your decision to buy.
      As neither staying or moving is a bad decision in itself, and you are responsible of your life and know what is best for you, just go ahead and buy your house!
      Unless you are searching here for arguments to convince your partner to buy, when they would rather not move?

      1. Ginger Sheep*

        Rereading my comment, and it sounds very aggressive, which isn’t the tone I had intended. Sorry about that! I just meant that you sound as if you actually already know that you want to buy, so just go ahead if its what you want!

      2. Washi*

        I agree with this and Not A Manager’s comment. Sounds like you definitely want to buy. Which turns your question into something like “should I buy a house even though it might not be the absolute perfect obviously better investment?” To which I say yes? If you can handle the financial costs either way, then do the thing you want to do! There’s also a cost to not allowing yourself to take a step you desperately want because no one can offer you a guarantee.

        1. Not A Manager*

          Yes. Also, when I’m having trouble making a decision, sometimes it helps to “make” (quote unquote) the decision, and then see how I feel about it. “I will definitely Do The Thing!” Then I live with that for a few days and see how I feel about it. Dread? Loss? Constant revisiting of the decision? Maybe not, then!

          In this case, maybe your own reaction to the advice you’ve gotten is telling you something about what you really want to do. There probably are good reasons to postpone the purchase, but that’s not what you WANT to do. You want to buy a house.

          It might help to reframe the question. It’s not, “which is better in a vacuum,” it’s “given that I really want to buy a house, is that a relatively safe option where I can live with the potential downsides?” So far, it sounds like the answer to both of those is yes.

          1. Overeducated*

            Thanks. I think you are right that responses show you something. That something may be that I want to move but not buy, which is why it’s so frustrating that there are so few affordable better rental options (even if I’m willing to spend $500/month more than I do now). I guess I have a week to see if anything new pops up and decide whether to renew my lease or jump into buying if not.

      3. Overeducated*

        I actually would rather rent a house, which a few people have suggested, but I’ve scoured a bunch of listing sites and there is literally only one house for rent in that area that isn’t $600-1000 over the top of our budget, and no larger/better apartments. And we have called and emailed and not gotten an appointment to see it. So I think it’s a little unfair to say I’m “shooting them down” when I’m saying yes, those are good ideas, but I have looked into them and not found any viable options. I think it’s uncharitable to read it as me having made up my mind, rather than me having lived with and researched my local options for months.

        I haven’t made up my mind to buy, and feel really conflicted about the financial risk side of it. But I also feel like I’ve lived in this small older apartment for a few years already and there really are quality of life issues that will be exacerbated with a second kid, so that is why I’m frustrated. It really feels like they are both crappy options I’m stuck with due to living in a very HCOL area on a very middle class income.

        But thanks, it is interesting to hear that that’s how I’m coming off, and i do appreciate people’s responses. It is tough to think through choices you don’t love, maybe that’s why i sound so negative, but talking stuff out is helpful too.

    9. Double A*

      I would personally not buy if I thought moving in 3 years was a strong possibility. You will not build much equity (it’s almost all interest payments in the first several years) and if values go down even a little you’ll be under water. Now, you can think of that sunk cost as being equivalent to rent and not worry so much about losing money, but pencil through what a loss of say 10% of the value of the house would look like for you.

      This being said, if a mortgage is equivalent to rent where you are, it can make sense to do it, and if you do need to move, you could rent the house out. But then you’re a landlord, so you’d have to want to do what that entails.

      We bought a fixer upper so we’ve put in a lot of money and sweat equity and we had a baby a year after we moved in so a lot of the work we’ve done while I was pregnant or we had an infant. Having a dishwasher and laundry is huge and will save you a ton of time. Most house maintenance stuff is either not super pressing (eg painting) or it’s urgent so you pay someone else to do it (eg plumbing), so I feel like if you can make peace with deferred projects, home maintenance doesn’t have to be hugely labor intensive.

      How do you feel about the idea of staying in a house you buy for 10 years? If that idea makes you panicky…then really think about if you want to do it. But if you can see yourself staying a decade, then I think it sounds like a viable option.

      Also for me pregnancy made some decisions seem super intense and important so also just keep in mind you’ve got a lot going on with your body that might be intensifying your thought process . Not that it’s wrong, just that it’s like…amped up right now. Good luck and congrats on the baby!

  30. RMNPgirl*

    Bought a house last week that was subject to sale of my current place. Luckily, mine sold after just one day! I am so excited to finally have a house that doesn’t share walls with anyone.
    This is my first time selling and buying at the same time. Any advice on closing and moving in the same day?

    1. Lcsa99*

      Unless you don’t have a choice I wouldn’t do it. Regardless of the fact that you never know what will happen at a closing – and it can still fall through up until the point you have keys in hand – are there any improvements you want to do to the new place to fix it up? All we needed was to fix the border of a closet and paint and that was much easier when it was empty.

      1. Fran*

        I agree. We did the same but with renting the apartment we were moving from. We did it in a week with most of the work done on the weekend. It is A LOT! Where I live the rental house needs to be in a pristine condition or the tenant can hire cleaning services on your pay so, we had to do a thorough cleaning when the apartment was empty as well.

      2. RMNPgirl*

        I don’t have a choice. I can’t get a bridge loan so I have to close on my current place before closing on the new one. The person buying my current place agreed to give me until 5pm on day of closing to move out. I don’t need to do anything with the new place since it’s new construction.
        I plan on hiring movers so that should be quicker than me doing it myself, but I’m just wondering how to get everything packed the night before when I still need to sleep somewhere and shower and get ready the next morning.

        1. Annie Moose*

          Pack everything except the bare essentials. (essentials = clothes to wear, toiletries, blankets, food for breakfast, etc.) In the morning, it’d be easy to pack up the last few things.

        2. WellRed*

          You should already be packing, don’t leave it till the night before. It always takes longer than you expect. I’ll take your word that you simply must shower in the morning, though frankly, I wouldn’t bother on moving day.

        3. Not A Manager*

          Frequently movers will keep your items on the truck for you overnight without a big storage charge. The first thing I’d do is ask your movers how they can help you with these logistics.

        4. Weegie*

          Assuming there is one, stay in a local hotel the night before, so all you have to leave unpacked are a few over night things. Turn up early on moving day to let the movers in and clean the place (or get professional cleaners in). Can you get someone to meet the movers with a key, so that you can deal with the final stuff at the old place?

        5. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          Air mattress on the floor may be a reasonable option for sleeping if everything else is already packed and gone. Not sure your timeline on when the movers are coming, but I’d try to get everything you’re moving packed and stored in a single location within the house you’re leaving (garage? living room?) and then “camp” somewhere else in your house with just an air mattress, a suitcase, a couple of folding chairs, and a single crate of kitchen stuff for a bit prior to your move-out day so you don’t end up with surprise packing delays. (I have a lot of camping gear, so I would just use that stuff and pack up the regular “house” stuff. If you don’t already have camping gear I wouldn’t buy it just for this beyond maybe an air mattress.) Trying to pack a whole house day-of doesn’t leave you much time for cleaning or for double-checking that you’ve actually emptied the closets/attic/awkward spot where you stash the holiday decorations rather than accidentally left them behind.

          I’ll be honest, trying to move out of a place on the very last possible day would stress me out way too much to do myself. I’d be renting a storage unit for a month or something because I would not be able to cope with still needing everything out of the house on the very last day I was allowed to have stuff in it. However, I don’t know if you have options like that available to you, and I do know that doing two moves like that would cost more.

          1. blackcat*

            ” I’d be renting a storage unit for a month or something because I would not be able to cope with still needing everything out of the house on the very last day I was allowed to have stuff in it. ”

            Yup, this. Some moving places will give you 2 weeks or a month or something like that of free storage with moving costs. I’d do that if it’s an option.

            You do not need much to sleep somewhere. I did a 16 hour drive in a UHaul, and was set up to sleep on a camp mattress, with my overnight bag, cat, litter box, cat food, cat bed, and a few other things within maybe 20 minutes of arrival. That type of stuff does not take long, particularly if you are okay sleeping on the floor for a night.

    2. My Brain is Exploding*

      Agree with Lesa99 — I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t have to, either. Did it with a kid moving apartments; there are too many things that can go wrong and you have no wiggle room (New Apartment had the carpet cleaners in there the same day). Have you moved a lot (so you are familiar with moving basics)? Is the same day close/move a definite? Will you be moving yourself or hiring help?

    3. It's a fish, Al*

      If UHaul is a thing where you are, I highly recommend just paying for an extra truck day – load your stuff, park it and lock it (most hotels are used to these things in their parking lots), and give yourself that extra day to deal with the insanity of a house purchase.

    4. My Brain is Exploding*

      It might be better (albeit more expensive) if the movers did the packing – and did it a day ahead of time (plus included in the fee is boxes and moving paper, and sometimes you can return the boxes for partial credit). Good movers pack things efficiently and securely. Otherwise, yes, START NOW. Label each box with the room it goes in. Mark boxes “fragile” as appropriate. Multiple smaller boxers are better than large heavy boxes. Things can and do disappear in a door-to-door move, so pack everything you want to take with you (small electronics, jewelry, and other valuables as well as things you will need the first night such as toilet paper, towels, sheets, etc.) and either lock it in the trunk of your car the day of the move or lock it it the bathroom. Double check what the movers won’t take. They generally won’t take liquids at all and a variety of other things. The last move we helped with, they would not take LAMPSHADES (I guess they would if they were boxed, but it was self-pack and we didn’t have a box the right size). Ask if they will move dressers with full drawers – sometimes on a door-to-door move, they will. Clean out your fridge as much as possible ahead of time and set a cooler aside to take the things that are left. Also, we once had to DEFROST a refrigerator the day we were leaving – oops. Set aside cleaning supplies, a few rags, and leave the vacuum until the end in case you need to go over something before you leave. CONGRATULATIONS on your move!

    5. Cruciatus*

      I would just like to be a cautionary tale, though everything worked out! My closing was on Monday. The family was moved out for months. The elderly couple that lived there moved in with their daughter in another state. They were ready for me to enjoy the house! But the other daughter who is still local, acting as power of attorney for her parents, didn’t have one of the right forms (she thought she had the original she needed and didn’t). So I didn’t get the keys until Wednesday while the lawyers sorted it all out. Not a super long time to wait–but it was still an unexpected delay. It’s fortunate that I wasn’t planning to move in right away, but if I needed to that would have been an extra hassle.

    6. Wishing You Well*

      Advice on closing: it’s common here to have a walk-through the day before closing to make sure your new home wasn’t damaged or stripped bare since you saw it last. Wish we had done that. All sorts of things were missing – drapes, cornices, lamps and shelves that were bolted to the walls. We would have renegotiated at closing, had we known.

    7. Anono-me*

      Can you move your stuff in a pod and either camp out in your empty home for a day or two or use a hotel or a friend’s sofa? That way you can get your stuff together and your old place all packed up a day or two early.

      Professional movers will load and unload Pods. Smaller companies may also offer discounts if you have some flexibility and can choose off peak times (Peak is Weekend and End of the month. )

  31. Pistachio*

    Someone up-thread is looking for good hair dye products to deal with white hairs. I did t want to hijack that thread, but I’m in an opposite situation. My partner is 10 years older than I am and I am frequently self conscious about my age, especially around his friends. As I’ve noticed my hair silvering, I’ve been delighted. Anyone else relate?

    1. Glomarization, Esq.*

      I’m full on salt-and-pepper now with my long, curly hair and I love it. Wouldn’t dye it for the world.

    2. acmx*

      I’m not delighted I’m getting grey hair but I’m not bothered by it and won’t be dying it.

    3. curly sue*

      I’m trying to decide whether I want to grow my colour out or not. I’ve been dying my hair red (varying shades, some more natural than others) since I was a teenager and I turn 40 this winter. My white hair started coming in about eight years ago and I’ve been dying over them just because I’ve always dyed my hair, but I’m wondering what it would look like all grown out. But on the other hand, I feel so much more ‘me’ with red hair rather than my natural blah brown. Waffle waffle.

    4. Miss Slocombe*

      I’ve been waiting on my hair to go completely grey since my teens. :D Premature greying runs in my family and I was ready for it– I’m mid-thirties now and it’s about halfway there. My hair is naturally quite black so any time I’ve wanted to colour it has been an absolute ordeal. I dream about being able to just toss on some colour and be done. Soooon!

    5. AlaskaBlue*

      My mom silvered very gracefully and I’m hoping to do the same as we have the same color brown hair. However her hair is stick straight whereas I have naturally curly hair. My brown hair is more of beachy curls these days, but my silvers are coming in with lots of attitude and tighter curls. So it will be fun to see which wins in the end, and I’m working on ignoring that I have short silver hairs corkscrewing out all over my head. :D

      But frankly I don’t have the time or patience or want to spend the money to keep my hair brown. Once you start dyeing it’s hard to stop because then you get the skunk stripe, ugh. So graying gracefully is my plan!!

    6. NB*

      I began graying early (in my 20s), and dyed it for years. I gave it up about two years ago when I was around 48. I also gave up trying to make my naturally curly hair smooth and tidy. I love it. I feel like I’ve been set free, and I love my hair. Also, I get waaaay more compliments on my curly gray hair than I ever did when I was dyeing and blowdrying.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      Still coloring mine–it’s not totally silvered. Right now it’s a lovely honey blonde. I’m hoping it will eventually go completely white like my dad’s instead of salt-and-pepper, in which case I’m going to let it go and have amazing long white hair and maybe play with some purple. :)

      1. Reba*

        Yeah, I’m looking at one grandparent with grizzled gray, and one with snowy white. I have about a dozen white hairs now so fingers crossed… I don’t know what my own mom’s hair is doing because she colors it :)

        My MIL’s hair went pure white very early (has been that way since I’ve known her, and it’s really striking!

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I tried coloring it for a while. But I think grey roots look worse on me than no coloring. And I did not have the patience to keep it up.
      I am fine with my mostly white hair. It turns a soft blond in the summer sun.
      I was kind of flattered when a well-respected friend of mine stopped coloring her hair. She said, “You are fine with no color, so I will be too.”

    9. Slightly Self-Conscious*

      My husband is 14 years older than I am, but he does dye his hair–when he started going grey before he met me, someone told him that he should, and that has stayed with him. I’d have said, keep the grey, society is still on your side!

      As for me, the top of my head has had a whole bunch of silver strands among the brown that have been increasing. I love my brown hair, but I don’t intend to dye anything, and never have; part of it is total “meh” at the thought of all the upkeep, and another part is an elbows-out stance against marketers and people buying into the marketing that conveys how loss of pigment on women is worse than murdering someone.

      All that said, occasionally strangers whom I meet at gatherings will Point Out With Great Enthusiasm how WONDERFUL it is that I am letting my hair go grey. And then keep waxing eloquent on this apparently heroic feat.

      To which I generally respond, “It’s silver,” but still. Most of my hair is still brown. There are so many other things they could lead off with.

      Since I’m not going to change my mind about dying my hair, I wish I were less bugged by the Pointer Outers, but I guess I’m still a product of my society.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        As someone with gray or graying hair I enjoy complimenting other gray-/silver-haired women in a “we’re in this together and it’s enjoyable” way. My public stance is that colored hair looks great on other people. Me, I’d wait too long to re-apply color and be walking around with gray roots; plus I don’t want to commit the time, attention, and money.

  32. Blossom*

    I’ve been thinking about dyeing my hair silver blonde, but I’m worried it won’t actually suit me. I have black hair and brown skin (think Priyanka Chopra-level of dark skin). I’ve also never dyed my hair before. Can anyone give me pointers on what to ask the hairdresser? Or anything I should keep in mind?

    1. Valancy Snaith*

      It won’t be fast! My hairdresser specializes in blonde hair (even though I am not blonde nor do I dye my hair), and she’s always saying how people want to go from dark to bright blonde in a day, and it can’t be done. Also, it’s probably going to be expensive. Expect a few different sessions, and expect the texture and feel of your hair to change quite a bit. Bleaching your hair is going to be pretty rough on it!

      But as for suiting you, can you find a hairdresser who’s done lots of these transformations before? One who does a LOT of colouring will have a good feel for what shade of blonde/undertones will best suit you.

      1. Blossom*

        Thanks! Do you think it’d be safer to get highlights first instead of going full-blown dye? As for finding a hairdresser, is it okay to ask the receptionist at the salon which of the hairdressers is experienced? I don’t go to salons regularly, so I’m pretty clueless about the etiquette.

        1. londonedit*

          Highlights will be easier on your hair than a full head of bleach – you can also avoid having a solid line of dark regrowth at the roots with highlights.

          I went blonde last year just for a change, having dyed my hair dark brown for about 15 years, and the first appointment took EIGHT HOURS. The colourist put in about a million ‘babylights’, really really fine highlights, and it was a LONG day. We managed to get my hair to a sort of salt-and-pepper bright blonde with some of the dark strands still showing, and it took another two appointments (the first four hours, then we got it down to three) to get my hair properly fully bright blonde.

          It was hella expensive (£230 for the initial colour and cut, then £140 every time after that) and I just couldn’t justify it, especially as I chopped my hair off from a bob to a short cut last summer, so I’m now back to brown! It was fun though and it did look great.

          Definitely invest in some good shampoo and conditioner for blonde hair, including a once-a-week purple shampoo to stop the colour going yellow and brassy. And think about doing a deep conditioning treatment once a week too – blonde hair can get very dry if you’re not careful.

          1. Blossom*

            EIGHT HOURS?! Wow.

            Thanks a bunch, your comment gave me a lot to think about. My hair is currently very short and I’m waiting for it to grow longer first, so there are a few months to save up. From the comments I think I’ll definitely go with highlight first.

            1. londonedit*

              No problem – it’s rare I see a topic on here and think ‘Oh, I am JUST the person to answer this one!’ But yeah, I definitely have recent experience where going blonde is concerned!

        2. Valancy Snaith*

          It’s definitely OK to ask who’s the most experienced colourist or who specializes in blondes or whatever. You can also hunt around on Instagram and Facebook–lots of stylists post before-and-after shots there, you can find them by looking for social media accounts of salons in your area and seeing if stylists have their own accounts as well.

          Highlights will probably be easier on your head and take less time, and they’ll give you a feel for how you like the colour and maintenance, definitely.

          1. WellRed*

            My salon has different levels of stylists. the more experienced are more expensive but worth it when it comes to drastic change to really get the right person.

          2. Lilysparrow*

            If your hair texture differs from the dominant/majority in your area, you may also want to ask about colorists who specialize in yours. It makes a difference in how your hair will react to the product, how vulnerable it is to dryness/breakage, etc.

    2. Parenthetically*

      Yes! It’ll be a multi-step process, probably over a course of days (or many, many hours), and very expensive. $200 or $250 would be my guess for a minimum, plus maintenance (it’ll be that price or thereabouts every couple of months if you want to keep it blonde).

      You can google specialist colorists, or find salons or hairdressers near you that specialize in color. You can also call and speak to each salon and ask who they’d recommend to take you from very dark to very light. You can ask to look at the stylists’ books — they should have plenty of photos of previous jobs they’ve done! For the serious amount of money you’ll drop and the potential for it to be ruined by someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing, no decent salon will be put off or surprised you’re asking for evidence they can do it properly.

      1. Blossom*

        Ooh, that’s a good point about decent salon won’t get annoyed by my asking for evidence. I didn’t realise there’s plenty of research to be done lol, but it’s worth doing to get it right!

    3. foolofgrace*

      For all the reasons mentioned here — go with highlights first. Going full-on blonde is really going to change the texture of your hair and not in a good way.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Oh yeah. I went from dyed red to blonde in one appointment (lifting color, adding highlights). It took weeks of conditioning and experimenting with products (and tears, lots of tears) to get my hair back to where it felt human and not like doll hair.

        It also took time to get used to seeing myself that way. I kept catching glimpses of my reflection and I would have to look to see that it was really me.

    4. Time for a change*

      I have dark brown hair and went platinum blonde a few years ago (back to brown now but it was fun) my stylist did heavy blonde highlights 3 times to get me there slowly but my hair was grateful and didn’t get too damaged :)

    5. Blossom*

      Thank you for everyone who commented! After reading the comments I’ll definitely start with highlights first. Turns out there are plenty to consider. I’ve mentioned this in one of my replies, but right now my hair is very short and I want to wait until it grows longer before dyeing it, so there are a few months to save up the money and to look up salons and hairdressers.

    6. Traffic_Spiral*

      If you can, try on some wigs in the color you have in mind, and have a few friends whose opinions you trust to advise you.

      1. Windward*

        This. And try it with and without make up if you often wear make up.

        In a theatre production my blond fair skinned self was put into a nice brown wig. I got so many compliments on it – but the wig went on after the make up (which was also pre-set, we didn’t choose it). So one day I asked the wigmaster to try the wig before the makeup, walked around, and a few people asked if I felt ok. Added make up, had the wig pinned in, and the folks who’d asked if I was ok were glad to see I was feeling better…

  33. Landscaping*

    We are totally re doing our driveway layout. We now have a a half circle driveway that loops in front of the house. We have a big front porch.

    I need to figure out how/what materials to use to create a path from the circular drive to the porch. The porch is only one step up.

    Previously there was a long brick walkway from the old driveway on the side of the house up to the front door. We ripped it out as it was in bad shape and also partly in the way of the new driveway.

    1. Where do i go to get ideas? We are baiting a landscape architect to help us out but I want some kind of preference.

    2. Any ideas? What’s stumping me is what I can find through random internet searching is circular drives with paths that go up steps and to a front door. Ours will be about 4-5’ and then up one step to our big farmers porch. I see lots of long sidewalks leading up to porches, but not from driveways.

    FWIW this is the guest entrance only. We have another driveway for our cars/garage

    1. Auntie Social*

      Have you looked through Pinterest? And have you thought about stamped concrete? Make sure the walk is wide enough for two people to walk side by side comfortably. Then decide your lighting.

    2. Penguin*

      Check out your local library! Frequently there are “ideas” books in the house renovation/landscaping/gardening sections that are pretty much just books of pictures of different places highlighting their designs.

    3. Jean (just Jean)*

      Interesting project. If it’s not impossibly expensive, can you do porous paving (pavers set into earth) instead of solid cement? Every little bit helps to reduce runoff into the water systems. I’m not sure how porous paving helps or hinders people with mobility challenges.

      Another idea: do you want to combine the path with flower beds or raised planters?

      These are just thoughts, not mandates! I’m not a homeowner and have no professional expertise in paving or landscaping. I don’t expect to have the final say in your yardscaping decisions (and if I did, I would be boundary-challenged up the wazoo, gazoo, or both.) :-)

    4. Reba*

      I think Houzz was pretty much made for this! There’s a lot of over the top luxury properties posted on there, on the main site, but lots of DIY and discussions on the Gardenweb forums hosted on Houzz, and some helpful articles.


      Gardenia.net is also fab for plantings and landscaping ideas. They have sections for “front yard” and “pathways.”

      I don’t own a house, let alone a yard… don’t ask me why I love these sites!

    5. Not So NewReader*

      FWIW, if this is a guest entrance making the path the same as the driveway would be a visual cue to the guests where they should go to ring the door bell. There would be a visual logic to it.
      If you live in snow country, bricks or pavers can heave and create lots of trouble for snow throwers. A broken pin on a snow thrower is going to be a special hell during The Storm of the Century which we seem to have on an annual basis. (??)
      I am assuming you have or will have an asphalt driveway. I am in the north so I prefer the asphalt over concrete because ice melts much quicker and concrete sections seem to become uneven over time.

      Whatever you decide, nothing looks attractive if not maintained, so you might think about maintenance costs as you contemplate your choice of materials. I do like the wider width for the path that reads as very inviting/welcoming.

      1. Landscaping*

        I think maybe I’m not describing this right. We have one asphalt driveway that goes to our garage. The other driveway is an asphalt half circle with two curb cuts that goes across our front yard. Guests use that and park there, then walk to the front door.

        So we need to connect that half circle to the front porch. It’s only a 4-5’ area. Bricks look weird. I don’t love the idea of cement/concrete.

        I think we may punt and put grass there with flagstones until we come up with a better idea. Gross in the winter (and we are in snow country).

  34. Teapot Translator*

    Exercise thread!
    I tried the rowing machine yesterday. A+! My foot is fine this morning. Although, my arms are fine, too. And I didn’t feel out of breath when I used the machine, so I think I’m doing it wrong. I’ll watch some videos on the manufacturer’s website to figure out what I’m supposed to do.
    I’m preparing a playlist for my 30 minutes on the machines. Any recommendations?
    Also, why are there TV screens in gyms??? I find them distracting and I get annoyed by all the ads.

    1. Lucy*

      Rowing machines need a spotter or a mirror until you’re confident you know what you’re doing (retired rowing coach speaking!).

      Your arms should be doing nearly no work – say 75% legs, 15-20% back, and only 5-10% arms. During the stroke you first push with your legs, leaning forward, arms straight; then swing from the hips until you are slightly behind upright; only then start to bend your arms, using the momentum you’ve already worked up to bring your arms in and back out again. Then the “recovery” phase continues by swinging forward from the hips again, and eventually when you feel the pull on the back of your legs, letting them bend and bring you forward, concentrating on reaching forward with your hands.

      Things to look out for would be:

      * “bunny hopping” – where you lift your hands over your knees. If you’re doing things in the right order, you never move your hands over your bent knees. Check your sequence.

      * bending at the waist – don’t, it hurts and doesn’t work. Pivot from the hips to protect your lower back. Watch in the mirror to see that your back stays straight. Don’t lean back too far either – if your feet pull back from the restraints you’ve probably gone too far.

      * grabbing the handle – you only need to hold the handle in your fingertips to have enough purchase. If you’re gripping it tightly then you will risk hurting your wrists, elbows and shoulders AND you won’t be able to put as much work down.

      * cockney elbows – bring your elbows back past your body, not out to the side. Imagine you’re at a nice dinner and you don’t want to jostle the person next to you.

      Instead of watching the manufacturer’s video, maybe look on YouTube for something like “indoor rowing champs” or “(university name) 2k test” – you can watch the shapes the elite athletes make on the machine. Look out for the sequence and the pivot and the shape at the back (“finish”).

      Good luck!

      1. Washi*

        Former rower here – I see so many people in the gym using the rowing machines with horrible form and am always tempted to say something! These are great tips. When you finish, your butt and quads should be the most exhausted, your back a little, and your arms very very little if at all.

        1. Teapot Translator*

          I wish someone would correct me at the gym.
          I’ll see how I like it and if I keep at it, I’ll ask at the gym if they have a trainer who specializes in the rowing machine.

          1. Lucy*

            A non-rower wanting to do half an hour of cardio on a rowing machine is probably best off not worrying too much about how far she gets. I’d suggest concentrating on keeping the stroke rate around 20 per minute and maintaining the shape. You don’t need to be out of breath unless you’re also holding a conversation, or towards the end of your session.

            If you can’t find a rowing expert then you should certainly be able to find a staff member who can help you stretch appropriately. I’d suggest warming up on a bike or treadmill for five minutes, then stretching especially your legs and core. Afterwards stretch again, then maybe walk it off for another five.

          2. Washi*

            This is so interesting because one time a random stranger at the gym critiqued my squat form and it was so helpful! But even with our two little data points, I still think I would never correct someone at the gym unless they were definitely about to break the equipment or themselves.

            1. Teapot Translator*

              I agree. There’s too much of a chance that it will come across badly. But people do not have the proper form when trying the machines!

      2. Teapot Translator*

        Thank you so much for taking the time to give me instructions!
        I just watched a video and I see what you mean about the arms and the bend knees.
        Next time I go, I’ll do it slower so I can focus on the proper form. The person at the gym had told me not to bend my back, but that’s it.

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      I signed up for a 4-week aerial fitness (the silk hammock things) class that starts next Saturday. They swear it’s for all fitness levels as long as you meet a couple basic mobility tests.

      Last night my son and I walked 3-4 blocks to a nearby coffee shop. I was feeling slightly winded after the first block.

      This is going to be interesting.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        It’s hard, but it’s important to get out of our comfort zone, which when it comes to exercise, means all the time for me!

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

      Varies by gym, but there’s more likely than not to be TV screens. Some gyms near me play the news, which defeats the main purpose of exercise for me (to relax and relieve stress). Others blast obnoxious music that’s not my taste. Those are actually the biggest reasons why I dislike gyms.

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

        Oops, I misread your post as “Are there screens in gyms?” and not “WHY are there screens in gyms?” Sorry! But I feel your pain 100%.

        1. Teapot Translator*

          He he, no worries.
          I hate it when there are TV screens in restaurants, to. There’s something about moving images that my eyes can’t help but look at.
          I think I would find obnoxious music less distracting. Oh well, I like my gym. It’s a Y. I like that people mostly look like regular people.

      2. tangerineRose*

        A gym I used to go to had several TV sets on mute. I’d listen to music on headphones and found the TVs useful to distract me from the fact that I was – ugh – exercising.

        1. Lucy*

          Same. They’re useful for churning out miles. We have ad-free channels though, muted with subtitles on, and the cardio machines have their own tvs built in so you can choose a quiz or something similarly non-enraging.

          They also have video trails so you can do your run/cycle in an exotic location (slope/resistance varies with the route).

          Wall to wall CNN with audio would be infuriating.

    4. Lilysparrow*

      My gym has large overhead TV’s on mute with captions, but they are high enough that I can use the machines without having them in my eyeline. The thing that bothers me is the screen on the treadmills and ellipticals. It defaults to playing TV as well.

      First thing I do is turn it to Data Only or Blank. Hate it.

    5. Koala dreams*

      The tv screens are for people like me, who forget to charge their phones or put more data on their phone plan, and yet want some tv to watch while exercising.

      As for rowing, if it’s just for fun, or even for cardio training, I wouldn’t worry. For cardio, you can check if your pulse is within recommended range (I always forget what that is), and try to reach that. However, if it’s practising for something, like a competition or rowing on water, I have both good and bad news for you. The good news is that it’s good that you have quite low resistance, since you want to emulate rowing in water and not in butter or cement. The bad news is that you probably need to spend some time learning the technique (as described by Lucy) until you can row effectively and get really tired. You can try to watch videos of rowers online and see how it looks.

    6. Beaded Librarian*

      Had my A race of the season today. Aquabike in Colorado that ended up being FREEZING and wet I finished the swim a bit slower than normal but a respectable time. The bike I had to stop for almost 10 minutes at a water stop to try and warm up my feet but I got it done and I’m happy with my mph considering the road conditions.

    7. CatCat*

      I tried boxing and indoor wall rock climbing this week. Boxing as awesome. Rock climbing was fail (but I’m glad I tried it!)

  35. annakarina1*

    I am proud of myself for casually asking a guy from my martial arts class to hang out sometime outside of class. We’ve been chatting casually for months, partnering in class, and after happening to be on the same bus after work once, getting into book talk a lot. I don’t have romantic interest in him, but thought it would be nice to hang out sometime, though I didn’t have any real ideas of what to do. So I just asked if he wanted to hang out sometime outside of class, and he was fine with it. He told me his available days, and I gave him my number, and he texted me so I’d have his, and I had a very casual “hang out or whatever” attitude, and we parted by talking about books again.

    So it’s very open-ended, and we’ll still talk in class, but while I did feel a little awkward, especially with no real plans and being very low-stakes, I still felt good about having the guts to ask out someone, even if I have platonic feelings for them.

    1. alex b.*

      Well done! I’m also in a “I want to make new friends, but it’s HARD” stage of adulthood, and I admire your efforts here. Sounds like you did great. :)

    2. MissDisplaced*

      Yay! I wish more women would do this. Start with low-key, low-pressure things, like maybe a community event or something outdoors where you can walk around, look at things and chat without being awkward or it feeling too date like.

  36. Bluebell*

    Off to Coney Island today to see the Mermaid Parade! Anyone have suggestions for restaurants in Brighton Beach afterwards? (Tatiana is closed- that was our first choice.) Thanks!

  37. Mammo-anonymous*

    Thanks to all who commented last week. The mammo was yesterday. It hurt more than expected, but other than that, it helped to be prepared going in. I was surprised to learn I have dense tissue; was also surprised it’s not uncommon to have to go back for a few more scans if it’s your first.

    1. Database Developer Dude*

      I’m absolutely gobsmacked that we do mammograms the way we do. You would think technology would have evolved enough so that we don’t have to smush your boobs like that.

      1. Mammo-anonymous*

        Seriously! As she was smushing my boobs and my face was smooshed up against the panel or whatever kept thinking, “this is the gold standard” Have there really been no advancements in technology for this procedure?

      2. Ange*

        You need to squish them because that tissue is very undifferentiated and you need to flatten it out as much as possible. You also need to avoid skin folds as that can mask/mimic things.

        Think of it as trying to image a slightly thicker strand of wool in a bag of wool. The only way you stand a chance would be to flatten the bag as much as possible so that what you’re looking at is spread over as large an area as possible as opposed to all behind itself.

        (I literally made this analogy up on the spot, but the principle is correct.)

        1. Lcsa99*

          Knowing why doesn’t make it hurt any worse. They need to update the technology so that its isnt necessary to squish something that should be treated gently.

          1. Ange*

            I don’t think they can update physics! It’s the nature of trying to image that type of tissue with x-rays.

            1. valentine*

              I had a tech who lied about not being able to lower the machine while I sat (there are images on the floor for lining it up for people using wheelchairs) and just slammed the wafflemaker on me. A far cry from the person here who said they had a heated machine.

              I’m interested in the MRI or similar newfangled version. Like yes, slide me into a massive, bright machine. (Don’t stuff me in the suffocating machine in a chamber (both like something off a WWII sub) airless except for a standing fan, and definitely don’t rub my elbow.)

          2. Elizabeth West*

            Mine didn’t hurt.

            I had my very first one last year–the hospital system sent me a letter about a program for low/no-income women where it was free. I applied and qualified. It was uncomfortable, especially the angle at which I had to stand and hold my arm, but there wasn’t any pain.

      3. Mimmy*

        That’s a very good point! Can’t they at least find a way to make it so the machine doesn’t have to squeeze so dang hard??

        By the way, having dense breast tissue isn’t uncommon. I’ve been told I have that.

      4. Observer*

        Why? This is a problem that affects ONLY women and it “works well enough”.

        Call me cynical, but the medical profession (and not just in the US) is fundamentally and structurally misogynist.

        1. Observer*

          Here’s a perfect example of the problem. The Karolinska institute did an analysis of outcomes in Sweden (where access to health care is not dependent on economics, so that’s controlled for). What they found:

          * Women are less likely to report / take seriously their symptoms. – the only issue that is NOT completely on the medical profession.

          * “From their very first point of contact with healthcare professionals, women are less likely to receive the same diagnostic tests, leading to them being 50% more likely to be initially misdiagnosed” (bolding in mine.)

          * “Researchers also found that women were 34% less likely to receive procedures which clear blocked arteries, such as bypass surgery and stents, 24% less likely to be prescribed statins, which help to prevent a second heart attack, and 16% less likely to be given aspirin, which helps to prevent blood clots.”


          1. Kat in VA*

            In line with your second bullet, women are oftentimes brushed off or ignored when reporting their symptoms. Anecdotally, I had to go through *three* neurosurgeons until one finally realize that yes, I had indeed broken my neck snowboarding, and yes, it was now growing an outraged ball of bone and pain. Three neurosurgeons, and nearly a year of my time of people saying, “Well, holding stress in your shoulders can make your neck hurt and give you headaches, you need to relax” and “Bodies are weird, who knows why there’s a knob growing on the side of your neck.” All this despite me telling them it all started when I flipped over on my face at high speed while snowboarding, a crash violent enough to knock me flat out for upwards of five minutes and give me a raging concussion that lasted for weeks. “Eh, probably doesn’t have anything to do with it.”

            I’ll give you another anecdote (and this one is long). I was having a day at the lake with my husband and kids, when I started getting a small cramping sensation on my left side, right about where my left ovary is. It grew exponentially over the next hour or so to where I was gasping in pain. I finally gave in and hauled the kids off to a neighbor’s, and headed to the ER, stopping to take a pregnancy test on the way as advised by a nurse at the hospital to see if I had an ectopic pregnancy. (I didn’t.)

            Enter the ER, with all the attendant drama that ensues. At this point, I am crying and doubled over, almost to the point of screaming in the waiting room because I’m in so much pain. When people say they have a hella high pain tolerance, they’re talking about me. I busted my arm and compared to other pains I’ve dealt with, a busted arm is maybe a four. If that.

            Eventually, I’m taken back, and WannaBe HeroDoc swans in and immediately declares with no diagnostic tests and not even examining me yet that I must have appendicitis…to the point of ultimately redirecting me when I tell him where the pain is. (“It’s more toward the middle, here, moving down toward the right side, riiiight?” Me: NO NO IT’S ON THE LEFT, JUST HERE Him, clearly getting irritated: “Are you suuuuure it’s not here, right about the middle here? Absolutely positive?” Me: NO IT’S ON THE LEFT, HERE, HERE!!! He shoves back his chair and gives an exasperated sigh)

            He finally grumpily orders an ultrasound when a CT shows that I do not have appendicitis, loads me up with enough Dilaudid to choke a horse so I stop crying and begging for something, anything for the pain…and annoyedly sends me home with a diagnosis of Pelvic Congestion Syndrome (basically varicose veins of the uterus). At home, the Dilaudid wears off, the pain crescendos back up to where I think I’m heading back to the ER any second, and then *pop* and it’s just…gone.

            Years later, I’m in the process of a move, and look at some old paperwork from the hospital that had been mailed to me a few weeks after my visit. Paperwork I didn’t bother to read because the pain was gone and whatever, it was over. Right on the paperwork, it noted from the final ultrasound report: “5.5cm left ovarian cyst, likely hemorrhagic.”

            I had an ovarian cyst that was likely in the process of bursting and bleeding out – and anyone who has had these suckers tells you the pain is immense and I’m inclined to agree, high pain tolerance be damned. BUT WannaBe HeroDoc was SO pissed off that he didn’t get to save the day and give me an emergency appendectomy for non-existent appendicitis that he didn’t even bother to have staff follow up on the information about a hemorrhagic ovarian cyst, other than a desultory report mailed a few weeks later.

            Fun fact – ovarian cysts can do this monthly. I’m sure the fact that I went on the pill again the month after this incident helped prevent it from coming back.

            So women get misdiagnosed and sometimes they just get blown right off and ignored when a doc has already made up their mind. This has happened with me time and again where I KNEW something wasn’t right and had to be bullheaded almost to the point of rudeness to get an appointment, a diagnostic test, or someone to look up from their chart to actually pay attention to what I was saying…only to ultimately go, “Oh, wow, that’s weird, I would have never guessed that XYZ was going on!”

    2. Close Bracket*

      Younger women typically have denser breasts. As you age, breast tissue gets fattier.

    3. Mammo-anonymous*

      I don’t expect anyone to see this, but I need to *Say it out loud* and don’t want to worry anyone in real life. The radiology office just called. They want me back in for an ultrasound because something looks different for the left breast compared to the right. I’m feeling a little numb and a bit terrified all of a sudden.

  38. Anon anony*

    Can anyone recommend contact lenses for dry eyes? I use Dailies Total, but sometimes they irritate my eyes. I have allergies so that doesn’t help either. I just hate wearing my glasses all of the time.

    1. londonedit*

      I wear Acuvue Oasys dailies – mine are toric but they also come in an ordinary lens. I’m lucky in that I never have a problem with dry eyes, but they’re super comfortable lenses.

      1. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD*

        Ditto! After dry eyes and corneal scratches I switched to these and alternate with glasses. 1 year and going strong *knock on wood*

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      It might come down to your solution– what does the eye doctor say? I have allergies and dry eyes, so I use hydrogen peroxide solution (Clear Care).

    3. Entry Level Marcus*

      I had this problem too a few years ago, even to the point that I started wearing glasses for a while. For me it came down to the solution, I switched from the cheap Kirkland stuff I was using to Biotrue, and I haven’t had any issues with eye dryness since.

    4. tangerineRose*

      I can’t help with contacts, but I’ve found “blink tears” and “retaine” to be good eye drops for dry eyes.

    5. ValaMalDoran*

      For contacts, Air Optix plus HydraGlyde by Alcon. For contact solution, I alternate between Biotrue and ClearCare plus HydraGlyde. *Looks at bottle, also apparently made by Alcon.*

      For eyedrops, I use Retaine complete dry eye relief, morning (wait 15 minutes before putting in contacts) and night.

      I use Blink Contacts if needed during the day.

      I also use OCuSoft Lid Scrub Plus. My optometrist recommended it, and instructed me to pull down my lower eyelid, and gently wipe actually inside. This is to help unclog the oil glands, the clogging of which can cause dry eye. If you go this route, make sure you use something clean and lint free. After wiping inside, I wipe my closed eyes, to get rid of any crusties or gunk. I used the eye scrub morning and night initially, but now only use it once a day (per my optometrist’s ok).

      I also use a Thermalon dry eye compress sometimes. It is very relaxing at bedtime. And can make you vision blurry from the oil in your eyes, so I take out my contacts first.

      I hope something in here is helpful to you, and feel free to ask questions if you have them!

      1. Anon anony*

        Thank you- this is very helpful. (Along with comments from the other posters.) The OCuSoft Lid Scrub Plus sounds interesting. I’m looking at their site and the products- if you don’t mind my asking, do you use the pre-moistened pads?

        1. ValaMalDoran*

          You’re welcome! No, I don’t mind. I don’t use them regularly, as that can be expensive, but I have tried them. (I think some people cut the pre-moistened pads in half, and store the second half in a baggie to use later.) I use lint free cotton pads. I’m using DHC Silky Cotton right now.

          I order the 50ml bottle of the Lid Scrub Plus off Amazon. I’d say a bottle lasts me two and a half to three months, now that I’m only using it once a day.

          There is also the regular Lid Scrub, which is a much bigger bottle. I didn’t like it because you have to rinse it off, and that irritated my eyes.

          My optometrist had samples, when I was first trying different things.

          Good luck! It took awhile to get my dry eye under control, but it is so much better now.

    6. ATX Language Learner*

      I use Acuvue Oasis dailies. I also use Ocusoft Retain eye drops and take Nordic Natural Promega 2000 and another supplement called HydroEyes (bought them all from amazon).

      About 2 years ago, I started having issues with my eyes and I would want to scratch them out when I wore my contacts (I’ve been wearing them for 21 years). Until about 2 months ago, I was off and on steroid eye drops for getting blisters underneath my eyes (from scratching… heh), tried allergy eye drops of all kinds, nothing would help. An Ophthalmologist said I had dry eyes but did not recommend me anything. I’ve also been to 2 Optometrists who didn’t recommend anything. Finally I did my own research and found the Retain eye drops, HydroEyes, and the Nordic Natural Omegas which have helped people create more lubrication in their eyes.

      About 2 months ago, I couldn’t wear my contacts for longer than an hour without them bothering my eyes. Now I can wear them all day!

  39. Dino*

    I ended my marriage yesterday, or at least started the process. Things have been over for a while and I’m relieved that we’re on the same page now. I’m so scared for what happens over the next year as we start actually separating but relieved.

    1. Dr. Anonymous*

      Oh, that’s a big transition. Try to notice new little freedoms as you make decisions about your life big and small that are just for you. Do you want to play music when you come home from work? Do you hate the TV and now you don’t have to listen to it anymore? I hope things go as smoothly as possible.

    2. Rebecca*

      I’m on the other side of this now, wishing you the best, glad you’re relieved. For me, it helped to have a plan, timeline, whatever, and that alleviated some of the uncertainty and took away some of the fear. Let people help you. Be strong, and do what you need to do for you.

      1. Dino*

        For so long thinking about the logistics was the thing that stopped me from even examining my feelings. I want a plan but am also scared of a plan. There’s some guilt. I think giving us through the weekend to really grapple with it might be good. We’ve been together for over a decade so it’s a lot right now, emotionally.

    3. Dan*

      As Database Developer Dude said, “Congratulations or condolences as appropriate.” There *is* a mix of both in there.

      It’s interesting, Rebecca and I had a lot of similarities in our situations. The main thing is that we both had ex-spouses who were financial leeches, and it was more like getting rid of a child than it was separating from an adult. So for me, the logistics of leaving were easy — she’d stop being a leech, and I could get the finances back on track. I was the sole earner, so I could afford to keep the apartment and didn’t even have to move.

      Some of the logistics are going to suck — arguing over property distribution and spousal support (if any) isn’t going to be fun — but at the end of the day, you’re getting your life back. Even if it’s at a reduced standard of living, I’d rather be happy with less $ than miserable with more $.

      Good luck.

      1. Dino*

        I’m a single earner, too. I have a lot of guilt about that. My spouse isn’t a leech, luckily. I think that would make it easier if it were true, I’d feel less bad.

        1. Dan*

          I didn’t say this, but that was my biggest “thing” leaving — the guilt. I knew my life was going to get better the day she left, and she’d continue to struggle figuring out life. (There’s some mental illness issues at play too.) It didn’t help that my ex’s biggest tool in her toolbox was her ability and willingness to try and make people feel guilty for pretty much any little thing under the sun, and then try and extract something as a result.

          I felt guilty because one of my friends (whom I respected) suggested that counseling would be a good idea. But I kept weighing my personal pros and cons, and there just wasn’t anything in it for me to try and work it out. And she’d be hitting the streets with no job, no cash in the bank, and just a small amount of money from me. So yeah. The guilt.

        2. LibbyG*

          I divorced someone I was fond of and thought well of but just couldn’t live with. Often divorce gets framed in punitive terms, like judging whether someone deserves it or not. But that’s totally the wrong frame.

          I felt some guilt and worried for how my ex would do. I was delighted to see that he actually was better off after we split, living a life more authentic to him.

          Warm wishes to you ad you navigate all this!

    4. Clever Name*

      Hugs/high fives. I’ve been there. Ending my marriage exponentially increased my happiness. I realized all the ways I was contorting myself to fit him and denying my needs for his happiness. Soon after he moved out I enjoyed repainting and redecorating exactly the way I wanted, I cooked foods I liked and enjoyed eating them without listening to any comments about how “gross” said food is. I did a lot of cathartic decluttering (getting rid of an enormous box with hundreds of feet of coaxial and hdmi cable was liberating). I spent time with friends. Took up a new hobby. Don’t get me wrong, it was a gut wrenching decision, but my life is so much better now. You will get through this.

    5. Alexandra Lynch*

      I did that this January, and our silver anniversary would have been this fall.

      There’s a lot of grieving that you’ll do, and it gets you when you least expect it, over time. My ex and I are friendly, but that still does hurt. No one enters a marriage expecting to get divorced, after all.

  40. PhyllisB*

    I shared with all of you about my son and his girlfriend a couple of weeks ago. I asked for advice, and you folks don’t hold back!! That’s okay, I asked, and it gave me some food for thought.
    Hubby decided the other day that he might be approaching this the wrong way, so he asked Son to invite her for Sunday dinner so we can discuss some things. I searched for Al-Anon meetings in our area. There’s no Nar-Anon (is that right?) available. There’s only two meetings and they are at the most inconvenient times they could possibly be, but whether anyone else goes, I’m going to arrange my schedule where I can. I only work three days a week now so I can do it if I plan right. I will give a follow-up next week. By the time we do this, there will be so many comments that no one will see it. Thanks to all of you for caring.

    1. Lucy*

      I think a large number of comments recommended consistency iirc – agreeing boundaries as a team (Team Son) and then sticking to them would seem to be helpful at this stage. I hope you can then begin to find life easier.

      Best of luck to you all.

  41. Lauren*

    There is this jerk of a guy, “Simon”, that I know through a friend of a friend. I think Simon liked me at some point, but I was never interested and he seemed too nervous to do anything about it. The guy is immature, obnoxious, rude, and puts down women. I saw him hanging out with a woman from our group, “Isabel”. I was talking with a friend and noticed them and I gave him a dirty look. Simon picked up on it, so now every time he’s with our group, he talks about Isabel or some other woman. He doesn’t tell me directly, he’ll just talk loudly about it and be obnoxious. Maybe he thinks I’m jealous? I just don’t want Isabel getting hurt. She’s very young and is a sweetheart. I want to protect her from jerks like Simon because he would mess with your mind. I know that I can’t say anything to her, but how do I stop feeling bothered by Simon?

    1. valentine*

      He’s likely to think he’s successfully making you jealous. Ignore him completely and don’t go to events where he’ll be. Make new friends, if necessary. Get out of his orbit.

    2. Lilysparrow*

      Ignore him and be nice to Isabel. Avoid him if you can do so without missing out on events you’d like. Host or initiate some events yourself with a sub-group of friends that doesn’t include him.

      Why do your friends keep inviting him if he’s obnoxious, rude, and misogynistic? This doesn’t say good things about them.

      It’s difficult to “not be bothered” at all by someone who is deliberately being obnoxious. You can de-escalate how much it gets to you by simply acknowledging and dismissing the feeling whenever it comes up. Thinking “Yep, he’s annoying,” “there he goes again,” or “whaddaya know, Jerk is being jerky.” Expect it, don’t attach any importance to it. It’s got nothing to do with you, it’s just a Thing That Happens.

      If he’s invested in believing you’re jealous, he will interpret anything you do to reinforce that belief. So don’t make any effort to counteract it. Ignore, avoid, devalue, dismiss. Starve the troll, both externally and internally.

    3. Traffic_Spiral*

      Well, every time he talks about Isabel, say something like “yes, she’s a very nice woman.” As for the rest, stop interacting with him. No dirty looks, avoid conversations with him, and avoid him when you can.

  42. MOAS*

    I finally set up an appt with a therapist that takes my insurance and bonus, is a block away and available in the AM. Now just hoping that it’ll work out. FINGERS CROSSED.

    We had a 10 minute chat, and he said we’d go over the administrative stuff (my history and other medications I’m taking) in the first session. One hour.

    I have a million issues. I’m not expecting to be “cured” but I wouldn’t know where to begin. When he asked what brought me to him I mentioned the death, mom issues, and work anxiety. Something he said was really nice – instead of getting help think of it as discovering new strategies to cope moving forward. Something to that effect.

    I got good feelings from the call. I’m hoping it goes well. No idea what to expect. Thing is. I cry. No matter what I talk about I’ll cry.

    1. Me and Eva*

      Don’t worry about the crying. I am a crier — lots of things can make me teary, everything from sappy commercials to attending a wake for a near stranger to feeling frustrated . . . I cried (well, more teared up a LOT) when I started therapy and there are still a few triggers when I go. It was partly the subject matter and partly having someone focused on me and my feelings and wanting to help me that made me more emotional. (Grew up in a house of “crying? oh, I’ll give you something to cry about” mixed with “what’s the big deal, this too shall pass”). But the tearing up is much better now, as are my boundaries — boundaries are essential!

      Don’t let the crying dissuade you. It gets better! Best of luck!

    2. Jean (just Jean)*

      It’s okay to cry in your therapist’s office. They won’t be surprised and if they are, you might want to consider alternative providers. (Anecdata: I’ve never seen a therapist’s office without tissues but if you would feel better, bring your own for the first time.)
      Good wishes and good vibes. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    3. Reba*

      I’m happy for you and I really hope it goes well. This is a great step.

      In the past I’ve seen a therapist who was very solutions or strategies-oriented like that. Not as much emotional processing but like helping me take a step back and decide what to do differently. It was awesome, I loved the way her mind worked and she was so unflappable when faced with all my shit.

      Good vibes, best wishes, just use kleenex cause it’s ok to cry!

    4. Lilysparrow*

      Crying in the therapist’s office is like sweating at the gym. It’s part of what you came for.

      Good luck!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Right on. We have the ability to make tears for a reason.

        I wish you the best, OP.

        1. MOAS*

          Thanks NSNR and others who have been here with me since last year. It’s been 18 months of this weight and some days its bearablea nd some days it’s not. Hoping this will be the turnaround point

    5. PetticoatsandPincushions*

      I’m a crier! I went to therapy for a phobia issue and cried my way through most of my appointments. But part of the idea of therapy is that it’s a safe space in which to release emotions like that, and it can honestly be a really good part of healing. I knew I was starting to conquer my issue when I could talk about it at my appointments and NOT cry, and it felt like a pretty tremendous accomplishment!

    6. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      sounds like a great start. Remember, like all relationships, it has a learning curve and honeymoon period, then the work starts… but you are doing exactly the right thing. Sending encouraging thoughts!!!

    1. Lcsa99*

      You poor thing. Paper cuts are the worst! Its absurd that something so small can hurt so much.

      1. valentine*

        You are truly the Job of our times. May your toes remain unstubbed; your soles, un-LEGOed.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Extra pity if it’s your dominant hand.
      Applause for typing either way, though.

  43. Mimmy*

    Ugh sick again! Nights are the worse because it feels as if I’m coughing allllll night long. I’m on a Z-Pack and cough syrup. Meds work during the day but not at night. You would think NyQuil would work wonders but…. it doesn’t. Any suggestions?? I try sleeping propped up but that doesn’t help either.

    1. Lena Clare*

      Hot water bottle (or one of those lavender thingies you put in the microwave) on your chest is nice and really helps!
      Feel better soon.

    2. cat socks*

      I finally figured out my night time coughing was caused by post nasal drip irritating my throat. Sudafed was the only thing that helped with the nose issues. It’s been a while, but I think I took Sudafed close to bedtime or I tried a nighttime version. During the day I used a Neti Pot to clear out my sinuses.

      Throat sprays and cough drops also provided some temporary relief.

      My sympathies. Coughing at night is the absolute worst.

    3. Marguerite*

      I’m sorry you’re going through this- I hope you feel better soon! I get the same thing. Vaporizer and vicks help me a little at night.

    4. AnonND*

      Try slowing eating a tablespoon of honey. Let it coat your throat. This works for me better than cough syrup.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        This helps. Thank you! I also added a bit of lemon pulp from a mostly used-up lemon.

    5. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      I’ve had pneumonia, etc., several times, and I found the best thing to stop coughing fits are Halls menthol cough drops. When I was a teen, I’d melt them to my braces so I could sleep with one in my mouth (*not even remotely safe, do not actually do this*) but that’s how effective they were, they were the only thing that let me sleep.

      Also, Delsym instead of Robitussin or NyQuil cough syrup. It’s stronger.

    6. Victoria, Please*

      Ugh, here too. I find that if I drape a damp washcloth over my nose and mouth, it adds enough moisture to my breathing to soothe the irritation. It’s not overly pleasant to have a damp cloth on my face, but better than coughing my eyes out.

    7. tangerineRose*

      NyQuill doesn’t seem to help with congestion. When I feel seriously congested at night, I take DayQuill, which seems odd but did help.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Microwave a hot pack to put across your shoulders or neck to help with draining.
      I use vitamin D on coughs and willow bark on congestion.

      Have you been checked for allergies?

    9. No fan of Chaos*

      Ask Doc for “Pearls” which are by prescription and the real name is Benzonatate. If I can sleep at night and not cough, I can get well. These really work and last four hours so I can take another in the middle of the night if I wake up coughing.

    10. Arjay*

      The last time I had this, I had a pyramid of bed pillows propping me up, but I’d eventually sink down and start coughing. Propping myself up on the couch instead of in the bed worked wonders for keeping me upright and letting me sleep.

  44. cat socks*

    Anyone have experience with cats with thinning fur?

    My recent foster fail had pretty thick fur to the point where I had to cut out some small, matted chunks of fur a couple of months ago.

    Just this past week I’ve noticed him grooming a lot and scratching. His fur has gotten very thin. I’m mad at myself for not noticing sooner.

    Initially I thought it was a food allergy because I had been giving him a beef flavored wet food. When I contacted my vet she thought it could be another type of skin issue related to parasites because he was a stray before I took him in.

    He has an appointment on Friday and I’m hoping we can figure out what’s wrong. He is fine otherwise, but I hate seeing him so scraggly.

    1. The Francher Kid*

      It might be flea allergy dermatitis. If the cat’s really sensitive, even a single flea can cause problems.

      1. cat socks*

        Good to know, thanks! I’ve never dealt with skin issues with a cat, so having some idea of what to expect helps. When I first brought him inside, he did have some residual flea dirt. He’s been on a monthly treatment but maybe he needs something different.

    2. Asenath*

      After vet visits, my cat’s thinning fur was attributed to psychological issues. I don’t want to put her on pills – one of the vets recommended against it because of her health – so I’m living with it since I can’t figure out what’s stressing her out (she’s got used to the other cat, I think) and anyway, once the habit is established, it can be hart to break.

      Other things the vet looked for were fleas (and I guess other parasites) and food allergies.

      1. cat socks*

        I was wondering about psychological issues too. There are three other cats in the house, but this guy is overall pretty confident and outgoing. But maybe he still feels stressed in some way. I think it will just have to be a process of elimination with skin issues, food, etc.

        Good luck with your kitty!

    3. Texan In Exile*

      Laverne has non-specific symmetrical feline alopecia. She lost almost all her fur below her bellybutton on her belly, on the inside of her back legs, and on her formerly plush tail.

      Some of it was because of her food – we had to change it several times to find something she was not allergic to. (She was also throwing up almost right after eating about once every ten days.) Then some of it was stress. Now most of it has come back, but her hair in those places is still sparse compared to the rest of her body. I don’t know if it will ever come all the way back – it’s been about two and a half years since this started.

      1. cat socks*

        I’m sorry about the alopecia issues! I’m glad you were able to find a food that works for her.

    4. Booksalot*

      My Birman was originally listed on the rescue page as a Siamese because she had such short, thin fur. After six months of grain-free food, she exploded into a giant ball of fuzz. Her skin was so itchy from the allergic reaction that she was scratching/licking herself bald.

      If you want to try grain-free foods, we like Instinct by Nature’s Variety, Wellness, and Taste of the Wild for dry, and Weruva BFF for wet.

      Note that kidney health is a concern with these high-protein diets, so I stick to rabbit, duck, or venison formulas where possible. I’ve done a ton of research on CRF and there is some evidence that fish and poultry flavors can do more damage over time, due to mercury and antibiotics (respectively) in the meat.

      1. ramanon*

        Your /Birman/ was listed as /Siamese/? Bast’s paws, I’m glad she’s doing better now! My old man’s been losing fur because he’s old and refuses to groom himself (yay for IBD-UC), but I can’t imagine him without his big mane and fuzzy tail.

    5. Worked in IT forever*

      We’ve had two cats with partly bare tummies from fur loss.

      In the case of one cat, it was an allergy problem. She had red dots on her skin. We worked with our vet, tried different foods, and eventually things cleared up.

      The other cat was just very high strung and overgroomed to deal with anxiety. The vet referred to the missing fur problem as “barbering.” Our.
      cat was great with just us and other cats but afraid of almost any other people, the doorbell ringing, loud noises, etc. Our vet finally said that we were more worried about the cat’s appearance than the cat was (the skin wasn’t irritated) so we all just lived with the problem.

    6. Kuododi*

      I had a silver tabby with full blown trichotillomania!!!The baby would pull out the fur all over her lower back down to her butt and leave open wounds. Trying to give her medicated baths was just oodles of fun. What solved the problem for her was bringing the Siamese kitty in the home. The new kitty kept her so busy with adjustments, she didn’t have time to get anxious and resort to pulling fur. The two of them wound up being best buddies for the rest of their days.

  45. Seeking Second Childhood*

    I am nearing the end of what might be the wettest Beach vacation of my life. My daughter was a trooper and put up with five days of mom dot-dot-dot and now our last day it is bright and sunny and there are other kids on the beach! So I’m changing my afternoon plans to let her stay longer. That’ll make for a crazy Sunday, but it’s totally worth it. She even went with me to visit elderly relatives, and museums that she is not really interested in. She even put up with a strict limit at the stores. In other news, I found a blog post over at calamityware that belongs on the Friday open for him. I figured I would mention it here, or else no one would see it by late Saturday.

  46. Invisible Fish*

    Anyone have experience assisting a parent after open heart surgery? This is something being considered by her health care team, and I’d like to know as much as possible about what recovery is like for the patient and what caregivers need to do so that I can start preparing. Thanks in advance for any 411 you can send my way!

    1. Lulubell*

      Kind of. My mom had it a few years ago and so I was there for emotional support and to drive her to and from her follow up appts ( and do grocery runs, etc) but I didn’t do physical caregiving. Not that she needed a ton of it. By the time they let her out of the hospital, she could stand and walk on her own. The first few days she mostly slept a lot. She was very emotional, and this is very common in open heart patients. It’s an invasive surgery, often life-saving, and I do think there is something spiritually connected about literally opening the heart. Her insurance provided for a home health aid to come 3 days per week to check her vitals, and that was helpful, as my mom was very skittish and emotional and having a professional come reassured her. There was also a physical therapist who cane two days per week to show her exercises to keep her blood flowing and to help her move around a bit, but this was not needed after the first week or two. Overall, it probably took my mom 6 months to feel fully back to normal, but only a few weeks where she was mostly in bed and feeling poor. I forget when they allowed her to drive again but it was probably around 4 weeks after the surgery. It was not a great experience for either of us, but went smoothly as these things go, and she is fine now. One thing That did help was getting my mom a shower stool, as she couldn’t stand for long periods of time at first. That and a long scrub brush for the back. Best of luck.

      1. Lulubell*

        A few more things I’m remembering. She couldn’t eat a lot, partly because her throat hurt from the intubation, so she drank a lot of Ensures/Boosts etc. Good thing to stock up on at the grocery store. Also, I mentioned that my mother had a lot of anxiety after the surgery (she has a lot on her best days!) I think because it really made her face her own mortality. One of the nurses in the hospital showed her how to do deep, meditative breathing, and she did that on her own when she couldn’t sleep or got anxious. I was actually very impressed with her for that.

    2. Texan In Exile*

      If it is at all possible for your parent to go to a rehab center instead of home, that would be ideal. Marido/Primo and I didn’t even know that was an option when his dad had his knee replacement. Sly never mentioned it to Primo, just demanding that Primo come for the surgery and to take care of him after. (Yes, we were dumb.)

      So Primo spent two weeks taking care of his dad, handing him the urine bottle, walking him to the toilet and helping him up and down, preparing all meals, helping his dad in and out of bed. It was extremely unpleasant and I am really angry, even over four years later, knowing that it did not have to be this way. Medicare would have covered the rehab center.

      1. Honoria*

        (Pls excuse derail, but hi! How you doing? I followed your story under your old name and hope you are well)

      2. not Lynn Davis*

        This is way late but in case you come back and read…check with the hospital (maybe a social worker there)….if she might want a rehab facility for a bit, may need to go directly from hospital to there for Medicare to pay for it.

    3. Lemonwhirl*

      So much depends on the person and what the person’s health is going in and also what’s being done. So probably the care team is best placed to tell you what you might expect. In general, from my dad’s surgery, I can tell you that the chest is very tender and that things like coughing can be really painful and difficult. Also, the time on the heart/lung machine can have cognitive side effects. His memory was never quite the same after the surgery. (And he was relatively young when he had it -not yet 50.) I seem to remember also that he had to go to rehab for awhile, to build his physical strength back up.

    4. Lilysparrow*

      Do not rely on your mom’s or her care team’s assessment of her ability to function at home. Before you consent to be her caregiver, make sure you are at her PT sessions before discharge.

      My mom discharged herself and refused to go to rehab, expecting me to “help.” She told me she was able to walk, shower, and use a toilet chair. This was wishful thinking. In reality, she couldn’t sit up in bed unassisted. I took her word for everything because I had two kids under 2 years old and was only able to make short daily visits to the hospital. I also didn’t realize she was high on painkillers and had no idea what she was talking about.

      The PT said she was ambulatory, but they must have literally thrown her across the room for someone to catch. She fell on top of me when I was trying to get her into the house, and I couldn’t get either of us up without rupturing her incision. We had to call 911 just to get her off me and into bed.

      The EMT’s told me to use a transfer belt. I said, “what’s a transfer belt?” The whole thing was a nightmare.

      Attend the PT sessions, watch the nurses and aides helping her with basic functions, and make sure you are trained in all the techniques for support, fall prevention, and so forth. She will not suddenly be more capable at home than she is in the hospital. For the first day or two, she will be worse because she’ll be tired and everything isn’t set up for patient care.

      Also, be prepared for “pump head.” This is what the nurses called it. When patients have been on a bypass machine, they can experience mood swings, disorientation, memory loss, or minor personality changes. When you combine that with the painkillers, your mom may not be entirely herself, or may not remember conversations you had, etc. That can be very upsetting for both of you. It does pass, but it can take weeks or months to completely resolve.

    5. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      My dad had a heart valve replaced a couple of years back. His situation may be pretty different from yours, but here’s what I remember of the process:

      – Dad had a bacterial infection in his heart, so he went from being “healthy dude in his 60s who golfs all the time” to “weird, this cold/pneumonia just won’t go away, guess I should see the doctor and maybe get some antibiotics or something for that” to “admitted to the hospital” to “moved to the cardiac floor” to “you will be having heart surgery on this day really soon” in an alarming, unanticipated blur. This happened while I was working full time, but I had an understanding boss who let me take a bunch of time off to go deal with it once it became clear this was a major health thing. However, I spent a lot of time attempting to work remotely from the hospital at a little cafe table outside the CICU in a total stress blur.

      – Dad had a TIA while coming out of the surgery, and was having trouble forming words properly for the first day or so. He eventually recovered. They kept him in the CICU for a while after the surgery (several days? I don’t know, time was basically blurring together for me), which had a lot of strict visiting rules for me to keep track of. He also was massively cranky and couldn’t sleep because of the noise. (He once had trouble sleeping at the beach because “the ocean was too loud”, so this was not unexpected.) They also shaved his beard before surgery, which is the only time I’d ever seen him without one and made the whole thing even more surreal, since I was now dealing with someone who neither looked like nor sounded like my dad was supposed to.

      – They then moved him from the CICU to the regular cardiac floor, and kept him there for quite a while longer. I think they wanted to see how he was regaining function from the TIA as well as doing various heart-monitoring things.

      – I had the biggest, stupidest fight with LinCare, the WORST MEDICAL COMPANY I HAVE EVER DEALT WITH AND WHO GETS NEGATIVE 500 STARS over his home hospital bed. They had some paperwork that needed to be signed by the patient, and they brought it to the house when they brought the bed, and they waited until they had the bed assembled to spring this on me after the close of business at their actual office, and then dissembled and TOOK THE BED AWAY AGAIN when I would not falsely sign on my dad’s behalf because I do not have POA for him. They were not willing to send the paperwork to the hospital so he could sign it there and did not flag for us in advance that this would be an issue so we could figure out a way for him to sign the paperwork before they got there. We were just told to have someone at the house to let in the people who would be installing the bed, no warning that they needed to be someone able to sign medical forms on behalf of the patient. I think eventually we got them to come back the day he was actually discharged so he could sign the papers himself, but seriously, they are a medical supply company and should have some sort of way for people to sign forms at the hospital while booking them as a service rather than assume someone who needs a medical bed at home as part of a discharge plan will be hanging out and ready to sign papers with no warning. They also falsely billed us for someone else’s hospital bed a year-ish later. (My dad has a very common first name/last name, to the point that there are more than 10 of them in the local phone book, so we think what happened is that they attached some other person’s bed to his account instead, probably because they found a “John Smith” in the system already and just assumed it was the right one. This took months and many phone calls to deal with, and actually for all I know dad is still dealing with it. I think he eventually reported it to Medicare as fraud to try and get it resolved, but I let him fight his own battles so I may be mis-remembering.) This whole mess turned me into a hysterical pile of goo for a bit and apparently I’m still pretty salty about the whole thing.

      – Once he was home, he had to give himself some kind of IV thing once a day (or maybe twice?) for a while. The IV bags were delivered to the house every few days in boxes with cold packs in them and needed to be kept refrigerated. They also sent a nurse to check on him once or twice a week. I was living with him at the time but he didn’t need any particular personal/rehab/medical care from me that I recall. He was on a lifting restriction so I needed to carry heavy things for a while and we had to buy milk in half-gallons rather than gallons until he was cleared off of that restriction. I think I had to do all of the driving for a little while too, but he just hung out at home and sent me out on errands rather than wanting to go places. He also had his golfing and bowling buddies do some of the driving since I was working and they are all retired. I left him at home to go to work, but we lived in a pretty tight-knit cul-de-sac where everyone knew him, so I think the neighbors came by to check on him throughout the day while I was working.

      – He went to PT at the hospital for quite a while afterwards, but I think that started after he was driving himself again.

      – He still sees his cardiac specialist every year or so. I think it was originally every 6 months? A few years later he’s now off of all but one of his meds, and they’re ramping down the cholesterol med since he actually has low cholesterol (genetic, always been that way regardless of diet) so that one probably doesn’t make long-term sense either now that his heart has had a chance to heal. (His numbers on the med are so low stroke risk is a worry.)

      Sorry for the novel. I don’t know if any of that is helpful to you or not.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      My father had a triple bypass decades ago. But I am seeing some of the same things here I saw in my father.

      My father did become more emotional/weepy. I don’t know how to clearly say this without sounding kind of stupid so bear with me. His weepiness did not bother me as one would think. He would tear up if someone died. One time he teared up because someone was getting divorced. This was a huge change for him. Previously, he had a temper and not much control over his temper. I felt the tears were more honest than the anger so I was not upset to see him cry. The tears were usually appropriate for the given setting. And he quit losing his temper entirely. He got pretty chill about things. Other than knowing that he was sad which was hard, he became this very likable person. I wondered how long his heart had not been working correctly.

      They did not tell him that the surgery would have to be done over. He went well over the allotted time. When he was informed he needed another surgery, he said no. I understood why. He passed at 72.

      Surgeries today are done better, I think. They sent my father home a few days after the surgery and this was not a good plan. Fortunately a family member was a nurse and she stayed with him. I think she was with him for well over a month. By the time she left he could barely get out of bed and get dressed. He could not walk around outside the house. If they offer rehab, take it.

  47. Trixie*

    Considering a soda stream! Aside from the CO2 cartridges, I’m hoping a more sustainable option for fruit flavored waters. Added benefit of consuming fewer sodas. I’m reading reviews now (including Food 52) and aside from a few lemons, trying to decipher if this becomes one more gadget on the counter. I have no counter space hence my concern.

    1. Applesauce*

      I LOVE my soda stream. I use it every day, it’s probably the most used appliance in my kitchen except for maybe the toaster. I don’t use any flavouring but I used to go through cases and cases of unflavoured, unsweetened sparkling water and I love not having to do that anymore.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        That’s the reason I bought ours. My partner only drinks fizzy water and I was tired of the bottles everywhere (in my studio apartment when he first moved in). It’s been SO much better.

    2. Earthwalker*

      I’ve been thinking the same thing. I waste too many cans and bottles drinking sodas, and commercial sodas have phosphoric acid in them which is said to be bad for your bones. So I’m thinking about trying bitters and soda. I’m getting a bitters sampler pack to try out with store bought club soda. If I find a combination tasty enough to give up canned sodas for, I’ll buy a big bottle of my favorite flavor and invest in a soda stream to go with it. The soda stream CO2 cartridges are refillable by exchange – like propane tanks are – even in my small town.

    3. 653-CXK*

      The best thing about the Sodastream is that one bottle of soda mix lasts for months, the CO2 tank for about four months, and is the equivalent of a case of soda (after mixing), and saves me a ton on bottle deposits.

    4. Lucy*

      Ooh interesting – I’m thinking of asking for a Sodastream for my birthday as we get through a lot of fizzy water and other pop and the plastic burden is eye watering. Following!

      Any cola drinkers able to comment on the quality of the flavourings? Spouse normally drinks Diet Coke or Pepsi Max (including PM Cherry and PM Ginger) and has Strong Opinions about other brands.

      1. Alexandra Lynch*

        When we got one, I was a Diet Coke drinker and just didn’t like the flavor of the Diet Cola they offered. I also have a fructose sensitivity and was disappointed at how many of the other things they offer had HFCS in it. But that may be me; I’m a supertaster.

        1. Lucy*

          Ah, that may not be a problem for me as I am not in the US so corn syrup is rare. I should have specified: sorry. Hopefully there exist palatable sugar free options.

    5. Ginger Sheep*

      My mother swears by it – has actually brought it on vacation a couple of times. She has had one for almost twenty years (well, two actually) and LOVES it (and the machines appear to hold up really well the test of time). She has also suggested buying me one as a gift more than once, but I insistently decline. It’s not for me : I don’t have the counter space, the noise it makes when carbonating the water is like nails on chalkboard to me (very loud and totally makes me cringe), the carbonated water does not taste as good as my favorite brand of sparking mineral water, and I don’t want more work in my life : I don’t want to have to think about ordering gaz cartridges before I run out, I don’t want to have to take care of posting out the empty cartridges, I don’t want to have to think about making water, of all things, for dinner. I get my bottled sparkling water at my supermarket when I do my weekly groceries, and I although realise it is not the best for the environment (though I religiously recycle), it is so much easier for my life.

    6. AcademiaNut*

      I love my soda stream so much I bought a second one for the office! My first one is about nine years old and still working fine, although I’ve replaced the bottle once. In summer I easily drink over a litre a day.

      I drink mostly straight soda water, or with a dash of bitters or squeeze of lemon. I’m trying to avoid sweet drinks, and also the usual soft drink syrups are a mix of sugar and artificial sweeteners that I don’t like the taste of (there are premium mixes which I haven’t tried). The unsweetened fruit flavours for soda (Fruit Drops) aren’t bad, but for some reason are very expensive where I live.

    7. Bluebell*

      Our family loves our Sodastream. We drink seltzer at most meals so it’s been great. The noise is jarring but it only lasts a few seconds.

    8. First Time Caller*

      We actually have a soda siphon (made by Penguin, got it at Williams Sonoma). It still uses CO2 cartridges, but since it is just its own container you can put it in the fridge, thus saving yourself the counter space and keeping it chilled!

  48. Nessun*

    Need help from the green thumbs! My apartment has no plants, and u was to fix that. I have almost zero experience keeping things alive, live alone, fixed (mostly) schedule, and I sometimes travel for work (usually a 5 day stretch when I go). I have a window facing south and one facing east, and theres a hook in the ceiling between them, for something to hang. There’s no obstructions to sunlight from either window, one looks out on a parking lot and one looks out at a playground, and I’m on the 3rd floor. My city gets little cloud and less rain, big blue skies are normal all year round.
    So …what would be good to try first?

    1. cat socks*

      We’ve managed to keep a pothos alive for several years. It hangs on a hook in the kitchen. My husband is the one that waters it now because it’s a bit too high for me to reach. He only waters it every couple of days and it’s been doing well.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Pothos are super easy. I only water mine once a week. They do okay in low light and also like fluorescent light, if you ever want to have one at work.

    2. londonedit*

      I have a Christmas cactus that’s been in the same pot since 2004 and is still thriving. I water it whenever I remember (maybe once every couple of weeks?) and it sits on top of a bookshelf in the middle of the room, which is bright but not fully sunny except in the afternoons.

    3. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      Spider plants, cast iron plants succulents are good starters. Also herbs, with the bonus that you can use them. Hmn, aloe is pretty sturdy. And mint. Mint will grow anywhere.

      1. FoxyDog*

        Agree with this. I tend to kill plants, but I have a spider plant that’s hung in there for years, and recently got an ornamental aloe which is pretty sturdy. Also second the pothos – those things are indestructible.

    4. MMB*

      Swedish Ivy loves bright light and they’re pretty easy to grow. I’ve also managed not to kill philodendrons (pothos). I’m pretty sure they’ll survive anything. They’re sort of like the Keith Richards of the plant world :)

    5. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      ZZ plants and snake (or mother-in-law’s tongue) plants.

      I have a ZZ thriving in my office on fluorescent light and indifferent watering.

      Snake plants also low maintenance and one of the best air purifiers.

    6. Nessun*

      Thanks everyone! I will make a list and hit a nursery when I’m back from my current trip out of province. Looking forward to it!

  49. Old Number vs New*

    Someone posted here about porting an existing number already assigned to them over to the Google email phone number system. I have figured out how to get a new phone number via the Google email, but not how to transfer an existing one. I would appreciate any help.

    1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      I had successfully ported a cell number to google voice.

      Option 1: Port your mobile number to a personal Google Voice account

      Note: You can’t port your mobile number to a Google Voice account managed by your work or school.

      You’ll be charged a $20 fee to port your mobile number to Google Voice from most mobile service providers, such as Verizon or AT&T. Moving a number to Google Voice after canceling Google Fi is free.
      Not all mobile numbers can be ported into Google Voice. Check the Porting Status page to verify your number can be ported.
      Don’t cancel your phone plan until Google Voice notifies you the port is complete. To verify the port, we’ll call your phone with a code. After the port is finished, your service provider will cancel your phone service. If you have multiple numbers on the account, check with the service provider first to find out about their policies. If you want to keep the plan and get a new mobile number, confirm that with the service provider.


      It is associated with a gmail account, so the gmail account gets the announcements of the voice mails, the links to the recordings for the voice mail, etc.


  50. Valancy Snaith*

    Unpopular literary opinions?

    With Good Omens receiving such praise, I have to confess that I didn’t like it. I’ve tried and I just do not care for Pratchett or Gaiman. Their stuff gets recommended constantly, all over the internet, and I wish I could put a filter up in book-recommendation blogs and sites that excludes them because I just cannot.

    1. annakarina1*

      I couldn’t get into Harry Potter. I read about half of the first book when I was twenty, and felt too old for it, as well as it feeling derivative of Roald Dahl. Maybe I would have liked it if I read it as a kid, but I know a lot of peers who read it as adults and loved it, so it’s likely just me.

      1. londonedit*

        I’m also not keen on Harry Potter. I was too old for the books when they came out originally, so never had that ‘part of my childhood’ thing that a lot of people have with them, and I tried reading them as an adult and they just weren’t my thing.

        I also really didn’t enjoy Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, which everyone else seems to rave about! I didn’t hate it, but I could see the ‘twist’ coming a mile off and I thought the whole thing was just OK, nothing special.

      2. tangerineRose*

        “it feeling derivative of Roald Dahl.” I thought this too!

        I liked the first few Harry Potter books, but at some point, there was way more description than there was anything happening, and I got bored.

      3. Lilysparrow*

        Yeah, I like the overall concept and I’ve enjoyed the movies with my kids, but I can’t get into reading them.

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

        I feel like JK Rowling should have quit while ahead. I immensely enjoyed Books 1-4 (which I read as an adult) but the series fell off sharply after that.

    2. Earthwalker*

      I’m on and off with Gaiman. I couldn’t get into Good Omens and didn’t really like Anansi Boys but I love The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I’m with you on Pratchett though. So many people are crazy about his work and I just can’t understand what they see in it.

      1. Clisby*

        I tried to get into Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, because my daughter liked it so much, but no deal. I liked Ocean at the End of the Lane, but I absolutely loved The Graveyard Book (won the 2009 Newbery Medal).

    3. Lemonwhirl*

      I read “To Kill a Mockingbird” for the first time a couple of years ago and found it overrated.

    4. tangerineRose*

      I couldn’t get through “The Firm”. The book was full of unlikable characters, and I didn’t really care what happened to any of them.

      1. Rainy*

        The only readable book Grisham has written is Pelican Brief, but don’t read it twice.

    5. Troutwaxer*

      I loved Gaiman’s Sandman comics and have not gotten much into his prose, though “The Problem of Susan” really spoke to me. Meanwhile, I find that Pratchett’s quality is wildly variable and I frequently don’t reread his books. Good Omens didn’t work very well for me.

    6. MMB*

      I feel the same way about Gaiman! Anansi Boys was …..ok? But just couldn’t love any of his other stuff.

      I burned out on James Lee Burke but recently discovered two new authors I like, Katherine Arden and Jonathan Dunsky.

    7. Dr. KMnO4*

      I agree with you about Gaiman. I actually like Good Omens, and a fair bit of Pratchett’s stuff, so I thought I’d like Gaiman. Picked up Anansi Boys at the library and HATED it. I won’t read anything else by him.

      Another unpopular opinion: I find the books written by Austen and the Bronte sisters to be extremely boring. I even tried Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, hoping that a twist on the story would help. It did not.

      1. Catherine Tilney*

        I love Austin (hence my name), but I’m split on the Bronte sisters. The plots are interesting, in an absurd way, but the main characters all seem to be horrible people who are bent on wringing out every last drop of emotion from their lives. It’s exhausting.

        I have a problem reading C.S. Lewis, or at least the Chronicles of Narnia. I’ve tried to read several of the books multiple times and I just can’t. I just doze off. I thought they might be easier as an adult, but they’re still a snooze.

    8. Rainy*

      I hate Steven King’s prose. It’s so bad, I just can’t.

      George RR Martin. His prose is so intolerable I didn’t even make it to a point in the story where I would object to the rapey bits I have to assume are in there.

      I don’t like Vonnegut’s writing. Ditto Asimov’s–I’ve read a ton, I kept thinking there had to be more there that I just wasn’t seeing, but nope, I just don’t like it. His shorts are more tolerable but I honestly think that that might be because there’s so much less of them to hate.

      The Russian novel as a genre. Absolutely horrifying. I would rather live through a Russian winter than read about one.

      When I was dating, if someone said their favourite novel was Ender’s Game, Ishmael, or Stranger In A Strange Land, I got up, paid my tab, and left without a word.

      Virgil: heaven in Latin, hell in translation. Aeschylus: hell in Greek, hell in translation. Thucydides: absolutely intolerable in every way. Milton: everything you’ve heard of is intolerable, but the stuff you have no idea he wrote is charming and often whimsical in an over-educated, somewhat ponderous way.

      Jared Diamond should be shot out of a cannon straight into the sun.

      Emily Dickinson is a worse poet than Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings.

      Fight me. ;)

      1. Catherine Tilney*

        Unfortunately, someone pointed out to me that you can sing 90% of Emily Dickinson’s poems to the tune of “Yellow Rose of Texas”. I never liked her, but now she’s even more annoying.

            1. Elf*

              Also Amazing Grace and Gilligan’s Island (which can also be sung to each others’ tunes)

      2. Troutwaxer*

        I think the Samurai Cat satire on Stephen King perfectly pointed out all the author’s weaknesses. (Short synopsis; Miaowara Tomokato and a couple Lovecraftian Deities head for Maine and kill lots of King baddies. Hilarity ensues.)

        Regarding Stranger in a Strange Land as the favorite book I’d be torn. On one hand, it’s a definite danger-signal. (I actually have experience with the real Church of All Worlds and no. Hyper-No!) On the other, I can’t imagine a serious relationship with someone who didn’t understand Heinlein, though I’d vastly prefer someone who was clear on both his strengths and his weaknesses.

        George RR Martin. I got into his collection of “Tuf Voyaging” stories, but nothing else ever appealed to me.

        I get that Jared Diamond is not liked by experts in the fields he’s explored, but why “shot into the sun?” That’s a pretty strong statement.

        1. Rainy*

          There are quite a few Heinlein books I adore, that really made a big difference for how I turned out as a human, but SIASL is not one of them, and especially if it’s the only Heinlein someone’s read? NOPE. (Also his later stuff really took a turn into old-man-writing-about-his-dick territory, and yikes yikes yikes.) And of course reading even the stuff I liked quite a bit in childhood as an adult provoked some unpleasant cringes.

          I’m a classicist by training who grew up on a farm, so my feelings about Jared Diamond start with “Could you fucking not, Jared” and end with the solar artillery.

    9. Stormrunning*

      Firmly agree on Gaiman. I feel like a bad nerd for saying it, but I’ve tried to get into his stuff a few times and just can’t do it.

    10. Washi*

      I grew up in the same area as Jodi Picoult so this is an unpopular opinion there at least – can’t stand her books! They’re basically themed soap operas, but everyone in my hometown seems to think they are super deep and I find it very frustrating.