weekend free-for-all – August 17-18, 2019

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

Book recommendation of the week: The Most Fun We Ever Had, by Claire Lombardo. A wonderfully long family saga in which four daughters struggle in the shadow of what they think is their parents’ effortlessly happy marriage.

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

{ 1,362 comments… read them below }

  1. Miss Bookworm*

    So, story time. As a child (we’re talking late single digits), along with being a Nancy Drew fanatic, I liked to sneak my dad’s thriller novels. We’re talking the likes of Tom Clancy, Dale Brown, etc. This was in the late 90s… if it matters. I was a voracious reader, though my parents and teachers were concerned that I wasn’t understanding what I was reading (not surprising, since I was a kid reading adult books), but I did understand them.

    My aunt had the great idea to introduce me to romance novels at the age of 10. I never looked back (well, other than still being a Nancy Drew fanatic). To this day romance is my favorite genre to read. Anyway, those romance novels she introduced me to were written in the 60s and 70s—books she and my grandma just had lying around in the attic. Victoria Holt and Phyllis A. Whitney. There were three books that I read to death (literally, I read them so many times that they fell apart—I’m pretty sure I sobbed when that happened); 2 were Victoria Holt and 1 was Phyllis A. Whitney. Flash forward to about 2010, give or take, a publisher reprinted one of the the VH books and it ended up on Kindle. I, of course, snatched up not just the ebook but also the print version. A couple days ago, for fun, I was searching to see if any of the others had come out since and while the other VH one had not, the PAW one had (back in 2017, not sure how I missed it in earlier searches). I’m currently rereading and falling in love with it all over again.

    I’ve been having such a bad couple months that finding this book has just helped a tiny bit to make things better; it’s like it came along at just the right moment.

    1. Mop*

      OMG. I haven’t thought of Victoria Holt in a million years. She had a book…something something devil…I loved it. Off to google…thanks, friend.

      1. Lcsa99*

        Could it be the Devil on Horseback? I loved both Victoria Holt and Phyllis Whitney too. The Road to Paradise Island and Spring of the Tiger were my favorites. I read both of them so many times…Spring of the Tiger I got out of my school library and it was funny seeing my name there every other time it was checked out.

      1. NeverNicky*

        My library offers free audiobooks and I’m currently listening to a Georgette Heyer as I work. It’s perfect background as I know the stories well – they have been my comfort reading since I was 11.

      2. Jax*

        Once I started reading Georgette Heyer, I could never go back to any other romance novelist. Her books are incredible.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      I remember those! Like you, I also began reading historical romances around the age of 10 or so. The first was by accidental order (thanks Doubleday Book Club!). I think it was a Rosemary Rogers. Way too explicit for a ten year old, but I didn’t care and my parents weren’t readers and didn’t care either. Lol! I used to accumulate all these mostly bodice-ripper type books and then swap them with my grandmother (lord knows what she thought) as we didn’t have a library in our town. She had a lot of the Harlequin and Whitney books.

      Have you ever re-read a beloved remembered novel and not liked it as an adult?

      Mostly I’ve found I still liked them as adventurous stories but find my adult self exasperated by the heroines. I rarely read historical romances anymore as the movement has been to remove the unsavory though probably more historically-accurate bodice-ripping elements in favor of modern sensibilities [Note: Please, I do NOT wish to debate this aspect here—I am only stating the change happened] so it is sometimes interesting to find these much older novels from the 70s and 80s and see if you still relate to the tales. I have a few I wish I could find again, but I only recall fragments of the story and not the authors. Some I’ve found but are out of print. Used bookstores are a thing of the past now too.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Rosemary Rogers. Yes, I still remember. “Sweet Savage Love” was quite an education for an 8th grader in the late ’70s whose only exposure to otherwise explicit material was the occasional Playboy in the bathroom when she was babysitting.

        And Nancy Drew was my gal. I owned almost no books as a kid because we couldn’t keep them when we moved. (Books are heavy and the military has a weight limit for what they will move when they transfer people.)

        But I had a few ND books. I loved her and wanted to be her and to have her titian hair.

        And I realize now that one of the reasons I loved her and Pippi Longstocking and Heidi and Caddie Woodlawn and Anne of Green Gables and Meg Murry was that they were independent, resilient girls and their stories were about them and not about them with respect to boys. (And that’s why I like Rizzoli and Isles now.)

        Even now, my favorite baby gift to give is a collection of my favorite childhood books.

      2. Ginger ale for all*

        My small town has three used book stores within walking distance of each other in addition to used book sections of charity shops. Used book stores are thriving in my area of Texas.

      3. Miss Bookworm*

        I have a few that I have reread and not liked, but more often I still like them.

        By the time my aunt introduced me to romance novels my parents had given up on keeping me away from books outside my age group. I did try to read some young adult books, but they never interested me as much.

    3. GoryDetails*

      A good nostalgic re-read can be very soothing; glad you rediscovered a favorite! I went through an avid gothic-romance stage, Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart and everything else on the local library’s shelves; that shifted from the animal-books I read as a kid, and transitioned into the SF shelves and onward, but I still have fond memories of the genre (which often featured fleeing, nightgown-wearing women with one-light-in-the-window turrets behind them!). Georgette Heyer wasn’t among my favorites back then, but I discovered her Regency romances later and still enjoy those – especially Cotillion, my favorite deconstruction of the typical heroine-and-the-bad-boy plots.

    4. Courageous cat*

      I love when something little like that comes along and saves you, in a manner of speaking. Looking for that right now myself.

      1. misspiggy*

        My go-to is The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Arnim. Each year I save it up until things are particularly terrible, and it always makes everything a lot better.

    5. Ginger ale for all*

      One of my favorite vintage romance authors is Betty Neels. I remember Victoria Holt too :)

      1. Bewildered lately*

        Oh Betty. I am such a fan.
        Have you seen the blog, The Uncrushable Jersey Dress? A sweet and funny homage to Betty and her oeuvre.

      2. Totally an Araminta*

        Love Betty! My husband calls them my “Dutch doctor books.” I’ve gone through the Uncrushable Jersey Dress reviews and there are only 3 I haven’t read yet. I am reluctant to finish them all – I used to reward myself with a “new” one every couple of months.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      I only read a few of those; I had friends who were super into them, and in the 1980s, everyone was passing Janet Dailey around.

      It’s awesome when you find old stuff you loved either at the secondhand bookstore or online. There was one 1960s book I read as a kid that I found online; I didn’t remember the title or the author, just the main character’s name and that it was about ice skating. Found it. :)

    7. Ron McDon*

      One of my great-aunts got me into Lucy Walker’s books at around the age of 9 – they were mainly written in the 1950s/60s and were extremely formulaic – young English girl goes to work (as a secretary etc) on an Australian cattle farm. The rich owner is usually very quiet and taciturn – but oh, so handsome! – and ignores/is mildly unpleasant to the English rose.

      English rose falls in love with the rich owner (who is usually her boss), but thinks he doesn’t like her, and there’s usually an ex-girlfriend hanging around who warns English rose off.

      Then, in the final few pages there’s a romantic denouement where she finds out he’s been in love with her all along, and he proposes … swoon!

      I recently got very nostalgic and decided I’d try and collect as many of her books that I hadn’t read as possible – only to find that I really didn’t like most of them! They went from being charmingly naive and a product of their time to full of unpleasant sexism and misogyny, with heroines who didn’t stand up for themselves but let the unpleasant heroes walk all over them.

      I was so disappointed!

      1. Miss Bookworm*

        The Quicksilver Pool by Phyllis A Whitney is the one I’m rereading right now; I knew I loved it, but I’m loving it all the more on this reread.

        The Victoria Holt one that was also reprinted is The Mistress of Mellyn, one of my absolute favorites. The third book is Kirkland Revels, but I’ve pretty much given up hope that I’ll ever find this one.

        1. AnonEMoose*

          Maybe try the website for Powell’s Books (I think that’s what it’s called) in Seattle. They’re HUGE, and you can order stuff from them via the Internet. If anyone is likely to have a copy, it’s probably them. Or possibly Uncle Edgar’s Mystery Bookstore (which is local to me); they also do mail order, I believe.

          1. Heffalump*

            Powell’s is in Portland, Oregon. Not that it really matters if you’re dealing with them at a distance. I live in Seattle, and no visit to PDX is complete without a visit to Powell’s.


            1. AnonEMoose*

              Thank you! It was driving me nuts that I couldn’t quite remember where they were located. I’ve never been there in person, but have ordered stuff once or twice. I’d love to visit if I ever manage to visit that area.

        2. Lcsa99*

          Don’t think I read the Quicksilver Pool but I loved both of those Victoria Holt novels. Amazon does seem to have Kirkland Revels, but maybe you’re not in the US? Don’t give up yet. You’ll get it!

    8. OyHiOh*

      I confess to reading Tom Clancy at the tender age of 11 . . . . Hunt for Red October around 2-ish years after its publication. The very first novel I checked out from the grown ups side of the library. Sorry, tangent. Carry on! :-)

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Victoria Holt also wrote historical fiction as Jean Plaidy, which I started reading when I ran out of Philippa Gregory Tudor novels, plus there were a load of 70s era paperbacks for sale for a euro at a local charity book sale.

    9. What the What*

      I LOVED Victoria Holt novels, too! I read them voraciously in high school. Did she write under the pseudonym Phillips Carr, too? Glad you found one when you needed it most.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Yes, she did. Some of my 70s 1 euro paperbacks have a list with the different novels on the first left hand page. Jean Plaidy seems to have been historical/biographical, Victoria Holt was historical/romantic with a Gothic vibe and Phillipa Carr was a historical saga of one family (possibly based in Cornwall) which I think started in either late Middle Ages or Tudor times.

    10. Bluebell*

      Wow- Victoria Holt brings back serious memories of junior high! My mom loved them and passed that on to me!

    11. big X*

      I recently rediscovered “This Other Eden” by Marilyn Harris – I love love loved it when I first read it and I cannot believe how much I still like it. Some may call it problematic but any 70s/80s romance needs to be read with a little sense of humor.

      Some of the modern romance novels are okay but I think someone on Goodreads said it best – to paraphrase, “If it wasn’t written by a sexually frustrated house wife from the Midwestern or Isle of Man then I don’t want to read it.” or as a “critic” said, “A Victoria Holt book is the sort of story to bring despair to literary critics, and rage to supporters of Women’s Lib though it would give a great deal of pleasurable entertainment to vast numbers of ordinary women all over the world.” How true.

  2. Edianter*

    I was planning to send the following message to Captain Awkward, but her inbox is temporarily closed while she deals with a backlog. Maybe y’all can help?

    tl;dr: My animal-abusing uncle is coming for a visit and I want to protect my new kitten, please help!


    I (29, she/her) have relatives who are coming to visit soon: aunt (my mom’s sister), uncle, plus their two very sweet teenage sons. I love them all–especially my cousins–and am looking forward to the visit. They will be staying at my parents’ house in the suburbs (I live downtown, about 20 minutes away). I’m sure that once or twice during their visit, everyone will come to my apartment to see my new (to them) place and explore downtown.

    These relatives are from a rural area several states away. They live on a lot of land and have multiple dogs and barn cats. My cousins grew up wrestling and roughhousing and playing boisterously with their pets. Fine, no big deal, as long as the animals are treated well.

    When I was maybe ten years old, these relatives came to visit us. One day, while the other adults were out, I saw my uncle roughhousing with our new (less than a year old) kitten, playing REALLY rowdy: tossing/catching her, tackling her, not letting her get away from him, etc. She was a suburban indoor cat who had never been “played with” like that before, and she was very obviously stressed and scared. Trying to stop my uncle, I got really upset, saying (through tears) things like “[Uncle], please stop! You’re upsetting her! She’s not used to playing like that! She doesn’t like it!” And I remember my uncle laughing and saying that she was totally fine, that’s how cats play with each other, and that I needed to chill out. For the rest of their visit, he would continue to “play” really rough with her, and nothing I could say to him (or my peace-keeping mom) would stop this behavior.

    (To be fair, cats DO often play together in a rough-and-tumble sort of way, and I’m sure my uncle’s barn cats are very used to being “playfully rough” with each other and with my cousins. But OUR kitten had never been socialized to play that way: she was our one and only pet, we’d had her since she was 6 weeks old, she stayed indoors 100% of the time, and I was taught by my parents to always be very gentle and loving with animals.)

    Our wonderful & sassy queen spent the rest of her (19-year-long!) life EXTREMELY distrustful of strangers and in general very self-protective and unfriendly. I have always blamed my uncle for this (supported by the fact that every one of his visits thereafter had her shaking and cowering under the dining room table until they left). I consider what he did to be animal abuse–even if that behavior wouldn’t have been considered abusive to ALL cats, it was abusive to MY cat. My parents mostly agree with me, but just like all of the parents on this website, they refuse to upset the peace in the family by expressing boundaries or making anyone uncomfortable.

    Fast-forward to now: I am a grown-up! I have my own place! I don’t need parental “permission” to express my boundaries! My house, my rules! Woo!

    Which is great, because I am the VERY proud owner of the most perfect new kitten. He is sweet and playful and has increased my quality of life by a million percent. I love him so much. By the time my relatives come to visit, he will be just over a year old.

    I am SURE that my uncle and cousins will want to play with him. And I am also sure that I will absolutely NOT tolerate even one second of roughhousing. Play with him, fine. I have lots of cat toys and treats. Wrestle with him? Scare him half to death? Scar him for life? NOPE.

    If my uncle tries to play rough with my sweet boy, I can see myself saying the exact same things that I said when I was 10. I can also see my uncle laughing in my face again. I feel like a kid again (powerless and upset) just thinking about it.

    I need some help coming up with some firm ways to get my point across to my uncle without having to fully Mama Bear him out of my apartment at the first sign of trouble. My whole family gets along well and is generally very loving. This one thing was the only reason I’ve ever been upset with my uncle, and it happened 20 years ago. I bet he doesn’t even remember it. I definitely don’t want/need to cause a huge family fight over this, but if he pushes on my boundary here, I need to be able to say STOP and have it be heard.

    Thank you for your help!

    1. MaxiesMommy*

      Do you have a friend or neighbor who’d be willing to rescue your baby and let him stay at their place if your relatives get inappropriate?? I’d say “you will NOT play with him like that, it’s MY house and MY rules.” After that I’d lock the kitty in the bedroom or send him to ‘camp’ at the neighbor’s. And tell the nephews “Your father is WRONG.” Kittens do roughhouse—one 2 pound creature against another. They don’t roughhouse with a 200 pound cat. And I know you know this, but your uncle is a major jerk. Major.

      1. Kuododi*

        Expanding on your excellent suggestion, I would look into preemptively getting a friend/neighbor to kitty-sit while your family is invading. That way, you’re able to visit with family without the stress and anxiety of dealing with the Uncle and cousins. IOW…Kitty stays with trusted human before the invasion and all are calm knowing the precious baby won’t be exposed to inappropriate behavior.

        Best wishes and please post pictures of the little one. ;)

        1. tangerineRose*

          I like this idea. If your uncle is determined not to listen to you, it could be difficult to make him listen.

    2. Aphrodite*

      NO WAY would I let anyone in the house who was known for that. I wouldn’t care if he was my father; he’d never make it past the door

      That is animal abuse, and you ought to be past speaking to him about his behavior. He will just run roughshod over you–again. He will not hear your “stop.” He won’t care. You have to protect your pets from him at all costs..

      But if you cannot bring yourself to ban him from ever visiting, which in my opinion you should do, then try, as MaxiesMommy, says to and let the kitten stay with a friend for as long as he is around.

      1. valentine*

        Was going to say Aphrodite’s first two paragraphs. You know whether your uncle will find it funny to hold the kitten out of your reach and laugh as you jump, whether the rest of the family will join in, and whether you’re certain to break bread with them again as though none of that happened, as though you’re safe with them.

        What he did to your first kitten became child abuse when he laughed at your distress and pleading and continued assaulting your beloved pet/friend, in contravention of the family edict to be gentle. I would treat this as seriously as if he had manhandled a child because when you switch the words, it’s (perhaps more obviously) horrific that you want to take this risk. You shouldn’t punish the new kitten by quarantining him because you can’t contain your uncle. You don’t have to contain your uncle, just reject him. You present the circumstance as inevitable, but it’s up to you. (If the family has keys, get them back.) Your space, your rules. He’s not invited. And maybe no one visits this time because it’s too many wildcard people for the kitten and too much stress for you, knowing your no is useless and they’re no help.

        The answer is probably no/why bother, but: If you sat your uncle down and told him the original kitten tale, would he be remorseful or see how wrong he was? I don’t know that you can really have a good relationship with this in the mix, especially when you bear the burden alone. And if it’s a (hard?) no, then it’s okay for him to be someone you only see at other people’s homes or in public spaces you can leave whenever you like.

        1. Heiko*

          What he did to your first kitten became child abuse…

          I am not saying I agree with what he did of course but this is really offensive, kittens aren’t children.

          1. CatMintCat*

            I think what valentine is saying is that it became child abuse when the CHILD (LW) was ignored, laughed at and mocked. The treatment of the kitten remained animal abuse.

            1. blackcat*

              Yes, he was using the kitten as a means to emotionally abuse a child.

              That’s f-ed up.

              Do not allow this man near your cat.

          2. Seeking Second Childhood*

            You’re missing a step — the part that valentine says was cruel to the child was laughing at her tears and continuing to torment a pet she was trying to protect.
            Think about laughing while breaking her favorite toys in front of her.

            1. Angwyshaunce*

              I was objecting to the stated presumption, which was present regardless of whether the original post was misread.

              1. Anon this time around*

                Chill. The post was misread. Humans are superior to animals. Saying that, animal abuse is wrong too.

              2. Angwyshaunce*

                “Chill. The post was misread.”

                Read. I already explained how that was irrelevant.

                “Humans are superior to animals.”

                Thank you for proving my point. How exactly are humans (also animals by the way) superior to non-human animals? Which group kills for reasons other than to eat? Which group destroys nature instead of being a part of it? Maybe we’re not as special as we like to think we are. Maybe realizing this will help us respect nature more and stop destroying it.

          3. Lilysparrow*

            Um, cats torment prey animals to death and don’t eat them *all the time.* There is a half-gnawed pile of dead chipmunks in the neighbor’s shrubbery to prove it.

            Dogs will terrorize and maul entire groups of sheep, chickens, etc, with no intention of eating them.

            Some animals will maim each other or fight to death for group dominance.

            Yes, there are plenty of animals that kill for non-food reasons, and humans are the only ones who find it morally objectionable. Because humans have moral agency, and animals don’t.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yep. “Sorry, guys, I’m not in a position to be having guests at my apartment right now, but I’ll meet you at (tourist thing/coffee shop/whatever) and we can make a day of it.” If you want to explain why you could, but as Valentine says, it probably wouldn’t matter so I would personally just avoid putting the kitten in a situation to be mistreated.

    3. BeeJiddy*

      I think this is how I would deal with it:

      If your uncle isn’t likely to be a regular visitor and you aren’t looking to fully establish a long term boundary, I’d probably just find somewhere else the cat could be for a day. Since you aren’t wanting to raise a stink about it, this seems like an easy way of sidestepping it. No, you shouldn’t have to, but being on edge while monitoring your relatives around your cat also doesn’t sound like a lot of fun. If you are worried about them noting the cat’s absence, you can say something like, “Oh, I just thought so many new people might be overwhelming for him, so he’s chilling out at a friend’s house today”. Cats are weirdos and do weird things when they get upset, so this isn’t a hard sell (or even a lie when you think about it).

      Otherwise, the second the roughhousing begins, say something like “We don’t play with the kitten like that. He is young and we don’t want him to learn rough behaviours, so we only play gently with him”. If there’s some sort of objection, just repeat it. “I understand you feel that way, but we don’t play with the kitten like that”. Next objection, just pick up the cat and move it to a different room. If you’re annoyed and need a minute to even out, hang out with the cat for a bit.

      1. Quandong*

        In my experience with kittens or cats, they can scratch and get very stressed really quickly when people are rough. So I don’t know that there would be any advantage to exposing the kitten to this at all, since it’s very likely the result would be 1. a stressed Edianter, 2. a stressed kitten, and 3. a scratched uncle or cousin.

    4. Bagpuss*

      Do you have a room in your home with a door you can keep closed, and have the cat in there while he is in the house?
      If not, then if he does anything inappropriate you can tell him to stop. Remember you don’t need him to agree with you. And actually, saying something like “You are scaring my cat and I need you to stop and leave her alone” is fine. And even “I don’t care if you think it is OK. She is my cat, and I’ve told you to stop”

    5. WS*

      If he didn’t get it then, he’s not going to get it now, and you’re going to have the whole visit wrecked by feeling (justifiably!) anxious about your lovely kitty. I think the best thing you can do is plan for a short visit and have the cat out of the way for that time. That might be locked in a separate room, that might be in a carrier if it’s only an hour or so, that might be with a friend or neighbour. But you’re not going to feel safe if he can get to the cat.

    6. Vincaminor*

      Adding to the chorus of either shut the kitten in his/her own room for the duration of the visit, or let them go to sleep away camp with a trusted friend (would totally volunteer for this!). Since your family are visiting partly to see your new place, out of the apartment may be the best place for kitty. A+ to you for prioritizing your new family member’s safety!

      For you, remember: you are no longer that scared 10-year-old. Your uncle is family, but he will be in *your* place, and you are a confident and kickass grownup. You will stand up for yourself and your kitten!

    7. Lena Clare*

      Yes, keep your kitten away safe and explain why to your uncle so he knows.

      I’m not in any way, shape, or form excusing his behaviour, because it was frightening and upsetting and he moved from being rough to abusive as soon as he prioritised his own feelings over yours, but “cute aggression” is a neurological response that many adult humans have to cute young animals or babies. He may not have been able to help himself initially, but he sure could have helped himself when you got upset.

      And to reiterate what Vincaminor said- you’re not 10 anymore, what you’re feeling is the reaction to a traumatic situation in the past and not this current situation now. You have control over what happens now, and you and your lovely pet are safe.

      Take care!

    8. Quandong*

      I think it’s very, very unlikely that you can say anything to your uncle that makes him gentle and kind with animals.
      Also, I don’t believe your uncle will change his behaviour, so you absolutely need to be proactive to prevent him having the opportunity to play roughly with your kitten. And unfortunately the cousins may play the same way with pets too, based on what you’ve described.

      My questions to you are:

      Is it important to you that uncle and cousins visit your apartment? How important is it compared with causing stress to yourself and your kitten?

      If it’s very important to have them visit, how much effort are you willing to put in to protect your kitten from your uncle and cousins?

      Would you get a big crate to create a safe haven for the kitten in a closed room, which takes money and time and effort? How about arranging off-site cat sitting with a friend or vet (may be costly and stressful for your kitten)?

      Alternatively, what about not inviting or allowing your uncle or cousins to visit your apartment (no expense and no concerns about kitten welfare)?

      Personally, I don’t want people like your uncle in my home, and I don’t like creating stress for my cat by changing his environment or routine. So in your situation I’d only see uncle and cousins away from your apartment, and shut down any hints they’d like to come to visit with ‘I’m sorry, that’s not going to work out, but lets …. instead.’

      I hope some of the comments here help you with working out how to proceed.

      1. Damien*

        Definitely consider this – in your situation i wouldn’t even invite them into my home. It’s not fair to send the kitten to a friend’s house just because your relatives can’t control their own behaviour, it’s only slightly better to confine him to a single room in his home for the duration of the visit, and you’d only worry about your uncle somehow getting into the room and traumatising him.
        Decline a home visit and explain the reason why. I wouldn’t even sugar-coat it if it were me, I’d say straight up that you don’t trust your uncle around your pet.

    9. Dr Useless*

      I presume your cat has places to hide in, where he can’t be trivially bothered? If not, you should get some, because cats love them. This will enable your cat to just go to a safe space if a weird stranger tries to play with him. Our cats are rescues and were very distrustful of humans in general when we initially got them and up to this day they will spend a lot of time observing from a safe place when strangers come to visit.

    10. Quandong*

      Apologies for the second reply.

      I want to add that I’m so sorry your uncle treated you and your childhood kitty so appallingly. That was not okay!

      One of my close relatives is quite a sadist, and likes wielding power over the vulnerable, including children and animals – he gets a huge kick out of causing distress and thinks it’s extremely funny. So I know from personal experience what it’s like to be subjected to this kind of thing.

      I definitely have trauma responses which are triggered when I see my relative interacting with children and ‘teasing’ them. (Thank you therapy for learning how to manage these.) No matter what I’ve said or done in the moment, he does not stop tormenting others for his own entertainment.

      This is why I don’t think you can rely on your uncle to respect your boundaries or to treat your kitten with gentleness and respect. He’s not just a person who is rough with animals, he treated you terribly too.

    11. The Other Dawn*

      I would put the kitten in a bedroom and shut the door. Tell everyone that room is off-limits. That’s what I do when I have large gatherings, but for a different reason. I have multiple cats and they’re all indoor cats, so I don’t want someone accidentally letting them outside. I just put them in the upstairs bedrooms with food, water, litter and toys and then shut the door until most people are gone. I honestly think they prefer that, since they all would hide anyway if I didn’t do that.

      If you can’t do that, then I’d have a friend take him for the day or have a vet’s office board him. I have no idea how much that costs, but it’s likely worth the price to not have to worry about anyone scarring the poor thing for life.

      1. Salamander*

        This. And lock that door – LW, you don’t want your cousins, uncle or other busybodies getting in there and harassing your kitten without your permission. For a lot of nosy and ill-intentioned adults and kids, a closed door is an invitation, so lock it up.

    12. Christy*

      Just don’t invite them to your apartment. “Oh, sorry, that won’t work for me” or “it’s an absolute mess and I couldn’t possibly”. They can’t storm the apartment if they’re not invited there, you know? Any benefit you’d be getting from them seeing your home would be outweighed by your kitty stress.

    13. Anona*

      I’d definitely find a place for the kitty to stay (a friend’s house or kennel or vet), or would plan activities that don’t involve your apartment (if they’re not staying with you). I’d meet them out, and would just never bring them back to your apartment.

    14. Koala dreams*

      Your uncle want to visit your home and play with your kitten, but what do you want? You don’t have to let him in, let alone play with the kitten. If you really want to have your uncle and the others visit your new home, the mama bear plan sounds good to me. Practise in front of the mirror and look at bear videos to prepare yourself!

    15. peanut*

      It’s very unlikely that your uncle, from what you described of his past behavior, is going to hear any STOP that you say, no matter how you say it.

      So you just need to weigh how much you want them to visit your apt vs the inconvenience/anxiety for the cat of sending your cat to stay somewhere else while your family visits. I would not even try to put the cat in another room while your family visits – your uncle sounds like the kind of person who, upon hearing he can’t go into a room, would immediately open the door and enter that room.

      So if you want them to visit your apt, the safest thing to do would be to have your cat in a location elsewhere with a trusted friend where your family can’t get to it.

    16. Lcsa99*

      Nope. Nu-uh. I wouldn’t even give him a chance. I know you want to show off your beautiful baby but save that for a visit from someone nicer. Close her in the bedroom while they are there. She will happy sleep on the bed oblivious to the terror she missed out on. You can tell them she still isn’t used to strangers.

    17. Broomhilde*

      Time to remind your uncle before he even gets to see the kitten. Tell him what you told us: That your sassy queen was shaken by his treatment, how afraid she was and how she distrusted strangers ever after. Then see what happens. If he is embarrassed, fine. Problem solved. If he laughs it off, which seems likely, it’s time to work around him. Either you leave your kitten with a trusted friend or neighbour while he visits and let him know.

      Captain Awkward usually advocates for consequences when a clearly stated boundary is pushed or violated. I am not her (if I could only be this awesome), but that in itself is your answer. You need him to not roughing up your kitten, and if he can’t do that … what kind of guest is he and what kind of consequence would make him respect that boundary? That is a question that you can answer best.

    18. ScoobyDoobyDoo*

      I’d confine kitty in a room with food, toys, litter and water for the duration of their visit. It sounds like they’re staying at your parents so their visits to your apartment won’t be that long and most cats do extremely well with having their own little safe haven to hang out in. Overall I think leaving him in an environment he’s familiar with will be less stressful than boarding him somewhere or having him stay with a friend. If you’re concerned about your family not listening when you tell them to stay out of the cat’s room, I’d get a lock for the door. You can get door knobs for indoor doors that lock with a key for fairly cheap (less than $20) and they’re easy to install.

    19. Perpal*

      If your uncle asks about coming over, either 1) say no or 2) say you have a new kitten and you don’t want her traumatized by a stranger like your last cat. See if he apologizes or laughs. If the latter, don’t let him over.
      From your letter it sounds like what happened before was a long time ago, i don’t know how old your uncle was or if you think he’s mellowed out. I’m def on team state & enforce your boundaries rather than team hide the kitten, but you know your family and situation best and what might work best for you.

    20. Pinky Pie*

      Short and easy answer- don’t have the kitten around your uncle.

      Tougher answer- your uncle is an abuser. There is an element of dysfunction in your family where your parents “refuse to upset the peace in the family by expressing boundaries or making anyone uncomfortable.” I get it- drawing boundaries with my mother who doesn’t believe in any is a tough battle where she ends up not talking to me for hours and/or snapping and yelling for hours. This is how they were raised- to be victims and to victimize others by teaching that silence is the answer. Your inability to speak up shows you’ve bought into the system. None of this is normal, even though it’s your normal.

      Recalibrating your normal meter is something you’ve started, as demonstrated by this post and the fact you are reading Captain Normal. There are other boards to go to for help- https://www.reddit.com/r/JUSTNOMIL/ https://community.babycenter.com/groups/a6728031/all_in_the_family and https://community.babycenter.com/groups/a4725/dwil_nation are three that pop to mind. Therapy from a professional that normal deals with substance abuse is also a good longer term resource.

      I deal with dysfunction and am working on resetting my normal meter because I want my girls to grow up mentally healthy and emotionally strong.

    21. blackcat*

      Uncle shouldn’t be in your apartment when the cat is there. It would be very upsetting to you to have him either harass the cat, or ignore a closed door to go play with the cat anyways.

      So that gives you two options:
      1) Not have the cat there when they visit
      2) Not let them visit.

      I vote for 2, because the inhabitant of a home shouldn’t get the boot like that due to someone else’s behavior.

    22. HannahS*

      If you’re just having them over for an evening, you can shut the cat in the bedroom, lock the door, and say, “My cat is very anxious around strangers so I have shut him in the bedroom.” You can ask a friend to cat-sit, saying “My cat is anxious around strangers so I asked a dear friend to cat-sit for the night.” You can pre-emptively lie to the family when they come in, “This is my cat, Catbert. He has a nervous temperament, and I’ve worked really hard to teach him to be around people. You can pet him and use his toys, but if when people rough-house with him, he regresses into being aggressive towards me, so only very gentle play, please.” And if they don’t comply, go in, physically grab the cat, and say, “This is too much for Catbert. I think he’s overwhelmed. Let me just shut him in the bedroom; why don’t you help yourselves to some snacks?”
      If they’re living with you, send your cat to a friend’s and say, “My cat is easily overwhelmed, so a friend is cat-sitting.”

    23. Granger Chase*

      This is someone I would never let into my house. There are of course ways that you can keep your kitten hidden away in a safe little spot while they visit, and maybe that would work just fine. But I’m concerned about how stressed and on edge you would feel, watching every second tick by of their visit, your stomach lurching every time your uncle is out of your site because your first thought goes to you finding him abusing your kitten just like he did before.

      You are an adult. You are not required to let people into your home that make you uncomfortable and anxious. Do not let this man into your home and find a way to meet all of them downtown. Show some pictures of your place if you think they will want to see them and use an excuse that your kitten would be overwhelmed by visitors.

      Take Valentine’s suggestion and get your spare key back if your parents or other family member has one and you think they would not respect your boundary.

      Just remember, you are not the one creating drama or a rift. Your uncle created the problem by abusing your childhood cat in front of you and then emotionally abusing you by continuing his behaviors jovially while you begged him through tears to stop. Your family may not want to create a boundary, but one should be drawn. If you get pushback from your family about this, just remember that you have a lot of people on your side (the right side in this case) who want you to do whatever you feel is necessary to protect your furry little sweetheart.

      If you feel like you can handle having them over and sequestering your kitten somewhere, then you can go that route. I just wanted to post another comment in favor of a “no animal abusing visitors” rule for your home to encourage you it is okay to draw that strong of a boundary if you feel that is what is best for you & your kitten.

    24. Nicki Name*

      Another person here for Team Do Not Allow In The House. Animal abuse is a totally okay reason to go full Mama Bear. Even adult cats know to be gentle with kittens.

      1. Wishing You Well*

        This. The uncle has no boundaries. He doesn’t take no for an answer. He AND his kids are coming? Having the kitten anywhere in the apartment is an open invitation for abuse.
        I told visiting relatives to leave my cat alone (shut in a back bedroom) because they had brought their dog unannounced. The moment I turned my back, they let their dog “play” with my cat. Boundaries don’t work on some people. You have to make it impossible for them to get their hands on your cat.
        If this were my uncle, I’d have NO interest in seeing him again. I certainly wouldn’t let him into my place. I’d meet the family somewhere I could leave. There are so many advantages to being able to get up and leave.
        I am sorry you went through this. I hope things will go smoothly for you.

        1. Clisby*

          Boundaries don’t work with some people. You’re right. However, this boundary might work: Oh, no, dogs don’t come inside my house. Ever. I hope you have a way to tie him up outside. (This is 100% true for me, even if I didn’t have a cat. There is no way I would tolerate a dog inside my house.)

    25. Lilysparrow*


      1) Put the kitten in her own, closed-off space for the duration of their visit, and don’t let them see her.

      2) Allow her to interact with your guests, but tell them that the kitten isn’t used to rough play, and they cannot pick her up at all. Let your uncle laugh if he wants. It’s your house. If he tries to pick her up, tell him to get out.

      3) Hold the kitten yourself anytime she is in the common areas, and put her in a private room when you need your hands.

      4) Let a nice cat-loving friend host the kitten for the evening.

      5) Ask your uncle if he is willing to respect your rules about interacting with the cat. If he laughs or is a jerk about it, don’t invite him (or them) over.

      You are an adult, but you really get your wings as a grown-up when you tell your family “no” about something, and are prepared to let them be mad if they want to.

      1. The Monkey Shuffle*

        I am so sorry this happened to you. I would caution against having kitty shut up somewhere in the house while uncle was there. I wouldn’t put it past him or maybe even the teens to go let kitty out of the space despite your protests. Personally I would make sure they are never in the same building, however that would look for you.

      2. tangerineRose*

        I wouldn’t try #2. I mean, it depends on the uncle, of course, but he sounds like someone who might not respect being told to get out.

        I like the idea of just not letting him come over.

        1. Lilysparrow*

          Well, if he’s an actual violent criminal who is willing to tresspass in the home of someone who’s told him to leave, of course she shouldn’t have him over.

          And he may be.

          But the scenario as described is that he’s a run-of-the-mill boor who is insensitive to the fragility of kids’ and kittens’ psyches. Not someone you’d have to call the police on.

    26. The Monkey Shuffle*

      I am so sorry this happened to you. I would caution against having kitty shut up somewhere in the house while uncle was there. I wouldn’t put it past him or maybe even the teens to go let kitty out of the space despite your protests. Personally I would make sure they are never in the same building, however that would look for you.

    27. Kat*

      There are only two viable options here. You find a car sitter for that day, or your family doesn’t come over.

      Absolutely no need to let him into your home. They have no real need to be in your apartment, and they clearly haven’t earned your trust. He’s not going to respect your rules, and it doesn’t sound like your family dynamic is going to allow to instantly boot everyone out of trouble strikes.

    28. Salymander*

      Ignoring a child who is crying/upset by his rough treatment of their pet? I don’t care how nice he is normally, or what excuses he has for his behavior. This is messed up.

      I don’t think you can rely on keeping your kitten safe in a closed room. Does this room even have a lock that would keep uncle out? If it doesn’t, I don’t think you will be able to relax and enjoy a visit. Uncle sounds like the sort of person who would pressure you to go in the room if you tell him not to. If the room isn’t securely locked, I would bet that he would just walk right in while laughing at your stated boundary. So, you are not avoiding awkwardness anyway. You would still have to have the conversation with him.

      You could have kitty stay with a friend, but do you really want to do that? Having to send your kitten to stay with a friend so that your uncle will not be abusive to kitty? And it sounds like your family knows about kitty. It isn’t a secret, right? Wouldn’t they all ask where kitty is? So, you could end up having that awkward conversation anyway.

      I think that not having uncle at your house is a good thing. I also think that having the awkward conversation would be a good thing, if you feel like you have the emotional energy at the time in order to deal with it. I know that in some situations and with some families this can be a lot to handle. But if you can, telling uncle that he can’t come over because you don’t want him to terrify your new kitten could be a good way to set boundaries with all of your family. This is your apartment and your kitten. They can laugh if they want to, but they can’t just come into your space and stomp all over your boundaries. Especially your boundaries regarding your poor, innocent baby kitty. I think saying no to your uncle visiting, and telling him why, is the best way to deal with this boundary/pet abuse issue for the long term instead of kicking this problem down the road so you have to deal with it later or repeatedly. Your house, your rules. It might feel rude, but it really isn’t. Your uncle is the rude(abusive!) one. You are just returning the awkwardness/rudeness to sender (thanks Captain Awkward for helping me to learn that for myself too!!!).

      Congrats on your new place. Please give kitty some scritches from me. You are an awesome pet parent.

      1. Tiny Soprano*

        Seconded. He’s already blown his chance of ever being allowed in your home or around a vulnerable animal.

    29. Animal worker*

      There are already 40+ comments and I’m posting this before reading them all so apologies if this has already been said. I have a family member that did something similar with one of my parrots years ago and got a serious bite wound for his troubles. It didn’t help that he had been drinking at the time. Since then he’s talked a ton of sh!t about the bird, how she should be eaten, etc. He’s an idiot in a lot of ways, so I just ignored this.

      Fast forward to him coming to visit for a week this past spring, and I still have said bird. Before we got to my house I told him flat out that this is the birds’ house too, and that the bite he got years ago was from him being a drunken jerk and it was not the bird’s fault. I said that he would follow my rules around the birds and treat them appropriately or he would be heading to a hotel. I said I would be responsible for keeping them away from him, and he was responsible for telling me if one (especially the offender) was coming his way so I could intervene as needed. I said this was non-negotiable and I wasn’t playing around. He was a perfect gentleman around them for the visit, and even had some supervised non-contact playtimes with the bird in question.

      To me the keys to success were 1) having a conversation BEFORE he arrived at my home, 2) making it crystal clear that this wasn’t a discussion, that these were house rules that must be followed, and 3) made it clear that there would be consequences (going to a hotel) if he didn’t follow the rules.

      Not knowing all the details of your situation, I’d suggest a very forthright and frank conversation in advance to set these ground rules and make it crystal clear that you are not allowing any appropriate behavior with your pet(s). If you have concerns that this won’t work, another possibility is having the cat restricted to certain areas of the house and not allowing your family members to go to these AT ALL. But whatever strategies you use, being clear in advance and not bending at all are keys to success. Pushing back once it’s already started is harder than trying to stop if from occurring at all. Plus being reactive makes you look like the bad guy in the moment (to them), whereas being proactive is you being clear and him/them looking like, and being, jerks if they break the rules.

      Good on you for thinking in advance, and I hope all goes well.

    30. Quake Johnson*

      My id is screaming “FINISH HIM” Mortal Kombat style.

      My superego is stating Uncle and Kitty simoly can’t be in your home at the same time. Whether that means the cat has a sleepover with your friends or your uncle isn’t allowed over is up to you.

      1. AnonEMoose*

        I think those are the best options, personally. And if it were me, it would be “Uncle does not come over.” I am VERY protective of my space, and I would be stressed out at someone who treated me badly being in my space, even without the factor of the kitten to consider.

        Although if it were me, I might not ask for spare keys back…I might look at having the locks re-keyed if that’s feasible. I wouldn’t trust that someone might not have had a copy made that they would conveniently “forget” to return.

        If they just show up on your doorstep, I wouldn’t answer the door or my phone. If called on it later, “so sorry, I wasn’t prepared for visitors,” “so sorry, I was in the shower/taking a nap/in the middle of a messy job/didn’t hear the phone.”

        And yes, I -would- go that far to protect a vulnerable creature in my care, and to protect my space.

    31. Star Nursery*

      It’s so true that if you treat your pets with gentleness and only play at a very gentle manner with them they learn to trust people and to play gently back with you. Sure they might play a little bit rough and tumble but they are about the same size. A human is huge compared to a small animal. What your uncle did scared the cat and scared you. And he didn’t listen when you told him to stop. His laughing and ignoring you telling him to stop was awful. It makes me mad. Obviously he made a lifelong change to your cat trusting people because he was aggressive and way too rough and ignoring all signs of dismay and how frightening it was to your cat. Shame on him! You are no longer a ten year old. You can talk with him before inviting him over letting him know what happened when he was rough with your cat scarred it for life and see if he’s remorseful at all. You have lots of choices now since you are an adult. You can choose to not bring it up but just not let him play with your kitten. You can just not invite him over. You can tell him that he can’t play with your kitten or you can decide to not invite him over to meet your kitten and I wouldn’t blame you if you avoided letting him every around your kitten. How humans treat pets teaches them whether they can feel safe with humans. The principle is true of even with turkeys (and of course children.) Good luck and hope you have a good visit with your family.

    32. Blossom*

      Since you have a good relationship with your uncle, and since you’re now an adult and he’ll be a guest in your home, I’d proceed on the assumption that this should be very straightforward and undramatic. You don’t need to wait for any sign of trouble before you say something. Just tell them all, before they enter the house, something like “Hey, I just wanted to let you know I’ve got a new kitten here, and there are some ground rules about how we interact with her. She’s very much a city cat, not a barn cat, and there can’t be any rough-housing with her. Feel free to give her a gentle stroke, but that’s the limit. I know it’s not how you’d be with your barn cats, but I’m afraid I’m going to be strict about this so you’ll have to humour me. Before we go in, is that something you can all sign up to?”
      Wait for them all to say yes before letting them in.
      Or, save yourself the stress by sending her to a friend’s.

    33. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      Sorry folks, but not at my house.
      And if pushed;
      I cannot trust uncle around my cat. So no.

    34. CatMom*

      Couple of days late, but you just can’t let your uncle play with the kitten. If he was like this when you were a child, it’s unlikely he’ll be willing to act any different now. He doesn’t respect the boundaries you’ve laid out (which, not saying he’s a bad guy or anything, but that shows a real lack of respect and to me that’s a problem).

      That kitten is your responsibility (and, I mean, you love him and want to protect him) and you have to keep him away from your uncle. Whether that means having him stay somewhere else for a day or closing him up in a room while they’re there, you can’t leave open the possibility for him to violate your boundaries again.

  3. Kuododi*

    Well, the lumpectomy is scheduled for the 27th of this month. Right now I’m still in recovery mode from the lung surgery. DH and I go over to one of the local shopping malls so I can walk without the stress of the blast furnace heat we currently have. :(. I’m making good progress walking however it’s definitely not setting any speed records. Periodically I have to stop and reacquaint myself with the whole breathing adventure. (This was the first time I ever had to deal with someone sticking cameras, tubes and the like, where they don’t belong!!!). Oh well…on September 11, I meet with medical oncologist to discuss the final biopsies and follow up treatment planning. I simply want answers and to get on with any follow up radiation/ possible chemotherapy. I’m tired of waiting. I’ll post updates as they’re available. Blessings to you all!!!

    1. Kuododi*

      Woops!!! Pain meds and insomnia are a wicked combination when trying to write a post. Should have read ” sticking cameras, tubes and the like into my lungs, where they don’t belong!!!” Thanks y’all

    2. WS*

      Lung surgery is a bugger to get over! All that oxygen that you suddenly realise you need! I’m glad you’ve got somewhere to get out and walk around in relative comfort.

    3. fposte*

      Thanks for updating, Kuododi. Lungs can take a minute to heal, but up and walking is pretty darn good. Hope your mobility continues to improve.

    4. Former Employee*

      So sorry you are having to deal with all of this. I don’t always read the open thread so I wasn’t aware of your situation until now.

      Sending good thoughts your way.

      PS: You mentioned the heat, which reminded me that everyone should stay cool and hydrated. Even healthy people can be undone by extreme heat.

    5. Alpha Bravo*

      It sounds like you’re doing very well! Slow and steady wins the race here. Blessings to you Kuododi.

    6. Quandong*

      I’m glad you have dates for your next surgery and oncology planning appointment. Sorry it’s taking longer to get back to your usual ease with breathing though.

      It’s a great idea to make use of malls when the weather is hot, I hope you can keep using this option as long as you need it. Best wishes for this week of recovery!

  4. Anonymouse*

    I made the strange discovery that two favorite authors separately wrote books about married couples in which the husband was lovingly obsessed with a cat. Colette’s “The Cat” (“La Chatte”) was published in 1933, and Junichiro Tanizaki’s “A Cat, a Man, and Two Women” came out in 1936 — so close together that I doubt Tanizaki was inspired by Colette. But who knows — anything is possible.

    I just finished reading both of them, and they are *delightful.* Both examine the turbulent underpinnings of unhappy marriages, and both are very obviously written by cat lovers, and the cat characters (Saha in Colette’s; Lily in Tanizaki’s) are fully realized and lovingly described.

    This has made me want to read more serious fiction in which cat characters are featured! I tried reading “I Am a Cat” by Soseki, but it didn’t really click with me, sadly. Does anyone have any suggestions?

    1. Perstephanie*

      This is a memoir, not fiction, but I read “On Cats” by Doris Lessing years ago and remember loving it. Her take on the cat psyche was loving but entirely unsentimental, and it rang true for me.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Tangentially cat, “Uhura”s Song” by Janet Kagan. Sold to me by an independent bookstore owner who called it as ‘the only Star Trek novel worth reading’. I like sf genre and I’m a Star Trek fan, so I bristled– but I get the point. It plays with linguistics and sociology and…the aliens are sapient cats.
      Do memoirs interest you?

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I guess from Perstephanie”s comment it’s at least possible memoirs are valid. No idea if it’s available anywhere other than my bookshelf but… “The Cats in our Lives” by Pamela Kellino and James Mason. Yes the actor and his wife. He did the book’s lovely line drawings too. One caveat, it was before easy spaying, and boy have our attitudes towards spay/neuter changed since the 1950s.

    3. Weegie*

      This might not be what you’re looking for, since it’s more of a children’s book (although with adult characters in it), but Paul Gallico’s ‘Thomasina’ is delightful. It was also made into a film.

      1. Former Employee*

        I saw the movie (The Three Lives of Thomasina) when I was a child and I remember I really loved it, though I can’t recall any details of the story itself.

      2. MysteryFan*

        The Abandoned is also by Paul Gallico and is sometimes called Jennie. It’s about a boy hit by a car, and while unconscious, “wakes up” as a cat. He meets Jennie, a wise female cat who teaches him the ropes.. the best line is “When in doubt, wash”

    4. Koala dreams*

      The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide. It’s about a married couple and the cat that visits them in their house. It’s a very sweet book.

    5. Grace*

      Derek Longden’s books are more memoirs, but they’re incredibly enjoyable – start with The Cat Who Came in from the Cold.

      Also memoir/autobiographical, A Street Cat Named Bob!

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I don’t know anything about these, I haven’t read them myself, but isn’t there a whole series of mysteries involving a cat detective? Author Lilian Jackson Braun, the internet tells me.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        Yes, Lilian Jackson Braun wrote an extensive series of mysteries called “The Cat Who…” They feature two Siamese cats that their human believes help him solve mysteries.

        My copies disappeared during a move, which makes me sad, because they don’t *quite* meet the threshold for buying the same book twice.

        1. Former Employee*

          You can buy them used on ebay or at thriftbooks.com.

          One of my least favorite things is having books go missing.

      2. tiasp*

        Rita Mae Brown writes mysteries that include some writing from the point of view of her cats/dog.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Rita Mae Brown’s series with her cat Squeaky Pie as co-author now come to mind.
        As does the kid”s mystery series with “Pete the Cat” as detective. (He could think & plan & sleuth but not tell any human what he figured out…sometimes he’d have to “accidentally ” knock something off a shelf so the humans would find the clue that had been obvious to a cat.)
        ‘The White Cat’ by Holly Black is YA, set in a world with some nasty magic. (And fascinating variation on 20th c American laws & manners that result.)

      1. Woman of a Certain Age*

        Back in the day, I read several books, including some about cats and dogs, by an author named Gladys Taber. Gladys also wrote columns for “Ladies’ Home Journal” and “Family Circle” and was something of a Martha Stewart kind of person, before Martha Stewart. The book of hers that first pops into my mind is titled, “Amber, a Very Personal Cat.”

    7. Marion Ravenwood*

      Tom Cox has a brilliant series of books which are mainly about his cats, but also cover lots of other things too. I’d start with Talk To The Tail and work your way through them from there.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I seem to specialize in frivolous romp’s today… i just spotted my daughter’s ‘Warriors’ series. It’s a middle-reader fable about a kitten who escapes to join the feral cat clans living in the woods near where he was born, and of course grows up to be a mighty fighter. ;)

      1. Dawbs*

        There are roughly 3 gazillion warriors books-I read the first few to make sure they were appropriate and to figure out what my kid was getting into, but I know shes on her 12th or so.
        there are also (kid approved) manga to go with, if you want to jump down this rabbit hole

      2. MysteryFan*

        I loved the Warrior series! I was just about to post about it when I saw your comment. It’s YA, for sure, but SO detailed in the social constructs and even the “Cat Religion”..

    9. cleo*

      The Girl with the Cat Tattoo by Theresa Weir. Quirky romance with a bit of mystery about a young widowed children’s librarian and her match making cat. The parts from the cats point of view were great. Very cat like. I didn’t care for the second book in the series but the first was so much fun.

      If you like SF. Games of Command by Linnea Sinclair is a SF space opera with cats. They have some other name like furzels but they’re definitely cats. Cats that are telepathic and that save the day.

  5. Fikly*

    I’m three weeks into a concussion (from hitting my head on my freezer handle, yes, really). The thing we do not talk about on weekends is being super great about me not being able to do the thing we do not talk about on weekends, I am getting very good medical care, etc.

    But I am just really frustrated with just how bad I still feel. I have never had a concussion before. My neurologist (who is at a concussion clinic) said that he estimates my symptoms should mostly be resolved in another 3 weeks, but at this point, I am still developing new symptoms. On Tuesday, because of coordination problems that have developed post-concussion, I tripped and fell and while I did no serious damage, I ended up in a massive amount of pain from the cuts/scrapes/bruises.

    The brain MRI I had following this concussion was the third brain one I have had this year, all for different reasons. Which is to say, it has been a super challenging and difficult health year.

    People who have had concussions, please tell me it gets better?

    1. hazy days*

      A family member had a bad concussion, and we realised after that that our understanding of concussions was shaped by Hollywood where someone gets knocked out and is immediately recovered.
      While my relative is now well on the way to being recovered, it did take much longer than we thought it would at first. Think ‘What Katy Did’ rather than Hollywood plots, in terms of recovery.
      Sorry if this is daunting, but I think we would have found it easier if we’d understood at the start that these can take months to recover from.

      1. Fikly*

        Ugh, yes, Hollywood lies! I shouldn’t be surprised, the medical issues I do know about I am well aware they do not portray accurately, but this has been added to the list of things I will be yelling at the screen about. Thanks!

    2. The Kerosene Kid*

      I work with a lot of student athletes who get concussed (hockey!) and we go through concussion training every year. It WILL get better if you are careful, but dang, it is a long and tedious process. I’m sorry you are going through this.

    3. anonagain*

      If you haven’t already, it might be a good idea to tell your doctor about your fall.

      I improved drastically after my concussion, so it is possible. I’m so sorry you’re going through this and I hope you start feeling better soon.

    4. Goose Lavel*

      You will recover completely, take it slow, limit exercising your brain with mentally challenging activities and give yourself time to heal. Everyone is different.

      I had a motorcycle accident where I was unconscious for 4 hours and it took several months for most symptoms to resolve. I was 100% by month three.

      I also crushed my shoulder and broke two vertebrae in my spine, which limited my activities to where the concussion symptoms blended with my inability to get out and do much of anything.

    5. blackcat*

      If you are continuing to have new symptoms emerge, I think you need go to back and ask for a CT. CTs are much better at detecting things like small bleeds than MRIs. You also need to tell them about your fall. That’s what I’m most concerned about. Both that it happened, and that you could have shaken your currently very fragile brain some more (even if you did not hit your head).
      (Note: I am a scientist who is generally like OMG GET THAT CT AND ALL IT’S RADIATION AWAY FROM ME, so I don’t suggest a CT lightly.)
      I had new symptoms emerge for maybe a week after my concussion, and the most severe symptoms resolved within 3 weeks. I was back to normal within 6. But I was young (18).
      Is there a chance the concussion is interacting with the other issues you have?

      1. Lilith*

        A friend ‘s husband was concussed & it took a really long time to recover. I don’t remember how long. 2 months or more?? He was told to not read or watch tv or use computer. It was a slow, boring recovery.

      2. Fikly*

        I had a CT on day 3 – it showed no bleeds or skull fracture. I hadn’t thought a new one could develop this late, but I can look into that.

        And I did immediately report the fall and coordination issue (which was a new symptom) to my neuro. He fit me in very quickly, and did a thorough exam, because I have a cervical neck issue (that can cause foot drop, but very rarely) that was aggravated by the head trauma, and concluded that the issue was coordination related to the concussion, rather than nerve.

        I am very unhappy about the fall too! I have other health issues that make falling particularly dangerous for me. That same health issue, I was told by my neuro, will make my concussion slower to heal (sigh) but should not affect the eventual outcome.

        A few of the symptoms are starting to feel a little bit better. But the new things developing sort of cancel out the benefits. It’s the whole one step forward and two step backs thing, which is why I’m so frustrated, I think.

        Thanks so much!

        1. blackcat*

          Ah, okay, if you’ve had a CT, and there were no bleeds AND you have another known issue that directly complicates the concussion recovery, I wouldn’t ask for another CT.

          Concussion recovery is hard. And boring. So boring.

          If you’re going to be using devices, I strongly recommend switching them to dark mode or inverting colors. Less light coming in means less work for your brain to do. It would probably be better to step away from devices entirely. I was told no computer, no reading, no TV, no hard thinking. All of those lengthen recovery time. Audio books were a concession so I didn’t die of boredom.

            1. blackcat*

              Two weeks solid, then easing back in.
              I was a college student at the time. It was HARD. So Hard!

          1. Fikly*

            Yes, I am trying to be good on that front! Devices are on dark mode, my glasses happen to have the blue light filter, and I am mostly listening to podcasts/audiobooks.

            My neurologist actually suggested starting limited screen time/brain use again, gauging time by when symptoms worsen, and then do the activity for three more minutes and then rest. On the principle of slowly strengthening, I guess?

            The boredom, I am not good with boredom!

    6. Another concussion*

      I’m so sorry. I got what I thought was a minor concussion five years ago, after having had several major ones when I was younger. It does get better, but everyone’s recovery is different. Mine happened to be very slow and was eventually diagnosed as post-concussion disorder. I’m glad you’ve found treatment with a neuro who treats concussions; keep advocating for yourself/your brain if it’s not improving. My best advice is to pay attention to what exacerbates/triggers your symptoms; while your brain is healing, it helps to minimize stimuli. What helped me was to limit screen time, as well as exposure to bright lights and loud sounds, and to allow myself a lot of recovery time following a busy or stimulating day. Best of luck to you.

      1. Fikly*

        Thanks! My neuro did say that if I’m still having problems in another 3 weeks we’ll start doing some more involved cognitive testing and the like, so I’m encouraged by his attitude of not letting things sit.

        Curiously, while I have not had a migraine since the concussion, just about all of my migraine triggers will make my concussion symptoms worse. Thanks!

        1. blackcat*

          You may actually still be having migraines without the usual migraine symptoms! Brain injuries are weird!

          So stay away from your triggers even more so than normal.

          I’m sorry it could be a very long, boring recovery.

          Sleep. Lots of sleep. And audio books.

          1. Gaia*

            This is very true! I learned this summer that my “mild but irritating” temple headache I get about once a week as an asymptomatic migraine. Part of it is that I have an exceptionally high pain tolerance when it comes to throbby pains but also I just have abnormal migraine symptoms.

          2. Fikly*

            I had not thought of that! Interesting!

            I am trying to manage my triggers, but when two are motion and noise, and I have to take trains and subways to get to my doctors, it is challenging.

            Audiobooks and podcasts, yes, I am on that!

    7. Gaia*

      I had a level 2 concussion a few years ago and I ended up with a headache for about six weeks. I had similar coordination issues and generally just felt like crap. I’m sorry you’re going through that.

    8. CastIrony*

      I got my first ever mild concussion on the last Wednesday of this past April (I was at work when a frozen crock fell on my head). I was dizzy for the first week and was developing minor symptoms until July. I still have this thing where it upsets my brain if something moves too jarringly.

      My sister says it takes like six months to a year to fully recover. For me, it has, so I believe in you!

      1. Fikly*

        This is so encouraging! Thank you!

        All these medical people (up until I saw the concussion neurologist) kept using the phrase “just a concussion.” And like, yes, I’m glad there’s no brain bleed, but the next medical person who calls it just a concussion is getting one, courtesy of me.

    9. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      I had a bad concussion many years back and also a had a brain bruise (contusion) without a brain bleed. It healed. It just took a while and yes…was very frustrating. Have your doc continue to monitor it (they can sometimes see a brain bruise by looking in your eyes). And find something that helps you relax your thoughts, just to refocus for a bit every day. Cute animal video compilations or something can help your brain chemicals change!

    10. Anon concussion for this one*

      Eventually, it gets somewhat better but not completely. I also wouldn’t necessarily trust doctors to say when you’re really recovered. I felt disoriented for a few weeks after an accident, dizzy for longer than that. I went to bed a lot earlier than I used to but I probably didn’t restrict much in the way of work (but i shouldve), tv/computer time. I had trouble concentrating when I would read an article or whatever. I was probably improved slightly after a few months but not really there yet. A few years later I walked into a low hanging sign, yes really, I’m tallish. For years I was bothered by sounds, lights, everything and I banged my head against a wall in frustration. It stopped. Yes, it sounds like when your tv or computer arent’ working, and that fixed it, but maybe thats just me, I dont advise it. I’m sure not exactly like before, just like if you sprained your ankle, it’ll never be completely healed. But from hitting your head on the fridge? I’d think you’d heal. Just don’t mock a concussion. It’s serious. And from what I recall of really old movies, they actually don’t recover immediately. I don’t know where people got this freak idea from.

    11. Artemesia*

      My DIL was hit by a car with lots of injuries including a concussion — It took about 6 mos before she was beginning to feel herself. It takes a while but usually gets gradually better.

  6. Bewildered lately*

    Oh, they look so handsome and contented! Are they enormous, or do they have their own little loveseat?

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        Someone take my money! Where can I get one of these?

        Although obviously as soon as I get them their own sofa NO ONE will want to sit on it…

  7. CoffeeforLife*

    I finally got around to painting my kitchen counters but the paint stinks!! I have all the windows open but I just can’t sleep through the smell.

    But they look ah-maz-ing! Bye bye green laminate and oak, hello crisp white!

    1. Jemima Bond*

      I legit did not not know you could paint kitchen counters. Is it a special paint that dries with a really tough finish so it doesn’t scratch?
      Sounds lovely though and I’d think the smell will waft away soon if you can open every window in the place!

      1. CoffeeforLife*

        I really want to do a gut job on the kitchen but have to wait for that. We had spring green walls, aggressive oak cabinets (laminate and veneer for anyone who thinks painting wood is a crime), and green counters with an inlay to match the cabinets and floors. It was just so dated and blah.

        I read about a few products but they seemed so multi step and so much potential to go wrong. I found a recommendation for spray furniture epoxy (like what you’d recoat and old white fridge with) and decided to give it a shot in one section.

        Spray epoxy cons:
        -tons of overspray
        -smelled horrible
        -lots of prep needed to control the over spray (hanging sheeting covering cabinets, etc)

        -Great finish
        -No drips or wavy sections
        -Cured Hard

        I used a different product yesterday after much hemming and hawing in the paint aisle. I decided to do a roll on application of Countertop paint (rustoleum) that’s like $21 a quart.

        – 2 coats (recommended) did not even begin to cover. Had to do 6 and hopefully it’ll cure
        -super thin consistency so drips and sagging on the sides
        – I feel like the smell was longer lasting but that could be due to thicker application needed

        We are going out of town for a week and leaving everything off of the counters while it cures. If I had paid someone I’d hate the imperfections. Since I did it myself I’m going to be happy with bright and clean!

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I looked at special paint when in our old house but never quite had the nerve to try it given the boisterous members of my family.
      Please keep us posted on how it wears over time!

    3. gsa*

      An oscillating fan will help dissipate the smell as well as help the paint to cure.

      Solvent-based finishers care better and cooler temperatures and cure from the bottom up. Just because the top is dry does not mean the finish is fully cured. Wait longer than you think and then test a spot in the corner with a fingernail or maybe a metal tool. As long as the product was recommended for laminate, eventually it will cure and be just fine.

      Good luck,


      1. Chaordic One*

        Many years ago my mother painted the badly scratched formica countertops in our kitchen with an enamel paint. It seemed to work fine, but over time it also became scratched, although not as bad as the formica underneath.

  8. Lena Clare*

    Alison your house looks completely cat hair free! How do you do it? No matter how much I hoover up, I’m covered in hairs at the end of the day.

    1. Aphrodite*

      What works so well in getting cat hair off furniture, bedding, rugs, etc. is taking a dry rubber dishwashing glove and gathering up the hair. It works amazingly well on almost any fabric, much better, I find, that the vacuum cleaner.

      1. Lena Clare*

        Oh thanks! That’s a fab tip. I’m definitely going to try that for clothes and upholstery.

  9. Help Finding a Movie*

    Y’all, I really hope any of you can help me finding this movie I’ve been looking for for years. The problem is that I only remember one scene, so not much clue.

    Here’s the scene:
    The character is an elementary school girl, and she is in class with the other students. They’re going to start religious lesson, but then the teacher says the girl can’t join and have to leave the class, because of her father.

    Real vague, right? I have a few other details, but I’m not 100% sure of them:
    1. I’m pretty sure the teacher was a nun.
    2. The movie is in black and white, but I think it was due to artistic decision instead of the film being old movie.
    3. I’m also pretty sure the reason why the girl was kicked out was because her father’s political activism, which the school didn’t agree with.
    4. I think the movie was European.
    5. I watched it in a hotel sound 5 or more years ago, so it’s not a recent movie.

    Does this ring any bells?

      1. Lena Clare*

        Actually no, not Ida. I do know the one you mean but I can’t remember it…let me google :)

    1. Kate R. Pillar*

      You could also ask on reddit, the sub I think is r/helpmefind.
      They are super helpful there!

    2. Koala dreams*

      The White Ribbon? It’s a black and white movie from 2009. I don’t remember that specific scene, but there was some scenes in a school, I think.

  10. Everdene*

    Morning everyone! Life hasn’t been the greatest recently with various health, finance and work things BUT in 2 weeks Oak and I fly out to Toronto and Niagara falls. I can’t wait! Already on our list we have the film festival, some baseball, theatre, tour of the islands at sunset, top of the CN tower, have some awesome meals and drinks… Any other suggstions? We want to relax but don’t do that by sitting on a sun lounger for 18 hours a day (sadly), so are looking to see and do as much as possible without putting any pressure on ourselves. Oh, and as we got married this year, this is officially our honeymoon.

    Any suggestions from locals or recent visitors would be really appreciated. Thank you.

    1. N-SoCal*

      Second Niagara on the Lake. It’s such a cool community. There are several vineyards and wineries too.

      If you like history, see if you can find someone to give a tour on the Underground Railroad. There is a church in St Catherine (?) where Harriet Tubman had traveled to, plus other memorials and items in the area.

    2. Lcsa99*

      There are some really nice wineries in the area if you like that kind of thing. Our favorite was Colaneri.

    3. Snazzy Hat*

      Definitely Niagara-on-the-Lake! My partner & I occasionally go there just to walk around and shop and eat. We’re only an hour’s drive away, so it’s easy for us. We were just there last weekend for a play — last of the four we saw there this season — and moseyed about afterwards.

    4. Ms D'Arcy*

      Check out the Niagara Falls Adventure Pass, definitely visit Niagara-on-the-Lake and taste some wine if you can. Have fun!

    5. SP*

      Moved away a few years ago, visit frequently. There’s also the Argos and the soccer team if you are into sports. I always enjoyed the live music. Cast Loma has an escape room that I’ve heard great things about but haven’t had a chance to do yet on a trip home.

    6. HannahS*

      Toronto: The ROM is great. Distillery District is a cool neighbourhood. Chinatown is delightful and there’s great food. High Park and Bloor West Village are charming. Harbourfront often has cultural festivals on. When you’re there, the site Blog TO always has lists to the effect of “35 things to do in Toronto this weekend” which is a handy way to hear about events. If you’re willing to get out of the downtown, the Aga Khan museum is great.

    7. Glomarization, Esq.*

      I’ve seen the Blue Jays called the “best worst team in baseball” recently because they have a ton of rookies hitting a ridiculous number of home runs and other extra-base hits right now, but the team isn’t strong enough overall to bring its record back up from the basement. I like your plan to catch a game because I think it would be a real hoot. And mumblety years from now when Beau Bichette or Vladi is inaugurated into the Hall of Fame you can always say, “Yep, we saw him play in Toronto during his rookie year with the Jays.”

    8. Bluebell*

      When we were at Niagara on the Lake, we found a Food Truck Round up. In was great. They had fantastic food, a brewery or two and even music!

    9. Living in Toronto*

      The city has a great food scene! Some restaurants that I’ve really enjoyed: Pai, Richmond Station, Donatello, Mezes, and Kit Kat.

      You can check out the markets too: Kensington Market, St. Lawrence Market.

      1. Living in Toronto*

        Also, on the way to Niagara, there’s a winery and restaurant called The Good Earth. I’ve been there once years ago but still remember how good the food was.

      2. Living in Toronto*

        For winery consider Tawse. I organized a wine tasting event there and got very positive feedback from our clients. Also, I don’t think their products are easily available in stores, so it might be a good idea to grab some there!

    10. junipergreen*

      Toronto is so fun to wander – lots of great food and many neighborhoods are very walkable. The Distillery District has some nice shops and restaurants, some with outdoor patios if the weather is nice.

      I love the Art Gallery of Ontario – it’s enormous and if you like museum-strolling there’s plenty to see.

      Niagara-on-the-Lake is lovely and pretty fun, but a note that the majority of the wines in the area tend to be on the sweeter side (rieslings and ice wines etc) so just a heads up if you aren’t into those!

    11. GooseyLucy*

      If you’re going to do the CN Tower, make a reservation at the 360 revolving restaurant- you’ll get a nice lunch or dinner and admission prices are included so you don’t have to buy a separate ticket. There are also a few restaurants downtown (e.g. Canoe, Kost at the Bisha hotel, the One Eighty) that are on the swanky side if you’d like a fancy, romantic meal with gorgeous views.

      Definitely do the boat tour at Niagara Falls, it’s well worth it! And if you’d like to see a show while you’re here, Come From Away (set in Newfoundland) is currently at the Mirvish Theatre and is absolutely fantastic. Downtown Toronto is pretty compact and easy to get around, you will have a blast!

  11. Bare Nessecities*

    I was talking to my mother and sister recently and mentioned I’d seen most of my female friends naked before (I’m also female and am 30 years old for context). My mother and sister told me that that was an odd statement to make and I was suddenly struck at how that is a different aspect of my friends to most other people.

    My friends and I went to a school that celebrated May Day, where people got naked on the main campus lawn. Though my group never did that publicly (concerned about cell phone photos), we would always gather together in a dorm room and play strip card games or have a naked dance party (girls only, no dudes allowed). Last year, a group of those same friends and I went to a Korean style spa where you go into the bath naked.

    All this is not to stay that we’re nudists who decide to hang out naked for no particular reason but we have gotten naked around each other and it’s not been a big deal. My mother and sister do think it’s strange that I don’t see it as a big deal, and they wouldn’t want to do the same with a group of friends. So I’m just curious if anyone else has a similar claim to nudity with their friends.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      One campsite I used to go to had two swimming areas — one swimsuits, one without. So there is a swath of people I know without swaths of fabric.

    2. WS*

      I’ve seen all my female friends who I know from Japan naked thanks to onsen trips, but only a few of in Australia where I’ve shared a change room. It’s very much situational!

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I am not comfortable personally with nudity, either mine or other people’s, but that’s just me. If I’m close enough to be sharing a hotel room with a friend I don’t care if someone is down to their undies, but I change either in the bathroom or while they are and I expect that they will at least keep their total nudity to a minimum outside the bathroom. It’s never been a problem to my knowledge.

      Our house rule (me (female), husband, male housemate) is that if you are in a public area of the house… well, the shorthand is “pants are mandatory!” But we all agree that basically, bathing suit minimum coverage. Mostly nobody leaves their rooms without getting dressed, even if that means sweats and T-shirt or jammies, I don’t think any of us are much for casual nudity. Sometimes I go downstairs in a bathrobe if the dog needs out after I’ve gone to bed.

    4. CoffeeforLife*

      I’ve seen most of my close friends nude (and all my college friends). I had a friend get a breast lift and after her last kid and she was like, wanna look? We compared boobs (me: no kids, same age) and there wasn’t any shyness.

      When we can be in spaces that don’t sexualize our bodies and feel comfortable it can be great for the psyche. Plus, I don’t want to me 12 year old me hiding in the bathroom stall because I’m ashamed of having a body.

    5. Teach*

      I was a camp counselor in college for several summers and we were housed in a military barracks…with one large group shower room. We had the most fun chatting it up while showering, and I recall feeling very body-positive seeing all different female forms.

    6. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I’ve always been uncomfortable in single-gender spaces, so for me it’s been more a case of “this group of mixed-gender friends is the naked friends” rather than something linked to a particular gender. When I was in my twenties and there were a lot more group sleepovers (and a friend with an enclosed hot tub) it just wasn’t a big deal in my group of friends to change clothes in front of someone or use the hot tub naked. As we’ve all gotten older and more likely to rent a hotel room of our own (or take a cab home from a party) rather than sleep over at someone’s place, I’m just not in as close of quarters with most of my friends any more so there’s less incidental nudity. (There’s no hot tub in anyone’s life at the moment either, which probably contributes quite a bit to the lack of communal naked time.)

      Currently, I celebrate May Day by going to a sun-up Morris dancing thing with a bunch of different Morris teams from the area. It’s probably for the best that isn’t a naked thing. The overlap of “friends of mine who are Morris dancers” and “friends of mine that I’ve seen naked” is non-zero, but it seems like all of that bouncing around is probably more comfortable with supportive undergarments on.

      1. Lilysparrow*

        I’m quite sure there are multiple very good reasons that naked Morris dancing has never caught on.

    7. fposte*

      I don’t think I’ve seen my current friends naked, but between summer camp and college/grad school swimming locker rooms I’ve seen a lot of unclothed people over the years.

    8. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Ngl I find it strange on a personal level to play stripping games with your platonic friends. And nude dance parties would be bizarre.

      But casual nakedness is just normal to me. Don’t think about it before I change clothes in front of my mom or girlfriends. We share hotel rooms and so clothes come on and off.

      We would wear at least undies for a dance party but that’s since being nude is uncomfortable to me. I always have the urge to put clothes on after a shower/swim or intimacy so yeah, no to group prolonged nudity for me!

      But my parents are hippies. So it’s not a shocking concept that others like being in nude form for longer periods of time!

    9. jDC*

      I’ve seen most of my female friends naked or in some form of undress. I don’t think it’s so uncommon for females. Naked dance parties though are for sure something I’ve never heard of. When I’ve seen females nude it’s because we are changing or at a spa, not get naked just because.

    10. Lilysparrow*

      I’ve gone to gyms or pools with friends and been naked in the changing room. And I went skinny-dipping with a group I knew when I was younger.

      I haven’t ever done a group sauna because I don’t like the heat, but I could see myself doing something like that or the Korean bath, maybe. It wouldn’t be weird.

      But just hanging out or playing cards? That’s not my kind of thing.

    11. Kat*

      I’m your age too and while my mom finds weird, this sounds fairly standard to me. I’ve seen most of my friends naked, but a naked dance party still seems strange to me (no offense, I realize it isn’t inherently strange. Just how it feels to my boundaries?) Were not afraid to be naked but would never do it gratuitously just for the fun of it.

      I showered my best friend when we were about 24 and she was black out drunk and had a mini breakdown that ended in insisting she needed a shower. I pee in front of all of my closer friends if were in bars or at parties (maybe a group of 20ish people I’d do that with). I was in a sorority in college and girls were very self conscious and occasionally would do things like compare nipples or bums (IMO the weirdest example). I used to skinnny dip with some of my close friends (guys and girls) in the Atlantic if we were out and about but hadn’t brought bathing suits, but only very late at night when it was very dark. My bestie showed me her vag after she got laser because I asked how well it worked. It’s NBD to see people naked but I don’t seek it out or anything! I think our mothers generation thought it needed to be avoided.

    12. Zona the Great*

      I was just discussing this w my boyfriend. Yep I’ve seen them all very very naked. We also will still sleep in the same bed as adults when we visit each other.

    13. Anon Librarian*

      I’m really comfortable with nudity. I have friends who are and friends who aren’t. I’ve gone skinny dipping or nude sun-bathing or hung out at nude beaches with the nude-comfortable ones. Sometimes the nudity has been only one gender; sometimes it’s open to anyone. It depends on what people are comfortable with.

    14. roisin54*

      I had one friend in college who was something of an exhibitionist, so pretty much everyone had seen her naked at least once.

      With my best friend, she breastfed her kids until each of them was 3 or 4 so I saw her breasts a lot during that time. That’s pretty much it for nudity among my friends.

    15. Llellayena*

      Moroccan hammam with the women of the tour group I had met that week and…

      Clothing-optional, co-ed hot tub parties…

      I’ve seen more of some of my friend than some of my ex-boyfriends

    16. Patty Mayonnaise*

      I have seen a large number of my friends in various stages of undress/completely naked, but I think it depends on the comfort level of everyone involved – some circles of friends I have never seen less than fully clothed!

    17. Epiphyta*

      I’ve been to a single-gender sauna/hydrotherapy spa with friends; it’s clothing optional in the soaking areas and the sauna, and the showers are communal. Lots of different ages, body types and ability levels.

    18. Minocho*

      So, going into the Japanese bathhouse naked was a difficult thing for me.

      The first visit to an onsen was a vacation with my coworkers. I was not ready to get naked with my female coworkers. I was “indisposed” and didn’t go to the onsen portion, staying in my hotel room instead.

      Eventually, my friend and coworker Yumi invited me to visit her sister, and we went to an onsen. I did go to that, and it was pretty awkward – I hadn’t had Lasik yet, and was pretty blind without my glasses, so I couldn’t see well – this helped me ignore most of the stares, and I worked at ignoring the whispering. Let’s just say all the Japanese women were interested in what an extremely pale red headed gaijin looked like. -_-

      I would onsen again with close friends and / or total strangers, but acquaintances or non-close friend coworkers is just too weird for me.

  12. Lora*

    I. Am. So. Angry. I need to vent.

    I called the bank TWICE to let them know I would be traveling out of the country and please do not put any security holds on my cards from (date) to (date). TWICE. They agreed.

    I am now stranded in the Paris train station until the bank reopens in five hours due to the time difference, with no working bank cards and about 50 euros in my pocket because they forgot. Twice. That I would be traveling in France so please do NOT put any security holds due to international charges. The last time I had to travel for work it was a HUGE argument with them about security and I was like, I travel lots, you’re going to have to learn to deal, because I canNOT end up stranded 13 time zones away. This train station is insanely crowded and I had to nap on the concrete floor with several other people waiting for trains, just waiting for the Starbucks to have a spot available for me to recharge my phone. So I’m nursing a VERY small coffee which is of course labeled for “Louisa” waiting for the phone to recharge.

    They have screwed up on previous trips. Which is why I called the second time to confirm.

    If I can’t get a TGV to the hotel in a timely manner the hotel will give my reservation to someone else – it’s a big event week in the south of France. And I will literally have to scrape together the change in my wallet to get a shuttle back to the airport from here and beg Air France to change my return flight go home tonight or tomorrow morning and sleep in the airport instead of having a lovely 10 day vacation in the south of France with a wine tour and concert tickets already paid for.

    I. Am. Furious. Just fking LIVID right now. I really planned the hell out of this and did everything right, and not one but TWO grossly incompetent people have wasted the $3000 I already spent which is non refundable.

    1. hazy days*

      Is it that you need to pay for the TGV tickets?

      Can you get someone to Western Union you the cash?
      Can you Western Union yourself the cash? (I did this when stuck abroad in a related situation)

      1. hazy days*

        P.s went straight into problem solving mode because I’ve been there myself – I know it super-sucks!

          1. Lora*

            Here’s what the bank told me:

            When I used the train app to try to buy tickets it came up as an “internet purchase from foreign country” which triggers a security hold no matter what notices are on the account. When it says “travel notice” they expect you will be buying restaurant meals and souvenirs. Not… anything with an app, I guess.

            I explained that 1) train tickets, taxis, plane tickets and car rentals are purchased via app in every major city on earth including American cities and they need to do something about this incorrect idea 2) I’m sitting on the dirty concrete floor of a train station where they make you pay to use the toilet and I may have to turn around and go home because of this crap with only a couple of macarons purchased at the airport to eat all day, I am Very Unhappy 3) this absolutely should not have happened, their stranding me here after being explicitly told in June and then confirmed before I left.

            They got it sorted and stayed on the phone to ensure everything went through properly and I got a TGV which will get me to my hotel late but not horribly so. All the same tomorrow I will have to rearrange plans to pick up the concert tickets and I’ll miss tonight’s show. It’s better than having to turn around and go home but damn it was close.

            Of course there was no wine or sandwiches in the cafe car, only chips and cookies. There was, thankfully, a toilet I didn’t have to pay to use. I grabbed a sandwich before getting on the train as a just-in-case and I’m hoping the bars in this town stay open late enough that I get to eat a sit down meal with lots of wine.

            Secondary bank account is definitely happening when I get back. Heck, if I can manage it’ll happen before I leave Europe. I’ve seen signs for UCSB and Santander at home as well as here.

            1. Dotty*

              Glad you’re back on track. This’ll be a hazy memory in a few days. Or after a few glasses of wine!

            2. NJBi*

              Quick note that Santander US and Santander Europe are completely separate entities, so a Santander US account will still have fairly standard foreign transaction fees, and you can’t open a Santander US account and walk into a Santander in France for banking help. My partner opened a Santander account in the US when he got to college anticipating studying abroad in Europe and was sorely disappointed to learn this!

              TBH my recommendation would be both a secondary bank account and a credit card with no foreign transaction fee, if that’s a possibility for you.

              1. Lora*

                Thank you so much for telling me this because I would not have guessed that – it’s definitely not how they market themselves overseas!

                Ugh, so maybe UBS next time I’m in Switzerland for work. “Why do you want to open an account with us?” Um…. American banks can’t find their arses with both hands and a flashlight and I’m tired of their sht…I was stranded in Montparnasse and there’s nothing like trying to nap on a dirty concrete floor waiting for your bank to deign to pick up the phone as a wake up call…

                1. Tom & Johnny*

                  Just to give you hope that not all banks are this incompetent: I took a 3 day trip to Europe two years ago, after not having been overseas for 10 years.

                  I called my bank the day before I left and prepared to tell them I was leaving, don’t place any holds, blah blah blah. And they said yes, we know. We saw your purchase for the airplane tickets and international holds are proactively cleared between X departure date and time and Y return date and time.

                  I was…shocked. Flummoxed. Amazed. They said no worries, have a great trip.

                  I had zero issues whatsoever with my cards in the EU.

                  My bank is a Credit Union for what its worth. Which by definition is a regional, non-international institution. Comparatively small potatoes up against any international banking conglomerate.

                  Since you’re considering back-up bank accounts, perhaps look at setting up the account at a Credit Union that is local to you.

                  International ATM fees were also 1/2 to 1/3 of what they are for standard bank accounts. Which is a significant savings.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This won’t help now but I’m begging you to change banks! And also get multiple accounts at different institutions whenever possible!

      I do this so I’ll never have to trust myself to just one if an account is frozen like this.

      I’m sick that you’re stranded like that and at no fault of your own! My suggestions are just to safe proof you from this ineptitude that happens way too frequently. It could be the banking system is awful and sets their clerks up to fail. That’s what it boiled down to when I had to really fight to get to the bottom of billing issues with my internet provider months ago. The clerks would do everything right on their end and the system would reverse it the next month. Nobody knew until I clawed up the chain to find that yeah, they weren’t given the ability or even knowledge of how they needed to process it to “stick” and not just roll over to the next cycle.

      1. tangerineRose*

        Yeah, switch banks.

        Also, if your bank lets you request no security holds online, that might work better.

      2. Hope*

        Seconding this–multiple accounts, multiple kinds of cards (credit, credit with pin, debit, make sure some are Mastercard and some are Visa and/or AmEx–I avoid Discover because too many places won’t take it) with different institutions(make sure they’re not all owned by the same company). Call them all ahead of time for the travel authorization. Often if nothing else works, you can at least use your debit card at a local ATM to get local currency.

    3. Dotty*

      Call the hotel and have them hold your room. When you get back home, switch banks and get a credit card as a backup on travel. Bring a bunch of euros home with you so you have some cash to start with on the next trip. I’ve been there…it’s so frustrating and frankly scary! Send us an update from the south of France. :)

      1. LCL*

        Yes, call the hotel and explain what is going. And ask for help. Is there a way the hotel could pay the fare and put it on your bill?

    4. Piano Girl*

      I agree, change your credit card when you get back. I haven’t had this much trouble while traveling internationally, but I know people who have.
      Also, I can put a travel advisory on my credit cards myself via the internet. It is usually in account settings (I have to poke around since they’re all different) but at least that eliminates the middle man. Enjoy the south of France!

    5. Anonymous for this*

      This truly sucks. I’m sorry.

      I’ve yet to figure out if these “travel warnings” actually do any good. I usually don’t bother, and rarely have charges declined. And when I do call, I sometimes get declines anyway.

      My stories:

      1. Landed in London with a smattering of various foreign currencies in my wallet, expecting to hit the ATM at LHR and got a wad of cash before heading into the city. Except right as we landed, a lightning strike hit the airport and knocked all of the ATMs off line. I ended up cobbling together this random foreign currency to get into the city.

      2. Landed in Kathmandu with no cash, expecting to hit the ATM. Except Nepal has a Visa on Arrival fee that must be paid in foreign currency. They let me leave the airport (there was an ATM outside), get some Neapalese Rupees, go to the airport bank, and convert them into USD.

      3. Landed in Myanmar on New Years Day, and struggled like heck with the ATM. I tried calling my bank in the US who natch was closed for the holiday. I somehow found the right machine and figured out the right buttons and was able to successfully complete the mission.

      That said, if I had to aggregate all of my money-related pointers for “fool proof” (hah) travel, it would be these:

      1. Always have $100 (or equivalent) in cash upon entry into a country. You just never know.
      2. Have checking accounts with multiple banks, because if one shuts off your cash access, you really need a backup.
      3. Have at least one Visa card and one Mastercard. Sometimes I need to arrange travel online within a country, and these payment processors use different fraud algorithms. Once, “Verified by Visa” was giving me a headache; I switched to the Mastercard which made me do some text/email thing but then put the charge through.

      1. misspiggy*

        That’s exactly what I would have said!

        It’s easy to think that systems which normally work will continue to work, but they often just don’t when airports, trains and hotels are involved.

      2. Texan In Exile*

        I always carry USD, as well. I learned that trick after I was in France and the drivers who deliver the cash to the ATMs were on strike.

        And France used to be pissy about taking credit cards that didn’t have the chip.

        1. Lora*

          Switzerland is pissy about taking cards that don’t have a chip AND a pin. Found this out the hard way at the Zurich Bahnhof. I kept thinking it was a language problem and on the third attempt with Google Translate assistance found out no, he is saying exactly what I thought he said, it’s the bank who is messed up. What is it about train stations that they are the nexus for international banking clusterfks???

          On the plus side, and this is really delightful: no mosquitoes here. None. I don’t know why (lakes too distant? Drainage issues all resolved by Roman empire? Swimming pools not a thing?) But I was outdoors most of today and it was warm with zero mosquitoes or gnats or noseeums or Palmetto Bugs or flying anything not an actual bird. In fact not many birds either, I saw only well fed birds in a park (doves, a fat peacock eating picnic crumbs) and pigeons.

          For non-USA people: this is HUGE, we are plagued with bugs every summer if not year round and spend plenty of time and money spraying chemicals and putting screens in windows to deal with it and end up getting mosquito borne diseases anyway. So I’m like, my God this is magic – they just open the windows for fresh air!?! Who does that? WHAT IS THIS SORCERY

      3. Observer*

        I’ve yet to figure out if these “travel warnings” actually do any good. I usually don’t bother, and rarely have charges declined. And when I do call, I sometimes get declines anyway.

        They’ve worked for me. Maybe I’m lucky, maybe the bank I use is slightly more competent at this than others.

    6. Sue*

      I’m so sorry and can commiserate. We’ve had multiple problems with cards even when traveling in the US. Even had a card declined buying a Panera sandwich when visiting child at college. I now carry an American Express card, costs me but worth it because it never happens (at least in my experience) with them, here or abroad.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        Agreed. Chase cut my daughter off in Paris once. She’s a secondary signer on my AmEx, and they were wonderful when she called them in tears. It wasn’t even the annual fee card, either, just the Blue Cash card. I love American Express.

        1. Earthwalker*

          It’s corporate AmEx that has left me cashless at hotel desks on many business trips. They’d freeze may card if my business trips were too far apart. I tried calling ahead of trips to be sure it was unfrozen, only to have the next hotel clerk tell me it was no good after all. I confess, I’m no fan of AmEx.

    7. Ron McDon*

      That’s awful! I hope you get it all sorted out soon.

      I always exchange cash before I travel abroad, as I’ve had so many occasions when my card has been blocked. We used to take travellers cheques (which you can use like cash) but they seem to have been phased out.

      Sometimes cash is still king, I think!

      1. Lora*

        I’ve done this for countries where credit cards and debit cards aren’t really a thing and you know what, it works great 90% of the time. Where I get hosed is where countries get on a modernization kick and decide they want to be cashless for whatever reason but then implement it badly.

        Singapore has a good system for cashless everything, you can load up your transit pass with actual cash and not only you can get the train everywhere you need to go but you can buy food with it. Not super nice food, but still – and however they route their transactions in restaurants and hotels, it doesn’t trigger my bank’s security holds.

        France, evidently, does not implement well. They kept wanting me to buy a separate individual card for everything including the restroom, and just no, I am not dragging 50 cards with me and fumbling for the right one when I have to pee, leaving inevitably $5-10 unused on each card because you have to put a minimum of however much on it. The app thing would be good IFF they were able to route it through an American server or something that didn’t trigger a security problem. Maybe more descriptions on the transaction? That’s what seems to be upsetting the bank people I talked to most, they didn’t know what the app was at all, it came up as “internet purchase SNCF” and while it is obvious to anyone in France what SNCF is, nobody else knows. Similarly the festival/concert tickets were purchased from the actual town that organized the concert series – like, the town is trying to make money by organizing tourism events (their other economy is farming ducks and sheep because the land is too hilly for commodity crops) so you buy a whole package from the town, but it’s actually the local government that organized it and this is unheard-of in the US: such a thing would be run by a private company or big music company or something, never by the government. Our tourism offices basically offer cheap parking and free maps and fishing license sales, sort of thing. Occasionally tour guides for walking tours of historical landmarks. They don’t do concert series, like you don’t buy Boston Pops/BSO tickets from city hall – so the bank thought I was… paying a bribe? Not sure, it came up as extremely sketchy when listed as “office of the mayor of (tiny town)”. Thank god I bought that and sorted it out two months ago because otherwise I’d be completely SOL.

        1. misspiggy*

          My bank just sends me an auto-text me if it’s unsure of an international purchase, and I just have to reply yes if it’s OK. would any US banks be able to do that?

          1. ytk*

            The problem with this is if you pickup a local SIM card when travelling you won’t receive the texts.

    8. JKP*

      That sounds so awful. I completely sympathize. The same thing happened to me when I was in London for a business trip. Despite calling and informing them ahead of time about the trip, plus doublechecking before I left, they still canceled my cards and left me stranded in London. They couldn’t reactivate my cards, because when I didn’t answer their phone calls (at my home phone), they went ahead and canceled them and issued new numbers. It was at the end of the trip when I was trying to get home, and I couldn’t pay my final hotel bill. The best the bank would do is mail me new cards (to my home address), which was useless because I had to get home first. I don’t know what I would have done if a friend hadn’t paid my bills for me and given me cash to finish the trip.

      They always say that it’s “for your protection” but it’s really for the company’s protection so they don’t have to pay for fraudulent transactions. So they don’t care about stranding customers and ruining their trips. They’ll always err on the side of canceling cards just in case. They don’t lose anything by playing it safe.

      Even at home, I have one specific bill that always triggers them to freeze my cards. Nothing I do can seem to fix this, despite the fact that this is a bill I pay every single month for the same amount.

      1. CC*

        We got a security hold on a credit card this week for a credit card for a hotel transaction in our home state! Not even a different country. We had booked one room for one night & one room for 5 nights because I was having surgery 1.5 hours from home. The one night room was for me (since I got a “free” room in the hospital the other nights) & the second room for my parents to help visit/bring me things/supervise my care etc. Thankfully, we had a second card for the second room.

    9. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      Wow, what bank do you use? I admittedly don’t use any apps to buy stuff in France but I have used my American credit cards to buy tickets and stuff there and haven’t had problems like this! Your bank sucks. I’m sorry this happened to you.

    10. Kimmybear*

      I’ve been there. My favorite moment was trying to explain to the regional bank customer service rep that I wasn’t at one of their ATMs because I was in Spain. And no, Spain is not in the US. Grrr. My last international trip was fun because the hotel used an old school carbon impression…forget chip and pin!

    11. aarti*

      Late but thought you might find this helpful. I struggled with BOA for years on this as I traveled and lived abroad for work. I was also stranded in a train station! I now have an account with a credit union in the town I grew up in and despite living abroad now and traveling to different countries for work I have never had an issue with an unnecessary hold. Might be worth looking into if you want to switch.

      1. Lora*

        I used to have BOA and switched to a local bank in 2008 for this exact reason – now the local bank is screwing me over too. Every time I have complained up the ladder or complained at a customer service or sales rep (sometimes they send sales rep people to places I’ve worked, trying to get people to sign up with them) they can only say, “Other Big Banks do this tooooo!” Yeah, I’m not banking with their dumb asses either, if everyone else jumped off a cliff would you jump too? I feel like I’m out of options other than multiple banks – one local for bill payments and one European, I guess?

  13. Cows go moo*

    I have a long haul flight coming up and am looking for game apps to play on my phone. Suggestions on addictive and/or entertaining games to pass time?

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My current favorite is Word Cookies. But it’s a battery hog! Before that I lost time to Sudoku, FreeCell Solitaire, and Pyramid Solitaire. I don’t remember any company names for the apps though.

    2. Kate*

      I’m mainly just commenting because you used the word addicTIVE properly and made my day on the Internet.

      Two for Two and Two Dots. Both free.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I like Flow and Unblock Me. I’ve been enjoying Dr Mario World, but it might require internet to play, I’m not sure. My plane go to lately has been Plants vs Zombies :)

    4. CoffeeforLife*

      If you have an android I highly recommend Shortyz. It’s a crossword app that gives you the actual ones from the papers each day. You can download past ones and then have a bunch to do. General FYI, Mon-Sat builds to progressively more difficult and Sunday is a larger format.

      I do them at night as part of my bed routine and usually fall asleep in a few minutes.

      1. Little Beans*

        Oh I’m going to check this out! I have the NYT app on my phone so I can do the crossword but on Mondays and Tuesdays, they are so quick to solve and then I have nothing to do the rest of the day :(

        On my last flight, I did duolingo to learn french. Not a game, and you have to download a lesson in advance if you want to be able to access it without wifi but pretty addictive and can occupy you for hours!

    5. BRR*

      I like kingdom rush (and expansions). they’re not free but you can play offline and they’ve been well worth the money.

    6. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’ve always been drawn to puzzle games so I’ll still actively playing Best Fiends. It’s free with the standard in app purchases options.

    7. Granger Chase*

      If you’re looking for non-puzzle options (as there have already been some wonderful suggestions for those!), I have been playing Merge Dragons for quite a while. You have cute little dragons and your own camp that you can work on offline pretty much limitlessly. They do have standard levels you can beat, which don’t require internet or data. The only thing you need internet for is their events on the weekends. Game is free to play with standard in-app purchases.

      If you’re a Disney fan, you can try Disney Emoji Blitz. Each emoji has its own unique power and it’s similar to Candy Crush where you try to make matches on the board. The only time you need data or internet is to play some of their events where you play against other people. It is Disney, but the mission levels become challenging enough after a while that it is not too easy for adults.

    8. Blarg*

      Plague, inc. The play structure is really simple, games take less than 10 min, but strategy is essential and there’s a ton of different scenarios and disease types. I’ve been playing for a couple years and still have many ‘goals’ unmet. Plus the goal is to wipe out humanity, perfect for long plane rides.

    9. jDC*

      Word Crossy. I am so obsessed I keep playing until there are no levels left and I have to wait a few months for them to add more.

      Also Block Helexa

    10. OhBehave*

      P Rummy
      Word Collect
      Word Bound

      If you use airplane mode on the ground, ads tend to disappear!

      1. HBJ*

        Just a tip, you don’t even have to use airplane mode and thus potentially miss calls and messages (assuming an iPhone). Turn off wifi, then go into your settings and then cellular. Scroll down to the app and disable cellular access for that app. No more ads! Of course, it only works with apps that don’t need wifi or data to work. As a bonus, it keeps apps from using up your phone data.

    11. OtterB*

      Word Stacks
      I found Toy Blast highly addictive but had to quit it because I was spending too much on in-app purchases

    12. Grand Mouse*

      If you like RPGs I would suggest Almost a Hero! It had idle aspects but you can progress quickly- without purchases. It is funny and quirky and has surprising depth. Like there is more than get cash, buy thing to get more cash, repeat.

    13. and I oop*

      Ark: Survival Evolved or Roller Coaster Tycoon Classic! The latter especially–I spent HOURS and HOURS playing that as a teenager, and now I play it on my iPad!

  14. Foreign Octopus*

    Book thread!

    What is everyone reading this week?

    I’m currently between books after finishing Without You, There Is No Us by Suki Kim. I’m thinking I’ll either read The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck or Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides because I have a student who is about to read that book and we can discuss it with each other when we’re done.

    1. Kat*

      I just finished the handmaids tale, which I read wanting to watch the show after. I was fairly disappointed by the end. I know vague endings are popular but I ALWAYS hate them, and this one was the vaguest of the vague.

      I’m listening to truly, madly, guilty on tape. First seven chapters have been fine.

    2. Jaid*

      “I am a Chef in the Modern Era”… Tang dynasty official dies at the wishes of his emperor and is reborn in the body of a modern Chinese teenage boy. He encounters an old man who owns a restaurant and begins a new life as a chef.

      It’s an online English translation of a Chinese novel. LOTS of food reference and pictures.

    3. New Bee*

      Just finished What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker by Damon Young, now reading Marriageology by Belinda Luscombe (sp?).

    4. OtterB*

      Rereading the last few J. D. Robb In Death books because a new one is out in September
      Also, Eager: The Surprising Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter, by Ben Goldfarb. If you like nature nonfiction, I highly recommend it. Both interesting and really well written.

    5. Not the real me*

      I took a recommendation from here last week and am reading Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. Huge book but I am really enjoying it so far. So thank you!

    6. blaise zamboni*

      I’m currently reading The Dispossessed by Ursula K LeGuin. I’m not very deep in yet, but so far it’s interesting and thought-provoking. At this point I like it more than Left Hand of Darkness, which is saying something because Left Hand of Darkness is one of my go-to sci-fi books.

      I’m struggling to get fully absorbed, though, because part of me is still emotionally tangled with the last book I read. I must have seen the recommendation here: Circe, by Madeline Miller. I requested it through the library in…gosh, February I guess? I forgot I asked for it by the time I got the notification in mid-July. I tore through that book, though. I didn’t want it to end, it was soooo good. I thought the conclusion was very touching and powerful. So I’m not over it yet. That’s the one downside to reading great books; they stay with you.

    7. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I just finished Day of the Triffids and Man in the Grey Flannel Suit. Guess I was on a 50s bent, but I found them both pretty enjoyable.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I downloaded one “Frost Burned”, from Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series to keep me company during a long day of errands & yard work. It was supposed to be a break from my slog through Dracula…and joke”s on me for forgetting Mercy”s universe has vampires.

    9. VlookupsAreMyLife*

      Just finished up “The Great Alone” by Kristin Hannah – a pretty chill read – and “Back Roads” by Tawni O’Dell – great read, but MAJOR CW for all kinds of abuse. Starting up YA novel “When You Reach Me” by Rebecca Stead based on various online recs. It’s short & should be a quick read.

      The, I’m thinking about reading all of Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole detective novels in order. Has anyone done that?

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I have successfully tricked my daughter into reading one of my favorite books from her age. I dragged her on a grocery run, and she had to move it to sit down. I let her sit in the shade reading while I went indide, and she rewarded me with tales of Tricky Wu the pekingese all the way home. She just retreated to the basement with it.
      I think James Herriot ‘All creatures great and small’ has found a new fan.

    11. very grateful person*

      I’m reading the graphic novel Soldiers Unknown by Chag Lowry, illustrated by Rahsan Ekedal. It’s the story of three Yurok cousins of rural northwestern California who get drafted into World War I.

  15. Shiny Swampert*

    My girl kitten is pooing away from the litter tray. I thought she was distressed by the collar after she was spayed but she’s done it again today and the collar’s been off nearly a week. I am going to deep-clean the trays more regularly (have been removing waste immediately on seeing it and deep cleaning every 7 days) and I’m trying a different type of litter. One of their trays is covered, one’s not. Also I have two kittens and two boxes – I know 3 would be the ideal but as I only have a small single-layer flat I don’t really have anywhere else to put one and it seems like overkill – but if nothing else works I’ll try that.

    Anything else to try? I just want to cry :(

    1. Lena Clare*

      Every 7 days is too long.
      You need to clean the litter trays out every time they use it, I.e. empty the whole thing and clean, dry, then put new litter in :).

      Also have an extra litter tray in another room, and some water points around the house.

      1. Damien*

        Wow, that sounds EXTREMELY expensive, time-consuming and wasteful to empty it out after every single use. My two cats’ trays are thoroughly scooped at least once a day and get a deep clean whenever we have time, and the cats never mess inappropriately. I couldn’t imagine going through all that rigmarole every time my cats used their trays.
        I don’t think that the cleanliness of the trays is the issue here.

        1. Lena Clare*

          How delightful for you.
          What worked for me after my cats got stressed and starting pooing outside the litter box is emptying and cleaning them every day.
          They go outside most of the time now, but if they do use the litter tray I empty and clean them straight away.

          1. Damien*

            Bless you, Lena. I’m sensing some attitude in your reply. If you read the other replies to the original question, you’ll see that I’m not the only person who has said that scooping daily should be enough if there are no other issues with the cat. If your regime of constantly washing and refilling your litter trays works for you, then go nuts with it, but you cannot deny that it sounds like a lot of work and may not be practical for others.

            1. Angwyshaunce*

              Agreed. I scoop once per day, and do a deep clean once every few months. Kitty never seems to mind (never had an accident).

              One issue I noticed is that sometimes my cat seems to ingest a long hair that keeps his poo from coming out, and he had to leave the box and wipe his bottom on the floor to get it out, thereby leaving his business on the floor. Maybe this is the issue?

            2. MsChanandlerBong*

              I honestly can’t imagine how this works. What happens if the cat poops while you are work? Does it throw off the whole system? Exactly how much are you spending on litter? When you’re home in the evening, do you sit outside the room with the litter pan just waiting for a cat to do its business so you can immediately dump it out and clean it?

              1. Lena Clare*

                Oh for god’s sake, of course I don’t sit outside the room waiting for them to do a shit.

                I clean it up when I get home from work, if they’ve used the litter tray.

                And I spend approx 4£ every month on litter.

                1. Damien*

                  Ah wait, you’re cleaning the tray out once a day? That’s a little different to “every time they use it”, lol. That sounds much closer to what everyone else is suggesting! :V
                  Although i still don’t think i personally could sustain daily washing-out of my trays for very long – my cats like to wait until I’ve just scooped the things out before they go in and use them again, even if they’ve already recently been.

            3. Clisby*

              Agreed. I scoop once a day (I have only one cat) and thoroughly clean ( dump all old litter and add totally new) once a week. Maybe I’m just lucky, but this works fine with my cat. He can go outside if he wants, but he’s 14, and spends most of his time inside these days.

      2. Morning reader*

        Wow, that sounds like some serious overkill.
        I’ve never “deep cleaned” a litter box, I just take out the soiled bits and pour in fresh litter. Mostly because I don’t know how or where to do it. Not the kitchen sink, not the bathtub. Outside with the hose? But what about winter or if you don’t have an outside spigot? I do throw them out and buy new occasionally. This thread makes me think I should, so, advice on how?

        1. Lena Clare*

          I empty the litter in a bag, rinse the tray out with hot water and enzymatic cleaner then pour in the outside drain, wipe with kitchen roll (tissue paper) and refill, then take the bin bag outside to the bin.
          It takes about 3 minutes to do.
          It’s the only thing that I have noticed eliminates odours – if I just take out the soiled bit they won’t use the litter tray at all, and I am convinced my house still smells of it.

          1. Morning reader*

            Well I could do that! Maybe not weekly but more often. My “outside drain” is some distance and stairs from my hot water, but at least I have one now. Thanks for the tip!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      It could just be the location of the two boxes. I’d try that first. One of mine kept eliminating in the front hallway. So I put a box out there and that behavior stopped and never returned. I left the other box where it was. It took me quite a while to even figure out which one was messing in the hallway. But the litter box use started immediately, when I put the box out there.

    3. WS*

      Clean the boxes daily. It is entirely likely that she was distressed by the collar originally, but now she’s associated “being distressed” with “poo away from box”, so whatever the reason that she was distressed this time, pooing away from the box seems like a good idea. So you need to make the box super attractive right now until she’s forgotten about pooing elsewhere.

    4. The Other Dawn*

      I’d put the box where she’s pooping. If that doesn’t work, maybe something is stressing her out. Does she get along with the other cat? It’s possible the other one is attacking or intimidating her when she’s in the box. Since peeing is usually quicker than pooping, maybe it only happens when she’s pooping.

      You’re fine on the litter box cleaning. Scooping everyday should be more than enough for two cats/boxes (I have a friend with one cat/box and she scoops *maybe* once a week…). Same with deep-cleaning. You’re a better litter box owner than me! I don’t even deep clean–I just buy new boxes every few months. I have 11 cats and scoop every single day, though, so I’m good there.

    5. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I read your comment to say that you are scooping the box every time it’s used (so multiple times a day), and then once a week dumping all of the litter, washing the box, and putting new litter down. All of that is good. You might try Dr Elsey’s cat attract litter and Dr Elseys’ litter attractant, which is stuff that looks like dried herbs that you sprinkle over the litter. Both have worked well with my cat, who sometime becomes litter box adverse after a urinary tract infection. You could also try changing the whole box out twice a week instead of just once, some cats are just more sensitive to dirty litter than others.

      And, to be honest, it may clear up on its own. When my cat doesn’t feel well, she poops on the floor. It’s a UTI every time. Since your Kitty was recently “sick” (at least in her mind) she might be acting out in this way. Best of luck!

      1. BikeLover*

        We used the cat attract litter when we first got our kitten to make sure he would use a box (he wasn’t trained to litter). He loved it! He loved it too much! He would roll around in it every time we cleaned it. We’d be sitting in the living room and we could hear him down the hall, having a party in the litter. After about a week, we switched over to regular litter:/

    6. Venus*

      In addition to moving the boxes to where she is pooping (I really don’t think that the cleanliness is the issue):
      Are you using scented litter at all? Definitely do not! For litter type, my preference is a clumping non-clay litter
      Is she declawed? Or have any other problems with her claws? That often makes them reluctant to use the box
      Is she always going outside the box? Always in the same area? In that case I would suggest moving it to that place, at least for a few weeks, and then if she uses it consistently you can move it back

      If you can, I might also suggest putting her in a small room (washroom, laundry room, etc) with the litter box, food, water, toys, and a towel or blanket. She can be out with you if you are able to observe her closely, so that you will know immediately if she is about to poop (in which case put her back in the small room). This should reset her washroom habits, as they want to eliminate in the right place when they have limited options, and after a week or maybe a few days if she’s doing really well in the washroom then you can let her out into the bigger space (put her litter box back where it was).

      You should be fine with 2 boxes. Some cats like to pee and poop in different ones, so I always suggest at least two, but that shouldn’t be the source of your problem.

    7. Morning reader*

      You don’t say how old she is and how she was using the box before the spay. Besides the other advice (that is if she’s not sick or in pain) I suggest watching her closely and when she crouches to poo, swiftly pick her up and put her in the litter box. If not quick enough, pick up the poo immediately and put it in the box and cover it while she is there watching. Maybe she needs to learn or re-learn.
      One of my cats when I first got him as a kitten was not clear on how to use the box. He would perch on the edge with his butt hanging over the edge. I scooped him up and turned him around and showed him how to dig the litter to cover it. Only took a couple of times for him to get it.

      1. Snazzy Hat*

        It warms my heart to picture a human teaching a kitten how to dig.

        “And then you take your paws, and…” {dig dig dig}
        “But my paws are tiny! I can’t dig like that! See?” {pff pff} {tiny mews}

        1. Morning reader*

          It’s true, he was adorable. A fluffy grey kitten, more fur than body at that point. A coworker had found him wandering the street, abandoned at the end of term. I think he was separated from his mother too early to learn how to use the box correctly.

        2. Skeeder Jones*

          This totally made my Sunday filled with work-work and school-work much more bearable. Thank you!

    8. Rebecca*

      I had to take the covers off my litter boxes, as one of my cats is terrified of the little swinging door. He’s afraid of a lot of things, though, like the vacuum cleaner, thunder, random bugs, you name it, he’s a nervous little man. I’d try that, and perhaps a different kind of litter, unscented or a different scent, and something else I used when said cat was peeing over the side (it took him a while to adjust, he was born and spent the first 7 months of his life outside), I used puppy pads around the boxes to catch any over sprays. In my experience, when cats go outside the box, it’s because they’re either unhappy with the box for some reason, or it reminds them of a bad experience, or maybe they just didn’t realize they had to “go” that second and that’s where it ended up. I know Mom’s cat prefers that I smooth out the litter after scooping it! Cats can be sort of odd sometimes.

    9. Ali G*

      Have you tried confining her in a bathroom with no other soft surfaces and just the litter box for a few days? Sometimes stress has them messed up and they need to be retrained.

    10. Merci Dee*

      You mentioned that you’re trying a different type of litter. Did she go outside of the litter box with the old litter? Some cats =extremely= picky about their litter and don’t like having it switched to a new type. Even if this isn’t the whole issue, it could be a contributing factor.

    11. EmilyG*

      It couldn’t hurt to try a different litter–put it in one of the boxes and see if she goes for it. One of my young cats was peeing in weird spots in the basement and I got the idea that it was texture-related, so I decided to try a clay litter instead of the corn-based one their foster parents had used. The only clay litter they had at my local store was called “Dr. Elsey’s Cat Attract” and it has some herbs or something to give the box a bit of the scent of the great outdoors. The errant pee-er went right up the box that contained it, dug gleefully, and has used it ever since. Definitely worth checking out this brand since it also comes with a little booklet on litter box problems.

    12. Seal*

      Do you have plastic litter boxes? If so and if they’re more than a year or so old, try replacing them. Plastic litter boxes will eventually get scratched up and retain odors that you might not be able to smell regardless of how often you clean them, to the point your cat may be refusing to use them. I discovered this when I got one of my kitties several years ago. She refused to use the old litter boxes my other cats had been using for a few years and pooped all over the place. Once I replaced them, she never went outside the box again. Now I make a point of replacing mine every year or so.

    13. NewReadingGlasses*

      Is she pooing in or quite near the same spot? If so, then she thinks that’s an appropriate poo spot. Putting the box there might take care of it, or making it unpoo-attractive via scent or texture. Some years ago, I had a small entryway foot mat that became poo-attractive, and had to eventually throw it out, which stopped the problem. I couldn’t put the box there as it was in front of a door.

    14. Seeking Second Childhood*

      As a long-term thing, have you thought about toilet training them? There was a bit of a fad for that in the 90s… I knew some people who were starting, but it’s a long process. I know others who were horrified by the idea of sharing the seat, and I always wondered what would happen as a cat aged.

    15. Skeeder Jones*

      Cats won’t go to the bathroom near their food, so when I had a new kitten that picked a non-litter box spot, I would move their food there. Twice she moved to new spots but a bowl of food there kept her from using them again and after that she always used the litter box.

  16. Seeking Second Childhood*

    I used to wish I could wake up more easily. ..but 2 summers ago, my daughter went to a summer camp where the pickup time was 3pm. And I work full time with commute. I haven’t been able to reset my internal clock since.
    Worst part is I’m not alert enough to be productive and the town pools aren’t open this early on weekends.

    1. Anona*

      Curious- I don’t understand what the 3pm pickup time had to do with your internal clock. Was it 3am?

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Presumably working an 8 hour day with commute before a 3pm pickup means a very early start.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Precisely. It’s a hard line to walk between concise & missed-a-key-point when coffee hasn’t hit bottom yet.
          I have a 45 minute commute. :(

    2. Anono-me*

      Can you do a few days completely away from everything in a cabin? I know people who’ve gone off grid for a few days and not watch the clock and been able to completely reset their rhythms.

    3. vanillacookies*

      Do you ever use melatonin? All my life I’ve had problems with my internal clock being shifted wrong by a few hours and last year I finally tried OTC melatonin for 1 month and it was life changing.

        1. Lilysparrow*

          Yes, take it about 30 minutes before. It’s not a drug and doesn’t make you go to sleep or leave you groggy. It’s the same thing your brain releases when it’s time to to sleep, so it just helps encourage drowsiness. It wears off pretty quickly.

          If your sleep cycles are screwed up, you’re not releasing it at the right time, so the supplement helps reset the body clock. If your melatonin production is already normal, the supplement doesn’t really do anything.

          There was some research recently about how many people were taking stuff like probiotics and melatonin unnecessarily. They aren’t going to hurt you, but they’re a waste of money if your systems are already working properly, because they don’t do anything “extra.”

        2. zyx*

          I’m not vanillacookies, but I also used to take melatonin. I took it about 2 hours before I wanted to be asleep, and I never felt groggy in the morning. Of course YMMV, so I recommend doing a practice run on a day when you don’t have to be out the door early.

          Melatonin made waking up at 6 possible for me, but it never reset my internal clock. I really hoped that I would magically become an early riser!

        3. vanillacookies*

          I take it about an hour before I go to bed, and I take the smallest dose my pharmacy had. I think it was 1.5 mg.

          1. vanillacookies*

            Btw, I am not a doctor or pharmacist! If you have concerns or doubts, best talk to a doctor or pharmacist.

            1. Clisby*

              I had a doctor recommend melatonin – at least to try it. Unfortunately, it never helped me sleep. Benadryl works, though.

      1. Tom & Johnny*

        I am one of the rare people who responds to melatonin as if it were a clinical sedative. It knocks my ass flat out and leaves me groggy, angry, and foggy for about 24 hours after. Even very low doses, like 1.5 mg (not fifteen, one point five).

        6 months ago I got a phone call from my son’s dad that he was taking him to the hospital in the middle of the night. I answered groggily, said okay I’ll be right there, and hung up. Five hours later I sat straight up in bed gasping, and raged through the house gathering my things to leave. I slept through my infant at the pediatric ER. My son’s dad is still angry about this.

        I literally can’t trust that I’ll wake up, even in an emergency. That was the last time I’ve ever taken melatonin. Thank god it doesn’t do most people this way. For most people it’s a godsend. 1.5 mg is an extremely low dose.

        If anyone else reacts to it this way, just know you’re not alone!

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Melatonin on the next vacation sounds like a great combination! Thanks all.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Your other post (about dreams) makes me think it’s a good idea to let you know that melatonin can, for some folks, have side effects of incredibly vivid dreams and/or night terrors. It’s worth a shot – but just something to be mindful of, if you already get either of those things.

  17. Medical History*

    My older cousin (mid 30s) recently had a seizure and was diagnosed with epilepsy. She never had any seizures before, or any other symptoms. Now it’s all coming out that our grandmother had suffered from seizures, something none of the grandchildren had been aware of. My dad, as he was young when his mother died, had not known any of it, and thought his mother has prone to fainting only.
    I am 10 years younger than my cousin, and am quite concerned about this recently revealed family history. Are there medical tests I can take which would indicate…I don’t know, a disposition to developing it later in life? Should I take such tests if they are available? It has been a real shock to my cousin, since it seemed to come out of nowhere. She’s pretty mad at her own father for not mentioning the family history to her

    1. WS*

      There’s many, many different causes of epilepsy and only some of them are detectable before they show up. The best thing you can do is ask your cousin for records, if they’re okay to share them, and to talk to your own doctor about any risk factors that apply to you.

      1. Medical History*

        Thanks for the advice WS. I’m not sure what type she has, or that our grandmother had – I’ll have to find out

        1. fposte*

          Keep in mind it’s possible that your grandmother’s seizures aren’t related to your cousin’s, too. Seizure disorders aren’t super-rare.

    2. AnonyNurse*

      If your grandma and cousin do share a genetic cause, you may be able to be reassured that you are significantly older than your cousin’s age of onset. Grandma may well not have had epilepsy — we still aren’t great at classifying seizures, and women were considered to be prone to hysterics and other maladies that don’t fit the definitions we’d use today.

      Treatment is a heck of a lot better now than it used to be, although still challenging and the restrictions on driving and some occupations after a diagnosis can be very life limiting. I hope your family is able to offer your cousin the support she needs in real time and then focus on exploring your own risk levels. Don’t ask about her health just to figure out your own. Ask about her health so she feels supported and loved and is able to ask for help, vent, ask her own questions, etc. Best wishes to all of you!

  18. Allie*

    After this week’s letter about snooping on coworkers and the one from last week about the manager whose employee ran a background check on her, I was curious what everyone’s strategies are to manage their internet presence. I stupidly hadn’t googled myself for about a year and found that the first page of google search results had my age, exact address, prior residences, previous name, and divorce information. It is so creepy to me that websites compile that information from public records and just post it like that. It took a while to go to each website and figure out how to request my information be taken down, and additional time for the websites to then update.

    I suppose I should set up a google alert for my name. Presumably that would have picked up these background check websites when they posted my information? What are your strategies?

    I get that this might not be an issue for some/most people or I will seem over sensitive. I am just a very private person and don’t like the idea of my age, address, or divorce info being so easily accessible via a 2 second google search.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I dunno, I googled my phone number and the first page of results included one link that had my birth name (changed umpteen years ago), phone number, current and three most recent addresses, birthdate, age, other names I’ve used and a list of people who might be associated with me, including husband, both exes, my ex’s current (I think) spouse, my husband’s brother and husband’s ex. Lik, what the WHAT. So I am watching for suggestions too. :-/

      1. acmx*

        I just did a search on my number :( I hate how easy it is for people to find your history. No wonder it’s easy to steal financial information!

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      I’m actually quite lucky because I share the name and age of a prankster turned porn star so most of the first few pages are filled with her stuff. All of my stuff is buried in the black lagoon that is search page four.

      1. Washi*

        Yep I’m lucky to have a common name very similar to a celebrity, so it’s quite hard to find me with just my name!

        That said, I wouldn’t find just landline phone number and address to be too creepy – that much is available in a phone book. But I’m curious about what folks have done to hide then other stuff!

        1. Foreign Octopus*

          Haha! I get that for most people this wouldn’t be a positive but I hate having any Internet presence. I know it’s not possible to completely scrub myself from the Internet (but if I could, I would), and so I really don’t mind that she’s dominating the major search results. I also work for myself as an ESL teacher so people find me through other means, but it’s honestly never come up that someone has stumbled across the other Foreign Octopus and asked me about it.

          Maybe one day, because I checked her out when she was in the news a while back for a prank gone wrong and we do look vaguely similar. Enough that people who have only had a glance at me might think it was me, but it really doesn’t bother me.

    3. Aphrodite*

      I do have a FB account but absolutely nothing is on it since I use it only to read the various TinyKittens site and various TK graduates’ sites. (I also have a random last name attached to it, not my real one.) I am not on any other social media. Every online place where I have an account has a different user name and password. No one could trace me using any one of the names. Interestingly, my first name is the same as the last name of a famous fashion / home designer so even trying that brings up pages and pages and pages of him and other people. I love privacy and go to considerable trouble to keep it

      That said, I know nothing is hidden if someone really wants to find it. I protect myself as best I can, keep a very low profile, and don’t worry about what I cannot control.

    4. Zombie Unicorn*

      Since I got married and got a new surname with a new blank internet presence I’m super careful and don’t put anything out there – there’s just one page of results and most are of a very cool namesake who’s some kind of artist. Which was a novelty as nobody shared my old name at all.

    5. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      Ugh, it turns out I am on the internet. My name, address, several phone numbers (most of them no longer mine), various relations, former residence, political party, age and birthday. Fortunately all of that is under my legal name, while anybody searching for me would probably use my nickname. Agree, totally creepy. Also, never using my birth city as a security question ever again.

      One of the websites is trying to convince me to create a login so I can “See and Control My Reputation Profile.” I think they’re selling as much to the people listed as to people who want to find them. Gross.

      Man, remind me to marry a Mr. Smith and change my name asap.

    6. Lilysparrow*

      Huh. I’m old enough to remember phone books, and calling 411, when you could get almost anybody’s phone number and address for the asking. So that doesn’t seem unusual at all. But of course, you could always get an unlisted number if you wanted.

      I’ve found online directories invaluable when trying to contact relatives who’ve moved, notifying people of a death, or sending thank-you notes for memorials or charitable contributions to people whose handwriting is illegible.

      The first few pages of results on my real name are from my books, guest blogs, and social media. But of course, that’s what I want.

      That’s always one possible strategy – occupy your online “real estate” with something you don’t mind having out there associated with your name, like a blog about gardening or cats or something innocuous.

    7. Anonymous for this*

      My name is actually common enough I guess that trying to dig *me* out from everybody else requires some work. But my only real internet presence is LinkedIn. Everything else is public records if you can find it.

      So… along these lines, some of you know I’m divorced. Every once in awhile when I’m at a bar with friends, I’ll pull out a photo from “the wedding.” I’ll try to keep the story short and get to the point: My ex and I got married “out of town” where everybody had to fly in. Me, my ex and my parents got in a couple days before the wedding. My ex-MIL was supposed to arrive that evening while my family was at dinner. As dinner was progressing, my ex was getting more and more nervous. I asked her what was bothering her. She said “I haven’t heard from mom.” I’m like so what, what’s the worst that could? Well, you see, my ex-MIL was a severe alcoholic (the severity of her alcoholism cannot be exaggerated. I’ve seen it.) So ex says to me, “mom might have gotten drunk at the airport and missed the flight.” I asked her why she thought that was a reasonable outcome. “Because it’s happened before.” Oh!

      Well, the evening progresses and mom had not been heard from. Finally, I made two phone calls: One to the airline, who confirmed she never boarded her flight. The second was to the airport cops. At first the cops told me that they don’t deal with passengers who miss their flights. I asked if they could do me a favor and just check. Yup! Sure enough, ex-MIL got picked up at the airport for public intox or something like that and booked into (and released that evening) from the detention center.

      My “wedding memento” that I will haul out from time to time is my ex-MIL’s mug shot that can be found at mugshots dot com. ex-MIL did fly in the next day and was able to make the wedding.

      Here’s the thing I will never know: I worked for an airline for two years, and never saw anybody hauled off by the cops. To this day, I have no idea how much of a fuss you have to make to 1) Get denied boarding, 2) Get the cops called, and 3) *actually get hauled off*. (Usually the smart people wise up and tell the cops there’s no problem and they’ll behave themselves.)

    8. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

      I just googled my name (first and last name, nothing else) and I’m not even on the first three pages of search results. I am there on the top 10 LinkedIn results, but you’d still need to know a bit more to determine which one I am – in which case you’d be searching for the information I *want* to be found (i.e. my LinkedIn profile).

      I’ve even googled my preferred name (the one I’d use on social media, or with my friends), and nope, I’m just not there – Google even tried to correct the spelling! (Think “Nickie” and Google suggests “Nikki”).

      Which sort of surprises me, because I do have a Twitter, Facebook (deactivated but not deleted), and LinkedIn account – I guess there are far more people with similar enough names that I’m buried in the mix.

      At this stage I’m reasonably comfortable that nothing embarrassing is going to come out of the woodwork, short of some PI level investigation -in which case, I’m thinking stalker…

    9. Sparkly Lady*

      This concerns me a lot because people have put up snippets of video of me and photos from performances that I really with they hadn’t. They’re linked to my performer name, but I worry about reverse image search (and also how easy it would be to connect my performer name to my regular name). There’s not too much I can do about that at this point, though. Even if I were to stop performing, what’s out there is out there.

      Fortunately, a routine work search is unlikely to go to that kind of effort, so it’s mostly going to come up if there’s ever a concerted effort to doxx me for some reason or if someone already thinks that I, as regular name, am the same person as performer name.

      In terms of the day to day, I am fortunate to have a common enough name that search results are fairly innocuous and generally not about me. I do keep my FB as locked down as possible and don’t share out that I have an Instagram.

    10. Goldfinch*

      It’s frigging impossible to keep up with it. I request removal from the data scrapers everywhere I can, but some places have the mother-effing nerve to demand a scan of your driver’s license to remove your info! I cannot believe they are allowed to hold people hostage like that, and they think I’m going to give them MORE access to my data? Piss off.

    11. Amethyst*

      I do a search on my name from time to time. I’m the only one who has my first/last name combination in the US, so I’m extremely easy to find. And I also have some extremely toxic &/or abusive family members I’d prefer to keep away from as I’m certain they’d love to continue spewing their abuse & toxicity at me.

      I’ve sent brief emails with each website listed with my name saying “Please remove my name/address/all info from your site ASAP. I have a stalker.* Thank you.”

      * Without that, I’m sure I would’ve had more of an issue, but generally speaking, most sites don’t want to be involved in possible legal proceedings if they were to leave someone’s information on their site. These family members haven’t tried to stalk me (physically) as far as I know, but I leave nothing to chance. They are just that dangerous.

    12. Clisby*

      I did the same thing. I got a lot of innocuous (mostly correct information) like current and past addresses; possible relatives (some correct, some not); neighbors (some way out of date since we’ve lived here for 14 years and never heard of some of these people); and the interesting information that I’m African-American (I’m not.) I didn’t run across anything to be concerned about, but it’s always worth checking.

    13. HannahS*

      Hilariously, I recognize people in every single image that comes on the first page of “First Last” for me, but only one picture that includes me. Nearly all are from a former professor’s website, from pictures of people who work in that lab, and they took pictures on a Jewish holiday and I couldn’t be there. I guess it says “Not pictured: HannahS” and The Great Algorithm interpreted that as all of those pictures being of me.
      My real name is unique, as far as I know–in Israel there may be others with the same first/last (nothing to do with Hannah or S), but none on the English-alphabet internet. You can, however, find my debate scores from a tournament I was in twelve years ago. Very important to employers, I’m sure.

    14. Epiphyta*

      My passport name is a very common one, so it’s about ten pages in before Google turns up anyone who might be me. Spouse and I also have a subscription to DeleteMe; the phone number I give people is a Google Voice number that forwards to my phone – because of local historical wackiness around phone prefixes, the closest one on offer was in a town 65 miles away from my physical location – and my only social media presence is on Pinterest, under a pseudonym attached to a burner email address.

      Signed, previous relationship was abusive and I learned the hard way to lock things down

  19. hazy days*

    What are people’s opinions about gentrification of neighbourhoods?

    I live in one of the less desirable areas of a generally wealthy city. Think a lot of dodgy looking take-outs, betting shops, builders’ merchants, a few empty shops, etc. I’ve lived here 4 years now – wouldn’t have chosen to move here, but the house itself works for me.

    It’s gradually gentrifying, and I’m pretty pleased about that – but I’m aware that a lot of people feel that gentrification drives people out of their communities. But personally I’m enjoying having a couple of cafes I can go to and feel comfortable as a single woman. What do people think?

    1. Cindy*

      I have no experience with it but I believe a modern version of “Pride and Prejudice” named “Pride” deals with it. I haven’t read it but it is something with a black Lizzie and her neighboorhood undergoing gentrification. I hope this wasn’t entirely unhelpfull.

        1. fposte*

          BTW, that’s YA, and there’s another really great one about the complexities of gentrification by Renee Watson, This Side of Home. It really illustrates some of what people are talking about below–the harmless sidewalk dude that everybody knows is viewed as a threat by the new residents, etc.

    2. Asenath*

      Gentrification doesn’t bother me much. It feels better to me somehow if it’s done gradually and somehow organically so that the poorer people aren’t put out en mass, and if there are other fairly central places for them to live (outlying areas can be very difficult if people can’t afford cars and need services on a regular basis). I sometimes found some of the gentrifiers, if that’s a word, patronizing attitudes mildly annoying. For context, I used to live in an area which I thought was OK, sort of mixed, the way I like it, but a contractor I was getting said something like “I don’t know why the city doesn’t do something about this area. It’s about the only really bad one left.”

    3. Agnodike*

      I live in a gentrifying neighbourhood and I also work primarily with the populations who get driven out of gentrifying neighbourhoods – including many clients who live close to me! Of course it’s good for me that my house will sell for much more than I paid, but I see firsthand that many of my neighbours have directly paid for my gain and are now homeless or relocated away from their support networks. That’s the reality of living in a capitalist society: wealthy people benefit from the marginalization of others.

      I try, at work and in the community, to mitigate the effects of gentrification where I live, partly because I think it’s the ethical thing to do, and partly because I really like living in a neighbourhood where not everybody is like me. I advocate against AirBnB and lobby for stringent bylaw enforcement around ghost hotels, I advocate for subsidized housing and social service provision, I get to know my neighbours and help them out when they need a hand, that kind of stuff.

      I think there’s a wide middle ground between “gentrification is always good, get me a Starbucks and shoot my property values through the roof” and “gentrification is always bad, neighbourhood should be static to the point of ghettoïsation,” and that’s where I’m trying to be: recognize the positive impact of gentrification for me because of my wealth and privilege, acknowledge and try to mitigate the negative impact of gentrification on people who don’t share my social location.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        That’s the reality of living in a capitalist society: wealthy people benefit from the marginalization of others.

        I feel the focus on “gentrification” is too much on the symptoms and not the disease. I think you’ve identified the real problem here—increasingly widened wealth gap between the rich and the poor. We’re never going to be in a society in which everyone makes exactly the same income or even close, but if everyone were paid a living wage and billionaires made a little less ridiculous money, you would see a lot fewer problems of people being driven out of their neighborhoods.

        Even the so-called “gentrifiers” are usually upper-middle class or upper-class people who aren’t millionaires and billionaires but are driven to the “gentrifying” neighborhoods, because the other ones only millionaires and billionaires can afford to live in.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I want to add to this. Something much like gentrification happens in tourist areas even if there is no racial element to the housing. My mother grew up in a fishing community, and in her childhood only poor people lived by the beach…because they had nothing to lose if they lost it all in a big storm. Ain’t nobody around who owns Grandma’s house there by now!

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Ironically, her black friends lived in a neighborhood further from the water so that neighborhood hasn’t gone over to tourists.

    4. Purt's Peas*

      That is in fact the definition of gentrification–displacement and replacement, by increasing prices, by segregationist strategies, by changing policing & community norms–whatever. People can’t live in the neighborhood anymore, can’t afford anything anymore, and have none of their resources close to them anymore. Gentrification is a subset of neighborhood change, like blight is a subset of neighborhood change; the rest is just change.

      The distinction to me is: it’s ok for you to be excited about some new businesses coming in! It sounds like that’s an increase in the diversity of the businesses on the block, and an improvement in the quality of your life. I think it’s not cool to get jazzed about uniform steep rises in rents & housing prices, respectable if shabby shops closing in favor of hip new joints, and not seeing poor people all over the place anymore.

      1. hazy days*

        What’s nice is that some of this is driven by the children of one original immigrant couple, who have updated the original little shop (which was always a bright spot in the neighbourhood), created a cafe, show art, support other small local businesses, and so on. There are a couple of other long established businesses who are thinking in new ways, supporting others, creating a community feel,etc. So that I really like.

        I also wonder about my own unconscious racism – do some take-outs and shops really look sketchy, or is that just my perception? Etc etc.

        1. Washi*

          I will say that moving to DC from a rural area with a pastoral postcard look was a bit of an adjustment. Almost everything looked sketchy to me at first! After a few months I got much better at distinguishing a genuinely sketchy situation/place (few and far between) from something I just wasn’t familiar with (most things fell in this category).

          I lived in a gentrifying area as well for a while, and in my experience, residents were also often excited by new establishments, as long as they were affordable, which many were not. Plus that excitetment did come with fears of rising costs and changing the culture of the neighborhood from one where they were comfortable to one where they are Other.

          It’s super complicated. I am white and felt guilty living there sometimes even though at the time it was what we could afford, but that was still more than some, and I felt like I was contributing to the problem. Now we live somewhere both more diverse and with more stable costs and it feels a bit better.

        2. Agnodike*

          It’s good that you’re interrogating that – I will say that my neighbourhood is full of “sketchy-looking” (i.e. not conforming to the aesthetic of wealth/visibly frequented by white people) places that are friendly and safe for me, a white woman.

        3. Purt's Peas*

          Yeah, with this kind of thing coming from within the community, that can be awesome! Especially if you’re really connected to your neighborhood and your block. It very much might be the start of a gentrification process, but that danger is reduced if you have a lot of non-transient residents–people who’ve lived there for years and hope to continue, instead of young professionals renting for a year and moving out. The more community there is, the more ability you have to fight off serious gentrification and to advocate for your neighborhood to stay reasonably priced.

          For your second question, about some takeouts and shops? Yeah it might be unconscious bias. Like, yeah, the cash 4 gold place might be a spot you in particular don’t need to go into, but is it dangerous? Probably not very dangerous, particularly if your neighborhood has a good number of pedestrians & people around. A park that’s always empty and doesn’t have a lot of light? Legitimately worrying. I think it is worth familiarizing yourself even more with your neighborhood and continuing to interrogate that stuff. (And it’s reasonable if your conclusion is, yes, I will continue being worried by X.)

          1. hazy days*

            That’s really interesting. Thanks (yes, we have two parks, and I run in one rather than the other)

            What’s triggered me posting is a neighbour’s house going up for sale, and my other neighbour and I being quite thrown by the price (though we keep pointing out to each other that it isn’t selling). Living in our street comes with all the noise of early morning deliveries, garbage collection etc (though my cat is dealing with the rats) so I’m not sure it’s that desirable a property – but who knows?

      2. Not So NewReader*

        “and not seeing poor people all over the place any more.”

        Sincere question. Can you explain what this means?
        The household income level for my community is an average of 40k per year. But it is trending downward. We are an aging community with the average age of people on the high end of the scale.

        1. Purt's Peas*

          What I mean is, when gentrification happens to a neighborhood, the upper-middle-class (usually white) folks don’t want to see manual laborers relaxing, homeless people, can collectors, and so on. They also usually don’t want to see black people, especially in the northeast, where there’s a ton of pretty vicious housing segregation. What I mean by “don’t want to see” is that racial and class bias makes them uncomfortable interacting, respecting, and feeling safe around a huge variety of people.

          It’s one of the huge issues with gentrification, because not only are poor people priced out and zoned out, they’re also displaced by rigorous policing and neighborhood watches. A gentrifying person who’s moved to the neighborhood because it’s quirky calls the police to make sure that group of black teenagers isn’t up to no good; a new community of white young professionals with kids watches to make sure homeless people don’t come anywhere near their block; a landlord uses the discriminatory loopholes at their disposal to keep their building white.

          Does that make sense?

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Yes, thank you.

            ” What I mean by “don’t want to see” is that racial and class bias makes them uncomfortable interacting, respecting, and feeling safe around a huge variety of people.”

            I saw a lot of this crap growing up in the 60s. I mean a lot. It helped me to kind of understand the marches and protests because I saw how deeply embedded this stuff was at that time. It’s depressing/upsetting that not much has changed in 50 years.

            Where I live now there are some homes that are very nice and a few people do make a really good living. What I don’t see is what you describe here. Everyone just goes about their life and they pretty much take care of each other.

            1. hazy days*

              I’ve noticed a group of black teenagers coming to hang out on my street lately – I think it may actually be because they think it’s a safe area, a bit quieter, no hassle for them…

          2. New Bee*

            All of this, and often the aforementioned White folks expect deference/submission from the people of color they encounter. When you look beyond the headlines of BBQ Becky and co, you see that the situation often escalates to calling the police when the (usually Black) person dares to defy or ignore the random White (or White-passing) person telling them what to do. Gentrification and entitlement are bedfellows.

    5. FaintlyMacabre*

      I live in an area that is gentrifying and I hate it. There was the point where yeah, it felt safer and that was nice, but it’s gone past that and now all the new businesses and new apartment/condos are high priced and lack character. The quirky charm I loved is gone and now it looks like areas I’ve seen in so many other cities. It sucks. And I’ve encountered a real attitude about how I should be grateful about the changes- those people can shove their saviour complexes where the sun don’t shine.

      1. Dan*

        What’s killing me in my continues-to-gentrify city are these trendy “ethnic” restaurants that charge a high price but really are ethnic in name only. I’ve been to Mexican, Indian, and Spanish restaurants that are bland AF and somehow get 4+ yelp stars for their trendiness.

        I travel the world and know what local food tastes like. If I go out for Mexican or Indian, I want *flavor*, not just a high price tag.

      2. Pieismyreligion*

        Yeah my friends and I have been calling it “generification” because all the new is the same damn thing in every neighborhood. It’s gross.

      3. LQ*

        My neighborhood gentrified and I was (and still am) angry and would joke (mostly) about going on a one woman campaign of rudeness to keep folks out. I was very nervous I would be priced out (I rent) of my neighborhood, the only place I’ve lived as an adult, and absolute the place I call home. I didn’t go out and harass people. What I can offer you is no neighborhood can rise forever.

        They peak. And then they slump. I’m finally on the downside. Which is a relief, though it’s stripped a lot of what was good from the neighborhood. It’s not all gone, some goodness held on through the wave. And I have a grocery store. Hold on, and try to hold one to some of the good stuff.

    6. Goose Lavel*

      I’ve lived in the SF Bay Area all my life and have seen gentrification completely delineate the population between the rich/tech class and the people who service the rich/tech class. This has resulted in long commutes for those making less than 100K per year (some travel 3 or more hours each way, including the son), the cool local bakeries, coffee shops and mom & pops are closing due to a lack of workers and massive rent increases and a quickly growing homeless population and encampments.

      The Bay Area that I grew up in is long gone and will never return. Gentrification may look cool initially for those arrived prior the wealth influx (and were able to but a place to live), but it can quickly become a rat race if you are working class and can’t stomach $2500 a month for a one bedroom apartment.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I don’t think the working class can stomach $2500 a month when even a lot of the middle class can’t either. It’s getting ridiculous. Tech people are buying houses in Castro Valley because they can’t afford any place closer. How is everyone else supposed to afford anything?

      2. Dan*

        I work in tech, but not in SF. I do think there’s an equilibrium that will eventually have to swing the other way. Your points about the local stuff are very valid. My tech $ is only worth something to me (literally) if I have something to spend it on. If the bakeries, coffee shops, and mom and pop restaurants go the way of the dodo, then what? In DC, I’m starting to see my share of overpriced lousy food — there’s been a couple of meals where I’ve spent $70 on just myself and have nothing remarkable to show for it. Give me $15 hole-in-the-wall Mexican any day. I just had some trend, bland $70 Mexican food last night, and it wasn’t worth it.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          f the bakeries, coffee shops, and mom and pop restaurants go the way of the dodo, then what?

          Honestly, this was a huge thing for me and my spouse moving out of San Francisco. We didn’t have a ton of money ourselves, but we could pay our rent (just barely). A lot of the small businesses (shops and restaurants) we loved went out of business, because they couldn’t afford the rent any more. So when we say “San Francisco got too expensive,” we partially mean the fact that our rent was ridiculous and we could never afford to buy a place, but we also mean it drove our friends to move away and drove our favorite small businesses out of business.

      3. Salymander*

        I lived in a rental when a new (giant well known) tech campus was built a 5 minute walk away. The rental owner’s kids sold for a ton of cash, and the new owner decided to finally replace the 30 year old carpet, fix the bathroom floor that was literally disintigrating, and a million other repairs that were needed to attract a more affluent set of tenants but had been put off for years. Our street went from very, very diverse to mostly white almost overnight. There used to be people of many different income brackets on that street. Now, everyone is in pretty much the same income bracket (a very high income bracket, of course). We bought a house about an hour away (we are some of the lucky ones) and we drive down the street occasionally when visiting friends in town. It always makes me a little sad and angry, but mostly it just creeps me out. The neighborhood used to have a lot of cool little shops and a couple of great places to eat. Now, those places have closed. Either they couldn’t afford the jacked up rents, or the new residents weren’t interested in going to these places. Now, this neighborhood looks like every other generic place in the Bay area. And so many people making what would be great money anywhere else are living in an RV by the side of the road, or a van behind the grocery store, or in their car, because they can’t afford rent nearby and don’t want a 2 hour commute twice a day. My child’s 2nd grade teacher had to drive 90-120 minutes one way to work. And she was not the only one, that was really common.

    7. Washed Out Data Analyst*

      I know where you’re coming from. It’s important to remember that gentrification hurts the most vulnerable (poor) people, and that’s why it’s generally bad. However, I don’t agree with people’s tendencies to blame gentrification on the white/middle class people who move into poor neighborhoods. The root of gentrification is bad government policies on zoning and rent control. If the privileged members of society can barely afford housing, you’re doing something wrong.

    8. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’ve seen it ruin lives as people are driven out of their homes and further away from their jobs or jobs in general.

      I flinched the other day when my taxi driver asked me about my neighborhood. He mentioned that it “used to be seen as bad” and was curious about my choice to live there as a white woman.

      My only response was “I like it. Everyone is nice and friendly. If you don’t go looking for trouble and mind your own business you tend to get by anywhere.” (This of course is due to knowing when I’m truly not wanted and would not be here if that was going on. But that’s also my white privilege that I’m aware of, I know that others truly aren’t safe just by staying to themselves in areas with deep bigotry issues).

      I think you may have subconscious prejudice due to the assumpyins things are shady or not legit due to their dirty or broken appearance. A lot of those businesses are very much operating just to enhance the options for the community they serve.

    9. Anonymous for this*

      There is one thing that truly bothers me about gentrification: When established homeowners lose their homes because the property taxes got so high they can no longer afford to pay them. IMHO, there’s something really wrong with that.

      As far as renters, life is what life is. While I have sympathy for people getting displaced, when these are high crime neighborhoods with poor schools, I don’t see why maintaining the status quo is a good thing.

      I’ve lived in a suburban area of a major metro area for several years. Even this area is getting “gentrified” (or whatever the right word is in this context) to some extent. We recently put in a heavy rail line as part of the city pubic transportation system, and that’s resulting in *a lot* of new “luxury apartment” construction. These are rents that $500-$600/mo more than what I’m currently paying. My office is in a suburban hell hole that is undergoing similar development in part as a result of the same rail line. Lots of old stuff is getting torn down (and renters “not renewed”) to put in new luxury stuff. My place was built in the 70’s. I think it’s only a matter of time before they level it.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Related to your paragraph one: when farmers have to sell their great-x-grandparent’s farm to developers because the town rezoned them industrial. Windsor CT just lost a(nother) historic tobacco farm this way.

      2. Anonymous Educator*

        There is one thing that truly bothers me about gentrification: When established homeowners lose their homes because the property taxes got so high they can no longer afford to pay them. IMHO, there’s something really wrong with that.

        Unfortunately, no easy fix for that. Look at the horrible side effects of Prop 13 in California.

    10. Lilysparrow*

      I look at it as part of a long-term cycle. When I lived in a “gentrifying” neighborhood, there were a significant number of rent-stabilized apartments that had been passed down within families. These families didn’t see the changes as “gentrification,” but as the neighborhood being restored. When the apartments were built, they were middle or upper-middle-class and mostly occupied by first-generation immigrants.

      Then the neighborhood became blighted and overrun with drug houses and crime. The families who stayed had a hard time dealing with the death of local businesses, lack of amenities, etc.

      Then the pressures of real-estate inflation made those large pre-war apartments worth renovating. Yes, some long-term residents got priced out. But some even longer-term residents were very happy to have new grocery stores & restaurants, to have the sidewalks maintained, and to be able to enjoy the parks without getting hassled or mugged.

      Those fears weren’t the projection of snobby outsiders. They were the lived experience of third or fourth generation residents.

      So I see it as just part of the ups and downs of life. Almost everything has an upside for someone and a downside for someone else.

    11. Anon Librarian*

      We have to look deeper into why it’s happening. The population is increasing while the proportion of rich to poor stays about the same but the middle ground between those categories shrinks. And people want to live in urban areas, but we’re not building new housing fast enough to keep up with the demand – at least not the type(s) of housing that people want. And a lot of people would rather live in an older building than a newer one. Some of that is personal taste, but it’s also what people can get approved for. If you’re a college graduate who’s chosen a career with lower income at the start (arts, nonprofits, teaching, etc), you might not have the salary or credit score to qualify for an apt in a new building, but an independent landlord in a lower income neighborhood might rent to you, and for a bit less. It’s also valid to want a small house with a yard instead of living in a big apt building or complex. I think the gentrifiers are mostly (not all but mostly) just doing the best that they can. But then there are people who have options but choose to be “edgy” and get “cred” or get a “good deal on rent”. But the fact that that exists is still the product of a larger environment.

      We need to look at bigger picture solutions – how to make housing work for most people. Because it’s not. We don’t have housing that works for people. It works for some, but there are large segments of society that it’s not working for. What are the reasons? We need to address that from a bi-partisan perspective, including different viewpoints. It’s not just capitalism in general; it’s the way it’s functioning or not functioning right now. And a lot of other social issues come into play too. And there are a lot of different ways to tackle it all.

    12. Gatomon*

      I’m pretty mixed. I am all for the replacement of unsafe housing (rundown homes/mobile homes/etc.) and abandoned housing with safe housing, but I am deeply concerned with the lack of affordable housing for those displaced. There’s no where for our displaced residents to go – our poorest areas are the ones being gentrified the hardest, and the bedroom communities are all luxury single-family residences, no apartments or mobile home parks at all really.

      We also aren’t getting any businesses locating in the gentrifying areas – it’s all zoned residential because why would the poors have any money to spend??? – so these places are remaining food deserts with 0 walkability and poor public transport. Better be rich to able to afford a car AND rich enough to have the time to drive everywhere in heavy traffic! My city promotes biking heavily, but they don’t realize that weren’t not all single, 20-something and have 0 health issues. If that isn’t you, odds are you’re driving here. Also we have this thing called 8 months of winter.

      I just moved and my new neighborhood is much more walkable and still has a mix of newer townhomes, single family homes, mobile home parks and light industrial business. I expect it’ll change a lot in the next 10 years. I bought as cheaply as I could on the assumption that my taxable value is going to skyrocket. Hopefully I won’t get priced out.

    13. Ann O.*

      I think discussions about gentrification often take a very simplified approach that is non-productive. Gentrification is like anything: it has its upsides and downsides.

      IMHO, gentrification is a symptom that gets confused for a cause. I know where I live–the Bay Area–our problems with displacement are because of an unfortunate combination of state-level and city-level policies that incentivized cities to approve jobs (and thus population increase) without requiring investment in the infrastructure to support the population growth. So we have a huge mismatch in the supply of homes and the demand for them.

      And of course, things function in a pretty textbook way. Prices rise and those who have higher incomes can afford to pay more, which drives out those with lower incomes. But most people aren’t being malicious (some landlords may be). They need a place to live. I don’t think anyone in the Bay Area is happy about the exorbitant cost of rents or ownership.

      I also think it’s important to distinguish between displacement as a problem and demographic change as a problem. Displacement is a problem. But demographic change is life.

      1. Dan*

        “Prices rise and those who have higher incomes can afford to pay more”

        I’ve long said that prices on things rise because *people* will actually pay more. There does become a tipping point where people with higher incomes do refuse to pay more.

        I’ve lived in the same region for most of the last 20 years, beginning with college and returning for jobs. 20 years ago, the restaurant scene in my city was pretty bland. Now, it’s really taking off, mostly for the better. But there’s a segment of restaurateurs who are are getting on the “lets charge as much as we can and deliver a sub-part experience” bandwagon. Twice I’ve paid $70 all-in for a meal for one with only one cocktail. I can afford it, but I do refuse to give these restaurants repeat business. I’m not paying more “just because I can.”

        Likewise, the transit system has extended a heavy rail line near my apartment. To pay for this line, they’ve increased tolls on a nearby toll road. When I moved in 10 years ago, the toll was something like $1.50 one-way. It’s now $4.75. I might be able to “afford” it on my (now) higher income, but I refuse to pay it and take the back roads instead.

        Markets can only support prices that people will actually pay.

    14. hazy days*

      Thanks for the thoughtful discussion and comments!

      Inspired by this, I checked out a new local corner shop (which could be useful if I want to buy spices), and happened to meet a new neighbour who’s lived here 40 Years.

      Some friends spontaneously commented that it was gentrifying (I think to cheer me up about my neighbourhood) – they clearly felt it was in need…

  20. basic clothing question*

    Can I ask for help with a basic clothing/body question? I haven’t worn a dress in decades. Whenever I used to wear one, I’d wear stockings/pantyhose with it (or tights when I was a little girl). I am thinking of starting to incorporate a dress or two back into my wardrobe, and I notice that I never see stockings on dress-wearers anymore — just bare legs. How do you keep your thighs from chafing? I was thinking I could wear bike shorts under the dress, but I don’t want the hem of the bike shorts to show if I have to reach up to a high shelf. I’ve heard that marathon runners sometimes put deodorant on their inner thighs to prevent chafing, and I wonder if dress-wearers do that too. If you wear a dress, how do you prevent chafing?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Skimmies – one popular brand is Jockey slipshorts. They’re sort of like bike shorts, but a bit shorter, mid-thigh, and closer to tights in material. If I wore a short dress and it hiked up they might show the leg edges, but that would probably be a short enough dress that I’d have to be careful doing pretty much anything in, which would take it out of my rotation. (Speaking personally, not judging anyone else’s length comfort.)

      A friend of mine just goes straight to boxer briefs, which can be had in either men’s or women’s styles. The skimmies are generally worn over regular underwear like tights would be – at least, I don’t think they’re meant to be worn without? – the boxer briefs give the benefits of both in a single layer.

      1. Blue wall*

        Yes! Jockey’s don’t come in my size, but I wear a similar product. I think the brand I wear is Underswimmer. Also called slip shorts. They make them super cute so it’s ok if they show.

        I wear dresses 95% of the time and do not own tights. Also wear a lot of leggings under v

        1. Snazzy Hat*

          Have you only checked out stores which carry Jockey brand, or the Jockey store as well? One of my gal pals has a substantial bust and she buys her bras straight from Jockey because department stores don’t bother with her size.

          1. valentine*

            ~Full Beauty shorts/boxers
            ~Silky Underwear powder
            ~Undersummers (the Happy color is unreal; really wanna know who’s disguising their affinity for a bull-less Spanish flag)

    2. NeverNicky*

      I wear vintsge style dresses almost exclusively and I wear shorts to prevent ‘chub rub’ – I’m short and chunky.

      I get ‘chub rub’ shorts from Snag tights – they are 80 denier and very stretchy and comfy and I love the bright colours.

      I also have some (more expensive) shorts from the Big Bloomers Company which are thicker and with a higher lycra content – more like cycle shorts.

      Both these suppliers are UK based but if you search for ‘chub rub’ or ‘anti chafe’ shorts you’ll probably find more local suppliers.

      Other vintage dress wearers swear by liquid talc but I haven’t tried that.

      PS for this confused Brit, what’s the difference between panty hose and tights? I thought panty hose were what we would call tights…

      1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        Americans tend to say panty hose for the sheer skin toned varieties and tights for the more opaque fun-colored ones like in aqua. Both can be black though so I’d say panty hose for the sheer black kind and tights for the thicker opaque black kind.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Pantyhose are translucent, usually come in some shade of beige/brown or black only and explode in runs with a single wearing. Tights are thicker, usually opaque (but not opaque enough to stand alone), and more likely to last longer, and available in a huge range of colors.

        1. Asenath*

          And, until tights became fashionable for adults, tights were what little girls wore with their dresses, until they were grown up enough to wear the much more expensive and delicate pantyhose (or nylons; I made the transition from little-girl tights to woman-style hose that long ago!). Eventually, I discovered that the garments worn by dancers (and sometimes others – those taking yoga or gynmastics classes) were also tights and not pantyhose.

      3. Policy wonk*

        My legs do not look good bare, so I wear pantyhose and tights. And I notice that a lot of us do – it’s not as unusual as it seems.

    3. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Jockey skimmies! They come in two lengths, regular and short, and a very lightweight. They aren’t as thick or firm as Spanx or any other “control” shapewear, which is fine with me, since I just want them to prevent thigh chafing. And, the stay put – no riding up on your legs, I tend to wear maxi dresses so the I buy the longer ones, but the short version might be what you are looking for.

    4. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      People do all of those things – bike shorts or (if you don’t care about showing) leggings or Spanx makes more “underwar” like versions, or they make creams/pastes for rubbing (tmi – my male runner friends use it on their nipples) like Body Glide or actually diaper pastes work really well. Then clean and dry the area before bed and put on something like Aquaphor to soothe the skin.

    5. Asenath*

      I get what are sometimes called “bloomers” – they’re very difficult to find, but the 100% cotton types are ideal for comfort preventing chafing. These aren’t the billowing Victorian garment also called “bloomers”; mine are made out of a knit fabric and are like fitted shorts that reach halfway to the knees. I used to be able to find them locally if I was lucky and the store that sometimes stocked them had my size, but now I buy them online. I’m trying new sources since my previous favourite, locate in the US, increased their shipping costs and that, combined with the exchange rate, made them very pricey. I’ve found another similar brand from a new business, so they are out there.

      1. Elf*

        That sounds like exactly what I would want! what is the brand (I’m in the US so shipping is probably not too bad for me)

        1. Asenath*

          I used to buy Comfort Choice brand, which I found on the Full Beauty site (if I put links in, it will go to moderation…). I still like those best – comfortable, nice gussets – but I’ve found smiliar ones online from different brands.

      2. Auntie Social*

        They used to be called petit pants–like a divided slip. Now you can get pant liners that you can trim to any length, including above the knee. They are nylon, easily washed, no rubbing thighs. JCPenney had some recently.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Amazon has them indexed as “pettipants”. I had them when doing historic reenactment… no one was going to see my underwear, lol.

    6. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Shorter dresses with leggings for summer (tunic length dress, cropped leggings that just cover the knee) are pretty much the most comfortable outfit in the world, especially for those without a washboard stomach.

      That said, are you certain everyone has bare legs? I’ve been squealed at for “bare legs” in spring/autumn and had to pinch the fabric to prove that yes I’m actually wearing (low denier, non-shiny, close-skin-colour-match) tights.

    7. Purt's Peas*

      I actually think most people wear tights if it’s not warm out…but a lot of folks also don’t wear dresses when it’s not warm out! I’m a year-round dress wearer and the Months of the Tights are a lot more comfortable :) thigh-chafing is devilishly annoying.

      What I’ve found:

      – bike shorts–really good for long-term wear & walking longer than like 20 minutes. On the downside, you might have to be wearing a longer dress to cover them.

      – antiperspirant–short term solution but it works. Thigh chafing really happens when your thighs get sticky and sweaty. Some deodorant just cuts down on that. I’ve used Dove to great effect. It does wear off eventually.

      – bandelettes–Elastic lacy bands that go right around your thighs. They’re a decent short term solution but feel weird.

      A lot of this will depend on your style & body type. My leg shape causes most anti-chub-rub shorts to roll up, but yours may not. Good luck in the summer months, and hope tights-wearing weather comes soon ;)

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        You can get thermal and/or fleece-lined tights and leggings. Winter is absolutely dress weather. I wear dresses all year round now (except during exercise). Total convert!

    8. CopperPenny*

      I handle it in several ways. I do wear tights/pantyhouse sometimes particularly in the winter. And in spring and fall as well. If not I do wear bikeshorts a lot. I do swing dancing and it’s really common to wear bikeshorts so people see those instead of your underwear. If I’m doing something where I’m likely to sit on grass or anything I’ll wear the shorts as well. I do also do the deodorant on my thighs. I normally use a spray deodorant for that, but it I don’t have it, I’ll use a stick deodorant. So basically I use all the methods you mentioned depending on the environment and type of skirt and activities.

    9. MissDisplaced*

      I still do put on sheer flesh tone panty hose if I wear, say a gray suit or sheer black for a black suit.
      But for more casual dresses or skirts I prefer tights or those bike short type underwear.

      Jockey Skimmies are good, but there are several brands and you should be able to find them at most stores.

    10. Blue_eyes*

      Search for “slip shorts”. Stretchy synthetic shorts meant to go under dresses. You can usually find a range of lengths depending on how long or short your dresses are. There’s lots of brands – Jockey skimmies, Thigh Society, Spanx. You can also wear bike shorts or other elastic athletic shorts – but sometimes the outlines of those show more under dresses depending on how tight or clingy the dress is.

      I’m sure my slip shorts occasionally show if I’m reaching up or bending over – but that’s almost a perk, at least I’m not flashing my underwear!

      If your thighs don’t rub too much, you could try Body Glide – basically a lubricant in a deodorant-like stick that runners use to prevent chafing.

    11. Snazzy Hat*

      I’m not too keen on my legs, and I don’t shave them unless I really make the effort. I go with opaque tights, Jockey brand slipshorts, and for long skirts I tend to just smear some talcum powder on my inner thighs if I’m not wearing slipshorts.

    12. Elizabeth K*

      Look for pettipants- they are fabric like a slip but with legs- not tight and provides for dress fabric to slide over them like it would over a slip. Got mine on Amazon- think they would be more comfortable than something tight like bike shorts

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        This is also what I did when I wore dresses/skirts regular. The store I bought it in called it a “split slip”, and it’s definitely been one of the most useful things a sales clerk has ever talked me into buying.

        The one time I recently when I wore a dress and realized I hadn’t unpacked my split slip after the move yet, I used Body Glide, which I usually use to prevent blisters while breaking in hiking boots. (It says something about my general lifestyle that I know exactly where all of my blister-reduction-for-hiking stuff is, but couldn’t find either shoes or a slip to go with the dress I was planning to wear, I suppose.) It’s like a stick deodorant but specifically for anti-chafe. I buy it at REI.

    13. Anono-me*

      Gold Bond makes a nice anti chaffing stick. I get mine at Walmart. In a pinch, antiperspirant or deodorant sticks can also work temporarily.

    14. vanillacookies*

      Stockings and hose aren’t entirely gone. They aren’t the norm anymore but most people won’t think twice if they see you wearing them.

    15. Catherine*

      It’s hard for me to find good slip shorts where I live so I just cut off a pair of sheer pantyhose at the knee or mid-thigh depending on the length of the dress. Kanebo brand nylons don’t fray when cut so I can wash and keep wearing them for a few months before they start to run!

    16. Lilysparrow*

      There’s actually a product called BodyGlide that comes in a stick similar to deoderant, but is even better for preventing chafing. You can get it in big-box stores that carry exercise equipment. I usually find it in the same aisle as yoga mats, resistance bands, and foam rollers.

      I only use it occasionally, like if I’m running in shorts when it’s really hot & expect to be super sweaty. Or if I’ve shaved for the beach/pool. Most of the time I just don’t shave anywhere that won’t show, and that takes care of it.

    17. Ann O’Nemity*

      I wear dresses a lot in the warmer months and have found that the chafing goes away. I may notice it for a week or two in the spring, then I’m good.

    18. Jemima Bond*

      I wear tights (pantyhose) unless it is very hot – granted I live in the London area, not Texas. But point being, I’d say only skip tights if you yourself feel too hot, not because of some perceived trend.
      If it is too hot for you to wear tights, I can highly recommend bandelettes, available on Amazon. Imagine the top part of a pair of hold-ups (you know, the stockings you don’t have to wear a suspender belt (garter belt?) with. They are like those only you wear them higher up over the chubby bit of your thighs. I have nude lacy ones but they do cream/white, and black, plus also non-lacy in those colours. I love mine to bits; they do the job and don’t fall down. Beware cheap imitations.

      1. Jemima Bond*

        I meant to say I like bandelettes over cycling-short knickers, as they feel cooler. Plus you can wear them a few times and give them a rinse – they aren’t next to your private lady area like knickers which I only wear once before washing.

    19. ...*

      Never really had an issue with it? I never wear tights either it just doesn’t happen. I know a lot of people who wear bike shorts though in case of like wind or whatever!

    20. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I make fake spanx by just cutting off the bottom of some pantyhose/tights. Then I can make it as long as I need, doesn’t matter if it runs, and its a reuse of existing stuff I already have. Works like a charm!

    21. Goggle Eyes*

      I only wear dresses and had tried all sorts of things. Women’s boxer briefs rolled up. I’ve been wearing Fruit of the Loom men’s long boxer briefs (breathable mesh cotton with 5% spandex) for several months now, and they haven’t rolled or ridden up even once. They even work fine with pads/pantiliners so long as they don’t have wings! I love them. I joke about keeping fruit snacks in my neat little pocket…. lol. It lays flat, though. I also have some pettipants slips for when the dress material isn’t silky and “sticks” to the shorts.

  21. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    I redid a project, it made more sense to have it as a series of short stories (a la The Last Wish by Andzrej Sapkowski or Agatha Christie’s The Twelve Labours of Hercules) than a novel with a single storyline.
    Now get on that pole, Mort.

    1. Snazzy Hat*

      Not my own writing, but a friend of mine will be teaching a novel writing class at her local community center in a few weeks!

      {waves pom-poms for all the writers out there}

    2. Jessen*

      Not really writing in the traditional sense, but I’m the storyteller for a World of Darkness campaign. I always like to write some little scene blurbs (no more than a paragraph each), and I used quite a few of them in the first session. I always feel really really nervous doing that, because you’re not really supposed to spend a lot of time just talking at the players. But everyone said they actually really loved them! Apparently they were great at setting the mood and getting a real picture of the place going.

      I’m not going for it now, but I’m thinking at some point I may want to fully write up one of my campaigns. I put a lot of research into this one, especially trying to properly represent ghosts of different times and backgrounds.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Eh, if they like it, it’s all good!
        Also a fully written campaign sounds really interesting! And I totally feel you on the researching time periods and backgrounds thing – the abovementioned “Mort” is one of a pair of ghost hunters in a project of mine.

        1. Jessen*

          I’m really trying to avoid falling into stereotpyes too. Because of the time period and original setting of this campaign, it made sense to have a native american ghost. I ended up creating a mixed French-Ojibwe first generation Métis woman, and it was an absolute pain to find the sort of information I’d need to handle her accurately.

          A lot of RPG writing really falls into the trap of treating characters non-western characters according to sort of generic stereotypes. I was trying to incorporate little details. Like for example, the Ojibwe traditionally used quill embroidery, but very quickly adopted European glass beads to depict floral patterns on their clothing, both their traditional native clothing and european garments. That’s a detail that can both make a character feel more specific, and that the players can potentially use to find out more about her. The pattern can provide hints to the tribe and time period; the level of decoration would let them know that she’s probably very well off.

          I feel a bit lucky to have players who actually appreciate this stuff.

    3. Cats Unlimited*

      Not so well. I am trying to start a blog and I’ve got my topic picked out (religion and politics plus relevant book reviews) but I am having trouble getting things in motion. I have only ever written for school assignments (aka five paragraph essays) but I don’t know how to translate that into casual essays. I am currently working on a review/opinion of The Family on Netflix but I cant decide what exactly I want my post to be about.

      I probably need to spend more time planning out my writing and organizing my notes, but I have never been patient with that kind of stuff. I tend to just let my writing flow from the top of my head but I feel like there is a better way to do it. How do you guys plan your writing?

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        I usually use something I can move (post-its, but index cards would work too. Alternatively, there’s probably some sort of note taking app that lets you do that). In your case, I’d write the gist of each paragraph on each post-it, and then if I decide to move a paragraph I also move the corresponding post-it and check if the overall skeleton of the essay still makes sense.

    4. Queer Earthling*

      I’ve just put up my latest blog post and I’m giving myself two weeks off. I’ve been posting weekly since the very beginning of March, and this is the first time I’ve taken a real break without having some content ready to go. I’m a little anxious about it, but I’m also looking forward to producing really good content instead of running the risk of churning things out just for consistency.

  22. The Other Dawn*

    My new cat, Roscoe, is finally eating with the other cats at mealtime! It only took two weeks, which isn’t bad. He’s still tentative when the others get too close, but he’s doing well. He reminds of someone walking through a big crowd, trying not to touch anyone.

    I previously mentioned a neurological issue he has and I can definitely see it now that he’s been here a couple weeks. Sometimes he loses his balance easily, sometimes his head moves from side to side slightly when he’s focusing on something, and his attention span is less than a gnat. But he’s adorable and none of it stops him from being a regular cat.

    Here’s a picture if anyone is interested. I LOVE his tail. It’s so fluffy and soft!

      1. The Other Dawn*

        No, outdoor kitty hasn’t come home, so I’m sure he’s gone. He was old. It’s possible he went off to die somewhere. It makes me sad, but that’s what cats do. I remember that day that I adjusted the window AC before leaving for work, then went back to pet him (he was in his bed near the AC). I never do that, but for some reason I thought to myself, “Let me pet him just in case I don’t see him again.” And I didn’t–that was the night he didn’t come home.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Silly phone ate my comment about his adorably surprised expression…. please forgive duplication if it’s actually in moderation.

  23. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What have people been playing this week? Also feel free to hijack the thread for recommendations, but try to keep it spoiler free (or at least warn for them).
    I’ve been playing Child of Light on the PS Vita and I’m loving it! Although considering it’s based on fairy tales I’m fairly certain I already know who the villain is (and I’ll be damned if one of my party members doesn’t turn out to be a traitor).

    1. Purt's Peas*

      I’ve been playing a lot of Oxygen Not Included, basically a gas management sim. It’s pretty wildly addictive for me.

    2. Caterpie*

      I modded the heck out of Skyrim SE and have been playing that. It amazes me that an 8(!) year old game still holds hours of my attention and nothing since could I easily dump 80 hours into one playthrough. A lot of that is due to the skill and hard work of the modders though.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Yeah, the modding community does some really sweet stuff! I remember years back for the original version of Skyrim someone made a mod that turned Skyrim into a tropical land. Palm trees, panda bears, the whole deal. Never installed that particular one, but still, it was really well made.

    3. Dr. KMnO4*

      I’ve been bouncing back and forth between Diablo 3 and Stardew Valley, both on the Switch.

      I love the self-driven pace of Stardew Valley, and how it really doesn’t have a way to “lose” or “fail”. I’m looking forward to Animal Crossing on the Switch when it comes out.

      Diablo 3 is a really good ARPG. I prefer it to Path of Exile because with D3 you can switch builds and playstyles very easily, even when doing end-game content.

      Other recommendations: Doom (2016), Slime Rancher, Warframe, Heroes of the Storm (if you are interested in MOBAs), Minecraft, Deep Rock Galactic.

      1. Snazzy Hat*

        I will never ever get tired of the Diablo series.

        Oh, by the way, I wanted to tell you PIRANHAS! {witch doctor casts wave of piranhas}

      2. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Diablo 3 is on my wishlist, but yes, I second you on Stardew Valley. Sometimes a girl just wants to plant some pixel parsnips while listening to metal music.
        Also, love my silly writer husband to death :p (Considering my other thread, is anyone really surprised I married the writer?).
        I also play a lot of Harvest Moon/Story of Seasons tbh. (For those not in the know: the reason Harvest moon post- A NEw Beginning sucks is because that’s not “real” Harvest Moon. The real series became Story of Seasons because the switched localisers, however Natsume still has legal rights on the name Harvest Moon so they’re basically trying to milk that.)
        A Switch is also on my wishlist, but considering I’d probably mostly play handheld I’m probs gonna wait until the Lite has been out for a few months (I first want to see if the issues with Joycon drift have been fixed or not, because while I can do the repairs myself I’d still prefer not to have to do that).

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Over the summer we went to my mom”s hometown, which still has some farms around it. And the Stardew Valley girl in my car ID’d a potato farm from the video game. ;)

    4. Angwyshaunce*

      Child of Light is a great game!
      I just started a new (still in development) game called Founders Fortune – a sim-like game where you have a handful of villagers and gather resources and make things.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        It really is! I’m really loving its combat system, don’t think I’ve ever seen that before (only recently branching out into turn-based RPGs)

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Yeah, that one is definitely on my to-buy list when I get a Switch (maybe even before I get a Switch :p ) I love Fire Emblem as a whole – here’s hoping Shadows of Valentia sold enough to get a Genealogy of the Holy War remake.

    5. GoryDetails*

      I don’t play many online games, but I am very fond of the assortment of games in the Jacquie Lawson “curio collection” game. The Jacquie Lawson site features loads of charming animated e-cards, some with mini-games attached, such as balloon-busting or solitaire or jigsaw puzzles. The Curio Collection (which costs $5) displays a room full of things to click on, with animated dogs and cats wandering through the scenery, and with mini-challenges of the “collect them all” type. The games include solitaire, mah-jong, puzzles, coloring-book pages, find-the-hidden-image games, a Tetris-kind of thing involving groups of jewels, and lots more, some harder than others. I like the artwork and find many of the individual games great fun for a little semi-mindless time-wasting. It’s all web-based, playable on most browsers – though I don’t know how it would look on a smartphone.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Ooh, might need to check that out. It sounds rather interesting for a bit of time-wasting indeed.

    6. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I fell down a deep nostalgia hole and have been playing Pipe Dream, which was my favorite puzzle game back in the Windows 3.1 era.

    7. Nicki Name*

      Sunless Skies, the sequel to Sunless Sea. Same wry gothic style, improved art, much more forgiving game.

      Offline, still big on KeyForge, and I just discovered Bargain Quest, which is a great gateway Eurogame. The players are shopkeepers selling gear to adventurers– you try to make the best profit you can, but you also get points for your customer actually surviving their battles.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Huh, never really could get into Sunless Sea. Might look up some Sunless Skies gameplay later.
        Bargain Quest sounds like an interesting one too! Especially getting points for your clients actually surviving…Usually such games stop at the “sell stuff” bit. I’d imagine everyone who buys gear from you dying would be bad publicity in real life XD.

        1. Blue Horizon*

          I liked Sunless Sea, but not enough to make me want to try the sequel. I enjoyed the roguelike elements but it always felt like a thin wrapper around a text-based adventure game. Things like exploring, travelling and combat were fun for a while, but I started to find them boring long before the game was over. There were many good things about it (it was an excellent chill-out game, and I loved steaming out into the dark with the music playing) but in the end there just wasn’t enough game there for me.

    8. Lonely Aussie*

      Mostly just a heap of Minecraft, the latest update 1.14.4 broke a few of my farms (anything villager based and my goldfarm is running soooooo sloooooowwwllly) so I’ve been looking at new designs and plotting out upgrades. I’m loving the new villages and blocks in this update. It’s like a new game.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      DDO is running its Crystal Cove event so I’ve been protecting kobold miners from pirates and ghosts of pirates.
      (What little I can let myself do that is…mouse use hurts my hand and I had to use it a lot this week at the place that shall not be named.)

  24. Perpetua*

    This is more of a rant than a question, but I need to let it out somewhere. Why is it so difficult to find tips for how to prepare things for a baby, without assuming that you have a separate room for the kid?!

    Even articles on small spaces with a baby assume that you have a closet you can convert, or a specific nook you can dedicate to the baby. And I know that it’s difficult to give some generic recommendations since most of them will boil down to the same – purge your things, keep new things to a minimum, use multi-purpose stuff, create storage wherever possible – but I still find it frustrating to come across so little experience similar to mine, at least on blogs/forums that my searches have led me to.

    For context, our first baby is due in February, and although we live in a (rented) apartment that is not tiny, especially for our European standards (65 square meters / 700 square feet), the layout of the apartment makes it extremely difficult to position any new potential baby furniture/things (and I do plan to keep them to a minimum, as much as possible) or designate one particular area as “kid space”.

    I’m not truly worried, I know that we’ll make it work in the end and that the most important things will fit SOMEWHERE. But I do feel a bit deflated after coming across all the blogs about moving kids to their own room at age __, getting their space ready, separating their space, etc. We’re in a pretty good situation rent/owner-wise and in an unstable situation income-wise, so we probably won’t be moving for at least two more years, possibly more.

    Has anyone felt similarly?

    P.S. Thank you for all the great suggestions on baby-related books (and other advice!) a couple of weeks ago, I really appreciate them and I’m looking forward to checking out some of the books as well as keeping most of the advice in mind. :)

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      It’s even dafter when you consider that one of the top SIDS reduction recommendations is to keep the baby’s bed in the parent’s/s’ bedroom until it’s at least six months old. We co-slept with two of ours until about age two (the other has always wanted his own space) and have an extra in our bed at least once a week from the small hours. It’s natural and healthy.

      Special baby furniture is mostly a con. Baby clothes and kit fit in adult furniture but not vice versa. Go Finnish (and now Scottish) and get a box!

      1. valentine*

        As you don’t plan to buy a ton of stuff, I don’t understand the issue. You’re presumably not going for a wipes warmer, changing table, or special receptacle. That said, use relevant search terms like “My parents used a seafood crate/drawer” or “We didn’t have”. Look for babywearers and people who write about reusable diapers (ew), as those dovetail with minimalism.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          If you have easy access to a washing machine, washable nappies (diapers) are less space-consuming than disposables. It’s a no-go if you have to schlep to a shared machine though.

          1. HBJ*

            I use cloth, and, in my personal experience, I’d disagree with this (assuming you aren’t buying huge bulk amounts of disposables). If you buy standard-size packs (25-50 depending on size), or even a little bit bigger than the smallest-size packs, the space will be way less with disposables. And I don’t even have sized cloth diapers. I have a small size and one-size cloth diapers.

          2. fhqwhgads*

            I’ve always wondered…doesn’t washing them in the washing machine make the machine itself kinda…dirty? Do most normal washer have true sanitize cycles or do you have to wash with bleach or what? I’m not snarking here. I’m confused about how this works.

            1. HBJ*

              I don’t think so. Any parent is going to have poop and pee in their washer at times simply because kids have blowouts (and in my experience, waaaay more in disposables than cloth) or leaks or potty training accidents or pee the bed, etc. I’ve never had an issue with the washer seeming dirty. Different people have different routines, but it’s quite common to do a rinse followed by a regular wash cycle (what I do). So most stuff is going to be fairly rinsed out and then the soap goes in. A good wash routine will leave the diapers such that you could stick your nose in and it smells just like fresh laundry. I do tend to wash hardy stuff/stuff that goes on warm after diapers, like pants or t-shirts, as opposed to delicates just to be on the safe side. Some washers do have sanitize cycles, and some people will do that after diapers.

              Frankly, I was more grossed out by the pet hair in the washer and dryer (loose as well as stuck behind the paddles, unable to come out) in our last rental than I was thinking about someone previously washing cloth diapers in there.

            2. Seeking Second Childhood*

              My friend said to rinse the solids out in the toilet to flush that away before putting it in the to-be-washed tub. Which was itself sealed between uses and had sudsy soak water.

              1. Observer*

                That’s a good idea not just because of cleanliness – any solids tend to be a bit of a problem in a lot of machines.

                Otherwise? Cloth diapers are no different than what happens if someone has an accident, or if someone bleeds on their clothes, falls in the mud or the like.

                If you’re worried about this stuff, you run a HOT cycle and maybe a cycle with bleach. But it’s generally NOT necessary.

            3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

              As others have said, you remove any “solids” before you start, and you run the cycle with only half the detergent you would use for clothing (it’s mostly rinsing). Many people would add another rinse cycle, occasionally including white vinegar to strip any remaining detergent from the diapers.

              It is a bit weird to get your head round to start with, but honestly the amount of bodily waste of various kinds that gets on baby (and parent) clothing just during the course of a normal day changes your attitude pretty quickly.

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Children have been raised successfully in small, non-child-centric spaces for millennia. I had a room, a crib, and all that, and it turned out that my breasfed child and I worked best when co-sleeping and then later, he slept on a folded futon in the corner of my room for a couple of years.
      Infants and toddlers don’t care about nurseries and all the decor. And if you raise them with a generous heart and loving boundaries, they will likely be able to bond and separate as appropriate.
      There’s a lot of advice out there. Not all of it is right for you. You may want to look at it through the lens of your particular family. If your family is not in a position to live in a larger place with more room to put more stuff, then aim for advice sources that focus on sustainability over purchases.
      All you need is a place for baby to sleep safely and a suitable height surface to diaper on. Attention and love will help you through the rest.

    3. Rey*

      Much of what you’re reading is sponsored by by companies that are trying to make money by selling you baby decor, so they need you to feel pressure to fill an entire room with all of their products. My mom has a great story about putting my oldest brother to sleep in a dresser drawer for the first months because they didn’t have a crib (and he’s mostly normal)

    4. Brave Little Toaster*

      I 100% agree! We recently had a baby and live in a 1-bedroom apartment in a big US city. There’s absolutely no separate “nursery” space possible. We created a cute corner for her crib with a mobile, put her changing pad on top of a low dresser, cleared out one drawer of said dresser for her clothes, and added a hanging rail in the closet. The biggest issues i’ve run into are other people wanting to buy/give us bulky baby stuff, and that a lot of baby stuff is frankly hideous.

      1. Perpetua*

        That was my plan as well, and I was hoping to at least fit a dresser (+ changing pad on top of it) in our room, but it seems unlikely due to the layout. So I think we’ll have to clear space in our closet and make it work for her stuff as well. Happy to hear you’ve made it work!

        Oof, I do hope that most people ask in advance before purchasing bulky baby stuff, because we definitely won’t be able to accept it.

    5. too tired*

      We slept with baby in bed till she was 2, and then put a mattress in our room, and she stayed in our room till she was 5. We also had a much smaller space than you and my partner worked from home. We got a super absorbent fabric that we lay out for diaper/nappy changes and just folded up otherwise. Due to the working-from-home partner, baby and I spent a lot of time outside the apt. We did get a small set of drawers for her clothes/toys/stuff. Don’t worry about what others are doing.

      1. Perpetua*

        Thank you for sharing! When you say you put a mattress in your room, do you mean that you put it on the floor, in addition to your regular-height bed (because as mentioned below, that’s something we’re considering)? Pinterest does not provide many such examples :P, so I’m grateful for lived experience.

        1. too tired*

          we first started with a double size(? – not sure the right terminology, the regular size for two adults) futon mattress on the floor. the mattress was maybe 20 cm thick and we had a carpeted floor, so there was no problem if she fell off. i don’t recall her ever falling off. Then, after a couple of years, we got a regular frame for our bed, and got a new futon mattress for the 2-yr-old, which we put directly on the floor, with the wall on one side and the adult bed on the other. Either the mattress on the floor was thick or the frame was low so that there was a U-shape for the bed: wall-mattress (on floor)-(adult) bed frame was the cross section. Does that make sense? The mattress-on-floor took up all the vertical space that was under the frame, so when on the mattress she couldn’t roll under our bed.

          Our apt was 50 m^2 (550 sq ft)

    6. AnonyNurse*

      As an actual expert in infant safe sleep, here’s what you need for a baby:
      – a place for baby to sleep. Crib, bassinet, play yard (pack n play style). Cribs and bassinets should be sold with a mattress that fits that specific product. You should use a proper fitted sheet. And that’s it. No bumpers. No blankets. No cords or wires (for monitors or mobiles) near the space. If purchased used, be sure there are no drop sides (these are very dangerous), recalls, missing pieces, etc.
      – car seat if using motorized transport. Generally it is preferable to buy new, as a seat that has been in a wreck greater than a fender bender should be discarded due to possible microfractures in the plastic, which could cause failure in a subsequent collision. In the US, and I assume other places, they also have expiration dates related to expected breakdown of plastic, which occurs more rapidly because of the temps in cars. All legally sold car seats are equal from a safety stand point, more expensive may have bells and whistles but they aren’t “better.” Do have installation checked by local professionals — often fire stations or hospitals. It’s a little like rocket science. Car seats provide a significant amount of protection even on public transit and such — having the baby strapped properly in a seat even if the seat is not strapped to the vehicle can make a big difference. Babies should only sleep in a car seat if they are in a moving vehicle – at home, at dinner, etc., they should sleep on their backs for every sleep time.

      While the recommendation is to not share your bed with your baby, for many parents that is not their reality. Almost all parents end up with their baby in the bed with them at least some of the time. It is essential that anyone sleeping with the baby, planned or not, be sober and smoke free (smokers don’t arouse as easily). Minimize bedding, and if it will be your routine, consider having your mattress on the floor.

      Babies should ALWAYS be put to sleep on their backs. That is the #1 thing you can do. If your baby turns themselves over, they can stay that way. Babies don’t sleep “better” on their stomachs, they sleep heavier — which is not what you want in someone with a still developing reflex system reminding them to breathe.

      Anyway, that’s all you NEED. Don’t over-purchase before baby arrives. Your newborn doesn’t need a fancy mat for tummy time. Put a blanket or towel on the floor. You don’t need a changing table – again, the floor or a regular table will work fine. Figure out what you need once baby is here. Most places in the developed can get most things delivered pretty quick when you decide you do need a wipe warmer or a bottle warmer or what have you.

      You’ve got this! Congrats and may your pregnancy go smoothly.

      1. Perpetua*

        Thank you for the detailed answer! It made me happy to realize that I’ve already read all of it somewhere else and remembered it, so at least I feel ready with the basics. :)

        Since you mention you’re an expert in infant safe sleep, mind if I ask you an additional question? One of the options we’re considering is using a modern “Moses basket” at first and then maybe putting her on the mattress on the floor (Montessori-style) when she grows out of the basket. I’ve read a bit about putting the baby on the mattress (it seems to work great for some kids, not so great for others, like everything, so we’re of course ready to adjust if necessary), but the room co-sharing setups that I’ve found mostly include the parents sleeping on a (separate) mattress on the floor as well, while we’d have to sleep in our regular bed with the baby mattress nearby (but not right next to the bed). Do you see any potential safety issues with such a setup?

        Thank you!

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          A comment – my long babies grew out of the Moses basket by 6-8 weeks. They were all 24″ at birth, mostly because of their very tall father. If you and/or baby’s father are tall, this may also be a factor for you.

          I am not a professional but looked into co-sleeping in detail when planning for my #2 and #3. There is very little formal research into co-sleeping, so “bed sharing deaths” statistics include both planned and unplanned bed sharing. Unplanned bed sharing (that is, falling asleep with baby wherever you happen to be) is undoubtedly dangerous. This seems to be a higher risk for breastfed than bottlefed babies, because nursing releases oxytocin which is soporific, so you think you’re sitting up nursing but suddenly you jolt awake and baby is still in your arms and could have been smothered.

          The Lullaby Trust (a SIDS reduction charity in the UK) has this advice for safe co-sleeping which might be of interest: https://www.lullabytrust.org.uk/safer-sleep-advice/co-sleeping/

          When I went back to work after baby #1 I was surviving on around 3-4 hours sleep in 24 (of which at least 1 was during my commute). I am certain I was more dangerous to that baby when I was falling asleep between blinks, than planned co-sleeping with his siblings later on, on a firm mattress with no smoke or alcohol, etc, where I was able to nurse in my sleep.

      2. Observer*

        at home, at dinner, etc., they should sleep on their backs for every sleep time.

        Babies should ALWAYS be put to sleep on their backs.

        Babies don’t sleep “better” on their stomachs, they sleep heavier

        That’s not universally true. Some babies do not sleep well on their backs. If your baby is one of them, let them sleep on their stomach – babies NEED to sleep. Also, once they are turning over on their own, you can put them down however you want, but they will sleep how THEY want.

        Given that reality, though, it’s even MORE important to keep the baby’s sleep space bare. If you’re worried about the kid sticking a hand or foot between the bars (unlikely in newer cribs), use a MESH bumper that is very tightly anchored to the sides of the crib.

        If you are worried that the child is cold, a sleep sack for newborns and “sleepers” over their pajamas work well.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          Routinely placing babies on their backs to sleep has reduced SIDS by 90%. You’re right that it doesn’t suit every baby but in those cases I would recommend taking advice from a professional (e.g. midwife, paediatrician) to work out the safest solution until they’re old/strong enough to roll into the most comfortable position on their own.

          1. Observer*

            The numbers actually are a lot more questionable than that indicates. What a lot of these studies don’t look at are the other changes that have taken place along the “back to sleep” campaigns. For instance, when my oldest was an infant was the beginning of the push to put infants on their backs. At that time it was totally routine to have blankies, cute pillows etc. the crib. And NOT putting a bumper in the crib was seen by many as bizarre or even neglectful. Today? I don’t remember the last time I’ve seen any of this stuff in a baby’s crib. Infants are put into empty cribs with firm mattresses. That makes a HUGE difference.

            Another major change is in the uptake in nursing. No one knows why, but babies who nurse have lower incidence of SIDS.

            My pediatrician basically told me to start with putting the babies on their backs, but if they don’t sleep flip them over. They NEED to sleep. And, yes, he looked at the studies – he’s always been really good at keeping up with the current studies etc.

    7. Not A Manager*

      Babies don’t actually need a lot of stuff that’s different from what adults need.

      If I were fitting an infant into a small space, I would clear a top of an existing surface, buy a changing mat, and use that as a changing table. You don’t need a special dedicated piece of furniture for that. We didn’t use a lot of products on the kids anyway, but you should be able to fit diapers, wipes and creams into a basket or a drawer and call it a day. Get a small diaper can instead of a huge one, and empty it more frequently.

      We didn’t ever buy a special baby bath. We used a large plastic bin with shallow sides (like people use to store wrapping paper), and placed a towel in the bottom of it. That will literally fit under your bed when you’re not using it. When the kids were larger we got a bathtub seat for them to sit in.

      An infant doesn’t need a full-sized crib to sleep in. I used the pram attachment of their stroller for naps and such, and there’s no reason an infant couldn’t have slept in it at night. As your baby gets older, a pack and play or portable crib will be fine until you put them on a mattress.

      I’m sure I’m forgetting something, but the other things I can think of really aren’t specialized. You need a place for clothes and toys, and maybe some specialized equipment if you’re sterilizing bottles or making special food.

      1. Perpetua*

        I think it’s actually the issue of the changing pad that’s fueled this frustration. A friend gave birth recently and said that getting a (previously unplanned to purchase) changing table proved essential to her, so it’s gotten me thinking about where to put it if we need it as well. Then I realized that we don’t have an existing surface big enough to put a changing mat on, other than the couch or the bed – which my partner is hesitant to use because of worries about poop getting all over the place :) – or the floor, which I guess is always an option.

        The other part is that I like to plan. And since I’m only in the beginning of my second trimester, it feels like such a long wait ahead that I’ve been trying to fill it with some planning. :P But I think I’ve also created some unnecessary issues in my mind that will all be solved in due time.

        Thank you for the reassurance!

        1. SAHM*

          You can always get a changing mat and store it under the bed or to the side of the bed and throw it on the bed to change baby. Personally a towel worked well for me, or if you’re worried about them peeing through it to the bed get a towel and sew a water proof backing onto it. Baby’s are TINY when they’re first born and, while they’re at their most messiest then, an average towel is still waaaaay bigger then them. You won’t really have poop escaping off the towel onto the bed until they’re like 3-6 months old & start squirming and by that time you’re a pro at diaper changing/know your kid more, so you can figure out what works.
          Honestly as a mom of four it’s all a scam. You can 100% get by with cleaning out like two drawers for their itty bitty baby clothes, diapers, wipes,& burp rags, and Co-sleeping(if you’re not on medication/smoking as commented above). My last baby the only thing I needed was a car seat, I didn’t bother with a crib or anything. We eventually got her a dresser (she’s one now and sleeps in a crib with her sister), but yea, babies don’t need a lot more than a place to sleep and a place to be changed.

        2. Not A Manager*

          If your partner is worried about poop on the bed, get a changing pad and a plastic throw – a shower curtain liner will work, or a heavy plastic outdoor tablecloth. Lay the plastic under the pad wherever you are changing. The liner is machine washable at least for a while, and easily replaceable otherwise. The pad should stand up to a soapy sponge or a bleach wipe.

        3. PurpleMonster*

          We just did changes on a towel on the bed or couch. That’s big enough to contain surprise blowouts. Once she was of rolling age we did it on the floor. Once you get into it you find ways of making it work and realise how little you actually need.

          We did cloth nappies and cloth wipes – just cut up old clothes and zigzag the edges if they’re likely to fray. Much preferred them to standard wipes!

        4. Knitter*

          After my first, I realized just how little I needed. And I realized I could buy most of what I needed pretty easily when I needed it. And then I realized most of my friends/neighbors were desperate to get rid of baby things so I could get most of what I needed for #2 second hand.

        5. Observer*

          I found the bed to be the best place to change. For one thing I could sit rather than bend. For another it’s lower than most other surfaces, which is nice once your kid is moving around. At the same time, I could position myself in such a way that it was a LOT harder for a squirmy kid to fall off the bed.

          A changing pad is all you need for a newborn. And if the kid is a really pro at squirming away when they get bigger, there are bigger things you can put under that. Shower curtain is one, or a kitchen table table cloth is another.

          1. Perpetua*

            Something that came to my mind when thinking about using just the bed for changing – how do you handle night changes, with the other partner possibly sleeping (or at least not necessarily getting up each time) on the other half of the bed?

            1. Observer*

              It doesn’t take that much space to change a diaper. I don’t remember too much detail about the late night feedings, but it wasn’t much of a problem.

    8. German Girl*

      My baby is 2 1/2 months old now and let me tell you, I still don’t get why the moms in my pre-delivery-class were so eager to get a room set up for their baby.
      I actually have a spare room that’s reserved for him but it is empty and he hasn’t spent time in it, yet.

      WHO recommends that babys sleep in their parents room until they’re a year old or so, and he spends the days in the living room with us why buy furniture for his room now?

      I did buy a bed which stands right next to mine and a wall mounted foldable changing table which hangs next to the sink in the bathroom and I had a mattress in a corner on the living room floor – that’s all the furniture I needed for him in the first four weeks.
      Oh yeah, and a car seat.

      Buy what you absolutely can’t do without – think about how to transport your baby (car seat?) where your baby will sleep at night and where it will nap during the day (a bed, a crib, or just a small mattress?) and where you’ll change diapers (bathroom floor, top of existing furniture or a dedicated piece of furniture?) and you’ll figure out what else you need as you go.

      Oh, I also didn’t buy a buggie/pram, because I don’t have space for it. I have a baby sling instead (Bondolino Tragehilfe). This has advantages (doesn’t need much space, easy to take with you wherever, baby has direct contact with you and calms down quickly) and disadvantages (not so easy on your post partum fragile body, might be too complicated for grandparents to use).

      I’m guessing you already have a shopping list for clothes, diapers and stuff like that? If not, ask your midwife. If you are in Germany and don’t have a midwife yet, find one now. There are lots of lists online, too. Don’t go overboard with clothes in the small sizes – your baby will grow out of size 56 within a month.

    9. Overeducated*

      Yes, i think the setting up of nurseries is more for adults than babies. With my first I had a friend’s mom react in absolute horror to the idea that the baby wouldn’t have his own space, surely an apartment with another bedroom couldn’t be THAT expensive and we’d be setting him up for bad sleep habits for life otherwise, but…she was wrong!

      With my first we kept it super minimal – crib, foldable changing pad we’d unfold on the floor, and clothes in a plastic three drawer thing because we didn’t feel like buying another dresser. Random stuff like a nursing pillow and diapers were in the closet. But baby didn’t have his own decorated “nook” or anything like that because I’m not the decorating type. And we didn’t buy a special nursing chair or anything like that.

      I’m expecting my second in the fall and space is definitely tighter with a kid who’s old enough to WANT his own space and stuff at this point, so we’re focusing a lot more on reorganizing and buying things used so we can get rid of them the second they’re not needed. We put up a few closet shelves to better use vertical space (which now I have to organize, eek). I got a bassinet to go right by my bed for a few months and won’t even set up the old crib until baby grows out of it since it takes up so much space. I also bought a used changing table since we don’t have low enough furniture, and I plan to put clothes in cloth bins on its shelves instead of buying a dresser for now. That’s about it for the baby set up! The hardest part will be figuring out where to put the stroller when not in use.

      1. HBJ*

        To the first paragraph, I find that so weird. My children have not had their own room, and they are better sleepers than any of my friends’ children. Great nappers. From birth, only waking once a night for a feed. Sleeping through the night early (3 monthsish).

        Also, it’s not just folklore that subsequent children tend to nap better than first borns. They have to get used to the sound of older kids playing.

    10. Anon Librarian*

      It sounds really healthy for the kid! I remember being young and wanting to be closer to my parents. I always wanted to sleep in their bed. I didn’t crave my own space until I was old enough to be keeping a journal, sharing secrets with friends, etc. I think what kids need the most is love, and as long as they have plenty of that, they adjust to whatever their material life is like. Wanting stuff is something that’s taught later on.

      I’ve never had a baby, but keeping everyone and everything together sounds like a nice idea. I would just wonder about times when one partner needs a break from the baby? Like if the baby was crying and one parent had a bad headache? Or, just the same, if the partners needed some alone time from each other? Is there a way to allow for that?

    11. HBJ*

      Same, same. We had our second child while living in a one bedroom.

      The idea I liked the most was to turn the bedroom over to the kids and have your bed in the living room, sort of slightly “walled off” or isolated with bookshelves. But, my husband wouldn’t go for it. (I’ll link my favorite blog post for this in a separate reply.)

      Other than that, minimalism! Babies really don’t need that much stuff no matter what registry suggestion lists try to tell you. We had one bouncy-type seat (no batteries required) and a bassinet. That’s it for furniture/space taking stuff, I’m serious, for furniture for the infant/pre-sitting stage).

      For a changing table, I know lots of people who just change the baby on the floor. For us, I had a wide countertop in the bathroom, and about two feet of it was dedicated baby-changing space. No changing pad, just a folded up blanket or towel. Diapers went in one of the drawers. Baby clothes go in either a box or an existing drawer in our dresser.

      Ideally, I’d have a small dresser dedicated to the children with a changing pad on top.

      For my older child, we still don’t have a lot of stuff. Again, minimalism. Children don’t need roomfulls of toys. The bottom shelf of our bookshelf was for her books. Next to that was a small toy chest. Clean up toys often! Just getting all the kids crap off the floor makes everything look SO much cleaner.

      Also, keep a box in the living area or wherever the child mostly is for loose crap. That random onesie that got taken off, extra socks, teethers, a loose diaper, burp cloths, whatever. There’s always little random stuff (usually clothes) that just end up all over the couch. Have a spot for that and sort it every evening.

    12. Salymander*

      We used to have a very small (and suuuuuper cheap) place to live. Our baby slept in our bedroom because I had a health issue and couldn’t walk, talk the way I had, use my hands for normal chores and such, or pick up my baby by myself. My husband would hand her to me so I could feed her. It was a nuisance, and it eventually got better, but at the time it meant that we all lived in one room together because I could not really get around even in our very small place. The crib was next to the bed, and the dressers and storage stuff was all just shoved up against one wall together. The computer was in there too. It was pretty crowded. Even after I started to be able to do things for myself again, we kept our room the way it was for a couple of years. We could get privacy by putting baby/kidling to bed and then retiring to living room, so the lack of privacy didn’t bother us too much. We had one corner of the living room set aside for toys, kid books, and a child desk with all the art supplies in it. Once out of the crib, child slept with us and we had a futon in the living room if we wanted privacy or needed space. I put a curtain up at either end of the hallway for more privacy and to retain the heat from our crappy gas wall heaters. To combat feeling stir-crazy, we spent a lot of time at the park, library, and any other free kid-friendly place I could find.
      I had several mom-friends from playgroup who were European, and all were used to smaller spaces, which helped me to feel less weird about it. Also, we live in a ridiculously expensive area, so many people live in small places and there isn’t a lot of judgement about it (there never should be, but some people are jerks). My family was less supportive and made comments (they are jerks), but that would be the case no matter what.
      Keeping to a smaller space made cleanup more frequent but for smaller blocks of time, so I was less tired and less likely to procrastinate about cleaning. Plus, keeping our small place was much less expensive, and allowed us to save our money. It started as a temporary thing to deal with my health emergency, and ended up being the thing that helped us attain more financial security. Major silver lining, and actually more pleasant to live with than I thought it would be.
      Now, we have bought a larger house. I like having more space and less stuff in it, but I sometimes miss the old place. It was nice having that closeness. My child still wants to sleep with us, but now it is an occasional thing.
      For what it’s worth, I think a lot of those articles about buying baby stuff and moving baby into their own room with lots of baby furniture are less helpful and informational and more just thinly veiled advertisements for more crap. Like product placement for the Baby Industrial Complex.

  25. The Other Dawn*

    This is for Just a hypo, who asked for the jam recipes I used last year.

    (I didn’t use the fresh pineapple it calls for. I used a can of crushed pineapple since I didn’t feel like dealing with peeling and cutting a fresh one.)
    (I used two 16 ounce containers of fresh strawberries and five jalapenos (I didn’t have habaneros).)

    This weekend I’ll be making blueberry jalapeno and pineapple habanero. I grew the peppers myself. :)

    1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      I have a long list of things I should do… but the jam making sounds heavenly. The jalapeno jelly a former coworker brought and put over cream cheese with crackers at a work potluck last year was delightful… these would be a great gift and I loved the combo!

    2. Pam*

      Yum. I do the same when making pineapple jam- life is too short to chop pineapple. Last year, I also added chopped mandarin oranges and extra lemon juice to make a tropical sunshine jam.

      I don’t normally do pepper jams, but these look great.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      I must say, the blueberry jalapeno jam came out good. It’s delicious. It’s a bit thick due to boiling it a little longer than required after adding the pectin, but it doesn’t affect the taste at all. And I’d like a tad more heat next time. My jalapenos are tiny this year for some reason, so I tried to compensate by adding a few more, but I think I should’ve added a couple more, or maybe more seeds.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’m envious that you GOT peppers… ours fell victim to something that ate the leaves early.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          That’s what happened to my green beans. Some plants are fine, but others have stunted growth so I’m thinking they won’t produce much of anything. I’ve realized I’ll need to fence the raised beds next year. Never had a problem since I made them three years ago, but now the wildlife wants a snack I guess.

  26. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    Diagnosed with uveitis in the right eye. Possibly autoimmune :/ TG for strong round-the-clock eye drops.
    Seeing eye doctor Tues for follow-up and anti-glare glasses.

    Anyone have uveitis before? Genetic or not? Any lifehacks?

    1. Call me St. Vincent*

      Uveitis is often linked to psoriasis and other autoimmune diseases including inflammatory arthritis. It would be good to check in with a rheumatologist to see if there is anything else going on?

    2. Seal*

      I have been dealing with recurring panuveitis (an inflammation of everything inside of the eye) for 3 years. The first bout was particularly terrifying, as I lost the vision in that eye for several days. Since uveitis can be caused by any number of issues, including injury, infection (bacterial or fungal), and diseases such as TB or AIDS, and my case was so severe, I had to undergo numerous tests and wait for the results while being started on a number of different drugs. It was not a great week. Eventually the worst-case scenarios were ruled out and it was decided that I had an autoimmune issue. Still, it took several years and a few more bouts of panuveitis to finally get a diagnosis of sarcoidosis, which is an autoimmune issue. That explained some of the other issues I’d been having, specifically stiff and swollen legs and ankles for no apparent reason.

      Before the autoimmune diagnosis, I was treated with oral steroids and lots steroid eye drops, initially as often as hourly. Since long term steroid use has a number of negative side effects, particularly weight gain (40-50 pounds over the past 3 years-not happy about that!), I was first put on Humira and then methotrexate. While the Humira ultimately did not work for me, as I had another flare while I was on it, the methotrexate seems to be working; my legs feel much better. Another unfortunate side effect of all those steroid eye drops was a cataract that developed over the course of months and required surgery. That turned out to be a good thing – I most likely would have had to have surgery for age-related cataracts at some point anyway and now I can see without my glasses when I get up in the morning.

      Of course, my situation is a worst-case scenario. My understanding is that many if not most cases of uveitis are idiopathic; it happens once and then never again. Your regular eye doctor may be able to treat it or my refer you to a retina specialist, who may refer you to a rheumatologist if they think it’s caused by an autoimmune issue and particularly if it reoccurs.

      As far as life hacks go, sunglasses are a must, particularly if they’re treating you with dilating drops in addition to steroid drops. Keeping the lights low or off helps, as does turning down the brightness on your devices. If possible, limit the amount of time you spend at the computer; during the worst of my bouts, I found that my vision was worse after long stints at the computer. Keep a magnifying glass handy, too, in case you have trouble reading smaller print on medicine bottles and the like.

      Good luck with this – hope your eye improves soon!

    3. StrikingFalcon*

      In my case it was also associated with broader rheumatic problems – ankylosing spondylitis and Crohn’s. Both are genetic, in the sense that rheumatic diseases run in the family. Basically when those are out of control because I’ve needed to stop my meds for a period, the uveitis flares up. But there are non-chronic causes too, so that may not be the case for you!

      I’m on Cimzia now which controls most of my symptoms, including preventing uveitis flares (so far at least, knock on wood). But steroid drops have always cleared up a flare for me in short order. It will get better!

      For now, just avoid light and eye strain. Let your eyes rest and know that they will recover.

    4. Talk talk*

      I had chronic uveitis for about a year in college. They tested me for *everything* but luckily nothing popped up. My eye would get pink, I’d get the steroid eye drops, it would go away, and then back again. I had no other symptoms and the doctors chalked it up as a fluke. It’s been 25 years since it happened and I’ve been fine!

    5. misspiggy*

      A friend has it, and she was able to go off steroids after a couple of years. Reducing life stress made a big difference to her symptoms.

  27. Anona*

    I posted about this late last week, but my husband’s mentor/old boss, who is more like a dad to him (his own dad is an addict and it’s complicated, so his mentor is literally someone we stop at their house on Christmas), just told us that he has ALS. He and his wife are super private, so we can’t talk to anyone about it. I know it’s been weighing on my husband.
    We just got an email from his mentor’s wife, and she was asking for help with something around the house, and then offered us his tools if we want them. It’s just like- we’d love to trade the stupid tools for him to not be dying of ALS. She also said something in the email about how they know they’re lucky because they’ve had such a good life, but this long goodbye is so difficult. It’s just supremely painful. I have to work today, so my husband will be getting this email when he’s home alone, and I know it’s going to hit him like a ton of bricks. So I’m sitting here crying in my car, getting myself together before going in to work, and just feeling heavy.
    We do have a wedding to go to later today, and it’s with a really fun, silly friend. I hope that’s a bright spot.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Can you surprise your hubby by giving him a quick call at break time?

      All you can do really is hold each other while you cry together. So. very, very sorry for your (both) pain.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      My heart goes out to your husband and yourself. I had a similar situation when my boss, another father figure (mine is a perfect dad but I’ve been blessed with other men who also fall into a father/mentor role) was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers. I had to watch him fade away and recently he was released from that awful fight.

      You will get through this. Please stay close with his wife as well. She will have a tribe around her but the bigger the better for that support network.

      Let yourselves feel these emotions. And let yourselves celebrate the good things in life as they come, like weddings and births and birthdays etc. Try to mourn and grieve for the awful diseases and losses but remember the beauty in life is it’s not always tragic and painful. We have good times. The times that brought us these bosses and mentors who changed our lives for the better. For their legacies to go on, we overcome the pain of watching them suffer and eventually losing them way too soon.


    3. Not A Manager*

      I’m so sorry. From having gone through some family illnesses, I have two pieces of advice.

      First, take the tools. I know that sounds harsh, but the mentor and his wife need help processing and if they’ve offered the tools to you, it will be meaningful to them if you accept them. You don’t need to dwell on the reason why you’re getting them, nor do you need to ignore it. Tell them how honored you are that they thought of you for the tools, and that you will always think of them both when you use them; and then if you can, tell them how important they are to you and how much you love them. This is really hard to do, and in some ways it’s easier to side-step the tools or the conversation, but if you can do it, it could be really helpful to you and to them.

      Second, if you have access, encourage your husband to see a counselor himself for a few sessions. This is a blow to him that is comparable to losing a parent, and he has a right to some support in dealing with it. Especially as his relationship with his own parent is less than ideal.

      Best wishes to you, your husband, and his mentor.

    4. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      I second all of this good advice (just lost my own husband last year). Hugs to you – I know you don’t know me, but I so appreciate the support and love you are sharing and giving to them, and each other. Talk about the elephant in the room – clearly they are processing, and sometimes they just need someone to listen so they can be heard. There’s a lot of the time when they are alone together, processing – you are possibly one of the few bright spots they have. …and you sound like dear people. It is a meaningful gift.

    1. Angwyshaunce*

      Full agreement. Even when the business portion is finally complete, then begins the process of making it home.

  28. FaintlyMacabre*

    I am really tired of people having their dog’s off-leash in parks that don’t allow it. Last weekend, a dog came out of the park and crossed the street to get to my dog. It was friendly, thankfully, but I was knocked down by it and skinned my knee and ripped my pants and had to deal with a bruised and swollen knee this week. The owners of the dog just grabbed the dog and scuttled off, didn’t even check to see if I was okay.

    And I’ve had it. People constantly have their dogs off leash in the park and I’m tired of having to avoid the park when I’m walking my dog. I even went back once this week, without my dog to confront a dude who is a habitual offender, who just said “Oh, I forgot my leash today” and then just totally ignored me when I pointed out that it was the third time this week he had been in the park with his dog off leash. And he plays golf, which is another thing that the park rules prohibit.

    Tragedy of the commons, ugh.

    1. WellRed*

      A woman here was attacked in a parking lot by an off leash ( lots if stitches) and the dog owner did the same. I believe the victim is now pushing for a law requiring dog owners to stop. I mean, why wouldn’t you? Sadly, this is not uncommon. You mau need to reach out to your city councilor or similar to complain about the park.

    2. Call me St. Vincent*

      The thing that most people don’t realize is that, aside from these situations that you all are describing, a real danger is how the other dogs who are leashed react to the unleashed dog. I know someone who has an aggressive dog that she is very, very careful with so that the dog doesn’t interact with other dogs. She was walking the dog and another unleashed dog bounded up to her dog without giving her any time to get her dog away. The dogs ended up fighting and when she was trying to break it up, she lost her finger in the melee. So all the people who think it’s no big deal because their dog is so friendly–you’re STILL putting others at risk by irresponsibly having your dog off leash no matter how friendly YOUR dog is.

      1. CatCat*

        Yes, absolutely. People with their dogs offleash illegally will call to a friend when she is walking her leashed dog, “Don’t worry, my dog’s friendly!” And they get a loud and icy, “My dog is NOT friendly. Leash your dog or it WILL be hurt.” Because her dog hates other dogs.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      People are rude about dogs. I don’t see that as much with cat owners, probably because they’re less social and aren’t walked or taken into public spaces the way dogs are. I get that you love your pet, but nobody else will love him if you don’t teach him some manners. I wonder sometimes if those people’s kids are obnoxious as well.

      Around here, they seem most lax about barking (it’s not just my one neighbor, either). Put the dog out; let it do what dogs do; ignore that it might actually bother someone else. I don’t think it’s normal for a dog to bark continuously for hours at a time. Plus, a lot of cities do have noise ordinances that specify barking as a nuisance that falls outside the usual nighttime quiet hours. So if you’ve got a barky mutt, you can get a citation.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Cat owners aren’t immune
        …it’s just really hard to figure out whose cat it is when they’re using your garden as a litter box overnight because of cat doors. I used to refer to a neighbor as the kitten factory because they let their unspayed cats roam. Including when in heat.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          True, but they don’t make as much noise and can’t bite your face right off.

          Also, I despise anyone who won’t spay / neuter their animals.

    4. Wishing You Well*

      A friend of mine carries pepper spray to ward off attacking dogs. He’s had to use it.

    5. rubyrose*

      I live in an apartment complex and am out walking my dog 3 – 4 times a day. Always leashed, always pick up the poop.
      Not all of my neighbors are as considerate. It seems to happen more often on Sunday mornings. The dogs are out on their own pooping, and the owners are either standing at the door of their apartment or they are totally inside, opening the door when they think their pup should be done.

      I’ve taken to turning on my camera on my cell phone and getting the video. I make sure to get the apartment number. It then goes to apartment management. What I’m told by the manager is that when she calls the offender and tells them their dog has been seen loose she typically gets something along the line of “someone must have made a mistake.” She then tells them she has video and asks them to come over to see it. Their tune changes with that.

      One of these dog charged me and my dog. The video has my screaming and my very angry words to the owner, who decided to come out when she heard me. She tried the ploy of her animal being an emotional support dog, like that somehow excuses everything that occurred. In addition to that video going to apartment management I filed the official complaint with animal control. Per local law, her animal has been deemed a potential vicious dog. One more incident and she will lose the dog. The complex put her on notice that one more complaint will result in eviction.

      If I were in your shoes, I would have gotten the authorities involved when I was knocked down. I would be studying your local laws and filing complaints, with videos. Maybe choosing one person at first to file complaints against? Word will spread, I assure you.

      Because of where I live, it is prudent to carry bear spray at certain times, for coyotes. I have considered that I might have to use it against a dog sometime. I mean, if someone’s dog is unleashed, being aggressive toward me or my dog and the owner just stands there and does nothing (no voice control, no movement to restrain their own dog) ….I don’t think I should have to wait for physical harm to occur.

    6. Liesl and Fritz' mom*

      Agree! I have two dachshunds who are always leashed. We were surrounded by golden retrievers who you’d think would be loads of fun… Nope! Their rambunctious behavior and jumping around scared the crap out of us and one landed on my girl dog who yelped and nipped at the dog. The owner merely said, ‘Oh they’re fine. You’re fine. Don’t be so worried.” When I asked her to recall her dogs she tried and then said “They have an e-collar and don’t always respond.” What?!

      I was so salty to her that I surprised myself by calling her a ‘C’ for being irresponsible and unprepared for her dogs.

    7. ...*

      Nope I love dogs more than life itself but they belong on leashes unless in a designated spot! Drives me CRAZY!!!

  29. Anonymous Seller*

    Is it better to inform a tenant immediately that they will not be getting their deposit back, or to inform them when they leave voluntarily in two weeks? I’m trying to sell my house, and I had a tour this Thursday. The viewer left feedback that said the place (lower apartment where the tenants live) smelled so overwhelmingly like the cats that they didn’t even bother checking out the upstairs (where my partner & I live with no pets).

    The smelly cats & smelly apartment have been an issue for the two years they’ve lived here. Multiple times it’s gotten so bad that our apartment smells like one of the cats sauntered in and relieved himself. We’ve talked to the tenants more than enough times, including one conversation that basically had me telling them I don’t want to evict them because they’re otherwise great tenants. So it’s come down to: their negligence may have cost me a sale.

    They don’t seem like the type who will react with “well screw this, let’s break some walls”, but I do envision them crying and stuttering as they try to explain themselves for the bajillionth time that the one cat has an appointment to be fixed in two weeks (except they’ve been saying that for two years) and it’s the poor quality litter and whatever other excuses they want to provide even though two out of the three occupants are home all the time.

    I hope Alison will agree this is more of a non-work question.

    1. Middle School Teacher*

      Let them move out, use their deposit to get the place cleaned and sanitized, and then send them a statement that itemised what you used the deposit for. Where I live, a landlord has to do that within 10 business days.

      1. Anonymous Seller*

        LOVE it. Thanks! This is the first time I will have held onto a deposit when it wasn’t blazingly obvious I would not return any money. All other times have been where the tenant skipped out before the lease was up.

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          Definitely look into the laws in your area – in mine, deposits are to cover cleaning/repairs beyond expected wear and tear, which almost certainly covers having to clean up excessive cat funk. However, I had a friend who lived in his place for 15+ years, and because he’d lived there so long and everything was basically end-of-lifespan and needed to be replaced anyway, he got his deposit back despite some damage and stains that probably would have lost him his deposit had he been there only 6 months rather than over a decade.

          If you had them sign a lease or other rental contract, it might also talk about damages to the unit and what can be taken out of the deposit (or billed to them in addition).

    2. blackcat*

      I’d wait until they move out, but schedule an appointment with a flooring person (or two) for the next day. You may have to replace the flooring, which may be something you can even ask for funds above and beyond the deposit (depends on the age of the flooring there. If it’s old carpet, well, that has a lifespan and it should get replaced anyway).
      It’s likely you won’t be able to sell with them there, and quite possibly not until you remediate the place. Act accordingly.

    3. Anono-me*

      I would wait. No sense borrowing drama. Also the tenants know there is damage.

      Please keep in mind that the deposit may not be enough to cover the damage. The scent maybe into the subflooring, and possibly even into some of the joists (rare, but possible).This can be a majorly expensive repair. Also you will lose potential rent from a new tenants.

      Good luck.

    4. fposte*

      Definitely check to make sure you’re on the right side of the law in your area–at minimum, I’d expect the kind of accounting Middle School Teacher mentions.

    5. PeteyKat*

      You will need to do a walk thru with the tenant once they move out and document all damage with photos and a list. Hopefully you have dated photos of the apartment prior before they moved in to show the condition of the space prior to their occupancy. You have a certain amount of time to return a security deposit depending on your state. Make sure you have a detailed invoice for any repairs/replacement that goes above normal wear and tear. If the carpet was fairly new when they moved in they should be responsible for its replacement but if it was already old and worn when they moved in, they shouldn’t be responsible for it’s replacement.

        1. blackcat*

          Again, check local rules. Padding may be subject to normal wear and tear, but subfloor should not be in most places.

      1. Anonymous Seller*

        It’s entirely hardwood. We are doing a walk through, and the application (which I reminded them of when we discussed their intent to move out) has a list of things that all need to be met in order for the security deposit to be returned. They signed it when they applied to be tenants, and we reviewed it a few weeks ago.

        1. Anonymous Seller*

          P.S.: That application was written by my attorney, who specializes in Landlord/Tenant matters. So if he thinks that stipulation is legal, it’s most likely legal.

        2. bunniferous*

          You might wind up replacing that hardwood. I sell foreclosed houses and it is a horror show when people did not take care of their animals properly.

    6. Blarg*

      There’s also always the chance that they actually clean the place and once they and the cats are gone, it’s not as bad. Every jurisdiction has regulations about what landlords may withhold deposits for, generally with definitions of “normal wear and tear,” including for animals that you allowed the tenant to keep. Remember that the home is two years older than it was when they rented it. The fixtures, the floors … you cannot expect they be in the “same or better”
      condition as when they arrived. It’s like anything else that’s two years older and been lived in and used.

      Maybe they do no cleaning and things are ruined ahead of schedule … but if the carpet was 15 years old already, it would need to be replaced anyway, and that isn’t the responsibility of the tenant. If you go in thinking “I’m keeping the whole deposit,” you may be setting yourself up for legal trouble and bias against tenants who frustrate you. Document what you find, itemize what you spend, and be realistic about your expectations as a landlord. The apartment is your investment, and investments require maintenance.

      1. Anonymous Seller*

        Luckily after they move out I won’t be a landlord ever again. There is no carpeting in the house, either. Also in my state, I can be judgemental and biased against people who live in the same house I live in. For properties where a landlord is not a resident, there is no such right, but for resident landlords it’s basically seen as choosing roommates.

    7. Aphrodite*

      This isn’t what you asked but for the smells try vinegar. Buy a couple of gallons of generic white distilled vinegar, place it in bowls on the floor all over the place and leave the windows open as much as you can. The smell will get worse before it will get better–but it will get better! It may take a week, two or three but it really does work.

      And if you own other rental property please don’t ban cats. Instead, require that all cats be flea-free and spayed/neutered either by checking with their vet or requiring the tenants to take the cats to your vet for an exam.

      Thank you on behalf of all responsible cat own … er, servants

      1. Eva and Me*

        Yes, I can remember having a hard time finding an apartment that would allow my cat! I offered a significant non-refundable pet deposit and the name/number of the veterinarian, which helped. So, yes, please don’t let your bad experience with these tenants lead you to ban all cats/pets!

      2. Anonymous Seller*

        Oh don’t worry, I am 100% aware and have proof that cats in a home does not automatically mean the home smells of cat urine, feces, & semen.

    8. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      Dog funk here. And yes, it had soaked through the carpet pad. Wood floor underneath, subfloor. It is not an inexpensive fix.

      And, the issue may also be that they simply can’t smell it any more, either.
      We have acquaintances we only meet “out” for meals. Went to their house once. They have 4 cats, 3 early adult children, and a huge huskie… and something is so significantly funky that I breathed only through my mouth the whole time we were there just to drop one of them off at their house. I’m 100% certain they simply do not smell it any longer. (and I have severe allergies, husband was the one who had to make an excuse and go outside within 5 minutes).

      So you may want to get documentation that it “is” that bad from two flooring contractors/bids. Check that it hasn’t seeped into the baseboard/sheetrock (if spraying the walls is also an issue).

      I wouldn’t say anything in advance, but check out your state and local laws, take pictures, take statements, keep business cards. I’ve had to go to small claims court to get my deposit back, and the best documentation generally wins, in my very limited experience.

      1. Anonymous Seller*

        In early July, my partner & I found our dream house in a home listing. We put an offer on it, and it was accepted with conditional sale of the place we live in. When I told the tenants in mid-July that we were selling this house, they replied akin to “oh good, we were actually thinking about moving out by the end of August”. We’ve gone through all of the >30 days written documentation stuff, with signatures. No worries there. This isn’t an eviction or a lease breaking, as they’ve been on a month-to-month lease since March 2018.

    9. Anon Librarian*

      I have never heard anything about a security deposit refund before moving out. Usually, you get a check a month after you move out. Usually, you’re lucky if they send you the check within the required time frame and/or list the deductions.

      So it sounds like these people are losing the whole thing. But if you don’t explain why in writing, they could take you to small claims court and win, so you should give them documentation. Definitely wait until after they’ve moved out. Then get an estimate for the cleaning job and mail them that figure along with a note explaining that their entire security deposit is being used to cover it. Just numbers. Nothing subjective. “Odor neutralization services – $1300. Will be covered by security deposit ($1250).”

  30. Angry Older Sister*

    Slightly anon for this, since my original name here is the same as the beginnings of my email.
    I’ve been meaning to write in ranting about an issue for a while, but something came to light concerning the rantable issue and I need some help. A little background: Dad is 90, Mom died a few years ago, sister in her 50s is intellectually disabled (levels for different areas of development are between 8 and 13 years old) and has lived with our parents all her life, then there is me (oldest and lives ~75 minutes from them) and brother (youngest and lives ~35 minutes from them). Dad had a medical incident that put him in the hospital last fall. (Stopped taking his meds which caused congestive heart failure. Sister tried to get him to get refills/go to the doctor for more, but he’s tired of taking meds and didn’t do it.) It was at that time we discovered he was having memory issues that were more than just an elderly person forgetting they asked how the family was already 5 minutes ago on the phone. After several days at the hospital, he was sent to rehab for ~10 days for various therapies, then he was sent home. Dad still doesn’t actually remember what happened that caused him to go to the hospital, nor does he remember being there. He also thinks that that was his 2nd or 3rd stay at the rehab, when it was his first.
    Dad worries about what will happen to sister when he dies, and years ago my husband volunteered us to take care of her. (I told him he’s have to keep us from killing each other….he thought I was joking.) While dad was in the hospital, brother and I discussed living arrangements. Since sister was supposed to live with me, brother said he would find a elder care home for dad. Sister stayed with us while dad was in the hospital/rehab and husband discovered how lazy and dirty she is. All she did (and still does) is lay on her bed and read or play video games. I can only get her to bath once a week, and when I tried to get her to do it more often (when she was back at dad’s) she rebelled and didn’t bath for 3 weeks. Husband has decided she can’t live with us, which is what I believed all along.
    To prep for dad coming home, brother set up a tiered medicine dispenser (a plastic rectangle for each day, each of which has 4 compartments for different times) which has alarms that go off at each of the med taking times. Brother does all the med refills for this. This isn’t foolproof, as I’ve seen dad turn off the alarm and not take his meds until I tell him to, and there are unused pills I see when I go there each week. We didn’t feel that dad was able to drive any longer, so I got dad to give me one set of his keys and brother the other set. (He had some alarming driving near misses in the past.) Neurologist has since stated that he is NOT to drive at all.
    I go to dads (usually) once per week & do their shopping, bill paying, his laundry (not sisters – she can do her own – I’m not her maid), errands. I take sister to most of her appts and dad to most of his. My daughter subs in for me ~1 weekend a month. Brother says he goes over ~once a week on the way home from work and ~once a weekend. He does the pills, emergency food/prescription runs, some doctor visits for sister and her cat, and he’s come to a couple of dads neurology appts. He also does the lawn care/snow removal. Sister cooks on Sundays. (They get meals on wheels, but won’t eat it if it’s frozen and won’t eat the fruit, salads, etc. So wasteful.)
    I was going to rant about all this, and how all they want to eat is sweets, and if they run out of sweets (or dad doesn’t remember there is more in the cupboard…he’s done that a lot) they will call up and tell me there is no food in the house. Never mind that they’ve got at least 14 frozen meals on wheels and more frozen food….he’s all about the sweets.
    Then Tuesday rolled around. Took sis to the doctor, ran a couple errands, got the mail from the PO Box. Dad opens the credit card bill and says it’s $2000.00. I figured he wasn’t reading it right, or we had bought a lot more groceries that I remembered, so I took a look. I’m a cpa at a place where some of the employees have to take flights to conferences and it will be charged to the company credit card, so right away I recognized that air flights had been charged on dad’s card. I thought somebody had gotten dads credit card info. Then I looked closer, and saw that the flight details and dates coincided with the trip my brother and his family took a few weeks ago. Thought he and dad might have agreed to bro using the card and dad forgot. Texted bro about it: Did you charge 3 flights at $794 each to dads card? And a charge to verizon for $435? I see that a $800 pmt was made through bill-pay. He says he was going to tell dad and me about it….that he’s going to pay it off…that he feels like shit…..that he was locked into the trip and desperate….that his wife doesn’t know…..can I keep it between us. I won’t tell his wife about it, but she’ll figure somethings up I’m sure. Told my husband, and my daughter since it affects her when she goes over there. Brother had had financial troubles before, crappy about handling money, started a c-corp and did the failure to file/failure to pay thing and owed the state a lot of money and irs tens of thousands of dollars, but I thought he was doing better. He does computer stuff, higher than a computer coder, his wife is an RN. I’m sure each one of them make more than I do. (My husband makes ~67-75% of what I do so we aren’t rolling in the money.) Dad has a decent amount of money, but that doesn’t matter, you just don’t do that. Oh, and I had found last Sunday that dad had written a check to brother for more than $600 4 days before that. At that time I figured it was none of my business, but after the credit card stuff I asked dad about it. He remembered writing the check, and that brother left as soon as it was signed, but that he didn’t remember what it was for. (Dad and sister had kept saying that brother only came over to ask for money and I didn’t believe that. Sister had been making up stuff about me, it seemed feasible that what they said about brother was false.)
    Dad is ready to cancel the credit cards and sell the house and move him and my sister into a retirement community. Which wouldn’t be a bad idea, I’ve been trying to ease them into the idea of retirement communities for months. And since I can’t trust my brother with stuff, might as well have dad move to a community near me, which would make it more convenient to care for him/take him shopping. (I’m lucky that I work at a place that has lots of ties to retirement communities, so I’ve been doing some brain picking as to which places are good for months.)
    So, I can’t trust my brother with the credit cards or checking accounts. So he won’t be able to go to the grocery store or the pharmacy in the middle of the week if they need something right then. The day we found out I didn’t think we would need to close the cc accts, but I believe we will need new cards.
    This is my plan so far: Cancel onstar (dad isn’t driving anyway), cancel the card that onstar is charged to (it’s only used for that), have a new card issued to replace what I take to the grocery store. I will have to keep the new credit card under lock and key, as well as the PO Box key. I don’t want to keep it all at my house, because it’s so far from where it would be needed, but if I have them at dads he might lose his key or just open it up and let brother use whatever. I don’t think he would forget that brother royally messed up, but I’m not sure. Sister won’t forget though! She’s intellectually disabled, but she’s got quite the memory and she’s not stupid.
    Are there other things I’m not thinking of that I should do? Thanks.

    1. Anono-me*

      You probably want to look into creating a power of attorney both for your father and your sister. And unfortunately you probably want to document this credit card misuse. That way things are less likely to get ugly and if they do, you’re prepared.

      Also, it sounds like your sister could do very well in a supported living environment of her own. Maybe you and your husband could look into that nearby where you and the husband keep an eye out on things.

      1. valentine*

        I thought the issue was going to be about what your brother did/n’t do as far as finding elder care. You/r daughter doing 90%+ of the care isn’t sustainable. Are there adult services you can contact for help? Your sister seems neglected: No one has taught her to shop and she gets to lie about. She deserves her own advocates, and it may be that her needs are too different now from your dad’s or that their unwillingness to care for themselves is greater than if they lived separately.

        I would cancel all Dad’s cards and remove the car from his home so there’s nothing for him to drive. He needs a responsible adult living with him. (Not saying it should be you/r daughter, or any woman, for that matter.) You need fresh, unrelated, third-party eyes on this situation, one set to look at your dad and the other for your sister.

        I wouldn’t agree to keep secrets from a wife who’ll be affected by the financial fraud and elder abuse your brother committed. I can’t believe he did that. Saving face with his own wife and children was more important than your dad’s and your trust. Unbelievable.

        Grocery delivery: Min has the same deals you get in-store, and others, and doesn’t allow tipping.

        1. Observer*

          It’s not Angry’s fight to deal with his marriage. She’s got enough on her plate.

          I don’t mean that she should actively do anything to keep it from SIL. On the contrary – she’s got too much on her plate to take this on.

    2. Anona*

      One grocery thing that could possibly be helpful is looking into grocery delivery, like shipt, for weeks you’re having difficulty doing that. You (or your dad) could order online. Shipt has an annual user fee (can’t remember what it was, but maybe around$100?) The groceries are also slightly more expensive. And you’re supposed to tip the delivery people. We’ve been using it for my husband’s grandma, and it’s been helpful. I’m sorry about your brother.
      You might also consider getting Lyft or Uber for them if they have a smartphone and you think they could handle it. That might also help with trips to the pharmacy.

    3. LibbyG*

      Ugh! I gasped out loud at the credit-card part. How worrisome all this is, and 75-min one-way weekly is quite a lot. I’m so glad a workable plan is emerging. I hope your road smooths out from here!

    4. university minion*

      If you don’t have financial POA for your dad and sister, get that squared away ASAP.
      Sorry you’re getting stuck dealing with all this.

    5. Virginia Girl*

      I’m close to a person where something similar happened. She is an elderly lady. Her daughter charged lots of Vera Bradley stuff to elderly mom’s CC and the daughter had access to her bank account. So, the lady’s son kicked the daughter (his sister) off the bank account and changed the mom’s credit card.

    6. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’m engaged over the credit card and using your elderly father for money. That’s abuse especially since he’s now showing signs of cognitive impairment. You need a power of attorney now before all his resources and those set for your sister’s long term care are lost. I’ve seen this play out and it can leave people in awful situations. You need an attorney on board for your dad’s estate planning.

      Please try to rethink your tendency to be harsh towards an elderly man and develop mentally delayed adult in their choices. Their age leads one to think they should know better than to only eat sweets and to bathe regularly and that pills are to keep us functioning but they’re not able to comprehend what we do as fully functioning individuals. You’re stressed and upset but are focusing on some very unimportant things there.

      My mother cared for her ailing mom when I was a child. It was exhausting. I know it was awful on her mental health as well. But you have to remember to forgive them their minor annoyances for your own sake. She has the mental capacity of a child but the body of an adult. Pick your battles. Unless she’s covered with fecal matter or other awful stuff once a week is plenty. Nursing homes and care facilities only do full showers once a week unless someone soils themselves or otherwise requires extra bathing. Just as something to think about.

      1. fposte*

        I think Angry’s just dumping the whole situation, and mostly she’s annoyed that she gets called if they’re out of sweets, not that she’s obsessing about them changing their diet. But the person not bathing isn’t elderly–that’s Angry’s sister.

        1. Angry Older Sister*

          Correct. Dad only bathes once a week too, but he doesn’t get smelly so it isn’t a big deal. Sister on the other hand, does get smelly.
          I’ve accepted that he’s 90 and really only likes to eat sweets. Sure I’d like them to eat healthier, but it’s not going to happen. It gets me upset when he calls to say he’s out of food when it’s not that he’s out of food, he’s just out of sweets. Then him getting angry if I don’t drop everything to get there right away. (He did that last month when I was getting ready to fly across country for vacation in a couple of hours. I assured him that they had food, and that my daughter was going to be there the next day. He told me it didn’t help them that day, and that I didn’t care about him and slammed down the phone. Daughter and my husband figured that they were just out of sweets, and when my daughter got there she found that this was the case.)

        2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          My point is it’s fine to only bathe once a week as an adult who doesn’t do anything but lay around.

          Her misplaced anger at her sister being readjusted will give her headspace to focus on the new issue of her brother taking advantage of a vulnerable who may be showing signs of dementia.

      2. Green Kangaroo*

        No. I work for an organization that provides long-term care, and to say that facilities only bathe individuals once per week is 100% false.

          1. Angry Older Sister*

            That was supposed to go somewhere above. BUT I’m really glad that individuals are bathed more than once a week!

    7. WellRed*

      Practical: does your dad have a car? Sell it (or transfer title) and cancel the insurance. Also, if you haven’t already, accept that brother is a financial black hole. This won’t change.
      Longer term: have you talked about end of life care, final wishes/arrangements, DNRs? I know it’s hard but your Dad is 90, in failing health and tired of taking meds.

      1. Observer*

        Also, if you haven’t already, accept that brother is a financial black hole. This won’t change.

        “accept” is the wrong word here. HE won’t change, but you CAN change the outcome. Firstly, change all the cards – and he doesn’t get the info. Period.

        Secondly, get Power of attorney, then move all of the money into a non-checking account. Only leave a small amount of money in the account your father can access, so he can still take care of small things, but he won’t be able to write ridiculous checks.

    8. WellRed*

      Also, can you put an alert on CC and other accounts, for, say, all transactions so you get notified when it’s used? Or if over a certain amount is spent on a transaction?

    9. fposte*

      Holy shit, Angry. Like Libby, I really gasped out loud at the credit card bit.

      Honestly, it sounds like you are almost worryingly on top of all this. The ducks are being slammed into the row and you’re ready to fire, and I think that’s how things have to be. It sounds like you are fortunately in a situation where the key people are reasonably in agreement on moving to the retirement community and that’s doable. I think POA, as mentioned, would be a good thing to consider, especially as there may be other financial things your brother has already been dipping into and you don’t know it.

    10. Marzipan*

      This all sounds really tough for you to have to deal with and I absolutely share your anger about the credit card situation.

      Can I ask what the thinking is in terms of not telling brother’s wife? I would imagine she’d be mortified too, and I just wonder whether, if she were aware of what had happened, she might act as an additional safety measure in preventing your brother from doing things like this again?

      I agree that the idea of a retirement community sounds like a really good one. It’s a practical measure for right now in terms of helping both your dad and your sister, and it would give your sister the opportunity to potentially be in a consistent and familiar environment in the future, too.

      1. Observer*

        and I just wonder whether, if she were aware of what had happened, she might act as an additional safety measure in preventing your brother from doing things like this again?

        That’s not really a healthy tack to take. When (not if) SIL finds out, she’s going to have enough on her plate and as mortified as she will (probably) be, she’s going to have bigger issues to deal with than taking care of her husband’s father. She may wind up being a check on her husband as a side effect, but it’s not realistic to base any plans on that.

    11. Eva and Me*

      You’ve gotten some great advice here. I would only add that you freeze your Dad’s credit reports so brother can’t open any accounts in Dad’s name that you don’t know about. And check the credit reports to make sure he hasn’t already.

      Your father is likely to need more help going forward, not less, so make things as easy on yourself as possible to help him. It also sounds like your sister could benefit from some type of assisted/supportive living setup, as well.

    12. Lizabeth*

      Dad sounds like he needs memory care not just a retirement community. Has he had a memory assessment yet? If not, get appointment to do that ASAP and go from there.

      1. Pucci*

        Some assisted living facilities accept people with memory issues (my aunt was in one).
        While your father and sister are still living at home, get your name on his checks and have all bills sent to your house, so that you can ensure they all get paid.

      2. Angry Older Sister*

        Yes. He has been diagnosed with early dementia related to alzheimers. I know of a couple of memory care places close to me and I’m going to check them out again.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      If you are the only one using the grocery store credit card, I would just keep it in an envelope in my wallet. The envelope would ensure that I did not grab it thinking it was mine.
      The PO box key, again if you are the only one using it, then put it on your car key ring so you always have it.
      With caring for both my husband and my father, there were some repeatedly used documents that I just kept in my car. It was easier than remembering to carry them around with me. I hid the documents, of course, and there were times I locked my vehicle because of those documents. I don’t wanna say how many times I had to suddenly run out of a place to get a POA or DC out of my car…..

      If you are doing a POA, do it soonly. If the care-recipient is definitely in significant decline it can take a court order which can run into a couple thousand dollars. For a healthy person it’s comparatively cheap.

      I am not sure if a group home or other type of home setting might be appropriate for your sis. I am almost wondering if you will need to find each of them a separate place to live.

      As far as your brother’s borrowed money, you can remind him that if dad needs state assistance, the state will want to look at his books. The state will find that money was borrowed and insist that your brother pay it back. So it’s in his best interest to make it a top priority to pay that money back.

    14. LCL*

      I worry that it won’t be easy, or even possible, to find a retirement community that will allow your dad and sis to stay together. If you haven’t contacted your government to find out what assistance is possible for your sister, add that to your list of chores. Local agencies here are aware of a generation of elderly parents, who have always been caregivers for their special needs children, passing away and the logistics problems that will create for you all.

      1. fposte*

        It’s not automatic, that’s for sure. But my father’s CCRC had a couple of special needs offspring living with parents there, so it’s definitely a thing.

      2. Angry Older Sister*

        That would be ideal. There are some places that take sis along with dad since he is over 55 even through she isn’t.

    15. Wishing You Well*

      Forgive me if I’m repeating advice, but you need to control your dad’s checkbook, checking account and debit cards – everything financial. And, yes, you need power of attorney – see a lawyer. You might need several kinds of POA to take care of your dad. You really need a lawyer – for a lot of reasons.
      Keep insurance on dad’s car until it’s out of his name. Tell your SIL exactly what’s up. She needs to know why you’re blocking brother’s access to money. She needs to know it’s not a money grab on your part.
      Wow. Sorry you’re dealing with this.

    16. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      You may want to think about this as being a two-tiered plan. Address dad’s needs now, maybe sis can stay with him, but you need to (as soon as you can) have your next plans in place – where is she going to go after he is gone? At his age, she is going to outlive him.
      Around here, there are some excellent agencies that have a services track for developmentally delayed adults. Get her started there, so there is a case worker. It can take awhile to get her on a waiting list and through all the assessments for a placement into a good facility for the rest of her life. (My brother was in a very good one in the midwest near mom… he could not be at home and was actually happier being around others and socially engaged; he was much lower in age function than your sister, though). It was actually a relief to mom to not have to try to care for brother on top of herself.
      There’s an entire specialty set of attorney’s and paperwork for the incapacitated. I recommend that as step two, once you get dad moved closer.

    17. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I have one horrible thought to add. Is your brother executor of the will? If yes, I’d consult your father’s lawyer about the unauthorized borrowing because it could be associated with an increased chance of abusing executor status down the line.
      I’m sorry you’re going through this and hope you are appreciated.

    18. Observer*

      You’ve gotten some excellent advice.

      One thing – you say that you are not going to tell SIL. Please re-think this. Your first priority is to get your father’s care in place, and his finances in order and secondly, protect your sister. Do whatever it takes to make that happen. If it means letting SIL know, then do it. If it means not actively telling her, that’s fine for now.

      Do NOT lie to her about this, and do NOT actively hide it from her. You do NOT owe this to your brother – and in the long term it might actually be in his best interests for his wife to know about this. Whether you tell her now or not, when things have settled down and you’ve gotten things in place, please DO tell her what happened, because she deserves to know. His behavior absolutely puts her at risk and she deserves a chance to protect herself. (If they have kids, that’s another set of people he’s messing over.)

      Your brother has forfeited any loyalty you might owe him by stealing from your father.

      1. selenejmr*

        He wants me to not tell his wife, but I didn’t actually agree to it. I will probably have to tell her sometime.

        1. Observer*

          He can “want” all he “wants”. You don’t owe it to him. To the extent you owe anyone anything, it’s to his wife.

          I can imagine how difficult this must be.

  31. Penguin*

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

    1. Penguin*

      Nothing exciting here; I’ve been too busy making a bookshelf to do more than glower at the grapevines this week. But feel free to chime in with whatever greenery-related things are on your mind!

    2. university minion*

      I wish I had taken a picture of my staghorn fern when I bought it and mounted it last year, for a year-over-year comparison. It’s enjoying quite the growth spurt right now. If you went to the local nursery that has a selection of small plants/starts and already mounted ones of various sizes, mine has gone from the $6.95 size to about $29.95 size and it’s awfully pretty. I’m feeling pretty proud of that plant, though I’m not sure how much I had to do with it other than picking a good spot for it and watering occasionally during dry spells.

    3. Little Beans*

      Ugh. We have blackberry bushes. They just grow out of the ground EVERYWHERE. All we can do it keep cutting them out but we probably need a professional to come get rid of them.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        They are a nightmare! I spent days digging them up a few years ago and they came right back. I’ve been on a mission to spray them every few weeks with weed killer and it’s barely made a dent in two years. Mine are not really my responsibility and they are not very accessible but I’m thinking about buying one of those flame gizmos and burning them out.

    4. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      This week I learned that the Alarming Mystery Plant that is growing so large and flaily in my side yard is a walnut tree (thanks, squirrels and neighbor who feeds them!) and will need to be dug out. At least now I know.

      I really want to re-landscape the whole yard. Most bushes/trees are overgrown for their spaces and need replacing, and I have entirely too much lawn given my lack of sheep. I just have an overwhelming list of house/yard projects and all of them involve (a) making decisions and (b) getting professionals to return my phone calls, and both of those things are hard.

      1. Ali G*

        Oh I love walnut trees! I have a HUGE black walnut in the back of my yard and we recently planted a new one. Is it too close to your house? They do get big.

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          It’s three equal-sized trunks/branches, two of which are sprawled almost horizontally, coming up almost out of the front of an existing shrub. It…doesn’t look like it would grow up to be a nice tree, and it’s not in a part of my yard where it would have room to grow into a large tree unless I removed a bunch of other plants. (It’s between the large shrub I have for a bit more street privacy and where I have raised beds for veggies, so really not a place where I would want to have a walnut tree.)

    5. Ali G*

      Ugh. I have decided to give up on tomatoes. They just do not want to grow in my garden. If I do get fruit, they are tiny and stunted and usually get poached by critters before I can get them off the plant. I had 6 plants, one died, and I’ve gotten like 10 small dinky tomatoes. I’m thinking of just pulling them out and putting in some fall veggies or something.
      But I’m growing melons for the first time and I got my first cantaloupe! It smells delicious and I am going to cut it up today. My honeydew and cuke plants are also going crazy.

      1. Lizabeth*

        You might try growing them in pots rather than the ground, the bush varieties work really well as do the cherry size ones. That way you can control the soil they grow in.

        1. Ali G*

          Been there, done that! Also the current garden is a raised bed where I put the soil in. They just don’t like my yard for some reason. I think next year I am just going to grow a bunch of hot peppers and make hot sauce.
          If anyone has any ideas for fall veggies I can plant now – I am open to ideas!

      2. JobHunter*

        Maybe the N is too high for the tomatoes? Cucurbits like N, tomatoes and peppers are more conservative.

    6. WellRed*

      Can I ask a houseplant question? I have a snake plant that is doing quite poorly, turning yellow. It is not overwatered. Maybe change the soil? It’s never been a problem child.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yellowing often can be lack of nitrogen. You can give it some fertilizer. Yeah the soil is probably depleted, too.

    7. fposte*

      We’re in the rain-free, it can all go to hell period of the summer where I ignore the weeds and the yellowing grass. Some kind of western sage species I got from High Country Gardens years ago has picked this year to go nuts, however, so there’s a haze of azure over much of the front.

    8. GoryDetails*

      My peppers and eggplant are still underperforming (though I have a beautiful red mariachi pepper coming ripe). The tomatoes are doing better, each in its own self-watering planter, with a “pineapple” variety (yellow-and-orange-striped, quite large) starting to ripen.

      I don’t have a lot of houseplants, but I’ve kept a pothos in the bathroom for decades on the “good for the atmosphere” theory. (I don’t know if a single plant really makes much difference, but it was nice having a growing thing there, and it seemed to survive quite well on dim light and moisture-in-the-air-from-the-shower.) Anyway, after at least 20 years (with occasional prunings and re-pottings) the plant finally seemed to be giving up the ghost, so I set it free in the compost heap and got a new one. The new plant’s a burgeoning golden pothos, and the only drawback so far is that if I have any houseguests taller than I am (which would be most of them) their heads will be in its leaves when they visit the toilet!

    9. SAHM*

      My dahlias are doing amazing! I’m following a bunch of ADS Facebook groups now and I want to buy a bunch of new tubers. I’m reworking my sideyard for next year, lots of kelp and my neighbors rabbit poop and bone meal. I’m planning on trying to plant them in kind of a grid work pattern, I’ve been reading a lot about dahlias, and yeah. Dahlia mania over here! My poor neighbors are getting mason jars of sunflowers, dahlias, daisies and Zinnias doorbell ditched on their doorsteps, I’m wondering if they are starting to feel harassed by all the flowers. It’s going to be an interesting year next year. Really hoping I can buy the whole cart I have waiting for me at Swan Islands website . Trying to budget for it. We shall see.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’ve had mixed luck with dahlias… they over wintered fine but took forever to get restarted. First buds this week. The two new ones I acquired have both gone mildewy, to the point where I am moving them into smaller, terracotta pots in hopes that they just need drier feet. Weirdly the year-2 plant has no mildew issue despite being overcrowded with geraniums that decided to grow sideways. I just moved one of those into its own pot as well.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      One of my tomato plants is officially dead. :(

      The other one, whose tomatoes I like better, is producing but will probably croak soon. The weather has done them in; it’s only now getting super hot, not usual for this time of year. July and August were typically our hottest months and now it’s shifted (thanks climate change :P). Either the temperature has been too cool or it’s been raining too much.

    11. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      Do weeds count? I spent 1.5 hours pulling weeds (with a pointed dandelion digger in some cases, some were so big I had to just chop them at the base), and filled a huge rolling green waste can before it got too hot today.

      I have a “back 40” (think an entire lot) with cockleburr plants. The poor dog has been getting them in her paws going out to do her business. The gardener can’t completely keep them under control (the landlord pays him to cut them back like quarterly).

      I also racked the sand pit (which apparently is now the feral cat litter box… sigh), and cleaned that up. It used to be (before I moved here) one of those giant round pools, with a concrete surround. I think I’m going to ask the landlord to fill it in with rock or concrete… I don’t think he or I can spring for putting in sprinklers and grass back there.

      While I have a significant water bill for the front yard, I am pleased that the star jasmine hedge, as well as my geraniums and rose trees are all flourishing. It makes my heart happy to pull up after work and see the many flowers. It’s a very fair trade.

    12. Bluebell*

      I discovered a random bonus butterfly weed in my front garden! In September it will go to my friend who is trying to include more pollinator friendly plants in her garden.

    13. Salymander*

      Bindweed. Bindweed is the worst weed I have ever had to deal with. It is impossible to get rid of. Fortunately only in my community garden plot rather than at home, but still it is the worst!

  32. OhBehave*

    We are moving our son to college today for his Sophomore year. We just got him back from his summer job on Tuesday! We’re going to miss him like crazy. Our last chick to leave. I had a stroke about a month after moving him last year and my emotions are raw. This stroke has really done a number on my emotions.

    1. Mid*

      You got this! I’m on the other side of this–I left my parents several years back and I know it’s still hard for them at times. Just remember that them leaving and being independent is a sign you did your job as a parent*! Also, if your schedule allows, and you have the desire, Big Brothers Big Sisters and similar organizations pretty much always need volunteers. Or people who can be reading buddies for elementary schools. Congratulations on the empty nest, and best wishes for a total recovery from your stroke.

      *Of course, no disrespect towards parents and people who for whatever reason cannot be independent! This is just meant to be comforting to someone who is empty-nesting, not as an insult to anyone. I personally had a mental breakdown several years ago and moved back in with my parents to recuperate.

      1. OhBehave*

        Thanks! He’s a great kid and I’m excited for him. Time passes much too quickly.

        I hope your recovery is coming along and you can enjoy steady days ahead.

    1. Ruffingit*

      BEST: Getting things done that need to be done.

      WORST: Had an anxiety attack that was really bad. It’s been a long, long time since I had one like that so it sucked.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I read that once a person starts having anxiety attacks they never quite fully go away. I keep subtracting foods out of my diet. My latest one is gluten but that was for the vertigo. Seems to help keep me calmer, too. I hope you are able to figure out something that will help, because that is just total misery.

      2. tangerineRose*

        I found that sometimes when I was feeling incredibly anxious (I call it a mini panic attack, but I don’t know if that’s really right), it was because I was feeling uncomfortable/pain and had been trying to ignore it. Working on preventing that helped.

    2. CoffeeforLife*

      Best: Partner is coming home today from a 6 week work trip!!!
      Worst: Cleaning the house from living like a single person for 6 weeks!!!

    3. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      Best: double birthday party tonight for hubs and I

      Worst: uveitis and anxiety waiting to see if house offer #2 goes through

    4. Zombie Unicorn*

      Best: friends and I won a quiz (beating over 20 teams) and got a nice cash prize

      Worst: some work stresses

    5. Foreign Octopus*

      Best: I’m writing again after a ten-day hiatus that I didn’t enjoy. I’m actually getting the words down and enjoying myself.

      Worst: I had an anxiety-induced meltdown at the beginning of the week over my expired driving licence (I didn’t realise it had expired and I’ve been driving on it). My brother made the situation so much worse by detailing every worst-case scenario that could happen if I was caught, and I wanted to scream at him. He didn’t do it on purpose, it’s just what he does, but I really didn’t need it then.

    6. Well f*ckadoodle doo*

      BEST: It cooled off a bit. That was nice.

      WORST: Somehow (not sure how), I missed a co-pay when I went in for a blood draw and got kicked off the low-income medical program (it’s not Medicaid but something the clinic itself does). I usually check in at the desk and then go to the lab; I can’t recall if I did that this time. And now I have to pay for the test. There is no way to fix it, and I would have to wait six months to apply again. By that time, I’ll be gone. But I’m still here for now. Here’s hoping I don’t have to go to the doctor for anything in the meantime. :P

      We need universal healthcare, damn it. And people need to stop being so damn judgmental about poverty. It’s so ingrained in our asshole national psyche that I actually felt shame for being so unworthy as to need the assistance in the first place.

      1. Former Employee*

        Sorry that happened. Yes, we need some type of universal care.

        I am big on the hybrid plan where we improve Obamacare so that everyone who isn’t covered now or who is under insured (large deductibles, too many/too high co pays, unaffordable meds, etc.) can get coverage and then everyone else who is happy with a lovely corporate plan provided by their employer can stay on it.

    7. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      I think I may have reached some secret level of overload, where I’m telling myself it is not that bad, but my body/life are telling me, I need to take care?

      Looking for feedback pr maybe just reassurance that someone else has blown a red light?
      I look up, I’m in the middle of an intersection, and the light is red. Red enough that the cross traffic has started to move. It’s super early on a commute morning, so no one is racing… and I don’t get hit. But I was completely shaken In part, because I didn’t even register until it was too late.

      THIS IS NOT LIKE ME – I am generally a good driver, I don’t text, I do plan and pay attention to all the other cars, I look over my shoulder, I signal, I drive defensively and carefully.

      What scared me was the complete failure to process this. It’s not like “oh, I’m going to fast the light is turning… it is going to be yellow turning to red….” I don’t even remember looking to see what color the light is. (I am expecting one of the red-light tickets to arrive in the mail). I am grateful I did not cause an accident, or get shot from road rage for scaring the guy in the mustang (who followed me but I dramatically indicated great shock, horror and asked for pantomime forgiveness… he let it go).

      I am stressed out and burnt out, both, I think. And I suspect-that I am pushing myself beyond my limits, but in denial and so continuing to push without listening to myself. This is not just about work, but I have a pretty high stress job – I’ve ratcheted back just this week to 50 hours.

      If you know my story, you know I’m coming up on the first anniversary of husband’s death – but that the lies it uncovered were even more devastating than the actual loss. I’m still coping with the clean up, and I think somehow, I was expecting to be physically cleaned up and de-cluttered- and I’m not.

      I think I need to quit trying to push myself so hard. I say it, but I keep layering on the overachieving perfectionism, the “should/ought/must” – and I think I’m still running from some of the mental pain and anguish by endlessly pushing, then not sleeping deeply or enough to boot.

      It’s a toxic soup, and I will be continuing to delve into it in my counseling. But I am still just shaken that I DID NOT process that light at all.

      I think I need to do more to get enough sleep, and to be 100% more centered before I pull out of the driveway (this was one big intersection from my house).

      Is there more that I can do? Or is this “good scare” enough to put me on the straight and narrow – not letting myself dwell on anything inside my head while I drive- for the time being? (I took a defensive driving class to lower my insurance rates a year ago, but I could repeat it online free, I suppose – it was several hours of awareness and simulation!).

    8. Parenthetically*

      Best: had a great little getaway with some friends to our favorite nearby state park.
      Worst: had to share a room with our toddler and so woke every time he turned over, and then was up for the day at 5(!!!) when he woke up.

    9. On a pale mouse*

      Best: got a new phone (not actually new, but far newer than the old one which shuts off after a couple of minutes not plugged in and only has Android 4 something).
      Worst: for Reasons, had to change phone number. Also worst: reinstalling stuff and having to retrain predictive text.

    10. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Best – Went on vacation for 2.5 weeks!

      Worst – My back/pelvis is a mess right now and I had a back spasm last night in the middle of family dinner when I went out to get some air and walk off a back twinge. I was the furthest point from the restaurant, clinging to a stone wall, praying no local found me hunched over. Eventually partner’s mother came out and saw me shuffling up the street. I was already going to the chiropractor when we get to the US, but now I am going to the chiro here in Sweden on Monday morning first thing (we fly Tuesday morning). It was so embarassing and scary – and I could just kill the physical therapist in the UK for prescribing the wrong set of exercises that made the initial injury from June worse to the point that its almost the end of August and I can’t get out and enjoy my vacation. The new UK chiro made everything better (but not fully fixed) before I left, and it IS much better, but I think I over did it the last few days with traveling.

    11. Trixie*

      Best: Made some progress on small home projects and goals. Not completed but I was happy just to tackle pieces of the bigger picture.

      Worst: Feeling physically out of sync these days and hormones are not helping. Will try at-home focus before looking at group fitness classes again.

  33. Bigglesworth*

    This one is for all the people with high cholesterol. How do you lower it without meds?

    I went to see a doctor because I’ve been having chest pain pretty regularly. I have a family history of non-r factor RA and lupus, and may have the RA part, so I’m used to living with pain. This was different. She told me to come back in two weeks after taking ibueprofen daily and then come back for some fasting bloodwork. That happened on Thursday and on Friday they called saying the only thing they noticed was that I have high cholesterol.

    Here’s the thing – I eat healthy. All the stuff they told me to avoid, I already do. Fast food? Don’t eat it. Red meat? Too expensive to be anything more than a once every few weeks thing. Eat more veggies? Eat those every day. Eat more fish? Salmon is a pretty regular dish at my house. And so it goes on… The internet is full of things that say what you eat matters and what you eat doesn’t matter.

    What is something else I can do? For reference, I’m in my late twenties and my BMI is 21 (so we’ll within the healthy range). Exercise is a bit hard because of the RA, but I try not to let that get me down. I learned a while ago that eating healthy was the best way for me to manage my RA, so I’m pretty co fused by the doc telling me to diet.

    1. Brave Little Toaster*

      I always take nutrition advice from doctors with a grain of salt (ha ha). Most doctors have little to no training in nutrition. Add that to the fact that we now know that dietary fat and cholesterol don’t directly translate into higher cholesterol in your body, and the standard “eat less fat and eat less in general” advice is pretty worthless. It sounds like your doc is just giving you the generic advice based on your test, not your actual diet and current weight.

      1. Bigglesworth*

        Ah! I like what you did there. :) And that’s what I wondered if the doc was doing. I’m a new patient, so we’re still trying to build a rapport, but man I wish i could see my old doc. She always listened and I had been going to her since I was an early teen.

        After law school is finished, I think I want to take nutrition classes at my community college just to get a better idea of what to eat. Between my stuff and my spouse’s stuff (adhd, anxiety, and depression), we both recognize that food is critical to maintaining our symptoms.

    2. Laura H.*

      The following fits more it’s merely an “I don’t want to take meds thing and not some sort of allergy or potential reaction caused by other meds: Cholesterol production is slightly genetic also. You might need to ask about the meds, because sounds like you’re doing a lot to combat it already and it’s not working. While I’m not as vigorous or vigilant, my genetics also don’t help, the meds have helped me.

      1. Bigglesworth*

        I didn’t realize cholesterol could be genetic. Weird! My mom was told she had high cholesterol, but she was in her late fourties/early fifties when she was told that. I don’t think she’s on meds right now, but she switched up her diet and that helped a lot.

        1. Ethyl*

          Yep! My sister and I have both had high cholesterol since our early 30s. My doctor actually told me if it is genetic, there’s a limited amount you can do via diet because your body is basically making its own! Ergo, I’ve been on the lowest dose of atorvastatin for years and years. It’s cheap, works fine, has very few side effects at this low dose, and only has to be taken once a day.

          1. Bigglesworth*

            I may have to ask about this during my follow-up in three months. I really wonder if it’s genetic now. I talked with my younger sis and she said she was borderline high while in grad school, but she wasn’t eating right or exercising. Her levels are back in the normal range now that she’s graduated and able to cook healthy food and exercise.

        2. Kuododi*

          Oh sweetie yes!!! Every member of my immediate family has high cholesterol to varying degrees of severity. I’m working with a nutritionist who has me on low carb-lots of veggies. Between that, regular exercise, and low dose of meds I’m now within a fraction of a point having my cholesterol within normal limits. Best regards…it’s a manageable problem however not without work.

    3. Snazzy Hat*

      I have a history of high cholesterol with a great ratio. When my doctor warned me about going on meds, I went on a calorie-counting diet. It helped dramatically, but I admit I was close to starving myself some days by going below 1000 kcal (thanks, depression!) as I was also angrily trying to lose weight.

      Start with a phone call to your doc asking what your cholesterol ratio is, and inform the doc that you already eat healthy and you avoid the stuff they tell you to avoid. Perhaps they can refer you to a nutritionist who will be less confused.

      1. Bigglesworth*

        Ugh! I typically eat between 1200-1500 calories a day, because I get nauseous if I overeat. Eating anything less sounds miserable! Also, I was able to pull up my charts online and my cholesterol ratio is 3.0 and my HDL count (level?) is 77. I didn’t even think about there being a ratio, so now I have something else to google to help me figure this thing out!

        1. fposte*

          An HDL of 77 is great, especially for somebody with autoimmune stuff! That’s the one you want to have high. My WAG is that it was a high LDL that caught your doctor’s eye–since your HDL is pretty high, getting a ratio of 3, which for a lot of people is fine, would probably put your LDL up over 160, if I’m doing my math correctly.

          1. Bigglesworth*

            After looking at my chart again, here’s my levels:
            Total Cholesterol- 231
            HDL – 77
            LDL – 140
            Triglycerides- 51
            Ratio – 3.0

            To be quite honest, I’m not sure if I understand these numbers. The math doesn’t seem to add up quite correctly.

            1. Is It Performance Art*

              Honestly, both your LDL and your total cholesterol fall into the range of borderline high — if I remember correctly, almost half of all Americans fall into that group. (Your total cholesterol is the LDL+HDL+ 1/5 of triglyerides.) If you’re in your early twenties, especially if you’re a woman, most doctors wouldn’t consider putting you on a statin. When it comes to heart disease risk, it’s important to take family history into account. If you don’t have much heart disease in non-smokers in your family, this level of cholesterol probably isn’t much to worry about.
              To some degree, cholesterol is genetic, but if you do want to reduce it, eating more fiber (though it sounds like you eat a lot of it anyway) and aerobic exercise are the most helpful. Sometimes drinking espresso drinks (unfiltered coffee) can raise your cholesterol, but it doesn’t seem to have much of an effect on your heart disease risk.

              1. Bigglesworth*

                Thank you for all the info! When I spoke with the nurse over the phone, she made it seem like my cholesterol was extremely high. I do eat a lot of fiber generally and even when I bake something sweet I typically add oats or make it into a healthy twist on an original (ex. Made brownies for a friend’s birthday but was able to use avocados instead of oil and cut the sugar by a third – no one noticed the difference).

                Fortunately, no one in my family smokes. Like I said elsewhere, my mom was diagnosed with high cholesterol a few years ago and my dad has been taking high blood pressure meds since he was my age. Other than the autoimmune crud, we’re a pretty healthy bunch! Not sure if it makes a difference, by I’m in my late twenties instead of early twenties.

                Also, that’s cool and weird about the espresso drinks. I drink a lot of coffee generally (2-3 cups of caffeinated coffee and 1-2 cups decaf daily), and indulge in the occasional latte. It’s going to get worse once school starts up again in a few weeks, but I usually scale back when I’m not in classes.

      2. TL -*

        A dietician would be better (the certification process is more rigorous and standardized.) But definitely talk to one about your diet, even just as a one-off. There’s tons of options, including online, and it’ll give some insight into if medication should be on the table or not.

        Some of this is definetly genetic – my blood pressure has always been low, regardless of what shape I’m in. My ex’s has always been high, including when he was working out 4+ hours a day and in better shape than I’ve ever been.

        So it might be important to track it, see if it’s stable or rising, if medication helps any symptoms. If there’s history of lifestyle diseases (obesity, heart attacks, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome) in your family, that may be an indication that medication may be called for, regardless of whether it helps short term. Hopefully your doctor has a more in depth conversation with you about it.

        1. Bigglesworth*

          Good to know! I didn’t realize nutritionists and dietitians were different. I’ll probably have to find one online, since life is about to get super busy (full-time job, part-time law school, extracurriculars, etc). Do you have any specific recommendations?

          As far as I’m aware, my family doesn’t have a history of any of the lifestyle diseases you mentioned except my dad has had high blood pressure since he was my age. Other that that, I have an extensive family history of autoimmune diseases.

    4. fposte*

      Diet is not a universal lever for cholesterol. For some people, it’s just high whatever they do. There are vegan athletes with high cholesterol. Also, autoimmune diseases tend to make you likelier to have high cholesterol.

      Especially if you’re already on other meds, I get the resistance to taking them. But I would at least consider it if your goal is to change the levels, because diet alone may not be a good bet.

      1. Bigglesworth*

        I’m not entirely resistant to taking meds, to be honest. I’ve taken them in the past for the arthritis, but I like to make lifestyle changes first since I think those will serve me better in the long run.

        For example, I was able to stop using the arthritis meds when I stopped eating so much sugar. The arthritis meds were giving me stabbing pains in my stomach, which freaked out my doctors. I still eat some sugar, but most of it comes from dairy products (cheese and milk) or fruit. By keeping it around 20 mgs a day, the joint pain is manageable and I’ve seen other bonuses, like not gaining weight in law school or feeling the need to stress eat chocolate.

        If this is genetic, then I’ll gladly take the cholesterol lowering meds. I don’t want to have a stroke or heart attack any time soon.

        1. misspiggy*

          If you have joint pain, statins are not recommended, because they tend to increase pain and fatigue.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Oatmeal and grapefruit are both supposed to be good for lowering bad cholesterol, if you like either of those. (Check and make sure grapefruit isn’t contraindicated with any meds though; it can be with a lot of them.)

      1. misspiggy*

        Oats, lots of them, do seem to be the key when you read people’s accounts of dealing with this stuff online.

      2. gsa*

        I used to work with a guy, eats right/exercises etc., that corrected his cholesterol levels by eating a bowl of oatmeal every morning. Definitely part diet and part genes.

        Mine’s fine; eggs and high fat animal flesh and no problems… :D

        Good luck,


    6. Not So NewReader*

      How’s your water intake?
      Even if it’s good some days but not so good other days, getting a handle on hydration may/may not help you.
      I would do it anyway because even hydration is just plain good for over all health, minor aches and pains, etc.
      I use this formula, other people prefer something else: Take your body weight and divide by 2. That is the number of ounces of water I aim for daily. I started measuring it out in the morning because life! distractions! oh my!

      You sound like you are doing well with your diet. You might want to make more of an effort to get more raw veggies in to your mix. You wanna capture those enzymes in raw veggies.
      You could ask around for recommendations and try to find a good nutritionist to help you along, also.

    7. Invisible Fish*

      Cholesterol is super duper genetic!!! How do I know? A family full of people who have high cholesterol, some of whom are UNDERweight (my mom) or almost vegetarians (me). (And the research I’ve done into it – did you know women with high cholesterol predispose any babies they carry to high cholesterol, too?). While diet is important, if you’re predisposed to high cholesterol, medication may be your best option. For me, regardless of what I eat or what I weigh, only medication keeps my cholesterol in check. It’s cumulative over time, too – I was shown the scans of my mother’s heart when they put in her pace maker, and you could actually SEE the deposits on her coronary tissue. Please work with a good doctor who really listens, who really looks at the ratio of HDL and LDL in your test results, and who understands that maintaining a healthy level of both is related to diet AND exercise AND medication (when necessary).

      1. fposte*

        You’re making me curious–is “women with high cholesterol predispose any babies they carry to high cholesterol, too?” a genomic influence and not a genetic one? Those always fascinate me.

      2. Bigglesworth*

        Thanks for sharing! It’s so crazy to me that you can be underweight or a vegetarian and still have high cholesterol. This is a personal bias that I need to overcome (especially after all the information shared here – thank you, everyone!), but I assumed that most people with high cholesterol ate fast food or whatnot pretty regularly – so it was a shock to get the call on Friday.

        I’ll take to my doc about meds if this doesn’t go down when I see her next. If it’s cumulative, I don’t want it building up in my system and giving me a higher chance of a stroke or heart attack later in life.

    8. blackcat*

      I would not change your diet if your current diet helps your RA.

      Can you join a gym/YMCA with a pool? My husband’s doc said that exercise was more likely to improve cholesterol than diet for most people. I’m not sure how true that is, but if you want to avoid meds, it’s worth a shot. Swimming might be less likely to aggravate the RA.

      But also… it’s super genetic, as others have said. I have cholesterol that is very low (low enough it likely contributes to my mental health stuff–this is a well-documented impact of low cholesterol). Nothing I eat changes that. My mom is the same way. For people for whom it’s genetic, meds may really be the only option. I also have very low blood pressure, and it’s remarkable how many doctors will say that my cholesterol of 90LDL/50HDL and my BP of 90/50 are “good.” No, one makes me prone to depression and the other means I faint if I stand up too fast! These are not good things!

      1. Bigglesworth*

        I’ve thought about joining a YMCA in the past, by my big Issue right now is time. I work 35 hours a week as a law clerk and am also finishing up my last year of law school this year. It’s not so much a lack of desire, but rather a lack of time. That said, I’ve heard rumors of a gym somewhere in my office building that I have access to (we moved there last month). I may be able to go there during my lunch break and work out – it’s the only time I truly have to myself everyday during the school year.

    9. Book Lover*

      Depends how high it is. There is a statin decision aid you can use online. If you have familial hyperlipidemia you need a prescription, otherwise you can usually keep doing the lifestyle thing and having higher cholesterol until you are a bit older and have more risk factors.

    10. MsChanandlerBong*

      I would encourage you not to be too anti-medication. Sure, you don’t have to take medication without trying anything else, but you are already at risk for heart issues due to your family history of autoimmune disease (I have lupus, so I understand). I have had a heart attack and a stent, and I am currently living with two arterial blockages that have not been stented (an 80% blockage of the LAD and a 100% blockage of the RCA)–I don’t recommend it. I was against medicine, too, until I had a heart attack and then spent months being unable to do so much as chop a potato without having to sit down and rest. If you’re already doing all the dietary stuff, you may need medication to control excess cholesterol production.

      In the meantime, you can try eating more fiber, having oatmeal for breakfast, taking fish oil capsules, or trying niacin. I could not tolerate niacin due to the flushing, but you may be able to take it (ask the doctor if it’s okay).

      1. Bigglesworth*

        Oof! Good to know. Like I said above, I’m not completely against taking meds. I just don’t want to be one of those people who takes meds for everything instead of actually becoming healthier overall. Medications absolutely have their place and can be very useful and I apologize that I came across as anti-med earlier. Your experience sounds awful and I ant to prevent that if I can.

    11. NewNameTemporarily*

      Not only can it be genetic – my mom lives on broccoli, trimming the fat off everything, using 1/4 a pat of butter, rinsing ground meat to remove fat, etc, and is still high. So diet may not do it.

      Worse, in my case? They ran a blood test and apparently, in the bad kind of cholesterol, there are “types” of bad. Mine is 100% the worst kind, which diet doesn’t budge (see Mom’s experience). So there may be good reason to go back and discuss what you are doing and think about your options.

    12. Sopranistin*

      NutritionFacts.org is my go-to for nutrition info. All peer-reviewed studies made easy to understand. You can browse by topic.
      Like another said, many doctors are not well-educated in nutrition.

    13. jDC*

      My doctor said that no matter how much you modify your diet it’ll only go down a little without meds.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        I have found that to be true. I was very good about diet, and my total cholesterol was around 150. With meds, it’s 96–and my LDL is down to 52. My biggest problem is the fact that my “good” cholesterol is low. The highest it has been is 37, and it’s usually in the high twenties or low thirties. I think that’s why I have such problems.

    14. LibbyG*

      Yeah, I was first diagnosed with high cholesterol when I was a vegetarian and competing athlete in my 20s. My total cholesterol has been like 230 or 240 forever, regardless of what I did. When I was done childbearing and nursing, I started on 10 mg of atorvastatin which made my numbers great, and I’ve had no side effects. I’m now mid-40s. I think I’m in the first cohort to get lipid profiles done as young adults. It wasn’t routine before.

    15. Dr. Anonymous*

      Ask your doctor to talk to you in person about your cholesterol. Yours may not be high enough that your doctor wants you to start medication. A registered dietician may be able to tweak your diet just a bit to minimize any risk, but it sounds like you don’t have far to go in terms of lifestyle.

    16. Salymander*

      My husband started exercising, which helps raise hdl and helps the total a bit. Or so I am told.
      He had trouble sticking with it, but when we moved my recumbent stationary bike into the living room he started to ride every day. Now, we have the water rower in there, too. The living room is looking a lot like a gym, but we can exercise without missing out on family time and we can watch TV to pass the time, so we exercise a lot more. His hdl is up and his total is down. Eating more fiber and healthier food is helping too.

    17. GibbsRule18*

      Very late to this!

      My husband has high cholesterol and they kept pushing statins. They either made him foggy and forgetful or….well, Google “Statin Rage”. It’s a thing. His doctor hadn’t heard of it. He eats right and exercises and feels fine. He’s seeing his new doctor next week and we’ll see what she says.

  34. Washed Out Data Analyst*

    This is mental health related more than work-related: I am currently in post-job rejection depression and mourning the opportunity lost to finally leave my current dud of a job. Suggestions for how to feel better? I’ve been in bed for the past 2 hours scrolling through memes, which has helped somewhat.

    1. Miss Astoria Platenclear*

      Get out of bed (easier said than done sometimes, I know) and distract yourself. Explore a different part of town, read some mysteries or legal thrillers. Early Scott Turow novels are good.

    2. Mid*

      Sometimes you gotta let yourself be depressed for a bit. Not endlessly, but give yourself some time to mourn without judgement. But also, set a deadline. E.g. You give yourself 2 weekends to lay in bed all day, sad-eating pizza and watching reruns of silly shows. But weekend #3, you get dressed, shower, and go for a walk/to a museum/out with friends at least once. Weekend #4, you start applying for jobs. Of course, you know best what kind of timeline works for you and what you need. But that’s my usual practice. I let myself wallow for a bit, then set a deadline to stop wallowing. I do this for most things actually. Jobs, relationships, general depressive episodes.

      Also, if you feel the depression not going away for a while, it might be worth looking into mental health support and/or medication. I’ve been on antidepressants for almost a decade, and they’re incredibly helpful for me. My father went on them temporarily after losing his job in 2008, was on them for about a year and a half, and then no longer needs them. Sometimes we just need an extra boost to get going again.

      1. JediSquirrel*

        This is my strategy as well. I set a time limit on these things, anywhere from a few days to a week to allow myself to just marinate in depression and self pity. I’m usually well out of it well before the deadline.

        You gotta feel what you gotta feel.

    3. Parenthetically*

      One of the things that always helped so much with depression before my brain chemistry cocktail switched to anxiety (yay?) was to aggressively lean in to and intentionally characterize as self-care strategies things like scrolling through memes, or drinking wine and eating popcorn for dinner, or coming straight home from work and getting in my jammies and watching netflix… while scrolling through memes and drinking wine and eating popcorn for dinner. Thinking of those things as self-indulgent or lazy or pathetic just compounded the problem because it added guilt to the mix. Thinking of them as part of a larger effort to care for my Black Dog freed up that mental energy that would otherwise have been spent on guilt, so I could spend it on other self-care strategies like getting out of the house and going for a walk or a swim, or eating a damn vegetable.

      I was dealing with long-term clinical depression so I added some other things as well, but that mix of actively choosing things that made me feel good in the moment PLUS making some choices I knew would benefit me longer-term has helped me in difficult seasons even post-depression.

    4. Earthwalker*

      See if there’s someplace interesting to volunteer. It’ll take your mind off it and sometimes it can help you nail a job, either by coincidental referral or adding to the resume. Also, plan some mini-vacations, just day long events that take you somewhere new. Walks, museums, wandering a part of town that you never did, picnics, game night with friends – they’re all low budget events that you can do to raise your spirits. Consider fun a part of the job search routine, since a good attitude always helps.

    5. Salymander*

      Spending 2 hours scrolling through memes doesn’t sound like such a bad way to deal with depression, actually. Is there a local place with cheap/free entertainment that would allow you to get out and have a change of scene? I started volunteering one day a month for a local history group. That has helped my depression, helped me to meet new people, and doesn’t require too much of a time commitment. Plus, we have free snacks at our events. So, maybe something like that? Or, when my depression is so bad I can barely function, I ride my exercise bike slowly while I look at stuff on my phone or read or binge watch stuff on TV. I don’t try to work up a sweat or gain any real cardiovascular benefit from this, I’m just trying to move a little even if I feel like crap. It helps.
      I hope your job search prospects brighten up soon. It it is good for you to be very very kind to yourself in the meantime (and always!).

  35. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    It’s amazing how stressing/anxiety about health issues can cause your body to react even more nutso. I finally got the clear for my eyes (frigging floaters, man.). The day of the all-clear, I went to bed and napped all day after weeks of restless nights and limited actual sleep. The next day my mood, productivity and ability to concentrate were as sharp as ever. I knew I had been in a personal fog but holy moly I didn’t understand exactly how thick it was until if lifted.

    1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      Yeah, I’ve had a detached retina and then two little laser surgeries subsequently, and floaters scare me still. I’m glad you are better. I think there is a way that stress holds part of your body hostage, and when it is gone, you suddenly realize what a burden it was. Rest is great. So glad you are doing well (hug) and better with the all clear.

  36. Jessen*

    The rant:

    I mentioned in Friday’s thread that I had very recently been diagnosed with ADHD. The medications do actually seem to help somewhat. But I am SO SICK of hearing about “my anxiety.” If I hadn’t extensively researched and come to the conclusion on my own, and then flat-out, explicitly refused to do any further treatment until I got an ADHD screening, we’d still be doing treatment trying to uncover the anxiety issues that were leading me to think that my brain works differently and things that seem to work for most other people don’t work for me.

    While I understand that anxiety issues are real, I hate how for female-presenting persons it often seems to be the default explanation for anyone presenting with anything mental health related. Especially with the cognitive behavioral therapy model that seems to be the dominant one used for anxiety treatment, it can get into a point where the therapist’s view of your problems is unfalsifiable. Which is a major problem if there’s something going on other than anxiety. Unfortunately in my prior experience, it was more likely that the therapist would at best want to explore my “resistance”, and at worst just label me as “uncooperative”, than consider the fact that there might be something else going on.

    There are definitely other issues with me too, some of which have suffered unfortunately from the same treatment. But talking to other women (and others in the vicinity of female) with adult ADHD diagnoses, I’ve found that this seems to be a very common experience. The initial diagnosis is often anxiety, sometimes depression or bipolar. Therapy doesn’t work and the patient is often blamed for not doing it right; frequently the diagnosis only comes because the person finds it on their own and insists on checking.

    1. fposte*

      I’m looking into getting an evaluation right now, and I somewhat agree. But I think that may also be simply related to what specific practitioners are equipped to do. Basically, if they have a hammer and we have some nails, they’re going to work on the nails, rather than saying “Oh, and you may have a screw loose and should probably see a screwdriver” :-).

      1. Jessen*

        My concern is often that what’s ended up actually happening is the mental health equivalent of trying to hammer in a screw because you think it’s a nail. It might sort of hold for a bit, but it doesn’t really work very well and you can end up just tearing even more stuff up. So for an ADHD related example, I always had huge issues with never doing any homework from therapy.

        We went on endless rounds of things like how my anxiety might be causing avoidance behavior and so forth, how maybe I didn’t really think the homework was that important so I wasn’t bothering to remember it, and so forth. And the whole process was just so intensely, frustratingly useless to me, because the therapists kept trying to unearth what the deeper issue was and none of it sounded right. And the homework still didn’t get done no matter what we tried to address my anxiety about it.

        I finally ran that by some friends, who said that was honestly the expected result of handing me a piece of paper and expecting me to do it and return it somewhere later on. Later on and outside of therapy I managed to develop somewhat better coping strategies around that – but they all relied on me first accepting that this was an area where my brain’s just different for some reason and I’m not at all good at keeping track of and remembering things like that.

        If someone did that with me now, I’d either ask the therapist to email the papers to me (in the session or at a set time after) or scan them on an app on my phone before leaving. And then set up an email reminder to myself to get them done and fill them out on the computer. Then either email them back or upload them to an account that’s linked to my phone.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        My husband used to say, “Look at the doc. A surgeon will say surgery. A chiro will say adjustment. And so on.” The docs go with what they see/know.” I think that is one layer.

        But my wise friend said something that I carry with me. A person who feels they are not being taken care of will tend to be anxious. And this tends to go for animals, too. I thought about this and it makes so much sense, if our basic needs are not being met OF COURSE we will worry/fret/be anxious.

        And a final layer, a woman at the doctor’s. Might just as well be a car repair shop. We can’t possibly know what we are talking about what with being female and everything.
        I had to chuckle. When my husband was in his final illness he concluded that the women docs in general paid better attention to detail than the men docs. He was dealing with a group of 8 or 9 doctors and for the most part the women did a better job of listening. [Not a scientific study, ymmv.]

        1. Jessen*

          Admittedly, most therapists are women, and I haven’t had much luck being listened to there either. Not in the sense that they weren’t paying attention, but in the sense that I didn’t think I was being seen as a potential source of accurate information about my life. It reminds me of some of the horror stories I’ve read. Where the kids keep seeing this monster, but none of the adults believe them. The adults may be very kind about it, and they may try to gently reassure the children that there’s nothing to be afraid of, or try to talk to them about what’s really going on. But it doesn’t help because there actually is this monster out there and the kids don’t know what to do about it.

    2. anonagain*

      I found ADHD coaching MUCH more helpful than therapy for that piece of things. It’s expensive though and may be even harder to access than therapy.

      There are therapists who are more ADHD literate though (I was diagnosed by one when it wasn’t even on my radar). Starting over with one of them might give you a reset and let you focus on the issues that are most pressing for you.

      If you don’t live near a practice that specializes in adult ADHD, see if there’s a practice that specializes in treating children with ADHD. They might have suggestions for therapists who work with adults.

      Anyway, I hear you. It’s so frustrating to waste treatment time this way. It can also feel very shaming to be told that you’re uncooperative when you’re just struggling.

      I also find it terribly irritating when someone tries to tell me how I feel. I do sometimes avoid things because of anxiety. That’s a very different internal experience than when I forget to do things. For me it’s like the task just falls out of my brain. It’s not in front of me so it doesn’t even exist for me to be anxious about.

      1. Jessen*

        I think the shaming did a lot of damage. I was getting constant “why won’t you just TRY” messages in therapy. And the whole thing sent the message that it was wrong of me to think that there might actually be a reason why some things weren’t working. The therapists might try to validate that it was ok to feel like that! But none of that changed the central message that my beliefs were bad. That when I said things like “I feel like there’s something different about my brain where I just can’t make certain things work that seem to work for everyone else”, I’d actually latched onto something real and wasn’t just manifesting my anxiety in distorted thinking.

    3. Lilysparrow*

      Anxiety & depression are often co-morbid with ADHD, because struggling to cope with untreated ADHD will make you depressed and anxious!

      My anxiety was very real, and it got much better when I got proper treatment, because I legit had less stuff to be anxious about, and didn’t need to maintain hypervigilance in order to function semi-normally.

      So, as I see it, anxiety is like inflammation. It can be a problem all by itself. But it can also be caused by something (an allergy, an injury, etc.) If you treat the inflammation without investigating whether it’s primary or a secondary result, you’ll never get anywhere.

      1. Jessen*

        I honestly really started to suspect ADHD when I started working on the anxiety on my own and keeping track. And I noticed that there were certain symptoms that did not match up with my anxiety at all. In fact I might be feeling awesome, but I still couldn’t focus on things I wanted to focus on. I’d bounce back and forth between 10 different things and none of them would get done.

        Way I figure, anxiety is a form of pain. Pain is supposed to tell you something is wrong. When I got written up at work for being late again because I couldn’t find my keys, anxiety is a completely normal reaction. It’s the part of my brain telling me, hey, I could get fired here, something has to change. Trying to treat my anxiety wasn’t going to do anything except make me feel like even more of a failure.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      For me the misdiagnosis was depression. Medication-resistant depression. Two weeks after my child was diagnosed ADD, I discussed it with my doctor who’d seen me disorganized and missing appointments for years….and a light bulb went off for him. Within a month of the new meds, I’d tapered off the antidepressants and felt, well, normal.
      I need to muck with the meds a bit because my blood pressure doesn’t like it….but I don’t even bite my fingernails on the recommended dose.

    5. Everdene*

      It’s not just the case for mental health issues. I have chronic pain and am currently unable to get treatment for that pain (has been successful for years) until I see a psychologist about my ‘anxiety’. I do not have anxiety, I have pain. The unfalsifiable bit you mention is so frustrating as protestations that you don’t have anxiety are seen as proof that you do!

      I really hope this new diagnosis will give you the support you need and not what someone thinks you need.

    6. Fikly*

      Yeah, this is a huge issue for women. I was recently reading a study that looked into diagnosis time from first doctors visit to diagnosis for men versus women. (To avoid the men delay going to the doctor bias.) It was all horrifying, but what stood out for me was Ehlers Danlos, a genetic connective tissue disorder whose prominent symptoms are joint pain and hypermobility. Average diagnosis time was 4 years for men, and 16 for women. 16!

  37. Regular going anonymous*

    Dating site recommendations, esp. ones with workable “free” options?

    Generally, I’m pretty content–I’m in my 30s, in a doctoral program, have enough ambition that I don’t want to get married and spend the rest of my life playing second fiddle to a man (this was standard in the religious communities I grew up in). At the same time, most of my friends are married and there are days I’d like to have somebody by my side. Tried eHarmony about a year ago, kind of hated it. Many people I met either had wildly different life goals or . . . it was obvious why they were “on the market”. Open to other options.

    (One caveat: Not personally into casual hookups.)

    1. Virginia Girl*

      I’ve known people who have met their spouses on Match.com, CatholicMatch, and ChristianMingle. IDK if they’re free or not.

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        I tried Christian Mingle (basically empty here) and Match — met my fiance on Match!

        They try very hard to sell you 6 month bundles. You do have to pay to message people, but I preferred to just buy a 1 month subscription when I actually saw someone interesting.

    2. Call me St. Vincent*

      I know several people who have had success as women on dating apps using Bumble because it lowers the creepy dude factor significantly.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I met my partner on okcupid

      Those not into casual hookups and casual dating (I’m not, I’m a hermit and demisexual it turns out), my advice is to sit and chill after joining. Don’t respond if they’re gross or creeping or bad vibes. You’re in control and yeah the first hiccups of awful messages can be disappointing and stressful and “this app is trasssssh”.

      I went out a few times with someone and chatted a couple others but never felt into meeting. Then almost a year later my now partner messaged me and no creeping nonsense involved. It’s been over 5 years now.

      You’re in control, it’s okay that others have different goals and life desires. That’s the great thing about our free will. We take care of ourselves financially so right now you’re looking for a partner and romantically linked best friendship to blossom. If you embrace it, you’ll find your person and not stress about the time it takes to shake them out of the virtual tree.

      1. Little Beans*

        I also met my husband on okcupid! We were also in our 30s when we met. My advice is actually to take the initiative and message some guys you think you’d like. It’s so much more common for guys to make the first move that they find it refreshing when a woman starts the conversation. Also, I wasn’t just picking from the best of whoever decided to show interest in me, I was getting to decide who I was interested in.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          This works for some as well. It will depend on your expectations and social abilities.

          My situation differs because I didn’t date, period, at all prior to joining OKC. I did so on my 30th birthday. While absolutely smashed on Bacardi.

          At that point I couldnt speak to others unless spoken to first. I have some deep emotional issues tied up from being taunted without mercy in my teens by the boys who reacted awfully when I showed interest as a teen.

          I’m also not conventionally attractive so most men are generally uninterested. So I waited until men who were interested in tall chubby women flagged their acceptance.

      2. Washed Out Data Analyst*

        Maybe I’m doing it wrong, but every guy I’ve met on OKCupid was horrible. The guys I met on Tinder were way better, even though they were obviously just hookup material. Ironically, I think because it was Tinder, the guys were upfront about the fact that they were only looking for casual encounters, whereas on OKCupid, even though I was upfront about the fact I was looking for a relationship, ran across guys trying to deliberately mislead me into a casual relationship. I also ended up briefly dating a guy who victim-blamed rape victims (I promptly dumped him, of course.)

        1. Washed Out Data Analyst*

          I WILL say, though, that I have met successful couples who met via OKC, so don’t let me discourage you! Maybe follow Little Beans’s advice above.

        2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          It will differ by region. Some apps are more popular in some places over others. Nobody here used Match for example. Years and years ago a friend met her now husband on eHarmony and now it’s not popular here.

          It’s good to try multiple platforms to see what is the go to choice for the area.

          The only couple I know from Tinder is a hot mess. Total dramatic disaster but there’s now a kid in the mix. Tinder here is so superficial I couldn’t even try it.

        3. Amyiriel*

          Heck, I’ve had the guys misleading into more casual relationship thing happen on paid sites! Either that or they don’t read my profile, which says I am fairly shy until I get used to someone. I also disclose that I am autistic on my profile, but sometimes I feel that encourages people to mislead me.

    4. Purt's Peas*

      Tinder has a huge userbase and it’s not all hookups anymore. Just make sure to be super up-front about what you’re looking for even if you’re worried it’ll turn people off: you want to turn the wrong people off before they even get to you.

      1. CoffeeforLife*

        I met my partner on Tinder, both in our 30s. I actually never had a gross message from a guy but maybe because I was really selective? There were a ton of professionals and people looking to actually date and not just DTF. I think because Tinder is so easy, (mostly) free, and well know that it attracts all relationship seekers.

        I think being candid and honest in your profile also helps weed out what you don’t want. I tried to include little things I like (Burt’s Bees, necessary morning coffee, complicated home projects) instead of the generic: hiking (EVERYONE puts that where I’m from), dinner with friends.

      2. coffee cup*

        Although they might still get to you because they don’t bother reading your profile (yeah happened to me more than once!). But then you can just unmatch them, of course.

    5. Angwyshaunce*

      I mentioned this here I think last week, but as a person who was lonely and hated the social games associated with the popular dating sites (“Don’t call back for a couple of days!” kind of crap), I found someone (now my spouse) on a specialized site (geek-to-geek). On smaller sites like this, hits may be more rare, but are much more meaningful when they happen.

      In my experience, large popular dating sites aren’t much better than random bars. But if you cast a smaller net, you may find that the resulting catches are better quality.

      Best of luck!

  38. Lady Jay*

    Book recommendations! Next week (I work in higher education) a new semester starts, and I find that I can’t really read anything too heavy during the semester. So, I’m looking for fun, relatively light books to add to my reading list.

    I usually prefer science fiction (John Scalzi’s Emperox series is *great*) and some mysteries (think Lord Peter Wimsey or PD James), though I’m open to most genres besides romance and celebrity nonfiction.

    1. Lizabeth*

      J. D. Robb – mysteries set in the near future of NYC.

      Laurel K. Hamilton – Anita Blake vampire hunter, very good

      Dick Francis – mysteries that involve horses and another profession in each book.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yeep. A few books into the series, the Anita Blake books turn into soft core porn, including one that as I recall features – sorry – severe child sexual and physical abuse. I’ve read most of the series, but I wouldn’t recommend it to someone without some serious emphasized warnings about the content.

        1. Lizabeth*

          Thanks for reminding me about that…the first three (Guilty Pleasures, The Laughing Corpse and Circus of the Damned) are less about sex and more kicking vampire butt. Then they started going left with the soft core. Obsidian Butterfly is the one you’re thinking of with the kids.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My definition of “fun and light” reading is a little skewed, and I tend more toward urban fantasy than science fiction, but I’ll throw out some ideas and maybe something will strike!

      The Libriomancer series by Jim C Hines – I forget whether there’s three or four books. The main character is a book-based magician – basically, he can reach into a book and pull out something that will fit through the size of the book’s pages.

      The Newsflesh series (3 books plus assorted short novellas) by Mira Grant (pseudonym for Seanan McGuire) – 25 years after the zombie apocalypse, when the world has embraced bloggers as mainstream journalism, with registered biases and such, one blogging team is selected to go on tour with a presidential campaign. This one is sort of political thriller meets zombie apocalypse? And it’s far enough from a world we recognize that the politics in the books aren’t exactly aligned to our current situation, though I’m sure one could do so with a bit of effort.

      The Indexing series (2 books) by Seanan McGuire – these I believe are Kindle exclusives. The main character is a part of team with an underground FBI style agency who’s tasked with keeping fairy tales from encroaching too much on the “real” world.

      The Parasol Protectorate books by Gail Carriger – five book series, first one is called Soulless. Set in an alternative steampunk Victorian Britain where werewolves and vampires are a known and accepted part of society.

      My husband recommends the Iron Druid series by Kevin someone and the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. I have read both and they weren’t bad, but both authors have a tendency toward sexism-in-the-guise-of-chivalry, so I have to be in a mood that’s more tolerant than usual to read them.

    3. Foreign Octopus*

      If you haven’t already, I do recommend Elizabeth Peters.

      I’m a huge fan of her Amelia Peabody series (I’ve only got nine books left before I finish it, and I’m dreading the day because I won’t ever be able to read them for the first time again), but I know she’s also written a Vicky Bliss series as well that I’m eager to get my hands on.

      Light, fun, some crime-solving, and easy entertainment.

    4. Nicki Name*

      Light science fiction:

      Ursula K. Le Guin, Changing Planes – Starts with a devastatingly hilarious description of modern airports, continues with short stories ranging from relatively serious to outright satirical, nothing heavy.

      C. J. Cherryh, Chanur’s Legacy – A much less serious followup to the Chanur space opera series. You do not need to be familiar with the other books. It’s the sort of book where an entire crew winds up married to each other for legal reasons.

      Ann Leckie, Provenance – Another less-serious followup to a space opera series where you don’t need to be familiar with the rest of it. The daughter and potential heir to an ambitious politician gets herself into deeper and deeper complications arising from an not-well-thought-out scheme to curry favor with her mother. Including a murder mystery!

    5. vanillacookies*

      The Paper Menagerie short story collection by Ken Liu is mostly sci-fi/fantasy short stories and is one of the best things I’ve read all year. I normally don’t like short stories but these were all excellent.

    6. Pam*

      Becky Chambers. She has a three-book (so far) space opera series, starting with The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. Excellent aliens, and humans aren’t the top of society.

      Shorter fiction, Naomi Kritzer does good stuff, and I absolutely love N.K. Jemison’s How Long ‘Til Black Future Month?.

    7. OtterB*

      Seconding Becky Chambers.

      I am also a fan of MCA Hogarth. For light science fiction reading, try the Dreamhealers series that begins with Mindtouch. There’s an interlocking series of more classic space opera that begins with Earhrise.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      You like sf & mysteries? Have you read Connecticut Willis ‘Firewatch’ so you can read ‘To Say Nothing of the Dog’?

    9. NiceOrc*

      Jodi Taylor, The Chronicles of St Marys series. Mostly light, a bit of weight in places, little bit of sex, a lot of fun & laughs. Time travel, set in a sort of nearish future.

      And I always recommend Terry Pratchett! Whatever mood you’re in, he has a book to suit.

  39. Remy LeBeau*

    Long time lurker, writing in!

    Any tips for decompressing from dangerous situations? I recently got out of one and I did not think I would be able to pull it off, but I did.

    Life is so crazy sometimes.