weekend free-for-all – September 14-15, 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 Lager Queen of Minnesota, by J. Ryan Stadal. I am a huge fan of his Kitchens of the Great Midwest (until stumbling across his photo recently, I thought he was a woman because he writes women so well). Anyway: pies, breweries, family drama.

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

{ 1,112 comments… read them below }

  1. Orange You Glad*

    What AAM letters do you still think about?

    The ones that changed you somehow or are forever stuck in your memory?

    1. Sc@rlettNZ*

      The one that really stands out for me is the guy who ghosted his live-in girlfriend only for her to turn up as his new manager several years later. Karma :-) :-)

    2. Orange You Glad*

      One I think about often is the comment by Bill on the post “What was your worst career sin?”

      My favorite excerpt:

      “After about a month of intense anxiety, insomnia and occasional stress-vomiting, I told the ED I was going to the post office to mail all of the various legal packets to the counties for what should be the final approval. Instead I drove down a dirt road, pulled over, threw all the documents in a big pile and set them on fire.”

      I think about setting all the paperwork on fire in a field all the time.

      https://www.askamanager.org/2014/05/what-was-your-worst-career-sin.html#comment-451577

      1. Kimberlee, No Longer Esq.*

        OMG this one is one of my all-time favorites as well. Even if I’d never do something like that, it’s kind of empowering to know that someone, somewhere out there, did.

      2. BetsCounts*

        I **LOVE** this letter so much. When I am having a rough patch I will go back and read it- it makes me so g-d happy. He was a great writer and it ended up having a happy ending!

    3. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

      The woman whose husband resigned for her. There were more red flags there than a communist parade, and she was SUPER defensive of him in the comments. I hope she’s okay :(

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I remember the one about the newish employee who worked non-stop over a weekend on an urgent project for their workoholic boss, only to be deducted a day’s holiday because they overslept on the Monday and didn’t make it in to work.

        There was also one about an employee who thought they were starting work at a new job, but nothing had been finalised, and they were in limbo (and had made changes such as childcare)

        I don’t think there was ever an update for either of those.

      2. Anonyme*

        There have been several domestic violence ones that make me worry about the letter writer’s safety. These are the ones that I truly want updates on.

    4. LGC*

      The one that stuck in my head is the “un-manager” (the one that had a fraternity-like office and was bullying her more professional new hire). I was never that bad myself, but I did have a similar mindset (“I need to have fun with my team and encourage them to be fun!”).

      The followups were what really stuck with me as well – she was defensive at first when she got called out on it, then the situation blew up on her and she went through a lot. With the last update, it sounded like she was contrite about her behavior and in a better place for her. (I’m leaving out a ton of details for brevity.)

      I think THAT was the letter that got me reading this site – not only because it was wild, but also because you could follow the arc of the story.

      1. fposte*

        Yes, those are the ones that stick with me–where somebody is in trouble, whether they realize it or not, and it takes a while for things to take a new shape. Anxiety OP who showed up at her co-worker’s house and guy who floated $20k from work are also in that category in my head.

    5. Square Root Of Minus One*

      A few: the boyfriend who wrote to his girlfriend’s boss to complain he encroached on their relationship because boss and girlfriend had a drink on overnight travel, the boss who was jealous of her attractive employee, and the personal debt accumulated on the company credit card.
      More recently I also remember the person who went waaaay overdrive over saving her company money at her own expense and writing in expecting her coworkers to do the same.

    6. Redhead in NY*

      I love the master s&m one, the one where the guy brought spicy food to work – someone stole it – and he got fired for “poisoning” his coworker – then got his job back with extra salary :)

      I love any letter that AMA responds sassily and puts that person in their place – like the one where the girl called her coworker fat over a text and someone on the bus was looking at her phone and reported her.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        I have mixed feelings on the bus text one. Yeah, the person was being mean, but IIRC the only way the person knew who they were and what they said was coincidence and snooping. It seemed a bit thought police-y to me that someone was in trouble for a private communication.

        1. Redhead in NY*

          Right I agree – however the letter writer was pretty snippy in her email to AMA and portrayed herself as the “poor skinny girl who got in trouble”

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      AAM letters:
      • Juice Guy.
      • I gumptioned my way around several layers of management to sneak into what turned out to be a senior leadership conference. It did not go well.
      • 1400 comments on moving a coworker’s candy dish.

      Commenter observations that stuck with me:
      • Jobs are made of tasks: to find a job you’ll enjoy, figure out what tasks you like and hate, rather than what mission statements resonate with you.
      • The body language details that convey executive presence.
      • Recent one–luck matters more at the top. Becoming adequate at a skill can often be done if it’s important enough to you; becoming excellent, or one of the few who can do this as their full time job, depends more on the luck of the genetic draw and the luck of opportunities presented.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Executive presence is the top post on this open thread: https://www.askamanager.org/2018/09/open-thread-september-28-29-2018.html
          OperaArt’s comments about the body language studied in improv classes (and later discussed with senior leadership, a small woman) were especially useful. If you’re an Orphan Black fan, think of the difference in details between Sarah-pretending-to-be-Alison and Alison-pretending-to-be-Sarah, for the distinction between someone exuding executive presence and someone trying to fake it and missing.

          Luck was under the letter earlier this week about asking job candidates if they feel lucky.

          1. Thursday Next*

            As an aside, I’ve been rewatching Orphan Black and have been impressed afresh at how masterfully Tatiana Maslany plays characters playing other characters. She’s truly a marvel.

          1. tangerineRose*

            “arguments like can it really be theft if you don’t try to frame someone else for the crime?” Sounds like someone who has never been stolen from.

            1. ZarinC*

              People like this never cease to amaze me. The juice may be “abandoned” or maybe not, but dude….YOU KNOW IT’S NOT YOURS. SO DON’T TAKE IT.

    8. OperaArt*

      The boss who wouldn’t let their best employee take off two hours to attend her college graduation. The employee had put herself through college after being in the foster system.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Yeah, that was my first AAM letter I ever read. I still wonder how that ended. Kinda want an update to it, really, but I sincerely doubt we’ll ever get one. Don’t think Allison’s response was what the LW wanted to hear.

      2. MatKnifeNinja*

        I want put a flame thrower to that boss’s head.

        Usually things I read don’t upset/get to me. That women should have gotten a fawking parade to pull all that off.

        I hope she is living her best life, and getting all the rewards for her hard work.

        The boss deserves to be around apple crunching, popcorn burning, tuna eating and peanut butter greasy smearing gremlins, in a office the size of a port-a- potty.

      3. Parenthetically*

        Yes! That’s the one I was thinking of where Alison’s response started with something like “this is not going to be the answer you were anticipating.” It was the first letter I read where the LW got universally dragged in the comments. I’d love to know where she and her ex employee are today, if she learned anything from Alison’s advice, and if the ex employee is as successful and awesome as we all hope.

      4. Stormfeather*

        Yep, that first one is the one that most sticks with me and I was going to say. Especially since we’ve never had any updates, and I would love one – either from the boss, seeing if they learned a lesson, or from the employee herself to see how things went after that firing. But as others have said, doubt we ever will get one – since the graduate probably doesn’t read Ask a Manager (or hasn’t found that letter in the archives/realized it was about her) and the employer got raked over the coals.

        Some other ones that stick in the mind:

        -The guy who was phobic of birds and pushed his coworker into the path of a car (!!) and she got injured and basically quit after they refused to fire the guy or even (if I’m remembering right) punish him for it in any way. Part of the reason it sticks with me is because the comments I was reading on the first one mostly seemed to be along the lines of defending the guy, which I was just like nope nope allll the nope).

        -The hotel (I think it was a hotel?) that guests were complaining about being haunted, and the bosses didn’t want to hear anything about it, and the employee writing in was like “what can I do if anything?” (I was with the general commentariat on that, in that they shouldn’t have just ignored it – even if they didn’t believe in hauntings, which is understandable, obviously SOMETHING hinky was going on for so many people to independently report it).

        -A few of the others that just show up again in my brain from time to time, due to bosses being so terrible, or things just being so weird – the spicy food one where the writer initially got penalized and then karma finally struck back, the duck club, the guy who ghosted his ex (and moved to an entirely different country!), the employee who was fired for listening to her boss and putting work communication on a tombstone(!!) and such.

        1. Stormfeather*

          OH and the woman who basically called her boss’s daughter a whore, then wrote in because she was a bit worried she might have offended him. Then updated that oh hey, it was all okay because he didn’t really seem to mind.

          1. Parenthetically*

            YES THAT UPDATE “Yeah, haha, Boss Man gets that it’s fine to call women whores for dating, so it was all good really.”

          2. Filosofickle*

            OOH! I just read that letter this week — was bored, went through archives — and didn’t see there was an update. Wow.

            I did sorta get how she didn’t understand she insulted him until later. If I substitute “mama didn’t raise no fool” for “my parents didn’t raise a whore”, I can see she was reacting to a question about herself (“I didn’t have that problem because mama didn’t raise no fool”) without realizing what she implying about Boss and Daughter. However, the impact is there. What she said was bonkers and inappropriate and misguided and about a dozen other things that would get me caught in moderation.

            Can’t even imagine a life where dating is immoral and someone screams at me about being a whore multiple times a day, at school and home. Thanking my lucky stars.

          1. M&M*

            I think the main reason I felt sympathetic to the bird guy was due to my own experience with phobias that are not reasonable or professional but there isn’t much you can do about it. Like after a sexual assault I was scared to be alone in the presence of a man. To a point where I nearly had a full blown crying style panic attack being alone with a vendor in front of said vendor but I made it to the restroom in time so my meltdown was private. While it wasn’t professional and I think maybe the company could and should have handled it differently, I still had a lot of sympathy and empathy for him as I also have a broken brain and people with mental illnesses still have to work too.

            Just to clarify I do not believe he should have shoved her in front of a car. I do realise unprofessional behavior regardless of reason can and should result in no longer being a professional, but I felt bad for him.

            1. Tinuviel*

              As someone who also has phobias, I think the line is drawn here: “but I made it to the restroom in time so my meltdown was private” vs. “so I shoved him out of my way and ran”.

              I feel bad for him but you gotta realize when your behavior (which couldn’t be helped) was wrong and caused harm to others. Even if he didn’t mean to do it… he still did it.

    9. Jules the 3rd*

      All the -ism ones that don’t have good resources for helping the employee cope. It makes me want to never leave my current employer. I have a lot of confidence that if I have a problem, I can report it through one of the 5 different channels that they publicize and I will get support. May not solve the problem, but they will take it seriously.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        oh – and the ones about religion in the workplace (eg, how Easter and Christmas events erase non-Christians). I think some of the social event organizers in my cube farm may also read AAM, they have toned down the religious references a lot in the last year. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter celebrations have been going over better with me.

    10. PhyllisB*

      The one that got me hooked on AAM was (I think) from 2007. It was from a woman whose office was doing some renovations and she went to check on the progress. She stepped in some wet cement (wearing high heels and a short skirt) and went sailing down the hallway past open office doors “half shrieking/half apologizing” before slamming into a wall. I have never laughed so much in my life. Of course I was glad she wasn’t injured, but that mental image just cracked me up.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Just remembered another one that made me go whaaaa? The boss who wrote in that her company had a very generous benefits for birthdays (gifts, paid time off, ect.) She had an employee who was born on Feb. 29 who “wanted in” on this, but according to the boss, she was only entitled to it every four years because she didn’t have a birthday the other years and wanted to know how she could explain to her employee how “unprofessional” she was being about the whole thing. Not only did Alison lambaste her she also got raked over the coals in the comments. When the boss responded, she doubled down that this employee was being “ridiculous.”

    11. Anne (with an “e”)*

      * The interns who signed a petition to change the dress code. They especially disliked the requirements about shoes. They had noticed one employee who didn’t follow the shoe code; however, they had failed to notice that this person was a disabled vet. Everyone who signed the petition was fired. Nothing happened to the one and only intern who had enough sense not to get involved with the petition.

      * The manager who wrote in about his employee from Ireland who had been harassed and physically assaulted (brutality pinched) because she didn’t want to wear green on St. Patrick’s day. The Irish employee no-showed I believe. The manger was incensed at his other employees and worried about the Irish employee.

      These two stick with me the most.

      1. Not A Manager*

        IIRC, the St. Patrick’s manager was befuddled by the employee’s response and wanted to know if he should decline to give her a reference.

        1. Anne (with an “e”)*

          You are absolutely correct. I was the one who was incensed at the pinching employees and worried about the Irish employee. Thus, I misremembered the letter.

      2. Ann O.*

        The shoe code was obnoxious, though. Women should never be forced to wear high heels. There are long-term health implications to that in addition to the reinforcement of sexist perceptions.

        1. fposte*

          They weren’t forced to wear high heels, though. Flat leather shoes were okay. It was just that they weren’t permitted to wear sandals or non-leather shoes.

        2. Another Sarah*

          Huh? The interns petitioned because they wanted to wear running shoes and sandals (and casual clothes instead of suits) in a business formal environment. The letter writer was male, and there was nothing in the letter about women being forced to wear high heels.

        3. Emily B.*

          The interns didn’t petition for the company to stop forcing women to wear high heels. OP never even mentioned high heels in their letter.

        4. Martha Marcy May Marlene*

          You must be thinking of a different letter. High heels wasn’t mentioned or the issue in the intern’s dress code letter.

        5. Kau*

          There is lots of sexism in the world, but there’s no evidence of it here. IIRC the OP was male and there were both male and female interns and all of them had to wear dress shoes and suits. Nothing was said by the OP about high heels though.

        6. April O'Neil*

          There wasn’t any shoe code for high heels and the petition didn’t have anything to do with women wearing heels…

    12. Have dragon, will quest in exchange for hummus*

      Interested in hearing another update on the woman who had an affair with her married colleague and admitted it to HR.

    13. Not A Manager*

      How about the women who “pranked” their colleague into thinking she was being arrested for embezzlement, including showing her a police officer in uniform outside her window?

      1. Deanna Troi*

        Yes! I think about that one and hope someone called the cops and that the woman who was impersonating a police officer was arrested.

        1. Another Sarah*

          No one was wearing a uniform or impersonating a police officer. One of the prankers pointed at a woman outside the window, and said she was a cop. That woman never spoke to the prankee, and she was dressed in regular clothes. The OP said the police and lawyers he talked to wouldn’t even take his complaint because claiming impersonation was so ludicrous.

    14. Penny*

      The guy with a bird phobia who pushed his coworker and broke her arm to get away from a bird. That story and all the updates were wild!

    15. Even Steven*

      There are too many letters to count, but so many have come together to shape my approach to the working life. I started reading here a few years ago, and it was a real eye-opener to learn from you all about how to assess & define a toxic workplace. As Alison says, being in one too long can really skew your perspective on that! It was from reading letters and comments here that I realized that I was deep in the toxic stew, and that I could actually pull myself out of it. I really had no idea!
      It was so bad that I quit with no new job lined up, took 4 months off, and then found my current job, which is such a joy that I often go in early just to get going on another awesome day. And when little things irk me at work, I read the letters again and it puts them in perspective, since no workplace can be absolutely perfect all the time. I am so grateful to Alison, AAM, and all of you. I know your question was really about which letters are good reading, but I just wanted to say that they are about good living, too.

      1. anon24*

        Before I started reading this site I genuinely had no idea it wasn’t normal to wake up in the morning and feel like I’d rather die than go to work.

        I distinctly remember talking to a co-worker who was much older than me about it one day and being like did you know work isn’t supposed to make you so miserable you wish you were dead? And it blew his mind too. That’s when I realized I needed to make a lot of changes in my career path, because I didn’t want to live my whole life like that. I managed to go back to school and get a certification that allowed me to change careers to a job that I love but pays poorly and now I’m working my way through college to try to change careers again to a better paying job. I don’t know if I ever would have done that if I wouldn’t have realized that it wasn’t normal to hate my work life so much or be treated so poorly by all my bosses.

    16. CatCat*

      * Guy who shoved a coworker into a moving car because of f his bird phobia

      * Boss who made employee leave note on grave

      * Boss who treated employee badly because of boss’s own insecurities (appreciate the updates in particular)

      * Boss who wouldn’t let employee go to her own graduation

      * Employee who told hotel who called the cops when boss invited employee to get high in his hotel room. Employee split the conference they were attending

      * And not from a letter, but an open thread commenter called “Snoozing Loser” who was treated so shabbily. I often think of you, OP, and hope things are going well for you.

    17. Bilateralrope*

      The one where a manager emailed Allison wanting to know how to convince an employee to be happy that they dont get a work birthday celebration most years (unlike every other employee) because this employee was born Feb 29. Alison pointed out how terrible this policy was

      Then this manager doubled down in an update.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, that’s another one where I really wanted to hear from the employee. “I know this sounds unreal, but my boss seriously says…”

    18. Nom de plume*

      I’m surprised no one has mentioned the one where the boss pees in a cup in his office and dumps it out in the kitchen sink.

      1. LGC*

        To be honest, I think we ALL wanted to forget that one exists.

        (We’ll remember it in December. But I’m sure we’ll all regret it.)

    19. mindovermoneychick*

      Ghosting guy and the poor women who had to quit her call center job to attend her graduation. I always hope she finds that letter someday and see how much support she had from an AAM community.

    20. Pieismyreligion*

      “I bit my manager”, the person who’s boss was terrible to her and she bit him on the arm after an altercation, ran to another office and locked the door due to fear of retaliation. AAM answer was to get the f- out of that toxic workplace, she replied later that it wasn’t that bad, she decided to stay and “work on myself”. Just, no.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, God, that one, and that disheartening update. She had the antennae to know this was a problem enough to write in about, but she just wasn’t ready to move beyond that place. I hope that since then she’s ended up someplace else and has found how much better things can be.

      2. PB*

        Yes, that one kind of haunts me. In the update, I believe she applied for one job, didn’t get it, and decided to stay because no job’s perfect and everyone’s a little unhappy at work. Most of us aren’t biting our colleagues!

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          “Everyone at work is fine that I bit the office manager” continues to be the most bonkers thing I have read on here.

    21. Elizabeth West*

      “Go get your dog.” :’3

      The bird phobia.

      Hanukkah balls.

      The Naked Spray-painted Gold Barbie trophies.

      The horrifying coworker who sent out photos of a coworker’s colostomy bag o_O

      Kim who wouldn’t stop caressing all her coworkers and the kids. *squick*

      And my all-time favorite, forever and ever:

      DUCK CLUB!

    22. em*

      The one where the LW lost their dream job because they had bullied a “rockstar” employee at the company in high school… it gradually came out in the comments that the bullying was WAY worse than the initial letter made it sound, and then in an update the LW basically blamed the rockstar for all their professional AND personal problems and ended up drunkenly confronting her in a restaurant!

      I’d still love an update on the boss who was upset her employee didn’t appreciate her maternity benefits to the point that the LW was pressuring the employee to start breastfeeding months after the baby was born.

    23. EvilQueenRegina*

      The guy who sent his boss to Italy instead of Florida.
      I found myself thinking about liver boss again after finishing Lock Every Door by Riley Sager. If you read it, you know.
      I often wonder what happened to that executive assistant whose boss had been out of the country, came back and thought this employee had no showed so he left a rude message on her voicemail, only to turn out the employee was dead and the rude message went to her family, and boss blamed the assistant for not notifying him of the death which she hadn’t even known about herself as she was also on holiday. And that job where the employee died and her team drove off every single replacement, and it took three quits and someone refusing to be transferred into the job before anyone looped in grandboss.

      This might seem a mundane one, but Fergusia the micromanager, purely because at the time I was micromanaged by a woman like that and really related to “Janet and Brad” in the letter. I know that one got an update but I still wonder if she sustained the improvements.

    24. Another Sarah*

      For me one of the letters that stands out the most is the one where the OP’s friend lied to them about a reference for someone the OP was considering hiring. The new hire was a trainwreck and when OP called out their friend the friend didn’t even deny it. I really want an update to that one.

    25. PB*

      It’s been mentioned a couple times, but the Duck Club will be an all time favorite. CN for new folks: LW walked in on a couple employees having sex in the copy room, and justified it as being okay because they were clocked out. LW then found that there was a sex club in the office, which awarded “points” for doing the deed in various locations (including the copy room). There was an update in which the boss told her not to worry about it. It was all weird and surreal and I definitely recommend reading it.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        Yes, when the members of the Duck Club passed each other in the hallway they would say Quack. Or maybe Quack Quack. It’s such a terrible idea in so many ways (immature, unprofessional, emotional powder keg…) that it elicits incredulous laughter.

    26. MOAS*

      Almost every single letter mentioned here has been on my radar, hard to believe I’ve been reading along since 2012 (!). I think the first letter that pulled me in was about the woman who had to pay to wear jeans to work and was living off cupcakes. What got to me was that a lot of people were willing to send her clothes (goodness I hope I’m remembering this correctly!).

    27. CastIrony*

      I think about the one freelancer that has so much work that Alison wanted to cover her in a blanket and give her tea all day long. I hope things are going better.

    28. ampersand*

      The woman whose boss called her, pretending to be from CPS, and said she was being accused of child abuse/neglect. I don’t know in what universe this would be funny and I’m *still* angry on the woman’s behalf for having to go through that. At least boss lady was eventually fired for that prank.

    29. Patty Mayonnaise*

      Many of my favorites were already mentioned, but I will also mention the woman who was taking nude pictures of herself in the office, the woman who frequently changed her appearance over lunchtime and the update was her quitting in a completely over-the-top fashion when she was asked to refrain from doing it when clients were around, and the person who quit in carp.

    30. FD*

      The one that gave us the wonderful phrase, “But black magic is one of many occupational hazards” where someone was writing in about how to deal with an employee putting magic curses on her peers.

    31. DarthVelma*

      The entire saga of “I Work on a Hellmouth”. The original letter was interesting, but it became so much more with her weekly updates in the Friday open thread – will she get out of the Hellmouth? If not, what absolutely bonkers nonsense happened this week?

      I’m so glad she finally got out.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        As with the guy burning boxes of records on a back road: you can be having a bad day, but at least no one is demanding that you find the squirrel carrying out a years-long vendetta against his truck.

    32. Blue Eagle*

      I’m late to the party, but the letter I’d really like a follow-up on was the one where a woman fudged the paperwork to frame her co-worker for embezzling. The co-worker was suspended without pay till the authorities came in and did their investigation at which time the woman admitted it was so she could report her own husband for abuse.
      – – – whatever happened to the co-worker who was framed and ended up losing her apartment and moving in with her relatives till the framing was discovered?

    33. Kiwiii*

      I think constantly about the coworker who would dramatically change her appearance midday, including new hair color, cut, and clothing and in the update quit on the spot when asked not to do that on days she was presenting so as to not confuse clients.

    34. willow19*

      The one where the EA sent her boss to Venice, Italy instead of Venice, Florida. (I think it was Venice.)

    35. willow19*

      I’m pretty sure it was this site, with the lady who kept taking the same course over and over, never passed, wanted to be besties with the LW (who was the trainer), and I think she ate French fries with mayo, which, for the LW, just put it over the top. I think the LW wanted to “fire” this student. Anyone remember and can supply a link?

  2. Bilateralrope*

    How did Friday the 13th go for you ?

    Me, I work nights. I was woken around noon by a radio playing “the sound of silence” rather loudly.

        1. Jdc*

          My Alexa did turned off then on due to a power outage one night and husband and I both just about flew out of bed thinking someone was talking in the house.

    1. Hazy days*

      Wonderfully! There was an awkward situation that I was anticipating, but people dealt with it in a friendly, professional way, and it was actually turned round to be lovely rather than awkward.

      It’s so good when people have the maturity to deal with situations and manage them. And I think we’ve come out of it looking better rather than worse.

    2. peridot*

      Ultimately good – was due to have a tinder date but cancelled because I wasn’t feeling it as he kept pushing the date later and later into the night and he had wanted to go for a walk on the beach (In the dark? With a stranger? Are you crazy?) The guy got really weird, not threatening, just weird. Googled him because that’s how I roll – he’s a convicted predator who was jailed for a violent assault on a woman he picked up in his car when he was roaming around pretending to be a cab driver a few years ago. Photos in the news coverage confirm it’s the same guy. Maybe this makes Friday 13th lucky for me?

        1. peridot*

          I’m better this morning (thanks for asking!) but was pretty shaken up last night. Thanking the universe and my gut instincts for saving me from something that could have been very very bad.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        !!!

        Well done for listening to your instincts. Have you reported the profile to the site or indeed the police?

        1. peridot*

          Both – got an automated email from tinder and had the awkward ‘soooo this guy I was talking to on tinder’ conversation at the police station. There’s a lot to be said for being forever alone at this point.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        The power of paying attention to that gut feeling. Friday was definitely a good day for you. Glad you are still with us.

      3. Jules the 3rd*

        Wow. Good on you, and I’m glad nothing happened. People who get offended when they’re googled do not get modern reality and the risks people face, you should assume you’re being googled before a first date.

      4. Damien*

        Holy s**t, glad you went with your gut on that one. I think more people could stand to be the Googling-your-date-beforehand type, just in case.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I got a tatty 5 euro note whilst paying for lunch, so I bought 2 lucky dips for the Euromillions draw. You never know…

      2. Grace*

        I also got a second job interview in the afternoon – and then, that evening, asked to come in for a third interview on Monday. Friday the 13th was very good to me this year.

    3. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Pretty good! Applied some varnish to the cat house (same thing as a dog house, but smaller and for the cats) and got my results back from my exams: passed both! Woot!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Omg the line breaks on my phone….. I’m still snickering because I read “applied varnish to the cat.” Full stop.

      2. PhyllisB*

        I had to laugh at “applied varnish to the cat house” because when I grew up the term “cat house” did not apply to felines.

    4. Redhead in NY*

      Finished a 150 slide presentation and put my out of office message on for my 3 week trip to España!

    5. Christy*

      It went well! My wife dealt with some nasty menstrual symptoms but *actually stayed home* which she never does, so that was a Friday the 13th miracle. I w**k from home and that went well, even despite dealing some MOODS from some people. Then I watched Supernatural (yes, in this year of our lord 2019) and got a pedicure! My pedicures last forever on my big toe (seriously, I still had my 4th of July stars on until yesterday) so I went full-on into Friday the 13th and got cobwebs painted on my big toes.

      I’m so excited for Halloween! We’ve been decorated for two weeks now. We never used to be like this, but I think we’re both really excited for fall.

      Anyway! After my pedicure my wife and I went to dinner and I got the queso I’ve been craving for like a week now. Not as good as the queso of my dreams but it still hit the spot. And then my wife kept getting drunk texts from her grad school friend at the grad school dive bar so we drove over to it and I got like six people to take a fireball shot with me. I unabashedly love fireball but so many people (somewhat rightly) despise it. When my remote w**k friends and I get together we shoot fireball so it has some nostalgia associated. They’re why I started drinking it in the first place.

    6. Sleepy*

      I have 3 kids and the middle one has chronic sleep issues (up at least once a night for serveral hours, 3-5x/week). The other two are rock solid sleepers 7:30pm-7:30am.

      Well, last night the littlest woke up at 10 with a nightmare and couldn’t settle back down until midnight. Not ten minutes later, middle woke up. I went to help her get back to sleep and fell asleep in her bed, woke up at 2 and got back in my bed. Middle came into my bed at 5. I moved to the guest room to let DH deal with her. Oldest came into the guest room at 5:30 with a nightmare. Got her re settled and middle was up for the day, cranky, at 6. OMG. There is not enough coffee.

    7. LJay*

      I woke up to find that my rental car had been towed by my apartment complex because while I thought I had parked in a guest parking space I apparently didn’t know what a guest parking space was.

      So I spent $30 on an Uber and $300 to get the rental car out of the tow yard (and the tow yard was seriously sketchy looking and they made me stand in a dimly lit parking lot alone for 10 minutes while they completed their shift turnover at 6am).

      It could have been worse though. At least I apparently got all my bad luck for the day out early.

    8. Amy*

      My friend very nearly walked into a live rabies-suspect bat hanging on a half-wall outdoors. Luckily I saw it just as he was about to lean on it and warned him, and he literally ran off screaming! Given that it was a bat out in daytime exhibiting weird behavior, in an area where many confirmed rabies-infected bats have been found, we called animal control to come pick it up. But by the time they arrived it had disappeared. Spooky!

      1. Grace*

        I’m so damn glad that we don’t have rabies in the UK. I don’t think I could enjoy sitting outside in the evening and watching the bats whizz around my head snatching pond midges if I thought they might be rabid – as it is, it’s my favourite part of summer.

    9. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I went on a tour of the graveyard at a local historic church. Didn’t really think about the date until I was leaving and saw the moon over the church tower. Saw some interesting things that I’ll have to go back and look at in the daylight.

    10. Shay*

      Forgot I had a doctor’s appointment. I didn’t get the usual reminder email.
      I’m embarrassed and now I also have to go back and reschedule it.
      Also, I took my dog biking and she managed to slipped the harness She led me on a 15 minute chase to try and recapture her. At one point she just ran straight at me and knocked me over. That was also not fun. I’ve ordered a new harness and some other gear to help with the biking.

    11. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      I saw my eye doctor for a six-month-followup after cataract surgery; all is well, see you in a year. No Friday the 13th relevance except that I overheard the office staff talking about local tattoo shops offering Friday the 13th discounts. (If and when I get another tattoo, it’s not going to be on that sort of impulse.)

    12. NeonFireworks*

      I’m a public-transit commuter to a city center. Yesterday I left work carrying a large cardboard box of miscellaneous possessions I’d been storing at work for a bit during a recent move. I decided to walk to the grocery store and grab a few essentials for the weekend before getting on the bus. Was worried that, in the process of doing all this, I might absent-mindedly leave the cardboard box behind in the shopping cart or something, so I kept reminding myself to grab it on the way out. Bought groceries, got home, walked in the door, no longer had cardboard box. Put away groceries, raced back downtown on the subway, approached customer service desk, made fun of self, reclaimed box. Nothing in there had any monetary value, but one item in particular I’d owned for 22 years and cherish very deeply. I would have been inconsolable if that box had disappeared. Ack.

    13. Ann O.*

      I spent it performing in a site-specific theater piece in a supposedly haunted house and yet it was actually very uneventful. Which is good because I don’t exactly believe in ghosts, but I also have an active imagination. I was worried I’d spend the whole time jumping at shadows and mess up the performance, but once things got started, it was just another stage. Phew!

      I did jump at shadows all the way home, though.

    14. Elizabeth West*

      Dog Lady let her dog or dogs out very late at night (it probably had to pee), and of COURSE one of them had to run up to the gate, which is right outside my bedroom window, and bark. Only once, but loud enough to wake me. I had to get up early and did not appreciate that, since I have a tough time falling asleep and staying asleep.

      Miraculously, I made it to Buddhist group on time. But F13 spillover–I left my cushion at the church where we meditate and had to go all the way back to get it. :P

    15. Nacho*

      Went to the doctors. Got a clean bill of health, and it turns out my scale shows a reading 5 pounds heavier than theirs, so good luck all around.

      1. Jdc*

        Mine did the same the other day. Doctors said I was about 4lbs less so I’m sticking with that number. Then cardiologist said I was more than my scale. Obviously their scale is broken. That’s what I’m going to believe.

        Cardiologist said I could stop taking the heart meds if i wanted. That lasted two days and I was back on as my heart was racing. Since other new meds I am taking also happen to lower my HR i thought I could live without this medicine but clearly not. Frustrated because the less I can take while pregnant the better. Not pregnant yet but wanting my meds to be stable before I am. I don’t have any heart condition my HR just likes to run high. 140 is my normal standing still HR. Obviously this makes for not feeling so great and is exhausting. Like running all the time. Luckily the meds have it to a normal HR but guess i can’t stop them b

    16. We Work by Night*

      I also work a night shift.

      It was a bit of a strange day. The traffic getting to work was terrible, but typical for a Friday. Out of the 10 people in my department, 2 had taken the day off, and there were 2 more who were not there, but I’m not sure if they had also taken the day off or called in sick. Then after a couple of hours, 2 more people left early because they weren’t feeling well. That left only 4 people in the department. I didn’t get a whole lot of work done, but I did have good meetings with my manager and with our team lead.

    17. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      We actually went to Alcatraz in the morning, it was our last full day of vacation :) (It was also my mother’s birthday.)

    18. Southern Metalsmith*

      My husband’s last day of work was Friday. He retired. All day yesterday he kept randomly grinning and turning to me to say ‘Saturday – every day is going to be Saturday from now on!’.

    19. GibbsRule18*

      A 30 minute consultation at the dentist turned into a 3 1/2 hour pain-filled episode. Dentist attributed it to Friday the 13th. Ha.

    20. Southern Metalsmith*

      Also, heavy thunderstorms came through our area Friday night and briefly knocked out power to a water treatment plant. As of noon Sunday we are still under a boil water advisory.

      I was really trying to be annoyed by it all but all I can think of is how thankful I am that I’m living in a time and a place where clean and plentiful water is normally so readily available.

  3. Remy LeBeau*

    This is week four (?) from recovering. Thanks to the commenters weeks ago for the tips. I’ve been through a lot of abusive situations, but this recent one takes the cake.

    As I distance myself from it and gain clarity, I’m realizing just how bad things had gotten. I’m in the process of fixing everything. There is some stability.

  4. Hazy days*

    The Artist’s Way thread – attempt 2!

    Creative and aspiring creative and blocked creative people are gathering on this thread to work through The Artist’s Way workbook together. It’s an approach to unblocking creativity in many different forms and media, and while slightly bonkers, is remarkably effective…

    If books have arrived, we’re ready to go with Week 1….

    1. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      I’m ready & excited!
      Thank You for facilitating this! I’ve tried on my own too.many.times, and groups always fill up before I can get in.
      <3

      1. Hazy days*

        Excellent! But we’re still waiting for Greeenthumb to have her workbook arrive, I think. I think we can start Week 1 next week.

        Meanwhile, how about some introductions about where we are with creativity at The moment. I’ve dipped in and out of The Artist’s Way for a couple of years, never really gone all the way through from start to finish, but I’ve found it incredibly helpful as it is. Writing morning pages, seeking out artist dates, challenging my inner critic and untrue beliefs – all really valuable, and have got me to a much more creative and productive space. I’m hoping to give up full time work in a couple of years to pursue writing more intensely, and I see this as being a strong scaffold to get there.

  5. Bilateralrope*

    My week of sore legs is nearly over:
    – Flatemates cat had a noticable limp. $600 in vet bills and the cat is recovering steadily. Not happy about being shut in one room though.
    – Work cat has a sore leg, and the only symptoms we saw was her hesitating to jump onto the desk, or jerking that leg away if touched. She’s jumping on the desk again.
    – My legs ache because this is my third 72 hour week. I’ll be fine by Tuesday.

      1. Bilateralrope*

        So you dont have a cat that just arrived at your workplace and decided to stay ?

        Anyway, she’s back to sitting on the logbook or trying to nuzzle the pen while I’m writing log entries.

      1. Bilateralrope*

        I work security. My normal roster is 12 hour shifts on a 4 on, 4 off rotation.

        We had a number of guards becoming unavailable at once for various reasons. Vetting and site training requirements limited the number of guards who could work at the two sites in question. So my employer had to choose between canceling one guards previously approved vacation having me work that much or leaving shifts unstaffed.

        They dont like canceling vacations after they have been approved.

  6. Marmaduke*

    I could use advice or just encouragement. Three weeks ago I was in the hospital with pancreatitis, and labs showed that my cholesterol was through the roof. I’m trying to get back on track with healthy meals and I’m now walking 20-60 minutes every day, but it’s hard to stay consistent when I feel so ashamed and guilty. That hospital bill is going to put my family in a very rough spot (our insurance is okay but not great) and it’s all my fault for letting myself go.
    I had my baby a year ago and it’s been a hard year (PPD, health issues for me and baby, early miscarriage followed by a major depressive episode, along with a variety of other huge upheavals) and I put on almost 30 pounds, and now my husband and daughter have to pay the price with me. I’m feeling more depressed than ever and working up the motivation to focus on diet and exercise is a struggle.

    So yeah. Suggestions welcome.

    1. V*

      Stop blaming yourself! Your language towards yourself sounds so harsh. Try to turn it around and see if you would speak to/about a loved one that way… love yourself, be kind to yourself and cut yourself some sack. You’ve done an amazing thing in getting through everything that has happened in the last year or so. You’ve got this.

    2. WS*

      Cholesterol levels have a strong genetic component. As they say, choose your parents wisely!

      All you’ve been through, and you’re being extremely hard on yourself (and that can be part of depression). Would you blame someone else who had a pregnancy, PPD, a miscarriage, other health issues, a sick baby, poor health insurance AND pancreatitis for being unwell? I really hope not, and I hope that you can extend that compassion to yourself. People do get sick! It happens! US health insurance is a deliberate nightmare for everyone short of billionaires, and blaming yourself for that is not productive or kind.

      1. Reba*

        Chiming in to say cholesterol yes is associated with diet… But is also just something that comes from genes. It’s not something you did to yourself!

        My spouse, a vegetarian swimmer who walks 5 miles a day, has high cholesterol, because he just does. Meanwhile I have the same diet (actually more cholesterol) in general) and way less exercise and my levels are nice and low, because they just are.

        Marmaduke, you’ve had a whole chain of shit land on you in pretty quick succession.
        It’s going to take time to climb back out to a new place, but you’re already well on your way.

        1. Jdc*

          Yes. Even when my diet was amazing and i had an 8 pack my cholesterol was high. My grandmothers is, my mother. Medication has pretty much fixed it. My doctor and most say that diet changes really only barely lower it compared to what meds can do. People who are very unhealthy can have perfect cholesterol numbers. So much of it is genetic.

        2. Arts Akimbo*

          Same here. I exercise for about an hour and a half a day, 5 days a week, and I eat a diet full of leafy greens and yummy vegetables… and the lowest my cholesterol has ever been in my adult life is 206! It’s just genetic, and the more you can just generally live a healthy lifestyle, the better off you’ll be, cholesterol or no. I hope you will be kind to yourself, Marmaduke, and start with gentle walking and vegetables you love.

    3. YetAnotherUsername*

      My first suggestion is also to stop blaming yourself. As pp said you wouldn’t blame someone else who’s been through all that you have for putting on a few pounds. Also as pp said cholesterol does have a genetic component. Being overweight does contribute to high cholesterol, but genetics also contributes. So it’s not all down to gaining 30lb, which is not all that much to gain really.

      My second advice is to stick with the healthy eating and exercise. Both are proven to improve depression as well as cholesterol. And the depression is rhe bigger deal.

      My third advice is to be kind to yourself. I also lost a baby in the last couple of years and am still on antidepressants for PND. I’m so sorry for your loss. Try to build some you time into your schedule. That can be combined with exercise. Make suorue you’re not just doing exercise you find boring. Do something fun or combine it with seeing a friend or something.

      Hugs

    4. Jean (just Jean)*

      *1 to the other commenters saying please be kind to yourself. Sounds to me like some of your self-blame could be the depression talking. As WS said, you’ve survived a hard year with lots of painful experiences. I feel your pain (different circumstances, but similar struggle to eat healthy and get more exercise.) Life is hard. Some of us sometimes respond by stress eating. Also self-blame can be the depression talking. You just got out of the hospital 3 weeks ago, you’re battling depression, and you’re also trying to take care of your husband and young child as well as yourself. It’s not easy. Be kind.

      What resources are available to you? Can you or your husband or a close friend reach out to local government, nonprofits, or a congregation for help with the hospital bill, or practical support with meal preparation or everyday chores? (I’m not pushing religion here! But if it’s part of your life, it might be a source of financial help. Some groups offer no-interest loans or a fund run by the minister/rabbi/etc. to help their members. Other groups have a “helping friends” committee that steps in if people want assistance with various life events, happy or sad.) Is there a local chapter of a support group for depression, miscarriage survivors, people wanting to take walks together…?

      It takes time and energy to change our habits and this is harder when we’re feeling worn down by other life challenges. It probably helps to think about healthy eating and movement as self-care/self-love/celebration of life rather than as penance to be endured because we made “bad” choices in the past. I try to focus on making small improvements rather than blaming myself for not immediately achieving perfect physical health and nutrition.

      Sorry to run on and on. Please know that internet strangers are empathizing with and pulling for you.

    5. LGC*

      Repeating everyone else – you just had a baby, you were having serious health issues (before the pancreatitis), and it’s little wonder why you’d be stressed out and not have time or energy to take care of yourself in the way you want!

      So, now that I’ve got the “be kind to yourself” segment out of the way: so your daughter is a year old. How much of the work do you do to take care of her versus your husband? Do you have any other support like friends or family that can help out?

      On top of that, can your husband cook? Does he enjoy it? Does HE exercise? Are any of your friends new parents, and if so, do THEY exercise?

      Basically, I’m asking these questions to see what you can think less about, since it seems like you don’t have the headspace to think about exercise and diet right now. (This is fine!)

      Finally: I think if you’re worried about being judged, walk with your daughter to the park if you’re not doing so already and you can! (This obviously depends on where you live and whether it’s safe to do so.) That way, you’re just a mom taking her daughter to the park. It’s more for your mental benefit – I think most people don’t judge based on body type, and those who do are judgmental about everybody – but I think it might make you feel less awkward.

    6. Blazer*

      I suggest googling pancreatitis and postpartum before you beat yourself up over it anymore. I am fairly certain i had pancreatitis after I gave birth about 7 years ago. The ER blew me off as having a stomach virus but I know it wasn’t that. I was in bed for about 2 weeks straight, only getting up to crawl to the bathroom. Thankfully my hubby was able to take off work because I was unable to care for our new baby. I recently discovered an article on pancreatitis during the postpartum period which prompted some research. This is something that has always puzzled me as I still don’t think I’ve ever been as sick as I was then. As close to death as I could ever imagine being.
      I’m so sorry that happened to you!!

    7. I edit everything*

      Shake the dust of the past off your feet. Nothing you can do about it now (even if there ever had been). Envision the future you want, and make the choices that will get you there. For example, by Christmas, maybe you want to: be walking 5 miles a week, eating vegetarian twice a week, and laughing with your baby every day. Each week, choose to do the things that will get you closer to those goals.

      Good luck! It’s hard, but keep looking forward. Hang on to those goals as the guide rope through the whirlwind of life.

    8. Scandinavian in Scandinavia*

      I’m impressed with you: only 30 punds after that amount of hardship??? Like other commenters, I find the most important thing to be kindness towards yourself + remembering that those harsh thoughts may be symptoms of depression, not “reality”. Each time a thought like the ones you describe comes up, remind yourself that the depression or its lingering effects are trying to trick you. It is NOT the reality of who you are or what you are like.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      A simple thing to do is to hydrate. I am at the point now, where I measure out my water in the morning. If I don’t, then I don’t pay attention and I lose track. I try to have most of it finished before dinner so I can sleep through the night without a bathroom trip.
      Regular hydration helps so. many. problems. it’s unbelievable. It helps brain function. Don’t google “brain and dehydration” because it’s not good.
      Regular hydration is a very supportive activity for every single thing you mention here. Check this out, even a properly hydrated brain is better able to handle feelings of shame, guilt, depression, stress.

      You may want to check out a drink with electrolytes in it. This can be supportive for physical aches and pains as well as mental function.

      Granted these things are scatterguns, general things that are good to do. However, it’s a good idea when things are just not going well to go back to square one and look at the basics. You have a great start- you are walking and looking at diet changes. I hope I can encourage you that some attempt will give you some level of benefit. Sadly, many folks think that it’s an all or nothing thing and that is simply not true. Again, this is NOT true. Do your best each day, understand that “your best” will fluctuate from one day to the next, and tell yourself that you will get some benefit for everything you do.

      It’s takes time for all the good things to kick in and start amounting to something. Think of it this way- it took a bunch of sad/negative things to wear you down. The reverse is true also, it will take a multi-prong approach to get fully on track. And remember, you have had a lot of STUFF happen, You are older and wiser. So the new you will not be like the old you and that is okay. Crap happens to people and one thing we can do with that “crap that happens” is let it grow us. We can become more sophisticated in our choices and more deliberate about how we handle things.

    10. Kerry from Oz*

      Hey, I am right there with you. I had one baby 21 months ago and another 8 months ago (yes, do the maths); both were born by C section; postpartum anxiety with my first and quite a few trips to Emergency with both bubs including two ambulance trips (I’m fortunate to be in Australia where all costs were covered by the public health system). I’ve put on about 15 kg which is over 30 pounds and I’ve only just made it back to exercise. Be kind to yourself, it is really, really hard and putting on weight is common. You haven’t “let yourself go”, you’ve been looking after a baby and recovering from pregnancy and birth! Give yourself credit for making it through in one piece.
      Things that are working for me: meeting friends for exercise; trying to limit snacking rather than sticking to a diet (meal planning is exhausting). I find I snack less if I keep busy e.g. take bub to park, don’t pack snacks for me, then I can’t eat snacks.

      You got this. It gets easier. You will get some semblance of yourself and your life back.

    11. Ranon*

      20-60 minutes every day is great! As your kiddo gets older sometimes it gets easier to stay active (sometimes you don’t have a choice, they get fast, and also bigger, and all of the sudden you can sprint two blocks and carry 40 lbs half a mile when you weren’t really planning on doing either).

      Like the other comments mentioned, pregnancy can mess with your body and your health in all sorts of exciting/ terrible ways that we don’t totally understand. We can’t keep ourselves healthy through sheer force of will and perfect behavior no matter what all the magazines say, it takes a big dose of luck and favorable circumstances and the universe has not been kind to you on either front. You’ve made a bunch of big changes all ready and this person on this side of the internet is super proud of you.

      In random ideas- one year old is old enough for a bike seat or trailer. If you’re in a bikeable area biking for transportation instead of driving is a great way to add activity without carving out special exercise time (and the vast majority of kids love biking, they get to be outside and see things and go fast).

    12. JustKnope*

      Don’t try to do it all at once! Focus on building one good habit at a time. Good hydration is SO important as another commenter pointed out – maybe for a week you just focus on getting 64oz/day. And then the next week you build in healthier snacks. And then after that you work on replacing another component f diet. Set small, achievable goals so you can point to your progress!! If you try to completely overhaul everything (been there…) you may get overwhelmed and want to give up. Reward yourself for walking every day one week. We’re all rooting for you and want you to be kind to yourself! View it as a journey to greater health your family can go on together and try to make it fun! You’re doing a great job <3

    13. Mimosa Jones*

      I’m so sorry for your struggles. There’s an expression that first you have to fix the mood, then you can work on fixing the weight. Eating poorly, not exercising, neglecting your health… these are all symptoms of depression. Your cholesterol is a symptom. And with all that’s happened to you, it’s not at all surprising. They’re also all things that anyone can struggle with because our food systems do not make healthy behaviors easy. Food scientists get paid big money to make processed food taste good. They’re not working on Brussels sprouts. Marketers work to constantly remind you that processed foods are good and convenient and right here. And our culture ignores all that and judges weight gain, poor health, and poor eating habits as moral failures. But you’re swimming upstream against class 6 rapids. Of course you get tired and let the healthy habits slip! That is the most normal thing about your life right now.

      And your medical bills… that’s what money is for. You didn’t go on a whimsical shopping spree. You had/have a health crisis. Your family wants and needs you to be here and healthy and they do not begrudge this expense. I’m sorry your health crisis is also a financial crisis. You’ll figure it out. And any struggle and frustration is due to the system and not your fault.

      Unless you magically turn into one of those people who lose weight in times of stress and depression, you’re not going to lose the weight right now. And those people aren’t healthy either. So let that go. You have my permission to stop dieting. This body you have right now can do some awesome things. It made a baby from scratch and survived all that’s happening to you. Go smile at your baby, let them smile back at you and bask in the endorphin rush. Smile at your face in the mirror too. Repeat as often as you can. Prioritize sleep and time in nature. Not time exercising outside, but time observing and being. Exercise if you wish, but have that your maximum and your daily minimum is being outside with no purpose for at least 10 minutes. Prioritize relaxed, regular meals with food…just food. Pay attention to you and your family. Have time with friends. Listen to and trust your body. Dress yourself in clothes that make you happy and comfortable. Take the easy way out as often as you can. And hang in there…you’ll get through this and we’re all pulling for you.

    14. Words & birds*

      I read a really powerful piece just yesterday that may help you frame your circumstances in a way that’s more compassionate to yourself. Below is a single sentence from it; the author’s name and the title of the longer piece follow the quote so you can find it if you care to:

      “I may have gained XX pounds, but that’s because my body, this incredible piece of machinery, it weathered the storm on my behalf, freeing up my brain and my soul to do the hard work of putting the pieces of my life back together.” —Maddie Eisenhart, excerpt from “Why Gaining 50 Pounds after My Wedding Is the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me,” which appeared in A Practical Wedding in October 2017.

    15. Lehigh*

      Hey, did you and your husband decide together to try to have a baby? Not something you went behind his back to do, right? In that case, you decided *together* to do this exciting thing and take a few risks. You have a daughter now (yay!), but some of the risks (PPD, miscarriage) also hit you hard and so you’re suffering together because life sometimes does that to you and also because you, together, decided that some risks were worth it. You didn’t do this to him. It’s normal and good that he is sharing the burden with you.

      From your description it sounds to me like the pancreatitis is a follow-on illness that struck while you were still trying to recover from those other things. It is not your fault, and it’s really screwed up to think that you, as the person whose body gets screwed with in pregnancy and childbirth, are somehow the only one in the family who should suffer when something goes wrong.

    16. sequined histories*

      You obviously believe that you’ve done something wrong, but you really really haven’t. Just because there are positive steps you can take to be healthier doesn’t mean that it’s your fault for getting sick. Telling yourself you did something bad and caused these problems just makes it harder to take good care if yourself. The language about your husband and baby paying the price is particularly disturbing. You’re thinking of yourself as some kind villain(?!) even though you’re a new mom in a country that doesn’t even believe in taking care of peoples’ health and you deserve All The Support.
      I don’t mean to be glib and assume that there are resources available when they’re just not, but you need to be as open as possible to people in your life just giving you things right now. If you have family who can afford to help with medical bills, just put it out there that you really need financial help. Gifts of time (babysitting), gifts in kind (a healthy meal)—things like that could make a real difference too. If you have any decent humans in your life, ASK FOR HELP! Ask medical providers about government programs and charitable programs that would provide you with support or reduce expenses. Depending on the situation, bankruptcy can be the right choice regarding medical bills. I’m not assuming that you’re necessarily in that situation, but you do need to let practicality rather than pride be your guide.
      Your overwhelming shame is totally, 100% unfounded. I know it’s really hard to lay that aside, but I hope and pray you are able to do so.

    17. LibbyG*

      I have high cholesterol, first discovered in my 20s. My doc didn’t check it during my pregnancies (late 30s), because, she said cholesterol always goes up during pregnancy because it provides critical support for the baby’s growing brain. Your cholesterol built your baby’s brain!

      (Now that I’m done with childbearing, I take atorvastatin. Cheap and totally doing the job for me.)

      I’ll echo others in hoping that you can change your narrative. I don’t see in your post someone who “let herself go.” I see someone who has survived an extremely difficult time and is now taking major steps to reclaim her health. I hope you’re feeling the mood benefits of walking, and hope you keep it up, even if the scale is slow to move.

    18. Jaid*

      You made a new person! Well-done!

      Bodies need to recover after that and some bodies need extra time and care. It’s not your fault that your body needs more attention. Please don’t feel guilty.

      Blow raspberries on the baby’s belly, get your husband to cuddle you both. I believe that you and your family will get through this. :-)

    19. Book Lover*

      In addition to stopping blaming yourself for bad luck (trust me, not everyone with high cholesterol or weight gain or an iffy diet gets pancreatitis) – wait for the bills and then call the hospital and work out a payment plan. They can work with you and make everything more manageable.

    20. AnonoDoc*

      If your cholesterol (more likely triglycerides) were high enough to cause pancreatitis that is mostly genetic. Eating a healthier diet and getting more exercise is always good (for all of us) for many reasons, but don’t blame yourself for your lipids!

      Be kind to yourself.

    21. anonagain*

      “[…] it’s all my fault for letting myself go.”

      Nothing you’ve said sounds like “letting yourself go.” It sounds like hanging on with everything you’ve got.

      In US culture, anyway, we have moralistic narratives about health. (And also everything else. Thanks, Puritans!) But as much as we like to imagine that the right kind of hard work can keep us healthy forever, the nature of things is to fall apart. We don’t have perfect control over our health.

      More than that, being a human being in the world means that sometimes cholesterol just isn’t the priority. I think that’s fine. I think that’s healthy even. You’ve been through hell. Of course you’ve been focused on getting through and not on the minutiae of lowing your cholesterol. That is the most logical thing in the world to me.

      People don’t always survive depression, you know. What you are doing — surviving — isn’t trivial. I think of a bit like other survival situations. If you break your leg, it’s ideal to be safely and quickly transported to the nearest hospital. If you break your leg in the middle of the woods and you don’t have a way to call for help, I’m not going to question you if you make a splint out of sticks and a bandana and crawl to where there’s some chance of being seen. There’s time to worry about the leg after you’re safely out of the woods.

      As for practical suggestions, I have to reframe “exercise” in my head. I don’t use the word, because it’s a poisoned term for me. I’m not someone who struggles to take medicine. (If you are, that’s fine. This stuff is hard and we all have our own challenges.) When I was doing my cardiac reconditioning/rehab program, I referred to everything as “treatment,” “therapy,” or “medicine.” The mental shift from “if I were a Good Person ™ who exercised, I never would’ve lost so much cardiac muscle mass and now I have to exercise because I let my heart shrink” to “this is part of the treatment plan for that heart thing I have” really helped me.

      Now that I’m on the other side of all of that, I just think about doing fun stuff I love. I don’t exercise, I run around in the woods and dance in my apartment. I walk places when I can so I don’t have to deal with crowded buses. These things are good for my health because they make me happy. I fight hard not to tie any of it to other outcomes, because that ruins it for me. The shame and judgment starts seeping back in.

      I hope things get easier for you.

    22. CastIrony*

      I’m echoing the “you went through so much be kind to yourself” crowd, but believe you me, you and me are very harsh on ourselves.

      My mom went to the hospital with pancreatitis last year. It was hard to watch, but from a loved one’s perspective, I’m just glad you’re alive and well.

      You’re doing amazing!

    23. kt*

      Much love & support. As everyone else says, dang, you’ve had a tough year — and if you were talking to a friend dealing with all that you’d be super sympathetic, right? You deserve that too!

      I guess my only suggestion is to try to think about putting in a little joy. Martha Beck (a life coach who I think is hilarious) had a suggestion about clearing out a spot in your house that has clutter or don’t enjoy, & then putting something beautiful or fun or enjoyable there instead. Can you do that with your walks? Listen to a romance novel or comedy podcast as you walk, or walk with your daughter or spouse. Make a game of finding the coolest gardens, or see if anyone in the neighborhood has chickens. Can you do that with your food? Try a farmer’s market challenge — I’ve sometimes bought a random veggie I’ve never used before & tried to find recipes for it — or try learning to cook Vietnamese food or get a good Italian veggie-focused cookbook from the library. If you think you might have some food allergies or something that are contributing to your health problems, you could do a food elimination challenge with a friend for encouragement. In fact, try scheduling anything in with a friend — make a walking date, or a Sunday afternoon food cook-up date so you can make healthy things for the week while adding some fun and social time, or call a family member on a longer walk. Try adding music you love to dance parties with your daughter. Challenge your husband to learn 4 new healthy recipes this month.

      Of course I don’t know your situation & life & all that, but you deserve pleasure and enjoyment and fun. Those things can go with caring for yourself so that you can enjoy your family, friends, and future. Much love.

    24. Stanley Nickels*

      Things will get better! The first year with a baby is so difficult, especially if you are dealing with a prior miscarriage, health issues, life upheavals, and depression. Your body is changed, your emotions have changed, your life is lived differently – it’s a crazy time. Be kind to yourself and know that you are not alone in these struggles.

      If you are having trouble with motivation, I think it’s more important to figure that out first, rather than try to force yourself into working out/eating better and falling into a cycle of feeling worse whenever you don’t do those things optimally. Talking to a therapist sounds like it could be a good start, or maybe join a support group or online community for new moms who can give you insight. Are there any hobbies you enjoy still? Maybe focusing on getting some more you-time will help clear your head and lessen the weight on your shoulders.

      I really hope you can get through this rough time and feel better soon. We are rooting for you!

    25. LilySparrow*

      Please be kind to yourself You have not “let yourself go” or let your family down in any way.

      You are dealing with long-term consequences of a serious illness. Yes, when a family menber is ill, it affects everyone – just like your daughter’s birth affected you, and her health issues affected you.

      That is what family is. You matter to each other.

      I’m glad that you now have the ability to make lifestyle adjustnents to be more proactive in your recovery process! Keep at it, the walking and improved nutrition will also help your depression treatment work better.

      Focus on feeling better, because you matter.

    26. Marmaduke*

      Thank you so much to everyone who commented, for your kind and thoughtful words. I feel like I should respond to everyone individually but I just don’t have the spoons for it today. My apologies.

      Some context: I work part time from home. I left a very demanding field when my C-PTSD and epilepsy made working in a typical workplace unmanageable, which meant a serious cut in our family income. To keep all our bills paid, my husband is working 10 hour days with a 2-hour commute each way, so I’m alone with our daughter in our rural home with no car for 14 hours each workday. I have a few friends in the next town, but they rarely have the time to drive out to see me. All of that is just to say, I’m a little limited in my exercise and support options.

      However, in positive news: my husband’s employer offers sessions with an advisor who helps people locate community and federal support resources, and we sent an email today to set up an appointment with her. I found some online dance-based exercise videos that I’m excited to try. My husband and I are working on a plan for our weekend so that each of us get a little alone time and a little bonding time together. And all of your comments gave me some hope and a reminder of how much I love my family.

    27. Observer*

      No. This is NOT your fault.

      Even if you HAD “let yourself go”, pancreatitis is not the thing you should have expected. And, it doesn’t even sound like you actually did let yourself go. Gaining weight when you’re dealing with all of the stuff you’ve described is hardly surprising or indicative of being careless or sloppy with your health.

      Please go a bit easier on yourself.

    28. Dr. Anonymous*

      So many people have high cholesterol and pancreatitis is a pretty unusual complication. It’s not a thing you did to yourself; it’s a bad thing that happened to you while you are struggling that you can now do something about. You and your family have some financial challenges AND you were sick; not you let yourself go and pissed away a bunch of money. PEOPLE DIE from postpartum depression, and you didn’t. Your family is lucky to have you. Also contact the hospital and see if they can cut you slack in bills your insurance didn’t cover. Sometimes there are obscure social services that help. They can only say yes or no; can’t shoot you for asking.

    29. Meepmeep*

      You’ve got a one year old baby! Cut yourself some slack. It’s not “letting yourself go” – it’s “burning the candle at both ends”. You’re raising a little one, and you’re in the hardest period of parenting. And you’ve got health issues. Now is the time to call in all the help you can muster, rest and sleep as much as you can (sleep? What’s that?), and be gentle with yourself.

    30. Pernk*

      Unf. Pretty sure i just had my 2nd early miscarriage in a row today. It’s SO HARD to exercise when pregnant (even just kinda pregnant). I know i need to lose weight and get cardio going to improve how I feel in general as well as improve chances of a healthy pregnancy as much as I can; i just keep trying. Use a food tracker, daily am weights, and try to get 15 min elliptical or biking in (should be easier now). I at least haven’t gained further; the more you try, the more likely you are to succeed.

      1. Pernk*

        Oh yeah, one cheat day a week where i can eat whatever usually helps me stay on track, i just tell myself “Saturday!” when I want sonething (unless it becomes a cheat long weekend, ha).

      2. LibbyG*

        I’m sorry, Pernk, about the miscarriage. It’s such a unique kind of loss, and one that doesn’t have comforting rituals in our culture.

        Much internet love to both you and Marmaduke!

        1. Pernk*

          Thanks in my case it’s ok, in that I do have 2 healthy kids already, and weirdly physically I feel kind of awesome (because I feel so blah with pregnancy) so it’s hard to be down. It’s a month or two later that the “aww, man!” can take hold. What’s most annoying for me is I keep going through first trimester blahs without a figgin baby to show for it, and I don’t feel like announcing it all over the place or making excuses (muchless “lady problems!” excuses) so it probably just looks like I’m slacking horribly :P

    31. Lizzie*

      Pancreatitis is not caused by poor health habits. I k ow 2 people – one is a runner and the other a competitive biker – who got pancreatitis. Do not blame yourself. Medical bills can be cruppling, but you can negotiate a monthly payment plan in most cases. The only villian here is a health care set up that puts people in danger of losing everything.

  7. Bizhiki*

    What do you take into consideration when you’re thinking about moving somewhere new? Especially a city to country transition?

    I’ve been living in the same city my entire life, and I think it’s starting to wear on me. It’s crowded, noisy, and expensive, and after a brief vacation in a much more rural location last month, I’ve been wondering if now is the time to try moving to a small city/town, or go rural altogether. If I find a situation where work and living costs are do-able, what else should I take into account? How do you make a decision like that?

    (I’m also aware of the not zero chance that I’m just having some seasonal depression escapism thinking, so that’s something I’m being mindful of. I’ve just been thinking about having some land of my own for at least a decade now, so even if SAD is a thing in my life right now, this thought isn’t coming out of nowhere for me.)

    1. YetAnotherUsername*

      I wouldn’t go straight to full rural. That’s a huge change and you might end up biting off more than you can chew. Moving to a smaller town wouldnt be too big of a culture shock.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, really good point about the culture shock.
        Just one example, in rural areas it’s Not Good to drive by people with cars that have broken down. The idea is that no one else is coming and cells don’t work. And you can’t leave that person there because they might drive right past you when you break down.

        My friend is from Long Island. She tailgates. I told her that they only people who tailgate here are non-natives. She stands out like a sore thumb. We have way more space than LI there is no need to cuddle up close to the next car. You look weird if you do that.

        One morning we had two major problems in our area. Those two problems took up all of our police, fire and rescue. If a third problem had erupted it would be reasonable to assume that no one would answer that call. This means neighbors become each other’s first responders. Your neighbor calls, you start running to go get them.

        1. Lady Jay*

          So much of this depends on WHICH rural space, though. I grew up in a rural area of the Plains states and there are many places somebody would consider rural where cellphones work fine. And as a single woman, even if somebody was stranded in an area without cellphone coverage, I wouldn’t be expected to stop and help.

          In any case, maybe you could pick a couple of interesting places you’d like to move to, visit them, see how things go for a long weekend/week? While different than moving in permanently, the visit would give you a chance to assess how rural.

    2. only acting normal*

      There are many things in cities that are just *there*, and you don’t have to think about them, or there’s a wide choice of them, or there’s always one close by. Shops that stock your favourite brand of X, doctors that specialise in condition Y, venues that host your favourite entertainment, public transport, fast internet!
      Try and work out what you really appreciate about the convenience of the city, or what you can’t live without, and prioritise those when you look for somewhere more rural.

      1. Marmaduke*

        Two years ago I moved from a downtown apartment to a house in a rural area, and I cannot second this point enough. Know what internet and healthcare options are available and what it takes to access them. If you have any specific dietary needs, know that your options are going to be a lot more limited. Things you take for granted like trash pickup or a sewer line may not be available in rural areas, and it’s easier to find alternative solutions before you’re in an area with little to no internet and potentially spotty cell service.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Adding: Frequent power outages, rabid animals, snow problems, flooding problems, etc.
          My friend had a problem with a opossum who moved into his house with him. The little dude kept knocking things over while my friend was trying to sleep.

          So I sound pretty negative here. I would not trade this for anything. I know my neighbors by name and they know me. This is the safest place I have ever lived. I don’t shop much because stores are too far away and I have better control over my budget than ever before. The air is fresh, the night sky is amazing. And the sunrises/sunsets are National Geographic photos most days of the week.

          Part of making the switch is making a commitment to understand why the residents around you make the choices they make and how they handle things. Then pick the best of their best ideas and make those ideas your own.

      2. Fikly*

        Healthcare is a huge issue that most people don’t think about. There’s a shocking difference in quality of doctors even moving from city to suburbs.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          To get a “real” doctor we go 25 to 50 miles away. You are correct, the docs are, uh, not the best quality caregivers.

        2. Bizhiki*

          This is such a valid point, and I appreciate you bringing it up. I happened to be woken up this morning by a pretty gnarly asthma attack (the kind where I have to seriously weigh the pros and cons of asking the neighbours for help in case I need someone to call 911 for me) and it reminded me that if I move, I really need to get some health stuff in order first.

        3. CastIrony*

          So true. I live in a small town, and sometimes see a migrant council (a small office run by nurses) that I don’t like, but I get free healthcare there because my dad is a rancher. Luckily, there’s an urgent care center and a walk-in clinic as well as a hospital some of the people I know don’t like when it comes to surgeries.

    3. Feliz*

      Figure it out and give it a go!

      2yrs ago I took a job in Small City, 1.5hrs drive from Big City. I commuted for 6mths – we were looking for a house and I wanted to make sure the job was worth the move. We bought a lovely house (well after we renovated it!) and have loved the move down here – there’s SO much less traffic, everything is so close, there’s enough food/culture/outdoor stuff to keep us happy plus Big City isn’t that far if we want to see friends & family or do something specific.

      We’re now in the process of selling so we can buy a little piece of land nearby :)

      The hardest thing was making new friends – but now we have a lovely core group and my husband swears we’re never going back!

    4. Overeducated*

      One thing I’d be aware of is that in a small town it can take a long time to break through and make friends, and when you do, you may still feel isolated sometimes. I grew up in one and my mom still talks about feeling like an outsider 35 years in because her friends all have their extended families in the area so she feels kind of second tier. This is common in a lot of places, a lot of my acquaintances in my current city grew up here, but at least with population density you get a much higher proportion of other transplants. Not a deal breaker, just something to be prepared for.

      1. Venus*

        This is my big suggestion for moving anywhere, whether it is rural, small town, or big city:
        Find a place where people move to/from there more often. I have lived in small towns and bigger cities where people owned their homes for decades or even generations, and they were not very welcoming to new people, even if those people had moved in 20 years previously. If I were to move somewhere now, it would be to a place and part of town where there is some movement, because that results in other people in the area who are also relatively new, so that I would be able to find some neighbours who could be my friends. I don’t expect every neighbour to be my friend, and am fine if they are mostly friendly, but to live in a place where you are treated like an outsider for the rest of your life because you weren’t born there… is not something that I care to repeat.

      2. Parenthetically*

        Hm, interesting you should say that! I’ve found some small towns more set up to manage folks who move in with a sort of built-in friend-making infrastructure. My hometown still has a Newcomers’ Club where you can join for a year to meet other new folks. There’s also a dizzying array of clubs (Kiwanis, Rotary, Key, Elks, Toastmasters, plus tons of similar church-adjacent clubs), TONS of service organizations, fraternities/sororities (the adult ones, not the college ones), activity groups based around golfing or tennis or quilting or what have you, free classes at the community college, bowling leagues, square dance classes, and on and on. It’s a town of less than 15,000.

        I reckon that’s the sort of thing you should research, Bizhiki! Find towns with active groups that interest you, and live in or near one of them.

        1. Overeducated*

          My parents are definitely joiners who have met people through sports and clubs! But those are more social connections, most other people still have extended family as their support system, birthday and holiday BBQ crowd, etc. It’s not something they notice on an everyday basis but being the only ones without so much family around can feel…different. (I didn’t help by moving 4 states away for work, i know.) They make a big effort to invite foreign business travelers and new employees for our family holiday meals as a result.

      3. No fan of Chaos*

        I moved to a smallish town and couldn’t meet anyone. Our a/c broke down and we put a table on our front lawn and a few plastic chairs out. Add a large pitcher of lemonade and our neighbors started coming over and we met the nicest people.

    5. Washi*

      I am also a city dweller dreaming of moving back to my more rural home state! That said, I wouldn’t live just anywhere. As others mentioned, access to healthcare, internet, and good food can be tricky in a rural area. I grew up in a college town with great schools, an excellent hospital, and an affordable co-op grocery store, and while it was an expensive place to live, we probably wouldn’t make the jump unless we could afford to live somewhere like that, since we’ve now gotten used to all the conveniences of city life!

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      New to acreage here. There WILL be critters and bugs. (And unless you have X acres you can’t shoot the critters who destroy your harvest.)
      Rural areas often don’t have noise ordinances or restrictions on home business types. Good for running your snowblower before work, good for running a home business. But awkward for a light sleeper living next to a business that warms up its trucks at 5am…earlier in winter.
      Farms are bucolic to look at but come with noise, dust, smells, and potentially chemical’s they use for their operations.
      Check the land’s mining rights, especially if you’re in fracking or mining country.
      Make sure the property map is up to date, ask about any right of ways across the property. (My husband refused to look at anything with power lines– and ten years after he nixed a place I loved, i am grateful. The power company is building gravel roads under all lines in prep for an expansion.)
      And my mistake: don’t buy land without seeing it without snow. If it’s the deal of the century right where you want it, at least insert language that the sellers are responsible for trash & dumped material & illegal fill that turns up after snow melts & leaf litter disintegrates. My house, I’m still finding cap that firmer owners buried. Tree fell down, I found the asphalt shingles from a previous roof. And it’s on me totally to clean up.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        There was a random saw in the woods and wooden pallets.
        Public transit & school buses can be limited. If you have kids, are there kids in the area in your kids age range? Is it safe to walk to them or would they have to walk on the road around a blind curve with speeders?
        Confirm broadband availability in writing from cable/phone company. Test cell phone signal for your service provider.
        Well test (quality & quantity) is a must, as is a septic inspection.
        Even more important in small town than city, pick your own inspector instead of relying on the listing agent’s choice.
        My 12yo says to add ‘you have room for chickens!’ But going back to my first comment about critters…there are also predators. If you’re planning on farm animals as well as a job, plan on paying someone to come care for them when you’re sent on a trip or asked to work OT.
        Be comfortable using a chainsaw and you’ll be better able to get out of your driveway when a tree comes down.
        Hard to imagine I love it but… I do. I wouldn’t go back to NYC. In my ideal world though, my 2 acres would be on a bus line.

        1. Bizhiki*

          Your 12 year old definitely struck a heart chord with the chickens! I’d love to have some small livestock at some point down the road.

          And that’s such a great point about making sellers responsible for crap they leave behind! My mom lives on a small parcel of land and she’s definitely found some interesting garbage over the years. On the plus size, she did also teach me how to use a chainsaw a few years back.

    7. Reba*

      I would not say Rural rural, but consider moving to a smaller city. Many smaller, second and third and fourth tier cities all over the place are getting cooler for lack of a better term these days. Foodie culture, creative life, all that is going on out there in the smaller cities too. (Of course, many places are still in economic shock that may never recover, I don’t want to be Pollyanna about this.)

      But I’m thinking of Cincinnati, Louisville, (ok those aren’t that small) Greenville, Eau Claire, Grand Rapids, Portland… And don’t sleep on those college towns!
      You could then have access to the rural retreats but still shop at Target and go to movies and so on.

      1. Bizhiki*

        That’s something I noticed while I was on my more rural vacation, the small hamlet I stayed in way much cooler than I was expecting! Thriving arts scene, a neat local community agriculture project, some really fun stuff. I am wary about these changes being due to places trying to avoid population drain though, like you mentioned. Maybe staging down to a small place gradually would be a better idea for me.

      2. Kiwiii*

        college towns and those between 75k-250k (this is maybe not always true towards the high end, I’m thinking Madison specifically tbh) tend to end up being really cool without that Large City Vibe, and if you end up wanting to Have Land or something they’re pretty easy/common to commute into.

    8. Glomarization, Esq.*

      A close friend of mine moved from a Major East Coast City to a city of 225,000, where the suburbs end quickly and it gets real rural, real fast. One of the biggest complaints my friend had was that, whenever they needed to get back to obligations in MECC, they had to fly to Chicago first, adding 5 hours and a few hundred bucks to the cost of any trip. I have family who live in a provincial capital in Canada, and it’s the same thing: it’s the biggest metropolitan area in that province, but darned if they don’t have to fly to Montreal or Toronto before they can get anywhere else. When I visit them, it’s kind of a novelty. But for them, it’s an extra burden whenever they want or need to travel.

      Re seasonal depression escapism, consider how you’ll feel when you’re in a place where you have to get in the car and drive to any and all destinations, whether errands or recreation or eating out. In the city, I imagine your favorite cafe or bar is within a few minutes’ walk. Once you’re living more rurally and you see vehicles parked outside bars that are a few miles from anywhere, those M.A.D.D. ads on TV start making a lot more sense.

      1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        My husband had a job offer in a small college city with a regional airport, and one of our biggest concerns had he accepted it was that his parents also both live near regional airports. So to get to them in an emergency, it would have been regional airport > hub airport > hub airport > regional airport > 1+ hour in the car.

        1. Luisa*

          This is one of my biggest concerns as we daydream about moving to a smaller city (from our medium city/too sprawling metro area that happens to have our state’s major airport). We don’t fly a ton, but all of our extended family lives far enough away that air travel is the only way to go. When my parents briefly lived in an area that was served by a smaller regional airport, it was a PAIN.

        2. Bizhiki*

          This sounds exactly how it would be for me and my mom if I moved. As it is, our travel already looks like big airport > big airport > little airport > 1+ hour drive and in the end, two full days of vacation are taken up just getting to my mom’s.

        3. Kiwiii*

          My favorite aunt and I both live near regional airports, and we can usually get away with regional airport > hub airport > regional airport, but we’re also only a timezone apart, so maybe it’d be different if we couldn’t get flights to/from Chicago

    9. Not A Manager*

      I second the idea of moving to a small city first. If you value things like varied cuisine, access to cultural institutions, etc. look for cities that have a reputation for those. University towns often offer more convenience and variety than other similarly-sized cities.

      Similarly, when you think of “land of your own,” maybe start with a big backyard (whatever “big” means to you), or a small parcel on the outskirts of an urban area.

      True rural living can be very isolating, and a big adjustment if you’re not used to it. Take an intermediate step with an eye to remaining nimble if you decide to go full rural in a few years.

    10. RMNPgirl*

      Have you considered moving to a small town near a city? Or a city smaller than your current one?
      I live in a mid-size city in the Midwest and work right downtown. I live in one of the suburbs and it takes me 15 minutes to get downtown. I have the advantages of a large city and the advantages of a bit more country/rural setting. It’s pretty easy in the Midwest or Mountain states to find small towns within 1 hour of big/mid-size cities. It’s a great way to get the benefits of both without a lot of the downsides.

    11. Goldfinch*

      I share your mindset. I am so tired of noisy neighbors, but I’m finding that moving farther out of the city just changes the type of noise, not the amount.

      In my old house I was sick of yelling/honking/sirens/slamming car doors at all hours. Now we live in a very spread-out development next to corn fields, and I hear constant yard equipment/farm equipment/my amateur mechanic neighbor hammering and drilling all day. (And the barking, god, the barking. Everyone in rural areas LOVES their giant snarling hell hounds that bellow at all hours.)

      It seems like the only way to get true peace and quiet is to buy a huge acreage, so people literally can’t be close enough to hear. Why are humans so loud all the time?

      1. Bizhiki*

        So loud! Maybe it’s some kind of evolutionary need to scare away the bigger, toothier animals in the area with our obstreperous din?

      2. Glomarization, Esq.*

        Ha! Mr. Glomarization complains about the traffic noise on our little city street, which connects an arterial to a street that’s almost as busy as an arterial. For a city street, it’s actually very quiet, but he’s sensitive to background noises that wouldn’t distract most people. So we had a weekend away last month to an isolated seaside town, and of course: someone hammering on a roof, a circular saw buzzing intermittently, tourists driving by, and motorboats.

        I used to get away to a cabin in north-central Pennsylvania with a friend from time to time. Super isolated, like, U.S. Route 6 to county highway to secondary county road to a gravel road to a blind entrance to an unpaved lane isolated. And OMG if it wasn’t the cattle on the property next door, it was ATV’s, and gunshots from turkey shoots or target practice or whatever. Bucolic riot.

    12. Just a Guy in a Cube*

      We did this a couple years about (big city suburb to small town (country store and post office, but no gas station) 15 mi from small city.
      Kids helped connect to the community, but more broadly, frequent visits to the library, country store, etc were good ways to meet people & feel part of the community. I also found that there was more “downtime” and finding ways to stay busy was important. We filled time & small talk-ing points with a hobby farm (ask me about clearing land with animals sometime!) but joining something like the local historical society or another low-commitment social group can fill some time & help you feel like part of the community.

      I feel really good about being here, but part of that is additional use of Amazon to get stuff, some new projects to stay busy, and lots of checking in at the local watering hole to at least have familiar faces to say hello to.

      1. Bizhiki*

        Ohhh! My city recently started using goats to clear invasive weeds from steeply sloped areas in parks, is that the kind of land clearing you mean?

        1. Just a Guy in a Cube*

          Yes. We spent the summer taking out everything about chest high or less (because the animals could eat it, And then we could lop the trees. We just had the bigger trees logged, so I think next spring/summer I get to test the theory that pigs will demolish stumps and rocks.

    13. Blue*

      My recommendation would be to think about your habits and the things that you do like in your day-to-day life. Are they replicable in a smaller setting? If not, how attached to them are you? As an example, when I moved to a big city, I became accustomed to taking public transportation and loved being able to read on my commute and to avoid the stress I always found in driving. When I left the city and driving became part of my everyday life again, I HATED it – the driving itself but also how isolating it felt to go from office to car to house to car and not really interact with people along the way.

      I’d also think about whether your hobbies and other activities are portable or if you’d have a hard time keeping them up in a smaller environment. And what kind of opportunities exist in your career field? If you decide you want to move on from the first job you get there, are you likely to be able to find something new?

      Your life circumstances can also dramatically impact your experience, imo. As a single 30-something woman with no kids, I personally had a very hard time finding a good friend group in a smaller town because it was mostly people with families socializing with each other. That was very much not an issue when I moved back to a big city.

      Think about it carefully, but ultimately I’d say listen to your gut! If you move and it turns out to be a disaster, you’re not stuck there forever – you can always move on to something new. The older I get, the more daunting a fundamentally life-changing move seems, but I’ve done it three times now – packed up, moved myself to a totally different environment in a totally different part of the country. The second of those moves didn’t work out so well and I only stayed two years, but I have no regrets.

    14. NoLongerYoung*

      A dear relative of mine is thinking of moving from a high cost coast area, to, well… a northern climate with space but snow.
      They have made 3 treks, in different seasons, to the region. They have stayed for a month in an air bnb (very reasonable rates in Feb!) – saved up all their vacation to do this. Checked out every small town, every library, church (for them) and cultural event, etc. They subscribed to the regional paper all year, so they could read the news.
      In the meantime, he’s transferring jobs and they have paid down their bills and started decluttering.
      The trips helped them decide which town was too big, too small, too expensive (they are going to buy a house).

      It’s a lot like when I moved across the country to go to grad school… it was the end of a process of deciding and narrowing down, but I am so glad I did my research and was prepared. I wish you well.

      1. Bizhiki*

        This sounds like such a well reasoned and methodical process, I like it! I’ve been to the general area I’m considering twice, and the last time made a brief yes-no-maybe list, so I feel like maybe I just need to be a bit more intentional about the path I’ve been following. And decluttering is always helpful!

      2. Luisa*

        Co-sign all of this. I had a limited opportunity to research where I was going to attend grad school, and I maintain that I picked the right SCHOOL (hello near-zero debt for a typically-unfunded professional degree), I loathe the area that I have now committed myself to living in, and if moving was a straightforward proposition, it would have happened already.

        Be smarter than I was, do your research and then some!

    15. No fan of Chaos*

      We are looking to move to a smaller town from a city but we are very politically minded. If you are, then check the town to be sure it aligns with your views. Won’t catch me moving to the Northern Agression loser states.

    16. Dr. Anonymous*

      I lived in a small town with a couple of colleges about 70 miles from a major city with a big airport. Boyfriend’s parents live in a similar town currently. There’s a decent community hospital, good broadband access, some decent cultural opportunities, and you can drive to The City if you really need something special or you eat to fly someplace. You have to watch for creepy racial segregation in some of these towns, but looking at small liberal arts colleges is not a bad strategy as a starting place for picking a home.

    17. chipMunkey*

      Take into account your preferences if you know it – I like the country, but learned the hard way that ‘small city’ to me is much bigger than ‘big city’ to people here (for context, live @6,000, work @10,000, closest city is 20 min away @72,000). I miss access to all services – healthcare (any referrals mean at least a 1.5 hour drive one way), recreation, educational, daycare, etc. I also miss ready access to stores. While I can drive 20 min to get to some stores and services, I find it very inconvenient because I already have a 40 min commute and would have to continue driving the same way to get to the closest ‘city’ (again in soft brackets because in my books it doesn’t really qualify).

      For budgeting, I find there are fewer options and those that are available tend to be more expensive here. So even though housing costs less, I don’t find any appreciable savings in my budget, I’m just spending on different things.

      As far as belonging, it can be difficult if you are any sort of authority position at your workplace, and it’s located in a small community.

      I’ve found my sweet spot is suburbia on the edge of a City where I can easily go either way – country or downtown. I get cabin fever and sometimes just need to get out of the house and my life…

      Very much agree with Blue above.

  8. Taking The Long Way Round*

    Anyone here had experience with Greater Trochanteric Pain Syndrome and have any advice?

    I’m in agony with hip bursitis, rotated knee, tight IT band, pronated arches.
    I’ve had it for 3 years now.

    Been to 3 different physios, and it’s not working! The latest one has given me strengthening exercises for my leg, but I can’t walk, so I can’t do exercise to get stronger! It’s my knee that’s the worse.
    I’m just at my wits end.

    1. misspiggy*

      I’m not familiar with the syndrome, but finding a better physiotherapist will help. It’s very disheartening, a bit like trying to find a good therapist, but they do exist. Someone with a lot of experience who can give you very small and undemanding exercises to strengthen your core and your overall balance so you’re not straining specific bits of yourself. Ask for exercises you can do in bed to underline the point. And if doing an exercise hurts during or after, stop and request something different.

      Pilates can be good like that too, but again finding a class or instructor used to older or chronically unwell people is a must.

    2. Jean (just Jean)*

      Ouch. Sympathies. Can you do the exercises lying down, or standing or floating in, or hanging onto the side of, a swimming pool? Could you ask physios 1, 2, or 3 for suggestions or referrals (or find #4 and ask that person)? I think the idea is that the water helps to hold you up, so that you only have to work on strengthening one or two specific muscles instead of also spending energy on standing.

      I have this dim sense that it’s usually better to figure out a way to keep moving, rather than let pain or stiffness lead to immobility, but I don’t have any professional expertise or significant personal experience to back this up. Apologies if this sounds like one more well-intentioned, fortunate ignoramus asking obvious questions. I hope you find something that works for you.

    3. Fikly*

      This is not precisely what you are asking, but as someone who had feet that were not aligned correctly, and then had knee, hip and back pain, I would strongly advise making trying to fix the alignment of your feet a priority. I ended up having surgery (which turned into much more of a process than expected, but I wouldn’t be able to walk without it) and a ton of my knee hip and back pain went away. Not all of it, but if your feet aren’t aligned correctly, it throws the entire rest of your body off.

    4. WS*

      I don’t have the same thing as you, but whenever I have a psoriatic arthritis flareup in my hip, it does terrible things to my IT band, which pulls my knee out of alignment. The things I have found helpful are dry needling and massage to unlock everything, then doing the exercises in a warm pool. When things are flared up, I can’t really put weight on that leg properly, and I can’t do most of the exercises on land, even the ones where I’m lying down. But using the dry needling and massage then the pool during a flareup gets everything moving again, which means that it all continues to get better and I can keep up the physio exercises…until the next arthritis flareup! And overall strengthening my knee has meant less pain, though not more mobility yet.

    5. fposte*

      IME, PTs are kind of like hardware tools. If you don’t already know what you’re doing, it’s easy to grab the one that isn’t going to be good at that job. I’d say I only get genuine progress about 20% of my PT experiences these days.

      Two things that I’d consider:

      assuming resources permit, go see a doctor who treats the high-priced athletes or elite college athletes. Travel if you have to. Ask them for specific PT recommendations. These days some PT facilities are chains, so they may have connections to one in your town even if they’re not there.

      second, I love the Gait Guys (and have seen one of them professionally), and whenever I have a stubborn physiological problem I check to see if they have insight or advice on their blog for it. They make a huge point about not treating a problem in isolation–that one location’s problem may be in response to an issue elsewhere, and it can’t be solved on its own (and sometimes shouldn’t be solved at all, though obviously pain is another matter). And it looks like they do have a post and some videos on GTPS. It’s on the technical side, but you might find it useful to look at–they’re often pointing to work and approaches that you wouldn’t get from the majority of PTs (or at least *I* haven’t). I’ll post a link in followup.

    6. Taking The Long Way Round*

      Thanks all for the advice, I’ll be trying what I can :)

      I am particularly fascinated by the poor gait advice (Thanks Fikly and fposte!) That’s what I’ve been saying I feel is wrong for years, but they’re not really interested.

      I’ve mentioned to my physios that my posture and gait is out of whack. Number 2 gave me some insoles for my shoes which helped a little but I personally feel that I need more support in my shoes and even more on my right hand side. So she gave me the inserts (which were equally sized) but didn’t give me any exercises, and number 1 and number 3 physios just concentrated on strengthening one area without looking at the whole, even though it made my knee worse.

      Number 3 physio who I’m seeing now, had a recommendation from the consultant to refer me to orthotics, and hadn’t done so! He’s just said “let’s see how you get on”.
      Ugh.

      So I think I’m going to go privately for some specially made insoles, and listen to my body. Try to keep moving. I’m doing swimming and cycling (in the gym) which is getting me some exercise at least, and I was thinking of trying roller skating. I used to love it when I was younger…

      Thanks for the great advice!

      1. Dr. Anonymous*

        Also at this point don’t be afraid to push back. “I’m getting on badly, thank you, and I’d like that referral the consultant recommended.”

      2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        I think I’ve posted on here recently about my back and hip problems that started out garden variety ‘oh yeah, I shouldn’t have twisted like that, gonna have to get that fixed’ to a full blown four month ordeal because private insurance shunted me into a PT who assigned exercises, never checked if I was doing them correctly, and only saw me once every two weeks. I threw in the towel when I couldn’t walk the five minutes to the store and called a chiropractor on my own dime until I could sort it out with insurance.

        I specifically looked for a more sports-focused place, with a sports massage practice for after, with excellent reviews and he’s been amazing. In three sessions with him he’s been able to get me back to about where I was end of June and next week we start gentle strengthening exercises. He listened to me, took a full history and asked probing questions (I had a lot of past similar sports injuries) and checked out anything I mentioned that didn’t seem related to the back. Because we had time I was able to mention that I had some slight spinal stenosis which I forgot to mention at the PT – who gave me exercises that exacerbated the problem.

        You are your own best advocate so if something isn’t right, pipe up and say it (as noted above) or take matters into your own hands (as you are – good for you!). Sometimes I think healthcare, regardless of where you are, is becoming more and more of an industrial machine – the trick is to find the people out there who can mentally step out of the meat grinder and/or have the time to listen and probe.

  9. Jean (just Jean)*

    I want to give a shout out to all the people who come here feeling discouraged and all the people who respond with encouragement. Thank you to Alison for creating this site and to everyone who listens and offers ideas and basic kindness.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Yep. Thank you, Alison!… A heartfelt thank you. I have learned so much here, it’s incredible.

    2. Dee-Nice*

      Word! I was trying to explain to my (not-very-internetty) husband why the open threads here are so great, and it comes down to its being a place where you can converse on any number of topics with a reliably civil, well-informed community. No other place on the internet quite like it! Thanks, Alison!

    3. NoLongerYoung*

      Yes, yes, yes. You all helped me get through some tough weeks here last year, and also, reading your encouragement to others helps me feel a part of a community when I just… can’t “people” otherwise.

    4. Rebecca*

      Yes, thank you! This has been so helpful to me. The last 2 years or so have been pretty rough, and I’ve gotten so much encouragement here.

  10. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    Still mostly fanfiction for me, and I doubt I’ll get much of even that done next week because I’ll be on a trip! I’m pretty excited.

    1. Daisy Avalin*

      Slowly slowly! My muse appears to have done a complete runner, so I keep poking through my stories, re-reading and fidgeting with them in hopes something will spark an idea for one of them!
      Hope others are having more success!

    2. The curator*

      Post big project. Thank you everyone for the self care tips. Taking part in an Event today that will be tied in with the book. We will writing with kids at the Minnesota Book Festival in Red Wing. The academic article was submitted and publication in Spring 2020. Back to blogging.

    3. OyHiOh*

      Tapping away at a script I started for a fellowship application back at the end of July. Slow going though. Started a one act two nights ago and have that pretty close to done, maybe six pages or so to draft and then start cleaning it up a bit. I have an opportunity to maybe host a dramatic reading of it in a couple weeks so going to try and finish it this weekend.

    4. aarti*

      I got hit my the inspiration fairy earlier this week and have spent the last few days writing a lovely romance. I’m about to spend 10 days without my computer (and hate typing on my phone) so will probably continue writing the old fashioned way.

      I also recently found a ONE HUNDRED page Alias fan fiction I wrote in highschool. I wish I were still that prolific lol!

    5. Goldfinch*

      Really, really stuck on a poem, and my mental deadline for submission is fast approaching. Get off your ass and help me, muse!

    6. Elizabeth West*

      Urgh.
      I found another development program to apply to; this one starts in May (surely my house will sell by then?). It seems even less likely, so I’ve been putting off writing a treatment (and googling how to write a treatment, lol) for the Invasion project I didn’t do at NaNoWriMo. My brain keeps saying “So what; why bother; nobody’s going to pick you anyway.”

      1. Not a cat*

        Well, they can’t pick you if you don’t try.

        I am wishing you much luck, you’ve had a tough go of it lately!

    7. Kiwiii*

      Started using Scrivnr consistently finally, after attempting about once a month for the last year. Making good progress on a fanfic with a due date (that’s .. technically overdue already, but I’m pinch hitting, so I have another couple weeks until they’ll start getting irritated with me.) 2k in of what I hope will be under 8k. I’m a little annoyed that they wanted pining in a fest where most fics are going to be about 4k — how does one effectively pine in under 10k anyway??

  11. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week?
    I’m in chapter 10 of Child of Light, so really close to the end. Also been playing Divinity: Dragon Commander (decided to do the series in chronological order rather than release order, although admittedly the chronology is very clearly made up on the fly) and loving it, even if controlling the dragon is very wonky at times. Also probably gonna take my GBA SP on my trip with me, get in some Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones on the plane/train/bus.

    1. Bilateralrope*

      Dragon Commander. That developers second game that has the player transforming into a dragon. Which is the only similarity between those two games.

      Divinity: Original Sin has been in my backlog for too long.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        I love how they basically went “This takes place thousands of years before and we don’t know what happened between then and Original Sin” just because they needed a long gap to explain the disappearance of demon-based technology XD.
        Also, isn’t Divinity 2 technically their third? Although I suppose that depends mostly on if you consider Beyond Divinity an expansion to Divine Divinity.
        I’m also really curious to see how Larian is going to handle Baldur’s Gate 3. That was…Definitely an unexpected announcement.
        Speaking of unexpected Larian announcements: did you hear they managed to get cross-saves to work between the Switch version and the Steam version? Kinda hoping it’ll also work for GOG, because that’s where I have the series, but still. When I get a Switch I’d love to use the cross-save feature.

    2. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      Just started Horizon Zero Dawn! It’s gorgeous and so far a blast. And I play Merge Dragons. A lot. Haha!

    3. Cartographical*

      I’m replaying Oblivion and it’s still a great game years later — highly recommend holding off on the main quest to join guilds and make money for the fun of it. Tried the new Borderlands but I’ve got the Ascension Bluffs crash bug so it’s back to Oblivion.

    4. Finny*

      Been playing Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse on my 2DS XL. Fantastic game, though the final dungeon is super tough. Discovered a new love for platformers. Also probably going to go back to Okami-den and Rhapsody at some point, though I’ve beat both several times. I like replaying, rewatching, and rereading stuff.

  12. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

    I woke up with a somewhat morbid question on my mind: what will happen to all my stuff when I die?

    For context, I am married but we have no kids. I have three niblings but I live in a different country from the rest of my family, so any items they might want would have to be something that can be shipped or taken home on a plane. My house is nothing special and is not worth that much, so it would not be a big windfall inheritance. I can’t think of any other friends or family who would be interested in the house or its contents.

    I am not at hoarding levels or anything but I have too much crap and most of it is totally meaningless to anyone but me and maybe my family (like a collection of postcards my grandmother bought in Europe while serving as an Army nurse in WWII, for example), or the academic books that other people in my field might like.

    I’m perhaps a bit young to be thinking about such things, but I am also old enough that I should have a will and a plan to dispose of my crap when I’m gone. Has anyone else devised such a plan? Any ideas for how you would arrange for your house to be cleared and sold without expecting people to come overseas to deal with it? Are there charities that you can donate a house to?

    1. Bilateralrope*

      Selling the house and donating the proceeds to a charity you support sounds like a better idea than finding one that will take a house. That should be something you can instruct your estate to do.

      As for the rest, talk with friends and family. Find out for sure if there is anything they would want.

      Then talk to a lawyer to find a good way to sell everything else after you die. Or sell stuff before then. Those postcards might have more value to a collector than you expect.

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Start a running list or journal of things with potential sentimental value… and their stories. Identify what they look like and where they are. Share the stories now, while you’re still around, maybe gift some of it at the holidays (Thanksgiving would be a cool time to do it, whether you’re gathered or not).

      There are estate sale businesses who will clear out basically everything from an ordinary house, selling what can be sold, donating useable leftovers, and tossing the rest. We used someone who was referred by a real estate agent after my Grandfather went into a nursing home. They had us go through and take what we wanted and leave everything else, not to throw away anything.
      It took the burden off the family and any items that could be useful found its way to the right spot.

    3. Koala dreams*

      There are companies that buy up all the things in the house and sometimes also offer cleaning services. For bigger stuff, like furniture, there are often charities that can come and pick them up and re-sell them in the charity shop. I’ve seen some charity shops sell postcards but it’s not common. Newer academic books you can probably give away to friends or collegues. People I know got some books that way, they helped clean the apartment of a deceased friend when the family couldn’t be there and got to take some books home as a thank-you.

      1. Reba*

        My mom used a service called Everything but the House to handle the sale of her parents belongings. (They are not deceased but in assisted living.) I don’t think she was thrilled with this particular service, but this is to say, Miss Pantalones, that your relations will likely hire a firm or work with a charity to dispose of your stuff that they don’t want.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Some are better than others, so ask carefully . I am thinking of the jerks who emptied an elderly neighbor”s attic by sliding things down a chute out the window. Heartbreaking to see shattered antique Christmas ornaments pop out of broken boxes.

    4. Overeducated*

      If you are thinking you have “too much crap” would it be good for your quality of life to start sorting before you’re dead? Last week I posted about discovering my local Buy Nothing group on Facebook, and it seems to be offering homes for a lot of the stuff you can let go of but can’t stand just throwing away (like books). I feel like being able to pass things on to someone happy to have them takes the sting away. There may not be the same group where you are but it feels like a game changer to me compared to driving out to Goodwill with bags 1-2x a year.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This–google Swedish death cleaning.

        You don’t have to be dying to benefit from a decluttering sweep.

        1. Koala dreams*

          Yes, it’s also about improving your quality of life. It’s not only for retired people, many people start in the middle of life, for example in their 40s.

          1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

            Can confirm – we are doing this now. Im 42, partner is 38 and some urge came over us to start cleaning out closets, the pantry, the shed, etc and purge out clothes and shoes. I think it was in response to stress and probably some low grade depression on both our parts, but we’ve gotten rid of quite a bit in the last three months, not to mention stopped buying a lot of things.

            This has turned out to be a very wise move as I have some health issues right now and knowing that things are clean even if I can’t see them… that makes me feel comforted.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I am an only child with no immediately family left.
      My one thought is to have an estate auction and send the overage (after my bills) to charity.
      There are some things that I would like to see land with certain people. I have already started moving the things that are of lesser sentimental value. Because why hang on to it for someone else? Just give it to them and be done with it.
      My actual concern is my dog. So a friend and I promised each other to take each other’s dogs. Friend knows how to get into the house and the dog will happily go with my friend.

      1. Windchime*

        I need to make a will. My kids are both adults and the only thing I’ve made provisions for is my cat. I’ve asked my daughter in law to be in charge of either keeping him or finding him a good home, and I know I can trust her to do the right thing for him. But I really should make a will, also.

    6. GoryDetails*

      After going through this with my late parents’ house, I resolved to organize my own affairs – but I admit I haven’t done that yet {wry grin}. (My folks had done their own preparations, from thoughtful downsizing and distribution of “stuff” to funeral planning; I offered some mementos to their personal friends, donated others to local charities, and had an estate-sale firm take over the rest of the house-clearing.)

      I recently read the delightful book The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margareta Magnusson; it includes some obvious things like decluttering (for your own sake, not just to make life easier for those who will have to clean up after you) and preparing legal documents including a will, medical directives, etc., but also features some interesting thoughts on what to do with personal letters, diaries, journals, and such, and even what to do about sex toys. (The author’s in her late 80s, btw!) It’s an entertaining mix of living your own life to the fullest while you can while preparing for the end.

      My own concerns have more to do with what would happen if I died suddenly at home. I’m an introvert who lives alone and typically will go for several days without so much as emailing friends, never mind actually seeing them. Even those whom I regularly meet with wouldn’t find it odd if I failed to respond to a message right away. I’m not sure I want one of those life-alert pendant things (though every time I go down the basement stairs I think about it!), but some kind of computerized “if I don’t click on this link within 24 hours, somebody should check up on me” widget might not hurt. Has anybody heard of something like this?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        At one point the postal service was offering this option- if you miss a day picking up your mail the police are sent to do a welfare check. The downside is that in sickness and in storms you gotta get your mail or have a nice visit with a police officer.

        My other suggestion is to partner up with someone else on their own. I have done this and I have seen others do it. This is just a nightly phone call after dinner. I know of a couple people this worked for- one friend did pass away and the other friend brought the police with her to do a welfare check. And they found him.

        1. Don’t Let the Cats Eat My Face*

          I have this arrangement with a couple of friends who are also living alone. We text when we get up in the morning, then call if there is no response by noon or so. We have backup numbers for neighbors or relatives to check if there’s no response. My backup number is the local police since I don’t know anyone else near my new neighborhood yet. We talk occasionally too but don’t feel obligated to have a conversation every day. It’s nice to know someone out there is thinking of you every day, even if they are far away. This method wouldn’t work for immediate emergencies but would keep us from lingering without medical attention for more than 24 hours or so.

        2. anon for this*

          A nearby rural county has a computerized check-in service allied with their sheriff’s department. Seniors sign up to get a daily computerized call to check in on their welfare – it will attempt to call a few times, and if no one answers, a deputy is sent out to check on them.

        3. Scandinavian in Scandinavia*

          My father shared a newspaper with his neighbours – if he didn’t put the newspaper in their door one day, they would have locked themselves in to check up on him.

    7. fposte*

      You might like the book “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning,” which is about how to prepare your stuff so that it’s not a huge mess for other people to deal with when you die. Things like that have helped spur my decluttering.

      While there are probably some state-by-state factors, in the U.S. it should be legal to leave your house to a charity. However, I’d connect with the charity in advance and make sure they can accept it, because there are definitely some charities that wouldn’t be equipped to deal; I agree with Bilateralrope that it would be better to direct that your house be sold and the contents liquidated . Set a local professional up as executor; banks and estate attorneys deal with this stuff all the time. What they’d probably do is hire an estate liquidation service that will take all the contents off their hands, or just, to be blunt, hire people to take usable furniture to a donation site and toss the rest into a dumpster.

      You seem pretty clear-eyed about the value of this stuff, which is good. I think the big emotional pitfall would be to attempt to control what happens after we die on the principle that some of the stuff is valuable. But it won’t be valuable to us any more, and it’s okay if the people cleaning our stuff up think their time is more valuable than what they’d get from piecing individual elements out.

    8. Sara without an H*

      Hi, MP en F — I’ve been thinking along these lines, too. I fist-bumped the Grim Reaper last year and, while things are going fine now, the experience has clarified my mind wonderfully.

      You might want to contact your family members about those items that may have value for the family, like your grandmother’s postcards. Even if none of your “niblings” want the whole set, maybe they would each enjoy having a few of them? There’s no law of nature that says picture collections and china sets have to stay as a group. If they’re interested in any of these things, you may want to consider divvying up sooner, rather than later.

      For the rest, it may be therapeutic to just start cleaning out some crap. Minimalism is overrated, imho, but getting rid of stuff that you know you’ll never use again gives a definite emotional uplift. Take your time, consult your spouse, and do it in manageable doses. Marie Kondo (“The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”) has some good ideas, but her insistence on doing everything in one day is a bit rigid and definitely exhausting.

    9. Jackie*

      I just started reading A Beginner’s Guide to the End: Practical Advice for Living Life and Facing Death by B.J. Miller, MD and Shoshana Berger. Chapter 1 is “Don’t leave a mess”. I think it would be helpful for planning what to do with your stuff.

    10. Forty Years in the Hole*

      Hi MP en F. We are somewhat in the same boat. Just retired, no kids, too big of a house stuffed with…stuff. Mostly antiques, 1000s of books, two(!) sets of China and bulky furnishings acquired through 30+ years of travel and living. I am the tosser/donor and he is the never-let-it-go guy. Different matter…
      What we did is invite nieces and nephews (all young adults just setting up on their own), to do an individual walk-through of the house and and let them make selections. Then we made sure our wills reflected accordingly. We figured our siblings – all in their 50s/60s – are well established enough to not need extras. Anything left over -estate sale with proceeds to be split by those named in our wills or charity (including some set aside for surviving pet care). Books -mostly military history get a first go by a nephew, then whatever our bookshop owner friend cherry picks for himself. Another idea: some schools/libraries lose their inventory after a major disaster (fire/flood etc); they might appreciate some of your books, as would schools in economically disadvantaged parts of the world.
      Let the post-retirement purge begin…

    11. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Realistically, someone is going to end up stuck with the job of clearing your house, then selling it. If not someone in your family, then an executor will likely be appointed. An estate sale is likely, with whatever doesn’t sell tossed or donated. In theory your family will have an opportunity to take what they want, but given they’re not local, that may not happen.

      Your best bet is to declutter. You said you have too much crap – well, reduce that quantity. If nothing else, it’ll make it easier to clean!

    12. knitter*

      I think it’s great you are thinking about this. My neighbors have no children and no nieces and nephews. They have moved to assisted living, but have yet to sell their house. I’m guessing this is because they have soooooo much stuff and no one to give it to-except unsuspecting neighbors. One owner gave me a HUGE bag of yarn and said there was more in the basement. She also gave my son a child-sized rocking chair and said she had tons more children’s furniture (why?).
      I’d really love to see the house sold and have new neighbors. They’re great neighbors and pay people to maintain the exterior. My husband calls them semi-regularly. But this is one of the last affordable neighborhood in the city and I know people looking (we’ve tried to (kindly) push them to sell/offered to help clean out their house).

      My dad was a scientist and apparently has an amazing collection of books in his field. My mom wants to donate the books to a high school. As a high school teacher, these books would not be useful to the students as they require graduate-level content knowledge and be burdensome to the school. She doesn’t understand. So I’d suggest you are VERY specific about where you want your belongings to go in your will.

    13. Clarissa*

      I made my lawyer my executor. We talked about all my possessions and how I want them distributed. (Including my cat.) This was put into my will. (Which cost $250.) He takes the standard executor fee. (Google “standard executor fee” to see more.
      ——
      My lawyer knew all nuts and bolts. He has done this several times. I was SO RELIEVED when it was finished. )

    14. Not popular*

      This does not seem to be a popular point of view, but here goes: you will be dead, why do you care? I personally think this is so not my problem what happens after I die. With kids, yes, you may want to make their lives easier, but with strangers? Nope, not going to bother.

  13. Grand Mouse*

    Oh I have been waiting for this!

    So the dry cleaner business right around the corner from me has taken to putting two tiny teeny dogs out (I thought they were just puppies, but it looks like teacup yorkies) out all day. They are not loud or obnoxious in any noticeable way. They pee on the sidewalk, which gets washed off. I don’t feel like I have much standing to complain,especially not as a customer but just a resident. It just feels wrong? Yes they demand attention. Yes there are lingering stains on the concrete. But it doesn’t really feel dire enough to escalate.

    I do have training in animal welfare but it’s like.. to handle obvious signs of abuse. They are also not my client. I would be their customer in this case. Should I say something? Report? It looked like at first the owner wanted to keep a new puppy with him but now it is two tiny dogs kept on a 2 foot long leash. It bothers me but then what?

    1. valentine*

      It’s neglect. Do you see shelter from the elements or food and water nearby? Call animal control/welfare for advice.

    2. Rebecca*

      Here in PA there are laws about length of leashes, temperature, shelter, food, water, etc. for outside animals. Those poor little dogs, what an awful existence for them. Your local animal shelter should have a full rundown on what’s legal in your area, and maybe someone needs to tip them off. IMO, people like this should not be allowed to have pets.

    3. WellRed*

      Where I live, a dog tied outside isn’t supposed to be able to reach the sidewalk. Why do people have pets or kids they have no interest in caring for?

  14. Foreign Octopus*

    My stars, this has been the morning from hell, and it’s only 11.30 am in Spain.

    I didn’t sleep at all last night. I was just unable to do so. I was up at 4 am to clean the kitchen since I thought I might as well be productive. I only had one lesson to teach today (9-10) but there is a race car rally taking place where I live, and the road directly in front of me has been cordoned off. The thing to know about where I live is that it’s very, very, very quiet. There are maybe two cars every day and those are typically my neighbours. My lesson was interrupted by a car parking on my drive, and I stuck my head out the window to ask them to park somewhere else as it was private property and there are village cats that like to roam the area so I worried about them because I’m a soft touch who’s clearly turning into a cat lady (but am okay with that).

    They – kicked – off.

    I’ve been living in Spain for four years and I’ve never experienced any anti-British sentiment or any negativity before because the Spanish are warm and welcoming. These people were hurling abuse at me like nobody’s business. Obviously, not a great thing to have, particularly when I’m trying to teach a concerned Russian woman, so I called the police who passed me across to the Guardia Civil who were absolutely no help as they didn’t understand what the problem was because I was having trouble explaining in Spanish (I might have been crying at this point, but I might erase that from later retellings). These people turned the music in their car right up to deliberately bother me and kept hurling abuse (stupid English, English bitch, blah, blah, blah).

    I was able to get in touch with my parents who called my neighbours (I don’t have their number) and these guys came ready to fight. I’ve never seen four people so ready to throw down before. One of them is a seventy-year-old man who used his walking stick (the sort used by pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago) as a bludgeon because one of the very angry, very large men outside my house is the angriest man I have ever seen in my life. It was a chaotic free-for-all. Once it was over, my neighbours took me down to their house for safety and gave me a coffee and some biscuits before walking me back when it was clear that it was safe.

    The car of the angry, angry people is still outside but they’re gone. My brother is on his way to me now (he lives an hour and a half away by train but is still coming to stay with me for the weekend) and I’m feeling better, but I also feel like I’m trapped in my house.

    So yeah, all in all, not a great morning; although, one really surprising and wonderful thing did happen that I’ll post about later because it’s just amazing, so the day isn’t a complete loss.

    How’s everyone else doing?

    1. Anon for right now*

      Hoo boy. I think you won the morning-from-hell sweepstakes. I hope your weekend gets calmer.

      No snark intended. I have plenty to grumble about* but at least I don’t have xenophobes on my doorstep behaving so badly & dangerously that the neighbors came over armed for combat! =:-o Seriously, blessings on your neighbors. Not everybody has a private militia. Can you borrow a tiger to put in the front yard to scare off attendees at next year’s race? Or invite some large, intimidating-looking friends to stay the weekend?

      *depressed member of household, other ill folks out of town, late adolescence (not mine, ha), challenges at work, and my increasing anger at getting too little help with housework despite steadily asking for it. (Must be asking too politely. I am tired of being nice but it’s exhausting to explode in anger.) Oh yes, and insomnia. And small amounts of stress eating because it’s too much trouble to cook healthy vegetables. Oh, well, I am gonna clean up now and take a nap this afternoon.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Idea for next year: cordon it off and post a sign with a high fee to park. Friends who live near a wildly busy county fair do that. They make it such a high fee there are no takers.
        If you think anyone would take you up on it anyway, offer the concession & proceeds to a pair of local kids…or that 70yo neighbor.

    2. Hazy days*

      Wow! What an experience, and how great that your neighbours have your back like that. I have to admit that the image of the old man and his stick made me grin a bit. I guess there’s a few bad apples in every region, and the important people are your community, not the people parking for one day to watch a rally, horrid as that was.

    3. Miss Astoria Platenclear*

      They parked in your driveway and got abusive when you asked them to move? Wow.
      Giving a bad name to race fans, if they were in town for the race car rally.

    4. Merci Dee*

      What a scary group of people!

      I have to admit, though, that I would be petty in the extreme here … I would call back to the police to ask if you could have a car towed away because someone parked in your private drive and you can’t get in or out of the drive with their car in the way. Of course, I’m not sure how things like this work in Spain, but city workers in my area of the US would come tow the car away at no charge to me, and then the owners would have to pay to have their car returned. If you wished to make the call for towing, you could explain the behavior you received earlier, now that you’re not in the middle of it and upset from the threats and abuse. You may be able to get more support now.

    5. Foreign Octopus*

      Thanks everyone for your commiserations!

      The rally is now, mercifully, at an end. The angry, angry people left without any problems around lunchtime but I think that helped considering that my neighbours displayed their willingness to get into a physical scrap for me and that my brother arrived around lunchtime. He’s a tall chap at over 6ft and was furious on my behalf. He helped me secure the doors and windows and make sure that everything was locked up. He spoke to my neighbours as his Spanish is better than mine, and the neighbours weren’t concerned about retaliation. They’re of the belief that it was a misunderstanding exacerbated by a crazy man who was looking for a fight.

      It’s not been a great day, and not at all how I wanted to spend my Saturday, but it’s over now. I’ve been able to sleep since then so I don’t feel as tired and overwhelmed.

      The main thing that I’m focused on is my reaction. Everything that happened simply highlighted how vulnerable I am as a single woman living in the countryside. If that man had wanted to attack me or break into my house, there was no way I could have stopped him, which really, really bothers me. The Guardia Civil weren’t helpful at all – I haven’t seen them at all today – and I can’t rely on my neighbours for protection. I do feel unsafe at the moment, even though my brother is here. I hope that the feeling passes once I’ve had a proper’s night sleep, but it is something that I’m focusing on right now.

      So, thanks for listening!

      1. Weegie*

        That all sounds awful, and I’m glad it’s over now. They just seem like nasty, angry people who picked on your most obvious characteristic – foreign-ness – to berate you for not letting them do what they wanted.

        That sense of vulnerability that you describe feeling in the aftermath is, quite honestly, what ultimately made me realise I didn’t want to live overseas for ever. I lived in a place where I was visibly foreign, and that brought LOADS of issues with it, but bizarrely that wasn’t the prompt that made me start preparing to leave – it was always illness that made me feel out of place and worried about my lack of a support system.

        I hope today looks brighter for you – and you didn’t tell us the good thing that happened!

        1. Foreign Octopus*

          I’ve been in Spain for four years and this is the first time I’ve ever been treated badly because I’m foreign. I am white and I look young, so I’ve definitely had an easier ride compared to immigrants who look obviously foreign, for sure. I’ve been preparing to move to Ireland for the last six months because of reasons, so I don’t want my last memories of Spain to be that horrible person. I’m going to go into town tomorrow and surround myself with lovely Spanish to wash away the memory.

          As for the good thing, my grandmother died ten years ago (not the goodness news) and I’ve just been informed by the executor of her will that my quarter of her estate, which has been divided by the four grandchildren, is now available to me. Overnight, I’ve become £40,0000 richer. I can’t tell you how much weight this lifts off my chest. I’ve been struggling financially for a long time, and this money means that I can now buy a house, something I never thought I’d be able to afford. So now, instead of looking for flat’s to rent in Ireland, I’m looking for houses to buy.

  15. Blue*

    Hi guys!
    I’m looking to start a new knitting project and was wondering if anyone could recommend some nice, inexpensive variegated DK yarn. The variety online is a bit overwhelming. I’ve tried Hayfield Spirit and am looking for something with a bit longer striping or gradient yarn.

    1. NeverNicky*

      From the brand and weight you mentioned, I think you might be in the UK?

      If so, King Cole Riot is nice to work with and fairly inexpensive. Quite Noro like colourways at a fraction of the price.

    2. Blarg*

      I mean if you’re looking for really cheap, lion brand makes good acrylic variegated yarns. I’m a big fan of the yarn-in-cakes trend as far as ease of use and storage. And also I like cheap yarn — quantity over quality for me. I couldn’t afford the sheer amount of time I spend crocheting if I bought the good stuff! I also like Love Crochet for online sales.

    3. Dancing Otter*

      Can you get Caron Cakes (worsted) or Cupcakes (DK) there? 100% acrylic, so fairly inexpensive. I think it would be considered gradient, as the colors don’t repeat, but not necessarily monochromatic.
      Here’s the address to the Ravelry page for Cupcakes: https://www.ravelry (dot) com/yarns/library/caron-cupcakes

  16. CoffeeforLife*

    I did it! Cut off all my hair and it feels so nice! It went from touching my butt to now grazing my nape ^..^

    I have a bag of hair to donate but can’t find a place. I wanted to give it to a charity that helps low-income/no-insurance families. I visited a few website but all of their donation information is about $$ not hair. Trying to avoid LocksofLove but theirs is the most accessible. Any suggestions?

    Thank you for all of the salon suggestions but I went with Katherine Vigneras and Salon Bisoux-it worked with my schedule. I bookmarked all the others and will be trying them :)

    1. I edit everything*

      Have you tried calling a hospital (pediatric, maybe) and asking if they know anyone local who makes wigs?

    2. Fikly*

      Way back when, the day after prom, I cut my hair from below my butt to just below my ears. No one recognized me the next day, it was so much fun. (And I much enjoyed my hair drying in half an hour compared to three days.)

  17. Kara*

    My husband (34) had a colonoscopy this week because he’s had months of rectal bleeding. The gastroenterologist was fairly convinced it was hemorrhoids or something minor, so a colonoscopy was overkill, but was like, whatever, have one if you want. After he finished, the doctor told him he was extremely lucky.
    He had 3 polyps that the doctor removed, one of which was big enough that he definitely would have had Stage 4 cancer by age 50 (around when people normally get their first colonoscopy). Polyps don’t have any symptoms, which is why colon cancer is so deadly (my husband said it’s like a 12% five year survival rate). By the time you get symptoms, it’s already too late.
    So, PSA- get your butts checked! The prep was mildly annoying, but we’re feeling so grateful. He could have died, right as our kid would be a teenager. It’s like having found time, and is both scary and amazing all at once.
    And apparently my husband’s parents both had precancerous polyps in their 30s, so he has a strong family history and should have been checked early. But his parents never told him until after the fact. ‍♀️

    1. Kara*

      Oh & the bleeding was from hemorrhoids, just like the doctor said, not polyps. The doctor was basically like you’re so lucky you has these!

    2. Jean (just Jean)*

      OMG!! Good for your husband for standing up for himself. His gastroenterologist sounds like a prize jackass. As for his parents not talking about family medical history… well, some people just don’t do that but it’s not exactly helpful to the next generation.

      PSA point taken. I’ll check my calendar to see when I’m due for my next colonoscopy, etc., etc.

      Next PSA: folks, keep up with all of this regular medical self-care (as much as possible if your health insurance/health care access is limited): mammograms, dental checkups, eye exams, overall physical exam, prostate exams, regular OB/GYN checkups–whatever applies. It’s inconvenient to make and keep all these appointments but it beats getting sick or worse.

      1. Kara*

        His doctor is actually great, he just didn’t think a colonoscopy was necessary. And honestly, it normally wouldn’t have been. I’m just so thankful for those stubborn hemorrhoids. Ridiculous? Yes. But so true!

    3. Goose Lavel*

      I’m happy to hear you husband caught it early. I’ve had polyps removed during my first colonoscopy. Both of my parents died from colon cancer in their mid 80s. I thought they would die from heart disease first, as both had heart attacks and bypasses.

      So it was the #1 killer disease instead of the #2 that killed them.

      I expect my fate lies between these two as both my older brothers have delt with one or the other for many years. I’m protecting myself against both through health screenings, but I’m most concerned about cancer as 1 out of 3 people will have it in their lifetime.

    4. Anon Librarian*

      A friend of mine died of colon cancer a few years ago. Terrible. We were working together at the time. She was at that point where she knew how much time she had left and was planning accordingly.

      I’m so glad your husband’s polyps got caught and removed! This is a good reminder to stand up for yourself and ask for those tests that the doctors say you don’t need yet.

    5. 653-CXK*

      I had a traditional and a virtual colonoscopy done within two months of each other three years ago after my brother had a precancerous polyp removed. (My traditional colonoscopy had three “flat” polyps that were removed without incident, but my colon was so long that the sigmoidoscope only got to a certain point, hence the virtual colonoscopy. The receptionist for the virtual stated, “OK, you’re scheduled for a month later,” but I told her “absolutely not, I’ll do it two months later.”)

      The traditional prep was three bottles of magnesium citrate (grape flavored; 1-1/2 bottles in the evening, 1-1/2 bottles eight hours later) followed by 8 fluid ounces of water (also grape flavored). It certainly worked its magic – but once I got to the hospital, they put me on a saline drip, wheeled me to the room, gave me propofol (and a mask), and 45 minutes later, I was done. The propofol wore off quickly, I was devouring graham crackers and juice, and once I got my bearings, my brother took me back home.

      The virtual prep was different; they gave me a big jug of PEG (polyethylene glycol) which had to be mixed with 64 ounces of water and lemon flavoring. The taste wasn’t bad at all, and the PEG also did its assigned duties. The virtual colonoscopy took maybe 30 minutes – they use a CAT scan machine that tells you to breathe in, hold, then breathe out. The only discomfort I had was when they inflated me with gas, but that resolved once the procedure was over.

      The worst part of the procedure was being on a liquid diet, and then the prep. But it all worked out in the end (no pun intended).

    6. Rebecca*

      I highly urge anyone who has bleeding like this to get checked out!! My Dad had hemorrhoids, and in 1998 he was lifting an engine block and had bleeding, but more than normal, so he went to the doctor, then colonoscopy, and he had stage 3 colon cancer with lymph node involvement. He had no symptoms other than that! He had extensive surgery, a bunch of lymph nodes removed, chemo, radiation, etc. and survived (until April 2017 when he died from pancreatic cancer, again, no symptoms). His father died from colon cancer. I get checked every 5 years, so far so good.

      Anyone reading this, please get checked. The worst thing will probably be the prep and a day or so being a bit hungry, but it could literally save your life.

      1. fposte*

        There are also prescription at-home tests that don’t require prep; they’re becoming more common. They don’t have the accuracy of a colonoscopy, but they can give a *very* early alert to problems that you don’t even see symptoms of.

    7. TimeTravelR*

      Yes! Love your butt! Get your colonoscopy. Believe me, the prep and the “embarrassment” beats the alternative…..

    8. Only Mildy Embarrassed*

      This was something I had done about a couple of years ago and need to get done again. I have a family history of it, too. One of my cousins was diagnosed with it and ended up dying from it. It turned out that all of his brothers and sisters also had early stage colon cancer, but early enought where it was treatable. Several of the more distant relatives, such as myself, had pre-cancerous polyps removed during the procedure and were advised to have colonoscopies every 3 years.

      I didn’t really mind the day of preparation before hand. (The laxatives and bottles of Gatorade.) The actual procedure was painless. I went back to work the day after, but when I have it done again, I’ll probably take the day after off, just because I felt kind of tired and uncomfortable and sort of like I had a mild fever. I was fine the second day after.

    9. Owler*

      The American Cancer Society recommends that people at average risk* of colorectal cancer start regular screening at age 45. If you have a family history of cancer, IBD, polyps, or other digestive problems, OR you notice your own issues (rectal bleeding is a key one that Kara’s husband noticed), you should push for something sooner.

      Seriously. I was under 40 when I was diagnosed with colon cancer (no family history, and I was pretty active). My cancer group has waaaay too many newly diagnosed under 45, and Gen Z is seeing a rate of cancer diagnosing that is not inline with what previous generations experienced. It’s coming at younger ages and more aggressively.

      1. Public Health Nerd*

        Correct. I was told that you start screening 10 years prior to when your parents had problems/ first symptoms. I had to do early colonoscopy starting at age 34 but we caught minor problems early so now I’m on a more typical schedule.

    10. Princess Cimorene*

      I had my first colonoscopy at around 31 due to IBS-D and it was so much easier than I had anticipated. The prep wasn’t fun per se, it was like thick slightly lemon water that was just weird to drink. But I drank it, cleared myself out and went in. Got ativan and fentanyl so I was slightly awake for part of the procedure and I remember seeing my pink colon on the camera. Couldn’t feel a thing. I also had to have an endoscopy during the same appointment and they knocked me out more for that, but I became combative nonetheless (being incoherent/high and having something shoved down your throat would make anyone fight for their life, lmao!)

      There was one polyp which they removed but nothing else to write home about. I think they recommend me having another in a few years, a bit earlier than my mid 40’s because of it. But it wasn’t pre-cancerous. It was a peace of mind to have it early in my life though, as I know there’s not much warning otherwise if something was wrong.

  18. I edit everything*

    So, there was a lot of conversation earlier this week about restricted eaters, particularly picky eating. My son is a very picky eater, beyond most kids (he basically eats bread (and bread-like things), chips, and kid-focused yogurt). I would throw a party if he ate a chicken finger or a hot dog. “He won’t starve himself,” is absolutely not true in our case, and dinner time is an exercise in anxiety.

    He used to eat well, but has gotten progressively more restrictive as time has gone by (9, almost 10 now), and he eats a lot of cinnamon and BBQ sauce, so I don’t think he’s a super-taster. He eats a variety of textures, so I don’t think it’s a sensory thing (no other signs of being on the autism spectrum). Other than food, he’s a typical active, smart, happy kid.

    We’re working on finding a way forward. For those of you who are still picky eaters as adults: do you think anything might have helped you as a child? Do you wish your parents had taken a different tack on food/mealtimes?

    I desperately want him to be a healthy, active, happy kid. I want him to have the energy for playing baseball and tennis. I want him to be able to enjoy mealtimes and the rituals/community of food sharing. I want to be able to go to restaurants and friends’ homes without anxiety. And he’s clearly frustrated by it as well.

    1. Kara*

      I’d look into therapy. It looks like there are special occupational therapists who can help. From one clinic, they list red flags as eating fewer than 20 foods, or mealtime being a battle (among others). I’m sorry you guys are going through this!

    2. WS*

      Have you read about ARFID? (Avoidant restrictive food intake disorder)

      It’s a diagnosed eating disorder where (usually) children severely restrict the kinds of food they eat. There are treatments, but it’s not necessarily something you can do yourself at home without guidance from a specialist dietician and/or psychologist.

      It’s also worth talking to a dietician to look at patterns to see if there’s a reason for the food avoidance, especially if there’s no other signs that your son is on the autism spectrum (though not all ARFID sufferers are.) My younger brother was very picky like this, and very underweight, but it turned out that he actually had a range of food intolerances and had learned from an early age to avoid certain foods, and any unfamiliar foods, because they caused him gut pain. He didn’t realise or understand this consciously, but the dietician worked out the patterns.

      1. I edit everything*

        Our next step is some kind of therapy/counseling. Just trying to find someone within a reasonable distance who fits the bill (younger children + eating disorders). We’re consulting with our doctor, as well.

        1. Parenthetically*

          Yep, awesome. There are some great feeding therapists who work primarily online. I’m sure you’ve done this but NEDA and The Ellyn Satter Institute are good places to look! :) I would be VERY certain that the person was a Registered Dietician with experience with eating disorders, not just a “nutritionist.” And even MDs often just have a class or two in nutrition — unless your pediatrician happens to have a lot of experience and expertise in eating disorders, I’d take her referral to a specialist and not much else.

          Good luck!

        2. fposte*

          I would move to that ASAP, I think. I’m with WS in thinking about ARFID, and eating disorders get more stubborn the longer they’re untreated; I’d consider going an unreasonable distance for at least an initial consult with a pediatric eating disorders clinic, and then maybe care can be coordinated at a more local level or they’d have a referral to somebody closer to you.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Thanks for saying this. I was a picky eater from a young age. Advice like this was not available then, so that meant I was just a bad kid. In reality, I was doing what you describe here. I was avoiding things that made me feel unwell. I ate a lot of potatoes and bready type stuff. By the time I was seven I was able to tell my mother that I needed to talk to a doc because there were only certain foods I should eat. She said that I wasn’t fat and that ended the conversation.

        1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

          When I went in for my allergy screening as an adult, they asked me questions about things I thought I was allergic to. Including, “Are there any foods you really, strongly dislike, because that’s often a sign you have a food allergy, your body gives you an aversion to foods that make you feel ill.”

          I’d recommend a good allergy panel, as well.

        2. Chaordic One*

          I second the recommendation of a good allergy panel and screening. As a young adult I was diagnosed (probably misdiagnosed) as having an eating disorder. Many years later, after visiting an allergist for treatment of environmental allergies, I discovered I also had a host of food allergies. When the test results came back so many things made sense and in retrospect I now believe that I was subconsciously avoiding the foods I allergic to.

    3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      My brother was a picky eater as a child, and he’s now six foot tall and a foodie. I think sometimes they just grow out of it. I know my parents were frustrated about it when he was little but eventually they just left him to it and made sure the kitchen was full of the stuff he DID eat so he would never be hungry. Certainly continually passing comment on what he’s eating is unlikely to be helpful – I’m sure you’re already trying not to. Serve what you realistically expect him to manage, talk about something else while you’re eating, he clears his plate after dinner, etc. Separately you talk about the nutrients in different foods and the role of those nutrients in the body (9 is plenty old enough for words and concepts like protein and fibre) maybe with examples of what Olympic swimmers eat if he likes swimming, and without bringing up his own diet.

      Meanwhile I was a decent but not great eater, but I am *afraid* of food in odd ways. That’s not an angle you mention so I wonder if it’s worth considering. It might just be the one area where he expresses all the normal natural worries of childhood. Or has he had a stomach upset at some point and has retained a fear of a recurrence?

      A paediatrician would be able to tell you if his diet is immediately concerning, though even the very short list you laid out at least covers the main food groups and doctors have a different definition of restricted from the rest of us.

      1. I edit everything*

        I’d be less worried if he was normal-kid picky. I was normal-kid picky and grew out of it, but he seems to be growing *into* it. He’s following the typical growth curves for both height and weight, but his percentiles are hugely different (scrawny kid). And he’s so sensitive to discussion of food that even general conversation about nutrients makes him shut down. We make sure he has food, but he’s soooo tired of the “what’s for dinner” worries and “we’re having hamburgers; here’s your plain bun.” He’s admitted that he’s bored with food, but seemingly can’t take steps on his own to expand his options.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          Poor thing. It’s an awkward age where they are learning so many new things about the world but they are still so, so young.

        2. I'm A Little Teapot*

          This really is screaming an eating disorder or something mental going on. I’m glad you’re working on that angle, because he needs help.

    4. Lcsa99*

      I agree with the General. Just keep lots of the stuff he will eat around the house and keep the doctor informed so he can keep an eye on his health. The more you fight with him, the more anxiety he will have around food and eating in general and it will just make things worse. I was always picky as a kid, though for me it was/is mostly about textures and my mother would try to sneak foods in. Hiding peas in my rice and stuff like that, and make me sit at the table until I ate everything (which would never happen). It just made the whole thing so stressful and I was always worried to eat even things I liked and even now my diet is severely restricted. My husband on the other hand, his mother always tells us how he would only eat rice and French fries and she was told to just let him do his thing and eventually his tastes expanded.

      I know you’re worried, especially since his tastes are becoming more and more restricted, but try your best not to make it a battle of wills or no one will win.

      1. DrTheLiz*

        So much sympathy! I still won’t eat baked beans because a childminder tried to force me to. I was… six? The rule at home was “if you’ve eaten a tablespoon-sized portion and you’re sure you hate it you don’t have to finish”, but the childminder ran an “if you haven’t finished dinner you may not leave the table” household. I was still sat at table in front of a plate of baked beans (and potato?) at seven or eight o’clock when my mother came to pick me up. I think there was a discussion behind closed doors after that, as it never happened again, but… yeah, that was really unpleasant and it was just the once.

        Also props to a fellow pea hater! They are awful, and I, too, can always taste them – I make my husband rinse the strainer if he’s cooked them! Isn’t it great to be old enough that nobody can make you eat something any more?

    5. university minion*

      I was a picky eater as a child but it turns out my mom just wasn’t much of a cook! We ate a lot of overcooked meat (food safety… if it’s not practically burned, you’ll get salmonella and die! ~Mom), mushy canned vegetables and instant mashed potatoes, all with no salt. Interestingly enough, she’s an excellent baker, but her cooking education stalled midway through a volume of The Gallery of Regrettable Foods.

      It took learning to cook myself and having adventurous friends to broaden my horizons. I still remember trying Chinese food at 16 and discovering that vegetables could be *good*. This wasn’t highbrow food – it was lo mein from a stall in a shopping center somewhere. 25 years later I’m that person who can come up with a meal from the most awkward assortment of pantry/fridge leftovers.
      If he’s at all curious about food, maybe do a cooking class or two together, where tasting afterward is totally optional.

      PS – I still can’t bring myself to eat a hotdog :-)

      1. university minion*

        Also… I’m not calling you a bad cook! I just realized it really sounds that way. I guess my point was that my mom tried to make “kid friendly” foods and that was just *not* stuff that appealed to us. In her case, it was also the way she prepared, or attempted to prepare, said foods.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          My mother made a lot of casseroles and meatloafs etc. Back then I would say, that I did not like my food all mushed together. Adult me would say, I need to eat very simple foods with less ingredients. Others said my mother was a very good cook actually. I just could not hack some of the ingredients that she regularly used like milk…..
          It’s tough because as a kid our words and concepts are so limited.

      2. Lora*

        I had to laugh at this – my mother could never cook even noodles properly, and my grandmother boiled or baked everything to a flavorless mess. Thankfully I learned to cook from two uncles who both put themselves through college working as line cooks in fancy restaurants.

        Now I am *very* picky when I’m not traveling: I want everything to be farm-to-table fresh, minimal sugar, grass fed, no corn syrup, locally made, etc. Different kind of picky, developed from decades of boiled-mushy canned peas, canned ham and Jell-O salad with Cool Whip every holiday.

        Have had good success with little cousins learning to eat vegetables by helping either pick them in the garden or help with cooking them – kids can handle washing and popping the ends off green beans and snap peas, scrape carrots, make a fruit salad (marshmallows may be involved…) or help make zucchini bread, pasta primavera. It sorta demystifies the food when they helped make it. And they also tend to prefer raw veggies to cooked as a rule. Had a niece who was on the autism spectrum and she wouldn’t eat much that wasn’t crackers or pizza, but we could get dried fruit into her, then expanded that to trail mix that was just dried fruit and peanuts and almonds, then expanded to include carrot sticks, etc.

        1. Windchime*

          I was a picky eater as a kid and am still pretty picky as an adult. My concept of vegetables is that they all taste way too strong, and I don’t like the texture. The smell of canned cooked green beans makes me physically retch and I remember how terrible they tasted to me as a little kid. Raw vegetables are totally different, and I like things like raw peas, carrots, radishes, etc. I just don’t like most of them cooked. It does something awful to the texture and the taste.

        2. kt*

          Learning how to cook really helped me expand some of my horizons (I was never as picky as the OP’s kid though). And learning to find veggies in the garden, etc., also made a difference. Basically being connected to the food earlier — having a role and some control over what made it to my plate & how — useful for me.

    6. Washi*

      I was a pretty picky eater as a child, although not quite to the same extent as your son. I would eat bread, peanut butter, potatoes, berries, chips, and ice cream, and that was about it for things I would consume without any kind of fuss.

      I’m pretty sure I wasn’t a super taster, and it wasn’t about texture or appearance either. I just felt deeply anxious about putting any food in my mouth that I wasn’t 100% sure I would like. The idea of having food in my mouth that tasted bad to me just filled me with terror. I probably would have starved rather than chew a vegetable.

      Things that my parents did:
      1. I had to eat a small amount of vegetables in order to get dessert. I generally would just forego dessert, but if I really wanted it, I would cut up my vegetables pretty small and swallow them whole with water like a pill. I am still great at taking pills to this day!
      2. They never made me eat anything I didn’t want to eat or finish my food. I am sooooo grateful that they settled on this approach, as I think it would have just worsened my anxiety to be forced to eat things (not even sure how that would have worked, since I would literally gag.) You might want to check out Ellyn Satter’s work on the division of responsibility in feeding, which I agree with wholeheartedly.
      3. They asked my teachers not to comment on what I did/didn’t eat. I’m also very grateful for that.

      Eventually, I grew out of it. When I started going out to eat with friends as a tween, the shame of not wanting to try new things started to outweigh the anxiety. The transition happened pretty quickly – I think over the course of a year or two in middle school, I went from my super restricted diet to eating literally anything. I was a vegan while I was in college and am now a vegetarian, which still shocks my poor traumatized parents.

      The last thing I will say is don’t blame yourself! I saw how people got all judgy to my parents and so from a reformed picky eater, I just want to say that there’s nothing anyone could have done to “make” me eat other foods. Good luck!

      1. I edit everything*

        We say he has to have a small taste of “something that’s for supper and not bread” for him to get dessert. No plate cleaning, and it’s hard, but we’ve laid off the nagging/hassling. Try hard not to make a big deal of it.

        I too learned to take pills by swallowing peas whole.

        I do think it’s largely fear. He had foods he *loved* and would devour until he had a less-tasty version of it. After that, even the original version became less favored. He went from inhaling whole plates of NY-diner chicken parm to eating none, and none of its components in any form. So very frustrating.

        1. Auto Generated Anon*

          I have one no-new-foods picky eater 9 yo, and one omnivore 5yo. Following this thread with interest.

          The chicken parm story reminds me of this article from Slate. https://slate.com/human-interest/2019/02/gordon-ramsay-autism-food-sensory-processing.html

          To be clear, not at all saying that is what’s going on or this would work (we haven’t tried it) I just found it interesting, especially about halfway through where they explain how one bite of a usual food that isn’t ‘right’ can turn someone against the food altogether.

      2. KayEss*

        Same. I was recently chatting with my mom about this, after reading a bit on ARFID… I was quite picky as a child, to the extent that I once ate PB&Js (and they had to be made with specific brands of bread, peanut butter, and jelly) every meal for an ENTIRE YEAR. I also had a lot of other issues as a child that, looking back, were definitely anxiety-related. I just didn’t have the understanding and coherence to express something like “trying to eat with 50 other rowdy kids in the lunchroom is overstimulating and freaks me out as an only child used to being alone and quiet,” so all I could communicate was “my stomach hurts” (which, to be fair, it did… from anxiety). I still have anxiety and am a correspondingly picky eater as an adult, but nowhere near like I was back then. Part of it was self-developing coping mechanisms, but I’m pretty convinced that part of it was also just my brain chemistry altering over time.

        My mom says she worried about me getting adequate nutrition as a child, and sometimes wondered if she should hardline force me to eat. To be completely honest, from my perspective as an adult, that would have been deeply traumatic (likely for both of us) and probably significantly affected our relationship forever if she persisted. A lot of the strategies described here worked ok with me–encouraging trying new foods but not forcing the issue, being strategic in how you refer to foods (but don’t push it, kids aren’t stupid), and trusting that the experience he’s having is likely in a different ballpark than just “I don’t like how that tastes.” I didn’t cry over vegetables at the dinner table because of sensitive taste buds or because I wanted candy instead, but because my body was having an anxiety reaction similar in urgency to a panic attack in order to avoid eating something it mistakenly thought was dangerous.

      3. Ann O.*

        This sounds so much like my daughter, it’s reassuring to read. We know from an accidental experiment with milk brands that she does have the ability to taste very minor differences in flavor, and a lot of foods just taste bad to her. The experience is so unpleasant that she’s very reluctant to try new things.

        I thought she would outgrow it as she got older, but she hasn’t yet. So I’m so glad to read that you didn’t grow out of it until you were a tween. There’s still hope!

      4. kt*

        Yes, I too did the swallowing evil foods whole thing. Tomatoes, in my case. Also still good at swallowing pills in general.

    7. LibbyG*

      I think I’m about 4-5 years behind you. My 5 year old seems to be narrowing his palate rather than expanding it. Like you, we do what General vK and Lesa describe, and he seems to be getting more restrictive. I’d love it if you felt like posting about this issue as you try different things.

      1. Beatrice*

        Mine narrowed his list of acceptable foods and has been widening it back up since 12 or so. One thing I learned was to keep rotating through the acceptable foods list often. Anytime it went too long without serving an acceptable food, it became a strange/suspicious food again, and then often became a disliked food. *sigh*

        I quickly learned to take his declarations of dislikes in stride and not make a big deal out of it. The harder I pushed, the more he would dig in, and the bigger the problem got. Best not to turn things into a stubbornness contest I’m not going to win.

    8. sequined histories*

      This sounds like a serious issue requiring professional expertise to properly address. That said, I have heard that sometimes being involved in the cooking process can make kids more willing to try new foods.

    9. Everdene*

      I was a picky eater as a kid, and as an adult. I now know that when I said as a 3/4yo that ravioli made me fall off my chair what I was trying to communicate was that I have a gluten intolerance and pasta is the thing that causes me the most stomach pain. I think my parents were driven up the wall with my eating but food intolerance weren’t a thing back in the 80s. Given my skin allergies (which they saw and treated) and initial food allergies (eggs/cheese) I think now they would have got me allergy/intolerance tested to other stuff.

      Apart from a couple of early (unsuccessful) attempts they never made me clear my plate if I didn’t like something. I was a stubborn child and that was a pointless exercise for all concerned as yes, I’d rather go hungry then eat that congealing plate of spaghetti hoops that have sat in front of me for 2 hours.

    10. Koala dreams*

      I’ve met so many people who eat bread and yoghurt for dinner. That’s pretty normal! I don’t have any advice for the other things, but I hope you can at least stop worrying about dinner. Take care, and good luck with your child!

    11. MonkeyInTheMiddle*

      Parent to a picky 9yr old who has always been picky. Our kid would pick up on our anxiety about his eating and it would get worse. I started offering 2 choices “this or that” instead of “what do you want”. Cinnamon sugar apparently tastes good on scrambled eggs and BBQ can be used as a condiment for a lot of foods, raw veggies, meats etc. Though my son has to make that choice himself. I throw it out there as an option. I try not to stress about what he’s eaten in a meal or even day, I think about whether he’s had enough protein and fruits and veggies over a couple of days rather than carbs. Kids need carbs and will always opt to eat them, but if I can get more substantial food into him, I’ll offer those choices first.

    12. Picky*

      Learning to cook helped me. Food stopped being unfamiliar and gross. It also put me in control, humoring the massive control freak side of me that’s responsible for the pickiness.

    13. Lulubell*

      A blogger I followed for years, Amalah, had a similar problem with her oldest, and wrote about it extensively, maybe 5-10 years ago. I think she followed the Satter method but I don’t remember the details – would be worth googling and checking her archives because I think she found some good solutions.

    14. CatCat*

      We had a picky eater (no eating disorder, if that is what’s going on then professional advice would be needed) and these things helped:

      * Relabeling things. Kid would not eat things because of what they were called. He would flat out reject anything with “beans” so we only referred to garbanzo beans as chickpeas. Unfamiliar foods were no way so if we went to an Indian restaurant, we’d refer to chicken pakora as Indian fried chicken. Relabeling was highly effective.

      * “You don’t have to eat it.” Mantra at dinner time, said matter of fact. He didn’t have to eat it, but we’re also not short order cooks making an alternative dinner. His alternative was whole fruit and a glass of milk if he didn’t want to eat it.

      * Participating kid in meal planning and have him think through alternatives. Like, “This has black beans, what are some ideas you have as a substitute for the black beans?” That helped so we were all on the same page.

      * Kid especially hated sauces or dressing. So if it was feasible for the recipe, we’d offer to serve the sauce on the side.

      * Participating kid in making the dinner. He initially became responsible for making the loathed sauces and dressings and eventually learned knife skills for chopping. He reeeeallllly did not want to do this at first with a lot of anxiety for potentially messing up, but we assured him it was no big deal because he would follow a recipe, even if you make mistakes in recipes they’re often correctable, and we live in a city and can easily obtain more food if needed. He became a lot more open minded once he started working with the ingredients and would fairly start tasting things (instead of deciding in advance that he didn’t like them) and gradually became less picky over time the more involved he was.

    15. OhCanary*

      My 5yo is a little picky, though not quite to this extent. A few suggestions I’ve learned along the way:

      1. Get them involved. Maybe take him to a fun cooking or baking class? We institute Saturday pizza nights where my kid literally helps my husband make and roll out the dough, sauce, etc.
      2. Remember what your job is: to offer a variety of healthy and delicious foods, but not to pressure them into eating. With every meal I try to offer something I *know* my kid will eat, something I *think*my kid will eat, and something new/different I *hope* my kid will try. My only job is to provide good food choices; choosing what to eat out of my offerings is THEIR job.

      If you’ve tried these approaches already, it’s probably time for medical help. Good luck!

    16. Fikly*

      Supertasting is actually about tasting bitter waaaaay more than “normal” people, so cinnamon and bbq sauce are not an accurate indicator of whether or not he’s a supertaster.

      As someone with a sensory processing disorder, and a supertaster, who still has a really restricted diet (I have Celiac and type 1 diabetes too, I can eat like, 3 foods between all that), the thing that has worked best for me is trying new foods at moments of really low stress. And avoiding foods that only work sometimes when I am highly stressed, because those foods are more likely to fail, and once they fail once, I can end up avoiding them for months because them failing is so traumatizing that I can’t cope with trying them again.

    17. I edit everything*

      Thanks, everyone.

      We’ve definitely tried the help in the kitchen thing, but never really got much traction there. I worry about protein, but I bake our own bread and usually include some soy flour and other undetectable nutritional ingredients along with the unobjectionable white flour. The only meat he eats is the occasional nibble of bacon.

      His doc isn’t extremely worried, but has suggested looking further for targeted help. I’ll post updates if I have them.

    18. Anona*

      One cautionary tale (& why I think you should keep seeking help) is my college roommate. She had eating problems and would eat french fries and kit kats as her main food. Oh yeah, and peanut butter and Ritz cracker, and I think these specific chips. There were maybe one or two other things, but no veggies, no meat. I remember her cracking the tiniest corner of a wheat thin off to try it once. She was concerned about what would happen if she ever got pregnant, and how she’s be healthy enough to sustain a baby. I don’t know if she ever started eating more, but I believe at her wedding she had a plate of French fries.

      1. I edit everything*

        That’s my fear. My hubs and I love food, sharing meals with people, cooking, and all the sensations and flavors. Fear of not having anything he can eat could hold him back from so many wonderful experiences, like travel, entertaining, exploring cultures, or even, as has been pointed out, work lunches.

        We’ve even said that we won’t even consider a Disney vacation until he’s eating more protein, simply because he won’t have the lasting energy to survive a single day without better fuel. We’re saving up—maybe by the time we have enough money to do it, he’ll also be eating.

        1. Just a Guy in a Cube*

          I was very picky through college. Soon after, my wife stopped having patience with always catering to my limited food preferences, and together we figured out how to go various places and find me food to order so that she could enjoy going out to eat. Looking back, I think I’m not a big fan of novelty in general, so my initial reaction to new flavors/textures was “yuck”, and I just didn’t see the need to overcome that. I remember a handful of very humiliating periods of parents or well-meaning family members turning food into a battle of wills, which ended badly for all of us.
          My big regret now is that while I’m enjoying a lot more food than I used to, I don’t really have much of an idea of what’s out there, so trying to be adventurous is difficult because I just dunno what I might want to try.
          I think for me, it was about finding the internal motivation to overcome that initial dislike of novel tastes. I can’t imagine what would have helped get through to me sooner, although I’m sure there are techniques and kinds of therapy for kids that could have done it. But I’m really glad my parents mostly left it alone.
          I did have times I got to muscle tremors in college because subsisting on pizza, pop tarts and Mountain Dew will do that, but no long term ill effects. (I was on swim team in high school, so reasonably active & athletic)

        2. Jen Erik*

          Just to say, it can also work out okay. My daughter (who is now 24) and I were reminiscing just the other day about her picky eating as a child and teenager.
          In retrospect she thought, like Washi above, that it was principally an anxiety thing.

          She eventually(at 17) got help for the anxiety – and I don’t know if it’s cause and effect but in her 20’s the food thing just gradually went away. (When she remarked in passing that she liked sushi, I nearly fell off my chair.)

          I can’t quite work out how to say this. It’s a sort of next-to-impossible thing. But my daughter did remark that it had helped that I wasn’t stressed about her eating. (My niece who is the same age as her is autistic, and ate only 4 things. I wasn’t being super unstressed mum, it was just our family circumstances.)
          But I think if I had got stressed that would have helped to validate her intuition that eating was a worrying thing.
          I don’t imagine you can help worrying about it day-to-day, but I just wanted to say that it can work out okay in the long run, and he will have all the wonderful experiences.

    19. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      As others have mentioned, it’s probably worth checking in with a therapist who specializes in this type of thing just for your peace of mind. Does he at least take a multi-vitamin? I’d try working with the things he does like and aiming for just enough added stuff to increase the nutritional content without ruining the preferred food. That doesn’t help get past the hurdle of actually being willing to try new foods, but he’d at least be getting some more variety while you work on that.

      Can you blend a little bit of stuff into the yogurt, or would he try a fruit/yogurt smoothie? Fruit flavor can overpower a lot of not-too-strongly-flavored veggies so you may be able to get a little spinach, avocado, etc. in him that way. You could even try adding a raw (pasteurized) egg since you’re worried specifically about protein, although yogurt is a decent source of protein on its own.

      Since he likes bread and cinnamon already, maybe he’d try some version of zucchini bread with zucchini, bananas, pumpkin, butternut squash, and/or carrots blended into the batter?

      If he tolerates tomato sauces at all (on pasta? dipped with bread? plain cheese pizza?) you can hide all manner of summer squashes, carrots, beets, and sweet peppers in it. An immersion blender is especially helpful for this. You could probably get a bit of those veggies in barbecue sauce too, and definitely any kind of smooth soup that he might try.

    20. KayEss*

      Also, you mention that you want him to be comfortable socially rather than anxious and excluded because of food. That may never happen. I eventually reached a point–in like, my 20s–where I’m 95% able to find at least one available option at a given restaurant for me to eat, but I still studiously avoid going to people’s houses for home cooking because it’s so fraught. Back when we used to travel and stay with my in-laws, I would literally bring a secret stash of several boxes of granola bars to keep myself from starving. It’s hard! I hate it! If I could magically change once thing about myself, it would be to be able to eat like a normal person.

      As he grows up and spends more time outside your home, your kid will likely develop his own strategies and coping mechanisms, both social and food-related (assuming he continues to have this problem, which I hope he doesn’t). But what you can start doing immediately to help is to do what you can to make sure he always feels safe and welcome at YOUR dinner table. Teach him that kind, polite people don’t comment on what is or isn’t on other people’s plates, outside of maybe ONE “did you get enough to eat?” confirmation. Show him ways to politely refuse food he doesn’t want to try/eat and respect when he uses them.

      Example: the worst food day of the year for me is (American) Thanksgiving, because there’s literally no traditional holiday food I like. Mashed potatoes are okay, and I do actually like some vegetable side dishes, but I can’t eat turkey, cranberries, stuffing, sweet potatoes, etc. I even don’t like pumpkin pie. I might try putting some of that stuff on my plate, but no matter how small a serving I take I’m probably not going to finish it. So everyone else’s plate is loaded up, and there I am with my mashed potatoes, green beans, and a roll… super embarrassing. But what keeps me coming home and engaging with this experience is that no one at the table comments on or even looks twice at what’s going on with my plate. Grandma may ask “did you get enough to eat, dear?” but when I say “yup, I’m fine!” that’s the end of it. I feel safe and respected eating, however I am able or unable, in my parents house. If that wasn’t the case, our relationship would be much more distant.

    21. tangerineRose*

      Would it help him to talk to a nutritionist? Maybe they could work out a list of food that he likes that will be healthy for him.

      I’m a picky eater myself and always have been. Some foods, textures, smells make me feel nauseated.

    22. Observer*

      Please get him checked for allergies and intolerances. Not instead of therapy, but in addition to. If the kid does have a problem with any kind of food getting that under control or figuring out WHICH specific food (group) a problem, is going to be key to managing the situation.

    23. Dancing Otter*

      What would have helped me most would have been if my mother had been a better cook, or used better ingredients. Mom knew 4 different ways to cook green beans badly. After I went away to school, I discovered a lot of vegetables weren’t necessarily gag-inducing. Boiled canned vegetables versus fresh steamed? Seriously, boiled spinach still makes me gag, but I love fresh raw spinach in salads.

      Have you had your child allergy tested? Not invariably, but sometimes your body warns you that something will make you sick by making it not appeal, either taste or scent. Has he ever gotten sick from eating anything? Previous illness can make you avoid the food you believe responsible. I know intellectually that not everything with mayonnaise has been left out long enough to give me food-poisoning again, but once was enough. A sandwich with lunch meat and mayo that’s been sitting at room temperature for four hours might be a reasonable rejection (another food battle from my childhood).

      Also, “just taste it before you decide you don’t like it” isn’t all that effective when they plop a full-sized serving of X on your plate and make you sit there until you eat it. If you want a child to try one bite, give him one small bite. Say, if he finds it completely horrible, it’s OK to spit it out in a paper napkin. (Knowing I could have done that would have made me less reluctant to taste some things, I think.) Do NOT, not ever, try to guilt him over how much time and effort went into making X.

      Speaking for myself, I prefer to know what I’m eating. See if he will try plain single ingredient foods before more complex ones. A bite of stew meat instead of a bowl of stew; another time, a bite of one of the vegetables alone; then a different one. Some people, even adults, prefer to keep the different foods on their plates separate.

      See if he will try related foods. If “bread-like” includes banana bread, offer him a slice of banana while you’re making it. If he eats corn chips, mention that they are made of corn, which can be eaten straight: would he like to try some? Or corn-based cereal? If he eats potato chips, same thing. (Of course, if he only likes the chips because of the fat and salt, and turns out to hate corn or potatoes, that may put him off the chips, too.) What about letting him dip fresh fruit or vegetables (think apple slices, berries, or celery sticks) in his yogurt? Or letting him dip a corner of his bread in gravy, olive oil, or spaghetti sauce? (Then maybe he’d try something else with gravy etc.)
      Similarly, try cooking something in a different way: candied carrots or sweet potatoes don’t appeal to me, but roasted ones do.

    24. matcha123*

      I was not a very picky eater at first, but then when I started elementary school it kicked up. After moving overseas as an adult and being forced into situations where trying new and different foods was a must, I am now a lot less picky than I was.
      For me, it might have been a way of having some control over my life. I had to go to school, which I didn’t really enjoy, I had to wear the clothing that was chosen for me, I had to do homework, I had so many rules. At least let me have control over what I put into my body!
      The next thing was that the food offered me was quite honestly disgusting. I’m sure that others eating the same things didn’t feel that way, but green peas with a bit of salt and pepper? Those frozen vegetables? They all stank and were all prepared by basically boiling them and they tasted like I was eating straight grass.
      Finally the textures of some vegetables really disgusted me: onions in particular.

      I remember being told that if I was starving, I’d happily eat vegetables. I just took that as a challenge to not eat.

      So, here’s my suggestion. Sit him down and tell him that you are worried about him. Explain that eating more balanced food now will help him concentrate better in school, give him more energy for the games he likes to play and will help his growth. Then look up some recipes that he can try to cook himself, or you with him, and explain that you need him to experiment and find some that he can add to his rotation.

    25. Batgirl*

      When my brother was younger he spent a few years eating nothing but baked beans and then a few years eating nothing but cereal. I remember him retching whenever I made cheese on toast, but the following year he ate nothing but plain cheese microwave pizza. Each new phase saw the former foods fall out of favour. However he eats a decent variety today. He started eating more when he had to grocery shop for himself, increased his variety when he met his partner (“I just put stuff under his nose”?!) and he started eating veggies when he had kids.

  19. Clodagh*

    Can anyone recommend an alternative to a SodaStream? I love sparkling water but would prefer to buy from a different company. Thanks!

    1. Not A Manager*

      I was thinking of posting a similar question today! Soda Stream is the only brand I’ve even heard of. Why do you not like the company?

    2. Another Lauren*

      DrinkMate is based in Ann Arbor–I haven’t used them, so I can’t recommend, but it’s definitely another option.

    3. Princesa Zelda*

      Those stainless-steel whipped cream makers can be used to make sparkling water, too. My siblings and I used to use our dad’s to make Italian sodas when we were kids.

  20. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    Today I am gut punched with sadness about the death of a family member in 2017. He was elderly and it was a gentle death, but today I miss him with every fibre of my being.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Thank you. It’s weird, I sort of don’t feel entitled to this grief (families are complicated) but on the other hand you can’t choose your emotions, especially when big emotions arrive unannounced.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Grief isn’t something you “earn” the right to do. Grief just happens to us.
          It could be that the grief is disproportionate to the relationship. And that happens a LOT.

          I lost a casual friend several months ago. I am not done crying yet. I know for a fact that if I died she probably would not cry over me. I am okay with that. The woman was walking love, man. Everyone was her sister or her brother. She was great. The world is a little dimmer without her.

    1. Not A Manager*

      I’m sorry that you don’t feel entitled to your grief. That’s so hard and lonely.

      For me, the gut-wrenching grief (that pops in long after the “mourning process” is over) sometimes feels like a form of re-connection. It reminds me of the immediacy of my loved one when they were alive, and of the immediacy of our relationship.

      The grief hurts, but if you can, try to feel it and honor it. It will probably pass, and you’ll miss your relative in a more gentle way as you did before. Take this time to remember your relative, and maybe to speak to him or write him a note.

      May your memories be a blessing.

    2. Sara without an H*

      Grief is like that. My mother’s been gone for three years, but there are still days when it bubbles up without warning.

      I’m sorry for your loss.

    3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Thanks everyone for being with me.

      Weirdly, I opened a rarely-used drawer this afternoon and found a copy of his book (should not have been there). Then an acquaintance contacted me to ask me to headline an arts festival next summer. So I guess the universe was getting me ready?

      I now have about nine months to create a new piece on the festival theme, and plan the actual performance(s). I’ve decided to do something that would honour him (would be too outing to discuss the details of where his talents and mine intersect) and I feel … better.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          I’m not particularly woo but I’m recognising the power of coincidence to alter our perspectives.

  21. coffee cup*

    This week I lost someone I felt close to and I’m a bit upset about it. He is still alive, but I probably won’t see him again. It was sudden and he’s blocked me from messaging, so I have no ‘closure’ (whatever that would mean), which makes it harder. I’m the kind of person who likes to say goodbye and feel that things are a bit neater in my mind (for this kind of thing at least).

    Nothing to be done, but not sure how to get the peace of mind I feel I need.

    1. ECHM*

      I’m sorry, that’s rough. A year ago someone I thought was one of my best friends told me we were “done” and it devastated me. Thankfully we’ve come around, but I think I know how you are feeling. Anyway, I am a huge “closure” person too. Maybe you could write your friend a letter to get your feelings out, then delete it, burn it or put it away in a drawer? Or have some type of a “funeral” ceremony for your relationship?

      1. coffee cup*

        That’s a good idea. I’m not great at letting go of things I know I should. We were more than friends for a while so I’m just feeling really confused.

    2. Book Bat*

      Ah, I had this happen about four years ago. Give yourself time to grieve the relationship for sure, use whatever breakup traditions make you feel better, be kind to yourself, find a friend who will sit and say THAT ASSHOLE maybe.

      There’s not a lot of narrative for friendship breakups but there should be!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I am not always sure about that peace of mind stuff, either.

      One thing I have found helpful is to say, “Friend, I wish you well.” I just tell the walls and say it into thin air.

      Remember that the ultimate love is to put someone else’s desires or needs ahead of our own. This can look like, “I love you [care about you enough] to let you go when you want to go.”
      This is the stuff that heart wrenching movies are made from. I am so sorry.

    4. Princess Cimorene*

      You’ll have to grieve, and go through the grieving process which while yes there are defined stages, they’re not always linear. Losing a relationship like this can hurt as much as a death or sometimes more because with death there is a confirmed finality that at some point you accept as fact. But with these types of losses there is a longer period before acceptance. I know. And sometimes that acceptance never fully comes because you still do the bargaining thing in your mind and the hoping thing. But like any grieving process it takes TIME.

      You’ll get through it. You may look back one day with fondness for having known them and whatever role they played or you may look back one day with regret, but hopefully when you’re looking back its will acceptance that this is where it is/this is what happened/and this is okay.

      Good luck.

  22. Overeducated*

    Has anyone here had “deep cleaning” with anesthetic at the dentist for mild to moderate gum disease? My spouse and I went to a new dentist yesterday, and I admit that we procrastinated on finding a new one after our old one retired so it’s been a year between cleanings, but he said we both “need” this procedure at over $500 a pop. I assumed it was a one time “shouldn’t have waited so long to make this appointment” thing, but he told my husband it would have to be a regular procedure multiple times a year, and it couldn’t be prevented with oral hygiene because it was a result of aging past 35.

    My husband was totally spooked, but when we compared notes I started to feel like it sounded fishy. We don’t have especially bad teeth and we’ve never heard any dentist mention this as necessary regular maintenance before. Has anyone else had this? Is this some crazy upselling we can just say no to? Dentist also tried to push invisalign for me, which I’d love someday, but was easy to say “thanks but can’t afford right now.”

    1. misspiggy*

      My husband needs deep cleaning with a dental hygienist a couple of times a year, it hurts a bit but they don’t use anaesthetic. I don’t – it’s just a function of the type of teeth situation one has combined with age. But it shouldn’t cost anything like $500.

      1. Overeducated*

        Can you tell me what distinguishes deep cleaning from regular cleaning in the no-anesthetic case? I’m not sure if maybe that’s the reason for the huge bill.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          I’m surprised they wouldn’t use anesthetic, actually. You know how they use that scraper thing to scrape off tartar? They go below the gum line with it. That’s the deep cleaning. I don’t mean they dig down to the bottom of the root, but they do go just below the line.

          1. Clisby*

            I’ve had this done, I think twice. It’s called scaling. I definitely had local anesthetic. I’d expect it to cost well above what a regular cleaning costs, but I would not expect it to be done multiple times a year. That seems weird. Is it possible the dentist said it would cost $500, but had to be done over multiple sessions? If I remember correctly, the times I had it took 2 sessions each.

            1. The Other Dawn*

              That’s what I was thinking–a total of $500 for the whole thing, but completed over multiple sessions.

              Yes, thank you–scaling. I couldn’t remember what they called.

    2. I edit everything*

      Sounds like a scam to me. We’ve been terrible about getting to the dentist, and even after years without cleanings, this was not recommended to us. We’re in our 40s. Run away.

      1. Overeducated*

        Thanks. I am good at just saying no to stuff like this if I think it’s the right decision. Like braces, I am well aware that straight teeth are easier to clean and that helps as you age, but I don’t have thousands of dollars and hours of sick leave to throw at them now, so no.

      2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        Yeah, it sounds like a scam to me, too. I have terrible teeth and I’ve never been advised to get one of these.

        Does your dentist’s office offer/advertise a lot of cosmetic dental services? I consider that a red flag for shady dentists looking to upsell.

    3. Venus*

      Super fishy! All I have is my own personal experience, but I have gone for extended periods of time without cleanings and was no perfectionist about brushing and flossing, yet all the dental hygienist required was more time as there was more to scrape off. If your gums are unusually sensitive then it might be worthwhile to numb them a bit in order to get everything scraped out from around the gumline, but if this is a generic suggestion which was made to both of you then I would definitely look elsewhere.

      My concern would be that if the dentist is so wildly unusual in their recommendations for the simple things, then how are they going to treat me when I have a big problem. I would not trust this person with my mouth!

    4. Lcsa99*

      Find a better dentist. I think this is a total scam. Once I could believe but not multiple. (And yes, I have had a “deep cleaning” and it sucked and I didn’t feel any cleaner than a regular cleaning).

      When I found my current dentist it had been at least 10 years since I had seen a dentist, probably close to 15. He found a lot of cavities, I had to get a crown (every other dentist had ignored the dead, discolored tooth!) and have two wisdom teeth out, but he did a normal, stress free cleaning and has done the same easy cleaning every six months since then. If you’re in the NYC area I would be happy to recommend my dentist. But don’t waste your money on this guy.

    5. Teach*

      I would maybe get another exam somewhere else and see what they say. I’m in my 40’s and skipped the dentist for like 6 years due to phobia and the resulting cleaning was long but not horrifying and not $500, even though I opted for nitrous due to said phobia.

    6. WG*

      I’d started developing early signs of periodontal disease and my dentist referred me to a periodontist. My cleanings were moved to every 4 months and alternated between the regular dentist and the periodontist. The cleanings are more involved (“deep”) as there is more working being done with the gum line to clear out the tartar buildup. The invoices note these are periodontal cleanings and are at a bit higher cost. But it’s more in the $25-$50 higher range, not hundreds of dollars.

      Find another dentist. This dentist is most likely going to keep trying to push unnecessary products and services just to line his own pockets.

      1. Nita*

        I was also referred to a periodontist, because my gums really were in bad shape. I think it was regular cleanings every three months, and deep cleaning yearly. He would also poke under my gums after every cleaning going on about how much they’re receding and that I need gum surgery. It hurt big time. And then I hit a very stressful time in my life and could not handle being tortured every three months, so I stopped going. When the life stuff got better, I found a new dentist and… turns out I wasn’t getting the right treatment. I had a couple teeth that needed root canals, but the gum stuff was handled nicely with more attention to how I dressed (my gums were very sensitive to the hours I spent outside in sub-zero weather), change of toothpaste, and a herbal rinse (oak bark, chamomile and sage). It’s been seven years. My teeth are still not the greatest, but the gums look good and I’m fine with a regular cleaning once every six months, sometimes once a year. Also re the anesthesia – my dentist used to do it when I started going to her because my gums were so sensitive, but I stopped needing it when they got better.

    7. The Other Dawn*

      I’ve had it done and it was no big deal at all. They squirt some anesthetic along the gum line and then do the cleaning (it’s not a Novocaine injection). It was four appointments, because they do 1/4 of your mouth at each appointment; however, if you ask they’ll probably do it in two appointments.

      I’d say multiple times per year is complete overkill. I get it done every three years or so since gum disease runs in the family and I’m showing early signs. Plus I’m awful with keeping up on flossing.

      Try another dentist. One that isn’t so focused on “selling.” (That seems odd to me–I’ve never encountered a dentist trying to push services on me.)

    8. Nervous Nellie*

      Ugh, dentists. They always seem to be trying hard to add on treatments. There is a great recent article about the trend towards fishy ways of dentists in theatlantic dot com. Put ‘dentists’ in the search field and you will find it. It will reassure you that your skepticism is founded. I for one will never forget the dentist I just dumped because when he saw that I yawned, he announced that I must have sleep apnea, and he had a new diagnostic machine that could confirm that for only $800.oo for the exam. Yeah, right! Buh-bye!!!

    9. Not So Little My*

      Get a second opinion. It could be a scam, it could be for real. My dentist is very reputable, much beloved in our community, and when his office recommended I get a deep cleaning, it was well-explained and I felt it was the right thing for me to do. But I know there are a lot of dentists out there who upsell inappropriately.

    10. Not A Manager*

      Get a second opinion. I have wonky gums and teeth and have a cleaning every 2 months. I don’t know if it’s a “deep cleaning” or not, but they always offer a topical anesthetic gel, which I always refuse. They also don’t charge $500 for the procedure. So if it were me, I’d want to know how does this procedure differ from a “regular” cleaning, and how does the anesthetic differ from topical Lidocaine?

    11. Lora*

      Have had it done with Novocaine, but it was specifically because my gums are receding and were sorta ooky – it can help re-attach the gum to the teeth and bone where it should be, and stop further receding, if done properly.

      My insurance covered most of it though. Even if they hadn’t covered it, it wouldn’t have been $500; maybe half that. And it’s not multiple times per year, it’s like twice a year.

    12. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      Check reviews on the dentist/office before doing anything! A few years back we started going to a new office and allllll of us went from having minor issues to ‘you need all of these procedures and you have 6 cavities’. Also, my husband needed a bridge and the dentist filed his teeth so small the bridge would not stay on. The dentist had gone on maternity leave and her replacement said that he’d fix it for ‘only’ a thousand dollars.
      Few years later I went to write a review and found PAGES of complaints. I am not exagerrating one bit.

    13. Miss Astoria Platenclear*

      IANAD, but to me, the fact that *both* of you happen to need the expensive treatment sketchy.

    14. ThatGirl*

      It’s funny, my husband recently went to a new dentist and they told him he had two tiny cavities and also recommended a deep clean while filling them. To me, that sounded sketchy. But they didn’t tell him he needed one regularly or anything.

    15. Ann O.*

      Are you gums regularly bleeding when you brush? If so, you will benefit from the deep cleaning. If your gumline is pink, firm, and healthy, you probably will not.

      In either case, I would seek out another dentist.

      I agree with the other commenters that the way your dentist is talking about the deep cleaning is deeply fishy. I have had to have it done, but my dentist clearly explained the reasoning and procedure (and my gums were obviously unhealthy… there were several years of trying to get things under control with improved flossing). My dentist also treats it as a one-and-done procedure unless there’s a recurrence of the unhealthy gums. It’s not a routine maintenance thing.

      1. Clisby*

        That was my experience, too. Plus, I’m 65 and have had this procedure recommended (and done) only twice. I’ve never heard of it being routine, like regular cleanings.

    16. Elizabeth West*

      Okay I have had it, but I had some pretty bad gum problems at the time, and I hadn’t been to the dentist in quite a while, and was admittedly lax on flossing (not anymore, though; I floss every night before bed no matter how late it is).

      It took a couple of appointments and I definitely needed it. But we are talking seven years between dentist visits, not one year. And I didn’t have to do it again after I changed my habits and my gums got better. Only regular cleanings every four months to stay on top of it, and the hygienist told me if I kept up my self care, I wouldn’t have to do the deep cleaning again (it was awful). And I was older than 35 at the time.

      It is NOT something that should not be a thing if you have good hygiene, unless maybe you have some kind of health issue that messes with your gums. The fact that the dentist was also pushing Invisalign on you screams upselling. He’s full of shit. Find another dentist.

    17. Figgie*

      Our former dentist retired and the new dentist is constantly pushing things like deep cleaning and scaling (he charges $500.00 per quadrant for a total of $2,000.00). I was talked into having it done many years ago by a different dentist and it really didn’t do much of anything. So, I keep saying no and refusing. He isn’t happy, but it isn’t like he can force me to have it done.

      My much loved now retired dentist is the one who taught me how to decrease the size of my pockets. I use a proxy brush (brushes between the teeth). I dip the proxy brush into the foul tasting, high alcohol yellow/brown colored mouthwash (no mint flavor) and then brush between the teeth with the proxy brush. I do it morning and evening and it has prevented me from having any periodontal disease issues.

      My siblings have and parents had multiple periodontal surgeries with grafts and I have not needed any of that done. The only difference is that I use the proxy brush and mouthwash to clean between my teeth and they only use/used floss.

      Oh, and the current dentist keeps finding “cavities” that magically disappear by the next visit. I let him fill the first ones he found and have refused to let him fill any others since then. I increase the brushing in that area and somehow, the cavities that he said I had are gone six months later. We have very restricted choices because of our dental insurance, so we pretty much only go to this dentist because the cleanings are covered at 100%.

    18. I draw all day*

      Get a second opinion! i never had issues – bleeding gums or anything. my dentist recommend it, $700 after insurance! i switched dentists, told them about other dentist telling me i need a “deep cleaning.” Nope, my gums and teeth are excellent.

    19. Bad teeth*

      Like many others, I call bs. I have bad teeth, periodontal issues. My dentist, found several years after mine retired, did “scaling” (which is probably your deep cleaning) ONCE and has me come in for regular cleanings four times per year rather than two. But on the two additional cleanings I only see the hygenist, not the dentist, so they are less expensive.

      Find a new dentist.

    20. LilySparrow*

      This is BS.

      I am 48 & have never had a cavity or gum disease. I have never had any type of special “deep cleaning” other than a normal dentist office visit 2x per year.

      Your gums do not expire when you turn 35 This guy is a con artist. Run.

    21. Chaordic One*

      I had this done many years ago and I’m really not sure if it was something that I needed done or not. The procedure was covered by my dental insurance so I don’t know what it cost. I remember that they scaped and scraped below the gumline with those pointy metal pic things and that the didn’t use any anesthesia. It was only mildly painful, but there were little drops of blood splattering out of my mouth as they scraped. I had worn white top and had to go home and change clothes afterwords because of the blood spots. (Never had that happen before or since.) If I’d known beforehand what it entailed I would have gotten a second opinion.

    22. Overeducated*

      Thanks for the feedback, everyone! We will look into “scaling,” ask more questions at our next cleanings, and maybe get a second opinion before agreeing to stuff like this.

  23. Kuododi*

    Well, the final pathology is in and it’s confirmed everything we’ve talked about so far. They got all the breast cancer in the lumpectomy, it was Stage II, and all the lymph nodes were officially clean. That leaves genetic screening on the tumor sample. After that, I have a consult with Dr who is going to be doing my preventative radiation treatment. Im looking at 22-25 sessions. (Depending on the recommendation of the radiologist.) I’m starting a cancer recovery program on Tuesday sponsored by Live Strong through my local YMCA. Among other things, I will have access to a trainer 2x/week who will help me with an exercise program specific to helping me regain strength, breathing etc. Finally feeling a little more “back to normal.”

    ;)

    Woohoo!!!

    1. fposte*

      I’m glad to hear all of this, but especially the trainer access, which seems like a great way to improve quality of life.

    2. Breast Solidarity*

      Sounds like great news!

      We have a gym close to my work that offers a special breast cancer exercise program , but unfortunately one has to be completely finished with chemo and radiation before joining, and the programs at the hospital are all during normal business hours :( So lucky you that your Y is more flexible!

    3. Owler*

      Congrats!

      My best friend is about a month behind you (she just found the lump; had a needle biopsy to confirm cancer and MRI; waiting on final path). Any advice to me on how to support her? I’m a cancer survivor as well, but it was a different cancer and also… I’ve blocked out much of that first year of multiple surgeries and chemo. She’s already a YMCA member, so I’ll encourage the Livestrong program.

      1. Kuododi*

        I hope I’m not responding too late for you to read this post. What I have found most helpful in dealing with the initial stress/anxiety were the friends and family who called, did not share a bunch of what I call “war stories” about this or that person who struggled to recover and experienced such horrible symptoms. I appreciate the people who made specific offers of assistance rather than the generic “let me know if there’s anything you need.”. (ie-During the week I received the diagnosis, my Dad invited me over for a sandwich and salad lunch with the specific qualifier I was welcome to talk as little or as much as I wanted about the diagnosis. He SD he wanted to give me a bit of time where I could put that aside and maybe relax a bit.). I have a friend from a local Meetup group who offered to organize meal delivery, pass the hat if DH and I were in a $$$ emergency. We talked and she’s going to get a rotation of group members to help with transportation issues during my radiation treatments. My sister would periodically text her best friend during her time with cancer and let her know she could call if she felt up to talking but if not to just know she was loved. (They lived across the country from each other or believe me…my sister would have been at their doorstep, locked loaded and ready to clean the house and cook a church potluck worth of yummy goodies.).

        (I’m going to reference the Bible here for a brief moment.). My pastoral counseling professor told me once that Job’s friends in the Old Testament did a great job being supportive for the 1st seven days. (They didn’t speak, but tore their clothes and sat with Job on the ash heap.). Unfortunately they chose to open their big fat mouths and start talking. Then we are left with 40 some odd chapters of the friends blaming Job for his trouble. Then the Lord had to step in and tell them all to be quiet as none of them were speaking truth. ;)

        My very best to you and your friend in your journey dealing with this illness. I’ll certainly answer any questions/provide information you may need.

    4. Quandong*

      This is such good news! I hope your radiation is as comfortable as possible (given the nature of the treatment and side effects) .

      It’s great that you have access to regular sessions with a trainer!

      I started exercising with a trainer years after my treatment and it’s made a positive difference even with a delay.

  24. Bibliovore*

    A resounding yes! to Lager Queens. The book is engaging, brilliant, funny and touching. Family relationships, work, vision, and the midwest all come into play. I don’t drink but I did find a N/A hoppy beer so that I could quench my thirst after reading all about IPA craft beer.

  25. LibbyG*

    Lighthearted validation thread! No advice, only affirmation.

    I’ll start. Today is shaping up to be a beautiful early fall day. I should take advantage of it to do seasonal yard work, but I really just want to read all day. Validate me.

      1. LibbyG*

        Thank you! I shall! :)

        Who else wants validation for indulgent choices, unsophisticated tastes, or what have you?

        1. Nessun*

          Me me me! I should be cleaning the apartment today and doing meal prep, but I really just want a blanket and a pot of tea and all of Downton Abbey. Tomorrow’s okay for adulting, right?

          1. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

            You adult ALL week! Take a day of for that ever so important recharging!
            I highly suggest scones with the tea. Or shortbread!

            1. Nessun*

              The restorative properties of scones cannot be overstated. Great addition to the plan! Ita all coming together!

    1. Victoria, Please*

      I want to sit on the sofa and watch Agents of S.h.i.e.l.d all day. (It is going to be 100 degrees, so staying in is good.)

      Enjoy your book!

    2. yeine*

      in the ad screen in my elevator at the Place Unnamed On The Weekend, they show random surveys and health studies, and one said readers tend to live 2-3 years longer than non-readers. Thus, what you are actually doing is taking care of your body, which is higher value than yardwork. You’re exercising! Congratulations.

    3. coffee cup*

      Reading on a beautiful day is the best! Have a nice coffee or whatever your drink of choice is, too, and get comfy and read. Reading makes you awesome! etc etc :)

      I need some validation too because I had all these grand plans to be productive today and I haven’t been. I’m tired and have my period, so it’s not entirely laziness, but I still feel guilty that I’m rewatching The Good Wife (which I’ve seen twice before) and not working on Life Stuff.

      1. LibbyG*

        Good for you for listening to your body! And let’s all thumb our noses at the hegemony of late-capitalism’s obsession with productivity.

    4. Filosofickle*

      I stopped by the library and picked up 5 new books, so if you don’t mind I shall join you in spirit! It’s a perfectly good way to spend a beautiful day. This is new after not having read much in years; I forgot how luxurious and recharging it is to lie around and take in a good story.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Using your library is important too: a small act of community service. Not to be overlooked!

    5. NewReadingGlasses*

      It is currently raining here, and I will be lounging on the couch drinking tea, eating cake, and reading. I wanted to also have the cat sleep on my feet, but he’s not cooperating.

    6. Daphne*

      After a kind of heavy week, my small victory was driving to and from my boyfriend’s house 20 miles away, on my own. I hate driving to the point I thought I had developed some phobia – so definitely progress!

  26. SandrineSmiles (France)*

    I feel so tired.

    I’m pretty much breaking up with someone. He wasn’t there went I went to the hospital for my diabetes, he wasn’t there when I broke down, he wasn’t there when I went to the hospital for the second time… and I’m tired of chasing after him. There’s someone else I like but I don’t know what’s going to happen.

    I’m so tired of being an option. I want to be a choice but it’s hard to feel encouraged right now. I might go see the second person today, since I left a few things at his place but darn it.

    Also, I adopted a dog name Zelda. She’ll be a year old on October 1st. We fostered her as a puppy and had to “give her back” when we learnt we had to move. We now live in a house with some garden and we’re totally fenced in, so I went back last week and voilà. Her brother was never adopted either so we might adopt him too so she’s not alone. Cutest thing ever.

    So not everything is bad, because in one week my little dog has understood how much I need her. But it’s still tiring to get up and think about stuff. Oh well :(

      1. Granger Chase*

        Seconded. Dogs are truly the universe’s greatest gift.
        If a person is not willing to step up and be a partner when you’re going through tough times, they don’t deserve to be there during the good times or for you to be supporting them through their hard times.
        You are worth unconditional love and support. Do not settle for less than that.
        Also if you have the ability to bring her little brother into your family, I’m sure it would be wonderful for both her and you!

    1. Not A Manager*

      “I’m so tired of being an option. I want to be a choice”

      It sounds like YOU are taking steps to choose yourself. That’s super important.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Ya know, I wish I was much younger when I figured out that it’s really important to define what we want in life.
        Sandrine, hang on to this thought. Stick to you goal here. It will serve you well.

    2. MOAS*

      I’m sorry he was such a jerk. Glad ur doing better and taking steps to remove him. Pets are a godsend. I don’t/can’t have any but even listening to cats meow is soothing to me. I have diabetes too. If ur comfortable sharing, I’m an ear to listen <3

  27. Venus*

    How does your garden grow?

    Mine is starting to die off, and I can’t believe that it’s so soon in the fall! My tomatoes are starting to ripen on the vine, but it’s a very sad year for them. The only thing that appears to have done well are the sunflowers, and I successfully tried garlic although I only did one bulb with 6 cloves so will need to do more next year.

    A bit sad to think that this thread will be postponed soon until spring, unless there are australians or other southerners?

    1. Llellayena*

      Oh Lord the peppers…
      I have 2 pepper plants (yellow and orange sweet peppers) and they have been prolific! I’ve had about 1 ripening a day for the last 6-8 weeks. I was not expecting this much of a crop out of two plants!

      1. Venus*

        I’m jealous, as I have tried pepper plants two years in a row and got absolutely nothing. They are right near the tomatoes which do relatively well, so I’m not sure how they can be so problematic.

    2. GoryDetails*

      While I’ve been very happy with the return of cooler weather, I am sad at the end of garden season, even though mine was pretty dismal. For some reason – possibly the heat – my peppers and eggplant did not set nearly as much fruit as they usually do, and while the tomatoes produced lots of fruit, a hefty percentage of that wound up blighted or moldy (one of the risks of choosing heirloom plants). My best producer has been the cucumbers, and even they are behind previous seasons. Ah, well, there are plenty of farmstands and a weekly farmers market downtown…

      What I need to do now is dig up all the garden space and cut back the overgrown shrubs around the house, to get the yard in order before snowfall. So much easier to start up again in spring if the prep work was done in the fall!

      1. Just Emily*

        I have a ton of tomatoes but They are still green. Do i leave them? Pick them and let them ripen inside? (Will they?)

        1. Venus*

          They will ripen inside, although won’t taste quite as good. But better to be ripened indoors than not at all! You might leave some on the vine just to see if those ripen, but I wouldn’t leave all of them (I’m going through the exact same thing right now).

        2. The Other Dawn*

          I picked most of mine and left them on a table in the direct sun. They’ll ripen in a few days. It’s been a crappy garden season for me this year. Nothing has done well other than my herbs (they don’t count, though, since they’re perennials) and my habanero pepper plant.

        3. Parenthetically*

          If you can, I’ve found the best flavor comes from pulling the whole plants up by the root, hanging them upside down, and letting them ripen like that!

    3. Penguin*

      I will certainly be encouraging a plant/garden thread as long as I have vegetation, for whatever that’s worth. And possibly beyond; winter’s a good time to plan next year’s garden, after all.

      Admittedly, I did see leaves changing color yesterday for the first time this year. But at least I’ve got another month and a half or so before winter likely really sets in.

      1. Venus*

        I only started the post myself recently, as I think I’m online sooner than whomever else had been making the post previously. So I definitely encourage anyone else who wants to post. In my case I won’t have much to say a month from now, yet I can continue to ask the question and encourage anyone else who happens to be online earlier than I!

    4. Pam*

      The dog found one last tiny peach on the ground yesterday. He ate it while walking. I guess his peach-hunting skills will need to retire for a while.

    5. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I picked the corn today (I only had four plants) and it was disappointing. Only about half the kernels on each ear developed. I guess if I try it again next year I’ll have to try planting it in a different way. My understanding is that it is wind pollinated so I planted it in a square but obviously that was not sufficient.

      There are still some chiles on the plant but I forgot to pick them before I left for a trip, so I’ll just have to hope they are edible when I get back. The begonias I got on clearance for 50p for 6 plants are doing well though!

      1. fposte*

        I’ve seen 15 plants as a recommended minimum for corn, so I suspect it may have been your small number that caused your problems; a block is the usual recommendation so it doesn’t sound like that was the problem.

      2. Knitter*

        Several years ago we had a single corn plant grow in our garden bed. We didn’t plant it. But about a block away a neighborhood had several. No corn grew, unfortunately.

  28. Just Emily*

    We’ve at painters painting the outside of our house for about 9 full days. It’s a $12k paint job. Do we tip the crew? There were several crews here- power washing, carpentry, painting. The painting crew head has been the point person on the job site, here almost every day all day long, and who I would hand a tip to (if appropriate).

    There is also a project lead, who is basically the money guy who does the final walk thru to make sure everything is done. I’ve seen him only 3 times throughout the project.

    1. Do I tip?
    2. Who?
    3. How much?

    1. Goose Lavel*

      Had my house painted two years ago. The team was in and out in 3 days for outside paint. I didn’t tip and didn’t even think about tipping.

      I don’t tip the plumber or the electrician either. I didn’t tip when I had my roof replaced.

      I always give my gardener a big yearly tip at year’s end, mainly since he is self employed and I really like him.

      I say no tip required. But I think tipping 15% for pizza delivery is a good thing.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      I honestly wouldn’t even think about tipping on things like this, especially not a $12k job. I don’t think you need to tip. Order them lunch on the last day maybe.

    3. Eva and Me*

      Oh, that is a good question, and I’m sorry I don’t have any advice! But I’ll be following for others’ comments and advice, since we will be doing this next year.

    4. It's a fish, Al*

      Whenever I’ve had workers in my house, doing a great job, I’ll often show appreciation by getting them lunch on the last day (and let them know ahead of time so they know they don’t have to bring a lunch).

    5. Ree*

      Having worked as a project manager in construction I would say don’t tip(I’ve worked on everything from high end residential to commercial and never heard of anyone being tipped) BUT I would say if you wanted to do something nice for the crew(s) that everyone likes a snack break! You could have a table setup in the garage/under a tree(out of the way of the work) and provide some snacks and drinks for them to enjoy when they take their breaks.
      Also, just going out and saying hi occasionally and telling various crew members(not just the one in charge) thank you goes a long way. It’s not something they hear as often as they should!

    6. Dan*

      My personal opinion is that if people are receiving at least the non-tipped hourly minimum wage, then you should not tip them. There may be exceptions for people who truly go out of their way for you, but on average, I do not encourage tipping for the sake of it.

        1. Dan*

          So this is where things get weird IMHO… I agree with you 100%, but I simultaneously think it’s totally rational for a business owner to permit the presence of a tip jar for a couple of reasons. (And in this day and age, that includes the tip screen on computerized POS terminals.)

          Reason 1: Enough Americans want to tip such that making it easy for them isn’t a bad thing. The “wanting to tip” is so bad that even at places where they say “don’t”, people insist on it anyway. Look at the early days of Uber when tipping wasn’t really encouraged by Uber itself. When Lyft came to town, they very quickly let people tip in the app. I actually am glad that Uber allows tips; it used to be that some drivers would mark you down for not having a cash tip. Now, they have to rate me before they know if I tipped or not.

          Reason 2: As a business owner, more cash in your employees’ pocket = happier employees and less cash out of your pocket.

          I’ve just decided that we should make it easy for people who want to tip to do so. And I’m happy to say no.

          I’ll note that I hate this “gig economy” thing where companies are treating their staff as contractors and expecting the consumer to tip them as their form of compensation. Lyft/Uber is the only gig economy thing that I use… everything else, like Uber Eats, Door Dash, Insta Cart and all of that? That’s a nope.

    7. Wishing You Well*

      In this case, I wouldn’t tip. There are too many people with an unknown headcount, so I wouldn’t do it.
      I tip workers at my house when I have an exact headcount. I also provide iced drinks if they are here for the day. The cold drinks seem especially appreciated. For those times when a money tip seems not quite right, I have a supply of small boxed chocolates to give out. I gave chocolates to the electrician and the furnace repair guy.
      What I’m trying to say is I’m pro-tipping but not when a confusing number of people are there. What you can do is praise their good work to their boss/business and leave a positive online review if you’re pleased with their work.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I would not tip in this instance. It’s a big job with a big price spread out over a number of days.
      The most I would do is get them coffee or some donuts.

      The people I tip are the individuals who help me, then seem not to charge enough. Or if they take on more than I ask for, such as fixing the leaky faucet then checking the drain pipes and tightening them up. I also tipped one time when a person came on an emergency basis and took on a very physical/dangerous task. I gave him extra for the rush work and for the danger. For the most part I do not tip, I provide coffee and/ or finger foods. I pay promptly.

  29. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    I am heading home from vacationing in California today, and a tour guide in San Francisco this week was talking about single room occupancy units, where you rent your room and share a bathroom and kitchen with the rest of the floor, kind of like dorm living. I was really curious about the logistics of this in an adult setting without RAs (and I never lived in a dorm anyway, so totally imagining from scratch here). Are there communal dishes? Do you have a cupboard for your cooking stuff or store it in your room? How about your groceries? Is it big enough that I could make cookies without inconveniencing my neighbors? (Theoretical “I” – the rent quoted on these things is more than I pay in monthly mortgage for my four bedroom house back in the Midwest.) Has anyone lived in one of these and knows how it works?

    1. fposte*

      SROs historically were classic entry-level living for people, especially single men, who didn’t make enough money for a full apartment; there has been some discussion of how their loss of popularity has contributed to the homelessness epidemic, and they’re often caught between the pressures of gentrification and the pressures of dangerous pre-code structures. They’re often just repurposed old hotels, sometimes with rooms subdivided, and kitchen privileges aren’t always included (note that the historic clientele wasn’t necessarily a big cooking crowd); I suspect also that in a lot of them people wouldn’t be comfortable leaving belongings in a commonly accessed area.

      It sounds like your tour guide may have been putting a bit of a shiny face on them, tbh. There are some efforts at creating better models for them (Wikipedia says Beyoncé gave funding for a nice new SRO build in Houston), but too often they’re less the intentional community she seems to be describing than a marginalized housing.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I think my original comment got eaten by the spam filter, but there are a fair number still in Chicago and surrounding areas that tend to be the only thing keeping single men out of homelessness. I think they serve a good purpose but definitely not dorm like. There’s one called the Tivoli
        Hotel in a nearby suburb.

    2. ThatGirl*

      There are a lot of SRO “hotels” still in Chicago and the area, though they are primarily for single men who might otherwise be homeless. This place is not too far from us http://www.tivolihotel.net/

      In places like California I think it’s more of a response to very high housing prices and a desire for semi communal living and more like microapartments.

    3. MMB*

      There used to be a place like this in a city where I lived. It was located downtown and they did weekly and monthly rentals. Someone I knew lived there for a while and there were no communal dishes or anything. No one who lived there ever cleaned up after themselves either and it was disgusting. I think each building is probably going to be a little different based on tenants and management. So there could be some nicer ones out there similar to an old fashioned boarding house.

    4. Jules the First*

      I lived in one when I first moved to the UK. Yes, there were shared dishes and such, and yes, if you had nice kitchen kit to protect, you kept it in your room. Groceries in some places have a shared fridge/private cupboards; others have a bank of little fridges where you each keep your own stuff (or you have one in your room). There was plenty of room to make cookies etc, but there were also always plenty of neighbours popping in to say how yummy it smelled and volunteering to eat some.

      It was nice to have people around to get to know, especially when moving to a new country, but the bathrooms were a challenge (there are never enough if them) and eventually it got a bit too commune-y for my taste. My current building is all self-contained traditional apartments, but there’s a communal dining room/sitting room with a butler’s kitchen (reheating and serving rather than cooking) and an amazing view if you want to throw a dinner party, which is quite handy.

    5. I Go OnAnonAnonAnon*

      I live in SF. As fposte said, the SROs here are old hotels and right now they are mainly occupied by people with very low incomes, many of whom are otherwise going to be homeless, and with a significant portion of residents who are struggling with addiction and mental illness and whose government benefits won’t stretch to allow them to live elsewhere. From what I know from friends who work with/among this population, anything left in a communal area would be stolen. The kitchens are rudimentary. Security is lax, though most do have front-door staff who are supposed to check IDs, etc. They tend to not be particularly safe, and people are either locked into their own rooms, or out of the building, as the hallways and communal areas can be iffy.

      There is a second coming of SROs, of sorts, though these are touted as “dorm living for adults” : https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/04/technology/dorm-living-grown-ups-san-francisco.html
      These are a very different experience than the older, traditional SROs, and the costs are definitely higher. I don’t know anyone with first-hand experience at/with this newer incarnation.

    6. Anon Librarian*

      I’ve lived in one in SF. I think there might be an effort to remodel and rebrand some of them, but when I was there, they are were what they were historically, and most were pretty run-down. I lived at one of the cleaner ones and we still had a terrible bedbug infestation, and routine Crazy Shyte. It was like what you read about the Chelsea Hotel in NYC. A lot of characters.

      There’s no RA (most of the time). There’s just the office where you pay your rent. But sometimes, people become unofficial floor managers. The longest term, most stable residents become points of contact.

      In my building, we had one bathroom per floor. Three total. About 12 rooms per floor. It was a clusterfork. The bathrooms didn’t always work. On some floors, they were kind of dangerous (used syringes, etc). But, because of the circumstances, the more responsible residents kind of helped each other out.

      I think some have a common kitchen. In mine, there was a sink and a mini fridge in every room. I got a hot plate and toaster. It wasn’t bad.

      The main problem I faced was attempted criminal nonsense from some of the people who worked at the business on the first floor. The management of that business allowed it to continue. That and the bedbugs were why I left.

      In some, there’s a lot of violence. My building had routine domestic violence and random fights, but in the Tenderloin, they’re the kind of place where people get murdered.

      A long time ago, more people with regular working class jobs lived in SRO’s. Now, more of the residents are borderline homeless and in and out of work. People who don’t have a lot of options. Because of that, the companies that manage them tend to neglect basic maintenance and upkeep.

      I think the idea has a lot of potential, though. Hotel-style rooms with common spaces.

      1. fposte*

        I lived in one when I first moved to SF and only realized it in retrospect (it was up on Post St. rather than in the Tenderloin proper, so the neighborhood was okay)–it had Hotel in the name so I thought it was a hotel. I’ve later seen it mentioned as a place to escape from, not to, but I was dazzled by the magic of adventure and just thought it was kind of a crappy hotel. (It looks like it now is basically a crappy hotel.)

        1. Anon Librarian*

          SF used to have TONS of them. A friend of mine has been a documentary photographer there since the 70’s, focusing on working class life. They’ve been tearing them down in order to build new buildings for a long time.

          I think the quality is probably all over the place. And they have their ups and downs. I lived in one ten years ago. Numerous friends lived in the same one at different times, and it had its better years and worse years. I hear it was cleaner and safer in the 80’s. I think SRO life took a hit from the COL going up so fast.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      I lived for a while in a residential hotel in downtown Santa Cruz that used to be a luxury hotel way back in the day. Each room had its own bathroom (mine had an awesome big-ass marble shower), but no kitchens. We were allowed a microwave and a fridge, no toasters or hotplates. Shared washer and dryer on each floor. The place was clean and you had to apply for housing there. It was mostly older people on fixed incomes, so I was lucky to get in. Because of the senior folks, Meals on Wheels would bring over a free turkey dinner plate on Christmas and Thanksgiving and I got that too. :)

      Overall, living there wasn’t too bad. Apparently, it’s gone downhill since then, according to Yelp, but the managers who worked there at the time were decent people and careful about who they rented to.

      I can’t speak to any SROs other than that. I’ve seen microapartments being a thing now, but they’re basically an expensive hostel, so I don’t think I’d be either comfortable or happy there.

    8. LCL*

      Type the word flophouse into your browser for more info. Wikipedia has a good article. My city had a few; after 2 multi fatality fires the building code was changed so it isn’t profitable to build new.

  30. Grace Less*

    Starbucks baristas or frequent customers — I need advice about the merchandise. There is a charity raffle in December, and I’m hoping to redeem my Starbucks stars for a couple of actual items to complement the inevitable stack of gift cards. The rewards program details make me think I can redeem 400 stars for a bag of coffee beans or merchandise up to $20. Is that true? If so, what’s popular? What’s my best bang for buck? Is there a holiday exclusive I should be watching to snag?

    1. Not So Little My*

      It is correct that you can redeem 400 stars for a bag of beans or a merch item priced at $20 or below. You can’t use it for a merch item priced over $20. I’m in tech, not the products department, so I don’t know when the holiday merch is coming out, but it should be soon. There are also some very high-quality travel mugs and travel coffee makers that I’m sure would be popular, but I strongly suspect they are over $20.

    2. Valancy Snaith*

      It is true. Most popular is usually a nice tumbler or mug if you can find one under $20. Holiday launch will be at the beginning of November if you’re interested in holding out that long.

    3. Purt’s Peas*

      A friend of mine runs a blog about Starbucks rewards! She has a really cool calculator tool she made to help figure out what’s a good bang for your buck (and would probably also answer questions if you post them :D ) The URL is StarbucksHacker dot com.

  31. Lonely at times*

    I’m in my 40s and female and I have a hard time starting and maintaining friendships. I’m not sure if it is something I am doing (or not doing). It has been like this since I was a teen.

    I think I’m a very nice person and caring. When I see groups of females hanging out, it does make me sad. Do you have any tips?

    1. I edit everything*

      Same. For me, it was finally finding the right group—which formed around one woman in particular who wasn’t me.

      In the meantime: *waves shyly* Want to be friends?

    2. Tara R.*

      Up early for a race! I left a little later than I meant to so I am now sitting somewhat anxiously at the bus stop. D: Hoping I get there with enough time to bag check, and that my knee doesn’t bug me too much!

    3. Nessun*

      I have no ideas, but internet sympathy tea (and hugs, if you like). I’m 42 and I’ve never been good at socializing. My own gender is a mystery to me…women, eh?

    4. Wishing You Well*

      Find a local group that shares one of your interests and sign up. Go a few times to see if you like the group. Try another group if the first one doesn’t work out. The advantage is you can always talk about the interest if other topics fail. Think charity groups, hobby groups, political groups, volunteering, etc. It IS harder to make friends when you’re older but it’s certainly possible.
      Best of luck.

    5. MMB*

      I’m an introvert with a very public facing job so I’m constantly surrounded by……friendly aquaintences, but I just thought about it and my only “friend” is probably my sister. (Who I’m not speaking to at the moment {wry grin}.

    6. Sparklingstars*

      I’m the same. I feel like I struggle the most with maintaining friendships. I never know how often I should be reaching out to people, and so I tend not to reach out unless I have something specific to say. But then I’m afraid that makes it look like I’m not interested in maintaining the friendship. I have a couple of friends that I’ll text maybe once every two weeks, and several others that weeks can go by with no communication between us. Not sure if there’s something wrong with me and my social skills or if it’s just that making friends as an adult is just plain hard.

    7. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      Hmm, this sounds exactly like me, but I don’t remember posting it!

      I have always had a hard time making real friends. People seem to like me and I can get along with just about anyone, but somehow it’s just never sustained. None of my friends ever call me, I am always the one who has to make the effort to call them. I rarely get invited to events. Part of the problem is that I travel from city to city quite a bit, so sometimes I’m not around, but it still hurts to find out that some big event has happened that I could have gone to, but I didn’t know about it. Also, I don’t have kids, and most of my friends do. That’s also a big factor, I think.

      Any of you friend single people in the UK? We should get coffee sometime.

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          I’ve said it before but it didn’t work out, but it would be nice to have a meet up sometime!

    8. Miss Astoria Platenclear*

      You’re not alone in feeling this way. I feel awkward in oftten not quite fitting in with other women. I’ve realized over time that I seem to relate better with women who are older than me. Maybe older friends can work for you, too.

    9. TimeTravelR*

      Wow. I actually came to the conversation today because I am feeling like this. I am a little older and we’ve moved quite a bit so any friendships I have made have been hard to maintain. And I don’t make friends easily. I was thinking tonight that by the time ppl reach my age they probably have solidified those relationships.
      Part of the problem is me… I don’t share well. I am so private. Plus I feel judged when I do share some of my “stuff.”
      But I would like to make a good friend or a few friends (I don’t need a crowd) that I could be yak with and maybe do something occasionally.

    10. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

      Most people tend to bond over shared interests and values. Is there some sort of activity or group you could join? And is it just females you want to befriend? In my experience, women are conversationalists. Most of my friends are other women for this reason. We bond a lot by going out for tea/coffee/drinks and just catching up on our lives. If you’re more into physical activity, you can go hiking or rock climbing or something.

    11. Orange You Glad*

      I read once that relationships grow through minutiae.

      That people who share the little everyday stuff are emotionally closer and feel more connected than those that connect on the big stuff less often.

      It’s the difference between the friend you can say, “I got 5 avocados and 4 of them were bad and can you return cut open avocados?” and have a conversation about it vs the friend you connect with 3x/year and it’s all high level “health = good, work = ok, house = happy with it”.

      So to make friends, I have intentionally shared more mundane minutiae over and over with people I want to develop closer relationships with.

      I also have a personal rule of being willing to initiate contact/phone calls/text first/plan getting together 10x in a row before giving up. Like if I initiate 4x and then they initiate 1x? Good. But if it’s ALWAYS me initiating? That’s not an even relationship.

      So I prioritize sharing mundane and asking them about the mundane in their life and being the brave one who arranges everything for the first while.

      1. PX*

        I love your tip about the mundane stuff. So true. This came up in another thread a while ago about how to progress from just casual acquaintances to more friends and my tip was not being afraid to share if you’re having a bad day (and want to cancel plans!)

        I’m really bad about initiating though. My threshold is way lower than yours, probably 2-3 before I give up :/

        1. Derjungerludendorff*

          I usually try 2-3 times too. After that, they either can’t respond, don’t want to respond, or don’t care enough to try.
          If they’re someone I’ve known for longer/better, I usually try again later. For casual aquaintences, I normally stop there.

    12. Lonely at times*

      I sincerely thank you all for sharing your experiences and giving me suggestions. They really help a lot, both in feeling that it is not just me and to give me guidance on what I can do more.

      I posted a similar note on another site months ago when I was feeling down about this. Some of the responses were harsh and not particularly useful.

      This site has wonderful folks willing to help. Thank you!

    13. The New Wanderer*

      I think this is really, really common. I’m on the periphery of a group of women friends who I now think are the exception, not the rule. I’m actually about to opt out of a semi-annual event because I really don’t like the feeling of hearing about all the stuff they do together (in various numbers, but none are me) the rest of the year. I’m not flouncing, just reached the natural end for my participation.

      I used to be much better about wanting to keep in touch and really motivated to do so, but in the past bunch of years I’ve just backed off and now have no one I can call a good friend. I’ve been to many, many exercise classes and a number of other social type events that other people find friends at but I tend to keep to myself. Lots of good acquaintances though and I get the majority of my social interaction at work. I’ve just come to accept that I’m better at relating to people through work than outside interests.

  32. MOAS*

    I have so much to share (or nothing really, just feeling super chatty) so I’ll be posting a lot this weekend….
    It’s been a tough week. Work and home were ok, so mentally and emotionally fine, but physically tough. Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday I woke up at 430 each day and went to the gym 2x this week. Wednesday was my appt with my endocrinologist.

    The gym-idfk what’s going on w me now. I worked out twice and now I just feel bloated, heavy, and tired. I can’t stand for more than 1 minute, and My hips and legs ache from walking half a block and I need to stop. While I know I am not in great shape, NONE OF THIS IS NORMAL FOR ME. This is not exercise pain. I’ve been exercising at least once a week for about 3-4 months now and while I’m DEFINITELY not expecting weight loss, I was NOT expecting to feel worse! My schedule isn’t flexible where I can change my timings so morning is the only time. The Tiredness and pain is so vague that no dr will help other than to shrug and say “lose weight, it’ll be easier on ur body.”

    Wednesday was my endocrinologist visit. I worried I might have PCOS along with the messed up diabetes so they took blood and urine and ran some tests and I have a follow up in 1 month. Some results came back already and they seem ok? My dr said she’ll discuss them at my visit so i believe it’s safe to assume that nothing in the results requires urgent tending to. I’m back to wanting to be pregnant again, and the desire was strong up until the dr said flat out not yet due to the diabetes. she said losing weight and being consistent with meds will fix the issues I’m having.

    In my past experience and everything I’ve read it’s to be consistent. Keep at it, get over the hump and then it gets easier. But now, it feels like I’m driving in a dark road with no lights and not knowing when the lights will come on. Not knowing when I’ll feel like myself again. I lost weight and got healthy before. I thought I could do it again but I just can’t seem to get it together.

    1. LibbyG*

      How frustrating! Exercise is supposed to pay off, dammit! I hope you get some kind of breakthrough soon, either on the exercise side or the info side.

      1. MOAS*

        Thank you!
        It is frustrating—On one hand, I feel “good” that I exercised twice this week, but OTOH I’ve been very sedentary otherwise. I used to wake up early and exercise all the time and lost weight. Before work is the only time that works for me during the week so I can’t switch up my timings.

    2. Wishing You Well*

      Are you seeing another doctor besides your endocrinologist? Sounds like you need another set of eyes on this strange new symptom. I’m wondering if you should exercise at the dr’s office and then have your vitals or blood drawn to catch a transient problem.
      (My spouse has a worrisome transient symptom that the docs just shrug at, too.)
      Keep trying for answers. I hope you find some soon.

      1. MOAS*

        I do have a primary now and she’s been more attentive and willing to listen to me than other drs have been. I can message her but she will say “come in” and my copay is a little high and I’m seeing specialists these coming months. My ins does allow me to see specialists w/o a referral

        Maybe it’s something I’m eating or not drinking enough water, less sleep making me feel physically sensitive or I gained a few lbs and can feel it or a new way of being aggravated by exercise. It’s such a mystery

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I wonder if you need a chiro- you sound like me when I have a hip joint acting up. Yeah, it hurts in your legs down to your feet. Exercise will antagonize it.

    4. Anono-me*

      It’s so incredibly frustrating not to be heard. Sometimes it even feels worse than the problem.

      In the interim, have you considered massage or a water massage? It probably won’t solve the underlying issue, but it should help with the tension caused by pain and stress.

      I hope you get both heard and helped soon.

  33. Iced mocha*

    I hate being the person that complains about Starbucks but since I can’t/won’t do it in person, I’ll do it in (relative) anonymity.

    I order my drinks 30m in advance thru mobile order because it’s typically been super crazy busy on Fridays. I get there and as usual it’s super crowded. My drink was ready, but it didn’t have whipped cream as it was supposed to.

    They fixed my drink but then it was overflowing the cup and dripping all down the cup. The guy handed it to me and I asked (what I felt was in a polite but loud tone since it’s crowded in there) to please clean it up, it’s dripping all down the cup. He just put it in another cup. I took it and said thank you and walked away. It was still dripping.

    Yes it’s a small thing, it might be petty, but I’m annoyed that it wasn’t made right, and that they gave me a drink that was dripping. (Please no beg comments on the type of drink I got or that it’s Starbucks-this was a treat for me yesterday).

    This is my usual spot so I won’t go online to complain but just wanted to vent. Thank u.

    1. Goose Lavel*

      I say vote with your dollars and go to an independent coffee dispensary if you want dependable service. You also keep the cash local instead of helping a giant corporation. FU Howard Shultz.

      Shout out to Suju’s in Fremont California! Both location are awesome and way more friendly than any Starbucks.

      1. iced mocha*

        I’m open to trying that, but the biggest draw for Starbucks & DD is the mobile app ordering. I can be very picky and specific about my drink (yes I’m one of those lol) and I get too much anxiety ordering in person/online. Id freeze up and worry if they got it wrong. Idc if they make fun of me when I’m not around, but I wouldn’t want to hold
        Up the line or anything else that’ll draw negative attention to me.

    2. Not A Manager*

      It sucks when your indulgence that you’ve looked forward to is somewhat ruined by poor service. Part of the indulgence is the experience itself, not just the product. I totally understand why you’re irked, and I also understand why you wouldn’t want to escalate it.

    3. OhCanary*

      Maybe try reframing this a bit? If your Starbucks location is so busy that you need to mobile order 30 minutes in advance (which is WILD — my ‘bux is in Penn Station — literally inside — and I only need to mobile order about 6-8 mins in advance!) maybe consider what it must be like to work there? Their volume must be incredibly high. The baristas have hundreds of drinks to make.

      The world is on fire, also, so there’s that. :/

      1. Not A Manager*

        I think this is really unfair.

        First of all, the world will be on fire whether or not the poster’s order is made correctly, so I don’t see that anyone loses out if it is made properly.

        Second, if your metric for “am I allowed to have feelings about this” is “well, is it better or worse than the destruction of the entire world and all of humanity,” that’s a pretty high bar to clear before you’re allowed to feel anything at all. I wish people wouldn’t play “more like French toast” literally EVERY time someone else grumbles. This reminds me of the letter a while ago about the co-worker who met every complaint with WELL AT LEAST YOU DON’T HAVE CANCER!

        1. Iced mocha*

          Thank you.

          Canary, Yes the world is on fire, bad things are happening and I’ve been through bad things but….. my post was literally not about those things at all. I’m curious, Are you going to go to every single post on this weekend thread and say “the world is on fire”?

      2. Not A Manager*

        Also, and then I’ll stop posting about this, I think there’s a lot of privilege in scorning someone else’s apparently trivial complaint. Fancy Starbucks drinks aren’t free – economically or in terms of calories – and if someone has chosen that for their one affordable indulgence that they order ONCE A WEEK ON FRIDAYS and look forward to it, I don’t think it’s nice to tell them that it’s super petty for them to want to enjoy it.

        1. Anonybingo*

          I mean, someone made a mistake and slopped a bit of whipped cream. That happens. I’m with O Canary that it’s not a big deal. You can say, “it’s dripping; would you please wipe it off?” and then your problem is solved in the moment. It’s not worth holding onto and venting about after the fact. OP says they have too much anxiety to order this drink in person but had enough ability to ask for one clean up. This employee apparently was not very good and needed two requests to do his job properly.

          1. Iced mocha*

            But they didn’t clean it up. That’s what’s bugging me. And seriously, everyone here at some points cents about seemingly minor stuff. Are you going to make this comment on every single post?

        2. Iced mocha*

          I’ve had the same thing happen at Dunkin’ for a regular black coffee, liquid overflowing and dripping down the cup. It’s sloppy service. Whether it costs $1 or $13, why should I take sloppy servivr.

    4. Pam*

      I recommend calling the store to speak to the manager or Starbucks 800 number. Either way, your complaint should be handled with an apology and most likely a refund or freebie.

    5. LGC*

      Eh, it happens! It sounds pretty inconvenient, though – and I’ve had similar issues.

      I do have a question – you said the store was crowded, but was it loud?

    6. Not So NewReader*

      You know, sometimes stuff just hits me wrong. I dunno, it’s not big but suddenly it bothers me. One time DD would not give me my penny change. And how many times has this happened. I sat at the drive through waiting for my penny. The person walked away.

      I guess I have had too many years in retail. I came home an emailed the company. That is the customer’s penny. If they want to throw it in the penny bin that is their choice to make not the employee’s choice.

      OTH, one day I grabbed a coffee and the lady in front of me drove off without paying the full amount. I asked how much she owed and I paid it. So, clearly, my sense of outrage can run in different directions at different times.

      As to your cup being such a mess, I have seen people get fired for that. That’s not great service at all.

      1. BRR*

        Stuff varies with me as well. One day I would be super mad and the other would just feel bad for them because retail is tough. My go to phrase is “I hate to be that customer” but can you wipe the cup off.

        1. Thursday Next*

          I think this is a great approach: Acknowledging that it’s extra work while stating your specific request.

  34. Sled dog mama*

    My daughter started kindergarten a few weeks ago and today we were watching a video of her class that the teacher sent out (school uses an app to regularly update parents using text, pictures and short videos). She pointed out one girl and said she’s the bad girl who doesn’t listen. From the picture (not very clear) it looks like this girl has Down’s syndrome.
    I’m at a loss how to address this with her. Physical disabilities were easy to talk about with her because we could talk about needing aids like a step stool for her and some people needing an aid like a wheelchair. But how do I address that she isn’t bad she’s just got extra challenges.

    1. Kathenus*

      Whether or not the girl in question has any disabilities, physical or otherwise, that is so very inappropriate by the teacher to call it out to others. I think this is a situation that should be reported straight to the principal. This teacher needs to be told full stop that this is completely wrong, and to never do anything like this again.

      1. Sled dog mama*

        Oh no! I’m sorry that was unclear. The video was of the whole class and my daughter pointed out the other student not the teacher.

        1. Granger Chase*

          It might be worth following up with your daughter though to see if it’s only her observations leading her to say this is a bad girl or if something in the way the teacher is handling the other child’s behavior in class is leaving an impression on your daughter that the other child is bad. Either way, you do need to talk to your daughter, but I agree with Kathenus that if this started with the teacher, it needs to be addressed with the school.

        2. Kathenus*

          Sorry! I read it wrong. But I have to admit I’m relieved. Much more common for a child to say something like that than a teacher, and as others are noting it’s a good chance for a teachable moment with your daughter.

    2. Granger Chase*

      I think you can do this in a similar way as you did when you explained how some people need physical assistance to do things. You can tell her that people need aids for help with walking just like people need aids for help with learning in school. It’s tricky because she is young, but I think if you remind her of your original conversation, you can start this off with what you said here, about how her classmate is not bad but has extra challenges ahead of her in order to learn. And how it can be frustrating when you want to learn something, but when you don’t understand or need extra help, it can make you upset. I know that there’s a lot more to it, but as she’s only in kindergarten I know it’s hard because you want to explain it in a way that helps her understand now but that sets you up to expand upon it later.

      I also want to say thank you for wanting to talk through this with your daughter and that I think it is great you are being so proactive about handling this. I am hoping commenters with young children may be able to give you better suggestions than I can as they may have had similar conversations with their own kids. Good luck!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Well said.
        You can also say that sometimes people have difficulties inside their bodies that we cannot see. You can point out it’s possible for a person to look like everyone else and yet have something going on inside them that makes things hard for them to do.

        You can also talk about what “bad” means. People are bad, when they know they should not do something but they decide to do it anyway. Not everyone who does something wrong can control their ability to stop themselves.

    3. sequined histories*

      “Things that are easy for you can be hard other people. Sometimes it’s hard for someone to learn to follow the directions! Calling someone “a bad girl” because she’s having a hard time learning to follow directions will not help her learn faster. It might also hurt her feelings.”

    4. Vanellope*

      Kids that age are very perceptive. My daughter just started first grade and last year had a “spirited” little boy as a classmate. Her poor teacher was a saint and never said anything inappropriate, but my daughter was very quick to catch on that Logan didn’t listen and Logan got out of line and Logan was always talking. I don’t think this is necessarily coming from the teacher as some have wondered, but regardless of reason for the other girl’s issues, you can always just say everyone learns these things at different rates and just because she is struggling does not mean she is “bad”. She’ll get there and it might be a good opportunity for your daughter to help her remember things – kids love to be useful and it could help her shift from judgey to helpful. (Not in a bossy way, but kids in my daughters class are always reminding each other of things to help them all stay straight.)

    5. Not A Manager*

      It might help to explain to your daughter that one of the things people LEARN in school is how to follow directions and how to interact in a classroom. A lot of kids (and parents too) think of “learning” as things like colors and numbers, or reading. They’re pretty tuned in to the idea that people learn academic subjects at different rates and that you don’t scorn someone for learning more slowly. If you can expand your daughter’s idea of “learning” to things like social skills and classroom readiness, it might be easier for her to understand her classmate’s challenges.

      1. fposte*

        I think this is a really useful point–that just as she isn’t a “bad girl” for needing to be taught reading and math, her classmate isn’t a bad girl for needing to be taught how to listen. There’s an issue here not just about how she thinks about a disabled classmate but how she thinks about learning, including her own.

        Not to say that she’s going shockingly wrong or anything–kids start with a crude binary of good and bad and it takes a fair bit of coaching and development before they start to see it’s not that simple. She may be even anxious about the girl’s classroom behavior and be expressing that anxiety through that binary. But I think there’s merit in framing this as being about everybody, including your daughter herself (and maybe you have some examples of your own for her), and not just her classmate.

      2. LilySparrow*

        This is the way I approached similar situations with my kids. It helped that their report cards at that age had both academic & behavioral goals listed as 1=beginning, 2=progressing, and 3=consistent.

        So one child might be beginning at following directions, and another might be beginning at counting to 20.

        Sometimes they really are picking up on a significant gap in another kids’ development.

        It’s not necessarily the case in OPs situation. But when it is obvious, I personally feel it’s a disservice to deny what they are seeing or pretend it doesn’t matter. In those situations, I try to give them real information, and teach them person-first and respectful language (Jimmy has …, not Jimmy is…)

        It helped that we had some family friends with different genetic disorders, so that gave a concrete example of what a “developmental delay” is.

    6. LibbyG*

      I’ve tended to avoid focusing on the disability and just use the opportunity to lean into a growth mindset. “Well, maybe she’s still learning to stay focused on school, just like you’re still learning how to tie your shoes.”

      And then I’d look for a natural opportunity to say something like, “Oh, look! She has a turtle on her shirt. She likes turtles just like you!” Or, “Look at her big smile! She looks like she’d be fun to play with.”

      I think I sometimes neglect to validate my kids’ feelings though when another kid’s actions frustrate them. I’m working on that.

    7. Ann O.*

      IMHO, before you address that the girl has extra challenges, you should talk to your daughter and learn more about both the girl’s actual behavior and how that behavior is impacting the class. If you’re diagnosing based on an unclear picture, you may not even be right. While I think it would still be worth talking to your daughter about the value judgment in “bad”/”good”, how you approach that will probably change a lot depending on whether you’re talking about someone with clearly diagnosed special needs versus whether you’re talking about age-appropriate behavioral issues.

      You also want to be careful not to invalidate your daughter’s experiences if the girl’s behavior is negatively impacting your daughter’s ability to learn or feel safe in class.

      I think there’s a different set of issues if you can confirm that the classmate probably does have Down’s Syndrome or other specific needs. I currently teach an integrated class with a special needs student and now that I’ve had that experience, I am much more sympathetic to the difficulties involved than I was when I just read cheerful articles about the benefits of integrated classes. I am absolutely NOT trained in how to do this, and it is much harder than articles make it sound. The strategies that sound so easy when I read about them have proven to be difficult in practical application. Your daughter’s teacher may not have the training the teacher needs either.

      So again, you want to walk a careful line between encouraging your daughter to be empathetic and respectful of differences while not minimizing the challenges.

      1. Knitter*

        Excellent comment.

        My whole job is coaching general ed teachers to use inclusive teaching practices. I wouldn’t have a job if it was easy.

        Also, I’d ask the teacher if they use any language to talk about differences. The teacher can’t confirm is the other student has a disability, but it’s much easier to reinforce something already taught.

      2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        Yes, my cousins went to school in a district with radical inclusion and there were challenges to the method. One of them was the “quiet kid who doesn’t complain” who kept being assigned as the seatmate to children with behavioral problems who hit and bit and threw chairs.

        Make sure your child is safe before you protect the other child!

        1. Tinuviel*

          Oh man this was my entire childhood. “Put quiet, clever girl next to rambunctious boys, maybe she’ll rub off on them.”

    8. Sled dog mama*

      Thank you for the great replies! Munchkin’s behavior the past two days has actually led to several good moments to tech bad vs. bad behavior.
      After several conversations my daughter has articulated that this particular girl doesn’t listen to the teacher well. I had not thought of framing it as she is learning to listen while munckin has already learned that skill but that is a great way to frame this. Munchkin actually listened to that and extented it to a friend who has recently started in her gymnastics class so while being the same age and better at some things she is just beginning to learn others.

    9. Snarflepants*

      “Her brain is different. People can have different brains, just like we can have different hair colour or eyes.” Basically, it’s a conversation opportunity for how being different is okay. You could also talk about how some kids need help listening. And that needing help is okay.

    10. Meepmeep*

      I explained to my three year old that some people have developmental disabilities, which means their brains don’t work the way her brain works, and which means they may do odd things, be unable to talk or walk, or be unable to control themselves every time, and that it’s not their fault – it’s just because they are disabled. (This was after we met a developmentally disabled man on the beach and had a bit of an interaction with him). She seems to get it just fine. Maybe frame it this way?

    1. Samsally*

      We spent our second date putting together Ikea furniture and didn’t want to murder each other when we were done, lol.

      I was like “dang, that was fun and not stressful?? weird!”

    2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Probably not useful, but: after a year or so of increasingly close friendship, I looked at him across a football field at marching band practice and it just sort of clicked.

    3. aarti*

      When I’d rather be sitting next to him on the couch watching a movie or cooking dinner together than almost anything else. Although we still enjoy solo time!

    4. Eva and Me*

      When I realized I could just be myself and not have to worry about coming across as weird or deeply flawed.

    5. Alpha Bravo*

      The abject terror. Because I did not want to be in love with someone. It happened anyway. Not sorry. ;)

    6. My Brain Is Exploding*

      We were friends and could easily talk and had common interests. Then we kissed and that sealed it!

    7. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      On day 1: we met 30 min and found out we’d nearly bumped into each other 10 years beforehand. Also he was gentlemanly and didn’t pressure me one way or the other. I had warm & fuzzy feelings vibe-wise and knew we’d be spending more time together.

      On month 3: when we invited each other to be plus 1’s at respective friends’ weddings and we behaved well (no drunken debauchery) and neither of us got weirded out by weddings.

    8. Clever Name*

      When I realized that he makes me feel so amazing and I just want to be around him, no matter what we are doing.

    9. Square Root Of Minus One*

      On a very, very crappy day at work, everybody I talked to either just annoyed me or made me feel worse. Everybody except him, who made me feel just a tiny bit better.
      When that bubbled into my conscience (that took a few hours), I also realized that snuggling with him on a couch watching even the stupidest show on the TV was all I wanted for the evening.

  35. Goose Lavel*

    How’s everyone doing with their chronic illness? Please share your thoughts and please vent your frustrations.

    This community is very understanding and empathic and has always provided me with encouragment to help me live with my invisible chronic condition (catastrophic tinnitus and hyperacusis).

    1. Pam*

      I have Charcot- a disease of neuropathy where the bones in your feet collapse and break. Left for surgery in 2008 was successful. I had surgery on my right foot this year- still finalizing my healing, but I can walk again.

    2. Fikly*

      My sugar keeps going too low the last few days, so I’ve been feeling not great. But on the other hand, I’ve been getting to eat carby treats that are normally forbidden.

      I also found a physical therapist a couple months ago whose entire client base has EDS (as do I) and the difference is just astonishing. I am seeing her for a specific issue caused by the EDS, but I kind of want to just keep seeing her once a week because she’s making my whole body feel better.

    3. LilySparrow*

      Talked to my doc this week about my pain flares & stiffness, which I hadn’t really brought up with her before. I had been dx’ed years before with my autoimmune disease, and have kinda worked out a regimen that was pretty good most of the time.

      She knew my diagnosis, but wasn’t really aware how much it affected me on a regular basis. There really aren’t any medical interventions for me. The stuff that exists is for people with degenerative conditions and severe pain, and comes with a lot of downsides. So I never really bothered talking about my constant low-grade suckage. There’s nothing for her to do.

      She was pretty concerned, and sent me for bloodwork to see if maybe we could tweak something and get some improvement.

      So, the good news is, my labs are all perfect and I’m doing everything right. Bad news is, this is as good as it gets because I’m already doing everything right.

      In better news, I went swimming today, which was lovely.

  36. LateBreakfast*

    I had to be somewhere at 8:00 this morning, and as I was driving through my neighborhood I saw a very young girl walking along the sidewalk alone. I’m not around kids much, but I would say she looked early elementary school age. Basically too young (I think) to be walking somewhere alone. I considered stopping to ask if she needed help or wanted me to walk with her, but I wasn’t sure if that would scare her or if someone might see me and call the cops, so I didn’t. I thought I saw another vehicle stop in her vicinity in my rear view mirror (a white van of course), which worried me.

    Are there any situations where I should stop and offer to help children? Or is it best to leave them alone unless they ask for help or are obviously hurt or in danger?

    1. Koala dreams*

      If you find a lost or abandoned child, you can offer to call their parents or the police and stay with them until they arrive. It’s hard to say in the situation you describe, since some parents do send their children walking to school alone. When I was a small kid that was the normal way to go to school, but the world is different now.

      1. LateBreakfast*

        It did occur to me that she might be walking to a friend’s house (so equivalent to walking to school then), so I guess it was good that I just left her alone.

        Offering to call parents or the police instead of just asking if they need help is a good idea.

      2. Parenthetically*

        The thing that always kills me though is that objectively, from a crime perspective, kids nowadays are far less likely to be kidnapped than I was growing up in the 80s.

        1. fposte*

          It’s weird, right? The problem for me is that the lowered number of free-roaming kids does mean that there’s a higher chance that this particular kid is AWOL (or underparented). So on the one hand I say “Yay!” to the parent who said “Of course you can walk to Madison’s just a block away” but also would like to know that that’s what happened and not that little Emma has darted out the back when nobody was looking.

    2. Alex*

      FWIW, I definitely went places alone at age 6-7. I don’t think it is illegal or anything like that to have a 6 year old walk a few blocks by themselves. Some parents do let their kids do that, some don’t, but I think that is a parenting decision and certainly some kids that age can handle it (some can’t).

      Now, if she looked lost, in distress, not being careful in traffic, etc., that is different. But if she was just walking along looking content and OK, I would leave it alone.

    3. Anon the Third*

      When I worked for a Very Large Retailer, we would sometimes get runaways or other kids in trouble in the store. The trick we used to tell the difference between kids who needed help and kids who didn’t was to look at their shoes. If they had inappropriate footwear, like slippers or just socks, then we followed up. It was a pretty reliable indicator

      1. fposte*

        Oh, this is a really good tip, thanks! Probably parents would have thought to look for that, but I wouldn’t.

    4. CatCat*

      When I was a kid… probably around 7… My mom let me walk alone maybe 1/4 mile to the donut shop on Sundays to pick up donuts.

      Unless you see any actual signs of trouble like the child being injured, wearing clothing inappropriate for the weather, or in visible distress, I’d leave the child alone.

      Parents have had CPS called on them for letting kids independently do things in public and I think it’s totally bananas. I was actually fearful this would happen to me and my husband when we let the kiddo go out and about on his own.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yeah, this is my big fear with intervening. I absolutely do not want to see parents who are letting their kids do totally age-appropriate things, like walking two blocks to grandma’s or up to the park at the corner, have a file opened for them with CPS.

    5. Dan*

      I’d leave it alone unless you saw obvious signs of distress. When I was in grade school, I walked/rode my bike all over town and these days, really bemoan the lack of such autonomy that kids have these days. I do think we are doing kids a disservice by not teaching them autonomous skills that are age appropriate. That’s the start of the slippery slope that ends with “my parents attend my job interviews with me.”

  37. Gloucesterina*

    I am somewhat struggling with the deep cleaning of my new-to-me apartment – specifically understanding what is possible to make clean (or at least make to appear to be clean) and what is not in an old apartment. Here are some examples:

    – brown gunk at the very bottom of a toilet bowl
    – gray stains around the top rim of a different toilet bowl (side note: the toilet bowl is tan colored porcelain – why??). I do know the water in this area is hard.
    – brown stains in caulk behind kitchen sink faucet

    Ok, I’ll stop regaling you all! Can you suggest any cleaning tips or helpful mindsets to adopt in this cleaning process (or making peace with what cannot be made shiny and sparkling?). Thank you!

    1. ThatGirl*

      Try CLR in the toilet, just let it sit for an hour or two. If it’s calcium or lime buildup that’ll do the trick. Hydrogen peroxide on the caulk?

      1. Gloucesterina*

        Ooh CRL combined with pumi is helping! In fact, I’ll need to get another pumi, it’s worn down to a nub.

      2. No fan of Chaos*

        Do not use a pump-it scrapes off the shiny finish on the porcelain and the stain will reappear again and again. Try barkeepers friend.

    2. Wishing You Well*

      The brown stain in the caulk might be IN the caulk. I had mold UNDER clear caulk. Removing the caulk was the only solution.
      Be careful about what you use on what surface. Some cleaners will permanently damage some surfaces.
      Sounds like you have hard water like I do.

    3. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      Try the Zep products! They work better than anything that I’ve ever used. I used to clean houses, and for awhile I was doing rentals. I’ve done hoarder houses, y’all!
      We have REALLY bad hard water here, so I try to use the Zep Acidic Toilet Bowl Cleaner once a week overnight yo keep the scale down.
      Wear gloves!
      (I am not affiliated with Zep whatsoever, I’m just a fan)

    4. CoffeeforLife*

      Yes to the pumice stone (use wet!) and a good industrial degreaser/degunker from a hardware store. Pick up a caulk removal tool (>$5) and a tube of caulk (>$5) and redo that sh*t! It’ll be an hour of work but you will feel so much better. I cleaned tile grout with a mixture of oxiclean and hydrogen peroxide. Fantastic!

  38. Tara R.*

    Up early for a race! I left a little later than I meant to so I am now sitting somewhat anxiously at the bus stop. D: Hoping I get there with enough time to bag check, and that my knee doesn’t bug me too much!

  39. OyHiOh*

    So here’s one of the weird things about grief and loss that I’m dealing with right now.

    One of the defense mechanisms against trauma is intellectualising – the figure out what to do now, and next, and how to keep going and this and that and the other go-go-go that some people do. It’s a useful mechanism, to a degree, like most such copes are, but it’s hard to sustain long term. I did a fabulous job of intellectualizing, for months. Kept it up even when my mental health was crashing and burning in July. The really devastating part of intellectualizing is that it’s easy to think you’re making good decisions for yourself and others, only to realize, as the fog lifts, that no, actually, there were some terrible decisions in there that are going to have long range painful consequences.

    Going through a friend-breakup this week. It sucks. We’re both hurt by what’s happening. I’m trying very hard not to fling my emotions around, in hopes that one day we might be able to be friends again. Setting boundaries, in the same hope.

    All’s well with Neptune. Neptune describes himself as “highly creative but no talent” (HAHA!). On Wednesday, he made a beautiful comment to a friend about his memories of going in to work at the World Trade Center – the shopkeepers and vendors he saw every day. It was a terribly simple set of sentences “the coffee cart vendor . . . the Bat Girls . . . the tie shop . . . the jewelry shop . . . the security guard . . . and yet it was so elegant that I could vividly see something like fifteen years of his professional life in five sentences. He’s given me permission to write from those memories. I’m writing a one act play (one acts are generally about 10 to 25 pages, although some are longer or shorter) about what he said.

    Also, we’re setting up another photo shoot. Third one we’ll have done together. First two were based on songs by the Beatles. This one is pure concept. He wanted to shoot a photo about the intersection of art and violence. I had a fabulous idea for it this week, mentioned. He said it was a great vision and wants to do it. Just need to find a nice backyard to shoot in, with hosts who won’t be freaked out by what we’re going to do, and how. I have a few friends in the art community here who will probably be good with it. Just need to ask.

    1. fposte*

      Oh, your “intellectualizing” paragraph rang so true to me. But I also think you can let yourself off the hook a little there. There’s a reason the common advice of bereavement is “Try not to make any major decisions for a year”; it’s not just that you’re not thinking clearly, it’s that you don’t realize the ways in which you’re not thinking clearly. Yes, it’s frustrating to deal with the effects, but think of it in ADA terms: the ADA covers you not just for the initial disability but for medication side effects and compensatory physical damage and everything else ensuing. So I’d similarly say it’s not really that you made bad decisions as that these things happened as a result of your husband’s death. Because they really did.

      On another note, Oy, you have inspired me and I am very much enjoying making chalk drawings on my sidewalk. None of them are remotely photo-worthy, and I am glad they get rained away fairly quickly, but I also look forward immensely to doing them.

      1. OyHiOh*

        I love that you’re doing chalk! I’d still take photos, even if they’re not “worthy” because you’ll really be surprised by how much progress you make over a year or two and it’s fun to look back. I like looking back at old designs I did and trying them out again with the skills and knowledge I have now. Doing those kinds of side by side comparisons can be really inspiring!

        Normally, yesterday would have been a therapy day for me but I needed to reschedule to early next week for various Reasons. Really missing that conversation and processing the anger and frustration I’m feeling. On the other hand, I don’t think I’d be feeling like I’m coming out of the fog without the therapy and other hard work I’ve done so, yay :-)

    2. Not A Manager*

      You can call it intellectualizing or you can call it compartmentalizing. Goodness gracious, OyHiOh, you have children who’ve suffered tremendous trauma. OF COURSE you were trying to plan and manage and fix everything.

      I’m sorry that some of your decisions weren’t the best. To the extent that other people will experience the consequences of those decisions, I think you can offer a true explanation, which is that a decision needed to be made and you made the best call that you could at the time. Tell them you’re sorry it didn’t work out the way you’d hoped. That’s all. Part of growing up is learning that adults, even the ones who love us very much, aren’t infallible. And maybe provide that same explanation to yourself, so that you can extend yourself some grace.

      As ever, my thoughts are with you and your family.

    3. Parenthetically*

      Oh boy, that paragraph about intellectualizing really resonates with me too. Thanks for putting a big circle around that one — I for sure do it as an anxiety-management technique and it has been failing me miserably lately.

    4. NoLongerYoung*

      You can only make the decision you can, at that time. Everything looks different in hindsight, of course. Be gentle with yourself. (Sending a hug).

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Oy, as gently as possible, I want to say we can make crappy decisions with or withOUT grief. In other words, stuff happens. Yes, the fog can definitely interfere with decisions and it’s an added layer. Who needs an added layer- NO ONE!!
      So just as you have done in non-grief periods, let your disappointing decisions show you something and modify things in the future. Same as the rest of life, there’s not much else we can do.

      Here is why: Grief is well known for driving bad decisions, lost relationships among those left behind and so on. Grief/death are very powerful mechanisms. Often times, we don’t just lose our person we also lose other things as the story goes along. This is surprisingly normal. Okay, disturbingly normal. I have a theory that if we never had the fog of grief, our world would be a lot less messy.

      If you can’t mitigate the damage, then let it set for a bit. Sometimes just leaving it alone can be the best choice. You have seen how on a different day things look different. That has happened for you already. What concerns you now, may also go the similar way. There is no way to know right now.

      I’d say if you have a roof over your head, food on your table and friends, you have done quite well. We can’t catch everything, we just can’t. Sure is humbling, though.

  40. The night begins to shine*

    I have been on a long hiatus from the “main” social media sites (year+). My anxiety had been really bad, and I found that constantly scrolling my news feed sent me spiraling. I decided to de-activate my account with the enthusiastic support from my husband and therapist. However….in the past month I’ve felt (internal) pressure to reactivate my account. My child’s class has a page (used by parents, not teachers) and our neighborhood does most communication about goings-on through their page. There are also friends I’d like to be back in touch with. Have any of you returned to social media after a long break? Did you take any steps to mitigate anxiety triggers and/or improve your privacy? Some things I’m considering:
    1) Cull my friends list way down to those I know as more than aquaintences
    2) Unfollow all news feeds and only look at friend/group pages weekly
    3) Leave groups that are more drama vs support
    4) Make sure that my privacy settings are locked down, remove my last name, possibly remove my profile pics.

    Any other suggestions for using social media I a healthy way?

    1. Samsally*

      Is there a hobby or something you find soothing? You could add a few groups dedicated to things that make you happy. Even if it’s just cute kittens or whatever. Adding positive stuff to my timelines along with cutting out the negative really helped me.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I didn’t take a break from Facebook, but I flat out unfriended all but my closest friends and family, left all groups, and make aggressive use of the “hide all posts from (wherever)” option when the few people I do have friended share things.

    3. PX*

      Your suggestions are great, plus what Samsally suggested of adding positive things. I’ve also left most social media and the one I do maintain basically follows your rules.

      I also find it helps to be super clear about what the purpose of it is. My social media is a small amount of close friends and family, escapism and happy things specifically, and I have no problem unfollowing any page which is not giving me joy.

    4. Sorcha*

      I think those are really good ideas. I also take regular breaks from my social media use – Sundays are a day off from it, and every couple of months I take a week off. I do this to decompress and remind myself that I don’t need it, I’m actively choosing it, and thus it should be about making my life better. This helps me make better choices, I feel.

    5. Miss Astoria Platenclear*

      Maybe you’d feel better not using your actual fort and last name . For example, Linda Jones could be Lin Da or Linda Jay.

      1. The night begins to shine*

        Yeh, I’m thinking about maybe just making these changes and trying it out for a month or so to see if it makes a difference. I’m also more concerned about privacy this go around since I am an activist in a VERY contentious issue in my area. Others I know have been cyber-stalked by members of the opposition and had advised me to lock down all of my social media after the first high-profile event I attended. But then I started thinking about the fact that people can tag you, etc. Has Facebook come up with a setting that doesn’t allow people to tag you if you haven’t given permission?

        1. OyHiOh*

          The best you can do is use the setting where you have to dis/approve posts you’re tagged in before they appear in your timeline. That doesn’t stop your friend and their friends from seeing your name tagged on a post, but it does keep it off your timeline.

    6. Tinuviel*

      Here’s what I did that has helped:
      1) Follow Dogspotting. It’s a group where people share photos of unexpected dog encounters. It’s super cute and joyful and incredibly active so every other picture is cute happy puppy. Replace with catspotting if you prefer
      2) Cull friends list down to people you actually consider your friends. If they asked you out for a coffee, or asked you for a favor, would you consider or ignore? If ignore then unfriend.
      3) Anyone you “have” to keep around from #2, ie you would do them a favor out of guilt but you don’t actually want to see updates about their life, unfollow. And put them in a group called “limited” or something and set your privacy settings so anything you post or share automatically excludes them unless you manually go in and choose to share with them.
      4) Remove anything from Facebook more than 5 years old unless it has strong sentimental value.
      5) Liberally mute/unfollow/leave people and groups and pages. You can always “take a break” and never come back, or join back in.
      6) Delete the Facebook app from your phone. Make yourself go into a browser and log in each time so it’s less tempting. Just keep the messenger app if you want to contact people individually.

  41. Jessen*

    Alright, I need to tap into the feline wisdom around here.

    The furball’s settling in pretty well, but she has had to transition from being an indoor/outdoor cat to indoor only and kind of a small apartment is a big rough. But I’m having a tough time finding toys that she really likes. So far she likes her laser pointer ok and she likes this one toy that’s basically a long strip of fleece on a handle, but she’s not that thrilled with much else. And even those get boring after a while. She’s not typically interested in other toys that are feathers or something on a rod, or in smaller toys unless I’ll throw them for her (she doesn’t fetch them back though). Any ideas about how to get her a bit more engaged?

    (And yes I’m typing this with her on my lap bothering my hands.)

      1. New Normal*

        My kitten adores those. The other two couldn’t care less but that’s true with most toys and they seem to get enough exercise being chased by kitten. Plus our kitten looks so cute walking around with a spring held in her mouth and little stub of a tail held high.

      2. Jessen*

        Nothing uncarpeted, sadly, other than a few square feet of galley kitchen (I’m guessing it’s about a 3×3 space). Perils of the renter around here, everything’s covered in that cheap rental beige carpet. I’m in a 300 square foot studio here, so it is quite small.

        I feel a bit bad for the kitty; it’s a lot less space than she’s used to and I’m not home nearly as much as would probably be good for her. If I’d gone to the shelter like I’d planned I’d have looked for someone a little calmer – but a friend had an emergency situation where she couldn’t keep the kitty, and I was all set up so she didn’t have to drop off an 8 year old cat who’s scared of strangers at a shelter.

      3. Windchime*

        I knew what the link would show before I even pulled it up. My 7 year old cat is WILD about those. He crawled his 11-pound body under my VERY low tv stand the other day to retrieve one that he spied under there.

        Another game he loves: Hide the Object in the Tissue Paper. Doesn’t really matter what the object is; it can be anything small. But I show him the object and then put it under the paper. Once we do that a few times, the hiding gets more advanced and he loves undoing the paper to find the object.

    1. Aphrodite*

      You might tune into TinyKittens live videos showing the kittens and cats playing –https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iuu6OoCP4Yw –because Shelly finds all kinds of new toys and you can ask the mods about any you see.

    2. Grace*

      I’m not sure how old your cat is (probably not a kitten if she’s resenting being kept inside after being used to having her freedom) but plenty of cats, once they get past a couple of years old, will have a mad five minutes every now and then but don’t really want to play madly at every opportunity. Much more interested in sleeping or getting fusses.

      Some sort of kitty TV (I think it was Jackson Galaxy that coined that one?) will stimulate her brain and keep her from being bored. A fish tank is a lot of effort and space just to make a cat happy, but you can get tabletop ones with fake fish that swim around. Does she have birds to watch? A cat who is used to being able to chase them will probably get a bit frustrated at first, but my cat – currently being kept inside at a relative’s house while we have building work done, which is probably going to be the worst three months of her last ten years – is still very happy to watch birds. If there’s some way to put a bird feeder outside the window, she’d love it.

      It seems like she’s not a cat that is wired to hunt birds and butterflies – they’re the ones that like rod toys. If she likes chasing toys that you throw for her, she probably liked to chase mice and other small/fast creatures, but has no interest in things that are sitting still. An electronic toy that mimics that movement, maybe?

      Also, things that smell like the outdoors. My Kizzy is currently being kept sweet with a constant supply of feathers found outdoors for her to shred, and as a bonus, they do fun twirly things when dropped. Pinecones to chase and shred also seem to be very satisfying.

      Also also, food-based toys. Cats can learn to use them just like dogs. A ball that you put treats in makes them work for it, and it’s a way to entertain themselves (with an inbuilt incentive to do so) when there’s no-one in the house. Puzzle feeders where they have to scoop food out with their paws also work well.

      1. Jessen*

        She’s 8 or 9 years old right now. My one window is very badly placed – it faces out onto a covered walkway, so you can pretty much watch a brick wall. I’ve considered a birdfeeder but it might be a bit awkward given the location.

        I could also maybe dedicate an old laptop to her? I have an ancient cheap one that’s been stripped down to run linux, and I honestly could use a new one now too. But I could consider putting videos on for her to watch, she might like that. Probably pick up an old screen for her to watch.

        She’s been really glad that I put a cat perch next to my computer niche. You’re right that cats do like just sitting sometimes.

        1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

          There’s a bunch of great Cat Tv programming (ha!) on YouTube. Our boy loves to ask for his TV shows to be turned on, by jumping up on the settee and pawing at the PS4 remote for us to access YouTube. He has, however, broken one monitor that way in trying to capture the string/bird/butterfly zipping across the screen, so if you have a crap laptop, go that way! (and thats a great idea, I wonder if we have one we can do that with)

    3. Sorcha*

      Maybe one of the ball on track toys would interest her, if she likes things that move low to the ground? Like the Catit Senses Speed Circuit, or something similar. Maybe even just ping pong balls – mine loves a ping pong ball dropped in the bath for him to “hunt”.

      And the puzzle feeders are good for cats that need stimulation but don’t like many toys – I have one of the food dishes that my cat has to paw at to get his dry food out, plus one that dispenses treats if he interacts with it.

    4. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      Maybe those motorized ball toys? There are some that light up and a couple that even have little furry tails. They have a very different motion than the dangley toys and will still bounce around on carpet.

    5. cat socks*

      I have the Flingama cat toy. You attach it to a door and it has a moving string. It usually put it on the pantry door and it keeps them occupied while I’m cooking.

      Check out the Neko Flies brand. They have wand toys with attachments that look like insects. There is one that looks like a dragonfly that I will make “fly” through the air.

      Or just try a really long piece of string or maybe crumpled up paper.

        1. The night begins to shine*

          If you have the space, a cat tree (or two), would increase her vertical space and also give her a surface to scratch.

      1. Jessen*

        I should also mention she’s not allowed access to any string unsupervised. Not after she barfed up a bunch of packing string from my new furniture delivery.

        1. Grace*

          That’s sensible! It’s normally unsupervised kittens that strangle themselves in string toys – that’s not a sight any cat owner wants to come home and find – but adult cats have done it as well. It’s dangerous. Put string toys away in drawers when you’re done playing with them, people.

          1. Jessen*

            I’m more wondering about the cat’s sense. Like, where in that little feline brain was chewing off the packing string and then swallowing it the best thing to do?

        2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

          THIS – I had a buddy whose cat loves to eat string… until one day the string wrapped itself around the intestines and the kitty had to have emergency surgery. Good thing they had insurance because it was a $7K bill.

          Ours can play with Rope or String but always supervised and it is always put away end of play time. Same with rubber bands to chase. Better safe than sorry.

    6. Clarissa*

      All my cats have liked different toys. And none were from the cat toy department
      1. Little terry cloth hair holders
      2. Large bobby pins
      3. Pencils
      4. Ribbons and strings
      5. My toes and fingers
      Everything but #5 ends up under the fridge.
      I’ve only had one cat that continued to play much after the age of 3.
      Once I adopted an overweight cat of about 5. My vet said he had to lose weight and to get him to exercise by playing with him. Ha! That cat was NOT going to exercise. I guess he was like me.
      Then I cut down on his food and he lost weight.
      .
      So I cut down on his food and he lost weight.

      1. Jessen*

        I mean, so far the best toys seem to be cords. Not the thick power cords, but headphone cords, phone charger cords, etc…

    7. Pliant Platapus*

      My cat will frequently go through different rotations of toys. And only he knows what toys will work at any point in time. He generally loves those felt mice with tails, the crinkly loud foil balls, adores the balls that look like they sprouted tinsel. Try seeing if you can get a pack assortment somewhere. His toybox lives in the corner stair so he can go in and help himself, but the best toys are always the free ones. Straws in a paper wrapper, bits of paper from a packing slip, hair ties he LOVES to steal.

    8. Dancing Otter*

      This isn’t a toy, precisely, but my cats like the self-grooming loops. They look like a cross between a bottle brush and a croquet wicket, and the cats walk through it or rub against it. Feels like being brushed or petted, apparently, and it can collect a remarkable amount of loose fur (reducing hairballs and dust kittens).
      To clarify, am I the only one to call masses of shed fur “dust kittens”?
      I figure anything that gets the cats up and moving is exercise.

      Your kitty probably ate grass outside, which helps their digestion cope with fur they swallow while grooming. You might consider a pot of cat grass.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        Oh, and I almost forgot. A button or penny in an empty pill bottle or plastic jar is cheap and entertaining, if you can stand the noise. Much safer than when Gracie got the actual bottle of pills to pat around. Screw the lid on firmly.

        You know, just because kitty gets tired of playing with something, or isn’t in the mood when it’s first introduced, doesn’t mean she won’t find it later and play some more.

  42. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    -Dealing with weird sinus pressure (back molar pressure turning to jaw ache then headache). Pressed middle of forehead to drain sinuses which worked some. Maybe it’s due to weather change?

    -Closing is in 16 days. Giving away a piano in as-is condition that would’ve destroyed the hardwood floor (very heavy, hard to tune, 2 semi-non working keys, missing a wheel). Making a watercolor today based on senaruna Instagram art. The piano carried me through crazy times for past 5 years…do you ever memorialize things?

    -For homeowners: What did you do 2 weeks before closing? It feels like a waiting period. Most everything has been signed. I’ve been neurotic, withdrawing a bit of $ in person from the bank since I fear card skimming etc. Any tips to relax? Stay sane?

    1. Llellayena*

      Yep, that would be a change in the weather. I tend to get those exact same symptoms in reverse when a weather change is about 24 hours away. I also get a stiff neck. Excedrin is excellent in getting rid of it, and an ice pack on the neck or temples will help too.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I dove into packing, just fully focused on that. And I also worked out how I wanted the loads of stuff to go over. Basically that boiled down to, what do I need to go to bed the first night and what do I need to make breakfast the next morning. That stuff had to stay out away from the madness, so I could find it.

    3. Dancing Otter*

      The jaw/back molars thing might be from gritting or grinding your teeth. Not like you have any stress going on, right? You can get an inexpensive bite guard at the local drugstore. Might be worth trying for a few nights. I have a custom one that I’ve worn since my “job from hell” days, but the cheap version definitely helped when mine had to be repaired.

      Good luck with the move. Do you take possession on the day of closing? (Or are you the seller? I don’t recall.)
      There should be a final walk-through inspection before the closing. We found several problems (broken window, closet door stuck shut, kitchen water supply turned off when they unhooked the ice maker) on ours, despite an earlier professional inspection and village occupancy inspection. If you’re the seller, do everything you can to prevent any issues; if something happens, either repair it posthaste or get a quote from a repair service.
      If you’re the buyer, let your realtor or the attorney know in advance that you WILL hold up the closing if necessary. Don’t accept a promise to repair that they may or may not keep; insist on the cost being included in the settlement calculation. (Or cash in hand.) It took us six months and a lawyer’s letter to get the window repaired at the sellers’ expense, and we had to eat the other two repairs.
      If you’re the seller, plan your last day to include a lot of last minute cleaning, e.g. under/behind where your furniture was, and a final vacuuming or sweeping where the boxes were stacked. Does the carpet need shampooing? Plan ahead, if so.
      If you’re the buyer, leave yourself a couple of days before the movers deliver, so you can paint, wax floors, shampoo carpets, scrub cupboards, and so forth without furniture and belongings in the way. Keep the cleaning supplies with you, the same way you would your overnight needs, including some form of lighting. I’ve heard of sellers so petty they took all the lightbulbs.

      1. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD*

        Thanks for all the tips!

        I started wearing a mouth guard a few days ago though my jaw is a bit tense possibly due to hubs starting a new job tomorrow and closing in 15 days(!!!)

        We’ve gotten 1 of 3 repair invoices from the seller. 2 more to go.

        Next up: figuring out when to change the locks and get tight security (eg. Garage deadbolt, motion sensing floodlights, security system like ADT which the sellers had)

        In the meantime, playing music and watching Versailles on Netflix to unwind…

  43. Penny*

    How often do you (and your family) eat out at a restaurant?

    I’m a single person so no family that I eat with but I eat out once or twice a week.

    1. Not A Manager*

      We’ve been working on this for the past year or so. Sometimes we used to eat out just because we hadn’t really planned dinner, we’d worked up all the way up until “hungry time,” and we couldn’t be bothered to make a plan. When I started keeping a careful budget, it turned out that we were spending a lot of discretionary money on meals that we didn’t really value that much. (This mostly happened after our youngest was old enough that he wasn’t home for family meals much anyway, and then after he left for college.)

      So now we try to be a lot better about doing some meal planning and prep in advance, and only eating out for the actual experience of eating out. I’d say that now we probably eat out once every couple of weeks, unless we’re traveling. BUT… I think it’s much harder to consistently cook meals for one person. If I were single, I think I’d eat out more frequently.

    2. Filosofickle*

      My goal has been to eat one lunch and one dinner out, mostly for the reason of supporting neighborhood restaurants. We usually do get the one dinner, on the weekend as date night or post-hike refuel. Lunch for me is hit or miss though.

    3. banana mango smoothie*

      we are two adults + child. when two adults had professional full-time jobs: about once per week. Now that there’s only one adult working …. once per month or less.

    4. Dan*

      When I was married, we cooked in all week but then went out once a week as treat night. For two of us, I would always make double portions so we weren’t cooking every night, pretty much everything was eaten twice in a row.

      As a single person who likes food, I find two things to be true: 1) Leftovers last a heck of a lot longer, so I often end up eating the same thing for most of the week (which I hate, but I hate wasting food more) and 2) Fast casual places are marginally more expensive (if that) than cooking for myself. So basically my rule for eating out is if I can do it for less than $15 or so, I can eat out as much as I want and budget wise, it’s comparative to eating in. Don’t get me wrong, I can cook really cheap if I am sufficiently motivated, but that’s not the point of this post… just that the way I cook, eating out for no more than $15 is equivalent to cooking in.

      To directly answer your question, I think I more or less have settled into a pattern where I cook in one week (as in, one meal that lasts most of the week) and rotate through my fast casual places the next.

    5. Parenthetically*

      I’m a stay-at-home mum with one kid and another on the way, my husband works a paying job. I probably grab fast food every other week (sometimes more if it’s a hectic season), and my husband the same. We eat dinner out every other week or every three weeks.

    6. Llellayena*

      I’m solo too. I eat out (as in sit in a restaurant) about once every week to two weeks. However, I do quite a bit of takeout, both standard takeout fare and getting something from a restaurant to go (mmm, sushi…). I’d say making dinner at home happens about once a week (and may or may not have leftovers). Lunches are almost all from home, not out, so that helps.

    7. cat socks*

      Married, no kids. Actually going out to a restaurant only happens a few times a month. We’ll get carryout and eat at home far more often. Usually 8-10 times.

    8. coffee cup*

      A friend and I eat out semi regularly. Last autumn/winter we went about once a month on a midweek evening. We wanted to make sure we did something fun during the week after work. We haven’t done it over summer much but I think we’re going again next week. I often go for lunch myself at the weekend but not very often for dinner. I need to get braver at doing that solo.

    9. Clisby*

      For us, it’s my husband and I, and our teen-aged son (and sometimes my graduate-school daughter, if it happens to be one of her holiday times).

      We usually eat out on Friday evening to celebrate the end of the regular work/school week, and then eat out once or twice on Saturday/Sunday (depends on how much we feel like cooking those days.)

      1. The night begins to shine*

        Probably about twice a month. I’d like to do a little more often, but dining out with small children is….not enjoyable.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      I rarely eat, but I have coffee with my Buddhist group once a week. That’s usually the extent of it. I have gone out with new-ish friends a few times recently–we checked out an Indian place downtown I didn’t know about (it was very good).

      I do not like going out alone. It’s boring. Around here, people take their whole posse with them everywhere they go, so you get crappier service or people stare at you like, “Why are you by yourself? Weirdo!” There’s only one restaurant here with good enough service for me not to mind, and I can’t really afford it right now.

    11. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      Rarely. Like, I ate out once this week, and once in July, a few times on my vacation in February. I think I also had a cheap Taco Bell burrito once this year too. And I might be forgetting one more.

      I’m too cheap to spend $10+ bucks for a meal when I can make perfectly good food at home. So I basically only eat out with other people.

    12. Alex*

      Depends what “eating out” means to you.

      Eating in a restaurant where I sit down and eat? Maybe…once every other month, plus more if I go on a trip or something.

      Eating take-out or some kind of fast food, like pizza, thai, Chipotle, or some such? Maybe 1-2 times per month.

      Getting some premade food at the grocery store? Maybe an additional 1-2 times per month.

      Getting a coffee or latte at a coffee shop? (I do consider this “eating out” since it comes from my “eating out” budget) Maybe once a week.

      Getting a drink with a friend at a bar, no food? (again, I take this from my “eating out” budget even though it isn’t really eating out). Maybe once a month.

      Generally I try to spend no more than $100 per month on all these things combined, although sometimes premade food from the grocery store comes from my “groceries” budget.

      Oh, and I’m single and live alone.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      Single person here. Probably a few times a year. If I do anything, I prefer to buy something premade at the grocery store and take it home. That is my splurge.

    14. MinotJ*

      Wow, I’m surprised to be so far out of the norm. We go out to a restaurant for dinner at least once per week, and occasionally we go out for breakfast or brunch. My partner and I don’t have kids and we have pretty low living expenses so we spend our money on stuff like this. There’s currently a list on the fridge of a dozen new restaurants in town that we have to visit before we can go back to one we’ve been to before. We both grew up in very frugal families that were smug about never spending money on restaurants, and it took a while to shake off the guilt.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I tend to eat out when I am travelling, and not so much at home. Plus, I live in a fairly expensive place, so a meal can cost around EUR 20 with drinks on top. There are some good restaurants, but I tend to only go to them as a special treat.

  44. Shay*

    Still moving, still cleaning.
    I found some more really, really gross stuff.
    But it’s taken care of now. I feel so accomplished.
    I’m writing down all the unusual places to clean that I might not remember, so I can do them at least once a year. No matter how long I get here I don’t want any of the nooks and crannies to get this bad.
    I’m enjoying listening to books while I work, but concentrating has been hard.

      1. Shay*

        Okay:

        My washer and drier might be a bit particular. wipe down outside to prevent dust and dirt from becoming caked on. Disassemble the lid to the washing machine to clean it and the nook where it connects to the rest of the machine. Clean the top of the drum by removing the place bleach is put and turning drum while holding a cloth to that spot. Also clean out the place you pour fabric softener (It’s in the center column of the drum, it was 2 inches deep, 1.5 inches wide, and half filled with very compact dog hair when I first moved in). I’d also pull the machines out and sweep behind them but the basement is half finished and I just don’t know how to deal with the mess that’s back there until we have a professional come out and close off the pipes and nonsense off in a wall.

        Clean the cabinet hinges, dog hair gets stuck in there. Generally wipe down the inside and tops of the cabinets. (Holy shit, the top of the cabinets.) Also the doors and sides of the doors, I don’t know what the build up was on the top of the molding on the doors, but it was hard to remove

        Remove all parts of the freezer (and fridge) and clean out. Make sure to wipe, like, the top and sides of things, not just the big flat surfaces. This also had a lot of dog hair. And crumbs The drawers in the fridge looked like they could be taken apart, but that they were not meant to be taken apart. But they also had junk stuck in the places the parts joined and smelled. I don’t know if I’ll repeat this yearly, but I’ll definitely keep an eye on it. Also I broke a drawer.

        There’s a lot of gross building materials, trash, and other BS under the deck. I’ll only have to haul it out once, so that’s nice.

        There are a lot of things that are just dusty. I think it might be important to run Murphy’s oil soap over the furniture once a year? (I got a beautiful roll top desk for $50 of facebook market place! It’s a little worse for wear but it is my pride and joy.)

        Clean the top of all the door frames. I am seeing how gross they are while cleaning the cabinets.

        Clean the stove top. Take the burners apart and clean inside them.

        Under the fridge.
        Behind the fridge.

        That’s everything I’ve done since moving in. I mean, we also painted the closets. It also seems like the basement floor has never been mopped. Even on the finished half.

        Also on of the cabinets has this lazy susan that can not be taken out of it and is assembled in the most difficult way possible. And previous people spilled something under it, like an entire bottle of something, and just ignored it. I gagged cleaning that out.

        I worked so hard. Once things are tidied up in the kitchen and I mopped to floor again, it will officially be 100% done.

        Yay.

        Don’t buy light fixtures that are just bowls holding a lightbulb, bugs die in them and it’s gross.

        1. CL Cox*

          Dang, that reminds me that the cat barfed up on top of my (tall) kitchen cabinets. I need to get my ladder and go clean it up. The fuzzy butthead.

  45. Everything is aweful*

    I’m pretty sure I have bed bugs. I had to report it to my apartment building who said they’d never had any reports in the last 3 years. I haven’t traveled, I haven’t had travelers in my place (or much of anyone), I don’t go anywhere or do anything but work and my local coffee shop really. I am fairly clean and don’t have a lot of stuff. But I spent 4 hours last night and another 3 today cleaning and washing and cleaning again. I am TERRIFIED that I’m going to be evicted over this. The building told me they’d have their pest guy come out and look at it on Monday and tell me what to do from there. I got mattress and box-spring encasements and put them on and stuck the few items I found that seemed to be infected in a bag (another encasement because that was easy). But all I can think is that I’m going to be kicked out. And someone at work was attacked last week and between the beg bugs and the nightmares I can’t sleep at all.

    Any bed bug stories would be welcome, especially if they don’t result in eviction and homelessness.

    1. fposte*

      Oh, that sounds like everything is just cranked up to 11 for you; I’m sorry.

      I don’t know you live, but it’s pretty unusual in the U.S. to be evicted merely for suffering bedbugs, and in some jurisdictions it wouldn’t be legal unless it was specifically written into your lease. I’d also like to know more about why you think it’s bedbugs specifically–there are a lot of creepy crawlies, especially this time of year, that can bite you and/or get into your house and infest stuff.

      From a peace of mind standpoint, I also like the bedbug interceptors that you can put under furniture legs; that’s a good way to monitor population movements, as it were, as well as keeping them out of furniture they haven’t already gotten into.

      1. Everything is aweful*

        I think it’s bed bugs because it looks like them, it looks like there was an infestation on the back of my headboard, each of the corners had little clusters of what looked like sheddings and bugs both. Plus bites, plus my pillow has the little blood pocks that seems to be a marker. It could totally be something else, I hope that would be better and not worse! :) They only come out at night (the last 2 nights I’ve seen them climbing up the wall and crushed them. After the cleaning last night I only saw 2. The night before I saw and crushed about 8. I’m mostly laying in bed staring at the wall and feeling like I’m losing my mind.

        I did get the interceptors for my bed, I’m not sure if I should get it for the other furniture in my home, I don’t actually have a lot of furniture and a lot of what I have is metal. I don’t have carpet, and only like 2 rugs and none under the bed. I’m really hopeful that what ever it is can be crushed and I can eventually sleep again.

        Thank you for the note about it being written into the lease. Mine has a section that requires me to report any bed bugs to the building that is required by my city. I’d bet that it says something about not retaliating in it, I’ll check on that when I get home.

        1. fposte*

          Ah, that does sound bed-buggy, I’m afraid. But I bet you’re right that it’s forbidden to retaliate for a bedbug report.

          And bedbugs are a pain, but I think the stigma is overblown. They turn up in all kinds of places, and mostly the problem is the annoying logistics of dealing with them. That’s true of all kinds of infestations, and my carpet beetle experience was much more destructive and expensive and draining.

          Oh, and when I had bedbugs, my pest control guy supplied me with pheromone glue traps of an unbelievable glueyness well above what was available to me locally. If you get those, keep them away from your clothes :-).

          1. Everything is aweful*

            My sister said that now that I KNOW what the problem is, it is solvable and I”m trying to focus on that. The logistics are definitely annoying so far, but hopefully I’m making progress on it. My best hope would be when the pest guy comes in they say that it’s been contained. (Also moments like this are the hardest moments to be single for me. I don’t have anyone to help and moving the queen sized mattress around on my own is rough.)

        2. Lulubell*

          If you do have them, and you haven’t been traveling or having travelers come in, it’s EXTREMELY likely that your neighbors have them as well, and that’s how they spread to your apartment. I would not worry about eviction regardless, as that seems highly unlikely, and even more unlikely in the case that they would then have to evict all the tenants that suffer them. Crossing my fingers and wishing you luck that it is something else, in any case.

          1. Everything is aweful*

            Yeah, I would be really surprised if I was the only person in the building who had them. The only thing is the wall where I got them isn’t adjacent to another unit, but it is where I am and apparently they are attracted to the human body so…it could make sense, especially since the headboard is the thing that I didn’t actually wash routinely. All the rest I’d wash enough to notice sooner. I hope that if it isn’t just me that me flagging it helps it get found in the other apartments that have it.

            That no one else has reported it doesn’t surprise me, but if no one else had them I would be surprised. (And where on earth did I pick them up? I seriously don’t do anything exciting enough to have been around an infestation. The closest would be riding public transportation for 10 minutes occasionally, but that did not seem to be high on the list of how people pick them up.)

            1. Jaid*

              Someone took a video of bedbugs appearing on a seat on their bus, in Philadelphia. Seriously, those things can go anywhere there are humans.

      2. Llellayena*

        Please be kind to your friends and warn them so they can take precautions to avoid getting them from you. I’ve got a friend who told me she had them in her bedroom. I told her she can’t get in my car until they’re gone (MY lease says I pay for the mitigation). A few weeks later she said they were gone from her room, so I let up on the car restriction. Last week, after I drove her somewhere, she says “Oh, mom found an infestation in their bedroom so they’re dealing with that this week” (she lives at home). I’m annoyed…

        1. LQ*

          Already told the only folks who have been in my home and who I have been in their cars. Luckily I’m very crazy busy at work so that’s basically no-one. I’ve also come up with a strategy for ensuring I leave the house clean every day.

    2. Jaid*

      I’ve had to deal with them twice. It’s not you, they can go anywhere. So don’t blame yourself. And don’t imagine your landlord kicking you out. I don’t think they will.

      Now. They’re sending a guy out on Monday and he will confirm if you have them or not. When I had them, they gave me a couple of weeks to deal with prep.

      To treat for bedbugs they will have you start with your soft items, clothing, bedding, towels etc. Wash everything and put it in the dryer for 60 minutes, high heat. That will kill any bugs. Then put that stuff in plastic bags (I’d recommend the heavy duty construction kind), tie them up and put tape around the openings. Set aside.

      Get plastic bins, lots of them. Your hard stuff will go into these bins. My pest control people have bug killer things that look like what folks hang up in closets to keep moths out. These will go into the bins for however many hours and release bug killer. They will give you a list of things.

      I’m pretty sure I didn’t have to put my kitchen dishes/cookware away. I had to take the pictures off the wall so they could treat the holes…

      Your furniture will be taken apart, moved, etc and each piece should be sprayed individually. I walked into my apartment after treatment and walked right back out to sit in my car and cry. Oy. Then I walked back in and started putting shit back together. I’m fat and have sciatica, so it was so damn uncomfortable, but it had to be done.

      I know I spent a couple of grand on the service and for the laundry, bins and stuff to replace what was too squeamish to keep. This was a one bedroom apartment, imagine a whole damn house!

      It’ll be OK, I promise.

      1. fposte*

        I’d add one slight tweak, as somebody who had to process clothes: do the dryer on high heat *first* before the washer. That’s what kills the bugs, and it’ll be easier on the clothes to deal with that temperature on dry. Kill ’em with heat first, then wash them out of the clothes.

        1. Everything is aweful*

          Oh this is a really good point. I can switch this up. I’ve been laundring the crap out of everything. Literally changing my sheets every night because until it’s done it’s not done. I’m SO glad I have in-unit washer and dryer so that I can make my way through most of this.

        2. Filosofickle*

          That is such a great tip, thank you! Lots of my clothing and bedding ideally can’t/shouldn’t be washed and dried on high and that feels like a better way to heat treat them as gently as possible. I don’t have bed bugs, but had a really big scare (and wash-fest) after coming home from an overseas trip with bites. My brother had them and it took 6 months to eradicate. But they did win!

          If you live somewhere hot & sunny, I was also told that putting things you didn’t want to wash/dry in a black garbage bag (tied tight to keep in the heat) and leaving them in sun for a few days would likely work in lieu of the dryer. It needs to get around 120°, which requires high temps, aided by heat gain of the black bag.

      2. Everything is aweful*

        This is so incredibly helpful thank you so much. The cost is scary for me. But hopefully I can make it through. I keep wavering between I don’t even have that much stuff and oh no I have so much stuff. I’ve been trying to think about what just goes into the screw it and get rid of it category. (A few things like headboard and art that seemed to have an active infestation are already in the going away category.) I’ve just got a studio apartment and a lot of the furniture I have is metal and not a lot of fabric pieces, but the few wooden pieces are custom made for me so I’d be pretty heartbroken to have to get rid of them.

        The bed is obviously a really big one. Did you keep yours or replace it?

        1. fposte*

          How big are the wooden pieces? Do you have any friends with a standalone freezer? If you put them at 0 or below for several days (Terminix says 4) that would be enough to kill them, but a fridge freezer isn’t likely to be reliable on that. I have a chest freezer in my basement and I used that for non-washable or stuff that I was reluctant to dry on high (structured jackets and coats, that kind of thing).

          1. LQ*

            Big, though they might fit in a freezer I don’t know anyone with one. The coats thing I am a bit worried about. I’ll have to dig into possible options for that. My best hope right now is my closet is a vast boring laminate floor of wasteland away from the bed? I don’t suppose that’ll actually help much and I ought to go through it tonight as well. Pffff.

        2. Jaid*

          They will douse EVERTHING in the bug spray. Mattress, box spring, bed frame. The wood things will be treated, too. Just make sure you have decent circulation/ventilation when you get back home. Hold off on tossing the art, put it in a plastic bag. They may be able to treat that, too. Unless you think you’re gonna get the willies looking at it from now on…

          With a studio, you shouldn’t have as much to worry about. *cross fingers*

      3. Reba*

        Diatomaceous earth!!! you have to get diatomaceous earth. With some spray treatment and that stuff. I did not have to lose any of my belongings.

  46. mreasy*

    Does anyone have ideas on getting rid of German cockroaches? We don’t know why they’ve suddenly sprung up but they’re really bad! We’re very clean and already don’t let dishes pile up or leave food outside of airtight containers. We did a bug bomb which killed a lot of them but there are just as many as there ever were. Help!

    1. Not A Manager*

      It could be your neighbors. We had cockroaches one year and it turned out our condo neighbors weren’t taking out their garbage.

      In any event, your best bet at this point is probably a professional exterminator.

    2. Eva and Me*

      Yes, if you live in an apartment/condo, it can definitely be your neighbors. Also, one building I lived in had a garbage chute, and some residents didn’t bag their garbage up well (or at all!) and the bags could also tear on the way down. The slimed sides of the chute made for a feast for the roaches. I complained A LOT and finally an exterminator came thru and put some kind of paste in areas like under sinks, where the plumbing comes through the wall (and so do the roaches). The paste would be taken by the roaches back to the others, so it wasn’t just killing the ones you could see. It took some months to where I didn’t see them anymore, but it did work. I definitely feel for you — it’s an awful way to live!

    3. Glasses*

      Unfortunately in my experience we just had to have an expensive exterminator service come in and spray on a regular basis for a while. Then we also moved and had an exterminator come to the new place, too, for a while. They get into everything. We had to throw out a clock because they were in the clock. I’m so sorry!

      1. Eva and Me*

        Ugh! I’m sorry about your clock! I was so paranoid that I sprayed all of my moving boxes with roach spray as I was packing to move out of that apartment. I was moving into a two-flat and didn’t want to bring any with me, especially since the timing of their appearance would make it obvious where they came from! I even paid the rent for the last 2 months of my lease when I’d already moved out because I knew that they probably weren’t ever completely gone and might be planning a grand comeback. That was an awful 10 months!

    4. Elizabeth West*

      UGH I HATE THESE

      You can definitely get them if your neighbors have them or if they’ve infested the building and no one has treated the entire thing. It happened to me in the apartment I rented when I first moved here. The only thing that kept them out of my place was Bengal Roach Spray. It’s a dry spray rather than a wet one. I used it on all the baseboards, around my AC, and everywhere else I could think of in that apartment. They stayed out. I used it once every six months to make sure they noped off, lol. It’s more expensive than off-the-shelf Raid or Hot Shot, but it works much better.

      That or a professional exterminator, but if you can’t afford the latter, the Bengal will hold you until you can. I managed not to take them with me thanks to that stuff.

      1. mreasy*

        Thanks everyone! I’ll try the Bengal but steel myself for inevitably having to get an exterminator. Argh!!

    5. LilySparrow*

      Google the Cockroach Assassin website. Lots of useful tips on killing them and stopping new ones coming in.

      They tend to be more active in spring & fall when the weather is changing. They seek moisture, so any leaks or condensation on pipes will attract them.

      Never squish them with a shoe or leave dead ones in the indoor garbage cans – they carry their eggs on their body, and you will spread them.

  47. Paralegal Part Deux*

    So, I went in morning Monday for the nerve block for the migraine, and the doctor did an IV push of fluids tordal, compazine, and magnesium. Six hours later, migraine is back. Tuesday, it’s another IV push plus imitrex and FINALLY the nerve block. OMG. It’s been the best thing ever. It was uncomfortable during the procedure to put the 30 shots in my face/scalp/neck/shoulders, but it’s been worth it in the long run. I have been migraine free ever since, and it’s been amazing! I hope it lasts a few weeks, but there’s no way to know for sure know how long it’ll last.

    Still doing the meditation that was suggested since the doctor said I was super tense, but it’s really been amazing to go from migraines that were a 7/8 on the pain scale to 0.

    1. MMB*

      I used to be able to get those shots from my Dr., before I moved. They were life changing. Glad you found someone who knows how to do them!

  48. Roz Doyle*

    Just wanted to complain. My washing machine is literally at the end of its life..it’s about 14 years old, I ‘inherited’ from the previous owner of my condo. I was hoping it will last till Christmas so I can maybe cash in on some Boxing Day deals, but it’s looking bleak. I noticed mini brown dots on my clothes after they were washed and I draw the line at having to rewash newly washed clothes. It also leaks during every wash cycle so I have to put paper towels underneath it to prevent a mini flood. It’ll cost 3 grand, no way around it, I did my research at all the major stores – Home Depot, Lowes, Best Buy etc.. My folks offered to help me pay for it, because I don’t have this cash readily available, which is nice, but I hate having to accept this money. Condo-size stacked washer dryer sets get expensive, because they need disassembly of the old one and reassembly/stacking when getting the new one; they are surprisingly more expensive than standard sized washers/dryers. The store will do it all, but all costs, and nope, I got no super strong men or women nearby who can lift a washer or a dryer. The store will likely offer 0% financing too, but more debts in addition to having to still paying school loans ain’t my ideal scenario. That’s it, vent over.

    1. Pam*

      When our washer died, we decided that the easiest path was to use laundromats for a while. We also found that a laundry service was reasonably affordable, particularly when my sister and I had health issues.

      1. Laura H.*

        Seconding Laundromats- also good for when you have leaks/ plumbing issues. Earlier this summer, we had an issue with master shower and washer couldn’t be run simultaneously (at least- I don’t think we ever figured out if it was solely the washer having the issue) but thankfully there’s a laundromat close by. I was NOT gonna risk the master carpet getting wet again.

    2. Not A Manager*

      Your mention of Boxing Day makes me think you’re not in the US. Are there any major sales days prior to that? In the US we have a lot of sales around Thanksgiving. IDK if you can get any of those sale prices from US-based companies on the internet. Three grand seems like so much money. If you can hold out for a month or two and get a better deal, maybe that’s worth it.

      1. Asenath*

        Canada, probably, especially give the names of the stores. It’s a pain. I found a solution in that my building has some laundry rooms from the days before all the units were re-done to have their own laundry. The board is taking them out as they break down, but some washers and dryers remain. That’s not a situation most buildings will have, although really, it’s a sensible extra! Anyway, I was able to get my machine repaired, which, while not cheap, did open my eyes to the greater expense involved in stackable units. Laundromats – although they’re not nearly as common or conveniently located as they used to be – or borrowing a friend’s washer are the only alternatives I can think of.

    3. Worked in IT forever*

      If you are in Canada, do you know about the new government-sponsored rebate on EnergyStar-certified appliances: https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/news/2019/08/energy-savings-rebate-program.html? It just started. We just used it to get a 25% discount on a dryer from Lowe’s, in Ontario. The discount is right at purchase time, so you don’t have to mail the receipt and wait for a cheque. Just make sure that the retailer is participating in the program and that you buy an eligible model.

    4. Worked in IT forever*

      I think my comment about a government rebate on energy-efficient appliances in Canada is in moderation because of the link, but I should have mentioned that it’s for Ontario only. So that might not work for you. Maybe there will be something similar for other provinces, like through the provincial governments.

      1. Roz Doyle*

        Yup, Canadian gal from Ontario here, haha. Thanks so very much for the tip!!! I did not know about this program and that sounds amazing, esp. the ease of it, i.e. that it’s not a mail-in rebate. Seems the timing of my washer getting to its end of life coincides well with this program. Will start looking around for sales as well, so hopefully I can get a really good deal with the 25% off too.

    5. Anono-me*

      I know most of the cost will be labor,
      but you might want to see if you can find an appliance outlet store. (Places that offer scratch and dent and odds and ends and last year’s model of appliance etc.)

      I got a nice dishwasher at an outlet that was NIB, but 2 model years old for about 1/2 of what the current model year cost. The silverware basket is a little different and the new model has an 8 hour hold and wash option where mine only can hold for up to 6 hours. No other differences as far as I can tell.

      Also if you only have light laundry needs, you might want to look at some of the super small electric washer and dryers. They are about the size of a dorm fridge. (Mostly used in tiny houses or by people with bad knees trying to stay in houses with no room to move the basement laundry to the first floor.) They usually have less demanding hookups and could get you through until you save up the cash and find a sale. (Bonus points if you find and resell it used.)

    6. Not A Manager*

      So this is totally a shot in the dark, but a Canadian store called Rona seems to be having a 20% off sale this weekend?

    7. Reba*

      Ugh ugh ugh. We are getting a similar set (compact, European make) soon and yes, the costs are eye-watering. We went to a local retailer and they were able to find unboxed/floor model ones for us, so we had a little relief there. But yeah.

      At least you will have clean clothes. I have to say I am psyched about my machines! It will be a huge upgrade.

      Re the gift, think of it as a large Christmas or other holiday present? Or let them buy one machine and you get the other?

    8. Clisby*

      3K for a washing machine? That sounds incredibly high. You mention Boxing Day, so maybe you’re not in the US?

      I’d expect to pay less than 1K.

      1. Princess Cimorene*

        3k sounds wildly expensive.

        How about finding someone on thumbtack to disassemble and haul the old unit?? (Is Thumbtack avail in CA?) Sounds like they are killing you for labor! Or maybe Craigslist or through church or work? Idk. But I’m sure, since you’re not trying to save the old ones, someone taking it apart, even doing a hack job, could be much cheaper than paying a store. $3k just sounds like a lot.

        Good luck.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Are you open to buying used or scratch and dents? Around me I see substantial savings by going that route.
      I have also used points on my credit card to get gift cards to use at the store.
      If you have building supply outlets that sell heavily discounted stuff, you might get lucky there.

      If you get stuck having to figure out how to move your purchase, I have had luck hiring a small moving company to just move a few things. It was not as expensive as I thought it would be. This company was a local company with few employees. They did not mind doing small jobs.

    10. Roz Doyle*

      Thanks everyone for the superhelpful tips!!! You guessed right, I am in Canada. I did not realize that Boxing Day is not a thing in the US, despite working with US companies on several projects.
      Annoyingly the laundry service in my area is either outrageously expensive or has terrible reviews, but there is a laundromat I’ve been using for bigger items, it’s not very conveniently located, but if the washer craps out, it is a solid backup. Outlet stores are also a good option, though that govt rebate sounds good too. Gotta start shopping around and see what deals I find. Annddd possibly tell my folks about the early xmas present/half a present I will be needing. Have a good Sunday everyone!

  49. Dr. KMnO4*

    I’m only about halfway through, but I have to recommend this book. It is incredibly insightful, powerful, and empowering. The title is The Body Is Not An Apology: The Power Of Radical Self-love, and the author’s name is Sonya Renee Taylor. I found it because Amazon recommended it to me based on other Kindle books I’ve read recently.

    Lately I’ve been working with my therapist on body image and gender identity. This book is validating a lot of what she and I have worked on. It goes beyond self-esteem and self-acceptance and body positivity into self-love.

    Honestly, I think everyone should read this book. I can only think of one other book that has affected me like this one has, and that was Mindset by Carol Dweck. And even though I haven’t finished it yet, I feel like The Body Is Not An Apology will probably have an even deeper impact on my life.

    1. Filosofickle*

      I’ll take a look, thanks! This is something I’ve been actively working on, and have a long way to go.

  50. CatCat*

    I’m interested in learning more about fermenting foods. Does anyone have any links to sites that are particularly helpful on this subject? Or book recommendations?

    1. Not A Manager*

      The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from Around the World, by Sandor Ellix Katz.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I second this recommendation. I ferment and pickle quite a bit, and Sandor Katz is the best resource.

        1. CatCat*

          Thanks for the suggestion! It looks like an amazing book! I have requested it from the library and can’t wait to check it out :-)

    2. Just S*

      It’s Alive with Brad has some videos on fermenting. All of his and others from Bon Appetit are interesting and informative.

  51. Rebecca*

    Mom Update, she’s home! She passed the in home evaluation with flying colors on Thursday, huge turn around for her. We had a good night last night. I did sleep in the front bedroom downstairs just in case, but she didn’t need anything, was able to go to the bathroom by herself (with the walker), got ready for bed, it took a long time, but she did it herself, and for now, I’m the sherpa – getting groceries, mail, doing laundry, helping to carry things, that type of thing. And she cried last night and thanked me for bringing her home. She’s doing the hand exercises, and when she isn’t specific or snarky, I ask her to be more clear. For example, if she waves her hand and starts in about “I tried to do that but thing isn’t…” I ask her to use nouns and descriptive words, then I wait. So, it’s OK, you can’t reach the outlet to plug in your heating pad, here, let me do it. So far, so good. Please send good vibes and thoughts and prayers my way! Truthfully, I was dreading this, but she seems to be doing OK for now.

    Fleas are better, still seeing a few, but this too shall pass. Game cam, still trying to get the right settings – the deer are funny, and the bucks like to taunt each other. I’m going to move it as I have a lot of butt pictures :) so I’m going to try a different tree near the apple trees, not on the apple tree itself.

    I picked up a Roku+ today, and have decided to drop Xfinity from triple play to TV only. Their internet is slower than Verizon’s (Mom has verizon internet, and it actually works better, so I’ll be able to stream on my TV and use the computers). Roku+ is to add the Xfinity app and get rid of the cable box/remote on my TV in the basement. I’m keeping the little box and Comcast remote on Mom’s TV as she is still baffled by it after all these years, and I can’t imagine trying to teach her how to use a Roku.

    In other money saving measures, I dropped Audible and Netflix, keeping Hulu though, and Tracfone has $20/month for unlimited talk and text, with 1 Gig data, so I signed up for that. So far, so good, and I’ve been talking a lot more than usual due to the Mom thing, so this is actually cheaper.

    Next weekend, I’m going to use the Walmart grocery pickup service for the first time. Not a fan of Walmart, but, all of our stores are gone now, like Kmart, and Walmart’s grocery prices are easily 30-40% cheaper than the other grocery store. We have a SaveALot but it has very limited options. I think this will save me time on the weekends, at least I hope so. I talked to a manager and asked questions, and he was very thorough in explaining how it all worked, and they’ve added some staff to do it, and hope to add more as more people use the service.

    Hope everything is going good for everyone else! Thank you again for listening through all of this!

    1. LQ*

      Just wanted to mention that a good alternative to Audible is your local public library. Lots of libraries have audio books available through their online apps like hoopla/libby. They vary a bit from library to library but totally worth it to replace audible.

      1. Rebecca*

        I like that! I use eBranch2Go from my library, and learned that Google Play has audio books too, and for some reason I have $4.00 credits. I haven’t gotten a book yet, but their prices on new books are similar to Audible membership, so with a $4.00 credit, some of them would be in the $10 range.

        1. Observer*

          By the way, Google has a “rewards” app where they send you surveys and they pay you for it in Play credit. It’s not a lot of money, but it can get you a few books over time.

      2. Venus*

        I have been listening to Levar Burton short story podcasts for free and am loving his varied choices and voice.

    2. Mimmy*

      So glad your mom is home and doing reasonably well! Also glad to see everything going well too, especially the flea situation.