weekend free-for-all – September 21-22, 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 Secrets We Kept, by Lara Prescott. It’s a novel but it’s based on real events surrounding the publication of Doctor Zhivago, including the women who helped the CIA smuggle it out of the Soviet Union, publish it, and sneak it back in. It’s a sort of literary spy story.

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

{ 1,279 comments… read them below }

  1. Waiting on the world to change*

    My husband and I are trying to get pregnant but it’s taking a while. I want to focus on positive stuff in the interim. Do you have any suggestions of things you’re glad you did or things you wish you’d done before having children. All suggestions from counselling to threesomes to climbing Everest to botox welcome!

    1. Orphan Brown*

      I really appreciated all of the international travel I did with my spouse prior to having kids. We can still do it, it’s just much much harder. And a weekend or two away to let loose a little (for us that could be Vegas or a clothing optional hot springs or Hawaii). One thing I never get to do anymore: go out to brunch on a weekend, eat drink and be merry, come home and nap and then go out for a night on the town. Or just, have dinner together and get to talk without interruption even.
      Wishing you all the best, I know the waiting period is really hard.

      1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

        Seconding travel. It’s the thing I miss most now that I have a toddler. (And kids eat up all the money that might go to travel, too.) I’m so glad I took one last big trip to England and France before we started pursuing pregnancy.

        I assume you’re not looking so much for practical stuff like “got our wills in order” but I am so glad we got our wills in order and will never need to think about it again.

        Our kid’s a sound sleeper whose bedroom is across the house from ours, so we fortunately have not had to give up threesomes. ;)

        All best wishes for your fertility quest.

      2. Kimmybear*

        Live overseas. Doable with kids but my son has special needs that would be harder to address in English overseas.

    2. Anona*

      Going to cool restaurants, traveling to cooool places, spa days, hosting/going to wild parties, cooking interesting dishes, doing some kind of cool weekly commitment like horseback riding or rock climbing lessons, learning to wake board or kite board, buying fun expensive clothes, hosting decadent dinners with multiple courses and fancy stuff like caviar!

      1. Anona*

        Ooh, learning how to do involved makeup and fancy/detailed skin routines. Fostering or adopting dogs, especially special needs ones. After my miscarriage, my special needs dog was so dear to me. She needed so much love and care, and I had so much to give. She truly was a blessing to me. Learning to make bomb-ass pizza. Spending a day reading. Spending a day drinking with friends. Going to a big protest.
        Giving money to specific charities. Baking for friends. Sending care packages to friends. Visiting faraway friends. Doing road trips. Going to festivals. Going to the movies with friends, alone, or doing dinner and a movie. Buying fancy lingerie just because.

          1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

            I highly recommend strength and endurance training in general. I’m really not kidding. Being able to lift your kid without injuring yourself is important! I’ve spent about half my child’s life in PT so far (for arms, shoulders, knees, back—all from lifting the baby). Don’t be me. Get strong well in advance.

            1. Kate R. Pillar*

              This is such good advice!
              For me, it was just my knee.
              I did Pilates before baby, which turned out to be great preparation pelvic-floor-wise, so there’s that, too.

              1. MamaSarah*

                I *just* discovered Pilates and I freakin’ love it. It really helps to reconnect with those deep core mussels. I was in amazing shape when I got pregnant. I totally recommend working out like a dog while you can be away from the family for several hours at once.

            2. Triumphant Fox*

              YES!!! This. You may be pretty injured by the pregnancy/birth process and you’ll need to rely on whatever you’ve built up before getting pregnant. Even though I wanted to focus on getting fit, it became impossible with work, nausea and other complications while pregnant. Afterward it felt like a cascade of injuries from just being weak.

              As far as things I’m happy I did – music festivals and concerts in general. I really can’t handle the stress anymore, but I’m so glad I did it while I could.

        1. Activista*

          YES to going to a protest. I would also recommend taking it a step further and partaking in well-organized civil disobedience, if it’s safe for you to do so in terms of your background, job, etc. I don’t have kids (yet) and last year participated in civil disobedience to protest yet another anti-immigrant policy, and got arrested. Standing up (or rather, sitting down) for what I believed in and the consequences that came from it was one of the most meaningful, powerful, and educational experiences I’ve had. I recognize it’s also a privilege to be able to choose to do so– in addition to immigration status, an understanding workplace if you do this during the week, etc, you need to have the time and resources to spend a night in jail if needed, and this would be hard to do with a little one at home.

    3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Spontaneity, honestly.

      So yes travelling, but the kind where you decide on Friday afternoon to have a road trip over the weekend, or when you stick a pin in the map and say “Croatia it is!” Less extravagantly, take a walk in your own town and just dip in to an interesting looking cafe or gallery, or go see a movie you haven’t heard of.

      Small children seem to need so much forward planning and equipment that parents tend to miss just doing stuff on a whim (without babysitters or working out who’s going to carry the bottles and baby somewhere you can’t take the stroller and heaven’s sake she’ll be starving by 12pm and the restaurant doesn’t even open until half past).

      Very best wishes for your conception journey.

      1. It’s All Good*

        This +1000. We tried for seven years before our daughter was born. Being spontaneous, especially with travel was the thing we missed the most. Good luck I hope a baby is soon in your future.

    4. German Girl*

      International Travel, taking up a hobby/sport or pursuing an existing hobby/sport more intensively, spending lots of time with childless friends, taking the time to volunteer are all things I’m glad I did during the wait.

      And having a hobby, a post partum compatible sport and lots of friends with or without kids all set up really kept me sane in the early baby months. Of course I don’t have that much time for hobbies/sports/friends/volunteering now, but I make room for some of that in my schedule. However I don’t think I’d have the energy to pick up something new at the moment, so I’m glad I already have it in place.

    5. Overeducated*

      Travel. Drinking at actual bars and restaurants (although there are more and more baby and kid friendly breweries). Hosting brunch and dinner parties in a small space. Long distance running. Staying up way too late and sleeping in. People with kids do all of these things but they have been harder for me in terms of money, time, or both.

      Good luck! Waiting is very hard. I hope you are able to find many delightful distractions in the “no kids yet” stage to remember fondly later.

    6. Knitter*

      Read books and home maintenance/organization. And of course travel. If you like creating things maybe find a hobby that can be easily stopped and started (ex-knitting).
      We went through fertility treatment. It really messed with my sense of self, so any self care you can do during this time will be a great investment in yourself. I found exercise, therapy, and socializing with supportive friends to be most helpful.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      Do an activity in the evening. We had a really fun ballroom dancing class that immediately fell to my inability to keep my eyes open past about 8 pm.

    8. Midge*

      My daughter is 8 years old, and the list of things I can’t do / don’t have time to do is still similar to when she was a baby. So… basically anything you like to do now that takes time, concentration, space, and/or quiet. (Some people have it easier. Some don’t.) So I think one of the key things is not necessarily thinking of major time consuming and/or expensive things (like travel, home renovations, etc.), but focusing more on the everyday. For some those might include extensive travel, large projects, etc. For many people it’s appreciating the luxury of a clean home with minimal effort and deciding to spend Sunday doing nothing but lying on the patio and reading a novel. In other words, I guess nothing makes the TTC wait considerably easier (I have been there), but focusing on what brings you joy right now is always a good thing, and especially so when you may be feeling otherwise frustrated or emotionally vulnerable.

      1. I don’t post often*

        Totally agree with this, although I would take a different spin. If you think you want to be a good cook/ Gardener/ learn to knit/ redo the kitchen / paint the whole house or whatever so it now. I wish I had taken times to read more books on gardening. Now I have to fit that in during the two hours I have between daughters bedtime and mine. . Many people have mentioned travel. I dislike traveling so having a child has been awesome. “Why no, We can’t drive 6 hours just to spend the weekend with you.” Also a small baby is fairly portable. It’s that just walking until about 2.5 that is difficult. They want to be active but not everything is safe.

        To sum up, get big projects done, practice hobbies or other items you want to learn about now.

    9. Ranon*

      Not fun but wish I’d done it- life insurance! Insurers apparently can’t figure out that pregnancy weight is not the same as all the time weight so it’s a good one to do ahead of time. Also in not fun, make sure everyone has a doctor/ dentist/ etc. that they like and is easy to get to. Basic self care post kiddo is easier if you have go-to options (and then you don’t have to pester your partner about finding a GP because they’ve caught some sort of horrible illness and urgent care hasn’t helped, not that that’s happened to anyone (several anyones) that I know or anything)

      Doing random outings just for the heck of it with no advanced planning. Doing absolutely nothing over the weekend just because. Sleeping in. Going out after work with no notice to your partner. Really enjoy how well ibuprofen works as a painkiller (that one you get back at least). Having a conversation with your partner without interruptions. Go out to happy hour after work, come home and crash, and sleep in the next day. Cook big elaborate meals that take days of planning and prep just for the heck of it.

      Take on a big volunteering commitment. Do a spontaneous volunteering thing just because. Learn about local politics. Volunteer for a political campaign. Join a citizen’s advisory committee for your city.

      Travel if you like it, but honestly we’re better travelers post kiddo- we do it less often but we take better breaks so no one is run ragged and we all enjoy it more. And there’s a fair bit to see domestically- the amount of new things we’ve gone to in our city and immediate surroundings post kiddo is pretty amazing! (We’ve got a novelty junkie kiddo, though, so we’re incentivized to do new things).

      Best of luck!

      1. Beatrice*

        x2 on life insurance! I started my first non-job-related life insurance policy while pregnant, and it came with a rider that excluded payouts for pregnancy or birth-related death. Normally I would have been able to get that removed after the birth, but I had a high risk birth and my insurance agent said they wouldn’t consider removing it. (I haven’t had any more children, not for that reason, but lack of insurance coverage would be a worry for me if I were to have another.)

        Also- a lot of jobs allow you to buy low-cost life insurance through them, but the cap is relatively low compared to what you’d reasonably need to have with a small child (mine is 4x my annual income), and you leave the insurance behind if you leave the job. It’s better to get your own term life policy now, while you’re younger and cheaper to insure, that is separate from your employer’s offered policy. I had a friend whose partner died unexpectedly when she was 29 with two toddlers, and all he had was a $100K workplace life insurance policy, and I’ve been pretty vigilant about making sure my family is taken care of, after watching her struggle.

    10. MissDisplaced*

      I don’t have kids, so this is just what I’ve observed second hand, but it seems that pregnancy often happens when you’re not stressing over wanting to get pregnant.

      So I’d probably say focus on things you and your partner enjoy doing together. Vacation, travel, get outdoors, move or live somewhere else for a year (if you’ve always wanted to) and be, you know, a little selfish about experiencing some of those things that might be more difficult doing with young children.

      I know I really wished I’d traveled the world more when I was younger. Back then it seemed way harder as there was no Internet to even book a flight.

    11. Glomarization, Esq.*

      If you’ve been putting off any home improvement projects, consider getting them done now. I ended up having to delay renovating my bathroom (which seriously needed it) for a dozen years. And I had to fix my kitchen appliance-by-appliance as each piece broke down, rather than doing it all at once. Having a kid in the house meant that I just did not have the ready cash to spend on the full project, and it took forever to save up my pennies in a “fix the damn bathroom” account. Some kid-related expense just always seemed to come up!

      That said, if you’re thinking about replacing carpet? Get Stanley Steemer in there for a good deep cleaning before baby arrives, but maybe wait on replacing your flooring until the kid is less likely to pee on the floor, draw/paint on things, spill food everywhere, etc.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        This is a great suggestion. I will remark that today my nearly-6yo stuck Christmas stickers all over the floor, to give you an idea of timescale.

      2. ThisMightBeVodka*

        I came to say this. Our house had some fixer-upper/remodeling needs that didn’t all get done before baby. Guess what! After baby there was no money or energy. Some of those things we are just doing now; baby is currently seventeen.

    12. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

      My boss has two kids and I am childfree by choice, so this is from his point of view!

      He has said before that he is jealous of my freedom to do whatever, whenever. So for example, going home after work and laying on the couch, eating cereal for dinner haha

    13. Meepmeep*

      Sleep. Sleep like you’ll never sleep again. Sleep in in the morning and luxuriate in bed for a little after waking up. Go to bed early. Enjoy uninterrupted sleep all night.

      My baby was a bad sleeper and I basically got 3 hours of sleep a night in 30 minute increments, for a year. And now she’s 3 and wakes me up at 7 every morning.

    14. coffeepotz*

      Do all the things -go to concerts/plays/sports games/opera, even if you don’t usually do things like that. Take up new hobbies (alone, together), learn a new sport etc. Especially through the first few years of parenthood, it’s nice to look back and reminisce.

    15. What day is today?*

      It’s election season! Get involved in local politics by supporting a candidate for City Council or Water Board or whatever, sitting at the voter registration table and encouraging your neighbors to vote, writing postcards, posting flyers. Do you know who your Rep and Senator are (or whatever your country’s equivalent is)? Do you like what they are doing for you? Go to Town Halls and find out what they’re up to. Work for the current person or work on their opponent’s campaign. Politics can be totally exasperating, but it determines our future. Work for a better future for your someday-child today.

    16. OtterB*

      There are lots of good suggestions here but I am going to toss out a dull but helpful one. Save money. Build up a “life happens” fund if you don’t already have one. Sock as much money away in a 401K or equivalent as you can. When our kids were small, between cost of day care and other kid stuff, my need to drop to part time for a while due to special needs of daughter the younger, and a period of unemployment for my husband, we had years when we couldn’t afford to put much if anything into a retirement fund. But we had saved before kids and thanks to the joys of compound interest those savings grew even when we weren’t adding to them.

      1. Pony tailed wonder*

        I am child free and I love this advice. I hear from my friends with kids that you just don’t realize how much m9ney it takes to raise a healthy kid. And if your child has medical needs, the costs go up even more. So pay off as much debt as you can. Pay down your mortgage or even try to pay it off completely. Get rid of student loans, car notes, etc. Put money into retirement.

    17. KLChica*

      Spa day! And just general self care and pampering. Bubble baths, haircuts or splurge on a blowout before a night out with your Significant other. It’s so hard for me to get time to get my eyebrows waxed or haircut.

      Also, reading books, staying up late bingeing Netflix or a movie marathon with your fav DVDs.
      Visiting different restaurants or doing romantic things like picnics , or dancing at a club
      And yes, travel, like the others have said

      Good luck to you!

    18. Waiting on the world to change*

      Thanks so much for all the great suggestions. It’s great to feel supported by this community and to get so many ideas.

  2. NL*

    I’m looking for low calorie but high volume dinner recipes. I’m cutting calories but am a big volume eater. I could use some dinner ideas, ideally 600 calories or less to give you the general idea, but volume volume volume.

    1. StellaBella*

      A large salad, with lettuce, spinach, leafy greens, kidney beans, tuna, seeds, canned corn, tomatoes, and cucumbers. I make this in a large bowl.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        And you can add some lean protein if that helps with feeling full.

        Hard to beat piles of undressed leaves for volume. (Or no oil dressing–I like lemon + salt + pepper.)

        1. Tris Prior*

          Seconded – also, I used to use balsamic vinaigrette on my salads but then realized that plain balsamic with no oil was just as good.

          1. OhNo*

            Same. I realized a while ago that all the flavor I wanted was in the vinegar, and the oil was just bulk. Vinegar-only (or just acid-only) dressings save a ton of calories.

    2. CopperPenny*

      The way I normally cook this has about 350 calories. Ive seen it called cabbage skillet dish or unstuffed cabbage rolls. In a large pan, brown 1 lb ground beef until no longer pink. Add 1 chopped onion and continue cooking until translucent. Drain extra fat. Add garlic (1 or 2 cloves) and continue cooking for 1 minute.
      Add 1 head of cabbage diced , 1 can of diced tomatoes, salt and pepper to the pan and stir to combine. Cover and simmer about 20 – 30 minutes until the cabbage is soft. That’s the basis for the recipie. I also add in any spare veggies I have in the fridge or freezer that I need to use up. I normally add in cumin, tumeric, and paprika as seasonings to taste. I also make it meat free sometimes with beans. It’s pretty tasty, cheap and pretty high volume. You can add more veggies to make it more high volume as well. We normally get about 4 servings from it.

      1. Clisby*

        I make this too, although I use tomato juice instead of diced tomatoes. We either eat it as a soup or serve it over rice.

    3. puffle*

      I find chickpea curry and chilli are both really good for this, if I serve with brown rice on the side. The chickpeas/ beans are filling, full of protein- and they’re cheap! Lentil and sweet potato curry is also good

      The best part is that they’re filling and give a lot of volume for the calorie count- I am so bad at healthy eating when I’m hungry

      I’ll post the recipe links below

        1. A bit of a saga*

          Me too! I find most of my food ideas there. As long as you read the comments and adjust accordingly the recipes always work out well, I find. Incidentally I’ve added all three suggestions above to my ‘favourites’ list a long time ago but haven’t tried them – so now I’m inspired to get going.

      1. The Meow*

        Once I started eating chickpeas I was surprised by how delicious and filling they were. I only have to eat a little in a soup or curry and I noticed it was enough to get me through until the next meal, whereas I might have needed a snack in between earlier. It’s a different feeling of fullness than eating lots of meat. I don’t feel bloated, but still satisfied. Needless to say, I’m a big fan of chickpea now.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I never liked them much but I’m going to give them another go, since I’m trying to cut back on meat.

    4. Knitter*




      https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2013/08/kale-parmesan-fried-egg-tartine.html?ref=box_quick (Pile on the kale, go light on the dressing and use whole wheat bread)

      https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2012/04/grilled-garlic-bread-white-bean-shrimp-scampi.html?ref=box_latest (Again use wheat bread and add more beans to make it more filling).

      Also swap in whole wheat lavash for bread and maybe limit the rice.

      I used the Noom app for a while which rates food on caloric density, so all of these are recipes Are on the lower side of caloric density.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      Article about actual scientific research into processed vs regular food. The differences were that processed food was much more calorie dense–almost twice–and also softer and easier to eat. (I applied this the other way around when my mom had dental surgery, aiming her at processed calorie-dense soft no-chewing foods when even blueberries hurt to chew.)


    6. PB*

      Beans are great for this. Here are some of my favorites:

      Black Bean Tortas: https://www.washingtonpost.com/recipes/black-bean-tortas-with-chipotle-mayo/14321/ (I always skip the chipotle mayo and just use the mayo I already have on hand)
      Brothy Garlicky Beans: https://food52.com/recipes/26953-brothy-garlicky-beans
      Slow-cooker Red Beans and Rice: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/valerie-bertinelli/slow-cooker-red-beans-and-rice-3222856 (this isn’t the actual recipe I use, as that one’s pay-walled, but looks similar if you leave out the ham and brown sugar)

      Non-beans, I made this farro salad recently, and it was delicious: https://food52.com/recipes/5710-farro-salad-with-roasted-mushrooms-and-parmesan. If mushrooms aren’t your thing, you could substitute pretty much any cooked vegetable. Zucchini sauteed in garlic oil would be tasty. I couldn’t believe how filling this dish was! I ended up saving some leftovers to have for lunch the next day.

    7. Alston*

      Check out the weight watchers Chicken Tikka Masalas recipe. It’s five minutes of prep, then you dump it in the crock pot and it is amazing. The only thing I would change is use a can of chopped tomatoes, not ground. The sauce turns out so.much better.

      Also, if I am having grains I like to mix leafy greens in. So.with that chicken tikkq I would use like half.rice/half spinach and top it with the tikka. You barely notice the spinach taste wise, but it really bulks it up.

      Ramen (not top ramen) can be awesome too, just add more broth and veggies. Wegmans and wholefoods both sell ramen noodles and something called Miso Easy (Miso soup base in a tube), and we use that as one of our super quick dinners. We will throw in a couple slices of center cut bacon (so low calorie, but real bacon, not turkey bacon) onion, corn, mushrooms/whatever. And then we also put some spinach in the bowls at the end to wilt (don’t cook it in the pot or it turns to slime). It is awesome and only takes 10 minutes. You could use leftover chicken too, and whatever veggies you like. And it is super easy to just make more broth and.veggiss of you are hungry. Also, the Wegmans ramen noodles are the best, they are in the freezer section. They come two to a pack, and my husband and I split on of the bricks for dinner.

    8. The Meow*

      I’m a big fan of vegetable soups! I never used to think soups and salads were proper meals until I actually started eating them.

      You can also make small changes to your existing meals to reduce calories/portion size but make it just as filling. One thing I do is add lots of grains/legume to my rice (quinoa, buckwheat, chickpea, lentils, mung beans, just to name a few) – I find it more satisfying than plain white rice. Or increase your portion size of veggies and decrease meats.

      1. OhNo*

        Another +1 to soup. I like to do meat soups, I just half or even third the amount that the recipe calls for and cut it up really small so it’s more dispersed. All of the flavor, none of the extra cost.

        My favorites are potato-heavy soups. Beef stew with root vegetables is a good one. The way I make it (less meat, more veg, extra beef bouillon or broth), it’s only around 100 calories a cup, so you can eat a lot of volume without too many calories.

    9. epi*

      When my husband and I were cutting calories more aggressively, we kept a lot of frozen vegetables around. You can add them to anything to bulk it up while adding very few calories.

      We kept peas, chopped spinach, broccoli, and a southwestern veggie mix on hand at all times, and stirred in whatever went best in the last few minutes of cook time. You can really add a lot of volume and fiber this way. Also, in general adding fresh greens is great– you can cook them as much or as little as you want depending on the texture you prefer. I have doubled the size of a big batch of pasta sauce just by slowly adding fresh chopped spinach. If you cook greens down a lot in a soup or sauce, they don’t even change the dish that much IMO. So it’s like they’re free.

      1. londonedit*

        This is what I do – I bulk everything out with a ton of veg. So if I have pasta, I’ll have 80g of spelt pasta with an entire carton of sautéed chopped mushrooms and some frozen spinach. It makes a massive bowl of pasta but most of it is practically calorie-free veg! Or I’ll have a huge stir-fry with all sorts of green veg and some tofu and brown rice. Lentils and chickpeas are also great!

    10. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Winter squash is low-calorie and bulky. A single acorn squash will have only about 200 calories: cut in half; scoop out the guts; season with salt, pepper, and something flavorful like garlic powder, paprika, curry powder, etc.; and bake at 375F for 45-60 minutes. We use a covered Corningware or Pyrex casserole dish for this, but I’ve seen recipes where you use a rimmed baking sheet. Mr. Glomarization and I usually split one acorn squash between the two of us, but eating an entire squash on your own shouldn’t blow your calorie budget unless you add sugar or oil for flavor.

      Serve with brown rice, which is about 200 calories per cup. (We doctor our rice with sauteed onions and cook it in vegetable broth, and sometimes we add chopped dried fruit, so ours has a few more calories.)

      1. Arts Akimbo*

        OMG yes! The other day I oven-roasted a delicata squash with a diced turnip, diced beetroot, a handful of okra, and five or six radishes, and I think it still was less than 500 calories!

    11. it happens*

      Search for volumetrics – I’m not recommending the whole system, just the idea and accompanying recipes. Essentially, it’s about easy, lower calorie substitutions that help satiety.

    12. Not All*

      Let me preface that I’ve gone from 210lbs to 163lbs in just over 6 months and without any major lifestyle changes. What worked for me was entering basically every food/recipe I liked into myfitnesspal and checking the calorie & fiber count. There were a lot of things that felt (or are marketed) as healthy but are super calorie dense…wraps spring to mind. One Trader Joes tortilla alone has 170 calories for example! I ended up basically cutting out anything with wheat because the calories to satiety just isn’t worth it to me on anything. Things that I found I could basically eat unlimited included:
      -sliced mushrooms sautéd in a nonstick pan with salt,pepper, & a splash of vermouth or wine. 8 oz package has 50 calories but they are “meaty” and satisfying and bulk up almost anything…though I eat them straight a lot! I get a bunch of different types for texture/flavor difference at the hole-in-the-wall Asian market for half the price of grocery store.
      -slice Japanese eggplant pretty thin, lightly sprinkle each side with fresh cracked pepper & season salt, and spray with a tiny bit of cooking spray before cooking “dry” in a big nonstick pan in a single layer. The slices end up creamy in the middle and slightly crisp on the outsides. Again, a whole pan is just a few calories because you leave out the oil.
      -hard boiled eggs. 70 calories per egg woth lots of protein & just enough fat to keep me feeling satisfied.
      -Costco’s chicken tike marsala cauliflower bowls. 250 calories and much tastier than I was expecting!
      -basically only drink coffee & seltzer…I was consuming way more liquid calories than I would have guessed until I looked it up!
      -raw jicama is my go-to snack. Slightly sweet and one of the highest fiber foods out there while being super low in calories. I get a couple each weekend and pre-slice them into bags for work snacks. (Warning…do NOT eat an entire one in a single day if you aren’t used to that much fiber! I learned that the hard way lol)

      I can’t stand chickpeas or kale personally…not a fan of chewing on blocks of wood…but I do make a fair amount of lentil soup, black bean salad, etc. Also, regular baked potatoes only have @100 calories before you stick on butter…I get red or yellow because they are creamy on their own unlike russets which need a ton of added fat to not be dry.

    13. DrTheLiz*

      Work out what makes you full. I need a certain amount of carb in my meals or they just don’t satisfy – I can be as full as full on protein and vegetables or what have you, and if there’s no carbohydrate there it’ll just melt off the inside of me and leave me hungry. My mother’s just the same but with protein – give her lean proteins and she’ll fill right up. I find it doesn’t take a lot of carbohydrate, something like a thick slice of (brown) toast will turn soup from “nice snack, where’s dinner?” to “mama mia, so satisfying”. Don’t accidentally cut out something you need while cutting calories!

      My “go-to” for a lot of volume on the plate is actually popcorn! If you pop it in oil at home (good dollop in the bottom of a large pot, cover the base in kernels, LID ON, burner on low-medium heat, shake vigorously once it starts to pop, take it off when it stops making noise) it’s got no sugar and very little fat and it’s a very high-air starch, which means it fills a hole without carrying too much with it, as it were. I tend to eat it with scrambled-egg-and-veg, but it also works with curry pretty well.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        If you don’t dump a lot of crap on it, it’s actually healthy. I like Irish butter, but I don’t have to drench it–I get a lot of flavor with just a small amount of it and a light sprinkle of salt or spices.

        I bought a microwave thingy at Aldi to pop it without oil. It has a silicone doughnut in the bottom and a vented lid. You put the kernels in the center of the doughnut, pop the vent open, and put the lid on it. Nuke it for the recommended amount of time (the instructions are on the side–always watch to make sure it won’t burn, since microwaves vary). Then do whatever with it.

        The brand name is Crofton but you can probably find a similar one elsewhere. Or if you go to Aldi on the reg, keep an eye out because sometimes their limited offerings come back around again.

    14. Gingerblue*

      My basic dinner formula is some kind of protein + some kind of vegetable. Salmon and spinach, artichokes, coleslaw, asparagus, green beans, corn on the cob, or a side salad. Or sauteed chicken tenders with a little soy sauce and the same options, etc. A piece of sauteed salmon on top of arugula dressed with a basic vinaigrette is lovely.

      I’m a big fan of artichokes, which are high in fiber and slow you down, which can help let your brain catch up with your stomach to tell you you’re full.

      I thought I hated salads until I very recently realized that I just found lettuce irritating to eat, but I love salads that use something else as a base, like shredded cabbage, cucumber, fennel, or celery. I highly recommend a spiralizer and a basic mandoline like this (https://www.target.com/p/oxo-handheld-mandoline/-/A-11144547) for turning vegetables into salad foundations. If you find a fresh vegetable that you like, google that vegetable + salad and get a bunch of recipes. Here’s a couple of recipes I’ve liked:

      https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/crunchy-vietnamese-chicken-salad (haven’t tried this, but it’s similar to something I’ve improvised)

      And there are lots of great low calorie soups, which may be more appealing this time of year than salad.

      Basically, when I find an ingredient I like, like chicken breast or celery or whatever, I start googling for as many recipes I can base on that as possible.

    15. pcake*

      I usually hate cauliflower, but I’ve discovered with the right sauce, you can’t taste riced, cooked cauliflower at all. That means you can make a wide variety of foods, pour them with tasty sauce or dressing over a cup of riced, cooked cauliflower and eat and eat and eat! I use mushroom simmer sauce or Galeo’s Ginger Wasabi dressing with a variety of foods over the cauliflower. I sometimes include some rice as well as a protein and stir fried veggies with a hint of low sodium soy sauce. To rice the cauliflower, you wash, stick in a food processor and break it down.
      You can do the same with zucchini noodles, but I can always taste the zucchini. They do taste good when cooked, drained, then smothered with marinara or other spaghetti sauce and your fave pasta toppings including meat or “meat” balls, parmesan cheese, mozzarella or whatever you like.

      I also like to cook up rice with a can of diced tomatoes, other veggies and seasonings. Make sure at least half the volume is the tomatoes. This is also great with chopped artichoke hearts, lots of ’em! And low fat, high protein tofu cooked firm and then simmered in sauce, in my case.

    16. knead me seymour*

      If you’re okay with eating vegan, a high-fibre whole foods plant-based diet is generally one where you are recommended to eat really large portions, since it’s primarily vegetables. One plant-based cookbook that I really like is The Long Table Cookbook (just came out recently). The serving sizes are generally quite large, particularly for the salads (some of the serving sizes are four cups of salad).

  3. Another Manic Monday*

    My 16-year old daughter was admitted to in-patient treatment for severe depression and suicidal ideations. It’s not the first time and most likely will not be the last time either. She have been in-and-out of treatment facilities since she was 8-years old. She lives with her mother on the other side of the country so I feel quite powerless as I can’t be there for her most of the time. It especially hard as I realize that most her of issues she has inherited from me. She’s her father’s daughter.

    1. Fikly*

      *hugs as well* Make sure you’re getting the support you need. You’re not to blame for her genetics. Really and truly.

    2. Marmaduke*

      She is so lucky to have you. I’ve been struggling with suicidal ideation since I was six years old, and there is nothing in this world I would not have given to have a caring, understanding parent and access to actual psychiatric care. I’m sure it means so much to her that you love her and want to support her however you can.

      I’m so sorry for your pain and hers.

      1. Another Manic Monday*

        I’m grateful for being able to give her the treatment that she needs. She have spent more than 180 days in in-patient treatment since she was 8 and her treatment cost is well into six digits by now. It’s a good thing that I have very good insurance that have covered most of the cost. I want to make sure that she gets what I never got while growing up. I received no help or attention from any adult despite having obvious struggles in school and life in general.

    3. Girr*

      I’m so sorry.

      Can you call her? My sister was admitted earlier this year for a little over a week. I made it a point to call every day, even if I didn’t know what to talk about and made up something on the spot. We spent 10 minutes talking about what color chucks I should buy next. And we don’t normally talk on the phone so it felt a bit awkward. But while it didn’t feel like I was doing much for her, I was told she very much looked forward to my daily call.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I am very sorry for the pain you both have had and are having. I remember being 16. It’s difficult under ordinary settings. I have a little tear in my heart for your daughter. I hope she connects with someone who is able to make a difference for her.

    5. NoLongerYoung*

      Sending a hug, too, from this corner of the internet. Do not blame your genetics, be kind to yourself and her. Lots of good suggestions here…. know we care.

    6. coffeepotz*

      I’m so very sorry. I hope she gets the help she needs, and I hope that you get some help too. Hugs from a stranger, if that works for you.

    7. LGC*

      Dude, I’m so sorry to hear about your daughter! I hope she does better soon.

      One thing – even if your side of the family has a history of depression and suicidal ideation, it’s not your fault or anyone’s fault. I’m pretty sure you know this but I feel like it’s worth repeating.

    8. AnonEMoose*

      Can you send her stuff? Like stuff to read, or funny cards or postcards? Just to let her know that you’re thinking about her and you love her. It depends a lot on what she’s allowed to have in the facility, of course, but the specific thing is less important than her knowing you’re thinking of her and love her.

      1. Girr*

        It might depend on the facility, but I was told that my sister wasn’t allowed to receive packages. Because sending care packages of books and snacks was my first thought.

        So look into it before you go making a list of things to get like I did.

  4. Jaid*

    Ah, the change of the season always messes me up. I’ve been running a low grade fever off and on since Wednesday… I thought it might be the flu, because of achyness and feeling like I’m gonna start chattering my teeth, but my BF is like, allergies. Because the goldenrod pollen count is super high?

    I dunno, other than the fever/fatigue, I don’t have anything else.

    1. Gingerblue*

      I’ve been feeling exactly the same. This doesn’t usually happen to me in fall, but I’ve been doing the “allergies or start of a cold?” debate for days now.

      Bleh. I have things to do.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      I’ve been like this too! I had a sinus cold that came on suddenly two weeks ago. It cleared up quickly, but I felt like that again this week (sore throat, stuffy, wheezy).

      But my company has also moved into a brand new office and I’m beginning to wonder if it’s making me sick! The whole place smells “new” and it burns my eyes and throat when I’m in there.

      1. Fikly*

        Ugh, yes, everything will be giving off fumes. I have to let new things vent outside sometimes before I can let them in my apartment.

    3. fposte*

      I think it’s turned out that goldenrod doesn’t really bother people–it just blooms very showily at the same time as stuff like ragweed, which is very allergenic.

    4. PJ*

      I’ve been debating whether or not it’s “sick” or “allergies” for the last week. Then I remembered that for the last two years I haven’t gotten my flu shot on the “flu shots at work” day because I was feeling so crummy… It’s always the last week of September. It’s Allergies!

    5. Merci Dee*

      My boss and I talked about this feeling earlier in the week, and then my mom mentioned it Thursday night, too. That achy, feel-like-I’ve-been-hit-by-a-truck feeling. It’s been the worst, because it feels like I should be coming down with something, but I haven’t so far. I’ve been wondering if it’s time to add the singulair to my regular allergy medication regimen. Maybe that’ll even everything out.

  5. Orphan Brown*

    I’ve had lung issues for awhile, asthma and a smaller lung capacity and a pulmonologist is running a bunch of tests to help me figure things out. The best case scenario is that I just need to lose weight. The worst is a terminal lung disease. My uncle died of something like the latter.

    It’s really hard not to think of the elephant in the room. And my mind always goes to worst case scenarios. And for some reason instead of thinking about spending more time with my family all I want to do is declutter. What’s that about? Tips for decluttering are much appreciated. It’s very overwhelming.

    1. Lena Clare*

      I can totally get the need to declutter.
      I think it’s because clutter is a reflection of my state of mind, and when I’m ready to clear my mind and get through to what really matters (that I know I’ve been hiding in my head) then I’m ready to declutter my physical space too.

      Unf*ck Your Habitat blog is probably the best I’ve found on how to; basically small amounts regularly will get it done rather than one big marathon decluttering session, which is exhausting.

      Also, pay attention to your feelings when you’re decluttering – and if it’s hard, be honest. Have a cry or whatever you need to do when you’re clearing out. Stop decluttering and feel the feelings.

      I found journaling helpful, if you like writing maybe you can try that too?

      Good luck – and all the best. This stranger from the other side of the world (possibly!) is thinking of you :)

    2. Kuododi*

      Oh sweetie…I do know that anxious feeling. After my first bout with cancer it took awhile before I could relax and not hyperfocus on every back ache, muscle spasm or head ache as a return of the cancer. Needless to say now that I’m dealing with cancer again, that anxious feeling has returned with a vengeance. Your feelings are perfectly fine and understandable. If I had to guess I’d say your drive to declutter is a perfectly appropriate way for your brain to step in and give you a healthy activity to keep yourself distracted from non stop worry. I wish you all the best life can bring. Please keep us posted on your results regarding dx.

    3. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      I’m a KonMari fan. Get her book and read it all the way through—it’s very funny, and it also makes the philosophy of her approach make sense.

      Things that I’ve found were key to my decluttering:

      – Identify people/places/organizations that I can give things to. “Clean out pantry” becomes “donate to the can drive”, “get rid of books” becomes “donate to Books for Prisoners”, and so on. It turns getting-rid-of into gifting and that’s so much easier for me, emotionally.

      – Establish pass-fail criteria, in your own personal language, for each category of thing before you start. My clothes-to-keep criterion was “Does this make me feel like a million bucks?”. For books I’ve read, it’s “Do I love this so much that I want to fall over myself recommending it to everyone I know?”. This isn’t particularly different from Kondo’s “Does it spark joy?” but I found it very helpful to have it be a phrase I already use and have an emotional connection with.

      – Don’t organize your stuff or buy storage for your stuff until you’ve gotten rid of the stuff you don’t want.

      – Be prepared for this to be emotionally challenging, and do a lot of self-care.

      All best wishes for your diagnosis to be a minimally scary one.

    4. gsa*

      I started decluttering our garage. And will be back at it today.

      “How do you eat an elephant, one bite at a time…”

      I did the throw it a-way last round.

      Best wishes,


    5. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Taking care of clutter may be a way for you to focus on you, and getting the bad stuff out of your space, the way you want bad stuff out of your body. This is what matters.
      “Spending time with family” may mean having conversations that are either about the scary stuff or specifically NOT about the scary stuff. Which you might not be ready for.

      But here’s an idea… if you’re brave enough, invite a friend (or 2 or 3) to tackle a cluttered space as a fun activity. Tom Sawyer had it right, and people can be talked into helping if you make it fun.

      There’s more hands to move things around, you can deputize people for certain decisions, you can make a bigger transitional mess, and you’re less likely to give up and take a nap.

      And your your friends will be supporting your self care without needing to know.

      And there can be treats after.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Friends might also be willing to do some purging for you. (I found it easier to clean my mom’s place if she was in another room, after she wanted to keep the individually wrapped spork we found in with some church bulletins from 2011.)

        There’s a Stone Soup cartoon where Val is helping Joan clear out kitchen cabinets preparatory to painting.
        Val: So what’s in here?
        Joan: No idea.
        Val: Turn your back.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      Choose a point and start there. You don’t have to manage the entire house, room, or corner in one go. I worked on decluttering my parents’ apartment while doing multiple trips to visit my dad in hospice, and it actually took–things are still picked up when I go to visit. For much of the spring there was a clear line marking where my decluttering ended on the last visit.

      Good advice is two piles rather than three: Keep, Maybe, Go. Months later you can reconsider some things that made it to the Maybe pile now–if you still haven’t managed to dent the stack of unread magazines 6 months from now, it isn’t going to happen. (Confession: I cancelled my subscription to The New Yorker after The Good Place scene in which Michael is going to be locked in a room with a stack of NewYorkers which obviously he isn’t going to read. When TNY and I are in sync it’s great, but we had fallen out of sync and they were just a reminder of something I obviously wasn’t ever going to actually do no matter how noble the gems of writing.)

    7. Dr. Anonymous*

      Hugs and best wishes to you. I like the multiple container method: boxes or bags for things to give away/sell, fix/mend, throw away, and a box or laundry basket for “someplace else” things that you’re going to keep but that don’t belong in the room or area you’re working on now. Developed by the “Sidetracked Sisters”, it keeps you from getting pulled all over the house while you work. They also recommend the if you are a garage sale person you put a price label on everything right as you put it in the “sell” bag, because otherwise you’ll never have the garage sale.

      Finally, have pens, scissors, tape—everything you need to label any boxes or storage containers as you go.

      Decluttering is meditative and empowering and I hope it brings you peace.

      1. Auntie Social*

        One thing I learned was to organize as I go— labeling ziploc sweater bags, so I have a nice stack of bags that doesn’t topple over like the sweaters used to.

    8. epi*

      Many people clean when they feel anxious! It’s a great way to pass the time when there is nothing more you can do about the source of your anxiety.

      I recently had to do a big decluttering project: cleaning out my entire guest room, which had no furniture and had been used as a storage room for three years, and turning it into a room nice enough for my MIL to stay in over her 60th birthday.

      Clean out your closets first. Take everything out unless you know for sure you are keeping it and it’s hard to move. Decide what you want to keep, and get a general idea of what else might fit in the closet now that would make sense to store in that room/with that stuff. Get the minimum storage you need to make that happen, e.g. a shelf but not a full set of matching bins for the shelf. Return to the store and get additional organizing stuff only as needed, to store a specific thing in response to a specific problem. You will end up decluttering a lot of the surrounding room as you decide what stuff is pretty or useful enough to keep out, what deserves to go in your newly organized closet, and what you don’t need anymore. If you can’t decide whether to keep something, start a box or bag for it. Get rid of it if you haven’t thought about it or gotten it back out in a month.

      I hope you get good news! Be kind to yourself in the meantime.

    9. Mystic Shadows*

      Hey. I’ve also been getting hit hard with the decluttering bug. I’ve been doing it slowly and when it hits. For example, at 10 am on Saturday I’ll get the urge to Clean the closet so I’ll do it them. Noon I feel the urge to organize my books, so I do it then. And do it as long as you feel the urge. I also tend to have music playing when I do it.

    10. Clevername*

      I’m sorry- the wait can be agonizing and I hope when you get answers it’s good news. I think decluttering is a great instinct, it always helps me feel more in control when life feels out of control. And it’s active and a great distraction.

      In terms of practical tips — get stuff you’ve sorted and know you don’t want out of the house as quickly as possible. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good in terms of where stuff goes– far better to donate all of it and see it go now than try to make a few bucks but pay the cost of keeping yourself surrounded by things that don’t make you happy.

      Also, I really hope this is helpful and not scary to read, but I think decluttering is a common and a powerful instinct when contemplating the potential for death comes up. It can be daunting to think about leaving your loved ones with a mess, and perhaps this is your way of expressing care for them. Again, I really hope that all is well, but it can actually be a positive thing to think about the legacy you want to leave when you eventually do pass. I just read “The Art of Dying” and it was really helpful and empowering in reframing something most of us are too scared to face into an opportunity to be proactive and thoughtful. I am not saying it’s even close to your time, but I was glad to read it and have that frame for making the most of life till whenever the time does come.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      Ugh. Sending out a bunch of good vibes for you on this one.

      Random thoughts:

      If it makes you sad or if you are keeping it out of some sense of joyless obligation then get rid of it.

      If you have not used it in a year or more, get rid of it.

      If you are keeping it for someone, tell them to take it.

      If you borrowed it, declutter-time is a good time to return it.

      That really wonderful shirt/candlestick/other thing that you cannot find a matching item to go with it, probably can be rehomed if you are not using it.

      If it’s broken, either fix it or replace it. It’s tag sale season. You can probably find almost anything you need for a modest price. Just this year, I have found a new stapler, a new adding machine and a few other items that were no longer working well and needed replacing. I haven’t spent $10 yet.

      If it is too hard to keep clean, ask yourself if it is worth keeping much longer. I got rid of a collection of porcelain thimbles (??!!) for this reason.

      The rule of thumb I heard is that most of us can get rid of 1/3 of our stuff without causing ourselves any discomfort. We will not miss the items. Interestingly, the article read that even folks in a very small apartment will still find that this applies to them also.

      To make this kind of fun for yourself, with the better items think of friends and family who will use the item. Consider giving it to them just to watch their faces light up. This actually can get very funny. I have a friend whose MIL gave her a utensil to remove corn from the cob. My friend loves this thing, you’d think her MIL gave her a million bucks. There’s a certain type of satisfaction in seeing other people’s joy.

    12. NoLongerYoung*

      Oh, sending a special hug. Cleaning/ decluttering is our entire families go-to coping method for waiting and for processing news, both. Hands busy, slightly distracted, feelings at the periphery, not front and center. And…you feel like you are doing “something” concrete… and you are.

      Lots of good advice here. My only additions? For the “go” stack -that you are sure of – make arrangements to have someone get it out of there when the decision is made/ drop off every day possible. What worked well was putting it in the trunk of the car and every time I went past the donation place, dropping off the bags/boxes. (Friends took truck loads, too).

      The stuff I didn’t have leave? I wound up going back through some boxes. Now, in my case, they were my sewing books, and I was glad I had put them together in the “maybe” stack. And some of the other books went into the “go” stack and went, and I still long for them (but I ‘could’ download them). But… going back through? Not so helpful.

      Also, in addition to the trunk, I have a triage area in the house. I box, seal, label (books for x, clothes to be dropped at Y, etc). So I can avoid thinking about it more than once.

      And yes, I tapped out all my friends those first few months, to help me get organized to get rid of things, and to come help. They liberally got first dibs on a lot of stuff, too. We’d do 3-4 hours, and then have lunch/dinner… and stop.

      The company really helped. I have one friend am in the midst of a trade with – she comes help me, I owe her (but will honor it when she needs me) to help her re-organize her pantry when she gets new cabinets.

    13. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m less Marie Kondo and more Dana K White. Her book ‘Decluttering at the Speed of Life’ talks about our homes, rooms, shelves as containers. If there’s not room in the X container, choose your favorite Xs until you don’t have more than fit easily. Website = A Slob Comes Clean.

    14. Nesprin*

      Doing a thing > thinking about a thing IMHO. Do you have some lingering things you could do around the house? Clean out the oven? Fold laundry? teach a family member how to make a famous dish?

  6. Outside Earthling*

    Does anyone have experience with temporary (I hope) sleep apnea? I’ve been struggling with a bad cold which, unusually for me, has gone into my chest. I’m not sure if it’s actually a chest infection or just a cold. My throat is also sore, although I think that’s mainly from the persistent coughing. Breathing is difficult and a bit wheezy. I’m coughing up green mucus. Since this started a few days ago, I’ve been jerking awake as I fall asleep, and my own voice is waking me up with a sort of choking sound. It’s quite disturbing and is making me afraid to fall asleep. I am worried that my old insomnia might return because of this. Some basic internet research tells me what I may be experiencing is sleep apnea. Does anyone know whether this is likely to go away when the chest cold / infection goes? The two must be related, right? I am a bit worried and would welcome any reassurance from anyone who has experienced this. Thanks.

    1. Quandong*

      One of my parents woke up gasping many times each night when his (severe) sleep apnoea was undiagnosed and untreated. This has stopped now he uses a CPAP. I don’t have experience with sleep apnoea myself.

      Please seek medical advice. If you have access to one, contact a GP or nurse helpline, or ideally, make a GP appointment. It sounds like you’ve developed an infection after your cold, based on your symptoms, and your breathing is affecting your ability to sleep. I would hope that once you can breathe freely, your sleep goes back to normal.

      (In case this might be of use to you – I tend to have severe coughing after viruses, and using a Turbuhaler to manage my cough has made a huge difference to my life. It could be worth asking your doctor whether this could work for you if your breathing difficulties are persistent.)

    2. Bagpuss*

      It may be directly related to the chest infection- I’m asthmatic and very prone to chest infections, and you can end up with mucus or fluid in your throat and nose so you do choke a bit.

      It can help to use more pillows so you aren’t lying as flat.
      Hope you feel better soon

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Seconding not to lie flat. I have a triangular pillow that I break out whenever I am recovering from a bad cold, because lying flat seems to collapse the lungs right down.

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          I sometimes sleep upright when I have a cold, and I’ve found that I am most comfortable when I use a combination of a “ramp” of pillows plus one of those neck pillows you use on a plane to keep my head relatively straight.

    3. Sue*

      I agree in seeing a Dr. but you can also try to sleep as upright as possible to help with the cough. In a chair or recliner or with your bed propped up at the head is good. Pillows help slightly but putting something under the mattress to create an angle is better, ime.

    4. gsa*

      I was properly diagnosed with sleep apnea. The CPAP probably saved my life.

      My brother and FIL also use one. Please talk to your doctor.


    5. Jules the 3rd*

      Go to the doctor to make sure you’re not dealing with pneumonia or bronchitis, and that your virus hasn’t turned into a bacterial infection.

      If you can’t make it to a doctor today, or they need test results before they can do much, pick up something to clear out your nose. If you can stand them, neti pots. I can’t stand them, so I use an anti-allergy nasal spray like Flonase or Nasacort. Take a hot steamy shower in the evenings, then use the nose-clearer of your choice. If possible, put a humidifier in your bedroom and sleep on tilted pillows.

      I have sleep apnea, it’s definitely worse when I have a stuffy nose.

    6. 653-CXK*

      I was diagnosed with sleep apnea in 2015. I have been using a CPAP machine since then and I would never give it up.

      Before I received my CPAP, I would relish sleeping in on weekends (an ideal day would be until 9 in the morning) because I didn’t get enough sleep during the week. I would fall asleep at my desk unless I had a fan blowing air at me. I snored like a freight train.

      I didn’t connect the dots until I read a newspaper article of a man who did the same things I did until he was diagnosed with sleep apnea. My PCP assigned me to a sleep doctor, who gave me an at-home sleep apnea test (that was the most fitful night ever). The results came back – I was diagnosed with severe sleep apnea with 45 per hour (an incident meaning not breathing, partially breathing or being obstructed) – also known as AHI (apnea-hypnopea index).

      A few months later, I got my CPAP machine. The first night, I had an AHI of 12.6 – significantly lower AHI than 45, but still pretty high. As time went on, my AHI decreased significantly, and I got better sleep as a result. I stopped craving sleep on weekends, and now get a consistent 7-7-1/2 hours a night – and my AHI averages about 1.0 per night. I’ve even had a couple of nights where I had an AHI of zero – a perfect night’s sleep.

      Your bad chest cold might resolve, but if the choking sound is disturbing you long after it’s gone, it’s always worth a second opinion with your doctor.

      1. Going Full Boyle*

        This is only slightly related, but do you do anything else to treat sleep apnea? I’m getting a sleep study done next month (in their office, unfortunately), and I’m not sure what to expect in terms of treatment other than the CPAP.

        1. LilySparrow*

          That’s pretty much it. I asked my doc, and his advice was that there are a few other possibilities, like tonsillectomy or an experimental treatment that implants a reinforcement in the throat.

          But none of them are proven to work in adults.

          If the apnea is weight-related (it isn’t always), using the CPAP might make it easier to lose weight by lowering cortisol & increasing energy to exercise & make lifestyle changes. So that can create an upward cycle that makes the apnea less severe.

          But AFAIK, CPAP is the only proven treatment.

          It’s very common to have reluctance about starting CPAP, but the benefits are unbelievable. You don’t know how much difference good sleep makes until you get some.

          My AHI was 53. My blood-oxygen level was in the 70s.

          I fell in love with my CPAP the first night and will not do without it if humanly possible.

    7. Asenath*

      Well, you can wait until the cold goes away and see if it improves. I don’t think it’s uncommon to have trouble sleeping when you have a bad cold – I used to have to sleep sitting up to breathe more easily (and wake up when I naturally slid or tossed and turned to a more comfortable position. Or needed really strong cough syrup (occasionally prescription-only) if the coughing was bad enough to keep me awake. I hate having colds.

      On the other hand, if it’s an ongoing issue when you don’t have a cold, get checked out for sleep apnea. How you do that probably depends on your location – but your doctor’s office should have a list of local places that test for it. Some places do inpatient testing, some don’t. When I was having sleeping problems even when not sick, I went to a place where they renting me a CPAP machine for while, took a computer chip out of it which had recorded my sleeping patterns, and sent the info to a specialist and went over it with me. It turned out I did indeed have sleep apnea, so I got my own machine and followed their advice on the setting. That explained why I couldn’t sleep at night and dozed off in the day when I sat down and stopped moving around! Being a bit sceptical, I eventually decided I was feeling much better and so didn’t need to take my machine with me. Wrong move. All my symptoms came back. I now take my machine with me on all trips AND use it all the time at home.

      1. Outside Earthling*

        Thank you all very much for responding. The advice is helpful and reassuring. Really interesting to hear how much the CPAP machine can help! Hopefully this is a temporary problem for me but if not, it’s just nice to know that there are things that can be done to help. That in itself makes me feel much less anxious. I will go to the GP on Monday if the cold is no better. I did not want to go if it is ‘only’ a cold but it is a while since I have felt this sick so a doctor’s visit may be justified. Thanks again.

    8. MissDisplaced*

      See a doctor! A cold will clear up in about 5 days, anything longer is an infection. Don’t let it go!

      When you’re suffering from a cold or allergies it’s obstructing you’re breathing when you sleep. My sinuses get really stuffy or I’ll have a sore throat and then I’ll snore terribly, sometimes even waking myself up because it feels like I’m choking. Terrible! But this doesn’t happen all the time, only when I’m experiencing allergies or colds. I also do have a deviated septum, which may add to the stuffy nose problem.

    9. Dancing Otter*

      Go to the doctor, even if it’s just a doc-in-a-box at the chain pharmacy! When a cold settles into your lungs, it can turn into bronchitis or pneumonia. Pneumonia actually kills people. It hasn’t gotten me yet, but I definitely have permanent effects from repeated bouts of pneumonia. Having had it before seems to leave one more likely to develop it again.

      Here’s a quick and easy test for working lung capacity. Take a piece of tissue. Stand facing a wall, about a handspan away. Take a deep breath. See how long you can keep the tissue up against the wall by blowing at it. You don’t have to blow terribly hard; it’s more a question of how long you can sustain the exhalation. Also, if you can’t take a deep breath without triggering a coughing fit, that’s a bad sign: seek medical treatment.

      If you have fluid in your lungs, whether it’s simply sinus drainage or more serious, it is going to make you feel as though you can’t breathe, which ought to wake you up. That’s how things are supposed to work. Breathing steam before bed can help get the crud out, so you sleep better before it gets bad enough again to wake you.

    10. LilySparrow*

      My apnea first became noticeable after a bad cold, and yes the experiences you describe are an excellent match for an episode. Mine didn’t go away, it’s impossible to tell if yours will or not. Family history of apnea or severe snoring has a lot to do with it.

      Before I got my CPAP, or if I can’t use it for whatever reason, it helps a bit to use BreatheRight nose strips (or the generic version), and sleep on my side or stomach.

      Part of the problem is gravity – the soft tissues fall back to block your windpipe. So positioning yourself differently can help keep things clearer.

      But you do need to see a doctor anyway. I hope it does clear up and you feel better soon!

    11. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Don’t lie flat – use pillows or whatever. It’ll help with drainage. Most likely, the fact that you’re sick is the problem here. I would recommend going to the doctor, given you’re having difficulty breathing and coughing up mucus.

      If you’re still concerned once you’re healthy, then talk to the doctor then. But first, get this infection taken care of.

    12. Arts Akimbo*

      Oh gosh. This is timely. I’m having a sleep test in a couple of days, and I have no idea why, but I’m extremely nervous about it. It just seems so invasive. And the annoying thing is, I’ve had one before, so I know what to expect. Stupid emotions, LOL!

      Go to your doctor, describe your symptoms. Being afraid to fall asleep is actually one major symptom of sleep apnea. But before that, get a wedge pillow to sleep on. Seconding the commenter who recommended it, it’s the only way I can sleep when I have a cold!

  7. Laura H.*

    One of my dogs crossed the rainbow bridge. My heart hurts but also is relieved that she’s no longer suffering. I wish their absence wouldn’t leave such a huge hole in our hearts though.

    1. StellaBella*

      I am so so sorry for your pain. Sending you an internet hug if you like, and warm thoughts tonsooth the pain of the loss.

    2. Dame Judi Brunch*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. Losing a pet is honestly one of the hardest things to go through. Hugs to you!

    3. Charlotte*

      I’ve long wanted to get a pet, but reading posts like these I really don’t think I’d be able to stand it.

      1. rubyrose*

        It’s very hard when they go. But the joy, companionship and lessons they bring make the pain worthwhile in the long run.

        1. cat socks*

          Agree. When I’m feeling depressed, my kitties give me a reason to get up and keep moving. And they make me smile and laugh on a daily basis. For me, it’s absolutely been worth it.

        2. Laura H.*

          Seconded. Yes the loss hurts but it’s far overshadowed by the fact that I had Ginger and she was a dog I got to love and care for, wiggly waggy butt and all! And that’s exactly why it’s so hard to say goodbye.

      2. Mephyle*

        The words of Kahlil Gibran on Joy and Sorrow seem to me to be exactly about this. When I read, “The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain,” and “When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight,” I think of my Best Dog. I wouldn’t have traded away the joy she gave us to avoid the sorrow of her leaving. It was worth it.

        “Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
        And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
        And how else can it be?
        The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
        Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
        And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
        When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
        When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
        Some of you say, ‘Joy is greater than sorrow,’ and others say, ‘Nay, sorrow is the greater.’
        But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
        Together they come, and when one sits, alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.”

    4. HamlindigoBlue*

      I know how you feel. We lost our dobe in January. I still come home half expecting to see him in “his spot” waiting for his walk. I’m sorry for your loss.

    5. PhyllisB*

      So sorry, Laura. My heart breaks for you. I went through this two years ago, my two pups died within three months of each other. I have another fur baby, but you never forget them.

    6. NoLongerYoung*

      Sending you a giant hug and a tail wag from my latest rescue. There is never enough time. You loved deeply, and as long as you could… I found that I had to make myself take the walks a bit to get out in the sunshine. My most recent loss was my best “walker” and I revisited her favorite route to remember her on the early, tough days. The very first week, I had a lovely rainbow show up… it helped. May you find peace and comfort, too.

    7. PJ*

      Have you ever heard Jimmy Stewart read his poem “A Dog Named Beau”? If you search on youtube, there’s a clip of him reading it on the Johnny Carson show. It was really comforting to me after our golden died. The poem just does a beautiful job of capturing what our pets mean to us.

    8. Granger Chase*

      So sorry for your loss Laura. I am sure that she loved you very much and was so grateful for all of the love and care you gave her throughout her life.

  8. Just us chickens*

    Hello lovely AAM community. I’m a regular reader and occasional commenter. I’ve learned so much from all of you, and I love how generous and thoughtful people here are.

    A FB acquaintance is going through some hard times right now, and I’m not going to go into how the US healthcare system doesn’t work, but I’d like to ask that if anyone can help, please do so. She’s in the Atlanta area, and if you look up Gaele Hi on Facebook, she chronicles their day to day struggles of trying to get her partner to dialysis and having to sleep on the streets.

    Thanks for reading.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Not much of a FB user, but please let your friend know a Random Person on the internet is praying for her/thinking of her.

    2. Rosa*

      The National Kidney Foundation Helpline at 855-NKF-CARES (855-653-2273) might be able to refer to a social worker/resources to make her situation less dire.

  9. Gingerblue*

    Alison, I can never remember your cats’ names, but the one on the right always has the best expressions. A+ job on catting to both of them.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      Eve. She looks a bit annoyed this morning, while Sophie is trying to look like she has no idea why.

    1. Audiophile*

      Oh my god, I just discovered it the other day. Google Play store randomly recommended it when I was updating another app.

      I’m not 100% sold on it yet, but it is interesting.

  10. AccountantWendy*

    Google Swedish Death Cleaning. It’s absolutely a thing. Also, it may be that you’re looking for a way to exert control, because there’s so much you can’t control right now. As far as de-cluttering:

    Start small. Pick one thing…a drawer, or a group of objects, or one bin. If doing all your clothes feels too much, just do dresses or socks…break it into small jobs.

    If you haven’t touched it in a year, you should probably get rid of it. This is especially true of cosmetics and similar items.

    If you forgot you owned it, definitely get rid of it

    If you’re not sure, put it in a box, out of sight out of mind. In six months, if you can’t remember what’s in the box, get rid of it. If your still not sure, leave it in the box another six months.

    Touch every object. It’s ok to own things, but decide to own them, don’t just accumulate stuff because that’s easier than getting rid of it.

    Be prepared to invest time and money. Junk removal, shelving, storage bins.

    I cannot stress enough: a place for everything and everything in it’s place. This is the most fundamental concept but it really makes a difference. Here is an example: I need chapstick because I live in a place with brutal winters. I have a little zipper pouch to keep all my chapstick in and it lives in a specific drawer in my bathroom. Any time I find chapstick in a purse I’m not using or a pocket of a coat, I know exactly where to put it. It doesn’t end up floating around the house being clutter, and I always know where to go when I need chapstick. Now magnify this across all the items you own. Absolutely everything you own should have a place it belongs.

    Don’t keep things you don’t want just because they were gifted to you. Keep the things which have meaning for you.

    Enlist a friend. Just having company can be helpful, they don’t have to actually do anything!

    Recognize it’s an ongoing process. Don’t rush. Slow and steady wins the race.

    1. TimeTravelR*

      I had just recently heard of this. I’ve been slowly moving in this direction. At this point really just started with getting all the paper information in one place so it will be easier (where my accounts are, who to contact about them, etc.) and have over the last few years been cleaning out the extra stuff. Things are in a better place, but definitely have a long way to go.
      It’s amazing how much junk we think we need…. and then we don’t.

    2. Thankful for AAM*

      I teach a decluttering class at the library and love the Minimalists as a resource. Also, from Marie Kondo, I take the idea of not cleaning or decluttering by room, but by category; all books, tools, papers, and on to the hardest, sentimental items.

    3. Midge*

      Every time I try doing something like this it ends up unsustainable because my husband and daughter aren’t on board. Sometimes I want to put EVERYTHING in a dumpster.

      Literally can’t declutter kid’s room anymore because we live in a tiny house and there isn’t a place to put the stuff we take out of it. Except for one spot in the basement, that has a few storage bins of stuff my husband was supposed to take to the consignment shop over a year ago. I can’t carry them in myself, so basically I can’t do shit about anything. Really, I wonder if anyone would notice if I called and ordered one of those small dumpsters.

      1. Kate R. Pillar*

        Can you enlist a friend or Task Rabbit or anyone else to take care of these boxes?
        Being bottlenecked like this for a year(!) sounds incredibly frustrating.

        1. MRK*

          Also, look into charities that will do a pick-up! We get flyers in the mail every so often for various ones, but I’m sure there are others.

      2. WellRed*

        Stick the boxes on the curb with a free sign. Post to social media as necessary. I find hyper local Next Door and FB marketplace most effective.

        1. Washi*

          Depending on what gets used in your area, posting a curb alert on Craigslist Free and Freecycle can also work in addition to these great suggestions.

          One of the nice things about living in a city is that anything I don’t want, I can just put out on the curb and it’s gone in like 30 minutes!

      3. LongestDay*

        Could you check if your local charities do pickups? You won’t get money from donating, but at least the stuff will be gone and you just have to box/bag it up and leave it outside on a scheduled day.

    4. LongestDay*

      My mom isn’t a literal hoarder, but she has hoarding tendencies and is constantly buying stuff (including stuff to organize her stuff), while getting rid of very little. I told her about the idea of Swedish Death Cleaning, and she thought it was “sick” and didn’t want to talk about it.

      When she was reorganizing some large closets and piles of stuff a few weeks ago, she mentioned had she had a couple of boxes of cutesy animal ceramic statues that she’d made for me and my siblings when we were kids. I asked her to donate them since we’re all adults and don’t need them anymore (and they’ve been sitting in boxes for over 20 years) and her response was that she couldn’t part with them and I could get rid of them if I wanted after she died. Super super super frustrating.

      1. Shiny alolan raichu*

        I’m fairly sure you’re not one of my siblings, so there’s more than one out there like my mum. I’m sorry you have the inevitable post-death-house-clearance to come, too :(

      2. Beatrice*

        My husband’s entire family is like this. They get really emotionally invested in Stuff. They don’t mind parting with some Stuff sometimes, but they really need to feel like it’s going to a good home or going to someone who’s going to make better use of it than they did. And they do not understand it when people don’t appreciate their Stuff the way they do – I was offered a 30 year old deathtrap of a playpen when my son was born, and it didn’t go over well that I didn’t want it.

        My mother and father in law live alone in a huge farmhouse – 4 bedrooms, about 3500 square feet of living space, plus a full basement, full attic, FOUR outbuildings and a barn on an adjacent property, and it’s all full of Stuff. They generally know what stuff they have and where it is, and it’s organized, but it’s a LOT of Stuff. When they die, it’s going to be a huge production to go through their Stuff, and my husband and his sisters are going to want to do it slowly and agonize over the best home for the Stuff and relive their memories of the Stuff the whole way. I will probably either get divorced, take a long long trip to a lovely vacation spot, or go to jail for arson when that happens, lol. There have been family discussions about what to do with the house when they’re gone, and I have made it abundantly clear that I don’t want it – it will come with leftover Stuff that no one wants to make difficult decisions on, and there will be emotional battles over it that I am not interested in engaging in.

        1. LongestDay*

          “Agonize over the best home for the Stuff.”
          “And they do not understand it when people don’t appreciate their Stuff the way they do.”

          Describes my mom!

          She has a huge typewriter sitting on a table in the corner of her office. She hasn’t used it in about 20 years (when she got a computer) and was briefly considering having me attempt to sell it on eBay for her. She happened to see someone who lived nearby ask if anyone had a typewriter they were willing to sell on whatever social media she was on, so she looked at their profile, deemed them to be a nice person who would treat the typewriter well, and offered to sell it. Changed her mind immediately when the potential buyer mentioned they were getting the typewriter for their sister. My mom didn’t know anything about the sister, so she couldn’t tell if she’d take care of the typewriter, so she couldn’t sell it to them. And now she doesn’t want me to sell it on eBay because the price I want to list it for is too low (it’s in “like new” condition and is a “fancy” and “well-built” typewriter in perfect working condition so apparently it should be worth at least what she paid for it in the 80’s).


          1. Beatrice*

            Sounds like my sister-in-law! I excuse myself when she talks about selling things, because her grasp on the marketable value of things is rooted in some kind of fantasyland that I don’t understand.

      3. ampersand*

        I’m right there with you! I dread the day my sister and I have to go through our parents’ belongings and sort through All The Things to decide what we keep and what goes. We’ve asked them to pare down before then but I don’t see it happening.

        1. TimeTravelR*

          Going through my mom’s attic after she passed is what cured me. There were things she “had to keep” from her sister who had died thirty years earlier, that had never been unpacked. And that’s just the attic,

          1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            Friends of mine (early 70s) have been gradually sorting their stuff following a similar experience. It’s been quite a process for them, but yes it’s things like Aunty Mildred’s best flatware set that she never even used. They’ve been donating thoughtfully (espresso cups to the community cafe, ribbons and buttons to the primary school) until they’re holding only what they use and love.

            If you’re attached to a large set of things, it isn’t sacrilege to let 90% of it go and keep one item that reminds you of the set. Or take a photo and get rid of it all.

          2. Arts Akimbo*

            My grandmother, great aunts, and mother all used to make their own clothes. When these worthies died, it was deemed Unacceptable to get rid of any of their clothes. Ever. And somehow this extended to the clothes of great uncles and in-laws whose clothes were store-bought. And that is why my mother has the wardrobes of ten people in her other house. :-/

      4. NoLongerYoung*

        shhh… but what we do is “ask” mom for boxes of “stuff” when we are there, and then donate it far, far away on the trip home from the visit. It’s only one box or trunk full at a time, but… that much less to deal with later.

        I have taken the meaningful items from them (Great-great gramma’s amazing trip in 1890, souvenir ) and carefully kept that -with a note of why it is important. I’ve asked her -and she is doing – to tape on the bottom of all the “family” items the provenance of them, to “help” us. (This helps keep her busy, too, but also means I “do” hang onto the things that I want to pass down).

        Family visits usually involve us going through at least a couple hours one of the linen closets or storage areas and saying “ooh….that looks really useful…” and then making sure it leaves.

        She actually is pretty good about “most” of it, since she and her sister needed 4 months, full time days, and 4 roll-off drop boxes to remove everything from her mom’s house. So she doesn’t think her modest collection is “a lot.” On the other hand, I know I will have like one weekend to clear the place out (we don’t own it) and so getting the back corners of the closets and the true junk out of there, now, even under dubious pretext, is justified.

        YMMV, but if she doesn’t REFILL the empty spaces, it’s an option. If it just leaves more room to refill, then… no. But start saving for the cost of the declutter crew to come help clear it out. (I’m still working on husband’s hoard a year after his death).

      5. I'm A Little Teapot*

        You know, people say that so-and-so isn’t a hoarder, but if they having difficulty or refuse to get rid of unnecessary items, then by definition they’re a hoarder. You can be a hoarder and not having the house stuffed to the ceiling with stuff. It’s more the behavior/emotions than the quantity.

        It’s like someone who’s mildly allergic to something. Sure, maybe they just sneeze once or twice, but it’s still an allergy. You don’t have to end up in the hospital due to the allergic reaction to make it allergies. It’s a spectrum.

        1. Triumphant Fox*

          I mean, hoarding is a disorder and I think the line there is more intense than “doesn’t want to part with unnecessary items.” Like many disorders, I imagine it’s more along the lines of “interferes with your ability to live your life, maintain a job, relationships and your health.”

          1. I'm A Little Teapot*

            Agreed, but just because someone has very mild symptoms of the disease doesn’t mean they don’t have the disease.

            Honestly, I suspect a lot of the resistance is due to the cultural baggage of being a “hoarder”. There’s a lot of shame.

            1. Tinuviel*

              Conversely, recently there’s this boom of minimalism and decluttering and almost a Buddhist detachment from the material world that’s going around right now. I don’t think there is anything wrong, mentally or socially or otherwise, with taking comfort in your possessions and being reluctant to throw things away just because they “take up space.” It’s not “diseased” to want to live surrounded by things you like, or to keep things that others deem “useless” because you might use them someday.

              Modern trendy culture worships the cold, sterile minimalist spaces that are “free of clutter.” I say they’re free of character, of memory, of love and comfort and art and history.

    5. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I really want to give this book to my mom and my mother in law, but it seems like a pretty rude gift unfortunately. My mother in law has said she’s not dealing with stuff because we can do it after she dies. She is otherwise lovely, like really the best mother in law I could have hoped for, except for this issue (and generally being an indifferent housekeeper, but since I don’t live there I only have to occasionally put up with it). For now, we bring home anything she wants to give us, which usually goes right from the car to the garbage can. To be fair, she does live in a rural area with no garbage pick up so getting rid of stuff is a bit more difficult. She’s rented a small dumpster a couple of times and my husband and I have gone to visit and help throw things away. It’s helped a bit, but there is a lot of stuff we will eventually have to deal with.

      1. Fellow Traveler*

        I am so thankful that my parents downsized to a two bedroom condo a couple of years ago. They purged a lot. Also, one of the most freeing things my mom said to me was, “We have nothing of value- when we die, you don’t need to keep any of it. except for grandma’s cross-stitch picture. I hope you keep that.”
        Having helped my husband go through his parent’s house after they both passed away unexpectedly I find myself looking at the things when I’m contemplating a new purchase, or cleaning my house, and ask ing myself, “Do I want my daughter to have to deal with this when I die?”

    6. Nana*

      I find the 10% rule an easy way to weed out. Look at any ten books/blouses/trousers and say ‘which one don’t I need?’ Sometimes I’ve been able to divest myself of three of the ten, which balance out the rare occasions that I ‘need’ to keep all ten.
      About to change out closets, and I’ll put a big safety pin on any summer clothing I didn’t wear this year. I’ll donate it in the spring (summer clothing donated now goes in the rag pile; Goodwill/Sally Ann can’t store Stuff for next summer).

      1. AccountantWendy*

        I hadn’t heard this rule and I love it! We have done so much getting rid of stuff recently that we’re down to the really hard decisions and this might help me sift through the last few remaining categories (esp. my vast collection of sewing patterns and all those books I will read “some day). It’s also a great way to thin out my photo albums – my mother invested heavily in making photo albums for all her kids growing up, and I love them -but they are two book shelf’s worth of albums for the first 18 or so years of my life and I just can’t help but think I don’t need ALL the photos, though of course I want some – I think I’ll start with the 10% rule and see how much that thins the collection.

  11. matcha123*

    Is there a kind way to tell friends I need a lot of space?

    I live in the opposite time zone from some friends (their am is my pm) and others in my area sometimes text to hang out. I am very happy that they are thinking of me, and for most of them I can’t meet them often. However, I need a huge amount of downtime after work and after socializing (hours to days). And since I am meeting different people, it’s hard to say back off. One person I may not have seen for a month will want to meet after another I haven’t met for weeks, etc.

    Any good scripts I could try?
    Some friends probably feel like texting or talking on the phone is fine, but when they do that, I can’t really do other things. Especially with the ones who would get put off by multitasking.

    1. Marmaduke*

      I don’t know how this would work with your friend dynamics, but myote introverted friends and I generally say, “Sorry, that’s my scheduled decompression time. I will be ready to be social after (time/date).”

    2. Washi*

      If you want the friends to stop asking you so often and to back off a bit, just say “sorry, unfortunately that doesn’t work for me” when they ask you to do stuff and you don’t want to. Most people will get the message/not get a lot of positive reinforcement from inviting you to things, and will probably lower the frequency.

      If you like that your friends are reaching out to you but just can’t say yes to everything, I would offer an alternative plan, like “ohh, Friday doesn’t work unfortunately, but how about we put a date on the calendar to get coffee next week?” Also, if your friends to a lot of the initiating and you like that, despite not having the bandwidth, you can say that. I would be flattered if a friend said to me “I know don’t always have the spoons to hang out, but I want you to know I’m so happy to have you in my life and glad you keep inviting me to things.”

    3. zyx*

      It’s okay to say you’re busy! Or, for friends who don’t mind the phone, that you’d be happy to catch up on the phone when you’re washing the dishes, folding the laundry, commuting, or whatever. What happens if you suggest an alternate time and mention that you’ll be multitasking up front?

      One thing to keep in mind, though: if you say no often enough and don’t issue reciprocal invitations, your friends may stop inviting you. (That makes sense—nobody likes getting turned down all the time.) You may end up in charge of invitations and initiating contact with the people you want to stay friends with.

    4. LilySparrow*

      “I’m swamped this week, how about next Tuesday?”

      “I have plans tonight, can I call/text you tomorrow?”

      You are an adult. You get to define for yourself what “too much” is, and you have 0.000% obligation to justify your threshold to anyone else. You are allowed to plan time to clean your house, play with your pet, take a long bath, research Halloween costumes online, or whatever else would annoy anti-multitasking callers.

      Just make sure you’re offering an alternate time, so they know you’re not avoiding them personally.

      1. matcha123*

        Coming up with an alternate time has been the thing I’ve had the hardest time with. There are so many different things I’m trying to get done at once and it could be months before I feel OK to meet without pushing something back…

    1. Quake Johnson*

      I was happy with the winner but kind of shocked that the school choir made it all the way to 2nd. I thought most of the other acts (especially the African choir) were much better.

    2. It’s All Good*

      Was happy for Kodi I think he is very talented. I thought Light Balance Kids would of been the best Vegas act.

    3. Mimmy*

      I’m surprised at how the results turned out; there were a few who I thought would make the top 5, if not win, that did not make top 5. I am happy with Kodi winning, he is definitely talented.

      I was rooting for the comedian with the deformed hands (sorry, not sure of the PC term!) – his joy is infectious and he is very funny.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        I believe “limb difference” is used as a catch-all term where the atypical development/shape is congenital rather than the result of injury etc.

  12. Marzipan*

    Lately I have been low-key obsessed with two TV shows that seem to hit a very gentle, completely undemanding vibe I’m finding very soothing. So, in case anyone else is looking for something similar, they are:

    World’s Most Extraordinary Homes – a BBC thing, it’s on UK Netflix but dunno about elsewhere. They just visit a succession of the most insane modern houses and basically have a nose around, and maybe a chat with the owners and/or architect. Clearly all the houses must have cost the GDP of a small country, but they don’t really get into anything like that. It’s just immensely peaceful and I need to watch some of the episodes again because I keep falling asleep watching it.

    And then the other one is The Repair Shop – BBC, currently on iPlayer, again no idea about the test of the world, sorry. My dad was going on and on about it so I watched an episode and then immediately binged half a dozen more. Basically, they have a load of incredibly skilled craftspeople in a barn somewhere, and people bring them old stuff and they fix it. But it’s usually stuff that has immense sentimental value to the owners, and often in the most appalling condition – so, like, ‘this china statue is the last thing I have to remember my beloved grandmother’ and the thing is literally in shards, or whatever. And the relevant craftspeople just painstakingly repair each item, which is fascinating and they’re all incredibly competent at things I didn’t even know were possible – and then the owner comes back to collect their object which now looks amazing, and probably has a little cry. It’s genuinely the loveliest thing.

    1. NeverNicky*

      The Repair Shop is lovely. It’s keeping me sane. Just watching skilled people calmly and competently do their thing whilst our incompetent ‘leaders’ take us into destruction gives me hope that we can repair the damage.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I really like the World’s Most Extraordinary Homes. Usually of the four homes featured: one does nothing for me, two have some interesting features mixed with some I don’t like, and one is a place I would love to live if granted to us for a 3-6 month sabbatical. (So practical questions about proximity to work or cost of upkeep don’t come into it.) I imagine other people have a similar division but would put different homes in the too cold/ just right spots.

      I really like that often these are not huge houses–they’re at a scale I would find inviting to live in.

      In a similar vein, on Netflix: Big Dreams Small Spaces is about how to turn a small space into a garden. It’s not what to do with 5 acres and a massive budget, but relatable small, awkward spaces that are completely overgrown with brambles, or holding random junk you meant to get rid of, or a blank square of lawn. And there’s a nice range of goals and budgets.

    3. Asenath*

      World’s Most Extraordinary Homes is on Netflix in Canada, to – I don’t think The Repair Shop is. I do watch World’s Most Extraordinary Homes – Unlike Falling Diphthong, I don’t usually like the homes, but I watch anyway, astonished at the effort and thought that goes in to them. I wouldn’t even consider buying, say, an extremely minimalist-style house in some beautiful but inaccessible area even if I were a billionaire, but its fascinating watching how they did it. Monty Don’s various garden shows are soothing, and I liked Wild Australia with Ray Mears (there was another series with a different host about remote areas in Europe), and those 72 most dangerous animal shows. Oddly enough, I like the Canadian shows “Highway through Hell” and “Heavy Rescue: 401″ – you wouldn’t think highway accidents would be soothing, but somehow it is, maybe because they always show successful tow truck operations. Someone else who likes them said ” I like watching competence”. I watched a similar show set in Australia, but it lacked the ice storms and blizzards.

    4. HannahS*

      Big Dreams, Small Spaces! It’s so great. It’s this British garden makeover show, but it’s totally unlike American makeover shows. The vibe is so supportive and relaxed, and there’s no injection of glamour from the network. Just a lovely older expert gardener helping people make the yard they want, whether that’s a kitchen garden, play space for their special needs child, oasis that reminds them of their honeymoon, etc. It’s delightful.

    5. londonedit*

      The Repair Shop is wonderful. I actually did the opposite – I kept going on at my dad about how much he’d love it, and he finally watched it and is now hooked! The craftspeople are so incredibly clever and it’s so lovely seeing people’s reactions to their restored possessions.

    6. Nicki Name*

      Anime has a term for this vibe– “iyashikei” or “healing”. It’s a whole genre in Japan! If you’re ever interested in fictional shows like this, look it up for a ton of recommendations.

      1. Queer Earthling*

        Thank you for this! I’ve been thinking of trying to get back into anime but I also love relaxed viewing, so I’m looking at a list to see if any of this interests me!

      1. Purt’s Peas*

        I’m hoping Repair Shop is available somewhere in the US, or at least obtainable. I want to watch it very badly now :)

        1. Dr. Anonymous*

          It’s on Daily Motion right now, but who knows how long that will last. I have a similar problem watching The Great British Sewing Bee. Neither the BBC nor the production company has licensed it for sale or streaming in the US.

    7. GoryDetails*

      I hadn’t heard of Repair Shop – sounds like something I’d love! If it’s available online I may be checking it out soon. (My dad would have loved something like that…)

      My own go-to soothing-type show is the Great British Bake Off, though at this point I have all the rerun seasons memorized. There are other-country versions, none of which air in my region, but I’ve been able to stream most of them one way or another – favorites included the Australian one (I think that one went for three seasons) and the Canadian one.

      I hadn’t seen the term “iyashikei” before either, despite being an anime fan – and it turns out that there’s a TV Tropes page on the term, with lists of anime (and a few other media types) that fit the description.

      1. AL (the other one)*

        If you like the Bake Off, you might also like the Sewing Bee, hopefully a new series will be out next year…

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          Also Throw Down (British, ceramics) and Blown Away (Canadian, glass). I love watching skill.

            1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

              The jeopardy is super high because sometimes stuff just shatters at the last moment. That’s what I liked about the ceramic one too: that the firing was uncertain and it might come out cracked or something.

              1. fposte*

                I just binged it last night. I started out thinking “Eh, I don’t know how involved I’ll be” and ended up rapt. And yes, same with Pottery Throwdown–which was even worse because it could be days later when the work shattered.

                I had not realized just how much actual fire is running around a glass studio, and the blowers are all like “Hey, I’ll pat this with my gloved hands as it’s in flames!” I imagine that the show setup is pretty unusual for the high traffic in such a space, but holy cow, I can’t imagine the insurance.

    8. Damien*

      I LOVE the repair shop, it’s so wholesome and just plain interesting to see how they can turn a wreck into something near-pristine. So nice to see the customers’ reactions each time.

    9. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      The British Baking show is my jam for this. I don’t even care if I’ve seen it before because I never remember who wins or whatever.
      The contestants are all lovely to each other snd they make stuff I’ll never do myself so I don’t even have to try to learn anything.
      Aaaah… soothing.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        It’s weird: with fiction I remember all the details of the plot on rewatch, but on TGBB I will have absolutely no idea who’s going to do well or poorly on this challenge, and who got star baker or eliminated. Like, I have a vague sense of who does and doesn’t go far, but individual results have all left my mind.

    10. Parenthetically*

      We LOOOOOVE Extraordinary Homes. I was muttering that I wished there were three more seasons and my husband overheard and said, “WHAT?! There are three more seasons??” and then was very disappointed when I repeated myself.

    11. Lady Alys*

      My husband has been watching some YouTube videos by a guy who just goes out into the woods (with permission, I assume) and builds stuff, with minimal tools/prep. “Viking House” is one series, and “Saxon House” too. His dad helps sometimes too. They don’t talk much, but are very funny when they do.

      1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

        If you like excellent skill with not much talking, the Engel’s coach shop youtube videos are great. He build or rebuilds coaches, wagons and other draft vehicles. The first videos I watched were on the giant borax wagon replicas, which are absolutely fascinating.

    12. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m hooked on horse-training videos by Danish trainer Mia Lykke Nielsen. She calls her training program “When horses choose”, it’s all about acting just enough horselike to get the horse with the behavior problem to start trusting the human as they would a member of their herd. Her work with wild mustangs at a Florida rescue center was astounding.

  13. Marmaduke*

    I posted last week about my guilt regarding my hospital stay for pancreatitis. I really appreciated the kind words and helpful suggestions and wanted to post a quick update for anyone who’s interested:
    My husband and I talked to an advisor who is helping us apply for disability aid, which would help with the hospital bills.
    While I can’t afford to get back into therapy, I found some local support groups. If I qualify for the disability aid, I should also be able to use paratransit so I can get to the support groups.
    I’ve found some online dance videos that I’m enjoying (if you know of any fun ones, let me know!) which is making exercise more pleasant.
    I’ve discovered lots of tasty recipes and am learning to enjoy food instead of fearing it. I’m spending a lot of time learning to enjoy my senses in general. It feels good.

    Thank you all!

    1. LibbyG*

      Thanks for updating! I’ve been thinking of you all week. I’m so happy that you found the time and energy to grab onto these smart strategies and that you’re feeling the payoff. Yay for you and Marmadude and Marmakid!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      You sound good here, like you have found a bit of peace. I am very happy for you. May you continue to find more peace and reassurances.

  14. A bit of a saga*

    Getting the running thread up and, ahem, running! I’m really happy I was able to finish a local 10 km race yesterday evening. I’ve had quite a few problems the last months – plantar fasciitis but also a pulled thigh muscle, so I’ve not run at all and then only very short distances. It wasn’t fast or pretty but it feels like a milestone (also, we ran through the district city hall where the mayor gave a high five to all runners as we passed through his office – he must have a sore hand today but it was fun)

      1. LGC*

        First 20-miler (or…~30k – really, 32k) of the season this morning for me! I’m doing the NYC Marathon again this year.

        Funny enough, it actually ties into the other marathon-related drama I have. I prefer using my middle name, and that’s what my NYC result is under. I signed up for Boston, but that’s in limbo because I need to use my first name for Boston and they were like, “WE DON’T THINK YOU’RE THE SAME PERSON.” So, I need to basically explain that to them.

        (Like, my Boston time from last year is good enough to qualify. It’s just my NYC time was faster by 7 minutes.)

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

          Good luck! I was thinking about the people doing 18- and 20-milers when I woke up Thursday morning and it was 52 degrees in NYC.

          1. LGC*

            I’m still not sure if I ran 20 or 21! Apparently, the Palisades are New Jersey’s answer to the Bermuda Triangle, since I lost the track coming back.

            Speaking of which, somehow Palisades State Park happens to be uphill both ways. I thought this was just something grandpas said, but apparently it is possible IRL. It’s not fun!

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

              I’ve wanted to try running there for quite awhile but it’s not so easy to get to from where I live. What you’re saying about it being uphill both ways is consistent with what I’ve heard about it in general. It sounds both beautiful and kind of demonic!

              1. LGC*

                You’d be right! It’s really pretty, especially at the spots that come by the Hudson, but the hills are PAINFUL.

                We ended up going up to the police headquarters in Alpine (from Fort Lee – for people who don’t live local to that, that’s from the George Washington Bridge up to the NY/NJ state border, or roughly 8 1/2 miles each way). I also learned why Alpine is called Alpine – there’s something like a 300 foot straight climb over a little more than a mile.

    1. CoffeeforLife*

      I really have no business posting on here as I am so NOT a runner.

      I did a 12 minute jog yesterday. That’s the longest I’ve gone (without walking or stopping) since…forever? I’ve been working out but running/jogging is the pits for me. I get horrible shin splints but I’ve decided to “work through them” as my runner SO advised. Stretching them multiple times a day has helped.

      1. Dr. Anonymous*

        You are a runner. You runned! I like the John Galloway walk/run method and ran a marathon that way. I’m in PT now hoping to go back to slow distance running someday. (You don’t have to be slow to do Galloway. It just happens that I AM slow).

      2. A bit of a saga*

        Of course you’re a runner! And as someone said to me yesterday as we plodded along (let’s just say we weren’t exactly in contention for any prizes in that race with our speed): ‘we are doing so much better than all the people who didn’t even get out there tonight’ – that’s true for you, too!

      3. LGC*

        Okay, so – everyone else has covered the “you’re a runner” thing, but from a guy who brags constantly about his running exploits: dude, you’re as much of a runner as I am. You ran. You did the thing.

        (You are not necessarily a Runner, in that you are nowhere near as obnoxious as I am about it. This is a good thing!)

        Also, I’m not a PT, but I disagree with your SO. A lot of times you should run through fatigue and soreness, but with shin splints that’s a sign you need to back off a bit. Honestly, you can jog six minutes, walk a bit, and then jog six minutes again (for example). Stretching does help, but part of it might be that you’re ramping up too much for you.

        1. anonagain*

          “A lot of times you should run through fatigue and soreness, but with shin splints that’s a sign you need to back off a bit.”

          I agree. CoffeeforLife, I’m also a fledgling runner and I’m finding that my heart/lungs are adapting faster than my lower legs and feet. It’s a frustrating mismatch that makes it easy to do more than my bones and tendons can handle. My progress feels infuriatingly slow, but every time I get impatient, I start having foot or shin pain again.

          I hope you feel better soon and also that you start enjoying running more!

    2. londonedit*

      Hoorah! I did my last long training run before next Sunday’s half-marathon. Ran with friends along the Thames and back, then finished up with parkrun.

      Now I just need to convince myself that I am capable of ‘going for it’ at the half – usually my strategy for this race is just to get round and enjoy it, but my training this summer has been way better than ever before, and I feel like I’d be doing myself a disservice if I didn’t try to run the sort of time my training is telling me I should be able to. But that is scary!

      1. LGC*

        Good luck!

        I’ve noticed that quite a few half marathons have pacers now – even smaller races. (I’m doing one in a couple of weeks.) Check to see if they have pacers and what times they have – a smaller race might have groups for every 10-15 minutes, while larger races have groups every five. (To give an example – two of the larger local races with fields of ~2000-3000 for the half had groups every 5. The one I’m doing – put on by Shore AC, down the Jersey Shore – has pacers every 15.)

        If they do have pacers, go with the one closest to your goal time. If you’re between groups, I’d almost say to start with the slower one and pick it up as you go along (unless – say – you’re shooting for like a 1:50 and the groups are 1:45 and 2:00 – then I’d say to ignore the pacers entirely). It can be a big difference – every 5 minutes of finishing time is ~23 seconds per mile.

        Finally, if you do run with a pacer, just keep them in your sights! A good pacer will aim to finish 30 seconds faster than their assignment (so a 1:45 pacer will run 1:44:30). If you cross the start at the same time, you can be up to 30 seconds behind and still hit your goal. A lot of pacers will aim to run as evenly as possible, though I’m not sure about your race.

        1. londonedit*

          Oh they always have pacers – ‘proper’ ones from a pacing company doing the round numbers and people from my running club doing the 5s. The trouble with pacers is that there’s always a huge crowd around them, especially at the time I’ll likely be attempting, and often their pacing strategy doesn’t quite line up with mine. I think I might do my own thing but maybe try to keep a pace team in sight.

          1. londonedit*

            (I’ve done about a million half marathons before and three marathons, so I’m used to race day! It’s just that my training is usually crap over the summer so I never usually try properly at this particular race. Also while I describe it as my local half I didn’t mean it’s small – it’s a fairly major race!)

    3. Lady Jay*

      Eleven miles this morning on a favourite trail that’s only accessible during this summer. The rangers come and shut it down after a certain point; today was the last day this season I’ll be able to get out there. Gorgeous scenery, with mists in the valleys and mountains rising out of the mists all around me.

      I’ve got my eye on a trail run start of November, though I may not be strong enough on the uphills to really have a fun time. We’ll see.

      Also!! Barkley Fall Classic this weekend. Anybody running?

      1. LGC*

        Oh man, I didn’t even think about trail running season coming to an end! That’s kind of sad that it’s only open during the summer – it sounds like something that would be great as a fall run.

        I’d say go for the November run – and I’m someone who says he hates uphills (and then does them anyway). You might surprise yourself.

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

      Good going! I’m looking forward to running my first post-injury race. Still not sure yet when that will be.

      It’s starting to get really nice and cool in the mornings in the US Northeast (or, at least it was; now it’s going back to summer-like weather for awhile). It’s made me really miss long runs and kind of jealous of the folks I’m seeing out there training for marathons and half marathons. But the good news is that I’m at the point now where there’s really nothing stopping me from doing them, except for the fact that I need to build my endurance back up, which I know comes gradually.

  15. Venus*

    How does your garden grow?

    Mine is starting to die off, although the tomatoes are slowly starting to go pink so I might yet have them ripen a bit on the vine. The sunflowers are the only part of the garden which has a lot of life, as they are blooming quite well. Now is the time of year where I should dig up certain parts in order to clean them up, as they are too dense, but I’m struggling to find motivation. Yet it’s also important to spend as much remaining time outside while the weather is enjoyable, right?

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I still have a bunch of little jalapenos; habanero plant has blossoms still; the tomatoes are thinning out, though still green; herbs are still pretty strong; and the green beans weren’t doing great to begin with due to some animal munching the leaves off early in the season. My hanging baskets are almost dead, so I’ll be replacing them with mums this weekend.

    2. Knitter*

      We’re finally getting enough tomatoes (ripened indoors) to make sauce. Eggplant is coming in furiously, but have to be used immediately so we’ve been keeping them on the plant till we have plans to use them. My neighbor is Italian American and taught me how to make eggplant parm a few years ago and hers is the actual best.

      At this point, I’d start digging up the beds and transferring the remains to the compost bin, but we are going to do an addition on the house and I am a little worried (perhaps irrationally) they the compost will somehow get contaminated in this process. It’s an 100 year old house so there has to be lead paint somewhere and other unhealthy stuff that will get stirred up. Thought? Am I letting my anxious brain go a little wild?

      1. Venus*

        I just replaced lead water pipes (between the street and house, inside the home was okay) and have raised vegetable beds due to worries about contamination, so I don’t know if you are irrational but please know that you aren’t alone!

        1. knitter*

          Thanks =)

          We have raised beds which I lined and filled with soil we had delivered. I’m leaning toward composting, but using it for non-vegetable beds. I hate the idea of filling yard waste bins to only have it added to the landfill.

    3. WellRed*

      Can I jump in here and ask about mums and asters in containers? I have no luck, they turn brown quickly. Not enough water? Too much sun? Is it a huge difference if I buy from local nursery rather than the grocery store?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Probably drying out too fast. This could be too much sun or perhaps they need a larger container. If you planted them in the ground it could be that the roots were so pot bound that the plant could not drink up the water it had available. I gently loosen the roots and spread them out a little bit before covering with soil. This kind of shows the roots where to go.

        I used to think nurseries were better. But I see now that just like grocery stores, the nurseries are selling things not meant for our zone. Check the zones before purchasing, that may help a little. Nurseries will probably fertilize their plants, some grocery stores don’t give their plants any “food” at all. It’s handy to be aware that your new plant might like something to munch on.

        My plants dry out while I am at work. If I ever go back to container plants I will have to look into ways for them to get automatic watering. I am sure there are many places you can check out if this interests you. The place I like to look at is out of Burlington Vt., Gardener’s Supply. They are a little spendy but you can at least see various ideas for how people are handling automatic watering.

      2. Venus*

        I have no answers for you, sorry, but please know that nothing is too off-topic! I appreciate your enthusiasm for asking.

    4. Seifer*

      I have two giant buckets on my balcony that I planted carrots and radishes in. They’re doing pretty well, and I read that they’ll do fine with the cool weather, so fingers crossed that I’ll get at least one of each!

      Basil is the only thing that survived from the summer since the apartment complex decided they were going to paint and plastic wrapped balcony access for a week and a half so I couldn’t get out there to water. I planted more cat grass and redid the catnip, but while the cat grass took off, the catnip is taking its sweet time. The cat, however, is determined to mow all of the kitty grass every time I got out there to water, so she is now considered a threat to the balcony garden. She is allowed four pieces a day because we want it to last through the winter haha.

    5. New(ish) Gardener*

      Anyone in this thread have suggestions on things we CAN plant this late in the season? Like kale or spinach? I live in southern Wisconsin for reference. The thought that maybe I could have one last garden hurrah was my only motivator to clean up the dying mess!

      1. NewReadinGlasses*

        Pansies or violas (my favorite, and they can live through some snow.
        Various salad greens, like spinach, arugula, anything you would eat as sprouts
        All the cabbages
        Beets and onions. You can eat them any time they are big enough to bother with, or eat the leaves. They both should live through the winter, although I find the beets get kind of bitter.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Your local nursery should be able to advise for your specific location, but I think you should check out cool weather veggies, peas come to mind, I think some greens might work. I want to say cauliflower and broccoli maybe?
        There are also books about having a three season garden that you might find interesting.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’m told I could squeak in a fall crop of radishes… I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m giving the cucumber planter a thought because the cuke gave up the ghost in the late summer heat.

      4. Lora*

        Check out the Winter Garden Handbook by Eliot Coleman. Dude grows veggies year round in Maine.

        What kills my winter garden is heavy snow that smashes the covers down and keeps out the sun, not freezing. Someday I’ll have a real greenhouse… You can definitely do lettuces and kale though. Pea shoots if you eat the sprouts as opposed to the peas (they are delicious). Radishes certainly, there’s one I grow called the 18 day radish and it is more like a month and a half in cold cold weather, but still.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      One dahlia finally has exploded into growth, the other still hates its container.
      The big news was my husband talked me into staying outside with him while he took down a dead oak. (Thanks gypsy moths.) He took down dozens of trees growing up on his family farm, but there’s a difference when it’s around driveways and lawns and wires. He dropped it exactly where planned, but when it landed one limb snapped and punched through our driveway. Theread was also serious damage to our lawn. I am decidedly not happy. The whole thing was extremely stressful, and there’s still cleanup for tomorrow. The neighborhood turkey family enjoyed a feast in the fallen limbs on the lawn.

  16. Hazy days*

    Argh! I’ve been Feeling Emotions this week, and then I’ve been Feeling Emotions about Feeling Emotions, and have got myself in a meta-emotion tangle.

    I like a very nice guy who I’ve met through work. I was just getting over my crush when we ended up collaborating on a small, follow up event, and now I’m upset again. (He’s in a long term relationship, likes me as a friend and colleague, but is no way going to end a happy relationship.)

    I feel stupid and embarrassed to feel so sad about a crush. Nothing bad has happened, just a disappointment about someone who I have not known very long, and I think I should be able to smile and move on. But instead I’m sad. I’m being kind to myself and planning a nice thing for the weekend, but I’ve got a lot of tangled feelings around this one and would appreciate other people’s perspectives.

    1. Dr. Anonymous*

      Maybe you form close attachments because you’re a loving person and so it’s a little painful to let go of them. Give yourself permission to be sad and just baby yourself this weekend.

      1. valentine*

        A loss is a loss. It’s okay to be sad and if you give it the space it needs, part of you won’t be fighting the rest of you for the right to be sad for a bit. While it’s worth checking whether the sadness is about something else, there doesn’t need to be anything larger at play.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I agree with being gentle with you. Yelling at ourselves to “stop doing that!” very seldom goes well.

      You may want to consider this: Sometimes (not always) crushes fill a void. We have a blank spot in our lives and nothing going on to fill the blank spot. Think about some of the do-able things that you have just not quite gotten around to doing yet. Now is a good time to pick one and dig in.

    3. LilySparrow*

      The only thing wrong I see is the word “should.”

      “Should” is a word for laundry, charity, thank-you notes, taxes, and recycling. It has absolutely nothing to do with feelings.

      Fire “should” from this experience, it doesn’t belong. You are totally entitled to like people and find them attractive. You are entitled to be sad that it isn’t going to go anywhere.

      You will move through this a lot easier if you don’t use “should” as a stick to beat yourself with.

      1. Hazy days*

        Thank you everyone! That is lovely and very kind. I will take all the wise words shared here and give them a little hug.

        You are all quite right – it is fine for me to like someone (despite being a ‘middle-aged career woman’), and it is fine to be sad that the person I like doesn’t have a future with me in that way.

        And it’s very nice to think of myself as a loving person who forms attachments when they meet a fellow good person in the world.

        I think perhaps there’s a gap in my life for a handsome man who seeks out my company, has creative ideas, shares my political opinions, and who seems an all-round good egg! It may be that what I really would like is to be more cherished and looked after, but life is what it is, and I don’t think that’s available for the asking.

        So your kind words are all the more valued! Thank you, people.

    4. Clever Name*

      I’ve been there. Had a low-key crush on a coworker for a while, but didn’t really think too much about it as I was married and he had a girlfriend. I divorced and a part of me hoped “this is IT!” Of course he didn’t break up with his longtime girlfriend to be with me. My former crush is a great guy. Super smart and has an infectious upbeat attitude. Think of your crush as a sign of your good taste. I was sad and wistful for a while; your feelings are totally normal.

  17. Director of Alpaca Exams*

    Shabbat shalom to all who observe it, and shavua tov to those seeing this after sundown Saturday!

    Rosh Hashanah is around the corner! Got any honeycake recipes or family traditions to share? Are you doing #BlogElul/#ElulGram? What makes the High Holy Days meaningful to you? Or are you dreading long services and family gatherings?

    1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      I’m really looking forward to Selichot Across Brooklyn on the night of the 21st, which is always so full of music and joy. And I have acquired my annual “Adon HaSelichot” earworm. (I like the Masorti Israel version on YouTube, which has a very pretty video as well.)

      My honey allergy seems to have gotten worse, so I’m trying light corn syrup and golden syrup as alternatives for baking and apple-dipping—other suggestions welcome.

      1. Alexandra Lynch*

        Is it honey or is it fructose? Cause I have fructose, so corn syrup, golden syrup, agave syrup, and maple syrup are all on my “don’t eat or you’ll get sick as a dog” list.

        1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

          It’s actually a pollen allergy! So it’s specifically honey. A fructose allergy sounds like a nightmare, I’m so sorry.

      2. spock*

        I’ve done a fully vegan “honey” cake with 1:1 agave replacement. Not identical but still turns out great.

    2. Kate*

      These are the first High Holidays since my spouse and I split. It’s a whole lot of low key feelings (The Feelings are saved for Passover 2020, that was always such a big family event, and now they’ll do their thing with my daughter and it’ll just be me… somewhere)

      1. heckofabecca*

        Yeah, same situation for me too! My FIL’s birthday is on Rosh Hashana, and we always celebrated with my ex’s family since his mom hosts EVERYTHING. Kate, best of luck finding a new tradition for yourself <3 Sending solidarity hugs.

        I'm excited this year because I went to the farmer's market and got some Oaxacan honey from Costa Chica! Can't wait to eat it on apples… and I already know it's good on challah ^^;

        My favorite RH recipe of all time is one I've only eaten, never made… but pomegranate chicken!!! Sprinkled with pomegranate seeds as a garnish. Juicy, delicious, gorgeous… My friend also has a pinterest board of vegetarian RH ideas. https://www.pinterest.com/atthewood/recipes-to-try/rosh-hashana-ideas/

        Shabbat shalom!!!

    3. MatKnifeNinja*

      The best honey cake, that everyone wolfed down, is the recipe on the Chabad website.

      I’ve made it into cupcakes (no frosting), little loaf cakes and regular cakes.

      My I hate honey cake friends will eat it.

      Shavau Tov!

      1. NYC Redhead*

        Do you know which one? There’s one called Lekach, a classic honey cake, and one called Nana’s? Thank you!

    4. Not A Manager*

      Our observance is usually a little bit of shul and a lot of food. I’m traveling from my home to the city that a lot of our family lives in, and hosting the meal there. I already have a bunch of stuff in my freezer that I’m going to transport in my luggage.

      My adult kids are very tradition-oriented about holiday foods, so I can’t change up the main dishes at all. Matzah balls, kreplach, and brisket WILL be on the menu. While they prefer potato kugel, this year I’m making sweet noodle kugel. I also baked a couple of sweet challah recipes that I haven’t made before, apple and cinnamon and a cherry/almond paste.

      I just don’t like honey cake very much. I’ve made the heavy, flat kind that my grandmother made, which is kind of like a Christmas fruitcake (lots of candied fruit, flavored with coffee and spices), and I’ve made the light chiffon cakes in a tube pan. I just don’t like them. This year I’m going to make a flourless orange saffron cake from Serious Eats, with homemade mango-coconut sorbet. If the cake is good, I’ll keep it in mind for Passover as well.

        1. Not A Manager*

          I don’t have my grandmother’s recipe handy, I’m sorry. I think that Craig Claiborne had a similar one in his version of The New York Times Cookbook.

          If I were googling, I would look for recipes that call for strong coffee, dried fruit, spices in addition to cinnamon (allspice? mace?), and that you bake in a fairly low pan, not a tube pan. My grandmother baked hers in a rimmed baking sheet, I’m pretty sure, and cut it into squares. I think I’ve seen Christmas fruitcakes that are baked in small loaves and then sliced very thin, which you could do with this recipe also.

          I might also look for Eastern European names for it, like “Russian honey cake” or “Polish honey cake.”

          1. Not A Manager*

            I said dried fruit, but I meant candied fruit. And actually, I can’t really remember if her recipe had candied fruit in it or if I’ve conflated that with later honey cakes!

    5. LizB*

      I’m doing an Elul writing/journaling project run by Jordan Braunig out of Tufts Hillel. You sign up for the email list on a google form, and we get a new prompt via email every day (except on shabbos) and I’ve dedicated an empty notebook I had lying around to my responses. The prompts have all been wonderful! One of my faves so far:

      “If language is the measure of our lives, we ought to be awfully careful with how we use it. On this sixth day of Elul I invite you to write a mission statement for your speech in the coming year. What worlds do you want create through your language? What hurt do you hope to avoid?”

    6. OyHiOh*

      I’m outsourcing meals, lol. My community always does a erev Rosh Hashannah dinner, and a lunch about mid day on the first day. I’ve gotten a lot better about planning and doing over this summer but holiday meals are still a tough one for me to manage on my own.

      I look forward to the shared rituals of community.

  18. FD*

    Owie, I’m a giant knot this morning. I did my first strength training workout yesterday and my body is unenthusiastic about it. It aches in that ‘eff you I don’t wanna do this’ not in the ‘crap I actually did overdo it’ way, so it’ll pass but urgh.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      You have my sympathy. I changed up my workout the other day and I was feeling it yesterday. Just wait until tomorrow–DOMS is a thing! (delayed onset muscle soreness)

  19. Charlotte*

    People who blog: what is your preferred platform and why did you choose it?

    I’m not looking to do it professionally or generate income or anything like that, more like just a place to practice writing and save my work.

    1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      I recommend Dreamwidth (dreamwidth.org). It’s a small company run by people who are absolutely dedicated to freedom of expression; you can write whatever you want to write. There are nuanced security levels: make a post public, make it visible to only certain people, or make it only visible to you. Everything is timestamped and can be tagged as meticulously as you want, and you can do full-text searches of your entire account, including non-public posts.

      If you want to make friends, it’s a social platform as well, with a lot of communities for different interests. getyourwordsout dot dreamwidth dot org is an amazing community of writers where you can get practical tips and trackers for your writing days and wordcount, as well as camaraderie and support. Once you know people, they can comment on posts of yours that they can see, but you have the power to screen or delete (though not edit) their comments.

      It’s just a great place. And basic accounts are free, though I think the features are worth paying for.

    2. Claire*

      +another for Dreamwidth

      If you don’t want the social element, you could also create a WordPress blog. There’s a free version, and you can make posts public or private.

    3. Queer Earthling*

      I use WordPress for my professional blog but that’s because my options are limited–my blog is adult in nature and many platforms don’t permit that, so I had to work with what was available to me. It does have some useful tools, though, and the free version isn’t bad.

      I’ve thought about Dreamwidth for casual projects and fandom stuff because it’s very similar to LiveJournal in the Days of Old, but I haven’t taken the plunge yet. Tumblr has also had that appeal (the potential community aspect anyway) but the atmosphere can be stressful at times. A lot of people do use it to write, though, and it’s very easy to find and save writing tips and stuff if that’s something that interests you.

      There are also websites where you can post stories and stuff if that’s more your thing. Does Fictionpress still exist? That was big back in the day. You can also do original writing on Archive of Our Own if you want, I’ve read some really good original fiction on there.

    4. Brazilian Hobbit*

      I have two blogs, one on WordPress and one on Blogger. The one on WordPress is my public one, and I love the themes, resources and there’s a pretty good community too. I use the free version, so can’t speak for the paid one, but it offers plenty of resources for hobby bloggers.

  20. Mini Zoo filled with Friendly Beasts*

    How are your foster beasts doing this weekend? I have one less litter as they went to another foster home, so now I have only one litter of kittens with their mama, and a couple adult cats who need to be socialized. The colony appears to be managed, as the rescue did a lot of spays and there haven’t been any newborns in the past 5 weeks.

    Sorry to those who commented a couple weeks ago and I didn’t respond. I was busy with the kittens, although I meant to reply, so here goes:
    university minion: I also much prefer bigger dogs, and love the feeling of training them so that they are better citizens, however I seem to get the ones that require 1.5-2+ hours of walking and training daily. In addition to everything else in life, I find it exhausting! So I love having them, and then love it when they are successfully adopted. Completely agreed on enjoying the training the most. I would be bored by a foster who arrived perfect, as I enjoy changing them and having a better, more adoptable dog at the end.

    CoffeeforLife and tangerineRose: I cheat a bit, as I have a small foster room where the little feline beasts hang out with their mama, which means that they get into minimal trouble. A mother cat and kittens is about the least work possible, other than needing to clean up more often than an adult cat, yet they entertain themselves and most of my ‘work’ is spent cuddling with them in order to ensure they are well socialized. I often have friends and family visit to help, so it’s quite enjoyable to have them.

    Elspeth Mcgillicuddy: Seven kittens! I have had that many, but only in two litters, so that poor mama cat must have worked hard! That is unusual, so it’s great you were able to care for them. There are so many kittens that need to be socialized and cared for until they are old enough for adoption, so it would be wonderful if you could take some in for a bit. I have neighbourhood kids come visit mine, and my oldest foster kittens (9 weeks old now) went to another foster home with kids a couple weeks ago and I have photo updates which show that everyone is loving it. I don’t find it too hard to give them up, although everyone is different. It was harder for me at the start, but I remind myself that each one I keep would be less lives saved in future, and most importantly… if I adopt them out then I get more kittens!!

    Sandra Dee: You have a heart of gold! I have had a few seniors, but luckily my community is willing to adopt even the oldest dogs. The rescue usually does compassionate placements, so they waive the fee once they find the right forever home. I did have one dog who might have stayed with me, as he had a huge tumour and it was cancerous (it didn’t feel good initially and was tested after surgery), yet the vet was able to cut it out with wide margins and that old dog found a loving forever home. I would have kept him until the end of life if the cancer had spread, but we were very lucky.

    Cats!: Agreed! I have spent some recent Sunday afternoons napping on the couch with kittens napping on me. I also take them to visit neighbours and the pet store, and encourage everyone I know to at least hold them briefly if they visit me. My bigger ones (9 weeks) went to another foster home recently, to a family that is used to rehabilitating semi-feral outdoor cats, and they were worried about socializing the kittens because the mother is very fearful. They soon realized that those kittens are permanently friendly, as they spent their first few weeks outdoors away from humans while their mama hid them, so I made an extra effort to expose them to the human world. If their capture had been delayed by a week or even a few days, I suspect (based on experience) that their friendliness with humans would have been noticeably worse, which shows the importance of fostering and working with them. The family is used to scared cats, so the kids are having such a great time playing with the little ones! Sounds like we are the same, as this is my fourth litter as well. I mentioned to the rescue that I wanted a bit of a break this year, and yet I couldn’t help myself. They have been doing a lot of colony work, and I am easily convinced to help when I know that the alternative is dying outside.

    1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      Mama cat actually only had six nipples, so she was definitely working hard. She was a great mama. One of the reasons it was so fun was because how accepting she was of us from the very beginning. We did have to supplement some at the beginning, and sadly lost the eighth baby. Which is also a valuable learning experience for small children, but not a happy one. I’d love to do it again, but only when I’m at a point I can keep a pair of kittens.

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Oh cool, haven’t seen your posts before. I had 2 cats, lost one earlier this year, and my remaining was lonely but unsure if she wanted another cat around. So I tried fostering. I’m fostering an older cat, he’s about 13 and has hyperthyroidism, a heart condition I don’t remember the name of, and some level of of kidney disease. I’ve had him for about 2.5 months now, and he’s gone from an emaciated 6 lbs 4 oz to a low normal weight, getting close to 8lbs. He periodically will cough, which is the heart, but otherwise is stable and pretty happy. He’s easy, is fully integrated into the house now. I will have him until he dies. My cat is ok with him around but they don’t interact much. They coexist peacefully in parallel.

      1. Blythe*

        So funny, since I foster medium-sized humans. My two kids (girl age 11, boy age 8) are doing just beautifully at the moment. Loving school, making friends, kind and compassionate. I’m super proud of my foster beasties ❤️

  21. Director of Alpaca Exams*

    Alison, would you consider tweaking the site design so new-to-the-viewer comments have some kind of text tag on them, like “[[new]]”, in addition to the colored bar? It would be so much faster to cmd-F my way down the page than to scroll through comments I’ve already read. (And might be more useful for people who use screen readers.)

    1. CoffeeforLife*

      Or a way to know if someone has replied to a comment without going into each thread to check? Like how Apartment Therapy does it?

  22. The Other Dawn*

    Here are pictures of the gym. Finally finished! All I need is a waste basket and possibly some blinds. Since I can’t figure out how to post the album from Imgur, I’ll post the picture links below. Unless someone knows how to do it?

    1. The Other Dawn*

      Excuse the washed out color in a couple of them. My phone’s camera isn’t the best in when there are bright lights overhead. The floor is black and the walls are slightly more purple that what it looks like here.


      And just because I’m a crazy cat lady, here’s Leia:

      And this was happening in my driveway the other night. These two need a room! (Yes, that’s what they’re doing–I Googled it!)

        1. valentine*

          Ooh! I would’ve thought it was a professional space. Both gym and kitty are so pretty!

          Are you fearless or did you zoom in on your insect neighbors?

          1. The Other Dawn*

            Well, they were quite focused so I was able to get close without zooming in. LOL. I didn’t know that’s what it was until I googled. I thought she was giving birth until my sister said they lay eggs. Didn’t know that!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I am so impressed, your gym is awesome. I love the purple. I did some of my laundry room in a similar shade and I smile every time I walk out there.
        Leia is just a bunch of sweetness.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Thanks! I love how it turned out.

          I can never get a good picture of her. I have to wait until she’s half asleep or sleeping. She knows what a camera is and knows that a cell phone is also a camera!

            1. The Other Dawn*

              Hahaha thanks! Yes, he has quite the fabulous tail. He knows I love to touch it when he walks by, so he’s usually *just* out of my reach.

      2. NoLongerYoung*

        I’ve been waiting to see these – WOW – so cool!!! I’m really impressed by how nice it turned out and love the color and the space/layout. I started trying to make a room in the house but repurposed it into my home office so it’s not working for me -this is a great inspiration!

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Thanks! My house is 280+ years old and there’s not a real basement, so a prefabricated shed was the best option.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Thanks! I tried five different purple paint samples and this was the overwhelming winner. This actually wasn’t my first pick, but I went with everyone else saying the others might be too dark–think royal purple. They were right; now that the ceiling fans are in, that other color would have made the room dark since the fans don’t give off as much light as I thought.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Thanks! It’s 12×24. I bought one of those prefabricated sheds so we just had to sheetrock, paint etc. We didn’t have to build it.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Well done! We’re in the early stages of planning to replace the decrepit metal shed that came with the house and it’s daunting. So I really appreciate all the work you guys did. There’s no “just” about it!

      1. The Other Dawn*

        If you’re looking for pre-fab, I got mine at Kloter Farms. Not cheap, but they’re always running a sale; you can pay to have them to level the area and drop the white stone pad (I think was about 800.00 for my site work; you can do your own site work if you want); they’re on time for delivery; the warranty is, I think, 10 years; and they look beautiful. Great customer service, too. Oh, and you don’t have to build it! They drop it and you toss you stuff in. Obviously I had a different plan with mine, though. :)

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          That’s who did our shed aour old house…they were super about working in&around the trees on our small suburban lot.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      Thanks everyone! I’m so happy with the way it came out. I guess getting a “see ya later” package when my former company got sold worked out well for me. :) It wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.

      I got my waste basket yesterday and stocked my little fridge with water. Now I just need some blinds, a “welcome” mat for inside to catch the dirt I track from the house to the shed; and a few hooks for things like my coat (in the winter), some tension bands I have, and my purple mat.

      I just have to say…I NEVER want to hang mirrors again! I bought seven frame-less vanity mirrors from Home Depot and hung them side by side–five on one wall and two behind the equipment. That was not fun trying to get them all level. After completely shattering one (kind of my own fault, actually) and breaking the corner off another, I finally decided to buy a couple piece of trim that had kind of a “ledge” on the back side. (That’s the white trim at the bottom. It’s holding the weight of the mirrors and keeping them level.) Well, because of the humidity with the shed being outside and all, the mirrors had already stuck themselves to the paint, so they peeled off a good chunk of paint when we pulled them down in order to add the trim and re-hang. Then there was the trip to urgent care for my husband when he cut himself on a piece of broken mirror.

  23. SugarCube*

    Curious how other 30somethings dating handle this…
    I’m 35 and female and kids are on my radar. Not this moment and not with the first guy who rocks up (believe me, 35 and childless took commitment to not getting pregnant!) but in general that’s where I’d like to see my life going. With the biological clock I don’t have years and years left, but am out there trying to date and enjoying the experience for the most part. However I do find there are lots of men who don’t ever want children, which is a choice I completely respect and I would never try to change their minds. But as a woman who doesn’t have forever (tick tock bio clock) I get disheartened by spending time dating, getting to know a guy etc. and then find out we’re on different paths with the children issue. On occasions I’ve raised it in general terms early on (’41 and no kids, wow that’s unusual these days….ahem’ etc.) it never goes down well, and there’s a low key terror that I’m some kind of seed thief who is just looking for a warm body! So for others (female and male) in my position, how do you navigate it?

    1. YetAnotherUsername*

      I’m probably unusual in this respect but I always used to ask on the first date. I’d say something like “do you see yourself settling down and having kids someday?” I would also always qualify it “don’t worry i’m not asking you to have a baby right now or anything insane like that, just wondering if that’s where you see your life going long term”. I would say the bit about “having a baby right now” in a comedy tone of voice to make it clear i was not in any way asking them to have a baby right away.

      I went on a lot of first dates in my late 20s and not a lot of second dates. I didn’t want to waste my time. I met my husband when I was 30.

      You’d be surprised how many men are NOT freaked out by the question. Lots of guys do want to have kids “some day” so as long as you make it clear that you don’t mean “right now” then they are perfectly willing to answer the question. If they are completely freaked out by the question then they probably don’t want kids anyway so you’ve just saved yourself a few weeks of wasted effort.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I think there is a lot to be said for this method: You aren’t leading up to the exact perfect moment to delicately enquire and learn that the two of you are not on the same page with goals.

        The workplace analogy would be that there are times in your life when, for the experience, you might consider a job with features you wouldn’t want long term (temporary, long hours, all at a desk or all out of doors, in Antarctica) and times when those are dealbreakers and you want to determine early in the interview process whether you should keep going. If the job must take place in Iowa, or can never take place in Iowa, and Iowa is a dealbreaker for you, you’re not required to give the job a chance and just enjoy living in the moment because cool people don’t get hung up on that stuff.

        Disclaimer that this is hypothetical to me (I married young) but anecdotally, the people taking the upfront, first date approach have seemed a lot happier.

      2. AcademiaNut*

        I think this the way to go, and I’d go a bit farther and qualify it with “in the next four or five years”. Because I find a lot of guys just don’t get the whole biological clock thing, and tend to be more leisurely about deciding, then in their late 30s decide that this is a good time to settle down and start a family. Then, of course, they only date women in their early 30s, because the women their own age aren’t fertile enough.

        And speaking as a woman who got married at 37, wanted kids, and didn’t beat the biological clock (in spite of multiple rounds of IVF), I’d stop for a moment and think now about how far you want to go to have kids. If you would consider being a single parent if you don’t meet someone in the next year or so, or be devastated if you didn’t manage to have kids, seriously consider freezing eggs right now as insurance, or mentally start making peace with the idea that you might not get kids after all.

      3. Mother of Cats*

        I definitely agree this approach although with a slight caveat. By the time I was 33 I found myself completely single but definitely wanting to be a mom. At that point in my life I decided that if I didn’t “find my husband” by 36 I would become a mom on my own. I had a good job and a supportive family so it wasn’t something that would be impossible logistically, ymmv. However when I was 34 I met a man and on our first date I told him I wanted to have kids. If that wasn’t his cup of tea no hard feelings. Wanting to do it on my own gave me the courage to be direct about what I wanted and not to try to put a square peg through a round hole by dating someone who wanted a different kind of life. 4 years later we’ve been married 2 1/2 years. We have a toddler and another baby on the way. I’m sharing this because sometimes things work out when we accept what we want and allow life to unfold in its own time, even if we wish things were on a different time table.

      4. CatMom*

        I am actually the opposite (for sure do NOT want kids) and when I was still actively dating with an eye toward commitment, I also always brought it up on the first date. I think it’s reasonable to be clear about these things at a certain point because you do have limited time!

    2. Kate R. Pillar*

      Do you use a dating platform? If yes, I definitely would mention it on your profile somewhere – you want the guys who do not see that in their future to self-select out anyway, no?
      That does not take care of those who do not read the profile, but it increases your chances.
      For me, it wasn’t kids, but something else that I definitely wanted to see in a partner. Having it in my profile also gave me the necessary opening to mention it early on.

      1. Filosofickle*

        Agreed! I did NOT want kids and really appreciated the ability to put it out there in black and white upfront. For sure some did not actually read it, but lots of them self-selected because of it.

    3. Quandong*

      I did a lot of dating in my mid and late 30s, all of it was online dating before the arrival of apps. My advice is to do whatever you can to screen and filter potential dates so you only meet people who want to have children.

      I filtered all potential dates by whether they wanted children or not since it was a priority for me. At first I would date people if they said they were undecided about children, but I changed my mind pretty quickly; not a single man who wrote ‘undecided’ wanted kids in the next decade, and that was outside my timeframe.

      I had a lot of feelings about the process of dating, knowing my own biological clock was winding down and that I wanted children in my life. I really felt a loss of agency and it was disheartening when I didn’t meet people I liked enough to even partner up with, let alone parent children with! Eventually I decided on an age when I wanted to start trying to conceive, whether or not I was partnered. I researched IVF and other assisted reproductive technologies. I also looked into adoption and foster care and the laws, processes, and costs involved where I live.

      If things had gone differently for me, I would probably be a single parent now. Unfortunately when I was about 38 I encountered medical issues & discovered I wasn’t able to have bio children. It’s more expensive for me to foster than I can afford, and there are other barriers I won’t list here that prevent me from adopting a child. So I don’t have children, and although it’s not what I had wanted it’s okay and I have come to terms with this different life.

      I highly recommend being more assertive when it comes to gathering information you need from your dates. The more you can screen and filter people so you only meet people who want children, the better. Everyone has dealbreakers, and things that are essential for a relationship. Don’t waste your time by waiting too long to raise the topic, and don’t worry about startling the dudes. If they can’t handle it, that’s not your fault!

      I also suggest working out your own timeline so you can say ‘I see myself having children around 202_’ as another step in the filtering process, so you aren’t dating a guy who needs another decade to be ready.

      If you’ve encountered many dudes who are super uncomfortable when you raise the topic, I’m sorry – it seems common, and it’s very irritating, given that having children is a thing that many people want.

      Good luck!

    4. MissDisplaced*

      Ooh… yeah… I do see how that might be a tad scary for some guys.
      I’m in the other camp of not wanting kids and met my husband when we were both about 35-36 years old. Neither one of us had ever been married, wanted kids or had kids from previous relationships. So I guess I met my similar and that was before dating apps.

      But I also have to think there ARE many guys in that age range who DO want to start families, or who possibly have kids from previous relationships and want to welcome more children.

      So, I think you just have to have that conversation about “wanting kids and a family” and that is what you’re looking for in a partner. I understand the dating apps like eHarmony have questions like that, so I suppose that helps more with the screening about feelings on family and kids.

    5. Dan*

      40 year old single guy, no kids, and unlikely that the later is going to change at this point in my life.

      So… I’m not surprised that you’re having trouble with the phrasing “’41 and no kids, wow that’s unusual these days….ahem’ etc.” It comes across as judgey, which isn’t really appropriate in the first month or two. At that point in dating, you’re trying to figure out whether or not you’re compatible with/like people for who they are right now. If it’s not the right fit, there’s no point in telling them why. Just say thanks and move on.

      That said, on a first date you can very much ask (me anyway) where I stand on the kids thing. I’ll tell you the truth: Don’t have them right now, and I don’t want them in the next two years. But I’m 40 and have been saying that for 20 years. In fact, *I* may even raise the question on the first date. Why? Same reason. I’m not dumb; the bio clock is a thing. If kids are important sooner rather than later, I’d just as soon get that out of the way so neither of us wastes time and/or gets frustrated.

      And how would I prefer someone to ask me about the kids things without it being awkward? A simple, “hey, where are you at with the whole kids thing?” is perfect phrasing for me, especially on a first date where you don’t know much about me. At this point, you aren’t aware that I have/don’t have kids. Or maybe I have them and the ex has primary custody, and I’m done with them at this point in life. Or maybe I don’t want them at all. Or maybe I just haven’t found the right person. Etc.

      1. SugarCube*

        No judgement intended! Culturally in my country it is pretty unusual to not do the marriage and babies thing (ahhh, organised religion). I have to say the lighthearted 41 and no kids etc thing usually goes down pretty well and is an open ended thing where they usually reply ‘oh yeah, kids aren’t for me’ or ‘just never met the right person’ etc whereas I’ve had less luck with direct questioning about their stance on kids (usually a wink or some other gesture that doesn’t really give anything away). If I press it beyond that it comes across as pushy or desperate I feel. I admire people who are clear in their choices and happy to talk about them but my experience of men my age/older here is that they get really scared by some gentle questioning, despite being clear I’m not looking to have a child tomorrow but down the line with the right guy I would hope to do so. Or they say ‘whoa that’s a date # 15 conversation!’ etc.

        1. Dan*

          “Culturally in my country”

          Well… with this phrasing, I’m guessing than you’re not in the USA. (I’ve *never* heard a native-born American use the phrase “in my country” amongst a group of predominantly native American born people.)

          To which I can only say that the advice I can give you on dating and cultural norms is US-centric and probably not helpful to you :(

        2. YetAnotherUsername*

          Oh I didn’t realize you’d already tried the direct approach and it hasn’t worked.

          Just a wink or gesture in response to a direct question in any country I’ve lived in or dated in (US, Ireland, UK, Germany) would be considered incredibly rude and dismissive and I wouldn’t even consider taking a relationship beyond the first date stage if that was their response. So I think there are probably some very different cultural norms in your country. So sadly it seems like Dan is right and most of our advice here is not going to help.

          FYI “41 and no kids?” does sound a little judgy to me too, and I think would be considered as such in US, Ireland, UK too. The only countries I know of where that wouldn’t be considered judgy are countries with really direct attitudes like Germany, Nordic countries etc, or in countries where kids outside of marriage are considered quite the big deal like India.

          You might have better luck if you repost the question next week and include the specific country / culture. Or perhaps try a message board specific to your country.

        3. Parenthetically*

          “they get really scared by some gentle questioning, despite being clear I’m not looking to have a child tomorrow but down the line with the right guy I would hope to do so. Or they say ‘whoa that’s a date # 15 conversation!’ etc.”

          This is a… ridiculous response. Grown adult men are “really scared” by gentle questioning? Genuinely putting my vote in that men who respond like that are not the kind of men you want to be dating.

      2. Washi*

        Sometimes I’m jealous that men get a practically infinite window to decide whether or not they want biological kids. To be honest, at first when I read that you’ve been saying you don’t want kids in the next two years for the past 20 years, I was a little judgey of your waffling, but then I was like…he doesn’t have to decide! And I wish I had that ability.

        1. Dan*

          Technically it’s not waffling because I’ve never actually said I wanted them :D

          But I should clarify the “I’ve been saying to myself for 20 years” part… I’ve been saying that to *myself* for 20 years. To others, I don’t lie about it or otherwise mislead people. With a new prospective partner, the answer is “not within the next two years”. If the subject isn’t dropped, I let people know that if “ASAP” is what they’re looking for, we’re not on the same page.

          You’re right though, us guys don’t really have to decide. TBH, I don’t think much differently about kids at 40 then 30, or even 20. My biggest “kid” concerns are financial… and no surprise, the older we get, the better the financial picture looks.

          1. Parenthetically*

            Well, just to add my two cents: “Not within the next two years (but I haven’t changed my mind in 20 years)” IS really misleading, IMO, if you don’t say the part in parentheses aloud. It’s asking a lot of people with a limited window of fertility to wait two years to see if you’re going to think differently then than you have for two decades, especially if you’re dating women who are near you in age and already at the tail end of their fertile years. Better to say “I’ve never found myself wanting children since I started thinking about it twenty years ago, and I absolutely do not see myself having or wanting children in the near future.”

            1. Clever Name*

              Yeah, I agree. I’m 40 and hoping for more, and if I were on a date with a man, I’m not sure how I’d take that response. I mean, I think most people who date aren’t thinking “need a baby nowwww” and have an “in a few years” timeframe, because that’s what’s practical seeing as most people want to be in a relationship for a while before they decide to marry someone.

            2. Washi*

              Yeah, that’s kind of what I meant. To me “not in the next two years, which I’ve been saying for 20 years” sounds like a long way of saying “almost certainly no.”

        2. Agnodike*

          Yes and no, though, right? People who make sperm can *create* a child until literally after they’re dead, but *parenting* a child is a whole other issue. If you’re 75 and you have a toddler, you’re probably not doing a ton of active parenting, and when that kid is 16, you’re statistically unlikely to be doing any parenting at all. The window is definitely larger if you’re not the person with the uterus/ovaries, but the fact that our culture considers it basically limitless says a lot about what we expect, parenting-wise, from men vs. from women.

          1. YetAnotherUsername*

            Also the research is starting to show that men DO have a biological clock. Regardless of the age of the woman, babies whose fathers are over 40 have a higher risk of miscarriage and disability.

    6. Parenthetically*

      I think this is just a baseline compatibility issue, and I think you can frame it in that way very early on. “Hey, the whole kids/no kids thing can be a real dealbreaker in relationships no matter where you land, so in the interest of full disclosure of those kinds of things, what are your thoughts about having kids someday?” IMO any dude who gets freaked out by that question in that kind of framing is… paranoid and not worth spending time with. My husband has always wanted kids and raised the issue with me fairly early — our mindset with dating was that we were both adults, we both knew what was at stake, we both were only interested in finding a long-term relationship, so what’s the point of pussyfooting around those big questions? I hate the pressure to play the “Cool Girl” game and pretend not to have opinions on things until you’re already serious. Up-front transparency prevents time-wasting.

      Also, if you’re on dating websites, put in your profile that you’d like to have kids someday, and/or that you aren’t interested in meeting up with people who dislike children.

    7. JDC*

      I just said to early on. The ones who had no interest in kids were gone quick and the ones who wanted them I gave it a shot. I had no patience for playing the dont. bring it up too soon game. If they bailed then good.

    8. Clever Name*

      I got divorced in my late 30s and knew I wanted more kids (I have 1 child). Like many people in my position, I turned to online dating. On my okcupid profile I checked the “want more kids” option. I mentioned I had a child on my bumble profile. Honestly, it’s difficult to screen for this thing without feeling super awkward if you bring it up early. I don’t think I dated a single guy who said he didn’t want kids, but one of my friends (childless and in her mid-40s) dated multiple guys who don’t want kids. With some guys I dated, the topic came up on the first date. With my boyfriend, I asked if he hoped to have kids someday after we had been dating for about a month. There’s no right answer, but I do think that there’s nothing wrong with ending things with a guy when you realize you aren’t on the same page with regards to having kids.

    9. Courageous cat*

      Bumble has a lot of little settings you can choose like “doesn’t want kids” or “definitely wants kids” and you can filter for potential matches by that.

    10. Gaia*

      As someone on the opposite side of this (34, no kids, never want kids) I talk about it early and I make my stance clear and I make sure I understand their stance. For me, someone who “maybe” or “might” want kids gets a bigger conversation about how I really don’t want them, I’m not going to change my mind and if they think they might settle on “want,” I’m the wrong girl for them.

      It can be awkward. It will admittedly probably be harder for you because you’re saying you *do* want them and some guys might think that means you’re saying you want them now and with him (even though you make it clear you’re not saying that). But it will be helpful to weed out the folks that aren’t taking their life in that direction.

      I believe you can just enjoy the time together if you don’t align on a lot of issues. Not everything has to be a right-now deal breaker even if it would be a long term deal breaker. For me, kids isn’t one of those issues. If he wants kids, I full stop, no exceptions. I do that for both of us because neither of us should be pressured to change our stance just because we develop a relationship over time.

  24. YetAnotherUsername*

    I’m probably unusual in this respect but I always used to ask on the first date. I’d say something like “do you see yourself settling down and having kids someday?” I would also always qualify it “don’t worry i’m not asking you to have a baby right now or anything insane like that, just wondering if that’s where you see your life going long term”. I would say the bit about “having a baby right now” in a comedy tone of voice to make it clear i was not in any way asking them to have a baby right away.

    I went on a lot of first dates in my late 20s and not a lot of second dates. I didn’t want to waste my time. I met my husband when I was 30.

    You’d be surprised how many men are NOT freaked out by the question. Lots of guys do want to have kids “some day” so as long as you make it clear that you don’t mean “right now” then they are perfectly willing to answer the question. If they are completely freaked out by the question then they probably don’t want kids anyway so you’ve just saved yourself a few weeks of wasted effort.

    1. bassclefchick*

      I think that’s a GREAT question. Having/not having kids is a BIG deal. If one of you wants them and the other doesn’t, it will never work. I have absolutely never wanted children. When I was in my 20s, a coworker who had just had a baby tell me when I meet the right guy I’d change my mind. Uh, no. When I meet the right guy, he’ll agree with me and we won’t have kids. Took until 43, but I found the right guy, and we don’t have kids.

  25. massage tipping?*

    I’m getting a massage later, and I was wondering if I should tip the massage therapist? it’s the first time I’m seeing this person. And how much?

    1. Lilith*

      I probably under tip but I go frequently to the same person. I give her $10 on a $60 massage but sometimes I til $20 cuz that’s what I have & I give $100 at xmas. But I think I should be tipping at least $15.

    2. My Brain Is Exploding*

      This depends. I have had this conversation before with a massage therapist. Massage therapist who works for big corporation (they don’t usually get paid that much), or one who works in a hair salon/spa – probably 15%ish.
      One that is in a doctor’s office – no. One who is independent – maybe (I know that doesn’t help). I don’t tip doctors, so I feel like massage therapists that emphasize the medical aspects of their practice should not be tipped. I wish they would all just charge a fee and put up a sign that says “no tipping .”

      1. ..Kat..*

        My massage therapist is out of a medical office and charges less than most other places. And does a better job of alleviating my pain.

        When I am on a vacation and have a spa massage, I tip 20%.

        So, I tip my regular massage therapist out of my medical office 20%. Why should he receive less just because he works out of a medical office? He does great work!

    3. Llama Face!*

      I tip mine $10 per appointment (massage is in the high $60s). My RMT works out of a spa and doesn’t get a very generous hourly wage afaik.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      I tip 20%.

      My regular person just opened her own practice and is explicitly not accepting tips, which I much prefer–straightforward pricing. But most places it’s an employee, not the owner, and tips are expected. (And when it’s the owner, unless they have been upfront that the practice is no tipping I offer.)

    5. Samwise*

      Yes, tip. I tip 10 – 15 % if it was just ok, 20% if it was fabulous or if it is someone I have specifically requested.

  26. Dame Judi Brunch*

    A dear friend’s husband had a devastating, life-altering accident this week.
    You always hear “life is short”. It’s cliche but true. You never know what the next day will bring.

    1. The Meow*

      That’s so true. My mother has lost half her immediate family in multiple separate, totally unexpected accidents. Sometimes I think surely we are safe now because we must have used up all the bad luck in our family. But of course that’s just wishful thinking; none of us are guaranteed long and healthy lives.

      This is why my husband and I have had our wills done in our mid 20s and have already had conversations around end of life wishes. We also pay a lot for insurance to ensure our kids will be financially secure in case of early death. It’s morbid, but I would rather be fully prepared.

      1. Dame Judi Brunch*

        The Meow, I’m so sorry for what your family has suffered.
        You bring up an excellent point about being prepared. I’m using this as a wake up call to check on insurance, etc.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          My sympathies to the both of you.

          In regard to preparing, I would like to add that some preparation is better than none. Some folks don’t start because they think they will not finish. Of the two, starting a plan is more important than it is to finish planning. At least if you start a plan you have something/anything in place that you can begin to work with should there be a sudden event of any type. Not all planning costs money. For example, a person might find a good friend who would agree to take loving care of their pet, should they no longer be able to do that.
          All these small decisions add up.

          1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            So very true.

            I think there’s a saying along the lines of “if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth half-assing”, which is the same principle: don’t avoid a task just because you can’t complete/perfect it. A basic Will (properly witnessed) is better than intestacy. A half-cleared basement is better than a total dumping ground.

    2. Kiwiii*

      I’m coming into this late, but I love to skim down the Saturday thread on Mondays and this really — resonates.

      A couple years ago, at 24, my boyfriend was in a motorcycle accident and broke his neck. He was incredibly, incredibly lucky in that 1) he was with family who got him to the hospital after it became clear that it wasn’t something he could just walk off, 2) he didn’t hit his spinal cord at all and most mobility issues he had after about 3 months were from injuries to his leg rather than back, and 3) he had really really wonderful insurance and we ended up paying something like <5% of his horrendous medical bills. But it still completely changed our lives, our relationship, and the plans that we'd had of what our next couple years would look like.

  27. Shiny alolan raichu*

    Two of my friends are going on holidays with their families this week (mum dad and 2/3 kids). My family consists of just me and the kid. I’m one of three and I never imagined having only one child but here I am. Any advice on how I can see my family as Enough even though it’s just the two of us?

    (Fwiw I have kittens and that helps when Kid is with his dad but I couldn’t exactly take them on holiday. I’m also feeling rather friendless but that’s probably fit another day)

    1. Thankful for AAM*

      Idk, I am long term, successfully married and have just one. We had fertility issues and it was pretty lucky we managed one. But despite marriage and baby (so we are 3) I was not done with pregnancy and it can still make me sad that we had only one, just not as often or as deeply now.

      I think, fake it till you make it. And focus on the good things. But also give yourself permission to mourn your expectations.

      You are a family!

      1. Shiny alolan raichu*

        Successfully married? Ouch! I presume you didn’t mean that I’m a failure because I’m divorced?!

        1. ampersand*

          I’m not the person who originally replied to you but I wanted to say that you’re absolutely not a failure for being divorced. :) lots of us are divorced and that’s okay! Some of us have been divorced twice because life happens. At the risk of sounding entirely too cheesy: you’re lovely just the way you are.

        2. Thankful for AAM*

          No! Sorry, I did not mean that at all! I meant it does not matter if you can look like a family to others, spouse, kid etc, you might not feel like a complete family. You mentioned mum and dad and kids so I was saying that I have a family with a mum and dad and a kid and people don’t get why I can sometimes still feel my family is incomplete (and I was saying it was not bc I am unhappy in my marriage, I just did not have as many kids as I wanted).

          1. Shiny alolan raichu*

            Oh I get that. Even before I left my ex my family never felt complete. We’d agreed to have two kids but my ex changed his mind – but refused to talk about it so I was left dealing with the grief of the baby I lost but also the grief of wanting to try for more and not having that option. And now I’m left with sometimes being a family of one mum one kid, and sometimes just being me, on my own. It f’ing sucks.

    2. TimeTravelR*

      Maybe focus on how much easier it is to satisfy just one kid’s idea of fun (even though that’s still not always easy!)? Or allow them to take along a friend, if that would be helpful and also in your budget?

      1. Shiny alolan raichu*

        Ha, I can’t even amuse him.
        Taking along a friend might be an idea. I’ll have a think about that. Thank you.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          My kids really loved going on trips with their friends, and when we brought a friend they usually occupied each other. Highly recommend.

          1. valentine*

            Logistically, two people is a dream. You have a great chance of both getting what you want, especially when you’re in charge!

            I would make a point to join tour groups when he’s with his dad and do other stuff that’s harder with a kid and easier alone than with anyone not thrilled to be there.

    3. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I had an only child as an only parent. Always figured I’d connect up with another parent and make a bigger family that way. Have ended up with what I started with.
      I try to live my life as if I don’t need to apologize for or feel bad about doing the best I could with what I had at the time. Even if I was hoping for something else.

      A compact family is awesome too. A smaller financial footprint means less outside pressure. You can make tradition that breaks more rules because it’s just the two of you.
      You can also find ways to open your family to others by including “strays” in activities and holidays. A feast of smaller units is almost always more festive and interesting than having the same conversation with the same people every year.

      Embrace it!

    4. The Meow*

      One of my friends experienced secondary infertility. She said the hardest thing (besides not getting pregnant) was constantly dealing with comments like, “Oh but you already have little Peter! You are so lucky. Be grateful you have a child and stop thinking about what you don’t have.”

      While I haven’t experienced this issue, I can see why that would be incredibly hurtful and dismissive. I think it’s okay and in fact necessary to grieve over a loss of what you expected/hoped for, whatever that may be. Give yourself time, allow yourself to feel sad, talk to others in similar circumstances. This sounds super cheesy, but basic validation of your negative feelings goes a long way in the healing process.

      1. Shiny alolan raichu*

        That’s actually really interesting. I had a 16 week miscarriage before I had Kid and I’ve done a lot of work to heal from that and the resulting PTSD around pregnancy and babies, and also the end of my marriage and some family of origin stuff, but not around not having the family I imagined.

        There’s always more work to do :-| I just want to be healed from all the shit already!

        1. The Meow*

          Shit, that’s rough. I’m so sorry about your loss.

          I am coming out of some heavy depression and one thing I learned from that episode was to embrace all the negative feelings and mental health problems. It really helped just telling myself “I feel horrible this week and I’m going to allow myself to experience all this overwhelming sadness.” I stayed in bed and let myself rest in the same way I would go through a physical illness or recover from a broken leg.

          One good analogy I heard was that when we have the flu, we don’t go to work and pretend we are not ill. We stay in bed, take necessary meds, drink lots of fluids, and allow our body to experience the sickness so that we can recover. So when we have depression, anxiety, PTSD, whatever, it’s important to allow healing to take place rather than marching on with our lives as though nothing is happening in our brains.

          I don’t know if you have allowed yourself proper time to grieve your loss – both the miscarriage and your hope/expectation of having a larger family. And whatever else that’s behind “all the shit” as you describe. Also worth talking to a therapist. Even a couple of sessions can go a long way in giving a different perspective.

          1. Shiny alolan raichu*

            I can’t reply to all this without splurging everything out and right now I don’t feel up to that. So I’ll just say thank you, so very much, I feel very seen and understood right now.

            I have a week off coming up and I will do my best to care for and nourish myself. I don’t have the gut-level freaked-out reaction to the concept of “self care” that I used to, so I’ll even try to do some of that. Wish me luck.

            1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

              Definitely do the self care. Take yourself on your own private vacation even if it’s just in your neighborhood. Read a new or a favorite book. Be a friend to yourself.
              Self vacations are great because you don’t have to please anyone else because you are fretting about how much they enjoy their vacation. You just get to be you.

            2. Not So NewReader*

              I wish you much, much luck.

              Please read up on grief. There are many good books out there about grief. Please pick one (not ten as you actually want to read the book) and learn about the grief process, what it looks like, how it plays out. You have numerous things that are cause for grief here, serious things. Yeah, it’s a bfd.

              Here’s something that might be good to know. We have tears for a reason. Tears cause a chemical reaction in the brain that help the brain to stay healthy. I have marveled how a good hard cry today causes me to have a better day tomorrow. It’s amazing to watch this. However, some people prefer to just let a few tears leak out once in a while. This is okay, too, as even other people just get little pangs in their hearts. We all “cry” differently and in different ways for different situations.

              Typically most people feel that pang or start to tear up and they tell themselves, NO STOP! Actually what we should be telling ourselves are confirmations, “Yes, this IS sad. Yes, I do feel sad.” It sounds like statements of the obvious but it’s important that we acknowledge and validate our own feelings. Telling ourselves to stop can make us cry harder and longer and drain our energy to nothing.

              It’s pretty normal to lose “touch” with our bodies during periods of grief. You can create a little rough outline of a schedule for yourself to eat modest meals and hydrate regularly. See, grief pulls nutrition out of our bodies at a high clip. When my husband passed, I did not care if I ate at all. So since I did not care, I decided to eat as many veggies as possible, knowing eventually the high veggie intake would help my body and in turn help my mind. If you have a good blender you might find it easiest just to drink your veggies.

              With sleep, this can go either way. Some people in grief cannot sleep and some cannot stay awake. You might find that a scheduled time for rest each day is oddly consoling. Call it your time out from everything where you just focus on winding down for the day.

              I wish you the best, I hope something wonderful happens for you very soon.

        2. YetAnotherUsername*

          I’m so sorry for your loss. I had a 8-9w MC and an 5w MC and while it is incredibly difficult at any stage, for me personally it was very hard holding my dead child in my hand and seeing her face and her eye. it was much harder than the 5w where i couldn’t see the actual baby. I’ve met a few people through Mc support groups who’ve had ~ 16w mcs and they all have had pretty bad trauma. I’m not surprised you have ptsd, I get flashbacks to holding my dead baby all the time.

          I’m glad you are having counseling and I’m so sorry for your loss x

          1. Shiny alolan raichu*

            Thank you so much. Trauma is absolutely the word. It was the most horrific experience of my life. My biggest anguish is that I didn’t look at or hold the baby. I was too scared and I wasn’t offered the opportunity again. I’m so sad right now. I hate that other people understand and have also been through it but it’s so reassuring. Thank you.

    5. Book Lover*

      On the one hand, I can tell you parenting a single child as a single mother was so much easier. On the other hand, I don’t regret my second (who makes my life infinitely harder) – and not having the family you dreamed of is so hard. So I would say grieve when you need to, but take advantage, as best as possible, of the things you can do when child is not with you and enjoy the closeness of having one to focus on.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Speaking as an Only, your kid thinks that you are not just enough, you are EVERYTHING.
      Sometimes considering the perspective of another person, albeit “a little person”, might offer a bit of relief?

    7. Samwise*

      I have just one kid, grew up in a family with many sibs, always thought I’d have more but we started late and the one kid was a good un and I wanted to go back to working full time and so on. As it turned out, the one kid years of chemo off and on — which was a lot easier with just one kid. I could focus on The One Kid and not have to worry about not giving enough attention to other kids. Having just one made it easier to travel, obviously it’s less expensive, and we were able to save a lot more than we otherwise would have been able to for kid’s college and for our retirement.
      Of course, now that The One Kid is off at college we’re empty-nesting, which is nice in many ways but I sure miss that Kid!

    8. lasslisa*

      There’s probably a reason why your mind is telling you the friendless feeling is related. Even if you had more kids you could still have the feeling in your heart saying “not enough, not enough”.

      There are things in our lives that happen beyond our control, and it’s important to grieve those things, but also to know that you are reacting and continuing to live your life in a way that makes you proud. What would you want to do differently, what can you do differently, to bring that feeling into focus instead?

  28. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    Nothing for me this week, as I was on a trip and our days were pretty packed. But I’m ITCHING to get some writing done.

    1. Claire*

      I am making slow but steady progress through #pirates2. I still had one rather critical blank in the plot, but after a brainstorming session with spouse, that’s now all worked out. Mostly.

      Oh, and I’ve also prepped for my panel at New York Comicon in…two weeks. (Eeep!) I’ll be signing stock at the Harper Collins booth, plus the panel, plus an autographing session immediately after. Hope to see you all there!

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I started trying to work on a treatment. It’s HARD. I don’t think I’ll finish in time to get it registered and submit it to the development program I saw, but that’s okay; I’m learning how to do something new and valuable.

      A friend also told me I should submit my book to PitchWars, but I imagine it will be full of agents who’ve already rejected it because I already queried half the universe. *sigh*

      1. Not a cat*

        You never know. Please submit it anyway. Over the past few years, I’ve learned that putting energy into something positive eventually pays off. It might not be exactly how you want, but something good will happen.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          If I had a dollar for every time someone said ‘something good will happen’ and nothing happened, I could buy one of those luxury homes I see in the LA paper every weekend. :P

        2. Claire*

          But putting energy into a book that’s been widely queried often leads to more frustration. However! @Elizabeth, have you checked out Querytracker? There might be new agents who are looking for books like yours. You could either contact them individually, or if they’re participating in Pitchwars, you could go ahead and submit, knowing they’ll see your pitch.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Yes, I know Querytracker and AgentQuery, Absolute Write Water Cooler (I have to check people out on that now that Preditors and Editors is defunct–waaaah!), Manuscript Wish List, etc. I probably will do it, but #ImTired

            I did submit to a small press recently; my book has most of the stuff the head honcho’s bio said she likes. Haven’t heard anything yet, tho.

            1. Claire*

              *hugs* I totally understand being #Tired.

              If you want, let me know via email the name of that small publisher. I might have info on them and their response times.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                Their site said 12-16 weeks; it’s only been a couple so far.
                *hugs back* I appreciate your encouragement. :)

    3. OyHiOh*

      Did a complete first draft one act play last weekend.

      This weekend is working on a script I submitted for a fellowship a couple months ago. If I beat the odds and actually get the fellowship (last year there were 200 submissions for 4 spots!) I’d like to at least have a clear sense of what this play is and where it’s going (we only had to submit a 10 page sample, ideally *the first* 10 pages). At this point, I’ve got the first act mapped out. I know where the 2nd act is going to end. Have no idea at all how I’m going to fill the forty pages between intermission and the end game.

    4. Hazy days*

      Continuing to be really fruitful, thank you! A mixture of editing previous poems, and writing some new pieces, including trying out a fresh new approach.

  29. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week?
    For me, just a tiny bit of Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones (nothing story relevant, just a quick skirmish or a round in the Tower of Valni on the bus) but nothing else. Probably finishing Child of Light this weekend or next weekend at the latest though.

    1. A.N. O'Nyme*

      By the way, did anyone get the Switch Lite? And if so, what did you think of it?
      I’ve seen one guy do a teardown of it, and it seems they’ve redesigned the shoulder buttons (using more or less the same tech as in gameboys instead of the microswitches the original has). Seems like they’ve redesigned the analog sticks as well, guess time will tell if they’re prone to drifting as well. .

      1. Merci Dee*

        Got the Switch Lite for my daughter’s birthday this month, and it arrived in the mail today. She’s been glued to Splatoon 2 for the past several hours, and we purchased a year’s subscription to Nintendo Online so she could play something other than single player mode. She’s having a blast, and she’s been rocking it since she’s been a long-time player of Splatoon on her Wii U. Too soon to tell if there are going to be problems with the unit itself, but she’s loving it so far. Especially since I ordered the turquoise, and that’s her favorite color. :)

    2. Dr. KMnO4*

      I’ve started playing Fire Emblem: Three Houses. It’s the first FE game I’ve ever played (well, except for a bit of Fire Emblem Warriors, but that’s definitely not a traditional FE game). I only picked it up because I watched my husband play a lot of it, and got kind of invested in the story. I saw a lot of the gameplay from his perspective, saw the house he picked and the choices he made, and wanted to try it out because it was really interesting. He chose the Black Eagle house, so I decided to go with a different house. Initially I thought I was going to go with Golden Deer, but I actually dislike most of the characters in that house, so I went Blue Lions. Because I’m not used to, or even really comfortable with, turn-based strategy battles, I’m playing on Normal difficulty and Casual mode. I like the ability to grind XP, and I like that if one of my characters does fall in battle they aren’t gone permanently. If you like games with a deep story and interesting characters FE: Three Houses is great. It can be a bit overwhelming at first, but looking up strategy guides can be very helpful.

    3. Nynaeve*

      I’ve been playing Bear With Me, this cute noir detective story about a 10-year-old girl and a wisecracking teddy bear investigating the disappearance of her brother. I’m not a huge gamer, but it’s been a fun distraction while I recover from wisdom tooth surgery.

    4. LQ*

      I know I’m WAY behind on this, but I’m playing Breath of the Wild and I’m surprised at how lovely it is. This is the game I didn’t know I wanted but am loving. I’m absolutely just exploring the world and delighted when I find a shrine or a little solvable puzzle that doesn’t require trying every single possible iteration of everything, but is fairly straight forward and a little tiny delight to get the seed things I’m enjoying how little I have to look up to solve things. I’m enjoying that the game has NO sense of urgency to it at all. I’m enjoying that it’s lovely and because I have no rhyme or reason to how I’m playing I continually end up discovering new little spots. It’s a huge world.

      1. Angwyshaunce*

        Truly is an amazing game. There have been times I’ve put it on just to wander around, not even trying to accomplish anything.

  30. Goose Lavel*

    I don’t understand all the hubbub about e-cigs in the news lately. My son used them to quit smoking by gradually tapering using lower nicotine pods and hasn’t smoked in over 3 years.

    There are many things that people choose to do that are unhealthy and these topics have been discussed here before.
    A ban by the Government and states is getting in the way of personal choice as far as I’m concerned and seems very premature.

    1. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Your son used them as a tool to quit smoking, but the perception is that the tobacco companies are using them as a tool to get young people hooked for life and expand into regular cigarette use. It’s an issue of public health, which is why the government is stepping in.

      1. Asenath*

        The use of e-digs is claimed to be an issue of public health, when they appear to be merely another gadget that can be used for either personal pleasure, or as a tool to quit smoking tobacco. And I’m not at all convinced of the claim that their introduction is a plot by tobacco companies to make people smoke tobacco – that’s not the way they’re sold or used, and the whole Secret Plot sounds a lot like yet another conspiracy theory to me. I’ve got a long, long list of things I’d rather my government spends on that I think are of real value. I don’t want them spending on this.

        1. Maya Elena*

          It would seem that the tobacco companies are the ones that stand to gain from the restriction on vaping….

        1. fposte*

          The government(s) has stepped in on cigarettes, though. It hasn’t made them completely illegal, but e-cigs haven’t been made completely illegal either.

          Cigarettes have been around for a long time; if they had been brought in as new now they’d be restricted a lot more than they are. We’re less likely to throw up our hands and say “ah, who cares?” about a new product these days.

          1. Goose Lavel*

            Please site your source about government stepping in on cigarettes with concerns regarding Public Health.

            1. fposte*

              You’re my age; don’t you remember when the feds banned cigarette advertising? Every package of cigarettes contains a mandated health warning from the Surgeon General of the United States. Minors can’t legally purchase them. 26 states ban cigarette smoking indoors. Higher tobacco taxes are explicitly created to reduce the demand for cigarettes.

              I think you’re narrowly constituting government action as a ban on the sale of a product, when the reality is governments take all kinds of actions to “step in” on use.

              1. Goose Lavel*

                None of it prevents smoking as you suggested. It’s more inconvenient and expensive to smoke cigarettes today than it was in the past.

                I think if we were really concerned about public health, cigarettes would be regulated by the FDA as medical devices that deliver nicotine. This will never be done because of the money to be made by addicting people to a product and then treating their lung cancer and milking their Estates dry.

                1. fposte*

                  Nothing will totally prevent people from smoking. Nothing totally prevents people from doing heroin, after all. But look at the direction the rates are going on those two substances–smoking, the legal activity, is going down and heroin, the illegal one, is going up. Making something illegal isn’t a magic way to shut it down.

                  No argument that money and power are involved in the legal status of substances of all kinds. But they’re not the only thing that’s involved, and every substance has a different cultural place. I hate smoking and I wish nobody would smoke, but I’d be unlikely to support making smoking completely illegal, either; I don’t think it would improve the country’s welfare in the way we’d hope.

                2. Dan*

                  Very little that we can do in the USA “prevents” anything, no matter what the subject. Laws and policies in the US discourage or reduce the risk of things, but very little prevents anything. I mean, we have laws against murder, but we can’t actually prevent people from murdering anybody. We can criminalize gun ownership, but we cannot prevent people from physically possessing a gun if they are willing to break the law.

                  We certainly discourage the use of tobacco and alcohol by age restricting them. But that certainly doesn’t prevent the use.

          2. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

            Also, we tried banning alcohol, and Prohibition didn’t actually stop people drinking and did lead to the rise of the Mob. I would expect a similar effect from banning cigarettes. People are addicted to those things. They aren’t going to stop smoking just because it becomes illegal. And that’s a LOT of money to funnel into criminal activity.

        2. Oldster*

          Because it’s easier to attack/regulate/limit something that is new. Guns, tobacco and liquor and an established part of our culture so harder to change. Think of ATMs. They save financial institutions money because you don’t need a teller. But you get charged to use one because it was a lot easier to add a charge then to charge you for entering the bank and dealing with a real person.

        3. Angwyshaunce*

          “If it is an issue of public health, then why hasn’t the government stepped in on cigarettes?”

          Lobbyists. Federal politicians have gone to the highest bidders for a very long time.

    2. Nicki Name*

      In addition to the flavored pods thing, there was a perception that they were much healthier than cigarettes, and now you have people abruptly dropping dead from some unknown factor linked to them.

      1. Goose Lavel*

        Sounds similar to people dropping dead from smoking cigarettes. Relative was was healthy and then died one month with later stage 4 lung cancer.

        1. Nicki Name*

          The difference being that your relative had probably been hearing about the cigarette-cancer connection for a long, long time.

          It’s great that your son was able to quit smoking. But there are a lot of people who have been approaching vaping as a way to keep using nicotine forever without thinking about health problems, rather than as a stepping stone to quitting.

          1. Goose Lavel*

            Once you become addicted to nicotine, most stay addicted for life. Nicotine is harder to quit than alcohol, heroin, meth or caffine.

            People who believe nicotine is healthy to ingest are only fooling themselves. They know that any addition to any substance has health consequences.

        2. Dan*

          I’m curious about this. Are you saying your relative spontaneously developed and died from Stage 4 lung cancer within a month?

          FWIW, “asymptomatic” is not synonymous for “healthy.”

          1. Goose Lavel*

            I’m saying they felt fine, had lingering cough, went to the doctor and then they died 1 month post cancer diagnoses. They were being treated for the cancer as they wanted to extend their life as long as possible. I think they may have lived a better last month without treatment as the chemo was hellish.

            Cancer can spread quickly while you feel ok. Look at Alex Tribek.

    3. Ethyl*

      The most recent episode of the podcast Sawbones is about vaping and the current health crisis surrounding it. They do a pretty nuanced take.

      The big issue is that people are dying alarmingly fast of some kind of lung disease which seems linked to vaping only nobody is sure how. Seriously, this illness is terrifying. It comes on fast, develops fast, and nothing works reliably to fix it. It isn’t related to geography or the type of vape juice used — there’s at least one case where the person wasn’t even using a nicotine vape, just a flavored liquid. In this instance it seems wise to do something until we know what is going on, like how there are travel restrictions during outbreaks of disease or trade and import restrictions on the import of meats from places with BSE outbreaks.

      1. Goose Lavel*

        Well we certainly know what’s going on with regards to cigarettes, but we do nothing to prevent people from smoking cigarettes and I think people should have a choice if they want to vape. Outlawing vaping seems very premature.

        1. fposte*

          We do lots to prevent people from smoking cigarettes, though–we restrict age access, we put warnings on all material involved with them, we forbid smoking in many locations, and we add high taxes. The smoking rate has been steadily falling.

          So far no government entity has outlawed vaping, either. They’ve just subjected it to similar restrictions.

          1. Goose Lavel*

            What you list do not prevent people from smoking, they just increase cost and inconvenience.
            Check your self regarding bans; E-cigs have been banned in India and there is proposed in Congress to ban ecigarettes in the US.

            1. fposte*

              I suppose you could say technically those actions don’t prevent people from smoking, but making marijuana illegal didn’t prevent people from smoking pot, either. Those are a collection of governmental interventions that have resulted in a plummeting smoking rate in the U.S., and they’ve probably been more effective, given history, than an outright ban would be.

              You’re right I should have been less U.S.-centric: no governmental entity in the U.S. has banned e-cigs.

            2. TL -*

              They actually do prevent people from smoking, which is why our smoking rates have dropped from something like 30-40% to 11-14% since smoking was publicly exposed as being linked to lung cancer.

              Increasing cost and inconvenience, targeted public health campaigns -particularly for kids/teens – and social censure (encouraged by public health campaigns) have all been major drivers in the reduction of smoking in the USA.

              1. Dan*

                Just to be pedantic, because I think it’s important here: There’s a material difference between “preventing” and “reducing” or “discourage”. Many of our public policies are very good at discouraging or reducing behaviors, but they are very poor at actually preventing stuff.

                1. fposte*

                  Absolutely, but to take it further on the pedantry, I don’t know of any policy, governmental or otherwise that’s completely prevented people anywhere from doing anything. Rendering something illegal isn’t prevention either, and, as discussed elsewhere, often has more deleterious effects than other roadblocks.

            3. fhqwhgads*

              I think maybe you’re defining “prevent” differently? If by “prevent” you mean “attempt to make it impossible” not that’s not happening. But when I, and I suspect others who have responded to you, say “prevent” it’s more like “do things that make it significantly less appealing/less easy to do so, thus resulting in fewer people doing so.”

            4. Elizabeth West*

              It doesn’t stop everybody, but it has made it so much more unacceptable that the smoking rate has indeed dropped. Many companies also started giving employees discounts on insurance if they were tobacco-free and offered paid access to smoking cessation programs.

              That’s how I quit. I thought, F*ck it; this costs too much and I’m tired of freezing my arse off to go outside and do it. I used my insurance to get Chantix from my doctor. It worked. I’ve been smoke-free for twelve years now.

        2. WellRed*

          When otherwise healthy children and young adults are rapidly developing unknown and life threatening lung diseases it’s time to step back and see what’s going on. It doesn’t compare to cigarettes because of the rapidity.

          1. Goose Lavel*

            So children and young adults dying after two or three years of vaping is more critical than them dying after 20 or 30 years of smoking or vaping?

            So far we’ve had less than 10 people died from vaping and I believe in the same time we’ve had 10 to 20 thousand people die from cigarette smoking. And vaping has been around for 10 years.

            I agree it’s a concern but I think it’s overblown.

            1. fposte*

              I don’t know where I stand on proposals for vape restriction. But things don’t have to be less safe than cigarettes to be unsafe, and you can’t analyze risk in raw numbers–if five people trialed a new medication and they all died on the spot, the fact that it was only five people doesn’t mean the medication is fine. What is the overall risk of developing serious illness from vaping, and what is it with a sustained use of decades? We don’t know yet.

              In addition, the fact that cigarettes aren’t outright illegal (they cause more like 500,000 deaths per year in the U.S., BTW) doesn’t mean there’s any moral requirement to allow anything else. It’s regulation, not sibling privileges; Vapey doesn’t have to be allowed a sleepover just because Smokey is. The question is whether, given current American culture and practice, the benefits outweigh the risks. I’m guessing, from the way you’re writing, you probably wouldn’t find it very satisfactory if the end result is both cigarettes and vapes got banned anyway :-).

              1. fposte*

                Ah, okay, it sounds like you’re coming from a different viewpoint than I thought; you’re supporting the notion that vaping plays an important role as a less dangerous stepdown for smoking, which you want people not to do, rather than coming from a more libertarian approach.

            2. Dan*

              Children dying period is certainly a concern, no?

              And well yeah… if regular use of a product is going to kill you in 2-3 years, I’d 100% without question call that more critical than them dying after 20 or 30 years.

              You seem to support e-cigs because they got your kid off smoked tobacco, fine. But here, you’re arguing that you’d rather have him use a product that can kill him after 2-3 years of regular use, as opposed to something that will take decades, and I’m struggling with the rationale here.

              1. Goose Lavel*

                He weaned himself off cigarettes with 3 months of vaping after smoking menthol cigarettes for 8 years.
                I argue that long term cigarette usage has a more direct line to being dead for 500,000 a year as opposed to a small number of short term vapers.
                I’m sure that the mode of lung injury due to vaping will be discovered in the near future and obviate most vaping deaths; unfortunately, the same cannot be said about cigarettes.

                1. Dan*

                  I have no idea what your argument is, as “being dead for 500,000 a year” isn’t a coherrent English sentence.

                  Best I can tell, people falling over dead over short term vaping isn’t concerning to you. You’re welcome to your beliefs, but there’s nothing you can say that would make me a agree that people dying from short term vaping isn’t a concern.

                  FYI, the CDC has issued reports in the last couple of years describing significant increases in vaping amongst high school students. You and I are free to disagree, but I find developing addictive habits as teenagers concerning.

                2. Goose Lavel*

                  Talks to text on my cell phone sometimes makes me incoherent. I was referring to the half a million people who die from cigarette smoking every year.

                  I don’t see anyone “falling over dead” as they all had symptoms leading up to their hospitalizations.

                  I’m comparing a small number of people who have problems from vaping compared to cigarettes. I don’t disagree with you; I agree that death from any short-term activity is repugnant, especially when it’s entirely preventable. I also agree with you that teenagers developing lifelong deadly habits (like my son did smoking in High School) is a concern.

                3. coffee cup*

                  ‘for 500,000 people a year’ is what Goose Level meant. It’s coherent, just a bit clumsily worded.

            3. Ethyl*

              I think the confusion we are having here is the assessment of the risk. The thing is, we don’t know what is causing this outbreak of lung disease. It seems to be related to vapes, but it has no other commonality, such as geography, or a common distributor or manufacturer, or a specific type of product (THC, nicotine, flavored liquids).

              That is a much, much, much different situation to smoking, where the connection is medically and epidemiologically well-established. For this type of unknown risk, different approaches need to be used until we can determine the cause and prevent it. I understand that 10 people doesn’t seem that big compared to the number of people dying of cigarette-related illnesses, but that doesn’t take into consideration all factors. I hope this clears up for you why emergency action on vaping is needed regardless of how your son is doing in his smoking cessation journey.

        3. Ethyl*

          We do a ton to prevent people from smoking cigarettes, though. Do you live in the same country as me? Because honestly your arguments are simply baffling.

        4. Meepmeep*

          The thing is, what’s in those vape things that’s doing that? People may be making the choice to vape, but are they making an informed choice with full awareness of what it is they are inhaling?

          It’s like finding out that m&m’s cause you to suddenly drop dead. Should people have the choice to eat candy? Of course. Should they also have the choice to eat candy that doesn’t make them drop dead, and the ability to trust that they can pick up a candy at the store and it won’t kill them?

          The risks of cigarettes are well known and anyone who takes up smoking is making an informed choice. The risks of vaping are completely unknown at this point.

    4. Dan*

      I think you do understand the hubub, it’s just that you don’t agree with the response to it.

      The first issue is that even though e-cigs are marketed as a “stop smoking” device, many high school students are using them without ever having smoked a cigarette first.

      Second, we don’t understand the public health risks of these things, given the mysterious outbreak of illness and death related to them. My understanding is that it took *a long time* before we as a society even agreed about the public health risks of smoking tobacco. It seems to me that until the health risks with e-cigs are understood, the government has a role in mitigating their impact.

      1. Goose Lavel*

        I do understand the hubbub and the current response to it. I’m drawing a comparison between vaping and smoking to stir a discussion by showing how vaping benifited my son.
        The only true way the government can mitigate their full impact is to regulate both as nicotine delivery devices. This will most likely fail due to the influence of lobbing money in government.

        1. fposte*

          I think if you’d said fro the outset “I’m worried about the moves toward banning vaping; it really helped my son get off cigarettes, and I’m afraid banning would hurt him and other people like him,” commenters here would have immediately understood that.

    5. Dancing Otter*

      A government ban on killing that annoying neighbor also gets in the way of personal choice.

      Tobacco is an addictive drug and a proven killer. It has no legitimate medical use. Prohibition didn’t work for alcohol, and it wouldn’t work for tobacco, but regulating it as alcohol is regulated seems reasonable.

    6. LilySparrow*

      You don’t sound like you “don’t understand.” You sound like you have a list of talking points and were just spoiling for an argument to trot them out.

      I’m not sure why you chose to bait people instead of just typing out your rant all at once, but …hope you had fun, I guess?

    7. Maya Elena*

      I agree with you – especially with the backdrop of the push to legalize and decriminalize other things, it’s a bizarre thing to campaign for so aggressively.

      1. Hester Prynne isn't here for it*

        The first e-cigarettes were marketed as a way to get off regular cigarettes and they worked. Nicotine is addictive but not deadly. It’s the chemicals used to mass production of cigarettes that kill people. The original vapes were just nicotine. What they are trying to ban are the flavored vapes. There is something in the chemicals they use for flavor that is killing people and doing it quickly. They rushed these things out to market and they need to go back and see if flavor vapes are safe. They don’t plan to do anything about the straight nicotine devices, so your feel good story about your son doesn’t apply.

  31. Release the Kraken*

    Every time I wear flats they rub the back of my heel like crazy. I wind up with a nasty wound by the end of the day that takes weeks to heal. I have wide feet but a narrow heel, so I’m not sure if that’s part of the problem. I have to buy flats that have a strap or are a loafer style because otherwise my heel pops completely out of the shoe to the point where I can’t walk. I’ve bought quality brands like Naturalizer and Softwalk and still have the same problem.

    Before I start investing in potential solutions, has anyone else had this problem and found a solution? What might actually work? I have such annoying feet that I’m tired of shoe shopping and trying to find things to accommodate my annoying pizza slice-shaped feet. Oh how I envy the women who can wear cute shoes!

    1. Fikly*

      There are actually anti-friction rub on things that you can buy. They look like tiny rolls of deodorant. Mine is by band-aid, but there are various brands. You may have to reapply a few times a day, but it’s much nicer than open wounds on the back of your ankles.

      1. Beatrice*

        I haven’t had that problem with flats and flats only, but I’ve had it with womens’ dress shoes in general. Dr Scholls makes a gel heel liner than you can stick to the inside of the shoe, and those have been lifesavers for me. One pair will last a good six weeks of regular wear for me, and by then usually the shoe is broken in enough that I don’t need to replace them for that particular shoe pair.

      2. ValaMalDoran*

        A huge second for the anti-friction sticks. I have one at home where I put on my shoes (a large one from Gold Bond), and a small one in my purse.

    2. Dr. Anonymous*

      Thick foam heel liners from the drugstore rock my world. I can’t wear flats without them. My duck-shaped feet solute you!

      1. Kate R. Pillar*

        Yes, I use stick-in real leather heel cushions (probably much the same thing) and they totally help!

        1. WS*

          I have very wide toes and a narrow heel, so I have the same problem, and this is what I use. The leather seems to give better grip and last for longer than the other kinds.

    3. Rebecca*

      Have you tried moleskin? I use Dr. Scholl’s brand, the one that comes in a roll and I cut pieces to fit my heel. I have a weird small protrusion on my right heel, and several times a year I manage to get a giant blister there. I wear synthetic or wool socks, too, as cotton absorbs moisture and that creates friction. I also bought extra large waterproof Band Aids to wear while the blister heals, they really help.

    4. Amity*

      I just use a regular bandage or a blister one! Although now I want to look into the pads mentioned above….

    5. fposte*

      Hey, fellow duckfoot!

      I don’t know if the problem is completely surmountable without just wearing socks, but here are two things that have been super helpful for me. One is Foot Glide, which you can get on Amazon; it’s basically long-lasting foot lube, if you will, from the people who make Body Glide. Another is, if you can find them, shoes that have a rolled over cushion at the top of the heel rather than just a standard seam. I don’t know what the technical term is, but I have Clarks flats with these and they’re amazing; the edgeless leather slides along rather than rubbing the way a seam does.

    6. IAmOnlyInItForThePoetry*

      I have the same issue. I basically just don’t wear many styles of shoes. I like the kinds that don’t have backs at all or I wear ones that come up higher on the top of my foot (or have a strap.)

      No foot or heel pads seem to help at all.

      At an expensive shoe store, I was told to get regular width shoes and stretch them in the toes/not the heels but I haven’t tried that yet.

      1. Jemima Bond*

        Plus make sure you are buying the right size – if your foot is slipping out of/against the heel, it might actually be the that the shoe is a bit big. Try on half a size or a size smaller when you shop, to be sure. My massive wide flat feet will rub against or be shredded by many a shoe – if it can blister, it will – but my nicest newest pair of ladies’ leather flats are super comfy at half a size smaller than i would usually ask for, and never run because they hug my feet and don’t slip about. Of course you don’t want anything to pinch but it’s worth considering. Also; leather or variants of – if you’re not vegan then the way leather, suede and novice “gives” and moulds to your feet is way way better than plastic. And isn’t sweaty either.

  32. Llellayena*

    Ever have one of those memory quirks where you are SURE you did something but can’t remember the details of when or how? You then find out nope, you didn’t do it. I’m right there with renewing my drivers license. So I get to spend all morning sitting in the dmv instead of doing the easy online renew process. Yay! Expect comments and responses from me in my boredom…

    1. Dame Judi Brunch*

      Yes! Happens all the time, it’s so frustrating!
      I’m one of those people that doesn’t mind the DMV. No idea why, maybe if I someday have an issue I’ll think differently, but right now I think of it as an errand with some enjoyable downtime.

    2. Llellayena*

      Ha! Faster than anticipated! An unusually un-busy Saturday morning. Rocking the new license AND the updated car inspection sticker! On to the rest of my day.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Yeah. I thought I’d paid the poors program co-pay when I went in to the clinic for my thyroid lab, but apparently for some reason, I didn’t check in at the desk like I always do. I can’t for the life of me remember not doing it.

      If I’d had insurance, they would have just sent me a bill. But the poors program doesn’t extend you that courtesy, so they waited a month and a half, didn’t bother to remind me when I came in later for a checkup, and then unceremoniously kicked me off the program. I have to wait six months to reapply. F*ck them; I’ll be gone by then.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Ayup. Today in fact. I had gone to bed early but popped awake after 2 hours suddenly realizing I got sidetracked by work stress & house problems this summer and am almost out of time to finish my tax extension.
      I hate tax filing… I’m so envious of friends in Denmark because the government calculates it all and sends a bill. If you have anything complicated, you can file paperwork to ammend it, but it’s not a requirement.

  33. The Meow*

    I am a POC and posted a recent experience of racism. A white acquaintance responded: “It’s a shame you keep choosing to look for racism in this world. I have an Indian friend who’s lovely and I never see colour! We need to stop creating division and start seeing good in people.”

    How do you even begin to explain to a white person that her having a brown friend/neighbour/dildo seller/etc doesn’t mean racism doesn’t exist? Since I wasn’t in the mood for a detailed reply I simply posted a meme poking fun of white people who whitesplain.

    White people don’t get to decide racism isn’t real. If you’re white, please don’t try to teach POC about racism. Just don’t.

    1. Shiny alolan raichu*

      I mean there’s so much wrong with your friend’s comment. Because they have one Indian friend they believe racism doesn’t exist?! What…??
      I’m sorry that happened and I absolutely don’t blame you for not wanting to explain. It’s on us white people to learn. And I apologise for all the shit I thought and said before I understood that myself. Fwiw if I see racism now I do try and call it out. It’s something, in the absence of being able to wave a magic wand and fix the world :-|

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      In my experience, it’s white people who don’t see color and men who don’t see gender, and so they conveniently never notice any -isms taking place around them.

      I wish I had a great one-liner that would make your acquaintance reflect on her wondrous ability to not notice any discrimination around herself, but I have never heard of one.

      1. Norwich*

        There are no one-liners. I was raise pretty sheltered (homeschooled for religious reasons, went to a conservative Christian undergrad) and as a result was not asked to think about white privilege until I started graduate school. I don’t think I’d even ever heard the term. (This was in the late 00s, for reference.)

        I handled things terribly for the first year or two. Then at some point, I started listening to the stories that people were telling. Hearing their experience did for me what reading op-eds and scholarly research about privilege could not do: convinced me there was a problem. Now, like many white people, I’m working on it. I don’t get things right all the time, but I try.

        I share this hopefully (?) as an encouragement. I think sometimes the very real oppression and great pain of ongoing racism makes us want a quick fix, to “download” our beliefs about the reality and problem of racism into other people’s brains. But change doesn’t work that way; it’s gradual and slow and sometimes involves backwards steps. But that doesn’t mean change isn’t happening.

        The Meow, I’m sorry you experienced this, and that your friend didn’t listen. :( :(

      1. Wishing You Well*

        Yup. Sometimes you don’t have the time or energy to educate an ignorant person. Many times nothing you say will change anything. I can certainly understand if you roll your eyes, say “Wow” and walk away for those times when you .just. can’t. Other times, feel free to say what you need to.
        Hoping for a better future.

    3. William Tell Was Framed*

      I am sorry, one, that you experienced racism, and two, that your friend dismissed it as you ‘finding it.’ I cannot offer advice, but think your reaction of the meme was probably good enough, they may get a clue. Or not. As an aside, I am LOL at your term ‘dildo seller.’

    4. ThatGirl*

      ugh. It’s only white people who have the “option” of not seeing color, and it’s ridiculous. I’m sorry she said that, and if I saw that sort of reply I’d smack her down, but I don’t have a snappy comeback for you.

    5. Nicki Name*

      How about pointing out that if the acquaintance doesn’t see color, they are choosing to not see part of who you are and what shapes your life?

      That won’t change their mind immediately, but it might get them thinking.

      (I am a white person who was taught as a kid to be “colorblind”, and it took me a LONG time to get past it. Another thought that helped me change, because I am a geek and like to think that I can reason logically: If you refuse to see color, how can you even evaluate whether racism is happening or not??)

      1. fposte*

        Yes, that kind of colorblindness was considered progressive in an earlier era; I grew up with it too. It can be hard for people to get the message that what you learned as progressive doesn’t stay progressive, because there’s, you know, progression.

        And I agree with your point–if you say you don’t see color, you’re willfully closing your eyes to racism. I don’t know that a FB post is the place to go into this, but that might be a response to consider, with the additional question of “Is that who you want to be?”

      2. Parenthetically*

        Yep, raised to be “colorblind” here too, took me a long time to reject that mentality. And that last rhetorical question is excellent.

      3. The Meow*

        This is so true. Thank you. As a POC I don’t have the luxury of being colour blind because reality is I am treated a certain way because my skin is the “wrong” hue.

    6. Fikly*

      I am not a POC, but am a member of other minorities. My mother often tells me off for focusing on the negatives. Like, they are all around me, and experiences I’m having, can you not invalidate me?

    7. Pippa K*

      Funny how the white people who “don’t see colour” are also the people who are eager to tell you they have a black friend. At this point when someone says “I don’t see colour” what I hear is “I have excused myself from thinking seriously about racism. Please congratulate me.”
      (I’m white, fwiw.)

      1. Merci Dee*

        It’s almost like the black/POC friend comes standard as part of the expansion pack of their lives. Oh, look! In this upgrade, I got cute shoes, a nice handbag, some adorable sunglasses, precious dangly earrings, and a black friend! This new friend will look so sweet hanging onto my arm!

        Like the black friend is the accessory that proves how forward thinking they are, but gets as much mental space as the shoes and handbag.

    8. Washi*

      I can’t remember where I read this, but: “If you say you don’t see color, that means you don’t see me.” That really helped me refute the idea that the “polite” thing to do is to pretend you don’t see race. (I am white.)

      1. Lilith*

        I’m embarrassed to admit that today is the first time I read the word “whitesplain.” I don’t know where I’ve been. That is, sadly, utterly brilliant. I’m sorry, OP, you are going through this with a “friend.”

    9. MissDisplaced*

      I’m white and I HATE when other white people dismiss or downplay racism because they want to live in denial.

    10. NewReadinGlasses*

      If she doesn’t see color, how does she know her friend is Indian? (Eye roll) I feel vicariously annoyed.

    11. Troutwaxer*

      Your acquaintance is idiotic, at least about race. I think the correct reply is something along the lines of “I try really hard to keep racism from affecting my life, but as with all Black people, racism sometimes finds me despite my best efforts.”

    12. sequined histories*

      I’m sorry.
      That person doesn’t want to accept or acknowledge your experience as a human being, which is thoroughly awful.
      You have a moral right to say an awful lot of things to her, but there’s no secret technique for changing a person like that, and it’s 100% reasonable of you to decline to expend your personal energy in an attempt to do so.
      FWIW, she wasn’t trying to teach you about racism. She was trying to teach you never to make her uncomfortable by bringing up racism.

    13. Melody Pond*

      How horrible! I’m so sorry – first for the experience of racism to begin with, and then to have insult added to injury in this way!

      I’m white – I was definitely raised with the idea that we ought to be “color blind”, but I learned much later in life that the only people who actually get to live their lives that way, are white people! It’s totally part of our privilege. Because the world doesn’t constantly second-guess us or marginalize us or otherwise discriminate against us, because of the color of our skin – so we get to forget about race. My understanding is that people of color just aren’t allowed that luxury, in daily life.

      There was a video circulating around facebook I think, quite a while ago. I can’t recall anything about the guy who made it, but he was a person of color talking about unconscious bias and how everybody is a little bit racist – he even included himself in that statement. That’s the nature of unconscious bias – I remember thinking it was a pretty helpful video, particularly for me as a white person. I wish I had that link at the ready and that I could throw it at this acquaintance of yours. :(

    14. Gatomon*

      Oh no. I would seriously reconsider that acquaintance-ship ASAP. I’d lay it all out for her in the frankest terms possible. I’d tell her how she:

      – totally rejected your experience
      – blamed you for “seeking out” racism in the situation
      – brought up her Indian friend as a token to prove she’s not racist herself and to blunt any criticism of what she’s saying, thus marginalizing her Indian friend
      – pat herself on the back for not “seeing color,” as if she’s better than everyone else
      – chastise POC as a group for causing racial division

      And then I’d let her know that:
      – you didn’t post your experience to be victimblamed
      – you didn’t post your experience so she could make herself feel good about “not seeing color”
      – she might want to talk to her Indian friend about how they feel about being used as a token to wash away her racist response
      – she should read up on how to be an actual ally to POC
      – she can start off becoming an ally by accepting the reported experiences of POC as valid, beginning with yours

      And please don’t ever feel rushed to respond – as POC it’s not our jobs to explain this stuff constantly. If you choose to take this on, you are welcome to take all the time that you need to formulate your response!

    15. Meepmeep*

      I’m Jewish. My answer would be “Well, I’ll be happy to stop ‘creating division’ when the antisemites stop targeting me.”

    16. knead me seymour*

      I’m sure you don’t want to devote any more time to educating your acquaintance, but for anyone looking for resources for white people who are really entrenched in the “colourblindness” rhetoric, the book What Does It Mean to Be White does a good job of debunking that line of reasoning. It’s actually quite good at examining whiteness, white privilege and white ignorance in a rational, nonjudgmental way, so it might get through to someone who is ignorant but willing to make an effort. It is written by a white person, so there is that caveat, but the author has spent her career educating other white people about race, and I’d say it could make a pretty good primer for clueless white people.

  34. CoffeeforLife*

    Trigger Warning: Exercising/Weight Loss/Food

    I’ve been doing Orange Theory since March. I go 5x a week and have seen some muscle tone development BUT not the results I imagined I’d have. The scale hasn’t budged, my clothes fit the same, and I’m getting a little frustrated. I cook 100% of my meals, most everything is made from scratch, and I don’t have a lot of “junk food” in my diet (think skinny pop or dark chocolate squares as a treat). Breads and pastas are at a minimum because I will inhale them.

    I’m resisting counting calories because I don’t want to do that forever but I guess I need to do something differently. I’m turning 40 soon and just have to wonder if this is my metabolism slowing down and the gut creep is here to stay?

    I know I have issues with how I perceive my body and feeling “fat” (thanks mom) and I struggle with feeling not good enough and if only I’d lose X pounds I’d be lovable, acceptable, etc.

    I’m just venting I suppose. I feel good about myself that I’m exercising. I like that I feel stronger and that I’m able to keep up with the class. I just want my fat to melt off and be some skinny, hot version of me that never was.

    1. Charlotte*

      You’ve probably heard this before but you really do need to be tracking your calories if your goal is to lose weight (as opposed to just gaining fitness). You can eat all the ‘right’ foods but if you eat too much of them you won’t get results. Working out and exercising more is obviously great but unless you’re in a deficit you won’t lose fat.

    2. ThatGirl*

      Exercise is great for your health overall. It’s a stress reliever and being stronger can help your metabolism. But it won’t really help you lose much weight on its own, because it’s hard to burn enough calories through exercise alone to create a deficit. Dietary changes are the most efficient way to lose weight but also what makes it hard to keep off.

      1. londonedit*

        Yep. People are always saying to me ‘Oh, you do so much running! I bet you can eat whatever you want!’ Nope. The only time I’ve ever lost weight just through running, without also keeping a very close eye on what I’m eating, has been when I’ve trained for a marathon and got into the ‘20-mile run every Sunday for four weeks’ stage. The saying goes ‘You can’t out-train a bad diet’ but even if your diet isn’t bad, you may still be eating more than your exercise is burning off. Or you might not be eating the right things to fuel your exercise and also allow your body to lose weight.

        1. Fringe*

          People definitely tend to overestimate how much they burn during exercise. Completing the couch-to-5k challenge is a wonderful achievement, but a lot of people don’t realise that a 5K run can be easily cancelled out with a typical drink from Starbucks – hence why there are so many reports of people putting on weight when they start exercising (and no, it’s not because exercise is turning fat to muscle).

    3. Fikly*

      Muscles weigh more than fat. If you are gaining muscles through exercise, it’s likely why the scale isn’t budging.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Not to be obnoxious, but muscle doesn’t weigh more than fat, it’s just denser. So you can lose inches and not lbs, but a pound of fat weighs the same as a pound of muscle.

        1. Fikly*

          Well, yes, but what I meant was, the same amount of muscle, by volume, will weigh more. So you can look the same but weigh more, or have some part of your body look slightly smaller, but still weigh the same.

    4. WellRed*

      You probably need to count calories, at least temporarily, to see how much you are eating. I recently switched from my trusty old analog scale to an inexpensive digital and the difference in “measured” portions was astounding. Also, measuring cups and spoons.

    5. School Psych*

      Does your gym have personal trainers who have experience in nutrition? Everyone’s metabolism is different and you might need more carbs or protein in your diet to start to lose weight. Tracking calories is helpful, but you also have to strike the right balance between what you’re burning and the amount of calories your body needs. If you’re working out a lot more and not adjusting the amount of calories you’re getting, your body can hold onto fat to compensate for not getting enough fuel. There are a variety of free apps to help you track the kind of calories your body is getting and figure out the amount of calories you should be getting with your activity level. It might be a lot more than what you think. I have a fit bit and on days when I’m more active(doing a harder class or walking/running around 3 miles), the app bumps the calories I need to consume to maintain my current weight up to 2000. To lose a pound a week, you should be eating around 400-500 less than what you’re burning per day.

    6. Mimosa Jones*

      Calorie counting triggers my anxiety, so I try to find ways of knowing what I eat without measuring everything. Precision Nutrition has a good way to estimate portions and calories. A serving of meat is the size of the palm of your hand, your fist is a serving of veggies and you can hold a serving of starchy carbs in your cupped hand. The volume of your thumb from knuckle to tip is a serving of fat.

      I’d start with just using a simple method to record what you eat and how much and take it from there. I prefer paper and use Fit Book fitness journals to record my eating and exercise. They’re available through Amazon and are very flexible with boxes to check for servings of food and liquids. If you want to go electronic, I think they have an app, or you can get the same level of simplicity from the 21 Day Fix Diet’s app. The diet has definite problems, (their calories recommendations and counts are too low, for one thing), but the app has simple checkboxes to record food servings and liquids so you can ignore their recommendations and record on your own terms.

    7. NoLongerYoung*

      I had to food journal. I used a paper method and then an app. I also used the american diabetic exchange diet, which uses exchanges (x servings of veg, etc). I “did” have to do weighing and measuring at first, because I was not accurate at all. Once I began to count every pat of butter, every slice of whole grain (is it the one with 45 calories, or the one with 100?) bread, etc… the picture became clearer. I found it much easier to treat it like a “budget” – here’s the “number” I can spend, where do I need to spend it the most wisely? (for me, protein, veggies, then fruit, then … empty…). I did really well with this. I like the app, (FitDay at the time) because I could also track my exercise. So if I really wanted 10 french fries (100 calories) I knew exactly how many minutes on the concept 2 rower that entailed.
      But from years of yo-yo dieting and telling myself little “lies” like “it is just half a cookie” or “just one ounce of nuts…” I found that I had to do a full-on reset. But like budgeting, once I began to recognize all the little leakages were adding up, I found it easier to just say no. I did eat six small portions a day, but I knew exactly how many calories I was consuming, and how many I was burning. (And we often deceive ourselves about both of them – at least I did, and most people do…. I was consistently underestimating how much I ate, and overestimating the calories burned).
      I didn’t have to do it forever… but long enough to be able to look at my plate and say (4 oz lean chicken, 1 c serving of broccoli, 1/2 c pilaf, side salad with 1 tbs of vinaigrette…) and know if I had enough “budg
      It’s been 15 years since I hit goal, and I have maintained within a 5 pound range since then. So that year or so spent “re-calibrating” and building my good habits, paid off for life. I don’t think I’d be walking — if I hadn’t done that work, in my case (I was 299). YMMV.
      But… I had to peel away at it from a lot of angles (I was in a support group, worked out, and did the food journaling, and tried to tackle it step by step… it didn’t happen overnight at all!). And yes, I have a difficult, difficult mother who STILL thinks she’s fat at 110 because after 4 huge babies, she has splayed stomach muscles and a “belly.” So I worked with my doctor and my therapist to set realistic goals, for me … and eventually told her to never mention my weight to me again or I’d quit visiting home. Again, YMMV but I had to get rid of her voice in my head. CBT helps that.

    8. sequined histories*

      Lots of people are going to tell you to monitor your calories. Because of my ED history that’s a non-starter for me, but obviously it will help you lose weight, and some minority of people are able to do that long-term.
      I do think you are wise to consider what you are ready, willing, and able to do long-term before embarking upon a particular program. I’m not skinny or hot, but I have seen a bit of weight loss while focusing on improving the amount and quality of my sleep and reducing/managing my stress better while trying to eat a reasonably healthy diet and exercise moderately. The results might be far from what you’d be looking for, but at least they’re reasonably sustainable and these things are otherwise beneficial to me.
      I would strongly, strongly urge you to decouple weight loss and fitness goals from any expectations about changing the way you feel about yourself. I’m just one person and I don’t know you, but I feel 100% certain that no modifications to my appearance would have ever brought me the sort of psychological relief and self-acceptance I was craving and that you seem to long for as well. So try to put weight loss/fitness in one mental basket and self-acceptance/being loved/being “hot” in another mental basket. If you want to keep working on weight loss/fitness, great! If you want something to change in the second category, however, work on addressing that on a completely separate basis.

    9. Dee-Nice*

      “I just want my fat to melt off and be some skinny, hot version of me that never was.”

      Eating healthy and exercising are important, but your body is your body. If you’re working out hard 5x a week and watching your food, ask yourself how much harder you really want to work, and for how long, to try to achieve results that you may not be physically built to easily maintain. Some people have a thick waist no matter what. Some people lift weights but never bulk up. You have to know what is achievable for YOU and find a way to be okay with that, and not beat yourself up about it. Not everything about your body is within your control.

    10. LibbyG*

      I think I’m more satisfied with my shape then you are with yours, but I’m feeling some of your frustration with trying to shed a few pounds. I’m in my late 40s now, and my weight is holding steady but I’m getting a little thicker around the middle, and I’m not into it. I also share your distaste for counting calories. I just can’t see myself sustaining that. I recently got back into Time Restricted Eating. I do all my eating between 11 am and 7 pm. It took probably 4 weeks before I stopped feeling hungry before 11 (I get up at 6). And over a couple months about 3 lbs have come off. Slow, but it works for perimenopausal me.

  35. HannahS*

    Stop the presses, HannahS has herself a boyfriend! He’s emotionally stable! He’s gainfully employed! We have the same values! He’s cuddly and smart and I like him a lot.

    I’m happy, guys. I’m in my late 20s and this is my first boyfriend.

    Just wanted to share :)

  36. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    9 more days till closing on the house(!!) How long does closing itself take on the day of? Sometimes I see people taking pictures and posting to Facebook, so I guess that’s a thing?

    Sinusitis is going away after a horrendous week of teeth to jaw to facial pain and headaches TG. Only to be replaced by a mysterious strained elbow muscle that woke me in the AM. Using a heating pad.

    All I want is one pain-free healthy day…:(((

    1. CoffeeforLife*

      Closing can be super quick- it’s really just paper signing and check handing. Be prepared for it to be..anticlimactic? Like all this build up and waiting for something so fast. Maybe bring celebratory stuff and make it a moment!

      Feel better!

    2. Ali G*

      Assuming you are getting a mortgage, closing takes a few hours. There is so much dang paperwork. And then there are the forms you have to sign to show that the loan officer told you something. It’s mind numbing, really. You’ll get through it!
      Feel better and congrats on the house!

    3. Texan In Exile*

      I would suggest asking for the paperwork now so you can review it and look for mistakes. We got our paperwork in advance and my name was left off everything, even though we were buying the house together. (We weren’t married yet, so buying together took extra steps.)

      I told them to fix it, but when we got to the closing, they still hadn’t put my name on anything. (Turns out I should have asked to see everything again to prove they had corrected it.)

      This was a Friday afternoon. The person in charge said we should just sign and they would take care of adding me on Monday.

      Nope nope nope.

      I told her we would sit and wait while they corrected the mistake I had pointed out weeks before. No way I was signing a deal for $250K without it being correct.

      1. Truth!*

        This happened to us too!!!! Double check everything. The room we were in was loud (lots of people also doing closings) and it was obvious they expected us to just sign and go but I’m so glad I asked to take a moment and actually understand what I was signing. Otherwise I wouldn’t own a house right now (my partner would, but not me).

      2. Reba*

        Yeah, we had to do a similar big change at the last minute, one day before. Wrong figures — which I previously had noted but were waved away — were caught one day out. They said, we can redo everything or you can just bring $16,000 more to the closing. RIGHT.

        That closing was actually fast when it came to signing, however.

        The one we did recently ended up taking more than 4 hours due to lots of passing problems back and forth with our Big-ass Bank. But the lawyer kindly stayed after hours and we got it done.

    4. Anono-me*

      It depends upon how thoroughly you read the paperwork.

      (I read everything so about an hour. The mortgage company was not happy about it. They wouldn’t give me a copy in advance and kept saying it was all boilerplate and not to worry about it. As Texas in Exile said, “Nope, nope, nope.” If I am signing for umpty thousand dollars, I am reading it.)

    5. Wishing You Well*

      Don’t rush reading the paperwork on a house closing. My lawyer caught a detail that cost us an extra $2000. At least we knew about it in advance. If they won’t give you copies ahead of time, let them wait until you look it all through. And, if you find a mistake, INSIST it’s fixed before you sign.
      Be prepared to walk away and postpone the closing if something is amiss. Oh, and GET THE KEY to the house! My ex-neighbor SQUATTED in his sold house for a month before the new owners could get him out. The new owners had to pay their massive mortgage while the ex-owner lived in their house for free. The new owners said not getting the key was a big mistake.
      Oh and insist on a walk-through 24 hours before closing. This is a normal thing in my area. My spouse was very disappointed that the old owners un-nailed and un-screwed many items that should have been left in our house. They would have taken the drapes if the real estate agent hadn’t stopped them. After the sale, they came a-knocking wanting more stuff that was attached to the house. Sheesh.
      My lawyer said that 9 times out of 10, a closing goes fine, but that 1 time is a doozy. Here’s hoping you have a smooth closing.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        THIS. Look at everything too. My house, we didn’t notice that the sellers had removed the handrail & corded shower head from a tub….left nice little holes in the tile too.
        My brother’s sellers, he did notice they’d switched out all the switchplates for cheesy plastic ones.
        It boggles the mind.

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          The previous owner of my house ran out of space in her truck and just…didn’t take a bunch of stuff when she moved out. We agreed during the offer stage that she’d leave the outdoor furniture (I didn’t have much of my own since I’d never had a real yard of my own before, and she didn’t want to move it, so that was a bonus for both of us), but she also left a dining chair and a bunch of other random stuff, particularly garage stuff. I have so much firewood I’ll never use that I need to work harder on giving away (it’s not a good idea to store that in a garage, there’s no detached shed, and I feel silly buying a shed to store wood I don’t want, but I’ve had trouble with finding someone willing to bring a truck over and haul away the firewood), although the hoses, sprinklers, sump pump, and shelving have been nice. I still haven’t gone through the stuff lofted in the garage rafters in any detail.

          (Some of it was just poor communication – the paperwork said she’d be taking the refrigerator, but she meant the little dorm fridge she had outside, and I thought she meant the big one in the kitchen. I didn’t mind not having to buy a new fridge, but I was surprised to see it still there.)

    6. Gatomon*

      Mine was maybe an hour, tops. It’s just a bunch of “sign here” and you fork over the check. You may have to wait a bit to get the keys. You should have seen basically everything before you get in there, though the title company should go over it with you again.

  37. Kuododi*

    Well, I’m still putting one foot in front of the other as far as recovery is concerned. Last week I started the Live Strong program through the Y. The trainer I’m working with is bright and a high energy “Energizer Bunny” type. (As long as I don’t have to meet up with that personality type at 5am then we’re gold!)
    I was very pleased with how well I was doing for my first week back in the Y after 2 major cancer surgeries. 1st session, I put in 20 solid minutes on the stair stepper before I had to stop and catch my breath.

    I’m not due for another Dr’s appointment until the 15th of next month. Then I have an assessment meeting with the radiation MD. Then we will work out the details of my upcoming radiation treatment. I’ll be delighted when I’m done with all of this nonsense. DH continues to be a an absolute rock star husband. He’s not much of a talker… just quietly steps up and takes care of whatever is necessary to aid my recovery.

    1. fposte*

      Aw, good DH. Glad you’re still walking the walk in the increments you can manage, and I’m impressed at your ability to cope with an Energizer Bunny.

    2. NoLongerYoung*

      Such a good update, and so glad you are taking these steps of self-care and exercise. And kudos to the rock star DH….

  38. I don’t post often*

    Bedbugs. *sigh*. It’s a very long story, but here are my question. I’m visiting a house for a few days that had bed bugs. The owners went though an over the counter treatment and seemed to go away. They consistently check everyday and reapply chemicals if they find anything that resembles a big. They thought it was contained to one room. (There are four bed rooms in this house and that was the master, the only consistently used bedroom.). Anyway. After I arrived yesterday, owner found a tiny bed bug on master bed. (Smaller than a deer tick, found with black light). I made sure non oft clothes, suitcases or other items were on the same level as the master bedroom. I woke up at 1am scratching and covered with bites. No pattern, Not clustered and appeared to be musquito bites. I switched to a couch, stopped itching, and the bites and itching are gone this morning. Owner says that bed bug bites do not disappear that quickly. 1) is that true? Would the bites still be visible this morning if they were bed bug? 2) what can I do protect my house? I’m willing to just throw my suitcase away, but what about my tennis shoes or other not dry-able items? 3) the owner is refusing to call an exterminator, so any thoughts/ advice on best method of treatment?

    1. CoffeeforLife*

      Yikes!! Bed bugs will travel through wall sockets so no room is “safe” but bathrooms are the least likely (no soft surfaces to hide in). Maybe keep your luggage in the tub for the duration of your stay. Put everything in the dryer on hot before washing to try and kill them. Ditch the suitcase. Sorry.

    2. mg!*

      When I had bedbugs, the bites lasted weeks. I think it’s unlikely that what you experienced were bedbug bites.

      I don’t have any suggestions for their house that don’t involve an exterminator as the first line of treatment. For your belongings that can’t go in a hot dryer, spray them with isopropyl alcohol. You can buy climb ups to put under your bed and couch legs to monitor for infestation, or sprinkle diatomaceous earth around the legs to prevent bugs from climbing up (if you don’t have pets; if you do have pets, I’d read up on what is and isn’t safe). Good luck!

    3. Been there, done that*

      Are you still at their house? I stayed at a place once that turned out to have bedbugs, and honestly, I threw everything away — my shoes, my suitcase, everything. I have a garage at my house, so when I got home, I stripped in the garage, threw my clothes and everything else in the trash, and went inside and took a shower. It sucked to lose a week’s worth of clothes, shoes, etc. but I just wasn’t willing to risk it. You could also look online — there are various bits of advice here and there about freezing things (it takes a long time), heating things up in black plastic bags in a hot car (you need several hot and sunny days) and washing and drying (I think they recommend drying first to dehydrate the little suckers to death, then washing, then drying again). Good luck!

    4. DrTheLiz*

      That sounds almost more like a rash than bites. If you want to save something from your luggage, vacuum it! A thorough vacuuming will get eggs, which chemical treatments won’t – I moved in to a flat once with a pre-existing infestation and I got them out of the mattress by (just, ha ha) vacuuming it, the bedframe, the carpet, the pillows and the covers every time I got a new bite and boil-washing the bedding. I think it took three rounds? But the whole rest of the year I was there, nothing.

      Something like shoes, that only might have been exposed, good going over with a vacuum cleaner then a dip in very hot water should (99% certainly) do the business.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Seconded – when I discovered a contact allergy to the fabric softener my then-SO was using on the bedsheets, it presented the same way you describe. Rash that looked like bug bites, popped up shortly after getting into bed, went away shortly after getting out of bed. I didn’t know he was using fabric softener on the sheets for like six months because he assured me he wasn’t (there’s a variety of reasons he’s an ex, this was one of them), but gawd, it was terrible.

        1. I don’t post often*

          This makes me feel better. I am highly sensitive to smells and perfumes and have bad allergic reactions. I did use a different brand of soap while showering about two hours before I started itching. Honestly, if it were not for the bed bug issue, my mind would have jump straight to a contact reaction.

          1. Not a cat*

            I am allergic to fabric softener (especially the ‘sheet’ ones) and this sounds like one of my reactions.

    5. NewReadinGlasses*

      If you have a car, leaving it in the sun with the suspect stuff inside should work. Bedbugs are killed by heat that is well within the range you get in a hot car. There are charts online that show duration versus temperature required for different insects, and expected interior car temperatures versus exterior temperature over time. I do this for moths before storing wool items and so far (10 years) it has worked. (My house has a small, esentially permanent moth population, because we have cats, and an old house with lots of little cracks to hide in. And they come from outside!)
      Your itching sounds like an allergic rash. Bedbug bites should last about as long as a mosquito or flea bite.

      1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

        Oh that’s clever. Bet you it would also work in an oven on a low temperature warming setting.

        1. NewReadinGlasses*

          I’ve done the oven thing too! The car is just bigger, and is out in the sun all day at my work anyway, so I feel efficient about my bug -killing.

          1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

            Oh definitely more convenient. But it’s also heading into fall, so boiling hot cars are not so easy to come by. Though if you park deliberately in the sun, it probably would still be warm enough.

      2. I don’t post often*

        Thank you for this. I had thought about a hot car and black plastic bags, but wasn’t sure if it would work. I have someone with me not willing to throw their suitcase away (but is a small bag… more mini suitcase) and I was thinking hotcar and plastic bag might work.

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          I had a scare a few years ago while staying in a hotel on the way to visit my grandparents. The situation wasn’t ideal because I had a long train ride plus getting picked up by a relative the next day. I had the relative bring big trash bags so I could seal my bags before they went into the car and we stopped on the way to buy some new clothes. As soon as I got to grandma’s I stripped in the garage and put those clothes in a trash bag too. Everything was laid out on the black asphalt driveway in the hot sun all day the next day, then washed and dried as hot as it could be (alas I shrank my husband’s trousers this way). But we never saw another bed bug after the hotel, so if we did pick any up they didn’t get far.

    6. Mimosa Jones*

      I’m in the middle of a bedbug scare (mysterious bites but no bugs after completely inspecting and cleaning the bedrooms so just waiting for new bites now), so I’ve been doing some research. One of the new things I’ve learned is that bedbugs prefer dirty/worn clothes if a human isn’t around. That’s probably what attracts them to a suitcase in the first place. So you could get some big zip plastic bags and seal up all your clothes and when you get home dump them straight into the dryer for about 30-60 minutes on the hottest setting. Then inspect them and wash and dry as normal. If you weren’t already staying there then you could use a multiple bag system to keep clean and dirty clothes separate and hopefully keep them from catching a ride home with you. But at this point I’d assume everything is contaminated. You could inspect your suitcase and clothes right now and if you don’t find anything, place it in a sealed trash bag and seal up your clothes. Keep all non-clothing items separate for the rest of your stay so there’s no chance of hitchhikers. But no matter what, I’d assume you’re bringing them home with you.

      When you get home, put your box spring and mattress into bed bug covers. It won’t prevent an infestation but it will make inspection easier. Clear out the space under your bed and make sure your bed clothes don’t touch the floor. If you want to be especially handy you can caulk up some of the obvious hiding places now. I’d set out actual bedbug traps but don’t put the ones on the feet of your bed. You want to know if you brought any home and unfortunately, you’re the bait so you want to make it easy for everyone.

      If this is a single person who only sleeps in the master bed, then it’s likely that the other rooms are bug free. The bugs will want to be close to their food source.

    7. Wishing You Well*

      On bug bites: some people have little or no reaction to bug bites, so it’s possible the bites “disappeared” by morning. Not sure if your marks were bites, though.
      Affected beds need to be wrapped in bedbug bags: the mattress, the box, the pillows. All linens must be cleaned, etc. A LOT must be done to fix the problem.
      Bedbugs are so difficult to get rid of that if you dodge this bullet this time, I’d never go back there if I were you. The owners don’t sound like they want to fix their bedbug infestation.

    8. Fellow Traveler*

      When we had bed bugs, the only thing that really solved the problem for us was an exterminator. For the things that couldn’t be put in the dryer we were told to put them in well sealed garbage bags in the basement for 4 weeks to starve them out.
      Also- different people have different reactions to bed bug bites. I got lots of bites, but my husband never had any bites show up so he wasn’t convinced that we had bed bugs until I started finding them and putting them in a plastic bag for him to see.

    9. LilySparrow*

      I don’t know your overall situation, but personally I would not stay a second night in that house if I had any option at all. I’d sooner sleep in my car.

      I am giving major side-eye to a host who won’t call an exterminator and then invites houseguests. Major, major side-eye.

      I’m perfectly happy to “offend” someone who has no qualms about infecting me and my house with bedbugs.

    10. I'm A Little Teapot*

      That actually sounds more like an allergic thing, like hives than bug bites. What laundry detergent/softener do they use?

      And you can put your tennis shoes into the dryer. They don’t like it, but it’s not instant death.

    11. Arts Akimbo*

      Yeah, honestly, if the itch from the bites went away overnight, you were most likely *not* bitten by bedbugs. A mosquito maybe? Fleas? But not bedbugs. They have the itchiest bite and it lasts (on me at least) for about three weeks of horrible itching. And yes, the bites are visible as red-pink welts. Several bites will usually (but not always) be in a line formation, as the little bastards will take a nibble, get indecisive, walk a few steps, and take another bite.

      Check the seams of your tennis shoes really thoroughly, maybe go over them with a Q-tip. Leave them in a hot car for a week maybe! But most of all, just walk in them. Bedbugs cannot grip for anything and I read somewhere that it takes an average of 38 walking steps to dislodge them.

  39. MissDisplaced*

    I think my office might me making me sick.
    [not work-related technically]

    A few weeks ago my company moved into a brand new office that is also in a brand new building. Everything is brand new and you can smell that ‘brand new’ rather acrid smell everywhere: carpets, furniture, etc. The second week there, I came down with a very fast-onset sinus cold: extreme sore throat first, followed by general stuffiness and headaches, etc. I did WFH a Th-Fri and by the weekend felt fine and it cleared up. But I worked in the office again for a week, and yesterday began to feel sick like that all over again: all day yesterday I was sneezing and eyes were watering, throat burning and again it came on suddenly Friday while in the office. Today I feel better.

    I AM prone to allergies, and of course this IS an allergy season. I regularly take OTC allergy medicine (Clairton, Allegra, etc.) to keep allergies in check, but because of this recent spate since the office move, I’ve been doubling up on the doses, taking one at 6am and another at 6pm.

    So, I don’t know? Could it be the office making me sick? Has anyone had this happen to them?

    I am hesitant to say “I think the office is making me sick” at work because this is a new open-office plan and the company is extremely sensitive about forcing people who did a lot of WFH to now come in and unfortunately it would be seen as complaining. So, I don’t know if it’s just the typical allergies and bad timing or it really is the chemicals from new carpet and furnishings off gassing. I never got this bad at the old office though, unless of course I really was sick or occasionally in spring w/high pollen days which are obvious here as it’s all over your car.

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

      I think it’s definitely possible for a workplace to make you sick. A few years ago, I was moved to a library branch with a notoriously bad air conditioning system and a known air pollution problem in the area. I had low-grade but definitely obtrusive headaches that would last the entire work day but then vanish when I went home for the day. This persisted for the first month of working there. I was just about to see a doctor when the problem vanished and never resurfaced. (I did get a full physical a few weeks later, and everything came up normal.) I’ll never know for sure, but I’m thinking it was due to something in the air at the new workplace and my body somehow adjusted. Hope the same happens for you.

      I’ve also had chemical cleaning products at work cause all sorts of nasty reactions including something like what you described. In addition to the new furnishings giving off fumes, it possible your new office is being cleaned a different way than your old one?