weekend free-for-all – September 28-29, 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: Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont, by Elizabeth Taylor. An older woman moves into the Claremont Hotel and befriends a young writer who agrees to pose as her grandson. There’s dark humor in it, but it’s more poignant than funny.

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

{ 1,393 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous Educator*

    Does anyone else still draw or doodle? What do you draw? Landscapes, figure drawings, stuff from your imagination? What media do you use?

    1. Xavier89*

      Usually paper and colored pencils

      I’ll doodle little comics for my friends or I’ll draw them in red carpet dresses, they love that

    2. Nela*

      Yeah, drawing and painting is a huge passion of mine. I even considered switching to illustration, but every time I got an assignment I hated doing the work haha! I’m better off drawing just for my own pleasure.

      I use just about anything – ink (brush pen especially), watercolor, acrylics, colored pencils, charcoal… I mostly draw surrealish, creepy or fantasy portraits, and a bit of landscape and animals for practice. My Instagram username is “nelchee” (no quotes) if anyone wants to check it out.

    3. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

      I’d love to be artistic enough to doodle properly, but I cannot draw for toffee!
      That hasn’t stopped me amassing a collection of watercolour pencils and thin felt tipped pens in a variety of colours for when I just need to get my scribble on

      (for point of reference, you know XKCD? Yeah, I *wish* my stickpeople were that well defined!)

      1. anonagain*

        Getting your scribble on is good! I used to draw and paint a lot, but now I just make splotches of water color on paper sometimes. I like the sensory experience of moving a brush on paper and watching the color diffuse in the water.

        “I’d love to be artistic enough to doodle properly, but I cannot draw for toffee!”

        You can learn.

        The turning point for me was realizing that it’s not just about practicing lots. (The only thing that did was make me more efficient at making the same terrible drawing.) I needed to actually learn some stuff first and then practice that loads.

        I did this all as an adult, mostly using online resources and books. I never got amazing, but I got good enough to more or less be able to create the effect I was aiming for in a drawing. It was fun and it made drawing more fun for me. If that’s your kind of fun and you have questions, I’m happy to answer.

        If it doesn’t make drawing more fun for you, then that’s cool. Do what’s fun. Life’s hard enough without making our hobbies into chores.

        1. Want to learn*

          I would appreciate if you could share some of these books/ online resources that you found helpful.

          1. anonagain*

            No problem! I’m going to list names of instructors/artistics, because several of these people have multiple resources.

            – Alphonso Dunn: Mostly pen and ink artist, but so useful for principles of drawing. He was a science teacher, so the way he explains things makes a lot of sense to me. He’s one of my favorites for technique.

            – Mark Crilley: I wasn’t super into drawing cartoons/comics/manga style stuff, but several of his tutorials just clicked for me. His explanation of foreshortening was so helpful. He also gives a lot of advice on creativity, developing as an artist, etc. if you are into that kind of thing.

            – Danny Gregory: Danny has a very distinctive style of art and his approach to teaching is as much about encouraging people to keep going and make drawing/paining a habit. He does offer some suggestions for specific exercises.

            I’ve also done a few different paid online classes, tutorials, etc. This is one of those things that just depends on your circumstances and how you learn. This obviously isn’t necessary.

            -The Virtual Art Instructor. I hit a wall with my self-directed study, because I was skipping around too much. This site has structured courses to work through. The instructor, Matt, is another one whose teaching style really works for me personally.

            – Koosje Koene: Koosje’s intro class was the first drawing class I did. It was warm and supportive and she provided lots of feedback. There’s a forum and you can talk to the other students, which appealed to me since I wasn’t able to get out of the house. This won’t be the right match for everyone, but it was a really good first class for me. (She has a youtube channel too.)

            I also picked up a lot of tips from watching accomplished artists. Lisa at Lachri Fine Art is amazing and she has a great youtube channel. Listening to her talk through how she approaches a piece helped me learn to observe things more accurately. For example, she’ll look at an animal with black fur and point out the colors reflecting off of it. I never noticed any of that. I just knew that my drawings looked flat. (Kelly Eddington is a water colorist who I also find fascinating to watch.)

            A specific tip from Lisa, that wouldn’t have occurred to me, is to trace. I thought it might be a shortcut that would hold me back, but it is so helpful. It helps you start to see the lines in a reference photo instead of insisting on drawing what you think you see. I used to take a marker and outline photos in magazines as an exercise. I also drew stick figures over the people in magazines and added guidelines to faces so I could start to internalize all of those spacial relationships.

            I hope something in all that that helps! I’m definitely a nerd who enjoys homework, so that’s the type of approach I took. You can approach this so many different ways and they can all be very rewarding.

            1. Want to learn*

              Oh this is such a wonderful list or resources! Thank you for taking the time to put it together.
              And the tip about tracing will be so useful!

            2. Seeking Second Childhood*

              My daughter’s going to like that too, I can’t wait until I hand her a main and explain. :)

    4. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I used to get 4×6 index cards and make postcards out of them using permanent marker, then mail them to my friends. One time I went to various “non-touristy” places around down and drew the postcards I thought they should have, but usually it was more a picture and a caption about something going on in my life or that I was thinking about.

      I should really do that again. I’m kind of terrible at keeping in touch with people since I don’t use social media, and it was a good way to keep up a connection with friends I didn’t see that often.

    5. Arts Akimbo*

      I’m a professional illustrator, does that count? (Don’t know if you were just wanting input from people who draw purely for pleasure.)

      When I’m just doodling for fun, I like to use Micron pens, Palomino Blackwing pencils (the black ones, with the softest lead), or sumi ink. When painting for fun, I usually reach for the acrylic. I love to paint/draw landscapes, animals, cities, the rooms I’m in, or fanciful structures (like fairy castles!) but I hate drawing people. I only practice people-drawing because there is way more work to be found in my niche field if you can draw people realistically. Ironically, I love drawing faces! But get arms and legs involved and I just want to peace out, LOL!

      1. Arts Akimbo*

        Oooh, and one thing I nearly forgot– my favorite surface! When I’m playing with pencil JUST for me and for no one else, I love Yupo synthetic paper! You can do so much with it! I go to town on it with my Blackwing and an electric eraser, even a razor blade to gently scrape out white highlights, and it is just pure fun!

    6. wingmaster*

      Nowadays, I draw using my S4 galaxy tablet. I mostly draw fashion illustrations, but I like to go on the subreddit /r/redditgetsdrawn sometimes for different inspiration.

    7. Reba*

      I’m trained as an artist, but fallen mostly out of it. (My degree was in painting/printmaking, both hard to do without a studio space or equipment!) I want to get into field sketching, something I used to do sort of like journaling when I traveled, but now the idea is to do plein air stuff while hiking. We hike a lot, and my spouse has recently leveled up his camera gear… meaning that I can end up twiddling my thumbs for a while sometimes when he is working on a shot.

      So I’m planning to try colored pencil work, which I’ve not heavily used before, in that setting, hopefully to give me something to do and to enjoy my outdoor time in a different way.

      1. Nela*

        That’s a great idea!
        Sadly I’m the only artist and photographer in my hiking group, so I’m always lagging behind everyone…
        If you’re more experienced with painting, I recommend getting a small watercolor palette and a waterbrush. I find that it’s lighter than carrying around a set of colored pencils.

    8. Even Steven*

      Animals! I keep the book How To Draw Almost Any Animal by Chibu Miyata in my desk at work, and doodle one animal a day while I eat lunch at my desk. I draw them in ballpoint pen on yellow legal pads, then color in with colored pencils. It becoming A Thing – colleagues will request specific animals on specific days. For example, Friday was Octopus Day, for a colleague who requested it on her birthday.

    9. The pest, Ramona*

      The notebooks of my educational years were filled with doodles (mostly paisley or geometric designs). I used whatever pens or pencils were on hand (basic school supplies).
      Much later I was told that doodling helps cement information we are taking in at that time into our memory banks.
      (Note to self: start doodling again!)

  2. Clumsy nail painter*

    I managed to spill green nail polish on my cream-coloured wool carpet *happy days*

    Any idea how I get it off? I don’t want to try remover without knowing if it works in case I damage the wool, and the pile is not long enough to cut out the stain.

    I’m in the UK.

    1. Approval is optional*

      Remover should work – though try to scrape off as much as you can first. Can you test the remover on a wee bit in a ‘hidden’ spot?- maybe the bit that’s up against the skirting board (pull it away so you test it on the length that’s against the board rather than the top of the pile – that way it’ll be hidden by the board once you let it go back to it’s normal position.)

    2. Ron McDon*

      Sorry, no suggestions apart from looking on Jolie Kerr’s site (ask a clean person). She knows how to get anything out of anything!

      What we’ve done before when a stain wouldn’t come out was cut a square of carpet out where the stain is, and cut a square out from under a sofa or something, to switch them over. It can work without being noticeable, depending upon how worn your carpet is, and if there’s a pattern on it!

      1. valentine*

        Nail polish: ♪ Pour some sugar on me ♪

        I think you’re meant to use a lot and then sweep or pick it right up.

    3. Reliquary*

      I once successfully removed nail polish from a beige/tan wool carpet by scrubbing it with Windex, and blotting with a sturdy white cotton cloth. Do you have that sort of blue spray window cleaner in the UK? It should contain ammonia. Try it if you do!

    4. JDC*

      Now that it is dry I don’t have good advice but next time poor salt on it. It will then absorb into the salt, become flakey and you can basically vacuum it up once it absorbed and dried. Some nail polish remover has helped me but you NEED to test it on a patch somewhere hidden to see it it’ll stain your rug. It may not on a cream rug but it could.

    5. German Girl*

      Can you hang that carpet out to dry or is it fixed to your floor? If you can hang it, go with the remover and then immediately rinse with lots of water to get the remover out. I wouldn’t do this on darker material but I think cream is light enough that you won’t notice a slight discoloration due to the remover if it happens at all.

    6. notmyusualname*

      Acetone (not a blend as is common in most beauty-product nail polish removers) should take care of it and not greatly affect the wool. The difficulty is going to be once the polish softens up, scrubbing/daubing/rubbing it away without creating a wider, lighter spot. It may take a lot of acetone and elbow grease to get it truly “rinsed” away.
      I don’t know what the UK’s laws are around selling it, but in the US, you can still buy a gallon can of pure acetone at hardware stores. If possible, you want to tackle this chore outdoors. The fumes can be strong.

    7. JobHunter*

      I once dropped a bottle of purple nail polish on a beige carpet. I tried acetone-free nail polish remover, which didn’t work. A few years later I purchased a carpet spot cleaner and used the cleaning solution for it. The polish came right out without harming the rug.

      1. Clumsy nail painter*

        Thanks, I’ll have a look for the carpet spot cleaner, and if I can’t find it I’ll try the Windolene (Windex?) that Reliquary suggested as another option.

    8. gsa*

      Flood it with water, and soak up the water with a clean white towel, Repeatedly.

      Any solvent will remove the color from the wool.

  3. Lifesempossible*

    Hi everyone! Happy weekend! Young adult here looking for everyone’s best money advice.

    I love personal finance and have been self-educating for ten years now, yet as I enter into the next stages of my life (marriage, home, kids someday), I am wondering if there’s some tidbits out there that could change my life.

    For reference, I already contribute what I can afford to 401k, HSA, have short term disability insurance, and zero credit card debt. (Working on getting those student loans down.) My fiancé and I are trying our best to live within our means, but we have nothing left to cut from the budget. So I’d love to get some practical wisdom :)

    1. Lena Clare*

      I found You Need A Budget absolutely invaluable and have saved loads of money from areas I didn’t think were possible.
      They do a free 34 day trial, and free 12 months for students. I think the subscription fee is $8/month or something. I think it’s worth it.

      I also have an offers scheme from my employers, where I can buy discounted goods, so check to see if your employers offer anything like that. I have a reloadable gift card for my local supermarket e.g. which I load up with money at the beginning of the month ance het a 4% discount on. It doesn’t sound like much but if I’m spending £300/ month on groceries, toiletries and pet goods, the discount soon adds up.

      I also use a shopping site called topcashback dot co dot UK. Obviously this isn’t suitable for you, it sounds like you’re in the US, but just Google to see if there’s anything comparable. You search for your online store through the website and they say if there’s any offers on. If you go through their link, you get cashback in your account.
      I’ve saved hundreds of pounds doing this.

      Have fun!

      1. German Girl*

        The thing about reward schemes is that they’re not really free – you’re paying for them with your data. https://xkcd.com/2006/
        Of course that might be a deal you’re willing to make, but you should be aware of it.

    2. Lemonish*

      It sounds like you’re doing great, and my advice might honestly be too basic for you. But…A friend told me about this “trick” for saving money that’s quite interesting. It’s easiest to start at the beginning of the year. Each week, you save the same number of dollars as the week of the year. So the first week, you save 1. The next week, 2, etc. By the end of the year, if you’re able to make the deposit each week, you have over 1300 dollars. Of course, some weeks are not great and I’ve arranged things in the past so that I double the amount each week until the middle of the year, then “un-double” the amount to avoid having to come up with over 200 at Christmas time.

      It’s an easy way to get into a saving habit, and you have a nice pot of cash for emergencies or whatever. (I suppose you could also do this as an online account and transfer money into it each week, but I like having a stash of cash just in case.) It’s also a good way to put away money that’s leftover after budgeting, which might have gotten spent otherwise.

    3. German Girl*

      Personally I like to read the hot network questions on money Stackexchange (link in reply). It’s pretty US centric but some good general advice here and there and just interesting to see how others find different solutions to various money related goals.

    4. YetAnotherUsername*

      Personally I would focus on clearing the student loan and buying a house or apartment before contributing to a pension.

      1. Lionheart*

        Hm interested in hearing why you think that. İ have a term deposit set to mature in five years (I’ll be 42). İ originally set it up to be used as a pension fund, but as the date gets closer I’m wondering if I’d be better off paying off my mortgage and then starting the pension fund again. İt’s a little daunting having no pension savings in my 40s, but then again I’ll own a house and still have two decades to save some more….

        1. YetAnotherUsername*

          Tbh I wouldn’t give you the same advice! 42 is definitely on the “have a pension sorted” side, but OP is a self described “young person” so presumably has a bit of time before having to worry about pensions.

          Imo pensions are less important for younger people because:
          1 pensions are uncertain. I know a lot of people who lost a lot or even all of their pension in the crash. There could be 2 more recessions between now and retirement depending on how young you are, so I wouldn’t put my faith in financial institutions over such a long time
          2 assuming there is interest on the loan, I would always focus on paying off the loan quickly to reduce the overall interest burden. If you pay 5% interest per year, then every $100 you pay off early will save you $5 every year for the original duration of the loan. If the original loan duration was 20 years, that means for every 100 you put in you are saving 100.
          3 younger people are less likely to be earning high enough salaries to benefit as much from the tax break associated with pension contributions. Where I live the higher rate of tax is almost 50%. Anything I put into my pension is tax free (I will be taxed when I draw it down). So for every €100 I put into a pension I am only losing €50 from my spending money. So pension contributions make good sense for me at my stage in life (almost 40 and earning a high salary). However in my early – late twenties I was earning much much less as a result was paying a much lower rate of tax. For every €100 I put in my pension I was losing 80-90 from my spending money.
          4 rent. This is the big one. Buying a property is not an “investment” in the sense that it makes you money, but it is an “investment” in the sense that is saves you rent. Rent prices go up. Mortgage payments typically do not go up as much as rent. I bought my house ten years ago and my mortgage payment on a 4 bed semi-D is €1000 a month, down from €1,300 ten years ago. As your loan to value ratio reduces you can negotiate lower interest rates. In contrast a friend of mine is paying €1,500 a month rent for a 1 bed apartment around the corner. Rent prices rise massively. Buying a property is the single biggest thing you can do to massively reduce your housing cost over your lifetime. When you have a mortgage inflation is your friend, not your enemy. My parents built a house for £9000 in 1979 and their mortgage payments were £70 a month which was a huge amount for them at the time. By the time they paid off their mortgage in 2004, £70 a month was a laughable amount to spend on housing. Before owning a property, I would absolutely prioritize getting a deposit together and buying a house over contributing to a pension. My plan is to retire when my mortgage is paid off, so that in itself means I do not need to include any housing payment in my retirement fund. Which massively reduces the size of pension I need.
          5 pensions are not the fabulous money-growers they claim to be. My own pension funds have increased a little over the 20 years since I started, but not hugely. It’s like I put in 2400 and now it’s worth 3400 kind of thing. It’s barely above inflation. Pensions tend to keep track with inflation and do tend to outperform inflation, but they dont outperform inflation by massive amounts. The 200 a month I put in in 2003 may have grown to 300 now, but I can probably only buy about the same amount for it as I could have then.

          My personal financial story: when I was in my early 20s I read a bit of the financial literature and started putting 200 a month into a pension for about a year. That 200 a month really reduced my living standards at the time and had little to no tax relief. And even now almost 20 years later it has not gone up significantly. I look at that pension fund every year when I do my financial planning and I shake my head. Compared to the money I put away when I was older and earning more, it is tiny and was a total waste of money I could have spent much better at the time. I wised up after that and started saving in accessible accounts. I still Contributed a relatively small amount to my pension over the years (5% or so, which was the minimum requirement in most of my jobs), but I focused on savings first. I saved first for a house, then to fund long maternity leaves. Only after I had those things sorted did I start maxing out my tax free pension contributions.
          I now have no debts and have my mortgage on a favorable interest rate after reducing it. My aim is always to have 6 months of expenses in an accessible fund and then to put the max amount of money into pension as I can tax free. But when I was young, my aim was to pay off debt, get onto the property ladder (I rented a tiny room in a shared house and saved half my salary till I had a deposit then bought my 4 bed house in the crash), and save for maternity leave (I took 2.5 years off when my babies were young and paid for this with savings).

          Now I’m turning 40 and it’s pension time!

          1. Lifesempossible*

            I can agree to some extent! I currently am a student again and have the subsidized loan interest being covered, so if that wasn’t the case, I’d probably feel the same. I don’t go overboard on my retirement (I do 6% with an employer 4% match, but that is also designed to reduce my taxable income because I’ll have a 1099 with taxes, so I’m offsetting that). But once school is over, I’m focusing on those dumb loans!

          2. fposte*

            Though you’re talking about non-U.S. finances–money stuff is hugely country specific, and what you’re saying doesn’t work the same way in the U.S. A 401k isn’t a pension in the U.S., and it’s protected by federal law so you can’t lose everything you put into it. (You can panic-sell and lose the value of what you put in based on your own actions, but that’s something different.)

            Student loans are variable creatures, and whether you should prioritize paying them back over saving in a 401k depends on your loan amount, interest rate, salary, COL, etc. But you don’t get the space and time value of a 401k back later, so if your loans are the usual U.S. long term and at a reasonably low rate, you’ll be better off putting some money toward a 401k than paying back your loan ahead of schedule (assuming you’re not impoverishing yourself to do so).

            1. YetAnotherUsername*

              That’s true that I don’t really know much about the rules of student loans or us-specific pension laws. Perhaps us pensions do massively outperform inflation. If so pension funds are a much better investment. I think the advice i gave on buying versus renting is probably relevant in both EU and US though. However as mentioned below it’s a good idea to wait to buy your forever home. Don’t just buy willy-nilly. I didn’t buy my house until I was ready to settle down long term. But having your deposit ready at least gives you the option.

              1. fposte*

                I definitely agree with you on renting vs. buying, especially since the tax advantages of a mortgage in the U.S. were recently diminished considerably.

                In the U.S. a pension is a defined *benefit*–your employer pulls money from your paycheck and you get a specific, calculatable amount of money after you retire, usually annuitized with the possibility of a lump sum. A 401k/403b is defined *contribution*–you’re investing $x in whatever you choose from what your employer offers, but what you get out of it will depend on the costs of the plan, how the stock market performs, and what you chose to invest in. My co-worker and I could put in the same amount of money but I could end up with three times what she does.

                Retirement in the U.S. used to be spoken about as a three-legged stool, the legs being Social Security (which is the closest thing the U.S. has to the UK government pension), private employer pensions (which used to be much more common, especially in industry), and private savings. These days private employer pensions are pretty rare, so most people are retiring on Social Security and private savings. Some of the best private savings involve the tax-advantaged plans available through one’s employer, but even though it may follow the same contribution procedure as a private pension, it’s a very different thing.

                1. YetAnotherUsername*

                  Over here we just refer to Ll of the options under the term “pension”. Defined benefit schemes are pretty much all closed now. Most people have defined contribution pensions. I am not planning on relying on the government (social security) pension at all and my plan is to have enough to live till I’m 96 when I retire at 66. In my country at my age I can put up to 20% of my money into my pension tax free and my employer is putting 8%. I actually have 3 different savings pots from different stages in my life / different employments but I call them all “my pension”.

              2. Dan*

                TBH, it’s probably not a good idea to use the word “pension” when talking to people in the US about general personal finance and retirement. As we understand them, pensions are a “defined benefit”, which outside of Social Security (a federal government program) really aren’t a thing anymore. So when you say, “perhaps US pensions do massively outperform inflation”, well, there’s almost no way to answer that because it’s just not a thing for most of us to even compare to. That said, there are such things a “annuities” that one can buy privately, which function the same as a pension — you pay in during your working years for a fixed payout during your retirement. These generally aren’t a core part of a young person’s retirement plan, and are typically considered to be expensive, so aren’t terribly common.

                On the renting vs buying thing… it really all depends on the market where one lives. I live in an HCOL area, where “condominiums” (“flats” that can be purchased) are the typical starter property for ownership. Here, property taxes, condo fees, and maintenance costs are all recurring expenses above and beyond the real property costs that one has to budget for and do not contribute to the wealth building/rent savings aspect of ownership. Typically, real estate taxes are 1% (or so) of the assessed value of the property, and I’ve seen condo fees over $500 (USD) per month. On a $400,000 condo, That’s $850/mo in fees alone, before we’ve gotten to appliance repair and other expenses.

                Right now, my monthly rent on my “flat” (apartment) is $1500/mo. The mortgage estimate for a $400k condo is $1900/mo. So my housing expenses would be the $1900/mo mortgage + as much as $850/mo in condo fees and property taxes, for a total of $2750/mo. Let’s just say I’m in no hurry to buy that condo.

                1. YetAnotherUsername*

                  Wow that’s crazy. Yes where I live it’s definitely cheaper in the medium term to buy than rent, but it sounds like it’s the exact opposite where you live. I would not be buying in that scenario either!

                  That’s really interesting that US meaning for “pension” is so specific to a defined benefit scheme. We use “pension” to refer to all sorts of retirement savings and social welfare payments.

      2. Overeducated*

        Maybe I’m trying to rationalize my own poor decisions (resigned renter here), but I think buying property over contributing to retirement is only worth the risk if you plan to live there a long time. If a move is in your future in the next few years, depending on where you live and appreciation, you may not pay off transaction costs.

        1. WellRed*

          Agreed! You don’t want to be saddled with a house until you are sure. I’d only contribute enough to get my employer match for right now and put that extra toward student loans or cash emergencies.

        2. Lifesempossible*

          Yes, that is the downside of home buying. My fiancé and I have his kids in this area, so we are definitely here for another 10 years. Plus the price range I set as the maximum would allow us to start turning equity within 5-ish years.

        3. Dan*

          I was having this conversation with my dad a couple of weeks ago. Sure, everybody bemoans rent increases. My parents live in an area where condo ownership isn’t really a thing, but for me is most likely to be my entry level housing ownership.

          With apartment rentals, my only costs are my rent, and my only financial uncertainty is the rental increases over time. With condo ownership, my costs are the mortgage, PMI if I don’t put enough down, maintenance expenses, condo fees, and property taxes. When you own, you have uncertainty in your maintenance costs, condo fee increases, and property tax increases.

          I continue to rent and live my life the way I do because for me, home ownership isn’t going to improve my financial situation all that much.

        4. Dancing Otter*

          For me, the difference between renting and owning is largely the maintenance.
          1) I don’t get the benefit of deducting my property taxes, because the landlord pays them and includes them in my rent. Well, you have to have a lot of deductible expenses to get any benefit from property taxes and mortgage interest under the new tax laws (boo, hiss), so that’s no big deal for me.
          2) I’m not building equity, but after seeing the real estate crash wipe out my neighbors’ equity, I’d rather invest elsewhere, thank you.
          3) I never have to mow a lawn, or clean out the gutters, or shovel snow, or call a plumber or electrician, or buy new appliances again. And if I don’t like the way the landlord is maintaining the property, I can just not renew my lease without the ordeal of trying to sell (and pay all the costs of inspections and commissions and transfer taxes). Same if I decide I want to move to another city entirely, of course.

          I say this as someone who has owned a co-op (great deal, but the neighborhood was deteriorating), has owned a house (moved for work), and currently rents a suburban apartment. I miss having my own parking spot, I admit, but maybe the next apartment complex will have that.

      3. Anona*

        Oh I completely disagree. The power of compounding interest means that if you start saving money in your twenties (for retirement), you’re so much better off than if you start later. There are charts and articles that show how it takes much much larger contributions in your thirties and older to catch up.

        1. Life is Good*

          Yep. I didn’t start seriously saving for retirement until my forties. Now, I’m having to max out my contributions just to catch up. Spend a little now or a lot later…..taking advantage of compounding now makes a lot more sense.

        2. Dan*


          On the flip side to compound growth, the thing that gets left out of every piece of personal finance math calculations that I’ve ever seen are “Time Value of Money” (TVM) calculations. You know how when things are compared over time, they get adjusted for inflation? Personal Finance people need to do that on a forward looking basis and they never do. Take my student loan debt that has a 20 year repayment plan at 4.5% APR. Everybody and their brother (including my lender) is happy to tell me what my total costs are going to be over time. What everybody leaves out is that my $500/mo payment in 2039 has a meaningfully different value than it does today. Sure, the interest component of the payment is front loaded, but the point is valid.

        3. Christina*

          YES. My mom told me, when I got my first job out of college, to max out my 401k/403b benefits at every job, at least to get whatever match the company offered.

          I’m now mid30s and have almost $100,000. I have credit card debt I’m trying to pay down now (3 years of being under-paid and 6 months of unemployment got me off my game), but I still know I have that money tucked away that was growing the entire time. I just got a new job that has a match, and while I would like to use that extra money from my paycheck to pay off debt, I also don’t even want to know it exists in my bank account – I want it to go right to my 401k so I can get back into building that savings again.

        4. The pest, Ramona*

          I believe in saving for retirement earlier rather than later. In my 20’s and 30’s any raise I received went into retirement rather than my pocket, despite my low income. Compounding interest works best over the long term. And it’s a lot easier continuing to have very little than it is to downsize expectations if there’s a change for the worse in circumstance.
          I also never carried credit card debt and paid off loans as soon as I could. With each paycheck, after paying bills (the immediately due bills and ahead on anything coming up) I only kept enough cash to buy groceries. Any money left over went into the house buying fund.
          It was a frugal life, but we didn’t go hungry or lack shelter. And we not only saved for retirement but also bought a home.

      4. Thankful for AAM*

        Tje compounding interest plus employer match (if there is one) means contributing to a 401k more important than paying down the student debt.

        1. Door Guy*

          My employer matches 4% if I put in 5%+, and it’s vested immediately so none of that “we give you this much money but you only ACTUALLY get so much depending on how long you work for us”. Thankfully, I was at my last job long enough to be “fully vested”, although their match was variable, but the best it ever got was .5% up to 3%.

          1. Dan*

            I’m oversimplifying my employer match a tad, but more or less they match 100% of my contributions up to 10% of my income. There’s a one year waiting period for the match, but after that, everybody is 100% vested.

            That match is pretty high, and as a result, I’ve had to adjust how I’ve paid down other debt to account for that. I mean, I’ve had to cough up $400/mo out of pocket to get the match that I otherwise would have used for debt payment.

            1. A few things are nice*

              I got an 8% match for my first five years (vested immediately), then after 5 years I don’t have to put in *anything* and the company still puts in 8% of my salary. I mean, I still contribute too, but I love the “match”. Nice knowing I’m investing with a minimum of effort.

            2. Christina*

              That’s awesome! My last job did a 5% match, but also did a “free” 5% for everyone. It was awesome, and I definitely maxed that out.

        2. Meepmeep*

          This is assuming that you will never have a catastrophic event happen to you. If you lose your job, that $600/month in student loan payments is going to weigh very hard on you. And student loans are not dischargeable in bankruptcy.

          1. Dan*

            Federal student loans have an astronomical amount of forbearance and deferment options available in the case of “catastrophic” events such as a job loss. I once looked at it, and I think I figured that one could go three years before having to worry about an actual default. On top of that, there’s interest only and income based repayment plans that can be utilized before default would become a thing.

      5. Jules the 3rd*

        Nah, compounding interest really works for you over 40 years. Also, US student loan interest *should* be 4 – 7% (if it’s more than 6%, look into refinancing! I just did this with SoFi, they seem ok). US stock market, over the last 100 years, including both the Depression and the Great Recession, has returns avg 8%. You have to hold through the recessions (like the one coming up in the next 12 – 18mo) and hold for the long term, but you’ll end up with more money at age 60 if you split it between student loans and 401K / IRA than if you pay down the loans first then start on the 401K / IRA.

        Do just put it in a whole market index fund with low fees (0.25% or less; some are 0.10%).

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          Housing – it really depends on how long you’re going to stay and what your local market looks like. In my market (regular growth of 1 – 3%, new 3BR about 300K, 2br rent avg 1K/mo): 3 years or less: rent . 3 – 6 years: condo or townhouse. Over 6 years: single fam house.

      6. Clisby*

        If I got an employer match on some of it (as is common with 401ks in the US) I’d do my best to put in enough to get the max employer contribution. For example, the employer might match contributions up to 3% of an employee’s pay. So if your salary was $30,000, and you put 3% in the pension, you’d contribute $900 and your employer would contribute $900. After that, no match. It’s like earning 100% interest on that $900.

    5. Angwyshaunce*

      Sounds like you’re already on the right path! I’m not sure how applicable it might be for you, but if you’re paid biweekly, here’s a budget trick you could utilize.

      My budget schedule is twice a month, which roughly corresponds to biweekly pay. Second pay check covers the mortgage, while the first covers everything else.

      However, since I’m paid biweekly, there are actually two months out of the year where I get a third pay check. This is a “free” pay check that I can use for anything!

      This was part of the way I was able to pay off my debt, put some emergency money away, and buy some expensive fun things.

    6. Anona*

      It sounds like you’re doing great! 1 word of advice I have is to be aware of the price of daycare. I had no idea before I had kids. We don’t live in an especially expensive area, but pay $1100/month for a daycare center. Home daycare would be cheaper ($850), and a nanny would be much more expensive. Daycare waiting lists can also be crazy (we got on the list when I was 12 weeks pregnant or so, and got a spot a few months after she was born).

    7. Anona*

      One more thing- it’s been hugely helpful to automate savings/retirement contributions. Those things are automatically deducted from my pay or bank account right when I get paid, so there’s no question about whether or not I’ll save.

    8. Thankful for AAM*

      I think you are already doing most of it but the book the Index Card is great.

      Get it from your public library. And use the library for free music, videos, books, and ebooks (free online versions of all that too). And you can probably get free access to LinkedIn Learning from your library too. Maybe add to your job skills and get a raise from it.

      1. Ranon*

        Second the Index Card, it covers things better than any other personal finance book I’ve seen (for starters acknowledging that the social safety net is a huge component of financial well being as you simply can’t self insure against all possible bad outcomes without a tremendous amount of money)

    9. YetAnotherUsername*

      You might like the book “all the money in the world”. Its a finance book but it’s not about getting out of debt. It’s for people who already have enough to get by and it’s about how to spend your money to improve your life.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      One of the best things I did was lose a grip on the idea that I cannot prune the budget any lower. Once I let go of that idea one idea came to me and then ten more ideas came to me. I did a personal finance course that opened this door. They said, “Accept ANY savings, no matter how small and from anywhere.” hmmm. What they were talking about is forming a life habit. The ball started rolling for me when a friend gave me a tip to save money on the salt for my water softener. Sure the savings was maybe $75 per year, small potatoes really, but it’s more about the willingness to take advantage of the savings.

      I used to worry about paying too much. And what that gave me was MORE worry. I shifted to, “How can I find savings here when I make this necessary purchase?” And savings became a game for me, I challenged myself to always be open to reducing routine expenses. My water softener salt expense when from over $100 per year down to less than $10. (I now buy the broken bags. lol.)

      At first I went through my normal bills one by one. How can I reduce this bill? My light bill reduction went great, I reduced it by 50%. I put in timers, bought efficient bulbs that I found on clearance tables and I became more diligent about shutting my computer off when I was not using it. My fridge broke and I accidentally reduced my electric bill by $15/mo with the new energy saving fridge. Sometimes these bonuses come up. Sometimes I came up empty, I had no ideas on how to reduce a particular bill. So I simply moved on to the next bill with the idea that I would rotate back to that particular bill in the not too distant future. I kept going through the bills on a regular basis.

      Then I looked at what I was using around the house. I decided to stop buying all hair care products. This is radical and not for everyone. Oddly, I have more good hair days now than I used to and I am spending a heck of a lot less. But I also did things like turn containers of ketchup, cooking oil, etc upside down to get just one more use out of them. At one point, I estimated this cut my grocery bill by $5 a week- because I did this with everything. Funny thing, my garbage bill went down a little bit because it was taking me longer to toss things.

      I shifted to natural cleaners for health reasons but I insisted that the cleaners should not cost an arm and a leg. So I looked for low cost, natural ways of cleaning things. Now I have gotten into those “magnetic cleaning clothes” where you use no cleaners at all.

      Currently, I do a lot of tag sales and clearance tables. I keep a running list in my wallet of what I need to replace, such as “new lid for 3 quart Corning Ware container”. I mentioned a while ago that I found a brand new stapler for a buck or two and tossed my old cruddy one. It’s amazing how much we can do at next to no cost. But it’s a life habit that I stop at tag sales and clearance tables as often as possible. Sometimes I find really good brand new stuff that is fine to give as a gift for holidays or birthdays.

      I think that once I shifted to the mindset of “cutting expenses is a life habit” as opposed to just worrying about money, everything opened up for me.

      It’s funny/odd, too. My financial situation fell apart with my husband’s final illness and his over top medical bills. I did pay everything off. Now, my financial adviser who sees the particulars of my setting, commented the other day, “You have lasted this long on what you have. You will probably just continue on.” Yeah, I think so. You have a great start with asking this question here. I hope I can encourage you to keep shamelessly stealing other people’s good ideas about how to save costs and just keep looking all the time. The savings that I described here took me years to find, I just decided to never stop looking.

    11. Jules the 3rd*

      You really are doing great. A couple of tuning tips:
      1) Once the HSA is up to about 10K, you can cut down to just your annual HC costs (or to whatever your company matches) until you’re about 50. It’s an ok savings tool, but the limits to usage mean the 401K is where you want the bulk of your money. Add an extra 5K per kid (about the cost of orthodontia).
      2) I don’t see life insurance on your list. Get it before you start having kids. Get Term (whole is a horrible savings vehicle), make it cover at least until the youngest child is 18 (25 – 30 years, sounds like). Mr. Jules and I did 3x our salaries until we had the kid, now we’re at about 9x, which seems more than we need but would certainly keep either of us afloat until death.
      3) You don’t mention a safety fund – 6 to 12 mo living expenses in short term savings. That is worth putting the 401K on hold for.

      On tips for saving more: Money = Time.

      Go further down this path if and only if you enjoy the actual things that save money. For example, cooking at home can save tons – Leanne Brown’s “Good and Cheap” is a great starting place. Mr. Jules and I used to have a lot of fun cooking together, until we ran out of time due to kid and dog.

      Look at what you do enjoy and think about how to do it for less. Mr. Jules and I like movies (and watching someone play Zelda or Final Fantasy like it’s a movie), so we have a projector that can run DVDs, stream on-line videos, or stream someone’s game, and Netflix; we’ll swap DVDs with friends / the library. Way less expensive than $10/person theater tickets, though we do still go once or twice a year as a special family event.

      The other aspect of this is Money = Privacy.

      You are selling your privacy with rewards cards. I happily use a grocery one, but not any others. My husband uses a grocery one with completely inaccurate demographic data as his compromise.

      Do check work or similar discount offers, but don’t expect much. Compare them to what you see on the web. I found my employer had a deal on Universal Studio tickets that the web couldn’t match, but their deal on hotel for it was higher than Hotels.com. We refinanced with SoFi bcs they had a .25% interest cut rate for my employer, but the credit card and car rental rates are much lower through the actual company sites. Real mixed bag…

      1. Door Guy*

        With the Life Insurance – do it when you are younger and healthy! My parents never got life insurance (they are thankfully both still with me) but my dad had a heart attack at age 35, has an artificial shoulder, has beaten leukemia, and has been medically retired for the past few years (he just turned 58 this month). Life insurance won’t touch him.

        My mom had skin cancer that was thankfully small and fully removed and she had to wait over a decade of cancer free before she could get it. She JUST did this year.

        My wife and I got our plans when we were just turning 30, and they are enough to pay off our current debt and still have a bit left over.

        1. The pest, Ramona*

          I can’t agree more about getting life insurance if one has dependents. We started whole life plans when were in our 20’s and healthy. I’m so glad we did it then. I had skin cancer at 30, he had much more serious cancer at 40, life insurance would have been difficult or impossible after health issues.

    12. Ranon*

      One of the truths that doesn’t come up often is that once you get everything on the right path, there’s not a whole lot of life changing advice besides “keep doing what you’re doing.” The rest is down to compounding interest, multiplication, and time. Making more money is probably the next big life changer for you to seek out. The Simple Dollar is a good blog for this point, where you mostly have everything lined up, you’re at the boring part, and you need reminders about why you’re doing that part.

      As for kids- they don’t need much to start, and they really don’t need much that’s brand new (car seat and crib mattress basically), so buying used can be a money saver. It’s still another person living in your house, though, the budget impact is real (especially with childcare)

    13. Clisby*

      This might not appeal to you, but would you and your fiance be open to finding a congenial roommate to share housing costs? I knew a young couple who did this when they were first married (still in college) and on up until after they had a child 5 or 6 years later. The roommate was someone they’d both been friends with since high school, and it seemed to work out really well for them – it enabled them to buy a townhouse a year or so before the baby came along, and I’m sure the roommate’s rent payments made that a lot more feasible.

      1. YetAnotherUsername*

        This is a great idea. In fact I had a conversation with my hubby about whether we should look for a lodger again now that the kids are sleeping through the night. Rent in our area is through the roof at the moment and it seems silly to turn down free money. But we decided to wait till the kids are a little older and think again.

      2. Door Guy*

        We did this – we had a few good friends that we were both friends with, and one night as we were leaving their place, jokingly mentioned something about just all getting a house together since our stuff was always at the others place. He immediately piped up that he had thought about that too and hadn’t figured out a way to bring it up. We ended up staying for another 2 hours discussing it and within a few months there were 5 of us moving into a nice 4 bedroom 2 bath house in a good neighborhood. There was enough space so we weren’t all in each others way, and thankfully sound didn’t travel well either.

        Not saying it was perfect, but all the bills split 5 ways really helped us a ton to straighten our our finances. We went from barely making ends meet to buying our own home in under 3 years.

    14. Life is Good*

      You seem to be doing it right, in my opinion. We’ve always lived frugally and have only had debt for big stuff like homes and cars. We had student loans to payoff from our college days in the 70’s – certainly not the amounts young people have today, but we paid them off as fast as we could. Keep contributing what you can to pretax retirement plans. Great that you started so young! The HSA, is a great retirement investment….if you are lucky enough to not have to use it for medical expenses before you retire. Even if you do have to use it, at least it was tax free. Another bit of advice, if someone hasn’t already mentioned it here is to always strive to have the best credit score. It affects your ability to get a job, the best interest rates, insurance rates, etc. And, lastly, be sure to give each of yourselves an allowance every month. Even if it’s only $50/month, it’s nice to have that in your pocket to spend on yourself.

    15. Dan*

      My best advice?

      I find “personal fiance” to be just that — personal. I have trouble with mainstream/mass-market personal finance advice that is predicated on “rules of thumb” because it’s just too generic. My advice:

      1. Practice what I call “conscious spending.” Know how and why you are spending your money and what’s important to you. It’s ok if you spend a bunch of money on X when there are cheaper alternatives, if X gives you pleasure. For example, if you like going to eat, and you can afford it, it doesn’t matter that much that you can eat at home for cheaper. But the trick is cutting back on things that aren’t all that important to you. Where I cut back is on transportation. I have a relatively short commute, and owning a late-model fancy car isn’t all that important to me. I buy reliable, low mileage used cars and drive them forever. (I put 8,000 miles/year on my cars, so they last a long time. I’m forty and have only owned two cars in my life.)

      2. This is the big one, and I’m going to shout: DO THE MATH. This is vitally important when trying to balance multiple long-term, big dollar considerations, such as paying down loans/debt, saving for retirement, building liquid cash savings, and saving up for a house down payment. As a real example: I was increasing my 401k contributions while carrying $20,000 in credit card debt. Why? Because it was financially the better option for me after running the numbers. My employer’s 401k match is 25% of my contribution… up to 10% of my gross income. While I was carrying $20k on my credit cards (and paying them down, don’t get me wrong) I was getting 0% APR for 18 months with a 4% balance transfer fee. So that $20k cost me $45/mo to carry. With my match, I was getting $200/mo before even worrying about the opportunity cost of compound growth. So it sure made sense to maximize the match *even while carrying credit card debt.*

      3. Don’t be afraid to live a little (within reason), and live *your* life. You’re only young once, and you have no idea what old is going to bring. While carrying $20k in credit card debt and trying to save for retirement and house, I also manage to travel abroad for ~3 weeks or so every year. While international vacations have the connotation of being expensive, I found ways to defray costs with frequent miles that I got by signing up for credit cards. Many times my overseas flights and hotel rooms were covered, and my only out of pocket expenses were food and activity costs. Take into account that I’d incur the food costs at home anyway, and all of a suddent he costs don’t seem out of hand. Sure, I’m still out $2k or so for the three weeks that I was gone, and I could have paid my credit card debt off sooner — but my credit card debt costs would have been 4% of $2k, or $80. That $80 I spent generated far more value to me than it would have had I put that $2k toward paying do the CC debt sooner.

      Point being, do the math and live your life. Skip the rules of thumb business.

    16. Dr. Anonymous*

      Trent at The Simple Dollar has a LOT of information on finding more ways to live within your means and ideas for little side hustles to add a little to your income. He spends a lot of time explaining his reasoning and approach so you can adapt his ideas to your own life.

    17. Kuododi*

      My retired banker parent would absolutely love you!!!! Seriously, you and your fiance both sound as though y’all have your head on straight and have excellent goals for the future. A couple of thoughts…I won’t say never use credit cards however save them for a true emergency. (By that I mean something like your one and only car is gasping it’s last breath, must be repaired and it’s the only transportation between you and your partner. An emergency is “not” the newest style of blue jeans or the latest piece of technology). It’s way too easy to rely on credit cards for non essentials and/or daily expenses. Always be mindful of the hidden costs for credit cards.


      The old saying that if a deal sounds too good to be true then it probably is, well… there is a great deal of wisdom to be found in there regarding money management. (It also is very helpful when trying to avoid scams and con artists.). I wish all the best to you and your partner as you build your lives together.

    18. Meepmeep*

      Get out of the student loan debt before you invest or save. If anything should happen to your job or your health, you don’t want that millstone around your neck.

      1. Dan*

        Let’s talk about that for a second. Do you mean skip investing through a 401k? Few people would agree with you on that. Do you mean skip building an emergency fund, which most people would consider to be three months worth of expenses, which is perhaps $10k depending on where one lives? Few people would agree that not building an emergency fund ASAP is a good idea.

        Why? Let’s look at my student loan debt, which was $100k when I graduated. If I wanted to pay that down aggressively, an $1100 monthly payment would take 10 years to pay off. Straight out of school, that’s about the best I would manage. If I did not invest through my 401k or build an emergency savings fund, any disruption to my income in that 10 year period would be devastating, and I’d be very behind in my retirement savings. So the thing that I was trying to avoid would bite me in the arse anyway.

        Now, if I extend my student loan payments out to 15 years, I’d free up about $300/mo. If I saved that, at the end of 1 year, I’d have $3600 in the bank. Because my student loan payments are lower, that *six* monthly loan payments saved up in case of emergency. If I saved that much the following year, now I’ve got a small buffer for other things that could happen.

        In addition, most 401k plans come with an employer match. It’s usually considered a bad idea to not maximize the employer match. Between long term compound growth and the employer match, skipping that to pay off student loan debt faster is usually considered very dumb.

    19. MOAS*

      I am so glad to hear that As a young person you’re taking these steps.

      Im 34, working FT for <5 years and kind of totally fully ashamed it’s taking me so long to get my sh*t together financially. Not because that there wasn’t any education, there certainly was, but just me. All me.

    20. Christy*

      Okay, I assume that ten years of reading about personal finance has taught you not to listen to those who say to delay investing in your 401(k). Compound interest is everything! But if you’re savvy enough to have an HSA-as-savings-vehicle then I suspect you know that.

      Honestly, my biggest advice is to try to earn more. I have no idea what your incomes are but one annual raise negotiation can bring in way more than you can save by scrimping. Example: let’s say you make $60k/year. If your boss is proposing a 3% raise and you negotiate up to a 5% raise, that’s an extra $1200/year. If you’re already frugal, it might be hard to cut back in ways that get you that extra $100/month through scrimping.

      In terms of a home, if at all possible buy less home than you can afford. My wife and I live in a condo with a mortgage that’s 11% of our current gross pay. That gives us a lot of flexibility with other stuff. We could have chosen a house that cost substantially more, but wanted this neighborhood (and couldn’t afford houses in this neighborhood). This is the decision with the second-biggest financial impact (after your job).

      Wedding: you can spend a ton or not much at all. Easiest way to spend less is to have fewer people. We had a $8000 wedding with 22 people and could have done cheaper if we chose. It was a good balance for us. If you want more people, it’ll likely cost more. Biggest advice though? Don’t save money by sacrificing guest comfort. Specific examples: don’t just serve cake and punch if you’re having a full reception, because people will get hungry! Invite people’s known romantic partners. (You can only skip a +1 if you don’t know who someone would bring. If they have a known boyfriend or girlfriend, that person has to be invited.)

    21. Sally Forth*

      This is my best tip. Friends said this is the best financial advice they were ever given. When you get your first home mortgage you will likely go for the longest amortization and you will be stretched to the limit. By the time you get your second home, you might have kids. Renegotiate so your amortization matches when your children are in University or if you can’t manage that, your target retirement date. This way, as you hit your 50s or 60s, one of your biggest expenses will be dropped and you will have choices!
      It’s just a bit extra going to your mortgage a month but can take years off the length.

    22. Lifesempossible*

      I want to thank everyone who responded!!
      Sometimes I think asking the group is rooted in a desire of affirmation that I’m doing something right. I got that AND some advice. I do need to take Christy’s advice to heart and figure out how to ask for a raise. I think that’s holding me back. I am looking to graduate next summer with an accounting degree and then start my career thereafter, but I do think I could be earning more right now. And for the suggestion about life insurance–you’re right. I also appreciate seeing the numbers people pulled for their daycare experience. It’s eye-opening to realize that if I had a child right now, my spending money would be about $42/week, so I know that I have to finish school and get into my career.

  4. Lena Clare*

    I draw very occasionally – mainly it’s time constraints that prevent me – but I sketch with pencil on paper, any paper, when I can.

    I’ve always wanted to emulate the flower girls by Malaysian artist Lim Zhi Wei who sketches mostly women and uses real flowers for their dresses, and think I should start doing that as a hobby.

    E.g: https://images.app.goo.gl/4sQaeYbYDaaR3wZ99

  5. I can’t garden in the winter*

    What do you do to ground yourself in the winter?

    Backstory: as part of my weekly therapy and trauma recovery program I’ve been doing what I call “garden therapy” which is gardening 2-3x per week at a friend’s house.

    Weeding, trimming bushes, digging up a dead tree, etc. has been SO cathartic and helps me stop disassociating and be “grounded”. This is a new thing for me starting this summer and I’m amazed at how healing it’s been!

    Now it’s getting cold and gardening season is over. I live in the Rocky Mountains so we get serious snow here and I’m starting to panic that this effective “garden therapy” option won’t be part of my weekly routine anymore…without anything to replace it?

    I’m open to any & all thoughts, suggestions, ideas?

    1. I can’t garden in the winter*

      Notes for context: I live in an apartment with north facing windows so I don’t have a yard/garden of my own and my house plant options are limited because I don’t get a lot of natural light.

      I want to do something that’s like gardening (outside, earth-connected, in the sun, variety of tasks, lightly physical, not tied to anyone else’s schedule) but I have no idea what?

      I can’t garden in the winter! What do other gardeners do?

      1. Lionheart*

        I’m not a big fan of gardening, but İ love working with the fresh produce my husband brings from our garden. Canning, making jams, brewing apple cider…. For me it’s lots of fun and keeps me busy and grounded. Maybe you can go to your local wholesale produce market and see what’s cheap and have some fun experimenting? The double bonus is you get to give (or sell) your proceeds to friends/family/coworkers, so it has a social element too.

          1. Sally Forth*

            I make sour dough bread in winter. Just three ingredients- flour, water, salt. It is not a lot of work but requires overnight rising and a real rhythm.

      2. Not A Manager*

        What about general grounds-keeping? You could rake leaves, mulch flower beds, shovel snow when needed, cover outdoor furniture, prune hedges. I think some bulbs are planted in autumn. My father used to literally test the ph of his soil and correct it. This is the time to mix in sand, or lime, or whatnot.

        If you feel like turning mechanical, you could overhaul the mower and be sure that the other equipment is ready for spring.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        As soon as LED bulbs came down in price enough to make it feasible, we started overwintering plants in the living room. The white light bulbs (I think it’s the ones labelled 5k) are enough to keep plants happy. This according to my farm-raised engineer husband : “You know it’s true because it was on the marijuana growers Reddit. They’re the most scientific source out there!”
        I have had geraniums bloom in March. Fresh Stevia in our tea all winter. Battles with bugs. Learning the hard way that dwarf bananas can drip water from their leaf tips if they have enough water in their pot. And yes, loosening dirt, pulling weeds, rearranging pots to even out their growth. Installing LED tube lights in the wire shelving units so the plants stop listing to one side. Cleaning up all sorts of dropped leaves. Researching what I did wrong with the ones that didn’t make it.
        It has become something I look forward to aboutique winter. Especially the flowering geraniums. :)

      4. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Don’t write off indoor gardening. My very long post went to moderation… summary is that certain cheap LED bulbs make great grow lights and I play with plants all through a New England winter.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Also, go shovel snow– exercise, outdoors, and it is much appreciated by neighbors as a random act of kindness.

        2. Door Guy*

          My mom does that – she starts her plants inside with grow lights every spring so when it comes time to actually work outside, she’s planting small plants instead of seeds/bulbs.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            I just wrote a long ramble in the garden thread below. I think I have gone a little overboard with the tender plants. I’m having ideas like “we can’t use the LR fireplace until we get the chimney repaired next year so maybe we can put the spiky plants in there.” My husband used to keep a lot of these at work, but his new office with a door has no window.

      5. Seeking Second Childhood*

        More thoughts from my half dreaming, pre-caffeinated mush of a brain… ‘Rockies’ is huge, but if you are close to Denver, their botanic garden actively recruits volunteers.
        I wonder if any senior centers, group homes for troubled youth, etc. have indoor space that could set up indoor winter plants. I’m thinking in my area too, that I may ask my local food pantry if they would be able to add seedling to their donations next spring. Seed packets make for more plants than my rocky yard can support… but I’d enjoy starting my own instead of buying seedlings. You may have started something for me, thanks!

    2. Fikly*

      Can you identify what about the gardening is helping you? Is it engaging your senses, or using your hands?

      I’m wondering if cooking/baking might be useful in a similar way. It can be very tactile and can involve a great deal of focus. And baking bread is super physical when kneading!

    3. Fikly*

      Can you identify what about the gardening is helping you? Is it engaging your senses, or using your hands?

      I’m wondering if cooking/baking might be useful in a similar way. It can be very tactile and can involve a great deal of focus. And baking bread is super physical when kneading!

      1. Overeducated*

        I was going to suggest baking bread too – the avid gardeners and the nerdy dedicated bread bakers I know seem to have a lot of overlap!

    4. Fikly*

      Can you identify what about the gardening is helping you? Is it engaging your senses, or using your hands?

      I’m wondering if cooking/baking might be useful in a similar way. It can be very tactile and can involve a great deal of focus. And baking bread is super physical when kneading!

    5. Jules the First*

      I get my “garden therapy” working with the horses (first other people’s, now my own). Stables are almost always short of hands through the winter to carry hay, fill water buckets, shovel muck, sweep up, and brush mud out of horses – yards are full of kids all summer, but in the winter when it’s cold and school is in session, they often welcome extra hands, even inexperienced ones. Is there something like that near you?

      Or what about dog walking? Is there someone in the neighbourhood who is comfortable walking their pooch in summer but less comfortable in the winter when it’s cold and slippery?

      Or heck, even snow shovelling?

      1. Jane of all Trades*

        I was going to suggest that too – I use riding as my therapy. I find that when I’m in the barn, I have to focus 100% on the horses, and on my body (giving the right cues ecc), so my brain switches off. And grooming the horses is therapeutic too. I always notice how much happier I am right after, and if I don’t get to go for a week I also notice increased anxiety. Maybe you would find it similarly beneficial?
        I also will say that it doesn’t have that pressure (in my view) that people can feel in a gym (the feeling that you’re not fit enough to be there, ecc – not that anybody should feel like that but I do experience it).
        Best of luck!

    6. Morning Reader*

      Snow shoveling? Or snow/ice sculpting? I am a bit stumped with the “outside, in the sun” requirement combined with the “serious snow” situation as they seem mutually exclusive. However I know Rocky Mountain folks tend to enjoying skiing and other snowy activities and they can keep you quite warm once you get going. If there are indoor gardening opportunities like a greenhouse at your local botanical garden, maybe you could get involved in that as a volunteer.

      Meanwhile I will second the indoor gardening with lights suggestion. My BIL is quite the gardener and he grows marijuana (legally) indoors all year round but also uses the lights to start his spring plantings of tomatoes, etc., early so they are ready to be planted outside after the last frost. Also gardeners seem to enjoy planning, paging through seed catalogs, dreaming of spring, in the winter months.

      If you really need sun and warmth outdoors all year round, you may have to relocate or become a snowbird. Good luck to you!

    7. LibbyG*

      Is there a greenhouse you can get into somehow? Even if only once a month? That smell of damp soil and vegetation might evoke the feeling of outdoor gardening and help sustain the healing more vividly. Maybe you can water or plant, or maybe just getting in there can help.

      If bread baking appeals to you, consider getting a sourdough going. It would need hands on attention pretty much every day and that plus its strong yeasty smell might feel grounding.

      Good luck! I’m so happy you found such a powerful practice and I hope your winter goes smoothly!

      1. LibbyG*

        Another idea – start a project of learning all the tree species in your area. Collect leaves and bark samples. It might turn a light hike into something more grounding if you’re primed to really look at and touch things in the environment.

      2. Clisby*

        I was going to suggest a greenhouse as well. The city park in my neighborhood has a greenhouse, and invites volunteers to come in both to work in the greenhouse and to help maintain the outdoor plantings. (Now, this is SC, so outdoor gardening in the winter is a lot more accessible here.)

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Handwork. Knitting, crocheting, needlepoint, etc. The idea here is to keep the hands touching something and keep the brain actively engaged with making the hands move about and do something.
      I also start spring cleaning as soon as it gets too cold to go outside. Use a free afternoon to rip a closet apart, sort the things and clear the cobwebs out of the closet. I like to go through my clothes and line up what I want to donate.
      Put more time into self-care. It’s easier with being house bound to cook that nutritious meal or get regular hydration.
      Start your running list of tasks that you “swear you will do at some point”, put it on the fridge and keep adding to it. Then actually do those things.
      Last winter I started sorting for my garage sale that I will have this fall. I have a pretty good pile now and I am a bit tired of the extra steps it takes to walk around it. hahah.

      Grounding happens through touch and movement, it’s a combo of these two things. So think about things that make you touch and make you move around a bit, even if it’s handcrafting that still counts.

    9. GoryDetails*

      I was going to suggest an Aerogarden, a self-contained unit for growing plants hydroponically; I’ve loved mine for years, especially for providing fresh leaf-lettuce during the winter months. They come in different sizes, and provide a nice spot of light and greenery to look at in addition to whatever they produce. But then I noticed that you emphasized the working-on-the-garden part of gardening, and the whole point of the self-contained units is that they take very little maintenance once set up. Still, it might be something to look at.

      As for things to do in winter… shoveling snow is an obvious one, not exactly fun but good outdoor exercise!

      I’m also a fan of geocaching, which can be harder to do in snowy conditions – but many people set out caches that are winter-friendly (hanging from trees or tucked inside guardrails, etc.), and it does help encourage me to get out and about.

    10. Ranon*

      Could you volunteer at an animal shelter and walk dogs? Outside, exercise, living things…

      Worm composting is a bit like bringing living earth inside if you do it indoors (especially if you like worms)

      Maybe also look up Proprioceptive input and see if that sounds like what you’re looking for to some extent.

    11. Kuododi*

      I am one of those who kill silk plants. Needless to say gardening isn’t my jam!!! After my first bout with cancer, I taught myself how to make beaded jewelry. For me, it’s creative and keeps me focused on the positive. (Making something beautiful.) Also, something about the repetitive nature of the activity was something that I found soothing. What I did was simply check out books from the library so I could teach myself the nuts and bolts of putting my designs together. After that..I took off and have had a wonderful time working with this medium. My very best wishes to you. Blessings!

    12. Queer Earthling*

      I enjoy a temporary reprieve from allergies.

      But also I try to make sure I get plenty of sunlight (and supplement with vitamin D pills). I keep a lot of brightly colored things around because here everything just gets brown, and where I used to live everything went gray and white. We also tend to go on weird mini vacations because there are fewer tourists during those months, especially like January/February.

    13. it's just me*

      Bird watching and feeding? There are a number of birds that overwinter in the Rockies. Find out what kind of seeds and feeders they like, learn to identify different species. If your friend with the garden will let you, you can build shelters for hares and squirrels to better survive the winter. There is a book called Naturescaping which may help you.

      Or if you need to do something with your hands, would knitting help? Most of the gardeners I know like to knit.

      You can also spend the einter planning next year’s garden, and start some seeds as early as February indoors. (I’m also in the Rockies.)

    14. Chaordic One*

      I think just getting out and doing some walking is a good idea. I enjoy walking around town and in my town’s parks. Of course, you need to be extra careful in the winter because not everyone shovels their sidewalks and you don’t want to be walking in the street or road where a car might hit you. The suggestion about bird watching was excellent. You might want to consider looking out for other wildlife as well.

      I live in an area near the outdoors so it is easy for me to get to a number of parks with hiking trails. In the winter people snow-shoe and ski (cross-country) on the trail. It’s not a long trail, but the kind of think where you could go for an hour or two.

    15. Theydies & Gentlethems*

      Some fun indoor kits at various price points: http://nymag.com/strategist/article/best-indoor-garden-kits.html
      Or you can DIY it: https://balconygardenweb.com/diy-indoor-window-garden-ideas-urban-gardeners/

      Connect with groups that garden:

      Seed/garden books & catalogs to borrow or buy:
      Peppers of the Americas: The Remarkable Capsicums That Forever Changed Flavor
      Epic Tomatoes: How to Select and Grow the Best Varieties of All Time
      The Book of Seeds: A Life-size Guide to Six Hundred Species From Around the World

      1. Bumpjumper*

        Finally a question I can help with!! I live in Minnesota, where it is cold and dark approximately eleventy billion days a year. I’ve tried it all-physical activity, Happy lights, pretending it’s summer, getting out of town, you name it. My number one strategy to get through the winter: JIGSAW PUZZLES! They are calming, can be a solo or social activity, they’ll wait for you when you’re done, can be worked on for long stretches of time or ignored for days. I have a table set up and I listen to audiobooks, podcasts, or episodes of the Office. Sometimes I talk to the puzzles. I buy mine online, and there are a million different fun and beautiful designs. Good luck!

    16. 8DaysAWeek*

      I am the SAME!
      East Coaster here but I hate the cold and the dark. I love to garden and I struggle in the winter.
      Someone posted below about light bulbs that help with indoor plants. I have thought about doing something in my basement even if it is just a couple potted pepper plants.
      I have a pressure cooker and never really did much with it. I recently bought a pressure cooker cookbook and want to sit down with that to try some new recipes. I also need to get better about meal planning.
      Last winter a friend drug me on a hike in the middle of February. I was skeptical but surprised how nice it was in the freezing temperatures. You actually can work up a sweat in the freezing weather :)

      I like to swim and I have a membership to the YMCA so I can still do that in the winter.

  6. Lionheart*

    Ok decision making time. A friend of a friend of a friend needs to re-home two glorious kittens. They are so very cute, and İ have often thought life might be nicer with a kitty or two (İ shared a flat years ago with a cat, so I’m aware of the work involved. Here’s the problem, my husband is not convinced this is a good idea. He is bringing up all sorts of sensible objections, like “cats cost money” (we’re not broke, but savings are nice to have), or “what about when we’re on holidays” (cat-sitters?) or “you can’t even keep a plant alive” (ok 1: not strictly true, and 2: I’m not sure that’s a fair comparison).
    These are valid objections, but not without solutions. İ know that if İ insist, eventually he’ll cave. İ guess I’m wondering if İ should push this one or let him win? Are these good reasons not to get some gorgeous kittens???

    1. V*

      It sounds like you might be smitten with these particular kittens rather than the general idea of getting a kitten. Would it work to say “OK, we won’t get these kittens, but we will properly consider whether we want to get kittens in general and make a decision that’s not tied to an emotional knee jerk response”? I’m sure if you then did collectively decide to get kittens you would soon find some more available needing a new home.

      1. Lionheart*

        I’m definitely smitten with these ones, and feel as though it’s a really good opportunity that I would hate to squander. But you’re quite right that making the decision together would probably be a wiser move. The way it is now, any time we have a problem I’ll get a “told you so”. That’s fun for no one.

        1. valentine*

          I think it’s a definite no because everyone in the household should be onboard with new family members. The cats won’t understand why you’re forcing them to live with someone who doesn’t want them.

          Also: You want kittens, but do you want cats? It sounds like visiting a shelter or cat-sitting might scratch this itch for you without disrupting your husband’s sanctuary and with the bonus of adding to, rather than depleting, your finances.

            1. Angwyshaunce*

              Absolutely agree – but has your husband met the kittens himself? They do have a habit of changing minds themselves.

              1. Jules the 3rd*


                Mr. Jules and I have usually had 1 – 4 cats. We were down to 1 when a friend offered a cat. I’d met him, and he’s a sweetie, so I was, ‘ooOOoo’, but Mr. Jules was ‘we have one’. The next month Mr. Jules went to help the friend move. He called me about halfway through and asked, ‘how do you feel about another cat?’ Sweetie boy had hopped on a couch and snuggled Mr. Jules into submission. We’ve had him about a decade now.

                But it is really important for all people in the family to be on board.

                The objections are reasonable but not insurmountable: 15yo(ish) Sweetie boy is $75/mo with food and medical, but he was about $30/mo for over a decade ($15 for food / litter / toys, the rest on one or two vet visits / year); cats take care of themselves for up to a week with a food timer and 3 litter boxes; indoor cats pretty much keep themselves alive or tell you if you’re late. Show that you’ve thought about it by telling him initial costs (shots / spay / neuter / chip / litter boxes), how you’ll pay for them, and see if he’s willing to meet the kittens.

              2. Door Guy*

                That’s how we got our last cat…Daddy was the meany saying no (and refusing to go into my parents basement where they were, my parents adopted a stray that my bil found scrounging for food at work that was pregnant) until they plopped the one they wanted to take home in my hands…

    2. Not A Manager*

      Ask the friend if you can take them for a “test run” for a week. I’m betting that hubby falls in love with them.

    3. WS*

      Cats do cost money, but generally not a lot of money until it’s vet bill time. Check out the cost of pet insurance where you are and what it covers. Do you know someone (maybe a teenager?) who would come and feed the cats if you’re away? Do either of you have lifestyles not compatible with pets (e.g. lots of travel, extremely irregular hours, antique furniture collecting?)

      Two cats are generally better than one if you’re away during work hours because they entertain each other.

      1. Damien*

        Cats can entertain each other, IF they continue to get along as they age – sometimes something can happen to upset them and make them “forget” each other, or they grow apart and can lose their bond, and then begin to timeshare their home and can get into terrible fights.

        I have two cats who were absolutely inseperable as kittens, but around the age of 2 they became total enemies, either as the result of a joint vet visit or because they saw one of the many local cats outside our house and lashed out at each other from misplaced aggression (I came home one day and found blood sprayed up the windows in my bedroom and the living room, and my cats nursing injuries at opposite ends of the house).
        They are now 7 years old and have never been the same. If one enters a room the other will leave it, and they frequently guard doorways and growl at each other. There’s been times I’ve strongly considered rehoming one of them just to save them from their worst fights.

        My very rambly point is, i know that you said two cats are *generally* better, but i wouldn’t recommend getting multiple cats specifically for the purpose of entertaining each other – you can get interactive toys and plants to keep a single cat happy, without the risk that the toy will snap and turn on the cat.

        1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

          Yes, my single cat is very adamant that she is the Queen of the Household and that all human attention must be lavished unto her and her alone. Sharing is not her thing.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      In my house, I am a dog person and my boys are cat people (who also love dogs). I don’t dislike cats, but wouldn’t have one left to my own devices. I am also the landlord and the person who actually owns the house. So my stipulation on cats is as follows: they are not allowed in my bedroom. I do not provide cat care, either practically or financially. Litter boxes must be maintained such that I cannot smell them.

      So it depends on whether you’re willing to take on the labor for the pets you want and whether your husband is adamantly opposed or just kind of “meh” the same way I am.

      My husband has two cats, my brother has one. (And of course one of my husband’s cats thinks she’s one of the dogs and I’m her favorite person, sigh.) Financially – my husband’s girls are going on 4 and the only real outlay for them is food, litter, and a yearly vet checkup with appropriate vaccines. We don’t worry about pet sitters unless all three of us are gone for more than two days, which has so far happened once in four years. (When one of the boys travels, they take care of each other’s cats. I’m still off the hook, because it’s never happened that they both go away and I stay home, though if for some reason that did happen I would probably end up helping out. But I’m the last in-home resource.)

    5. Mimosa Jones*

      Plants can’t tell you when they’re hungry, can’t refuse what you’re offering, and can’t move to a better location. Trust me, cats will let you know when they need or want something. But it does sound like your husband doesn’t want them. I’d let these kitties go. Then you’ll have time to get on the same page with your husband and make a plan. Go to the pet shelter and visit kittens and cats. Calculate the cost of ownership and locate some pet sitting options. Decide together rather than strong arming him into this. You’ll all be happier about it.

    6. Book Lover*

      I love the idea of a one week cat rental if the friend is willing.

      Cats are close to no work – I mean yes to cuddles and snuggles and grooming but outside of that putting food out and changing litter and then more housework because of fluff. It doesn’t take any time and keeping them alive basically means leaving food and water out.
      Cost – orijen cat food for mine is $60 every 6 months or so maybe and you would double that. I love my breeze system and it is cheap after setup. We buy weruva wet and that is about $40 every six weeks but she doesn’t actually eat it, sigh.

      I have insurance for her at $30 or so a month, she is a purebred so likely more expensive than for a standard cat as purebreds tend to have more issues, though she hasn’t. You could call around for cost of spay/neuter and vaccines.

      I think standard here is $30 per day to catsit, including at least twice a day and cuddle time.

      Cats are great, totally recommend. But everyone needs to be on board.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Wow – $30/day? I should get into that.

        We trade cat care with friends, and have short hairs so no grooming issues. Spay / neuter here runs from $35 to $150 (special laser keyhole stuff).

        1. Book Lover*

          My long hair leaves fluff everywhere and I comb her regularly but it is fun for both of us.

          The breeder included the spay but I know there are low cost options in Arizona at least because of major issues with strays.

      2. Queer Earthling*

        Cats are pretty low-maintenance…unless they develop special needs! One of my cats has to take thyroid pills twice daily, and the other has allergies that mean we have to clean his face a lot. When we go out of town for any length of time, we have to board them.

        They’re still pretty inexpensive, even switching to senior cat food, but the emotional labor has gotten higher.

    7. Fulana del Tal*

      It’s not about winning. Pets should be a mutual decision. Not wanting a pet is good enough reason not to get one.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Think about other times where you insisted on something. How did that play out? My husband might say, “not sure about this…” and I would insist. He usually made the best of it and in some situations he actually enjoyed this idea that he was originally not sure about.
      I did rescue a lovely cat and bring it home without even asking him. The situation was not good, the dogs at the previous home would not stop targeting that cat. The owner was crying. It was difficult. The cat came to my house and she hid in the corner of the pet carrier. All my husband could see was two huge eyes looking at him. Finally it became obvious that she was incredibly scared and his heart melted for her. It was through her that he discovered he realllly liked cats.

      You know your partner. You also know how much value you place on this decision. If the decision is a low value to you then maybe take a pass. Save your leverage for something that is important to you. It sounds like your husband will get into the cats in a little bit. But I can almost promise you that you will end up doing most of the work. I am glad I brought my cats home, I would not do it now for reasons. So there is that to consider, you might think of it as a once in a life time thing then move on to other things.

  7. StellaBella*

    Good morning. The kitties are so cute! Happy fall, autumn, to everyone. Bring on the pumpkin spice stuff!

    1. Lena Clare*

      They’re both very cute :)
      I thought that the machine in the background was a document shredder for quite a few hours until I realised they were waiting in front of it for food so it must be a food dispenser!

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        I originally thought it was one of those pod coffee makers! Food dispenser is probably a much better choice for them…

    2. Myrin*

      I was gonna say – he blep but also not really because it’s full tongue during eating. He BLEPPP, more like.

  8. Lena Clare*

    For women who’ve been/ are going through the menopause – do you mind sharing your *good* stories? :D

    Did you go on HRT or not?

    And…is a period every 16 days or less “normal”?
    Ta x

    1. Quandong*

      I’ve been through (surgically induced) menopause and due to my medical history was unable to go on HRT at all.

      Good news? Eventually menopause ends.

      I didn’t realize how much of my life had been affected by my wretched hormones and periods, and after menopause symptoms ended for me, my quality of life is way higher than before.

      In my experience, menopause was the gateway to giving fewer f*cks and being comfortable with rage.

      1. Bluebell*

        I definitely agree that the best thing about menopause is that the symptoms end. I had about a year or so of hot flashes, and hated it. I wore lots of layers and got really good at peeling off sweaters and coats. Now I just remember that time in my life and am so glad it’s over! I did have about a year of really sporadic bleeding and remember spotting for about 2-3 weeks straight. You should talk to your dr but they may just say it’s hormones and it will stop eventually. I didn’t go on HRT because of other health issues.

    2. Morning Reader*

      Well, I never had a hot flash, if that’s what you mean, compared to most friends of mine who have suffered from them.

      I would like to introduce a new concept, a lingerie or panty shower, virtual or real, where your friends give you fresh new undies when you’ve passed the one-year-without-bleeding mark, so lovely to have new stuff that will never get bled on.

      As for periods every 16 days? If it wasn’t happening before, no, it doesn’t sound normal to me. It’s probably nothing but it’s worth bringing up to your health care person just in case. Bleeding *after* menopause is a potential symptom and should be checked out immediately. Irregular and less frequent is how I remember the process and having to keep supplies on hand all the time just in case since it is so unpredictable. But maybe it’s normal for you. Are they lighter or heavier and more crampy than before? I was developing fibroids a few years before menopause and it made the periods more painful. But my doctor said after menopause with reduced estrogen, they diminish on their own. So now, no more bleeding or pain or cramps! That’s a good story in my book!

      I’d say no to the HRT too. Information was just coming out about the negatives when I was going through it so I was not tempted. However I did not have debilitating symptoms and if I had, I would have considered it.

      1. Lena Clare*

        I would like to introduce a new concept, a lingerie or panty shower, virtual or real, where your friends give you fresh new undies when you’ve passed the one-year-without-bleeding mark, so lovely to have new stuff that will never get bled on

        This is such a great idea!

    3. Approval is optional*

      I’m one of the lucky ones – maybe it was the universe’s way of making up for 9 months of morning sickness each pregnancy – and had no problems with menopause: no hot flushes, no mood swings etc. I use pessaries for vaginal atrophy but otherwise nothing else has been needed.
      Before the end of periods, I was incredibly irregular for about a year (after 40 ish years of being fairly regular) so I don’t think 16 days is abnormal, but worth talking to someone about if you are worried of course. For what it’s worth, my gynae said ‘most’ women have no big problems – just that people are more inclined to share experiences when there are problems, and websites/magazines etc talk almost exclusively about how to ‘fix’ problems, so we tend to assume they problems are universal.

      1. Lena Clare*

        my gynae said ‘most’ women have no big problems

        Yes, I think I’ve heard this before. Ty for reminding me!

    4. Jdc*

      Not myself but as my mom is a pharmacist who does compounding I recommend if you do HRT to look into a good compounding pharmacy. They offered all sorts of different options people really liked. Creams, oils, pills you name it.

    5. fposte*

      I do have hot flashes and they’re a pain, but the rest of it has been lovely. My emotions are on a much more even keel and it’s better for my Crohn’s.

      1. Lena Clare*

        Oh that’s so good to hear that it’s been lovely! My emotions are more even too, I have to say, although that might possibly be my antid’s.

    6. The Messy Headed Momma*

      After suffering through a year of debilitating hot flashes & 3 years or more of roller coaster emotions, I found a new doctor through http://www.menopause.org . She got me on bHRT s right away & saved me!! It’s been 8 months or so & we are still having to tweak the progesterone as I am back to bleeding, but at least my not sweating my “donkey balls” off & I don’t feel like I am losing my mind!!
      Next up, lose some of this dang mid-section weight!

    7. MissDisplaced*

      I’m in menopause now (I guess) and it’s been months since my last period.

      If this is menopause, it ain’t that bad!

      I suffered for years with hormone triggered migraines every month. During peri menopause, which lasted almost 10 years, I got often had cycles every 14 days, so that meant a lot of feeling miserable. But now, no more periods = no more migraines!!!!!

      I’ve had a few hot flashes, and tend to “run warm” but honestly it’s not been that bad at all. Waaaay better than my periods were. I wish this could’ve happened sooner!

      1. Lena Clare*

        Hmmmm I’m in perimenopause I think. It’s reassuring to read yours and others’ comments that a period every 16 days or whatever is not that unusual (but I’ll also check it out with my GP).

        I get debilitating migraines too, so that’s something else to look forward to when they end!

      2. Not a cat*

        I am 53 and haven’t had a period for about 5 years. I had hot flashes for two of those years and every once in a while, I’ll have one now, when I am stressed. Over-the-counter progesterone creams helped me with the hot flashes. I wouldn’t call them miraculous, but they helped. My last year of having of menstruation was kind of a wild ride, longer periods, unexpected periods, spotting but oddly no cramping. I don’t miss having my monthlies at all :)

        1. Jax*

          My final year of periods also was wacky — sometimes ridiculously heavy periods (OMG) it was almost like this really shouldn’t be classified as a period at all but some other phenomenon to convey how wild and totally soaking it really is. So many destroyed underpants after years of a regular cycle (keep some with you discreetly at work if you can and maybe even a change of bottoms/skirt/pants). And yes, not only did periods sometimes come twice a month in the end (after going six months with nothing) — but I also recall once thinking that a single period was now nearing half a month in length. Thankfully this really did only seem to last about a year.

          I know that there were many nights I got into the shower for a minute just to be soaking wet (hair and all, not even drying off) to try to sleep comfortably and some nights doing that twice. The hot flashes also thankfully only lasted about a year. I did not do hormones.

    8. PhyllisB*

      I have two things to say about menopause: 1.It does suck donkey balls, and 2. God must have a sense of humor to put menopausal women and teenage girls in the same household. There were times my poor husband threatened to move out. :-) The most positive thing I can say about it is my husband and I didn’t argue over the thermostat during that time.
      There is no “normal” for periods during The Change (how’s that for an old-fashioned term?) but of course keep your doctor in the loop. I tried a couple of different things medically. I can’t remember exactly what they were now because that’s been close to 20 years ago, (I started at 47.) The first thing I took had me bleeding for three weeks and not for one week. Then they tried shots. They worked great, but the nurse neglected to tell me that my insurance wouldn’t cover them until I had taken three of them (At $300.00 each.) I decided, “Well, women went through this for centuries without medical intervention, I guess I can, too.” So I toughed it out and lived to tell the tale, and managed to stay married through the ordeal.
      There is a lot more help available now so explore what’s out there and find what works for you.

      1. PhyllisB*

        I also forgot to add: Don’t think that just because you’ve gone a year without a period you are DONE. After a little over a year of none, my husband went on a mini-honeymoon and guess who showed up? Yep. Aunt Florence. That was my last hurrah though. So make sure you keep some supplies on hand just in case. Since I had young women living at home I had some, but I never thought to bring any on this trip!!

        1. MissDisplaced*

          Yup! I went for about 8 months without my periods and thought, Yea!
          But then it came back (with a vengeance) for like 3 months. It’s now been something like 7-8 months again, so I’m hoping that was the last hurrah.

        2. Enough*

          Yeah. It was 1 year and 5 days. But then that was the last one. Also 51 is the average age so remember you can go much later. I was 57 when I had my last period.

        3. Elizabeth West*

          Don’t stop using birth control until you’re pretty sure you’re done, either. This is how menopause babies happen. Women think it’s all over when Flo starts to take vacations and they throw away the BC. It’s pretty rare, but it DOES happen!*

          *is counting on it

        4. Arts Akimbo*

          Hah, good to know!

          I was so mad last year because I was counting down based on that “no periods for a year” rule, and I had a period exactly three days before my 1-year mark! Gah! Now I know it’s just a guideline rather than actual rules.

      2. Approval is optional*

        Seriously? Aren’t there are enough crappy, misogynistic ‘women are just a bundle of irrationality when those pesky hormones are a-brewing. And put more than one of them in a house together, whoo boy, cat fights day and night ‘ ‘jokes’ in the world already?

        1. Jax*

          Well, then there’s reality. Hot flashes — especially if you have a partner sharing a bed, or even a fricken office — are a real demon for both people and something damn near every couple I know comes to joke about, the scenarios and accommodations can be hilarious with a little bit of distance. You laugh or you’re not going to last. That is not even factoring into the domestic tales any kind of grumpt teen or wailing infant.

          1. Ethyl*

            I’m in perimenopause right now and the hot flashes are no freaking joke! I actually feel bad for joking about it when my mom was going through it. It’s so so so unpleasant!

        2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

          You don’t get to deny people real physical suffering, just because it doesn’t meet your preconceived notions of niceness.

          There is SO much of this going on with regards to women’s health issues. People get to experience what they experience.

        3. Ethyl*

          I have PMDD. I get actually suicidal with my period. Trust me, my hormone-induced nkkd fluctuations are real and not part of some patriarchal conspiracy. Trust me too when I say that going too far the other direction — assuming hormone-related mood disturbances aren’t real — leads to just as much suffering, if not more, than the dismissiveness of “women are all crazy because of hormones.”

          I get that your intentions are good here, but please don’t tell people what they experience isn’t real.

    9. Hormones*

      If you are on hormonal birth control and it works for you, (and your health factors are good for it) you can keep taking it to help with symptoms. It has been far less expensive than what I would have to pay for HRT, and has completely eliminated hot flashes and the never-ending spotting. Also my grandmother had her last kid in her mid-fifties, ha ha!

        1. Filosofickle*

          Oh geez that’s my worst nightmare! Going off BC, thinking you’re safe, then SURPRISE menopause baby.

    10. Asenath*

      Can’t comment on normal periods – check with a doctor. Menopause was fine for me – no hot flashes, which is not something I generally confess to because some menopausal women who have really bad hot flashes don’t like to hear that some people don’t have them. In fact, if I want to be technically correct, I’ve gone through menopause twice, once artificially induced for medical reasons and once naturally. No problem either time, and therefore, no need for HRT or other treatments. It was great not having periods any more. I couldn’t put an exact date on when they stopped; they just got less and less frequent until I realized they weren’t happening any more. The only disadvantage is needing a bit of extra care to avoid looking like a bearded lady.

      1. Figgie*

        Love menopause! Being done with periods, no more irritable bowel or migraines and more energy than I had when I was dealing with endless ups and downs from my hormones.

        Never took any hormones for it. Many of us who don’t have any major issues tend not to talk about it. Mostly because we don’t want women who do have issues to feel badly.

        I had a few night hot flashes, which I solved by tucking one of the small, blue ice packs wrapped in a washcloth up against the carotid artery in my neck. It would sit in the curve between my neck and pillow. That stopped any night hot flashes completely.

        As for my periods during Peri-menopause…they were all over the place from months apart to less than a week apart. I was very happy when that part of the process was over!

        1. Arts Akimbo*

          Thanks, I was wondering if it was ok to just get through it and not take hormones. Mine’s going fine so far, and I have no reason to do it unless it staves off osteoporosis or something. That’s the thing I’m most worried about. But then I think weightlifting also staves off osteoporosis so maybe I should just do that instead of messing around with hormones?

          1. Skeeder Jones*

            I basically went through it without hormones because I didn’t really have symptoms. I recently went to a gynecologist for a pap, after several years, and asked her if there was any reason to go on them now. She said no, they are mainly recommended for symptom management and can have other side effects that aren’t necessarily great for you, so if you are managing without, it’s not usually recommended to start them. But… I am not a doctor so it’s best to talk to your doctor to be sure that’s right for you.

          2. Asenath*

            You can talk to your doctor about bone loss. Exercise is good, and calcium and vitamin D supplements were suggested by my doctor. I’ve also had a bone density scan, which apparently is on the List of Preventative Management for Aging Females that the local health care system, but there’s nothing to it, and it doesn’t come up on the list very often – a baseline one, at some point, and I think one since.

            I suggested that PAP smears are hardly needed at my age, but my doctor disagreed on that one!

        2. Lena Clare*

          Excellent! No more acne or periods (I’m checking mine out with my GP just to be sure, but I’d heard that they could go either way rather than just less frequent), more energy, more stable emotions, less frequent migraines and other physical bleurghs, god it sounds wonderful.
          Bring it on! :D

    11. Lena Clare*

      Thanks everyone! I’m going to enjoy it and not worry about it (try to). And see my GP for reassurance :)

    12. OperaArt*

      As others have said, the good thing is that it ends. The better thing is that having periods also ends. No more hormone swings or cramps or headaches. I felt fantastic when it was all over. And more powerful. And free. And really stopped giving a **** about what other people think about what I should do or be.

    13. Dusty Bunny*

      54 year old here. Menopause is … almost done? Period still happening once every 6 – 8 months, so the clock resets. Periods became intense and more frequent (every 22 – 23 days) in my late 40’s – as if my uterus was racing to some invisible finish line. Not much by way of hot flashes, but after a lifetime of being too warm all the time (shout out to my hot, sweaty sisters) my 40’s also introduced a marginal cooling down, as in, not sweating out my pits every day, no matter the weather. And realizing on some days, I actually felt comfortable — not too hot, not cold. It was a marvel. And then when hot flashes did/do appear, it was more in the form of a hot, sweaty face. No big deal after decades of always being too warm, head to toe.
      No HRT for me. I could not tolerate the hormone issues I had with oral contraceptives, so I will not be inviting that madness into my system again. Now I’m relearning hair and skin care, because my oily skin has finally abated a bit, and my hair is drier than it used to be. To quote dear, departed, Gilda Radner, “It’s always something!”

    14. IAmOnlyInItForThePoetry*

      My own personal experience was that early peri menopause (mid forties) was awful. I was very emotional and would get angry or sad for no reason. I thought I was becoming mentally imbalanced. That lasted a few years and since then I’ve been good. I get some night sweats and mild hot flashes but it’s not too bad.

    15. Dancing Otter*

      Instead of thinking how often, think about how many days you’re bleeding versus not bleeding per month. If you are bleeding or spotting heavily more than half the days of a typical month, get checked out. Fibroids can cause that, and can be treated without a hysterectomy in most cases. (The first time, I had an entire year of not bleeding before it started again.) An ultrasound is the usual diagnostic test.
      However, other things can cause changes in your cycle, too, that are not as benign. Don’t assume all symptoms that occur during perimenopause are caused by that alone.

    16. Earthwalker*

      Breezing through the tampon aisle at the store. Never worrying if there’s accidental leakage that shows. No more acne. I do get hot flashes, but a fan in the bedroom at night, or a trip outside in the daytime, or chugging sips of an icy drink make those quite livable. Of course, I clearly remember the shock of “You’re Going to Be a Woman!” class in grade school. I thought, “My body is going to WHAT?? Seriously??” and hoped forty years could pass by really quickly. By the time I finally got to menopause I channeled my inner twelve year old, so I was delighted with it.

    17. Snuck*

      I’ve been battling non-menopause for years… and am currently sitting on a sofa recovering from a partial hysterectomy… I’ve got PCOS, which has caused me to have near permanent periods (three weeks on, half a week off, mix the days up a little, but it’s certainly not a 28 day cycle). Is it possible this isn’t menopause but something else? If you aren’t sure, get someone to check… I thought most women had a less frequent cycle as they entered menopause?

      The thing the hardest in all this is my entire menstrual life (I’m early 40s) I have battled hideous periods, and basically… doctors havne’t cared a fig about it at all. Finding a good quality doctor who can work with you is paramount. Not your usual one, not one that is dismissive, or won’t run the tests etc. Find one that has a wait list, that is the sort of gyn or hormone specialist that the midwives or nurses use (they know how to find good quality doctors!) and one that will run you through a range of tests that actually measures what you need and prescribe something individual for you.

      Compounded meds cost more but are uniquely set to your own needs… don’t dismiss them. Having off the shelf to save money can be a false economy if you then need to take something else as well to deal with side effects.

      Look to your diet, get that really clean and healthy, and keep yourself as best you can in a healthy body…. sleep is important, as is general day to day health. Fix a lot of that too.

      And… maybe… consider just riding it through. I’ve been on hormones for a few years (sadly I am not showing ANY signs of menopause, or we’d not have bothered with said hysterectomy obviously) and the ups and downs and side effects etc… are all kinds of crappy… If you can find a way to ride it through without adding to the ups and downs… it’s worth considering. HRT is also complicated in a lot of other medical conditions… so make sure whomever you see is very very good at this stuff. Don’t be afraid to say “This isn’t working, what else can we try”.

      And remember… there’s five times more studies into men’s personal pleasure (I assume the other word will get me moderated), than there is into women’s hormone related pain… sadly… the understanding of women’s health is poor and badly applied, and until we control funding grants and take over hte world it’s going to stay that way.

      1. Lena Clare*

        I’ve got a good (female) doctor. And yes, it’s horrifying how women’s health is not taken as seriously in general as men’s health is, but I don’t want to make this about sexism!

        You’re right, looking after my diet and exercise, plus making sure I get enough sleep (which is really bad atm) will help, and it’s good to be reminded of that. I went vegan in Feb and my skin is a lot better for it. I’m sure I can make some improvements, and I know I can do more exercise! I do want to try to stave off osteoporosis and middle age spread as much as possible. Bodies hey?!

    18. Not using my regular name for obvious reasons*

      During perimenopause I kept increasing the amount of bleeding in the month until the break was sometimes less than 7 days. I got anemic for the first time in my life, and my gyno recommended endometrial ablation. BEST DECISION EVER. Without having any way to bleed, I’m not sure when I went through actual menopause except it was much later. I’d get my regular diarrhea once a month for a while but I paid little attention to that since it would be for just a day.

      As for menopause itself, my body temperature is now much warmer and my version of hot flashes was during the night I’d get hot and wake up but would cool down if I threw off the covers. I didn’t get drenched in sweat and I went back to sleep. I never took any kind of hormonal relief and my biggest complaint is that suddenly it seemed like all my weight migrated to my stomach. I am finally, years later, seeing some of the vaginal problems but that would have been solved if I’d had daily sex and/or used the vaginal hormone cream my doc prescribed. Instead my husband and I just switched away from penis-in-vagina sex and we’re just as happy, if not more.

    19. Paralegal Part Deux*

      Not me personally, but my mom and cousin went through it nativity not HRT. My mom and cousin had zero issues (no hot flashes, etc.) IIRC, they both said they only needed a thin blanket during winter was as close to a hot flash as they got and were never miserable. Personally, I’m planning on going the natural route and hope I have the same results.

    20. Anonandanon*

      I think I’m in typical menopause at 54, I never had kids, was only ever on BC for a few years, and basically stopped having sex after getting married to my husband (we are still married), we kiss and cuddle a lot, but no actual sex, just not wanting/needing it. I do dislike the hot flashes though they aren’t flashes as much as just overheating (not sweating though) especially in the mornings when I’m getting ready for work since I am moving around a lot and take my shower in the mornings. We have A/C but the bedroom I sleep in never gets as cool as I would like so have two fans which help, this summer has been not my favorite and I can’t WAIT for the cooler weather! I have always been someone who did not mind the cold, and having extra layers of fat is probably a contributing factor, and in a few years will be relocating to Florida so I hope by that time the flashes will be gone, along with some weight so I will enjoy the hotter climate…but did tell hubby we’ll be coming back North in the hottest weather for a few months. I’m glad that most here have posted they did not go on HRT, I would prefer not to do so as well and as long as nothing drastic changes during menopause, I won’t be going on it. I do wish I could stop getting Pap smears too, since I don’t have sex and they have all been normal thus far.

      1. AnotherRedHeadedOne*

        Sample case of 1 but increasing or decreasing soy products dramatically affected hot flashes. No soy, no hot flashes. Surgical menopause at 47, PCOS, fibroids, endometriosis, anemia. The end of bleeding is glorious. New underwear, clothes and sheets to celebrate;) And there is a power and clarity that seems to arrive after menopause. Definitely no more f$%ks to give.

  9. Future mum*

    Has anybody on here adopted a child? How long did it take? Did you just adopt the one or siblings? What was the most difficult part?
    My husband and I are going to be talking to an agency about adopting next week and starting the process but we are still talking through the 1 vs more question? Age preferences? Etc. I would love to hear others adoption stories.

    1. Sparkly Librarian*

      In the process of finalizing our first adoption. US, domestic, infant, non-profit agency. We waited 2 years for a match, had an immediate hospital placement, and the placement was disrupted by the birth father. Then waited one more year before our next match, which was also an immediate hospital placement (baby born). That was about 5 months ago. We have 1 more post-placement visit and a month before we can start to request a court date to finalize. Your wait for finalization will depend on your state requirements. The agency we used is close to full-service (includes marketing, some legal work, and counseling for expectant mothers), but is about the usual (expensive) in terms of fees. They continued to show our profile for no additional cost after the first placement fell through.

      We’d like to start the process for #2 right away, as we expect a similar wait. This time we plan to work with a different agency that has a sliding scale based on income, and supplement their marketing with an online profile service called Adoption For My Child.

      Down the line we’d like to foster – either respite care for infants or long-term/potentially fostadopt for older kids. Need to do more research there but there is a well-known agency in our area that has a good track record.

    2. I don’t post often*

      I’m glad you posted this as I was thinking of posting something similar. We have one bio child and have been waiting two years to adopt an infant. We went with an agency that’s offers counseling to us, child, and birth parent(s) for life. Fees are hefty but reasonable. There is a large national agency that charges ridiculous fees, guarantees placement in a year, but does things like fly expectant parent to a different state if the legal risk period is less. Legal risk period = the amount of time mom (or dad) has to change their mind. In our state it is 10 days. In the state north of us it is 30. In some states that period is only 24 hours. We didn’t feel that was a respectiful way to treat expectant parents.

      Keep in mind if you adopt through the foster system, the adoption will be significantly less expensive. Think $2,000 vs $40,000. But the average age of a child in foster care eligible for adoption is 6-8. Check out adopt us kids for more info.

      We have been waiting two years and there is no end to the wait in sight. Our agency places about 30 children a year and announced this week it will not be taking any new waiting families until mid-2020 or later. There are just that many people waiting. I’m looking for other methods of advertising, but everything costs money. It is an industry like any other.

      We went with this particular agency because we wanted expectant parent/ birth parent to be treated well, to not feel pressured or pushed to place. We also wanted her (and dad) to have the support needed post placement and this agency offers that. In my mind birth parents placing infants must be some of the bravest selfless people ever, and we wanted them to be well cared for.

  10. Seeking Second Childhood*

    GOOD experiences with your childhood babysitter or being a babysitter or hiring one as a parent? This is for my 12yo who took the town’s babysitter training class, which gave her plenty of cautionary tales.
    Time for the fun memories!

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My next door neighbor was my babysitter in the 70s. Blond hair she could sit on, and the patience to play kid games all afternoon. I remember sitting in her room playing with a faddish little toy my mom hadn’t bought me despite my wheedling. I know it was a long time because I remember warm sun shining through the window…and I remember being chilly because the sun had gone behind trees. No books or videos–just me, my babysitter, and a little cartoon snake that moved when you pet its fur. I don’t even remember a radio in the background. I wish I had her patience!

    2. Weegie*

      I was the neighbourhood babysitter from about age 12 until I left school. Apart from being a great way to earn money (I paid for my first trip abroad when I was 16!), all of the children I looked after were fine, the parents were reasonable people who paid well, left me snacks and came home when they said they would, and nothing ever went wrong! I suppose I always felt secure in knowing that if anything DID go wrong, my parents were close by and could help.

      I preferred older children rather than babies, and I definitely had my favourites. With one family, the two children had a set bedtime of 9:30pm, but there was a Friday night TV show they liked that ran until 10pm. So every week we played this fun game where they progressively wheeled and pleaded with me to see the end of the show, while I started out by saying ‘no’, then ‘maybe’, and ending with ‘okay, but if your parents phone and ask if you’re in bed already, you’d better be very, very quiet!’ The parents also left me the best snacks, so that’s the job I remember most fondly.

      1. Weegie*

        Oh, and there was the family with the very young baby who was absolutely no trouble at all, but their Red Setter was an attention-seeker. If I watched TV, he used to get up in the couch, plant his legs on either side of mine and just stand. I either had to push him off or peer under his belly to see the screen! There was no reasoning with him, but he was very good-natured.

    3. V*

      I absolutely loved babysitting as a teen. A bit of time having fun play with little ones, then they were off to bed and I got to read a book / watch TV / do puzzles with no nagging feeling that I ought to be doing something. And I got paid for it and usually the parents left me some food in the fridge as well!

    4. CTT*

      I really, really loved babysitting. It was not the easiest thing I did as a teen, but it was really rewarding. I loved building relationships with families in my neighborhood. It was also the first time I got to feel grown up; obviously because it’s a job, but all the little things too, like coordinating dinner, and finding things to do after the kids went to bed.

      For what your daughter heard about horror stories, there were a few families I didn’t click with and either they never called me again or I “had other plans” the evening they did, but that’s like any job, and I think learning that early helped me down the road.

    5. AcademiaNut*

      I babysat from the age of twelve. For the first year or two it was with older kids – someone eight or nine who wasn’t quite old enough to spend the evening alone, but didn’t need much actual care, and were kind of pleased at having an older kid to play board games with. After that, it was mostly kids my younger brother’s age (4 or 5 and up), so well past diaper age and speaking well. I’d play with them until bed time, get them a snack and oversee teeth brushing, they’d go off to bed, and I’d do homework and have my special babysitter snack until the parents came home.

    6. Bluebell*

      I remember babysitting for twins and their big brother down the street. I had long hair and one twin would get on each side of me on the couch and they’d brush my hair and play beauty parlor. The only dog I remember from my babysitting years was a basenji. He was sweet but so odd to deal with a nonbarking dog.

    7. Texan In Exile*

      I loved babysitting. It was such a fun job. I got to play with fun kids, then trick them into going to bed early if I wanted to watch TV (back in the days of one or two analog clocks in the house), eat great snacks that my parents wouldn’t buy, and make money hand over fist. And that was in the days when babysitters were paid less than half of minimum wage.

      I earned enough to buy my SLR camera, a bike, pretty much all my clothes, and to pay for my entertainment. (I got a very small allowance – like a dollar a week, I think, and my parents didn’t give me money for anything but necessities, like some school clothes and school supplies.)

      And I am still friends with some of the parents and the now-grown kids.

    8. PhyllisB*

      I babysat all through high school and loved it. Made good money, too. The worst night was when I went to babysit for this couple I worked for regularly that had one child, and they were going out with another couple who had five children, and they brought them over so I could keep them, too. They weren’t bad kids, but when you have six children when you were only expecting one….and they didn’t pay me any extra at the end of the night. The only reason I came back again was because this was a really nice family and they usually tipped me very well. The only family I ever worked for that tipped. But luckily that never happened again.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Also wanted to say my oldest daughter took a babysitter training course and she cleaned up with babysitting all the way through high school. When the people at our church found out she had taken that course the phone never stopped ringing. And they would pay her more because of her training.

    9. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      I babysat for a lot of my younger sister’s girl scout mates. Most of them were great. I had one family who had the daughter and then 2 younger boys. The parents always ordered pizza or left pizza money and the kids had super early bedtimes (like 8 or so), so we just hung out and played for an hour or 2, I put them to bed and then the dad had a killer movie collection and a big screen tv. I would watch movies until the parents came home. Remind your kid that it can be slightly creepy to be the only one awake in a house that’s not theirs, so dont pick scary movies!

    10. Owler*

      My 12yo is just starting out! She has a weekly gig with a neighbor for the 30-45min gap when one parent is leaving a class and the other is getting back.

      “Mother helping” (playing with kids while mom or dad get chores done) is a gentle way to ease in. I hope your kid can find a first job…it’s a great way to build confidence. It also makes me want to figure out jobs for neighbor kids who are younger than mine.

    11. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I really appreciated knowing that if I got stumped, I could call my mom for advice! She never came to rescue me (but would have if it was something that I truly couldn’t handle and the parents couldn’t get back fast enough). I didn’t call her often, maybe 3 times over a decade, but just knowing that I could would help me settle and figure it out on my own.

      One of the calls she got was um, the kid just threw up and had diarrhea and it’s all over them and the clothes and the floor and what do I do? Answer: call the parents, put all the dirty clothes in a bucket of cold water, and wash the kid off in the bathtub. By the that time, the parents had gotten home and could deal with it from there.

    12. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      My start with babysitting was keeping at eye on a group of younger children during meetings that all of our parents were at (in another part of the same house), which was a good way to ease into it since there were adults home, they were just busy. Then the family whose house the meetings were at started hiring me to take care of their two kids as actual babysitting, so it was an easy transition since I was already used to being in charge of those specific kids and cooking at their house in their kitchen.

      I always specialized in school-age kids rather than tiny ones, because I liked to teach kids improv games and things like that. They really liked playing “freeze”, so we did that a lot. We’d also play various surrealist writing/drawing games (questions and answers written without looking at the questions first, continuing the monster drawing started by someone else, that sort of thing). I kept babysitting for that particular family whenever they were going to be out particularly late even as the older kid got to the age where they probably could be left alone because the kids liked having someone come over who would organize and play imaginative games with them. I never picked up too many jobs in my actual neighborhood because there was a girl two years older than me who really, really liked little kids (she eventually went to college in Early Childhood Education, and she kept babysitting until she finished her program and got a job in a daycare), so I mostly just had the other kids from that parent group.

      In less-great babysitting stores, one time my divorced dad thought it would work well to have me watch his date’s kid so they could go out on a date on the weekend they both had custody of their kids. There was no amount of money he could have offered that would have made me not mad about that that one, and I’m pretty sure the other kid felt similarly, but everyone survived. Mostly I remember being stuck playing “pretty pretty princess”, which would have been miserable even if I hadn’t already been grumpy about things, and having only brought a completely inappropriate book to read because he sprung this on me after I arrived so I only had the book I’d happened to be in the middle of. Of course the kid wanted a story from the book they saw me carrying, so I had to do some pretty rapid skimming to try and find something that was at least just weird rather than actively full of sex demons or something. (When babysitting, I’d usually bring James Herriot books or something similar for my personal reading, because those had some stories I could read aloud if the kid was interested. I’d also usually being a picture book or two from home specifically to offer to read to the kids. That particular weekend, since I hadn’t been planning on babysitting, I had a Tanith Lee horror short story collection as the only book I had with me.)

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Once I got stuck with someone else’s preschool child on a packed train (mother standing, child in the aisle seat next to me, visibly pregnant, in the window seat). The child asked me to read to her from my book.

        It was a Jilly Cooper. Joyful, but definitely not PG (sex, language).

        I pretended to read from the book, but instead improvised an age appropriate story out of my head. I have never been so glad to reach my station!!

    13. OhBehave*

      Several of our sitters would clean up the kitchen, etc. We would come home to clean dishes and counters, toys put away, blankets folded. We paid them more.
      The best sitters are those who have a plan. They plan playtime instead of parking in front of a screen. I remember one of our daughter’s first sitting gigs. She called the parents (our small group friends) asking where the vinegar was. They told her, no questions asked! We were having dinner with them and said she was probably doing a science experiment. They were very impressed that she had it all planned. She had a babysitting tote bag that was packed with activities. She was a busy sitter.

    14. Earthwalker*

      My favorite charges would beg their parents to have me come because I’d read out loud to them. Their folks never did, and I don’t know why, because those kids loved being read to! The four year old claimed he could read, because as I turned the pages, he could recite Dr Seuss’s “One Fish Two Fish” from memory, having heard it so many times. It was fun to have them cuddle up with me and a book.

    15. Observer*

      Be the babysitter people can absolutely rely on means you can pick and choose who you sit for, which means you are much more likely to have good experiences.

      I did tons of babysitting as a young teen, and I had a few “winners”, but even though I did need the money (not desperately, but there were things my parents couldn’t afford), I never had to think twice about turning them down a second time. I knew that I’d have enough sitting jobs. And I was also able to turn down jobs for good clients if I had a schedule conflict. The really, really lowered the stress level.

      Another thing that really helps is if you daughter knows she can call you guys if she needs to. If all goes well, it won’t happen to often, but just knowing you can makes a real difference.

    16. Lilysparrow*

      Over the summer, my 10 yo started being a “mother’s helper” twice a week to our next door neighbor, who has a 4yo, a 2yo, and a newborn. She basically keeps the older kids entertained while mom is home. She helps give them snacks or pick up toys, occasionally helps the 4yo with bathtime.

      It’s a perfect match of tasks & responsibility for her age without being overwhelming. The children absolutely adore her and hero-worship her, and she got lots of positive feedback from the bosslady, along with a significant amount of pocket money for someone her age.

      It was great for her independence and her confidence, and getting those sweet snuggles from cute little ones just made her day. Even dealing with the 2yo’s tantrums taught her a lot about patience. It was a win-win-win for everyone involved.

    1. Kathenus*

      Congrats! I saw it about a year and a half ago and am hoping to get tix when it comes back to town next year. Yes, a lot of money, but I don’t spend a lot on entertainment so I’m willing to indulge. The first time I saw it I hadn’t listened to the cast album and only knew what I had seen from performances on the Tony’s/Grammy’s. If I get to see it again I know every word to every song and have read Lin Manuel Miranda’s book on it so a lot of backstory, interested to see how different of an experience it will be with lots more knowledge.

    2. Kate Lathrop*


      Ahem – I had the good fortune to see it twice here in Phoenix – once with season tickets last season and then random up for grab tickets. It’s as good and even better. It’s life changing and uplifting. Bring kleenex.

    3. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      This is on my wish list for my birthday. I’m hoping to gather up the birthday gifts, my friends, and get some tickets for over the holidays!

    4. ThisMightBeVodka*

      Eeeeeek! I just saw it on Wednesday! Tickets were outrageous, but so worth it. We were in the third row and could see the actors so well. It was amazing!

      1. FalafalBella*

        It is an amazing experience. One suggestion– read Lin-Manuel Miranda’s book and libretto (the words to the songs) before you go to the show. It is absolutely fascinating and gives you an idea of his genius! You will have a much better understanding of the story behind the story and will be able to better comprehend the words of the songs sung on stage by the actors.

    5. MsChanandlerBong*

      It’s coming to our theater in 2021, and if you subscribe to the 2020 season, they are guaranteeing you tickets for Hamilton the next year. I subscribed early so I don’t miss out!

    6. Teach*

      I’ve seen it in Chicago as well as on tour – both were excellent! You will be shocked at how much the acting, staging, and choreo add to the story if you already know the music well.

    7. Katastrophreak*

      My daughters and their friends did a ton of fundraising and budgeting so the five of them could get nosebleed seats in Chicago – a four hour drive. They’re teenagers.

      It was amazing, and I’d go again.

  11. JDC*

    Very down this weekend. On Wednesday husband had his gallbladder removed. He had me take him to the ER about a week and a half prior in insane pain. Gallstones. So we schedule a meeting with the surgeon (they didn’t feel it needed to come out on the spot) and he says basically that it’ll keep happening until it is out.

    Now for some back round (and my husband knows this) my ex had insane issues from gallbladder complications. He was hospitalized for a month, in which time I never left the hospital for more than an hour, nearly died in front of me twice, had numerous surgeries to stabilize him before it was finally taken out and developed MRSA (which isn’t that uncommon but such a pain).

    So while with the surgeon I sort of blurted out “oh yes let’s take it out”. Husband said nothing and seemed agreeable. Also know my husband is not the quiet type. He will say what he wants when he wants (not mean just outspoken).

    Since then he has been pissy, angry but not yelling at anyone or something and on edge. I asked him repeatedly what is going on, why is he so upset. We had a talk about it and he said he just didn’t feel well. So I figured ok he doesn’t feel well so he is cranky and once it is all done and he is recovered back to normal.

    Well yesterday we ran into a store because he needed some new tennis shoes. He is asking my opinion and looking around and says “I need either white, grey or black”. I said “eh let’s avoid black”. I think all black tennis shoes look silly personally, like are you wearing dress shoes or tennis shoes from a distance. All can do as they wish but I just don’t like them. I also didn’t tell him this just basically said word for word what I wrote above.

    Well that was it, he got so mad. So finally I said “you look I’ll wait outside”. He was just being rude and nasty to me. Told me “I don’t care what you like”. Um ok. When we got home he told me that he has been angry since the surgeon because I stepped in and decided for him. He said I never took care of him when he was sick but expected him to take care of me. I asked what he was referring to and he said two examples: One when he had food poisoning at 3 a.m. (I had it too earlier in the night) and I slept through it. I did wake up, ask how he was, if he needed anything and brought him water, but I mean, what can I do when he is hanging over the toilet? He didn’t do anything for me other than the same I did.

    Second example was when he went to the hospital. He said I sat on the couch and ignored him. When he first was in pain he said “my back hurts”. Now him and I both have insane back pain regularly so I simply said “I’m sorry do you need anything?” He says no. Then he said his stomach hurt. Again I asked the same and we discussed what we had eaten that day wondering if he was sick from it. So we had a full conversation surrounding this. Finally when I realized by looking at his face that he was clearly in pain I once again asked what he needed and then said we should go to the ER, took him, and sat by his side until 3 a.m. Next day went to get his meds, some sprite, etc.

    So I was shocked he said this. I pointed out to him these things and told him I was truly confused. I also reminded him that when I needed stitches the other day I text him at work when the accident happened and he waited two hours until he got home to take me to the ER. My car was in the shop that day. I could’ve taken an Uber but it wasn’t insane bad so I waited, plus not sure an Uber would’ve been cool with me bleeding all over it. It was fine but Ya know, if he is saying I wasn’t taking care of him.

    He called me selfish for all of this. Not mean “you’re selfish!” but in a calm conversation. I explained the events and how they took place and asked him (calmly) what he would have preferred I do differently? He had no answers. I know his ex basically ignored him if anything happened, wouldn’t even drive him to the hospital in an emergency. I asked him to please not hold her behaviors against me because what he is saying is simply not how it happened.

    So back to the surgery. I feel awful that I just interjected. I only did because the reality is that it would keep happening and it was so awful to see him in so much pain. I also know he has had numerous surgeries so he wasn’t afraid of that part. I told him how bad I felt and that I truly was just trying to help so he wouldn’t keep going through the pain. I truly feel bad and should’ve kept my mouth shut but it was truly the best intention.

    I also have worked in healthcare and sat in on about 100 cholecystectomy procedures so I guess I just kind of know all about it so took over due to having all the info. Not good but still, from a good place.

    Well, he’s not mad or anything anymore but I am heartbroken. You know when your chest physically hurts from sadness. I feel like I just want to lie in bed for months. I know I’ll snap out of it but I can’t unhear what he said and I feel so many emotions. Sad, guilty, upset regarding him being mad for weeks. Upset that he clearly see’s how I cared for him as different than reality. I just am so down. We do go to counseling sometimes just to keep things open. We have an appointment next week so that will be a start…..and I have an appointment to start some on my own the week after so all good there.

    I guess I just needed to vent. I know he feels bad now that I am so upset, and I haven’t been expressing that but Im sure he can tell. It also makes me feel a bit like I cannot be myself. This isn’t the first time he has said something about me not doing enough. I do 100% of everything for our household. He doesn’t even put a dish in the dishwasher. My house is ALWAYS spotless, always. I really am happy to but when I hear I don’t do enough, with this on top of it, I am beyond devastated. It feels like any effort I make isn’t good enough. I 100% know I did right by him with taking him to the hospital and such and didn’t ignore him. I really do know he is bringing his feelings from his ex into this (she also did zilch around the house, ever…never even once cooked a meal for her own kid) but it doesn’t change how sad I am.

    Please don’t tell me I am the worst human ever. I really cannot take it and already feel so down on myself.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      I’m sorry but he is being very rude and condescending to you, and quite frankly, he’s acting like a spoiled child whose only concern is HIS needs. I don’t see that you did anything wrong here, and you certainly do not sound like a selfish or bad person, but a normal person.

      I don’t know if he’s always been like this to you, or if he’s lashing out due to pain and stress of recent medical issues, but it’s not very pleasant.

      Please take care of yourself.

      1. Jdc*

        He’s never like this, hence why I thought it was the pain. I’m hoping. He’s usually very kind, caring, considerate.

    2. Shiny Onix*

      He will say what he wants when he wants (not mean just outspoken).

      This isn’t the first time he has said something about me not doing enough. I do 100% of everything for our household. He doesn’t even put a dish in the dishwasher. My house is ALWAYS spotless, always. I really am happy to but when I hear I don’t do enough, with this on top of it, I am beyond devastated. It feels like any effort I make isn’t good enough.

      You say he’s not mean but he doesn’t exactly sound kind and caring. It sounds like you’re over correcting: his ex never did anything, you’re not his ex, why does this mean you have to do everything? The fact you say not to tell you you’re the worst human ever makes my ears prick up – nothing you’ve said points to that and it makes me wonder what’s really going on here.

      I think you deserve better. I would not go to counseling with him at his point. I would absolutely say for you to go on your own. If through the course of your counseling it becomes clear that this relationship is definitely worth it for you, great! Go to counseling together then. But honestly, I used to be married to someone who sounds a lot like your partner, and I’m a hell of a lot happier now. For 13 years I believed him that everything that was wrong with our relationship was my fault. But it wasn’t, and even if it had been, I’m one million times happier now.

      Big hugs. I think you are absolutely not the worst human ever and I think maybe if you get some space from him you’ll see that you’re actually pretty cool.

      Update us? If you want?

      1. valentine*

        You say he’s not mean but he doesn’t exactly sound kind and caring.
        With this and the wild extremes of SO behavior and the coincidence of your ex’s gallbladder horror, what I’m seeing is a lot of absence. He’s not. She didn’t. He’s not mean as in shouty, but is he silent? Because, even if you don’t feel that’s mean, it can wear. Maybe it’s fear of the surgery that sort of put him on pause, but does he usually hold on to things, then spring them on you? Because that’s not being outspoken. You thought you could give your own opinion because he wasn’t shy to give his (until now), so yo rightfully feel he’s pulled the rug out.

        He can cancel the surgery anytime. It’s not like House, where the girlfriend and doctor conspired to violate House’s consent by waiting until he was unconscious and using his power of attorney to agree to surgery. You’re nowhere near that. Your husband can also not have you in the room or, hey, speak up. Anytime. There was no need to stew silently and let it bottle up. It’s not even a “The more I think about it, I’ve come to realize…” He was mad the whole time, yeah? That’s not good for your relationship. He should feel he can tell you, in front of the surgeon or as soon as you were alone again. It’s weird.

        Shiny Onix also has a good idea in solo therapy. You might still want to keep your next appointment, so as not to delay addressing all this. I think his real issue is not his ex, but yours. If he knows you sat vigil for eons for that guy, he’s seeing your immediate vote for surgery as you not wanting to sit vigil for him (not that you should! I guess he doesn’t know or care about caregiver burnout), hence the accusations of selfishness and dereliction of duty. reflect on other times he’s done this, because some people use this to manipulate, accusing you of not being or doing in some way that’s behavior we conflate with identity. They strike there because they know it’s important to you.

        The real sadness here is that he wants your constant attention and doesn’t value everything you do for him, your family, and the house/hold. I guess he wants you to give 110-120%? If he’s going to complain, he needs to have a presence, not an absence, or he is setting you up to fail. It’s not sustainable to say, “Don’t do that. You need to do something. I don’t know what, but not that. No, not that. Not that, either.” That’s torture. It’ll make you feel gaslighted and like he’s trying to drive you literally insane.

    3. Cora*

      Clearly this is a very stressful time for both you and your husband. Both being the person having health issues, and being the spouse/caregiver are so hard. That being said, I think both of your reactions are very disproportionate to the situation. Your husband stewed for weeks over what you said in the surgeons office, and now you’re stewing over what he said to you? Counseling sounds like a good idea, and I would also recommend you both try to take some time and do something nice for yourselves, individually. Hopefully as he recovers things will settle down.
      You are not the worst person ever. I hope the individual counseling helps you as well.

    4. ValaMalDoran*

      You ARE NOT the worst human ever. You’re having a rough time, please be kind to yourself.

      The counseling together, and therapy for you are both very good things. Is your husband doing individual therapy? It sounds like it could be helpful.

      When my husband and I did marriage counseling a few years ago, I think the thing it helped us with the most was our communication. A big part of that was learning that we have to face/talk about the hard things, because otherwise things just get worse.

      Again, please be kind to yourself right now. And have a Jedi hug, if you’d like one.

    5. Wishing You Well*

      You sound exhausted from all the things you’ve been through. Being exhausted and discouraged/unsupported is going to make you feel awful. OF COURSE, you’re not a bad human being! You have nothing to berate yourself for.
      Your husband has a voice. He could have objected to the surgery. He didn’t. The doctor would not have done the surgery against your husband’s wishes. It’s done.
      I’m very glad you’re going to counseling. That’s a great place to unpack whatever is going on here. I suspect the problem is not about you “deciding” to do the surgery. I also think you need some recuperation time.
      Sending lots of good thoughts your way.

      PS My personal opinion on housework is if you live here, you help clean.
      PSS MRSA helped kill a relative of mine. Minimizing hospital visits by getting surgery gets my vote.

    6. tangerineRose*

      With some of this, it seems like he’s expecting you to read his mind. It sounds like you’re working very hard and not being appreciated. Counseling is a good idea.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Why is he angry with you instead of a surgeon? You said “let’s do that” and the surgeon should have replied something like “OK we know your vote. What’s the patient’s decision?”

      1. Myrin*

        Yeah, I’d like to know more about that situation; husband was clearly conscious and, even if in pain, of sound mind – surely the surgeon didn’t just leap up when JDC had hardly finished her sentence and immediately cut husband open then and there. I don’t know about other countries but here, there’s quite a bit of paperwork involved before a surgery and absent any outstanding circumstances like “unconsciousness” or “immediately life-threatening emergency”, the surgeon talks you through the procedure, the risks, etc. and there are several documents you have to sign, so husband could’ve interefered at any time if he felt that strongly about it.

    8. Not a cat*

      People who are in pain aren’t their best selves. And when dealing (caretaking) with them, sometimes we aren’t our best selves but that doesn’t mean we are targets, either. It’s not fair to you that he keeps a laundry list of slights/misdoings that he weaponizes when he’s ill. You most definitely are not the worst person ever.
      Sounds like you both brought baggage from the past and are reacting to it in the present. I think you should get some counseling for you, and then discuss with the counselor what your next steps with your partner should be.

      1. The Rat-Catcher*

        I agree with this. My husband had surgery last month and is not back to work yet. He doesn’t do well in pain and I am not a born caretaker. We are definitely arguing more than usual but we both acknowledge that the other is in a difficult spot right now – him because of the pain and the guilt of not being able to contribute, me because I am managing a Herculean amount of stuff right now.
        Maybe just give each other some grace right now and if troubling patterns still exist like his lack of contribution to any housework, address those later on. But this has to go both ways and he doesn’t get to tell you that you’re not doing enough when you’re doing everything.

    9. Koala dreams*

      It is difficult to take care of sick people if you don’t know what they want help with. Some people want to be left alone, some want help talking to the doctor, some just want sympathy. You did your best guess when your husband couldn’t tell you what he wanted. Be kind to yourself.

      The housekeeping would make me angry, though. People who don’t clean don’t get to have a say in the cleaning standards in my world. Of course, you might have other rules in your household.

    10. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      You are NOT the worst person. Not even a bad person.
      In fact, (you probably don’t remember my history, and I won’t go into it) – I highly recommend the counseling. You go, even if he doesn’t. You need to only own the things under your control, not his feelings, and I think the counseling – even if it is just you – will help you cope no matter what.

      Sending a hug… Not trying to add one more thing on at all, okay?

    11. Sue*

      He actually sounds like he’s trying to pick fights with you. I have no idea why, but it sounds like other things may be at play and he is lashing out inappropriately. Most people do not act this way just because they hurt physically.
      I agree with the comment about going alone to counseling. You need to unpack this burden he’s trying to place on you and see it for what it is.
      Also, I would rethink the stories he told you about his ex in light of his propensity to skew history. It may be that events were quite a lot different than he has related and rather than blaming you for his ex’s behavior, he is just carrying on with his same self-centered tendencies. Value yourself and take good care, you are obviously a caring and thoughtful person.

      1. Jdc*

        Thanks. I actually knew his ex before him. She really is a mess. He doesn’t speak poorly of her just has explained some scenarios. If anything I complain about her more (never pays on time, makes a point to book plane tickets at 3 am).

        He really doesn’t ever do this. I was in a bad relationship (not the ex i mentioned) and husband is so the opposite of that. He’s really not usually like this at all. I think that’s why I’m so in shock.

        I had appointment for therapy anyway, just because I wanted to (marriage, two moves, trying to get pregnant, new family, new stepson). No major problems but I just have been a bit exhausted with taking on so much.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          I’m sorry you’re hurting.

          I don’t want to comment on the full situation because there’s too much I have no expertise in, but I’ll simply ask you to remember in general that “nothing like my awful ex” isn’t the same as “perfect”.

          I went from a 90% a-hole to a maybe 30% a-hole, and thought I’d found a prince, because wow! look at the list of a-hole things he didn’t do!

          You don’t have to be grateful that your husband isn’t permanently awful to you. You do have the right to object to *any* awful behaviour, though you’re right to make allowances for pain/fear and human fallibility.

          I think the suggestions of individual therapy are great.

          Best of luck.

    12. LGC*

      Please don’t tell me I am the worst human ever. I really cannot take it and already feel so down on myself.

      Spoilers: you’re not. Far from it, in fact.

      Anyway, here’s my read. I’ll be honest, I started reading this and my thought was, “okay, your husband is being a jerk and he’s wrong, but also he went through a lot.” He had a traumatic experience – having his gallbladder removed in an emergency surgery, and it sounds like he’s a guy that really values his own agency – and I felt like he was reacting to the situation and took it out on you. (But I will say that you did everything right, it seems. Including deciding to approve removing his gallbladder.) Basically, this was bad, but didn’t ring that many alarm bells to me.

      And then I got to the end, where you wrote this (I bolded the really alarming things to me):

      This isn’t the first time he has said something about me not doing enough. I do 100% of everything for our household. He doesn’t even put a dish in the dishwasher. My house is ALWAYS spotless, always. I really am happy to but when I hear I don’t do enough, with this on top of it, I am beyond devastated.

      Okay, so – I’ll admit I’m just some random guy on a laptop reading this in his pajamas on a work advice blog’s weekend open thread. But that’s a really concerning pattern. To me, it reads as if you feel like whatever you do is never enough, and he knows that and is using that against you. I hope I’m misreading this (for your sake), but that’s how it comes across.

      On top of that:

      I also reminded him that when I needed stitches the other day I text him at work when the accident happened and he waited two hours until he got home to take me to the ER. My car was in the shop that day. I could’ve taken an Uber but it wasn’t insane bad so I waited, plus not sure an Uber would’ve been cool with me bleeding all over it. It was fine but Ya know, if he is saying I wasn’t taking care of him.

      This is…also alarming in a different way, since it reads as if he minimizes you and you also have started minimizing yourself.

      Again, full disclaimer – I’m going off of one comment, and I know I’m missing a ton of context here. But I’m in agreement with a lot of people in thinking that your husband comes off as…not valuing you, and intentionally putting you down in this post. And I think that’s a much bigger issue than what you did when he needed his gallbladder removed (which he probably did anyway). At the very least, I’d consider exploring that with friends, and maybe even a therapist if you can swing it. (I don’t know if I would go to couples counseling yet, or ever.)

      Also, because as an AAM commenter I’m obligated to note any hint of systemic sexism: men in general expect their SOs/loved ones to care for them hand and foot when they’re sick regardless of what they’re going through and that is frankly messed up. I’m thinking about the time you mentioned when you both had food poisoning and he said you didn’t take care of him well enough when he was sick. Or, in other words, he expected you to take care of him even while you were very sick yourself – and I’m guessing he didn’t take care of you when you got sick before him (you know, because this is the same guy that waited two hours to drive you to the ER to get stitches).

      1. Reba*

        I agree with this read! I know you love this man, JDC, and we shall presume that he has many sparkling good qualities…

        But he sounds like he expects you to be Wife, Mother/Nanny/Servant, Mindreader, and above all else a Robot with no needs or feelings of her own that he would ever have to step up to deal with. He is selfish. Or at least not emotionally present and generous.

        This is particularly clear to me because I once had an exact like twin experience where I needed stitches and couldn’t drive myself. (Ultimately it was a very minor wound, sustained in the kitchen but it bled a lot so I was kinda freaked.) My spouse was on a work call at that moment, working from home. I barely even spoke, just called quietly, “Uh, honey, I’m bleeding!” He ended that call immediately, and took me straight to urgent care.

        No fuss. No minimizing my pain. No bean-counting — he didn’t make me feel like I owed him anything for this gesture of care, another undercurrent I’m picking up in the letter.

        He is your spouse, he should *want* to care for you.

        I’d get into therapy and talk about that. Why did it feel normal to you to be the one doing ALL the work and all the giving? And what might be changing so that you no longer feel that is normal or ok?

        Good luck and best wishes for clarifying and healing therapy sessions.

    13. Earthwalker*

      Sounds like your husband’s body betrayed him, and he hurts, and he’s taking it all out on you. Please don’t give in to guilt. Even if he says that you didn’t do the right thing for him, this time or some other time before, he could be entirely wrong about that. You did your best and perhaps you did exactly the right thing. You just couldn’t save him from being sick and scared – no one could – and he’s upset. His anger isn’t necessarily about you at all. Sending good thoughts your way.

    14. Jdc*

      Thanks for all the comments. I really am not defending him, I’m not happy with his behavior at all, but I was trying to make sure he wasn’t portrayed in an awful light because he’s lovely. We all have good and bad and aren’t perfect but he’s a decent one. I spoke to my mom about it and she of course takes me side ( cause moms have to ha) but mentions that I can sometimes be a bit cold and abrupt and perhaps that happened at the wrong time. She’s probably right about that.

      I also agree and dislike that men (not to be sexist but my experience) tend to expect to be cared for when ill to a frustrating degree, as a commenter mentioned. I’m sure not all are that way but i really haven’t met one yet.

      He has been so amazing with some health issues I’ve had though. Most people have actually yelled at me saying it’s in my head, heck my mom did once (apologized immediately and still feels bad) but he’s been by my side and that support has made a lot of progress for me from feeling safe that I’m helped when needed to tagging along to countless doctors appointments with me. I do know he cares about my well being.

      We have a nice marriage but like anyone’s there’s are some difficulties, especially combining lives, his children, a new state. Normal things that make life stressful sometimes.

      At the end of the day he is always open to working on things and that is what is important. As am I.

      I appreciate being allowed to vent a bit. I think it can be a good thing to get your feelings out and sort through them a bit before you have a high stakes conversation with someone…especially my crazy Italian self who with age has learned to sit back and chill out a bit before I react.

      The comments have really helped me feel supported and allowed me to think more. Thank you all.

      And on a positive note, his healing is going very well, it’s a lovely rainy weekend, which I adore as I deeply deeply hate heat and I get to look forward to yummy Sunday breakfast he makes me every weekend. Mmmm. Today I am going to put some things on eBay as my closet is becoming ridiculous, especially with having to load up on more winter clothes upon moving from CA to the Midwest. Also set up my new MacBook as I had to replace mine due to it being too old. I’m staring at this gorgeous rose gold MacBook Air. So fun. And free beats headphones with it so the kids Xmas gift is solved and free. Wohoo.

  12. Loopy*

    We are looking at taking a vacation in early Dec (around Dec 3-12 timeframe) and thinking London/Paris, but may consider other European countries (we are booking pretty darn late but that’s another story). I’m wondering how Christmasy major cities get around then- if there’s holiday festivities at all? I would love to experience some of the country specific traditions of the holiday season but don’t know how early and how prevalent (not sure that’s the right word I’m looking for?) they are. Can anyone shed light on this?

    I mean….our local Costco already has xmas trees up, so I’m pretty sure the USA is way ahead (TOO AHEAD) on the timing for every holiday ever.

    1. Future mum*

      Cant speak for Paris. But for London Oxford Street will have its Christmas lights up and there will be trees and stuff.

      It also becomes insanely busy in december. Beyond that it depends on what you are interested in. Harry Potter has a winter tour.

    2. londonedit*

      London will be very busy in the touristy areas (insert my usual impassioned plea to please visit more than Oxford Street and Leicester Square, they’re not real London!) but we have lovely festive things like Christmas lights on all the main shopping streets, and pop-up ice skating rinks at landmarks around the city in November/December, which are fab (especially Somerset House and – a little outside London but easy by train – Hampton Court Palace). Places like Chiswick House and Kew Gardens usually do a winter light installation which is lovely to visit when it’s dark. There are also Christmas concerts at the Royal Albert Hall in December.

      1. londonedit*

        Oh and there’s the huge Hyde Park Winter Wonderland which has Christmas market stalls, festive food and drinks, an ice bar, fairground rides, ice skating, etc etc. You buy general entrance tickets and then things like the ice bar/skating/shows are extra. Again it can get busy but if you can visit during the week or in the daytime then it won’t be as busy as the weekends.

        1. Ra94*

          Unless they’ve changed it, Winter Wonderland is actually free for general admission, and then all the activities cost money. Lots of cheap student dates spent wandering around, not spending any money!

      2. Charlotte*

        Oxford street and Leicester Square are as much ‘London’ as your favour pub or whatever. You don’t get to decide what’s ‘real’.

        Having said that, I very rarely ever go there because of of the size/volume of tourists.

        1. londonedit*

          All I’m saying is that I hate it when people go to London and don’t explore beyond the tourist traps. Then they complain that it’s overcrowded/expensive/etc etc. There is so much more to the beautiful city I live in than Oxford Street and I encourage anyone who visits to go and see more of what the locals see.

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            I’m a tourist when I go to London and I agree with you. I feel the same way about Times Square and 34th St in NYC– they have their place, but if you’re looking to truly experience New York, venture further.

          2. Parenthetically*

            I’ve only been to London twice and I absolutely agree with you. There are so many amazing things in London that tourists never get to see because they’re busy ticking things off a list of “sites.” Sprint to Tower Bridge, make peace sign for camera, sprint to Globe Theatre, etc.

    3. Akcipitrokulo*

      Glasgow And Edinbutgh both have christmas markets, and Glasgow usually has ice rink in george square.

      For traditions… Edinburgh does massive hogmany party (ticketed, make sure you have accomodation or transport sorted which will be pricey) and Glasgow has the irn bru carnival (huge indoor funfair) and hogmany party out west end.

    4. OpinionsGalore*

      German cities and many Nordic countries often have Christmas markets. They should be open by then. Of course the farther North you go, the darker it’ll be – but all the better to see the lights? Enjoy!

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        If you’re already in the UK, most cities will have Christmas markets throughout December. Honourable mention to Manchester and Birmingham, but any. They’re often billed as European Christmas markets and attract stall holders from all over the continent, so you’ll be buying Belgian chocolate next to French cheese, with paella being freshly cooked on a six-foot pan only metres away, and a mug of Gluhwein to wash it down.

      2. YetAnotherUsername*

        It’s true that most countries are trying to do Christmas fairs now, but the German / Austrian / Swiss ones are the original and best. Look up Christmas markets and do a bit of research on which to go to. My country does Christmas fairs too but they are not a patch on the German ones!

        1. Parenthetically*

          I would 100% go for an Austrian or German Christmas market as the main focus if I were heading to Europe in the winter. They are magical.

        2. Paris-Berlin-Seoul Express*

          Strasbourg has the most beautiful Christmas market I’ve ever been to. It’s actually several markets strewn throughout the downtown area. Well worth the trip.
          We’re actually heading to Hamburg for the Advent season to do a tour of the Christmas markets in Northern Germany. I’m currently living in South Korea where Christmas is not really a big deal so I’m hoping to soak up a bit of Christmas spirit to take back with me.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            My household”s K-Pop fan is envious. (She’s going so far as to start learning Korean through a website.)

      3. Knitter*

        I spent a couple of weeks in the Netherlands/Belgium in early December years ago then went to London. Bruges was the best.

    5. Almost Violet Miller*

      I’ve been to the Christmas markets in Vienna, Budapest, and Prague, and all were lovely. Vienna gets a bit touristy for me but the other two are really nice. Bonus for Budapest that you can warm up in a Turkish spa after shopping around.

    6. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      That time in London isn’t too bad, although be aware that it is Holiday Party Season – and I mean they go for it here, its a good three weeks long full of office and friend parties and lunches/get togethers. So there will be a lot of people dressed up and wandering around, or really full restaurants/pubs if they have been booked for groups. The weather will be pretty atmospheric, and if you get off the beaten path, its possible to find some really cozy local pubs to laze away an afternoon with real fire in the fireplace and years-old tinsel streamers up. For us thats The Lord Clyde in Borough (then a trip to the nearby Gladstone for their homemade Indian pies) or Town of Ramsgate in Wapping (The landlady’s son does all the decorating and he does a immense job. Last year the place looked like the inside of a disco ball). But yeah,have to get out of central as a lot of it is very much ‘for tourists’ (including those from the UK who come to the city for holiday shopping and to see a show).

      I’m not sure there are necessarily different traditions here to the US that would warrant a separate stop, however, but I bet the markets in Belgium would be glorious to see (maybe in Bruges) or maybe Prague could be a option?

    7. I Go OnAnonAnonAnon*

      I just booked a trip from the US to London, Luxembourg, and Brussels for mid-December, and I’m super excited about the Christmas markets in all three cities! Luxembourg also does something called “Winterlights”.

      So while I can’t give you any first-hand info this year, know that both Luxembourg City and Brussels also have special events/markets then.

    8. Loopy*

      Thanks to everyone! It looks like London and Paris are fairly locked in because we want to hit two countries with the smallest, easiest amount of travel time in between. The rail between the two countries makes it very appealing just from logistics standpoint!!! I’m excited there will be christmas-y things. I did want to hit Germany for their Christmas markets but it’s not going to work out this trip :( We only have a week *cringe*. Even splitting between two countries in a week is probably…..not advisable.

      I live in a tourist city and often times I know it can be hard to see people staying on one or two streets and eating at what I think are overrated tourist traps… but as a tourist I also appreciate walkable areas, and ease. It’s a vacation, so I dont want to stress myself out too much by trying to go too far or reach areas not easily accesible without a car. Yes, I know it’s missing great things, but there’s a trade off? That being said, I realize these cities probably have better public transportation- at least London. My home city has nooooooothing.

      It can be overwhelming to navigate and plan and I’m already overwhelmed since we switched to a more built-it-yourself trip.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        London’s public transport is pretty incredible tbf – especially the central tourist parts. If your debit/credit card has contactless technology then you will never need to stop to buy tickets, just tap in/out. The system automatically caps your daily spend at around the cost of a sandwich and coffee so it’s very reasonable. If you don’t have contactless then you pick up an Oyster card each at the beginning of your stay, and load it up as necessary.

        I highly recommend taking a boat in the dark in London – there are some that are part of the “underground” network so you don’t need to add much to your costs. Very restful, and you really get a feel for the rhythm of the city longer term.

      2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        Eurostar will go through to Belgium though, so its still a option if you don’t want to do Paris.

    9. Incantanto*

      London will be v christmassy. The market on the south bank is usually good, and theres a big thing in hyde park which is expensive but fun.
      If you do England and want christmassy its worth taking a day trip by train (c1.5h each way, regular direct trains from paddington) to Bath, which has an amazing chrostmas market (and really gorgeous city to explore, with a huge cathedral, and baths dating from roman times.)

      If you want “christmas in europe” though you should go to germany. Go to berlin or hambirg or Koln and its proper delightful. Especially if you like sausages. And decent beer. And gluhwein

      1. Detective Rosa Diaz*

        Seconding the German Christmas market suggestions! Köln is a classic.

        I also want to suggest Belgium for smaller but more artsy/ historical vibes. Bruges has an ice rink and is super beautiful. Ghent is hella cosy, and though best known for the summer festival, has an excellent winter holidays festival as well. And it is the best town. Just my opinion/ the objective universal truth.

    10. Square Root Of Minus One*

      Christmas markets in France usually open 4 to 5 weeks before Christmas, so you should be fine in your time window.
      I don’t know Paris very well, so I don’t know of any special Christmas traditions there. For the holiday spirit, the best Christmas markets in the country are in Strasbourg and its region, and Strasbourg can be reached from Paris in 2 hours by train. Also, Lyon (also 2 hours from Paris in another direction) hosts the Fête des Lumières during that timeframe.

  13. Angwyshaunce*

    Silly cat quirks – who wants to share?

    When mine drinks water from his fountain, he first likes to dip his front paws in and swipe them back and forth on the floor a few times. Then I guess he’s ready to drink.

    When he’s done and walks away, he leaves a trail of little wet paw prints in his wake.

    I don’t know why his beans need to be moist before he drinks, but apparently it’s important.

    1. JDC*

      Do cats hydrate through their paws? I learned some dogs do but don’t know much about cats. Hence why some dogs will basically stand in their water dish, which was super fun to clean up when my dog used to do that.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Husband has two cats. One thinks she’s one of the dogs – lines up with them at meal times and outside times – and regularly loses fights with her toys, her paws and the floor. She also regularly takes headers off the coffee table and literally drops herself on her head. Huge stoner – she gets het up on catnip and walks around the house with a catnip mouse in her mouth, hollering to beat the band and walking into walls.

      The other is a giant chicken and flees from people anywhere outside of my husband’s office, but in the office, demands (and enjoys, no trap) belly rubs. I also catch her giving her catnip mice swimming lessons in the communal water bowl. She gets really frustrated when it doesn’t work and leaves them in there to drown.

    3. Purt’s Peas*

      My cat will walk under the coffee table and BONK knock her head on the apron going in, and BONK knock her head on the apron going out.

      She’ll also stand on her hind legs with her front paws on the cabinet when we prep her wet food if we ask her to “help.”

    4. Zephy*

      Our new kitten has appointed himself the Bathroom Monitor. Nobody pees alone, not even the other cat. He’ll follow us in there and hang out, or try to dig on the outside of the litterbox…to help…the other cat…bury it? Not sure what he’s doing but he seems to take his Bathroom Monitor duties very seriously. If we manage to get into the bathroom and close the door before he makes it inside with us, he’ll be right outside without fail when we leave, running in to see what he missed. Same with showers, too. He likes to go into the shower after we’ve bathed and lick the walls, because he nasty.

      He’s also still a little too smol to get up to the pass-thru/breakfast bar in the kitchen, where the big cat likes to hang out and watch me cook. He probably physically can get up there, he just hasn’t figured it out yet. So, instead, he’ll wander into the kitchen and scream until I pick him up so he can see what I’m doing. He’s similarly curious about the washer/dryer unit (I have one of those stacked units with a washer on the bottom and dryer up top, it lives in a closet in my apartment), and will wander over while I’m loading clothes and scream until I pick him up.

    5. Corky's Wife Bonnie*

      When my husband gets out of the shower, our cat decided that’s his brushing time, whether hubby is dry or not. He will literally pull the towel off of him as if to say, “yeah, you’re done, it’s me time.”

      1. Door Guy*

        Our kitty is fascinated with anything going on in our bathroom. He has gotten peed on several times because he will do a running flying leap and then straddle the bowl. He also likes to go between the shower curtain and liner and walk around the tub rim while you’re in the shower.

    6. Come On Eileen*

      I have two cats, one of which appears to be hard of smelling. Meaning she only responds to really intense clean smells or really intense dirty smells. She will run into the kitchen whenever I use cleaning products and start sniffing the floor. She also runs over and sticks her nose into my sweaty shoes when I return home from a run. It’s adorable.

      1. Jax*

        Ha! Now, I have a cat with superhero smelling ability. I can merely insert my can opener into a can of tuna — not even start turning it — and my cat will yeowl from the other room and come running.

    7. Blarg*

      – drinks out of the toilet but when I catch her she looks up with this guilty face as though she’s done something wrong. Hilarious.
      – likes to sit on the edge of the tub when I shower, like she’s taking a steam
      – canned mushrooms are the only food she will take off my fork, whether I want to share or not. They are her favorite. I have no idea why.
      – still kneads me and chews on my hair like she’s a kitten. For the last 16 years.
      – nose turns bright pink when she’s super happy.

      1. not Lynn Davis*

        Our vet recently explained that our cat’s nose was bright pink because her blood pressure was up (from being in the scary vet office!). Sure enough, now that I’m paying attention, it’s palest pink when sleeping and darkest when scared.

    8. cat socks*

      My tabby girl passed away in February, but she loved shoes – the stinkier the better. When I got home from work and kicked off my shoes I could guarantee she would walk over to cuddle up with them. It was always great fun when people came over because it meant “new” shoes!

      My newest rescue talks all the time. He is always talking and chirping. He also loves bathing the other cats. If someone is just laying around he will walk over and start licking them. Sometimes the others don’t like it and he’ll get a smack, but it doesn’t seem to phase him.

    9. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Our boy does the water thing too – he looooovveess to play with his water bowl and slosh it around before he drinks.

      Girl cat gets the zoomies before she needs to poop. Just starts running all over the house, banking off walls, hiding behind doors, essentially becoming Parkour Kitty. Then she uses the box and voila! back to calm, but not before she has dug to China in covering.

      1. Jax*

        LOL at “parkour kitty” and again at “dug to China.”

        (I too have a cat that spends an absurd amount of digging in the litter box. I keep the boxes clean, it must just be a cat thing with her. In fact I finally bought lids so she basically has litter box houses to somewhat contain all her digging and litter tossing.)

    10. KR*

      My cat loves to drink out of my glass or my water cup even though hers is fresh and full and right there. She also loves q-tips and picks them out of the trash, hiding them in various places around the house.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        We have two that will lick a wet bathtub, drink out of water glasses left unattended (that was an unpleasant surprise to walk in on, so we don’t leave those out anymore), and out of the toilet on the rare occasion a lid is left up. Fresh water is always available in their own bowls, they just prefer variety, I guess!

    11. Door Guy*

      My younger cat will only drink out of the dogs water dish. We have separate (shorter) bowls out for our 2 cats, and I’ve NEVER seen this one drink from their dish. Our dogs dish isn’t even sitting on the ground, it’s in one of those holders that raises it up about 6 inches alongside the food dish.

      Doesn’t stop Olaf, he’s forever jumping up, contorting himself to keep his footing without stepping in either bowl, and drinking from that dish.

    12. PseudoMona*

      My kitty prefers to sleep curled up next to my head. This works in bed, but doesn’t work if I fall asleep on my small couch. So, if I do fall asleep on the couch, she will meow and paw at me until I wake up and move to the bed.

      If I ignore her suggestion, she’ll be in a grumpy mood the following day.

    13. PhyllisB*

      I used to have a cat who liked to sit on the side of the tub while I took my bath and swipe water droplets with her paw. I kept telling her she was going to fall in one day. Well, sure enough, one day she did. She jumped straight up out of the water like one of those cartoon cats and wheeled out of the bathroom. (Good thing the bathroom door was open. Had small child asleep and wanted to be able to listen out.) She dove under our bed and we didn’t see her until the next day. Was about two months before she did that again.

      1. Not a cat*

        My roommate’s cat rotates who he sleeps with. It changes every few weeks. And he knows how to open the bedroom door, even if you don’t want to let him in. Determination, thy name is Norman.

    14. Queer Earthling*

      Percy likes to open doors, and he’s annoyingly good at it, although he always seems surprised when it works. He also doesn’t understand what food is. He gets that the kibble in his bowl is food, but kibble anywhere else? Probably not food. Treats? Definitely not food. Wet food? Only if there’s gravy, otherwise, it’s Not Food.

      Hennessey likes to yell at people, especially if they aren’t currently petting him. He also gets very jealous if you pay attention to the other cat, or another human. My partner has to kiss him goodnight when they kiss their other partner goodnight, or Hennessey gets mad. So funny.

      1. CallofDewey*

        My cat does the same thing! If it’s not regular dry food in a bowl or a tortilla chip in my hand, it’s not food.

    15. Damn it, Hardison!*

      My cat insists on pawing at the floor like a bull when drinking water. We refer to this as “Ferdinanding” after the chilcren’s Book, Ferdinand the Bull.

      My late, great kitty head-butted things and people. Doing this to people made sense, as she was requesting attention (and a lap). But, she would also get up on the couch and head-butt the back cushions repeatedly before settling down. She had some delightful quirks.

    16. North Wind*

      Not sure if anyone has mentioned it, but one theory about the pawing of water is to do with cats preferring moving water. http://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/why-does-my-cat-paw-at-her-water-dish

      My cat has so many sweet habits. I usually get up quite early in the morning to very blearily feed my cat, and then go back to bed. She always comes to me after eating, gets my attention, stares very intently at me and purrs as loud as she can. After a minute or two of this she curls up and snuggles and I (usually) get a bit more sleep in. I’m convinced that.. even if she isn’t quite thanking me for breakfast, she at least wants to communicate/share with me how happy and pleasureful she is feeling.

    17. Zona the Great*

      Mine decides she wants fresh water at 4 am and dumps her old no matter how heavy the dish and drags it across the tile floor to wake me up and get fresh water. She also loves my *used* earplugs and plays fetch like a dog with them. She runs around the house with them hanging out of her mouth like a cigar. She even knows where they come from in my head and paws at my ears when she’s ready to play in the morning. It’s super gross but hilarious.

    18. Lcsa99*

      We have stools, just little storage cubes that we keep around the coffee table that both cats love sitting on. Our cats are on the large side, but they can both fit on the cubes easily, however one of our cats likes to lounge on them half hanging off them. His head will hang off, or he’ll have everything on except his two front paws which will be braced on the coffee table. It’s hard to describe but he looks so weird!

      Our other cat has supersonic hearing specifically for their brush. He can be fast asleep in the other room and if we start brushing the cat who likes to hang off the cube, he will come running. And the funniest part is that the cube cat likes his space and can get overwhelmed when we’re brushing him. So we’ll start brushing cube cat, this cat will come running and try to bogart the brushes, cube cat will wander away while making it obvious that he still wants attention so we have to follow him and keep brushing him and this cat will follow. It is hilarious to watch.

    19. MsChanandlerBong*

      One of my cats will only drink from the bathtub. Not a bowl, not the $40 pet fountain we bought him. The bathtub faucet.

    20. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I have a foster kitty (hospice foster) who apparently failed a few How to Cat lessons. One of which was how to rub on people/things affectionately with your cheek. He uses his chin, and he’s a drooler too. Honestly, kinda gross.

    21. Dancing Otter*

      I used to have a Siamese that liked to dunk her kibble in the water bowl before eating it. Her teeth were fine — she may have suspected us of putting brewers yeast on the food again (the vet said it would be good for her coat), but other than that I never knew why she did it. Maybe she watched too many nature documentaries about raccoons.
      She would also steal sips of orange juice, but only if she thought we weren’t looking.

      My current cats are very different sizes: a 7-pound female and a 12-pound male. They have a two-level cat tree with large and small perches. The big boy insists on squeezing himself into the small top perch, where he has to scrunch himself into a tight ball or leave extremities sticking over the sides. Meanwhile, little Gracie Gingerpuff is either sprawled out or curled into half of the lower perch.

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

      Our two cats are obsessed with bubbles! The funny thing is, they don’t *do* anything when we actually blow the bubbles. They don’t chase them or bat at them or anything. They just stare at them dumbly, eyes wide open. One of them will clean himself obsessively if a bubble comes even close to him. And they wait for us to blow them, every night, and meow at us in protest if we don’t.

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

      They’ll also meow in protest if we don’t open our bedroom closet doors before we go to bed, even though they don’t play in the closets or anything.

      1. PseudoMona*

        They are checking for monsters in the closet. They want to make sure you are safe and sound, and still alive to feed them breakfast in the morning.

    24. North Wind*

      I love this thread, reading all your cute cat stories.

      Another thing – my cat likes to watch YouTube videos of close-ups of birds and squirrels. There’s a channel by Paul Dinning and he posts lots of these. Her length of attention span is just amazing. When she’s in a super snuggly mood I’ll put a video on my tablet for her to watch while she sits with me.

      1. Lcsa99*

        My cat likes watching tiny kittens! I put it on the big tv once and he was so confused trying to play with them and going behind the tv to try to find them.

    25. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Our dearly departed b&w shorthair used to eschew comfortable beds for all manner of peculiar sleeping spots. So far so feline. But in particular…

      … on the Lego.
      … on any plastic bag, preferably stiff and scrunched up.

      His survivor brother doesn’t have any odd habits that spring to mind except liking to be squashed when you snuggle him. He was the runt of the litter and I think got used to not quite enough space as a kitten. He’ll mash his face into the crook of your arm, or your armpit, when he comes for loves.

    26. Square Root Of Minus One*

      She drinks from a glass. MUCH better than any bowl.
      She wants to oversee people in the bathroom. God forbid she might be watched, though.
      She adores green beans, lettuce, zucchini and a few other things not always good for cats. And bread is the best ever. And vanilla ice cream. Talk about a meat eater…

    27. Vincaminor*

      Every morning and evening, when I open the plastic bin that the dogs’ food lives in, Alexander the kitten comes running. He balances on the rim of the bin, waits for me to measure out the first scoop into a bowl, and selects a single kibble. Then he jumps down to munch that on the doormat while I measure out the rest of the food.

      (He’s only four months old, so this looks a lot like a human running off with a demi-baguette held sideways in their teeth.)

      A previous cat just loooved being vacuumed. I’d put the dusting brush on and set it for upholstery, and he’d got nuts trying to make sure he got vacuumed all over.

    28. Bilateralrope*

      One of my parents cats would insist on being carried from their bed before being shut in the kitchen at night. If he wasn’t on their bed when they went to bed, he would howl until they let him run to the bed so they could carry him to the kitchen.
      Another one liked to sleep under pillows or bed covers. Some mornings she would wake me by climbing into my bed, then happy claws into the back of my knee.

      Their current cat will fight other cats outside. But, if they come inside and eat her food, she just watches. Then complains about her empty bowl.

      The work cat only flexes her back claws when she is happy and on someone’s lap. Not the front ones like most cats.

      Finally there is my flatemates cat. Somehow they trained her not to poop on the floor so, when she cant get outside, she poops on a rug in the bathroom. Recently they had to keep her in one room due to injury. She protested by pooping in her own water bowl.

      1. Bilateralrope*

        I forgot about the bus stop cat. One evening I was waiting for the bus at a bus stop I don’t normally use. A large cat just came up and went straight to sitting on my lap.

    29. Arts Akimbo*

      My male cat felt it was his sovereign right to be in any room, at any time, ever. Sometimes, though, his humans wanted privacy! For human-based fun. Well, he thought very little of this, this shutting-out-cats behavior, and he found a novel form of protest. He figured out that if he reached his paw under the door quite far, he could hook it around the spring doorstop. Now, those things are on a stiff spring, and thus make THE MOST UNGODLY LOUD twanging sound when flicked back and forth by an annoyed cat. So Spouse and I would be having private time, then we would hear “Meow. Meaaaaow. Meeeoooooooowwwww. TWANG TWANG TWANG TWANG TWANG”

      We discovered later that if we just kept the door closed but ajar during private time, he left us completely alone! The little fur fiend! x-D

  14. Sled dog mama*

    Just a small rant: MIL has been visiting this week, mostly she’s been great, brought things to occupy herself while little one is at school. Yesterday she decided that she had to wash the windows, which would be fine except now they are streaky. They had no streaks before. I have to work this weekend (why she decided this would be a nice thing to do) so I don’t have time to rewash all my windows until next weekend.
    I have also realized why hubby is not at all bothered by streaky car windows.

    1. fposte*

      Sorry for the frustration, but I’m going to grab the tangent. The inside of my car windshield gets schmutzy (apparently a known thing with some car models), and I can’t ever manage washing it without getting streaks. What’s the secret?

      1. peanut*

        We watched a video on this recently. There are three steps to cleaning the *inside* of a windshield, if I remember correctly.

        1. Wipe with a dry microfiber cloth.
        2. Wipe with rubbing alcohol and a microfiber cloth. This is what will cut the streaks on the inside, which are caused by off-gassing from the plastic on the dashboard. If any alcohol spills on the dash while you’re cleaning the inside of the windshield, wipe it off immediately as it could damage the dash.
        3. Wipe with windex and microfiber cloth.

        Unfortunately I can’t tell you if this works because I got mixed up with steps 2 and 3 and skipped the rubbing alcohol but immediately wiped up any Windex on the dash. Oops.

        1. fposte*

          Oh, is offgassing what causes it? That’s interesting; I guess it makes sense that that could go on for a long time with the heat and sun exposure there. I will try the microfiber and rubbing alcohol trick–thanks!

          1. Filosofickle*

            Yeah, off-gassing. I had a truck once where someone used Armor-all on the dash and it released glass-schmutzing fumes for YEARS. (It was in the desert, so endless heat to activate compounds.) Peanut’s advice is solid — need to cut that film with something like vinegar, alcohol, etc.

              1. Filosofickle*

                I suspect it was some really weird vortex of Armor All + that particular dash + desert, because lots of people seem to use that product without a problem. If you’re not getting the glass film, there may be no reason to stop using something that’s working for you.

      2. Anono-me*

        Car window streaks.

        We use Sprayaway World’s Best Glass Cleaner. And when we can, we leave the windows open just a little bit, especially when it is hot. It seems to help keep the offgasing down.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I had plans to give myself a car detailing this year, but my daughter went and did homework in the car with bare feet at the end of the school year, and she left a footprint the inside of the front window. I’ve been cleaning around it myself, the patch is starting to get to be annoying. But the footprint makes me grin.

      4. SpellingBee*

        Here’s our method, which we learned by watching the super car wash guys in California. Completely soak a microfiber cloth in windex or windex-analog and then wring it out so it’s only just damp. Use that first to wipe the glass and then buff with a dry microfiber cloth. I usually do 1/3 to 1/2 of the windshield at a time, which is a more manageable area for me. Don’t try to clean it when it’s really hot out, as the windex will dry too quickly and can’t do its job. If it’s really grungy you may have to go over it twice, but usually one go is enough.

  15. Call me St. Vincent*

    We may be moving to Chattanooga, Tennessee for my husband’s job. For reference, we currently live in New England. Any Chattanooga folks on here that can tell us what the city is like? My husband interviewed and loved it and we are going down together in the next month. The thing is we will have to make a decision about this job after this one visit. As cool as Chattanooga seems, I’m worried about truly getting a sense of the city in just a four day visit! Any feedback on the city would be awesome. Also if anyone has moved somewhere before without really knowing the city, any tips on how to evaluate things would be great. We already looked at the schools, religious stuff, etc and are happy with the choices, so that’s good. The job itself would be great and the employment options for me are actually quite good. Thanks in advance guys!

    1. Anona*

      I have family that live kinda near there, but you’ll definitely be in the south, which is a big shift from New England, culture wise. Church is a big source of community for many, and politics will generally be on the conservative side. Others can probably point out more things. Good luck!

      1. Call me St. Vincent*

        Thanks! Yeah this was a little bit of a concern regarding church stuff. That is somewhat the reality here in New England too. A lot of stuff centers around church here as well. We are Jewish, but there seems to be a vibrant Jewish community in Chattanooga. We are planning to visit the two major synagogues down there when we go to feel it out.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          We moved from NYC to a city in the south to DC, and I will say that I miss the tightness of our Southern Jewish community. We were lucky to find a synagogue that aligned with our tastes, and there was definitely a sense of “we stick together and welcome new people.” Not everyone felt that way, but most did. There were a lot of people who kind of returned to Judaism in a way, and more Jews by Choice than I knew growing up in my massive, old-school Jewish community. So we loved it. My partner converted there. My boss doesn’t practice at all, but he joined because he felt it was important to support the community. We were also, as a community, VERY involved in interfaith outreach.

          I don’t know if Chattanooga is similar, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it is.

          1. Call me St. Vincent*

            This is so helpful! Thank you so much! I get the sense that the community there is very tight, which is kind of exciting :). The synagogues have been there since the 1800’s which is very neat.

      2. Texan In Exile*

        Church in the south means it’s easy to get anything you want done on Sunday mornings and Wednesday night. :)

    2. CoffeeforLife*

      What are the things you love about your current location? Proximity to ___? Availability of _____? What things are in your regular routine? Eating out/hiking/live theater/opera/musical performances/sports ball/water stuff/etc. Are those things which you really love happening/available in your new area? If, say you are an avid surfer your life would change (we moved from Hawaii to VA).

      The Smokey Mountains are beautiful and you are close for weekend trips to all sorts of places! Good luck and happy decision making :)

      1. Call me St. Vincent*

        Thanks! Chattanooga is more urban than where we are now, but that isn’t a bad thing for us. There are also similar style suburbs to where we currently live. We are going to check out both areas :)

    3. Chatt*

      Hello! Chattanooga person here! I moved here in 2012 from a larger but more suburban area. I really love it.

      I would say the major downside is that there is still a small-town feel to the city ; it can be a “who am I going to run into at Publix today?” thing, which is manageable, but people also still REALLY care about what private high school you went to. And depending on what industry you/your husband are in, those can also be very everyone-knows-everyone, which I find exhausting. Also if you decided to live on one of the mountains, that is a whole other world I can’t speak to.

      But the plus side is that there is SO much to do, and because it’s a smaller city, it feels more manageable. When I lived somewhere bigger, I felt like I was always taking the culture and evnets around me for granted because there was too much for me to ever experience it all. Here, I love that I can regularly go to the art museum, I can be a season ticket holder for our local soccer team (Chattanooga FC, NOT the Red Wolves (long, very contentious story)), I can get to a book signing after work because I don’t have to drive for 30 minutes. It doesn’t feel like a chore to get involved.

      Also, the food, omg we have really good food. It is so easy to eat at really good, locally-owned restaurants. I moved away for a bit for grad school, and that was what I missed the most.

    4. From Knoxville*

      I live in Knoxville, which is 90 minutes north of Chattanooga. (Regular commenter going anon b/c I don’t want my real-life location linked w/ my pseudonym).

      Chatt’s nice. Right on the interstate, a couple hours north of Atlanta for easy access in/out of the area (fly back to NE for a visit). If you’re at all outdoorsy, this is a great place to live; the Smokies are Right. There. and there’s lots of places to bike, run, kayak, etc. The South is indeed hot and humid. It’s going to be 90 again today, even though it’s almost October; I’ve lived here for more than a year and still have not gotten used to this. In the fall, “culture” means “college football”.

      Yes, people are more conservative; the churches are HUGE, and Tennessee is apparently the third most religious state in the nation but generally, people won’t be up in your business about this. I’ve found people to be fairly reserved in talking about personal things.

      Good luck with the decision!

    5. Katefish*

      I’ve never lived in either of your geographic locations, but have made many long-distance moves. One thing that’s helpful is to expect to feel disoriented and lonely for a long period of time, particularly with a move to somewhere with drastically different weather and culture. That might sound like a downer, but it’s really not–my life has been so deeply enriched by my wanderings, and I’m slowly but surely making friends in Location #5. It’s just a reminder to be patient with yourself when you can’t find doctor/grocery/coffee shop/work/local friend/rhythm etc. from memory for a period of time after the move.

    6. Parenthetically*

      It’s SO beautiful, gosh. And proximate to so many incredible and under-visited parts of the US — and you’re less than 2 hours from Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one of my favorite places on earth.

    7. Tort-ally HareBrained*

      I have friends that were ready to move out of their area so they bought an RV and traveled the country for a year looking for their next community. They settled into Chattanooga because it seemed to fit the right mix of urban/low key they were looking for.

  16. CoffeeforLife*

    We get our new foster doogo today! She’s such a sweetie and I know she will be adopted quickly. Our last one was only with us a month!

    Our dog forgets how to “dog” and having another one in the house helps her anxiety and mood.

    1. CoffeeforLife*

      We got her! She had puppies about a month ago (she’s almost 1 year old) and I think she’s just happy to have some peace and quiet! She’s been sleeping mostly :)

      1. Venus*

        I find that all my fosters sleep when they first arrive. It`s like they can finally take a moment that isn`t stressful to get some good rest. Good luck with her!

  17. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    Mostly e-mail writing for me this week: gotta get to writing my bachelorpaper and hoo boy, that’s gonna be a doozy. Especially considering I found not one but two possible promotors willing to let me work on video games, so now I’m also probably gonna have to choose between them.
    So yeah, most of my writing updates for the academic year will probably be about that. Heh.

    1. Kalico*

      I finally have something to report! I started a new novel a few weeks ago, and have been able to write three days a week on it. This is major, because since I finished my dissertation in 2017 I haven’t been able to write much of anything except some blog posts and a few new chapters on an old novel I quickly gave up on. My goal is a sustainable habit of regular writing on the novel, and one blog post a week. It feels very, very good to be back at it.

    2. anonagain*

      I’ve not been writing much lately, but I have a project for the next couple weeks. It’s actually finishing up a project I was working on before. I need to remind myself that that it’s not as bad as I’ve built it up in my head.

    3. myug*

      Saw a funny little image where a knight (writer) is presenting a monster (WIP) a sword (an offering of 50 words) and that sums up my writing lately, lol!

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I submitted Tunerville to Pitch Wars.

      There’s a six-week reading period, so while I’m waiting to see if I get a mentor I can start something else. Whether I finish the trilogy or not (I’d like to, since I know what happens all the way through, mostly), this is the last time I’m doing anything with it. Maybe if I become famous for another book (haha) then I can publish it when people are begging for every last bit of content I’ve ever produced.

  18. Overeducated*

    I posted a few weeks ago about discovering my local Buy Nothing group. There has been drama! The leaders announced it was so big it was going to split geographically. But the split basically had one very large central walkable/bikeable area, one large car-centric area, and one oddly shaped peripheral area divided by a couple hard to get around geographic features.

    People in areas 2 and 3 were NOT HAPPY (I think for very good reason in area 3). My first reaction was that it clearly reflects issues in modern city planning – some areas are simply less walkable and accessible because the city agreed to put a new development across train tracks with very few crossings, for instance, or some wealthy people built big houses on a hill with winding suburban style roads, whereas the 19th/early 20th century areas are on a pretty convenient grid pattern that’s been out of style for 70 years. There’s no way to draw those boundaries so that everyone has a “walkable core” because that’s something we haven’t actually designed for in many decades. But it’s clearly desirable socially as well as environmentally.

    Then people started talking about wealth and ethnic divides and how the split reflected those…and it’s hard for me to take that at face value. Yes, of course geographic boundaries reflect socioeconomic ones. But the people who live in the car centric area have really, really expensive homes, and the people who own townhomes and condos in the “poorer” areas are not exactly doing poorly (they sell for $600-700k nowadays, and the development on the literal “other side of the tracks” is at least that much), so I sort of wonder if this is using less wealthy neighbors as a symbol of inclusion without making real efforts. For instance, statistically the low income population in this neighborhood is overwhelmingly Spanish speaking; the group is 100% in English! And I live in an apartment complex with lots of subsidized units, but every place I’ve gone to pick something up has been a townhouse or single family home, so just the fact that some areas do have more apartments and/or lower income residents doesn’t make including them in a boundary work out to representative participation.

    Anyway, the group leaders put a halt on the split to rethink the boundaries, so that’s positive. But it’s been an interesting discussion of how infrastructure shapes our neighborhoods and how we interact with each other. And I’m maybe meeting some people for lunch near work as a result of spin-off conversations, so that’s exciting!

    1. Jdc*

      Kind of baffles me because a border is geographical not judge mental. I mean it’s how the map is. That being said I don’t feel like you live in a bad area if you are buying a $700k house, by any stretch. Most of the world cannot afford that by a long shot.

    2. WellRed*

      I don’t understand why they felt a need to split it. What do they care if someone travels a little further to pick up an item?

      1. LGC*

        If I had to guess, the group was getting too many posts and things were getting overwhelming. So it’s a group traffic thing.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Buy Nothing has a policy of cutting areas down when they hit a certain # of members. There is a focus on keeping it local to neighborhoods. When the split hit my area, people were complaining because we are all one town, and someone who used to live in Philadelphia pointed out that her local buy nothing group was only three square blocks. We were lucky, because there is a highway dividing the town, so that was an easily described split.

    3. Jules the 3rd*

      Sounds like you’ve got some gentrification in the ‘walkable’ area, tho – some of the people there may have inherited or have held for decades. While the people in your group may be doing ok with 600K townhomes, they may have neighbors in very different houses. And the people on the outside are *very* likely to have been priced out of the older, inner neighborhoods. That kind of change may be part of what people are talking about.

      1. Overeducated*

        This is a small enough area that we’re talking small differences – gentrification happened decades ago, the “peripheral” areas are mostly newer construction but close to the same price as the older, people who bought long ago or inherited are sitting on massive assets, and people who are actually getting priced out are moving out of the city entirely. (When I was looking at houses, I had to look across state lines, until I decided I couldn’t handle the commute.) There is definitely economic inequality here but I think people who own property are generally not on opposite sides of it….

  19. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week?
    I finished Child of Light and honestly, that has to be one of the most charming games I’ve played. The music, art style and characters all worked together so well.

    1. Angwyshaunce*

      Game dev has come to a stop for the time being, as I’ve had to work every day for the past two weeks. But I’ve been watching my wife play the new Link’s Awakening.

    2. HamlindigoBlue*

      I bought the Untitled Goose Game last weekend. I’d been waiting for it for many months, ever since seeing a concept video of it on Reddit. It’s pretty adorable. It’s only available for PC and Switch right now.

    3. Environmental Compliance*

      I don’t play anymore, I just watch, but I’ve been seeing a lot of Untitled Goose Game and have found it very entertaining. Also adorable – I like the art style a lot. Just a silly little game!

    4. Torrance*

      WoW’s new patch got me playing again; as someone who loves Gilneas & their whole lore + vibe, the worgen redesign is just fantastic.

      And I haven’t had a chance to play it yet but I think I’ve already watched half a dozen playthroughs of the KFC/Colonel Sanders dating sim. I thought it was going to be painfully ‘fellow kids’-ish but it’s fairly self-aware and kinda hilarious.

    5. Door Guy*

      I picked up a Switch Lite when they hit the market last week in anticipation of Pokemon SW/SH so my daughter and I can both play at the same time. Been playing through Pokemon Y and working on my living dex in my spare minutes. When I find both the time AND the solitude I picked up Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice and a pair of gaming headphones, but that happens rarely enough that I’m only about 1/4 of the way through.

    6. Raia*

      Back to Fire Emblem Three Houses and I’m enjoying it more when I don’t play every day for 3-4 hours.

      In Stardew I’m at Winter 11, greenhouse just got built and barn is fully upgraded so I can get some pigs and fruit trees started. The secret note thing must be relatively new, I’ve never seen it before.

      Also selling my old beloved 3DS and games today, which is a little sad but necessary. Fantasy Life and Fire Emblem Awakenings were awesome games.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My family has roped me into Guild Wars… it’s fun but oh so very much making me carsick.
      D&D Online and Never winter rarely did that to me. Long ago Crash Bandicoot did. And IMAX movies are right out.
      Any suggestions for toning down this sideeffect?

    8. Nicki Name*

      Still finding new stuff in Sunless Skies. And I just read about The Return of the Obra Dinn, and that’s gone straight on my need-to-by list.

    9. CB*

      Nintendo finally released its mobile version of Mario Kart, and I actually really like it. I’m not someone who will spend real money on “microtransactions” inside of games, but I’ve had a lot of fun playing what’s included for free.

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

    Is sports a verboten topic here, like politics? I’ve never once seen a major sport mentioned and maybe I’m making a mistake by posting this, but…
    I was really riveted by the Mets over the second half of the baseball season and while I knew they’d fall short of the playoffs, I’m really bummed that baseball season is about to end for me. If your team is still in it (if you have one), good luck!

    1. Rebecca*

      I’m a Pirates fan, so you know how my season went. The team has some great new talent, but there were a lot of injuries, I don’t know what the heck the coach is thinking most of the time, and I am so upset and disappointed with the pitcher (not naming him here!) who is now sitting in jail, and rightly so. I was happy to see the win last night for Steve Blass’s last broadcast from the booth. Hoping for a better season next year!

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

        Oof, the Pirates had a really rough season. I hope they improve, too, Mets-Pirates was once a good rivalry. They at least took some games vs. the Cubs, who I thought would make the playoffs but tanked really fast.
        And as a Mets fan, I totally know the feeling re: “I don’t know what the coach is doing most of the time.”

        1. Rebecca*

          I’m sad I missed the home run in the bottom of the 9th last night, but I was watching Penn State handle Maryland :) I’m also sad about Cervelli, too many concussions, and understandably he’s gone on to play another position.

    2. Akcipitrokulo*

      Partick Thistle got beaten 5-0 by Celtic (Scottish Premier League football) so a bit disappointed!

      1. londonedit*

        I feel your pain, I’m a Manchester United fan. Sigh. Still, our women’s team beat Liverpool today to record their first win in the WSL!

    3. Cards fan*

      Cards fan here, so we are sitting on pins and needles waiting to see if they step up or tank. It could go either way, as they have been inconsistent all year. The bullpen is tired and gave up 8 runs last night, and the Brewers are breathing down their necks. Another year of Cardiac Cardinal baseball. I’ve been a bit sad to see the Pirates having a tough year. Clint Barmes coached our son as a side-hustle while he was a student in college, and I got to meet Clint Hurdle once. Seems like a nice man.

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

        Good luck! Cards are a great organization. I’m really astonished by the Brewers. I think they’re playing way over their heads. I’m hoping for your sake that Cards take the division so you don’t have to go through the stress of the winner take all wild-card game!
        It may be a moot point, because I kind of think the Dodgers are going to steamroll everyone in the playoffs, but we’ll see. They have to play the games first!

        1. Cards fan*

          Dodgers definitely look like the team to beat, and I don’t expect the Cards to make much noise in the post season, no matter how they get in. (I said the same thing in 2011, so we’ll see.) Hope the Mets see better days next year. I was a Cubs fan in 1969, so I hated the Mets for a long time, lol, but I married a Cards fan and got used to winning. These post-LaRussa years have been interesting, haha.

      2. Lost in the Woods*

        This was a rough year for my beloved Rockies, one of the most uneven teams in baseball. My grandfather was a Cards fan before the Rockies came into existence, so I’m rooting for the Cards in the postseason!

        Gotta be honest, though, I’ll be thrilled with anyone but the Dodgers at this point.

      3. The Rat-Catcher*

        Another Cards fan here! It feels like forever since we’ve had a postseason run (though I’m aware as fans we are a bit spoiled) and they aren’t great at a winner take all type of thing like the wild card game so I hope they can clinch the division!

    4. Tort-ally HareBrained*

      Newer Astros fan who married into a huge Astros family in 2012. Just enjoying the good years while we have them. On the other hand my Texas A&M Aggies are having a rough go of it in college football. Also waiting patiently for hockey season but glad for postseason baseball.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        It was so weird to move from Texas to Wisconsin. I was Rice undergrad, when the SWC still existed, and had never been involved with a football team that won. The Packers won the Superbowl the year I moved here.

        1. Tort-ally HareBrained*

          yes I imagine that transition would be a bit much. I now live in a smaller market Texas town, so even more split rivalries between Dallas/Houston & t.u./A&M which is also interesting.

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

        The Astros are really inspiring to me. They went from really bad to really, really good in a flash. It definitely helps to have Justin Verlander, that’s for sure.
        I’m kind of hoping the Astros make the World Series.

        1. Tort-ally HareBrained*

          Let’s hope so. Was exciting to see Verlander get his 3000th strike out this evening in Anaheim!

    5. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Wooooo go Brew Crew! I checked last week and it seemed a cinch the Cards were going to take it but maybe not. Bummer about Yelich and Braun though…

      Its really sad to only see like four pennants on the wall at Miller Park, and one of those was for a wild card spot.

      1. Dr. Anonymous*

        No matter how the season turns out for the Brewers, this is a great rally. I’ve really enjoyed seeing the talent they have and Counsell as a manager.

    6. Fulana del Tal*

      As I diehard Mets fan, I’m just glad we finished above .500. All I want is for them to a new closer next season.

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

          JD Davis is the one thing our general manager got right. He looks like a pure hitter!
          He also didn’t embarrass himself playing the outfield, which was a nice surprise.

          1. Tort-ally HareBrained*

            As someone who watched him play outfield in the minor leagues for a game or two- we were blown away by his cannon of an arm! Kid can get the ball back in the infield in a hurry. Hope he gets a real chance at a career with y’all.

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

        We’ll see. I’m not sure who’s available as a free agent as far as relief pitchers go. Seth Lugo isn’t really well suited to be a closer because he can’t pitch on back-to-back days, but I’m a huge fan of his. I still kind of think that if he goes back to being a starter, he could be an elite starter. But he’s really, really good in relief.

        I’m not giving up on Edwin Diaz. The guy has dynamite stuff in flashes; he made lots of mistakes this year but I think also had incredibly bad luck. I hope it hasn’t gotten too much into his head, and he can start fresh. The Mets wouldn’t get much if they trade him, at this point. Unfortunately, since they overpaid Jeurys Familia by so much, they’re stuck with him. Unless there are really good pitchers available on the free agent market, I have a feeling the Mets are going to run the same relievers out there and try their luck again. Either way, this year was exciting even if ultimately disappointing.

    7. myug*

      Mariners fan checking in – they still have two more games in their series against the A’s (who are post-season bound) but it’ll be playing for pride at this point.

      But as my dad – a non-native son of this fair city but it’s the only US city he’s ever known so I guess that’s pretty native – says, “At least we’re not the Orioles” (no offense to anyone from Charm City).

    8. Baby shark doo doo doo-doo doo-doo*

      Huge Nats fan here and so thrilled that they were able to come back from a 19-31 start to host the NL wild card game, due in no small part to the joy that Gerardo Parra has brought to the clubhouse. They are the team that taught me to love baseball and I’m really hoping for a win on Tuesday against those pesky Brewers. ;)

  21. Akcipitrokulo*

    Just finished season one of the new Fruits Basket – anyone else following? I thought Tohru & Kyo in forest worked much better in old version – loved the music in old one.

    I seriously hate the umbrellas at the start! “Umbrellas!” is now a swear word here!

    I am looking forward to season 2 :) hope it is made!

    1. GoryDetails*

      I hadn’t known they were re-doing the Fruits Basket anime – intriguing! I really enjoyed the original anime, but (as so often happens) it did not cover the entire manga series; if the new version does, I’ll try to catch it.

    2. Door Guy*

      Pardon my yelling but NEW FRUITS BASKET!!!!!

      I haven’t followed anything on the Anime/Manga scene for a long time (aside from Naruto/Boruto and even that isn’t following so much as keeping abreast with major developments)

      Fruits Basket is still one of my wife’s favorites and she watched some just last week.

  22. Mary Connell*

    I know it’s been discussed at great length here, but could people provide suggestions on what to do about an older man who’s too touchy? This is at church and he used to come up behind me and rub my shoulders until I snapped at him not to touch me. He backed off for a while but he’s invading my space again, standing too close and backing me into corners, and last week sat down too close and put his hand on my leg. (Ugh.) He’s probably in his 70s and does this to several women, and to teenage girls, so we’ve done the whisper campaign and told the girls and their mothers to be aware that this is happening, and we’ve also mentioned it to church leaders but they tend to look puzzled when it’s mentioned.

    Any strategies you’d suggest?

    1. Jdc*

      I’d be smacking his hand anytime it came near me. I’ve told people before to take a step back as they were in my space. It isn’t very nice but neither are they so.

      1. Mary Connell*

        [Making a note as early in this discussion as possible that I left an update below. The problem was escalated and taken very seriously, and is being addressed on several fronts. Thank you all for the feedback.]

    2. YetAnotherUsername*

      Being really loud and in his face might work, given he backed off last time. Personally if a guy put his hand on my leg I would either remove it or speak very loudly and clearly right in his face.

      Stop being polite to him!

      1. StellaBella*

        Agree with being loud and direct. “Bob, stop touching my leg, and mind my, and other womens’, personal space. Be respectful!”

    3. Sunny Sasha*

      I think the most important thing to do is call this creep out loudly right in the moment he’s being uncomfortable. Draw attention to the situation. If he backs you into a corner, ‘ You need to back up, you’re standing too close’. If he puts his hand on your leg, ‘ I don’t want you to touch me, keep your hands to yourself’.

      It’s atrocious your church leaders won’t do anything so draw attention to it. Even if it’s in the middle of a ceremony/mass, call this creep out loudly. He’s probably counting on people wanting to be quiet and respectful in a religious setting to not cause a scene, so definitely cause a loud and obnoxious scene!

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      With the caveat that I know this is easier to say then to do – everyone needs to start calling it out. “Don’t touch me.” “Back up, you don’t need to be this close to me.” “I SAID DON’T TOUCH ME, CLARENCE.”

      A group of you, including girls and moms, might go back to the church leaders and be specific. “Not only is Clarence getting inappropriately handsy with us adults, he is getting inappropriately handsy with these young girls. This is a liability issue for the church. We have told him to stop repeatedly and he doesn’t stop. You need to tell him to stop and back us up. If this keeps going unchecked, especially with children being impacted, we will have to consult the police for next steps.”

      1. Wishing You Well*

        Yes, it’s time to have an OFFICIAL talk with the church leaders. Hand the leaders a written complaint if you don’t get the needed results. Please act. Do not accept any excuses about his age/mental conditions/”good” intentions.
        I hope this gets resolved.

    5. WellRed*

      Stop whispering and speak up! With all the me too and the church scandals it’s time to bring your church into the present day.

    6. Anon the Third*

      Ugh, how gross. I used to work retail and this kind of thing was a real problem. I’ve shoved a few people, but I don’t know if that’s something you’d be comfortable doing. There’s always Allison’s advice- get a group of like-minded people together and go to leadership en masse. Ignore their puzzled looks and demand to know what they’re going to do about it. Unleash your inner Karen.

    7. Jean (just Jean)*

      Warning: The fourth paragraph (not counting this one) briefly expresses a kind of self-talk that may upset people who have previously experienced unwanted physical or sexual advances.

      Ugh indeed. My first thought was to recommend enlisting the other half of the congregation/community (men and boys) as supporters of their wives, girlfriends, sisters, daughters, nieces, aunts. And–playing on gender stereotypes here–line up a bunch of guys who will, at a prearranged signal, barge in saying “how about that baseball team!”

      But my second thought was that to treat this as a hush-hush matter avoids the root of the problem. Far better to get this mess this out of the shadows and ditch the emotional freight for everybody. As is often quoted here, Captain Awkward says “return awkward to sender.”

      So. This is a great opportunity for this man’s would-be “targets” and all onlookers to learn to calmly and matter-of-factly assert themselves by delivering messages such as:
      “I am not comfortable with you standing so close to me.” or “You are standing too close.”
      “Stop rubbing my shoulders. I don’t like it.”
      “You need to stop touching me.”
      “You are interrupting my thoughts / meditations / reflections on today’s sermon.”
      At the snack part of the social hour: “I am going to get a napkin (cookie, cup of coffee, etc.)” followed by “I need to walk past you on the left (right, wherever)” followed by “Coming through; step back.” (That last line was a rewrite: I first wrote “You are blocking me; please move to the left/right/back.”
      I am consciously trying to be matter-of-fact rather than overly “polite” aka self-dismissing. At first this seems impossible but it gets easier with practice.

      Why a great opportunity? Because the so-called targets are in a safe place and surrounded by their caring friends and family. (PSA: If a church ain’t safe and caring, LEAVE. More on this below.) Nobody’s going to get fired, or denied a passing grade. AND because the so-called targets are speaking calmly everybody can avoid the quicksand of “You’re a creeper”versus “No, YOU are a brazen hussy temptress!” or “Does the fact that he’s treating (me, her) badly make (me, her) a bad girl who deserves it or secretly wants and enjoys it?”

      Finally, I want to generalize my comments to include all types of religious communities. I don’t get any sense that your church rejects all questions but I want to address this topic in case someone reading my comment doesbelong to a church, temple, mosque, etc. that discourages any disagreement with the Official Wisdom. I am speaking as a religious person who does not believe that being religious means being miserable. If any particular congregation is not safe and caring, and/or if it teaches and promotes a culture of “women have to be quiet; calm self-assertion is not tolerated” or “there is only one template for love between consenting adults” or “NOBODY ever even thinks that our leaders make mistakes”–find another community.

      I have a lot of sympathy for the idea of religious discipline (following dietary laws; giving up something for Lent; resisting the temptation to gossip; spending hard-earned funds to help others rather than to buy a flashy necklace or sports car; including lonely, perhaps awkward people in conversations or events instead of just one’s closest friends). I have a lot less sympathy for the idea that people have to give up basic human rights or intellectual freedom in order to be respected, welcomed, or not condemned to spend eternity in hell.

      My idea of religion includes more interpersonal kindness and less condemnation for independent thought. In short, no bank robbery, false rumors or murder, and really try to avoid adultery because it causes so much emotional pain…but science? LBGT rights? ordination of women and LBGT folks? all fine.

    8. Jules the 3rd*

      Yes to all the above – personally making a scene and going as a group to church leaders (and send a follow-up in writing).

      Also, enlist the men of the congregation. The women hold a meeting and make a list of trustworthy men, not just trust to behave well themselves but also trust to stand up for women (or just discuss this with husbands / brothers / fathers). Meet with those men and ask them to assign someone to hang out with Clarence every week, to socialize with him, and to distract him from the women. If Clarence heads for a woman anyway, ask the guy to follow, to watch Clarence’s hands and to make sure that the woman has a clear exit path.

      Put some of the work of dealing with Clarence on men and you’ll be shocked at how fast the church leaders react. As long as it’s women having to do all the defending, they’re not going to care.

      1. tangerineRose*

        And if he touches a woman, could one of the trusted guys say something like “Hey, that’s not cool!” Seems like sometimes creepers take this better from men.

    9. MatKnifeNinja*

      There are a couple questions….

      Is anyone else encouraging in this behavior? I’ve been to huggy/touchy churches, where people are touching on strangers. It’s like you are not considered welcomed if someone hasn’t touched you. (Shoulder hugs etc)

      Everyone should have went straight to the pastor/minister. Whisper campaigns make the whisperer look like a gossip, and the people who “don’t mind” consider it YOUR hang up. So nothing gets addressed.

      This guy could have dementia, have other issues (my sister had an special needs adult who had a problem keeping hands off of people at church), or the church used to be all touchy huggy and this guy never got the memo to keep you hands to yourself. Or he could be a grade A creep.

      If it was me, it’s straight to whoever leads the service, because if one of the minor girls talks to a teacher or counselor, they are mandated reporters. It will be investigated. That is a news story your church does not want.

      If Clarence got touchy with me, I would say loudly, “Hands in your pockets or hands at your side, your hands don’t belong on me or anyone else.” You are telling Clarence EXACTLY what you want him to do.

      Just like some kids at school, who have trouble following instructions and taking hints, there are adults that are like that. I’m not “touching”, I’m giving a hug. I patted a leg, I wasn’t “touching”. I’ve dealt with kids who had that type of thing. You gotta spell out exactly what you want, because their interpretation of the situation is different.

      If it happens at work, easy..go to HR and raise hell. This is church. Churches try to be inclusive. They have a higher tolerance for boundary stomping monsters. If this guy has been there for 40 years, and it’s, “Oh that how Clarence rolls.” YOU being uncomfortable with Clarence will get an eye roll. Yeah, Clarence should keep his hands to himself, but if everyone does a “Oh, that’s Clarence.”, and it’s tolerated, you are the troublemaker. It’s not fair. It’s gross. Churches are their own little world.

      Hopefully adult touching minor children without asking will make the high ups move their butts. The compromise is Clarence asks first. I’d prefer he just left everyone alone, but asking gets around the no consent part. That is what happened at my sister’s church with the special needs adult. It’s hard tell a man who functions at a 5 year old level, he can’t have a hug at church.

      Hope you get the outcome you want.

      1. Observer*

        his guy could have dementia, have other issues (my sister had an special needs adult who had a problem keeping hands off of people at church), or the church used to be all touchy huggy and this guy never got the memo to keep you hands to yourself. Or he could be a grade A creep.

        Could we just skip the excuse making? For one thing, he’s well past what’s common even in “huggy” groups. Secondly, he’s been told clearly and explicitly to STOP. Thirdly, the so called LEADERSHIP is protecting him.

        The man is a creep and the top guys are knowingly enabling it. It needs to stop.

    10. Anona*

      If he can’t stop, he shouldn’t be allowed to attend.

      I’d talk to the leaders again, and bring up liability if they don’t do anything. I’d also say it would be really damaging for the church if something bad happens and it gets out in the news that church leaders knew and did nothing. I’d say if they’re not sure how to handle it, a group of you may contact the central denomination (if such a thing exists), and raise the same concerns.

      They need to talk to him make it clear that it must stop it he must leave. It shouldn’t be the congregation’s responsibility.

    11. aarti*

      Good for you for calling out this behaviour. What a creepy sounding guy! Keep doing so, and support other women who may not feel comfortable speaking up.

      I’d take it up with the administration again, ideally a couple of you together. Specifically name the behaviour, don’t make excuses (it’s easy to temper your message “I’m sure he doesn’t mean to make people uncomfortable”. ) Ask for a clear plan of action from the administration. If they try to avoid committing (“we need time to talk about it”), insist on a time line for action. If they refuse, document this man’s actions and their refusal to do anything about it. In this day and age they are setting themselves up for potentially an ugly lawsuit or news story.

      I’m so sorry this is happening to you. Sending you lots of support and internet hugs if you want them.

    12. Mary Connell*

      Thank you all for the feedback! To be honest, my second reaction after “ugh” was that I don’t have the time or emotional energy to deal with this again.

      However, with church tomorrow I realized this morning that (a) if he’s escalating with me again, there’s a good chance that he’s escalating with the girls, and (b) it’s Saturday morning on AAM, and the wonderful commenters here would give good, clear advice, and provide the emotional energy to deal with it. I appreciate everyone taking the time to provide ideas and encouragement. It’s important to me that he stop touching me, but it’s even more important that he doesn’t teach the girls in the church to accept this kind of behavior.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Your last sentence – that’s partly why I suggested taking the girls with you when you go en masse to talk to the church leaders. Let them see what standing up for themselves looks like, and see other women doing so instead of tiptoeing around Clarence the Broken Stair. Show them how they can stand up for themselves and for each other, because unfortunately, they’ll probably need that knowledge a lot in the future.

        1. valentine*

          It’s important to me that he stop touching me, but it’s even more important that he doesn’t teach the girls in the church to accept this kind of behavior.
          The bottom line is he’s grooming everyone to let him abuse at will. The whisper campaign puts the onus on girls and women (no dads?) to avoid him when even you can’t. No one is being loud. No one is bending his finger back until it feels like it’s going to break. No one is tapping his kidneys every time he does it. No one has barred him from the church and physically removed him when he returned. Everyone’s staying silent enough for him to continue.

          The elders having chosen him over you, you might do well to leave the church, unless you are prepared to get loud and fight him/them until they ban him.

          Report him to the police. Maybe they will find family or community members reported him decades ago, but nothing was done. Maybe he is a fugitive. The police may do nothing, but you will have done most everything you can.

      2. Owler*

        So many of these comments telling Clarence to stop focus on your comments to get it to stop for you. It sounds like you would like to widen your umbrella to protect some of the teen girls around you too. Please follow that instinct! I would have been too shy to say anything when I was a teen/young adult, but I would have been emboldened to hear another adult speaking up. Call it out!
        I don’t have a good script, but my gut is something simple: “Clarence, please stop touching me. And don’t you go bothering those young girls. We’re watching you.”

        1. Observer*

          I think that BOTH things need to happen. People need to tell Clarence “Stop” *and* they need to go to the leadership. And if someone sees him touching someone else, they should tell him to stop, too.

    13. Parenthetically*

      Oof. Grew up in church, definitely know this guy.

      Every time, a clear, “You’re standing too close. Please step back./Please don’t touch me./Do you not notice me backing away? Please stand back!” and then continue the conversation if you want. The girls and their mothers need to be empowered to do the same.

      And go to the church leadership (with other women if they’re willing) with a clear script. “Bob is continuing to stand too close, touch women who don’t want to be touched, including in really intimate ways like rubbing their shoulders and touching their legs, and backing them into corners, despite several of us telling him repeatedly to back away and stop touching us. Crucially, he is also doing these things to TEENAGE GIRLS. It is your responsibility to ensure the safety of everyone in this congregation and right now you are failing to do that. You need to ensure that Bob does not make women AND GIRLS feel targeted and unsafe. This means, at minimum, observing him on Sundays, and stepping in to correct him and remove him from situations where he is doing the things I mentioned. Can the women and girls of this congregation count on you to take this seriously?” Then follow up with an email to the entire leadership group. “Per our conversation last Sunday, etc.” Knowing what I do about church leadership groups, I might also type up a physical letter and send it. You don’t want to leave ANY room for deniability.

    14. atgo*

      I just took an amazing self defense course through a group called Impact (maybe there’s a chapter near you).

      In addition to getting loud and calling out the behavior (and by being loud, inviting those around to observe), there were some more polite physical ways they recommended. One of the techniques that they taught for people who touch you when you don’t want to be touched is to just take their hand off and hand it back to them, repeatedly. You can say something or not, but you’re taking physical action and setting a boundary.

      Remember that you’re not being rude, irrational, or hysterical if you escalate and make a scene. He’s the one who is repeatedly violating boundaries, implicit and explicit. If he looks bad as a result of it, so be it.

      I’m sorry to hear the church leaders don’t have your back on this. Older men get a pass sometimes for poor behavior, and it’s unacceptable. Sending support.

    15. Mimosa Jones*

      I find it helpful to tell someone what you want them to do rather than what you don’t want them to do. Say “walk” instead of “don’t run. “ sometimes people hear that better and it’s harder for them to deflect and deny.

      To play off of what Jean (just Jean) is saying, you might be able to bring more attention to this and turn it into a teachable moment by hosting an official, on the public calendar, class on handling a creeper. I’m not coming up with a good name right now, but get together the moms and the girls who are his common targets and have everyone learn and practice together how to speak up and defend their space. It can be fun and both general and specific. Bring in a guest speaker if you can find one. That sends the message that this is an issue and that everyone has a right to body autonomy. You can put a pretty title on it for the public, but to the church officials you can clarify that this is a Dealing with Clarence class, that this is a real problem and that the class can’t be the only solution.

    16. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Tell him to back off, every time. And don’t bother with the whisper campaign – just say it out loud. Preferably where EVERYONE can hear it. (picking a name here) “Arnold he stands too close, touches you without permission, and is generally a creep”.

      I’m a firm believer that bad behavior like this should be called out. If Arnold gets upset, well, he brought it on himself. He can change his behavior.

    17. PlatypusOo*

      You’ve gotten a lot of great advice about this problem so I don’t have anything new to add. Except one thing: women need to stop overthinking and stop being polite and just act every single time this happens.

    18. Vincaminor*


      In approximately that tone of voice and volume. Specify his bad behavior— “Stop touching me” could be you being ~sensitive about being bumped by his elbow or something.

    19. OhBehave*

      I’m sorry he’s doing this. What horrible behavior! Imagine if he was 30 years old. Would you tolerate his?
      We tend to give our elders a pass because of the whole respect your elders mindset. But the truth is that if they were overly touchy at age 30, that would still be the case at 70. Of course with the elderly, some mental deficits may occur, his wife died and he misses physical contact, he’s hard of hearing so needs to move closer, but this guy backed off once before so he knows.
      It’s important that you push back in the moment. Don’t allow yourself to be backed into a corner. Stand your ground. “Please step back a bit.” No apologies or excuses. The same goes for unwanted touching. Physically remove his hand. Don’t just move away. He’s not going to get the hint. As you remove his hand say, “Please don’t touch me.” It’s important that girls also learn these techniques.
      I am sorry your church is not taking this seriously. Our pastors would not hesitate in this situation. I’ve had to have conversations like this myself.

    20. Lilysparrow*

      First, any of the women and girls involved need to tell their husbands and/or fathers, and bring them into it. Anyone who is likely to dismiss this or deny it is a problem, or who would in bad faith accuse you of being “divisive” needs to see that unity of concern and unity of purpose.

      I’m not sure what your church leadership structure is like, but I would get together with at least 2-3 other women who have experienced this (especially girls and their moms), and any of the husbands/dads, and request a formal meeting with either your designated elder, if you have one, or with the pastor and the head elder (or the equivalent).

      Tell them that this guy is persistently being physically aggressive with women (backing them into corners) and touching them unwantedly and inappropriately (hand on knee, backrub). That he has been told to stop, over and over, and only stops temporarily.

      That you have to **warn** people about him!

      This is not friendliness, and it is not cluelessness or being “old-fashioned”. He knows it is unwanted, because he has been told so in plain English. He also knows it is inappropriate, because I guarantee he never ever does it in front of someone’s husband or father, or any church leaders.

      That you have raised this with other leaders, who have done nothing and dismissed it. Name names.

      Ask what they intend to do about it, because playing “whack a mole” and expecting individual women to protect themselves and their daughters is not only unChristian, it just plan isn’t working.

      Ask what the official church safety plan for minors requires them to do. They should have one.
      Ask what the official church discipline plan requires them to do. They should have one.

      Do not leave the meeting until they give you a plan of action. Take notes. Hold them to their words.

      Guys like this count on getting away with it because everybody treats it as a minor social faux pas, and nobody is willing to make a stink.

      Make a stink.

    21. Mary Connell*

      UPDATE: I had my husband read all the comments yesterday. He was already horrified himself that this was happening again but not sure what to do — it’s not something random people necessarily know how to deal with — but these comments gave him language and strategies. This morning he took the problem to a meeting of the regional council, and they took the issue very seriously. He said he wished I could have seen their faces when he described the problem.

      They have directed a local leader to address this with Clarence, and coming from higher up, it is more likely to happen than upon my previous notifications of the problem, which as far as I know were ignored. I was asked to discuss the problem with the woman in charge of our teenage youth group — I’d somehow never looped her in before — and she was also horrified, and is a very capable woman and will talk to the local leaders and then present something to the girls on how to recognize and handle a problem like this.

      Jean (just Jean) called this a great opportunity, and I think I agree. The local church leaders now know serious the regional council consider this kind of behavior, and the girls will get some straight talk about personal security and not needing to be polite when things like this happen.

      Thank you all for your feedback and comments. The discussion was very helpful, and in just one day it was heartening to see positive responses and immediate action from the church leaders.

  23. Down the Rabbit Hole*

    Does anyone have tips for not feeling awkward about money when talking with friends who are struggling financially?

    My oldest friend Alice and I have known each other since we were kids. Now we’re eight years post college and our financial situations have drastically changed. As kids, we were fairly even with our parents’ finances but now, I am making significantly more money than her. She’s a freelance artist who often fears she won’t be able to pay her bills while I’m an office worker who can pay for vacations and other luxury items.

    It really hit me during our last conversation at a gathering. While we were catching up, Alice talked about how she was struggling with getting steady work and paying her bills and maybe she’d have to move back in with her parents. Then she asked what was up with me, which honestly is my job gave me a raise, I’m recently back from an international vacation, and the most troubling thing on my mind is whether to invest in upgrades for my furniture or save it for another vacation. Now most of our friends are in line with me, making good money to take steps like buy houses or start families or go on vacations, but I felt so awkward in that conversation with Alice that the things on my mind stemmed from having a decent regular incoming while everything for her came from the inconsistency of her paychecks. She did have thoughts on my topics (she asked to see pictures from my vacation and shared her opinion on furniture vs vacation), so she wasn’t actively upset by our conversation but it still made me feel bad.

    This is also on top of Alice having to frequently bow out of friend outings that cost money. If we’re walking the mall, going to a free museum, or just hanging out at someone’s house, she’s all in. But if we’re doing things that cost money (bars, movies, dinner, ticketed event), Alice says no more often than not. Is there anything I should be contienscious of not saying so I don’t upset her or should I just carry on as normal?

    1. Jdc*

      At the end of the day she chose a job that isn’t making a ton. She seems considerate and kind. I’d avoid shoving it in her face but if she asks you can answer I think. I also know that I’ve paid for friends when we’ve gone out if they couldn’t afford it and vice versus. I sometimes just want their company and don’t care if it means I pay. To me that’s what friends do. I love you enough that paying for lunch makes me happy too so I’m more than happy to do it. I’ve also greatly appreciated when a friend said they would cover me because they wanted me there.

    2. YetAnotherUsername*

      Maybe you need to reframe it in your mind. Alice is a grown woman, she’s well aware that being a a freelance artist is not a well paying job, and she has chosen to continue in that job. Nothing is stopping her getting an additional part time job to supplement her income. She has chosen this financial situation and she seems to be happy enough with it. Clearly money is not important to her.

      So I think you need to reframe it in your mind to realize that Alice is happy in this situation and stop feeling guilty about your own affluence. It’s similar to having or not having kids. I have kids, some of my friends are happy not to be parents. They enjoy spending time with and hearing about my kids (within reason). I don’t have to feel guilty about having kids or talking about my kids because they have chosen that situation.

      If Alice were unhappy in her situation and she was always trying and failing to find a better paying job, then maybe you would need to be a bit more circumspect in how you talked about your own life. Just as I wouldn’t bring up my kids with my friends who are unhappily not parents, who have had infertility or losses or never met the right person. In those cases I don’t bring up the kids, and when they ask I keep the discussion short and make sure to offer other conversation also.

      So it is with money, if I had friend who was in a bad financial situation not of their choosing, I would be a lot more careful about bringing up holidays and so on, than I would if my friend was the arty, “money’s not a big deal” kind like Alice seems to be.

      1. Down The Rabbit Hole*

        Problem is I don’t know how happy she is with her career choice anymore. While she’s not lashing out at those of us in the friend group who have money and full time jobs, she often vents about how her work isn’t appreciated. She said she’s creating art and culture but is paid nothing for it. Yet she doesn’t want to give any time away from her art to even a part time job. So she always sounds bitter about her lot in life but doesn’t seem to want to change it.

        1. Asenath*

          She has to come to a decision herself about whether she wants to continue as she is or move into paid, but unrelated, work. And it may take her a long time. I’m sure I’m not the only person who dithered about a change in life long after most of my friends had probably seen what should have been obvious to me – and a few dropped a hint or two that maybe it I didn’t like what I was complaining about, I should change it.

        2. YetAnotherUsername*

          Oh wow that’s a bit different. I hope she eventually comes to the realization that there are loads of ways of creating art and culture that do pay well! Some industries that immediately spring to mind are film, fashion, gaming, decorating. I’m sure there are loads more.

          I’ve seen this happen with loads of friends when I was younger but with me it was music not art. I knew loads of guys in bands. They all wanted to keep their music pure and unadulterated and not “sell out to the man”. (I suspect if “the man” actually wanted to pay any of them they might have changed their minds on that haha). Most of them ended up quitting music entirely once they realized they weren’t going to be the next nirvana. Some of them got a “normal” job and kept the band as a hobby. And one or two went into the music industry in other ways eg playing covers at weddings, teaching music, or working as a DJ, and kept the band as a hobby. The last group seem to be the happiest. The substance of their paid work is something they enjoy (playing music, even if it’s not their own music), and they can stíll engage in their own art as a hobby on weekends or evenings. The ones who are the most miserable are the ones who absolutely refused to “sell out to the man” and wouldn’t “play crap music for money” and so on. They mostly ended up giving up entirely and losing something they enjoyed a lot.

          Zero of my friends actually became successful musicians. If your friend has been an artist this long and is still struggling to pay the bills it seems unlikely she is going to “make it big” either. Sooner or later she’s going to have to make her peace with that.

          Maybe ask her if she’s ever considered using her art in other ways that pay better like some of the industries above.

    3. Texan In Exile*

      Alice having to frequently bow out of friend outings that cost money

      Sometimes it’s nice to invite her and to tell her it’s your treat. You can lie – “Someone gave me these tickets” or “It was a buy one get one,” or you can find a non-cash way she can repay you. I don’t like to feel like a charity case, but if I can feed someone’s cat or help her paint a room in her house, then I feel like there is reciprocity.

      1. Down The Rabbit Hole*

        I do actually do that as much as I can. I get her ‘outings’ for her birthday and Christmas, I brought her back a gift from my trip, I never ask her for gas money like I do with my other friends, I mostly recently treated her to dinner because I had a craving for this nicer restaurant and ‘couldn’t find anyone to go with me’ when really I wanted to treat her to a nicer meal. So I do do that as often as I can without being too obvious, I hope.

        But I can’t treat her to everything. We’ve talked about doing a vacation together for a while but she can’t afford it. We did a weekend outing to an event a few towns over last year and she could only afford it because I had won free tickets to the event (legitimately won), the hotel room was a birthday gift from her aunt, and she brought a lot of her own food so she wouldn’t have to eat out. She had fun and it was definitely worth it for her but it means our talks of a grander vacation together, as much as she wants to do it, she just can’t afford it.

    4. fposte*

      I’m friends with many people who make more than I do. I like to look at their fancy new kitchens :-).

      It sounds like you’re being laudably sensitive here, and, complementarily, that Alice is being laudably sensible about choosing what she can attend. I don’t think you need to pretend you have less money than you do, but I’d limit the “finances have given me privileges!” celebrations–you can say “Work is going great and I just got back from a vacation I really enjoyed,” and if she wants some vicarious vacationing she’ll ask for more details, which it sounds like she did. Since I work with a lot of students/starting out people, I have tended to avoid phraseology that suggests anything is objectively cheap or affordable; I say “It’s about $10” or “Target-style prices” or whatever.

      I also would be thoughtful about keeping Alice in the loop if something came up at an event that she couldn’t attend and make sure that she’s not the only one suggesting free activities.

    5. Kuododi*

      Hopefully, I can help with some perspective from Alice’s viewpoint. DH and I are both ordained Protestant clergy. (We met at seminary.). He’s spent his professional life in health care ministry and I am a licensed mental health counselor and pastoral counselor. (Obviously not working now given my current health drama.) Needless to say, $$$ has always been a fairly serious issue. My friends and family all understand and have no issues with our financial situation. (For the most part…my Mother still has “issues” to this day.) I recently had to explain to her that DH and I made choices at the beginning of our relationship which we knew would not lead to a fat bank account. For who we are as individuals and as a couple, those choices have led to a wonderful life. We’re not able to grab theater tickets and go on a fancy date or other pricey fun things. We certainly have worked all kinds of extra jobs to keep the lights on and the bills paid. We are also thankful for each other, our friends and family. To reference Capt. Awkward, DH and I have never believed our more financially successful friends/family were having $$$ “at us.”.

      Truthfully, I would be distressed if I knew people were censoring themselves out of a mistaken need to protect my feelings. Obviously, it’s important to not be rude or bragging about this or that expensive item recently purchased. Frankly, I am delighted to hear when my friends/ family are doing well financially. I hope this is helpful. I’m still dealing with pain pills and other adjustments from the cancer surgeries so I can’t promise everything I wrote makes fantastic sense. Feel free to ask me anything you need to clarify. Best regards.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Friendship is a back and forth. You talk about your stuff and then she talks about her stuff.
      Many of my friends are more comfy than I will ever be. I totally agree with touching on what is going on with you. You can’t hide that trip to Europe or whatever. But you don’t have to rub her nose in it either, which it sounds like you are NOT doing. Funny stories, interesting stories serve a purpose. Yammering on about the more mundane aspects of your trip really does not serve a purpose.
      The same goes for her, she can’t hide the money issues from you, it’s too big to hide. But she can talk about other stuff, which she seems to be doing.
      But I think it’s good to be aware there are reasons why birds of a feather flock together. People seem to be drawn to others who are seeing similar things. Conversation can get difficult when there are not a lot of things in common. Fortunately you guys have spent years as friends and you have that to draw on, not just for conversation purposes but for buoying up the friendship and helping it along.

    7. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      I can come at it a little bit from Alice’s side. Different reasons (difficult marriage sucked my finances dry), but I had 1/10th or less the income of one of my dearest friends (top ramen vs travel every weekend and two homes in HCOL areas). I focused on what we did have in common, and not whining. I owned my mistakes (wrong marriage choice, head in sand) but on my commonalities with her (we both had difficult childhoods, both of us in counseling at different times, both of us have the same values and enjoy the arts, continuous learning, etc.).
      She wisely did not push on the bad marriage, nor did she rescue me when I crashed and burned, but she was there emotionally and mentally (and in some cases with time and energy) more than anyone. Our friendship was built on talking about and growing our common ground.
      Free museum days (and she had dual membership, so I could often go with her); sketching, painting, beach trips together for picnics and walks; cards, notes and calls of encouragement in both directions; both of us tracking and supporting each other’s life’s issues (parental illnesses, etc).
      I also was not too proud, and she judiciously offered me – first pick of her duplicate gifts, extras, and outgrown items (ahem – some with tags), so many of my items are “recycled.” While not always perfectly my style, for several years a basic white thrift store t-shirt, black costco leggings, and whatever she’d given me, were my go-to daily pick-me-up. It was never feeling like charity – she freely gives to others, too. (the whole circle “swaps” things that turn out to be bad color choices or fit once; their take is that it is easier to give it away than spend an hour in the return line for the $14.95 at marshalls)
      I had to make my own choices to pull myself out of the hole, but it was wonderful to have someone who cared about me regardless of the decisions I had made. (But again, I never whined and just quietly adapted my activities.). YMMV/

    8. myug*

      I have friends who make a lot more and noticeably less than me, and we all have varying amounts of disposable income due to factors in our lives. It might be that you want to take these vacations or go to money-needing events with her, as she is a dear friend and you want to share those moments with her, but in reality you have to realize that maybe Alice isn’t the one you can do those with. You are really the only one who is feeling awkward and, kind of insultingly, pitying her. She is clearly not upset when you talk about the things you can afford and is very contentious of what she can and cannot afford to do. She’s being a good friend in engaging you at your level and not being awkward because she herself can’t go on an international vacation or buy furniture upgrades. Not to pile on you, but I think the nicest thing you can do it not be “conscientious” as that will just make her feel (or start making her feel) more like the poor duck out. Just try to balance the amount of no-cost events in relation to the money ones – at this point that’s all you can do.

      If you are wondering, “Is Alice happy with the work she picked?” or, as I suspect, you are increasingly scared for her future when you hear that she can’t pay bills, then as a friend, you can use your time to help her find a less precarious career than as a freelance artist. Let her gain from your office-job knowledge, “Hey, we have graphic designers and their experience is blah blah blah. Or Position X lets you be creative in such and such way with a stable paycheck and you can freelance on the side.” If she refuses that, then c’est la vie. You’ve done what you can and either way, you can’t feel bad about making more money or her situation. She has to be the one that wants it to change – maybe she is just venting because it’s stressful but wouldn’t want to change her lifestyle because it does, deep down, truly fulfill her and make her happy. It’s like when people complain about their families – they love ’em but day-to-day they drive them nuts.

    9. Filosofickle*

      I had a year where everything was going amazingly well for me — my work was booming with income through the roof, plus a new relationship. But a lot of people around me were having a totally crap year. It made me feel awkward to share awesome news so I often stayed quiet. But I posted about this inner conflict on FB and everyone chimed in to say that they wanted me to share! That I deserve it and shouldn’t feel bad about celebrating. That my happiness gave them something to celebrate, too. That my joy would help me be there for those who are struggling.

      In your case it’s a bit more awkward because you’re specifically asking about money, and that’s harder than many other life topics. But I think the basic idea is still there. Also, it’s not your responsibility to tiptoe around her feelings, and in some ways it’s insulting to do so.

      It’s always kind to be aware when someone else has less money, which it sounds like you are. Ensuring you offer to do low and no-cost things. Making sure you pay all of your tab when you ordered the extra drink, and occasionally pick up a ticket without making them feel like a charity case. Show pics of your trip without saying jerky things like “OMG you would just LOVE Barcelona, you must go!” Just be yourself. Share your life. It’s ok!

  24. Sunny Sasha*

    Maybe I’m over-thinking things, please tell me if I am, but I got really annoyed at something I saw on social media. An old school friend ‘shared’ one of those inspirational posters of fancy text on a nature background. It said ‘True self-care is making a life that you don’t need to take a vacation from’.

    I don’t know why this made me so angry but it did. Not at my friend but the person who made it. It felt so condescending, like you clearly don’t have a worthwhile life if you feel the need to get away now and then. Even if you have a perfect freaking life, you have to take a break from reality at times, plus the fun of traveling and seeing something outside your normal routine.

    It was silly but it really annoyed me.

    1. JDC*

      I saw that too. I didn’t react to it much but now thinking about it, ya, annoying. It is ridiculous to think that we don’t need a break. I was asking husband the other day when son is going to his moms for fall break and he said “I don’t see why it matters”. Really? Because 17 year olds are exhausting! I love him, truly but find me one parent who doesn’t want a day away from the teenage drama and I will find you a dang liar. We all need a break from things in life. A change of scenery, no obligations for a few days. Even a wonderful life is full of daily mundane things and stress.

      1. Door Guy*

        I love my children to death and would do anything for them. But when my mom offered to take them overnight this weekend first thought in my head was “when can I drop them off!”

        1. Jdc*

          Amen! My husband once was kind of offended I said I needed time away from the kid and I said “why do you think babysitters exist?” and it clicked for him. I don’t care how much you love anyone, sometimes you need a day away. Heck, with the rain and my dogs being stir crazy I could use a break from them right now. Driving me bonkers. Mommy can only play for so many hours a day.

    2. Mary Connell*

      Yep, the brain needs to rest! And how would you do that anyway? Find the career that’s a perfect match, relationships that are entirely frictionless (meaning no kids, no in-laws?), a large trust fund, a large staff of household servants who take care of all the details of life and don’t have their own lives and stresses, no ethical dilemmas, no climate change, no traffic to speak of, good genes and perfect health, you don’t live somewhere where politics is a thing (a dictatorship, perhaps?), and you never have co-workers you want to write into AAM about?

      How do you create that kind of life?

    3. Angwyshaunce*

      Yeah, this is annoying. People post this kind of drivel because they think it makes them sound smart and enlightened.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Totally agree. Position of privilege and all that. Here is a person who has never held a dying dog or a crying child. They have never had to put a parent in a nursing home or fire a very likable employee. I could go on. In short, here is a person who has built themselves an ivory tower.

        1. Parenthetically*

          I dunno, though, I think sometimes people latch onto things like this simply because they resonate with something about them and don’t think any more deeply than that — as someone said below, maybe they’re in recovery and this sounds like “spend less time numbing out and ‘escaping’ and more time building a life you don’t need to escape from.” My dirty lenses are a friend who has had an objectively INCREDIBLY difficult life (adopted by emotionally abusive parents who manipulated her into giving up her own child for adoption when she was in her early 20s, spiral into alcoholism and drug abuse, lifelong struggle with depression, etc. etc.) who shares stuff like this a lot.

    4. Laura H.*

      The term Self-Care also feels very overused and almost buzzwordy, and not cognizant to the fact that it’s gonna be different for each person.

      My self-care is making sure I get out of the house and do something during the week, and while it’s by mere routine some weeks, it still helps. My sibling’s self-care is they bunk with a buddy Mon-Fri and only come home on the weekends. My self care wouldn’t be effective for them, and theirs isn’t feasible for me. Interaction with the sibling when they’re home on weekends is also part of my self-care and I’m always appreciative that they humor/honor my want of that.

      The above original idea ignores the fact that satisfaction comes from successful juggling of multiple moving parts, and also dealing with the less than pleasant fact that some things are going to slip. Finding your own balance is important. My balance might not look like yours. Yours may not look like mine. Self-care and balance are not one size fits all, and that’s more than ok with me.

    5. notmyusualname*

      I despise those posters/pictures. That’s probably why I find inspirobot so entertaining. Link above in my name

      1. Kathenus*

        Thanks for that, I hadn’t discovered this yet. I see a work avoidance rabbit hole in my future.

        Also, try despair-dot-com, they have ‘Demotivators’ which are snarky takes on inspirational posters, and you can even make your own.

      2. LGC*

        Thanks, I’m going to spend all weekend with that.

        (Two of the ones I got were “Seek lies, and you might achieve recognition” and “Deny evidence.” I feel like it’s trying to tell me something.)

        1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

          Maybe it’s telling you that you should read Mark Twain’s ‘On the Decay of the Art of Lying’.

      3. Weegie*

        Thank you for this – it’s hilarious!

        I actually got a ‘quote’ that was quite fun – I could see it on a postcard – but the first one was nonsense and made me laugh.

    6. Jean (just Jean)*

      Sure, it’s a good idea not to let every last annoyance become huge and unmanageable. But it takes time to learn to be assertive with oneself (“I deserve to sleep on clean sheets!”) or others (“I can’t drive you to XYZ this Sunday. I have another obligation.”) Plus life is not this absolutist and we’re not always in control. Extreme weather? Serious car crashes caused by the other person’s bad decisions? Chronic or fatal illnesses that slam into loved ones?
      Short sayings seem brilliant to some folks and annoying or infuriating to others.

      1. Mary Connell*

        Yeah, they’re colloquially called “deepities.” From urban dictionary: “A proposition that seems to be profound because it is actually logically ill-formed. A deepity balances precariously between multiple interpretations, at least one of which is obvious and trivial and at least one of which would be earth-shaking except that it is false.”

    7. Katefish*

      That’s obnoxious! I’m mostly content with where I am at this stage of life, and still need and crave downtime and escape. That’s human and healthy. Also, everyone needs respites to think and imagine.

    8. Come On Eileen*

      Some quotes like these make their way through sobriety/recovery circles — more phrased as “Recovery is more than quitting drinking — it’s creating a life you don’t need to escape from.” In that specific context, I really like it, because it reminds me how much I was numbing out and how I need to focus on doing things that bring me joy so I minimize times where I feel like numbing out. But it looks like a well-intended idea has morphed into a pithy catch-all quote that’s not doing anybody much good! Just wanted to share some context from my own life where similar quotes have been valuable to me.

      1. Filosofickle*

        This is how I see it, too. I don’t think the intention is to say you shouldn’t need take breaks / vacations. But I know a lot of people who are miserable and over-stressed in their day to day lives. It’s helpful for me to remember that anything I can do to make day to day life better is awesome, so that vacation becomes a wonderful add-on, not a band-aid over a sucky life. Sometimes there’s not much you can do (long work yours you can’t control, challenging caretaking, limited funds) but if you can find opportunities for more happiness and self-care in your daily life it’s a good thing.

    9. Beatrice*

      Maybe you’re not the intended audience? I have problems on multiple fronts in my life (job, marriage, family, friends) that I often feel like I need to escape from. My job in particular…I got a nice raise when I took it a year ago, but it’s so stressful that I spend that and more on additional self-care and entertainment to take my mind OFF it. And my problems in each area drain the mental energy I need to actually make things better instead of just taking off the edge without changing anything. I need to stick the job out another year for reasons, and some of the family/marriage stuff will get better at defined points in the future too, and I just need to hang on, but sometimes it’s helpful to be reminded that it’s better for my mental health to take proactive steps to make positive changes in my life, even if they’re hard/painful, instead of (or in addition to?) relaxing/distracting activities that make me feel better in the moment but don’t actually change anything. That’s what the described image means to me.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I think there’s a lot of truth to this. As written it can sound sanctimonious, like why is your life so bad you need vacation? Kind of like anyone who parent-shames those who, you know, hire a babysitter and go have an adult-only evening, because if you truly loved your kids you wouldn’t need adult-only alone time.

        But if instead you read it as “don’t let vacation be the only thing that makes life worth living” then it probably would appeal to more people. People need vacation, sure, there are a lot of benefits to taking a mental and physical break to the extent possible from the everyday. But, the everyday shouldn’t be so hard to deal with that it needs to be escaped from, and maybe this is providing motivation to some people to look at what is bothering them daily and what might be done to help. (I’m thinking in particular of people who are so stressed about work that they cry on a regular basis.) Recognizing that it’s not always possible to escape right away, it IS important to realize that the situation is bad and should be changed as soon as reasonably possible.

      2. Observer*

        Shrug. Even in your context this line seems ill formed. I get what you are saying – that ultimately you need to make some significant life changes. But in the short term, you have reasons why you cannot do those things RIGHT NOW. That does not make your band-aids not “real” self care. Sure, it’s treating symptoms rather than the root cause. But it’s still REAL, TRUE *and* USEFUL.

        A truer and more useful version of the sign – more true to your experience and you describe it, too – would not be anywhere near as pithy, though.

    10. Asenath*

      A lot of “inspirational” slogans seem really silly to me. I try to remember that they can be meaningful to others, and try not to make fun of them in front of people who do like them.

    11. Meepmeep*

      It seems to me like a reaction to an even more annoying trend – the idea that if you’re impossibly overworked, stressed out at home, never get enough sleep or rest, and are basically constantly exhausted, it can all be fixed by taking a bubble bath. As a working mom, I hate the “self-care” trend. No, I don’t need a bubble bath. I need to get enough sleep and to not be exhausted all the time. And the way our society is set up, I can’t do the latter; so I’m expected to magically be satisfied with a bubble bath once a week.

      1. Observer*

        It’s as annoying as the bubble bath remedy for being stretched to thin. They are both a glib waving away of the real issues that most people face.

    12. myug*

      It pisses you off because it’s silly. It’s like the people who mommy-shame because your child isn’t your entire personality and all you talk about. It’s forcing someone else’s extreme version of a thing (life, motherhood, marriage, work [don’t get me started on ‘get paid to do what you love’], what have you) and framing it as “you are a failure if you don’t do it like this.”

    13. Person from the Resume*

      I saw this and hated because it’s oblivious to realities of the world.

      Timing-wise a friend who works in a shelter for homeless youth had just posted that the new job was great but would be stressful and had talked about needing to be aware of self-care.

      We need people doing the hard work doctors, police, fire fighters, counselors, homeless shelter workers whose potentially sacrifice their own mental wellness to help others.

    14. Observer*

      This “inspirational” poster was written by someone who has been really, really lucky in life or is a selfish, self-centered and unreliable person who I would never want to have a relationship with. (Or Both)

      That sounds extreme, but it’s true. Life happens and you need to step up to the plate when it does. And sometimes life presents us with choices with are all less than optimal and we wind up in situations where were have to take on stress as the least bad or best choice. Which means that occasional breaks are useful.

      It’s not just about kids either – it’s about significant others as well, and sometimes friends. And occupations. Pretty much all of life.

  25. The Other Dawn*

    At the end of next week I’m headed to DC for a business trip. We’ll be taking the train there, so no car. I’m thinking we’ll get the SmarTrip card so we can take the train wherever we want to go. Probably the blue line since it appears to make the loop and hit everything. Any tips for getting around?

    Food recommendations? We’re not into fine dining, but also not looking for the typical well-known chains. Maybe a great steakhouse? Or a local burger place? A great diner?

    For things to do, we plan to hit the Mall and the museums and sites. Any you can think of that most tourists wouldn’t know about? We’re not into art galleries, but most other things we would probably like.

    1. IntoTheSarchasm*

      We went several years ago and did a tour called “Monuments By Moonlight.” It was very interesting and virtually no crowds. Not sure how late in the season they have it but possibly worth a look.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I’ll second the nighttime tour. When I went, it was still fairly busy, but not as bad as the daytime tours. And I was pleasantly surprised by some of the monuments; I knew about the famous ones (Jefferson and Lincoln memorials, etc.) but hadn’t known about the FDR one.

        As for recommendations for food, I was utterly delighted with the food at the Mitsitam Cafe in the National Museum of the American Indian. It’s cafeteria-style, but excellent quality and variety, featuring variations on native foods from different regions (Pacific Northwest, South America, Great Plains, etc.).

    2. Kathenus*

      My favorite restaurant when I was in DC was Afghan Grill in Woodley Park. Every time I’ve been there it’s fantastic.

    3. Washi*

      1. Yes, definitely get a SmartTrip! If you end up needing to take the bus, nextbus.wmata.com tells you when the next one is. I’m a bit confused about your blue line comment- just take whatever line is closest!
      2. Food: Rasika, either location, has amazing modern Indian food (but make a reservation online!) Busboys and Poets is a great local chain with awesome food. Generally, I like to eat around 6 because things get really busy around 7.
      3: Off the beaten path: Frederick Douglass house museum, Dumbarton Oaks garden (still probable pretty nice this time of year), Hillwood Estate, Building Museum (check the exhibits first to see if it’s interesting to you), Postal Museum, the Arboretum, Theodore Roosevelt Island.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I mentioned the blue line because it goes to Arlington Cemetery, whereas it looks like the others don’t.

        1. gwal*

          It’s easy to get to Arlington Cem. from other lines, too (yellow goes to Pentagon, which is just one stop away, for example).

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      A lot of recommendations– including transportation– depend on where you’re staying. Do you know what neighborhood you’re staying in?

      Don’t try to limit yourself to one Metro line. That’s impractical, especially since you’re coming in to Union Station, which is on the Red Line. I find the DC Metro to be fairly easy to navigate, but then I consider myself to be a New Yorker, so YMMV. However, Metro stations, especially in tourist areas, usually have very helpful staff. Just remember that on escalators we stand on the right and walk on the left! This is especially key during rush hour. Also, keep your card handy because you need it to exit stations as well as enter them.

      One of my favorite districts for food is Penn Quarter, very close to the Mall. The restaurants there aren’t cheap, but you’ll find all of Jose Andres’ spots (Jaleo, Oyamel, China Chilcano) and Rasika, which is wonderful Indian (more upscale).

      If you want to try Ethiopian food, DC is the place to do it. We’re partial to Dukem on U Street, but there are a bunch in various neighborhoods. For the best food recs, look up Tom Sietsema’s reviews. I like his style and he’s very balanced between high-end and casual.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Then you’re close to Penn Quarter, and Metro Center (right near your hotel) serves the Red, Blue, Orange and Silver lines. You won’t have a problem getting places!

      1. Reba*

        I strongly recommend Bindaas if you are a somewhat adventurous eater, it’s a little sister restaurant to Rasika. You can’t go wrong with any of Jose Andres restaurants. I especially like Oyamel, the taco place, and Zaytinya mediterranean, both very accessible from your hotel. My fave Ethiopian is Zenebech on 18th St.

        Agree with others that historic home tours can be great, the area is stuffed with them and they are less overwhelming than the SI museums. (I know you said you’re not that into art, but really some of the less-visited SI units, such as Freer-Sackler and African art, are true gems.) Postal museum is surprisingly great as well! The Library of Congress tour is also cool! The Kennedy Center tour is supposed to be good — I haven’t done it myself, AND the KC is kindof a pain in the ass to get to on public transit, but it is, of course, iconic. And they have just opened a brand new extension to the campus.

        Enjoy your trip!

        1. Reba*

          Oh yeah, I use the Transit app (it has a green icon) to plan routes on Metro / bus. Between Metro and the occasional Lyft or taxi you should be just fine getting around.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        We moved in late June and I have been waiting for cooler weather so I can get a chili half-smoke. Yes, I know they can be enjoyed in the summer, but I am quirky like that.

    5. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      Library of Congress! Beautiful building and the exhibitions can be pretty awesome. You can even read books in the reading rooms if you get a reading card. They have millions of books and other things. If you’ve ever wanted to read up on an obscure topic, that’s the place to do so. Or just take a tour.

    6. Ali G*

      I highly recommend visiting Abraham Lincoln’s home. It is where he and his family stayed leading up to the Civil War. It’s a very well done program.
      The DC food scene has exploded in the last decade so you almost can’t go wrong. The options will vary depending where you are staying. I would advise to not try to eat anything more than a lunch on the run near the mall or other touristy areas. Try to get more into the neighborhoods or even the business areas.
      Definitely get a SmartTrip card. They have a day rate where you can ride as much as you want between like 7 am and 7 pm (or something like that). That’s better than loading a bunch of money on it that you can’t get back if you don’t use it.
      Have fun!

    7. Blarg*

      Look at the DC Circulator maps. They are a bunch of bus routes that do loops, running every ten minutes. Starting Oct 1, each ride is $1, and you can use your Metro SmartCard. They don’t always show up as Google maps options, I think because they don’t use a hard schedule (they just try to keep them spaced every 10 min), but they are often the best option for going between tourist-centric areas.

      A lot of things are closer together than they seem. Just keep your directions straight … you don’t want to end up on K St SW when you meant to be on K St NW.

      Because all the embassies are here, there’s incredibly good food from every corner of the globe. Everyone wants a taste of home. Branch out. Try something new!

      The African American history museum is phenomenal, and no longer requires you to get passes in advance on weekdays. The cafeteria at the Native American museum is yummy (not cheap, but good place to spend). The National Archives (where the Constitution is) is sometimes jam packed, line outside. And sometimes, later in the day, it’s just ,,, empty. No line even inside.

      Have fun. Bring good walking shoes. Don’t be afraid to wander. It’s a very small city geographically. You can always find a way back. :)

    8. Marcy*

      Amazing Italian food at Filomena’s in Georgetown. And you can walk to Georgetown Park where there is a lovely walkway by the Potomac River.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Great timing–the Washington Monument just reopened!
      The National Zoo is one of the (free) Smithsonian museums — and their snack places have better food than the average attraction. The National History Museum has a butterfly center that is worth the extra $ and line, as long as you don’t hate fluttery things of course. I had a bright green shawl that they were attracted to– daughter&I shared it and then with a little girl who was desperate for a butterfly to land on her…and it worked.
      The 12yo says ‘it’s silly but I LOVED seeing the National Clock.” (Look on Atlas Obscura: U.S. Naval Observatory Master Clock)
      I don’t know how accessible it is by public transit, but we liked NASA Goddard Visitor Center. It’s near the family event we went down for, so we picked it just for convenience, and it was a good surprise. Missiles & modules outside, details of current NASA projects inside, and a movie theater in the round for those of us whose feet wore out. Free science pamphlets for kids who are into it… older kids who are into STEM and tslk with the docents may well find themselves getting an internship spiel. :)

    10. Thankful for AAM*

      2nding what others said:
      Try Ethiopian food, DC is the place in the US for this
      Building museum is one of my favs, but check the exhibita b4 you go
      Postal museum tower if you cannot get Washington monument tickets
      Holcaust museum

    11. The Other Dawn*

      Thanks, everyone! Lots of great ideas here.

      Yesterday I spent some time on both the hotel and Metro websites, which helped me see where the trains/buses go, and how to get to and from the closet Metro station near the hotel–hotel lobby connects right to it! Had someone not said upthread that Union Station is on the red line and it goes to the Metro station that connects to the hotel lobby, I probably would have been taking an Uber to the hotel. I live in an area where most people drive, so I don’t have a lot of experience navigating public transit. It took me awhile to decide to take the Amtrak down to DC. In my mind I’m thinking, “What will I do without my car?!” But I know driving can be a pain there and parking is 60.00/night at the hotel. I’ll be happy to not have to deal with traffic and driving in a congested area.

      I also checked out the website for the nighttime trolley tours. They also have daytime tours, which might be good for my husband to do while I’m at the conference. It will be interesting for me to see how well he entertains himself over the course of 2.5 days while I’m in the conference. He skipped going to California with me twice, which is where it was two years in a row, because he was worried he couldn’t find something to do for that long. DC will be different, I think, because he loves history.

      1. Washi*

        Sorry if this is a really basic comment – but if you use google maps and select the little train icon to the right of the car, it tell you how to get somewhere on public transit! If you’re a good walker, I would recommend selecting “fewest transfers” under the options menu, since sometimes it recommends taking a bus what I would consider a very walkable distance.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Haha thanks! Yes, I saw that and used it a couple times while I was looking yesterday. It’s not too basic, though, since I typically drive everywhere and hadn’t noticed that until this weekend. :)

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          For sure! We made it to the Museum of African American History and Culture and spent two hours on one single floor– then we left because hey, we can go back and it’s free. :-) But it’s very freeing to be able to wander through any of the Smithsonian museums and leave if you’re not feeling it or you just want to see a few things.

  26. aarti*

    Suggestions, experiences, etc., on supporting a far-away younger relative with a difficult family situation.

    Some background: My sister in law and her husband have an extremely fraught relationship. They’re not a good match for a lot of reasons but for social/religious reasons they won’t get divorced. They shout, argue, give each other the silent treatment. Things got really bad last year and our 11 year old nephew lived with us for six months. He’s back living with his parents now and my husband and I are struggling to find ways to stay in his life. He doesn’t have a phone, so we have to call his parents’ cells. We are too far away to visit regularly. I’m already planning to book him a ticket if he wants to come visit during his holidays.

    Any other thoughts on what we can do to remain a positive force in this kids life?

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      Enroll him in an out-of-the-house activity that he finds interesting and can get to on his own? Or a museum membership or tickets to a nearby movie theater? Or support his interest in at-home pursuits (science kits, reading, arts & crafts, learning the local plants)? Or go old-school and become pen pals via U.S. mail?
      But to paraphrase Carolyn Hax in yesterday’s Live chat, I’m already crying. You are doing so much good for this kid.

      1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        Most places don’t allow children under 13 to come to activities on their own, though. They always need a parent on site.

    2. Jules the 3rd*

      A weekly letter with SASE included, or at least post cards.
      Does he have a computer, so you could Skype?
      If not, could you get him a computer – maybe game with him? Minecraft is good for all ages, there’s a lot of interesting options and servers. I think there’s headsets that let you actually talk to people too. My 11yo has been nuts about Minecraft for 3 or 4 years now.

    3. migratingcoconuts*

      Can you get him a phone? or an iPad or computer so you can FaceTime or Skype? Try writing letters and sending things to him through snail mail. Kids always love getting mail. Maybe he can go to a friends house and use their phone/computer, or maybe reach out to his school and see if a counselor there could set up a weekly chat on one of the school’s computers. Or just email. And no matter what communication method you use, always tell him you are there for him. Constantly reassure him of that. Tell him he can tell you anything at anytime. That lifeline you provide will be the stability he needs. And never be afraid to involve Children’s Protective Services if you feel it’s warranted.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Will he read books on a regular basis? Perhaps you could send well chosen books.
      If you send a card with money in it, will the parents take the money?

      1. aarti*

        Yeah we send him books. I don’t think his parents would take money but I’d rather send things anyway. Whenever I visit him in person I always give him some cash though

    5. aarti*

      Thank you for these messages! I forgot to mention, we’re not in the US but sending old fashioned letters is a good idea especially including postage so he can write back.

      His family lives in a rural place because of his dad’s job, so internet is a bit of an issue. He doesn’t have a computer but we’ve been thinking about getting him a tab or even smart phone if his parents okay it.

      Long term, we’re hoping to either get him into a boarding school or have him come stay with us as, among other things, the schools in our city are better.

    6. Blarg*

      Have a plan of when he will come visit you next. Buy him a plane ticket. Even if it is absurdly expensive because you are buying it very far in advance. Having a date on his calendar, a countdown to some peace and quiet, will give him something to look forward to. Frame it as you miss him. He’s doing you a favor.

      My aunt sent me to visit my cousin at her college when I was 14. Told me she was homesick. Really, my situation at home was crappy and aunt wanted to get me a breather. That trip was 25 years ago and I am still so thankful.

      And … worry more about him than your relationship with your sister. If he wants to live with you permanently, and your hesitation is your sister … choose him. Please. I wish it had been done for me. Cause guess what? I lived at home til I graduated high school, everyone in the family “kept the peace,” and we still all have terrible relationships. It didn’t save anything. But it cost me a lot. Don’t make the kid bear the brunt of it if he doesn’t want to.

      1. aarti*

        Thank you for this perspective and I’m sorry you went through that. We’re definitely planning his next trip here ASAP.

        Nephew is for sure our #1 priority. We’re currently trying to change his living situation by stressing the importance of education as I mentioned in the comment above.

    7. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      Bleck. I grew up in a house where my dad & his wife stayed together ‘for the kids’. It was horrible.
      Do they think that they are going to get a freaking medal for staying together? . Because APPARENTLY putting your kids through hell doesn’t count?
      Make sure they he knows that it’s not his fault. And when they talk trash about each other – that they are NOT talking about him. Seriously. I remember as a kid thinking that my parents /must/ hate me, because I was part of each of them.
      Don’t talk about his parents, unless he brings it up. Or ask if he wants to talk about it. But no negative. He gets enough at home. Not even if you don’t think that he can hear – he probably can. Keep that for when he not staying with you (remembering the times that my mom & grandma trashed my Dad).

  27. BayBreeze*

    I have an older small breed dog, 14 yrs old Papillon, who has recently developed a weird eating habit. She’s always been a bit of a messy eater, dropping pieces of food while she chews, but now she is deliberately taking bites of food from her bowl and dropping them on the floor before eating them. She’s also now trying to ‘cover’ the food on occasion, nosing at the mat under her bowls like she’s trying to flip it and hide her food.

    There are no other animals in the house that she would need to be protective of her food. She still

    1. BayBreeze*

      (Oops, my fingers hit send on my touchscreen, sorry!)

      She still has a good appetite, eats all of her food like she’s always done. It’s just this weird habit now of breaking off pieces to drop on the floor and trying to ‘hide’ them before she eats. I’ve never seen her do this in her entire life so it seems so odd now. Thoughts?

      1. Ali G*

        When was the last time she was at the vet? My dog got weird with his food when he had dental problems. At her age, she could have some tooth issues that are making her try to find different ways to eat to avoid pain. If she hasn’t been to the vet in a while, I would get her teeth checked out.

      2. Forty Years In the Hole*

        I second the dental check -had a 20+ year old cat that was nosing and gumming her food, but that was due to her canine teeth loosening and starting to fall out from advanced age and kidney shutdown.
        It might just be a quirk due to the aging process but this sounds more behavioural – either not liking the food, or something cognitive ie reverting to a more feral state of caching food, as a wild dog/wolf might do. At 14 – a good, long life for many breeds – maybe start looking for other behaviours not noted before. A family member’s 13 year old dog started panting, pacing and always wanted to sleep in the snow; it grew into a form of Canine Cognitive Disorder (CCD). It comes on gradually for some dogs; others show no symptoms. Lots of info on the web on CCD, and chat with your vet or one that specializes in canine behaviour might provide insight. Loving ear skritches for your Pappi.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      This almost sounds like she thinks she has too much food. My guy is 10. I noticed that he wasn’t taking his vitamins like he used to. One day I was a little low on dog food. (I do home cooked.) So breakfast was smaller than usual, but I knew I’d be able to give him more in a little bit once stuff cooked. He finished his vitamins. Then it dawned on me that he is no where near the wild child he used to be and he does not burn up energy like he used. I was giving him food as if he was still 3 years old.
      It could be that she wants smaller meals or perhaps just make one meal a day little smaller and see what happens.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My elder dog (almost 12) started taking mouthfuls of her kibble out of her bowl and dropping them on the floor, then eating them off the floor, a little while back. I thought maybe she was having an issue with the bowl itself, so I started putting her food on a plate instead, and no more putting all the food on the floor first! She’s a bigger dog, so I don’t know if maybe she just decided that the sides of the bowl were crowding and didn’t give her enough room to move her head around or what? But it might be worth a shot to try a plate or a shallower bowl. (Mine never tried to cover the food though.)

    4. ThatGirl*

      Our dog (approx 8 years old, Maltese-poodle mix) frequently put a few bits of kibble on the floor not far from his bowl, but he almost always walks over and eats them within a few minutes. I thought it was just one of his weird quirks.

    5. Kuododi*

      My first dog (chow/husky), would take his food by mouthfuls and go from the dog dish in the kitchen to the carpeted area in the living room. Then he would eat bite by bite doing his routine. He would also “bury” his treats all around the living room area and then go back to eat them later. The vet we consulted SD a certain amount of this behavior simply connected back to primitive dog where they would move the “kill” to a safe location to not lose dinner to the local scavengers. The vet did check my doggos dental health to rule out any physical distress which could account for the behavior around food. Since he was physically in great shape, the vet SD the behaviors were simply one of the many delightful aspects of life with dogs. Have fun!!!

  28. Venus*

    How does your garden grow?

    Mine continues the slow slide to end of life. A few tomatoes have ripened so that is good news, and the sunflowers are doing very well, but the rest of it is turning brown. I need to clean it up in preparation for next year, and will plant garlic in a couple weeks, nothing more.

    1. Naomi*

      We’ve been having a bumper crop of raspberries and cherry tomatoes this year. Hoping for some big tomatoes before the cold sets in.

    2. Environmental Compliance*

      Ours is still doing pretty well. We have so, so many tomatoes. I think we’ve harvested around 60 lbs so far and still have more growing. Our peppers are still producing as well. The woodchuck ate the beans, corn, and gourds, so those are done. Still occasional strawberries too. Our zucchinis are done (finally, those were never-ending!).

      We’ll be mulching in most of the beds soon with the plant waste on top of it, then putting a layer of manure, and mulching leaves on top of that come leaf drop.

    3. Texan In Exile*

      My cosmos started to bloom. Today. I planted them in May. We are going out of town today. There will probably have frost before we return, which means they will probably be dead when we get back.

    4. PX*

      Autumn is properly arriving here in the UK so I’ve brought my plants indoors…Anyone know if it’s worth waiting for tomatoes to ripen on the vine if they will get basically no sun? Because now appears to be when my plants are properly fruiting… *rolls eyes*

      1. Venus*

        It can’t hurt to keep them on the vine. They should ripen on a counter-top without sunlight, so the plant may not do well but the fruit should still ripen. Good luck!

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Were starting to plan for bringing things indoors. I have pulled the empty pots out to evaluate & clean. And we’re talking about how to rearrange the living room better this year. Last year we had all plants along one window, and it made a bug boulevard.
      We have 2 steel wire shelving units on wheels, with LED tube lights mounted underneath the shelving and plastic liners to catch water. Big planters like the dwarf banana go onto a wheeled dripcatcher dolly. The stevia’s window box just barely fits onto a storage tub lid on top of the old entertainment center.
      The kitchen also sprouts plants, because citrus needs warmth, and we keep the LR cool. Last year I used a wall-mounted task light with a white spectrum LED in it. (My farm-raised engineer says the bulbs should be labelled 5k.)
      One big geranium did well in a west-facing window, no other light. Last year we overwintered planters in the garage under the house, away from the drafty big door. Big drawbacks: I couldn’t use my garage! And pests overwintered too. Current thought is the fig will go there but the rest come inside the house or are given up.
      (Other Dawn, do you want some plants for your gym?)

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Thanks anyway, but I’m a plant killer when it comes to indoor plants! I seem to have broken the cycle caring for hanging baskets and my veggie garden, but I can’t seem to manage once a plant comes inside.

        Speaking of critters, being that my gym is outside and not 100% airtight yet, I’m finding some weird-ass bugs in there! Once flew in while my husband was in there and he told me it was a mosquito. This thing was HUGE! I’ve never seen a mosquito that big, but he says it was. Stink bugs seem to like it in there, too. I loathe those things.

    6. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      It’s still in the 90s here (uggghhhh) but it hasn’t rained in forever. My garden looks better than it has looked all summer. Even though it’s fall.

    7. The Other Dawn*

      I’m trying to decide if I want to move my herbs from the raised bed into my garden, the one I had completely demolished in the spring. I still don’t know what I want to plant out there, but I’d like to move my oregano, thyme, and sage out there since it’s completely overtaken the 4×8 raised bed. I’m thinking how would be an OK time to do that, I guess?

      I have a few tomatoes left, which I’ll probably pull today and let them ripen in the sun. (I’ll be making Bulgarian mish mash with all the other tomatoes I pulled last week–it’s my favorite way to use up tomatoes.) Jalapenos have stopped and so have the habaneros, but I have a ton of new flowers on the habanero plant. Maybe it’s getting a second wind? My beans need to be pulled up. They didn’t do well this year since something chomped on them early in the season.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        The farm-raised engineer says probably you will have better luck transplanting herbs in the spring. Right now they wouldn’t have time to reset their roots. I’ll suggest that if your garden bed is overwhelmed, you could transplant half of them and see what happens.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          That makes sense–thanks! They’ll be fine until spring. I’ll just have to make sure I catch them before they start growing like crazy for the season.

  29. Environmental Compliance*

    Venting a bit…

    Knitting a pi vest for a lovely friend of my mom’s, who bought the kit and got very overwhelmed. The pattern? It’s crappy, not going to lie. It’s full of math mistakes, typos, nonsensical directions. The yarn? So. SO. Tangly!!!! It’s oddly skeined – the skeins themselves are horribly tangled somehow, no matter what I do, and I go through a ton of yarn, usually handmade/handdyed. It’s also incredibly twisty. I have to hand-ball it, as it nearly breaks my swift & winder if I try it there from all the tangles. I think I have spent an equal amount of hours de-tangling as I have knitting the vest.

    The vest will be gorgeous when I’m done, but good lord – who sells a kit like this??! The designer’s errata – made by a fellow Raveler, not the designer!!- is as long as the pattern itself. Literally. And there have been no comments by the designer or errata published by them, it’s all through the five or so people that have muddled through. The design is 5 years old, and the designer is still active – the kit was purchased in the last 6 months or so.

    And, all the pictures show the center section (in a different colorway that the rest) as quite variegated, but with the skein of yarn that the kit came with, there is no difference in color, though the tag itself is different.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      It sounds like it’s too late to return the kit. I am amazed you are sticking with it. This type of thing ends up at the back of my closet and gets throw out 15 years later. I think you should put up a comment.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        It is, unfortunately! And the friend was very upset tbh about the kit. I’m salvaging so that she can wear the vest.
        She’s probably dropped at least $100 on the kit, and I can’t convince her to not pay me $100 as she’s insisting on.

        I’m definitely leaving a comment on Rav. Lots of notes on my project page too.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        I’ll be doing both. I’m a bit upset for this friend of the money she’s already dropped on this thing.

        1. mystiknitter*

          I just poked around Ravelry and think I found the pattern and kit – and read the notes left by other unhappy knitters! I _hate_having to re-engineer patterns! Takes all the pleasure out of knitting (and with lace knitting, there’s no real fun in looking at what your hands have been creating while knitting – the magic is all in the blocking, right?) You are a better knitter than I am; I would have bailed on the yarn when it became clear it really didn’t want to be an orderly ball, and then maybe found another pattern all together – but after all the money and time sunk into this project already…at least it’s not a chenille which will worm afterwards. Or very hairy mohair which resists frogging and is the dickens to count stitches. Good luck! Do you have some other satisfying WIP to alternate with?

          1. Environmental Compliance*

            If it were my project, I would have thought about bailing. I probably would have never bought this yarn though tbh lol.

            There’s 11 projects I think with 3 comments linked to this pattern. And the pattern is $6.50! I design patterns as well. Mistakes happen! But you make the change and send out the revised version. The kit got this is being sold still for $96. It’s not cheap! Even the yardage doesn’t match right. This designer also dyes yarn, they have a retail physical store. I guess I would expect a designer who can afford to set up and keep up a retail location and offer kits to make sure the pattern is halfway decently written?

  30. PhyllisB*

    Family updates: My granddaughter, who went into welding….has dropped out. She was doing great, and her instructor begged her not to leave the program. I’m so sorry, but I know if her heart’s not in it… and after all, she’s only 18 and I realize when you’re 18 it’s hard to know what you want to do with your life. Her counselor told her that in October she can get into the teacher’s program. This is what she initially wanted to do, but didn’t think she was “smart” enough. I will do other update in a separate comment.

    1. Fikly*

      I have found it so valuable to try different career paths. It can be so hard to predict what will actually work for you. Welding sounds like something that is hard to try before you buy, unfortunately. Good for her for realizing now and having the strength to drop out.

    2. Observer*

      I’m so glad her counselor is going to help her get into the teaching program. If her heart is there, it’s a really good move. And I am sure she is “smart enough”. I hope she finds her self-confidence.

    3. anonagain*

      The interesting thing about quitting is: at some point you go from being a person who dropped out of welding school to a person who once studied welding for a bit.

      And that’s really quite cool.

  31. PhyllisB*

    My other update: went to see attorney for grandson in jail. Attorney wants to go before the State Supreme Court and do an oral argument for moving his case back to youth court and perhaps getting him into a rehab facility. Of course, there’s no guarantee the court will hear the argument, or even act on it, but he told us that since he’s been certified as an adult he’s looking at 15-20 years. If he goes before a jury. More than likely they will do a plea bargain if this doesn’t work.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Fingers crossed on this. At his age he has no idea how harsh things can get, our systems seem to be very disconnected from this fact. Maybe this judge will understand.

      1. PhyllisB*

        We’re hoping. This child needs help, not incarceration. As I’ve said before, I realize he can’t be “free” but he doesn’t need to be locked up with adult criminals either. He’s about to turn 17. He has been locked up in one form or fashion ever since he was 14.

        1. Sam I Am*

          I just want to say I’m thinking of you and I hope you’re doing ok. Best of luck to you and your family.

    2. MatKnifeNinja*

      I remember your grandson’s issues.

      Does the attorney know of a rehab place that will even take your grandson? It’s not so much the original charges that make it hard, it’s the running away that makes placement difficult.

      In my state, the case could get punted back to the youth division, but it would still be in a juvenile max prison because of the previous elopement.
      No real rehabilitation takes place there either. :(

      One thing I do know, is don’t take a plea bargain if the person has no chance in hell of following it. My friend’s son pleaded out and got so much for time served. It was a drug offense, and 6 months onto the probation process, he failed the drug screen. He had to serve the rest of the 5 year sentence. Didn’t help he didn’t keep up with his outplacement rehab counseling. He’s 19 .

      With prison overcrowding, and good behavior, there is a better chance of getting out earlier with less restrictions.

      I know for my state, your grandson’s charges would be in adult court. Unless he is eventually diagnosed with FASD or TBI, the mental health diagnosis don’t do much to sway it back in the youth system.

      I hope younger the outcome you want.

      In my state, manslaughter can get less time than what your grandson is looking at. Go figure…

      1. PhyllisB*

        Mat, good point on rehab taking him. I’m concerned about him following the rules also. I mean, this child has run away at six times (talking about starting at 14) has escaped juvenile twice and stolen five vehicles.
        His mother was talking to him last night and Grandson thinks it’s a bad idea to try for Supreme Court and wants us to ask the attorney to try to get his bond reduced. (If you remember, it’s set for $500,000.00.) His mother told him no way because he can’t be trusted. He responded “Don’t you think someone can change in 10 months?” Yes, but can’t be trusted not to run. I will give updates as I have them.

        1. Sam I Am*

          My family member had to get themselves out, my family couldn’t take the risk anymore of having them around. They eventually did get themselves out of jail. They had the benefit of a good education, so it helped them find the way and be able to write many, many letters to many, many people to get into the programs then out to the counselors & the PO’s and to jump through the hoops. I don’t have faith that they would be doing as well as they are if the family had set up the solutions for them. We’d already gone down that route, and they weren’t able to change at that point.
          TL;DR.. his mom is right. You can love someone and still not trust them. Good luck.

  32. Naomi*

    Anyone here watch Suits? Particularly any lawyers? I haven’t watched much of it, but I checked in for a bit of the final season and… is this situation as ridiculous as I think it is? There’s a wrongful termination case where the lawyers for both sides were directly involved in the events, resulting in BOTH lawyers being called to the stand as witnesses… I mean, IANAL but this seems like the conflict of interest from hell.

    1. Filosofickle*

      Wow, it’s still on? I bailed after…Season 3 maybe? I have a pretty high tolerance for ridiculous but there’s a limit. Sounds like it’s still as wacky as ever.

  33. Flu Shots for Everybody*

    Everybody planning on getting a flu shot?
    CDC is recommending getting the shot as soon as possible this year.

    I still need to get mine. I’ve been getting the shot every year for the past 20 and I’ve not gotten the flu. I’m either lucky or the shot works.

    Also way less painfull compared to the Shringx shot, which left me with a very sore shoulder for several days; had trouble lifting my arm above my head.

    1. Laura H.*

      Getting mine next week. Sibling will take me when they go grocery shopping for the household. I have stuff to do today plus springing requests on sibling without any notice is not a habit I want to slip back into.

    2. Mimmy*

      I’ll probably get mine in a couple of weeks when I see my primary physician. Other than some soreness, I’ve never had any problems.

    3. Parenthetically*

      I have a midwife appointment in a few days and I’ll be asking about it then. With a baby due this winter, you better believe I’m expecting everyone around me to be vaxed up.

      1. Overeducated*

        Good luck! I brought this up with my family recently since I have a baby coming soon and they were like “uh…we never get the flu so we choose not to get the vaccine.” One of them is immunocompromised and another spends tons of time helping my 90 year old grandfather, so why the ones who can get it don’t already is baffling to me. I will bring it up another time or two before they visit for the holidays!

        1. Parenthetically*

          My parents always get theirs, fortunately! With my son I had to ask my father-in-law and an uncle to make sure they were up on their Tdap — I am FULLY paranoid about whooping cough — but he was a summer baby, so I was less worried. This one will be here in December or January, which, you know… germs.

          (And congrats!)

    4. fposte*

      I always do mine in October, which seems to be the recommended sweet spot for timing; earlier than that and I risk having lowered immunity during the inevitable spring university flare-up.

      Shingrix put me in bed the day after as well as making my arm sore; at least with the second dose I was ready for it. Still vastly better than getting shingles!

    5. Middle School Teacher*

      I always get mine. When you work with 120 germ factories, it’s just a good idea. I usually just pop into the pharmacy, or sometimes a pharmacist parent comes to school and does everyone who wants one in an afternoon.

    6. Rebecca*

      Just got mine this morning at the grocery store pharmacy – with my insurance, it’s free if I do it that way. Have been getting the shot for the past 23 years. Had the flu once; it was the year where there was a shortage, finally got my shot at the end of October/beginning November but got the full blown flu a few weeks later, not enough time for immunity.

      I can feel the antibodies growing!! :) :) :)

    7. Miki*

      Got mine on Tuesday. This one left me with a sore shoulder (luckily I always get it in my non-dominant arm) for 3 days, but no fever. Male coworker also had his on the same day but with no sore shoulder.

    8. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Yeah – normally I don’t get them but I’ll be immune system compromised this season so…to the doctor we go, probably this week. Same with Other Half, hes going to have to suck it up.

    9. Nessun*

      Planning on getting it next week. And may I say it heartens me to see how many people are getting it! It’s so important to do so if you can.

    10. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I got mine at a work event earlier this week. Target pharmacies do them (free for most insurances) and hand out a $5 coupon with it, for anyone who might find that useful.

    11. Clisby*

      I got mine at the same time as the Shingx. Fortunately, it occurred to me to ask for the Shingx in my left arm since I’d never had it before – my arm hurt for days. (The shot itself didn’t particularly hurt.)

    12. Asenath*

      I always get mine as soon as the clinics open. I started years ago when I tended to get really bad colds, and thought “If a mere chest cold makes me this miserable, do I want to risk the flu??”. And I had a job in which I met a lot of people and I swear I picked up every damn virus that was on the go. I’ll be getting mine as soon as the local public clinics are set up.

      I never had any kind of a serious reaction to a flu shot, or, for that matter to any of the other vaccinations I’ve had, including a shingles vaccine (not Shringx. an earlier version).

    13. Fikly*

      I really really want mine, but unfortunately I’m currently on a high dose of oral steroids, and I’m crossing my fingers to get those down before I try the flu shot, because they can make it less effective.

    14. Filosofickle*

      I’ve never had one; thinking about it this year. I have an egg yolk allergy so for years it was recommended I not get the shots. Then they came out with the spray, but my medical org didn’t provide those (and were terribly unhelpful about it). Now they’re saying it’s safe for me to get the shot. Dunno.

      1. Pharmgirl*

        If you can eat lightly cooked eggs or birthday cake it’s generally okay to get the flu shot, and there’s an egg free version I believe that might be an option for you.

      2. A few things are nice*

        My son has a serious egg allergy and has had the normal flu shot for the past several years. (He can’t eat eggs in baked goods). No issues with the shot. Obviously go with what your doctor tells you, though, since your allergy may be offering from his.

      3. Filosofickle*

        Oh, I expressed myself unclearly — the “dunno” doesn’t go with “they’re saying it’s safe”. Yes, it seems clear it’s safe for me to get a shot! They’ve debunked that. What I don’t know is if I’ll get one after going without all these years…I believe in vaccinations in general, I’m just not convinced the flu shot specifically is super helpful. It might help, it might not. I very rarely get sick, I work at home, no kids/immunocompromised folks in my radius.

        1. Agnodike*

          Even if the flu shot is 30% effective, that’s 30% more effective than no flu shot! Everybody has never had the flu until the first time they get it, and you don’t want to be the person who unwittingly gives someone’s frail grandma the flu at the grocery store because you don’t have symptoms yet and don’t know you’re sick.

          1. AnonoDoc*

            Not to mention, the percentages of protection quoted are getting the flu at all. Even if you still get the flu, if you have had the shot you are MUCH less likely to end up hospitalized or dead from it. Last year we had 79,000 deaths from flu in the US, and around here we had young, previously completely healthy people dying from it.

        2. tamarack and fireweed*

          40,000 deaths averted over a 9-year study period as per the CDC in the US is good enough for me, so I’m now getting it. Even in the absolute worst year of effectiveness it still meant a few hundred deaths, a few thousand hospitalizations and a few tens of thousands doctors visits saved.
          (And it’s unlikely to be my own death that is averted, but conceivably that of my elderly upstairs neighbor.)

    15. Claire (Scotland)*

      I usually get mine through my workplace for free, but I haven’t heard yet if they’re doing them this year. I should ask someone about that! If not, I’ll go to one of the clinics and get it done during October.

      1. Lilith*

        I got mine about 10 days ago in dominant arm. Sore for maybe 24 hrs?? But the new shingles vax?? Ow!! Sore for nearly a week & I have to get the 2nd one soon!

    16. Enough*

      Considering it. I’m 64 and had the flu for the first time in February. Not fun. For me the worst part was the lack of energy and muscle strength.

    17. NeverNicky*

      The free clinics started this week but there’s a shortage of vaccines this year so they are for over 65s only. Other at-risk people (like myself) will be vaccinated mid-October.

      And this medicine shortage is BEFORE Brexit …

      1. Clisby*

        Are they recommending an MMR booster for someone who’s had measles, mumps, and rubella? Or just for younger people?

        1. Arts Akimbo*

          Even adults need boosters, yes. Your titers can drop off a lot, especially for measles antibodies. You can have your titers checked before getting an MMR booster, but I told my doc I’d just as soon get stuck with one needle as two, so I didn’t bother checking my titers.

          The CDC website has an adult booster vaccine schedule, which is really useful.

        2. Filosofickle*

          There’s also a donut hole of people who got the measles shot during specific years in the 60s and it wasn’t sufficient so they need to be revaccinated.

    18. LibbyG*

      Elizabeth West mentioned in last weekend’s thread that she got hers, which nudged me to get mine and make an appointment for my kids!

      1. LibbyG*

        I like to think about how flu shots also function as a drill for responding to a pandemic. In my little town of 8,000 (probably a market center for about 20,000?), there are at least six places that can do vaccine injections. I like to think that when I get my flu shot I’m also helping renew that public-health infrastructure.

    19. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Last time I didn’t get the flu shot, I got the flu — during the East Coast polar vortex event in winter 2013-14. I didn’t fully recover for about 2 months. Haven’t skipped the shot since.

      1. Gaia*

        Never got the flu shot until 2010 when, at 25 and otherwise healthy, I almost died from the flu.

        I will never again refer to a 24 hour bug as “flu” and I will never skip a flu shot.

    20. KayEss*

      I got into the habit over the years of waiting until November so others who needed it more (65+, immunocompromised, work with children or the public, etc.) could get theirs with less risk of shortages, but that hasn’t been an issue for quite a while now, so I think I’ll try to go next weekend! We just had a flu-like bug run through part of the office (I didn’t catch it, fingers crossed) so I should probably be more on top of it…

    21. Woman of a Certain Age*

      I always get one and think they help. At my comparatively new job in a large impersonal organization, we have a nurse’s station and they are offering them during the day. The thing is, it is so difficult to get away from my desk and the phones, that I’ll probably end up getting one someplace else.

    22. The night begins to shine*

      Yep, got mine earlier this week! Got my kids scheduled for next week. Now just need DH to get his. My father is severely immune compromised, so we all need to be done before we go visit in a few weeks.

    23. Elizabeth West*

      I already got mine.
      I don’t have any insurance and I’m off the poors program because I accidentally missed a co-pay but GoodRx has coupons on their website. I managed to get a quadrivalent vaccine at Walmart for around $25. There is NO WAY I can afford to get full-blown flu this year.

    24. TM*

      I get mine every year and I was planning on getting it this weekend, but I caught a cold Thursday. Everything I can find said I would probably be okay to get one (they don’t recommend it if you are seriously sick) but I don’t want to deal with the sore arm PLUS my cold symptoms. I will hit up the pharmacy Tuesday though.

      I don’t get the folks bragging about not getting the shot and not getting the flu anyway. All you need to to not get the shot and get the flu (the real one, not just a bad cold), be miserable for 2 weeks and in recovery for 2 or 3 times that to realize that maybe a shot won’t be so bad. A bright spot is my coworker who got the flu two years in a row is going to get the shot this year. :)))

    25. Best cat in the world*

      Funnily enough, I was going to post saying I’ll be getting it when they start giving it out at work but I got distracted. Well, I’m on night shift and I’ve just been caught by a manager and asked if I wanted it. So at 1 in the morning I was getting jabbed in the arm and I’m all covered now! We got a little chocolate for it, and a sticker, so I’m happy :)

    26. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Yes, but not sure when I can due to some annoying health stuff. I don’t think they’ll do it for a couple more weeks at least.

    27. Earthwalker*

      Yup, scheduled week after next, for that and pneumonia too. And hey, don’t forget the shingles shot when you hit 50. Husband’s cousin has just been telling him about how awful his case is, and it sounds really really miserable.

    28. vanillacookies*

      When I was a kid my father always took me to get it right at the beginning of October and that is still my habit now.
      I’ve gotten the flu both of the last two seasons unfortunately, but both times it was quite a mild case.

    29. Seeking Second Childhood*

      On the list… grocery store pharmacy for convenience because my office stopped doing them onsite. (No explanation either.)
      One greatgrandfather was a doctor and my grandparents & their siblings on both sides included RNs and ambulance corps, so I grew up on stories of how lucky I was to have vaccines: Dead siblings and grade school friends and 18yo army comrades…

  34. Spoons please*

    Anyone have the secret to creamy scrambled eggs? The Internet says cook slowly in a pan, no a pot, use low but maybe high heat, and be sure to never except always add a splash of dairy. And a lot seem to confuse creamy with wet/barely set. I will gag if I get gelatinous yolk.

    1. Parenthetically*

      My tricks are: 1) mix the eggs THOROUGHLY in a bowl, until the whites and yolks are totally indistinguishable and the mixture doesn’t cling to your fork/whisk but runs off like water, 2) use medium to medium low heat, and 3) stir constantly. I never add dairy to eggs, I think it makes them watery and tough.

    2. Kathenus*

      My mom’s secret was a splash of very cold water instead of milk. That’s what I do now and I think mine come out pretty well. So I just beat the eggs with a fork, add some seasonings, a splash of cold water and then scramble in a skillet with Pam cooking spray.

      1. Angwyshaunce*

        Indeed, I’ve read you’re never supposed to add dairy to scrambled eggs. I’ve heard to add a bit of water while stirring them, which will evaporate during cooking and make them fluffier.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Yep, I always whisk in some water, nice and fluffy. Cook in butter and take them off the heat when they’re just barely done, they will keep firming up.

    3. Ali G*

      As said above mix until completely uniform. Put a cold skillet on the burner, add some fat to prevent sticking (I use olive oil spray), add eggs, and cook on low-med low and stir constantly. It takes time but it works!

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I am not sure what you mean by creamy, less lumps? Gelatinous yolk sounds like you are one who appreciates having the eggs well beaten.

      In the dairy section you can find “liquid eggs”, sorry I don’t have a better term. This could be just egg whites or it could be pourable eggs, no longer in the shell. They come in containers similar to milk cartons but smaller. Perhaps something like this would be a good match for your setting.

      I am wondering why you are torturing yourself here, it sounds like you are not big on eggs? (I know if I had to ask this question, eggs would be a no-go for me. I asked about sardines once. My uncle told me, “Well, YOU are probably not going to get past the smell, just turn and look at something else that you will actually eat. “)
      So going in a different direction, if you are looking for a protein for breakfast there are lentil pastas that might be appealing for you.

      1. Spoons please*

        I really like scrambled eggs! But for some reason I’ve been craving creamier eggs; I had some amazing eggs at the Wynne in Vegas years ago, and I want more.

    5. INside*

      Low and slow is my preferred method. Stir a lot too. This will get you cooked eggs that are all still yellow, meaning no overcooked brown bits that are fried too much in my opinion. Too high a heat will get you browned bits.

    6. Blue Skies and Black Hearts*

      Thoroughly beat the eggs with a splash of very cold milk, a little salt and black pepper. Then melt a little butter in a pot on a low heat, add the eggs slowly and cook while stirring constantly. Take off the heat just before fully set as they keep cooking in the warm pan, keep stirring, and deposit onto toast as soon as fully set. This gives me soft and creamy scrambled eggs every time.

    7. Pharmgirl*

      I have a cookbook with a recipe for ricotta eggs – you basically scramble the eggs however you normally would, but right before it’s fully cooked mix in about ¼ cup ricotta per serving. Mix well so the eggs finish cooking and the ricotta gets creamy. I tend to add everything bagel season to this too, it’s a quick and filling breakfast.

    8. Kuododi*

      Most people I’m aware of have a bit of a love/hate thing about Gordon Ramsay. Regardless of personal opinion, he does have a pretty helpful information video on how to make creamy scrambled eggs. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to post links except to suggest doing a search on YouTube. Good luck!!!

    9. Ron McDon*

      I microwave mine – I add a bit of butter and milk (although now I’m going to try water instead!) and cook for about 30 seconds, stir, cook for 20 seconds, stir – basically you want to do short bursts so they don’t overlook and keep stirring to break them up.

      I take them out whilst still quite runny, as they carry on cooking for a while afterwards. They’re always creamy.

      The place where you are creamy eggs might have added cream to them, btw – apparently that’s a thing some places do.

    10. RebeccaSmiles*

      I had brunch at SarahBeth’s in NYC a few years ago and had delicious creamy scrambled eggs. They used some sort of cream or cream cheese and they were wonderful! I use cold milk to fluff up my eggs, but will try water like the others have suggested. May you find the perfect scrambled eggs. :)

  35. To Use or Not to Use EAP*

    Hi everyone,

    i am right now debating as to whether i should try to use my workplace’s eap service.

    i wanted a strict policy routine where i decide (for my privacy) only use the landline phone from my workplace’s empty room to communicate and i wanted to received eap forms in my workplace email only. this is my first time calling eap and i was surprise by the processes that is involved. it happens i needed to complete paperwork before my counseling session. due to my strict privacy and communications requirements, i am having a delay in completing my paperwork to set up my phone appointment. My assigned counselor was supposed to email me my paperwork to my workplace email, but I still haven’t received it yet.

    I am debating if i need to use eap because i am not sure what the paperwork might involve. I am also not sure if my counselor like my strict communications policy. When I talked to her, she has a bit of a tough and tired tone of voice. My problems that I need discussing has mostly to do with dealing with family issues in my Asian family. i wonder if cultural differences between me and my counselor will make the counseling harder. Maybe i should create a new private personal email if that might make it easier for my counselor?

    At the same time, i am experiencing periodic thoughts about my anxiety of talking to my family. The thoughts sometimes come and go depending on how I occupied I am. But whenever there’s even a small experience/observance that reminded me of some of my family conflict, it will trigger the thoughts in my mind again.

    1. fposte*

      Good for you for moving forward! It’s really common to have anxiety about moving forward toward therapy, for a variety of reasons, but it can be helpful to remember that it’s all voluntary–you can walk out of the appointment whenever you want and you don’t have to go back if you don’t want to. I’d encourage you to keep going to get to that first appointment rather than letting your anxiety convince yourself before you start that it won’t be useful.

      Go ahead and set up the personal private email just in case, especially if you’re talking something free like gmail. But usually they ask about a private email because people want to keep their therapy separate from work; you’re trying to keep it separate from family, which is different.

      Good luck! I know this has been hard, and I really hope this gives you some relief.

      1. valentine*

        Your counselor should understand your privacy requirements, but it sounds like you need an Asian female counselor, preferably the same ethnicity.

        1. fposte*

          This poster previously posted that they need a free and private service, though, so EAP is likely to be it for now. I think it’s better for them to at least start with the EAP and decide at that point whether to keep going or not rather than assume it won’t work and not try therapy at all. While sometimes such a cultural connection can be helpful, even somebody who doesn’t have it can be useful to talk to.

    2. WellRed*

      Are you afraid your family will somehow find out about the EAP? And what is it about the paperwork that has you considering not using EAP? By all means, create another email account if you feel that will help.

      1. To Use or Not to Use EAP*

        I don’t want my family to know I’m using eap. i am not sure what other paperwork is needed at this point. they got my email and phone contact, workplace info, and privacy policy agreement. a little worry the paperwork might ask for even more identity info.

        1. Observer*

          Set up an email account that is not work and not accessible to your family. That keeps your family out of it, while keeping this separate from work (which can be useful in the long term.)

          Also, if your counselor has any competence, if you tell her that you are using your work email to keep your family out of your counseling, she will TOTALLY understand.

    3. LGC*

      I mean, by all means you should use your EAP. You’re an employee, it certainly sounds like you need assistance, and there’s a program available to you.

      So, on the work end of things: your employer isn’t supposed to know that you’ve used the program, usually. So that might be why they have concerns about linking the paperwork to your work email – which, of course, your employer can read.

      But also, it sounds like you might need a culturally sensitive counselor, and you’re definitely very concerned about your family finding out about this. Have you told the EAP why you have high privacy needs? They might be more sympathetic with a bit more background.

      (Also on valentine’s point – you don’t necessarily need someone from your cultural background, just someone who’s willing and able to understand.)

  36. WellRed*

    Booked my tix yesterday for NOLA at Christmas. I did end up taking a small amount from 401k to fund part of it. My mom and aunt will probably cover a lot of the costs (meals, excursions). I’ve had several friends lose their moms in the past year so decided to go for it. One q: does the city shutdown on the 24 & 25th like so many do? That will impact planning.

    1. The Grammarian*

      It doesn’t shut down completely, since it depends on a tourist economy. You should plan where you want to eat on the 25th, though, ahead of time; last year, I had a hard time finding somewhere to eat lunch. Have fun!!!

  37. fposte*

    I read Mrs. Palfrey years ago and I loved it; I read it along with Muriel Spark’s _Memento Mori_ and Barbara Pym’s _Quartet in Autumn_ for a trio of senior-focused books, and I greatly enjoyed them all.

  38. PhyllisB*

    Speaking of entertainment, my son and I went to see A Tribute to the Beatles’ White Album on Thursday. The performers were Todd Rundgren, Christopher Cross, Mickey Dolenz, Jason Scheff, and Joey Molland. Not only did they do the album, they performed some of their own songs. I was in Baby Boomer heaven. Even my son enjoyed it.

  39. Zephy*

    If anyone’s keeping tabs on the Atlantic hurricane season, you know it’s been an active couple of weeks! At one point there were three named storms out in the ocean (Jerry, Karen, and Lorenzo), plus a handful of disturbances at any given time. Thank goodness none of them made landfall, although Karen for a moment there did look like she wanted to speak to our manager. Right now we’re down to just Lorenzo, who seems to be headed for Ireland, of all places. Let’s hope this quietude continues – bae and I have already made travel arrangements for an 8-day trip at the end of October, and while I’m fairly certain his parents can handle boxing up the cats for boarding in case there is a storm while we’re gone, I’d much rather that just…not happen.

    On the subject of that upcoming trip – we’re going to Seattle. We’re planning to rent a car and we’ll be in the area for effectively 6 days, 10/24-10/29 (travel on 10/23 and 10/30 are going to be all-day affairs, I know we won’t have time/energy to do anything else on those days).

    We’ve never been, so Seattle-ites, what MUST we do while we’re in your fair city? I know you have a lot of museums, so we’re definitely going to hit up some of those – Museum of Flight and the Living Computer Museum for sure. Bae loves planes, trains, and automobiles; I like history (natural and social) and art. We’re into craft beer and spirits, always looking for delicious food and drink recommendations. Spooky Season will well and truly be upon us at that time, so any cool seasonal things to check out?

    Also, what kind of weather can we generally expect? We’re coming from Florida. Some superficial Googling suggests we should expect temperatures in the 50s – we do have sufficient cold-weather gear for that, but not much colder.

    1. BRR*

      Seattle underground tour is great. I enjoyed a boat tour but not sure if it’s too cold. Something I wanted to do but didn’t get a chance to was going to tour the Boeing factory.

    2. VlookupsAreMyLife*

      Museum of Flight is great, really enjoyed it. Check out the troll in Fremont – super neat public art. At Pike Place, we love the mac & cheese at Beecher’s and the gum wall at Post Alley (SO gross, lol!).

    3. StellaBella*

      Do a sea plane tour. Go to Hales Ales in Ballard. Go to the Olympic sculpture park. Go to the Ballard locks and eat near there in Hatties Hat diner, check tho if it is open. Go to Tacoma maybe one day to see the glass bridge by Chihuly. Take a ferry to one of the islands to eat lunch. Go to West Seattle to see the small statue of liberty on the beach and enjoy food there. Go to Gas Works park, walk around Lake Union. Enjoy thr trip. I lived there 94-2016. Loved it.

    4. cat socks*

      We had some great rum drinks at Rumba. I have heard good things about The Diller Room but didn’t have time to visit last time I was there. And if you’re in the mood for some late night fast food, Dick’s Drive In is good for burgers and fries.

    5. Bluebell*

      I don’t live there but have visited twice and enjoyed it. Some of the highlights- taking the water taxi to Alki Beach for great Polynesian food at Marination Ma Kai, Olympic Sculpture Park, Pike Place Market, walking through the Chihuly glass garden and visiting the Central Public Library. Also traveled to Tacoma to see the glass museum and loved it. Remember to wear a rain jacket with a hood so you can pull it up and down, because it drizzles on and off.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Seconding the Seattle Underground Tour, that and the Harbor Cruise were my favorite things to take visitors to do when I lived there. (I left Seattle in 2012 to move back to a place that has seasons.)

      If you like zoos, the Woodland Park Zoo (Seattle) and Point Defiance Zoo/Aquarium (Tacoma) are both really nice. Woodland Park gives some of their bigger critters pumpkins to play with in the fall, I once watched a snow leopard “teenager” carrying around a pumpkin the size of his head to keep his sibling from stealing it.
      There’s also a natural history museum on UW campus, the Burke, that I remember enjoying quite a bit.

      The Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame is pretty interesting, as is the Pacific Science Center. In the same area, there’s a revolving restaurant at the top of the Space Needle – the food is decent, but the real hook is the views. If you don’t want a full meal up there, make a reservation for dessert and you can still get up top to see things without paying the elevator ticket price; after dessert you can go up to the observation deck for free.

      The Museum of Flight is probably bigger than you expect, so plan for extra time there, but it’s super cool. :)

      There’s also the Northwest Railway Museum out in Snoqualmie, which also does rides on the historic railroad, if that’s a thing that might appeal, and nearby is Snoqualmie Falls. Farther out in that direction is Leavenworth, a little Bavarian themed (full of Christmas and beer) village in the mountains. Leavenworth is about… 2 hours outside of Seattle, give or take? Day-trippable, if it’s something you’re interested in, but maybe not if you’re only going to be there for 5-6 days.

    7. AmyRo*

      Rain will be a bigger issue than cold. That time of year it’s generally grey and drizzly. Note that locals wear rain jackets rather than carrying umbrellas, and we’ll totally judge you ;)

      Plenty of craft beer – the Ballard neighborhood has the largest concentration, my favorites are Stoup, Reuben, Populuxe. In other neighborhoods, Ravenna Brewing & Urban Family. We have this phenomenal brewery/food truck symbiosis thing going on. Most of the breweries don’t serve food, but have a rotating cast of food trucks and encourage you to bring your food in.

      Woodinville for wineries (the grapes are grown on the east side of the state, so think more along the lines of storefronts than sprawling vinyards)

      Take a ferry!

      Salumi in Pioneer Square – they cure their own meats and make AMAZING sandwiches. Molly Moon or Full Tilt for ice cream (you may stand in a long line for Molly Moon, even in October.)

      That’s what I’ve got at the moment, but will think on it.

    8. YetAnotherUsername*

      My favorite things in seattle in order (coolest first) the troll Bridge, the Sci fi museum, the underground tour, an awesome waterfall in the mountains nearby (can’t remember the name but theres a hydroelectric plant there so should be easy to look up) the monorail, the needle, the park with all the crazy statues, the music museum. Phew. I was only there for a week!

    9. Elizabeth West*

      although Karen for a moment there did look like she wanted to speak to our manager


    10. Owler*

      Layers are key for weather here in Seattle. Our local dress code specifies fleece, so if you want to blend in, you’ll bring a fleecy best or jacket. There’s a joke that only tourists bring umbrellas, but if I’m walking in an uncrowded place, I pull mine out. Personally, I enjoy warm socks (like Smartwool) and a cozy hat under my hood.

      If you go to Pike Place Market, look for the Daily Dozen donut shop near the fish throwing. Get a bag of warm, mini-donuts sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and walk around with them. So good. Also, near the market: Rachel’s Ginger Beer for a lovely sip, Beecher’s Cheese for a grilled cheese or Mac&cheese, and Biscuit Bitch in Belltown (near the market) for a no-nonsense biscuit and local coffee for breakfast. Skip the “original” Starbucks, but if you find yourself in Capital Hill, you might visit the Roastery up there.

      I would skip the zoo, as it’s fairly average for a city zoo. If you think you are going to do a lot of touristy things, get the City Pass. We had two guests visit, and they had prepurchased them; it was a perfect fit for them. Their favorites included most of the Seattle Center attractions (the Space Needle, the Chihuly exhibit, the museum of pop culture) and the museum of Flight. If you are both adults and are looking for something halloweeny, consider the Fremonster Spectacular (never been, myself) or Trollaween. You might look into a tour of breweries to dial in what kind of breweries you like since we have a lot; I would recommend Fremont Brewing Company or Populuxe Brewery but mainly because both are owned by friends of friends.

      Woodinville is about 30min outside of Seattle if you want to do any wine tours or whiskey tastings. It’s a lovely area since you have a rental car.

    11. Owler*

      Layers are key for weather here in Seattle. Our local dress code specifies fleece, so if you want to blend in, you’ll bring a fleecy best or jacket. There’s a joke that only tourists bring umbrellas, but if I’m walking in an uncrowded place, I pull mine out. Personally, I enjoy warm socks (like Smartwool) and a cozy hat under my hood.

      If you go to Pike Place Market, look for the Daily Dozen donut shop near the fish throwing. Get a bag of warm, mini-donuts sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and walk around with them. So good. Also, near the market: Rachel’s Ginger Beer for a lovely sip, Beecher’s Cheese for a grilled cheese or Mac&cheese, and Biscuit Bitch in Belltown (near the market) for a no-nonsense biscuit and local coffee for breakfast. Skip the “original” Starbucks, but if you find yourself in Capital Hill, you might visit the Roastery up there.

      I would skip the zoo, as it’s fairly average for a city zoo. If you think you are going to do a lot of touristy things, get the City Pass. We had two guests visit, and they had prepurchased them; it was a perfect fit for them. Their favorites included most of the Seattle Center attractions (the Space Needle, the Chihuly exhibit, the museum of pop culture) and the museum of Flight. If you are both adults and are looking for something halloweeny, consider the Fremonster Spectacular (never been, myself) or Trollaween. You might look into a tour of breweries to dial in what kind of breweries you like since we have a lot; I would recommend Fremont Brewing Company or Populuxe Brewery but mainly because both are owned by friends of friends. And maybe Woodinville if you want to do any wine tours or whiskey tastings. Have fun!

    12. spock*

      Lows are in the 40s this week. It may or may not stay that way but don’t bank on it staying in the 50s. You don’t necessarily need special clothes but you will need to bring enough layers, and one should be waterproof.

  40. flight anxiety*

    getting on a plane in about 2 hours. I am sick of anxiety around flying. Yes, I am a “fearful flyer” but I do it anyway. I take a low dose of meds just enough to get me on the plane. I heard there is a meditation app that might be good for this. For the first time I have noise cancelling headphones. Maybe that will help. Recommendations?

    1. Jdc*

      I used to not mind flying at all, heck I loved it, but recently the doc has given me very low dose Valium. It’s pretty much the only way to get me in a plane at this point. I actually only even take half of the pill. I honestly don’t know what changed for me, just one day did. I also make sure to distract myself. Read a book. Have a movie ready. I have a lot of miles so when I can I upgrade. First class obviously gives you so much more service so I don’t have to sit there for an hour dying of thirst waiting for someone to come by. Obviously that’s not always an option. I have a weirdness about having water available in hand and my anxiety. I truly don’t know why but for some reason it’s necessary.

      1. tangerineRose*

        I usually buy a bottle of water at the airport so I can take it on the plane – that way I’m not as dependent on being served by the flight attendants.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Most airports also have filtered bottle fillers past security, so you can bring your own empty bottle and fill it there.

        2. Jdc*

          Ya i do that now but I’ve not before and was kind of losing it. No idea why I have the water thing but hey, I’m one of the best hydrated people out there and my skin glows so no negative.

      2. Harris Twee*

        Same here, I used to enjoy flying and now I dread it. The worst is turbulence, it scares the hell out of me. The only thing that helps is Xanax.

    2. Jules the First*

      I have a series of little activities I do at each hour in the flight – a particular playlist on my headphones while they’re loading the plane, a mantra while we’re taxiing, a bottle of water and a little snack for when they turn the seatbelt sign off, a craft I’ve been waiting to try, a movie I’ve been saving for a flight. This helps. As, frankly, does upgrading – flying premium economy or business is still annoying (and I get motion sick), but I don’t normally have a panic attack. Also, I took a few flying lessons (I got the amazing opportunity to fly a 747 simulator once as well as a real life Otter) which helped immensely.

    3. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I also hate flying and get a bit anxious before flying. What’s helped me are podcasts and loud music (not loud enough to bother others, but louder than I would usually listen to something). I also managed to do some work on my last flight – nothing too strenuous, but reviewing some documents and cleaning out my email. Basically anything to make the time go by faster. I haven’t tried a meditation app, only because I forgot to download it!

    4. Tinuviel*

      Meditation minis has many nice meditations but I particularly like her one on flight anxiety. I listened to it before getting on the plane (night before, couldn’t sleep) and as I got settled before the plane took off. Slept through the 4 hour flight!

    5. Cool Bananas*

      Poor you – it is miserable feeling so stressed isn’t it?
      Two things helped me overcome flight anxiety (but I appreciate they might not work for you!)
      a. Drink. Was gibbering in Mallorca airport many years ago, and the friend I was on holiday with suggested I go and get swift half to calm my nerves. Let me tell you, the measures in Mallorca are generous, and about half a pint of gin and tonic will definitely move you from ‘eek’ to ‘wheeee!’ Probably not a good idea on long haul flights, though…
      b. Learning to fly. I took gliding and powered flying lessons, and it was a revelation. It’s amazing how much calmer you feel on a commercial flight when you know what the lumps and bumps are, why the wing is doing that weird thing and (probably most importantly) understand how an aircraft is controlled. I never thought I would love it so much.
      On a more practical level, my younger sibling got over his flying fear with the help of Valium, so that’s always an option.

  41. Philadelphia*

    In Philly for two days. Sunday and Monday. Anything that I shouldn’t miss? Music? Museums? Been to the Barnes and old city. Been a long time since the Museum of Art. Is the Please Touch Museum worth it for someone without kids?

    1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      The Mutter museum is incredibly novel but not for all audiences.

      Zahav is an incredible restaurant if you can get in.

      I also enjoy the farmers market in South Philly for walking around and snacking, similarly (though I like it less) Reading Terminal Market.

      1. Purt’s Peas*

        Agree on all counts. In Reading Terminal Market the pretzels are transcendent, though—highly recommend.

      2. Scarlet Magnolias*

        The Mutter museum is definitely not for all audiences, I loved it, my husband not so much. I did find very amusing that the staff member who took admission and also presided over the gift shop would ask if patrons enjoyed the exhibits. He was happy if you liked it but even happier if you hated it. If it made one incredibly squeamish, he would positively beam.

        1. GoryDetails*

          “f it made one incredibly squeamish, he would positively beam.” Sounds like an Addams family member!

          I adored the Mutter Museum, in part because a lot of it did make me squeamish – though I think I had more trouble with those wax eyeball-injury models than with the actual human remains. When I was there they had a less-squeam-inducing exhibit: some lab equipment belonging to Marie Curie, which was still radioactive…

        2. Elizabeth West*

          I want to go to the Mutter SO BAD. I saw it on TV years ago and have been dying for a trip there ever since.

    2. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Please Touch is really aimed at kids, not adults who aren’t there with kids.

      The restaurant I like to hit every time I’m back in Philly is Cheu Noodle Bar, 255 South 10th Street.

      My new favorite breakfast/coffee spot is Black N Brew, 1523 E Passyunk Ave.

    3. Solar Moose*

      Eastern State Penitentiary is interesting. Mutter Museum is great, though I admittedly felt nauseous the entire time I was there. Have a genuine philly cheesesteak sandwich while you’re there ;)

  42. Falling Diphthong*

    Small pop culture rant: The new Great British Bake-Off is really bad about cutting out the judging of some of the signature or showstopper bakes. And then they put a cherry on ti with an interstitial in which the contestant will discuss the comments on their bake (me, scrolling back: “What comments? Oh, the secret ones not shown”) or Paul will suggest two possible star bakers and I’ll think “Hmm, I’ll bet it’s the one whose showstopper they just showed, rather than the one they just skipped” which happened with Friday’s episode.

    1. Middle School Teacher*

      are you watching on Netflix? I’m not American so I’m watching it on channel 4, so could it be a Netflix thing?

      1. fposte*

        She said “Friday,” so I’m guessing she’s watching on Netflix. There are small differences between the two versions, but even on Channel 4 this week I was a little surprised at the outcome based on the leadup. That being said, I think a lot of it comes down to the actual taste and texture of the bake rather than anything viewers can see, so I shrug it off.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I was PISSED at the result. I thought someone else should have gone. I guess I’m trying not to spoil here, but one of the bakers ousted was my pick to go all the way. Howard and Jane’s podcast addressed this– they thought one of the the ousted bakers (not my favorite) was unfairly treated for her personality/tastes. I kind of agree.

          Not loving this series. I can watch all of the others over and over, but this one I find so half-assed.

          1. fposte*

            I thought the same and I’m sure we’re talking about the same person. There’s definitely some tabloid stir about the episode, but there always is, especially when a POC is in the mix.

            But I do think in any contest built on components that can’t be conveyed to a TV viewer the judges’ experience is going to be vastly different from the audience. The editing could do better at conveying that, but sometimes the judges aren’t going to figure out where those rankings fall until the end, and I’d be pretty unhappy if they added commentary later to make it seem like they knew all along.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              The fact that I can’t taste the bakes is exactly why I want the editing to convey that. I’m rewatching an earlier series (oddly, I completely forget most details of the show, beyond a general sense of who went far based on how much I recall them) and some of the bits are very short–10 seconds of “looks very plain, but the taste is good” or whatnot–but they are there. Or if they do skip someone, they at least don’t draw attention to it by including a segment where someone talks about the judging we just didn’t see, so it doesn’t stand out the way it does here.

              There was a Top Chef season where the editors just fell in love with the Surprise Twist result, and so this one guy kept getting critiqued in the judging but never sent home. And since he was simultaneously playing the villain AND the contestant who seems just one episode away from having an epic meltdown on camera AND the only white dude left, it really came across as failing upward. One thing I have liked in TGBB is that they don’t (or didn’t) engage in a lot of the nonsense–if they say these 3 are doing well and these 3 poorly this episode, I can see where that is coming from. (Barring this ep, with Priya coming 2nd in technical but allegedly in grave danger.)

          2. Arts Akimbo*

            Avonlady Barksdale, I agree with everything you are saying about the bakers who left the tent this week!!! I thought one would surely be in the final, and the other I will bitterly miss! I keep telling myself it’s down to taste and texture, but one baker I do feel got unfairly treated because of their personal style not matching what the judges like.

            I blame the editing. I feel like if those of us watching at home were able to hear more of the comments about the bakes, rather than them foisting a surprise twist ending on us and our having to just guess why afterward, we’d all enjoy the show more. Get it together, Four! We do not watch Bake-Off in order to see an American-style rock-n-roll stressfest competition!

      1. North Wind*

        My browser went weird.

        Also, there are all those creative, gorgeous bakes and the camera will pan up so close you can’t properly see them. I just binged (on Netflix, I’m in America) a bunch of past seasons, and went to their website hoping there would be a gallery of each contestant’s bakes but didn’t find anything.

        I also just discovered on YouTube some snippets of Extra Slice episodes and can’t bear that I don’t have access :).

        I’ve come to love British panel shows, and it’s funny how the guests are all guests on each other’s shows (QI, Would I Lie To You, House of Games, 8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, etc).

        1. fposte*

          A lot of that is the talent agency–I think everybody from Avalon gets a turn. BTW, look on Dailymotion for Taskmaster episodes. I think you will like that show very much.

          I think the BBC used to do cake galleries when GBBO was on there, but they haven’t maintained them; they were also some adjacent things like recipes to go with the shows.

            1. fposte*

              Me too. Start with series 7 of Taskmaster, then, since he’s on it. (It also is the best series of Taskmaster anyway.) He is in top form throughout.

        2. Overeducated*

          Yes! It drives me crazy how they work so hard on these creative, secorated bakes and they don’t devote a full camera shot to them. I want a long, lingering look at the food! That’s the payoff, not the judging!

  43. AntiPorchPirate*

    Hi all, I live on a busy street and don’t want any delivered packages to go missing. I also have a not so great neighbor who I’d like to keep an eye on in case he damages my fence or trespasses. I’m interested in a security camera but am not sure if a doorbell one is the way to go. Could that see to the house beside me or only in front of it? I’ve checked Consumer Reports magazine but they apparently have never reviewed these. I don’t know the features that are out there or anything about how long the footage is kept, the subscription cost, etc. Any helpful hints are appreciated.

    1. Purt’s Peas*

      Please try not to get a Ring or other Internet Of Things style security camera. Ring in particular will notoriously use their software/associated social network to amp up your paranoia and anxiety by flooding you with crime reports that would otherwise have no impact on you. If you live in a white neighborhood of a segregated region, your neighbors will probably tell you every single time a black man walks down the street.

      There’s also absolutely no guarantee of the privacy of your footage, which includes your own comings and goings in your own home. If a software company can access your footage stored in their cloud software, it is a near guarantee that they will, no matter what the user agreement says. Those can change easily, and footage is likely viewed for at least testing purposes, possibly for advertising and behavior analysis purposes, and is at risk of being viewed by a creepy employee with access or by a hacker.

      Which is all to say: maybe go for a simpler, not wifi-connected, not social-network-associated security camera with a sign letting the public know you’ve got one. I may sound like I’m one step away from burning down my house and living in the wilds of Idaho, but I just work in software.

      1. Goose*

        People are way too willing to give up their freedoms in the name of security. This is how tyranny grows and prospers.

      2. I Go OnAnonAnonAnon*

        Ring also will hand your footage and info over to the police, no problem: “…But legal experts and privacy advocates have voiced alarm about the company’s eyes-everywhere ambitions and increasingly close relationship with police, saying the program could threaten civil liberties, turn residents into informants, and subject innocent people, including those who Ring users have flagged as “suspicious,” to greater surveillance and potential risk.”