weekend free-for-all – October 26-27, 2019

3 cats climbing in an enormous cat treeThis 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: Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA, by Amaryllis Fox. This is a memoir about her time undercover for the CIA, and OMG it is fascinating, especially the details around how she was trained, how her cover was created (and costumed), and how she did her job.

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

{ 1,175 comments… read them below }

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Cats fit in places it looks like they won’t… that fluffy butt sticking out made me laugh.

    2. Snowberry Kitten Foster, Inc.*

      I love that cat tower. We have five cats and sadly, only one tower. Has anyone read Jackson Galaxy’s books, Catify to Satify or Catification? There’s some great ideas for building stuff for your cat.

    3. Nancydrewwannabe*

      I have to say that when I glanced at the picture I saw the striped tail and slightly hunched body on the left and thought it was a raccoon

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Ha! I was thinking, “Why have I not noticed the stripes before now?” And her leg has more stripes it looks like.The critters markings and colorings are fascinating.

      1. Vicky Austin*

        I thought it was a raccoon too! It wasn’t until I looked at the other animals and saw that they were cats that I realized that the stripe-tailed creature was a cat, too!

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s actually three cat towers pushed together (you can only see two in the photo; there’s one more on the left) to make an entire cat city! They love it. Highly recommended.

      1. Lcsa99*

        That’s one of the coolest things I’ve seen. I can’t imagine how much they must love it. Does it make them any more stable having them pushed together? One of our kitties gets very nervous when their tower shakes.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Not really! I mean, the towers clearly aren’t going anywhere, but they’re not getting additional support from being pushed together. But look for one with a really wide/solid/heavy base — those should shake less.

          1. Bilateralrope*

            The one my parents own was good at first. But their cat is a big, active cat. After a few years, the nails holding the tower to the base were coming loose. That was an easy fix with some solid brackets to hold the tower in place.

            Then we noticed that the base has developed a slight curve and cant sit flat any longer.

          2. EMW*

            Molly and Friends makes very solid cat trees. They are solid wood so they stay upright easier. Our cats have knocked down every non Molly and friends tree at some point – we’ve got 25 pound plates on the base now.

        2. Fikly*

          My roommate, who has two cats, just got a giant cat tower and bolted it to the wall. It seems very sturdy that way.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I can’t remember where I saw it, but there was a house where the people had built little stairs and shelves and all kinds of climbing things on the walls, etc. for their cats. It was awesome.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Clever multi-cat thing I saw– an ‘as is’ IKEA corner unit, I think a wide/deep Ivar set. They cut holes in alternating ends of the shelves, lined it with old blankets and towels, and the cats are in heaven.

      2. Purt’s Peas*

        There’s a house like that on Amazing Interiors on Netflix (a great show). The house was completely an indoor cat paradise, and there were like fifty cats.

      3. Wired Wolf*

        I once visited a house just outside of Santa Fe NM that was like that…cats first, humans second :)

    6. Sc@rlettNZ*

      That is very cool. We’ve been having issues with our boys spraying in the house, now that they no longer like each other very much. The cat behaviourist that I consulted suggested we catify our house more so I’ve been looking for cat trees. Our two boys are both large gingers (9 and 7 kgs respectively) and most of the cat trees I’m finding are more suited to kittens. I did find one that was awesome but even on sale it was NZ$800 and much as I love our cats, I draw the line at spending that much on a cat tree!!! Sorry boys :-)

      1. GoryDetails*

        The really good cat-trees are expensive – but they last forever! I have two from Arubacat that cost around $300 each when I got them, quite a nip at the time, but that was almost 30 years ago and they’re still in good shape – after much climbing, clawing, napping, and playing by many cats over the years.

        If you have the space and some crafty inclinations you might be able to build something sturdy without breaking the bank.

    7. Auntie Social*

      I find really decent used cat towers on Craigslist all the time. I’m surprised at the kitties who just don’t take to cat trees because ours are playing on theirs so often. I’ve made a rule that I won’t pay more than $40 for one.

      1. C Average*

        Yeah, my cat would be the one who didn’t take to it. She didn’t take to the cat tree or the catnip mouse or the feather toy or the laser pointer or the treats or the other treats. She really just doesn’t know how to cat properly.

  1. Fikly*

    I no longer remember who recommended it, but a big thanks to the commenter who recommended Big Dreams, Small Spaces on Netflix. It is a complete delight! (Although I would point out that spending 5,000 pounds on a garden does not fall under small budget in my book, but it was pretty!)

    1. Detective Rosa Diaz*

      Oooh, and thank YOU for posting about it now. I am watching the first episode as we speak.

    2. LilySparrow*

      Marvellous show. Have you watched Monty Don’s French Gardens and M.D. Italian Gardens?

      Stunning. He covers the cultural & historical influences that drove different styles of garden design. Fascinating, and such gorgeous homes & scenery

  2. Fikly*

    I had a really bad experience with a cardiologist yesterday.

    He started off the appointment by talking about what a big expensive test could mean, in terms of diagnosis, and before he got too deep into that, I started talking about my concerns that the test had been mishandled and perhaps had been a false negative (I had already been informed of the results).

    BOY was he angry. He went off on how I was being adversarial, and he didn’t like starting appointments that way, etc, etc. I was just trying to be efficient and respectful of the limited time we had for the appointment, because why waste time talking about what the test meant before establishing if it was valid? I have many doctors who prefer this approach. It’s fine if he doesn’t, but he needs to tell me that.

    He kicked me out to the waiting room and made me cool my heels for half an hour. At first I felt bad about the way I handled it, and then I got angry about how he never before told me how he prefers appointments to be handled, so it’s completely unreasonable for him to be angry at me for not reading his mind. And that I then would need to abase myself to soothe him to get the diagnosis I needed. And do all the emotional labor.

    So I apologized, because he had the power. I said I was sorry for starting off the conversation on the wrong foot, that I was having a severe pain day, and that I would be more careful in choosing my words. He told me that I didn’t know how difficult his day was. Then he complained that the number of medications I was on made treating me difficult. (Try living with all the conditions that require those medications.)

    To top it off, I mentioned that I had been having atypical (for me) cardiac symptoms for the last four days, and he literally thought about it for 10 seconds, said he didn’t know why it was happening, and walked out the door. Are they dangerous? Do I need any testing? I certainly don’t know!

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      Wow. Sorry to hear about your experience. Some doctors know their stuff brilliantly but are arrogant and resent being questioned. Sometimes we can work this situation to our advantage–benefit from their technical skills and just endure the rudeness. Sometimes we need to find another physician. Your situation sounds like the latter. I hope you are able to find another cardiologist better skilled in self-care and interpersonal communication. I also hope you can get some guidance about your recent, atypical-for-you symptoms.

      Use whatever resources you have to find helpful information. Do you know other patients, or medical professionals? Is your cardiologist part of a hospital that offers guidance services (“patient navigator”) to patients? Is there a local (or national) news or consumer information organization that puts out an annual “best doctors” story or keeps a database on medical care providers? Can you research the validity of this specific medical test using a medical library, or online using scientific, evidence-based sources? If the test is controversial, can you find a cardiologist whose practice agrees with your interpretation?

      If you’re stuck with this particular medical office, can you try to see another physician? If you’re stuck with this particular cardiologist, do you have a friend/relative who can accompany you to some or all appointments? You sound pretty calm under fire yourself. I suggest that your friend/relative be the same–someone who can be an assertive ally, calmly repeat questions that are not getting answered, and–like you–not get thrown off balance if/when the doctor gives anger not answers. You’re not there for an argument–you’re there to get facts about treating/living with your particular health circumstances.

      1. assistant alpaca attendant*

        Yeah, that is way out of line. I’d be leaving negative reviews online, and considering complaining to the medical board.

        Internet hugs if you want them.

        1. tangerineRose*

          I agree. Report this guy or at least post something to let others know. And switch doctors. There are doctors who are also nice people.

          1. Seal*

            +1 to switching doctors, particularly if this one is being an ass. I did that last year with a new primary care physician after a single visit. Within the first 5 minutes of meeting me she told me that she wouldn’t renew a medication I’d been using successfully for over a decade, without asking why I was on it. When I tried to explain, she was dismissive of my well-documented issue and insisted on prescribing something else instead. I left the appointment visibly upset, which she didn’t notice. Trying to be a “good” patient, I tried the new med she prescribed, with disastrous results. To her credit, she checked up with me a few days later, which gave me the opportunity to fire her directly. At least she gave me a new prescription for my original medication after I told her about the horrid side effects I had experienced on the new med. All of this could have been avoided if she took the time to listen to her new patient rather than assume that because she was the doctor she knew best.

      2. MatKnifeNinja*

        I recently had a miserable experience with a big deal sub specialist that all doctors in my area defaults to when it comes to an opinion.

        The issue is similar to yours, a test done, but the doctor who did the test (who I trust) wanted confirmation. Not only did I not get a confirmation, but was told everything that had been done up to that point was totally wrong. And why was I there. Horrible doesn’t even begin to describe it.

        My problem is turf battle between two health systems. Each trying to grab patients.

        I’ve had my share of cardiologists. Is this doc a sub specialist? I have found the more specialized the doctor the less they want your question/opinion until THEY have said their piece. They burn up the first three minutes of the appointment, then you get a chance throw your two pennies in.

        The cardio (in his mind) thought the test is valid. You (the great unwashed-his opinion) asking if the test was actually valid, hacked him off for two reasons

        1) You don’t trust his expertise.

        2) He wasn’t willing to jump down time rat hole explaining his position, since he’s the one with (X) amount of schooling and years in his trade. In his mind the test is valid. (Yeah, I know)

        With my internist, there is some collaboration/opinions bounced back and forth. The same with my allergist, but I’ve seen him for a decade. My endo, neuro and cardio doctors…they are like your doctor. They shut that questioning down fast until they say their piece.

        If this cardio is a rock star clinician, who can get you what you need/want, but is crap in the soft skills area, don’t turf him just yet.
        If he wants to lead the parade at the start, let him.

        Your efficient is not necessarily, their efficient. I don’t see a huge deal time wise in what you did. Next time, let him speed read the results to you, then ask your question.

        Unless you think this doctor is total crap, clinician wise, I wouldn’t switch just yet. I’ve seen 5 different cardiologists, and the personalities are basically the same. There may be that unicorn out there, but I haven’t found them. Lol…

        As for the cardiac stuff, if it’s disconcerting, go to the ER or an Urgent Care that can do a 12 lead EKG. You won’t get sent away with a cardiac complaint. I’m guessing it’s palpitations/racing heart? It will be a data point for the cardio (which will make him happy), and you’ll get some peace of mind.

        Chronic illness sucks.

        (hugs)

        1. MsChanandlerBong*

          I just switched practices because the ONLY cardiologist I have ever liked left one place and went to another. Seriously, every other cardiologist I’ve ever had has been a complete a-hole, but this guy is amazingly sweet and takes a lot of time with his patients. I sort of suspect he left the last place because they were mad at him for not treating people like widgets on an assembly line. Previous cardiologists have mostly been of the “You’re in your thirties, why are you bothering me?” variety, even though my father had his first heart attack at 38 and has had a total of three heart attacks and five stents, most of them before he even hit 50. Then there was “I’m trying to save you $10,000. You should be THANKING me” guy, who canceled my cardiac catheterization even though I needed one. It turns out he didn’t save me ANY money because he sent me home and then I just ended up back in the hospital again six days later. They did the test then, and of course I had two blockages…had he just done the dang test when it was scheduled, I would have avoided a third two-night hospitalization, and I wouldn’t now be paying $156 a month on a $6,000 bill.

    2. WellRed*

      Let’s put this in perspective. He put you in time out. Get a new physician stat. I’d also report him but not expect anything to come if that.

      1. Sylvan*

        Yep. Regardless of who was more at fault here, if you’re worrying over that, you two clearly aren’t a good match. Is there anyone else you can try?

      2. Queer Earthling*

        THIS. Honestly. He treated you extremely disrespectfully, and regardless of who’s wrong or whatever, finding a doctor who meshes better with you and doesn’t put adults in time-out might be a good idea.

    3. Washi*

      He definitely does not sound like a very sensitive doctor, I’m sorry.

      I do also wonder if you came across more intensely than you intended to at the beginning of the appointment. Sending someone back to the waiting room for 30 minutes is quite unusual, since doctors are usually booked back to back and can’t make any deviations from their schedule without throwing the rest of the day off. And some of the things you mention him saying I could imagine someone else saying in a fairly compassionate way (that your case is complex because you are on a lot of medications, and he may have been trying to say that he was also having a bad day.)

      I’ve had doctor-patient relationships like this, where somehow I was always reading them as angrier than they meant and they read me as non-compliant. And they weren’t even bad people necessarily, we just really didn’t mesh personality wise. Is it possible for you to find another doctor whose manner works better for you?

      1. MatKnifeNinja*

        Considering the cardios in my area book minimum of 4 months in advance for a return office visit, and book every available chunk of time, getting sent back for 30 minutes is really unusual.

        At least it signals he still wanted to see the patient.

        I’ve been in offices where the doctor/patient disagreement ends with the appointment being cut short, and a referral card to another doctor. That was at a neurologist, and an endocrinologist office. I got a front row seat because of paper thin walls.

    4. Ann*

      Please find a new physician who treats your valid questions and symptoms with the respect and consideration they deserve. Even on his hardest day, his job is to serve you in meeting your healthcare needs. People think doctors are infallible — they mess up all the time. Putting you in a time out is seriously disrespectful. I would strongly consider firing your doctor and finding one willing to explain and to listen.

    5. Bluebell*

      As someone who has dealt with several cardiologists, I’d try to find a new one if you have that option. It sounds like this dr wildly overreacted. He could have calmly listened to your concerns, but then continued to explain. As you look for a new cardio, see if you can find one who is better at complex cases, who won’t complain about potential drug interactions.
      My most alarming cardiologist interaction was the surgeon who told me that he wouldn’t recommend a certain procedure because if it went wrong “we’d have to leave you to die on the table.” He was polite, but that kind of killed the rest of my day.
      Sending you good wishes and hoping you get a cardiologist that’s a good match for you.

    6. MissDisplaced*

      Wow! That was extremely unprofessional of him.

      I’m sure being a cardiologist is a very demanding job, but medical professionals cannot show that side to patients. I would’ve left.
      Even if they “have the power” it’s no excuse to treat a patient badly.

    7. Dame Judi Brunch*

      That doctor was wildly out of line. He put you in time out for the crime of advocating for your own health.
      Please go see another doctor if you have that option.
      I had to deal with a really crummy orthopaedic surgeon. He made me question my pain, symptoms, and caused me to think I was crazy.
      My dad said hey, you know your own body. You aren’t crazy. I ended up seeking another opinion, and needed surgery.
      Don’t let a power tripping doctor keep you from asking questions and getting a diagnosis.
      Good luck, and good health to you!

      1. Auntie Social*

        I went to a crummy orthopod who told me I was stiff and not exercising. I used to dance so I put my heel on my forehead and said “no, I think I’m pretty limber, NOW can I have the test??” What an a-hole. Another doctor ordered appropriate tests and I got the hip replacement I needed—shallow socket.

    8. Parenthetically*

      He kicked me out to the waiting room and made me cool my heels for half an hour.

      What the HELL. Wow. This guy SUCKS, and absolutely no way would I tolerate that kind of paternalistic bullshit from ANYONE, much less someone I AM PAYING for his expertise. Jeezy creezy on toast.

    9. Wishing You Well*

      Report him in writing to the medical board and whoever/whatever he works for. He’s out of control.
      (HE’s having a bad day when you have heart issues?! Gimme a break!)

    10. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      The back to the waiting room for a half an hour thing really surprised me, and makes me wonder if he was having an *exceptionally* bad day for some reason, because I can’t imagine a cardiologist who routinely has enough slack in their schedule to do that.

      It is not your job to mend fences with someone who is angry with you like this if you have the option of switching, but if switching would be difficult it’s also possible that he’s not usually like this and you saw him on one of his worst days. If it would make you feel less anxious or angry about a future appointment with him, you can decide to assume it was that until you know differently if you think it would help you feel better about that future appointment. (It is also TOTALLY REASONABLE to decide to see a different cardiologist if you have that option. I just know it’s a difficult specialty to be seen in.)

    11. Athena X*

      You need a new doctor, that is unprofessional and insane.

      I really don’t need to expand on these thoughts or what happened to you. That is a totally batshit response. No thanks.

      Hugs to you.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      Here we have hospital nurses who HIDE from certain doctors. And for the very reasons you see here. You might want to check around with some nurses to find out who seems to have some people skills.

      It’s pretty well known around here that a particular oncologist is fine IF he likes you. If he does not like you then you’re hosed. A person was laying in a hospital bed complaining of pain/discomfort. He said, “You’re gonna die anyway, get over it.” And he left the person laying there.
      Your doc sounds like this guy. Move away from this person. Seriously. Move on. This will not get better no matter how hard you try to please him.

      1. Mary Connell*

        Good luck finding a nurse who will say; they’d have no reason to trust that their comments wouldn’t come back to bite them.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yeah, tricky but not impossible:

          “If you needed a cardiologist who would you go to? Or send a loved one to?”

          I learned about my problem doc after I related what he had said to me: “You have zero moral worth as a human being, you don’t deserve to have a father.” (This was his summary of my lack of care for my father, I called the hospital three times a day and went to see him every night after dinner. Because I was not camped out in my fathers room 24/7 this doc thought I was crap and said so.) In the process of relating this to the nurses they said, “Yeah, we all hide from him. Bathrooms and supply closets work well.” They went on to say that almost every interaction with him ended in someone crying.
          Shrug. I just told him directly that he was not god and he had no place judging my worth as a human being. I told him to limit his remarks to his field of training. Even though I handled it in the moment, that does not mean I did not have “aftershocks” later.

          OP, it seems to help if you state what happened and then ask who they use themselves or who they would take a loved one to see.

    13. googs*

      This is VERY not okay behavior. Literally against every hospitals “patients are first” mindset. Boy howdy. If it makes you feel better, specialists are often at the higher end of the hospital food chain and are not used to being doubted or “disrespected” (in the same vein as those bad parenting memes where “expressing any concern or asking any questions” = disrespect). It’s nothing you did – he was gonna be like this if you didn’t do anything other than nod along. You should not have apologized and shame on him for abusing you verbally in such an intimate setting – you have the full right to be concerned and ask questions. Mind you, you’re supposed to be in control in these interactions (YOU have the power) so you don’t need to ask him how he wants the meeting handled. You are paying for his time, he’s not doing you any favors and a good MD understands customer service or as they dress it up, “good bedside manners.” Shaming you for your conditions is really messed up and if he’s having trouble treating you, then that’s not your problem – you should have said, “I am sorry you are having trouble with this. I will seek a physician who has a more adequate skill-set to help me manage my health.”

      If you can, please go to another medical office or request another cadiologist (or PA or APRN that specializes in cardiology). Report this guy’s behavior to the medical director of the hospital – every hospital I have worked at, this would be a reportable offense. We all have difficult days and tough projects but we manage not to pop off – he sounds slightly abusive thinking he can verbally berate you then say “feel bad for me, I’m having a no-good, awful, rotten day.”

    14. Fikly*

      Thank you all! (Sorry for not replying individually)

      The test was a tilt table. The original cost, pre-insurance, was $9,000, so I was pretty concerned that if it had been screwed up (and boy howdy, it had already been documented and reported to the hospital, and they admitted that they screwed up it two different ways, and I was asking about way #3) there was no way for me to 1) get diagnosed correctly, and 2) get my insurance to pay to do it again.

      It’s possible I did come off a little aggressive, because I was pretty anxious about this. But you know, getting correctly diagnosed so I can get treatment for a condition that was causing me to pass out when I am high risk for hurting myself if I fall is pretty important.

      Since I am already deep into the hospital patient advocacy/complaint department, I will be adding this to the tally.

      I will be changing doctors. But I won’t formally fire him until I actually have the appointment with a new cardiologist.

      I have had really terrible luck with this hospital. (I was at the ER a few months back, said to the PA in charge of me that I had just started having shortness of breath, he checked my pulse ox and said, well, you’re fine, we’re discharging you. No, really. He also told me to stop taking my antibiotics. I did not follow that “advice.”) I originally started trying specialists there because my truly wonderful GP is affiliated with them, but I think I just have to stop trying. There’s another hospital I’ve only seen two specialists at, but they’ve both been amazing, so I will start there.

      1. ..Kat..*

        Patients are frequently anxious and therefore intense. As a nurse, I deal with this from patients all the time. I give them extra TLC.

        To be clear, THIS DOCTOR WAS AN ASSHOLE. YOU DID NOT DESERVE THIS TREATMENT. And, given that you did not get any of your questions answered, I suggest that you ask for a refund.

      2. Mary Connell*

        Glad to hear you have options. Hopefully that will work better.

        Also, don’t listen to the people arguing here that his behavior was appropriate. It wasn’t.

    15. Paris- Berlin -Seoul Express*

      I’m so angry for you. Please switch cardiologists and report him. Many doctors forget that we’re customers and they’re service providers. I wouldn’t let an auto mechanic talk to me that way and doctors are nothing else but highly educated and very expensive mechanics specialized in the human body. I also experienced something similar with my cardiologist who tried to shame me about my weight and tried to lecture me about my eating habits. Turned out I had hypothyroidism and the weight gain and actually most of my cardiac issues were related to that. But it took five years and an army of doctors to finally get it diagnosed despite all but one symptom being present. But that’s another story.

    16. ..Kat..*

      As a nurse, I recommend you find a different cardiologist. Based on my experience, I cannot imagine that this one is any good.

      If you feel up to it, I recommend filing a complaint about him. This is completely unacceptable behavior. (And if your general practitioner recommended him, tell them what a jerk he was – tell the GP exactly what the cardiologist did so that GP understands that you are not the problem.)

      If you have to stay with this cardiologist, I recommend bringing a friend as a witness/advocate. Assholes like this often clean up their act when there is a witness.

      I am sorry that you are having to deal with this.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        “Based on my experience, I cannot imagine that this one is any good.”

        I am glad to see my thinking verified. I have often thought the ones who know what they are doing have NO need to get rude.

    17. Lime green Pacer*

      Then he complained that the number of medications I was on made treating me difficult.
      To me, this sounds like just another day at the office for a cardiologist. Medications for diabetes + depression + heart disease is probably not an unusual combination (just to pick one example), and I would expect your doc to just buckle down and figure something out, possibly in concert with your other docs.

    18. Anon for this*

      Then he complained about you being a difficult patient (try living with the conditions that require these medications = YUP YUP YUP.

    19. with a comma after dearest*

      “Then he complained about you being a difficult patient (try living with the conditions that require these medications” = YUP YUP YUP. Solidarity, I take 8. And am now dealing with a new health condition on top of that (I’m the “Anon for this” from the concussion thread but that’s not a good permanent user name if I plan to participate here more.)

      I don’t know what it is about some medical providers, relatives, colleagues, etc. who act this way, like their life is so hard for having to deal with us. I’m sure it is but TRY LIVING IT. Relatedly – I notice parents of children with special needs are held up as so strong on say BUT what about the child with special needs or adult with special needs who is living it. As a parent it’s I’m sure hard to see your kid suffer – but also, it’s hard to suffer! You really nailed how I feel.

      In terms of this doctor, I would find a new one. He treated you rudely and dismissively, shamed you !!!, and didn’t even address your health concerns. I’m sorry. I hope the next one is a good one.

  3. Media Monkey*

    I’d love some help from your experiences please! My 11 year old daughter told me the other day that she is bisexual because she likes girls as well as boys. I know she isn’t doing anything physical with anyone – she has had ‘boyrfiends but nothing more than hanging out at school maybe holding hands.

    We chatted about it, I told her that it was fine and that we supported her whatever she chooses and whoever she loves . I also asked her to chat with me before doing anything phtsical with anyone! Should I have done or said anything different?

    Also I suggested that until she might want to keep this quiet for now. I dont want her to hide who she is (and i feel like i am asking her to do so) but i know kids (esepcially girls) can be mean and i dont want people not wanting to get changed next to her because she might be looking at them or whatever. Was this the right thing to say?

    Also bisexual.people – did you know this young? I know she might well change her mind but I don’t want to tell her that as it might sound like I’m not supportive!

    1. Fikly*

      Did you tell her your reasoning behind not telling people? And if so, did you say that if people’s actions toward her changed because of this knowledge, it was not ok, and not her fault?

      1. Media Monkey*

        I didn’t phrase it as well as this (I didn’t say kids could be mean – that was me paraphrasing a part of a chat chat that probably lasted about half an hour into a sentence). But I have phrased it like this now so thank you.

    2. Shiny Flygon*

      Even if she revises her sense of who she is later, that doesn’t mean she was wrong. This and the idea that you’d tell her to keep it to herself really rub me up the wrong way. I didn’t realise I was bi until this year because bi is so often invisible. The idea of a child being told to keep it to herself today hurts my heart.

      I don’t mean you should tell her to broadcast it – but you could have phrased it as “this is precious information, it’s up to you who you tell and how and when. It’s ok to tell people but it’s ok to keep it to yourself, too.” And something about how even well meaning people gossip.

      Good luck navigating this. But I think it doesn’t need to be as big as you’re making it.

      1. Shiny Flygon*

        I just wanted to add – I know that kids can be cruel and “gay” is still thrown around as a slur. We’re living in a far from perfect world. And I understand your urge to protect your kid. But this is the reality of her, and it’s not her fault that people can be awful. She deserves your support in being out if she wants to be.

        Maybe look into whether there are any LGBTQ+ groups for kids in your area (I have no idea if they exist but worth finding out) and ask if she would like to go to your local Pride next year? I took my 8 year old this year.

        1. Media Monkey*

          I have phrased it like this now. And she would love to go to pride – our local area one was a month or so ago but we can definitely go next year! She absolutely has my support for everything she does and she knows that!

    3. Christy*

      Telling her to keep this quiet reinforces that it’s a shameful thing. I think you whiffed on that part, sorry. Here’s the thing—parents often express their own biases this way, by saying “other people might have a problem with it, but *i* don’t have a problem with it”. Because with today’s Gen Zers, they’re super accepting of queer kids of all stripes. Like, she knows at 11 that bi is an option for her—we didn’t all have that growing up.

      And I didn’t know that young (that I was gay) because it was so the default that I’d be straight. I realized I liked girls around 12 but didn’t actually develop a crush on a girl I knew until college. Because I was in the closet and very very awkward.

      1. Meepmeep*

        The kid is in middle school. She is probably not in any shape to be a warrior for LGBT rights quite yet. She will get bullied for being non-straight in most middle school social environments. Why encourage her to expose herself to a bullying risk?

        I say this as a bisexual person, btw. No way would I have come out in middle school. I got bullied enough without that extra target on my back.

        If the school is unusually accepting and if the kid is otherwise popular, then sure – wave that rainbow flag all you want. But for most schools, coming out will get her bullied.

        1. Kimberlee, No Longer Esq.*

          I don’t think I agree that that will happen in *most* schools. It’s possible people would have made fun of me behind my back if I’d come out in middle school, but they were doing that anyway, and I wasn’t bullied at any point. If a kid’s a bully, they’re gonna pick something and run with it; sure, it might be bisexuality, but if it’s not, it’ll be something else. The solution to bullying isn’t to try to not do anything to “attract” bullying.

          I don’t think being openly out is the same as being a warri0r for LGBT rights. For middle or high school kids, the solution is to ask them what they think will happen. If they get bullied a lot and don’t trust their peers, then by all means, suggest that they be careful with who they share with. If they don’t get bullied and feel generally happy and accepted at school, then it’s gonna be fine. And yeah, I think Christy has a good point; even if middle schoolers aren’t perfect, they have a *much* better understanding of the spectrum of sexualities than I and my peers had at that age, and tbh chances are decent that OP’s daughter isn’t the only person at her school that’s out right now, and certainly won’t be the only one for long!

          1. Vicky Austin*

            Very true. If there are no openly LGBTQ students at her school, the bullies will target the kids with disabilities, the fat kids, the geeks, the kids whose first language is not English, etc.

      2. Media Monkey*

        Understood. I have been explicit today that it’s not at all.something to be ashamed of and she hadn’t taken it like that luckily! So glad this generation are more accepting than previous ones..hopefully it makes it easier for kids to navigate.

    4. Christy*

      Also, I’m not a parent yet, but I don’t understand the “talk to me before you get physical with someone”. Is that a thing parents say? Because the idea of talking to my parents about such stuff (as a kid, as a teen) is utterly horrifying to me. What’s the goal of it?

      I figure it’s one of two things. Either you want to talk them out of it (which, I don’t think you’re likely to be successful and I don’t think a parent should be involved in that decision anyway) or you want to share information about how to protect yourself physically and emotionally (which you should already being doing before it’s immediately relevant). Like, I would think that you’d do the work ahead of time to prepare her so that you know that when she’s faced with a decision, she’ll make a good one.

      But like I said, not a parent yet.

      1. You can call me Al*

        Parent of teens/young adults, and you’re absolutely right. Share the info ANYWAY. And if your plan is to talk them out of it, they’ll sense that and they are not going to come to you.
        Most teens don’t plan it in advance so that there’s time to strike up a conversation with mom beforehand anyway.

      2. Clever Name*

        Agreed. My son is almost 13 and we have ongoing conversations about sex and consent and I just happen to have condoms in the hallway closet etc, but I ca t fathom asking him to tell me if he wants to get physical with anyone else. I guess it’s none of my business?

        1. Media Monkey*

          I have no plan to talk her out of anything. But she is still very young and conversations about sex and consent and so on are all still.ongoing and evolving.

    5. Bi bi baby bi bi*

      I knew I was bi by my eighth birthday. As a teacher, I know a lot of eleven year olds. They are definitely capable of knowing these things about themselves. And even if she reconsiders her identity later, that doesn’t mean she was wrong now! Here and now, she identifies as bi, and that’s all that matters right now.

      I don’t think telling her to keep it quiet was a good idea, sorry. I understand you are trying to protect her, but it sends a message that this is wrong/shameful/inappropriate that totally undermines any other message you tried to convey. I would go back to her, and explain that you said that because you were concerned about things you’d heard about people getting bullied for coming out, but you realise that it wasn’t the best way to handle it, tell her that it’s absolutely her choice if and when she tells people, and that you will support her in her choices. And then do your utmost to live up to that.

      As for the getting physical part, that seems super weird to me. I wouldn’t “chat” to my parent about that and nor would any of my friends. Maybe your parent/child relationship is very different, but I would not count on her consulting you on these things over the next few years! She needs to know how to stay safe before it ever gets that far, and if you aren’t already doing the safe sex talks get started on that now. Don’t wait until you think she’s considering physical stuff – make sure she knows everything you’d want her to know about consent, safe sex and where to find support if necessary. Scarleteen is a great resource for sex and relationship stuff for young people!

      Best of luck to you both!

      1. Shy Boo*

        Chiming in to second Scarleteen. I had no interest in sex as a teen (turned out I’m an asexual) but still wanted to know about my body and that was one of the best resources I found.

      2. Ethyl*

        Thirding Scarleteen! And the founder has written several books for tweens and teens that you could pick up too.

      3. Media Monkey*

        Thank you. We are having those conversations and she is that kid who probably would talk about that sort of thing. She knows the door is always open to chat more and that was really what I wanted her to take from it.

    6. Christmas*

      I think you handled it well. And yes, it’s possible to know that young. My sister knew that she was gay by around that same age. She also decided at a young age that she didn’t need to announce it or anything. All of our family knows, and she tells her close friends. I wouldn’t make keeping it quiet about how people can be “mean“, it’s just that it’s not other people’s business. In a future chat, perhaps you can discuss some of the misconceptions people have about bisexuality and help your daughter prepare for the inevitable ignorant or even inappropriate questions and comments she will likely hear.

    7. Hannah Banana*

      I agree with Christy – you don’t want to reinforce that it’s shameful or wrong. I know sexuality in kids starts much younger these days but I probably knew around 16 that I might be into girls (for reference on generation I’m 32 now).

      A good story a friend told me is that she has 2 boys, ages 3 and 1 and a half. the 3 year old will legit tell her he wants to go hump his pillows in his room for nap time/play with himself and request permission to go do that. He is shameless and obviously since he’s 3 and doesn’t know but she makes a point to never make it a big deal but lets him know that if he wants to do that, he only can in his room. I personally love this because you don’t want to inhibit your children but let them know the right time and place to do things like that.

      Perhaps instead of not telling her to not tell people, say that there is a right time and place to discuss things like that since they are a private matter (which is true, adults don’t go around shouting their sexuality to strangers just for the fun of it).

    8. BRR*

      I think you should apologize for asking her to keep it quiet and take it back. I think it was a mistake to say. Is there a pflag meeting you can attend near you?

    9. Anon Here*

      I felt attracted to both boys and girls at a young age. For me, it was kind of confusing. To be young and to be having crushes that range from socially acceptable to socially unacceptable (conservative city, late 80’s / early 90’s). I had crushes on peers and adults of all ages too. I didn’t know what to make of that.

      For me, things changed a bit when I started actually dating people. Although my attraction was all over the place, who I was compatible with and felt deeper kinds of feelings for was more narrow. That’s probably common. It doesn’t invalidate the attraction side of things; it’s just that this stuff is complex and you learn about yourself through experience. That’s a lifelong thing. And our understanding of our sexuality, romantic orientation, etc, can change at any time regardless of who we are or how we identify.

      The world still pushes people to be heterosexual. She’ll get that from a lot of people. What she probably needs most is just support and acceptance and unconditional love. When you talk about crushes or relationships, use gender-neutral terms. Try to react the same way regardless of the gender of the person she talks about. And support her choices about who to tell, and her resilience against any bias.

      Doctors often ask patients about their sexuality. It’s a relevant question when people are doing physical stuff. I don’t know if they ask before that, but it could happen. And some are biased. Occasionally, you get treated differently when you tell them you aren’t straight. Then you have to decide whether to keep seeing that doctor or find someone else.

      That’s just one example of how this is a logistical thing that comes up in different aspects of life. We tend to think of kids telling other kids at school, and how the other kids react. But it comes up in other places too. This would be a good time to make sure the adults she relies on are LGBT+-friendly and to establish an open dialogue about that. Welcome her to express concerns.

      Also, this is as big or small a part of her identity as she wants it to be, and it’s OK for that to change over time. When I first came out, back in the mid-90’s, I celebrated with a lot of pride flags, listening to music by bisexual/pansexual people, and being really involved in the community. Then my focus shifted a bit and I have since identified more strongly with my creative community and who I’m attracted to has become more like a side note – something that exists but just isn’t in the forefront right now. That’s OK. It’s OK to wear a pride necklace for a year and then have a year where you’re just a writer. We’re all multifaceted and we can focus on different things at different times. There shouldn’t be any set expectations around that.

      So, just give her a lot of support and don’t judge or tell her what to do aside from obvious things that would apply to anyone. She needs someone who will consistently be there for her, who she can talk to about anything, and who will always love her for who she is.

      1. Media Monkey*

        Thank you. I hadn’t quite parsed out using gender neutral terms for crushes etc. Still need to work on that! She absolutely has my support!

    10. only acting normal*

      Put it this way, did you know *your* sexual orientation at 11? Because most people seem to.
      There’s usually only (self-)doubt if we don’t have the vocabulary to describe, or the role models to show, what we feel is something others feel too.
      Your daughter, luckily, has the vocabulary to describe how she experiences attraction.
      I too think you fumbled the ‘keep it secret’ bit, sorry, though I understand your protective instinct in a less than perfect world. If you can undo that and maybe reframe it somehow? Perhaps how you’ll have her back if anyone *is* ever an a-hole about it.

      1. londonedit*

        Really good point – it’s interesting how it’s totally fine for me to say that I knew at age 11 that I was only attracted to boys (and/or young men in boy bands…) but if an 11-year-old says they’re attracted to boys and girls, somehow they can’t possibly know that for sure. Shrug.

        I don’t have personal experience of this from either side, so will leave it to people who do, but I do agree that the ‘talk to me before you get physical with anyone’ and the advice to keep things under wraps don’t sit particularly well with me. It’s important to talk to children about relationships and to answer their questions about sex and sexuality, but I don’t know any child who’s explicitly spoken to a parent before getting into a relationship with someone, and I also worry that you might have made it sound like sexuality is something to hide.

      2. Media Monkey*

        I don’t know if I knew at 11. It was a long time ago! But also I’m not sure it would really have been something that was as talked about then as it is now (definitely a good thing!)

    11. Queer Earthling*

      I identify as pan rather than bi, and I didn’t admit to myself that I was anything but straight until my twenties…but I definitely had crushes on people of all genders from a very young age. (Pretty sure my first crush was Miss Bianca the mouse from The Rescuers when I was around four. You can laugh, it’s okay.)

      How old were you when you started having crushes? You didn’t have to ‘come out’ as heterosexual because our society expects it, to the point where people call their offspring’s opposite-gender friends their “boyfriend” or “girlfriend,” but you were probably eleven if not younger when you started to develop attractions to people at school, or celebrities on TV, or cartoon mice, or whatever.

      I agree with the people who said that “keep it quiet” kinda comes across as “this is an embarrassing secret.” Yes, your kid might get picked on a little, but she probably has peers who are queer, whether they’re out yet or not. Queer kids gravitate to one another in my experience, and can build a strong friendship that can combat a lot of the bullying.

      IMO, the kids who have the most psychological damage are the ones who need to stay closeted, from their parents or their peers or whatever. Also, she’s probably not going to talk to you about when she wants to have sex–she’s just not–but keeping the dialogue open will encourage her to come to you if she’s scared or worried or needs the pill or dental dams or something.

      Good luck, and don’t beat yourself up for not being sure how to handle it. Maybe Google around for scripts to follow for future conversations, read about safe queer sex, consider joining your local PFLAG chapter, which will not only give you both some good resources but show your support in a public and tangible way.

    12. NJBi*

      Bi young person here! (early 20s, and I have a sister just a bit older than your daughter)

      1. Yes, late elementary and middle schoolers can already have romantic feelings and know their preferences. Don’t think of it like “knowing your sexuality” at such a young age–it’s not sexual! People often exhibit what appears to be an implicit bias that “nonstraight = sexual” and think that this is too mature for kids, even if they wouldn’t bat an eye at an 11 year old girl saying she has a crush on a boy. I mean, look at what you’ve written here–you accept that she knows that she likes boys, right? I’d ask that you reexamine why when she says she has a “boyfriend,” you accept it at face value, but when she says she likes girls, you’re not so sure. For me, when did I know I was bi…gosh, who even knows. It feels like I knew forever, even if I didn’t have the examples and language to understand the feelings that I had until high school (bi representation matters!).

      2. I totally understand that you want to keep your kid safe and comfortable and that other kids can be mean, but please, please don’t ask her to keep quiet about her romantic feelings for multiple genders. You cannot protect her from homophobia and biphobia by warning her about it–you just give more space to those ideas. And frankly, if girls are going to bully her, they’re going to bully her–don’t plant the seed that it might be her fault (“it’s because I said I liked girls”) by encouraging her to conceal something about herself. Unless you’re in an area where she would face actual threats to her physical safety by being out, please encourage her to talk about her feelings and crushes however she sees fit! Honestly, if this message was from my mom about my sister, I’d text back and say to go talk to her right now and say, “I’ve thought about it, and I’m really sorry I told you to keep quiet about liking girls.” I’d tell my mom to be honest about why she said it, and be prepared for my sister to roll her eyes and say something like, “Moooooooom, you’re so ooooooold, being gay is cool now.”

      Even if she figures out later that actually, she’s only attracted to girls, or maybe only attracted to boys, or maybe pan is a better fit than bi as a descriptor of her romantic feelings, it doesn’t hurt anything for her to embrace this now. To put it another way, you wouldn’t tell her not to talk about liking Harry Potter movies because she might later not like Harry Potter, right? Encourage her to embrace and express her identity right now, even those aspects of her identity that might grow and change as she does.

      3. I get the sense from your message that you’re looking for a little validation, so here you go: You’re doing so good!!! You’re already saying things are so important to hear, like “that’s nice, please tell me before you do anything physical with anyone,” and keeping to yourself that her feelings might change, because it’s really impossible to say what parts of an 11-year-old’s identity are going to stick around, but they hate it when you say it out loud. Send Scarleteen over to her, talk about your crushes, acquire age-appropriate books about queer people for her (Lambda Literary’s reviews of YA books can help with this), ask her after school if she has a crush on anyone, all that embarrassing stuff that might make her squirm and laugh but for some kids is actually really nice to look back on and think, “Hey, my mom wanted me to feel okay and not weird.”

      1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        I agree with everything you said, but “To put it another way, you wouldn’t tell her not to talk about liking Harry Potter movies because she might later not like Harry Potter, right?”

        Kids who have uncool or or out of the mainstream interests are advised to keep them quiet all.the.time. and instead work to find something in common with their peers. Right or wrong, this is really common.

        1. Meepmeep*

          Yup. As a bisexual and non-neurotypical person with unusual interests, I second the “keep it quiet” advice 100%. I learned very early on that if I let my freak flag fly, I’d be punished for it by my peers, so I kept all my “weirdness” quiet throughout middle school and high school. I matured late so sexual orientation wasn’t something I worried about at that age, but there was no way in hell I’d tell my peers that I enjoyed opera (just to give one example). Can you imagine the bullying and teasing?

        2. LJay*

          This. So many of my interests were dismissed as “just a phase” and I was encouraged heavily to do things that would help me fit in with other kids whether I had interest in them (the activities or the kids) or not.

          And I was teased for innumerable things in middle school. It seems like at that age if people like you then you can be whoever you want to be and like whatever you want to like and nobody will care. If they don’t, well…

          I was teased for having big teeth/an overbite, liking horses, reading, not being interested in boys, drawing a picture of an igloo in the 4th grade, not wearing a bra, wearing a bra, being a lesbian (I was bi, but not out, so this was conjecture on their parts), being on the cross country team, my best friend being a guy, being into anime, being friends with an obese girl, having hairy arms, farting in class once, not knowing who Tyra Banks was, believing someone when they said they liked me, eating babybel cheese for lunch, writing fanfiction, and tons of other things. There’s no way I could have not done all of those things. And even if I managed to avoid all of those things, even the contradictory ones, I’m sure the kids making fun of me would have invented other reasons to make fun of me.

          The best thing for me to learn, and what I did ultimately learn, is that they were shitty kids being shitty, and ultimately it wasn’t about me. They needed a target and I was an easy one. But if I wasn’t there they would have ganged up on someone else. Learning that I should hide pretty much everything about myself would probably just have left me more scarred that I wound up being.

          1. Anon Here*

            People pick on people who are interesting because, on some level, they’re jealous. Or they just don’t understand. Then you keep on being interesting and doing interesting things and eventually, they’ll be bragging about how they know you and pretending they never said or did anything negative towards you.

          2. Shiny Flygon*

            believing someone when they said they liked me,
            This is where my heart actually broke. I’m so sorry you lived through all that.

      2. Media Monkey*

        I really wasnt looking for validation – i am really happy that she came to us about this and thst we can talk about things like this. Im not sure i would have spoke to my parents about anything like that.

        I have been explicit that this is nothing to be ashamed of and she luckily hadn’t taken it that way. She’s very much her own person and I wouldn’t change that at all!

    13. Alex*

      I don’t want to pile on the “don’t tell her to keep it a secret” but I do want to point out that she may not have been thinking of it as anything but something to celebrate. I mean, I wasn’t there, but how did she bring it up? Because really, her own ability to reflect on who she is and the fact that she wanted to share it with you is something to celebrate! That she is attracted to both boys and girls isn’t a confession or a shameful secret–it’s who she is (even if it isn’t who she is when she’s 25).

      I’d treat this as if she told you that she has a crush on a boy. Treat it as a default way of being, because every way of being should be as valid as a default way of being.

      And yeah, maybe she will be teased for liking a girl? (Although depending on her peer group, it’s very likely she won’t be.) But she could be teased for a million billion things. Some kids are teased for being super smart. You wouldn’t tell her to keep her hand down in class in case people realized how smart she was, would you?

      Like others, I suggest you backtrack on this piece of advice. My own version of a script might be “I am so glad that you came and talked to me about liking girls. It makes me feel really good that you wanted to share that with me. I love you so much and I want to be able to know as much about you as you’d like to share, so thank you. I’m so proud of you. After reflecting on our conversation, I realized that I may have been wrong to tell you to keep it to yourself. If there are other people in your life you want to share this with, you should be able to do that. It’s sometimes a little bit harder for people who aren’t straight in this world, but I know you’re going to find people who like you for who you are. You’re a wonderful person and you don’t ever have to pretend to be someone else.”

      1. Media Monkey*

        Thank you. I have dialled back on that advice and made it clear that its nothing to be ashamed of. Luckily she hadnt taken it that way. Great script and i will totally steals bits of it for inevitable.future conversations!

    14. Grace*

      Other people have already touched on the things I want to say with regards to the ‘keeping it a secret’ thing.

      I’m bi, and figured it out properly when I was 16 – but I knew before that. Like, long before that. I just didn’t have the words to talk about it, and even after I did have the words, I didn’t realise that they applied to me.

      (Girls are cute, right? That’s common sense. Everyone thinks that. Wanting to cuddle with girls and hold hands with them and kiss them and, yes, be sexual with them, didn’t mean that I wasn’t straight? Right? Everyone wants to do that? Surprise, baby gay me, straight girls don’t want to kiss other girls.)

      If I’d known at eleven that being bi was an option, and had I actually understood that I was not the norm in wanting to snuggle with and kiss girls (I facepalm so much at the fact I thought I was straight for so long), yes, I would 100% have identified as bi at that age. Younger, even. I wanted to watch specific TV shows and films because of the female characters from the age of about six or seven, and the women that I thought were pretty at that age align very closely to my current interests.

    15. Junior Dev*

      Re: “did you know this young” I think you may be getting hung up on the word “sex” in bisexual. Put that aside for a minute. Think back to the media even the smallest kids consume—how common is it to see a prince kissing a princess in movies? To move through the world with the understanding that marriage and babies happen “when a man and a woman love each other very much”? To see people advertising their opposite-gender marriages with engagement and wedding rings, wedding pictures, holding hands in public? Being gay or lesbian or bisexual or pansexual isn’t only a “sex thing”—it’s about the whole spectrum of experiences around love and romance and intimacy, and it’s the sort of experiences that are normalized for straight people as soon as they’re able to understand anything.

      Your daughter doesn’t need to be interested in having sex to be thinking about her sexuality. All she needs is to know that mommy and daddy live together, kiss, support each other, and think “maybe I’d like to have that with another girl when I grow up.”

    16. Pony tailed wonder*

      I am neither a parent nor bisexual but I would say to give both of you a lot of room to make mistakes and learn from them. Just keep the lines of communication open and keep listening. I also think that there is a lot of value in finding an online group of parents of bi kids/teens. They might clue you in on things to think about and talk over, like for instance should sleep overs be handled differently or some such. Lastly, I am happy that she loved and trusted you enough to start a tough conversation with you.

      1. Media Monkey*

        Thanks. I know I have made.mistakes in how to handle this (but totally out of leftfield with no time.to think about how to get it right as with so many parenting decisions!). I am very happy that she trusted me enough to have the conversation !

    17. Agnodike*

      I knew I was bisexual from age 10, but I didn’t have the language to describe it. Luckily, my parents were early internet adopters, and I had the resources at my disposal to figure it out. When I learned that there was a word for how I felt, I was so excited! Then I told my dad, who told me “Well, until you’re having any kind of sex with anyone, I wouldn’t go around saying stuff like that.” I struggled with my identity until my 20s because I felt like I wasn’t “really” bisexual if I wasn’t, like, 50-50 having sex with men and women and, thanks to the way my dad handled it, that people would think I was foolish if I identified myself without having, I don’t know, bisexual bona fides?

      As a adult, I’ve encountered LOTS of “just try to pass for straight, OK?” and it’s always made me feel like who I am is something shameful. I think it’s well worth it to reopen the conversation with your kid and make it clear that who she is isn’t something to hide, but that bigotry exists in the world and she should be deliberate about evaluating whether the people around her are safe and kind.

      You can’t protect your kid from homophobia by asking her to hide her bisexuality; she’ll still be bisexual, and all the homophobia she sees around her will still impact her even if it’s not directed at her.

      1. Ethyl*

        “I struggled with my identity until my 20s because I felt like I wasn’t “really” bisexual if I wasn’t, like, 50-50 having sex with men and women and, thanks to the way my dad handled it, that people would think I was foolish if I identified myself without having, I don’t know, bisexual bona fides?”

        I’m in my 40s and STILL have days where I don’t feel bisexual “enough” to “count”!

        1. Anon Here*

          In my 20’s, I decided I just don’t want to put a label on my sexual orientation. I like adult humans. I leave it at that.

    18. Media Monkey*

      Hi all. Thanks so much for all your thought/ advice/ experiences – I didn’t expect nearly so many replies so thanks to everyone that took the time!
      To answer a few of the main points raised and expand a bit on the reasons:
      – it is absolutely an ongoing conversation and we have talked about it a few times this week, so I definitely can and absolutely will dial back the advice to keep it to herself. In my defence, I couched it as if you’re not completely sure, why not think about it to he sure before you tell people. I didn’t suggest she should be ashamed and I don’t believe that is what she has taken from it but I will definitely be explicit about that.
      – we are in the UK and she has just started secondary school. She’s been there 6 weeks and so a lot of her friends haven’t known her long. She had a small issue with being on the outside a lot at her previous school. She’s settled brilliantly at this new school and made.loads of friends so I guess I didn’t want to rock the boat with new people until they know her better.
      – thanks for the recommendations on resources. I’ll check out scarlateen. Im not sure what PFLAG is or if we have it in the UK but I will Google!
      – re talking if she is planning to get physical, she is the kind of child that probably would talk to us about it (and I was absolutely not that child myself). This was part of our ongoing chats regarding changing bodies, feelings, consent and so on. I know there will come a point when she’ll stop talking but I’m making the most of taking her lead with the conversation and going at her pace while she is still young.

      I’ll try and respond to other points specifically but it’s late so it might be tomorrow.!

      1. Agnodike*

        PFLAG is Parents and Friends of Lesbian and Gay children and it absolutely exists in the UK! You can find local support groups through their website, as well as a bunch of information and advice on supporting your kid.

        I actually think that a new school is the perfect place to “test the waters,” because nobody will have preconceived ideas about your kid. It’s hard if you’ve been with the same cohort all your life, because your peers’ perceptions of you are informed by their long history with you, but if her new friends are still getting to know her, this is just one of many things they can get to know! Also I really encourage you to interrogate your immediate response that finding out about her bisexuality will “rock the boat” with her new friends. I teach sexual health to preteens and teens and I generally find them really accepting of queer identities; definitely not how it was when I was growing up! I’m sure this really varies between communities, but maybe don’t assume that her friends will view her bisexuality in a negative light. (Do you view her bisexuality in a negative light?)

        I know you haven’t said “you should be ashamed,” but it’s really hard for a kid to hear a parent say “hide this thing about yourself because people will react negatively if they know it about you” and not get that subtext.

        1. Media Monkey*

          Thanks. Really good points. I dont think bisexuality is anything to be ashamed of and I am really.glad.that times have changed and things are easier now than when I was at school. Probably the thought of.how it would have been to come out as anything but straight when I was 11 is colouring how I have suggested to her. Appreciate the perspective on kids and teens nowadays!

    19. fiverx313*

      i knew when i was five years old. i would go back to that conversation and clarify with her that the only reason she would need to touch base with you before doing something physical is to get birth control and other protection, and that you want to make sure she’s safe. i’m assuming you’ve had basic talks about that before, but if not this would be a good time. i would also go back and clarify that if she’s open about who she is, she might get pushback and you want to support her in proceeding how she feels best… i think if my parents had suggested i keep it quiet without any further context i would feel like they were ashamed. thank you for being so accepting and for reaching out to ask questions.

      1. Media Monkey*

        I think she understands that any conversation would be about her safety and not about talking her out of it! We have had chats about sex but not talked too much about birth control although she is aware of it.

        She definitely didn’t take from the original chat that I thought she should be ashamed thankfully! And I have clarified that now as well. Thank you!

    20. Alexandra Lynch*

      I knew. It was a little confusing and disconcerting because it really wasn’t a thing that was talked about when I was young.

      I now personally identify as sapiosexual and pansexual, because if I like someone’s brains and personality I’m perfectly okay with whatever configuration I find in their pants.

    21. ..Kat..*

      For what it’s worth, I am middle aged (as in things were very different when I was 11 years old.). If you had asked me if I liked boys or girls back then, I would have said both. Because I was happy to be friends with both boys and girls! Nothing to do with sexual attraction.

      Just wanted to say this because 11 year old kids are both more knowledgeable than I was at this age. But, they can also significantly misunderstand what something “adult” means.

      1. Media Monkey*

        Fair point. I think kids are exposed to so mich more and understand so much more than we did at that age. But they are still kids and we do put a lot on their shoulders.

    22. Person from the Resume*

      She’s unlikely to want to chat with you before she gets physical with someone. You need to educate yourself as a parent and be prepared to give the sex and consent and relationship talk with the assumption she will have sex and relationships with both boys/men and girls/women. It’s not what you were expecting but there’s resources to help you. And you need to do it ASAP. I hope a 12 year old has already gotten the the sex talk but I’m sure it was all about heterosexual sex because heteronormativity (sucks!).

      As everyone else said asking her to keep it quiet was not great especially if she didn’t ask you for the advice. But she knows she’s bisexual because of feeling and crushes she’s had. By not telling anyone you’re asking her to potentially hide or lie a part of herself … kids talk about crushes and attractive actors all the time. I’m not saying that she should start wearing the Pride flag everywhere and telling everyone but the way you described asking her makes it sound like like a shameful secret you want her to hide.

      1. Media Monkey*

        She has had the sex talk (but sure it was from a hetero point of view at school as well as at home) so I definitely do need to educate myself on speaking to her about the ladies side so to speak!

        Luckily she didn’t take it that she should be hiding something shameful and we have talked further to reinforce that today! Thank you!

    23. Mary Connell*

      A counter-argument to the sentiments here that a child’s sexual development should be carried out publicly. Western culture is at once hyper-sexualized and prudish and when you mix in the growing homophobia and transphobia associated with growing authoritarianism around the world, give children some space. Give them warm support and resources, but don’t expect them to do an adult’s work of advocacy and anti-bullying in public.

    24. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I knew from just around puberty that I was bi. I didn’t understand or tell anyone. It says a lot (of good things) that she’s shared this with you.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Also she doesn’t need to tell anyone for them to figure it out… kids have good radar for the “different” ones. So closet’ing is going to be worse than being open and embracing her sexuality.

        Everyone assumed I was a lesbian from very young. Despite the fact that they were only half right. And that screwed my head up more because I kept insisting I liked boys. “Yeah…sure you do.” Sort of garbage was thrown around and boys were grossed out during their early development stages by these rumors or whatever they were.

        So…it made me an anxious hermit until I was almost 30.

        So please take this weirdo story of mine as something to crunch on when it comes to her being free of hiding. She’ll be judged no matter what she says or doesn’t say. Being free from lies and internalized shame is powerful.

    25. Another Mom*

      Media Monkey, I understand all of this. I can relate to wanting to protect your child and wondering if it’s a phase. But this isn’t your story and you can’t control the telling. Have you heard the expression that having a child is learning to live with your heart walking around outside your body? Well, having a GLBT child is like having your heart and your liver outside your body. There’s an extra danger and you just have to learn to live with it. My child came out to their friends in a very public and uncontrolled way. I found out afterwards and it floored me. I was side-eyeing parents for weeks. It all turned out fine, our community is cooler than I had hoped, but the act was full of optimism and naievete, and it could have ended badly. They’re now working on telling family and it’s nerve-wracking. But my role is to sit on the sidelines looking loving and supportive.

      Kids go through lots of phases and you can get lulled into thinking a child who changes their future occupations hourly will also change their mind about other things. And some will. But many won’t. And changing your mind about your sexuality isn’t so much changing your mind–it’s just…changing. It doesn’t mean they were wrong before and weren’t actually bisexual. It just means that they’re something else now.

      Talk to your daughter and tell her you’ve thought about what you said and tell her what you wish you had said and why. This is a huge learning experience for everyone. The best thing to do is to keep the communication lines open and admit when you’ve made a mistake.

      1. Media Monkey*

        thank you. i have had another conversation and luckily she hadn’t taken it as something she should be ashamed of. we are chatting all the time about it.

        found out last night she has a new boyfriend (“and he’s bi too”) so clearly sounds like i was too quick to rush to judge her friends for not being cool about it!

  4. Amethyst*

    Google isn’t helping so I thought I’d try here. What can I use in place of red dye to make edible fake blood? This is going on top of cupcakes for decoration.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Beet juice? Either puree them, or buy a few cans and use the juice, maybe? I’ve never done it, but I know just from eating them that the juice doesn’t seem to dilute its color as easily as you’d think. It’s fairly neutral-sweet in small quantities, especially if it was mixed into icing.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Good idea! I know it dyes my carpet really well. (No, no, no, Puppy, you cannot eat that beet on the living room carpet! too late, sigh.)

    2. Lcsa99*

      Beet juice or cranberry juice mixed into corn syrup? I am sure the beet juice would work. Not sure about cranberry juice.

      What are you gonna use it on? If it’s for adult you could try red wine too.

      1. Amethyst*

        It’s going to be chocolate cupcakes with either buttercream or swiss meringue buttercream (haven’t decided) frosting. These are for a work Halloween party.

        I’ve never had beet juice before. How does it taste? Would it work well in combination with the frosting & chocolate?

        1. AnonEMoose*

          Some people put grated beets in chocolate cake for additional moisture/darker color. So a small amount of beet juice in the icing should be fine :-)!

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Beets can be used as a sweetener also. So you may want to add sugar slowly and taste test as you go.

          You can also ask this question at a health food store, they will probably have ideas also.

    3. Sled dog mama*

      I’d steer clear of beet juice unless it’s an ingredient in an all natural food coloring. Just using the beet juice could result in some crazy stains.
      There are actually all natural food colorings out there that have beet juice in them but have it treated so it doesn’t stain (as badly).

      1. Amethyst*

        Good to know! I don’t think anyone would appreciate having their clothes permanently stained from eating my cupcakes.

    4. Christmas*

      Red velvet syrup. Most realistic and palatable fake blood I’ve used was made out of red velvet syrup.

    5. ThatGirl*

      Use red decorating gel, although be aware it won’t dry.

      Unless you want to avoid red food coloring, in which case I have no suggestions :)

    6. Policy wonk*

      I’d use red licorice or red vines if it’s meant to be a flow, or other red candy that can make the design you want.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      What’s the specific problem with red dye? I ran into one person who though the only red dye was cochineal/carmine, but there’s others. (I’ve forgotten more than I still remember LOL.)

      The website thekitchn dot com had this at Valentine’sDay, but I don’t know how red-red they get.
      “1. Hibiscus flowers steeped in a bit of hot water until cooled
      2. Boiled cranberries (as outlined at Stretcher.com)
      3. Red beet juice
      4. Red beet powder
      5. Pomegranate juice”

      1. ThatGirl*

        There are many artificial red dyes, not derived from beetles, but I also know some people avoid some or all red dyes.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Exactly, and th as the answer makes a difference in whether or not my (and others) idea of melting candy would work.

      2. Amethyst*

        My problem with red dye is that the taste is disgusting, which is why I want to avoid using it in fake blood.

        I’ve had frostings and cakes where there was so much red dye used to color it exactly where they wanted the shade that that was all I could taste. I want to completely avoid this scenario.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Gotcha. I’d go with raspberry jelly then, myself.
          There are several kinds available, they don’t all taste.

    8. knead me seymour*

      I’d use strawberry or raspberry jelly if it were me, because they’re delicious. Depends on whether you’re more concerned about it looking right or tasting good, though.

      1. knead me seymour*

        I would also add a pipette or some vampire fangs or some other accessory to sell the idea, so the blood-like consistency of the fake blood isn’t as essential.

    9. Worked in IT forever*

      You can buy seedless raspberry jam. I use it in one of my bar cookie recipes. It’s easier to work with if you spoon it out of the jar into a bowl and then stir it really well. That kind of liquifies it and makes it smooth.

      1. Koala dreams*

        I’m also thinking jam. Raspberry, strawberry, or some other red jam. It’s a good gooey texture.

  5. Scared cat*

    We seem to have a lot of cat people here, and I could use some advice. Two weeks ago, I had some electrical work that involved cutting into drywall done. This understandably spoked my cat. But he hasn’t come up from the finished basement sense. The one time I tried to bring him up, he hid under the couch until he could run back downstairs. Any ideas on how I make him comfortable in the rest of the house, and encourage him to come up from the basement?

    1. Bagpuss*

      time and patience.
      You might find a feliway or similar diffuser helps, and perhaps trying to gradually encourage him – can you spend time in the basement and then sit on the stairs , so you are gradually encouraging him to feel safe moving back towards the house.

      I would treat it as you would if you had moved house – let him have somewhere he feels safe, and explore gradually from there, and encourage him with treats and play without forcing him.

    2. Red Sky*

      My cat was also spooked by workers and loud noises when we were doing renovations. What seemed to help was carrying him and talking to him while taking him on a tour of the house to show him everyone was gone. We went into every room and opened every closet so he could see there were no more strange men in his territory. Caveat, my cat was comfortable being held and knew if he indicated he wanted to be let go I’d set him down, if your’s isn’t, this might stress him out more.

      1. Gatomon*

        I have to do the same thing with my cat! I have lead him around the house to prove that everyone has left or he just won’t come out of hiding. He usually doesn’t let me carry him though, so I have to give him some good chin scratches and hugs before he feels brave enough to try exploring.

    3. Venus*

      Agreed that Feliway tends to work well in these types of situations.

      Also, if you can, I would suggest putting food upstairs and leaving it out for the cat to eat at night. Cats tend to be more active at night, and the food will draw them upstairs, and they will see that everything is back to normal so they will hopefully return back upstairs after a few days.

    4. cat socks*

      Definitely some time and patience. If he enjoys playing, you can try and draw him out with a feather or wand toy. Maybe try dragging it up the stairs to see if that catches his attention.

    5. Blarg*

      Time. My cat scared herself in a big way at our new apartment and spent about a month refusing to come upstairs to the bedroom. This was heartbreaking for me as we’d recently lost our other cat so I went from two kitties in the bed to zero. She had no issues with me, and I even slept on the couch with her some nights. And then one day … she came back upstairs. She didn’t stay long. But she did it. And the next day, she slept in the bed with me and has been fine ever since. But it was AWFUL and I was so scared she’d never go back upstairs and felt so lonely.

      Good luck! Just give your kitty time to forget/whatever it is they do. Trying to force them out just seems to prolong the process even though it makes perfect sense to us.

  6. Seeking Second Childhood*

    Big number birthdays are hard on a kid when your parents are stressed at work, not sleeping well, and distracted by house issues. My husband & I have just been too tired to do any planning…and our daughter’s 13th birthday crept up on us like bad underwear. I’m normally an enthusiastic (if inept) birthday party planner. But insomnia is winning!

    1. WellRed*

      At 13 your daughter is old enough to participate in the planning. Would that help? She’s also old enough to understand life happens so unless she’s overly upset, assume she understands that, even if she’s a bit disappointed.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        It boggles my mind that no one in her group of friends talks on the phone. It’s all texting, and my daughter doesn’t have a cell phone. (Long irrelevant story, a large part is for her to not lose things first LOL.)
        I had a brainstorm though…movie night with 2 friends from the elementary school who are in different school district’s now.
        Crisis averted, but you’re right, I’ve got to get her planning too.

    2. MatKnifeNinja*

      Could you let her be Queen Bee for the day, and let her run the show?

      Trip to mall with friends

      Out to eat with friends with birthday dessert there.

      Movie/movie night back home with possible sleep over

      One horrible Christmas, I was very ill. I didn’t have enough brain cells to do a proper Christmas for my niece. I made up 12 vouchers that had different things like “going out to eat”, “movie date”, “shopping trip”…you get the idea. She could turn them in with so many days heads up. She LOVED it. You could try that with your daughter.

    3. Caterpie*

      Around that age my parents let me choose between a party or a larger gift, is that something you could offer? That way if she chooses larger gift all you have to do is order/buy it, and if she wants the party she can take on part of the role in planning it.

    4. cat socks*

      At that age, I just wanted to spend time with my friends. Sometimes we would go to the fancy mall downtown and then come back for a sleepover. It was nice to have a cake and blow out some candles, but I didn’t care for an actual party.

    5. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      My parents used to pay for me to go out to a semi-nice restaurant with three of my friends for my birthday when I was that age. (Basically, we went to the nicest restaurant in our regular rotation of places we ate at as a family. It was someplace where they knew I knew how to behave unsupervised and which things I liked to eat off of the menu, but which read “special occasion” to me.) I can’t remember now if my parents got a separate table and stayed or just dropped us off. (Probably the latter, since my friends and I had been going out to less-fancy restaurants without adults for a few years at that point.)

      It felt very “grown up” to me at the time, and was less anxiety than trying to figure out where to draw the friend/acquaintance line for an actual party now that I was old enough that it no longer made sense to just invite the whole class.

    6. Let them live*

      Honestly, 13 is old enough to have their own phone. Of course they’re texting and not talking on the phone! Why is this a surprise?! You’re stifling them by insisting that everything goes through you. Let them live and back off a bit.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Nothing has to go through me, we hsve a land line and she has email.
        But are you offering to pay for it and it’s replacements? She’s gone through 4 watches in 2 years.

        1. Kyrielle*

          Maybe get her a Google Voice number? It’s not a phone that can be lost, but it looks like – and I don’t use the thing – it looks like it does support texting.

  7. What to do tonight?*

    So I’ve asked kid’s dad to have kid tonight because I wanted to go out. It’s a local queer indie night that happens once a quarter. I’ve been once before and enjoyed it. I didn’t know anyone but met some people in the queue to get in and they were nice.

    Now it’s tonight and I’ve planned my life to go… but I find I don’t wanna. :-| I’m feeling sorry for myself for reasons related to work and also not getting voted in for something I wanted to do. I usually really enjoy dancing and I don’t get to go out dancing very often (and next to never go to indie nights so it’s a nice change). I’ll probably feel better if I go… but I’m scared that I’ll just feel lost and alone. Also it’s not cheap to get in and I’ll have to get a post-midnight taxi on my own. None of my friends are interested in going. But this might be a chance to meet some more LGBT+ people?

    Having said that, I could message the woman I met in the queue last time. But – I don’t want to. I had a bit of a crush on one of her friends and asked if he was bi but apparently not, 100% gay, so I guess I feel too stupid to message her :-(

    I’m scared I’ll feel utterly miserable either way. I don’t want to waste a Saturday night without the kid. But maybe I should just stay in and look after myself. Help??

    1. Christy*

      you sound like you’re having a hard time. I think you wrote this because you want to be told to go. And I think you should go! You can always leave if you’re not having fun.

      And for me, I don’t think wallowing alone has ever helped me. Being around other people usually helps, even if I start grumpy.

      And as an aside, spending time fully alone at home isn’t a waste! You can eat charcuterie for dinner and watch your favorite trashy tv and eat ice cream and consciously relax. It just doesn’t sound like that’s what’s going to happen if you stay home tonight—you’ll just be sad and upset with yourself. That’s why I say go out.

      1. Shiny Flygon*

        Thanks. I was erring on the side of it being better to be dancing and miserable (better chance of cheering up) than in and miserable but it does help having someone else say it!

        Fwiw, I’m also finding that no one on dating apps wants to go dancing. Maybe if I actually go dancing I’ve got a higher chance of finding someone who likes that?! Haha.

        1. valentine*

          Maybe if I actually go dancing I’ve got a higher chance of finding someone who likes that?!
          This is a great point. Sometimes you have to do the thing before you can plan the thing.

          I say go and maybe leave before midnight, if that makes you feel better. Or treat it like a service window. You don’t have to arrive when it starts or stay until it ends. Give yourself permission. But a night without the kid isn’t wasted. It’s your night, whatever happens. Let yourself have breathing room.

          And the person you’re reluctant to text probably took it in stride. No need to feel bad.

    2. WellRed*

      Go! You’ll feel better and shake off your current mood. If you aren’t enjoying it, leave. I’ve gotten very good at that last bit as I get older.

    3. Ethyl*

      Would taking a little bit of time to “stay in” and take care of yourself *before* you go out help? Maybe listen to some chill music or a guided meditation, do a face mask, paint your toenails, watch something you don’t usually get to watch, and THEN get dressed and go dancing? That way you get the best of both worlds! And maybe will shake up your mood enough to where you actually want to go out :)

      And fwiw, if I were the person you met and had asked me about someone you were attracted to, I wouldn’t think you were stupid or bad or anything. I think as queer people, that type of awkwardness is much more common and expected and nothing to be ashamed of, since you don’t always know how a given person identifies. I bet that call is coming from inside the house if you know what I mean :)

      1. Ethyl*

        Also you just reminded me to check the calendar of one of the local queer bars to see if they’re having another dance night soon :)

      2. Shiny Flygon*

        Thank you so much for picking up on that last bit. I’ve been internally criticising myself ever since. He seemed quite flirty early on so I was embarrassed to get it so wrong. Thanks for helping me put it into perspective.

        Good idea. Kid is going to his dad in an hour or so, I’ll put some nail varnish on. Bi nails ftw!

        1. AnonEMoose*

          For what it’s worth, I am straight, married, and monogamous. But I am also heavily involved in local science fiction/fandom circles, and there is a LOT of overlap with the local LBGTQ+ community, there are lots of polyamorous folks, and a lot of unique relationship structures.

          So I’ve been asked more than once if I’m bi, or if my DH and I are polyamorous, and so on. I’ve never been upset or offended, or thought less of the person who asked (because everyone who has asked has been respectful and graciously accepted “no” for an answer).

    4. Not A Manager*

      I’m glad you’re leaning toward going. I used to have similar issues about going to events by myself. What I used to do was give myself permission to leave if I wanted to (no “sunk costs” fallacy, no beating myself up for “wasting” the time/babysitting/money), but I’d also give myself a goal before I would leave. Like, I’ll have one drink. Or, I’ll talk to one person I haven’t met yet. Or, I’ll dance once by myself. After that, I’d already had the experience that I’d committed to having, I was free to stay or leave.

      Also, I tried to have some nice treat waiting for me at home. I like books and snacks, so it was usually some combination of those. But I found that whether I had a good time out, or a not-so-good time out, sometimes it felt like something of a letdown to come home after, so I liked to make that a bit of a special event as well.

    5. T3k*

      Being extremely introverted, I do this to myself a lot as well. There’s a meetup once a month I go to but every time it rolls around the internal struggle is always the same along the lines of “what if it’s not fun?” or “what if I find no one to talk to?” etc. but I usually end of making myself go anyways (exceptions are if I really do need to catch up on rest or homework) and every time I’ve eventually found others to talk to and ended up enjoying the night out. So I say unless you really need to catch some extra sleep, go have fun! You can always leave early if you’re not :)

    6. What I did tonight!*

      So I’m a surprise twist, at about 4pm today I joined a local lesbian meetup.com group and they had a meet tonight. So I went along to that, had a great evening with them and met some really nice people, then left soon after 10 to go to my night out. A nice woman realised I was there on my own and pulled me over to dance with her and her friends, so I even had people to dance with! Hurrah!

      (One of her friends was lovely but I completely failed to get her number though. Oh well, maybe next time!)

      Thanks all for your encouragement, it helped offset one of my friends who said not to go on Facebook.

      1. What I did tonight!*

        I can do that the other nights the kid is with his dad, though. I hate quarterly nights out, there’s so much pressure to go and have fun! Internal pressure, but still.

  8. Autumn leaves*

    I am wondering if anyone here has some experience with this. I have a son who has suffered throughout high school since fairly early in 9th grade (that was the start). We don’t know why. He has been dealing with anxiety, depression, ADD. He is very bright, hates School and is a little bit socially awkward. His grades have been all over the place (certainly not great) but his SATs are very good. Unfortunately our school system is highly competitive which adds to the stress here. He is interested in computer science and or video game design for college.

    He has finally decided that he is not interested in a gap year because it wouldn’t give him much. As his parent, I do not know how to handle the college process with him. (We do have support) There are a couple of private colleges which have good programs for him and he could actually get in but they are very expensive. Does anyone have experience with a child like this who has done fine in college?

    I am hesitant to believe that he will pull it together in college. Maybe it happens? Underachievers finding their way in the college years?

    1. mreasy*

      I went to college with a lot of kids like this! There is definitely hope. Though I wish he’d consider a gap year.

    2. Christy*

      My wife really needed her two years of community college to get herself ready for a four-year school. She says she wouldn’t have done as well if she’d gone straight through. And she did well in both places!

      1. Overeducated*

        My sister did this too. The idea of community college for a smart kid seeing most of her friends move away was not appealing, so she tried a semester at a four year school a few hours away but just wasn’t ready in terms of emotional support, ADD coping and time management skills for schoolwork and class, etc. It was just a lot to figure out on her own in a new environment.

      2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        Since he is bright and the school is boring him, could he graduate HS early or do a dual-enrollment degree at the community college? A lot of CCs offer you dual high school/associate’s degree enrollment program.

        1. ..Kat..*

          I have a friend with a daughter who is doing this type of program and it is perfect for her. She is really doing well. Also, community colleges are cheaper and could allow you to save up money for the expensive, private colleges to finish off a 4 year degree.

      3. Rock Prof*

        My husband was like your son. He had excellent SATs and mediocre but very mixed grades, with ADHD and depression. He dropped out (was on academic calendar probation after his first semester and left after that) his first time around. He took a couple classes here and there at CCs and worked a wide variety of jobs. After 1.5 years, he went back to the same school and did fine. (He also meet me his second time around, so I like to take credit for his success but it’s probably just maturity.)
        Now at a regional university, I see quite a few students like him at my school as their fallback after failing out of a bigger name school. Most of them do well, some keep doing the same stuff they’ve been doing, but it’s entirely possible for just a year or two of maturing and experience to make a huge difference. It’s also possible to go back to school after many, many years, which is a thing that was never spoking of in our high achieving high school circles.

    3. Jean (just Jean)*

      Nothing wrong with being very bright and a bit socially awkward! And U.S. high school (I’m assuming you are in the U.S.?) can be a tough time, thanks to the nonsense about it from some parts of popular culture and/or the school itself. I’m talking about the stereotypes about mean girls, queen bees, underage drinking/drugs/sex, disproportionate value assigned to kids with sports skills, etc. U.S. culture can be tough on kids who don’t conform to so-called “normal expectations” (or parents of said kids). It’s ridiculous but it can be real.

      IF you’re working with a college process professional, that person should have access to information about kids who learn differently.

      How about having your son start as a community college student? You don’t need to be a whiz-bang straight A student with 100 friends and a mile-long list of extracurricular activities. Some of the community colleges are well-known for their supportive services for students who learn differently / have learning disabilities / had special education supports in high school. (In the U.S. these students access the service through an IEP (individualized education plan) or 504 plan. Federal law requires all public schools to give all students a free and appropriate-to-their-skills education. The theory doesn’t always translate into reality, but that’s the idea.)

      See if you can connect with parents of other students with similar concerns. You and your son might find kindred spirits in the special education community–either at school or through groups like CHADD. Look up Wrightslaw (dot) com although I don’t know if their information goes beyond the U.S. kindergarten-through-high school years.

      As for the local competitive-ness and stress, I would ignore it except to push back by promoting the following two ideas to your son:
      1) Everybody does not have to leave home for Harvard, Yale, or [insert other prestigious college/university of your choice]. There are good schools all over the place where a person can get a good education.
      2) Plenty of reasonable, functional, happy adults–including me–attended college while living at home with their parents for part or all of the time to complete their education.
      Actually, the more we work to calm down the college process the happier all parents and children will be. It’s a hard world for young people. We should not make it harder than necessary.

    4. Fikly*

      I was your son.

      I went to that highly competitive, nationally ranked, public high school, where the entire four years was about what college are you going to?

      My grades…I was just naturally smart enough in high school to cover for the learning difficulties I had, and tested extremely well on SATs and other standardized testing. I went to an expensive private college and it all fell apart. I didn’t know what learning difficulties I had, or that I even had them, I had always been told that I was smart, so I thought it was all my fault because I was a lazy bad person.

      I would strongly recommend looking into how he learns, and what is going on with his school work now, before you are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a college degree. Likely there is something going on, and likely it is something that can be helped! Underachievers are usually underachieving for a reason, especially “smart” kids who test well but don’t do well with grades.

      Also, at this point in my life (mid-30s, with a college degree, finally, after a decade of physical health issues that kept me from work or school throughout my 20s) I think degrees from expensive colleges are highly overrated. There’s little evidence they turn into a better paying career. Unless you’ve been saving all your life, it’s just debt. Get the college degree, yes, but get it somewhere it won’t screw either of you over for the rest of your lives, and only get it once you know he has had the assessment and skills to succeed academically. Because one, it will cost less, but more importantly, because the trauma at failing is pretty scarring.

      1. assistant alpaca attendant*

        Maybe have him try some free online college courses like edX or Coursera? It will give him a sense of what college courses are like and many socially awkward folks do well online since there is less social pressure and you can think through your responses to class discussions, etc.

        1. Lady Jay*

          Actual college teacher here. If you want to take Coursera courses, fine, but please don’t do so under the assumption that they simulate what it would be like to actually enroll in college. Because they are 1) online, 2) have massive enrollment, and 3) are often, though not always, self-paced, they’re very different from being “in college” and they deny the opportunity to connect with profs/fellow students in ways that shape people’s interests.

          If you’re looking for a “zero entry” to college, try your local community college instead for cheaper access with the resources and environment of a “real” college.

          1. assistant alpaca attendant*

            Thanks for the info. I meant more as a way to preview college level content/lectures to gague interest and seeing if online courses might be an option. There are fully degree online programs and hybrid programs where you do some of both so you still get some in person experience. You have to be very self directed for online but it helps some people I know with anxiety and taking classes while working etc.

            1. Lady Jay*

              Sure, and I teach some online courses, albeit full-credit ones; those tend to be more structured and engaging than Coursera, where you’re basically granted access to the material and testing without a lot of input.

              I’m not trying to rain on Coursera, really! Any access to learning materials, especially for people who are anxious or just want to learn on their own time, is great! But the structure/pace/engagement means that for somebody who may be thinking about what they want to study in college, whether college is “for them,” it’s not a really accurate preview; community college or a for-credit online course would be better for that.

    5. Policy wonk*

      Kids are still in school, so can’t say it’s worked yet, but two of mine started at a community college as well. Got to try out college level work without the hyper-competitive atmosphere and the struggles of time management that come from being away from home. Depending on your student’s needs, when they trznsfer to a 4-year school you should consider getting them an academic coach of some kind.

    6. Autumn leaves*

      Thanks to all for your kind responses. He isn’t special needs or on the spectrum. Its always nice to have gather other ideas

    7. Alex*

      He sounds kind of like me re: struggling emotionally in high school in a highly competitive environment with an ADD diagnosis (and in my case, undiagnosed depression) and social awkwardness, inconsistent grades and good SAT scores.I wouldn’t say it really got better in college but I did make it through.

      The good news is that unlike me he has an academic interest! That’s great. I think it might be helpful if you talk with him at length about what he wants his college experience to look like and listen to what he has to say (rather than, in my case, all the adults in my life telling me what I wanted, which was not at all what I wanted). Is there a reason you are looking at private colleges? I mean, nothing wrong with private colleges but if he doesn’t have the grades to get a scholarship, doesn’t have a clear picture of what he wants out of college, has struggled in high school, and ya’ll aren’t made of money, it may be better to go the community college route at first.

    8. MatKnifeNinja*

      The best thing my friend did for her ADHD/ASD brilliant, socially beyond awkward son was give him two years of community college. It was way way WAY cheaper, lower stakes, and he had the luxury of switching his major around.

      He needed those two years to mature. He transferred to U of Michigan with a full tuition scholarship for the last two years. His degree will say U of M at the end of the day, and no one will really care about the two years of CC. He’s graduating this spring.

      Had he start off at U of M, he would have flamed out like the Hindenburg. He just was not read yet. More the social/executive functioning stuff than actual learning.

      It did suck to hear how everyone else did the humble brag that their kid is going to big deal university. No one tells you how their kid was absolutely not ready to go, and came home during Thanksgiving and didn’t return.

      Something to consider.

      1. Judddddy*

        Ya and it’s only a month of awkward being around braggarts instead of a lifetime of regret. Don’t choose schools based on May chit chat at graduation parties.

        1. MatKnifeNinja*

          It’s terrible where I live, because people consider U of Michigan a “fail” school.

          My friend stayed off of social media from April until October for her own sanity. She knew what she was doing was right for her son, and didn’t want the chatty Karen’s dragging her down.

    9. Judddddy*

      It sounds like he’s bored and forced into taking boring gen ed class. I would’ve def been diagnosed with ADD based on behavior if I didn’t get the highest grades in the class. Why not ask him what he wants to do? He doesn’t need college to be a programmer.

      Don’t get student loans, re: my post below.

    10. Anon Here*

      I was like that. I didn’t do well with the structure of school or the social environment. I wanted to be doing actual work and having an actual impact on the world, not taking surprise quizzes and deciding which clique to sit with at lunch. I had big ideas. School made me really depressed.

      Encourage your kid’s career interests. Is he working on projects outside of school? Does he want to? Can he connect with professionals in his areas of interest? I would caution against finding a single mentor for him because one person’s perspective can be skewed. But if he can get his work out there and network a bit, that would be great.

      School, despite its obvious value, is a lot of hoops to jump through. That might get easier when the hoops are seen as steps towards a tangible goal. For example, he has completed a project that has earned him recognition from adults in his desired industry, and he knows what doors will open for him as he attains certain academic credentials.

      Those “extracurricular” interests are really valuable. Look at job postings with him, encourage him to challenge himself outside of school and believe in himself, to develop a portfolio – achievements he can show off. That will really help him in the long run. Grades and the school you start your undergrad work at are less important. He can always transfer to a better school; he’ll probably find it easier to get good grades in college. I know I did.

    11. insufficient coffee*

      I’ve got a great story of a relative who pulled it all together, but it took a 2nd go at college. he went right after high school, but dropped out and worked for several years. Then blew everyone away. (except his mother, who knew he could do it all along :) But I don’t know if that’s a helpful story.

    12. Anono-me*

      I found taking a couple of community college classes the summer between high school and college to be very helpful.

      It eased the transition between high school and college. I also took required classes that were not my strongest areas.
      This ment that I was able to focus on the two of them in a way I wouldn’t have been during a regular semester.

      As your son currently does not want a gap year, this might let him get his feet wet and decide if he wants to charge ahead into college or rethink the Gap year decision.

      (Additionally many US colleges charge per credit hour rather than per semester so taking a couple of General Ed requirements at the local Community College could save some money.)

    13. AnonoDoc*

      This was me in High School.

      Long before “gap years” were a thing I worked for a year after high school. I did it mostly because I couldn’t afford to go straight to college, but it also really helped me with my motivation and maturity when I did go to college.

    14. Not A Manager*

      I had this issue with my child. This is going to maybe sound harsh, but here is what I ultimately decided: He might not be “interested” in a gap year because “it wouldn’t give him much,” but this is not actually his unilateral decision. I know that is so counter to all of the college-prep thinking that you might have encountered (let them do their own applications! They can apply wherever they want so long as you’re clear with them about finances! They get to pick their own major, Mom!) All of that is true, but when it comes to you actually forking over a lot of money for private tuition, that’s an investment, and you get to decide if that’s a good investment to make at this time.

      If you think that he’s really not ready for the kind of college experience that he says he wants, you get to decide that you’re not going to pay for it right now. That doesn’t mean that you’re cutting off all of his autonomy and independence. On the contrary, I would argue that it is enhancing it. If you tell him clearly what your concerns are, and what you need to see from him to alleviate those concerns, then he can decide how he wants to proceed within that framework. Maybe he’ll take a year off and do those things (therapy? working and paying rent to you? a post-high school boarding school year?); maybe he’ll decide to try to finance his college in some other way in order to do it right now; maybe you’ll tell him that you will pay X amount now for him to live at home and go to community college, but not X times a million for him to go to a four-year private college. Whatever your terms are, make them clear so that he has all the information he needs to make his own decision, within that framework.

      I’m skeptical about the “won’t get much out of a gap year.” First of all, I think he might. But secondly, so what? College isn’t a race, and it really doesn’t matter whether he starts on his post-college life at age 22 or at age 23.

    15. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Some underachievers do find their way in college, but others definitely don’t! I worked much harder once I was able to choose my own classes, and did better in college because classes had syllabi so I knew exactly how grades would work, but I went into college with really strong “show up every day even if no one makes you go to class” skills. I saw some other underachievers really flounder because they were used to their parents making sure they got up in the morning, went to class, did their homework, kept their grades up, etc., and given the lack of supervision at college they just…didn’t do those things because no one made them.

      My mom told me that I could stay at my SLAC as long as I kept my grades high enough to keep the scholarship they gave me, but that if I couldn’t manage that I’d be living at home and going to community college because the only way we could afford that private SLAC was with a scholarship. For me, that was enough incentive to make sure I was on track, and I kept a close eye on my classes and grades to do what I needed to to keep that scholarship.

      If possible, I recommend a general CS major over a video game specific program just because the video game industry is a pretty terrible place to work, so a lot of people don’t stay in it for their whole career. If he does go general computer science, he might want to find out how applied versus academic the program is. I ended up in a very math-focused academic CS program and graduated with a great set of tools for going to grad school in computer science and picking a research area, but many fewer tools for actually getting a computer-related job with a B.A. I ended up doing something else with my life for a variety of reasons, and the good news is that the types of things I learned are much more still-relevant than if I’d done a more job-focused computer degree, but it wasn’t what I’d had in mind when I picked it out as a high school student who liked to write computer programs.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        The comment about game programming is a good one. It’s a notoriously terrible field to work in, with crappy pay, low job security and long, long hours, so it’s good to have a more general background for if/when you decide you want a life outside of work, and to be able to move out from your parents’ place. I also second the practical vs theoretical aspect – a more theoretical program is great if you want to go to grad school, or into very esoteric researched based work, but not so useful if you want to get a coding job.

        Overall, I also agree with the community college and transfer approach. Shelling out for expensive private university when he hasn’t demonstrated the ability to manage steady work on his own. He might thrive and do well, but there’s also a good chance he’ll flame out badly first, and they don’t give refunds. And doing well on SATs might be good for getting into the program, but isn’t a good indicator of performance after getting there.

        One further note – You don’t need a degree to do programming, but having a BSc or BEng can give you a wider variety of jobs to choose from.

    16. googs*

      Sounds like my little brother at this age, down to the gaming design/computer science. Two years of community college then transferring really helped, he thrived and transferred into a computer sci program at local uni. Good grades, did research project, and now is a software engineer.

    17. Mindovermoneychick*

      Just to throw some encouragement your way, this was me and I turned out ok. There are some things that definitely would have helped me become ok faster and avoid some bumps, but I have to run out the door now. I’ll write a longer post tomorrow with some thoughts.

    18. Birdie*

      I would not invest in an expensive private school for a student who struggles with grades and hates school. Unless of course you are uber rich. Would definitely recommend starting out at community college to get comfortable with higher education and to help him be sure that college is for him. An associates degree doesn’t exactly mean a lucrative job offer in video gaming but it is a good starting point for a bachelor’s and understanding what you want.

    19. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

      I’m not a parent or teacher, but this is my 2 cents from someone who went through a demanding high school program with classmates who were naturally bright but burned out, and had various other psychological and life issues, so struggled in school. They eventually found their footing and some of them are now in medical and other high-functioning careers.

      I second people saying community college/low cost colleges – the laziest kid I know dropped out of a 4-yr to go to CC, and is now a doctor!

      But most of all, please please make sure he is getting the mental health support he needs, whether it be counseling, or just a space to talk about his feelings and what he is going through. Something I noticed based on my life so far is that raw intelligence isn’t enough to see a person through a career path – emotional resilience and sound mental health are paramount. It sounds like your kid is naturally brilliant, so I would focus on nurturing his psychological health, which will take care of everything else.

      So many of my classmates (including myself) got condescending lectures about “discipline” and “self-control” when they really needed compassionate guidance on how to take care of themselves and listen to their needs and wants. When kids respect their own needs and feel they can advocate for themselves, they are less likely to be self-destructive IMO.

    20. Beatrice*

      My kid is younger, but similar. He’s in 8th grade now, has struggled with depression, anxiety, and ADD for the last few years, and he’s interested in video game design. I’m hoping he’ll grow out of that interest, or that I can gently steer him toward something more practical. He has a specific private college with a video game design program that he wants to get into. I’ve tried to avoid criticizing that choice, because he’s still in his early teens and has plenty of time to make those decisions, but I’ve talked to him a little bit about evaluating the cost of college and his major choice vs. the potential job prospects and income potential, using my own choices and the choices of people we know to illustrate. And I’ve started talking about what kind of financial support we would be willing/able to offer, vs. where he’d be on his own. Depending on where he is when he finishes high school, a gap year or a year where he works and takes just a class or two at community college might be good for him.

      Does yours have a job yet, Autumn? I remember getting a job changed my worldview dramatically, and I’m hopeful that it’ll mature my son a lot, when he’s old enough.

    21. LJay*

      Honestly, I was the opposite.

      I fell apart in college. All of my issues with anxiety and depression and ADHD came to a head and I essentially failed out because I couldn’t bring myself to go to class.

      In high school being smart enough was enough. I skipped class quite a bit because the teachers would spend tons of time going over things I got pretty much instantaneously, or reviewing things we had learned in 3rd grade and reviewed pretty much every year since. But I showed up for tests, did enough homework, and got pretty much all As.

      In college a lot of my classes had stricter attendance policies than in high school (miss class 3 times and you fail the class). There was a lot of collaborative group work that we were graded on. And so you really needed to show up and engage and participate to get As.

      But sometimes I was too depressed to get out of bed, so then I’d miss class. And then I would feel anxious about missing class/letting my classmates and group members down, so then I would miss the next class. And then I would feel more anxious and guilty. And I wouldn’t see a way to break the cycle. And then I would just miss class for the rest of the semester and fail.

      I wouldn’t suggest community college. I tried that and hated that more. But maybe a fully online degree from a 4 year school. And support from someone who specializes in ADHD to assist him in getting and being organized, prioritizing his workload, strategies on how to get started on tasks when your brain just won’t let you, etc.

    22. Autumn leaves*

      Thank you again. It is a lot to think about but it really is helpful to know we aren’t alone…barely anyone in this town ever talks about anything that isnt perfect. If I had known what “good school system” meant, we probably would have tried to find somewhere different but that’s in the past. I will make sure he applies to a variety of places and next Spring we will see where we stand. Thank you for the kind words

      1. fingers crossed*

        Oh Autumn Leaves, I could have written this! We live in the same sort of town/school system and have the same regrets! it too is too late for us – younger child is a junior but if we could have done it all over again – never would have moved here. We naively thought a “good school system” meant a good education – not a bunch of pressure and comparison and focus on getting into status colleges. So no advice but a ton of commiseration. Good luck to you and your son.

    23. Pandq*

      You described my son 10 years ago. So he did go to community college while living on his own across the bridge from me. He was a mess. He came home for about 6 months and worked minimum wage jobs until he realized he didn’t want that for himself – enrolled in another community college – here in Cali if you take the right classes you get an automatic transfer into the Univ of ry Calif system so that is what he did. He graduated in software engineering and is making very good money now- I bet your kid will figure it out too! I was of little help since I did not go to college.

    24. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I was like this but a girl. Only I didn’t go to school. Standardized education wasn’t in my future for various reasons. I was firmly middle of my class in terms of GPA. Crushed math, computers and science. English was a real SOB. I loathed art or anything creative so I dodged them every time. But was bored and was told I was a dumbass who’d amount to nothing by some cruddy teachers. That’s fantastic to hear as a developing kid who wasn’t dumb by a long shot. I’m just anxious and most likely undiagnosed ADHD.

      I encourage you to try to get him into college via community college or local university that’s close to home to keep helping him as much as possible. But be understanding and ready if he’s not cut out for this track. He may love college. It’s different than high school for damn sure! Or he may still struggle and take longer to graduate or need to so a different route all together. Just be flexible with your expectations.

      My brother was even worse and ended up dropping out of high school and getting his GED.

      As adults we’re both successful and highly regarded in our jobs. Including management positions.

    25. Marie*

      My spouse has adhd and college was a real struggle. His GPA sucked and we graduated in the middle of the Great Recession. He hadn’t studied CS, but something similar enough, and has had a lucrative mostly stable career. C’s get degrees, as they say. I aced my classes but was in the sciences so it took me almost a decade and a career change before I earned as much as my husband.

    26. Pam*

      Community college may be his best start. They generally have vocational programs along with the college prep, so he can start getting hands on in CS/game design, etc.

    27. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

      On the gaming aspect–has he thought about taking that gap year to work on a game from start to finish? Maybe get familiar with some of the more popular development engines and see what he likes to do? Depending on how big your city is, there might even be a local indy developer group he can join.

      For community college I’d look at what sort of classes he’d be taking to start. If the requirements are things he’s really not interested in (at least at first), maybe he could do part-time school while he does other things at home to start. That would let him gradually ease into what he’d need to do full-time next year.

      The thing is, he might do just fine in college. My classes were weighted more towards tests and less on homework, so it worked well for those of us that were good at testing but hated doing the homework/lesson review stuff. If he tests well it might not be an issue at all.

      From a personal perspective I might spend this year digging into how he learns and what he disliked about school classes. They might be things that are easily fixed at college. For example, if he was bored at curriculum so he didn’t bother to do the work, he can try to schedule things so he has no/few boring classes in a semester. If it was the homework, he can try to get knowledge from other students (or online) on teaching styles of the professors for the classes he’s taking and make sure they work for him. If it was just the day was too long so he got tired at the end and stopped doing work, he can schedule shorter days in college.

      The “how he learns” part is to hopefully motivate him to study if he needs too. If he learns how he learns best, he can do that and cut down on the total amount of study time he might need.

      Good luck!

  9. DanaScully*

    Hi!

    I posted here a while back regarding my severe period pain and how much it was impacting my life. I’m really pleased to share that I saw a consultant yesterday who has agreed to schedule me for a Laparoscopy. It’s looking likely to be early January at the moment, which is much sooner than I thought.

    For those of you who have been through this procedure, please share any advice or tips you may have.

    Thank you!

    1. Ethyl*

      Is the laparoscopy to look for and remove endometriosis tissue? If so, I have had that done and get this — none was found ::eye-roll::

      The best advice I have is to make sure you give yourself a day or two to recover after the surgery. It’s quite minor as far as surgeries go, but you’ll still be under general anesthesia, you’ll be sore and gassy after, and you’re going to feel lousy for a bit. I also always find that anesthesia like, lingers for a day or so and I wind up getting weirdly sleepy at weird times.

      I hope everything goes well for you!!!

      1. Turtlewings*

        I can second that general anesthesia lingers and makes you feel weird for days. Last year I had a very, very minor surgery — removing a polyp from my nose. The pain at the surgery site was negligible. But the anesthesia felt like this indefinable darkness lurking in the back of my brain, making me exhausted and dizzy and weirdly depressed, for a full week. Everyone reacts differently, but don’t assume you’ll bounce back immediately!

        1. Natalie*

          I can’t remember where I came across this but apparently depression is a known side effect of general anesthesia that is rather common. They don’t really warn people, at least in my experience.

      2. PookieLou*

        Same experience here!

        I would add that for me, the anesthesia left me nauseated for a few hours, and I did throw up a couple times. Make sure you have food that’s easy on the stomach waiting at home just in case. I also had a breathing tube during the procedure which left my throat sore. Lozenges were so wonderful to have!

        And ditto to whoever’s said the air left in your torso will be a hard part of recovery. Moving around much was really uncomfortable. I don’t think there’s anything to do about that but take it easy and wait for it all to pass. If you have a friend who can stick with you for a while after surgery and take care of you, that’s ideal.

        Best of luck! I hope you get answers.

        1. C Average*

          If you are emetophobic like me, you can ask for a prescription for ondansetron or another antiemetic to have on hand in case you get queasy. Sometimes they’ll even give you an antiemetic with your IV. Every time I’ve had anesthesia I’ve taken it prophylactically because throwing up terrifies me beyond all things.

    2. PseudoMona*

      I had a laparoscopy for pelvic issues many years ago. For a surgical procedure, it was pretty straightforward and uneventful. The incisions (4 in total, but one is buried in my belly button so you can’t see it) are very small, and hardly scarred at all. Recovery was about 3-4 days in total, where I mainly just slept. I did have a family member on hand to take care of transportation to/from the hospital, talking with the doctors, providing food, etc and that was a big help. I did get a prescription for pain meds, but only needed them the first day or two. The worst pain wasn’t from the incisions, but rather from the gas they use to inflate my belly. It collected in my upper back and caused rather painful muscle cramps.

    3. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      Dealing with all the air in your abdomen while it moves around during recovery was the worst part for me. If you’re comfortable sitting up, it might migrate and cause back/chest/shoulder pain, so don’t panic if that happens. A heating pad helps a lot to ease the pain and encourage reabsorption.

      Aside from that, just avoid clothes that cling where the incisions are. Even leggings or sweatpants may be uncomfortable for a couple of days if the waist hits just right. Have a nightgown or something like that on standby.

    4. NJBi*

      I had a grapefruit-sized fibroid pulled out laparoscopically my freshman year in college. My anecdotal advice, that you should definitely run by your doc before following: It’s gonna take longer than you think for you to want to walk around. The stick-on chemically heated patches from CVS are the best thing ever–stick them on your lower back and prepare to ascend to heaven. Seconding comments above, the gas is the worst part–and you have to walk around to get it to disperse, which is awful, but worth it. Talk to your doctor in advance about a pain management plan and non-opioid or limited-opioid options.

      Good luck!! I hope that the surgery helps resolve your pain!

    5. AnonymousNurse*

      Hello! I’m a nurse on a surgical floor so I can give you some tips! But *disclaimer* always talk with your surgeon regarding any meds.
      First off, as mentioned, anesthesia will linger, so just be prepared to be pretty sleepy/tired the first few days. Have someone drive you to and from the hospital.
      Talk with your surgeon about your preferred pain management, whether you want opioid or not. Stock up on stool softeners like colace, if you go the opioid route. Opioids constipate you like no other.
      WALK. I cannot stress this enough. Walking after surgery reduces SO many complications. Reduces risk of pneumonia, clots, and reduces gas pain. You will not want to get up and walk, but trust me, its the best thing you can do for your body and your recovery. Walk up and down a hallway a few times a day. See if you can get an abdominal binder, which fits tightly over your abdomen and can help you feel like “you’re together.”
      Take deep breaths. If they give you an incentive spirometer after the surgery, use it! You can press a pillow against your abdomen to splint against laughing or coughing.
      You can get over the counter gas relief stuff like simethicone to help with the gas pain. That is often worse than surgical site pain. Heat packs also work well.

        1. Melody Pond*

          Ditto!! I had my fallopian tubes removed with a laparoscopy, and I could NOT have survived without something to soften stools. I did something really simple – I just loaded up on magnesium supplements (which softens stools). There’s a brand of magnesium powder by Natural Vitality, it’s called “Calm”. I just mixed it with water, added a little stevia (because I can’t drink anything like that without sweetener), and I drank that CONSTANTLY while I was recovering. Apologies if this reads as TMI, but with this strategy, I kept myself at the point where my stools were totally liquid – and I was glad for it, because I definitely couldn’t have handled anything else.

    6. DanaScully*

      Thank you all so much for such great advice and tips! I’ve saved all of your comments for closer to the time.

    7. Dancing Otter*

      Be sure to have a thorough discussion beforehand about what they will or won’t do immediately, depending on what they find. What do you want to authorize in advance, and what findings would you prefer to discuss before proceeding?
      Seconding the recommendation for a stool softener. Start a couple of days before the procedure. Better loose stools than the opposite.

  10. Seeking Second Childhood*

    Gardening thread! My daughter’spineapple is ripe. The plants are already looking healthier indoors than they were this time last year last year in two. Two big differences: I brought them in well before we turned on the furnace, and I split them up in different areas to break up the bug boulevards.
    I have to go outside this weekend and clean up plant pots. My MIL is downsizing and brought us a trunk full of planters, terracotta pots, etc. But they’d been in her mousey barn so they need serious cleaning. They’ve been hosed, but they’re stained green with I don’t know what, no way of knowing if they carry plant pathogens.
    Can terracotta survive a dishwasher?
    Do I have to steel myself to mucking around with bleach?

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        These aren’t little ones, probably 6 to 10 inch, so they’re worth the cleanup time. Plus it’s worth it to me to keep usable things out of the landfill.

    1. Venus*

      I have never grown pineapples but I feel like they would be quite interesting.

      I did some cleaning of the garden last week, but need to do more this weekend. I don’t expect to have many more good weekends before the snow comes.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        They’re big and pointy and it’s years before you’ll see the first fruit– but yes they’re a lot of fun. And that tiny little fruit has more flavor than what we usually get in stores in New England.
        If you want to try it, splurge on organic, it has a better chance of not being treated to stop sprouting.

    2. Lizabeth*

      Google and vinegar are your friends!!!! The brief look I did had you:
      1: Use a brush to brush off as much as you can
      2: Soak pots in water/vinegar solution (proportions not mentioned)
      3: Run pots through the quick wash in the dishwasher.

      Note: I have not done this myself but I probably should with my pots (head hitting keyboard). And I didn’t know that you should soak the pots before planting stuff in them!

      My gardening: finishing the last row of stones against the house today. We did get some much needed rain last week that lasted all day instead of a 20 minute downpour so the plants were very happy. SOMETHING chomped on the mums so I sprayed them with the rotten egg repellent and found three pieces on the ground next to them the next day. Something tried itand went BLEECH! Hoping that will keep them away – there’s at least one rabbit still across the street.

      1. Lizabeth*

        Also just thought of something else for the pots – if you like the look of the outside of the pots – put another pot inside it for the plant?

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’ll have to try that rotten egg spray next year–maybe I’ll actually get to see hosts bloom again despite deer & woodchuck.

          1. Lizabeth*

            Spray early and often…give them the idea that they taste awful and they “may” leave them alone further into the season. Especially after a rain.

    3. PX*

      Ripening tomatoes! Thats all. The few I have on the vines still seem to be ripening. I keep finding more. And I keep wondering why they waited literally until the end of summer to start appearing at all. If the vines stay alive (lots of yellowing leaves at the moment) I think next year I need to be much smarter about repotting them early in the spring, more fertilizer early on (I think this year they just didnt have the nutrients needed to get going until quite late) and be more vigilant about getting them maximum sun if possible. The last bit is the biggest challenge.

      My croton continues its apparent decline. Hoping all the articles that say its just a reaction to stress and it will continue to grow once it gets used to the new (ie colder) norm are correct.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I just looked croton up and wikipedia has me fascinated. One type is used in campari & vermouth. Another, its sap can be used as a liquid bsndage. Such variety! What kind do you have?

        1. PX*

          It’s a mamey/mammy croton according to the Internet. It’s just a baby one but it was so beautiful when I brought it home from the shop.

          Alas, I realised my house is basically the opposite of the environment they thrive in so it was always going to be a challenge keeping it alive. It seemed to do alright in the summer but it is absolutely not happy now :(

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Maybe try a fishtank terrarium? It doesn’t have to hold water, just heat & humidity.

  11. Kuododi*

    Well I am finding that the closer it gets to officially starting radiation treatment on Wednesday, the more my anxiety increases. Intellectually I know this won’t be like chemo however the mind is a complicated animal. I’m still working with the LiveStrong program, as well as keeping lines of conversation open with DH and my sister. I deeply appreciate the good thoughts and prayers during this process. Will keep y’all posted as I have new information. Blessings!!!

    1. OperaArt*

      Wishing you an effective but otherwise uneventful treatment.

      I was nervous the first day or two of my radiation treatment, and I could list all of the reasons why but you don’t need that. The process became routine quite quickly. Visiting every weekday for multiple weeks will do that.

      The thing that surprised me most was how fast each visit was. The time from leaving my car to getting back in was usually about 15 minutes.

      Again, best wishes.

      1. Insurance mom*

        And you are probably already used to ‘flashing’ people. Took a while to get used to just ripping my shirt off for the techs. Also if nobody told you yet get some men’s sleeveless undershirts to wear as undergarments

    2. Autumn*

      Best wishes! It’s been so long for me, it’s a blur (I don’t even remember getting the tattoos), but what I do remember is that the techs were so, so nice. I hope for that for you!

      1. Kuododi*

        Oh I have no concerns about the staff I’ll be dealing with. They are warm, kind and seem to really know what is needed and their particular roles in the process. My radiation Dr is quiet and soft spoken but will sit with me and answer any little question I might have and explain any concern until I’m sure I understand what’s happening. Blessings!!!

    3. Breast Solidarity*

      Hang in there. Mine doesn’t start until January, I am still finishing up chemo and have surgery to get through but have already started worrying about sore boob from the radiation! Have you looked at breastcancer.org? I have found I need to choose threads very carefully, but some are really helpful and encouraging.

      1. Breast Solidarity*

        Which is to say, fear of the unknown is hard. At this point chemo sucks but I know what to expect and it doesn’t frighten me. I have had much larger surgeries (unrelated) before so surgery doesn’t frighten me, but I am already worried about radiation therapy which is more than 2 months away.

        So, hang in there, but your fear is normal. I have seen a therapist in the cancer center once and have another appointment scheduled to help with the anxiety.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Radiation is different for different people. However, I can tell stories of a few people who walked right through radiation. They did well. Not everyone, not all the time. But it did show me about the differences in people and their settings.
      May this not be as tough as you expect and may your results be soon and be strong and positive.

    5. Duvie*

      My DH had 35 radiation treatments after having brachiotherapy for prostate cancer. It was nowhere as difficult as the chemotherapy he had for leukemia (yes, the universe WILL kick you when you’re down!). He went to the clinic each morning before work, and never missed a day at either. I hope you have the same experience. Courage and good cheer to you!

    6. WS*

      Radiation treatment does vary – mine was fine and then I had some unexpected side-effects later – but it’s nowhere near as bad as chemo. Once you start the unknown factor will be over and done with and you’ll feel a lot better!

    7. Anon woman with breast cancer*

      I will think of you Wednesday and send you good vibes. That is the day I start chemo so I am glad your chemo went well, your rad tratments will too! Hang in there amd next weekend tell us how it went! :)

    8. tab*

      I found the radiation very easy, and it didn’t make me tired. The treatments go very quickly. Most of the time was spent getting everything set up. I was able to bring in a CD of music to listen to during treatment, and that helped me relax. I also pictured the cancer cells being destroyed by the radiation and exploding into beautiful fireworks. I’m not sure that helped, but it was fun to picture it. I’m sending you healing thoughts and good vibes. You got this!

    9. Mobuy*

      Good luck! I got tired near the end, but was fine other than that. I did find that 100% aloe vera that you can get at health food stores was great when I had what felt like a sunburn. You can do it!

  12. Teapot Translator*

    Life sucks sometimes.
    My dad ended up in the hospital this week. He’s out now and okay, but we’ve pretty much confirmed he has cancer but we don’t know to what extent.
    He’s still autonomous and his pain is under control. So I figure, he can stay home by himself. But he says he likes company.
    I feel selfish because I want to work and keep studying and I don’t want to jeopardize my work by asking to work from home. Plus mentally, it would drive me batty having to spend a lot of time with my dad.
    We’re at the beginning of this, we don’t know what the treatment is, what his chances of recovery are or how long he’ll live.
    Anyway, hard situation for us his kids, hard situation for him, but it doesn’t change all family history and issues, you know?
    Thanks for listening.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Does your area have a community center or senior center with daytime activities? Our town and the one we used to live in both have a program where people can get inexpensive shuttle bus rides from their house to the center. At both, people can buy lunch or breakfast with other people who are not working during the daytime. There are craft lessons, yoga, card games, etc. as well.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      For serious illnesses such as cancer it’s usually recommended that the patient have a team of people. And not just professionals, but also friends/family/neighbors who can coordinate and make things happen. All this is to say NO, you absolutely should not be doing this alone.

      I think you live with your dad? If so that puts you are the front lines, you and anyone else who lives with him will be the first to know when something is wrong. If dad is not interested in building Team Dad, then you go ahead and round up people and services yourself. Build a Team You instead.

    3. Sunflower Sea Star*

      You do NOT have to reorganize your life “because he likes company”!!!

      Since you mention that there are “family history and issues” you want to be super careful to not fall into the trap of allowing yourself to be manipulated “because I have caaaaaancer!” or “you’ll regret this when I’m dead!”

      Don’t know if the issues involve narcissism or manipulation, but if it does: When manipulative people get seriously ill, it can be wielded like a weapon. And since it’s (probably!) true, and serious, it’s hard to resist.

      (I say probably, because I *did* have a family member completely make up a serious health issue to try and get to me when I’d cut him off completely. Messaged my husband with a whole sob story and got my husband pleading with me, but I was skeptical. And somehow no one else in the family had heard a peep about this rare condition, long hospitalization and hospice care…)

      Signed,
      Been there, never, ever again

    4. Kuododi*

      Oh sweetie there’s nothing selfish or bad about keeping up with your work and studies. Anything which helps you renew and restore your energy will be an absolute Godsend. Definitely seek out friends, trusted family and/or mentors to be an additional source of strength. I definitely get what’s going on as we’ve been dealing with my mother’s increasing dementia. My sister and I are both designated on their living wills/ durable power of attorney. (I take care of healthcare needs and sister is on the financial power of attorney. ). Personally, since I am dealing with double cancer diagnoses, I find it even more necessary to maintain those boundaries around my rare quiet times where I can play with the doggos or spend quality time in my local library. My best regards to you and your family. You all are in my heart.

    5. NoLongerYoung*

      Sending you a hug.
      You’ve gotten good advice here. Take care of yourself.
      Arm yourself with research and knowledge. I looked up the big words. I read the medical literature (not blogs, the actual journals and handbooks – there are synopsis and good descriptions). I talked to others who had family members with the diagnosis. So I had an idea of whether the grumpiness was just more of his personality acting out, or part of the brain deteriorating. (it was actually something else).
      I like NSNR “team you.” I did not take care of myself. I’m still trying to recover my own health, some 12+ months after his death. Here for you… it’s hard to balance when there’s already family stuff.

  13. Richard Hershberger*

    Early baseball: I commented earlier this week that my technique for out-boring a bore is to discuss my hobby interest at great length. My hobby interest is early baseball history. Shameless self-promotion: https://www.amazon.com/Strike-Four-Evolution-Richard-Hershberger/dp/153812114X/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2RWIYKFJRQSXJ&keywords=strike+four+evolution+of+baseball&qid=1572093895&sprefix=strike+four%2Caps%2C124&sr=8-1. This is on the evolution of the rules. It explains both the oddball rules (dropped third strike: what is up that that?) and the ordinary (why four balls for a walk and three for an out?). You can also see some of the shorter pieces I have written here: https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C21&q=richard+hershberger+baseball&btnG=

    The specific example of lengthy discourse I used was slightly different: was Boston robbed of the 1871 pennant? Several people responded that they were actually very interested by this, and at least one suggested I post about it in this thread. So here goes. This is the abbreviated version, the long version being, um…, long.

    The first baseball league, the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players (NA) was founded in 1871 for the purpose of establishing a championship race. They came up with the system of each team playing a series of games against every other team. This is, with various modifications, the system professional sports leagues still use. The NA invented it, so pause a moment and think happy thoughts about the NA. Done? OK, moving on…

    It took them a while to figure out the details. They were used to the idea of best-of-three series. Two clubs would play two games, one on each home ground. If they split the two games, they played a third game on a neutral ground. The NA took this scheme, making it best-of-five. This is different from the modern system, where each team plays a fixed number of games. In the 1871 scheme, if Boston won the first three games against Cleveland, the series was over. This is just like the World Series, where the number of games played depends on the results along the way.

    Confusion: it was not entirely clear whether the pennant went to the team winning the most series or the most games. These are not necessarily the same. A team could lose a series, but win two games in that series. At the close of the season the Boston Red Stockings had won more games, while the Philadelphia Athletics had won more series.

    The next issue was the player eligibility rules. These were adopted verbatim from the predecessor organization. If a player left from one club to another, he was ineligible to play for his new club until sixty days has passed since his last game. This was intended to cut down on players changing clubs during the season. The issue in 1871 was that there also arose a new practice of some players going to New Orleans to play winter ball, then returning north in the spring. No one thought this was controversial, but the sixty day rule made no provision for it. The upshot was that one player was technically ineligible early in the season.

    No one thought to complain, until the Philadelphia Athletics realized that having his games declared forfeits would help them in the pennant race. These forfeits would give them more wins than Boston, giving them the pennant regardless of whether it was based on winning series or total games.

    We would expect at this point a bureaucratic battle royale. It didn’t happen. Boston rolled over without a fight. Why? No one said, but reading between the lines, Boston took one for the side. The NA was brand new, and a controversy like this would harm its legitimacy. The A’s had the letter of the law on their side, but Boston could have made an argument based on the intent of the eligibility rule. They passed on this for the greater good. The rules were changed so that teams played all the games of a series, not a best-of, and the NA clarified that the championship was based on games won.

    Don’t feel too bad for Boston. They won the pennant the next four years running, becoming professional baseball’s first dynasty.

    1. fposte*

      Thanks, Richard, this is really interesting; I love how things we take for granted came to be. And this is the rare literal inside baseball :-).

    2. GoryDetails*

      Great post – thanks! I do enjoy baseball despite the commercial and political and other factors that make it a not-always-fair contest, and was intrigued at the early-days issues.

    3. Anon Here*

      I love it! I grew up in Baltimore in the 80’s. We were between football teams and all about baseball. My brother and I collected baseball cards and obsessed over it. On summer nights, I’d fall asleep to the sound of baseball on the radio and ciccadas chirping. Baseball is the best sport. I don’t follow anything else.

    4. Nobody Special*

      Thanks got this, my dad will love it. He’s in his mid 90s with mild/increasing dementia. Mothing hives him more mental focus (and joy) than baseball, most definitely in luding history. We’ll have fin with this.

  14. Valancy Snaith*

    Thanks to all of you for your support last week. My mom has been declining very steadily all week and the doctors can’t say why, which is very frustrating for them and us both. My mom is getting some antibiotics, but today or tomorrow my dad and I will be needing to decide if it’s time for hospice care.

    1. I Go OnAnonAnonAnon*

      Please talk to a palliative care specialist at your mom’s hospital. Palliative care and/or Hospice aren’t just for those who are imminently dying; it’s also support for the living during those months/weeks/days. The palliative care people may be able to help you and your dad & mom decide if she still wants treatment, or wants only support, and how best to arrange that.

      I’m so sorry that this is where you are. It’s never easy. Wishing all of you peace.

      1. Valancy Snaith*

        I mentioned this last week but I live in a different country from my parents so I’m not able to be hands-on in care. My dad is in talks with the medical team there to determine what’s best for all of them.

    2. patricia*

      Oh, I’ve been thinking about you and your mom this week. I’ve been wishing and hoping her fear and anxiety may have abated some. I hope hospice can make her more comfortable and less afraid. And again, my thoughts are with you and your dad as well in this hard time.

  15. assistant alpaca attendant*

    Medical female tmi stuff warning…

    I had my copper IUD removed this week, and one of the “arms” broke off, so now I have to go make an appointment to get it fished out. My dr seemed very casual about it but I am terrified. I gather it is less common that it can break but not unheard of. Has anyone dealt with this? How painful was it, how long was the recovery? Were you able to get a replacement IUD after? (childfree, it just expired and was time for a replacement)

    1. AnonyNurse*

      Ooof that sucks, I’m sorry. It shouldn’t be too big a deal. Likely your provider just wanted to have ultrasound assistance so they could see what they’re doing rather than digging around fishing for the thing.

      So long as it broke off just because it did, versus being “embedded” in the uterine wall, you should have no problem getting another IUD placed. If it did embed, you’ll have to be mindful of a small increased risk of that happening again and/or migrating further into the uterine wall, which can become problematic but is very rare in people without prior scarring on the uterus (like from a c-section).

      You should request your provider make a report regarding an adverse event with a medical device to the FDA. Even if you aren’t seriously harmed, reporting these sorts of things is the only way for anyone to know they happen, to identify patterns or clusters, etc.

      Good luck!

    2. MarieA*

      Although it is no big deal as far as surgeries go, I completion understand why you are so nervous. I had a similar situation and similar procedure. Thankfully, it is a minor procedure for a Dr, and an easy one for them. As long as you take it easy the rest of the day and maybe the next day, recovery should be easy. Also, I do have another iud (mine is Mirena), so it is something you can discuss if you’d like to try again. Good luck to you :)

  16. aarti*

    Shubh Deepawali to all my friends celebrating this weekend. My husband and I normally go all out with diyas (the little oil lamps) but avoid firecrackers as we hate the noise. But my husband’s uncle passed away a few months ago so we’re not doing anything at home this year. May go to a friend’s house to score some bomb festival food on Sunday. Anyone doing anything fun for the holiday?

    1. Femme d'Afrique*

      I’m going to watch fireworks! I’ve asked all my Hindu friends for some delicious sweets, so hopefully I’ll be gorging on them for hours and days afterwards.

      Shubh Deepawali to you and yours!

  17. WellRed*

    A friend is having trouble finding a fee only financial planner to give her advice on what to do with a small inheritance from her mom. It’s her Mom’s retirement package/ Roth etc. my friend wants to make it count, if you will and be safe, not lose it. Any ideas? I’m a big Michelle Singletary fan but she doesn’t have these forums : )

    1. Enough*

      NAPFA for finding a fee only advisor. Inherited IRAs have specific rules with differences if the owner had already starting taking payments. The nice thing about the Roth is there should be no taxes due when the money is taken. But for basic safety and no loss you are looking at savings accounts, CDs, money market accounts. Online will get higher rates. Check out Bankrate.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      She could just search for “three fund portfolio” or “two fund portfolio”. The principle is simple: you can get adequate diversification with index funds. I won’t explain index funds here, as you can also search on that, and see why they’re both a benchmark for other funds and a good way to diversify. All I have in my 401(k) and my Roth IRA are an S&P index fund and a short-term bond fund. Does she know about asset allocation? There’s a lot out there on that, too, but the concept is very simple. Both accounts are 75% in equities (stocks) and 25% in bonds because I may retire in 5-10 years.

      I’m not saying she doesn’t need a planner, but there’s a lot of basic investment information out there, and for a small inheritance she probably doesn’t need anything complicated.

      1. WellRed*

        Genuinely curious: isn’t it risky to have that much in stocks the closer to retirement? Especially since I keep hearing it’s time for a downturn Asking for myself.

        1. Green Kangaroo*

          Growth is important in retirement years, too, in order to keep pace with inflation. You shouldn’t have all assets in conservative vehicles at the very start of retirement since one could be retired for several decades.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            Green Kangaroo pretty much nailed it. If you’re planning on retiring early, and so possibly being retired for 30-40 years or more, you may not want to get as conservative as the standard advice suggests. It does require some more planning (2-3 years of expenses in cash), but it’s not unusual for some people to stay at 60/40 (or higher) permanently after retirement. Even for shorter time spans, it’s a question of accepting some volatility and being willing to ride out a recession or depression for 3-5 years, and in the long run you will probably be less likely to run out of money/have more to spend or donate or leave to your kids.

        2. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Also, if you’re changing your asset allocation based on forecasts rather than where you are in your life, you’re trying to time the market, and market timing is a fool’s game, IMO. It can be especially tricky because there can often be a run-up before a recession, and you never know when the recovery will start, or if there will be another plunge; getting back in is often even harder than knowing when to get out. By the end of 2009 I was back to where I was before the recession because I stayed the course and kept rebalancing; I knew it would be back up eventually.

    3. Fikly*

      So I don’t know how soon she wants to use the money for something, but for a long term investment, nothing ever beats index funds, and you don’t need a planner to do that. Sometimes managed funds will win in the short term, but over the years? Index funds, every time. We just can’t outsmart averages.

      1. CoffeeLover*

        Agreed. Invest 50% in a stock index fund and 50% in a bond index fund. Rebalance once a year (meaning make sure to keep the roughly 50:50 split). All other investment options come with higher fees and those higher fees have been historically proven to eat away any “extra” profits they might get. Financial advisors are generally good at explaining your account options (ie tax free, retirement plan, etc – not really sure what you have in the US), but they often give crappy financial advise… usually they just recommend a mutual fund run by their bank.

  18. Judddddy*

    It’s been 13 years since starting undergrad, and student loans have been the single biggest defining factor of my life. Legitimately. It has changed my quality of life. It caused me to not be able to afford being social because I had a $50/week budget for everything and if I got stuck somewhere that I needed a cab, I’d have to wait 3 hours for the subway because I couldn’t do it. At 22, it took me 2 more years to save enough money to take one 8-week weekly improv class. My entire adult life has been in shadow. I’ve been trying to land on my feet since I was 18 (unbeknownst to me, my loans had to be paid back immediately while I was still enrolled).

    I wish I could go back so many times and make a different choice, but I can’t.

    Now I’m just an anxious whiner who complains on forums.

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      I am sorry life has been so hard for you. May things get easier for you in the future. If it’s any comfort, early 30s is still relatively young; you still have decades ahead of you.

      If you could share your experiences with others before they repeated your path, you would contribute a lot to the world. Are you interested in business, financial planning, or college advising? Or expand your comment into an article. It would be a ripple in the pond.

        1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

          If you saved just one kid from the same crippling debt, what would that be worth? If Autumn Leaves’s kid up above hits thirty with no college debt left, what would that be worth? If someone had told you or me how bad it can get back when we were 18, what would that have been worth?

          I utterly and completely sympathize with you, and my loans weren’t so bad. They are paid off now. End of 2018. I cried. I’m tearing up now writing this. I am so so so free now. My loans were the all-consuming center of my financial life for a mere 6 years. If I had had a halfway decent paying job, I could have paid them off sooner. If I had picked a different school, I could have gotten more scholarships. If I hadn’t dropped out halfway, the school would have been actually useful. If, if, if. None of those ifs happened. None of us know what will happen in the future when we sign on the dotted line barely into adulthood. Nobody should sign for loans without knowing what it will cost to pay them off, in dollars and in years.

          1. Judddddy*

            Do you feel like anyone is talking about this? It seems so… clinical. Like just charts and numbers on a graph, if it’s brought up at all. How did you pay them off? I really appreciate your sharing your story because it feels like I’m the only sucker. It feels like even people with loans just see it as not a big deal. My friend told me don’t focus on just paying off debt — you have to live your life, but I paid the minimum ($1400/mo on an entry level salary) and…. now I’m just like… I don’t know

            1. Ranon*

              You might like the podcast Death, Sex and Money- they did a series on student loans and the effects that they’ve had on a bunch of people’s lives beyond just the numbers. You’re certainly not alone!

              1. Juddddddy*

                Thank you for the recommendation! I checked it out and it made me feel better to know so many people are living with hidden debt. I think it should be illegal to let 17 year olds make decisions like this that will impact their life. I had to take a 3-hour class on alcohol consumption before I could go to college. Where is that for student loans?

                1. Fikly*

                  Technically it is illegal in the US – you can’t sign a contract until you’re 18. It’s the parents consenting if you’re 17.

            2. Eliasaph*

              $1400!!?  Ouch.  Just ouch.

              I hear more people talking about crippling student debt now, but I don’t know how much is because I notice and how much is people actually talking about it.  I certainly didn’t know about in 2010 when I was heading off to college.  Nor did my parents.  I definitely don’t think kids know enough about it, though starting at community college does seem to be more popular.  Cause college is not worth it, not at the price tag it costs nowadays, unless you are coming out of it with a very marketable skill.

              The main reason I paid off my loans so quickly is because they really weren’t that big. I don’t want to give actual numbers, but I’ve heard of people with 10 times my debt. I think I always paid more than the minimum except for maybe the beginning. I wanted it to go down, not stay permanently over my head. I had a standard payment, and whenever my savings rose above my emergency fund level, I’d pay extra that month.

              The other thing that made a huge difference was a better job. My income probably doubled in 2018. And almost all of that extra money went into the loans. I highly recommend a better paying job, if you can find it. I would have paid it off anyway, but probably 4 years later.

              Maybe it would have been sensible to have lived a little more comfortably in the first five years and paid it off after I had the better job, the live your live thing, but I wanted an end on the horizon even if it was far off.

              1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

                Woops! That’s me talking above. I didn’t mean to use the other name. Not that it really matters.

            3. Dan*

              Attempting to give you some practical advice here:

              I borrowed $100k in student loans, and my required monthly payments have never been above $800/mo. If yours are as high as they are, you either borrowed a boatload of money (e.g., med school or law school levels of debt), have a bunch of private loans with rigid repayment terms, or have somehow overlooked ways to reduce the monthly payments.

              First, this advice won’l apply if your loans are “private” loans. This only applies to “federal” student loans. Also, you mentioned upthread your credit is ruined. That may not actually be an issue here, other than that your loans likely have to be current (“in good standing”) in order to change the payment schedule.

              1. You can change your ammortization period. Standard repayment periods are 10 years. You can stretch them out over longer periods of time, e..g, 15, 20, or perhaps even 25 years. Yes, you’ll pay more interest in the long run, but for now, you need to pay rent and eat presumably. That’s worth a few bucks in interest payments.

              2. There are “graduated” repayment plans, where you start out paying interest only for a couple of years, and then they bump up the payments every few years until the loans are paid off.

              3. There are income based repayment plans (known as IBR) which limit your payments to a percentage of your income.

              None of these options require “refinancing” your loans (for which, as you alluded to, you’ll need good credit). Again, these options will only apply to your federal student loans, not your private ones.

              I have to figure that at $1400/mo, there’s got to be some relief somewhere. In the early years of my loan payments, I was on a variety of graduated plans, such that I was only paying $650 a month or so. I’ll soon be paying $1300/mo, but that’s by choice — so the remaining $50k on my debt will be gone in 3 years.

              Good luck.

              1. Juddddddy*

                They are private. They don’t qualify for income-based plans regardless of my ability to pay.

                1. Shiny Flygon*

                  You sound in an utterly untenable position and you’ve been there for years. I can’t imagine. I’m so sorry.

                  Is it possible to go bankrupt?

                2. Katefish*

                  If they’re private student loans and your credit is already bad, you may be able to get rid of them completely in bankruptcy and get a fresh start. I’m a bankruptcy lawyer and just attended a class on this topic. I’d look for a good bankruptcy lawyer near you and ask. Make sure they know your loans are private since federal student loans usually can’t be deleted (ie discharged) in bankruptcy.

                3. Katefish*

                  One more thing: even if you can’t go bankrupt, you may also be able to settle the loans by working out a lower payment with the lender. I’ve also seen this often.

                4. Juddddddy*

                  I also didn’t think you could settle student loans???? Thanks for the comment. I mean, it’s super pointless at this particular stage because I have 0 income and literally can’t pay anything yet but I’ll look into it. Thank you.

                5. Shiny Flygon*

                  I’m not in the US but a few minutes on Google tells me it’s hard but not impossible. Maybe worth looking into at least. Going bankrupt would be awful I’m sure but at least after ten years you’d be out, which doesn’t seem to be likely from what you say otherwise.

                  Sending Jedi hugs if you want them.

                6. Dan*

                  @Shiny Flygon

                  When you put it that way, you’re right. Student loans in the US are *so* hard to discharge in bankruptcy that colloquially speaking, we say you can’t do it. But it is technically possible, and I think OP could actually have a case here.

                  The tricky part would be getting the money to pay a lawyer. Lawyers don’t usually do BK for free, and they typically expect to be paid up front.

            4. Overeducated*

              You are NOT “the only sucker.” Check out Anne-Helen Peterson’s articles on student loans for Buzzfeed if you want to hear about lots of other people in the same boat and the impact it has.

        2. Jean (just Jean)*

          You are definitely not a waste of space! You have life experience and both formal and informal education. And a lot of good in this world has been done by people who either experienced or were onlookers to injustice, and decided that the misery would stop with them.

          Why not learn more about consumer finance, with a focus on pro-consumer credit and other, better ways to pay for college:
          – compassionate lending or non-predatory loan institutions?
          – schools that combine work/study or schools that bend over backwards to help students who don’t come from wealthy families / first-generation college students / other people for whom going to college is not an automatic item on the to-do-in-life list?
          I have heard a little bit about Berea College, which does not charge tuition (www(dot)berea(dot)edu). There must be other places where getting an education is merely a challenge instead of a flat-out impossible cause. Just last night I heard a radio story (NPR / National Public Radio) about a Starbucks employee whose college tuition was being paid for by Starbucks. She had to cover her books and living expenses while working roughly 20 hours a week.

          The other thing that might give you some relief is finding free or super low-cost ways to build more happiness into your life. There’s always the public library (as long as you don’t accumulate overdue fines *cough cough [tries not to blush]*) which loans out books, CDs, movies, has helpful reference librarians, and often has talks, interest groups, discussion groups. Or you could volunteer for a group or cause you want to support. Animal rescue? Community gardening group that makes public places more beautiful?

          It won’t happen overnight but you might find more kindred souls. Not all of us spent our 20s (30s, 40s, 50s) with loads of discretionary income. Life is not meant to be spent being unhappy, even if we don’t have pots of money.

          1. AnonEMoose*

            My local public library has an app that allows you to download audio books onto your cell phone. It’s great for me at work (because I’m allowed to use headphones), but could also be great for long trips or other stuff like that.

        3. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Translate that in your head from ‘whining & complaining’ into ‘warning & explaining’ and yes people will listen. Or at least they should.

        4. Meepmeep*

          It would save others from the same fate. You’re not alone. My wife ran up 6 figures of student loans because she fell for that myth too. If you can save one other person from this trap, you’ll be making a difference.

    2. Reba*

      There was a series of 3 episodes on Death, Sex and Money all about student loans. And an online interactive map. It was a really good set of stories, and might help you feel less alone.

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

      I realize this comment is probably unhelpful, and verges into breaking the “no work or school” rule, but… I keep wondering what we can do as a society to de-emphasize the importance put on a college degree. In my mind, if you take out the fact that many (if not most) jobs unnecessarily require a degree, we’ve reached the point where the benefits of going to college are not even close to being worth the jaw-dropping cost.

      In the library world, I see a ton of folks like this OP, whose lives have been turned sharply for the worse in a number of ways by the amount of debt they went into to attend college.

      1. Judddddy*

        Yeah — there was a very short 6 month period after I graduated when I had some help and wasn’t paying. I worked at a restaurant (which doesn’t require a degree) and I felt WEALTHY. I could pay my rent, buy food, have transportation, and have money to save! I mean it was incredible. I even could afford to go on dates! I don’t want to say a college degree is worthless, but it was 1000000% not worth it. There are a lot of fields that don’t require a degree and even jobs I’m applying to now don’t require them.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        There is a current stronger trend of trying to encourage trade school verses bachelors degrees.

        It’s sadly being done mostly by the people adverse to ceasing the tradition of paying out the nose for college tuition. But it’s a thing that is starting to come out into the discussions.

        The flip side is that many are saying that school should be obtainable without the awful price tag.

    4. Yup*

      Go with my favorite Monte Python tune when you feel blue—

      “Always look on the bright side of life!”

      Makes me and wifey feel better every time!

    5. Meepmeep*

      We are in the same boat. I highly recommend Dave Ramsey and just living like a monk for however long it takes to pay it off. My wife lived her entire adult life prior to our marriage trying to hide from her student loans and pretend they don’t exist. They only got bigger.

      Now we are powering through them, and they are melting away.

      1. Juddddddy*

        Yeah that’s what I’m saying — I did NOTHING. Absolutely nothing. I just stayed in bed if I wasn’t working because if I went outside I might get hungry. I did that for 8 years. I still could only afford the minimum. My 20s were nothing. Go to work. Go home. Sit in bed. Once a month I’d meet a friend for coffee. It was terrible. If I went out, I’d go to a bar by my apt just to be around people and not drink anything because I couldn’t afford it. And after I still owed $100k for undergrad.

        I eventually had to stop because I lost my job and was on foodstamps. I still paid them from my savings account (the only money I had saved was emergency money from when I was working as a server in high school!) because credit score was more important to me than having a roof over my head… eventually I was forced to stop paying because I had $13 in my bank account and nowhere to live.

        1. Dan*

          I realize this doesn’t help you now, but if your loans are “federal” student loans, there’s a variety of “forebearance” or “deferment” options available for things like a job loss. You may have to pay the accumulated interest, but they’ll at least waive the monthly payment without dinging your credit.

          1. Juddddddy*

            I ran out. The start-up I was working for couldn’t pay me for months of work and I was suddenly unemployed and out of savings.

        1. Meepmeep*

          Ouch. Is there some way you can make more money? Freelancing, a different job, using whatever marketable skills you’ve got?

          If it’s any consolation, wife and I have $320k of student loans. $2400/month minimum payments. It could be worse.

          1. Courageous cat*

            This may seem overly critical, but I don’t think any part of this comment is helpful. I am sure she’s thought of getting a second job before, and also telling someone “it could be worse” is not useful (“starving children in Africa” etc), and also … saying “ouch” is kind of rude too. Eesh.

    6. Rebeccasmiles*

      You’re not a waste of space!!! I highly recommend you look up Dave Ramsey. I believe his methods can help you tremendously. Check his books out of the library, and get started. I understand crippling debt.

    7. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      1. You are NOT a waste of space.
      2. You are NOT a whiner who complains on forums.

      We have a broken system. We tell high school aged kids that without college, you’re going to be “worthless” and living in the gutter, slaving away at McDonald’s until the end of time. They act like manual labor doesn’t pay the bills and it’s a disgrace, that anyone who is “worth” something and “smart” can just go get yourself a shiny degree in whatever! you! want! and you can be! whatever! you! want! to! be! with just a college degree.

      This is a gut turning marketing ploy in some regard. They’re trying to sell you this education because they want to build their big fancy schools and lure more kids into their halls.

      Higher education isn’t a scam but it’s not the ticket to “being something”. It’s one of those things that the risks are high and the return is pretty abysmal.

      I have a lot of friends with degrees in pretty standard areas and they are in retail, slaving away, with roommates in their 3os. I know married couples with roommates. How is that a thing!?

      You are not alone. This is not the end.

      Have you looked into your areas assistance programs? There are some food pantries or charities that may be able to help you out with taking the stress of putting food in your cupboards. It’s not shameful if you look into this options.

      I have zero student loans and it murders my soul hearing stories like yours. I try to steer myself away from the screaming sounds in my head around the false safety they sell with college entrance exams. At 18 you’re still a child, despite being labeled legally as an adult because your body is done growing, yet your brain is still fully developing. You don’t know what the heck you want to be when you have to have to take full care of yourself. Then we treat these people poorly and the weight they carry along with them, with debt that cripples your self esteem and self worth, you develop more mental illness. In a country where you’re not able to afford a food, let alone a therapist and the mental health care that would at least help work through these scars you’re dealing with.

      But seriously, I feel like there needs to be support groups for people in your shoes. It’s tragic that we’ve ruined futures before they’ve even started and crumbled the very foundation that we were trying to build successful individuals upon.

      I hope that you’ve got some avenues to investigate to make your situation even slightly better. If anything, that you can find the self confidence and self worth that you deserve. You deserve better.

      1. Juddddddy*

        Thank you for your comment. I haven’t thought about getting help from a charity — it’s been really hard, but I’ve ran out of friends to support me, and I feel guilty about borrowing money (even though I always pay it back). That makes me feel better that if I really need help, I can find it. I think some churches do that — and I totally forgot about it until right now.

        The reality is… yes, my life would’ve been so so so so different without loans. I’d have had a social life. I’d be able to afford a gym membership (I had to wait to even afford that). I’d probably even appreciate my jobs more because the money would be going towards something instead of a black abyss.

        It’s great you don’t have loans. I have friends who knew how the system worked and figured out how to get full scholarships (even if their means were a bit sketchy). The crazy thing is being friends with people who have the same degree as me, but had lower grades in high school, easier classes, and lower SAT scores, and graduated debt-free. There’s so much I didn’t know.

        It’s easy to harp on those things but I think I need to take responsibility. This is my life. This is what I’m stuck with. And I need to find a way to deal with it.

  19. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    Mostly note-taking for me this week. Heh.
    Good luck for those who intend to participate in NaNoWriMo!

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

      I want to thank everyone for talking me off the ledge with my post last week, in which I worried that the novel I’m in process of writing (in dribs and drabs) had basically the *exact* premise as Evvie Drake Starts Over. I’m reading Evvie Drake now, maybe 60 percent done, and while there are some elements of the book that are making me throw up in my mouth a little because they’re *so* similar, I’m also seeing plenty of ways in which they’re different. When I start to write again, I’m going to think of different angles I can take to make my novel seem less like Evvie Drake fan-fiction. So thanks, everyone.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I’m still vacillating between two different projects to NaNo. Writing outlines for both, so I can just take off on it when I make up my mind. It won’t hurt to have the outline already finished for the one I don’t do. :)

      1. C Average*

        Do you enjoy the outlining process?

        I freaking love it. I think I could outline all day every day for quite some time before I ran out of material.

    3. C Average*

      I’m dithering about NaNoWriMo. Do I write the revision of the book I wrote four years ago and that I know has a ton of potential? Or do I write the shiny new story that has caught me attention?

      Complicating the matter is the writing workshop I’m attending November 8-11, where I’ll be workshopping the other novel I wrote, getting feedback on it, and I assume revising it afterward.

      All of it makes it really easy to kick the can down the road and work on my Halloween costume instead of writing or attempting to write.

    4. Frea*

      Just got back from a NaNo (I wrote “NoNo,” which may be a subliminal sign) pre-kickoff party and I’m officially getting a little more excited about my NaNo project. I was wavering between three options (all of them plotted out to varying degrees) but a fortune cookie apparently decided one for me. I’ll need to spend the next few days prepping that outline for the new program I’m using to write, but I’m excited.

    5. Claire*

      I have my first case of writer’s block. My agent, bless him forever, has talked me down from the ledge and will work out a new schedule with my editor. Meanwhile, I’m binge-watching Call the Midwife while I let my brain recover.

    6. OyHiOh*

      I’m ten pages out from finishing the first draft of my current script in progress! The plan is to get that finished in the next two or three days. Let it sit for a couple weeks and then start the 2nd draft. There’s A LOT of continuity stuff to fix, largely due to a set of supporting characters whom I didn’t really develop until the second act and now need to back fill their stories in the first act.

  20. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week?
    After the roller coaster that was Doki Doki Literature Club I figured I could do with something more light-hearted and finally continued Pokémon X. I love how the XP share works and that catching Pokémon also gives you XP. Why was this not a thing sooner you cruel devs?

    1. Nicki Name*

      I went to the Portland Retro Gaming Expo and got a bunch of weird little DS games I’ve never heard of before. Also the original Final Fantasy for the NES. Haven’t gotten around to trying any of them yet, because life is busy right now.

    2. Gatomon*

      Enjoying The Outer Worlds this weekend – have taken yet another break from BotW and a Fallout 3 run I started because fall makes me think of Fallout. I haven’t gotten very far, but the world design reminds me a bit of the Ratchet and Clank series, bright colors, odd plants and fauna and brilliant skies that I love. I am missing the fun oldies soundtrack that Fallout games include though. I keep feeling like I’m missing a radio button somewhere, even though this game isn’t Fallout.

  21. Blue*

    What was your experience starting antidepressants? How long did it take before they start working? How do you even know when they’re working?

    I’ve just started on Mirtazapine, so I would really like to know your experiences with this. But I realise that this is an atypical drug, so would welcome all others.

    1. Kuododi*

      I’ve used pretty much all the traditional SSRI meds at different times in my life. (More than is manageable on a board) I can say I’ve had med that were helpful within days. I’ve also had some which took longer to kick in. I’ve had side effects as mild as excess sedation up to elevated anxiety and decrease libido. Currently I’m taking Wellbutrin SR and Trazodone for sleep. For me, this is the most effective med combination. Best of luck with the med search. Unfortunately I have not taken Mirtazipine so I’m not able to be a help in that arena.

      1. Blue*

        A lightening of all that grey weight is exactly what I want! Here’s hoping Mirz will help me with that.
        btw, I love that nickname! Mirtazapine sounds cold and clinical, antidepressant sounds heavy and ominous, but Mirz sounds like a good friend.

      2. Blue*

        Thanks Kuododi, I’m glad you found what works for you! It feels it could be a very slow and long-drawn process to find effective meds, I’m hoping that I got lucky the first time and Mirtazapine will be it for me.

        The Mirtazapine’s definitely making me drowzy, and I’m looking at it as something helpful. It’s also giving me a dry mouth, which is annoying, but now I think of it, I shall look at it as a reminder to drink more water; I usually didn’t drink enough.

    2. MMB*

      I took Mirtazapine for a while about 10 years ago. If I remember correctly, I started feeling more energetic and positive after about two weeks (sort of a lightening of all that gray weight) and my libido jumped through the roof. Most anti-depressants kill it, but not Mirz! I think I also had a bit of afternoon spaceyness, but nothing major and I think that passed fairly quickly. Overall, probably the best antidepressant I’ve tried and as a bonus it didn’t upset my stomach. I do remember having some anxiety attacks after I stopped taking it but I don’t know if they were related or not. I had some seriously stressful stuff going on at work.

      1. Blue*

        A lightening of all that grey weight is exactly what I want! Here’s hoping Mirz will help me with that.
        btw, I love that nickname! Mirtazapine sounds cold and clinical, antidepressant sounds heavy and ominous, but Mirz sounds like a good friend.

    3. Paris Geller*

      I have been on paxil since the beginning of 2018. In fact, it was the AAM community that encouraged me to speak to my therapist about my mental health and discuss taking meds, so I owe a lot to the community.
      I would say it took about a month for my meds to start working. . . and in my experience, it became clear when they working. I had a big surge of energy (which apparently is very common), and while that did level out, I just felt. . . better. I’m not saying the meds make everything okay–I still get stressed, I still depressed, but it was just so clear the difference once they started working. However, it’s one of those things that when I knew, I knew, but I wouldn’t know how to describe to someone else.

    4. Iron Chef Boyardee*

      I just started taking Bupropion HCL SR (Wellbutrin) this week (150mg daily).

      One of my concerns is I’m kinda expecting/hoping for an “aha!” moment that will show me the meds are working, but I’ve got a feeling any changes are going to be really, really slow and gradual, because that’s just the way it works.

      Unfortunately, I’m at a stage in my life where, intellectually I know this is going to take time but emotionally I need a “magic pill,” even if it’s just a placebo, to keep me going.

      1. Blue*

        Oh, I know what you mean about the magic pill! And the aha moment, which was exactly my intention with my original post. When did you have your aha moment? What did it feel like?

        Good luck with the Wellbutrin; I hope it helps.

        I’m reframing my Mirz as a good friend; it helps me do all the self-care that I’ve been neglecting because it was too hard.

    5. The Ginger Ginger*

      I haven’t taken Mirtazapine, but I just started Citalopram over the summer. It took about 2-3 weeks to start to kick in and 5-6 for full effectiveness. I was nauseated the first week, but it didn’t last past that. Now I think I might be hungrier than before and possibly have a little more trouble staying asleep, but I also went through a big and stressful change at work recently, and the hunger/sleeplessness could definitely be related to that, or just a mis-perception on my part.

      It has absolutely been worth it. I feel better than I have in years, and I would have been miserable during that employment change without support from this medicine. I could have done it, but my personal time would have been full of anxiety attacks and misery. Instead I’ve felt normal and positive (if stressed) the whole time. I’m thrilled with it.

    6. 30ish*

      I take Lexapro. I started on a half dose and then increased it, this worked fine – I didn’t have any noticeable side effects. It took a few weeks to start working , and I felt pretty good about 6 weeks in. I knew they were working because my days got a lot brighter. It was very obvious. To illustrate, I had barely done my makeup during my depression, and after two months on the SSRI I was experimenting with different kinds of nail paint.

    7. CastIrony*

      I didn’t know it was also known as Paxil!

      Well, I’m on 10mg of fluoxetine (Prozac) after being off for eight years. I could immediately think again within a day after being so overwhelmed from working so many days in a row for a few months in two jobs.

      As for effects, my family loves me again, I choose to smile each day when things get bad at work, and my irregular period improved by coming for two months in a row.

    8. Fikly*

      SSRIs have been very gradual changes for me, over weeks and months. One day I just noticed that it wasn’t that I wasn’t feeling the same emotions, it was just easier to cope with them.

      Atypicals like Abilify kicked in sooner, after a week or two.

      Buspirone, on the other hand (very old, cheap, unique in its class) works in 24 hours, and I adore it because I can alter the dose in response to symptoms and have near instantaneous effects.

      1. Sled dog mama*

        I’ve had the same experience with the SSRIs (Cymbalta, Imipramine and Effexor) the slow change where you realize one day that you feel differently.
        Buspirone was also the same I noticed a huge difference the first day and at a very low dose.

    9. C Average*

      Strange but true: my cat is currently on mirtazepine.

      She had a stomach bug for a few days and couldn’t keep anything down and was just miserable. I took her to the vet and they gave her IV fluids, an antiemetic, and mirtazepine to stimulate her appetite. When I brought the pills home my partner, who is a doctor, looked at the label and said, “Huh. Wow, I didn’t know they gave this stuff to cats, too.”

      The side effects are that she’s VERY affectionate. I have never seen a creature as joyous and loving (and hungry!) as my cat is right now. It’s like she’s on ecstasy and weed at the same time.

      1. Fikly*

        Off topic, but I am amazed at how many human meds pets get! I recently learned that chimps take human birth control in zoos to keep them from breeding before they are old enough to safely have babies, and also to manage who they breed with, for genetic reasons.

      2. Blue*

        Haha, my best friend and I sometimes joke that we’re cats, and I hope that it has the same effect on me. Joyous and loving and hungry is exactly what I want!

    10. meds anon*

      I’ve been on a whole host of drugs trying to find the right combo for my brain chemistry. Mirtazapine mostly worked, but increased my need for sleep to an unsustainable 12 hours a day. I found the side effects were dramatically different when I fiddled with the dosage, so if it mostly seems to be working try switching up or down. Everyone’s brains are so different though. Take things slow, do all that frustrating dumb exercise and diet stuff, and I hope you find something that works for you!

    11. Dr. Anonymous*

      Mirtazapine makes most people sleepy, though that effect interestingly decreases at higher doses, and may make you VERY hungry. If you don’t want to gain wait you may be able to use a tracking app like My Fitness Pal to track your food and try to treat your appetite as noise and not a signal from your body, but it’s hard for many people. You may get a hint of what relief you may get in the first week or two, and you’ll have a good idea in a month. It’s a good antidepressant; just depends on how the side effects hit you. Everybody is so different.

    12. WalkingPharmacy*

      It’s interesting that your doc prescribed Mirtazapine to start off with, since tetracyclics aren’t usually first line treatments anymore, but I’m sure they had their reasons. I’ve had a lifelong struggle with depression, and one of the most frustrating but important things to remember is that everyone has a unique experience. What works for some people may be disastrous for you, or you might have success with something that seems ineffective for most people.

      I was taking the California Rocket Fuel combo (mirtazapine with Effexor) for a few months and while that helped depression, the side effects were not sustainable. Major weight gain and night sweats. Sometimes combinations of different medications are more effective than just one type alone. It takes a lot of patience to get through the trial and error. Hang in there and know that you’re not alone.

      1. Blue*

        Yes, there’s such a range of experiences when I read reviews of antidepressants. It put me off, particularly all the bad experiences with side-effects. But I hit a low two weeks ago, and figured it can’t hurt to try,

        I’m hoping for that weight gain (I’m underweight), but I haven’t noticed an increase in hunger since I started taking it.

        Wishing you well in your struggle with depression.

    13. Blue*

      Thank you so much, everyone, for sharing your stories.

      My doctor said she chose Mirtazapine partly because of its sedative effects; she knew I wasn’t always getting enough sleep, and she thinks sleep is important. I’m also underweight, so I was happy when I found that weight gain is a side effect.

      I’ve been very numb and disassociate a lot, mostly to escape anxiety. My chest feels painfully tight when I’m anxious and I hate it and it scares me, and I found that not engaging with the world means no anxiety. Except, I don’t feel joy either and find it super hard to focus. So I want to get out of it, but every time I try to engage, something inevitably goes wrong, and I go back to skipping meals because that makes it easier to be numb. It’s a cycle and I’m hoping that antidepressants help me out of it.

      The first time I took Mirz, I slept for almost 12 hours! I felt a little sedated the whole day, and was surprisingly able to sleep at bedtime instead of lying awake hor hours because that’s what usually happens when I sleep too much. I’ve been religious about taking it at 11pm daily, and it helps to have a sleep schedule.

      Hoping that it’s also easier to do the dumb exercise and diet shit with this, even if it’s just a placebo.

  22. OperaArt*

    My sister andI are in the very early stages of dealing with my independent, practical, and competent mother. She is 85 years old and just starting to show signs that she’s at one of those life-stage changes.
    Neither of us live near our mother. It’s like walking a tightrope to allow her her autonomy and independence but still be aware of what’s really going on and deciding to step in. At least my sister and I seem to be on the same page.

    1. Not A Manager*

      If she’s truly practical, is she willing to discuss these issues with you proactively? I wish my mother had been. She was independent and basically competent all her life, but was completely unwilling to discuss or plan for any changes in her competence or autonomy. I had to sneak around behind her back to manage things that would have been super-easy for both of us if she’d been willing to make any kind of plan in advance.

      1. OperaArt*

        Yes she is, thank goodness. She actually initiated the process of looking at senior living places, but when her favorite one called this week she hemmed and hawed her way out of it (for now). She doesn’t need assisted living yet, so we’ve got some time to work with.

        The thing I’m finding hardest to calibrate is how hard to push and when to do it. Living 1200 miles away makes it harder.

        1. Not A Manager*

          She sounds like someone who would be amenable to deciding on a metric in advance. Can you and she agree now on what would trigger a move, no backsies? Ask her what she thinks would make it unsafe or unpleasant for her to remain in her home.

    2. Bluebell*

      It’s great that you and your sister are on the same page. My 84 year old mother went into the hospital this week, and my two sisters and I have been group-texting furiously. We are usually on the same page, but my mom is reading a totally different book! It also helps that we check each other’s stories— mom has a tendency to change details as it suits her.

      1. OperaArt*

        I’m sorry about your mother.
        My sister and I have been texting/messaging/phoning, too. It helps.

  23. Lore*

    Home from three weeks of Spain and Portugal! Lessons learned:
    1) as many issues as I have with Google as a corporate citizen of the world, Google Translate and, especially, downloadable offline Google Maps are an absolute lifesaver for a solo traveler with poor-to-mediocre language skills. Even if you can’t load directions while without service, being able to geolocate oneself is a real gamechanger if you, like me, like to wander.
    2) turns out I did pretty okay with my own company! I was ready to come home, but that was more about dirty clothes, executive function fatigue, and growing anxiety about spending so much money than loneliness. (I did also have pretty regular human contact at the end of my trip, which was nice.) I did chat to my neighbor for a while on line for the Prado, did a few walking tours, made a few mostly failed stabs at conversation with bartenders and such…but also being able to read books/newspapers/Ask a Manager on my phone fills a lot of otherwise awkward gaps.
    3) my decision to make location the primary parameter in choosing hotels/Air Bnbs, followed by ratings and price, was solid–everything I chose was perfectly located for both sightseeing and safety, and so ratings-conscious that quality was high and standard. And, while I also have big issues with Air Bnb’s effect on urban rental markets, access to a kitchen and a place to sit that wasn’t the bed, for at least a portion of the trip, was amazing. Midprice hotel rooms in Europe are pretty small! Especially for the part where I was traveling with a friend, the 2br flat was way more affordable and comfortable than 2 hotel rooms would have been.
    4) as amazing as the internet is for making travel plans, it also creates some serious limitations on spontaneity. If I had not prebooked the Alhambra weeks in advance, I would not have been able to go at all, or possibly even find a place to stay in Granada. If I had not prebooked the Alcazar in Seville (by a few days, but still), I would have been waiting on line in 90-degree weather with no shade for 3-4 hours minimum, and possibly not gotten in at all. I tried to change a train ticket at one point because I’d left way more time for a connection than was necessary, and even if I’d been willing to spend 3 times the initial cost to rebook at the last minute, all the trains that day were completely sold out. Even with restaurants, even as a single diner, I missed out on a lot by trying to wait till I got places to figure out what I wanted to do. It also made me a little sad how aggressively everyplace courts reviews on TripAdvisor, which, of course, I also read.
    5) I did overschedule. I would have been sorry to miss any of the places I went, but I could also happily have spent twice as much time in all of them. If anyone’s planning to be in Lisbon, Sevilla, Granada, Valencia, the Costa Blanca, or Madrid anytime soon, hit me up for recommendations!

    1. AW*

      Sounds like you had a great trip.

      I’d be interested to hear what you thought of Sevilla and Granada I’ve been to Spain a few times, but never to those cities.

      1. Lore*

        Sevilla is astonishingly beautiful in its central core, but those parts of it also start to feel Disneyland-touristified after awhile. The more modern parts around the edges are as 1970s-brutalist as the core is fantasy-beautiful, though I think there are definitely neighborhoods that feel more “real,” especially if you cross the river to Triana, where I did not spend enough time. I also shortchanged the river; there are lots of excursions and activities with boats that I just didn’t get time for. The Alcazar was amazing–possibly even more amazing than the Alhambra. The food was amazing–I did a tapas and flamenco tour one night and that was actually the worst tapas I ate the entire time. It was also very, very hot–about 90 F pretty much my entire time there in early October.

        I shortchanged Granada–everyone told me it was only worth a quick stop for the Alhambra and maybe the Albaizin, but I found it charming and interesting and with a bit of urban edge I wasn’t expecting–definitely less touristy than Sevilla. The local art/craft scene was amazing–I think I did as much shopping in 36 hours there as in entire other cities I visited, ending up with some beautiful jewelry for myself and as gifts. Granada really has the old-school tapas culture where you get served free tapas with a beer or wine, but I was not feeling great when I was there (got some sort of sinus infection) so I didn’t take too much advantage. I could have spent days just wandering in the Albaizin and also the Realejo, the old Jewish neighborhood that’s now become trendy and full of shops and bars and restaurants. But there were huge areas I never got to–basically was limited to the three or four central areas accessible on foot from the cathedral, which is where I was staying.

    2. Nessun*

      I have to go to Madrid for work in January, and I’d love to know if there’s anything in the city I should check out on one of my two free days. I can’t wander out of the city and I don’t drive, but I’d like some nice photos to remember the trip. I haven’t booked a hotel yet, because my boss has zero interest in where I stay and our guidelines are vague – so any areas that are close to good tourist spots would also be useful. Please & thanks!

        1. AW*

          And I went on a tour round the bullring which was interesting and the Bernabéu Stadium which were both good.

        2. AW*

          And I went on a tour round the bullring which was interesting and the Bernabéu Stadium which were both good.

      1. Lore*

        I stayed right on the border of Malasaña and Chueca neighborhoods–both are great for restaurants and shops but look more in the southern parts of them to be close to the major museums and such. I would maybe look in Salamanca as well, which is beautiful. The Thyssen and Reina Sofia are wonderful; there’s also a smaller museum, the MAPFRE Foundation, that has a permanent Miró collection and rotating exhibits that are interesting and less crowded. Retiro Park is big and elegant; it has an enormous crystal palace/glasshouse in the middle that also often hosts art. I did not go to Palacio Royal but you probably can’t go wrong there. The Plaza Mayor is extremely picturesque as well. Centro Centro, in the former main post office, is an arts center with a restaurant on the top floor and an observation tower; the views from the restaurant are spectacular and the art pretty interesting as well, plus the building all on its own is pretty great. If the weather is decent, just walking along Gran Via is beautiful.

    3. artsy_person*

      I spontaneously bought a plane ticket for 8 days in Portugal in February. I’m solo traveling and haven’t planned at all beyond taking time off. I’m flying in/out of Lisbon and can speak basic Spanish. Please give me all your tips. I’m thinking of Lisbon, Algavre region and Sevilla.

      1. Bewildered lately*

        I stayed at a charming hotel in Lisbon about 6 years ago – Las Janelas Verdes, which is not exactly in the center, but so quiet and lovely. Don’t know if it’s changed, but check it out. Have fun!

      2. Lore*

        I found basic Spanish shockingly un-useful in Portugal–English gets you a lot farther. I will note it’s not super-easy to get from Portugal to Sevilla without a car–the train goes via Madrid, which is well out of the way; I took an ALSA bus, which was fine but, you know, a bus and not nearly as comfortable as the fast trains that connect all of Spain internally.

        I stayed in the Bairro Alto neighborhood in Lisbon, in an Air Bnb; moderately priced hotels in Lisbon often fall into the guesthouse with shared bathroom category, so if that’s not a thing that works for you (it was not for me), Air Bnb is your friend. Bairro Alto is chock full of restaurants and bars; it’s a little noisy and involves a lot of climbing of hills and/or staircases (it’s not called Alto for nothing), but slightly less touristy than the Alfama and lots to see and eat. The city has something like 70 museums, many of them odd small specialty museums, so if you have a niche interest you may well be able to satisfy it–we went to the Marionette Museum, which was delightful and creepy, and the Azulejo (tile) one, which is something I was a little obsessed with. The trams are a big thing; the 28 covers a lot of the city and is usually packed with tourists but if you go early in the morning or have a little patience, it is pretty fun. (Get a card for the public transit system in advance–saves time for everyone and also is a pretty substantial discount on the fare.) There is another line, the 24, that runs to a botanical garden to the northwest, which is a lot less packed and the same sort of experience, so that’s an option. I was traveling with a vegetarian with some food allergies so we weren’t super adventurous in our dining, but the Time Out market on the waterfront has an ever-changing set of food stalls with Portuguese fusion cuisine, and I wish I’d gotten to try some of it. If you’re a bookstore lover, the Livreria Bertrand is the oldest continuously operating bookstore in the world, and has a lovely cafe with an excellent wine selection. (I am sure I could go on, but I’ll stop there for now.)

        In Sevilla, I stayed in the Hotel Europa–the rooms were small but the building was beautiful and the location, a few blocks from the cathedral, was perfect. Very reasonable price as well. Definitely recommend especially for a solo traveler. I ate amazingly well in Sevilla–my favorite was a tapas place called Bodeguita Romero (which was close to my hotel), where everything I tried was fantastic. (I did do a walking tour of tapas and flamenco, mostly to make sure I saw some flamenco; those tapas places were actually less good but the tour took us to the Triana neighborhood across the river, which had some promising-looking other stuff and I did not get to see.) I spent 3-4 hours at the Alcazar and if it hadn’t been so damn hot I’d probably have happily strolled the gardens for another hour. Book in the morning; entrance is timed but they don’t kick you out and there’s tons to see. The Cathedral is a little overwhelming, but worth it. I don’t know if they do the rooftops tour in the winter, but it was highly recommended to me (I dithered about booking it because of the heat and it ended up being sold out, and given the blazing sunshine I’m not entirely sorry about that). I got a little obsessed with the work of one local architect and basically traipsed around finding his buildings, but all the buildings in the central core are astonishingly beautiful (see above re the rest of it) so just walking around is pretty satisfying, catching glimpses of courtyards everywhere. The Plaza de España in Parque de Maria Luisa, if you get as into the tilework as I did, is worth a visit. The Archivo de Indias, across from the cathedral, had a big exhibit on Magellan’s voyage; it doesn’t do a great job on the legacy of colonialism (museums and such in both countries don’t, I found), but the primary documents and the overall scope of the thing were fascinating–stuff like the payroll records for the ships, all of which the archive owns.

        1. londonedit*

          Portuguese and Spanish are very different, and Portuguese people really don’t like it when tourists assume they can understand Spanish! They’re very proud of their culture and their language and they don’t appreciate being lumped in with Spain.

          1. Lore*

            Oh, yeah, I wasn’t thinking a Portuguese person would understand Spanish because it’s the same as Portuguese. But I would have guessed that, given that Europeans are way more likely to be bilingual than Americans, Spanish was a more likely second language than English since it’s the neighboring country. Not so.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Ooh sounds fun! Spain and Portugal are on my list. :)

      As for #4, yes, internet planning in advance does limit you. I tried so hard not to overbook my stay in the UK in 2014. I like to leave a little room to just do whatever, especially in London, where one of my favorite things to do is deliberately get lost (you can’t really be lost as long as you can find a tube station). But big attractions get booked up so fast that advance planning is almost unavoidable.

      1. Pam*

        My usual travel planning is to break the day in three- morning, afternoon. and evening. I then only schedule things for two of the times, leaving me time to relax, drink tea, and people watch.

  24. Anon time*

    I’ve long had periods/bleeding that last forever. Usually not heavy bleeding, more like light spotting that can last for weeks. It doesn’t always happen, but it’s not surprising when it does. It’s been happening since I was at least 16. I also had a tough time getting pregnant, and did so with the help of femara, since my obgyn wasn’t sure I was ovulating.
    I’m getting tired of the random bleeding, but kinda suspect the answer will be “go on the pill” (I have a mirena, which I know lightens periods, but I don’t think causes weeks of spotting, which I also had pre mirena). I feel like maybe a reproductive endocrinologist might help? It’s just that anything related to fertility isn’t covered by my insurance, which feels unjust. I just want to be normal.

    1. Christy*

      It doesn’t sound like it’s related to fertility, though! It definitely sounds like it’s time to visit an endocrinologist, reproductive or otherwise.

      And if you’re totally done with having kids you could always go for tubal ligation plus endometrial ablation so just don’t get them anymore.

      1. fingers crossed*

        Ablation was such a godsend for me! I rave about it to anyone who is in a similar boat.

        I had terrible, massive periods lasting weeks and just insane amounts of output at times, coming on unexpectedly, ruining clothes. Plus the cramps associated with this situation – ugh.

        And then, I had ablation. The procedure was very easy, recovery minimal, and I have not had a period at all since 2007. I know some people still have lighter periods, but I haven’t had one. It is glorious. And it was covered by insurance.

    2. Nicki Name*

      I used to have bleeding that went on for weeks, and it turned out to be PCOS. Please talk to the endocrinologist, random bleeding is not good and fixing it isn’t a fertility treatment!

      (Incidentally, the answer to my PCOS symptoms was “go on the pill”, but that may not be the answer for everyone.)

      1. Turtlewings*

        PCOS was my first thought as well — it runs in my family. Definitely a condition to be aware of before you even get to the doctor’s office, because it’s one of those things that for some reason often takes multiple doctors before someone thinks to diagnose it.

      2. Observer*

        If that’s all your doctor told you, they weren’t doing their job.

        PCOS is a surprisingly complex condition, and for many women it means they need to be very aware of their diet and monitor certain health markers, such as insulin resistance. No one seems to know why this is the case, but that’s the reality.

        1. Christy*

          This. I have PCOS and the best treatment for me has been to eliminate most carbohydrates and all soy. My hormone levels are in normal range now. (I also take metformin.)

        2. Nicki Name*

          Oh, I get a lot of metabolic markers checked on a regular basis, and I’m aware of the further complications I may face someday. But I was exercising plenty at the time I was diagnosed, my diet was fine (diabetes runs in my family, as it does for many people with PCOS, so I’d already had a lot of diet advice in connection with that), and the one missing piece was something to stop the ridiculous bleeding and other hormonal symptoms. Going on the pill was a massive quality of life improvement.

    3. HBJ*

      Try to find a holistic wellness women’s health doctor (no, I don’t mean a naturopath or someone who calls themselves a doctor. I mean an actual MD who is focused on holistic solutions. You can find out if they’re a doctor who will look at other solutions by looking at reviews or asking friends.)

      Several of my friends and family go to one particular ob/gyn in our area. One friend, for example, had terribly cycles. The first doc recommended hormonal BC. That was not an option for her because she wanted to avoid the potential side effects (weight gain, mood swings, etc.) and wanted to get pregnant soon (she’d previously had an early miscarriage.) She heard about this doctor, and after some blood work, he prescribed progesterone because she did have low progesterone (which can cause miscarriage). Her periods regulated and were no longer lie-in-bed-and-gulp-pain-relievers painful. And she got pregnant easily and had a healthy baby a few months later.

    4. Observer*

      See a reproductive endocrinologist (RE). Make sure they code this correctly – You are not looking to get pregnant, you’re trying to diagnose the medical cause for menstrual problems. There are a number of possible reasons why this could be happening, and most of the them are medically significant, even if you never want to have another child.

    5. Dancing Otter*

      Those were the symptoms I had with pretty bad fibroids. (And hiding among them was one that wasn’t a fibroid.)
      If you’re done having kids, there are several options: uterine fibroid embolization (only lasted a couple of years for me), ablation or a hysterectomy. I’ve been very happy with my hysterectomy, and wish I’d had it years earlier
      If you might want another baby, or at least the possibility, a simple D & C will get rid of the current fibroids (and give the pathologists plenty of tissue to check for anything nasty). Fibroids do grow back, though, so that isn’t a permanent solution.

      In addition to PCOS, ask about testing to rule out ovarian cancer. It’s treatable if diagnosed early, but seldom is.

  25. Happy Today*

    AJ Croce concert tonight! Son of Jim Croce. (Sadly most of the younger crowd doesn’t seem to know Jim or any of his songs.)

    1. Kathenus*

      Huge Jim Croce fan, have lots of CD’s of his music and fondly remember my vinyl ones as well. I didn’t know he had a son who is a singer. I’ll have to check this out. Have fun and thanks for sharing, hopefully I’ll be finding a new music interest later today!

    2. The Francher Kid*

      Agreed and that’s a real shame. Jim’s songs are three-minute novels beautifully told, and they feel so personal that it’s almost like you know him a bit. I was a college freshman when his death was announced and I remember how sad I felt, especially for his little son. I went home after class and played all of his records that I had and toasted him with soda (too young to drink) and mourned him and the music that died with him.

    3. GoryDetails*

      I didn’t know about his son’s career – enjoy the concert! (And now I have “Operator” running through my head – nice to have a flashback to my Jim-Croce-listening days…)

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Someone says his name and I have an instant “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim” earworm.
        Not a bad one as earworm’s go. :)

    4. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I had no idea he had a son who also sang! I’ll have to check that out.

      I’m a semi-younger person and know about Jim Croce’s music, but I also regularly listen to Stan Rogers music, and the non-local-to-me musician I’ve seen live the most times is Gordon Lightfoot, so I’m probably not a good example of what “normal” people in their 30s are aware of.

      1. C Average*

        I grew up on Gordon Lightfoot and can’t count the times I’ve seen him–even got to go backstage and meet him once!

        My partner and I watched the film “Yesterday” the other night and got to talking about which musician’s music we’d be best able to keep alive through sheer force of memory. Mine would definitely be Gord.

    5. Gatomon*

      Wow cool! I’ve been really getting into the oldies and Jim Croce has been a surprise favorite of mine. One of his songs was featured in the most recent season of Stranger Things, which made me smile.

      1. Christy*

        I got into Jim Croce because of Stranger Things! I’d heard his songs before but didn’t listen to his albums until Stranger Things and now I’m mildly obsessed. I almost went as rapid Roy the stock car boy for Halloween this year! (Not going anywhere with costumes, as it turns out, so I’m saving the idea.)

    6. C Average*

      Oh, I love Jim Croce!

      One of the novels that lives in my head and that I may one day write is about Leroy Brown and his sister Georgia. She’s sweet and he’s bad.

  26. Lena Clare*

    Menopause thread. I can’t remember who it was that recommended having a spare pair of undergarments with their extra pads/ tampons in their handbag, but omg what a lifesaver thank you.

    I’ve started carrying a “menopause pack” with me, containing new undies, pads and tampons, baby wipes, pain killers and make-up (because sweating).

    Any one else have any menopause hacks that helped them get through it?

    I spoke to my mum about hers. She said she didn’t really remeber it and it was ok for her. Someone on here also mentioned that we tend to hear the worst stories about it, but most menopauses are ok, and I’m relieved about that.

    I’m actually feeling pretty good about this change in my life right now.

    1. OperaArt*

      Routinely wearing reusable period panties such as Hesta/Rael. Good for unexpected leakages of more than one kind. (Sneezes, bladder, and menopause combined for a whole new experience.)
      I’m glad you’re feeling good about the life change. My best friend and I both rejoiced in it.

    2. Texan In Exile*

      I stayed on the pill for a few extra years because when I went off it, I started breaking out. New doc noticed and said hey you’re a migraneur do you want to have a stroke?

      I don’t so I stopped taking it and I have had to find the Clearasil aisle at Walgreen’s for the first time in 30 years.

      I had hoped that all the hot flash stuff would have happened while I was on the pill but nope it waited for now. It’s annoying but not unbearable. I had also hoped that hot flashes plus cold weather would equal perfectly comfortable, but that is not the way it works at all.

    3. Victoria, Please*

      Glad this came up bc I am wondering if it’s about that time. My doc recommended going off the pill, see what happens. I’m a little nervous, since things have been so predictable for decades and now, who knows.

    4. Mimmy*

      I never thought of a having “menopause pack”. I haven’t had any bleeding in over a year but hoooooo boy do I sweat!!

      The gynecologist (a nurse practitioner, not my usual doctor) confirmed menopause at my annual appointment a couple months ago. I’m feeling a little weirded out about it because I just turned 46 but began having hot flashes and irregular periods maybe 4 or 5 years ago, so I’m definitely on the younger side for this.

    5. Yup*

      For the husband’s out there, I recommend trying Estroven, which is a herbal supplement that really helped my wife with her hot flashes.

      She was literally getting hot flashes every 10 minutes and was driving me out of the room with open Windows in the dead of winter and fans on all the time.

      The Estroven was a relationship savor!

    6. Lizabeth*

      My obgyn refused to put me on hormone therapy for hot flashes. Mine were happening at night which tended to make me a very crabby person the next day. After a week of this I was definitely feeling postal. Found relief in an extended release (this is important!) low dose (75 mg) anti-depressant after reading about it somewhere. That worked wonders for me and recognizing hot flash triggers – alcohol (all types), caffeine and chocolate.

      1. Lena Clare*

        Thanks, I’m on antids, which are helping. Don’t want to try HRT. You’re right about the food triggers, I need to look into that more.

    7. Anonymosity*

      Flo has just been . . . absent. I can’t tell if I’m slightly hot because of that or because the weather is changing and the temperature is so bonkers. My doctor put me on a higher dose of thyroid meds and it made me feel awful, so I switched back, which also dialed back the heat.

      I keep hoping she’ll show back up, like maybe she’s on vacation and resting; I keep hearing about people who don’t see her for a while and then boom, there she is.

      I am not happy about this, not at all. I only wanted ONE baby. Was that too much to ask? No. No, it wasn’t. :'(

      1. Lena Clare*

        The sense of loss is hard. I don’t know how I’ll feel when my periods stop. At the moment, I have mostly good days of acceptance that I’ll never be a mum, and some days are more difficult.

    8. Quandong*

      If you can fit a folding fan in your menopause pack, and an evaporative cooling cloth, I highly recommend these to help manage hot flushes.

        1. Daisychain*

          I have had good results with accupuncture for my hot flashes and night sweats. For me it has not been a quick fix, but over the past few months there has been a noticeable improvement.

        2. Kuododi*

          I had a total hysterectomy following my first cancer diagnosis. That took away the issues around leakage, irregular periods etc. I still have crazy hotflashes. Couple of things I find helpful is lots of ice H2O and a freezer cold pack that I can wrap around my neck prn. Best wishes.

  27. Queer Earthling*

    Vampire hunting kit is pretty much done! We didn’t get around to putting straps in to hold everything down, but I’m pretty much okay with that right now.

    I hope an imgur gallery is okay! https://imgur.com/a/rgn55cR It doesn’t have close-ups of everything but it’s enough to get the idea, I think.

      1. Queer Earthling*

        What’s kind of cool is that sometimes you can buy antique ones–obviously not true Victorian, but sometimes from the Hammer Horror films from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Most of the ones you see around are based on the aesthetic of those ones (including mine).

    1. Queer Earthling*

      Thanks, y’all! My spouse and I have both wanted one for AGES so it was so good to finally make one. They want to add a fancy Bible as well if there’s room for it.

      I’m just glad we’re finally prepared for vampires.

  28. Toast*

    I watched the latest season of brooklyn nine nine, then went back and watched the pilot. It’s soooo different!!! Ahhh. Rosa’s voice, Petralta’s character, the relationships… most sitcom pilots I can’t stand tbh lol.

    1. Bluesboy*

      I think most pilots are bad, because they try to introduce 5 or 6 main characters and have you understand who they really are in 25 minutes, as well as squeezing a story in.

      Have you heard Rosa’s voice in real life? I couldn’t believe how different it was!

  29. Old Child in the City*

    I can’t tell if I’m reasonable or just being a grouchy 31 year old.

    I’ve lived in my apartment building in Manhattan (Gramercy) for a year. It’s older and my rent is reasonable so I try to keep my expectations in line with that. Since August, people have started throwing loud parties in my building on the weekends. In the last year, I never remember hearing much noise at all and now it’s every. weekend. At first, I thought it was just the apartment next to me(they are definitely in college) but last night I heard it from multiple apartments but it’s unclear which ones they are. I know it’s parties because I can hear loud drunk people yelling in the stairwells. I live about a mile from NYU and I’ve seen students on my street so I have a feeling my property manager is renting to more students this year than before.

    My qualm is- The music isn’t loud enough to keep me awake but the faint bass booming through the walls drives me insane. I understand it’s NYC and apartments are small so I deal with street noise- I have for the last year- but I live in this (pricier than most others in Manhattan) neighborhood because it’s generally kept to a minimum. I also understand being in college and wanting to have parties.

    So I’m torn if I’m being unreasonable or if I should say something to property management. Now that I know it’s not just the apt next to me, I’m a little more inclined to consider this a building problem and not just a me problem. Maybe I just hate feeling like that boring, old person who wants to rain on the fun parade!

    1. Toast*

      Tbh this is a new one for me. Yeah you could complain and that’s acceptable. I dunno what kinda parties are happening, or how crazy they get. But also….. you live in NYC. Downtown. If it’s not a party, it’s a siren or a bar or construction. That’s the best answer I have.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        There is a huge difference between noise from a siren and noise from your neighbors. We live in cities, we expect outside noise. We live in apartments, we expect noise– within reason. Long, loud, frequent parties are not reasonable. Especially if there’s bass that permeates through the building. Even earplugs don’t help with that.

        I used to live directly across the street from a bar that opened its front windows every Friday and Saturday night and hosted a bongo band. It sucked but earplugs worked and it was a bar. If the same noise had happened in the apartment below me, every weekend, I would have been pissed.

    2. Toast*

      In other words, there are other places in New York City that are quieter than literally the party center of New York City.

      1. Ramona Q*

        I’m not convinced you know New York very well at all if you’d say that of Gramercy. There is no one “party center” in a city of eight million, but I lived in one of them for six years, and even there you could certainly ask your neighbors to keep it down.

    3. Washi*

      Following to see what advice you get! We are in an ongoing feud with our next door neighbor because he has his sub woofer right against our shared living room wall. The music is audible but not overly loud, but hearing the base through the walls drives me insane. It like, worms its way into my brain and it is impossible to relax. He won’t even consider moving his speakers away from the wall and now he has stopped turning down the bass when we ask. I’m struggling with a similar question of how reasonable it is to be upset and taking more aggressive action (we’ve complained to management once and are considering conplaining every time his does it- about 1-3x/week). I’m curious what the commentariat thinks!

    4. alex b.*

      Some things:
      A) I’m so curious what a “reasonable” rent in that area is.

      B) I dated a guy in an NYU grad. program for a while, and he lived near campus: vomit on the streets most mornings, terrible noise pollution at all hours, limited affordable stuff nearby… It was just generally an unpleasant area to live. I never wanted to stay over because of it.

      C) You’re not being unreasonable, but there is likely nothing to be done, and I definitely wouldn’t complain without a clear case to the Super (’cause that’s someone you want on your side). If anything, you could maaaybe talk to commiserating neighbors and identify the specific unit that’s causing the problem and give management the info. But… I dunno. I have very little faith that it would solve anything. They have paying renters and can easily fill empty units; why would they care?

      D) Again, you’re not being unreasonable, and I also would be driven mad there.

      E) Join us in Brooklyn. :) I’m a crotchety, early-30s person who works in the city, and I love it. No drunk partiers disrupt my home-time.

      Good luck!!!

    5. Anon Here*

      I live in a really chill, quiet area of NYC. There are plenty of neighborhoods like that in the other boroughs. I would encourage you to check out the lands beyond Manhattan and consider moving. Obviously, there are a lot of options. But you might be surprised by what the rest of the city has to offer. It’s huge.

    6. Okay*

      You’re not being unreasonable. Renters have the right to peace and quiet in their apartments.

      Unfortunately, landlords/property managers ARE unreasonable and don’t give a crap about their tenant’s well-being, so don’t expect them to do anything.

      1. Lilith*

        I’ve read about neighbors being passive aggressive& playing loud opera music (or other music you think you neighbor would abhor). All this is to make a point that “we can hear you, doofus.”

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          Eh, I tried that with bagpipe Christmas carols once (I bought a poorly-labeled 3 CD set), and the rock band living next door didn’t even notice.

          What actually worked was when a cranky neighbor lit into them about how loud they were being, but they were the only college kids living in what was otherwise a pretty much all families with little kids complex. (They’d apparently been under the impression that there was a lot of soundproofing between the units. No, no there was not. I think it was their first time living in apartments as “adults” rather than single family homes with their parents, which didn’t help.) This would probably not work nearly as well in a building where more of the renters were students.

        2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

          I second this only if you think they are college students. A taste of their own medicine (loud opera music at 8 am the next day, when they are sleeping off their hangovers) might work wonders.

    7. Caterpie*

      Document, document, document. Every time you hear music for longer than like 20 minutes I’d say, write it down in a log including dates, times, duration, any steps you took to remedy, etc. We had a neighbor problem earlier this year and the management was finally able to do something (the neighbors were either evicted or paid the fine to break the lease, not sure), after we gave the management a document with a few months worth of logs of them being loud every day.

      They did cause a lot of damage to their unit, as well as the plumbing for our half of the building so that may have contributed more to management taking action, but keeping a log definitely helped communicate the extent of the issue to our landlord.

    8. Jane of all Trades*

      You’re not unreasonable! (Ugh, also, are you me? I’ve had people move in across the courtyard and they keep having these parties where everybody sings at the top of their lungs for hours. Sometimes it’s “take me home, country roads”, yesterday it was the little mermaid).
      If I were you I’d report it to 311 whenever they do it. You can file an online report and then check on it the next day or so.
      And yes, you should also talk to your super. Good luck!

  30. families!*

    I was accepted in writing masterclass and I am in shock! I am so happy, it’s a writer I love but I have only been writing for a 2 seconds and my brain is telling me I don’t deserve it/it was a mistake and I will be there and now know what to say – it’s like I’m having writer’s block before even being in the class. Any good tips to get back to the present and relax?

    1. Victoria, Please*

      Exercise and breathe. :-) the overwhelming elation will pass, leaving just the thrill. Congratulations!!!

    2. Toast*

      Remember that the teachers want you there because you are paying their rent. Hahahaha. Seriously though, I used to teach “extracurricular” lessons to adults and they’d be so stressed when they were too busy at work to practice. I didn’t care! My job was to help.

      Also deciding to write something bad can help. You’re not a genius. Edit later.

  31. I leased a new car*

    The lease on my car was ending in May so we had to start thinking about what to do with it–extend the lease, trade in, or return and go with a different model. I was torn because I wanted something new but even though it was just a lease car, i had a lot of sentimental value attached to it. It was my very first one, and my father was a huge part of the process. He was so happy that I could get us a brand new car. I was paying the insurance and my dad paid the monthly installment.

    About 6-7 months after getting the car, I was floating around the idea that I’ll take over hte payments…it was my way of saying “relax, I got this.” I got my license at 30 and my dad never made me feel ashamed of waiting so late in life to get one. One month after I floated around the idea, he died. For 3 months after he died, I had a lot of “firsts” that were driving related and had me bawling in public: driving on the highway for the first time, driving in to the city for the first time, reverse parking for the first time…getting my first ticket lol. I was gutted when an anonymous hit and run driver destroyed my car.

    We ended up getting the new car right then and there. We had to update the policy and cancelled the old one which had my dad on it. It’s like, slowly bits of him are being erased.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Oh boy, do I understand that erasing stuff. Ugh.
      You may find that it’s good to realize it’s the intangibles we most often get to keep.
      Your dad helped you get that car. You will be able to keep this memory, no one can take the memory of his help away from you.
      He was happy you had a new car. You can think of him cheering you on each time you attain something a bit better in life. You know for a fact he would cheer your new accomplishment also.

      After my husband passed, I did not want to get rid of the last car me and my husband bought together. The car was so bad, friends would cover their eyes as I pulled away, they did not want to watch the car break apart into pieces. So finally I got rid of it. It felt like I got rid of another part of my husband. Logically, it was a car, not the husband himself. Logic did not help here.

      Grief is real odd this way, odd things can throw us right back into grief and blindside us in the process. Feel the feeling. Go ahead and feel sad . Say to the four walls, or the keyboard, “Damn, I still miss my dad.”
      Losing a parent is one of the bigger losses in life for many reasons. You might find it helpful to realize that the pang never fully goes away. A change in expectations can lighten the load. I lost my father 20 plus years ago. I was just thinking of him yesterday and wondering what he would say about the world we have now. This is how my grief over his loss manifests now. What used to be tears and pangs in my chest have now become random thoughts that cross my mind at weird times. This is my grief still playing out.

      Time will be kind regarding the car. You will make happy memories with this car also. The next time you have to buy a car you won’t feel as gutted. I went on to buy two more cars since my husband died. I really liked the first car I bought. When I got rid of it a friend said, “That car was so YOU!” I was sad about losing that one, but I no longer felt safe with it. Now I have this new-to-me car. I do like it and it has run well for the few years I have had it. I splurged and bought studded tires for it. I am feeling spoiled rotten, I tell ya. Friends have said very encouraging things about car number two and that also has helped.

      You will always have your dad in your heart and in your mind. And no one can take that from you. Ever.

      1. MOAS*

        Thanks NSNR you always have the best things to say.

        Initially I was going to write about the whole leasing process but once I started writing it turned in to this.

        Funny thing, I was talking to my brother while we were doing the paperwork and told him my fond memory of how happy Dad was to get a brand new car in 2017…he was like…”the BMW I got for us in 1998 was brand new, 0 miles!” he wasn’t angry, he was laughing.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I lost my dad as a child in the 70s, and my mom a few years ago. Yes, NSNR is right, the loss stays with us. And yes, so do the good memories.
        My dad was a huge sports fan, so I find myself thinking of him a lot during World Series season.

    2. Rebeccasmiles*

      I’m so sorry for the loss of your dad. Your last sentence just crushed me—my mama died in 2015, and I so felt what you wrote. Hugging you with my heart…

    3. tab*

      This Carolyn Hax column appeared a few days before my dad died this year. I found it very comforting (especially the last couple of paragraphs). I hope you do too. I’m very sorry about your dad…

      Dear Carolyn,
      I wrote in before about my mom having stage 4 cancer. Unfortunately, she passed
      away. I spent as much time as I could with her, but it still was not enough. Now what
      do I do? I cannot even fathom how I will get through the funeral, much less the rest of
      my life.
      — Grieving

      I’m so sorry about your mom.
      I hope I didn’t imply in my earlier answer that spending extra time with your mom
      could ever be “enough” — to ease the pain, blunt the force of the loss, preempt the
      grief, whatever else. I’m not even sure these are possible.
      The reason for devoting your time was simpler than that — to enjoy her companionship
      while you still could.
      There are ancillary benefits, too, of course. Your presence no doubt was a huge comfort
      to her at a scary time, and now you’re also at lower risk of looking back and regretting
      that you weren’t there for her enough.
      Now that she’s gone? You do as you did before: Keep living. The best you can. And I
      don’t mean being happy-happy-happy or excellent at everything or some other
      misconception of “best.” I mean by living fully, not trying to dodge the messier parts of
      being human.
      Cry when you need to, as hard as you need to. Don’t be afraid of the pain, or the
      intense love for your mom that makes this loss so painful. Don’t be afraid to love — and
      cry on! — others in your life. It might feel awkward sometimes, even scary, since love
      brings with it the risk of another loss, always. But such love at good times is the stuff
      worth living for. And is contained in the people worth leaning on.
      Keep in mind, too, when you feel afraid of how much you feel: Such intensity can’t be
      sustained. It’s OK not to know where all the feelings are going to go. They will settle in
      their time, so trust that.
      If you’re feeling dangerously out of control or bleak, then do seek help. Grief counseling
      often has a lower barrier to entry than other forms — in groups, for example, that you
      can find by calling a hospice provider for a referral, meaning no long preamble to an
      appointment.
      As for the rest of your life, I know more about that than I ever wanted to, becoming a
      mother after I no longer had a mother myself.
      Here’s the thing. I miss her, daily, awfully. But she is also with me in everything I do.
      What she taught me, what she felt for me, what I felt for her, even what mistakes she
      made, and what awful things I did and said to her as she raised me (or as she threw up
      her hands and let the universe take over) — all of it informs who I am and how I
      interact with the world. You guys don’t know how much you know my mom.
      I used to be overcome with sadness that my kids would never know their grandma, but
      I’m not anymore because it’s so obvious to me now how much she is in their lives.
      You will find your way through this. She raised you for this part, too.

      1. MOAS*

        This made me cry. Almost 2 years and sometimes it feels like it just happened yesterday. ThedayIfound out is a loop thatplays in my mind multipletimes a day

  32. Ada*

    Hi all! Does anyone have any tips for dealing with a long distance move? Especially handling the gap while all your stuff is in transit?

    Assuming we get confirmation that the apartment is being held for us (just mailed in the deposit a couple days ago), it’s looking like we’ll be moving from Florida to North Carolina late next month. We’re still trying to find the best way to get our stuff up there (Pods? UHaul? Actual moving company, since we’ll need to hire labor regardless?). From the estimates I’ve seen so far though, it sounds like if we go with something like a moving company or Pods, there could be a 1-3 *week* gap while our things are in transit. Unfortunately, we’re on a budget and can’t afford a hotel for that long of a time period, and we don’t have any friends or family in NC we could stay with, either. Do people just sleep on the floor and eat out for the better part of a month in these cases? All we have is a small sedan that we’re driving up there, and there only so much we can fit in it (including our cat and her supplies).

    Has anyone done something like this before? I’d really appreciate any tips you could share!

    1. Anono-me*

      You may want to look at a company called Estes (I think) if you decide to go with not having your stuff right away. And then just camp out on an inflatable mattress until it arrives.

      But since you are concerned about your budget, Please be aware that crossing a state line when moving makes a significant difference in the cost of hiring a professional mover. You might want to look at having professional movers pack a U-Haul or Ryder Rental and then driving it yourself and then having professional movers unload.

      And the advice I always give to anyone moving is to take the first appointment of the day. You don’t want to be waiting and hoping that the people ahead of you didn’t have a crisis.

    2. NewReadingGlasses*

      I’ve done it several times. I slept on the floor and did I a minimal kitchen. It was ok, though I was really glad when my bed arrived. I recommend a move in “kit” with a roll of toilet paper, paper towels, soap, camping sleep pad, your favorite pillow, one set of bedding, one good knife, shower curtain and towel, bowl and spoon, one or two easy comfort food items (tea, soup mix, etc), and maybe a couple of spices that you like. For everything else, pack what will fit, then plan a trip to the local thrift store and get what kitchen stuff you need but couldn’t fit in the car. Wait about a day before you do this, and get the “ wows I really wish I had x,” items. I also moved with a cat, and the air mattress did NOT work out. Also an inexpensive (perhaps folding) chair and table will help, try someplace like Target at the destination, unless you have something that fits in the car.

    3. Kathenus*

      Like NewReadingGlasses I’ve done this numerous times, and second these suggestions. I’ve always done movers, and always packed myself. Most times work well but one time with a discount flat rate mover my stuff was in transit for five weeks! So being prepared for the unexpected is important. Agree that you need to identify the basic supplies – personal, bathroom, kitchen, new job, etc. that you absolutely need and either have these in the car with you or ship them in advance by UPS/FedEx or similar. I slept on an air mattress during the transition. And if you’re planning on replacing any items like major furniture, TV, etc. then you can prioritize buying those as soon as you arrive and have a few creature comforts until the bulk of your stuff arrives. It’s a pain, but it’s pretty easy to deal with. You’ll end up buying a few things you forgot to have with you, and if you do it again you’ll add those to the list the next time – I definitely did. Just think of it as camping inside a house :)

    4. Keener*

      When I had a similar situation I thought of it as indoor camping and took the basics in my car/acquired them there. Camp chairs in the living room, airbed, very basics in the kitchen: one or two pots, one plate, bowl, fork etc per person.

      Alternatively, delay getting your place for a month and use the rent money foram air bnb. Some have discounted weekly or monthly rates. Good luck!

    5. Jean (just Jean)*

      >Do people just sleep on the floor and eat out for the better part of a month in these cases?
      Um, yes? unless they think about it ahead of time?

      Find room in your small car for some kitchen basics (one pot, one lid, one frying pan, one sharp knife, a cutting board, a mixing bowl, a spatula, 2-4 mugs, 2-4 bowls, cutlery for 2 people, and several dish towels). When you get to your new home you can survive on minimal cooking–scrambled eggs, breakfast cereal, salad-in-a-bag, rotisserie chicken, frozen pizza, frozen vegetables & fresh fruit.) Buy paper plates and dish soap to wash the other stuff. Either pack or buy (in the new place) enough cleaning supplies to get the kitchen clean enough to suit your standards. (No offense–some people scrub a new place ferociously; other folks give a minimal wipe-down.)

      For sleep supplies, buy an inflatable floor mattress in the new place, or take camping supplies or just plain old bedding. (Revise this plan if you have back pain or any other serious physical considerations!) Also pack a few bath- and hand-size towels, hand and body soap, a bath mat (or an old towel) and some kind of shower curtain. It won’t be glamorous but you’ll manage.

      Buy a used chair and table from a thrift store or Craigslist. Either buy something you want to keep long-term or just get something inexpensive and donate it back when your own furniture arrives. If you’re going to Durham check out the Scrap Exchange which just started a thrift shop in addition to their large collection of art supplies/teaching items/sewing supplies/misc. items that could still be very useful to somebody.

      For our last move several years ago I did NOT plan ahead! I just tried not to think about how much we spent on take-out. Denial isn’t the best financial plan but sometimes life is less than perfect. Admittedly we had extra delays due to keeping kosher: lots of extra scrubbing, ritually pouring boiling water on surfaces or heating things up for an hour and then waiting 24 hours after cleaning or heating or scrubbing before actually using the sink or stove or oven. (Standards for keeping kosher can vary. Do what works best for you, your community, and your sanity.) I was working full-time so had less free time and energy which made all home tasks go even slower.

    6. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      I have done this for two cross-country moves! You are lucky that you’re driving, because for both of our moves we flew and had to fit two week’s worth of essentials, plus all our valuables, small electronics, and important papers, into 2 checked bags and 2 carryons. I don’t know how we got bags full of random electronics through the TSA checkpoint without being strip searched, but we did.

      For sleeping and bathing, we brought: A queen air mattress, a set of sheets, two travel sized pillows, two thin towels (the kind you get in a 2-pack at Target for $5 thin), two washcloths (again, the cheap thin kind) and a fleece blanket.

      For clothes, bring a little over a week’s worth of clothes, and then just plan on doing laundry weekly until the rest of your stuff comes.

      For cooking, you are SO lucky you have a car. A plate, bowl, cup, fork/knife/spoon per person, plus a small set of nesting measuring cups, a frying pan, a cookie sheet, a spatula, and a 2 quart saucepan takes care of most cooking needs. We had to eat out, or eat carryout from the grocery store, frozen meals with paper plates/plastic forks, chicken nuggets cooked on tinfoil no pan, etc., because we couldn’t bring any cooking gear on the plane. We have a bialetti stove top coffee maker, which we brought for coffee.

      Plan for having a shower curtain/curtain hooks on hand, too.

      We also brought our modem with us, so we’d have internet until the last minute in our old place and arranged for service to be turned on as soon as we arrived in the new place.

      Scout out where the nearest drugstore/discount big box store/grocery store is to your new place so you don’t get tempted to overpack cheap things you “might need.”

      For the cat, my family swears by disposable turkey pans as travel kitty boxes, you can just put them in the trash when you’re done so you’re not moving a dirty catbox.

      Good luck with your move!

    7. Ranon*

      You can fit a lot in a small sedan! If it’s got a rear seat it has rear footwells, you can easily fit enough stuff to cook with in there, with space for other stuff too. And there’s always Goodwill/ thrift stores to pick up some bigger pots and pans if you find you need them, just think of it like a rental and drop them off as a donation when you’re done.

      It goes fast, there’s so much other stuff to do like updating drivers licenses and all that stuff that the time until the movers get there will pass quickly.

    8. Red Sky*

      Husband and I did this from northern CA to central TX also with a cat about 10 yrs ago. Sold all our non-essential items then loaded up a U-Haul with trailer to tow our car (also packed stuff we might need quickly in car). We rented hotel rooms in advance after mapping out how long it would take us between each stop, as we didn’t want to drive straight thru. If I were doing the same move today, I’d hire someone to load and unload the U-Haul, because I like having my stuff in my possession without having to worry about additional fees or delays.

      PS – We originally had the cat in a carrier in the cab of the u-haul, but after about 45 mins of constant meowing we let him out and he settled right in on a pillow between us high enough so he could see out the windshield. We also had the litter box in the car we were towing and took potty breaks every few hours. We did make sure he had his collar with tags on at all times and got him a harness/leash for whenever we took him out of the u-haul whether it was to use litter box or checking in to hotels.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      One thing I can add…if your cat isn’t chipped, get it done as insurance in case she gets out. Lost pets are heartbreaking.
      I’ll second the kitchen basics idea–think bare minimum like for camping. One pan and one pot, one knife & smallest cutting board, one plate, bowl, fork, spoon, mug for each of you. a zip lock baggie with a dish cloth & dish soap. If your new place wont have a stove yet, spend space on a toaster oven or get one there–with aluminum foil you can cook enough to avoid eating out.
      Also join your local Buy Nothing and/or Freecycle groups for new basics, even if you plan to re-post them there yourself after your things are delivered.

    10. Teapot*

      If you have an IKEA near your new place, you could do what we did: buy a cheap Ikea mattress, linens, hot plate and pot once you get there. We were flying, so we didn’t have much space for stuff (air mattresses and cooking utensils take up way too much space and are HEAVY). In your case, I would pack an air mattress just because the IKEA mattresses are supposed to air out for 3 days, and they do have a smell if you use them immediately. But I couldn’t sleep on an air mattress for more than a few nights, so it made the long wait for furniture actually bearable.

    11. Slartibartfast*

      Ahh memories :) Went from Illinois to California with a cat and a midsize Buick, then Cali to Michigan in a mid 80s Ford Escort hatchback, with a cat. We smuggled her in and out of the hotels in a duffel bag, by day 2 she was sleeping in the bag in the car. We did a disposable litter tray in the back seat on the floor. Being young, a cheap air mattress and some pillows on the floor until the furniture arrived was fine, and we used a box for a kitchen table and sat on the floor. Paper plates, sandwiches, and carry out food is what we lived on for the 2-3 weeks everything was in transit. If you use professional movers, be aware they pack EVERYTHING unless you explicitly tell them not to. I told them to leave the litter box, and they did but they packed the litter scoop on top of the box and the rug that was underneath it. They also packed the open loaf of bread that was on the counter, so we had a fun game of “find the bread” when our stuff arrived, and a bet on what it would look like (half bread, half potting soil if you’re curious). Treat it as an adventure, and indoor camping is a good way to look at it.

    12. KR*

      We camped out on an inflatable mattress. We didn’t eat out a ton but we had one pan and one pot and just cleaned them a lot. We used the laundromat. We used paper plates. It was annoying as the movers had my vaccum and I wanted to clean our new place and I was living out of a suitcase. We also got pizza a lot. I would advise that you pack everything into your car when the movers come so it’s a)not in a place where it will get accidentally packed and b)you know it fits/have a dry run of packing the car. I thought I could fit everything in my car but it turns out I had the movers leave out too much, so I ended up having to ship it. If you can’t fit the air mattress in the car, either mail it up there or buy a new one when you get there. We also had the movers pick up our stuff a week before we left so it was only a week without our furniture on the other side. Honestly I thought it would be a big pain but the most annoying part was that my spouse got there beforehand and had just thrown his stuff everywhere, not in boxes or anything, but I didn’t have any hangers to hang it up or anything. Jokes on him as the dog started using his clothes piles as a bed.

    13. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Air mattress. Buy it when you get there if needed. And take only the minimum for cat supplies in the car – buy what you need at the new place. Basically, just camp. Treat it as an adventure rather than an inconvenience and you’ll feel better at least.

      I did PODs type thing on the first move (out of parents house), so I just stayed at their house until the stuff was supposed to arrive in the new state. It was late, but I survived. the 2nd move, I found a moving van company that would put your stuff on, then a wall, then fill up the truck with something else. Took a couple days longer but was cheaper.

    14. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

      I’m late to this but moved with my husband and my cat from FL to NC five years ago. We loaded up my car (I had a big dog crate in the back for my cat so she could have a bed, litterbox and water – this was a total waste because she was so terrified the whole time she did not drink or pee), and put the rest in a U Haul (actually Penske because it was so much cheaper than U Haul). We drove over two days, I drive my car with the screaming cat and husband drove the moving truck. We bought walkie talkies so we could communicate quickly and easily (about gas or food stops) without having to fiddle with phones. The walkie talkies were GREAT but we did not bring nearly enough batteries!

      For my cat, I had sprayed everything with Feliway in an effort to make her more comfortable, but that didn’t seem to help at all. I would just tell you to be prepared for a very upset cat. It was handy to have the litterbox once we arrived at our hotel but the big crate was totally unnecessary.

      Good luck!

    15. EH*

      My partner and I (and our two cats) moved from Silicon Valley up to Portland, OR about 6 years ago with a Pod. We did all our packing, carefully choosing what we wanted to take up ourselves and what would go in the Pod. Then we had movers take all the boxes and stuff down and load the Pod. We had sold a lot of our furniture, so when we got up here we hit IKEA and got the basics. That plus the stuff we loaded into our cars was plenty to get by until the Pod came a couple weeks later. We had local movers take the boxes from the Pod to the right floors (two story house plus basement – we carefully marked everything’s destination and labeled the rooms in our house, iirc.). It was kind of fun to start unpacking – the movers were so fast we had hours left in the day and got a bunch done.

      TLDR; I VERY HIGHLY recommend having professionals schlepp your stuff to and from the Pod, if you can afford it. It goes incredibly fast and then you’re not totally exhausted before you even begin unpacking.

    16. Shark Lady*

      Also late, but I’m moving from Missouri to Georgia next month and am in the middle of packing hell. I’m using the same service as when I moved from Louisiana to Missouri–ABF Upack. Last time, my stuff got to Missouri before I did; it only took about 2 days? You can usually arrange delivery pretty quickly once it’s there, and you also have the option of loading/unloading your cube at their terminal (which is cheaper). Or you can have them store your cube until you’ve got a place, which is what I’m doing. It’s a bit more expensive than renting a truck, but it’s a lot more convenient.

  33. Jabberwock*

    Buying a House for the First Time

    I’m looking to buy a house for the first time in the next six months or so. Any advice for a first time home buyer? I’m also interested to know what unexpected costs/fees you ran into.

    1. Sunflower Sea Star*

      It’s worth it to hire an agent to navigate you through the process and represent your interests. I say that as someone who is not an agent, doesn’t have any relatives or friends who are, but really benefitted from the advice and help of the agents who helped us find our homes.
      Also, get preapproval on a loan so you have an idea of the ballpark you’re shopping in. And buy less than the max you qualify for so you don’t overstretch yourself. When we were buying our second home, we bought something that cost about 2/3 of what the mortgage company approved us for, and I think that was the best financial decision we ever made. We were able to do a 15 year instead of a 30, and we paid it off in 12 years, which means that since then we’ve been able to save a lot for retirement, pay our kids college tuition, etc.
      So don’t buy bigger than you need!

      1. Venus*

        The ‘buy less than the max’ depends upon lifestyle. I want to take public transit, which saves me a lot in car payments, but banks don’t take this into account so I bought close to my max amount yet I will pay it off quite quickly (10-15 years).

        But I agree with the concept – try to buy what you can comfortably afford (keeping in mind that housing prices here aren’t affordable, so there isn’t much of a choice)

        1. Natalie*

          I’d say the key is to figure out what you can afford yourself and not use the bank’s pre-approval amount as a guideline. At least when I was buying a few years ago the amount the bank thought I could afford was pretty bananas.

    2. Ethyl*

      See if you can take a class for first-time homeowners. We did and I felt soooo much more comfortable after knowing all the steps and processes and procedures and whatnot. Also good to learn about all the different programs your state/county/city may have for first-time home buyers!

    3. ThatGirl*

      Always get a home inspection, and definitely pay for a real estate lawyer (usually this is rolled into your closing costs). We had to back out of a purchase after a terrible inspection and I was really glad we did.

      1. Wishing You Well*

        Yes, get an inspection and write your offer so it’s contingent on the inspection. Have a real estate lawyer look over your papers. Ours found another $2000 we would owe at closing for real estate taxes. Had we spent our max for the house, we’d have had to abandon the purchase.
        Unless you hire a buyer’s agent, real estate agents work for the SELLER, not you. Real estate agents are bound by contract to get the highest price and the best terms for the SELLER. Please remember that and don’t say or do things that will hurt your negotiations.
        Read all you can about buying houses, then learn all you can about your area. You will find cheap houses in bad areas. Where you live will definitely affect your quality of life.
        Become a student in house buying and put some time into your education. It’s a big deal.

        1. Ethyl*

          I’m not sure where you are located, but where I live in upstate NY, the buyer’s real estate agent is paid by the seller, not the buyer.

          1. Jane of all Trades*

            They are technically paid by the seller (as in, their fee comes out of the sales price) but they are an agent for the buyer, and represent the buyer’s interest and owe a fiduciary duty to the buyer. The listing agent / seller’s agent, works for the seller.
            As a buyer you should engage a buyers agent to help you navigate the process.

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

      Seconding Sunflower Sea Star’s comments, and I’ll add:
      –Be prepared for the process to last longer than you think it will. In our case, it took quite awhile to find something that we really liked, and once we did, we were faced with a recalcitrant seller who worked at their own pace, to put it politely. It took us nearly 10 months from the day we first started looking to the day we moved into our new home.
      –Don’t ignore the home inspection. Some folks will say that it’s an unimportant part of the process or suggest that you waive it if you’re in a competitive bidding process. In our case, it stopped us from purchasing an apartment with a severe electrical issue and probably saved us from making an extremely expensive mistake.
      –Find an agent/Realtor you are really comfortable with. You’ll be working closely with them for a few months and in our case, they were a lifesaver who helped us bett navigate every step of the process.

    5. Venus*

      I didn’t have a lot of unexpected fees, so do research on it and you should be fine. Lawyer, building inspector, city fee, insurance fee… they were all known and planned for. The building inspector will likely find some things which need fixing, so I mentally include those in the cost of the new place.

      I do have one bit of advice which I give to everyone their first time, and it is applicable to you given your comment: For the first year you will likely feel that you are spending a *lot* of money. I had planned for all of it, yet I still felt that I was always handing over more, although that feeling went away after the first 6-12 months. Years later, it was clearly the better financial decision (which I knew because I compared rental / purchase prices and had a good home inspection), but at the time it was a feeling of always bleeding money. If you know to expect it then it doesn’t seem so bad.

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

      As for unexpected costs – the most noteworthy were the ones that came after purchase:
      –Painting was more expensive than we anticipated; it ran into the thousands of dollars to have it done by a pro, and that was for an apartment.
      –In our area, the home inspection (while worth every penny) was more than $500 for something that took less than an hour — much more than the $150-200 or so we were told it would be.
      –Also, check the appliances. We were so excited to find a home we liked that we glossed over the appliances. Because they all had digital displays and were cleaned really well and we didn’t know any better–coming from a crappy rental apartment with Brand X appliances–we saw them as modern looking, but they were all more than 15 years old. The refrigerator crapped out after six months and the dishwasher soon after; the two appliances together ran north of $3,000.
      –Closing costs can be pretty significant (bank fees, attorney fees etc.), but vary widely from place to place and situation to situation.

      1. Sometimes Always Never*

        When I sold my house, the buyer wanted some kind of insurance included for the appliances, heating/ac system, etc. (blanking on the name), and since all of that was stuff that was there (and well-used, even when I had bought the house several years prior), it made sense. The insurance was cheap and made the buyer more comfortable buying. However, I don’t know the quality of that type of insurance, how easy it is to make a claim and get paid, etc., so I can’t comment on whether it’s worth it, but something to maybe look into.

        Also, go on the house inspection with the inspector and ask questions. They can tell show you where the water service shutoff to your house is (don’t want to be looking for it in an emergency!), where the furnace filters go, etc. Some inspectors are happy to share their knowledge with you, and it can be very helpful! They can even give you ballpark estimates for fixing more minor things.

        1. ThatGirl*

          We had a home warranty when we bought our house and it was basically useless. Our AC conked out and they wouldn’t cover it because it “had been improperly maintained” as if we had anything to do with that.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            My home warranty was useless on my heat pump for the same reason, but replaced my hot water heater without batting an eyelash, so I’ve found it really depends.

            1. Sometimes Always Never*

              Thanks for letting me know. I had always wondered how well the home warranty had worked for my buyer — if anything went wrong, I hope it did! From my side, providing it gave her extra comfort/incentive when buying, but I remember at the time thinking it seemed possibly questionable.

              1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

                I mean, I keep paying for it. The hot water heater would have cost me more than the premiums had to date, so. :) I just *also* keep an extra emergency fund in case the warranty company gets skeezy.

    7. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Think about which things are deal-breakers for you and which are just nice-to-haves. Everyone’s list is different, and you won’t get everything you want, but if you can think of which 2 or 3 things are most important to you it can keep you focused on looking places you actually want to live.

      My “must have” list was:
      * At least 2 bathrooms
      * Some form of reserved parking (garage/driveway/whatever)
      * Safe walk (sidewalks and such) to a commercial area with at least one place to eat, and ideally several
      * Safe walk to frequent service public transit
      *No HOA (I didn’t want to live some place with lots of fussy rules about house color or lawn ornaments)

      I didn’t even go look at places that didn’t fit that list. It took my realtor a while to realize that I meant it about the walkability (I’d look at places on Google Street View to see the sidewalk situation in front of the house and on nearby major roads), and I pretty much had to confirm that each place she wanted to show me met my list even though I’d told her about it repeatedly, but it saved me from falling in love with the right house in the wrong neighborhood.

      I also wanted, but didn’t require:
      * Both a living room and a den/rec room
      * 3+ bedrooms
      * A good place for a home office
      * Not all bedrooms in the same part of the house so I could get a renter
      * No carpets
      * All bathrooms to have only one door into them rather than multiple doors from different rooms
      * Lots of street parking for visitors
      * No immediate home repair needs
      * Lots of storage
      * Air conditioning
      * Furnace rather than baseboard heat
      * A big kitchen
      * If multi-level, could live only on the main level if needed without, say, the only showers being up a flight of stairs

      I … did not get all of the things on that second list, and definitely did not insist a house had all of those things before I’d even look at it, but it helped me to know what to look for and helped me weigh the pluses and minuses of each place I looked at.

      I ended up getting the third house I put in an offer on, and I definitely got faster about making a decision as time went on. I agonized quite a bit over that first house that I offered on (they had it on the market collecting offers for several weeks, and someone else could offer a lot more over list than I did, so I didn’t get it get in the end but I dragged multiple family members through for the open house and such), but by the third one I was able to make a snap decision that it was “close enough” the same day I heard about it and immediately called in late to work so I could go tour it. It’s not the perfect house, but it sure is nice not to be looking anymore.

    8. Filosofickle*

      All my experience is in an extremely expensive part of CA, so my experience may not be relevant.

      It’s a much more emotionally intense process than I expected. I found buying a bit like a runaway train…it’s easy to get swept up in it and feel overwhelmed or pressured. Take the time to get clear on what you want/need. Know your limits and try to keep a clear head so a sense of urgency doesn’t override red flags. Listen to your gut! If something feels wrong or weird, speak up.

      On that note, ask tons of questions, especially follow-up questions. Sellers are legally obligated to disclose issues, but there’s a lot that falls into the category of “not hiding the truth but also not telling the whole truth”. If there’s something like…roof repairs or new siding, don’t take “it’s been fixed!” at face value. Ask what the problem was that led to the repair, if they found anything else while they were doing the work, was there any underlying water damage, have there been any related issues. Ask to see the paperwork.

      Get the best and most comprehensive inspection possible. Ask if there’s any deeper service you can pay for — an extra couple hundred bucks is totally worth it. If possible, be there during the inspection so you can ask questions on the spot and they can show you things. (Even better if you have an architect / engineer / contractor friend who can be there.) If you’re considering a multi-unit (probably not, since you said “house”) note that inspections only cover the INSIDE of the unit, from the studs in. You need to ask for an outside inspection, and it’s a separate fee.

      As others have noted, the real extra costs come after. The calculators make the cost seem a little more affordable than it is. Ensure you are totally clear on property taxes. (And HOA fees if applicable). Everything is expensive when you own, from water heaters to roofs to landscaping, and it’s brutal if you don’t have extra wiggle room in your budget or significant savings set aside for repairs and maintenance. (Unfortunately, I live in a place that’s so expensive that you basically can’t buy even small fixer-uppers without being maxed out. Still, get all the facts so you know what you’re up against.)

      Definitely get a good agent. It’s their job to know to ask questions you would never dream of. Shop around, get referrals. I know someone who just cheaped out by not hiring an agent and he got screwed.

      I was given a home warranty as a gift. That was surprisingly useful my first year and I’d look into that again. Just some electrical work I had done paid for that.

      Good luck! It’s exciting. :)

    9. Boomerang Girl*

      Understand what development is planned for the area that might impact your view, property value, school district, etc

    10. spock*

      Get an agent to help you for sure! There is no downside, you don’t even pay them, the seller does.

    11. Penguin*

      Building off something Filosofickle said- sometimes people will straight up not tell a potential buyer about something, even if they’re legally required to do so (“I don’t know” is hard to disprove, after all). It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with some basic construction practices, like knowing that a building built prior to the 1980s (in the US) likely has lead paint on it somewhere.

      Also, look around the internet to see if you can find property records online for your town/city/county/etc. and look up the place you’re interested in; sometimes there is very useful information attached to those, like building permit issuance dates, dates and prices of previous sales, and so on. (The relevance here being that a frequently flipped house should set off a red flag, much like a job-hopping applicant, because frequent changes are unusual and should be investigated.) If you can’t find them online, your local county/town clerk’s office (or similar civic office) should have paper copies that you can view; these sorts of things are usually publicly available, it just takes a bit of legwork to access them.

      1. Filosofickle*

        It’s true. I had sellers withhold very big structural problems and water damage. I found out the night before closing, was able to call it off, get more inspections, and renegotiate to cover the expected repairs. The sellers said they “forgot”, which is simply not possible given the details. I so should have walked away, though! The damage was much worse than expected. Eventually we fixed the known problems so we could sell and we disclosed all of that, but, not gonna lie, we did not seek out any new knowns.

        Consider trying to meet the neighbors, too. They have intel! That’s how I found out — essentially a whistleblower neighbor. There’s a gorgeous house near me that goes up for sale every 18-24 months and stays on the market for months in an area where listings get snapped up in days. I’m dying to talk to the neighbors and find out what’s what!

    12. Reba*

      I read a book by I want to say NOLO that was really helpful in breaking down the process. There is also a “for Dummies” book on this.

      Consumer financial protection bureau website is a really great resource!! Explains terms and your rights.

      Shopping for the lender was the most confusing part for me, so I’m glad we started on that well before we were looking at actual possibilities for properties.

      As far as home shopping, my advice would be, if you can, to take it slow and not rush to find a place, any place… But have things together and be ready to move fast when you do find that great match.

      Good luck!

    13. HBJ*

      The kitchen is the most expensive part of the house to renovate. If you’re choosing between an otherwise perfect house with a less-than-ideal kitchen and an otherwise perfect house with a less-than-ideal master bedroom and bathroom, choose the latter.

    14. Karou*

      A lot depends on where you live but is there a mortgage broker you can talk to? We met with someone from a broker who explaining the pros and cons of different kinds of mortgages, how rules had changed recently, what kind of fees we’d be looking at besides the mortgage itself and how the buying process worked. It was super helpful.

    15. Zona the Great*

      Did you look up first time homebuyer grants in your city or county? I got $10k for closing costs and walked away with cash at the end somehow. Never left work; a notary came to me for all signing, I was assigned a realtor, and I never stressed once. Best decision I ever made.

  34. Anon Here*

    I have a rare two days off. I live in NYC. I have many creative projects that I need to work on. I also have a young, energetic dog who tells me he NEEDS A WALK RIGHT NOW starting about twenty minutes after the previous walk and lasting until I take him out again. He’s mastered the, “OMG MOM I HAVE TO PEE!!!!” whine and sad faces. There is no way to tell when he really needs to go out and when he’s just trying to get more attention. So I give him as much exercise as I can, and I’m trying to get work done too. It’s so hard to do both. He’s not good with other dogs so I can’t take him to dog parks. Really hoping to befriend someone with a yard or roof access so he can run free and tire himself out and then I can have some quiet time to focus. I love him so much. We go for long-leashed runs multiple times a day. He’s just at that, “I can control the human through manipulative whining so I will!” age. One or two more years and he will probably mellow out.

    1. Toast*

      Hmmmm rent an Airbnb upstate that allows dogs? I forget what the town is called…. maybe it’ll come to me… anyway, it’s an hour on the metro north and I had this beautiful room in a house with lots of quiet. There was a huge yard/field/nature thing. Great for working and dogs running.

    2. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      One of our dogs figured out that if she made noises like she was about to hurl, we’d hustle her outside as fast as we could. So she started doing it on purpose.

      Would a schedule help? If he goes outside to pee every three (or whatever) hours, you can safely ignore any of his lies about his bursting bladder.

      1. Anon Here*

        I need to do that! Hopefully, my schedule will become more consistent and then I can give him a consistent schedule. I think he would appreciate that. Like many dogs, he is a creature of habit and likes routines that stay the same every day.

      1. Anon Here*

        I’ve been looking into it! Unfortunately, the options I’ve found so far are: A) Expensive and/or B) Involve interaction with other dogs.

        He is a pitbull who was owned by a gang member and then abandoned to fend for himself, which is how we came to live together! I wasn’t planning to get a dog, but I couldn’t let him be picked up by Animal Control, so I intervened and probably saved his life. He’s a sweetie, and he wants to have dog friends, but his background and lack of early socialization make him dangerous to most other animals, unfortunately.

        I’ve been looking for a dog walker/sitter, but I want it to be someone I kind of know, not a random person assigned through a dog walking app. I haven’t found anyone yet.

        Writing this out, I realize I should reach out to local pitbull groups and see what people recommend. I know there are many other dogs with a similar story.

    3. In my next life I want to be one of my niece's dogs*

      Depending what part of NYC, look into Doggie Academy at the Brooklyn Dog Training Center. Agility classes and other training can give dogs something to think about so they’re not so needy.
      The owner has a book out too… “Play Your Way to Good Manners.”
      (Truth in advertising, I’m related.)

      1. Anon Here*

        Thank you! We’re in South Brooklyn. And he’s mellow today. Afraid of the rain! One longer walk in the wet stuff and he was like, “Um, I’m going to pass out on the couch . . . ” We’re cuddling.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Haha, my pit mix is precious about the rain. We call her Princess Pretty Paws because she will NOT walk on wet grass if we don’t make her. (But I just replaced half my deck, so doing her business on my pretty new deck is not an option, so I make her. So mean!)

          1. Anon Here*

            You should get her some doggie rain boots! I got my buddy a cute rain coat. It helps, but his head and tail still get wet. He gets really freaked out by it.

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              She goes ballistic with things on her paws, just flails like nonsense trying to get them off and if she can’t, she just collapses into a dramatic heap. She has a winter coat, and that’s ok, but she’d rather not be outside in the cold any longer than necessary. Basically she’s a little diva. :)

              1. Anon Here*

                My little buddy is very spoiled too. I wish I could post a picture of him. His fur is long for a pit so he has a super cute fuzzy kind of look. And he gives hugs! Such a cuddler.

    4. MechanicalPencil*

      Super late to this, but maybe look into enrichment activities to tire his mind out so he’s less prone to bug you. There’s all sorts of puzzle toys out there that may give you some relief. And a lot of things can be sort of “homemade” if you will. I’ve found that making my pups sniff out there dinner in a box with packing paper in it (appropriate height) forces them to use more senses than they’re used to for dinner. There’s a Facebook group called Canine Enrichment that has TONS of ideas. Some are easier to implement than others.

  35. Sunflower Sea Star*

    Any photographers here who have shot with the Lensbaby stuff? If so, what’s your favorite?

  36. PX*

    Anyone have tips or advice on how to tell if I’m just having a rough year or if this is actual anxiety I should probably try and do something about?

    My entire life I’ve generally always been someone who is very comfortable and settled in myself. I’ve never really had confidence issues, I know who I am and I’m happy in myself – and I generally dont try comparing myself to others. I have a job I mostly like (and my boss likes me, it pays well, the team are nice people), I live in a city I like and thought I dont have as many friends as I would like (I moved here for work knowing no one), I have a few good friends, am working on making more, and am also reasonably introverted so not afraid of spending quality time on my own.

    But 2019 has sucked, and I’ve felt all over the place. The best way to describe it is that I’m someone who is usually very calm and settled in my mind, but I’ve felt off kilter and unbalanced/unsettled all year.

    I’ve found myself worrying and stressing about things that never used to bother me, both socially and at work. I would say the biggest difference is that things in the past that would have rolled off my back now get under my skin and just…dont leave. In some ways I feel like its either years of suppressing certain fears coming out (living away from family, not having a strong support network, no relationship etc) or just…random anxiety coming from possibly bad genes (while no one has ever been formally diagnosed, enough of my immediate family have traits that fall in the depression/anxiety bucket to make me aware that this is a definite possibility given the evidence that there is a genetic factor involved)?

    There have been times when I’ve felt better but I feel like all year there has been a low grade…something isn’t right…I can’t relax and just be kind of feeling that I’ve not been able to shake. I’ve got a pretty long holiday booked over Christmas in warm and sunny climates. My hope is that I will be able to hand over work completely and just relax, but…I’m really worried I’ll come back in January and not feel any different….and I really dont want another year of feeling like this. It really sucks and I have so much sympathy for anyone who feels like this on a regular basis!

    1. Toast*

      That’s a really broad question. I found melody fletcher’s blog really helped me. You could also YouTube “faster eft”.

    2. Ethyl*

      I have GAD and also a thyroid issue and I would recommend two things. First is to check in with your GP and make sure all your various levels and things are normal. Stuff like anemia or vitamin D deficiency can have emotional and mental symptoms, as can thyroid issues.

      The second recommendation is to go ahead and see about talking to a therapist, even if you don’t “have” something “official.” There’s no entrance exam or qualification you need to have to talk to someone. You don’t need to be “this mentally ill” to talk things out with a trained pro :)

      1. PX*

        Thanks Ethyl! I certainly struggle on that last point..feeling like I need to be more sick or have more ‘problems’ before ever doing anything. I guess in a way this has helped clarify for me that if I dont want to keep feeling like this, what I’ve been doing hasnt worked, so might as well try something else…like getting checked and getting help!

    3. ThatGirl*

      There is no harm in a few sessions with a therapist, and they usually can help with diagnostics to figure out what might be going on. If your work has an eap, the first few sessions are generally covered.

      1. LQ*

        Strong agree. Get some help and even if it’s just a little bit to put you back on track to be you and a couple talk sessions and you get back on track and win. If you need more help then you get the more help and win. Definitely take some steps.

    4. Xavier89*

      Obviously can only speak for myself but I really rejected the idea that I had anxiety until I saw a counselor and within a minute she was like “You have textbook anxiety” it was eye opening

      1. PX*

        Ah this. One of my usual coping mechanisms is journalling and I noted the other day that part of why I might be struggling with this is that it doesnt fit the picture I have (and have always had) of myself in my head. And y’know. Trying to think/change how I’ve always self-identified is apparently much much harder than I expected! Realising I maybe also like women was much easier than accepting I apparently need some help to deal with my brain. Go figure.

    5. Parenthetically*

      “how to tell if I’m just having a rough year or if this is actual anxiety”

      My advice is: it doesn’t matter! If it’s making your quality of life worse, if it’s weighing on your mind and has changed how you normally interact with the world, it’s worth doing something about even if it isn’t “actual anxiety”! The diagnosis, the boxes you check, are less important than the fact that it’s different and worse than before, and you definitely don’t have to have an actual diagnosis of anxiety to benefit from therapy!

      1. PX*

        You know, this is actually really helpful to reframe it in my mind. I’m usually very good at…self soothing? Self therapy? Figuring out what is wrong and dealing with it myself?

        One of the things that has annoyed me the most is the fact that…I guess I feel like I’ve failed in not having been able to ‘fix’ whatever this is myself. But it would be silly to not try and get proper help for it just because I feel like I should be able to fix it myself. In most areas in life I’m usually happy to throw money at things and let experts who actually know what they are doing solve it rather than try to muddle through myself, so I guess this is just another area I need to do that too.

        1. Parenthetically*

          Are you me?

          Yes, this is my nonstop struggle — “My normal analytical coping mechanisms are not working, I am a failure (and probably deserve this misery)!” It was totally freeing for me too, to have someone say, “Hey, do you, like, NOT like this? Then… you’re allowed to get help for it, regardless of the ‘name’ of what’s bothering you, right?”

          1. PX*

            Ahaha, not quite because my mental cycle has been going: “My normal analytical coping mechanisms are not working…let me try that again…and again…why isnt it working? Its always worked…Should I get help?….No, let me try again…One more time…I’m sure eventually it will go back to normal. I SHOULD be able to handle this myself. Let me not burden our already stretched healthcare system…” Repeat for months.

            So breaking that loop and just saying: “STOP. Its not working. Get some help.” is where I am finally getting to.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Do get a check up. Sometimes health issues first manifest as a vague sort of restlessness. It could be a minor issue and/or it could be something if caught soon can be easily fixed.

      The next thing that jumped at me is how are you sleeping at night? Lack of sleep can cause a number of problems. not the least of which is reduce our ability to cope with day -to-day living. What you write here is me on low sleep, I get worried. I feel unsettled and anxious about things that would not bother me otherwise.

      Do go back to square one and make sure your are covering your basics. plenty of hydration every day, fresh fruits and veggies with regular meals, and rest, of course.

      As you go along think about environment. Do you live or work around a natural gas line, could there be a small leak? Do you have CO detectors in your home? Have you recently moved to a new place where lots of pesticides are used? I lived in one place where there were these smoke stacks and what is it coming out of those stacks???
      Between the stacks and the gas heat we finally just decided to move.

      I had a really odd experience with a car. Years later, a friend said to me, “I think I am losing it but I am afraid to be in my car. I think there is a leak of something that I cannot smell but it’s affecting how my mind works.” I had BTDT and I realized that what I had experienced and what he was currently experience was Not Normal. Neither one of us had felt this way about a car, ever. I told him that I got rid of my car and the feeling went away. So he got rid of his car and got a different one. He also said the feeling went away. I have never had this experience again and it’s been 20 or so years. Sometimes we can almost intuitively know what is wrong and we just don’t act on it.

      1. PX*

        Thanks! I like to think sleep is the one thing I’m usually good at maintaining although if I look back with a critical eye…its maybe not been good quality sleep. I’ve certainly done my best to make sure I’m eating/hydrating right to try and rule out anything from that angle. But this is my monthly reminder that I need some green leafy vegetables because I feel much better when those are in rotation.

        Environment is hopefully not it (been living/working in the same place for a while now) but as always a good set of things to keep in mind, thanks!

    7. Tris Prior*

      How old are you, and are you female? If you’re female and over 40 or so, could be perimenopause. The 10-ish years preceding actual menopause where a lot of women’s hormones start doing all sorts of weird shit without our permission. This can really affect your mental health. This happened to me; my gyn ended up putting me on a lower dose pill and that has helped a LOT in evening out my moods.

      Therapy is definitely a good idea too, but might be worth a visit to your gyn (again, assuming you’re female, which I shouldn’t – this sudden-ish onset of these feelings just sounds really familiar to me, and I feel like most women don’t know about perimenopause until we’re in our 40s and start researching what’s going on with us.)

      1. PX*

        Im female but early 30s so unless something is going very wrong I hope its not perimenopause! My fear is that it might actually be my birth control because mood swings/changes and depression/nervousness are listed as side effects…I’d really hope not because I love my Mirena (no periods!) but it is something I’m considering (although I’ve had it long enough that in theory any side effects should have levelled out…)

    8. PX*

      Ugh. Thank you all for confirming what I’ve finally started thinking which is that I should probably try and talk to someone about it.

      I definitely have been avoiding going to see my GP because…they are not great. Basically I feel like they will either not take my concerns seriously (things I did not mention include random health things that I feel will either get swept aside) or diagnose it as anxiety/depression and therefore that is the only thing wrong with you and everything else is fine. I’ve definitely noticed feeling better being correlated with eating leafy green vegetables so iron is an obvious thing to check I guess.

      Will probably see if I can talk to someone through work first perhaps.

      I’m also really bad at asking for help and like Xavier89, I suspect part of it is just not wanting to accept that this is a thing that could be happening to me. Its always been people around me who need help, not me. I’m always the one who is fine! I’m the one people can rely on! So trying to adjust to this being a thing that I need is…hard.

      1. Ethyl*

        If it’s possible for you, maybe try looking around for a new GP? I’m on like my fourth or fifth in the last oh, 15 years or so? I liked the person I had before this one but she left private practice entirely, and her replacement is only sort of ok. I’m planning to fire up the doctor search soon again because we also recently moved and driving so far for frustrating appointments is a bummer.

        1. PX*

          Sigh. Probably a good idea, but I feel like looking for good doctors is so much trial and error. No one in my area seems to really stand out in terms of reviews, and where I live there are (in theory) restrictions on where you can register (you are meant to have a doctor within a certain radius of where you live). So this one will probably be lower on the priority list, but may move up depending on how the appointment(s) go.

    9. C Average*

      It’s also worth pointing out that (and I realize I’m treading close to the no-politics line here) you may be among the more than half of Americans who realize we’re living in very strange times, and that a reaction other than existential horror would be unhealthy. Current events are inescapable, and it is stressful! I sometimes think we all need therapy to get through the day to day.

  37. My Brain Is Exploding*

    One move we did, we needed a new mattress. Ditched the old one before moving and bought a new one at the new place. We slept on it – on the floor – and kids in sleeping bags. Can you do a one way rental on the smallest rental trailer? Basic kitchen stuff, card table and chairs, etc. Or rent a few basics for a few weeks – cheap table and chairs, lamp, etc. Or go to the last chance thrift store and get a few things and donate them back when your stuff arrives. A couple of boxes should hold enough basic kitchen supplies to last till everything else gets there.

  38. NewReadingGlasses*

    I’ve done it several times. I slept on the floor and did I a minimal kitchen. It was ok, though I was really glad when my bed arrived. I recommend a move in “kit” with a roll of toilet paper, paper towels, soap, camping sleep pad, your favorite pillow, one set of bedding, one good knife, shower curtain and towel, bowl and spoon, one or two easy comfort food items (tea, soup mix, etc), and maybe a couple of spices that you like. For everything else, pack what will fit, then plan a trip to the local thrift store and get what kitchen stuff you need but couldn’t fit in the car. Wait about a day before you do this, and get the “ wows I really wish I had x,” items. I also moved with a cat, and the air mattress did NOT work out. Also an inexpensive (perhaps folding) chair and table will help, try someplace like Target at the destination, unless you have something that fits in the car.

  39. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

    History nerds (and especially Myrin, since I think this is her area of expertise), can you recommend me some books? I just finished Marriage and the Family in the Middle Ages by Frances and Joseph Gies and had previously enjoyed Barbara Hanawalt’s Ties that Bound. Are there more books on the medieval family or every day life that are similarly in depth? Particularly ones with interesting anecdotes from the original sources (I love Dhuoda and Fredegund).

    Also, the Gies book mentions that nobody has figured why the consanguinity taboo was expanded from the 4th to the 7th degree by the Catholic church in 747. But the book was published in ’89. Has somebody figured it out since?

    1. AnonEMoose*

      Not precisely what you asked for, but I really enjoyed “Black Tudors” by Miranda Kaufmann. It’s a pretty common perception that Black people weren’t really around in Tudor England. This book challenges that perception, and tells some really interesting stories in the process.

      One example was the story of a group of men from a particular part of Africa, who were hired to try to recover items from shipwrecks (including the Mary Rose). It was well-written and engaging, and expanded my understanding of Tudor society.

      (And I don’t know the answer to your question about consanguinity for sure, but if I had to guess, I’d say that it probably had to do with being able to make more money on dispensations. But I am an admitted cynic when it comes to the Church during that period!)