weekend free-for-all – October 5-6, 2019

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

Book recommendation of the week: The Dutch House, by Ann Patchett. It’s about a brother and sister who are kicked out of their family home by their stepmother and how that reverberates over decades.

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

{ 1,255 comments… read them below }

  1. reading recs?*

    What books do you read when you want to feel cozy? With fall here I want to curl up with a book and I’m looking for books that will enhance my hygge / coziness!

    1. Marzipan*

      Ballet Shoes definitely falls into this category for me. Possibly that’s partly because my aunts’ childhood copy was at my grandparents house so I used to read it every Christmas and summer when we were on holiday, but I think it’s pretty cosy even without those associations!

      1. YetAnotherUsername*

        I loved that book! Kids books I loved as a kid always make me feel safe. Watership down is my big one.

      1. London Calling*

        I loved Cranford as an adolescent, and wept buckets over the death of Captain Brown, but it’s a very sad book, isn’t it? all those elderly ladies on the edge of poverty desperately clinging onto their genteel ways and remembering their happier pasts.

        1. Briar S*

          I don’t find it sad at all – the main focus of the book is on the friendship and support these women give each other, and I find that vastly lovely

    2. German Girl*

      For me, fall/winter is ice skating season so I like to read the same Pride and Prejudice fanfiction series every year that starts at the winter Olympics ice skating competition. Here is the first part, which is the best imho, but it’s got two sequels: https://www.dwiggie.com/derby/olda/annie9.htm
      Afaik it hasn’t been published as a book, so I read it online, but lots of good fanfiction has, so if you prefer books, this is a start: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=pride+and+prejudice+variations&sprefix=pride+and+p&ref=nb_sb_ss_i_5_11

    3. Anonymous octopus*

      I read pride and prejudice fanfiction. My go to author is Anghraine on archiveofourown. I think I’ve reread her stories more often than the original.

      1. aarti*

        I also love retellings of her books. Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin is great and so is Elligble by Curtis Stanfield.

    4. Briar S*

      This may be an odd choice for cozy, but to me they feel that way: the murder mystery series The Chronicles of Brother Cadfael by Ellis Peters

      1. Clever Pun Name*

        Seconding the “favorite childhood books” idea: The Little House on the Prairie books are some of my favorites. Especially love Farm Boy for all the food descriptions!

        1. Traffic_Spiral*

          Yup. Good YA classics are my go-to cozy read. Holes, The Hobbit, The Phantom Tollbooth, etc.

        2. WellRed*

          I’ve been thinking I’d like to re-read the little house series, especially Banks of Plum Creek and Shores of Silver Lake.

          1. Valancy Snaith*

            Rereading the Little House books as an adult is a completely different experience! I love the books, but it was eye-opening to read them as an adult.

            1. AcademiaNut*

              It’s also well worth digging up the recent non fiction book Pioneer Girl – it’s basically her first attempt at the story, as an adult memoir, with tons of annotations. It’s a lot less idealized, and more accurately biographical, and really fascinating.

              As an adult, I sympathize a lot more with Ma. She’s being dragged from pillar to post by her husband, trying to raise her daughters so they’ll be educated and fit into polite society, and spends a lot of that time stuck in a cabin in the middle of nowhere with no way to protect herself from various dangers and little adult company. Also, Pa wasn’t all that great at supporting his family, with the years of “one good harvest and we’ll be fine” that never came to pass, while they can’t afford decent food and new clothes and medical care.

              1. Valancy Snaith*

                I have a hardback copy! Great book. I do feel for Ma much more than I ever did as a kid. The scene in By the Shores of Silver Lake where Laura wants to see the railroad workers, and at first Pa is all gung-ho to take her, and Ma puts her foot down that Laura isn’t to go anywhere near them? Went straight over my head as a kid. It isn’t until you’re an adult, I think, that you can even recognize Ma’s fear there.

                1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

                  I re-read one of the earlier ones in college, and was shocked at how the family almost died in each chapter. Fires, ravaging animals, diseases, floods and near drowning, starvation…it’s very intense.

    5. GoryDetails*

      I like to re-read old favorites, including Jane Austen (especially Persuasion), Dorothy L. Sayers’ “Lord Peter” novels, and ghost-story collections by M. R. James and E. F. Benson – reading chilling little tales while all comfy at home with cats and tea or a nice glass of wine makes me feel very cozy indeed!

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yes, I find the Lord Peters very cozy. Short stories too. And seconding slightly spooky things!

      2. tamarack & fireweed*

        Seconding Dorothy L. Sayers. Some other classic murder mysteries set in the first half of the 20th century too.

    6. Not A Manager*

      Cozy books:

      Anne of Green Gables
      Understood Betsy
      The Blue Sword
      The Prydain Chronicles
      A Little Princess
      The Secret Garden
      Pride & Prejudice
      Jane Eyre
      Anna Karenena, esp. the parts that aren’t about Anna
      The Crystal Cave
      Most of Mary Renault

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          It was my mother’s favorite book. She read it to me at least once… and when I was reading it to my daughter we drove the 100 miles to her house and Gramma read to her while I did things mom couldn’t do anymore. One of our best visits.

    7. cat socks*

      I like reading cozy mysteries that take place in a small town. I’m working my way through the Cat in the Stacks series by Miranda James. I also like the Second Chance Cat series by Sofie Ryan. So I guess it’s really cats and mysteries that make it cozy for me!

      1. PhyllisB*

        Cat socks, you might like the Cat Who…..series by Lillian Jackson Braun. I loved those books. Also Rita Mae Brown’s series “written” with her cat, Sneaky Pie Brown. Some of the story lines are meh..but I LOVE all the animals in the stories (cats are prominent)and the illustrations are good.

    8. Nervous Nellie*

      Nightingale Wood, by Stella Gibbons! If you have read her Cold Comfort Farm, you have an idea of her wit, but this one is more like a nutty fairy tale wrapped up in a Downton Abbey setting. Delightful from start to finish.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      “Merry Hall” by Beverly Nichols. It’s the story of a journalist in England after WWII buying and restoring a Georgian mansion and its gardens. He gets the credit (or blame) for my overindulgence in geraniums and my recent attempt at lilies.
      I picked it up at a secondhand shop because I loved the line drawings…and I am happy to report there’s a recent edition available on Amazon.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, God, Nichols and the lilies! Yes, I too have lilies as a result, though not as many as he does (and I suspect he had pure Orientals, which don’t do well here, so I lost a lot until I switched over to Orienpets).

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I’m so thrilled to find someone else who knows that book.
          The house is still there, although the land has been developed. There is a road named after Oldham, which pleased me. I hope to drive by the next time I get to England. (Some day!)

      2. Not a cat*

        Those books sound right up my alley. They are 24.00 and up! Wow! Off to check Libby to see if they are available from the LA library system.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Yep…that’s one reason I’ve only read the two I got my hands on secondhand.
          You’ll never look at stylized flower arrangements the same way again.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Oh and “The Enchanted Castle” by E.Nesbit. …put it on the list of other people’s childhood favorites.

    11. Sorgatani*

      I enjoy the story ‘The Ordinary Princess’, by M.M. Kaye

      It’s not very long, and I found it quite charming.

      1. Np*

        Oh my days, I can’t believe someone else has read this. It was one of my favourite books as a child (and actually as an adult). Amy for the win!

        1. Patty Mayonnaise*

          Add me to the list – completely forgot this book existed until this thread but oh man, was it a lovely read!

    12. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

      Ella Enchanted. I re-read that almost every year.

      Second all the Jane Austen recs!

      Basically any 19th century European lit haha.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        If you liked Ella and chanted, let me suggest you try Princess Academy by Shandon Hale…. and since you’re also am Austen fan, also the not-YA Austenland.

        I can’t wait to take this list of books to the library.

    13. LibbyG*

      In a different direction, I love nonfiction about polar exploration and survival, like Ernest Schackleton’s memoir South. Nothing like a story of 22 people enduring an antarctic winter without their ship to make me appreciate my warm, dry blankets and tasty food.

      Another great Antarctica memoir from the early 20th century is the aptly titled Worst Journey in the World by Cherry Apsley-Garrard (sp?). It was so cold that their teeth cracked!

      I’m currently reading In the Kingdom of Ice by Hampton Sides about a late 19th century expedition to the North Pole. I don’t know how it ends yet, so no spoilers, please!

      1. Courageous cat*

        Yes – for some reason reading or watching things that involve harsh, cold conditions, make me sleep better because I know how cozy I am. It’s weird.

      2. GoryDetails*

        Oh, yes! I adore the polar-exploration books, and have enjoyed all the ones you listed and quite a few more. I have a newish one on my shelf, Erebus by Michael Palin, about the Franklin expedition and the recent discovery of the long-lost ships. It definitely makes me feel cozy to be safe indoors while reading of those ice-and-snow-bound expeditions… though sometimes I read the same books in mid-July to counterbalance the summer heat!

        1. PhyllisB*

          Yep. It’s 95 degrees in the shade where I live, and I just read a Christmas book to feel a bit “winterery” (is that a proper word?)

        1. fposte*

          Oh, I have such a complicated relationship with that book. Huntford does some good original research, but he’s also a fantasist and a misogynist. His Shackleton book is interesting too, and slightly less poisoned because he really likes Shackleton.

      3. Anono-me*

        For polar survival nonfiction; you might enjoy ‘A Year Long Day, One Man’s Arctic’ by A. E. Maxwell and I. Rudd. It is the biography of Mr. Rudd’s experience in the Arctic written with Elizabeth Ann Lowell * and her husband Evan Maxwell. (Please note that while this is a book that I am glad that I read; it is about a man who has chosen to live by himself in a very harsh environment and it was not what I would call an easy or a comfortable book.)

        *Elizabeth Lowell has written tons of romance novels. And she and her husband have written about eight PI type thriller mystery novels.

      4. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Coldweather survival science fiction anyone? Kim Stanley Robinson “Fifty Degrees Below”

    14. Queer Earthling*

      The Anne series and the Emily series by L. M. Montgomery
      The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
      almost any Jennifer Crusie romance novel

    15. Tomato Anonymato*

      I’ll go old school with books that make me laugh and have a big heart ! Some of them have outdated bits and pieces, but IMO worth ignoring for the rest.

      Betty MacDonald – The Egg and I, Anybody Can Do Anything, The Plague and I, Onions in the Stew

      Gerald Durrell – My Family and Other Animals, Birds, Beasts and Relatives – I love his kids book The Talking Parcel – also published under the name The Battle for Castle Cockatrice – but not sure it’s easy to find

      Leonard Q. Ross – The Education of H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N

      Richard Feynman – Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!

      Robert Fulghum – All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

    16. Anono-me*

      For cozy reading, I love the Ms. Polifax series by Dorothy Gilman. (They made one into a TV movie with Angela Lansbury.) I also like a British mystery series by Janet Neel (Aka the Baroness of Cohen).

      On a side note, someone posted a few weekends ago about rediscovering Phyllis Whitney. I just saw ‘Silverhill’ on Bookbub for $1.99. (The low price probably won’t last long.)

    17. Amey*

      I agree with lots of these suggestions and Ballet Shoes is one of mine too! I read it every year or so. My go-tos are anything by Georgette Heyer, Diana Wynne Jones, or Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series.

    18. Clisby*

      Every so often I re-read the Little House books, the Anne of Green Gables series, and the Betsy, Tacy and Tib series.

        1. Clisby*

          They’re a fascinating look at middle-class midwestern life in the late 1800s-early 1900s.

          I also love the Mapp & Lucia novels by E.F. Benson. (Nothing to do with Betsy, Tacy, and Tib – they’re set in England.)

    19. OtterB*

      Several of the children’s books people have already listed. Also, the Enchanted Forest books by Patricia C. Wrede. And the Dreamhealers fantasy series by M.C.A. Hogarth (first one is Mindtouch).

  2. Goose*

    My cat Skouby has elevated liver enzymes and has had three blood test to confirm it’s continued to increase.

    Next steps are antibiotics to treat possible infection and if that doesn’t work, ultrasound to look for malformations on the liver.

    Anyone else go through this with your cat

      1. Short Time Lurker Komo*

        I admit, I didn’t keep up with all the things wrong, but I believe our cat also had super elevated liver enzymes. It ended up being connected to his gallbladder, so when he was 6 or 7 years old, he underwent surgery to remove the gallbladder. He needs 2 nightly meds – one tablet and one a customized liquid medicine – and will for the rest of his life. He’s 11 now, and they told us last year or year before when he had another medical scare that they didn’t know of any other cat they did gallbladder surgery on having lived for 3 years. It’s apparently relatively cutting edge. XD He is 11 now.

        It was not cheap, but he has an excellent quality of life, loves to have his scar petted and scratched, and hates his medicines. He doesn’t take them from pill pockets or in food, so opening the mouth and down the hatch they go!

        I hope your kitty gets better!

      2. MsChanandlerBong*

        My Chewbacca is also 11, and we are currently trying to figure out why his liver is enlarged. His liver enzymes are normal, but the liver itself was enlarged on X-ray. He has lost over a pound for no apparent reason (his blood sugar is normal, he doesn’t have kidney disease, he doesn’t have hyperthyroidism, etc.), and the vet said the next step would be to do an ultrasound, so it sounds like your vet is doing everything right. Lots of love and gentle scratches for Skouby.

    1. Weeping Willow*

      My dog had elevated liver enzymes following a collapse. It turned out to be endocarditis, an infection in the heart valve. Apparently very rare. I had to take her to a veterinary teaching hospital to have her diagnosed. Our local vet said he’d only seen it once in his career. That’s probably not what’s going on with your cat. But infection is a likely candidate. Scarlet Fire was fine after several weeks of very strong antibiotics.

    2. Kits&Knits*

      I had a cat that got diagnosed with liver disease at age 2. Being the stubborn little bossy boots she was, she lived to he 18 and a half by just taking a pill every day. There are some excellent little (kind and humane) devices to help give cata their pills Visa-free, too !

  3. Kuododi*

    Hi there! Well the official, final word came in on Tuesday. It’s a 100% certainty I DON’T have to do any chemotherapy!!! (Genetic testing on the tumor from the lumpectomy results were in. ). Apparently bottom line is that any negligible benefits I might get from chemo would be far outweighed by all the negative side effects of the treatment. Happy Snoopy Dance!!!

    Under the heading of “bad news”, I am quite anemic to the point my Drs almost put my dimpled backside in hospital for a blood transfusion. :(. Well right now I’m taking the industrial strength iron, bulking up my meal planning with iron rich foods. Monday I’m due to get labs and measure progress towards recovery. More news as information rolls to me. Thanks y’all!!!!

    1. OperaArt*

      Fantastic. Now on to radiation treatment, if I’m remembering correctly? I hope that goes well.
      Like you, I had a lumpectomy and no chemo. My most valuable possessions during radiation treatment were Aquaphor, cheap cotton T-shirts for sleeping, and (oddly enough) high-cotton-content maternity bras.

      1. Asenath*

        Great news!

        My oncologist told me that of course I didn’t need to wear a bra if I didn’t want to! So I didn’t, when they weren’t comfortable. That was a bit of a novelty since I always swore I really needed the support of a bra, but I did fine with very loose comfortable tops and no bra. She swore by a small amount of a prescription cream and lots and lots of a basic oatmeal-based lotion without much in the way of added perfumes etc. It worked for me to minimize skin damage.

    2. NoLongerYoung*

      Sending you a hug. This is good!! On the iron, I hope they mentioned the ahem, side effects of iron? I’m sure they mentioned the other hints – don’t take it with calcium or dairy, take it with vitamin c (increases absorption), and, well, for many folks, a stool softener (generic dulcolax or whatever your doctor suggests). YMMV.

    3. Fikly*

      Were you offered an iron infusion? It’s kind of a halfway step between iron supplements and a blood transfusion, and it’ll kick your iron level up much faster than oral supplements.

    4. WoodswomanWrites*

      Great news that you don’t have to got through chemotherapy! Hope your anemia is resolved soon.

    5. Bluebell*

      Great news! Two tips from when I had anemia as a result of medical reasons- Floradix was gentle on my system, if you can take it in addition to the supplements. Also, cooking in cast iron helps. Here’s hoping things continue to go well!

    6. LGC*

      Dude, that’s awesome that you don’t have to do chemo! Congratulations!

      Sorry about the anemia, though.

      (Also, being slightly creepy, but I’ve been reading your updates every week and although I don’t think I’ve commented before, you have all my well wishes.)

    7. HQB*


      For the iron, using a cast iron pan to cook your foods can make a difference as well. My favorite iron supplement is MegaFood Blood Builder as it doesn’t upset my stomach.

    8. Mimmy*

      So glad you don’t have to do the chemo!! Do you still need to do radiation?

      Sorry to hear about the anemia. Hope that resolves quickly.

      1. Kuododi*

        I do still have to do radiation as a preventative measure. I meet with the radiologist on the 15 to hammer out the details of the treatment plan. The anemia has been a chronic problem. Usually keep it under control with supplements and B12 shots. This is the second time it has flared up so badly. Last time I did have a transfusion. I appreciate everyone’s care and support. Blessings.

    9. MatKnifeNinja*


      LOW FIVE

      I’m so happy you received good news about dodging chemo. The low hemoglobin is easy to figure out.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      I am just so happy for you. What a journey this has been for you. Congratulations on your good news.

      1. schnauzerfan*

        Yay for no chemo! I went through bc, lumpectomy, rads, tamoxifen in 2012. Still here and feeling pretty good.

    11. PhyllisB*

      Glad you don’t have to do chemo!! I mentioned this a couple of weeks ago in a thread on nutrition/pregnancy, but a serving of cream of wheat has 45% of your daily iron requirement. I used to make it with milk so it would be really creamy and good. You can also use water if you don’t do dairy. If you don’t like the taste, add it to other foods, like meat loaf or spaghetti sauce. My iron levels were so good, my doctor wanted to know what I was doing to keep them so high. Of course, still take your iron supplements and whatever, this is in addition to, not instead of.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Oh, and all the suggestions to use cast iron are good, too. Especially if you cook something with tomatoes in it. (Spag. sauce)

        1. Kuododi*

          I’d love to have something with tomatoes. Unfortunately I have had to give them up along with onions. (A concession to getting a little older and a chronic bad stomach.). Daddy got me a cast iron skillet about 6months ago and I’m having fun adapting to new ways of cooking. Blessings!!!

  4. Beyond Meat or Impossible Burger*

    Anyone tried the Beyond Meat or Impossible Burger? Just curious what they taste like and if it’s worth the 3x the cost of normal beef.

    I’m not a vegan but I’m just curious on the taste. From what I’ve read they might be no better for you health-wise due to the high fat content from the coconut oil.

    1. Jaid*

      Not yet. I’m just amused that IB got members of the WuTang Clan to shill for them…eating Impossible Sliders in SPAAACCCE….

    2. Entry Level Marcus*

      IMO, impossible burger tastes like a real burger. I’m not a fan of beyond burger, on the other hand.

      1. MatKnifeNinja*

        I loved the Impossible burger as a burger substitute.

        The Beyond Burger was flat out nasty, as a burger substitute. I don’t know if it wasn’t cooked correctly, but it reminded me of semi moist cat food.

        I have read Beyond Burger is good for things like tacos, or a loose meat switch out.

        Not vegan/vegetarian, but I don’t eat animal products all the time.

    3. TechWorker*

      My partner thought the beyond meat one tasted like dog food :D I thought it was okay-ish but think the Linda McCartney veggie burgers (not sure what countries they’re available in) are much nicer anyway.

    4. Loopy*

      I have tried both. I am a vegetarian and I had my meat eating husband try the Beyond Meat burger as well. The impossible burger I tried in a restaurant. It seemed enough like a real burger to totally freak me out. The beyond burger had a weirdly STRONG dog food odor when cooking which was SUPER alarming and off putting but when we took it off heat it was fine, didn’t smell and tasted mostly like a burger according to him, though he wasn’t raving or astounded.

      I think the ones you get in restaurants might be a little better than home cooked ones or maybe the impossible itself is a little better. I dont feel any need to have them again, especially for the price, but they were pretty darn good stand ins it seemed. I would splurge on em for an outdoor BBQ, maybe. Not on any regular basis though.

      1. Shiny Onix*

        I haven’t eaten a meat sausage roll in decades but the vegan ones taste exactly like I remember meat ones tasting, to the extent I idly wonder whether they are playing the Doublemeat Palace trick from the Buffyverse (err, spoiler for season 6 of Buffy).

      2. Friendly Comp Manager*

        My husband tried the Beyond Burger when I ordered it at a restaurant recently. I was vegan for 7 years, am not anymore for the past 11 months, and funnily enough, didn’t try it until I started eating meat again. :)

        Anyway, he was pretty impressed, and he’s hard to please when it comes to meat products! Sounds like if we liked that one okay, we will be even more impressed with the Impossible Burger, which I have not had yet!

    5. Cruciatus*

      A high school classmate of mine has eaten an Impossible Burger every. single. day which I know because she posts about it every. single. day! She is vegan and said that it does taste like a real burger. She’s obviously a fan. I think she’s worried it’ll get taken away so wants to take advantage of it while she can. At first everyone was pointing out that it’s not healthier and she’s just eating so many like she wasn’t perfectly aware. She’s not vegan for her health, but for animals. A few other people then got curious and tried one and they all agreed that it tasted pretty good. I just don’t have a Burger King around or else I might try it too.

        1. Friendly Comp Manager*

          Yes. They actually are nutritionally worse than actual meat, but if one is avoiding meat, then it is a good substitute. They should be eaten occasionally, just like any other junk food, in my opinion.

    6. anonagain*

      I think the only way to satisfy your curiosity about what they taste like is to try them yourself. Taste is just too subjective.

      Are there any restaurants near you that serve those burgers? That might be a good way to try them, if that’s an option for you. It’ll probably still cost more than the beef burgers on the menu (scanning menus near me suggests $1-$3), but you won’t have that large upfront cost or be stuck with a bunch of food if you don’t like it.

      Or maybe you’ll luck out and they’ll be giving free samples somewhere.

    7. PB*

      I tried Impossible Burger at a restaurant, and I found it very meh. It tastes a lot like beef but less flavorful. I don’t see what the big deal is, personally.

      1. Kathenus*

        Ha! I’m old enough to love this comment :)

        For all the things I didn’t like that he did later in life, no one did over-acting better in a movie like this (and Planet of the Apes) than Charlton Heston.

    8. Ranon*

      I’ve tried both (at restaurants) – if you like loading your burger up with toppings and condiments I think they’re as adequate a canvas as ground beef. The real appeal for me is the carbon emissions side- 80% less than ground beef is pretty good. Although I also like a creative veggie burger patty, and anytime KFC wants to import the Veg Zinger patty they sell in India to the US I’ll be first in line.

      For home cooking I’ve been most impressed by the beyond sausages- the texture isn’t quite there but it’s remarkably close and the flavor is quite good. Especially for things where you add sausage for flavor I think they’re a good substitute.

    9. Kimmybear*

      Yeah…they are decent compared to many veggie burgers but to me, not worth the extra calories/fat (compared to other veggie burgers, not beef).

    10. Coco*

      I haven’t eaten beef in 20 years but from what I remember of the taste, Impossible and Beyond both taste similar to beef. I agree with other commenters that when cooking Beyond at home, the smell is odd. I wouldn’t say dog food but oddly unpleasant. And lingering (like 3 days after cooking you could still smell it faintly. Even with windows open). I haven’t cooked the Impossible products at home so don’t know what it is like. I’ve had both in restaurants and like them equally. My partner who does eat beef said he wouldn’t be able to tell the different between a regular Burger King whopper and an Impossible one from taste. They may be considered frankenfood and nutritionally not good , but i like the flavor I’d eat them again.

    11. ThatGirl*

      My husband really likes Impossible and when it’s well seasoned and dressed like a burger it’s hard to tell the difference.

      It may not be massively healthier than beef, but it is better for the planet.

    12. Liane*

      I haven’t had them but a friend was raving about Burger King’s Impossible Burger. Says he can’t stop thinking about getting them again. LOL
      However, BK cooks them on the same grill as their other burgers. So no t suitable forvegetarians, vegans, or people with meat allergies/intolerances.

      1. Can't eat coconut*

        My spouse is allergic to coconut, one of the main ingredients in the impossible Burger, so she no longer can eat at any restaurant that serves this imitation hamburger due to cross-contamination.

        We have unfortunately learned over the past 40 years that you cannot take the word of the wait staff or even the cook’s assurance that they don’t have coconut in their food; she’s almost died several times after getting assurances that their food not having coconut.

        1. The New Wanderer*

          That’s also true of the Beyond Meat burger, coconut oil is one of the ingredients.

    13. Falling Diphthong*

      My husband tried the Impossible Burger at Burger King. It was fine. I would call my one bite not quite like a regular burger but a) I’m a supertaster, b) I don’t go with “things that are like a pork chop, but not really” as a goal in my vegetarian cooking.

      Tldr: It’s okay.

    14. fhqwhgads*

      I’ve been a vegetarian for over 20 years so my memory of what “real” tastes like is probably hazy. However, I’ve had both. Burgerwise I prefer the Impossible. It’s not exact (which to me is good because eating at any restaurant that also serves real meat would make me worry they screwed it up) but it’s very similar. I’ve also had the Beyond and prefer that in non-burger form. I’ve had tacos with Beyond in it and that stuff was superb. They’re both almost-scary with how close they are.

      Unlike other veggie burgers, they’re not really marketing themselves as “healthier”. That’s not the pitch. It’s mostly about lack of animal cruelty and also being somewhat more environmentally sound since producing them theoretically is less water/food/resources than raising cows for food.

    15. Human Embodiment of the 100 Emoji*

      I’ve been vegetarian for twelve years, I tried the beyond burger at a restaurant, and I was not a fan. I just felt like it wasn’t nearly as tasty or interesting as a regular black bean/veggie burger. I’m also pretty repulsed by anything that tastes too much like real meat, though, so maybe meat eaters would like it?

    16. LisaWorks*

      I’ve had the impossible burger and think it tasted like beef. I didn’t like it, though, because when I want a veggie burger, I want it to taste like a black bean burger. Go figure!

    17. LizB*

      One of my coworkers is vegan and ordered a Beyond Burger when we were out for happy hour — after one bite she flagged down the server in a panic because she thought they’d made a mistake and given her a meat burger. Nope, just very convincing fake meat!

    18. Veggie*

      My understanding is that the protein comes from genetically modified soy.
      I avoid this since it is modified to withstand Roundup.
      I wouldn’t want to eat plants exposed to it or support industries that are using it. Kinda takes away the “good for the planet” arguement.
      Having said that I am glad there is more awareness around a plant based diet and there many people working to create sustainable food sources

      1. Ranon*

        Well, beef cattle are fed on genetically modified soy too, so not worse than a beef burger on that front, which is what they’re benchmarking to as a “better” environmental choice- and less soy going into the impossible or beyond burger pound for pound than beef, too. I don’t think they need to be perfect to make a good for the planet argument, it’s certainly an improvement.

    19. Homeowner75*

      Just happened upon a Consumer Reports article reviewing the Impossible Burger, Beyond Burger and more. It’s in the Oct 2019 issue.

      1. Ginger ale for all*

        If you Google Consumer Reports Impossible Burger, you can read their statement on the lack of research on the substitute. I didn’t realize there was a later article on it. I will have to go to the public library to read that. Thank you for the heads up.

        1. Ginger ale for all*

          I just reread the second article from my Google search mentioned above and it says that it was also published in the October edition of Consumer Reports so no need for the library trip.

    20. The New Wanderer*

      We made Beyond Meat burgers at home – overall consensus was that the taste was fine (beef-ish, not truly convincing but good in its own way) but the texture was different. Not a bad texture unless you don’t happen to like the slight graininess and chewiness, just wouldn’t be confused in a direct taste test with a beef burger. I’ve never tried any other veggie burger to compare it to. I’d have them again, but now I’m curious to try the Impossible Burger.

      Personally I’m waiting for plant based bacon that is worth it – the few brands I’ve tried have been sad disappointments.

    21. Blue_eyes*

      I’ve had both at restaurants (mostly Bareburger). The Impossible Burger is the closest to tasting like real beef. I do eat beef, but keep kosher, so I don’t eat meat in non-kosher restaurants. The Impossible Burger is about 80-90% as good as a beef burger in my opinion. I like them because I can eat a “burger” at restaurant, and have cheese on it and a milkshake with it if I want (I don’t eat dairy with real meat, because kosher). The Beyond Burger isn’t as good, but I do like the Beyond sausage patties – they’ve started having them at Dunkin Donuts, so I can get sausage, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwiches there. They taste pretty close to real sausage.

    22. EmilyG*

      There’s a long and interesting article about these two companies and their products in last week’s New Yorker, FYI.

  5. Lemonish*

    Looking for Paris recommendations. I’m taking my 8 year old kid for a long weekend there in a couple of weeks. Short trip – in on Thursday, out on Saturday. He has three key things he wants to do:
    1 – See the Eiffel Tower at night
    2 – Go to the top of the Eiffel Tower
    3 – Eat escargot.

    Number 3 is the trickiest for me. I’m a vegan, so I’m especially looking for recommendations for brassieres that would have a reasonably-priced menu that could accommodate his request for snails and my dietary restrictions.

    1. Fikly*

      Are you interested in other things?

      One of the things I thought was super interesting that is not well known is that the Louvre actually has an archaeological dig inside of it that you can visit, where they are essentially digging up old Louvres, because they’ve been building them on top of each other for centuries. It was fascinating! (I went back in 2005, so check this still exists.)

      1. Lemonish*

        That sounds really cool – thank you. I’m interested in going to the Musee d’Orsay and I think we’ll also do a river cruise tour.
        There’s also meant to be a good science museum. But in terms of what he’s most excited about, it’s all Eiffel Tower and escargot.

        1. Fikly*

          I kind of love his focus. If his interest extends to other big architecture, there is a model of the Statue of Liberty at the Musee d’Orsay!

          I hope you have a great time together!

          1. Flyleaf*

            I’d suggest skipping the D’Orsay. Way too many people, longs lines, poor layout, despite some nice pieces. If you like impressionism, head to the Musée de l’Orangerie. Smaller, but with some amazing works, including multiple water lily paintings by Monet. Probably my favorite museum in Paris.

            1. Elizabeth*

              Unfortunately, the orangerie only has the two rooms of monet’s giant waters lily paintings on display right now due to construction/renovations (I just went there last week). The water lilies are amazing if you like Impressionism (I do!), but I would skip it if you are looking for a broader museum experience – there’s nothing else to see there right now, all other rooms are closed to the public.

              The louvre is amazing but also massive and overwhelming and would be tiring for a kid, I think (so much walking!), so you’d probably want to pick and choose carefully ahead of time whicb parts you want to see. The Orsay is more approachable and starts off with a big open room of sculptures flanked by rooms of paintings. Sculpture is perhaps a more accessible form of art for a child to interact with, and the side rooms of paintings are smaller and less overwhelming. There are more floors with lots more art – but you could easily stay on the first floor and have plenty to explore within the attention span of a typical 8 year old. The Rodin museum is smaller, less waiting to get in, and could be really fun if your kiddo likes sculptures; fewer paintings there however.

              So if you want to see one art museum, my recommendation is the Orsay, Rodin, or the Louvre but only with a strategic plan of attack.

              Lots of places have escargot – and they often have a menu in the window so you can check before you enter.

              I’ve been told it’s better to get your Eiffel Tower tickets ahead of time – you can reserve them for a specific time.

              Enjoy your trip!

        2. rupptopia*

          I’m no help with a vegan restaurant but I highly recommend a tour to get you to the top of the Eiffel Tower without a huge wait. My kids really liked the Fat Tire Eiffel tour. Their bike tour of Paris was really good but they do a few other tours of Paris as well. The Fat Tire guides are great and super knowledgeable.

          Unfortunately the dinner cruise I recommend (La Calife) does not offer a vegan option :(

            1. Flyleaf*

              If Eiffel Tower tickets are not available, your only option might be to get a tour. And tickets do sell out well in advance. We were looking about 6 weeks out, and couldn’t find any tickets through the Eiffel Tower ticket office, so we ended up with a tour. Cost was about $50/person more than the usual price, but it was our only option.

    2. Traffic_Spiral*

      You need a website for the food stuff. Go to TripAdvisor or Yelp to get an escargot place that’s in a location you like, at a price you like, with other things on the menu that you like. Also, you can search for vegan-friendly places. Personally, I’d say also get an Angelina’s hot chocolate – it’s really good.

      1. Loubelou*

        Seconding Angelina’s hot chocolate! I doubt they have a vegan one, but your son will love it. Make sure he also gets a crepe from a street vendor.

        For things to do, get the furniculaire up to the Sacre Coeur then head over to the Place du Tertre.
        If either of you are into reading, spend an hour or so getting lost in the Shakespeare bookshop. Then go wondering around the Latin quarter.

        Great list of vegan-friendly restaurants here: https://veggievisa.com/survive-vegan-paris-france/

        Do watch out for pickpockets in any busy, touristy areas. Don’t let anyone grab your hand and start making bracelets on you either as you’ll then have to pay for it.

        Source: I used to live there. Paris is amazing and well worth a trip!

        1. Lemonish*

          Thanks so much. I forgot all about Sacre Coeur! Will have to try to fit that in. (I misspoke in the original post – we are in on Thursday, home on Sunday.)

          1. Elizabeth*

            Sacre couer is lovely! Pack a picnic and enjoy eating outside the church with a view of the whole city. One of my favorite Paris things!!

    3. Not A Manager*

      You might take a city bus tour. That will give you a sense of the layout and what else might be interesting to him.

      I didn’t want to over-museum my kids, but I did want to get them into the habit that museums exist and can be interesting. I would try to find one museum that has one thing in it that interests him – arms and armor, or archaeology, or something he studied in school. The Pompidou is very cool looking and some kids like modern art; the Louvre is great if he studied some historical period and has a sense of the art history; there’s an impressive Army museum if he likes military history. The key with my kids was not much art, lots of museum cafe.

      1. Lemonish*

        A city bus is a great idea and a novelty for us – we live in a rural area.

        He’s great at kid-focused museums, less so at “regular” museums. I found something in the Lonely Planet guide book about a “scavenger hunt” in the Musee d’Orsay, so I am hoping that will hold his attention so that I can see the couple of things that I want to see.

    4. cat socks*

      Check out the blog by David Lebovitz. Lots of Paris recommendations there. And there have recently been some posts by another person about what to do in Paris with kids.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Is he into medieval castles? If yes, look into the Musée de Cluny/ the museum of the middle ages. It has more of the everyday tools of life than the Louvre, which focuses on fine art. And it’s in a cool 14th c building built on top of Roman ruins that are also open as part of the museum. It’s a reasonable walk between there and Notre Dame, which I think puts it near the boat tour you mentioned.

      1. Lemonish*

        He loves Horrible Histories, so a medieval museum might be up his alley. I will put it on the options for one of the afternoons! Thank you!

        1. Elizabeth*

          You may want to check Cluny out online first to see if it’s up his alley. It has the famous unicorn tapestries and some other cool medieval stuff, as well as underlying Roman ruins you can see, but it’s not the knights and armor kind of medieval like he may be picturing.

    6. MissDisplaced*

      I second a bus or water boat tour if you’ve only limited time in Paris. You get to see a lot of the city fairly quickly and it’s beautiful.

      The Louvre was a must for me, but it’s not a quick visit. If it’s warm, I recommend walking around that park area surrounding the Louvre and stopping for some crepes.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Another idea… give him Brian Selznick’s
      “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” to read before you go… and search out some of the spots that inspired the author.
      Someone plugged many into Google Maps.
      The Paris of Brian Selznick’s “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” – Google My …
      The author of “The Invention of Hugo Cabret,” has his own website, with a slideshow of various spots around Paris that inspired his book

      1. Lemonish*

        Holy cow – that’s a fantastic idea. I’ve ordered the book. I think this will help get him even more excited about the trip and planning for it, and possibly also widen his interests beyond snails and the Eiffel Tower.

    8. Two Dog Night*

      I think the escargot might be tough. I had a really hard time eating vegan at French restaurants–the ones that served traditional French food, that is. There are plenty of other options, but I’m not sure where else you’d find escargot.

      (It’s been 6 years since I’ve been to Paris; the vegan options might have drastically increased since then.)

        1. Equestrian Attorney*

          Also, there are more veggie/vegan options than there were a few years ago, but you have to seek them out – the average restaurant may not have a veggie option.
          David Leibovitz has great recommendations.

      1. Lemonish*

        Yeah, a lack of vegan options in general is what I’m concerned about! I have the Happy Cow app on my phone. I’m also a little nervous because I don’t speak French. I have another app on my phone that can translate images, so I should be able to take photos of menus and get an idea of what I might be able to eat. It’ll be an adventure. :)

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Remember the colonial connections –many options open up if you consider Moroccan, Lebonese, etc.

    9. AW*

      I loved the catacombs they were awesome, maybe a little bit spooky so check t out online before you go.

      Also the palace at Versailles is really cool, just check you get the right metro ticket so you don’t get fined €35 like I did.

      1. Lemonish*

        My husband and I went to Paris 12 years ago and I got stopped by a transit cop and couldn’t produce my ticket at first. It was a little unnerving.

        My kid is easily frightened, so the catacombs is probably not for him. I’d love to see it, but not this trip. :D

    10. Jules the 3rd*

      Went with my 9yo a couple of years ago. We had fun at the Catacombs, Jardin D’acclimatation and the Sewer museum. Skip Chateau Vincennes.
      – Catacombs: get there early early early, at least an hour before opening. We got there 10 minutes after opening and had a 4 hr wait.
      – Jardin D’acclimatation: 19th century amusement park built by Josephine. We loved the little boat river.
      – Sewer museum was about 30 – 40 minutes, almost no one else there.

      Watch carefully what’s open which days.
      Make sure you buy top of the Eiffel tower tickets ahead of time, it will save you a *lot* of line time.
      We used Google Maps, ‘Public Transit’ option, and getting everywhere was easy.
      My husband said L’As Du Fallafel was superb food. Not sure what oil they use (re: vegan)

      The escargot is tricky, because many of the brassieres change their menus often. It’s very hard to find one that you know will have escargot, and hard to find vegan ones. We ate escargot at a farmer’s market, got to watch it be cooked, so maybe Marché Couvert Beauvau, Marche Bastille, or Marché des Enfants Rouges, but no guarantees.


      Here’s a list of the places we checked out, food and attractions; my parents also went, they wanted to see all the art.

      Eiffel Tower, for buying ahead: https://www.toureiffel.paris/en

      Have a great time!!!!

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        My memory of the various eating places was that the traditional French ones (where they’d serve escargot) were *heavily* meat-centered, but I did a little googling.

        First hit was Escargot Montorgueil , not far from Notre Dame. No vegan entrees, not much protein, but a decent variety of vegetable appetizers / sides.

        Appetizer: COEUR D’ARTICHAUT
        Vinaigrette au moût de raisins et noisettes torréfiées (Artichoke heart w. grape & roast hazelnuts)

        Frites maison, salade verte, purée, pommes grenailles ou poêlée de légumes, risotto
        (french fries, salad, mashed potatoes, pan fried potatoes, pan fried veg, risotto)

        Alternately: Le Maison de Escargot – also downtown
        All Snails, Nothing But Snails. He could pick up some here, you could get food elsewhere. Not sure if he’s looking for the ‘Fine French Dining’ experience, or just want to Eat Snails; this would be just for Eat Snails.

        1. Lemonish*

          Thank you so much for the menu translation! I think he’d love Escargot Montorgueil – that snail on the marquee will definitely capture his imagination. :)

        2. Lemonish*

          Thank you again – I really appreciate the advice. And I love the Fine French Dining experience vs Eat Snails. I will present him the choice exactly that way. :D

      2. HQB*

        You can buy tickets in advance for the catacombs and then skip the lines. It is more expensive, but worth it to avoid the lines.

        1. CatsAway*

          Yes, I paid the extra ~5/6 euro for the reserved ticket and it was certainly worth it to skip a 4 hour wait!

      3. Lemonish*

        Thank you so much for all the thoughtful and detailed advice! I will definitely buy the tickets ahead of time.

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I had a treat this morning…a croissant from a local bakery here in the states. Tasty but not as amazing as the croissants I had in France. They’re so not vegan and so not your thing, but consider getting a《croissant au beurre》for your son.

    12. spock*

      You can buy frozen snails to cook if you’ll have access to a kitchen, that way everyone can eat what they want. We got some at Picard (the whole store is basically freezer aisles), I imagine regular supermarkets of a certain size might stock them as well.

      1. Lemonish*

        We’re staying at a hotel this time, but I will file this information away for the future! I’d not have thought of it.

    13. USian in FR*

      Try Bouillon Pigalle or Bouillon Chartier for snails! They have them year round and there are starters that are vegan (I think – just make sure there isn’t any hidden mayo) – incredibly reasonable prices and pretty good typical French food. You’ll have to queue for a table ;)

  6. Don’t get salty*

    I consider myself a pretty clean person but not too long ago, while I was sleeping, I heard a rustling in my bedroom that woke me up. I turned on my bedroom light and I saw the biggest cockroach I’ve ever seen in my life. It must have been 2-2.5 inches. I could not sleep for the rest of the night. I actually sat in my living room chair for the night. Seeing roaches (even one) gives me the utter creeps and I start questioning everything. To this day, I’ve been bristling at the slightest sound even though I already vacuumed every inch of my place and washed everything. I might need therapy.

    1. Anonymouse for this*

      Yikes – that takes me back to my first tiny studio apt in Manhattan. I felt something on my foot and looked down and it was one of two cockroaches scuttling across the wooden floor. I lived in Tudor City so the thick walls were really good at soundproofing otherwise I would have scared the neighbours given how loud I screamed and jumped on my sofa to get away from it. Gave myself an asthma attack spraying raid all over the place.

    2. Bibliovore*

      oy. yes. My apartment in Brooklyn had the occasional “water bug” the euphemism for the biggest cockroach you ever saw, I am sure was sentient. I was a “neat freak” Lots of Combat discs that hold poison that they take back home to kill their whole families helped me sleep at night.

    3. Alternative Person*

      I feel your pain. I caught one sneaking in through the bathroom window a week or so ago. Sprayed it with the bug spray, sent it down the drain, threw some bleach down the drain, nearly choked on the lingering bug spray, barricaded the window with the anti-roach black plastic bubble things.

      Unfortunately, they’re a hazard of where I live. No matter what I do, I always see one or two at season change, so I go on an extra double dog clean and put out fresh plastic bubble things.

    4. PB*

      I understand. I used to live in one of the ten most roach-infested cities in the US. They were just kind of constant. If you walked outside in the summer and shone a flashlight on the pavement, you’d see dozens of them running around. It was awful. Getting them in the house was just inevitable, no matter how clean you kept it (although a dirty home would attract more, of course).

      My best recommendation is bait traps. They are soooo effective.

      Good luck. I hate roaches so much. I used to have panic attacks when one got in my apartment. Fingers crossed this was a one-time thing!

      1. Don’t get salty*

        I’ve had maybe one bug appear every year, but this was definitely the biggest. I do get spiders and some silverfish occasionally. I don’t care about those.

    5. Unemployed in Greenland*

      To reassure you: I think it’s a smaller, German cockroaches that are the sign of food or rubbish out. In my experience in a big metro area, the big water bug ones usually come up through drains, often with a change in the weather. So it doesn’t have much to do with your cleansliness! More to do with the barometer, water level, humidity or lack thereof, etc.

      Still, thwacking the bastards with a shoe is always an excellent policy. I miss my cat! Who, although extremely indolent, would rain down death on water bugs in 5 seconds or less.

        1. All Hail Queen Sally*

          My cat would bring LIVE ones to me. In bed. At night. In the dark. I would wake up to my cat pouncing and bouncing across the bed. I became very proficient at simultaneously leaping from the bed, turning on the light, putting on my glasses, and flinging the sheets across the room.

      1. Merci Dee*

        Yep. The smaller, reddish cockroaches are more prevalent in places where food or garbage is accessible. The huge honking 2 to 3 inch critters are usually coming in looking for water if it’s been dry, or getting away from too much water if it’s been unusually wet. And it’s so much fun when they decide to fly at your face when you try to kill them!!!

        Thankfully, I have a cat that took his pine roach disposal duties seriously back when we lived in the old rental house. We had so many trees in the back yard that we couldn’t grow any grass, and we were always guaranteed to get a bug in once or twice a week. Usually, I’d wake up in the morning and find a little pile of wing fragments and a couple of left-over legs from his midnight snacks. I’d sweep away the leavings and go on with my day.

          1. Merci Dee*

            Heh heh. Ferrets consider lots of things to be fine snacks. Fingers, noses, toes. Pretty much anything that fits into their little mouths. But they’re so adorable and have the sweetest faces.

          1. Cheeseburger mechanic*

            We have them where I work. If it helps,they don’t seem to fly very well. They seem a bit clumsy and I don’t recall seeing one ever gain altitude. But they do sound like a B-17 doing a flyby when they try.

    6. cat socks*

      Oh my goodness, that sounds awful. Most bugs don’t bother me, but something about cockroaches just freaks me out. I used to visit family in India and I remember having to use the bathroom at night. I would turn on the light and see all these tiny cockroaches scuttle away to hide.

    7. KR*

      If you can swing the cost I highly recommend having Orkin or another pest control company come out and spray a “barrier” around the outsIde and inside of your home. I live in housing that frequently gets roaches no matter how clean, on the patio and inside. I get everything sprayed once a month and it keeps them mostly at bay, and if you do find them they’re already dead.

    8. bunniferous*

      Palmetto bugs are what we called those in Florida. Check outside around your house and get rid of any pine straw around your foundation. You can also get bait traps for them.

      Decades ago I rented a room from a lady so clean you could have eaten directly off her bathroom floor. She still got the occasional palmetto bug. It is what it is.

      1. LilySparrow*

        Yup. They are wildlife that come in mostly during spring and fall. They can squeeze through impossibly small cracks.

        Spraying the perimeter, outside windowframes & doorframes is the best way to prevent them.

    9. Filosofickle*

      I once came into the kitchen and saw a rat on the counter. He looked me dead in the eye, then ran. I didn’t sleep well for a long time. I considered burning the place down. Seemed like a reasonable response.

      1. Bibliovore*

        I wasn’t going to say anything but yes. We had just moved into our Brooklyn apt a week or so before. I am watching TV from the couch. A RAT walks across the living room!! yes a Rat. It was a rat. That was all my brain could do. A rat! a rat!, a rat! I couldn’t leave- there were rats in my apartment! I couldn’t stay. There were rats in my apartment! Called my therapist. (who I hadn’t spoken to in years) She told me to take a four year old valium and call the exterminator. Who did confirm it was a rat. A stupid young one who didn’t know better to hug the wall. He patched every hole, left bait around the building and left traps. Yes, traveling Max (that is what I named the rat because I wanted to believe there was only one) died that night. Called a friend whose dad was a park ranger, that made him qualified to take the rat away.

    10. CoffeeforLife*

      I’m from Hawaii and those things get enormous. I have a phobia and.just.cannot. I lived in a place right on the beach that was infested. My showers were bare minimum, every towel was inspected before use (there’s a reason), and mosquito netting went up the first night. Thank goodness I wasn’t there long, pretty sure I had elevated blood pressure and continuous anxiety.

      1. All Hail Queen Sally*

        Yes. I lived in Mississippi years ago and found out the hard way exactly why you check both sides of your towel before using.

    11. AvonLady Barksdale*

      We used to live in an old house in the Southeast and got palmetto bugs. Usually one or two at a time. I hate them, but they were just part of life. That doesn’t make them fun, though. One night I woke up because one of the little bastards crawled over me in bed and made its way to a paper bag full of photos and I heard it rustling around. Shudder.

      It’s the little ones that show up when you’re not clean. The big ones are just looking for warmth.

    12. Elizabeth West*

      This time of year, critters are coming inside. A few weeks ago, I was getting ready for bed and flipped back the covers and a spider the size of a quarter bolted for cover. I grabbed a tissue and that was it for him. When I moved my bedroom furniture around, I pushed the bed away from the window so if one sneaks in through a crack, it’ll just fall to the floor instead.

      I will rescue them from the tub with a cup and put them outside, but if they’re in my bed, it’s war.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Ugh. My daughter has a deathly fear of spiders. I don’t love them, but they don’t really bother me. Now MICE!!!! And she told me she has a mouse infestation. And she wants me to come stay with her boys for a few days while she goes to a conference. Ummm I don’t think so unless she is completely MOUSE FREE. I would just have a heart attack if I saw one.
        She mentioned getting a cat. I told her that’s not a bad idea, but then they want to bring you “gifts.” My husband had to come rescue me from the top of the kitchen counter or the kitchen table when our cat would bring me presents. (I don’t know how I managed to vault that kitchen counter. On a normal day I couldn’t have done that to save my life.) We no longer have a cat.

    13. blackcat*

      One time, in college, I got out of the shower and wrapped my towel around me.
      And I felt crawling.
      There was a massive cockroach ON MY STOMACH.
      I screamed bloody murder.
      Cue people running to the rescue, like an entire dorm worth of people.
      Bless my roommate who realized other people were coming and got me her (clean) towel.

    14. Young coworker*

      Same thing happened to me. Be careful with water spills overnight, don’t give the cockroach anything to drink.
      I admit I cried hysterically not knowing whether that horrifically fast creature was going to pop out at me at any corner.
      I only found it at 1am the next night, crawling up the wall. Throwing a shoe or catching it would have been impossible at its speed. Highly recommend raid spray.

    15. CB*

      I was once laying in bed in the morning, delaying getting up. I felt something on my neck and figured it was just the fan blowing air. Nope, it was a cockroach that then proceeded to walk across my neck and face. Luckily, as soon as it hit the floor, my cat killed it.

      That was three months ago and I still regularly think about that. *shudders*

  7. Savannah*

    How do you make sleeping on your stomach better for your neck and back?

    For background: I’ve been a stomach-sleeper since I remember. I usually have my hands or lower arm under my pelvis while falling asleep. This way my lower back is lifted up just enough to not feel any strain. However, in our new place the mattress is not great (no way of changing it for now). I’ve been reading online about all sorts of pillows but it always seems to be an expert’s recommendatiom without user feedback.

    1. Anonymouse for this*

      Not sure about pillows but a cheap fix for the bed is an egg crate mattress topper – should be able to get something under 50 bucks

    2. A former stomach sleeper*

      Honestly, you dont. Train yourself to sleep on your back. It’s hard at first but worth it. I found a weighted blanket really helps with feeling cozy – something I missed from sleeping on my stomach.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, my chiro nagged me into stopping. I sleep the best on my stomach so this was not fun. My spine was curving the wrong way from stomach sleeping. It probably took me a year to actually break the habit.

      2. Filosofickle*

        I was side sleeper and after back surgery I learned to sleep on my back. It can be done! A low wedge helps me, it takes the pressure off my lumbar and encourages me to stay on my back. (I don’t really need the wedge anymore, but it cures my snoring so I still use it for my partner.)

      3. Annonno Today*

        Yes, I had to train myself and it wasn’t as tough as I thought (this was 20+ years ago, but I was 35 or so at the time, so side sleeping was ingrained).

        I always have a firm foam pillow under my knees, and if I do end up on my side, the pillow is kept between them; helps cushion the ol’ knees as well.

    3. fposte*

      I’m a stomach sleeper with a bad back. Having a good mattress makes a huge difference, so I really would prioritize changing yours as soon as you can. However, I’ve also used a memory foam pillow under my pelvis (just a basic rectangular one, not one with the cervical curve) or a side pillow of any kind for me to put a knee up on–it’s still stomach-sleeping enough for me to get to sleep but it tips the lower spine enough that gravity isn’t pulling it down from the front.

    4. Alex*

      Oh, this is me.

      I find putting small pillow under my hips, or one pillow to each side, sort of propping up each corner of my pelvis bone, helps a lot.

      Also, using no pillow for your head or just a very thin pillow there, or tucking the pillow more under my chest/neck instead of under my head.

      I don’t think there is any magic pillow you need to buy–it’s what you do with them that counts!

      Yes, watching me arrange my pillows as I’m trying to go to sleep is probably hilarious. They are everywhere but under my head.

    5. Sleepless*

      I was always a stomach sleeper but I had to learn to sleep on my side when I was pregnant. I took a king size pillow and put it under my belly and between my knees. 20 years later I’m still sleeping that way.

    1. Lemonish*

      I have a cover on it so I wipe it all down with an antiseptic wipe and then dry the screen.

    2. Auntie Social*

      Alcohol wipes–the ones I use for my glasses. I buy a big box at Costco so they’re by each phone, a couple in my purse, etc.

      1. ..Kat..*

        Make sure that the wipes are 61% or more alcohol – that is the strength needed to kill germs. Also, after wiping down your phone, let it air dry (I.e., don’t wipe the phone dry). A lot of the germ killing happens during the drying phase.

        If you have been around people with gastrointestinal problems (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea), the alcohol wipes won’t kill some of these types of germs. You will need bleach wipes for that. Norovirus is one of these GI bugs.

        Happy disinfecting!

      2. Jdc*

        Don’t use alcohol wipes if you have a green protector. Learned that the hard way.

        They make phone wipes that won’t damage anything. I have a spray that’s for all electronics like my laptop, iPad and phone.

        1. PhyllisB*

          Whatever you do, DON’T use nail polish remover!! I know that doesn’t sanitize, but my granddaughter spilled nail polish on my phone case and that’s what I used. The phone was protected, but case was ruined. $50.00 down the drain.

    3. Rebecca*

      I use a Clorox wipe on it, so when I do a quick touch up in the bathroom, I use the wipe first on my phone, then on the sink.

      1. FreyaG*

        Spray it with 70% ethanol, wipe it with a paper towel wetted with 70% to make sure everything is covered, then allow it to air dry. If it’s been out in the lab- Wipe with Sani-cloth and allow it to have the contact time, then I still usually wipe it down with 70% ETOH.
        (My phone is in a waterproof case to make cleaning easy)

    4. Beatrice*

      I remove the case, and wipe the phone and case components down with cotton balls soaked in rubbing alcohol. My case consists of a hard plastic part and a rubbery part that come apart from each other.

    5. terrible username*

      We have a device called a ‘phonesoap.’ Pop it in there for about five minutes and it sanitizes it using a UV light.

      PSA on the alcohol/spray disinfectant methods: they can, over time, cause your touchscreen to stop working. Paper towels also run the risk of scratching the screen. (Not just touchscreens either – don’t use paper towels on TVs, computer monitors, glasses, etc.)

    6. Ada*

      To all the people wiping their phones with alcohol – it’s not an effective disinfectant for objects (though it works ok for skin). On hard surfaces it evaporates too quickly to get adequate contact time to kill the germs.

      Source: the medical director of the hospital where I work, during our training on proper disinfection.

  8. Amethyst*

    The latter half of my week was just awful. Wednesday afternoon I got back from work and an errand to a cat whose pica got triggered and found multiple vomit spots under my bed while chasing her around the house because she’d been *spectacularly* naughty while I’d been gone. Unbeknownst to me, she’d been using it for the last few months to hide her work.

    Thursday morning I found more vomit by the same cat all over my living room and bathroom floors, making me so late to work I missed my bus in and I had to take an Uber and swing by McDonald’s for breakfast. Made it in two minutes late (7:02)…and all of our systems were down and had been since 6. And they kept going down all day. We had no phones and half of us had no email or printer use. After I decided Friday HAD to be a rockstar after such a shitty Thursday, I woke up to find a dead mouse on my living room floor and blood on my kitchen floor where my cats must’ve nabbed it. *shudder*

    *sigh* I’m REALLY hoping everything’s all settled now. (Sick cat is fine, btw. She’s my vomit cat so she does this a lot.)

    1. Amethyst*

      Aaaaaaaaaaand I just realized I mentioned work in the non-work thread. Sorry, Alison. Should I move this to the work thread?

      1. Myrin*

        It’s usually completely fine to mention work in the weekend thread! It’s just that we shouldn’t ask questions or talk about situations that focus entirely on work.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      To paraphrase Jason Mendoza, when he has a problem, he throws a molatov cocktail at it. Right away, he has a different problem.

      1. Gingerblue*

        After all, he came up with hundreds of plans in his life, and only one of them got him killed.

    3. Pipe Organ Guy*

      We have a cat who is a scavenger. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve caught her on the counter just when we’re having dinner; she’s checking out the prep zone for any goodies (that might not be very good for her). Her response? She yells at me, jumps down, and prances away, tail up. She also fairly often seems to need to get rid of a hairball–sometimes on the Persian rug, sometimes on the wood laminate, sometimes on ceramic tile (easiest to deal with), sometimes on the marble in the entryway and kitchen (have to get it right away before it etches the stone).

      We once had a cat whose specialty was destroying bromeliads. It wouldn’t be long, though, before we would see the evidence. He was a character.

      1. PharmaCat*

        We put our vomit cat in a large dog crate at night with litterbox. Somehow it’s easier to deal with vomit in a predictable place, rather than dealing with morning surprises. Daytime isn’t as bad for her.

    4. Arts Akimbo*

      I had a vomit cat! He always chose to vomit on our Persian rugs, right at the fringes where it would be the MOST difficult to clean up. Once, I caught him doing the pre-vomit hacking noise in our kitchen, on the linoleum, and we thought for a brief, shining moment he would do it in an easy-to-clean place!… But no! He held it in and ran right for the Persian rug.

      Nearest I could figure the cat logic, maybe he didn’t want to spew all over our nice, smooth floor, and was going for the surface in our house that felt most like grass. …Thanks?…

    5. cat lady*

      I have a cat with pica. We put him on prozac in June and it has been a life saver, he isn’t 100% cured but I would say 90% of the way there.

  9. ..Kat..*

    Hi y’all! I am looking for a substitute for my Swiffer Wetjet. The last two I have owned started leaking. Can anyone recommend a similar product for cleaning my floors that won’t break and start leaking?


    1. Agnodike*

      I use a mop with a built in wringer in the bucket and a head made of strips of textured microfibre for extra scrubbing power. Works great! I have a small space so it’s a small bucket; it’s “footprint” isn’t much bigger than a Swiffer.

      1. Luisa*

        I have a Libman WonderMop, which has a wringer mechanism (you twist it to wring it out), plus a bucket I got at Dollar Tree. I got a second mop head so I can use a new one for a new room (I usually mop two rooms in a cleaning session), and so far they’ve held up well!

    2. HamlindigoBlue*

      I replaced my Swiffer WetJet with a Libman Freedom Spray Mop. You can use any cleaner of your choice, and the mop pads are washable. AmazonBasics has a version of this spray mop too.

    3. Ranon*

      Damp washcloth (water + dishsoap) stuck on a normal dry Swiffer head with the occasional rinse and wring as needed is the closest direct substitute I use. You can also fill a spray bottle with cleaner (in my case water + dish soap usually) with the above for sticky spots that need to soak a bit.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        That’s what I do – use my own spray bottle of cleaner (diluted Simple Green) to spray the floor, then use the Swiffer out of convenience.

    4. Portia*

      I really like my steam mop. I never felt like the Swiffer got the floor very clean – it felt like I was just smearing the dirt around. The steam mop (I got mine from target – I think it’s the shark brand) actually feels like it’s sanitizing the floor – plus, I like that the pads are washable so you don’t have to keep buying things for it.

      1. TimeTravelR*

        I have the shark too. I like it better than a Swiffer. I’ve had mine for about 10 years and it’s still working, so worth the extra cost, I think.

      2. pentamom*

        There are some types of flooring you’re not supposed to use steam on, though, because it could damage the flooring or the adhesive. Be sure to Google that. I do love my steam mop, though.

      3. Alexandra Lynch*

        I use a steam mop too. I have cats, and cats being cats, they WILL walk on the floor as soon as you’ve gone over it, and with the steam mop I know they aren’t getting anything toxic on their paws.

    5. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I have an OXO Good Grips spray mop and I love it. It has washable microfiber pad and a bottle that you can fill with water or cleaner. I bought a couple of extra bottles so I have one for each for kitchen and bath cleaner in addition to one for water. I’ve never had one leak, and the bottles are not flimsy. I also bought additional microfiber pads. I love it.

    6. Lupin Lady*

      I like my vileda spray mist, and I’ve had it for a few years. It came with 2 of head covers, and they’re easily machine washable.

    7. noahwynn*

      I use a Bona mop with the microfiber pads you can throw in the washer and just buy the sprays. Most of my house is hardwood, the bathroom is tile. I use the Bona on the tile most of the time, but eventually I have to get on my hands and knees and scrub to get the grout lines super clean.

    8. Sara(h)*

      I love my Bona floor cleaner — I use the one made for laminate flooring, but it also works great on the ceramic tiles in my kitchen and bathroom.

  10. FD*

    Has anyone gotten a Brooklyn Bedding mattress? I’m seriously considering getting one and I’ve heard good things, but it’s also hard to tell because mattress reviews are so insanely corrupt.

    1. CC*

      Can I add on & ask if anyone has gotten a nectar mattress & how you like it? I have been looking at buying one. I found a store that has one on display that I want to go sit & lay on first just to make sure it is not an immediate no for me (even though it is returnable) because returning a mattress is a lot more inconvenient than returning almost anything else!

    2. Wordnerd*

      We ordered a Brooklyn Bedding mattress with our wedding money because my husband really wanted a king. We’ve had it since December-ish and we’re still happy with it. We got the firmest, and then I think they gave us a foam topper for free (I think to try to dissuade us from wanting to return it for the next softer level). It’s definitely comfortable for a firm mattress? I feel like I don’t have anything super useful to tell you, but I couldn’t pass up a question that I did actually have experience with!

    3. Can I get a Wahoo?*

      Yes!! I’ve had mine for two years now and love it. I chose them because I read they were firmer than the other online mattresses and it’s the perfect firmness for me

    4. Reba*

      Look on the Mattress Underground forums for good information about the various manufacturers and options. They also offer a small discount for forum users with several manufacturers.

    5. Courageous cat*

      I do, I have the soft one, and it’s still not soft enough for me – but very comfortable regardless. I’ve had many compliments on its comfort.

    6. Handy Nickname*

      Two things I do:

      1) gargle salt water

      2) Kemp’s rainbow sherbet (doesn’t help long term but it feels SO GOOD).

    7. Lucette Kensack*

      I have a Brooklyn Bedding mattress. I like it, but don’t love it. Next time I get a mattress I’m going to shell out for a high-end innerspring + pillowtop/etc. mattress.

      The quality and finishings on the mattress are awesome. It’s soft (to the touch, as well as on the soft-to-firm scale) and cozy and a massive upgrade from my old plain, cheap innerspring.

      But it has two big flaws:

      1) It’s REALLY soft, and gets softer all the time. My 25 pound dog sinks into it by more than an inch. I like it, honestly, but it’s kind of a pain — you sink so far into it it can be hard to roll over, so I wake up whenever I need to make adjustments in the night. If I bought one again I would definitely get the “firm” one (we got medium).

      2) There is no integrity to the sides, so when you sit on it you squish down the sides of the mattress — or at night, if you roll too close to the edge it sort of slopes down. This isn’t inherently bad, it’s just bothersome to me.

  11. Dry mouth remedies?*

    I have a cold, and everything is as annoying as expected: runny nose, sneezes and fever. But what’s driving me batty is that I woke up with a dry mouth today. My tongue is swollen and it feels like someone’s rubbed sandpaper on the roof of my mouth. Even when I have water in my mouth, it’s not soothing. Help!

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Do you have any antiseptic mouthwash? In the UK it would be Listerine; I’m not sure about brands elsewhere. They can be very refreshing for dry mouths and can also help fight the germs in the throat if you gargle.

      Get well soon.

    2. Snuck*

      Have you tried Betadine Sore Throat/ an iodine gargle?

      I find when I’m brewing a ear/nose/throat concoction of plague this really knocks it back and often stops it in it’s tracks.

      I also swear by the sinus saline washes… years ago I thought “how weird/gross” but… after a couple of years of absolutely horrid sinus colds… I gave in… and it has been amazingly effective.

      It seems hitting the germs at the source (throat gargle or sinus wash) really helps…

    3. Lena Clare*

      Gargle with boiled, cooled salt water frequently.

      Drink plenty of water. I like fizzy water for this with lots of ice because it soothes my throat but tap water is lovely too.

      If you eat honey, a spoonful now and then is very nice especially in a lemon tea.

      1. Filosofickle*

        Salt water can really help! It pulls water out and reduces swelling in tongue/glands.

        What’s the reason for boiling? I just mix warm water with salt.

        1. Lena Clare*

          To ‘saintise’ the water! I don’t do it to drink it; it’s just a tip I got from a friend of mine who had cancer and a compromised immune system, and whose oncologist told her to boil the water first.

          1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            I think you can get more salt in it the hotter it is, too – I was advised to dissolve the salt in boiling water then add cold until it was only just cool enough.

    4. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      I use a xylitol spray for dry mouth, which the drugstore stocks near mouthwash and toothpaste. The brand name is Biotene; I prefer the generic version sold at CVS and Bartell’s Drugs, because they don’t taste as strongly of mint (and are slightly cheaper) but the active ingredients are the same.

      1. Corky's Wife Bonnie*

        I second the Biotene or generic. I get dry mouth a lot in the cooler months (forced air heat ugh] so I use that once before bed and sometimes in the middle of the night if I wake up. I also sing so I use it right before a performance in lieu of drinking water so I don’t have to pee during a concert.

    5. German Girl*

      You can get a spray that you can spray at the back of your throat/roof of your mouth/wherever you need it most. It does wonders for me. The name is Flurbiprofen around here and it’s essentially ibuprofen in sprayable form.

    6. Not A Manager*

      Try mixing fresh lemon juice and honey into a loose paste, and then suck on small spoonfuls of it.

      If that’s too strong-tasting for you, put the same ingredients into hot water, with a pinch of salt. Make it as strong with the lemon and honey as is reasonable for you.

    7. Wishing You Well*

      Try a salt water rinse. It works wonders for sore throats, so it might work for dry mouth.
      Hope you feel better soon!

    8. Chaordic One*

      Often water just isn’t going to cut it. You might try an herbal tea or Gatorade. My favorite herbal tea for this situation is one called “Throat Coat” made by “Traditional Medicinals” which I find in a lot of the local grocery stores including Kroeger. If you want to try Gatorade, you might consider putting a small glass of it in the microwave and warming it before you gargle with it and drink it. (I nuke mine for 1 minute and 30 seconds on “high,” but of course this will vary depending on your individual microwave.)

  12. Anonymous Today*

    So yesterday I booked a double-length doctor’s appointment and initiated a referral back to psych. It has been and will continue to be a tough road, and the gate into psych is strongly defended, but I have to take it.

    Anyway I’m proud of myself and although it made yesterday really tiresome and I’m still reeling, I’m still alive.

    1. fposte*

      Good job! It is super-frustrating that there are so many barriers, but it sounds like you’re negotiating them.

    2. NoLongerYoung*

      You Go! I suspect this is too late for you to see, but am glad you are taking control and pushing forward!

  13. SoAnon02*

    Anyone here a breast cancer survivor? Any good websites for psych help or coping help? Recently diagnosed and next week get more tests, looks like stage 1. I am 50. Also any good recipes to share for fighting nausea if I have to have chemo?

    1. Asenath*

      Sorry I didn’t use any websites for that, although I obsessively looked up sites describing types and stages and the typical treatments – sticking to the ones from governments health departments or major hospitals or charities. I didn’t have to have chemo – sometimes if it’s caught early and genetic and hormone tests show it’s not extremely aggressive, oncologists do lumpectomy, radiation and (if useful) the anti-hormone pills and skip the chemo. I found the staff at my local cancer centre extremely kind and helpful with information about handling radiation and possible skin damage and so on. They were also very nice when something showed up in my good breast shortly after treatment – it turned out to be nothing, but as you can imagine, I panicked!!

    2. tab*

      Yes, I loved breastcancer dot org. If you’re over 50 and stage 1, you may not have to go through chemo. I didn’t (despite being stage 2 and having two lymph nodes with tumors), and now 7 years later still no evidence of cancer.

      1. BC646*

        I also loved breastcancer dot org. One thing to remember is that folks who have finished treatment without major issues don’t always stick around, so some topics can be a bit heavier on doom and gloom than reality is for most.

        No advice on chemo—I did/am doing lumpectomy/radiation/Tamoxifen with minimal side effects.

    3. Kuododi*

      Hopefully this post will go through. (Been having technical issues.) I’m in process of dealing with the same issues. I was diagnosed with breast cancer and lung cancer the week of 4th of July. They got all the lung cancer with the biopsy and the breast cancer is stage II. My lumpectomy was about a month ago so I’m still in recovery mode

      Thankfully I was already working with a private practice counselor on unrelated issues so when the dx came in, we were able to start addressing those concerns right away. I also have been working out with the LiveStrong program through my local Y. Something else which might be a help is if you have access to a Gilda’s House in your area. (Free education and support services for cancer survivors.).

      As far as chemo nausea is concerned. I can’t give medical advice. On a personal note I have been taking an anti nausea medicine called Ondansetron-(generic Zofran). It was originally developed as a support for chemo patients as well as folks who are pregnant and battling that turbo charged morning sickness. I’ve been taking it for about a year for chronic nausea and vomiting. It’s certainly worth a conversation with your MD/DO if and when chemo becomes a concern.

      Best wishes. I’m here most weekends so feel free to touch base if I can help with information.

      1. Autumn*

        I took Zofran too, after I experienced nausea from the first chemo treatment (I’m 18 years out from a 3b diagnosis). It fixed it for me, though it did give me headaches, but I felt like they were worth not having the nausea. I’m sorry you’re both going through it. I had a counselor too, which helped, but I also tried to get massages when I could, just non-medical ones avoiding all the compromised areas, because I didn’t have a partner at the time and I didn’t want to feel like everyone who touched me was hurting me. Intellectually you know they are doing it to save your life, but the body just knows the pain.

    4. Red Sky*

      The American Cancer Society has ‘Reach to Recovery’ a program where they’ll match you with a breast cancer survivor who had a similar diagnosis for support. My mother-in-law found it very helpful at the beginning of her diagnosis and treatment. They also have a 24 hr cancer helpline 800.227.2345 if you have questions about pretty much anything cancer related (screening, diagnosis, treatment options, resources and programs for cancer patients etc)

      1. OperaArt*

        Yes! I forgot about that. My match was very helpful and calm. It was good to talk with someone who was 3 years past what I wad experiencing.

    5. OperaArt*

      I was diagnosed more than 2 years ago, at age 59, with Stage 1 IDC. I learned to only use the websites belonging to reputable organizations. The free-for-all support groups were too much for me to handle at that time—the people who were doing well tended not to post, so the level of fear and anguish in the existing posts were understandably very high. I went back later when I wasn’t so terrified myself and answered a few questions.

      For me, no chemo, just a lumpectomy and two lymph nodes removed. Then radiation. I ultimately decided against the anti-hormone therapy since statistically the odds of recurrence are already very low, and the therapy only made the odds slightly better—not worth the side effects.

    6. Ange*

      Diagnosed 2 years ago, er+, stage 2/3, so I had mastectomy, chemo, radiotherapy and hormone therapy. I didn’t have any nausea on the chemo,. but I was on steroids plus 3 different anti-nausea meds. Advice that I got for nausea was ginger tea/ginger ale, and to just eat whatever you could manage and never mind about the nutritional value of it. The biggest problem I had related to food was having a terrible taste in my mouth for about 6-8 months, which is apparently common for the chemo I was on.

      Hope your treatment goes well.

    7. Farm Girl*

      Living Beyond Breast Cancer (lbbc dot .org) is a great resource for breast cancer survivors. Education, phone dial in seminars, lot of resources, even post recovery. Highly recommended.

      Wishing you all the best…

    8. Anonymatic YoYo*

      I’m also currently in the bc diagnostic tour from hell – its a super cool ride with all sorts of claustrophobic tunnels, scary noises, needles, blood, and demon doctors who just give you bad news week..after week…after week. So apropos for October!

      I found breastcancer.org as the best site with good information and a TON of help and information on all sorts of topics. Seriously, I have learned more in the last three weeks there than I have in all the pamphlets they keep sending home with me. Those ladies have chemo nausea and side effects NAILED – lots of pro tips. And when you have a major freakout or meltdown, as I did last night, I was able to post a thread and someone popped up in the hour who was able to help me understand my path report and talk me off the ledge. I also keep away from Googling unless its for a medical term, and I haven’t looked for any data on expectations of longevity. I don’t want to know but will take whatever I can get.

      Im only 42 and I’ve yet to have anything break my way. I get the pleasure of the whole nine yards and probably lifetime management. It sucks. It can’t be anything other than suck. No one has died of cancer in my family in at least four generations, except for my maternal grandfather and that was melanoma. Just got caught on the wrong side of the statistics.

      My cancer treatment hospital has special sessions (pre-booked for some) with psychologists as well as meditation classes and tai chi, etc. so that could potentially be a resource if you get to that point. I think you can also ask your doctor for an anti-anxiety scrip if you need it. I haven’t yet but this week I need to start telling work and get my final treatment plan (and clips put in, etc). Might be time to break out the leftover valium from my herniated disc issue from three years ago.

      Don’t be afraid to ask for the help if you need it – this is your time to take care of you. Whatever you need to get through, because that is the only way out.

    9. Breast Solidarity*

      On cycle 5 of chemo for HER2+ breast cancer. They are calling it early stage but since HER2+ went straight to chemo without official staging. I am taking zofran and compazine as needed for nausea, as well as using sea-bands and getting acupuncture. Chemo side effects suck, but I am glad to be getting it! Oh, and i use Reed;s Ginger chews. I haven’t found a ginger ale that has been palatable during this. There is also increasing evidence that exercising through chemo helps minimize side effects.

      As hard as it is, I keep telling myself “don’t borrow trouble” But the mind goes to dark places. I do finally have an appointment with a therapist scheduled. Unfortunately my cancer center has all sorts of support groups and classes, but they are all in the middle of the work day, and I need to keep working as much as possible (I carry the insurance for my family plus my out-of-pocket for the year is high). But if it is stage one, unless it is HER2 (less than 20%) it is unlikely you will need chemo.

    10. edj3*

      Hi SoAnon02,
      I was dx’d in April this year. I’ve found the breastcancer.org site invaluable–great information about all things related to the types of breast cancer, various treatments, breaking research, plus the forums are helpful in feeling less alone. I’m over there as edj3 also.

      You’re in the hard stage IMO right now, waiting for the full dx (which doesn’t really happen until after whatever surgery you end up having, need the pathology report from that). So be kind to yourself.

  14. Anononon*

    I posted maybe a month ago about my partners depression and how he was really apprehensive about going to the doctors. Update is that he went of his own accord and has started a course of anti-depressants. He also had an assessment appointment with a mental health nurse and has (either at their suggestion or of his own volition not sure) started using a meditation app. It’s very early days but I am really glad that a) we can talk about it and b) he seems to be proactively trying to get better which I was think from my other friends who have struggled with depression is half the battle. Many thanks to everyone who suggested resources previously.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      This is is a big turn around for him. I am really impressed as this stuff is just so hard. Good for him and good for you!

    2. Parenthetically*

      This is great, and yes I’d say starting down the road is half the battle FOR SURE. Inertia is a major symptom for many depression sufferers and the fact that he was motivated to overcome that and get some genuine health is AWESOME. Antidepressants + checkins with health professionals + meditation + talking about it? This is all really awesome stuff. Best wishes to you both!

    3. The Ginger Ginger*

      I’m sure you both have been told this, but just as an encouragement to stick with it – It really does take time for the anti-depressants to kick in. I started taking them over the summer after a major down swing, and it was 3-4 weeks to start feeling any relief, and a full 6-8 before I felt really evened out. BEST THING I EVER DID. And in fact the doctors were very encouraging when I described the timeline, because immediate relief (with the type of drug I’m on) is usually a placebo effect.

      So all that to say, stick with it even if it doesn’t feel like it’s working. Hang in there and give it time to worth. It was so, so worth it for me.

        1. The Ginger Ginger*

          For the time of drug they put me on, yes. I mean, there are fast acters out there like xanax, but those are really emotional suppressants, in my experience. If you’re having a bad go, they’re definitely valuable, and I definitely take them if I’m having an acute episode. But it’s like, a hammer to the head or putting a lid on a burning pan. You don’t feel awful because you don’t feel much of anything. Which to be clear, HAS IT’S PLACE FOR SURE YAY XANAX. The anti-depressant they put me on was a small dose that builds up in the system over time. The doctor said if I had immediately felt better after my first few doses it would likely have been placebo, because there wouldn’t have been enough in my system to really have an effect. Which bore out in how I experienced the drug. It was still pretty rocky for 2-3 weeks, gradually improved for another 2, and really started cooking after 4-5 weeks. Maximum effectiveness supposedly happens after 6-8, but I felt so much better an like myself after 5 weeks, I couldn’t really recognize the change from good to great.

          And, I’ve had some stressful stuff happen to me since I went on this med, and I can 100% say that it has positively and noticeably impacted the way I have felt in general and while I handled that stuff. Every once in a while I still need to take a xanax for an acute episode, but boy howdy, I feel fantastic generally. I wish I had done this 10 years ago, but I wasn’t sure how to advocate for my own health when I was that young. I’m better at asking for what I need now.

          1. The Ginger Ginger*

            Oh also, I did have some initial side effects. There was a week there where I felt pretty nauseated off and on, and if I hadn’t been so desperate to get some relief from my depression and anxiety I might have given up. But it worked itself out after a week, and it was 1000% worth sticking with it. I don’t feel sick or side effect-y at all now.

  15. Loopy*

    Thanks to everyone who commented on my Paris and London posts last weekend! I wish I had time to return and respond to everyone! I plan to be around much more this weekend, I do miss commenting throughout the weekend thread.

    I will also inevitably be posting about my trip again already. I am so confused about vaccinations/immunizations around foreign travel (in my case, from US to UK/France). Are they recommendations? Do I need to carry proof? I looked up quite a few govt websites on both sides, but none seemed to be able to tell me about hard and fast, no shit, must-have-paper-evidence-in-hand requirements. Do they just provide info and trust citizens to follow in good faith? Or will they turn people away who have no proof? I’m fairly sure I have them (the big one seems to be measles), but tracking down long long long ago paperwork worries me.

    In more fun discussion- do any folks with international travel have tips for making the travel part more enjoyable/smooth? Booking tickets was a nightmare/mess and we already learned a few lessons through much stress. It’s my husband’s first international trip and I’m really looking to make the rest of it more positive. Gadgets (like packing cubes), strategies, tips, Wish-I-Had-Known type info all much appreciated!!!

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      At least when I went a few years back, there wasn’t anything notable to do in terms of vax, I certainly never had to prove anything.

      Biggest tips: don’t overpack, especially on a multi stop vacation. They have laundry facilities, toiletries, and in a pinch underwear in Europe. :)

      The other side of that coin: I never travel without a extra bag (a small foldable duffel usually) in the corner of my suitcase. My favorite came from ikea for $5 and has even held up to domestic checking several times, not just carry on. That said, I’m currently at Disneyworld and knew I was bringing home lots of nonsense, so I packed in the smallest of my luggage set, then put it inside the middle one and checked the whole mess down here, so I’ll have both bags to pack in on the way home.

      1. Parenthetically*

        HUGE yes to not overpacking. Having too much stuff adds to the stress because there’s so much more to keep track of. My first overseas trip I brought TWO GIANT suitcases and hated myself for it after two long flights and customs/immigration. Don’t pack anything you don’t want to have to take into a bathroom stall with you in the airport. And for any trip more than a week, I don’t bother bringing things like shampoo/conditioner/soap, I just buy there. You really don’t need more than a handful of comfortable things to wear during the day and maybe one or two “night out” outfits.

      2. Loopy*

        The smaller bag trick is smart, I’ll have to try and look for one that will work well. I totally will want to bring loads of stuff back- worth the checked bag if I need it for sure.

    2. Savannah*

      It’s a small thing but has helped me and my friends a lot. Have an essential oil in your liquids bag in your carry on. Planes can get smelly and if you choose a scent that fosters relaxation like lavender, you might be able to fall asleep faster.
      (Source: AAM comment by someone whose name I don’t remember but if you recognize yourself please know I loved this trick.)

      1. StrikingFalcon*

        Please don’t use scented oils, lotions, and perfumes on planes! The air is recycled and there’s nowhere to go for hours at a time if someone else’s scents trigger an asthma or migraine attack for me. If you want something scented, they make lavender scented travel pillows, the scent from which don’t carry as far. It’s still not ideal, but I would much rather someone use one of those than essential oils. Just air it out a bit before your trip, so it’s not overwhelming. Ideally you should be the only one who can smell it.

        1. MsChanandlerBong*

          Thank you! For the love of Pete, there is nothing worse than being trapped in a flying soda can with someone who reeks of scented products.

      2. SRNA*

        Please dont use essential oils on planes! Besides inducing migraines and nausea, people can have real allergy attacks to them. So many of my patients have had to take benadryl, some of them have had to use their epi pens bc of an essential oil trigger in a small space. Please consider that for whatever extra minutes of rest/comfort you might receive via your oils, someone else is having an adverse reaction that will likely last much longer.

      3. Traffic_Spiral*

        Nooooo! Please don’t. Just because you like your particular perfume or essential oil doesn’t mean the person next to you does.

      4. Farm Girl*

        I agree – with my migraines being stuck next to someone adding scents in a closed space is a terrible idea.

      5. Loopy*

        Fortunately I can fall asleep pretty easily and truthfully my sense of smell is godawful. I appreciate the sentiment but will take the advice of posters who pointed out the potential risks. I wouldn’t have thought of that side of it though so I’m glad it came up!

      6. Doreen Green*

        Another option for smelly/stale plans is a nice minty gum! It can also help when you need to get your ears to pop.

    3. Venus*

      I have gone overseas numerous times and never been asked about vaccinations. There are only some countries that insist on yellow fever I think. Unless things have changed drastically in the last few months you should be fine.

      1. German Girl*

        Yup, yellow fever is the only one worldwide where you have to carry proof, and neither France nor UK require it.
        So don’t stress about vaccinations if you’re up to date on your regular ones and don’t have special health risks. If you do, please ask a professional.

      2. Loopy*

        Thanks. I was mostly worried about measles because I was seeing advisories and wasn’t sure what those really meant for travelers other than BE AWARE THIS IS A THING.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          We went to France for a summer, and the only vax we did was tetanus. We’re all current on all the rest.

          No one asked about any of them.

        2. IT Squirrel*

          We are pretty chill on requiring proof of vaccines over here as we don’t have any of the more exotic diseases. However there are issues with increasing numbers of parents not vaccinating their children which means measles rates are increasing (I think we’re down in the 85% vaccination rate now and it should be up at 95% for herd immunity?) which may be what some of the warnings are about – so worth making sure you have been vaccinated even if you con’t need to prove it.

    4. Fikly*

      I don’t know about vaccine requirements, but I do know about losing paperwork! You can get a simple blood test that will check if you have immunities. It’s called a titer.

      (This is actually a good idea in general, because occasionally your immune response to vaccine will wear off, and you need a booster. My sister is going through IVF, and they checked, and her measles immune response had stopped working!)

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        There are also sometimes ineffective batches– I learned at a hs reunion that my town had a round of measles the summer I’d spent with my sister. So I got titred …my measles immunity was fine but I had zero immunity to rubella.
        Git that fixed fast, because I’ve got some immune comprised family & friends.

      2. Loopy*

        I think the blood test is what I’ll end up doing, it’ll be good to know for sure. My (much) older brother went and found NO evidence of immunity to measles, so he was super glad he got checked before traveling. He was surprised by it!

    5. IntoTheSarchasm*

      I worked at a hospital some years ago that had a vaccine clinic for travelers. They would assess your current status and recommend any additional vaccines based on where you were going. I don’t think those types of clinics are very common but it might be helpful to check. Or maybe your local health department.

        1. CatsAway*

          As far as I am aware there are no extra vaccines recommended for western Europe. (The CDC has recommendations). If you are worried about any vaccines you’ve had in the past you can just go to your regular doctor and ask to get titers done or if you’re do for any updates (TDAP maybe?) but I wouldn’t go to a travel clinic for a UK/France vacation. (Travel clinics are less common so it might be harder to get an appointment and your insurance might cover a travel clinic visit differently than a standard doctors appointment.

    6. Washi*

      Vaccinations: I’ve traveled abroad a lot and have never even bothered to look at recommended vaccinations and have never been asked.

      Gadgets: You maybe already know this, but make sure to get a plug adapter! Europe uses different plugs from ours. I do love packing cubes as well, mainly for organization more than space saving. When you’re packing, think about what it will be like to schlep your stuff around – does your suitcase roll well? Can you pack less and re-wear some clothing so you only need one?

      Other handy things I like to bring that don’t take up much space: mints, cough drops, painkillers, tums, wet wipes

      Misc: Prepare your husband for standing in line for customs to and from your destination. I remember on my first international trip, I got off the plane and was like YAY I’M HERE….oh now I need to stand in line for several hours.

      1. Washi*

        (Not that customs always takes several hours, I just had bad luck. But there’s always some amount of standing in line!)

      2. MCL*

        Global entry is extremely worth investing in if you’re traveling internationally with any kind of frequency. Virtually eliminated the customs and passport line on the US side for me, and it comes with TSA precheck.

        1. Loopy*

          I have about 7 weeks until we travel, but I’m very interested in this, how long does it take and how involved is it? We wont travel much, but if it’s free and fairly painless I’d love to save the time.

            1. Loopy*

              Standing in line it is! I’ll try and mentally prep us. I can already see we have different ideas of when to arrive at the airports. I know the guidelines but convincing him three hours before our flight is not insane… may take some doing. He HATES waiting around unnecessarily. I see value in not having to stress and having to sit for a bit.

          1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

            Actually, if you are arriving in the London Heathrow US citizens can now use the e-gates if not traveling with children. I cannot TELL you how fast that makes it now. Just be aware that plane to luggage hall is a REALLY long walk, but you will get there eventually :)

            Entering the EU, as it currently stands and probably will for the forseeable future, you will have to stand in the non-EU line, but if you are taking the train from the UK I believe they have a pre-departure passport check so you just get off at Gare du Nord and on your way. I did the same but in reverse from Belgium once.

            On arrival back into the US they have something similar with kiosks that take horrendously awful photos of you, print it out on a slip, and then you hand it to the guy at the desk.

            1. Loopy*

              Thank you for letting me know about e-gates! I’m sure we’ll be jetlagged and dazed so anything easy is sounding great!

      1. Loopy*

        I think I was looking at that site and others and the advisories were throwing me off, since measles has been a huge concern.

    7. Anonymouse for this*

      Seconding the don’t overpack advice. I spent too many holidays wearing only half the clothes I took with me. Now I have a capsule wardrobe I can dress up/dress down.

      If you want to use your phone abroad check with your provider as they should offer global packages – confirm which networks they partner with in France/UK so you connect to those only. Or you can get a sim card in UK – most of the UK carriers have european roaming for free. Just make sure your phone is unlocked for it to work before you leave the US. There is a tourist info desk in Heathrow that you can buy them from.

      This may not be necessary any more but you may want to check with the bank that your cards will work abroad and they won’t suddenly block your account because of what they think are suspicious charges but in reality is you ordering breakfast in Paris – been there done that. These days I usually get a text asking me to confirm the charges.

      Think about getting travel insurance – I was sick in the UK recently and I went to a doctor and was able to claim back charges for doctor visit and medicines. Should also cover cancellation in case anything happens before you travel.

      I always carry a bag of mints or hard candy and couple of granola bars in my backpack and a small pack of dettol wipes.

      Buy a couple of multi country chargers and keep one handy in your backpack rather than your luggage so you can charge your phone while you’re out and about if you need to.

      Have fun – the Christmas markets are on my to do list.

      1. Loopy*

        I’ll have to make a list of all those things like calling banks/cards/phone companies. Knowing me I’ll spend the next 7 weeks researching food/creating our must see list and forget about those practicalities. Not overpacking will be hard for me. I’m not stylish so I dont care about having more outfits… but I like being cozy and warm so what I pack will be layers of thick soft things which take up a lot of space.

        1. Marni*

          My British aunt is the one who taught me that a cozy scarf is almost as warm as a second layer, but much easier to pack. We each bought one when we got chilly on a trip to Brussels, I wore it the rest of the trip and it remains a cherished souvenir. So definitely pack one fewer snuggly thing from home and give yourself permission to buy one on arrival.

          (I also bought a cashmere winter coat in Paris one year and worse it for YEARS, but that’s probably more than you’re planning on…)

          1. Tinuviel*

            Yes, I recommend a wide scarf, can double as a (lap) blanket, a picnic blanket, a satchel in a pinch…

    8. Doreen Green*

      While vaccinations are not required, I recommend checking with your doctor about getting an MMR booster.

      I had the two-dose MMR when I was a kid, and I STILL got mumps when I went to the UK as an adult. Apparently this is not uncommon, as your immunity can wear off. I think the measles part of the MMR is a little more reliable, but with all the measles cases in Europe I personally would want to be sure–especially if you know anyone who is immunocompromised and/or if you will be around babies who haven’t had the full MMR.

      1. Loopy*

        I tried to make our layovers work so they were long enough to absorb minor delays without being too long. I think we have 2.25 hours for our first and only one, so we may not really even have time to enjoy the lounge, between disembarking, any delay, and getting to the new gate.

        I’ll definitely check with my doctor since I have to go in for a prescription refill and it’ll be easy to get checked. I was just worried about my husband who may not be able to get to the doctor or need to be told he HAS to go. We both have the usual recommended vaccines, its just a matter of checking up on them.

    9. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Pack across multiple cases if at all possible (two 10kg bags is better than one 20kg bag).

      Pay to upgrade to lounge access if you have layovers. It makes a huge difference to your stress levels if you have somewhere quiet/less busy to wait, on comfortable chairs, with free food and beverages. It’s easy to spend $20 on food and drinks in an airport, standing in line hating every second. Lounge access can be only just more expensive than that, and you may additionally have access to showers with fresh towels, free WiFi and newspapers, outlets to charge your device(s), etc.

      1. Parenthetically*

        +1 for lounge access. Glorious. First time I went to Australia I paid for access to the Virgin lounge, and was able to shower, eat a light brunch, and nurse as many cups of tea as my heart desired for the price of entry. Best AU$40 I ever spent, I reckon. You can also check if you get any perks like that with your credit card or bank!

    10. Parenthetically*

      The actual travel bit:

      – pack as lightly as possible. Every single thing you pack will have to be lugged around the airport and through customs. Give yourself a break and take the minimum possible. And make sure everything is either wheeled, a backpack, or a crossbody bag for maximum hands-free-ness.
      – do anything you can to make the on-board situation more comfortable. Pay for in-flight wifi, buy the exorbitantly expensive booze, watch stupid mindless television.
      – I consider a change of clothes, two changes of underwear, a hairbrush, deodorant, toothbrush/toothpaste, face wash and/or soap, a washcloth, comfortable socks, earplugs, and benadryl to be essential carry-on items. I’ve had luggage delayed on international trips and there’s nothing worse than not having so much as a change of underwear with you for the next morning. Typically, an hour or so before we land, I’ll grab my toiletry bag and do a quick wash/freshen up in the bathroom. It makes me feel a lot more ready to face down baggage claim, immigration, customs, and the trek to where I’m staying.
      – Have plans/anticipate what’s going to happen in transitions. In my observation, a big difference between experienced and less-experienced travelers is that the latter often don’t mentally account for the time and mental energy required to get from disembarking the airplane to collapsing in your Air BnB, and it can really add a lot of frustration to the beginning of your trip. Sometimes the cheapest way to pay for things like that is with money — maybe instead of navigating the tube, you decide to get a REALLY EXPENSIVE cab — but sometimes it’s not — maybe the bus will take a good bit more time but take you closer to your hotel and require less hauling of suitcases up and down the steps AND you’ll get to see more of the city!
      – Customs and immigration are soul-killing. Have your paperwork filled out and your passport handy, and bring a book.

      1. Loopy*

        This is great advice. It will be hard for me not to overpack. I live in SC so I’ll want to pack loads of layers and warm cozy things for colder weather (I hate being cold) even though I dont think it’s frigid in either country, I’ve read 40F is average for first week of Dec. But where do I find this customs paperwork so I can have it pre-filled out? This is the first I’m hearing of this part of it!

        Also, does customs happen on both ends? I traveled briefly as a student and can’t remember. My husband was asking, we leave and have a layover in the US before our overseas flight and he thought it happened right before we boarded our international flight. I couldn’t remember.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          Even if London isn’t cold, it will be wet. Check the “feels like” temperature and the predicted precipitation and wind speed/direction. A wet and windy day will get you colder than a sunny day with a lower temperature, and touristing wears you out.

          Whereas an umbrella is essential in NYC, I wouldn’t take one to London!

        2. Parenthetically*

          Oh, I just meant you’ll get the necessary paperwork on the plane and you should do it then and not wait until you’re in line!

          And re: clothes, look into layering that specifically for travel — good quality (think silk/merino rather than the waffle-weave cotton) long underwear as a base layer will keep you much warmer than cotton shirts and thick sweaters. Sturdy, waterproof shoes and woolen socks will be a must as well.

          You’ll have to do some combination of passport control/immigration/customs on both ends, coming and going (the longest line I’ve ever stood in at an airport was the DEPARTING passport control line when I was leaving Sydney and returning to the US), but the length and intensity varies. Definitely look up airport maps and “arrival guides” for (I’m assuming) Heathrow and CDG! They’ll help you be able to visualize your way through and know what order things will come in. You can also google things like “how long does it take to clear customs in (airport)” and get a good sense from different travelers. That sort of thing might be helpful to your husband as well, to know what to expect, since US domestic air travel procedures are SO different from procedures in other countries! Even things like whether or not you need to take your shoes/jacket off, or where your toiletries need to be and how big they can be — it all varies so much, and knowing exactly what to anticipate makes the process so much smoother.

        3. Pharmgirl*

          You’ll have to fill customs forms whenever you are entering a new country. Layovers don’t count. Generally the airline will pass the forms out shortly before landing, it they’re pretty simple.

          1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

            They have been trialling doing away with these lately. Last flight from the US to Sweden in August and no paperwork was handed out and I haven’t filled one in for flights into the UK from the EU in at least a year.

            The thing with London that time of year is that the temperature may LOOK cold, but moving around and the humidity can make it feel much warmer. I usually don’t break out my ‘winter coat’ until after Christmas and instead have a variety of lighter coats (waterproof, quilted, etc) to toss on. You can always buy more layers if you feel you need them (check out Uniqlo).

            Do you have a plan yet to get from the airport to the hotel in London? It can be very overwhelming to exit into the arrivals hall at Heathrow and not have a plan of action.

            1. Parenthetically*

              Yep, I’d very much agree with this, especially if your tastes run to museums and galleries and tours of indoorsy-type things, where lugging around a big wooly coat would be a nightmare. I’ve been to several places that were “wintery” in the same way the UK is wintery, and just didn’t ever need much more than a midweight jacket, with a light scarf and occasionally a light beanie in the city. Warm socks and sturdy shoes were far more important.

            2. Loopy*

              We were going to take the underground to the hotel, or I’ve been reading there is an Express train option that seems more expensive but maybe easier?

              1. Parenthetically*

                I’ve taken the Heathrow express just once and it is LOVELY, and completely worth the extra expense — faster, cleaner, more spacious.

              2. NMFTG*

                If you prebook tickets at Heathrow Express, you can get them a lot cheaper than buying on the day. The cheapest ones you buy more than 90 days in advance. Still not as cheap as the underground, but it might absolutely be worth it to you, depending on where in London you’re staying. I think one of the best selling point of the express, is that it’s meant for people with luggage, so low instep, place to put luggage etc. It goes to Paddington station, which is convenient for several different transport changes (buses, underground, trains).

                I think the main difference will be where you’re staying, though. If you’re staying on or close to the Piccadilly line from Heathrow, it will probably be easier on the underground (so to not change lines) even though it takes more time.

                Every line change will involve a bit of walking, escalators (or steps without lift or escalators) etc so after a long flight whichever way is easier is probably worth doing.

              3. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

                What is the closest tube stop to your hotel? I wouldn’t take the Express if you are staying somewhere in south or east London, for example, but if you are staying in west London nearish Paddington its not a bad idea.

                Not many people are aware that there is also the Heathrow Connect that is half the price of the Express, gets you to the same place, and only makes 4 or 5 stops. It can be difficult to know how to buy tickets for it, though, you have to use the ticket kiosk screen, although there is usually someone around to show people what is going on.

                Otherwise the Picadilly line into central takes about an hour and is ratty as can be. Wish they would finally open Crossrail!

                1. Parenthetically*

                  We’re hoping to do a bunch of traveling in Autumn 2021 including London and by golly if they don’t have Crossrail finished by THEN I will be MOST displeased.

        4. CatsAway*

          Customs happens when you’re entering a new country (although the US does have some customs per-clearance stations in foreign countries but not, as far as I am aware, in London or Paris) . I had an overnight layover in London last Februrary so I had to go through customs in Heathrow. For non-EU they still had paper forms to fill out. Compared to other countries in western Europe UK customs people always asked me more questions. You should definitely have your hotel address and maybe a print out of all travel reservations so they know you have plans to leave the country.
          Also, you’ll go through US customs after the 1st flight when you land back in the US so if you have a connecting flight in the US you’ll need time to go through customs, pick up and re-check your luggage and go through security in the US airport before your connecting flight.

          1. Loopy*

            This is so useful! I think what was throwing me off was that for domestic flights they said arrive two hours before departure and for international, arrive three hours before departure, so I was like, well, what extra things do we go through before even taking off? That extra hour confused me.

            1. CatsAway*

              I think it’s a CYA on the part of the airline, but there are things that make international flights different from most domestic flights: (1) airlines have different rules for domestic vs international flights in regards to how far in advance you have to check in baggage, (2) the gate agents will often check passengers passports (just that you have one) pre-boarding (3) international planes are generally bigger and take longer to board.

      2. Loubelou*

        All of Parenthetically’s advice is spot on!
        To add a couple of things:
        – bring wires headphones that are comfortable for you to sleep in, and make sure your phone is charged with podcasts/music that helps you sleep. You can use your own headphones (much better quality than the free flight ones) to watch the onboard movies, and then plug in your own phone and listen to something that will help you sleep.
        – Order a special meal for the flight. There are loads of options – vegetarian, vegan, fish, low fat, etc etc. These meals are usually nicer than the standard meals, are free, and come before everyone else’s.
        – Try out a few travel pillows in the shop to find one you really like. There’s nothing worse than ending up with an uncomfortable one on an overnight flight. My extreme version is to tie up a full ordinary pillow with my yoga mat strap and carry it over my shoulder, but that’s not for everyone!
        – Take a battery pack and cable for your phone so you can charge on the plane/on arrival if need be. Bear in mind that you can’t take these in checked luggage.
        – Take snacks for the flight. There will be snacks handed out but I do like to have things I know I will like to hand at any point.
        – Most importantly, check in online for your flight as soon as you possibly can! This way you will avoid getting the dreaded middle seat on the plane. Avoid the very back seats on the plane as well as these usually don’t decline.

        Otherwise, have a great trip! The UK is my home (though I haven’t lived there in a long time) and we’re going through a very weird time right now, but I promise that we’re generally good company. Just don’t mention the B word, and as an American be prepared to hear a lot of mocking of your president.

        1. Loopy*

          Thank you for these great trips! I’ll have to start an amazon list of things to buy, I hadn’t thought of travel pillows. I’ve never needed them before- I fly a lot domestically and usually it’s only 2-3 hour flights.

        2. Kardamumma*

          I go to the UK and Europe every year and I order cheap SIM cards to swap into our phones on the plane. I get mine from GiffGaff and I believe they will send them to you in the US. For under £8 I buy a “goody bag” which gives me unlimited texts, calls within Europe and 2 GB of data – plenty for a month. You can use it in France too as long as you start in the UK. You’ll have a different phone number which you’ll have to let your friends and family know. Otherwise it’s just business as usual and I love being able to use my phone just like home.
          Also a shout-out for Uniqlo ultra-light downfill vests – they squish down into a bag the size of a lemon and they provide a great cozy layer that can be carried in your purse. Lots of Uniqlo stores in central London if you don’t have one at home.
          Finally, buy Oyster cards before you use London Transport. Fares are much cheaper.

    11. Enough*

      Daughter was in Germany and Austria this spring. As long as you have all your vaccinations you should be good. Only suggestion is to update your tetanus if you haven’t in the last 5 years. People usually don’t get boosters regularly.

    12. CoveredInBees*

      For the US to UK/France, you’ll be fine if you’re a human. Pets and livestock have restrictions and quarantines, especially in the UK.

  16. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    Still mostly e-mails, but I did get some scenes done that had been on my to-do list, so yay! Also kinda looking forward to writing that paper, though for the moment it’s mostly research research research.

    1. Liane*

      I am trying to get all my blog articles done for the rest of the year. That way all I have to do is edit for the other writers and do portraits for the ones that are character stats (if I feel that ambitious.)

    2. Kalico*

      Not a great week. I was able to put up a blog post and wrote one day on my novel. In general I struggled a lot with anxiety and a lack of self-confidence. I have to be careful in these early days of getting back to writing to not push myself too hard, because in the past I’ve easily fallen back into despair which kills any motivation I have for writing. I’m working hard on seeing the writing itself as the reward.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I managed to write a blog post about conlanging and make up some ordinal numbers.

      Also, I did submit to Pitch Wars. Just waiting now and incubating a new story that’s more high fantasy, not urban or contemporary fantasy (it’s not part of the trilogy). I was practicing writing cover copy and made up an idea. :)

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I managed to write a blog post about conlanging and made up some ordinal numbers. Yay! Those were giving me fits.

      Also, I did submit to Pitch Wars. Just waiting now and incubating a new story that’s more high fantasy, not urban or contemporary fantasy (it’s not part of the trilogy). I was practicing writing cover copy and made up an idea. :)

    5. Queer Earthling*

      I’ve got a little bit of a post buffer and an outline or two for my blog, which is good because I’ve been so tired and stressed the last week or so. On the other hand, I wrote a bunch of self-indulgent fiction for my partner’s eyes only and that went really well, so maybe I just needed to write some non-work stuff for a bit.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Yeah, sometimes switching it up can help a lot. I imagine I’ll be getting some other work done in between writing my paper too.

  17. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week?
    For me, mostly Gardenscapes (phone game). I haven’t really had time for anything else this week. I really do hate how the publicity for it pretends the gameplay is very different than it actually is though – really wish they’d stop that.

    1. A.N. O'Nyme*

      By the way, anyone here who can recommend some good Visual Novels? I’ll be writing my bachelorpaper on those.

        1. Myrin*

          “Visual Novels” is a videogame genre. ;)
          It’s the thing where you are the protagonist and 2D/”anime style” characters pop up on your screen and you converse with them and the answers/topics you choose decide on what kind of ending you’ll get/which way the game will go.

          A. N., what exactly do you mean by “good”? Doki Doki Literature Club had an outstanding twist taking a turn that probably no one would’ve guessed, but that’s more “good” in a meta sense. Do you favour a certain kind of “goodness” like writing, storytelling, character design, etc.?

          1. A.N. O'Nyme*

            My paper will mostly focus on the whole “narratology vs ludology” debate in relation to Visual Novels, so I’d say mostly writing and storytelling are important, though some interesting mechanics are always welcome as well. I’d say character design is slightly less important.
            I’ve heard of Doki Doki Literature club before, so I’ll need to check that one out. I’m also looking into the ones that are closer to the Adventure Game genre (as in, there’s debate among gamers whether they’re one or the other) like Ace Attorney or Danganronpa.
            For the record, I’m also not opposed to otome at all :). In fact, Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom is on my to-play list.
            And if it matters, the platforms I can play on are: PC (probably Steam I’d imagine, though I also have GOG), PS3, PS4, PS Vita, PSP, Nintendo DS family and Gameboy family, though with the latter three I’ll probably need to resort to emulation to get the footage properly if I need photo examples.

            1. Tinuviel*

              Hotel Dusk and Professor Layton are games I would consider visual novels or visual novels adjacent with some puzzle-solving. Your other best bet is 999 (and sequels/similar) which are like Danganrompa murder mysteries. Even the latest Fire Emblem is kind of like a visual novel with strategy game elements.

              The thing is this is usually a Japan game thing, and very quickly gets into otome/romance genre. So at a certain point you’re going to need very good Japanese skills to get through something like Raging Lupe (very good mobile werewolf visual novel game).

              In the west the “text-heavy, story/character relationship-driven” game tends towards adventure/puzzles and walking simulators. Think Night in the Woods, Edith Finch, that sort of thing. Those are going to have very different themes and mechanics than Japan-based games. So that’s something you should consider when picking sources for your paper.

      1. Torrance*

        *cracks knuckles*

        Available on Steam: DDLC is good. Monster Prom & Hatoful Boyfriend are somewhat similar in their subversiveness, though HB requires a full playthrough to get to the ‘real’ story. Dream Daddy is decent; it tackles fatherhood & some serious issues while being clever and oh so punny. Arcade Spirits is really good; there are romances but it’s basically a game about arcade nostalgia and mental health.

        The visual novel genre is really popular among indie developers so there are a ton available on itch.io; highlighting my favourites:
        When The Night Comes is so, so good; honestly one of the best I’ve ever played. For VNs set in worlds that are rich with details, there’s Cinderella Phenomenon (fairytales) & Changeling (mythology). This, My Soul is a neat little title about what it means to be human.

    2. LGC*

      Oh man, tell me about it!

      (To get into The Place We Don’t Talk About On Weekends, I spend a lot of my time playing games on my commute – like Two Dots, I <3 Hue, Threes, that sort of thing. It feels like 90% of the ads I see between levels are "why is this game so hard"/"fail" ads for Gardenscapes and Matchington Mansion. Obviously, they've made me aware of their existence, but I also refuse to download either of them on principle.)

      Not sure if you have iPhone or Android, but have you tried Apple Arcade yet if you have an iPhone? I haven't done the trial yet myself but I'm thinking of jumping in.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Yeah, I’d actually gotten the game before ever seeing one of the ads for it (showed up in my recommended list somehow. Its charming enough and doesn’t require me to always be online, so…) but still.
        Nope, Android user here! Though I believe Google has/will have a similar service?

    3. Fikly*

      I played Gardenscapes years and years ago when it was a computer game through Amazon. Wow did I love that while brainless recovering from surgery. I hope it’s still as fun!

    4. AstridInfinitum*

      I’ve been playing Link’s Awakening on the Switch and also my new favorite game to tell EVERYONE about: Untitled Goose Game.

      In UGG you play a naughty goose running around a quaint English town making mischief and honking at people. It’s so fantastic! The visuals are low polygon, simple, yet expressive. The soundtrack is responsive to the actions, but not intrusive. You can stealth around or be more direct and yeah, it’s just great.

      You can get it in Nintendo Switch or PC. The developer is House House from Australia.

      1. Liane*

        My son got it last week and played through. I watched. It was so much fun. I even figured out a couple of puzzles for him.
        I think he said it cost $15 and definitely worth it.

      2. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Link’s Awakening looks so adorable!
        And I’ve been seeing a lot of people having a blast with UGG, might pick it up myself!

      3. Frea*

        I’m having a little too much fun with UGG. I mean, I’ve been solving some of the problems and that’s been incredibly fun, but it’s even more fun to just steal things from people and make their day absolutely terrible. I haven’t gotten very far, but I’m pleased to report a groundskeeper is having SUCH an awful day due to that dedicated honk button and my penchant for stealing his keys.

    5. fposte*

      Yes, I get a ton of ads for Gardenscapes/Homescapes, and they are fascinatingly bizarre. The ads started out years ago making it look like this nice build-a-garden sandbox game, and now they’re all about the main characters drowning and being eaten by sharks? So what do you actually do in the game?

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        …I have yet to see anyone drowning XD. Did just remove some beavers from the garden, though (by having them picked up by the national park, NOT by having them be eaten by sharks).
        It’s essentially a match-3 game, winning levels gives you stars that you can use to renovate the garden section by section. There’s also a few little storylines with the in-game characters, such as a recent one where at first it appears the local carpenter did shoddy work, causing a bit of an argument between him and his best friend (who is your butler). Later it turns out that he actually did do good work, the damage was just caused by aforementioned beavers. It’s amusing enough when you’re waiting for the train.

        1. fposte*

          That’s more how it looked initially, though the exciting beaver subplot hasn’t been noted yet. Last night I saw for the first time that seemed to suggest Austin engages in BDSM, so that was interesting. (He was tied down to a bed, so I’m not, like, overreading something small for comic effect.)

          I have this whole life in my head for these apps.

          1. Short Time Lurker Komo*

            Gardenscapes the actual game is a lot of fun, IMO – partly because there’s interesting but not super over the top storylines and you can read the in game Feed (Facebook basically) with the characters and get a lot of character growth from there too. You see how people interact and etc. The gardens are pretty too!

            It’s also nice that you can get a load of free time to play fairly easily. By this, I mean free time where when you lose a level, you don’t lose hearts. There’s always a contest going on that gives a free 30 minute for meeting the first level (super easy), and sometimes you are growing a flower with wins that will give 1/2/3 hours play time for each level.

            Gardenscapes isn’t the only game that does that stupid advertising either. Hero Wars does too, and I’ve seen other game ads with the same thoughts.

    6. Nynaeve*

      Portal! I downloaded it years ago and never finished, so I’m working my way through… I’m on level 15 now. It’s such an interesting game mechanic. I can’t imagine how much work it would have taken to design.

    7. The Ginger Ginger*

      On my own I’ve been playing Untitled Goose Game. The only game ever where I have been given the option to be truly nefarious and not felt guilty. It’s adorable and hilarious. Also, A+ sound track.

      With my brother I’ve been playing Endless Legends. Fun civ-building game. He and I are about 6 hours apart, so we play video games together online as our hang out ritual to stay in touch.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Yeah, I’m seeing tons of good stuff being said about UGG.
        Endless Legends sounds interesting too!

    8. CastIrony*

      The Gardenscapes thing gets me on a personal level, A.N. O’Nyme*. I play Matchington Mansion, and I am similarly deceived. I still love it, though.

  18. Jdc*

    I’m so happy! It has officially cooled down and won’t get warm again. We had a hint last week but then a miserable humid week. I dislike all of summer. I never have liked it. I loathe wearing shorts and I am one who sweats a lot so summer=misery. I’m going to make some soup in the crock pot today and cuddle up with husband.

    Stepson is at his moms for two weeks for his fall break. Semi year round school is the BEST! Especially since his mom is in a different state it allows him to see her more. Husband and I are going to take advantage of some alone time.

    If the rain holds out we will clean up the deck and yard a bit since once it comes it’ll it’ll end here until it snows on and off. Took his peppers indoors last night. He has 9 varieties of peppers. My dining room looks like a jungle. I’m on the hunt for some type of plant stand or even something just to use as one but so far haven’t found anything that can accommodate the bigger pots he has. I’ll do some online shopping this weekend and maybe hit up Home Goods.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      We’re using plain old wire shelving with wheels– big heavy plants on the bottom, smallish in the middle, tall light ones on top. LED 5000k white bulbs for growth, seed starter trays for underliners. The biggest monster is on a wheeled dolly.
      We lost our peppers to slugs&bugs this year but volunteers just came up in my fading tomatoes. I wonder if I can get them to grow over winter…

      1. Jdc*

        I was thinking of something like this maybe. I’ll mention it to husband. Might be the option at this point. Thank you.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I find myself wishing the house had ramps not stairs because it would be nice to roll them back outside in the morning…

    2. Filosofickle*

      I thought we’d headed into cooler temps but it’s back up to the mid 80s here this weekend. Booo! I didn’t wear shorts for years but have embraced it recently and it’s glorious not to feel so hot all the time.

      1. Jdc*

        I stick with dresses. I’m short waisted and shorts just seem to hate me. I buy some and they just end up not being comfortable.

        1. Filosofickle*

          Dresses can be great in the heat. Unfortunately I have to wear bike shorts under (chub rub issues) and that extra layer keeps it from feeling quite as cool as I’d like for summer. I’m actually more likely to wear a dress in winter, with tights.

          Findings good shorts is very tough. Pants have gotten high-waisted (good for me since I am too) but shorts are stubbornly still mid/low-rise which comfy for me. But I find pretty much every item of clothing hard to find, so…

          1. Jdc*

            I have the opposite. I’m very short waisted with lonnnnnggg legs. I have been “talked” to at work before for wearing skirts that are too short when they are below my knees. I guess the legs make it look like I’m showing more? I don’t know. The high waist trend is killing my shopping lately. I also have a weird thing about my stomach having any pressure on it so I need the waist to fall below my belly button or I’m beyond uncomfortable. Dresses save me. I also LOVE dresses with tights in the winter. I find it so comfortable. I bought fleece lined tights last winter and could live in them.

            I found AG to have a great Jean for me for anyone who has similar proportions. It’s called the Harper. Rides just below my belly button but not low rise and are straight legged which I prefer as I find them the most versatile.

    3. Chaordic One*

      Generally speaking, I agree with you and I’m physically much more comfortable in the fall. The only real downside is that we’ve had frost a few times and I don’t have a garage, so I have to scrape frost off of the windows of my car before I drive to work in the morning. (A comparatively small inconvenience in the overall scheme of things.)

      1. Jdc*

        Ugh yes! We are supposed to have a garage but our landlord has just not built it. To top it off we have a gravel driveway that turns into quicksand after enough rain. Can’t wait to move and build our own home but of course not doing that here since we aren’t staying.

      2. Fikly*

        I don’t know if this works for frost, but there are covers you can put over your windows (at least the front and back) so that you don’t have to shove all the snow off!

        1. Chaordic One*

          Yes this does work for frost. One of my neighbors puts big pieces of cardboard on his front windshield and holds them down with the windshield wipers. Other people will put blankets on their windshields. They will put the ends of the blankets inside the car and close the front car doors on them to hold them in place. There are specialized custom car windshield covers that you can buy that are custom fit for your car, although they can get a big pricey. You could probably find them by googling or looking at Amazon. The front windshield is always the worst. The frost tends not to develop on the more vertical surfaces of the side windows.

        2. Jdc*

          We actually bought some on sale at the end of last winter. Haven’t used them yet but good to hear they work.

  19. Exhausted Trope*

    This is work-related but I’m so excited, I’m posting the news anyway!
    I received a job offer this week for my dream position! I gave notice to my boss yesterday and it went very well.
    I want to thank Alison for her amazingness. I’ve been reading this column for years and I’d never have gotten the job without her resume and interview advice. Thanks, Alison!
    And to everyone here who helped me keep my chin up and provided so much humor. Thank you, all!

  20. Lcsa99*

    Has anyone here ever been on a bowling league? My husband and I have played around with the idea in the past, so any idea of what it might actually be like would be greatly appreciated. How often do you meet? Once a week? Once a month? How much would they care if we aren’t really that good, just doing it for fun? Would it be much more money than just playing whenever we feel like it? Would we need our own equipment? I think we’re mostly thinking of doing this as a way to make new friends and get us out a little more but again, we aren’t good at it, it’s just fun.

    1. Sigmund Freud*

      I’m on a bowling league with my husband. Ask the bowling alley how competitive the league is. The one we’re on is just for fun (my average, after 5 years of doing this is still about 100). But, other nights at the same bowling alley are way more competitive than that. Most bowling leagues meet weekly and you bowl 3 games. However, sometimes you can find couples fun leagues that meet every other week. You can use their equipment.

      I love to hate bowling. But, it gets us out of the house, it’s something we can do together. And my husband enjoys it. Also, if you’re iffy about it, summer leagues are usually shorter, so there is less commitment.

    2. Spartan*

      My wife and I were on a couples league for years and it was a blast. They met once a week ours was on Monday nights from Sept-Apr. No one cared how good or bad you bowled because with averages figured in it’s really about how well you bowl compared to your average not straight up how well you bowl.

      Ours was casual we knew no one going in and got paired with another couple that we still keep in touch with 10 years later. There was drinking some people it was more of a drinking league with a bit of bowling on the side. I miss it but our schedule just doesn’t permit it at the moment.

    3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I used to bowl in a few leagues with my dad, but eventually stopped because he wanted to take it more seriously than I did.

      Bowling leagues are almost always a once a week commitment on a specific day or night, and at least in my town run on basically a “school year” season and a shorter “summer” season, so it might be too late to join a league this year (or might not). There are plenty of different kinds of leagues, ranging from beginner leagues (some of which include the purchase of a ball and shoes in the league fees – this will be called out in the league description and is definitely a sign that it’s a newbie-friendly league) through onto very competitive leagues. My dad usually bowls in leagues where they do have a prize fund and league standings and things, and he cares about how well he’s doing a lot more than I do. (Most bowling leagues use a standardized handicap system where you win or lose based not just on who bowled a better game that day, but rather which of you bowled a better game compared to how you usually bowl according to league records. This means that people of different skill levels can bowl in the same league. However, it drove him nuts that I wasn’t putting in the time and effort to become a skilled bowler and get better, so I quit joining leagues with him. When my life has more spare time, I will probably join an evening social bowling league.)

      Talk to the bowling alley or alleys you’re thinking of, and ask them if they have a newbie-friendly social league you can join, or, if it’s too late for fall, when you should check back for summer sign-ups. If you want something with less commitment, my dad also found that his main bowling alley offers some weekly drop-in things that are less structured than a league but more structured than just bowling by yourself, so after he retired he started going to several of those in addition to his leagues. The one he does pretty much every week is senior no-tap on Fridays in the middle of the day, which is for bowlers over a certain age (hence, senior) and in which if you leave only one pin it still counts as a strike (hence, “no tap”). I have no idea what all his alley offers, let alone yours, but if you ask the alley they’ll have a list.

    4. Lcsa99*

      Thanks everyone! This definitely helps! Think it’s about what we thought though once a month might be easier than once a week.

      We definitely need to start getting out more and it sounds like this might be a viable option!

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      My mom and I bowled for years. I had to leave when I moved. She’s still there!

      Sept-April, once a week.

      Each league has different times and days. Ours is for below 200 average only. The only pressure is what you put on yourselves.

      $10 a week and you can earn some back depending on where you place at the end of the year. We also do rewards for best of and such.

      I loved it. We were pretty steady for membership and you meet cool people!

      If you join a team with more than enough members you can have substitutes. If once a month is better, subbing is way better for you.

    6. Pony tailed wonder*

      I was in a coed league for a few years and when my team of all women would beat a men’s team, there was a fifty fifty chance that one of the men would throw a tantrum so I switched to the womens league. A few years after that, the alley that had the womens league decided they would get rid of that league even though by that time it was the oldest running league at that alley and the fifth largest. About 90% of that league went to one of the competing alleys across town and no longer go back to that one alley. So all of this to say to check out all the alleys in town before you commit. The back alley politics and pettiness can ruin your good night easily. Also, compare the online prices and alley prices for balls and shoes, there can be large price differences.

  21. Foreign Octopus*

    I have had the worst week.

    I had to go back to the UK to deal with some things before the end of the month. On the ferry over, I was violently sea sick as there was a storm in the Bay of Biscay so the ferry was over an hour late arriving, then I was held up at passport control because British immigration has apparently tightened up so much that even British citizens have trouble getting into the country. I arrived at my hotel at 11pm at night when everything was shut so I couldn’t eat anything. The journey up to my parents the next day was awful as it was raining and the M6 is a nightmare encased in concrete.

    The car needed some work doing to it and it cost upwards of £500 (this is for a yearly MOT). Whilst it was nice to see my parents and shop in second hand bookstores (I’ve really missed them), everything was so expensive and the weather was just awful. It rained every single day I was there.

    On the ferry back to Spain, we were delayed at sea by three hours and I got to Santander when it was dark (I hate driving in the dark), and the cherry on the top of the cake is that when I was fifteen minutes from my home, I was in a car accident. Some idiot came steaming around a tight corner, straddling both lanes, headlights on full beam and I had to swerve to avoid them. I hit the curb hard and ripped the suspension out of my car and caused the wheel to be stuck at a 90 degree angle. This was the middle of the night on a mountain road in Spain. Thankfully there was a house nearby and the people came out to see what was wrong and helped me call the Guardia Civil because the other car had driven blithely on to cause havoc elsewhere. A passing van of roadworkers stopped to help push my car off the road so I didn’t have to pay €300 to have a tow truck come out in the middle of the night. The next day I was able to get a tow truck to come and take it to the garage where the mechanic gave me an estimate of about €800 to fix the damage.

    Fortunately, I’m fine but this is €800 I don’t have to spare and a complete headache to deal with because some idiot thought using two lanes to drive at stupid-speed in the middle of the night was a good idea.

    All in all, I wish I had never left the country and just stayed home. It’s been a bloody disaster this week.

    1. Weegie*

      Breathe. Things will improve soon. Spend some time at home doing stuff you like, and focus on your future plans.

      One good thing in the midst of everything is those kind people who came out to help – it’s wonderful to know that most people’s instinct is to assist a stranger. They more than balance out the idiot driver.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        You’re right about the kind people who came out to help. It was very much a blessing to have them there to help me. Even though I have to deal with this in Spanish, I’m happy that the accident happened in Spain because I’ve always found the Spanish to be very kind and helpful even though I was stumbling over the language and not making a lot of sense.

        I’m definitely taking it easy this weekend. I’m surrounded by my animals (bliss!) and I’m reading an Amelia Peabody, so I’m feeling more relaxed. It’s just that thoughts of what-if keep creeping in when I least expect it and my anxiety skyrockets, but I’m breathing through it, and I know it’ll pass.

        Thanks for your kindness.

    2. anonagain*

      I am sorry about the damage to your car and the repair bill. I am also so glad you are safe! It sounds like the other driver didn’t even try to avoid a collision.

      I hope you get a string of really good luck now.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        I’ve realised that I was lucky to hit the curb as there was the curb, a gap of about ten feet, and then a safety barrier. If I’d swerved where the gap was, everything would have been so much worse. I’m trying really hard not to think about what might have happened though, but my brain keeps trying to make me think about it.

        I do hope that this is my bad luck for the year. I’m really okay with nothing else bad happening this year.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        I’m only getting a ferry once more in my life and that is it. After I move to Ireland, taking the ferry to get there with my car, cat, and books, I’m never sailing again. I hate all forms of travel, but I hate travelling by ferry the most.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Oh this is so wearing, I would have been looking for a rock to crawl under half way through your story. But the story goes on and on– you know you are a very strong person, right? What a nightmare, I am so sorry this happened to you. But I am glad you are safely at home now.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        you know you are a very strong person, right? You have no idea how much I’ve need to hear this. I didn’t know I needed it until I saw it. Thank you. I’ve been feeling like a complete lemming because of it. Having to deal with the repairs has been draining and I got a comment from my dad that “you’re an adult, you should be able to deal with this”, which was not at all helpful and just made me feel worse, so having you say that is really reassuring and calming, thank you.

        1. Observer*

          Cut yourself some slack. This was a tough week, and a REALLY difficult event.

          Yes, you need to deal with, but it sounds to me like you’re doing just find on that front. Giving yourself some breaks, taking it easy, and breathing are smart not weak.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          “you’re an adult, you should be able to deal with this”

          Harsh, Dad, harsh.

          Some folks truly lack the ability to see the whole story. They focus on one part and make their judgement calls.
          I dreamed of my father after he died. He said to me, “I never understood what it was like to be you.” I woke up and my pillow and night shirt were soaked in tears. I had been sobbing all through the dream. There was so much relief in that sentence.

          And this is a classic example of failing to understand what it is like to be someone else. Some people cannot be counted on to lift us up when we need to be lifted up- at all, EVER. Other people fall down on the job only once in a while and that is easier to get past. And sometimes people get it.

          I have two friends who are very good with this stuff. I tell them x and y and z are going on and gosh I am overwhelmed. These two friends will simply say, “It will be okay.” They offer no explanation as to how we get to “okay” from “here”. I find their words so very comforting, even though there is no logical explanation with the words.
          Look for people like this. They are around. Some people are good at comforting and some people aren’t.
          In an odd way, I think each type serves a purpose at different times.

  22. Venus*

    How does your garden grow?

    We had frost last night so I finally brought in all my tomatoes. I hope most of them ripen as it was a slow year.

    I want to do some work on the yard to get it ready for next spring as I plan to get rid of some plants. But my hands froze yesterday while out with the tomatoes so I hope it’s warm and sunnier this weekend.

    1. Jdc*

      Ours is pretty much over. I got two more zucchini yesterday but that’s about it. Husband is dehydrating his peppers today. Hopefully we don’t pepper spray the house. I canned a bunch of tomatoes already and as I type this just am seeing a ripe one on the vine. Few and far between at this point though. Ha has 9 types of peppers so we bought the trays to put under the pots yesterday and brought them inside. We will see what makes it through the winter.

    2. Penguin*

      Our pokeweed crop is just about done for the season, and the grape vines have slowed down their attempts to eat the arbor. The wisteria is starting to lose leaves, and the yellow irises have seeded (for all the good it’ll do them- can’t grow on plastic) so I think fall is here. The heat came on last night for the first time since spring, and some of the leaves have changed color. There’s still a LOT of greenery around, though. It’s kind of disconcerting.

    3. GoryDetails*

      Yeah, the season’s pretty much over – not quite a frost last night but cold enough to tell me it’s time to clean up the beds and planters, and bring in the bay plant for the winter.

    4. Tort-ally HareBrained*

      It’s finally lawn mowing season again here in south Texas. Rain and heat indexes below 100 mean that everything isn’t crispy. These garden threads have really reminded me how different the seasons are across the growing zones.

    5. fposte*

      Bulbs have arrived! It’s still way too warm here to put them in–it’s only just started getting cool enough at night–so I’m going to have to wait a couple of weeks before I start on the planting, but then I will be given over to it for a week or so.

      1. Brihanne LeMarre*

        Uh-oh. I just planted my first-ever bulbs last weekend (tulips, narcissus & crocuses). Now I’m worried I did it too soon…

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I just went outside to pull the frost cover off my Dahlia and geranium’s and saw the fastest gopher ever scramble away from the area. Maybe it wasn’t the deer that ate my hostas.
      We had the last big batch of cherry tomatoes the other night.
      Now on to winter prep, which unfortunately includes figuring out how to stabilize a terraced garden wall. I think the land drains may need to be dug through to the lower level…which will be expensive or backbreaking.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      The frost got some of my volunteer butternut squash.
      Squash grows in my compost pile, I probably should turn the pile every so often but no time for that.
      So the vines grew again this year. I usually get around 90-100 squash with no effort on my part.
      Last night a friend suggested I should cover the plants. Well I have this 12 ft by 24 ft tarp and we thought it might be big enough to cover the vines. NOPE. Not even close. I think it covered about 1 quarter of the vines.
      Trying to use the tarps I have in a strategic manner, I covered the vines that were not on the compost pile itself. Since we went down to 32 degrees exactly, the plants on the pile actually stayed warmer and did not get frost bite. I was able to save some of the vines.
      The squash need to ripen, they are still pretty green. I have pulled about 8 so far and I probably should not have. I am betting I will be out there to night covering again.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Consider visiting charity store of your choice for a cheap bedsheet or three — they work surprisingly well.

    8. Jules the 3rd*

      We hit 100 degrees on Th, 90+ on Fr, 75 today, so who knows what our weather will be.

      The tomatoes are still ripening, all done with flowers finally. My peppers got ripe over the last two weeks, look done now.

    9. Blue Eagle*

      Yesterday I took out all of the cherry tomato plants out of the garden and only left the early girls. Although they were only 1/2 of the plants, the cherry tomatoes accounted for over 85% of the tomato leaves in the garden – – which looks very bare (kind of like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree) now that the cherry tomatoes are gone.

  23. Hazy days*

    The Artist’s Way Thread! Week 1 check in…

    All welcome to join the study group, whatever your artistic medium.

    (Discussion in the thread below)

    1. Hazy days*

      It’s Week 1, which has a focus on what unhelpful self-beliefs are holding us back. Having gone into it thinking that I’m pretty confident about the value of my work (‘I, Hazy Days, am a brilliant and prolific poet) I realised that I do have some strange beliefs that the poet must be penniless, alone, and unhinged. And maybe that is what has unconsciously held me back in the past – I’ve not felt that my life meets what a poet’s life should be.

      I’ve done well with my morning pages, and have found looking at my beliefs and self-limitations intriguing. Artists Date went a bit sideways when the gallery I chose to visit was having guided tours – I joined one, but it didn’t allow much thinking room.

      How are others doing?

      1. Angwyshaunce*

        “I realised that I do have some strange beliefs that the poet must be penniless, alone, and unhinged.”

        Have you seen the movie Barfly?

        1. Hazy days*

          No! I’ve just looked it up and watched the trailer.
          Im not sure even I think that level of chaos is necessary for a poet…

    2. WellRed*

      Hazy, do you need the book and the workbook too? I might jump in, but will have to order book/s. I’m not super familiar with this program, though I get the general premise.

      1. Hazy days*

        You need a book called The Artist’s Way, but nothing else. You can get TAW on kindle, though I think a print copy works better for the quites in the margins.

        The premise is simultaneously (in my opinion) bonkers and effective. This week I am trying to find opportunities for my inner tree surgeon, for example. I would say it’s helped me write, but also that it’s helped me be more open to experience and friendship.

  24. BrooklynM*

    This week I got confirmation that my downstairs neighbor (we live in a traditional three-floor row home that has been split into three apartments) is renting out her apartment on AirBnB. The confirmation came when I was making dinner, heard a knock on the door, and opened it to find a strange man with a suitcase asking if this was AirBnB. I said no and closed the door in his face. This is after months of walking in or out of the building and running into other people I don’t know with suitcases. Once a guy rang my doorbell and when I answered the building door he demanded to know why his key wasn’t working.

    I’m not comfortable with this. There are four people who live in this building, I should rarely be surprised by a new face. I’ve been here two years, my downstairs neighbor at least four, and she’s always been nice to me and never complained about my dog, who can be loud sometimes. Do I say something to her? To our landlord? I don’t know the right next steps.

    1. Washi*

      Is it allowed on the lease? If she’s allowed to do it, I’m not sure there’s too much you can do, other than let her know that guests seem to be confused about accessing the airbnb and you won’t be helping any strangers get into the building.

      1. BrooklynM*

        It’s not allowed as far as I can tell, there’s no clause specific to AirBnB type deals but subleasing/renting to another person isn’t allowed. Maybe that’s a grey area.

        1. WellRed*

          I would guess she’s not allowed to do this and the landlord would not be happy. There’s probably some potential liability issues if anything happened to the property or one of the other tenants. All landlords are different, but mine would want to know ASAP and would come down on that hard!

          1. CB*

            +1. My large city hosted the Super Bowl a few years ago, and one of my neighbors got caught listing their apartment on AirBnb. I’m not sure if they were reported by a neighbor or if the management company checks those websites, but we all received a letter reminding us that this was forbidden and someone had been caught. I think the time between that letter and when I saw the tenants moving out was ~2 weeks.

            I won’t say that I blame them for trying, though. 1 bedroom apartments in my neighborhood were being listed for $1,200-$1,400 PER NIGHT.

        2. Anon Librarian*

          OK, so you have to choose between talking to her and talking to the landlord. You could do both. But then she would assume you were the person who told the landlord and she might retalliate, even if she seems nice.

          Since this is basically a safety issue, I would tell the landlord. I would go on AirBnB, find the listing, and send her the link. “I found this after several incidents in which strangers demanded access to my apartment. Does our building allow it? And if so, could the listing be improved to avoid problems for other tenants?” Because, who knows, she could have gotten special permission.

          This is one reason AirBnB is so dodgy – a lot of the hosts are violating their leases or local laws or just creating a nuisance for their neighbors. It kind of wreaks of, “will do anything for extra money,” so you have to wonder about their integrity and judgment and how that will affect you as a guest. I’ve had positive experiences with it, personally, but you have to be cautious.

    2. Not A Manager*

      If you want to keep good relations with her, I’d talk to her first. Decide what your preferred outcome would be – do you want NO airbnb at all? I assume that she’s renting a room out while she’s still in residence – is that okay so long as she’s around to let people in? Or maybe she’s vacating the apartment when they come. Would you be more comfortable if she were there?

      I’m sympathetic to her desire to leverage her residence for income, and I’m super sympathetic to your desire not to have a bunch of strangers in your building. Whatever your preferred outcome, I think you should see if you can resolve it with her before you go to the landlord.

      In terms of the landlord, I can guarantee that s/he does not want people to airbnb their units. It could very well be prohibited by a reasonable interpretation of an existing lease clause, but in any event the landlord always has the option of not renewing the lease if the tenant keeps doing it. So I would save reporting to the landlord as a nuclear option.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      At the very least she should improve her directions to visitors so they do not disturb her neighbors!

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I would put a sign on my door. “The AirBnB is [downstairs/where ever]. If you are here for the AirBnB, turn around and go back downstairs [or where ever they should go].”

      People might actually be grateful not to embarrass themselves by bothering you.

        1. valentine*

          I wouldn’t put up a sign because directing strangers furthers the security breach. While I would hate for my neighbor to lose money they need, this would completely defeat the purpose of living in a four-person building.

    5. OperaArt*

      I suspect your landlord would be very unhappy with the AirBnB rentals. Also, some cities have enacted strict rules about these kinds if rentals. As s last resort, and if you want to pursue the issue to that level, you might find some help.

    6. LilySparrow*

      I would be calling the landlord immediately. Your neighbor knows perfectly well she’s violating the lease.

      She’s gone to a certain amount of trouble to set up an illegal business. She’s not going to stop just because you don’t like it.

      If she wants to run an Air BnB, she can go live somewhere that allows it. And then her neighbors would have the option to NOT live somewhere that allows it.

  25. IntoTheSarchasm*

    I meant to reply to the person who was looking for some suggestions to help with personal hygiene as she , I believe it was a she, was somewhat overweight and having trouble reaching everywhere for adequate cleaning. I had a suggestion and did not post in time, then forgot and was recently reminded so I hope she sees this. Having a similar problem, I discovered what are sold as Japanese bath cloths, supposedly for exfoliating after a hot bath. They are about 30 inches long and sort of like an unraveled bath pouf. It is easy to soap them and loop them around to reach everywhere. They are a little abrasive but soften up and they come in three colors which I understand are different levels of abrasiveness but I don’t read Japanese so who knows? I find them on Amazon, brand Salux, but there are probably others. They also sell them in stores, but they are really soft and not as good. Also great if you just want to exfoliate. I hope this is helpful.

    1. Beatrice*

      I am not the poster you were hoping to reach, but I love a good scrub and checked them out, thanks! :)

    2. The Messy Headed Momma*

      I LOVE those Salux scrubbies! I didn’t know they had different levels of scrubbiness….

      1. IntoTheSarchasm*

        I think that is what the different colors mean, but not at all sure. They are the best though and as someone below sad, they dry out, not like a loofah or something thicker.

    3. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      I missed the post you’re referring to, but I have one of those and love it! It’s been great for my keratosis pilaris, and is just plain awesome for skin that likes exfoliation. It also lasts forever (I think I’ve had mine a decade?) and doesn’t hold water like a washcloth so it dries fast enough to avoid mildew even in my very humid bathroom.

    4. Traffic_Spiral*

      Also, Stridex Red pads. They’re meant for helping acne, but bacteria and oil are sorta the same on the rest of your body. So, wipe one under your arms and it eats up all the B.O. bacteria.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      Oooh, want! I have rotator cuff issues in both my shoulders and can’t reach around to wash my back very well when they’re acting up. This sounds like the perfect solution.

    6. AcademiaNut*

      I didn’t realize these weren’t standard in North America – they’re great. They also dry quickly enough that you can take them with you on trips, and are long enough to scrub your back easily.

      The other cool Asian scrubby is the Korean bath mitts. You soak in warm water for about half an hour, then scrub down your body with it, and the dead skin comes off like eraser crumbs (seriously – I feel like a snake shedding my skin).

  26. Eliasaph*

    I am looking for my first apartment! Since I will be a young woman living alone, a safe area is obviously fairly high on the priority list. But I know a lot of you feel strongly about not discounting neighborhoods because of racism. So I was wondering how that is supposed to play out in real life. I don’t promise to actually follow y’all’s recommendations (quite frankly ‘gas stove’ is higher on my priority list than ‘combats racism’), but I feel I should at least be aware of them.

    I would also love any other advice about apartment hunting.

    1. Overeducated*

      Is it in a city where you know people? If so, ask for details. In multiple places I’ve lived, I’ve gotten very honest breakdowns of how safe people feel in their neighborhoods and why, based on actual behavior and events they have witnessed, and sometimes down to the street or block level. It can be much more fine grained than general stereotypes. I’d say also think about how much you will be walking around after dark and maybe check out your commute, if it involves public transit, at the time of day you’d be making it.

      1. Eliasaph*

        I’m from the area, but most of my friends are from the suburbs. I have one lady giving me advice on neighborhoods and looking at listings to see if they are in good areas, which is amazing. I really don’t know the city well.

      2. Alexandra Lynch*

        Based on my experience, while racism can play into things, sometimes there is also a cultural difference. Certain subcultures are much more into “living on their front porch” than middle-class Americans are. This isn’t wrong, just different. But it does mean that when he gets off work and decides “Heck with it, it’s Friday, I’m going to get drunk tonight”, everyone sees it. And it means that when the teenager and her mom have a screaming fight about her sneaking out at night, well, the entire block can enjoy the free entertainment. Doesn’t mean they aren’t good people and good neighbors overall, but it’s a cultural difference that can surprise people sometimes.

    2. Jdc*

      Don’t get a ground floor, easier to break into. Agree on the gas stove. I would be more interested in close to amenities than anything to do with racism. It’s my home not my proving point for anything. My last apartment had a shopping center right near that had anything you could need. Att store, drug store, Home Depot, grocery, numerous banks, fuel, food. That was so convenient. Close access to a freeway if that’s how you get to work or public transportation. A bathtub is beyond high on the list for me. Mandatory. Also for me washer and dryer in unit is a must but depending where you are that’s not always an option. I worked insane hours so i needed to be able to just toss stuff in and not make an event about it. Also now that we don’t have a pantry and have to use the regular cupboard for food that’s high for me. I never knew how much barely fit in regular cabinets due to size until now. Not a deal breaker but a preference for sure. Safe parking for sure.

    3. Asenath*

      I’d worry about cost, easy transportation to work, groceries, etc,, and brushing up on your local landlord-tenant laws first. I’ve mostly lived in smallish quiet cities, but I have been told I shouldn’t live where I then did. No racism involved in that case; there were very few people who were visible minorities and a lot of the few that were there were middle-class professional s.

    4. Washi*

      I would recommend giving a lot of thought to what makes something safe vs. unsafe for you. For example, I lived in a neighborhood in DC with a relatively high rate of violent crime (especially compared to where I grew up.) This concerned me at first, but when I was looking over the list of incidents in the past few years, it was almost 100% people who knew each other getting into arguments with weapons. Since I didn’t know anyone who was going to pull a knife on me if we had a disagreement, I actually felt quite safe. Not everyone would come to that same conclusion, but that’s what I was comfortable with.

      For something like muggings, the rate can often be higher in wealthier or more touristy areas, so that’s something worth looking at too because it may not be what you assume. Catcalling tends to be an issue anywhere there are bored men hanging out on the street, so if that would turn you off a neighborhood, I’d recommend walking around a few times in shorts and seeing what happens.

      1. Not putting my usual name on this*

        That’s actually a really good point. I live in an area of England which has an extremely high knife murder rate compared to my region as a whole -there have been an awful lot in a very small area. However I still feel very safe walking around. Again 80% of the victims were known to their attacker and most involved highly inebriated people going onto the streets when their arguments got heated in the early hours, which is highly unlikely to happen in my life. I hope.

        1. Eliasaph*

          I mean, while I really really care about not getting stabbed, I would also strongly prefer not to see other people getting stabbed either. Or hear people get into violent altercations in the wee hours.

          1. Not putting my usual name on this*

            Oh absolutely but I only know about them because of the news, and I never even put the pattern together. I used to be admin in a kinda-related industry and someone mentioned the anomaly in passing in a meeting. I’m 1-1.5 miles away from where they all took place.

      1. Eliasaph*

        Medium sized Midwestern US city, which I know isn’t enough for specific advice. But I’ve read people on here make big-picture statements about not judging areas by poverty or racial demographics, which makes sense. So I was wondering how that is supposed to play out practically speaking.

        1. Annonno Today*

          When you land on a few options that look good, try to visit each at night, during the day, and maybe at 5-6 pm, whatever will help you get the vibe of the neighborhoods.

    5. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Think about what dangers are relevant. Safety doesn’t just mean a low risk of assault or burglary: it also includes dangerous intersections, whether they’re dangerous because of bad road design, lack of crosswalks and traffic lights, or speeding traffic.

      In terms of crime/safety, one *good* thing is people out on the street, either walking (from the subway, to the supermarket, with their dogs…) or using ballfields, park benches, etc. That’s a place where racism leads people astray–I’m safer waiting for a bus on 125th Street in Harlem, with lots of other people around even at 10 p.m., than on a corner where there are no eyes to deter a possible crime.

      Other thoughts: I have a friend who will not live in a first floor apartment, because he worries about someone breaking in through the window. But I am typing this while sitting happily in my first-floor apartment, glad not to have to climb stairs, the way I do when I visit him.

      If you have a car, you probably care less about whether it’s safe to walk from the bus stop or train station than I would.

      Some cities post a police log online, which might be useful if you’re looking at patterns.

      1. Filosofickle*

        Great point about people out and about. I live in a fairly safe, inner suburban “downtown” that’s walkable with great transit. Late in the evening, it can feel like a ghost town. I still feel okay walking alone from the train station in the dark (many people do not) but more foot traffic would feel better. Our biggest problem is car break-ins, not violent crime or assault. That makes some people feel more unsafe more than others.

        I prefer 2nd floor over 1st mainly so I can leave windows open all night :) No A/C here.

      2. Old Biddy*

        Agreed on the importance of having lots of people walking around after hours/on weekends. The most creeped out I’ve ever been was when I stayed at a hotel in downtown St. Paul. It was a weird combinations of few pedestrians during non-work hours plus streets designed for cars rather than pedestrians.

        1. Filosofickle*

          Oh, that was a trip to Atlanta for me. I didn’t get a car because my hotel was in Buckhead and across the street from my client site. The first night, I set out to walk the half mile to a cluster of good restaurants, but it was so thoroughly deserted and not pedestrian friendly that I stopped halfway at the nearest good-enough restaurant. Everywhere I went on that trip (which included a couple vacation days) I felt like the only person walking, even downtown during the business day. The whole trip “Nobody Walks in LA” played in my head.

          1. Eliasaph*

            Good point. I’m inclined to enjoy the quiet and empty night, which isn’t as sensible in the city. ‘Lots of people around’ would not have been a sign of safety for me.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Try as best you can to find something a little less than what you can afford. There are always unforeseens in life and who knows what bills might pop up.

      If you end up on a second floor or more walk-up, think about lugging laundry, groceries and even your furniture up the stairs. I opted for a smaller apartment on the first floor because of this.

      Looking at the owner is just as important as looking at the apartment. Follow your gut, you can love the apartment but the landlord might negate all that love. The first landlord I had was fine, he was fine when I met him and he remained fine though out my stay. My second landlord was weird when I first met her and that did not improve at all over the years I was there. It ended with her totally weirding out on me and me running to the bank as quickly as possible to cash her security return check. She accused me of stealing a rug and screens that she NEVER gave me. She also said other really weird stuff. I learned to lean toward apartments that looked like they had some more recent updates, rather than places that were done in ancient wall paper.

      When my husband and I got married our biggest problem was finding a place that would allow us to park two cars. Parking can be an issue. Even if you do not have a car, you might want space for guests to park. So find out where your guests will park.

      1. Parenthetically*

        +1 about the landlord. My first tiny, basic apartment I rented from a big (fairly well-reviewed) property management company. Repairs were always done in a timely way and complaints dealt with professionally. My second apartment was MUCH larger and in a lovely older home, but privately owned by a man whose wife had left him mid-renovations, so he’d split the house into three apartments and rented them out. A bunch of the stuff in the apartment was his, and he accused us of stealing a filing cabinet from him when we moved out, so none of us got our deposits back. I will never rent from a single owner like that again.

      2. Eliasaph*

        Apartments here are pretty cheap: I’m looking at under $600. I don’t want to go too much cheaper. One of the ones I’ve already looked at was four something, and the maintenance and layout were distinctly subpar.

        I’m young and healthy, so I figure extra stairs will be mandatory exercise, which would be good for me.

        Any advice on checking out landlords? A lot of the stuff I’m finding tends to be four-unit buildings, so I’m guessing some of them are owned by individuals rather than property businesses. Or just go with my gut?

        1. Not So NewReader*

          My renting days are pre-internet so others may have more up-to-date advice.

          Gut feelings- yes, pay attention.

          Watch to see how organized the landlord is. If they seem disorganized let that send up a yellow flag to keep you vigilant.

          Look at the place. Is the wall paper old, is the place dark, has the yard been cleaned up, trimmed, mowed lately?
          What is the plan for snow removal? What is the plan for the garbage? etc, etc. If it keeps coming up, there is no plan that is all up to the tenant, watch yourself.
          Does the landlord or close relative live nearby or actually live in the building? (Having a family member in the building might mean the landlord pays attention more often. OTH, it could be that the family member reports everything, real or imagined, to the landlord. who knows.)

          I had three apartments. The good places were freshly painted, bright and clean. The bad place needed painting and was dark, but still clean. The good places had the grounds taken care of. The bad place said the tenants took care of the mowing and snow removal. The good apartments came with easy access to the landlord or family representative. The bad apartment had a landlord who snuck into my apartment when I was not there. That worked until one day, I was home and she did not realize. Whoops. We had to have a chat. Good landlords understood that they could ask to come in and I would let them in on a moment’s notice. There was no need to sneak around. The good places had garbage removal provided. The bad place said the tenants removed their own garbage and some tenants chose not to do this, so we had piles.

    7. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      The most important thing when looking for housing is to understand which things will really bug you later, and which things you can live with. It’s not the same list for everyone, but knowing which one or two things to prioritize in your search will help you figure out which things you’re going to have to let go of.

      When I looked for apartments, I knew I needed someplace with a reserved parking spot for me and also ample visitor parking nearby. I find nothing more upsetting than to finally get home after a long day out somewhere and to not be able to actually go home yet because I can’t find a place to park, and would actually have crying meltdowns over this in college housing sometimes when I was really stressed. So I wouldn’t even look at places that didn’t give me a reserved parking spot because I knew that would matter more to me than, say, spending more on electricity because it had electric ceiling heat. (I think I hate parking a lot more than other people. I also prioritize living somewhere that has good bus service and walkable services because I really, really hate parking. Most weeks, I try to only use my car one day a week or less. I’d get rid of it if my parents didn’t live places that are hard to get to on transit.)

      I also stress a lot about fires (the house down the street from us burned down when I was a little kid, and one of my earliest memories is my parents packing family photos and such into the car in case it spread up the street, which it didn’t), so I personally didn’t rent places that had tenant fireplaces, allowed tenant grills on balconies, or had gas stoves. I also looked for places that had good firewalls, fewer units in each building, and lots of exits. This was again more about what mattered to me than about what I think every renter should do.

      On the other hand, I didn’t care at all about whether or not there was a pool, which school district or school it was in, or bike parking, because I didn’t plan to swim, didn’t have kids, and didn’t ride a bike. Someone else might prioritize those things over either parking or avoiding fireplaces.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        Oh, and when considering neighborhoods, think about whether you want a residential neighborhood or a mixed-use neighborhood, and maybe also research whether you’re in the middle of or near any local festivals. I definitely wanted to live somewhere with walking-distance commercial and not just housing for miles, but some people want a neighborhood with less through traffic. I’ve also had two small parades pass by my house in the past month, and there are a couple more that will be nearby enough to impact my ability to get through my neighborhood at other times of the year, and the church across the street sometimes has big events for things like Labor Day happening in their parking lot. For me, living in a neighborhood where community stuff happens is what I wanted, but some people would be incredibly grumpy dealing with all of that.

        1. Parenthetically*

          This is great advice. There are a few neighborhoods in my city that I’m sure are an absolute nightmare for residents during farmers’ markets, to say nothing of parades and street festivals.

          1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

            Yeah, the main commercial street near me has the street closed for markets two days a week in the summer, down to one day a week this time of year. That’s fine for me (I wheel a little cart down on Saturday mornings to buy milk, eggs, and produce from the farmers every week), but would be really obnoxious if I were trying to drive somewhere that direction during those times.

      2. Chaordic One*

        I certainly relate to your comments about parking. Your mentioning parking at college brings back lots of (mostly bad) memories. At my college it was common for groups of students to get together and physically lift and move small cars (like Volkswagen Beetles or Honda Civics) that had been legally parked to non-parking areas or onto the grass.

        Your other comments are certainly worthwhile, too. Although I’ve lived in places with fireplaces I’ve never actually used them. They just seem like an extra hassle to clean.

    8. LilySparrow*

      I’ve never done this, but having lived in a lot of apartment buildings, I would now.

      Visit the building/neighborhood at different times of day, say 5am or 10pm. See what it’s actually like if you were leaving early or coming home late.

      Also, if you visit at a more typical hour, like 11 am or 7pm, try ringing a couple of door buzzers. If you get buzzed in with nobody questioning you, then you can expect that your neighbors will let random people in, which isn’t very safe.

    9. YetAnotherUsername*

      Go check out the areas you are considering at night. Go walk around the area including lane ways and back alleys and so on during the day. Try to look at it from a burglar or drug dealers perspective. Where is good for doing drug deals or easy to break into etc.

      People who live in bad areas usually will tell you their area is lovely and the community is so strong. I’ve noticed people who live in the worst areas where there are literal murders going on are often the most vocal about how the area is just so nice and the community is so strong. (I’ve never heard a middle class person talk about how their community is so strong). A friend of mine bought a house in an area with a really bad reputation (for heroin epidemic, not for racism) and was at pains to tell me about how lovely his road was and of course how strong the community was.

      When I went to visit there waere two half-barrel flower pots at the bottom of his road. One of them had been burnt out. How much of a total scanger do you have to be to burn out a flower pot! Like how would that even enter your head! Oh I’m a bit bored I’m going to set fire to these pretty flowers that the council or my naighbours have kindly placed here. Pure scum.

      Look for signs of antisocial behaviour like burnt out bins (and flowerpots haha) and if anyone tells you the community is “so strong” just ignore anything else they have to say and strike that one off your list.

      1. LilySparrow*

        I’ve never heard that phrase used, but I can understand it as a yellow flag. “Boston Strong,” etc = a community under attack or recovering from disaster.

      2. Agnodike*

        Hi, I am a middle class person living in a mixed-class neighbourhood and I am the first to tell you how strong our community is. My young family is one of three on our street with kids the same age and we all look out for each other. All the older people on the street have lived in their houses for 20 years or more and are quick to “adopt” new families who join the neighbourhood. It was a huge selling point when we bought our house and one of the things that we love most about living here. The houses, people, and surrounding environment are all nice. Nobody sets fire to anyone’s flowerpots. I think you should reevaluate your metrics.

    10. Chaordic One*

      Do you have a car? If not, then close proximity to public transportation is a must. And even if you do have a car, it is still nice to be close to public transportation because you might not want to drive to work if you don’t have to. If you do have a car, then you have a whole bunch of extra things to take into consideration.

      It seems to me that most cities have parking regulations that make on-street parking difficult. (Things like no overnight parking, or that you car has to be moved every 24 hours. Where I used to live, we weren’t allowed to park on the street in front of our apartment building for more than 2 hours without being ticketed, even though it was a residential neighborhood. Also, when your car is parked on the street it is more vulnerable to being broken into, vandalized, and hit by traffic. Off-street parking is pretty much a must.

      All off-street parking is not created equal. You might end up having to park in a parking lot in front of your apartment building where you end up having to walk considerable distance from your car to your apartment (like a block or so) which isn’t ideal when you are trying to lug several bags of groceries into your home. Personally, I find it comforting to be able to look out the window of my apartment and see my car parked outside. It is reassuring to know that it is still there and hasn’t been broken into or vandalized, but many apartment buildings are not designed to allow this.

      You also have to worry about your neighbors and their parking habits. I know it sounds petty, but if you have a halfway nice car, you don’t want it covered with door dings because your neighbors are jerks. (In my experience, some of the worst door-dingers are people with children who have their cars’ back doors open wide while they buckle their rug rats into their child safety seats in the back seat of their car or SUV. Parents who have minivans with their sliding doors don’t do this.)

      An apartment complex that offers “covered parking” (a carport) is preferable to one that doesn’t. Your car is still vulnerable to being broken into and being vandalized, and to the weather, but where there is frost (most of the U.S.) the carport will usually prevent frost from appearing on your car and that can save you a few minutes when you want to get in your car and go, instead of having to scrape the windows first. It will also keep most of the snow off your car in winter, although if you have a lot of wind, your car could still end up with snow on it.

      A building with underground parking is a step better than that. You car is still somewhat vulnerable to being broken into, vandalized, and (depending on your neighbors) subject to door dings, but most of these garages have measures to limit access to the parking areas. You’re also not usually affected by the weather (frost or snow).

      Ideally, you should consider looking for a place with a garage. Where I live, apartments with individual garages go for about $100 a month more than those without. Your car stays cleaner, is less likely to be broken into and/or vandalized, and less likely to be door dinged. If you have a smaller car, you can also use some of the space in the garage for storage of other things. If you have a nice car and want it to stay that way, it is about the only way to go. I think it is worth the extra cost.

      This post may have gone on a bit long, but I love my car. It is my most single most valuable possession and the second most expensive thing I’ve ever bought. (My house cost more, but then I ended up having to sell it although at least I didn’t lose any money on it.)

      1. Eliasaph*

        I have a car, but it cost me less than 4K. It’s also the most valuable thing I own, but that’s not saying much. I don’t worry about dings.

        Not having to walk a block with groceries or scrape the ice off my car, on the other hand, sound like very desirable features. I will ask to see the parking. Thanks!

    11. Yikes*

      I own a home in a gentrifying neighbourhood. The part of the neighbourhood I’m in is full of young families, retirees, people who take meticulous care of their lawns, etc. Not too far away are spots where a lot of illegal commerce (drug trade, sex work, etc) takes place and landlords maintain their units less assiduously. Some of the people in my neighbourhood are like me: white middle-class educated professionals. Some are blue-collar workers whose cultural background is otherwise similar to mine, some are recent immigrants, some are people living in poverty, some are people who make their living illegally. I love living here because I like living in a place where I meet, support, and am supported by a variety of people with a variety of perspectives. I know most of my neighbours and like them very much, including people doing illegal work. Not everyone is comfortable making friends with people who are different than they are, and so they often feel really uncomfortable in heterogenous environments. So just figure out where your comfort level is.

      It’s worth asking yourself what makes a neighbourhood feel “unsafe” to you. Are you worried about your property? Are you worried about your person? Are you worried about feeling out of place? i.e. do you want a neighbourhood where people look and act like you, and where your neighbours will generally have a lot of life experiences in common with you? Once you know what you’re looking for, you can start trying to find it. If you’re worried about property crime, look at your city’s statistics and choose a neighbourhood where the incidence is low. If you’re worried about violence, ditto. If you want to live with a lot of white people around, walk around the neighbourhood and see who you see. If you want to live with a lot of wealthy people around, ditto, but you can also look at what businesses are nearby: is it mostly Starbucks and specialty bookstores, or corner stores and diners? Most of all, be clear in your own mind about what it is you actually want, and please don’t flinch away from examining why you want those things. The phrase “‘gas stove’ is higher on my priority list than ‘combats racism'” is probably not one you should utter too frequently.

    12. Fikly*

      I just recently went through this! In a medium sized ish city? And I cannot afford high rent.

      What I ended up doing was going to local (non-chain) coffee shops and asking the staff what they thought about the neighborhood, both in terms of what it was like to live there and safety. I got super good info!

      Also, for what it’s worth, my micro neighborhood is a bit run down, doesn’t have any “nicer” chains/stores, etc, but is slowly easing its way up. I feel much safer in a neighborhood slowly (but not rapidly) going up than one going in the other direction.

      1. Eliasaph*

        Medium sized city, yes, though fortunately with pretty cheap rent.

        Brilliant idea with the coffee shops! That will, alas, require me to talk to strangers. Oh well. Stepping outside one’s comfort zone is good for the soul occasionally.

    13. Anon Librarian*

      I have a lot of thoughts and experience on this subject.

      It sounds like you’re thinking of crime statistics for neighborhoods. That’s one aspect of safety, but it’s not the whole picture. The specifics of your apartment and living situation also make a huge difference. And remember that crime statistics reflect what’s reported and/or results in a conviction. Unfortunately, there is more police involvement and a greater likelihood of convictions when people have lower incomes or are from minority groups. So the statistics can be off. There is crime everywhere. Safety has to be a lifestyle, regardless of where you are.

      I recommend looking for a unit in a small building with nice neighbors. Avoid big buildings; they come with a greater chance of having that one creepy neighbor who creates problems. Same with those big apartment complexes.

      Make sure the landlord changes the locks when you move in. Consider researching options and asking for the safest type of lock.

      Consider getting a dog or some kind of security system. Keep valuables away from windows. All the basic preventative measures.

      Then get to know some of your neighbors. The ones who’ve lived there a long time and seem nice. Be one of the good neighbors who works with the other neighbors to keep everyone safe.

      Also, keep the public-facing part of your unit, even if it’s just a door, looking nice. That communicates, “This person has their shit together.” I think criminals are more likely to target units that might be unoccupied or lived in by someone who isn’t home much or is in poor health or just disorganized about upkeep and security. Don’t be Overgrown Lawn Neighbor or Never-Seen Neighbor. Spruce up your door, balcony, etc, and say hi to people.

    14. CB*

      Proximity to things you are likely to frequent on a regular basis (coffee shop, grocery store, library, etc) is especially important. Unsure about your transportation situation, but I no longer drive, and know that being near the “right” bus/rail lines for my frequently commuted places is important. I’d say that same is true for your drive – if you have to take X highway to get to work, will you have to sit in 20 minutes of traffic just to get from your apartment to said highway?

      Personally, I prefer to live in smaller complexes (like less than 30 units) compared to those giant 200+ unit high rises. For one, my rent is much more affordable, but I’ve also found that I enjoy living on the 2nd floor for noise and sunlight reasons. Best of luck in your search!

  27. Environmental Compliance*

    I am so, so sore. I signed up for a silks/lyra class. I think I overestimated how much strength I have in my upper body.

    Also, knitting update: this yarn sucks. I literally have skin peeling off my fingers from the super rough metallic thread in it. I cannot wait to be done. I’m taking a break and knitting with some cashmere blend for a new design.

    1. fuzzy onesie*

      Hello fellow circusista! I started silks 5 years ago, I think. I did it for 4 years. It took a *long* time to build up my arm/hand strength. But, it did eventually build up. I hope you have a lot of fun with it. I loved to rock the bruises – they made me feel so cool. I’ve moved on to trapeze, and even though I was doing silks at the time, it worked such different muscles that I still was useless the day following my class for a few months. Once you’ve done silks for 3 or 4 months, if you’re still enjoying it, try for 2 classes a week. Or do other things to really work your hands/arms/core. You need a lot of abs.

      Your wool sounds terrible. I will hopefully finish soon gloves for my SO. He picks the smallest wool possible. Even thinner than the sock wool I usually knit with. I’m all done knitting the dental floss. Anyway, 2.5 fingers left to go.

    2. Vincaminor*

      Ouch! My sympathies for your poor fingers! (I have the opposite problem—my fingertips are so busted they snag the yarn — but at least that doesn’t hurt.) I hope the cashmere is soothing!

    3. Sparkly Lady*

      It’s a specific kind of strength to do aerial. You’ll build what you need and generally, it happens faster than people think (as long as they come to class consistently).

      I’ve been doing aerial for almost a decade and I STILL remember that first morning after my first silks class. I felt like I had a corset on all day.

    4. Trippychick*

      My daughters do aerial silks (we have one in our living room) and I recently took a couple classes. I have zero upper body strength and I wanted to die halfway through class. And throw up. I didn’t die but I did throw up! But then I think, I’m 45 and the fact that I actually made it through a whole hour is pretty damn impressive. I’m hoping that over time my strength will build up and it’ll get easier.

    5. FLuff*

      It gets better! I’ve only done silks and Lyra and tumbling for about 2 years (and that was during ACL recovery). I could not hold myself up at all when I started and was easily the weakest person in class. For tumbling, I could not do a handstand. At. all. Like not even get my head off the ground, no arm strength there not even a tiny bit. LikeNow I can hang, get in and out of footlocks, do drops, handstands, etc. It takes time and be nice to those arms. I thought I would never be able to make it up to the top and now I do climbs up and down all the time. I’m even thinking of getting my own silks, now just have to figure out where to hang them (maybe the Y?). And I’m 47 – no gymnastics background. I have to laugh though at how, in silks, anything that looks beautiful gives you the silk version of rug burn.

    6. NoLongerYoung*

      This sounds awesome. I am 3 months into pilates and I haven’t even had the nerve to try the TRX straps yet. (Suspension). I have seen the silks and it looks awesome from videos but not in person!

      With the pilates, I’m getting abs and a little bit of upper body… so far to go. And decades older… LOL. So I’m fascinated by it.

  28. Anonymous Person on the Web*

    So I live in an area that has (or had now that fall is starting) a critical risk of EEE and while it wasn’t an issue this year I often volunteer at an overnight camp (for adults not kids) and I’m wondering about next summer… Is it too much of a risk to even bother or is it more like it could be risky but if you put on lots of bug spray and are careful it’s not actually so bad that no one should ever go camping ever again?

    I feel like the places that are restricting activities are those that have to consider liability issues more than anything else because they work with children/disabled adults and need to be extra cautious. I mean EEE has always been an issue for the last several years right? it’s not as though its just started this year – it’s just that it’s been worse than usual this year, right? And next year it might go back down to what it was previously — or be worse?

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            It’s been all over the news here in Connecticut–it’s a potentially fatal mosquito borne disease with no real treatment available. Town & state parks are closing early, and as far as I can tell they postponed some overnight road work until after first frost.

      1. Anonymous Person on the Web*

        Sorry about that! I meant to add in the full name of it but then forgot to do it before hitting submit. Also realized I didn’t say that you get it from mosquitoes.

        1. CastIrony*

          I hope my little brother doesn’t find out- we live nowhere near the area, but he was so worried about EEE this summer due to anxiety.

    1. Reba*

      Regarding next year — yeah, I’d say wait to see what the predictions are before freaking out in advance :) I understand the disease is dire, but it is still really rare (CDC says about 7 cases reported per year).

      The CDC also says insect repellent (NOT the “natural” stuff) and other protection like treated clothing.

      I wonder if at your camp you sleep in cabins? If so, bed nets would be a great thing for them to invest in.

      1. Anonymous Person on the Web*

        No cabins just tents and the like… also near water so yeah… but waiting and seeing next year is like is best I’m sure. Plus taking lots and lots of bug spray …. and buying extra for people who won’t bring theirs.

        1. Natalie*

          We had good results with a combination of permethrin (to treat clothing) and picaridin (on the skin) in Costa Rica. Picaridin is just as effective as DEET but isn’t as greasy or smelly and doesn’t liquify plastics.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        It’s traditionally been rare, but this year there has been a surge. Google sent me to ScienceNews. Here’s the title & lead-in blurb :
        “Rare eastern equine encephalitis has killed 9 people in the U.S. in 2019
        31 of the 103 mosquito-borne brain infections in the past decade have occurred in 2019”
        So yeah it’s a bad year and I’m afraid people are going to react by spraying pesticides all over the place. Because even I’m tempted, and I’m a beekeeper currently without hives partly due to colony collapse.

    2. Nye*

      I’m also in a “critical risk” EEE area. My understanding is that it really is intermittent – you can have very low levels (and no cases in humans) for years, followed by 2-4 years of high risk with human incidents. This year is very bad in my area, but it’s the third summer I’ve lived in the region and I had never heard of it before because it wasn’t an issue for the past two years. If the past is any indication, next year will also be bad (maybe worse).

      Personally I think there has been an overreaction where I live – all town events past 6 pm have been cancelled for the past few months, including the annual Town Party. We were super-concerned at first, but the state has sprayed extensively to kill the mosquitoes and we use a ton of bug spray. However, I understand the motivation: there is no good treatment for encephalitic EEE in humans, and it can easily be fatal. I imagine no organization wants to have that on their consciences, so it’s easier to cancel anything even a little risky.

  29. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

    Weird request: Books that have two point of view characters who are on opposite sides. Cop and robber, superhero and supervillain, activist and corrupt official etc. I just want to read the cover blurb, so it doesn’t matter what genre the book is, or even if it is any good. I promise this isn’t for school!

    1. Disco Janet*

      Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin (POV is split between woman having an affair with a married man, and the wife of that man.)

      In Her Shoes (two adult sisters who are enemies – well, at the start), and Then Came You (POVs are adult daughter and her dad’s new wife) by Jennifer Weiner

      These are a little bit more interpersonal than the examples you gave – but still people on who consider themselves opposites.

    2. Everdene*

      A couple jumped straight to mind – although not sure if it’s what you mean.

      A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult
      Come Together by Josie Lloyd and E(something) Reese

      1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

        Thanks! I’m looking for stories like A Spark of Light, but if it was told from the perspectives of the negotiator and the gunman. Come Together is exactly what I’m trying to avoid- I am looking for characters that are in some way enemies, not romantic interests.

        1. Everdene*

          I have a mental picture of novels with champters written in different fonts for different characters – I’ll mull it over and come back to you.

        2. rupptopia*

          The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides, told from the point of view of the patient and the psychotherapist trying to treat her. One of those books you know a twist is coming but it might surprise you as what that twist turns out to be.

    3. Kate B*

      I’m a big sci-fi/fantasy reader, so these examples fall in those genres:
      Last First Snow by Max Gladstone
      Summerland by Hannu Rajaniemi
      Autonomous by Annalee Newitz

    4. Llellayena*

      Mercedes Lackey does that in several of her Valdemar series book (Winds of Change series is probably the most obvious). Orson Scott Card also does something like this in any of the Ender’s Game related books, though his characters tend to end up on the same side by the end.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        The ‘other’ POV in OSC’s _Ender’s Game_ and _Speaker for the Dead_ is minimal. Dream interpretations and a few quotes. I didn’t read the later ones, so maybe there’s something in them.

        Lackey – not in any of the first 6 for sure – even the dreams are filtered through Vanyel’s POV. Winds… I seem to recall those being more dream interpretations too.

        CJ Cherry might do some going back and forth in her Chanur and Foreigner series. I seem to recall some human POV in Foreigner.

        Game of Thrones kinda jumps to mind. The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons .

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        hahahhahahahahhahahhaha yeah, in a weird way, it totally does.

        I love that book. God *is* an iron.

    5. Reba*

      I thought of Rashomon, and the short story “In a Grove,” that the film is based on. Googling for “Rashomon like books” turned up some results, although they seemed to focus more on the unreliable narrator aspect than the multiple-voices aspect. But there might be something in the Goodreads and Metafilter threads that turned up that works for you.

    6. Cruciatus*

      Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes does this. Retired detective vs. sociopath killer. I’m not sure about the subsequent books as I’ve only read the first one.

    7. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Are you looking specifically for two opposing POV characters rather than books with lots of different POV characters who are on different sides? I’m having trouble thinking of the former right now, but can think of quite a few for the latter.

      The Hall’s Gate series, which is by David Weber and two different co-authors (first two books with Linda Evans, third book with Joelle Presby, series is not “finished”, but I don’t know if there are concrete plans for future books) deals with a first contact between two different world-hopping civilizations and has multiple POV characters from each of those sides.

      Quite a few of David Weber’s books have multiple POV characters on different sides of conflicts, although for most of them there’s an obvious “side” that you’re supposed to be rooting for and that gets more of the book devoted to their activities with occasional check-ins to see what their opponents are up to. (These are mostly military SF books.) If that’s interesting to you, his Safehold books are probably the ones that best fit that bill and are generally a better book series in terms of anything ever getting revealed or resolved than the Hell’s Gate books, which are clearly still in a slow build-up 3 books in.

      I feel like Tanith Lee probably wrote something that did dual, opposing POVs at some point, but I’m coming up blank on specifics right now. I’ll have to think about it and see if it comes to me later in the weekend.

      In Piers Anthony’s Incarnations of Immortality series book 6 involved re-telling parts of books 1-5 from the opponent character’s POV (among other things), but I really don’t recommend Piers Anthony books at this point generally.

      I feel like I’ve probably read other books that did this, but apparently none of them are things I’ve read recently because I can’t seem to come up with many specific examples. I may check back on this later in the weekend if I remember anything specific.

      1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

        Yep, two characters specifically. Three would be ok, but not an ensemble. I’m curious how the plot is described in the cover blurb, so it’s ok if the book is kinda bad since I don’t have to read it.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          check _The Ruin of Kings_ by Jenn Lyons , two main opposing POVs, third snarky commentator

    8. fposte*

      Depending on your purpose, you might also look at Susan Glaspell’s “A Jury of Her Peers”–it’s a short story from the early 20th century where male law enforcement and the women of a community look at a house after a crime was committed and see the situation very differently.

    9. em*

      Legend by Marie Lu has teen cop/criminal narrators (loosely based on Javert and Jean Valjean! lol), but they also become love interests so might not be what you’re looking for

    10. Chris915NZ*

      Some epistolary novels (ie novels expressed through letters) do this? Dangerous Liaisons by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos is the one that sprang to mind (you may not be looking for 18th century stories though).

    11. Frea*

      Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman has the POV of a B-List superhero for half the book, and a kind of washed-up supervillain for the other half. They’re definitely on different sides….or are they?

    12. YetAnotherUsername*

      The wheel of time series by Robert Jordan does each chapter from one character’s POV and sometimes its from a villain. They are some of the best examples of multiple POV books I’ve ever read. Loads of times the reader knows something the character doesn’t and it’s often hilarious especially when it’s Mat and Elayne or Nynaeve. They see the world totally differently and I always have a giggle when they butt heads. They are on the same side in the main conflict but they disagree on lots of things so it may be useful to you.

    13. Spencer Hastings*

      I have yet to read it, but This Is How You Lose the Time War has been on my mental “stuff I’ve seen recommended and now want to read” list for a while and fits this description, I think.

    14. Seeking Second Childhood*

      How about romance? Penny Reid’s Knitting in the City series has POV switch between the two halves of a couple.

    15. Nervous Nellie*

      What a great question! It rang a fuzzy bell in my head, so I looked it up, and sure enough, Carol Shields’ The Republic of Love fits the bill. The ‘opposites’ are a middle-aged man and a woman, who have very different lives, but who meet and circle around the whole relationship idea. I don’t know if the current editions still do this, but when it came out in Canada in the 90s, the book was divided in two parts, one for him, and one for her, with two front covers, and with one of the halves printed upside down. It was a pleasing physical manifestation of their divide.

    16. Nervous Nellie*

      What a great question! It rang a fuzzy bell in my head, so I looked it up, and sure enough, Carol Shields’ The Republic of Love fits the bill. The ‘opposites’ are a middle-aged man and a woman who have very different lives, who meet & circle around starting a relationship. I don’t know if the current editions still do this, but when it came out in Canada in the 90s, the book was split in two parts, one for each of the characters, one side printed upside down. The book had two front covers – one up and one down, allowing the readers to decide which perspective to read first. A little gimmicky, but the story was sweet. I know you are after enemy stories, but maybe something in the format is of interest.
      I also would mention The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. The story is of a missionary family in what was Congo (Zaire). Each chapter is told from the perspective of one of the family members, and you could get whiplash from the constant changes of narrator. The voices were remarkably consistent, but I found it hard to lose myself in the story for all the adjusting from one voice to the next. Also not really an enemy story, but the teenager in the family sure disliked her folks.

  30. Invisible Fish*

    Suggestions for mascara that does not end up leaving smudges of darkness under your eyes? It doesn’t matter what I try, every mascara leaves black under my eyes by about 3 pm. I’m not going to just keep on purchasing things and hoping for the best, so ….

    1. Beatrice*

      I use Covergirl Professional 3-in-1 Waterproof mascara. It comes in a blue tube. It doesn’t smudge on me unless I actually rub my eyes. It also does not flake, which is a huge priority for me as a contact lens wearer.

    2. Disco Janet*

      Tubing mascara! I had completely given up on mascara over smudging issues until I discovered this kind! It doesn’t have pigment like regular mascara, but instead attaches polymers to your eyelashes. Doesn’t smudge AND yet somehow, it’s easier to remove when you actually want it off.

    3. My Brain Is Exploding*

      I have the same problem and Blinc is the only mascara that has ever worked for me.

      1. Reba*

        Yes, tubing mascaras are the answer! I had the same raccoon-eye problem before switching over to the tubes. I used Blinc for a long while, it is great! I now use the Clinique Lash Power Long Wearing formula. This and Blinc are both pretty natural looking.

        It can be difficult to identify the tubing formulas, as not all are described that way. But look for those that say they wash off with warm water and pressure (not eye makeup remover).

        1. RainAndSun*

          Seconding the recs for tubing mascara! Love them! Love that you don’t need makes up remover too! I also found a more expensive version (Trish McAvoy) that is a bit better for me. Specifically, Blinq must be applied to clean bare dry skin (no oils) but for a lot of reasons, this is not my normal state …. the Trish M seems less sensitive to presence of lotions and potions, making it easier to apply midday or on a whim.

      2. Two Dog Night*

        I was also going to recommend Blinc! It doesn’t smudge at all, and it comes right off when I wash my face.

    4. MossyFerns*

      Have you tried L’Oreal Lash Paradise or Two Faced Better Than Sex? They are essentially the same, but L’Oreal is available at most drug or big box stores. I love them and have never had an issue with smudging or transfer even when my eyes are watery.

      1. Danae*

        Better Than Sex was the smidgiest, flakiest mascara I’ve ever tried! Most don’t smudge on me but I just could NOT get that one to stay put.

        1. Jdc*

          Same! My sister worked for Too Faced so I’ve tried all of their mascara and it’s so flakey! Shame since I got it for free.

    5. OperaArt*

      Blinc mascara. Didn’t run or smudge even after I cried during a funeral. It forms into tiny tubes around your eyelashes that can easily be removed by a combination of rubbing snd water. Warning: when the little tubes come off, they look like eyelashes, so don’t panic.

    6. ImJustHereForThePoetry*

      Look into getting a Lash Lift and Tint
      It is like a perm and dye for your eyelashes. I don’t need to use mascara at all anymore.

    7. migratingcoconuts*

      Try the “Thrive” brand. I love their mascara. I didn’t realize it had a name for the type it is, but reading the other replies, it’s a ‘tube’ mascara. Does not smudge, smear etc, at all. All of their products are vegan and cruelty free. Also, for every purchase you make, they make a donation to help other women “thrive”.

    8. Scandinavian Lady*

      Are you using primer? I have very oily skin and any mascara will smudge without eye shadow primer. Wirh primer no smudge regardless of mascara brand.

    9. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I have the same problem. Diorshow, Diorshow Ionic, Ilia, and Hourglass Caution Extreme Lash don’t flake off on me. I also sometimes use NYX Proof It Waterproof Mascara Top Coat on top of my mascara, and that seems to stop smudging.

    10. Pony tailed wonder*

      Go to beautypedia.com and sort out the mascara reviews by the most stars and start reading the reviews. Some will excel at giving you more length or volume, etc., just decide on your criteria and choose.

  31. AnonoMyHead*

    This is a bit odd, but I noticed about three months ago a small…depression on the top of my head. About 1/2 inch long, maybe the width of my very small pinkie. It’s on the right side, in the middle, toward the front. It doesn’t hurt, I’m not experiencing headaches or vision problems. I realize our heads are kinda lumpy, but am wondering if this indicating something going on, if there’s anything I should be watching for.

    1. fposte*

      Is it possible that you’ve always had it and only just noticed it? As you say, heads are lumpy. I’ve got all kinds of asymmetric canyoning going on.

      1. YetAnotherUsername*

        This. I and two of my siblings have a pretty deep dent in the exact same place in the top/back of our heads. Our parents weren’t in any sort of weird cult or anything so I’m pretty sure it’s genetic, though I haven’t actually checked other relatives heads to be sure!

    2. The Doctor is In*

      Some skin cancers can have ulcerations; if it looks like normal skin it is probably nothing. Otherwise I would mention it to your doctor.

    3. Southern Metalsmith*

      I have one, too. Mine’s pretty much the same place, closer to an inch long. It’s been there as long as I can remember. I always assumed it was where the plates in my skull come together after I was a baby. I’ve never worried about it.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Mine’s near my hairline. I don’t know when I really noticed it but it hasn’t changed in years. I also think it’s plate fusion related.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Have you banged your head (anywhere on your head) on something? If you are so inclined you could have a chiro check it out. Sometimes plates move around.
      I had a pain in my temple that would not quit. It turned out I needed an adjustment, the pain went out immediately and did not return.

    5. Beatrice*

      Can you check with a parent and find out if you had any kind of injury there when you were younger? Maybe it’s an old scar you’ve never noticed before.

    6. Bewildered lately*

      Do you wear your glasses or sunglasses on top of your head a lot? I actually have two depressions where my sunglasses rest in the summer. They plump back out in winter.

    7. blackcat*

      I have a small dent in my head near my hairline as a result of an unfortunate collision with a glass table as a toddler. Scar healed, skull dent didn’t.
      I’m fine. It’s ways been there. It’s not visible, but you can feel it.

  32. Ismis*

    I am hoping to buy an apartment in the next six months or so. I’ve been going to inspections and googling what to look for and things to check, but I find that I am a bit shy about asking the agents questions (in case I sound like a complete newbie). I know the area so I don’t need to ask about transport etc., but if I see cracks in the paintwork for example, what should I be asking?

    I would appreciate any suggestions!

      1. Asenath*

        People are always advised to have an inspection done, although I didn’t the two times I bought property. You then ask the inspector, not the agent, although I don’t know if that’s an improvement. With a crack, I’d ask if it was structural, and if the seller would fix it before the sale. When I bought my apartment, there was a hole left over from construction – it might have held a smoke detector – so I asked if it would be finished. You can ask you agent anything really – how old the windows are, when the electrical system was updated, and certainly anything that might be damage or a problem – is that crack structural or merely old paint? Do those marks on the ceiling indicate a water problem, and if so, was it fixed? And so on.

    1. Not A Manager*

      Do these agents represent the sellers? If you make an offer on a place, do you have the option of having your own representative inspect it?

      I wouldn’t worry about sounding like a newbie. In fact, I think a bit of calculated naivete can sometimes serve you. If you see something, ask about it. “I see some cracks in the paint. What could be causing that?” A lot of times, in their zeal to reassure you that things are okay, they will rule out things that you haven’t thought of but will remember for next time. “Oh, that’s not water damage, the roof is fine.” Maybe the roof is fine and maybe it’s not, but you’ve learned something to look for in your other tours.

      Also, don’t look only at places that you might really be interested in. If there are “open houses” where the public can walk through without an appointment, go to those and ask questions. Again, you’ll learn what to look for in places that you are interested in.

      Finally, I would actually ask the agents. When you’re through with the tour, say to them, “this is my first time looking for a property. What should I look for and what questions should I ask?” They will slant their answers to make this property more appealing, but you should still learn something for next time.

    2. Reba*

      Do you have a buyer’s agent? I gather that in Oz you don’t need one (?) but it could be helpful to have someone who works for you, to put your questions to! Or why not bring a level-headed, not-shy friend with you to some of the open houses.

      I also read a bunch of books and guides when embarking on home-buying, which can give you ideas of what to look out for, and hopefully help you sort out what features are most important to you.

      Good luck!

      1. Ismis*

        Hey Reba,

        Thanks for the feedback! I don’t have an agent but I do have a friend who is much taller than me and very practical. I saw a place I liked last week. Today he came with me to the second viewing, and on the way in, clocked that the window sills in some of the units weren’t in the best shape – I hadn’t noticed. He walked in and said that there was an odd smell – I hadn’t noticed. Saw some cracks about a foot over my head… I’m not that observant which is why I need to make some lists!

        He doesn’t like speaking to the agents though and that’s the part I struggled with (to be fair, it’s tough to ask about a smell you can’t smell!). I’ve been reading some articles, but writing this reply, I think it’s clear I need to learn more about the practicalities. And maybe see a doctor about my nostrils….

    3. Ismis*

      Thank you Asenath and Not A Manager! You’ve really helped me reframe my thinking. I should just ask questions and if I come across as a bit over-zealous, then so be it. In one of the viewings today, I saw that the paint in one corner of the bathroom was peeling. I wasn’t interested in the place and figured it was down to condensation anyway so I didn’t bother asking. I should use those low-stakes apartments as training! I have been guilty of eavesdropping while other people chat to the agents as I lurk in the background fiddling with my phone….

      A lot of places here are sold by auction. You can get an inspection if you are interested in buying but most people don’t do it because it costs money and there are no guarantees that you will have the winning bid. That’s how I understand it but I wouldn’t swear to it!

      The property market has very recently come back with a bang, so at the moment, I’m trying to look at lots of places and figure out what and where I can afford… but some friends of mine have been through the auction process so I plan on picking their brains over a few drinks next week.

      Thanks again – just typing this reply has helped me get things straight in my head.

    4. Wishing You Well*

      A side thought: take a lot of photos during your walkthroughs, especially of anything that looks questionable. You can always delete the photos you don’t need.
      When buying a U.S. house, you hire a house inspector to inspect it and you should be there during the inspection. An agent is there to make the sale and will act accordingly. I wouldn’t trust anything they had to say about the history or condition of the property.
      Your best bet is to hire a buyer’s agent or a home inspector to represent your interests.
      I hope you find a nice place!

      1. Ismis*

        Thanks a lot! Yeah, I mentioned above that I went through a place that smelled a bit off and the agent was just so evasive when I asked the question. I didn’t trust a word that came out of his mouth. He was a bit older too – you’d expect he’d at least have a few glib responses to rattle off. He landed on it probably being the poor paint job (with cheap paint) but wasn’t convincing at all.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Always lift a drop ceiling and look into that space. Many issues can be hidden with a drop ceiling…. like my leaky bathroom. :(

  33. Coco*

    Partner and I are going to Japan next week. Tokyo and Ise. Any recommendations of what’s new and interesting in either place? Partner is into music and electronics.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Jenny Lawson & her family went recently … take a look back on thebloggess and her instagram.

    2. Catherine*

      Music: There are an assortment of bars with live music in Takadanobaba and Otsuka which are great.
      Electronics: Akihabara Electric Town!

    3. Liz*

      I take it you’re going to Ise to see the shrine? I loved my trip there, but a word of warning: I stayed at a hostel near the station and nearly everything closed down by 6 pm or so. The few restaurants were super jam packed, even the chains. I ended up eating a convenience store meal.

    4. Tinuviel*

      Ochanomizu area in Tokyo is where to go for music/instrument stores. Akihabara is good for electronics but you can also get those anywhere nowadays. Find a local English magazine and you can go to a live house, it’s a great experience. Right now the Rugby World Cup is big!

  34. Everdene*

    Morning AMM Hivemind! I have a question that google can’t answer; can you have chronic pain and not be depressed?

    I have chronic pain. I am pretty certain I am not depressed. (My husband and sisters and close friends (inc medical preofessionals) agree – I have checked incase my senses are off) However my (new) pain consultant seems to insist on treating my pain as if I also have depression and is about to switch me to new drugs that will ‘help your pain but also mood as even if you don’t feel it could be an issue’. I know that pain and depression often go hand in hand, I’ve lived this life for long enough to see how it happens, but I do not think I am! I have hobbies/activities that I know are good for my mental wellbeing, my relationships are positive, I have plenty of drive, I have a good life and have plenty of happiness.* Is this all self-delusion? Any thoughts very much appreciated.

    *If it wasn’t for the restrictions from my pain I could well be insufferable!!

    1. WellRed*

      Please don’t let someone convince you you are depressed. You sound like you are very self-aware and those closest to you think you are OK. Can you find another pain consultant? Some professionals get very stuck in their way of thinking and can’t be convinced to treat the actual patient, rather than whatever it is they think the patient has.

      1. Everdene*

        Unfortunately not. Due to a complaint I have made this is the only consultant in my NHS trust “willing” to see me and I think that was under sufferance. Either I need to go private or move to a differnet area (very much not ruled out, but won’t fix things this week)

    2. Thursday Next*

      Some medications were originally developed for depression, but were found to be more effective for pain management. Is that perhaps what your doctor means?

      My experience when I started seeing a pain management specialist two and a half years ago: I didn’t realize how much pain was affecting my mood until I had some sustained relief from the pain.

    3. Red Sky*

      I have chronic pain and one of the meds I take is usually used as an antidepressant but also has ‘off-label’ benefit for treating my type of pain, so I’m taking it to treat my pain, not depression. Sounds like this may be what your dr is suggesting in a not very clear way? It doesn’t sound like you’re depressed at all by what you’ve written here, and you know you best.

    4. fposte*

      In addition to what other people have said about drugs having a dual purpose, many pain meds work by making you care less about pain.

      But you can look up the specific drugs, and maybe check them against reliable medical sites for usage. Usually I’d recommend the national foundation associated with the disorder but I’m not sure which that would be–the top one I’m getting in Google seems to be undersupported on its website with little medication information.

      1. Everdene*

        I always found the ‘this won’t help you but you’ll care less’ approach to medicine quite chilling. When that was part of a Doctor Who episode I felt vindicated in that!

        I know what has been prescribed to me can help depression. I guess what I’m asking is does this mean I am depressed? If there is a 100% co-morbidity between chronic pain and depression, fine I have it, I’m just in denial. But if not, it is wrong for doctors to treat me as if I am depressed because often people in pain are depressed. Does that make sense?

        1. fposte*

          No, it doesn’t mean you’re depressed.

          Look, the human body is hugely complicated, and our language isn’t always equal to conveying its nuance. Sci-fi, especially old-school sci-fi, likes to paint the “you’ll care less” as some evil totalitarian nightmare where we’re too doped up to care, but that’s not how it works, and it’s not accurate to say such a medication “won’t help you.” Speaking as somebody with chronic pain myself, I’ll say that most of us are out of date in our thinking–pain is not one singular thing, and chronic pain is generally not like acute pain, where it’s an alarm that something is wrong that needs repair at a site, but a problem with the alarm system itself. Medications for chronic pain find ways to work with the alarm system–can it turn the noise down? Can it code the alarm as a less significant alarm?

          I’ll append in followup a link to an interesting recent article about chronic pain research, and just for the heck of it I’ll add Atul Gawande’s “The Itch,” which is a mind-blowing article about a different kind of chronic nociception that beautifully illuminates the alarm/broken difference.

            1. StrikingFalcon*

              That itch article is fascinating!

              I have to say though, that antidepressants don’t make me care less about my fibromyalgia pain – the right combination of drugs relieved most of my symptoms (not just pain, but phantom itching, insomnia, unrestful sleep, and disabling fatigue). Whether it’s by regulating the nerves or the brain, they do actually relieve my pain. I can see how ‘turning down the alarm level’ so to speak would help, but that’s not been my experience of treating this particular condition. It’s felt like treating any other physical condition I have.

              They also don’t substantially affect my mood, however. If they did, I might feel differently about taking them. I certainly wouldn’t keep taking a drug that made me feel disinterested in life.

              1. fposte*

                I’ve mostly felt the “don’t care so much about pain” with Tramadol and opiates, and it’s a real threading-the-needle to get the amount where your brain stops looking at the pain but is still willing to do other things. But I also think that language isn’t up to speed on how to describe pain interruption techniques, so we use a lot of metaphor and wave our hands and hope we’ve got it. The important thing is to get to the goal of relief and functionality, and it’s wonderful that you got there–I think success stories don’t always get the same attention as the attempts that failed.

            2. ampersand*

              I so need a follow up to that itch article! It was fascinating. That poor woman. I wonder what’s happened to her in the 11 years since that piece was written?

          1. Sparrow*

            Yes, building off of this, there’s a lot we don’t understand about chronic pain. The nerves are saying that something is wrong, and that alerts the parts of the brain that sense touch, but also it sets off a chain reaction to parts of the brain that affect your mood, concentration, cognition, energy, etc. We’re learning more every day about those circuits and how chronic pain affects them, but there’s a lot we don’t know, and we don’t have treatments that can precisely target the one circuit that is overactive and leave the other ones alone. Antidepressants and other medications that affect neurotransmitters are very non-specific. We use them because research shows they help better than placebo- both for chronic pain and depression- but they can’t necessarily dampen an over active “pain” circuit or “depressed mood” circuit while leaving other ones alone. This is why they have many side effects and why people have such a wide variety of reactions to medications, even ones in the same class.
            Overall they are an imperfect tool, and it is hard to predict how any one person will respond. I’m sorry your doctor didn’t take your report of you own mood seriously- they absolutely should have. I hope they were offering the medication anyway because there’s a chance it might improve your pain and you can’t know until you try. I also hope that someday soon research will help us have treatments that can treat chronic pain more precisely, so it’s not such a game of trial and error. I know there are a lot of people who are suffering and lots of doctors wish they had more reliable effective and treatments when people come to them asking for help.
            Best wishes to you!

    5. Everdene*

      Thanks for your input everyone. You are right that this is a neuropathic/’old school antidepressant’ type drug. I understand that for some people these type of medications work on the pain and as bonus content make the patient feel better ‘in themselves’. In my experience drugs in this family have had a huge impact on my cognitive abilities, energy levels, ability to care or basic comprehension. Even at a very low dose I am not safe to do more than work a tv remote, which ironically is pointless as I cannot keep the storyline in my head for the whole film/episode/advert.

      I’m concerned that the consultant thinks I’m in denial and the wiping out of my brain is seen as a feature not a bug of this treatment path. Although, she does claim this new version is not as abrasive and some patients of hers have responded much better to it. She might be right which is why I’m willing to try.

      1. Too much pain*

        If the medication is Gabapentin, please throw it in the trash. This seems to be the new go-to medication for people who have pain and it is subscribed widely because it’s a non-narcotic.

        The problem is when you try to wean yourself off of it, your brain is so addicted to it it’s almost impossible to stop.

        My spouse was on gabapentin for 12 months and went through horrific withdrawals, emotional outbursts, brain fog and not remembering who she was until she was finally off this evil drug.

        1. fposte*

          I’m sorry that your spouse had difficulty, but that doesn’t mean gabapentin is terrible. Every drug, prescription or OTC, has users with a bad experience.

        2. StrikingFalcon*

          Yeah, there are many drugs that can be hard to get off of. It doesn’t mean they are horrible drugs. I had no trouble getting off of gabapentin, and I was on a fairly high dose. Another drug was a miserable time tapering off. It’s just a risk with certain medications – and pretty much every medication that affects the nervous system has this risk. That doesn’t mean no one should take them. We aren’t qualified to offer that kind of advice here. It’s a decision that needs to be made between the patient and their doctor.

          1. Too much pain*

            Rarely if ever do doctors mention that this drug has massive side effects, especially when tapering or trying to get off of it. I remember when my spouse was prescribed this medication; no mention of any side effects or difficulties tapering were mentioned by the doctor.

            I’ve also have relatives that struggle with this drug and it’s nasty side-effects, especially when trying to get off of it. I have warned them about this medication, but they say that since the doctor prescribed it for them, it must be good for them. Time will tell.

            Just a fair warning to the community from my experience; yours may be different.

          2. Everdene*

            Sounds like you and your spouse have had a difficult time, I’m sorry to hear that. For what it’s worth I was on gabapentin for a few years and coming off it was no problem at all for me. If anything the brain fog I’d been under lifted and I suddenly had increased energy.

            If we all reacted the same to medications pain mangement wouldn’t be such a tricky beast.

            1. Kuododi*

              I was on Gabapentin for a year dealing with the carpal tunnel in both hands. As a pain relief, it was great, my only issue was I wanted to eat everything but the paint on the walls!!! Otherwise, I had no problems and after surgery came off the meds without a hiccup. Meds are an interesting balancing act. What works for one, may be a disaster for another. Best wishes.

        3. Courageous cat*

          Maybe let people’s doctors make this call – this kind of fearmongering (while certainly warranted in certain cases) can be harmful. Sometimes drugs with bad withdrawals can save people’s lives. Better to not quantify things like that as “evil”.

        4. Bibliovore*

          My doctor is great and always says that we are experimenting. No one knows how I am going to react to medication. Gabapentin was terrible for me. It made me unable to think, read, write and therefore teach, review, and learn. Tramadol gave me migraines every time it wore off. Yet, tramadol is a lifesaver for my brother. (same chronic genetic condition) and gabapentin relieved my friend’s chronic pain so well that their surgery was called off.

          1. Not a cat*

            Interesting, I was prescribed Tramadol for migraine pain. Used to take 1/2 (50MG) with 2 ibuprofen when I had an episode (about once a week). My friends and family freaked out because of possible addiction. After almost a year, my migraines morphed from pain+occular issues to throw up for 24hours + dizzy, so I don’t require the Tramadol any longer.

            Since I’ve discovered marijuana for migraines (I live in Cali), and its become my cure of choice.

      2. Skylight*

        You are right to be concerned about cognitive abilities. I am on a medication for a chronic condition; over the last several years it built up in my system and impacted my ability to focus. I’m in grad school so everyone I consulted kept telling me that the stress of grad school was the problem and that everyone struggles with writing the dissertation. My current doc heard that daily routine like getting up and showering were difficult and tapered the dose down. The difference is remarkable. I’ve been a happy person the whole time so I didn’t question why I was unproductive. I just thought I was lazy and couldn’t function without caffeine. If I could go back in time, I’d keep
        a somewhat daily log of my routine, mood, health, and what work I accomplished. That would have revealed the gradual decline. I do track stuff now.

        Chronic pain does not automatically mean you are depressed. I recommend keeping a daily log. Medical care providers are much more responsive to written data (even though it’s your self-assesment) than a verbal summary that’s backed up by people who know you well. That’s annoying, but you said you can’t switch providers. Perhaps if doc sees documentation that you live a full life, they will listen.

        1. Everdene*

          I love the daily log idea. Thank you. Sorry that you’ve had to go through this though. (Reminds me of an old short story I read in school.) Will start it today.

      3. anonagain*

        “the wiping out of my brain is seen as a feature not a bug of this treatment path.”

        I don’t think so. I think just think pain meds just kind of suck and have lots of side effects.

        1. fposte*

          I think most medications for anything are choosing your tradeoffs. Hey, take some ibuprofen–eh, but it’s not so great for your kidneys so maybe consider that as you get older, and also the heightened risk of cardiac arrest.

          I take Lyrica for chronic pain. It definitely fogged me up a lot when I first started taking it, and while the fog has leveled off considerably, I’m aware that it’s impaired my higher level communication, which is really frustrating since my livelihood depends on it. But I still have a better life on it than I would off it with my current body.

          I don’t think there’s much of anything medicine has perfect answers for, and the more we’re talking chronic stuff, which we often acquire in adulthood, the more it’s about what’s the best package to keep us on the road, not what will make it like we don’t have the thing any more.

      4. Dr. Anonymous*

        This is a tough one. Some of the old tricyclic antidepressants make people loopier than others do. Duloxetine, a relatively new med, is often used for pain management and there’s a lot less sedation associated with it in most people (still not right for everyone), but I don’t know what’s new in the old-school antidepressant realm, so you may have to do a weekend trial to see if you tolerate it if you’re up for a change in regimen. I think there is likely something to this theory about antidepressants modulating the pain signals along the nerve pathway, but I don’t understand it fully and I think the jury is still out or maybe even still hearing the case.

        It’s tricky dissecting out depression with chronic pain because the insomnia and fatigue that often go hand in hand with chronic are also symptoms of depression so you don’t have to tick that many more boxes to be diagnosed with depression on top of it all. Doesn’t mean you’re necessarily depressed. Doesn’t mean an antidepressant you can tolerate won’t take a little more edge off your pain and unfortunately you and your doctor will have to decide if it’s worth trying and then do the benefit/side effect calculation based on your lived experience once you do try it. I wish you joy and peace as I know this is hard and there’s no right answer.

        1. Everdene*

          The consultant suggested a weekend trial so I’ve circled my next free weekend in the diary and intend to keep it free. But when I asked what happens if it doesn’t work I just got a shrug.

          This is a really helpful comment and gives me a way to talk about this with my GP and consultant.

          1. anonagain*

            “But when I asked what happens if it doesn’t work I just got a shrug.”

            That’s so dismissive. I would much rather a doctor tell me that they don’t know or that we’ve run out of good options. A shrug is just rude.

            Do you have an idea of what you want to happen next?

          2. Dr. Anonymous*

            Coming from the doctor side, I can picture the doctor on the inside hearing your question and thinking, “Oh, God, I don’t know what we’re gonna do if this doesn’t work,” and offering up a shrug for now. May not mean they don’t care. Doctors are human and sometimes say or the wrong thing. The right thing might well be to say, “I’m not sure what we could try next,” but sometimes we don’t think of blurting out the simple truth.

    6. Book Lover*

      Yes, totally. A majority of patients with chronic pain have depression, but not all. That said, some antidepressants are excellent for pain management even if you are not depressed, so I wouldn’t rule them out.

      1. Book Lover*

        Hmm – I just realized I should have checked the recent research before saying a majority. Regardless, let’s change it to – some patients with chronic pain have depression but not all.

    7. teashirt*

      I have chronic pain as well, and I’m not depressed. I have a *lot* less energy…. But not depressed. If you don’t feel depressed don’t let anyone tell you that you are. That’s insane. Keep in mind that doctors are not gods, they don’t know everything, even if some think they do. Good luck finding treatment.

    8. LilySparrow*

      Yes, of course. Pain can cause depression, but depression has actual symptoms that are different than pain.

      I would be very wary of a consultant who is not listening to you and prescribing things just because that’s what they give everyone.

    9. Jdc*

      What!! Of course you can. I have awful pain from a bad car accident and I’m in no way depressed. It’s frustrating but frustrating isn’t depression. While meds can be great you really don’t want someone forcing them on you if you don’t need them. You’ll become more tolerant so they will be less effective if you need them as well as they come with side effects that for some can not be so fun.

    10. Alexandra Lynch*

      Some of the pain circuits and the depression circuits share neurotransmitters, so an SSRI will help with the pain circuits, and if you have some depression going on as well, it will get that too.

      I have fibromyalgia and SSRIs did not help me enough for the cost of taking them. Yes, I got relief from the “I have a sunburn and am standing in the sun” sensation, but I saved $65 a month by ceasing to eat nightshades, and it went away then, too. But different things work for different people, and you never know, it might work.

  35. GlassShark*

    I’m in my early 30’s and I need some advice about a childhood friend of mine. We’ve been best friends from middle school through early adulthood, but have grown apart in recent years. It used to be where we wouldn’t talk for months or years (usually because I was busy with school or she got a new boyfriend– she has a habit of dropping me when a guy comes along), but whenever one of us would call the other, we’d just pick up wherever we left off. Well, she got pregnant a few years ago and has a baby, s0 we definitely see each other way less now. But every 6 months or so I get a text from her that just says “Hey girl.” WITH the period (for context, I kind of expect an “!” or simply no punctuation from her, but the period makes me think she’s mad or trying to make a point or something). I tend to respond in the way I consider normal (“Hey!”), but she then seems to try to abandon the convo or something… this conversation we had last week is pretty representative of what happens:

    Her: Hey girl.
    Me: Hey!
    Her: How are you?
    Me: Good. I’m sick today though so I’ve been sleeping! How about you?
    Her: I’m sorry. I hope it passes soon.
    Her again: Love you rest up.
    Me: Oh I feel a lot better now cuz I slept all day lol! Love you too. How are things with you?
    She never responded.

    She’s still with her daughter’s father, so I’m not sure if this is just her typical “no one else exists when I have a boyfriend” type thing and it’s just lasting longer than it has in the past, or if she’s mad at me about something but won’t say what, or whether this is all perfectly normal and I’m just being a weirdo by letting this trigger anxiety in me every 6 months or so… Do you all have any advice for me?

    1. Jdc*

      I don’t mean to sounds unkind but seriously? She’s reaching out. No one is thinking about a period but you. It means nothing.

      1. Courageous cat*

        Yeah. You’re overthinking it. Especially with a baby, people get busy and forget to respond. None of it sounds personal.

    2. Traffic_Spiral*

      Firstly, I advise you to stop reading so much into exclamation marks (or the lack thereof). Most people consider them obnoxious and bad grammar to use in regular conversation – your friend is probably one of those people.

      Secondly, it sounds like she doesn’t like to text a lot. See if you two can meet up IRL and hang out some time.

      1. GlassShark*

        Oh I didn’t make it clear that when I say I expect an ! I meant specifically from her, because we ARE obnoxious with our use of exclamations and emojis…. and she IS a texter which is why I find the behavior alarming. I definitely should have included the fact that I would not expect that with 99% of the people in my life, but I do from her. But maybe that changed when she had her baby?

    3. Reba*

      I have a somewhat similar relationship in my life. I think this is really low-stakes communication, BUT because it comes so infrequently, and from someone who used to be a really important fixture in your life, it all seems more significant than it is (e.g. reading into the punctuation). Add to that, maybe you are wondering in the back of your mind if you are going to ever get back into closer communication, as the best friends you used to be.

      Try to see it as normal, phatic speech. She’s a young parent with a young kid, so probably really scattered. It’s nice that she thinks to toss a text your way once in a while. And you might need to accept that that is all the level of closeness that there is going to be.

      1. Reba*

        Oh, I just saw your other comment and I think I misunderstood the frequency of whatever is happening…

        1. GlassShark*

          Actually I think you are spot on… it makes total sense that she’s scattered (she tends to be that way, and I can only imagine how busy she is with a toddler now!) and I definitely tend to read too much into social interactions. Thank you for your thoughts!

    4. Washi*

      I have a friend like this, where conversations seemed to go nowhere and there was no rhyme or reason to what she would respond to vs ignore. It annoyed me for a while, because I tend to take a pretty intentional approach about keeping in touch with friends and I would get excited about hearing from her and then sad that we weren’t really catching up or anything.

      I’m in the midst of trying to just chill out about a lot of things in my life (I tend to be very tightly wound) and that includes this friendship. I don’t really expect to hear from her or want anything from her, so the random texts she sends just feel like pleasant “I’m thinking of you” pings. And I think actually, knowing the little I know about her life and mental health, if every text had to initiate a full conversation, she might not initiate at all, because my impression is she just doesn’t have the time/focus/spoons for that right now.

    5. Overeducated*

      I’d read this as she misses you and wants to reach out when she thinks of you, but doesn’t know what to say or gets interrupted before she can have a full conversation. I think it’s a good sign! What has worked for me for friendships like this is trying to schedule a phone or Skype catch up call, even if it’s weeks out.

    6. Loopy*

      I have relationships like this and others where the baby changed the whole frequency and type of texting HUGELY. I tend to just try and value it for what it is and not read into it/dwell on it. I know I forget texts sometimes or they get buried then I find them and it feels weird to text back so late or I don’t know how to reopen the convo and then it gets longer since the last text and worse. It has zero to do with the other person AT ALL, it’s all me being like ergh I dont know how to manage this text I missed replying to. Sometimes I just suck.

      And sometimes life just gets hectic and I am not the reliable person I am in other periods of my life. It almost ALWAYS has to do with me/my life than the other person or my relationship with the other person.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      For a minute there I thought you met my family member. But no baby in my family member’s life.

      Yeah, this is it. You’re looking at it. We’d IM back and forth. It was painful as it took her 45 minutes to respond and I never knew when she would drop off the scene entirely. I guess I thought she was free to IM for a minute and she did not tell me she was working?

      My best advice is lower your expectations. Expect nothing from her and when she says hi once in a while, you can be delighted with just that. Friends for a reason or a season or a life time. But these people do not come with labels so we can know which one they are.

      My 80 something MIL remained in touch with her bestie from childhood. That point of contact was a Christmas card once a year. That was it, a card. I’d like to think that was their way of honoring their time together, but too many years had passed to “catch-up” with each other. MIL said, “One year I will not get a card and that is how I will know she is gone.” phew. Okay that is pretty darn sad. But that is exactly what happened. And a few years later MIL passed. If my MIL was wondering why her friend did not stay in better contact MIL never said. I think the story reach a turning point where any contact was a gift and considered amazing.

      I remember years ago having a discussion with friends. Ever go through a period of a day or more where you think of an old friend and that thought just keeps coming back? My friends said that is because the old friend is thinking of you also. Intuition. Can we feel others thinking of us? Now, the modern version do we think of people, send them a message and then forget to complete the conversation? That is what it looks like. Perhaps you can frame it as, “She thought of me today.”
      Or perhaps you can copy her approach to lessen the sting on your end. Just send her a message first and expect no response.

    8. Bg*

      Your other history aside, it does sound like she’s reaching out. Kids can be isolating for moms (not all). I don’t know how old the baby is or what her supports are but maybe just show up for her now. Ask if you can come over with coffee. Or something. Being in the same room helps to lift miscommunication. She might need a little extra right now.
      Personally I will say texting is the worst when kids are around bc you are in the middle of a convo and someone immediately needs food/has a blowout/suddenly hates their sibling/generally take all of your attention. And suddenly it’s a month later and you realize you left a convo hanging. Again.

    9. Meepmeep*

      Here’s what may be going on at her end:

      “Hey, I haven’t talked to GlassShark for a while! Let me reach out to her.”

      (Types out a few quick messages while her kid is playing)

      Kid: Mommy mommy MOMMY! I pooped my pants!

      And after finding the bathroom that’s way too far away from the playground, with a screaming, tantruming child in tow (who doesn’t want to leave the playground), then realizing that there are no clean pants in her bag, then having to take the kid home and wash him, then

      (At this point I got interrupted by my 3 year old who wanted to cuddle)

  36. WellRed*

    I recently switch to an iPhone and a new cell provider. I’ve supposedly already used 2GB of data. I haven’t watched videos or listened to music and I’ll check it a couple times a day (at work) for texts or quick peek at FB. Does say, browsing AskAManager and reading articles online really use that much data? Am I missing something I should be doing? Is it me? The phone? Is the provider ripping me off somehow? I switched cause I needed to get my cost down.

    1. Rebecca*

      Did you check the updates settings? I have Android, and use Tracfone service, so my settings are to do app updates on WiFi only. I too use my data sparingly, as I’m usually around WiFi, like when I’m out hiking and have a signal, or at a store with no WiFi or just here and there, and I don’t use much data at all. I even watch a few short videos during the month without using much data. Just a thought!

    2. anon24*

      I’m not an iPhone user but it sounds like something is using background data. You should not be using that much data just surfing. I surf the web a lot on data and stream music every day to and from work and I don’t think I’ve ever used more than maybe 4 or 5 GB a month, with 2.5 GB being my average. Hopefully an iPhone user will pop on and tell you how to check background data use (in android you can go into settings and see exactly what’s using what and shut app’s data access off if needed, not sure about iPhone)

    3. Jules the First*

      If you go to Settings – Mobile Data (sometimes Cellular Data) and scroll down, it should show you exactly which apps are using data and how much.

      1. AnonoMyHead*

        Hmm, so the app using the most is Safari (680MB) and FB is second with 272 MB. For context, is that a lot? Do I turn them off and on to use (which seems a pain, at least for safari).

        1. Mimosa Jones*

          If you can get more granular reporting on your usage, record today’s usage with normal behavior and then tomorrow try and do all your web surfing somewhere else and only use the phone when you absolutely have to and check that usage. An if you can, for a day turn the entire phone off when you’re not using it and see what that usage is. You can also turn on the phone’s screen time usage reporting to see if you’re using it more than you think you are.

          Years ago there was a known issue with iPhones that they were using too much data too fast. I’d assume that’s been fixed, but some googling should help you find articles and you can see if you have a similar problem.

          Lots of sites use auto play videos as ads, so even if you’re not directly watching, you might be indirectly watching. You can install ad blockers, but that won’t take care of all of it. You can also set your phone to use WiFi when available before data.

        2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          It’s better for privacy (etc) to use Facebook through your browser rather than the app. Would that be a useful option? It’s unlikely your active FB use would be 272MB through your browser – that will be mainly invisible checks for notifications, possibly at startlingly short intervals e.g. 1 minute.

        3. Tris Prior*

          That seems REALLY high for Safari use. Are you accessing FB through Safari in addition to through the app? I find it seems to chew through a lot of data either way. But usually my FB use is double or triple my Safari use. Are you watching videos through webpages, or visiting sites that have a lot of autoplaying ads?

        4. Natalie*

          Do you have an adblocker? Even if they aren’t video, a lot of ads seem to be data and battery hogs.

    4. Llellayena*

      What if you turn off location services? You can set it to either off or only when using the app for each app individually. That might help both battery and data use.

      1. Observer*

        Location tracking shouldn’t use much data as that generally uses the GPS radios. But, yes it can eat battery.

    5. OperaArt*

      Go to Settings->Cellular and see what apps are using the data. Also, go to Settings->General->Background App Refresh and turn off as many of the apps as you can while still having everything function nicely.

    6. Xavier89*

      i don’t have advice I used to not have an unlimited plan and at first I used an iPhone 4 and my data would last almost the full month, usually by like day 26 I would run out and i would just have to wait a couple of days

      Then I got an android phone and within HOURS it would say the data was gone, and that happened multiple months with that phone before I got rid of it

      It was bizarre

    7. Tris Prior*

      I have a really low data plan on my phone and it’s shared with my partner so I have to be really vigilant about data use. In Settings I turn off data to all apps except Messenger (so that I don’t miss messages) unless I am actively using them. I found that some apps chewed through a lot of data even when I wasn’t using them. I found that the Flickr app was especially bad about this so I don’t use it any more.

      Also, turn off Wifi Assist, which switches you over to data without your knowledge while you think you’re on wifi, if the phone thinks the wifi signal is weak.

      Do not watch any videos while using data, and look out for autoplaying video ads on Safari.

      1. WellRed*

        Thx for the WiFi assist suggestion. I was trying to use restaurant WiFi last night and it kept switching back to days without me noticing. I plan to not use phone tomorrow, per another suggestion just to compare

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      When I switched to my new phone, the service provider set it to transfer all my files from the cloud over mobile data, even though I told him I had a tiny amount of data. And i could have stayed there fir store wifi. I was decidedly unhappy at the resulting surcharge and went through layers of customer service to get it reversed.
      (He also seems to have kept my micro SIM card when he boxed up my tradein, but I didn’t notice its absence soon enough to prove anything.)

    9. Princesa Zelda*

      I use iPhone on a prepaid plan, and it usually takes me about two months to go through a gig. I keep my data off unless I’m actively using it, and generally spend a half an hour or so a day surfing on the internet. If you set your phone in battery saver mode and keep your data off when you’re not using it, it should help some.

  37. Shiny Onix*

    So this morning in town a busker was playing The Boxer. So when I got home I started playing it on Spotify and then went down a rabbit hole of Simon and Garfunkel, them individually, Don McLean and a bit of ELO. Basically all the stuff my dad played in the car. ELO was family holidays but Simon and Garfunkel and Don McLean were more my dad.

    And now I’ve suddenly realised that my dad will die one day. I realised years ago that my mum will die but there’s Stuff mixed up with that and I manage our relationship very closely to defend myself from that Stuff. But my dad? I think he’s emotionally abused by her too and he still lives with her. My dad’s parents both died in their late 70s and my dad’s 70 now. I might have less than a decade of him left.

    I messaged him now but… he just sits in the background listening when I’m talking to my mum, he never really joins in the conversation. I struggle to make connections with him, he’s the stereotype of when I call I know if mum’s out without him saying, because if she’s there he’ll just say “I’ll get your mum”.

    I need to build a connection with him separate to her. I’m not sure how but I will try and find a way.

    1. WellRed*

      This made me tear up. My dad died in 2016 (age 73). He loved Simon & Garfunkel (esp. Paul Simon). Do you live local to them? Can you and your dad go for breakfast on the weekend (or some such thing that’s just the two of you?)

      1. Shiny Onix*

        No, unfortunately. I very deliberately put an awful lot of miles between me and my mum, but that had the unfortunate side effect of also putting an awful lot of miles between me and my dad :(
        I might get him Spotify, he’s replied saying he loves that music but rarely listens to it any more. I also messaged him this week about something else he has experience in that I might be applying for. I’ll start looking for the opportunities to make connections.

        Thank God I’ve realised this now when I can still do something about it.

        I’m sorry about your dad <3
        73 is no age these days.

    2. Wishing You Well*

      It’s very hard to communicate with one’s dad when mom is his gatekeeper. He might prefer it that way.
      I hope you can find a way to connect with your dad, but be very gentle with him and yourself if you find that he can’t give you what you want.

    3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      With my dad, the best way to get him to hold a conversation is over text and if I text him a picture of something and then text back and forth to him about it. (Asking him for advice on a house thing and including a picture of it, slice-of-life stuff that could otherwise go to social media like “apparently I am on the parade route for the homecoming parade, because I heard both a marching band and sirens, and when I looked out the window I saw this”, “I seem to have a volunteer backyard cat now, and it’s looking at me through the sliding door asking to be let in”, whatever.) I have no idea if any part of this approach would work in your situation, because my family dynamic is pretty different. (My dad’s just…bad at connecting with people, period. I know it’s nothing specifically about our relationship and more just about his general social stuff and comfort level.)

    4. Loopy*

      Does your dad text at all? My dad never used to but since I got him into it, it allows me to send pictures to him and all sorts of random news, facts, things he might want to read. My dad isn’t technically savvy but he can open text messages and it helps a lot. this way you can communicate with him separately form your mom but still have a line of communication with her.

      1. Shiny Onix*

        I asked my dad this week about something he has specific experience of and he replied supportively (which was great!) but then I got bombarded by messages about it from my mum. That’s probably the price of admission but I wish… I wish it was different.

        1. valentine*

          I think you’re going to have to protect and defend any new closeness from your mum. You can test that by calling regularly when she’s out. I suspect she would start staying home at that time. Or you can call at random times when you know she’s out.

          But a shared interest you can talk about, especially if you can each do it separately as well, then discuss it, most especially if it’s something your mum wouldn’t be caught dead doing, I think is going to be the successful path. Are there memories of him you can share while playing the music? I also think video calls will do wonders for you.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Is there a hobby or special interest you could develop an interest in? Could be as simple as ‘discovering’ that a hometown sports team is now available on an Internet broadcast and you watchave ‘together’, texting comments or with a long Skype call.

    6. Shiny Onix*

      There are some good ideas in here, thank you. I think he would be happy to hear more from me.

    7. LilySparrow*

      I had a good relationship with my mom, but after I was living on my own a while, I realized that we were just talking to each other by default and my dad didn’t really like to be on the phone.

      So I would make up questions that I “needed” to consult him about, just to keep him on the phone. It took a couple of years of effort, but it worked out well.

      Of course, it will depend on your dad’s interests and skills, but for me it was stuff like:

      How should I handle this situation at work?
      Is it better to do this or that with my long-term savings?
      Should I call the super to fix this thing, or can I do it myself?
      Book/movie recommendations – giving them or asking for them.
      I saw this thing on the news that referred to a situation 30 years ago – what was that about?
      How can I tell if this car mechanic is ripping me off?

      Basically, I turned him into my personal Reddit for anything I knew he was good at, or even just stuff my mom wasn’t interested in.

    8. The New Wanderer*

      I have happened to call a few times when my mom is out, so my dad will talk to me. Usually he does the same thing of letting my mom get the phone or handing it over ASAP (though I have a good relationship w/ her and enjoy those conversations). It’s been really interesting because I would say he’s generally not one for long convos and yet 45 min there we are, still talking.

      I don’t suppose that will work if your mom is around all the time (possibly by design), but on the off chance she has an activity or something she does that he doesn’t, pounce on that time.

  38. Myrin*

    This week’s post about the guy who was obsessed with his coworkers’ ages reminded me of something I wanted to mention in this here open thread:

    I’ve now reached a part of my life where people can no longer tell just from looking who, between my sister and me, is the older one. Which feels weirdly strange to me. She’s 23 and I’m 28 and objectively, I totally get why people can’t tell that by just one glance – we’re both young women in our twenties. But in my head, it’s so weird. I guess it’s just that “older sister” has been part of my identity since I was five and of course I still am an older sister but it’s only been happening pretty recently that people started thinking we’re twins (!! horrendous; we actually have pretty different features but we both have our mum’s eyes and I think that’s what gets people) or even that I’m younger (I’m not a babyface but my sister absolutely has the more mature face of the two of us, I’d just never had to think about that before).

    I’m guessing I’ll get used to it sooner or later but until that happens, it feels wrong to me still.

    1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      I have younger brothers. While most of us are slightly baby-faced, the boys can grow beards. Which makes them look much older and totally covers up the baby-face. My next brother looks probably late twenties but I look early twenties. I’ve assumed for years now that people think I’m younger than him unless told otherwise. People would probably believe me if I told them I was the youngest instead of the oldest.

      It’s kind of annoying. I’m the big sis, TYVM!

    2. aarti*

      I’m 31 and my little sister is 24. She tends to dress a little nicer than I do and wears makeup daily. And so many people think she’s the older one! We’ve also gotten the twin thing, which I’ve always thought was because we’re both so tall, but otherwise don’t look alike.

    3. The Rat-Catcher*

      My sister and I are 24 and 29 respectively and this has started happening to us as well. I don’t really have any visible early aging signs, I guess, so I might be getting visually grouped as “mid twenties” along with her. I think this is a common time for age to start getting harder to determine visually.

      1. Myrin*

        Yeah, I think it’s the same for us as well. I seem to have inherited my mum and grandpa’s smooth skin and healthy complexion but I also have a round face whereas my sister’s is pretty lean and she’s got darker eyebrows, which make her look somewhat stern and weirdly older. I’d have assumed that you could guess from my demeanour that I’m not a teenager anymore but apparently not (*side-eyes the bus driver from two years ago who wanted to sell me a child’s ticket* I think that one was an outlier, though).

    4. Jax*

      My younger sister threw a weird fit about a decade ago — I don’t recall the specifics or what prompted her, but she snapped at me, upset that friends of hers from work apparently assumed I was her younger sister. These things happen. By then, I don’t think it was so much how young or old we looked but that she had a baby and husband and home while I was single in an apartment and waitressing.

    5. irene*

      Your sister probably feels worse that people thinks she’s 5 years (or more) older than she actually is.

    6. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I don’t have any siblings, but I had a similar weirdness where once I reached about 20, people would assume my dad was my partner whenever the two of us went anywhere together. (He is over 30 years older than me.) It still weirds me out. (I kind of wonder if people assume this when my mom and I go out places too, but we usually go to her regular hangouts and so the regulars there have all met her husband already and know better.)

      1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

        My teenage friend, her mom, and her baby sister were asked one time if they were a lesbian couple with their kid. She looked 20 and her mom looked 30 so that part was reasonable, but they are nearly identical. As visibly related as you can get without being identical twins.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          My sister was in high school when I was born. Luckily she thought it was really funny to be asked if she was my mom. “Nope I’m just taking the cheerleaders’ mascot for a walk.” Unlikely, sometimes my mother was with us at the time…. And she hated to be mistaken for the grandma.

        2. Queer Earthling*

          The reverse happened with me and my partner. A neighbor asked if they were my daughter. They’re nine years older than me, and we look nothing alike. lol

      2. Myrin*

        My variation of that – and a strange flipside to my original comment – is that it’s happened twice now that people thought my sister was my daughter and our mum was, well, my mum but my sister’s grandma. My mum was horrified (somewhat jokingly but not, like, 100%). Now granted, she was forty when my sister was born which especially back then was already on the older side of childbearing age, but still. It’s probably the fact that her hair is almost fully white, people seem to tend to think white-haired humans are old humans, but really, her face isn’t old at all so it was quite surprising!

    7. Purt's Peas*

      Yes, it’s so strange–some things come up and just hit you right in the identity, and you can never predict what. Something that you didn’t realize was a vestige of a previous life finally leaves you and you feel unexpectedly sad, or something you didn’t realize was part of your identity changes and you feel displaced and wrong.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I am giggling. Time levels many playing fields.

      I mentioned before at one place I worked I had to card people. One guy said, “Com’on, we are the same age!” I looked at his ID and he was 13 years YOUNGER than me. His jaw almost hit the counter.

      For the most part, people are very bad at guessing age. For me, the further people are from my own decade, the harder it is for me to guess their age. The 70 somethings and the 80 somethings are merged in my mind, I can’t guess well with that age group. Yet when I was growing up anyone over 20 was OLD I thought.

    9. Spencer Hastings*

      My brother is also five years younger than me, and this one time last year we were out to dinner with our parents and I got carded and he didn’t. (He had some significant beard growth at the time, which I think was a large part of what made him look older than the 23 years old he actually was!) It was pretty hilarious.

      On the flip side, I’ve gone out to a restaurant or a pub quiz with a group of fellow twenty-somethings and been the only one not to get carded, even when I was actually the youngest person there. So I either look older or younger than I really am, but I can’t tell which. And since I’m in the US, it usually comes up when trying to buy alcohol. :D

      1. Myrin*

        It seems that the older I get, the younger people think I am – I was never mistaken for being younger than 18 when I actually was 18 but somehow, I got carded for the first time in my life last year when I wanted to buy a bottle of wine. The cashier (who’s younger than me) was mortified but I just laughed (and amused the older gentleman behind me who asked if he was going to be carded, too).

    10. Fikly*

      My mom (and I) are people who just look young. She talked about how it drove her nuts when she was in her 20s when people would accuse her of using her mommy’s credit cards.

      When I was in high school, and she was in her late 40s, she used a backpack instead of a purse. She would come to pick me up at the nurse’s office, and adults would honestly mistake her for a student.

      Fellow big sister here, but my sister and I would get mistaken for twins when we were 8 and 5 (which….how?) so yeah, it’s a bit jarring.

  39. Marion Q*

    Anyone seen Joker? Honestly I didn’t plan to, but I was doing karaoke with my friends and one of them suggested it, so we went to the cinema.

    I really didn’t expect I would like it as much as I did! And going by the applause at the end, so did others.

    Anyone planning on seeing it? Or if you have, what do you think of the film?

    1. Jax*

      No but only because I’m so desperate for happy escapism in my precious few hours off these days. Just looking at the still photos is the opposite of the relief and release I want from the world right now.

      1. Disco Janet*

        Same here. I spend enough time worrying about the kind of issues the film is focusing on!

    2. Loopy*

      I haven’t but I’ve been so curious form gossip. I haven’t seen the stills others often reference that they say are off-putting but I was drawn to the movie before all the feedback and mixed feelings came up. I’m on the fence.

      1. Marion Q*

        I hadn’t seen the stills or trailers at all actually. I read a few reviews, and I definitely get the mixed feelings. It was why I originally had no interest in seeing the film (beside the fact that I don’t follow the DCEU and never read the comic books).

        I think current sociopolitical conditions definitely influence how one will like the film or not. I can see how people in the US might have more mixed feelings. I suspect that part of the reason why the film was so well-received in my cinema (I’m not in the US) is because we’d just had a series of anti-government protests, and the film resonates with us.

    3. Arya Parya*

      I’m seeing it tomorrow. Was on the fence about it, but the reviews I’ve read are all positive and my SO wants to see it, so we’re going.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I saw it on Thursday. My verdict:

      –It was hella disturbing and extremely violent.
      –I’m not sure we needed it. It’s not canon.
      –I didn’t hate it.
      –Joaquin Phoenix did a really, really good job.

      1. Marion Q*

        We have a rather strict censorship in my country, and I was surprised they let the violent scenes remain. Our maybe they did cut some scenes, but still, what they allowed are still violent enough (especially the scene with the headshot).

        I can’t say anything about canon, because I don’t follow the DCEU, and not a comic book reader, but I do appreciate that it was standalone enough that non-fans like me and my friends could enjoy and understand it.

        And yeah, Joaquin Phoenix was simply magnetic!

    5. Mimmy*

      We’re seeing it later this afternoon in Imax. Hopefully the violence won’t be too overwhelming for me. Hubby wants to see it and I’m just curious what all the buzz is about.

      1. Mimmy*

        Well that was disturbing!!! Joaquin Phoenix should most definitely get an Oscar nomination for this.

  40. Paralegal Part Deux*

    I’m a bit bummed this weekend. My BFF’s dog she’s had for 18 years was just diagnosed with a large stomach tumor (discovered after the dog refused to eat anything) and not expected to live for very much longer. She’s just the sweetest dog, and I hate to know she won’t be around much longer. I wish there was something I could do, but she’s in 8 hours away and no way for me to do anything but text. :/

    1. cat socks*

      I’m so sorry. What a difficult situation. Everyone is different, but I’ve had two kitties pass in the last year and messages and cards from friends were really helpful. And just offering to to talk when I was upset was a great help too.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Aww, so sorry.
      You are a good friend to stay in touch during this difficult turn of events.

    3. MinotJ*

      Just being there for your friend, and letting her know she can talk to you, will be so helpful. When I had to put my elderly dog down last year, I had to pick and choose which friends would be okay dealing with me while I was in the snot-covered sobbing phase.

      I’m sorry that you can’t be there to give the pup one more hug.

    4. Fikly*

      This is what I do, and I have never gotten a bad response: Would you like to vent, problem solve, or be distracted?

  41. Homeowner75*

    Hi all, Anyone have plumbing advice? I’ve been in my house about 13 yrs and the toilet is the same one from when I moved in. I don’t know how old it is beyond the 13 yrs. It’s always been able to flush a large amount of paper without threatening to overflow onto the floor. Lately it’s been threatening this more and more and I’ve had to plunge it to prevent it. Is there such a thing as a clog down the line that I could get cleaned out with a snake or something? Or is there a liquid clog buster that works well? I know of liquids that go down a stopped up sink but can you use them for a toilet too? Thanks in advance!

    1. fposte*

      I would advise against corrosives–there’s a high chance that you or somebody is going to need to get into close contact with that water and that raises the risk of injury (and they don’t work that great anyway).

      You can try pouring down buckets of hot (not boiling) water to create more force (that’s not an immediate thing, so don’t be surprised if you’re still there 30 minutes later); you can try a snake. The fact that you’ve been plunging and it’s not fixed things, though, suggests that it might be clogged farther along and you may need to get a professional out to really auger the thing.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        You can also try running the hot water in the bathtub or shower in that bathroom rather than pouring water down the toilet. I get line clogs due to a really shallow-graded sewer line and a very low-flow toilet, and all I need to do to clear them is to run the bathtub for a while if I’m not showing in that bathroom regularly. (In my case cold water works since I just need more water in the pipes to get everything along on its journey, but hot water would loosen more things.)

        If you already run that bathtub/shower a bunch every day this is unlikely to help, though. (I have a “seasonal use” shower situation at my house, where in the winter I shower in the bathroom by the bedrooms, but in the summer I shower in the bathroom by the pool, so I need to also run the house bathtub sometimes in the summer to keep the line from clogging.)

    2. Green Kangaroo*

      We are very enthusiastic about home renovations and are willing to tackle just about anything as a diy, but I would strongly recommend finding a trustworthy plumber for this issue.

    3. Occasional Baker*

      Yes, this isn’t a toilet issue so much as a pipe issue. I’d also recommend a professional to snake/auger the line. You can try yourself, but you’d need to rent a pro snake tool…..I feel like it can also be a bit of an art.
      Are other pipes showing delay? Kitchen sink draining more slowly?

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Enzyme cleaner for a DIY first try. Even with a hair catcher, plumbing can clog up. If that doesn’t fix it in one go, read up on plumber’s snake. That can sometimes help. But clogs can also be farther out than home equipment can reach. And many plumbers now have endoscope-like cameras to check out the inside of your pipes. If you are in a house with a tree that is punching through the pipes, it’s better to find it out now than later.good luck!

    5. YetAnotherUsername*

      There are things called “sewer rods” you can use but only if you have a manhole to the sewer in your garden.

    6. Penguin*

      You absolutely could have a clog further down the line! Assuming you do, you probably have two options: try to locate it yourself, or call in a professional plumber (or call in an experienced DIY-type person, if you know one you’d trust to mess with your plumbing). If you want to try to locate the clog yourself, you’ll want to determine where it is in the sewer line- has anything else (sink, tub, etc.) been slow to drain? Then the clog is downstream of that as well as of the toilet. If not, then you know it’s upstream of your other plumbing fixtures.

      Sewer lines typically have clean-outs where you can unscrew a cap and use a plumbing snake to break up a clog- if you know which pipe is your sewer line (probably a 4- or 5-inch diameter pipe, likely white PVC plastic if the house is less than ~50 years old, black cast iron if it’s older than that) look for a short y-shaped junction where one arm of the pipe is sealed with a plug that has a raised square (for grabbing with a large wrench) sticking out of it. (Google may be a help here, to get a picture of what I’m trying to describe.) (I’m assuming you have exposed plumbing in the basement that you can trace with a flashlight and some patience.)

      Be aware that that if you do decide to open a clean-out, there will probably be water in the pipe and it will come out as soon as you start to unscrew the plug. It will be sewer water, with all that implies. Be prepared, like with a bucket and maybe a tarp. Also resign yourself to possibly having to clean up sewage if there’s a lot of stuff backed up in the pipe.

      Assuming you find a clean-out, and assuming you’ve figured out where it is in relation to the pipe from the toilet, you can unscrew the plug and run a snake in either direction until (hopefully!) you find the clog, then snake normally until it seems to be clear! Replace the plug and flush the toilet a couple times to a) verify that it’s no longer slow and b) help move any residual material along its way into the sewer system.

      If you don’t want to deal with all that (and I don’t blame you!) then yeah, call a plumber. (But wait until Monday if you can- typically weekend work involves a hefty additional charge.)

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        I will note that my sewer clean-out is in my yard rather than in my basement, so you might check there as well if you don’t find a suitable pipe in your basement. (Actually, I have three, but that’s a long, ridiculous story and they are all along the sewer line outside the house in the back and side yard. One of them was well hidden under the deck, which is part of why I have three now. I don’t know why I had two, but it’s an old house.) If it’s outside, you’re looking for a Mystery Pipe Orifice sticking out of the ground. It’ll have a square nut as described above on the cap, and may be slightly below ground under a port cover of some kind so open anything along those lines that you find.

  42. Merci Dee*

    Has anyone else noticed that their cats have started to put on their winter coats? My boy seems to be a good deal more fuzzy and fluffy around his chest and up along his neck. More fur to snuggle and scritch!

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      No cat in my house, but that was one shiny fluffy woodchuck I saw in my yard this morning!

      1. Merci Dee*

        Even though woodchucks can chuck an awful lot of wood, I wouldn’t recommend snuggling and scritching them. I think those are okay to just admire from afar!

      1. Merci Dee*

        I love when they start fluffing up in preparation for the cold weather. It’s just another reminder that sweaters and fall-scented body mists aren’t far behind.

        In the spring when they start to shed, however, is just a reminder that almost constant brushing and sweeping are on the horizon…..

    2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Oh yeah – this!

      Also, I dont know if its because the days are getting shorter, but Girl Kitty starts begging for food an hour earlier now. Like I wish she would just wait for Daylight Savings. She knows they get wet food about 5 and yet here she starts harassing at 330 some days, and I mean HARASSING. meow meow meeeoooowwww MEOW. And then she knows they get snack kibble at 830 and shes starting up at 715 since summer ended. She would eat all day if we let her.

      We try to distract them with toys and playtime when she starts up but sometimes shes Not Having It. Are they putting on heft for winter?

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Tangent. Back when I lived with cats, we speculated on setting up a “natural light” wakeup alarm at the food bowls. This in hope that they might learn that a full moon is NOT the big light in the sky that causes people to put out food. Neither is the neighbor’s flood light.
        (I moved out of the house when my cat allergies triggered so I never tried it.)

        1. Merci Dee*

          That would be an interesting experiment to try. I wonder if it would work.

          My cat doesn’t try to bolt down all his food at once, so we’re able to fill his bowl once about every four days or so and supplement each evening with a single small can of wet food mixed with an equal portion of water (to make sure he’s getting enough liquid to stave off bladder infections and kidney stones). Thankfully, he hasn’t felt the need to wake me up at all hours to refill his bowl.

      2. Merci Dee*

        I can’t speak for all cats, but I know my guy gets a little chunkier during cold weather, maybe by about a pound or so. He usually tends to slim back down once spring and summer roll back around.

  43. Be the Change*

    I have a very old friend who has always been a maddening combination: He would do anything for a friend and he has great integrity. He is also the most morose, impossible-to-make-happy person on earth, and this is before he developed extremely severe health problems and his bad job turned toxic.

    As you can imagine, phone calls with him are draining but I don’t want to not talk to him because that would make me a terrible friend.

    Would love some wisdom about “comforting in” for someone who cannot be comforted.

    1. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

      You are a friend, not a therapist. Repeat this to yourself as many times as needed. The only thing you can try doing for your friend right now is strongly encouraging them to start counseling/therapy. I’m saying this as something who probably has a lot of the same tendencies as your friend. I definitely rely on my friends a lot for healing purposes, but it’s through mutually enjoyable activities – not just me offloading all my baggage onto them.

      1. valentine*

        phone calls with him are draining but I don’t want to not talk to him because that would make me a terrible friend.
        It really wouldn’t, but perhaps him dumping on you while you feel you can’t say no is less kind than you deserve. He’s not reciprocating at the lowest level.

        I think you have some sunk-cost fallacy at play here. If you met him today, would he befriend you? (Not you him, but specifically would he seek out your company and plan time together that wasn’t you being his sounding board?)

        What if you don’t try to help unless he specifically asks?

    2. fposte*

      Just to be sure–you still like him, right? It’s not just that you’d feel like a bad person if you stopped talking to him?

      Assuming the answer is yes, I’d look at two areas. First, the “impossible-to-make-happy”/”cannot be comforted” thing sounds like you may have made “making X feel better” a goal of the conversation. What if it wasn’t? What if you decided it was okay if he felt the same way at the end as at the beginning, and that comforting him wasn’t your job or even something he wanted you to do? Second, can he talk about anything beyond his own problems, and can he talk about your life without being negative about it? If he can’t, I think that’s something you can explicitly raise as a thing (and if that’s the case I also hope he’s in therapy, because that’s significant) and ask him to bring compassion to your life.

      I don’t know that it’ll change him if he’s really locked in this pattern, but with a long-time friend I think it’s reasonable to articulate a concern and give you both a chance to change things up a little.

      1. Be the Change*

        I was hoping you would chime in, fposte, your perspective is always both wise and kind! I don’t really enjoy my friend, but I *value* him — he is a valuable person. We’ve been part of each others’ lives since we were 15, well over 30 years.

        I have never lived close enough to be part of his daily life, so I can’t offer tangible help like driving him to a medical appointment. I try to keep emails positive, ignoring rants about the job or the medical system. For phone calls, about weekly or every 10 days, I make sympathetic sounds while the misery washes on by for 45 minutes.

        I would like him to do more to help his own spirit. Therapy is a hard no; I’ve brought it up directly and said, “I think you should do this, it would help you,” and the response is he doesn’t need that kind of thing.

        I know that I am not responsible for his happiness. One thousand percent not responsible. He is, though, like I said, a valuable person who has a lot to contribute and it makes me sad that the great spirit is crushed under its own weight.

        1. fposte*

          To be clear, I’m not speaking as somebody who found a neat solution for this; it’s more sharing some of the thoughts I’ve had and I have in similar positions. But you’re still focusing on what you can and can’t do to help him. What would happen if you let that go and assumed he wasn’t going to be helped, and that this was how he was going to be as long as you knew him? Maybe your phone conversations could just be a way of honoring him and what he’s meant to you. I don’t think that will make you less sad about his life trajectory but it might give you more peace about your relationship. (BTW, I have a friend whose love language is very acts of service, and it is so, so hard for her when she’s had friends who could be helped but wouldn’t be helped. Maybe that’s you too.)

          I’m curious, though, about those calls–do you feel the conversation shouldn’t be about you at all during them? Can he sustain a conversational thread not about himself? I know sometimes people just aren’t in a place to focus on what’s outside of them (see thread about chronic pain above), but if it’s just a habit you’ve fallen into, it might be worth thinking about changing it a little; conversational attention may feel like a gift you can give, but a reciprocal relationship is almost always going to be better for somebody in the long run.

          But, as I said, some people can’t do that. And I think it’s reasonable to say you can’t support that as a friendship but it’s also reasonable to choose to continue do so–I just hope you can find a way to make it take less out of you.

        2. Patty Mayonnaise*

          I just want to throw out there that you talk to this friend A LOT for someone that you don’t enjoy very much. Like, I talk to my very best friend (who is long distance) at about the same frequency. It might be easier to maintain the friendship if you cut back on the number of phone calls per month.

    3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I don’t have any good advice on how to be a good friend to someone like that, because I eventually realized that it’s too exhausting for me to be friends with someone like that.

      I used to have some people in my social circle who were always willing to help and would, metaphorically, give you the coat they were wearing if you were cold. They also never had a coat and were always cold because as soon as they got one they’d give it away, so it meant that I either needed to bring enough coats for everyone or else I’d end up feeling like a jerk because my friend was cold (since they gave up their coat to someone else) and I wasn’t interested in giving up my coat for them. This made it difficult to actually go do things with them and their immediate circle since there was so much lack-of-coats emotioning going on and it made it hard to have plans that involved going fun places where you’d need a coat. (Again, this was not actually about coats, but a general approach to all of life’s needs.)

      I now have friends who are less totally selfless, but I can trust that we will all show up for the thing we’re doing appropriately dressed. I am much happier now, because I can plan and look out for my own comfort and trust that each of my friends will do the same, rather than monitor and try to plan for the entire group’s needs.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        The coat analogy is a great one, it really nails the problem for some folks.

        OP, there is such a thing as giving away too much of ourselves. When this happens we have nothing left to take care of ourselves with and that can mean others have to take care of us. Except of course, when a person does not want help or does not want to be taken care of. Seven hobbits is correct here, we can’t keep giving away our own coats so others have to provide us with a coat.

        Another thing to watch for is people who give too much AND in turn expect too much in other areas. I have seen coat-givers expect their heating oil to be free, no cost to them. (Just as a parallel, not a real life example.) If you try to explain that everyone pays for their heating oil, the coat-giver switches to overload. “But that’s not Riiiiggght.” If you try to explain how the world works, they can’t hear you.

        Do what you can for as long as you can. Keep in mind two things: Sometimes people push us away from themselves. Their behavior gets worse and worse until we finally RUN. Sometimes people push away the people who they think are the good people around them.
        Another angle to keep in mind is that we can be in the way of real help getting into their situation. If we step back, the correct person can get in there and help them.

        It’s good to honor the parts of your friendship that were solid. But that does not necessarily mean you have to save your friend from themselves. You can lessen the contact and throw best wishes or prayer or whatever out to the universe for them.

        Also, you can watch from a distance and see that they stay relatively safe. The best example of this type of watching that I have is a friend who developed dementia and had a habit of walking. Many folks in the community would just watch him. They’d watch from the windows of their homes, from their cars or where ever they happened to be. There was not much anyone could really do except be aware that a problem might come up. If he fell while walking it seemed like people just magically appeared. No, they had been quietly watching. And that was as good as could be done there. Sometimes we shift to putting patches on problems because the problem itself has no solution.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I don’t remember if this script came from Captain Awkward or Caroline Hax or someone on this website, but I’ve filed it away for future use: “That sounds really rough. What are you doing about it?”
      And then you can converse about potentially helpful plans. Or if they admit to having no ideas, follow up with “I’m sorry you’re going through that. Is there a professional who you could contact?”
      (Often in tandem with “that’s way out of my skillset…”)
      Good luck. I’m feeling like the complaint-filled friend myself this year, and it”s a hard thing to be caught in a Catch22.

    5. Anono-me*

      Can you switch to cards and letters?

      Mail will give you a degree of insulation and control that phone calls, texting and emails do not. While still allowing you th stay in contact.

  44. Marguerite*

    I’m going to Toronto for a week next month. Any recommendations? Anything that is a “must see”? Food recs are especially needed. Thank you in advance!

    1. Anonyme*

      -Allan Gardens.
      -Art Gallery of Ontario.
      -North of Brooklyn Pizza.
      -Udupi Palace near Coxwell and Gerrard for Indian food.
      – Fresh
      -Flying Pony Coffee

    2. Trot*

      -Mother’s Dumplings in Chinatown
      -Kinton Ramen is delicious and perfect for fall weather, plus there are quite a few locations around the city
      -Bathrust & Dupont has good restaurants (like Fat Pasha) and is close to Casa Loma
      -Bar Raval, just for its beautiful interior
      -Le Swan, if you like French and/or elevated diner food (anything in that area, Ossington & Dundas/Queen, is quite good)
      -if you like walking around parks, Trinity Bellwoods (lots of cute cafes/stores/restaurants in the area) or Riverdale Park (east or west; east has amazing views of the city)
      -the University of Toronto downtown campus is also quite nice to walk around and has lots of different architectural styles, from old stone to modern concrete to postmodern glassy towers (and it’s also conveniently located near the Royal Ontario Museum if you plan on going there, with the pretty Philosopher’s Walk connecting them)
      -if you are in that area, the Royal Conservatory of Music has a nice cafe inside as well as a bunch of historical instruments/music-related books on display
      -blogTO and NOW Magazine have useful cultural / food roundups

    3. Valancy Snaith*

      For food, Banh Mi Boys is fantastic, and they have a few different locations. Kensington Market is super fun just to wander around (and has an amazing pie place, Wanda’s Pie in the Sky). If you feel like doing the tourist-y tourist thing, the CN Tower has an observation deck for views of the lake and the city.

    4. Everdene*

      We’re just back from Toronto!
      – Queen Street Warehouse (all food is $5.95!) is great although gets ‘clubby’ as the evening progresses.
      – CN Tower. Tourists go there for a reason. It’s a must see if you enjoy a view.
      – The Islands. It might be getting a bit cool but still could be a nice adventure.
      – If you like theatre go and see Come From Away. Don’t question, just go.
      – If you like a wander then Leslieville shops (and meal at Burrio), the Brewery District (check out the makers and custard tarts) and both St Lawrance and Kensington Markets are all worth a look.
      – If you have a spare hour pop into the railway museum and adjacent Steam Whistle Brewery for refreshments.
      – We popped into Gabby’s after a visit to TIFF and they had wings at excellent value.

      1. Everdene*

        Oh! And we waited *a while* to get a photo of the Toronto sign without pesky tourists on it – but I personally thought it was very much worth it!
        – If you are going to be using public transport it’s defintiely worth getting a Presto card.

    5. Quagga*

      Spend a day walking through Chinatown and Kensington Market. Kensington Market faves include Seven Lives Tacqueria and Otto’s Berlin Doner.
      Hike to the Evergreen Brickworks. You can take a shuttlebus there, but there are some nice walks through Toronto’s ravine system. Our family often does a walk starting from Mount Pleasant cemetery.
      Not sure when you’ll be here, but see if the Royal Winter Fair is still on!
      Check out Riverdale farm and then walk around Cabbagetown (lots of charming Victorian houses).
      Visit the Distillery District. A lot of the food is overpriced but do not miss Soma Chocolates.

  45. Liane*

    In need of recipe and product suggestions. My daughter has developed the alpha-gal allergy you can get from tick bites. It’s in all red non-primate meats. So fish, poultry, vegetarian. Also, about the same time she’s developed some problems with milk–sometimes happens with this allergy. It’s not the lactose and she can tolerate some cheese and other more processed forms of cow’s milk.
    Before diagnosis we had a scary month of multiple ER visits and using up both epi-pens (thank goodness the ER doctor prescribed them after the first time). The reaction isn’t usually instant, but up to 24 hours later, unlike most food allergies so harder to identify the cause.

    Her vegan/vegetarian friends have provided some good product suggestions. Meals that work for us so far:
    *Fish or shrimp (of course)
    *Hopping John with meat substitute “bacon.”
    *Burgers or other meat entree for us/chicken breast or Boca Burger for her
    *Pasta with red sauce & garlic bread. (I make a meat free portion of sauce for her)
    *Pizza, cheese or turkey pepperoni
    *Stir fry/fried rice with add your own meat

    Suggestions, please? Not too expensive or hard to find ingredients & mild to medium spiciness are pluses.
    Also looking for recommendations of turkey/chicken/vegan hot dogs (she didn’t like Ballpark Franks’ turkey) and non dairy “ice cream.” She has tried a couple (almond milk based I think) but wants one with a texture more like ice cream.

    1. Anonyme*

      Try coconut milk base for ice cream. Meagan Markle had an excellent zucchini pasta sauce recipe. Build your own tacos and paninis.

      1. peanut*

        Yes on the coconut milk ice cream! Trader Joe’s has a great chocolate coconut milk ice cream that I love.

    2. AutumnalHaze*

      Ground turkey or lentils can be used almost anytime you’d use ground beef – so tacos, taco salad, burgers, casseroles, red sauce. Some of the turkey burgers are super good and you can make like hamburgers.

      A lot of chicken sausages are excellent, including Italian sausage, maybe a better option that hot dogs? Some of the vegetarian sausages are good too.

      Chicken dumplings from Costco?

      Turkey meatballs in her pasta red sauce? There are some decent ones here in the frozen section.

      You might start with a site like SkinnyTaste because I feel like they de-emphasize meat but are easy to make and feel traditional.

      Some turkey bacon is legit, and a turkey burger with bacon is yum.

      Lastly, can she tolerate eggs? Eggs are a super foundation. And breakfast for dinner (eggs, pancakes, breakfast sausage) can be a good way to start thinking differently about dinner.

      I’m sorry she’s having to manage this.

    3. BRR*

      I get cookbooks via ebooks from the library. I recommend the America’s test kitchen vegetarian and vegan books if your library has them.

    4. fposte*

      Oh, what a pain to figure out. I’m always a little worried I’ll develop this. Last I looked, it was believed it usually subsides after a while; I hope that’s true for her.

      That being said, I think this is too wide territory to just list meals. Obviously if your family has been cooking or eating with a particular habit and that has to change, it’s a pain, but I think every main meal I’ve eaten this week would have been fine for her (and I’m lazy, so I’d just make the same thing for the whole family rather than doing a separate portion for others with extra red meat). I do a lot of soups, stews, and pasta, use olive oil rather than butter, a lot of beans, a lot of parmesan for umami, and some chicken (and a lot of chicken broth for soup). Mediterranean-influenced recipes would be one place to start, and you can spice things up with fresh peppers or sriracha.

      But I hope it settles soon for her and the rest of you!

    5. Aly_b*

      Things like veggie chillies and stews can be great one pot meals (or instant pot if you use one). I do a split pea veggie soup, if you put in some onions and carrots and mushrooms and some kind of bouillon cube or stock base it doesn’t really need the ham. Something like a stuffed pepper is another veggie centric meal, lots of different recipes online for what to stuff it with. Flatbread with mushrooms and veggies and maybe like a pesto or balsamic vinaigrette. For simpler ones, something like grilled cheese and tomato soup, tacos (beans instead of beef, or fish/chicken tacos). Mmm… now I’m hungry. Good luck to you and your daughter, glad they managed to figure out the diagnosis.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’d suggest finding totally new things so it doesn’t feel like a ‘substitute X’. You dont mention middle eastern and Indian foods, so maybe those are new to you — and both have great veg & bean based dishes. Stir-fry opens up a world of possibilities too.
      Also look online for ‘pescaderian’.
      For cold sweet treat, she could try fruit gelatos..not all are milk free so read ingredients.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        I agree with this. I’m a lacto-ovo vegetarian by choice, so not really the same situation, but I aim for “thing that is like the thing I’m missing in some ways, but also very different in other ways” rather than “thing, but made of fake meat”. For example, my favorite thing to make when I’m in the mood for bacon is grilled asparagus with olive oil and lots of salt. It hits the fatty/salty/smoky/long/squishy notes I want from bacon, while really, really not being bacon. Similarly, my favorite burger substitute is a black bean and sweet potato patty topped with goat cheese. It’s similar to a burger in that it’s in a bun and I can eat it one-handed, but it’s definitely not trying to be a beef burger. It gets away from the “bad meat cosplay” feel that I get from a lot of meat substitute products. Since she eats fish, she might try salmon burgers for this as well.

        If eggs work for her, egg-based dishes can be a great place to start. One of my “in a hurry” meals for dinner is to make microwave scrambled eggs with frozen veggies mixed in (peas and carrots from one of those mixed veggie bags with the carrots cut up to be about the size of peas work well – just add it to the raw egg and it all cooks together). Since I can eat dairy I tend to top mine with cheese and sour cream, but salsa would also be a good non-dairy topping.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          “Bad meat cosplay”= wonderful phrase.
          It’s exactly how I felt about GF bread when put on a celiac diet trying to narrow down a digestive problem. Rice is lovely, so I stuck with rice.

      2. Fikly*

        This! I’ve had to make two major dietary changes in my life, when I was diagnosed Celiac, and when I developed type 1 diabetes in my freaking 30s. Substitutes just made me angry and want the real thing.

    7. Weegie*

      Soya ice cream is usually most like dairy ice cream. If you can get the Swedish Glace brand where you are, it’s positively addictive and way better than dairy ice cream! Also try the Alpro brand (marketed as Belsoy in Canada and possibly the US). Failing those, Chinese supermarkets usually have some kind of soya-based ice confection.

    8. Hattie McDoogal*

      There are some good coconut milk-based ice creams that are pretty tasty, though they often taste pretty strongly of coconut so YMMV. So Delicious is my favourite of the non-dairy ice creams – it’s cashew-based, so pretty creamy but it doesn’t have any kind of overwhelming flavour. Both Haagen Dazs and Ben & Jerry’s make non-dairy ice creams that are pretty good. Magnum has a couple of flavours of non-dairy ice cream bars as well (I think plain and almond), which are quite pricey but really good for a treat.

      1. anonagain*

        I haven’t had the ice cream bars, but I second the suggestion of both Ben and Jerry’s and So Delicious. They both have flavors with lots of stuff mixed in that I think might taste nicer for someone just adapting.

        If she likes coconut, the Bliss and Luna ice cream is also really great. They have a ginger snap ice cream that I can never find that is basically the only food I ever crave.

        There’s a brand called Nada Moo that I was able to find a few times. I am not sure what the distribution is like around the US (or if you are in the US), but if you can find that, I recommend it.

        Breyer’s makes a peanut butter vanilla ice cream and an oreo ice cream. I think they are almond milk based. Probably someone used to dairy ice cream would notice a difference, but I quite liked the pb one with vegan shortbread cookies crumbled over the top. I didn’t think of it at the time, but I think it would be a good choice for a milkshake.

        There are a few brands that make low calorie vegan ice cream. I bought one of those by mistake once (I don’t remember the brand) and I really would not recommend those. I don’t see that being a nice experience at all for someone who is used to regular dairy ice cream.

        It might also be nice to try adding toppings. Things like crushed oreos, candy pieces, strawberry sauce, etc. that are what she’s already used to. Vegan ice cream, like dairy ice cream, varies in quality. Some of it isn’t the greatest, but is still makes a very good sundae.

        Ticks are the worst. I’m sorry your daughter is dealing with this, Liane. I hope she feels better.

    9. Ranon*

      We like the field roast veggie dogs pretty well. The beyond sausages are very sausage-y but kind of spendy. Lightlife tempeh bacon is pretty good too if you want a thicker bacon experience, turkey bacon tends to be pretty thin. Nada Moo is one of our favorite non-dairy ice creams although I’m not sure how widely it’s distributed.

      Cilantro and Citronella has some great vegan recipes for things like gumbo and jambalaya, I honestly don’t miss the meat in them, they’re really phenomenal. Lentil Bolognese is a great way to get a “meaty” pasta sauce without meat.

      And for an easy, can’t be bothered dinner we like to do baked beans (fairly easily available in vegetarian versions), fried eggs and toast, breakfast for dinner style.

    10. Mimosa Jones*

      I’ve made Rachel Ray’s sloppy joe recipe with ground turkey and also (separately) with red lentils and cauliflower. You could also just use Manwich sauce. Ground turkey would also work well with tacos, burritos or enchiladas. Lazy Galumpki (cabbage rolls) are popular at my house and easy to make with turkey instead of beef. And there’s always breakfast for dinner while using a nut milk in pancakes or waffles.

      We really like the Bliss brand of coconut milk ice cream.

    11. Alex*

      My favorite vegetarian recipe website is cookie and kate. Tons of great vegan recipes there–most just plain vegan stuff, not trying to mimic food that has meat. I’m not vegetarian but I eat limited meat for environmental reasons.

    12. Not A Manager*

      The website Serious Eats has an excellent article about sorbets. I don’t know how overwhelmed you are and how much you enjoy cooking. If you have a Kitchen Aid brand standing mixer, you can buy the ice cream maker attachment for about $50 and it’s a lot of fun to experiment with. If your daughter likes that kind of thing, it might even give her a bit of control over her new situation. I would recommend starting with recipes that involve coconut milk and that use corn syrup as a sweetener instead of sugar. (Corn syrup is not the same as commercial high-fructose corn syrup, it isn’t made of sadness and tears, it’s fine to use sometimes.)

      I have an terrific vegan black bean chili recipe that I can link to if your daughter likes that. The New York Times cooking website has an excellent recipe for “easy weeknight grain bowl” that is delicious and very filling. Definitely add more roasted veggies to it – my two favorites in addition to the broccoli and mushrooms are cauliflower and sweet potato. Frittatas are easy to make and store fairly well in the fridge if you put a piece of paper towel around them to absorb any moisture.

    13. Can’t Sit Still*

      On the off-chance you live near a Veggie Grill, a vegan fast food restaurant, your daughter would be able to order anything off the menu. Nothing on the menu is exactly healthy, but the food tastes good and they have the best fries. They have a seasonal menu, too.

    14. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Another comment for your daughter–be careful about the broth in soups. A meatless friend didn’t realize that her local pho shop used the same broth for its shrimp pho as for its beef pho. Luckily she is avoids meat for environmental reasons not for avoiding ER visits. She asked us to tell other vegetarians.
      Also look into TVP–texturized Vegetable Protein. We use it in stews and chili. It’s sort of our iron rations for when we are too tired for grocery shopping.

    15. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Oh, and another just general “coping with a restricted diet” suggestion: if she can find some kind of granola bar or snack bar that she likes and can eat, she should keep a couple with her when she’s out places. (I use Lara Bars for this – I like the Apple Pie ones and the Coconut Pie ones best. They’d work for her diet, but I have no idea if they’re the kind of thing she’d like.) It’s really hard to navigate eating at new places when you’re hungry and on a restricted diet, so it’s useful to have some safe food with you as a backup. (I keep some in my car and some in my backpack. Unfortunately, we’re nut-free at work so I had to figure out something else for in my desk.)

    16. legalchef*

      Trader Joe’s has really good soy milk vanilla ice cream. Also from TJs – soy sausage (both Italian sausage in the fridge case and also breakfast sausage patties in the freezer case), fish burgers, tikka masala burgers. Supposedly their chicken burgers are really good too.

      You can make a meat sauce using ground turkey – I’ll mix in sausage seasonings with the turkey (garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, lots of fennel) in with the turkey and let it sit/marinate together before browning it so the flavor is more developed. You can do the same for taco meat and use taco seasoning, and make tacos, burrito bowls, etc.

    17. Anona*

      Mediterranean hummus bowls from Budget Bytes are yummy, and can be adapted, toppings wise. Also from Budget Bytes: Greek turkey and rice skillet, Pork & Peanut dragon noodles (I make it with ground turkey, and 1/2 of the chili sauce), Roasted cabbage & kielbasa dinner (I make with turkey sausage), to name a few. Budget bytes has a ton of vegetarian options, and they all have reviews so you can see if they’re universally tasty or not. Her recipes aren’t overly complicated. It’s a really good website.

      And finally, from Smitten Kitchen: chicken gyro salad and Sheetpan meatballs (turkey) with chickpeas, tumeric, and lemon. Smitten Kitchen stuff I find more complicated, but she has a lot of vegetarian stuff, and I often dumb it down.

      I eat red meat out, but pretty much always substitute ground turkey for ground beef at home. It has a better texture than ground chicken, and it takes spice really well. I do tacos with turkey and black beans all the time! Good luck!!!! Do check out Budget Bytes- you won’t regret it!

      1. Anona*

        Also, one thing to know about ground turkey, if you cook with it, is it usually is much less fatty than ground beef, so I often have to add in olive oil so it won’t be dry/stick.

    18. Chaordic One*

      Within the last couple of years there was a brand of dairy milk that had the casein removed, but I can’t remember the brand and can’t seem to find it using Google. Maybe someone else here will remember.

      You might consider using ghee or clarified butter (which has the proteins including casein removed) in recipes as a substitute for butter. I’ve had good luck using the “Earth Balance” line of dairy-free margarines and also with “Daiya” brand dairy-free cheese substitutes.

    19. LilySparrow*

      Black bean burritos are popular at our house. The cheap & easy version of the filling is 1-2 cans beans, drained, plus 1/2 bag frozen corn and a generous dollop of mikd or medium salsa. Heat that till bubbling. You can roll it in a tortilla with shredded cheese and lettuce, or serve it in a bowl over rice, or over tortilla chips. You can also add avocado, sour cream for those who can have it, all kinds of things.

      A lot of weeks, I’ll roast a whole chicken to serve with baked potato and a green veggie, and then pick the leftover meat to use in another recipe, and then boil the carcass to make chicken-noodle or chicken-rice soup.

      White beans (cannellini or great northern) are good cooked with onion, garlic, and rosemary. Serve with rice and salad or cooked greens.

      Other cheap, easy family dinners: Tuna melts (Tuna salad on toast with cheese melted on top). Breakfast for dinner with fried or scrambled eggs. Grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato or veggie soup.

    20. Not enough coffee*

      We don’t eat a ton of red meat over here simply by habit. Maybe bc my kids prefer chicken?

      Does she like Tex/mex? Chicken enchiladas, chicken fajitas, and my family’s stand by- salsa dump chicken (chicken + jar of salsa+ can of beans+ bag of frozen corn into crock pot for all day, shred, add cheese or sour cream or whatever, wrap in tortilla.).

      If she likes bbq, do pulled chicken (chicken + bbq sauce in crock pot. Pull apart, add slaw and a bun).

      Turkey meatballs for the pasta /sauce (traders joes ones are awesome).

      Check out smitten kitchen’s Greek chicken. It’s a staple for us in the summer in the grill and year round.

      Roast chicken + veggies if that’s more your family’s style.

      Asian- takeout or homemade, lots of poultry or veg options.

    21. Liane*

      Thanks for all the wonderful suggestions. Other details:
      *Daughter knows to watch out for “hidden” beef/pork when she goes out–her vegan/vegetarian friends have been wonderful about warning her of the pitfalls. And yes, we do read labels when shopping.
      *She can eat eggs & we love “Breakfast for supper,” Like someone suggested.
      *She’s not a sausage or chili person, never has been. But we all love Mid-eastern & Mediterranean food and are trying out curries. (She didn’t like the chickpea one, but that might have to do with it getting a bit burnt)
      *Complicating things is that her dad/my hubby hates poultry. So having a chicken & a meat entree is something we’ve done once in a while for years. Hubby’s is just a preference, so his dinner can be Odd Entree Out as far as I am concerned.
      *Daughter is cool with having Boca or chicken when we have burgers

    22. Princesa Zelda*