weekend free-for-all – November 23-24, 2019

cats named Wallace and Sophie cuddle together in a chairThis 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 Baby Thief: The Untold Story of Georgia Tann, the Baby Seller Who Corrupted Adoption, by Barbara Bisantz Raymond. This is the horrifying true story of a woman in the first half of the 20th century who openly kidnapped hundreds of children and sold them to wealthy adoptive parents.

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

{ 1,327 comments… read them below }

  1. Jenny*

    Could anyone recommend me some videos about strength programmes and exercises for absolute beginners?
    I have just joined our work gym, which has free weights, some weight related whose names I don’t know, rowing machines, treadmills and exercise bikes.
    Im a 43 year old woman and have literally never picked up a weight before, but I want to keep my strength up as I age.
    The gym doesn’t have trainers and you can’t bring in external trainers, so it’s down to what you can learn to do yourself.
    Thank you!

    1. Fran*

      I have been using fitnessblender.com for years. All their videos are available for free on youtube but you can buy monthly or 2 month programs that you buy once and you can use as many times as you please. I own most of them. You have a digital calendar where you know what is your daily exercise and follow along. They do not sell supplements and I appreciate that. You will need your phone or a tablet at the gym. The directions are easy and usually there is a description with the exercises included so you know what to expect.

      1. CrazyPlantLady*

        I also use and love Fitness Blender. For strength training I recommend buying their program Strong. It lays out exactly which of the free videos to do every day for 4 weeks to make sure you’re not working the same muscles two days in a row. You can also push everything back a day if you’re too sore or only plan to workout 3-4 days a week instead of 5 plus a stretching day.

        1. MKM*

          Also a Fitness Blender fan(atic). Even without buying the programs, it’s easy to sort and filter to upper body, fitness level, timing, available equipment, etc. I would recommend sorting by “newest” when you begin as they are a lot more user friendly!

      2. gsa*

        Jenny,

        What’s your goal?

        What’s your current fitness level?

        At 50yo, 6’4” and <200# people think I’m fit, and I am not!

        1. Jenny*

          Gosh, I have to have a goal? This is the kind of thing I find scary about fitness ;-)
          I want to be fit and active and able to live independently age 80, and that means (I understand) starting now to build up strength to compensate for the natural muscle loss with age.
          I like running and hiking in the woods, but that doesn’t build upper body strength. So friends have advised taking up some kind of strength work. This gym is available and cheap. That’s as far as it goes.

    2. Lois lane*

      I have been using workout videos ( on DVD but she also has free workouts on YouTube) by Jessica Smith. Usually she shows 3 options, beginner, intermediate and advanced. I’m currently finishing week 4 of her six week total body transformation and my knee pain is gone! Her workouts are generally 30 minutes. She is very girl-next-door pleasant and not annoyingly cute nor a drill sergeant. I highly recommend her.

    3. I❤️Spreadsheets*

      I loved using the New Rules of Lifting for Women. It’s a book but the photos and instructions are really easy to follow. The program also develops over time adding in new exercises so that you don’t get bored.

    4. The Other Dawn*

      There are some articles, which usually contain video demos, of exercises for beginners at nerdfitness . com. Search for this article: 5 Best Strength Training Workout Routines For Beginners. There are some video demos towards the bottom of the page. There’s also one for body weight exercises for beginners, which is really easy to do at home if you can’t make it into the gym that day. I would say to do less reps that what the article says. I discovered the articles after I’d been working out for awhile and I think the reps are too many for someone truly starting from scratch. Good luck!!

    5. rj*

      I have used various online trainers – I think that Nia Shanks has some good programs that (when I used them) you could print out, and hthere’s a “start” thing at the top of her website that has good info.

    6. Holly J.*

      I recommend a program called “Strong Lifts.” It’s online — I would link it if it were allowed.

    7. Gaia*

      I don’t have videos but I will say this: start slow. Rest in between. And make sure you keep good posture. If something hurts – stop. There is a difference between “I’m a bit tired from exercise” and “I hurt myself.” Exercise, even strength training, should never be painful.

      I prefer functional strength training which focuses on movements we make in real life.

    8. Earthwalker*

      I ran into the author of Stumptuous (https://stumptuous.com/) in a fitness chat when I was in my 40s about 20 years ago. She gave me a lot of good info and encouragement. Her advice on women and weight training is still great and she’s just updated her site.

    9. What the What*

      For things you can do at home: Jenny Ford has some great videos (Amazon PrimeVideo, YouTube and subscription). She has some strength building, step and marching workouts. Very good instructions and easy to follow. Margaret Richard is great for beginners as well.

    10. Two Dog Night*

      I’d recommend “Strong Women Stay Young”–it’s not recent, but it has a lot of good, basic information

    11. Jenny*

      Thank you everyone. I’ve taken a look at Fitness Blender and it looks like a great starting point.
      I’ll let you know how it goes.

    12. CB*

      Good luck! Something I learned early in my fitness journey is that you shouldn’t feel pressured to immediately jump into free weights. There are a lot of exercises where you can build up a base level of strength (like air squats) and then slowly incorporate weights as you are able. Also, don’t forget to stretch!

  2. Venus*

    Is anyone able to spend time with plants or in the garden? The snow has melted a bit here so I will try to clean up a bit this weekend.

    1. Jdc*

      Ours all died since it’s been below freezing plenty but we have our peppers inside. We are having bugs now because of them now though so my husband is debating getting a grow light and keeping them in the basement. Just normal bugs that come with plants but with 9 pepper plants it’s a bit too many bugs for inside.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’ll be wiping down my houseplants with rubbing alcohol against whitefly. It’s tedious!

    3. Elizabeth West*

      My little plant buddies came with me to the parental unit’s house when I moved (no way was I was gonna leave them behind). I have one ponytail palm, a large pot with two umbrella plants (I thought it was just one until I repotted it), and three pothos. All of them, except the ponytail palm, came from former workplaces. They’re currently hanging out in the sunroom. It’s not exactly warm in there, but they seem okay for now. I probably need to dust them.

      Speaking of the umbrella plants, they’d been ailing for a long time and I couldn’t figure out why. It finally dawned on me that they might need repotting. When I took them out, I discovered that their cocoa hull mulch was ALL they had! There was no dirt. No wonder they were unhappy! Now they’re putting out new sprouts, aren’t dropping leaves, and are feeling much better. I ended up with enough cocoa hulls to cover their dirt and all the other plants as well.

    4. NewReadingGlasses*

      My coleus cuttings all have roots! I’ll be putting them in dirt tomorrow. A couple of them are WAYYY more vigorous than the others, so they get to go first.

    5. Trixie*

      While I’m in my current job/employer, I bring my house plants to work. My office has so much more natural light (such as it is now) plus the building is warmer.
      My two newest additions I love, a baby rosemary tree and holiday cactus from Aldi’s. I’m hoping the rosemary tree lasts, will need to repot before long for better soil. Love fresh rosemary but this may end up being too fresh!

    6. No Green Thumb*

      For the first time ever, I cleared out my entire garden and planted a cover crop – oats and peas. I will cut it down and till it in in early spring. I planted a week ago before our first rain of the season and it is already sprouting. I have high hopes for a significant improvement in my crummy soil. Southern California so no frost here.

    7. Dahlia Enthusiast*

      I finally planted some fall bulbs. Late, but I’ve had other pressing deadlines…. and the weather wasn’t cooperating.
      The dahlia bed is all mulched for the winter, and I’m trying to plan a kind of potager garden in the front, off the kitchen. Basically, I’m hoping to create something that looks cool out of edible plants.

  3. Julia*

    Last week I wrote about an ongoing conflict I have with my mother, and how I finally snapped at her and hung up. I ended up blocking her number, then unblocking two days later because you never know if there’s not a family emergency. I’m still in contact with my grandma, and I text my brothers sporadically, one about my niece, the other about random stuff. My mother has not texted or emailed me all week, which is super rare. She usually texts every day, even if she has nothing else to say than “hope you’re finally off work” at my 4pm…

    I’m starting to get worried. I want her to stop pestering me about my life decisions, but I didn’t mean to mentally harm her. (Despite her doing a lot of harm to me about my weight, my face, my English…) I’m also getting really worried about her throwing out all the stuff I still have in their house because I couldn’t take it with me internationally. A lot of sentimental pieces, stuffed animals, books… I guess my father might stop her if she tried to, but he’s a huge throw-awayer himself and has literally thrown away papers I had on my desk because they were “lying around”.

    I’ve texted my younger brother to see if he’s heard anything, but he lives a country over himself, and my older brother always manages to blame me for overreacting to our mother as “that’s just who she is”, so even though he lives closer to her, I don’t think he’ll be of much help. I can’t just call my father because they only have one shared line.

    What do I do?

    1. Bagpuss*

      Can you contact your Dad directly? Or even contact your mum via text if you don’t want to actually speak to her at the moment.
      It sounds as though she is most likely angry because you stood up to her and it may be that giving her space to cool down is the best thing, but if it is causing you stress, then a quick text to say ‘hope you and Dad are OK ‘ would be an option.
      You could also ask your brother if he is willing to call or text them, just to ask how they are, and then to confirm to you he has spoken to them.

    2. Julia*

      Okay, she just emailed me about something, so I guess she’s not that mad.
      My brother said she sounded desperate because she doesn’t know what she did wrong…

      1. !*

        Sounds like you shook her up a bit and now may be a good opportunity to call and tell her why you hung up and blocked her number (and that you will do it again). Ask her to just listen to you and not interrupt while you get it all out. I don’t know what it is with mothers who just can’t let their adult children alone and are always trying to control/change us. They *think* it’s because they love us, but if all it does is make us feel bad, then how could that be love? All I know is that my mother and I had a contentious relationship, she was very critical of me, and it took me moving away to develop confidence in myself and my abilities. At this time in our lives, I’m the one who is trying to get HER to change (for the better, of course!) but have realized I can’t change her and her ways so now just talk about other things.

        1. valentine*

          she just emailed me about something […]
          She’s manipulating you. She’s trained you to experience her feelings as an emergency and to be her personal first responder. You won’t be free as long as you believe you need to keep contact. Your dad won’t get his own number because that reduces her control and, as long as he doesn’t stand up to her, he’s sitting pretty as the (“real”/”worse”) bad guy’s right arm who doesn’t have to do any work, like treating you better or learning healthy communication skills.

          If there were an actual emergency: Wouldn’t you hear about it from someone else? What can you really do from where you are? Things happen. You could miss a decision that needs to be made while you’re in a meeting or in the bathroom. It’s not possible to always be available.

          My brother said she sounded desperate because she doesn’t know what she did wrong…
          She knows exactly what she did. That was the push. You disengaged. The silent treatment is the pull. You engaged. This is the old push-pull cycle that keeps you on the hook.

          See if any of this rings true:
          http://issendai.com/wp/estrangement/why-dont-estranged-children-say/
          http://issendai.com/wp/estrangement/how-blameless-we-all-are/
          http://www.issendai.com/psychology/estrangement/dysfunctional-beliefs.html

          1. Julia*

            Oh, my dad isn’t really much better than her, he just only attacks when I’m in the same room with him.

            I don’t want to go fully no contact, but I also think that !’s suggestion to get her to listen probably won’t work, because it never has. They always find a way to blame me, even though I was a kid when they were adults, or now it’s my “mental issues”.

            1. Arts Akimbo*

              But, this is the cycle of abuse. You can never “get her” to listen, because this is the pattern she prefers. You can only get free of it if you disengage. Please read the articles valentine linked.

              1. Julia*

                I know that. Sorry, I just replied to the end of this thread instead of to ! individually. Their suggestion is valid for normal people, but unfortunately not for my parents – although I appreciate that they took the time to write out a suggestion that would have worked on regular folks.

      2. ..Kat..*

        Please retrieve anything from your mother’s house that you want to keep, even if you have to stack boxes of stuff at your place.

          1. Lime green Pacer*

            Maybe the brother can do that? But I would start to mentally write off those items. At the end of the day, they’re just stuff; don’t let people use it to manipulate you.

            1. Lime green Pacer*

              Another thought: if there is someone that you can trust to do this, write up a list of the most important, irreplaceable, small things there. Have someone retrieve them and ship them to you.

              1. Julia*

                Thank you. I do live in a different country and none of my brothers would be willing or able to help. The next time I go, I’ll try to pack some up and get them to a storage unit.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I’d recommend emotionally bracing yourself to lose those sentimental things. This is under the heading of prepare for the worst, hope for the best.

      Sentimental things are really strange over time. What we think we enjoy or are attached to,we can end up getting rid of as the years roll on. When my father lost his house (medical bills) he said take this stuff or never see it again. We both had surprises on that one. He and I were both surprised by what I ended up taking and what I ended up leaving behind. Storing stuff is a problem. Sometimes an item is no longer useful or the item is broken in a manner that it cannot be used. Some stuff is just worn beyond belief and only a thing of beauty to me and not anyone else. The real surprises came when I realized some of the stuff had a sentimental value that was a Big Negative for me. I got rid of the Big Negatives as soon as I realized that the item provided NO comfort to me.

      I am talking about all this because holding on to a toxic relationship so we can get “our things” might not be as practical a plan as we might think initially. It’s more of a plan that is based on emotions and can in some instances end up hurting us more than if we just let go of the items.

      I hope I can encourage you to keep yourself safe first and foremost. It’s a good idea to watch out for people who roller coaster their relationships with us. Decide how long you want to ride that roller coaster and how you will know when you are done with the roller coaster.

    4. CL Cox*

      Do you have any friends who live near your parents’ place who could store some boxes for you until you can retrieve them yourself?

    5. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Sounds like she’s giving you the silent treatment as punishment for snapping at her. Basically, she wants you to come crawling back and begging for forgiveness. Given that she’s got access to stuff you left behind, you have a couple options.

      You could fold. But that just means that she won (in her mind), and you will have a harder time getting her to respect your boundaries in the future.

      Or you could stand your ground. Depending on how stubborn she is, this could actually turn into a protracted period of no contact. And it also means that you’re going to have to write off whatever you left behind, and anything that doesn’t get thrown out is a pleasant surprise.

      You may want to read through this: www. issendai.com /psychology /estrangement/ missing-missing-reasons.html (remove all the spaces to make the link work). I don’t know your situation is exactly, but if your mother hasn’t been willing to let her adult child make their own decisions without being nasty about it, she’s got something going on. Minor, major, who knows.

      Assuming that you end up back in communication with her, you can try training her away from the negative behaviors. It sounds horrible, but basically dog training tactics can be effective. She isn’t nasty/controlling/meddling/whatever, and you talk to her, are pleasant, etc. She does something you don’t like, then she doesn’t get the attention. Get off the phone and don’t call for a week. Then try again.

      Long term – you need to get whatever you actually want to keep out of her control. Easier said than done of course.

      1. Julia*

        I’ve definitely ignored all texts that I didn’t like and only responded to the nice or relevant ones.
        At the end of the day, while my mother can be really awful, it seems like my stuff is safe for now. After all, she wants me to come back, and she wants to paint herself as the reasonable, good mother to a mentally unstable daughter, so throwing my stuff out won’t go with that.

    6. Observer*

      Get someone over to your parents house to get everything and anything you want to save. Make some time to go back to Home Country to cull what you REALLY want to keep and put that in storage. Yes, it’s going to cost you, but you need to not leave anything “hostage” to your mother. Although, don’t be surprised if she has already thrown stuff out.

      Then, stand your ground. I don’t mean telling your mother off. But understand that she’s not going to change who she is. So you need to figure out what you can deal with and what you can’t. And end your conversations when she gets to a point you can’t deal with. You won’t be harming her mentally.

    7. !*

      What is interesting is that you’ve asked what do you do, yet every piece of advice provided you have rebuked, even those from last week’s posting. Your life is up to you to live it, you (and your husband) are the one to decide who gets to make plans for where you will live, the jobs you will take, and how/when you have children. I think what you are struggling with is your confidence and conscience. I would imagine being raised by an overbearing, dominant mother will do that, she sounds awful, especially when she insists you go back to an employer who abused you, unforgivable. I would stick to less contact with her, and more focus on you and your husband’s plans for your life together. You can’t change your mother, but you can change your interactions with her.

      This is an interesting read: https://blogs.psychcentral.com/good-daughter/2018/06/should-i-go-low-contact-or-no-contact-with-my-difficult-narcissistic-mother-read-this-first/

      1. Julia*

        It just seems like she’s not always as bad as I make her seem here. I still want the bad times validated (by her, but that won’t happen), but I don’t think I necessarily have to go no contact because people on the internet say I do. (Or that I have to give up all my stuff. Good if you can do that, but I’d hate to.)
        Also, saying “I don’t have anyone to go there” in a town I haven’t lived in in years isn’t rebuking a suggestion – what do you want me to do, make up a fictional friend?

        1. Cat Wrangler*

          I know it’s late in the weekend, but I’m just going to point this out: one of the ways you know when things are wrong is when they SOUND wrong when you’re telling the story to someone else. Chances are if a friend called in panic to tell you something like this, you’d be able to see that this person is being, on some level, played.

          My father is rather like your mother, and he is very good at the innocent *blink* “What’d I do?” followed by the sad old man pout, followed by, if I’m really lucky, ”I’m just a stupid old man,” or my very favorite, “Your mother used to keep me from making mistakes like this.” My mother has been gone 20 years. All my old friends think he’s just the sweetest thing, but he’s not. It’s taken me a long time to let myself admit that.

          Please trust your gut on this. If it feels like harm, it’s harm. I’m sorry this is what you have to deal with.

          PS I lost my high school memorabilia to one of his ploys. I couldn’t come visit him RIGHT AWAY, so he trashed it. Cue “I’m just a stupid old man.” I’ve been ok without it; my high school years sucked. But I know, easy for me to say.

          1. !*

            This seems to fit here:

            gaslighting
            manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.

  4. Neela*

    Ugh Bath and Body Works keeps drawing me in with their constant sales. Where else has candles and lotions with really good scents? (And why have Bath and Body Works’ lotions become so perfumey? I don’t think they used to be.)

    1. CopperPenny*

      I often find candles I like at TJ Max and Ross and those types of stores, but it depends strongly on taste and their current stock.

      Bath and body works has always had at least some lotions that smell super strong. My parents banned me from using the lotions in the car when I was a teen, at least 10 years ago.

      1. Zephy*

        +1 suggestion for TJ Maxx/Ross, also Homegoods/Marshall’s. I’m planning to make a run down the street to one of those today, for a candle as a matter of fact!

    2. Three owls in a trench coat*

      You’re right, I grew up using Bath and Body Works but in more recent years a lot of the scents are too strong or perfumey for my taste.

      I rarely use candles so I can’t suggest any, but I love The Body Shop’s body butter. It’s moisturizing and comes in a lot of scents, most of which I find pleasant and not too strong. I don’t have an actual Body Shop store near me so I usually get them at Ulta when they’re on sale (buy one get one 50% off, etc.)

    3. Jdc*

      I think they always were perfumey that’s why I moved away from it years ago. I still like their candles though. I honestly can’t go into the store anymore though because all the conflicting smells mixed gives me a headache. I do like the quality of their lotion though.

    4. Rebecca*

      I wish I could report on the 4 candles I ordered on Oct 20 – but they still aren’t here! Of course my card was charged, and the shipping date and arrival date keeps getting moved out. I keep checking, and now it says “estimated delivery Nov 25” and “Processed”. Putting the UPS tracking number in the UPS site results in “UPS could not locate the shipment details for this tracking number”. At this point, I either want these shipped with the costs refunded, or the entire order canceled. I’ll have to call them, I guess.

    5. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius*

      Target has some good candle brands in their Home section. I’ve liked the Chesapeake Bay brand personally (I haven’t seen seasonal scents from them though if that’s what you’re looking for).

      I also like the WoodWick candle scents, I find them to be a bit less intense than Bath and Body Works.

    6. Cora*

      I’ve found Target candles (Opalhouse brand, I think?) to be comparable to Bath & Body Works candles in terms of amount of scent given off when burning. They don’t have a huge selection, but great seasonal scents.

      For lotions, I like the love, beauty, and planet brand. Also Ulta has a good selection of lotions and frequent sales.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      Bath and Body Works and The Body Shop have something in their stuff that irritates my skin. I’ve never been able to use their products. :( I’ve been moving away from perfumed stuff anyway.

    8. Teacher Lady*

      I buy scented candles from an Etsy store called Silver Dollar Candle Co. and I love their candles!

    9. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      Trader Joe’s and Target both sell scented organic soy candles, which are great because they have fewer volatile organic chemicals than traditional candles. They were the only kind I could use for a long time without bothering my allergies.

      Weirdly, I keep one cheap stinky candle around for Halloween: their nasty chemicals do an excellent job drying out a jack o lantern and preventing mold in a way that soy candles don’t.

    10. Leslie*

      I really like EO Everyone’s lotions. They are not terribly expensive, but nice quality and they have a good scent, but not too much.

    11. Not My Money*

      My favorite candles are from Partylite. Yes, I know it’s an MLM but the candles are great and I only order when I want.

    12. Lindsay*

      I like the smell of The Body Shop’s stuff better, and you can often find it half-price in TJ Maxx or Marshall’s.

    13. noahwynn*

      Aldi has candles on the seasonal aisle periodically that I love. Pretty much dupes for BBW 3 wick candles. Usually only 3-4 scents at a time though. I usually buy 2 or 3 when they have one I like.

    14. Arts Akimbo*

      I like Crabtree & Evelyn’s lotions, and Yankee Candles for a variety of great, long-lasting scented candles.

    15. MechanicalPencil*

      I purchase from 42 Nerdtastic Place — you can google that for the link. There’s a wide variety of scents. Amanda makes them all herself. They have wood wicks, which I apparently like. It also helps a small business out. Sometimes it’s hard to decide on scents because it’s all online, but she always lists every ingredient in the candle, and she’s very good at describing candle scents or knowing that I don’t like really sweet smells, so don’t get XYZ candle. And! She has the option of you creating your own candle.

      Clearly I have a small obsession.

    16. Liz*

      Not BBW but every other freaking store with their pre super Black Friday sales! I have placed probably, no lie, 8 orders with Macys in the last week. (Credit card holder, platinum status). Its BAD……

  5. Princess Deviant*

    I’d be grateful if you could give me some advice.
    I’m really struggling with my mental health, and I feel very lonely. I’m on medication and I can get therapy, which does help.
    I can’t exercise very much due to pain in my knee, which is really getting me down in itself.

    My diet is poor! I end up eating rubbish, which – again – isn’t helping.
    I do feel very lonely. I don’t have many friends, and a long-standing ‘friendship’ of mine just ended. To be honest, I’m grateful about that. We weren’t always good to or for each other.

    My other good friend lives far away and is married so I don’t really want to be mithering her, plus it’s not her job to make me feel better.

    I’m waiting for an autism spectrum diagnosis. I don’t feel like I fit in anywhere. I just went for a promotion in work, for example, and although they said my application was “absolutely brilliant”, and my interview was “really good”, basically I’m not a people person, so I didn’t get it. I was gutted.

    I’d love a romantic relationship, but I struggle to connect to people. I’ve been internet dating, which has knocked my confidence even further! It’s very…disheartening.

    I’m not sure what to do. I think I want to connect to people (hence being on here) but am not sure how.

    Thanks in advance.

    1. anonymouse*

      Do you have the time and energy to volunteer? Look for something that would get you interacting with people; I highly recommend working with kids or seniors. Even volunteering with the SPCA can mean interacting with cute animals and other volunteers. Don’t go into this with the mission of, “I need to make friends,” so much as: “I want to go out and interact with people and open myself up to being kind and receiving kindness.”

      Sociability can be like a muscle. If you don’t use it, it can lose it.

      1. Alex*

        Second volunteering. It is actually a pretty well-accepted idea that volunteering helps depression. I also often struggle with mental health, and I’ve made a point to always have *some* volunteer work in my life to help combat it.

        I used “Volunteer Match” to find a volunteer opportunity in my area.

      2. Princess Deviant*

        Thanks, anonymouse and Alex. I’ve had a look online and there is a donkey and horse sanctuary near me. This week, I’m finding out if they need any extra volunteers. I’d love to do that. Failing that there is a cat rescue nearby…

    2. misspiggy*

      Might it be worth reaching out to Autism networks, perhaps online, to see whether friendships develop there?

      1. Princess Deviant*

        Thanks for the idea. I had a look at this and there’s an adult autism group that meets once a month near me. I’ve put it in my diary to go there on the 1st December.

    3. Jemima Bond*

      My only advice for internet dating would be keep at it and try not to be downhearted – it’s very much a numbers game! In the second “session” of Internet dating in my life, I went on at least one date with sixteen people before I met my OH and that’s not counting the ones I contacted but didn’t reply or the ones who messaged me but I wasn’t into. You really have to keep your optimism up; it’s not easy but when something comes to nothing I found it was best to mentally shake myself off and think, right, NEXT! :-)

      As for other things – would it help to decide to “fix” one thing at a time so it feels do-able? How about your diet – you say you aren’t eating well so how about improving what you eat and ignoring other stuff for now. Speak to a doctor, try to establish some small changes, don’t try anything too radical that you can’t sustain. E.g. do you feel you eat a lot of fast food? Don’t say you’re never having it again (You’re less likely to keep to it) but maybe say you’re only going to have it on a Friday or the day you work late/rush out to an activity. Do people bring lots of cake/biscuits/sweets to your work? Say you won’t give them up but you’ll only have one cookie.
      Also get a recipe book and learn to cook. If you cook from basic ingredients and less by heating prepared foods, and always do some veg or salad, you’ll probably eat a lot better. And the learning will have other benefits such as online recipe sharing communities, maybe going to a class relaxing time for yourself etc. It’s a form of self care really.

      Oooh – maybe read “Saved By Cake” by Marian Keyes. Wonderful Irish author, has bouts of crippling depression; she learnt to bake and it really helped! Plus the book teaches you to bake.
      https://www.mariankeyes.com/books/saved-by-cake/

      1. The Grammarian*

        I agree with this poster about internet dating–I did it for a year before meeting the man who became my husband, and prior to hitting it off with him, I faced A LOT of rejections. Just think of it as not being compatible vs. something being wrong with you–it really is about compatibility!

      2. Ra94*

        Seconding the idea of doing one thing at a time. Also, in CBT I found it very helpful to keep “action precedes motivation” as a mantra. When I’m low, my instinct is never to do the things that would make me feel better (going for a walk, joining a new class, eating salad instead of junk.) I just have to DO the good thing, like an automaton, and then I know I’ll feel better after.

        1. Princess Deviant*

          Yes, very true. I always find the getting up and doing something difficult, but hopefully reminding myself of how I will feel at the end of it will help me do it!

      3. Princess Deviant*

        Great name! I liked your ideas very much. I think the “do little things” makes a lot of sense. It’s sort of like the UnF*ck Your Habitat thing: 20 minutes, on 10 minutes off. I am making small changes, such as eating veg or a bit of fruit with every meal, and cutting snacks down.

        Also, I saw your comment further on about singing – I love singing! I used to be in a choir for 7 years when I was a teenager. It made me think I’d love to join one again. I’ve been looking around this weekend for a choir I can join now as an adult. Unfortunately, they seem to be more expensive than I can afford (£27/month!) so I will keep searching, maybe just for a free community one or something. I can’t really bring myself to go to a church one. I am a student part time so I will see if there is a good one at the university too.

    4. Anon for this one*

      Hey there, you’re not alone. I’ve also been very lonely and struggling with my mental health lately. I also don’t really have any friends, but it’s something I’m working on. I’ve finally found a therapist who is “THE ONE” and have started to get to a point where I actually feel good enough about myself to want to try going out and socializing.

      Is there someone like a doctor, personal trainer, or physical therapist you can reach out to who can suggest exercises that you can do with your knee pain? You might also want to look up “chair exercise” or “chair yoga” designed for those with limited mobility.

      As for your diet, I’ve found that taking things one day at a time and making small changes helps. You can eat the unhealthier foods you love, just less often and in smaller portions. It’s so easy to compare yourself to what others are doing, but you have to acknowledge your own small victories. You ate a fruit AND a veggie today! Someone brought donuts to the office and you only had one instead of two! Also, try to make some healthy meals when you’re having a good day. That way you’ll have them on hand and won’t be as tempted to eat junk when you’re having a rough time.

      Volunteering is a great way to meet people and animals if you have the time and energy to do it. Have you ever heard of Meetup.com ? It could help you find others in your area with shared interests.

      I wish you all the best with everything!

      1. Princess Deviant*

        Thank you, Anon.
        I’m sorry you’re feeling lonely and struggling too. I have found THE ONE for my therapist, too! She’s really helped in the past and I am seeing her again in the new year. I can talk to people at the university too, so I don’t feel alone with thoughts.

        Re: the physical exercise: I saw a post by fposte further down which mentioned patellofemoral pain syndrome, so I looked it up – and holy moly I think that’s what I have! The problem seems to be that the doctors just can’t diagnose me, and after 2 physiotherapists (who weren’t great to be honest), I feel like I am not getting anywhere. I have downloaded some knee exercises which I am going to try though, and I feel very hopeful about that.

        1. fposte*

          Happy to accidentally help! Patellofemoral pain is pretty common but is also a pretty mushy diagnosis with mushy treatment patterns, IMHO, so figuring out what works for you personally is really important.

    5. Jdc*

      I know this is minor but as exercise truly helps my mental health and as someone who also has bad knees, yoga. I use an app and it walks you through it. Also working out helps with the diet without even thinking because your body needs better food. The app has levels so you can go in slow. Plus you don’t have to look like a klutz like me in front of a class. Also has times, 15 min, 30…

      It’s called Asana Rebel.

      1. Lyys*

        I don’t know this specific program but I definitely second the yoga recommendation. My knees are in BAD shape. Tendonitis plus damage from sports and dance. I take a class (a way to meet people too) that’s mostly aimed at older people and people with some physical limitations (think 60+ or pregnant). And it’s a 50/50 shot whether the glucosamine supplements are effective or placebo but I do notice a difference.

      2. Princess Deviant*

        Thank you! I have booked myself for a yoga class this Thursday and I have also scheduled in a couple of swimming sessions this week too (if it’s not too cold!). I will check out that app.

    6. Popcorn and Moscato*

      Talk to your insurance to see if you have the option to connect with a nurse line. They are incredibly helpful. Try to give them a call to get help with finding out the best approach to your diet and exercise routine. They can help you figure out who you should work with so that you approach it in the healthiest way.

      Socially, I tend to be really awkward in person. I used to have a hard time making friends. For me what is helping is just putting myself out there. I’m finding that connecting with others is getting easier. Try to sign up for events in your area to volunteer with as others have suggested. Though, I’ve also found just taking that first step to message someone that I know to talk helped. Also, try to strike up conversations about things like their day, their family, celebrities, music, movies, books, ect. Friendships can take time to develop. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Ex: I tend to talk about Harry Potter, movies, books, workout routines, Disney + content, television shows, makeup, Jeffrey Star/Shane Dawson, coffee, wine, work, and a few other things. The most important thing to do when talking to someone is to ask about them. Talk to your therapist about your goal to make friends. They might have some really good advice. Your mental health always comes first.

      My closest friend and I have known each other since undergrad. We didn’t even start out as friends. We were in the same pre-med club and worked together. Our running joke became that everyone thought we were sisters and already besties. We eventually became really close. The friendship took time to develop.

      1. Princess Deviant*

        Oh that is a good idea, and I am grateful that you have reminded me of this – I can get a free health programme through my work benefits.

    7. Aquawoman*

      I am likely on the autism spectrum and if not, very near to (never been diagnosed). I do better with activities that have some structure/focus to them — book clubs, e.g., or volunteer work. I have made most of my social connections through my church, which has a lot of groups and activities (and is UU so I don’t need to adhere to any set of dogmas). Group therapy was also very helpful for me. I’ll mention in case it helps that I’ve come to realize some of my need for social interactions or connection has been an expectation I’ve placed on myself rather than an actual need. I’m fairly solitary right now and get enough interaction from work and family and a little church stuff. I met my husband through on-line dating. The advice re online dating is generally cast a wide net/go on a lot of first dates and I didn’t do that at all. I was very selective who I would date, based on my feeling about them from initial emailing. You could also try the discussion boards at wrongplanet.net for some on-line autistic community.

    8. Amy*

      For making friends, Captain Awkward has you covered: https://captainawkward.com/2019/11/01/1244-how-do-i-turn-work-friends-into-real-friends/ – check out her archives too because there is a lot of really good advice. Making friends as an adult is a very different thing and it is definitely a skill one has to learn. I didn’t start having a group of friends until I was 33-ish because it was just too complicated.

      Re: autism, I’m awaiting a diagnosis myself and it is hard. I’ve done a lot of reading and I am assuming from your username that you are a woman, so I recommend reading Aspergirls by Rudy Simone. It really helped me to come to terms with how I was feeling and helped me understand myself better. I got it from my local library, so check there first. :)

      As for the diet stuff, I am a health at every size and fat acceptance proponent. If you’re unfamiliar with these concepts, please take some time to look into them. They really, really helped me overcome my shame, guilt and frustration with my body. Which in turn allowed me to care for it better because I learned to meet my body where it was instead of berating myself. I recommend Lessons from the Fatosphere by Kate Harding (book) and her website Shapely Prose: https://kateharding.net, Dances with Fat: danceswithfat.org/ and The Fat Nutritionist: http://www.fatnutritionist.com

      The online dating is a good idea. I’ve met all bar one of my partners online. :) I’ll point you to the Captain again though: https://captainawkward.com/2014/08/26/617-all-the-dating-advice-again/

      I wish you the very much of luck!

        1. Princess Deviant*

          LOL Thank you so much, that is really thoughtful of you. Thank you for the links, too. I’ve bookmarked these.

    9. rj*

      I have moved a bunch of times in life, and I resonate hard with the friends far away. And also the internet dating. It is hard. I don’t want to count how many first dates I’ve been on but it’s been a lot over about a decade.
      I second volunteering with animals. I have met many people who are not the most social with humans, who work with local animal rescues and have met great people through it. Or, if you like working with kids or older folks even if the socializing is hard, I think those two groups of people can be blunt but loving (often those volunteering things require background checks). Good luck.

    10. Scandinavian in Scandinavia*

      I have been very lonely for long periods of my life, but as another poster states, some of the loneliness was about my expectations rather than about my need for company. I tended to think abput how others might view me rather than about my needs.
      Something that has helped me at times of loneliness and depression is reading about existential loneliness; how we are all alone and all connected. The first pages of Thomas Merton’s No Man Is An Island are fantastic (afterwards, the book is very theological).
      Warm hugs and best wishes!

    11. Not So NewReader*

      A pretty simple thing that you can start today is looking at your hydration levels. If us humans don’t drink water regularly we can go into all kinds of problems- body aches, stinkin’ thinking and many other issues that are kind of surprising.
      I am not saying that water will cure any of these issues, but the LACK of water WILL antagonize the heck out of issues already in place.

      The formula I use is I take my body weight and divide by 2. That answer is the number of ounces of water I need per day. So if I weight 150 then I need 75 ounces of water a day. If you are no where near close, do not do the full amount on your first day. Work you way up over a period of a week or two.
      So I am busy/concerned/distracted/whatever and I forget my water. My solution became to take quart mason jars and measure out my water in the morning. I can see my progress as the day goes on. And they also double as travel waters, so if I go out I can grab one to take with me.

      Currently I trying to make more of an effort to get most of it finished before dinner, so I can sleep through the night with out a bathroom run.

      This does not replace real help but it is something you can work at on your own and might give you a sense of doing something for yourself to help you along. If you start feeling a tiny bit different, then bonus for you.

    12. Anon Here*

      You might just be exceptionally smart and gifted. That can also make it hard to connect because you think differently, and about different things, than most people.

      Don’t get disheartened about internet dating. It isn’t for everyone.

      What do you enjoy doing? What do you enjoy working on? Put your brilliance into projects of some sort. That will be a bridge to connect with people. When people get a glimpse of how your amazing mind works, doors will begin to open. There will be negative stuff too; talented people tend to get bullied by those who are jealous. So prepare for that. You just have to keep going and keep sharing your work. Believe in yourself. Believe in your projects. Good work can lead to employment, dating and friendship possibilities that you wouldn’t have imagined before. It’ll be ok. Things will turn around.

    13. Budgie Buddy*

      For improving diet, I have found the website All Recipes useful. It’s basically a giant database of home cooking recipes from ambitious to super simple. Sometimes I want to cook “real food” but have no clue how to start. They have all the steps and ingredients listed and I’ve gotten some of my favorite dishes from there.

    14. Zephy*

      Have you looked around your community, to see if there’s a group with a shared interest of yours that meets someplace? Check Meetup dot com or the local library/other community hub, see if there’s anything of interest. You might also look to see if there’s a subreddit for anything you’re interested in; there probably is! Reddit communities can be a little hit-or-miss, but the further from the main/default subs you are, the better people you find.

      If exercise is something that makes you feel better, do you have access to a pool this time of year? If there’s a YMCA or similar in your area with an indoor pool, swimming is great exercise that’s very low-impact on the knees.

    15. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Re food: look for the overlap between things you’ll actually eat–things you like that are readily available (so, things you can keep around, or easily get delivered, are good)–and that are good for you. Note that no food is healthy for everyone, and that people have different needs, and calories and hydration are needs: if the only thing you can bear to eat right now is steamed rice, or a particular brand of chocolate pudding, eat it. That’s not perfect nutrition, but it’s better than no food at all.

      So, if what you’re willing to eat includes plain apples, salami, and chocolate ice cream, make sure to have all three around. And if the apples sit a few days and you just eat salami and ice cream, that’s okay.

    16. Smol Book Wizard*

      Someone else lonely and a little socially anxious and waiting to hear about ASD diagnosis chiming in… feel free to disregard any of these if they seem unhelpful, but some stuff that may help?
      – For exercise, can swimming or water aerobics work for you? My mom has had knee and joint pain for a long time and so found these easier on the body than other exercise. Also – bonus – the water just feels really good, and you can take it at your own pace, no need to join a class or anything.
      – I am terrible at organizing a food supply. What helps me is being willing to buy semi pre-prepped from a cheap place like Aldi or Lidl – that way I can put some kale in a (nonstick, super easy to wash) frying pan for supper and put shredded cheese on it, or whatever, and be eating within 5 minutes of having the thought. Also, if there’s anything that you know you will always eat (peanut butter on bagels for me), make sure you have it around. And let yourself have some “rubbish” food now and again too – just try to keep easy stuff around that’s more filling and good for you.
      – I can thoroughly recommend volunteering with animals. Also, if you’re so inclined, see if your local groups need foster homes to take in older or baby or shy animals who need cuddles and quiet instead of the shelter environment? Bottle-feeding kittens is an option that is frequently helpful. Animals are sometimes lots easier than people – much less complicated and tricky to socialize with, and quicker to reach the point of wanting to be hugged at any given moment. :)
      Best wishes!

    17. Anono-me*

      First of all, sometimes making connections with a person who resonates with you is hard. For me while it is easy to have casual friends, it is very very difficult for me to have true blue got your back no matter what friends. You might just be that same type of person.
      As far as that goes tell me a lot of people have good advice on how to improve your overall diet. But I want to suggest vitamins. They’re not a cure-all or a substitute for eating properly, but they will help. Also, sometimes being low in certain vitamins can impact how you feel.

      If you Google online or check your public television schedule, you may be able to find a exercise program you can do at home that is designed for elderly people. I don’t know how old you are but usually the Elder exercise programs do have something to address people with knee issues.

    18. Gaia*

      Hi. I’m also struggling and a lot of what you wrote is what I’m experiencing.

      First things first, I’m glad you’re working on medication and therapy. It will help. You just need to find the right combination.

      Exercise and diet are helpful too, but I know it is not easy to focus on either of those when you’re deep in the struggle. I went from eating great and exercising regularly to eating utter crap and barely moving. And even though I knew I’d feel better if I changed those two things, I couldn’t. If you’re still struggling like this with being on medication, consider that this might not be the right medication or dosage for you. Please talk to your doctor about that.

      Once you get to a more settled place, there are some exercises you can do that are low impact. Consider sitting exercises. Even exercising your upper body while sitting will help you feel better. It is hard to believe, I know. And it won’t make it better on it’s own. But it helps. Then maybe start with one balanced meal a day. Just one. Maybe not even a meal. Just a snack.

      About your good friend: if she is really a good friend, she will want to know you’re struggling and help how she can. It isn’t her job to make you feel better but it isn’t your job to shelter her from the realities of your life.

      Keep coming back and letting us know how you’re doing.

    19. DrTheLiz*

      Have you considered swimming? If the knee is very bad, you can hold a floaty between your thighs (or put little kiddie water wings around your ankles or something) and just swim with your arms. It lets you exercise while tailoring the force through your knees, and is often recommended for people with joint problems.

      As a married person (in Germany) with a single friend (in Japan) without a lot of support network, do pester! I like talking with my friend and I get sad if I haven’t in a few days. I’ll often send just a cute animal picture timed so she’ll see it when she checks her phone in the morning as a low-response-pressure thing and I find it works well.

    20. Princess Deviant*

      Thank you so much to everyone, your responses are very kind and thoughtful. I’m sorry I haven’t replied to all of you, but I have taken all the comments on board.
      – I’m going to yoga this Thursday, and have scheduled in a couple of swimming sessions. Thanks to a comment further down by fposte, I think they have managed to inadvertently diagnose my knee problems!!! I have been looking at exercises for patellofemoral pain too.
      – I’m trying to eat a bit of veg or fruit with each meal, and be a bit more sensible about the amount I eat (1 donut instead of 2 etc).
      – I really liked singing when I was younger. I’m looking at joining a (free) choir. Thanks to Jemima Bond for the reminder!
      – There is an adult autistic group that meets near me once a month so I am going to that in December.
      – I am going to a social event for drinks on the 10th Dec but am not dating at the moment. I’m having a break from it for now.
      – I’m drinking more water!

      I think some other stuff that might help me is limiting my screen time, although I don’t want to eliminate it because I enjoy this forum for example, and am watching The Crown at the moment. But trying to be sensible about it, and not bingeing on it.

      And in general, I’ve been given a lot of food for thought from everyone, so I have bookmarked this thread and will come back to it.

      Thanks again!

    21. OyHiOh*

      How is your sleep? A surprising number of health issues can be exerbated by poor sleep. Your body gets energy from sleep and from food. If you’re not sleeping well, you rely on high carb, high sugar “rubbish” food to keep going. Poor sleep makes pain harder to tolerate (and pain makes it harder to sleep well to so that’s a really vicious cycle). Poor sleep makes mental health issues a lot more daunting too. So look for hobbies you used to enjoy, try out some new stuff, hydrate, move in ways that feel good, and also, dig into your sleep hygiene and see if there’s anything you need/want to change.

      1. Princess Deviant*

        My sleep is not great actually. I think the less screen time should help a bit; I’ve currently got a filter on it to block the blue light nearer bed time, but not using it at all in the bedroom might help. The pain does keep me awake, which is horrible, and there are only a couple of positions I can lie in, in bed. Thanks, this is something to look into too.

    22. Meepmeep*

      I was in the same boat a while ago (lonely, possibly autistic, depressed), and what helped me break out of that was to find a group of nerds. For me, it was music nerds geeking out on a particular very obscure musical genre. That group is how I met most of my current friends. So if there’s any sort of special interest you have or could envision yourself having, maybe find a nice group of nerds?

      Also, it’s helped my depression greatly to get outside and get at least some outdoor daylight exposure every day, and to do weight training every other day. If your knee hurts, just do arm exercises.

    23. CB*

      Something that has helped with my own mental health (that is of course not as great this time of year) is focusing on what I am able to exert my energy towards in a particular day. I try to do my best to reframe and focus on what I CAN accomplish on a particular day. For example, I might only have the energy to crawl into work a few minutes late, eat something, and get home and immediately lay on the couch. Rather than focus on the free event I had on my calendar and the workout I missed that morning, I try to reframe as “I did what I had the capacity to do today and that has to be good enough”.

  6. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    I got some work done for a school assignment, so yay!

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      I’ve finally finished the first draft of a sequel to some fanfiction that I’m writing. It’s very rough and ready, but the first draft is done. I had a brief moment of relief before I started to wonder how I’m going to edit it and fill it out, but I’m like this every time.

    2. Wattpad?*

      Anyone here use Wattpad or similar service? Trying to get back into writing for fun (I was really into posting fanfiction on LJ like 15 years ago!) I have some non-fanfiction stories I’m looking to share with the world (or at least the internet). Any thoughts or recs greatly appreciated!

    3. Curly sue*

      I’m trying my hand at a rom-com novel for the first time. I’m about 26k words in, and I’m having a good time with it! I’ve written a few romances (traditionally published) before but those were on the high-heat side of things and this one is a lot more pining. It’s a fun challenge and a nice change of pace.

    4. Kalico*

      I wrote 4 out of 5 days, so I’m satisfied. Three days on novel, one on blog. Right now my focus is consistency as I work to develop a sustained writing habit. Consistency is very very challenging for me because I easily get discouraged but I’m doing better!

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I bailed on doing NaNoWriMo to avoid the word count pressure thanks to dealing with two infections, though not on the book. But it’s been slow going. It’s my first book-length go at a fantasy setting without any real-world trappings, and I think I’m a little afraid of it. I’ve shied away from actual *magic.* No elves, either.

    6. Texan In Exile*

      I had a hard time falling asleep last night because I had ideas for new blog posts. Got up this morning and wrote two of them. So – happy about that. :)

      (I used to be Diary of a Golddigger. Now that the in-laws are dead and my husband isn’t running for office, I have a new blog where I can be a bit less secretive.)

    7. Banana Naan*

      I finally got into the groove of a story that has been ultra frustrating to write, but the past few days I have been flying!

      Question for anyone who is submitting to lit mags, for poetry, sci-fi/fantasy, or literary genres: how do you keep your spirits up while you’re being rejected? I’d like to think I have a thick skin, but sometimes those rejections are like getting sucker punched.

    8. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      This probably isn’t what you meant, but…

      I have friends who been published this year, in a variety of genres. Viewing their author experiences has recently taught me that I don’t actually want to published, still less under my own name because (1) the promotion game is awful and (2) they lost their work when it published, emotionally or practically or whatever. I don’t want that. That’s not why I write.

      So now I don’t worry about saleability or completeness or even reasonableness: I write what I want and need to write for my own needs that moment/day/week/month/year and that’s it and oh how freeing not to have to care about potential readers and how they might misread or dislike or disagree or OH OH WORST CALAMITY actually like it and try to pay compliments and

      no

      just no

      thank you.

    9. WoodswomanWrites*

      I was inactive on my blog for a year and have only posted once in the last few months. Lots of life stuff sucked the creativity right out of me, so I was WoodswomanUsedToWrite. I have continued my nature photography and there are a lot of photos to sort through. I finally have a blog post that’s been circling around my head, and hope to have it up by next weekend.

      There, I said it. That will make it real. Thanks for the prompt.

  7. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week?
    Yet more Graveyard Keeper for me, making some slow but steady progress. Honestly from the stuff people have been saying online I thought the grind would be worse but it really isn’t any different from Stardew Valley in that regard, at least for me.

    1. Caterpie*

      I’ve been wanting to get into Dark Souls III again. I bought it for my old PC which ended up not being beefy enough to run it, then my fiancé bought it for me on Xbox and I got maybe 1/2 of the way through? I have a better PC now so I was thinking to start a new game this weekend. I had a blast as a mage on DS2 but read that it isn’t quite the same in 3, so I’ll have to think some more about what build I want to run.

      1. Deschain*

        DS3 is the best game ever! I love it with a passion (I’ve played the whole series). I prefer playing 3 as a sorcerer with enough strength and dex to use a broadsword and bow. I played 2 with a claymore and crossbow and 1 with a claymore and pyromancy. So I think if you like the sorcerer build in 2 you’ll easily adapt to 3. 3 has a separate “magic” bar in addition to the health and stamina bars.

    2. DarthVelma*

      Been taking a bit of a break from Fortnite the last couple of weeks and grinding Destiny 2 instead. But the Destiny servers were down last night, so the partner and I went tabletop and played the Mountains of Madness expansion for Eldritch Horror. We kicked elder thing butt! GO TEAM!

    3. puffle*

      About to get Dishonored 2 out again- it’s been sitting on the shelf since April, but life has been so hectic I didn’t have a chance to actually start playing until last week or so

    4. SandrineSmiles (France)*

      Pokemon Shield for me. I’m just… addicted. Plus having it on the TV was pretty fun though playing on the train again was quite nice.

      Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh the joys of being a kid again xD

      1. Platypus Enthusiast*

        Also playing pokemon shield! I haven’t played this last week but I’m excited to return to running away from random Pokemon who decide to chase me through the grass!

    5. TinyRaptor*

      I’ve been playing a lot of Two Point Hospital (the spiritual successor to Theme Hospital) and having recently found the setting that allows you to send patients for treatment at a lower diagnosis threshold (and also the setting that allows you to send patients to treatment directly from diagnosis rooms) I’m hoping I can get a handle on the super-long GP queue issues I’ve been having in my next few sessions. I also recently finished Superliminal, which I loved and then cooled on a bit and then loved again by the end. (Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys clever reality-bending 3d platformers like Portal or Antechamber.)

    6. corporate engineering layoff woo*

      Looking at the new Warframe update and continuing to put off Destiny 2 since the layoff really put a dent in my gaming stride. There’s some srs grind to round out this D2 season triumphs, if desired… Before they’re gone forever.

    7. Libretta*

      I’ve been playing Oxygen Not Included – I find I like the beginning of the game, digging things out and setting up basic life support, but once I get to the more complex systems I lose some interest. I had the same thing with don’t starve, the learning curve made it less fun, but once I pushed through it just became part of playing the game. I’m trying to push through in ONI and learn how to use all the stuff. Last run I finally set up some automated systems, now trying to learn how to wrangle critters.

    8. Gatomon*

      Still working on The Outer Worlds, but I actually stumbled through the mall today for unrelated reasons and discovered two exciting gaming-related things:

      – an actual arcade! It looked like it was geared towards young kids/birthday parties so I probably won’t go there, but I did have to do a doubletake. I can’t remember the last time I saw an arcade that wasn’t a massive chain like Dave & Busters, or just a few pinball machines in a drinking establishment. It brought back fond memories of my local arcade growing up.
      – an honest-to-goodness, legit local gaming shop with games, consoles and accessories for every console I can think of going back to the early 90s! And maybe earlier, honestly, I didn’t dig in too far. I will definitely be headed back here!

    9. DrTheLiz*

      I found a Gameboy emulator for my phone, so Mario Land 2/6 Golden Coins and Pokémon Crystal. It’s been great!

  8. Jemima Bond*

    Morning all and happy Saturday! I’m excited today as tonight I am singing in a concert – the Messiah, which I have really enjoyed rehearsing this autumn. And yesterday (in the nick of time!) I finished sewing my new choir dress and I’m really pleased with it; our dress code is black tie, must be full length with sleeves – for any sewists or general clothes fans out there, mine is in crepe, about A-line with a shorter asymmetric overdress and sleeves in devoré velvet, and a bateau neckline. The devoré was a bit of a pain to sew (had to do a hand rolled hem) but I think it looks lovely.
    Lunch out with OH and also parents who are visiting for the concert, then rehearsal in the afternoon, and the venue is a church in my town so can pop home to change/beautify and eat before the performance.
    What fun things do others have planned? Any other choral singers out there preparing for Xmas/end of year performances?

    1. BethDH*

      That sounds beautiful! I am a choral singer, but moved too late to join a group for this season of concerts and right now I’m really missing it. Hoping to at least find a singalong or something here!

    2. UbiCaritas*

      True story: I sang in choir when I was in college (many years ago). We actually had to sew our own choir skirts. I am, um, sewing impaired. I put it off until the very last moment. My sewing skills did not improve while I was putting it off. At the very last moment I stapled the skirt together and taped the hem up. And I managed to put a staple in one of my fingers, to make things even worse.
      But, Messiah! Wow!

    3. Llellayena*

      I just had my winter concert last night! Sunrise Mass by Ola Gjeilo. I haven’t been in anything but my church choir for years (time and distance) so I had given away my concert attire. I learned last night the the long sleeve black shirt I bought is way too hot, so I’m hunting again. Your dress sounds wonderful! I wouldn’t have time to sew one (too many quilts in the queue) but I’d buy one like that if I could find it. Good luck with the concert! Messiah is amazing!

    4. My Brain Is Exploding*

      Props on using the word “sewist” rather than “sewer!” I first heard that word used by Mary Fons and I love it!

    5. OtterB*

      Your dress sounds lovely.

      I’ve been singing with a women’s a cappella barbershop chorus for 7 or 8 years now (a Sweet Adelines chapter). We’re rehearsing holiday music since mid-October and have 5 performances scheduled in December. We have a Sing for the Holidays program where guests can rehearse with us in November and join us for some of the songs in the performances. We’ve got 6 or 8 guests this year, which is really nice.

      I’ll be going to hear my church choir do a benefit performance of Vivaldi’s Gloria and some other pieces in a couple of weeks. They alternate between this and selections from the Messiah from year to year. Some times they conflict with my own chorus’s performance and I can’t go, but this year I can.

    6. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Yep, had a practice this afternoon for the two big Christmas gigs. Nice mixture of folk/country or classic rock’n’roll before the interval and church carols afterwards. I’m leading so it’s my voice on a solo mic in two totally different styles. It’ll be the best kind of fun.

      Also midnight mass 11pm on 12/24. Those returning “home” for Christmas are always invited to swell the choir numbers. Much is familiar but there’s always a little light sightreading!

    7. NoLongerYoung*

      Your dress sounds lovely and I’m impressed with the hand rolled hem! Haven’t sung in choir since high school but I love listening to them (and the messiah in particular, a friend did it annually). Enjoy!

    8. Paquita*

      I’m a (fair to middling) pianist, don’t have a good voice. But hubby and I are going to a sing-along Messiah. We have been in the past and they usually have a real harpsichord. Such fun!•••••••••••••••••••••••••

    9. londonedit*

      Your dress sounds amazing! My work has a ‘bit of fun’ Christmas choir and I’ve joined that, we just had our first rehearsal. I love singing but only ever do it at Christmas, I do enjoy a good descant!

  9. Anon for this*

    I don’t go to the doctor very often, so I’m trying to find out if this is normal. I went to the doctor for a checkup, which is covered 100% by my insurance once per year. My blood pressure was a little high, but not high enough to warrant medication. They asked if I had a history of high blood pressure and I told them that it was about that high at my work physical last year, and that was why I decided to get a checkup this year (I hadn’t had one in about 10 years). They told me to drink more water, watch my sodium intake, and monitor my blood pressure with a home BP monitor.

    When I made the appointment, I said I wanted a checkup. I also wrote “checkup” on the intake form as the reason for the visit. At the end of the appointment, they asked for payment. I told them a checkup is supposed to be covered by my insurance 100%. They said it was not a “checkup,” it was an “office visit,” because they discussed my hypertension. It was not a “checkup” because I came in for treatment for hypertension based on my work physical. So instead of getting a checkup at no cost to me, I have to pay for a $250 office visit out of pocket because the nurse told me to drink more water and watch my sodium intake.

    I feel betrayed because I was honest about my blood pressure history and they used it against me to charge me more. It sounds like they’re saying that if I hadn’t told them that — if I had lied and said my blood pressure has always been normal — I would have gotten the checkup at no cost. It also sounds like they changed the type of visit based on my results, not on the care I received. All they did was check my height, weight, blood pressure, pulse ox, listen to my heart/lungs with a stethoscope, and draw blood for routine bloodwork. If my blood pressure was normal, all of that would have been covered by insurance, but since my blood pressure was high, none of it was covered by insurance? The insurance only covers a checkup if everything’s good? That doesn’t seem right, but before I argue with their billing department, I want to make sure I’m not the crazy one. Is this a normal practice for doctors? Should I have lied about my blood pressure history to avoid getting charged for an office visit?

    1. Fikly*

      Ah, yes, this is a thing that is happening. Basically, in the US, you get the free physical. BUT, here’s the catch, if you get diagnosed with something (I’m guessing they gave you a diagnosis of hypertension) and then they in any way discuss treatment, they can bill the visit as a treatment visit, and that does not fall under physical, because it’s treatment for a health condition. It’s super obnoxious, because what is the point of a physical if not to detect health conditions, and then discuss treatments for them?

      Decent doctors offices will not bill this way. Rude ones will take advantage of the law to bill this way, and not warn you, and then yes, you get stuck with unexpected high bill. It sucks, and I’m sorry.

      I would also check if they billed the physical as well, because they very well may have, which would mean you cannot get another one covered until a year has gone by (I forget if it’s 12 months or until 2020 off hand, sorry). In future, ask about their billing practices ahead of time. It’s not right at all, and yes, the law sucks and shady offices are taking advantage of it.

      1. The Grammarian*

        Yes, this is something that’s been happening lately. You could schedule your “annual preventive visit” and just do that. If your BP is high there, you can schedule a follow-up visit (at cost) about it. If you mention it is a pattern during the visit, they can and will do more items that are outside of the bounds of an “annual preventive visit” and bill for those things. I personally do the preventive visit (100% covered) and then schedule other visits (at cost) if I have particular concerns or something specific bothering me.

      2. Loopy*

        THIS! This same type of scenario happened to me. I brought up something I considered minor during my annual visit and it got the billing changed. I felt so paranoid about bringing up anything after that and I was honest with my doctor that I didn’t feel I could raise *anything* at an annual visit because I wasn’t planning on paying some unknown office visit fee at that time.

        I wish I had better advice, but I wanted to say I also related to this sentiment from the commenter above: It’s super obnoxious, because what is the point of a physical if not to detect health conditions, and then discuss treatments for them?

        Doctor asks a question and my immediate thought is: if I answer this the wrong way and we get too in depth on something else- this will be billed differently! How do I avoid that?

        I am sorry to hear others are experiencing this, its really frustrating!

        1. Anon for this*

          That is messed up! You know, on medical TV shows, the doctors always complain about patients lying. I guess this is why patients have to lie.

          1. Dan*

            I used this line with a nurse over something pretty serious, and she was not amused. My words were something like, “Have you ever seen the TV show house? Do you remember the line where he says “everybody lies”? Well, maybe he was right.”

            The hospital was going to deny me a necessary medical procedure that the doctor ordered because they didn’t want me taking an Uber home. The issue at hand had nothing to do with whether the doctor’s ordered procedure was medically appropriate (it 100% was without question) and everything to do with my ride home afterward.

            Yes I lied, and I’m not sorry.

            1. only acting normal*

              How did they want you to get home? Bus? Walk? Bike? ;)
              I’m assuming the real issue was they wanted you to be accompanied by a friend/family for safeguarding reasons, in which case are truly lone people just supposed to forego medical treatment?

              1. Desperately seeking cute kitty*

                This is something I’ve wondered too. I had that requirement after minor surgery under general anaesthetic and always wondered what people who don’t have a support network are supposed to do.

              2. Arjay*

                Not justifying this, but they want you to use a medical transportation company. It’s not horrifically expensive, but it’s more than an Uber. They try to protect themselves from liability if you have a medical problem on the way home related to your procedure.

      3. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        Yes, my doctor was very clear about this at my last physical. During a physical, you may answer any of the doctor’s questions with symptoms. But you may not bring up complaints of your own, or the appointment will be considered an office visit and billed as such. (My doctor allowed referrals and refills off the checklist, but that may have been on the checklist.)

        So if you want a physical, you will have to get the physical, answer all of the doctor’s questions, and then make a second office visit for any issues you’d like to address specifically.

      4. Earthwalker*

        In Medicare parlance, it’s a “wellness visit.” You get one free wellness visit a year, but if you say “checkup” it’s charged.

      5. Liz*

        Sadly, this isn’t unusual. I’m in the same boat; went for my physical in June, BP was slightly high. Going back in December, but my ins. is pretty decent, so while I will have to pay for an office visit, i only have a $20 co-pay.

        each insurance co. is different. i know mine, if i go for PT at my dr.’s office, bills it as an office visit, so again, a $20 copay, whcih if you go 3x a week, gets pricy. Anotehr facility, just as good, not with my dr. office, bills it differently so its covered 100%. guess which one i go to?

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      So, a couple things. First, “checkup” isn’t actually a billing term. What you’re looking for is “annual” or “preventive care” visit. (I know, this seems minor, but if they are either dumb or shady, using the wrong terminology will only help them.)

      Second, your doctor is almost certainly not involved in the actual billing, which has both good and bad parts. (It does mean that if your doc or any medical provider anywhere says “oh you won’t have to pay for this out of pocket” you should not trust them because unless they own their own practice they don’t get to decide anything about the billing and probably don’t know what they’re talking about because that part isn’t their job.) So no, it’s not normal for *doctors*, but it can be normal for bad billers. You should never lie to your doctor; frankly that would be dumb and self defeating. If you don’t feel comfortable telling your doctor the truth, find a different doctor.

      /medical coder for fifteen years

      1. Anon for this*

        The reason I specifically used the term “checkup” is that I went on my insurance company’s web site and used the cost estimator tool, and that is the term they use for the annual preventive visit. On my list of benefits, it does say an annual preventive exam is covered 100%, but on the list of procedures/visits on the cost estimator tool, there is no such term listed. It is listed there as “adult checkup” and the cost estimator tool says the insurance pays 100% and my cost is $0. I guess maybe the insurance company is trying to dumb it down for the customers, but the terminology their cost estimator tool uses to differentiate between a covered visit and an expensive one is “checkup” vs. “office visit,” so I went with that.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Gotcha – sorry, I didn’t mean that in the sense of “you should know better” or anything like that, because “checkup” is totally layman’s terms and insurance companies use layman’s terms all the time.

          However, from the provider’s office’s end — I saw yesterday alone the word “checkup” used in documentation to describe visits for (pre-existing chronic) hypertension, an annual gyn exam, cancer treatment, fracture follow-up, vaccinations, labs and pregnancy – only one of which was actually preventive care vs an office visit. Basically, to the doctor’s office, “checkup” is like saying “stringed instrument” – when the problem is that they billed you for a cello instead of a violin, talking about a stringed instrument won’t help clear it up any. That’s more what I was getting at.

          1. Dan*

            I work in a field that uses very specific terminology that has clear and unambiguous meanings to those who are experienced practitioners. When we have to discuss the subject matter with less experienced people (including those we hire for full time employment), it gets… complicated. You dumb it down to not confuse people, but then later, the dumbed down language gets repeated back, and it just causes a lot of confusion.

            Back on topic… I’ve got “things” going on that require specialist visits. I had to go see one for reasons related (to me anyway) to something I had seen him for like a month ago, at the direction of the hospital I had recently visited. I call his office up, and they ask if it’s related to X. In my lay understanding? Sure as hell was. I showed up, explained what I needed, and he got visibly upset over how the visit was scheduled. Apparently, all I needed was “swabs” and the visit was scheduled as an “office visit”. And that was enough to set him off.

            Never mind that the thing that I needed “swabs” for sets off an irregular heart rate that requires a hospital visit (see previous note about lying to the nurses) and I have to be on expensive meds for a month before the procedure can be done, and in the mean time feel like crap. IOW, best avoided if possible.

            So I told swabs doc that while my thing is nothing more than a minor annoyance to him and his specialty, it’s a far bigger deal to me and my cardiologist, and he’s going to have to suck it up whether he likes it or not. (I might have left the last part out, but I think he understood.)

    3. ..Kat..*

      To me, a nurse, this was an annual physical. I hope you are able to push back.

      Have you gone to this doctor before? Have you had an annual checkup in the last twelve months? Usually, in the USA, you get your annual checkup (for free with insurance), then you book a separate checkup for follow-up for specific issues that need more diagnostics. A nurse telling you to drink more water and watch your sodium intake should not make this an “office visit “ that requires a higher payment. (That advice sounds really vague, and not like a treatment visit.)

      1. MatKnifeNinja*

        My sister got burned on this.

        Annual check up means the doctor just does a history/physical and testing. Her previous crap doctor would bill “office visit” because he could talk about “weight loss”, and that is considered “counseling” ie office visit.

        Since many people hit the overweigh range of the BMI, this guy could flip all those physicals to office visits and charge.

        My sister refuses to get on the scale for a physical. She’s about 10 lbs into the overweight BMI category. No weight documented, means no data. No data means the doctor can’t pull that legal scam.

        She has no blood pressure/diabetes issue, and paying $300 to get told you are 10 lbs over weight is obscene.

        The physical to office visit scams are high blood pressure readings. Random glucose stick, where 140 reading (US measurement) is enough to trigger it to flip or the BMI < overweight.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I read stuff like these posts here and I wonder if our system is broken beyond repair.
          People spend more time worrying about how to pay for health care that one has to wonder if they have any brain space/energy/resources left to, you know, actually take care of themselves.

          1. Dan*

            Or avoiding it because whats the point of wasting the doc’s time, mine, and $25 to just be told to lose weight? I’ve been hearing that for 20 years and am not stupid, so tell me something I don’t know.

            The reality is, there are other things that can go wrong, and if focusing too much on weight (or rebilling a physical as “adult obesity” which for whatever reason there is an ICD9 code for) means people *aren’t* getting diagnosed for other things that can be wrong, that’s a problem.

            1. Gaia*

              Maybe if doctors hadn’t spent years telling me my breathing issues were related to my weight instead of being quite likely the earliest signs that my anxiety was out of control, I could have been treated before it got so bad. But nope, it had to be weight, right?

              1. Dan*

                As an obviously overweight person, I go back and forth with this. I have health issues that are their own distinct diagnosis, but are aggravated by being overweight. (Hello sleep apnea.) But I can BS my through a physical (I feel fine even when I’m not!) and I don’t know if they ever would have caught the sleep apnea if I didn’t develop mostly unrelated cardiological problems. My doc basically said, while we will medically treat these things, it will help you to lose weight, your choice. And because I was doing *nothing* in the weight management department, I decided to do *something* and let the cards fall where they may. (I’m not a health/fitness freak, but did decide to get off my ass.) I’m still overweight (a lot) but many things are better.

                The math guy in me knows how to build these types of diagnostic/predictive models, and I’m also a subject matter expert in my field. The models are usually right, but they’re not infallible. If the model says “weight is most likely the biggest problem” I just don’t know how hard one should poke and prod in the other areas. In my case, a doc would rightfully tell me that if I lost weight I’d feel better. What I don’t know is how long it would take them to get to sleep apnea if they didn’t ask the right questions.

                1. Gaia*

                  I’m not going to pretend my weight isn’t a problem that deserves attention by my doctor – it does! And my doc knows I’ve been making progress. But my weight does not suddenly cause breathing issues several times a year. I’m obese every day, not 8-10 times a year for several days at a time. That is why I hate that every time I explained my symptoms I was told it was weight related.

                  Could it have been? Maybe, but also it was my anxiety and I didn’t fully understand that but maybe I would have if anyone would have mentioned it as a possibility.

              2. Anon for this*

                Don’t even get me started on how badly doctors treat overweight patients… I have a family member who had been feeling unwell for a while and went to her doctor, and the doctor told her she would feel better if she lost some weight. This family member couldn’t have been more than barely overweight (I’m shocked she was overweight at all because she’s always been in great shape, but the BMI criteria can be deceptive), but that was the only diagnosis she got from her doctor. Turns out, she had ovarian cancer, stage 3 by the time they found it months later.

                1. Gaia*

                  It is so much worse with us women. We’re already not taken seriously by doctors, when you add in being overweight we might as well be talking to a brick wall. Ugh.

                2. Dan*

                  About the BMI thing. “Can be deceptive” is a bit of an understatement. BMI was designed to compare groups of people based on data available a long time ago. It was never meant to be applied to an individual and assess health risks/outcomes. It’s not denial to insist that assessing individual health risk as a function of BMI is flawed. Why? Fallacy of averages. It’s like me asking what the average value of the house in your state/county/town/neighborhood is and then making specific statements about your house value based on that data.

                  That aside… I will never in my life be at a BMI that is considered not overweight. I’d have to drop 80 lbs for that to happen, and it just ain’t. Drop 30 lbs? Sure, reasonable goal. TBH, if I dropped 50 lbs, I’d be overweight but I’d be so ecstatic that I’d throw myself a ticker tape parade and declare victory.

                  Why am I so insistent? Because at one point in my adult life, I did weigh 50 lbs less. How did that happen? I had a job as an airline baggage handler. I spent four hours per day (we had a lot of down time) lifting 50 lb bags from my feet to my shoulders. That’s had to be a few hundred bags each day. These days, I have a desk job and get nowhere that kind of exercise. I was still considered overweight at that weight, and that was with that kind of exercise.

                  BMI can stuff it. And doctors need to stop practicing bad medicine by using that in ways it wasn’t intended. It’s bad medicine *and* bad math.

            2. Not So NewReader*

              Dan, I gotta say, I hear these stories of the doc saying “lose weight” and my heart breaks for people. That’s not a magic wand. You can’t wave some words over people and move on to the next patient.

              Having climbed my own Mt. Everest on this problem, I know what it took me to lose the weight. I ended up redoing my whole life. Docs have NO clue just how big a deal this is if a person actually tries to do it. For many people it involves life style stuff and it can also involve a lot of emotional baggage. (I mean people in general, I hope that is clear here.)

              So eventually I dropped 8 sizes. Keeping the weight off is another set of challenges. I am still that person who knows how to eat a whole box of cookies in one sitting. This is not something I will “UNlearn”. I don’t think our medical system is prepared to help people stay on track, once people reach their goal.

              Additionally and more to your setting, Dan, I learned that if we don’t sleep well then we are more prone to piling on food. Energy has to come from some place, our choices are pretty much sleep and food. Once I started sleeping more than oh- an hour or two each night- it became easier to graze less and less. I don’t understand why docs aren’t helping people get better rest if the doc is so concerned about obesity. It seems so basic to me to start checking for known contributing factors to weight gain. From my own experience, I was floored to find out how much contributes to weight gain that has NOTHING to do with food.

              To me, it can seem like people are not being informed of things that could be helpful just because the doc does not like people who have “habits” x or y or z. (Not all docs, not all patients, but it comes up often enough.)

              1. Gaia*

                It is bad. It is so bad that I avoided seeing a doctor to deal with my anxiety in part because I didn’t want to hear about how I’d gained a few pounds back (because I was eating like crap because of my anxiety).

                I know I’m obese. I’m working on it. I don’t need to hear about it every time I see a damn doctor. All that does is make me feel bad about myself and like all my work isn’t enough. And you know what that leads to? Shame eating of sugary things.

                Not. Helpful. At. All.

                1. Liz*

                  yes! A few years back, i changed lady doctors. The guy was such an ass; he looks at my weight, BMI and immediately tells me i’m obese. NO SH*T SHERLOCK. i’m forty something years old, you don’t think i don’t KNOW that. So he then puts OBESE in my chart. thanks a bunch.

                  But the kicker was had he looked a bit closer, he would have seen that oh, a year or so prior to that, i was THIRTY or so pounds heavier!!!!

                  needless to say i never went back and found a new doctor.

              2. Arts Akimbo*

                OMG, you are not kidding. I know I have sleep apnea. But it will cost me over $700 to get a sleep study, plus, oops, they will need to do two in order to calibrate the CPAP or whatever they decide to use, and then you get the special bonus mystery round called How Much Do I Pay Out Of Pocket for the machine and all the associated supplies. I have excellent health insurance, and that’s $1500+ out of pocket!

                The system is setting people up for failure.

                1. Dan*

                  I realize we all have different experiences, but on top of my sleep apnea, I also have “delayed phase sleep disorder.” That entitled me to skip the the calibration study. (I have a “normal” job, but I got bed between 3am and 4am. They kick you out of the sleep center at 6am. I got a pass on the second test.)

                  My studies and CPAP cost me nothing. Insurance paid every dime, and covers every cent of my supplies.

                  I have to ask you this: Do you know how bad your sleep apnea is? (They give you a score.) If it’s mild, the CPAP won’t do much overall. For that matter, how well rested do you feel? If your apnea is moderate or severe and you’re not feeling well rested, the CPAP is life changing, and that’s not even a mild exaggeration.

                  You might be able to get your apnea score with a home test of some sort (my dad did his that way. I went into the lab for mine.)

                  Of all of the things I’ve had to deal with healthwise in the last few years, getting proper treatment for sleep apnea is the thing I’m most thankful for… by far.

                2. Fikly*

                  I have severe sleep apnea and I didn’t need a second sleep study to calibrate my CPAP. My doctor just looked at the readings from my CPAP and made adjustments. It was a couple of office visits, regular specialist copay.

                  And it has changed my life to be getting adequate oxygen and to no longer be waking up over 150 times every night.

              3. Dan*

                Heh. When I hit up the junk food section at the store, I just calculate the calories in the whole damn bag and buy the bag that I feel least guilty about. I mean, I’m going to eat the whole damn bag so I may as well do something semi responsible about it. (No more “family size” bag of lays potato chips, unfortunately).

                The other thing with sleep and exercise and calorie burn is that you actually have to have enough energy to exercise and burn calories. In that regard, once you get into the “no energy to exercise” trap, you’re screwed.

                What fascinates me the most about the sleep and weight loss thing is that my cardiologist runs his own sleep center and weight loss clinic. That at least tells me they’re somewhat serious about dealing with some of the underlying aggravating factors, instead of just saying “we’ll do our thing, but you’re on your own for the rest of it.”

                The weird thing with the cardiology problem is that when I first got diagnosed with it, I couldn’t tell anything was up. (It’s not hard to diagnose, but I just couldn’t feel it.) The sleep apnea? I had no idea how much that was messing with me (or even that it did). *That* I am happy to have treated.

                To the larger conversation about weight and health, of all of the stuff I’ve got going on, being overweight (if not “obese”) is the least of my problems. Yes, it can aggravate a few things, but it isn’t the underlying problem.

                1. Not So NewReader*

                  You nailed the problem I am seeing with your summary in your last paragraph. Telling a person to lose weight is such an over simplification of what is going on with a person that it can be called a disconnect. The doc is disconnected from their patient.

                  We aren’t items on an assembly line. We are individuals with a whole set of unique circumstances.

                  I got into alternative stuff and that doc never once mentioned I needed to lose weight. Instead he chose to talk to me about what was actually bothering me. This wise person knew that if I learned what foods antagonize which problem, then I would gradually modify my diet. The more modifications I made the more weight I loss. And for the first time in my life I was losing weight for ME and my own quality of life. I stopped losing weight for someone else, i.e., just because society deemed me to be “ugly” or whatever.

                  Ya know, when people get help with their actual concerns, other stuff just falls into place behind it. This is the doc who told me that he views obesity as a form of starvation. He explained that it was starvation in the sense that the person lacked nutrition in their food. Even though they had plenty of food to eat, it was not meeting their nutritional needs, hence they were starving for actual vitamins and minerals. I said, “keep talking to me.”
                  He’d also talk about life and life issues with me. Wise doc. People who are dealing with some major hurdles in life are more apt to have health issues. He usually had something to say that was worth listening to.

                  And in my opinion, this is what we need more of. But you can’t have this in a ten minute appointment.

        2. Perpal*

          Not sure if the docs actually know this is happening with the billing; I’m a doc and I did not know one category of checkup was covered but any specific problem is not (madness!). Then again, I’ve not been a PCP in 6 years, so maybe this is a relatively recent development? All I do is click off buttons to say what level of care for the visit was, and what problems were involved; but not the visit type.
          That doc may just be looking for something to talk about; obesity is a common problem and while I don’t want to harass people, some folks claim no one’s ever talked to them about it, why don’t doctors talk about lifestyle changes instead of meds, etc etc. When I have nothing else going on I sometimes talk about diet, exercise, substance use…

        3. Upstater-ish*

          My jobs insurance rep gave us some good advice. I have a high deductible plan and was told to have the fee billed to you even if there is a sign that says payment is due at the time of the visit. And if they accept your insurance they charge you the contract fee (the amount they would bill the insurance company if you did not have the deductible) Some office will try to charge you the non insured rate.

      2. Anon for this*

        This was my first visit to this doctor or any doctor in almost 10 years. When I told the receptionist that it was supposed to be a checkup covered by my insurance and she said it was an office visit because they discussed my hypertension, she asked, “Did they write you a prescription?” I think she was going to use that as an argument that it was a treatment visit, not a checkup, but no, they didn’t write a prescription. They gave very generic advice that I already knew and I could find on the Internet without setting foot in a doctor’s office.

    4. Reba*

      Could try complaining to your insurer and to the billing department too. If you thought the actual healthcare professional you interacted with was alright, I’d tell them too that the billing department did this and as a result you won’t be coming back. (If that last part is feasible or true)

    5. Rebecca*

      I just had a routine mammogram, that’s supposed to be covered by my insurance, except, it wasn’t. I had to pay a $50 specialist copay. Fin, OK, I need the screening. But then I got a bill in the mail for the entire amount. Why, you ask? Major Hospital Nameplate failed to (1) update my name in their system after my legal name change in January and (2) did not submit this to my insurance. Name change fail even after I called, did it in person, provided my new driver’s license, and my insurance cards (which they scanned and painstakingly typed into their system, aside, I have no idea how these people work so slowly, I’d never get anything done), AND I followed up at checkout to make sure my insurance and name was correct in the system. You would think they would have gotten at least part of it right. Nope.

      So I called the billing office. My name still isn’t right, and it was not submitted to my insurance, so for the FOURTH time, I went over everything again. I am really questioning whether the actual medical part of this whole thing is being done right when they can’t even get the basics right. And this is a major hospital group that if I named them, people here in PA/Ohio/West Virginia would recognize.

      Honestly as a patient it’s frustrating and I do think the system is broken.

      1. Mimmy*

        At this point, you may want to escalate the issue. Having to repeat your name change FOUR TIMES is unacceptable.

        Agreed about the healthcare system being broken.

      2. Texan In Exile*

        You have my sympathies. It took me eight months to get an overcharge that was the fault Blue Cross of Michigan, possibly the worst insurance company in the US, cleared up. I had to involve the VP of my company’s benefits dept and I know I wasted way more employee time than the overcharge, but I was at salting the earth by the time I was done, I was so pissed.

        1. MatKnifeNinja*

          BC/BS Michigan is the Comcast of the insurance world. If that place burned down to the ground, people would ring the flaming building rejoicing.

          Incompetent and nasty doesn’t even begin to describe it.

          1. Gaia*

            I love that Comcast is used as the metric of shitty customer service and terrible policies. I often say Company X is the Comcast of the Y industry. People just get it, even if they don’t have Comcast.

            1. Rebecca*

              Yes, this! Like, if you want to stop illegal drug use, legalize it, then let Comcast customer service sell it! In my case, Empire BC/BS was the worst, so glad I don’t have to deal with that dumpster fire any longer.

      3. Gaia*

        My pharmacy keeps getting told I have no insurance because for some god-foresaken reason the prescription side of my insurance has my name spelled Gaai instead of Gaia. Medical and dental side are just fine, prescription is wrong. All the same company, all through my same employer, all signed up on the same form. I’ve called and asked them to correct this at least half a dozen times. Every time they confirm it was done “this time.”

    6. fposte*

      Yes, unfortunately this is standard, if not universal. The old version of a physical, where it was a chance to talk to the doctor about what’s going on with your body, is pretty much gone. Doctors are under tremendous pressure for time these days and often have no choice about how to code such visits, so if notes indicate anything else got discussed, it gets coded as an office visit.

      1. Mimmy*

        I’ve wondered why my physicals have gotten so much less comprehensive over the years. Lately, it’s been going over any preventive tests needed for which scripts are written plus a cursory check of my abdomen, heart and lungs – all with clothes on!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Ugh. Forty plus years ago, I went to the doc for a physical. I needed it for an activity I wanted to do. I did not even put a gown on. He asked me a couple questions, then informed me that I needed to go to my family doc for these things. And he signed the paperwork.

          But he WAS my family doc. I went there for everything I needed, my mother and grandmother also saw him. They went to him for decades.

    7. Enough*

      I, my husband, and my daughter have never managed to have a fully paid for preventive care visit. Fortunately for us it just means we pay a $20 copay. And once you have an ongoing issue I doubt you ever will.

      1. Anon for this*

        That’s exactly what I was thinking — does this mean that anyone with high blood pressure will never be eligible for a “free” checkup, because they always take your blood pressure and if it’s high (or if you’re on medication to lower it), they charge for an office visit imply because they discussed it?

        My workplace has a program where you can earn points to get a credit to your premium, up to $600/year, and the most points you can get is for getting a checkup and bloodwork. They encourage people to do this by saying it will cost you nothing and save you money on next year’s insurance. They leave out the part where they charge you for an office visit if there’s even a minor issue during the checkup, which negates all of the points you earn from getting your “free” checkup.

    8. MRK*

      My doctor’s office had notices up at my most recent yearly physical/preventative that basically said if you bring up other stuff than what the intention of the visit was, they may bill you separately.
      Which I can understand if you say, come in for a cold and decide to ask about your sprained ankle. But I agree with others here that it made me feel uncomfortable to mention anything because what if they consider that extra? Especially since the wording was pretty vague and at least for me yearly physicals always include asking about changes, anything odd I’ve noticed, status of existing conditions

      1. Anon for this*

        This doctor had similar notices posted, saying that a physical is when you come in with no symptoms or injuries, to get your health checked, not for treatment; an office visit is when you come in for treatment for an illness, injury, or chronic condition. I figured it was to stop people from saying they were there for a checkup when they really came in because they had the flu and wanted a prescription, or wanted the doctor to look at their sprained ankle, etc. I never imagined that meant having the nurse tell you to drink more water and watch your sodium intake in response to the results of the physical.

      2. CB*

        +1. At my last two annual physicals, the medical assistant began by asking me if I had felt depressed or had suicidal thoughts in the last month (which at that time, my depression was in check and I said “no”). A month later, I get a $5.88 bill from the practice for a “mental health assessment”. I just pay it every year because it’s not a ton of money, but what am I supposed to do – get combative? Refuse to answer questions? Wouldn’t that just make things worse for their “mental health assessment”?

    9. Elizabeth West*

      It may be worth complaining about it. I was on the low-income program ($10 for any office or lab visit) at my doc’s office but accidentally missed a copay when I went in for a lab. Later that same month, I had a well-woman checkup and paid the copay for that. No one mentioned the missing copay or sent a bill. If they had, I would have paid it immediately. Instead, the program director waited until after the checkup to send a letter kicking me off the program, and then the system charged me for BOTH the lab ($136) and the checkup visit ($178).

      I called the billing department and disputed the second charge since it didn’t seem right to charge me for the checkup visit when I DID pay the copay, and they didn’t notify me until afterward or even bother to say anything when I was actually in the clinic.

      They finally just applied the financial assistance I had for hospitalization, and the final amount was around $100 for both. I paid that and now we’re clear. But they would NOT have done it if I hadn’t disputed it. Make sure you’ve got your paperwork in front of you and call them. They may not do anything, but it’s worth a shot.

    10. Jackalope*

      I’ve had a similar experience to this and my recommendation would be to appeal the decision. It may or may not work depending on your billing but if you push back then you have a better chance of it. And honestly, I don’t know how your insurance works, but even if you had an “office visit” instead of a physical, it shouldn’t be a full $250 out of your pocket. Most insurances will cover part or most of an office visit and you have just a co-pay. So that is my recommendation. I don’t work in medical billing but I have a job that is sometimes adjacent and appeals can work.

    11. RMNPgirl*

      I just went to my doctor, whom I love, and she explained this is because of insurance companies. Basically you can have everything checked out but not discuss any concerns for free, but then have to do a separate visit for any discussion. From what I understand, this is not the doctor’s offices doing this but the insurance companies. It’s their way of trying to get around the Affordable Care Act’s (Obamacare) rule of providing free preventive care.
      What I’m wondering is why it was $250 for you. Do you have a high deductible plan or are you supposed to have copays? My visit was only the $10.00 copay for a doctor’s office visit.

      1. Anon for this*

        I have a high deductible plan and I have not met my deductible. This is the first medical expense I’ve had this year. The weird thing is that they initially just charged the deductible at the doctor’s office, and it was only 20% so I didn’t argue that much, but then I got a bill for 5x what I had already paid because I hadn’t met my deductible. If I had known I was going to have to pay out of pocket, I would have waited until January to have a checkup so it would at least count toward my 2020 deductible, but now I’m going to have to pay for this out of pocket and my deductible will be reset in 2020. I actually specifically scheduled it now because I figured I should get my free checkup for 2019 so I’d be eligible for another one in 2020. That sure backfired. Honestly, this whole ordeal makes me want to give up on doctors altogether. They haven’t done anything that I couldn’t have done by using a $35 home blood pressure monitor and googling how to lower blood pressure (not that I need to google it to know that sodium increases blood pressure and drinking water is good for you).

          1. Upstater-ish*

            With my high deductible plan I would pay the deductible and then be billed for the difference. Also you only pay the negotiated amount. That is the amount the insurance company would pay not the of the street amount.

      2. Fikly*

        Well, the law, and thus the insurance companies, allow these charges. But the doctors/practices who are not thoroughly warning their patients about potential charges, and even worse, the ones who are deliberately setting things up so that they can bill for the highest reimbursement, are 100% part of the problem.

      3. Gaia*

        Not quite. You can discuss concerns raised from a physical and they can opt not to bill separately. If they choose to bill for discussing those concerns, the insurance company will treat it like an office visit. So yes, the insurance company sucks but so does the provider’s office for billing for telling someone to drink more water and watch sodium intake.

      4. Hound Mom*

        I have to disagree with this. Insurance companies pay based on the coding on the bill. It is 100% on the doctor to submit the preventive code. The reality is that doctors get paid more for sick visits than annual check-ups. It is a money grab by the doctors.

        I have taught my family to say that nothing hurts and to say no to any question the doctor asks.

        Dispute this. If the provider is a network provider, file a complaint with the carrier.

        1. Perpal*

          It’s not “on the doc” in that medical billing is a byzantine system we barely get briefed on (except how many ROS and physical items we need to hit, and which level of care button to hit – but not the billing type that’s selected automatically based on stuff in EMR already) and is handled by a crew of different people we’ve barely met. Unless this is a solo practice, which is rare.

          1. Fikly*

            The doctors have an obligation to educate themselves, if they choose to take insurance. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse.

    12. Sunflower Sea Star*

      This happened to a family member with a colonoscopy to the tune of thousands. On their plan, a screening colonoscopy = 100% covered. But they found a polyp which they removed and was benign. They changed it to a “diagnostic” colonoscopy and billed just over $2K. Since they hadn’t yet reached the deductible, they were on the hook for all of it.
      Appeals were all denied.
      And the doctor cannot understand why his wife is resisting getting her screening colonoscopy since she just turned 50.
      Insurance companies and doctors are penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to health care. Guess that’s what happens when profit is king.

      1. Is It Performance Art*

        This also happens with Medicare, which is mind-boggling since they have an interest in thinking long-term. It is so counterproductive. If you’re low-risk for colon polyps, they’re probably not going to find any to remove before they become cancer and you’re probably not going to have a copay and you don’t have a financial incentive to avoid a colonoscopy. On the other hand, if you have a high chance of having colon polyps, a colonoscopy is much more important because they really want to remove them before they become cancerous, but you’ll probably have a copay so you have a financial reason to not get the procedure that could prevent colon cancer.

      2. Liz*

        Oh wow. that’s crazy. I recently had my fourth (but every 5 years routine colonoscopy) During which they found my first polyp. I seem to recall something with the billing re: diagnostic vs. routine screening, but again, as my ins. is really good, I paid nothing since diagnostic “surgical’ which i think they classify it as and routine screening are all covered at 100%

    13. Nacho*

      Happened to me too. $75 to touch my hand for 3 minutes and tell me I don’t have carpal tunnel, and another $200 to give me a splint I could have bought at Walmart for $30. I managed to get the bill cut in half by calling the billing department after I got the invoice, so apparently they work just like Comcast’s customer service: If you complain enough, they will lower the bill.

    14. Book Lover*

      I bill for a pure preventive visit about 1% of the time I would guess.
      That’s checking blood pressure, physical exam, pap, rectal, basic labs, mammogram, colonoscopy, vaccines.

      Almost always people ask about joint pain, back pain, supplement review, other health issues (diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol), headaches etc etc etc. I often have a list of ten or more issues on my note.
      If there is one thing on my note – preventive care – then I bill it as a pure physical. If I have documented that we discussed a-z other issues then there is an associated office visit charge.
      Personally – I went to see someone for a physical and was advised that it was preventive only and I would have to set up a separate appointment to discuss other things. I don’t have time for that. I would rather have a single visit.
      But I think you can definitely set out expectations in advance – you are there for a physical and no any active issues and expect to be billed for a physical only. I have had patients do that and I do what they want – though it is pretty awkward to see them and not discuss their skin cancer, high blood pressure, heart murmur, etc.
      Essentially it is just weird – how many people need only preventive care when they see a doctor? Even my kids usually have something or another extra. And when you do the work you bill for it.

      1. Fikly*

        I have no objection to providers billing for the work they did. I have objections to patients not being warned by the provider or practice that they will, in turn, be billed for it. And vague misleading notices are not sufficient.

      2. blackcat*

        What frustrated me to no end is that this exact same thing happened to me–also with a $200 charge, entirely because we “discussed my asthma.”

        *The doctor asked me* if my asthma was under control. I said no, but that my allergist and I are on it, and there was nothing else said.

        How is that not a regular preventative care visit? I did not actually want to discuss my asthma, because I was already paying another doctor for that! At the same time, I understand why the doctor saw repeated testing in my chart and asked me about it.

        I explained this to my insurance, and they kicked back the bill to the doctor saying they had incorrectly coded it. THEN the office billed me for the entire amount again, because insurance had refused to pay. It was really awful.

        And so now, I just don’t do primary care visits anymore. I see my specialists and that’s it, because otherwise I end up being charged for telling my doctor that my chronic conditions are monitored by others.

        1. Anon for this*

          Wow, this is so depressing. I thought everyone was going to say that this isn’t how it works and my doctor’s billing office is just corrupt. I’m disgusted to see that this is happening to people all the time. I feel like I should bring a lawyer to my next checkup to advise me on what I can or can’t say to avoid getting charged (except, you know, the lawyer would cost even more).

          How is it fair that answering the doctor’s question costs you $200? I didn’t say a word about my blood pressure until the nurse asked me about it, and I didn’t ask for any treatment for it. The nurse didn’t say that discussing it would turn it into an office visit that I’d have to pay for out of pocket. She scheduled a follow up appointment to discuss my blood pressure, and I understand that will be an office visit, but $250 for her to say “drink more water and watch your sodium intake” is ridiculous.

          1. Fikly*

            Well, your doctors office is just corrupt! The people whose doctors offices are not taking advantage of the ability to do this are not posting.

            My GP’s office, for example, does not do this at all.

          2. Portia*

            I just want to add that although it sounds like a lot of doctors are choosing to bill this way, it’s not all of them! My GP specifically said my physical was for talking about any health issues that might be bothering me, and we talked about all kinds of stuff, including weight loss, eczema, referrals to a dermatologist, etc. At one point, she was considering writing me a prescription for something and then said, “Ugh, if I write a prescription, this won’t be billed as a physical anymore and you’ll get charged a co-pay, so let’s see if it resolves on its own and if not we’ll take care of it next time you’re in.” I wish everyone had a doctor like her.

            1. Anon for this*

              Yeah, I wish my doctor were like this. It would have been nice if the nurse had warned me that discussing my blood pressure in any way would result in getting charged for an office visit, and given me a chance to back out of that discussion.

              The dentist I go to is kind of like your doctor. They are awesome about checking on my insurance benefits and telling me how much I’ll be charged for what, and even figuring out the best timing for me to get dental work done (like if I would be better off getting something done before the end of the year or waiting until the new year). They give me a treatment plan upfront before they do anything I have to pay for out of pocket. Why can’t the doctor’s office do that?

      3. Alice*

        So when a patient who’s booked as a preventive visit asks about joint pain, do you tell them that the office visit charge is in play before you answer their question?
        On the other hand I suppose that might be a work question….

        1. Liz*

          I would think so, OR to discuss any issues that MIGHT have cropped up, that COULD turn into something that needs regular care. I mean i go for a physical, and I have bloodwork, and EKG etc. done. We then discuss those results. So let’s say my bloodwork indicated i was heading towards diabetes, as an example. I would expect that discussing that, and maybe the dr. saying well, try and cut back on this or that (all hypothetical by the way) to see if that helps, would be considered “preventative” care since by him making suggestions we are hoping to PREVENT something more serious developing.

      4. Dr. Anonymous*

        Same here. Makes me crazy. Now, if I ask you about your anxiety and it’s fine and I’m not giving you medication for it, I don’t bill for that. If someone else is managing your allergies, I note it and move on with my beautiful life. If you have a new diagnosis of your chronic medical condition, we’ll discuss lifestyle, make a plan for followup and possible future testing, and I’ll bill. Our assistants hand out a written reminder of this before the visit. if you bring up new stuff that’s not preventive in the visit, I’ll warn you verbally and document in the note that you may be billed.

        The big change is that so many people have high deductible plans now with preventive care “covered” only because the Affordable Care Act covers it. I have patients with $5000 deductibles now and I can’t get them to come in for diabetes follow up , high blood pressure follow up, to get needed lab tests other than during their physical when their insurance might pay for them, or to take medications they need because they have a high deductible.

        And if I get audited by Medicare I can get dinged and so can my organization if I bill too high OR TOO LOW. I’m not out to get anybody and certainly not out to trick anybody, but we have to pay the rent and the assistants and the lab techs and the radiologist and me and I do bill for the work I do.

    15. Gaia*

      I had this happen and I fought like hell to get it fixed. It took a lot of work, but what helped was having them look back at the records where I clearly indicated it was a checkup, not an office visit. They eventually re-billed the insurance as a physical.

      Don’t give up. Fight this, it is crap.

    16. My cat is a unicorn*

      Yes! This happened to me rights after the ACA passed. I had been kicked off my parents insurance the year prior and was so happy to go to the doctor and have it covered. It was routine, blood pressure, ect, except the doctor and I discussed many symptoms and she answered many questions. The visit was categorized as diagnostic not preventative. I owed 600+. Billing would not change. Insurance would not change. The doctor’s notes were considered diagnostic. At the time $600 was make or break for me.
      I have been scared to see a doctor since. It is so opaque and there is no recourse.
      I hope you have better luck getting the billing reversed!

    17. KEWLM0M*

      This is absolutely a thing now. And watch your mail, you may get another bill if your doctor is employed by a hospital, even though you didn’t set foot in the hospital, they can charge you a facility fee. Last year my husband went to the doctor, they told him to step on the scale, and they listened to his chest with a stethoscope and advised him to get a pneumonia shot and he was charged a visit and a hospital surcharge. I’ll reply to this with a Consumer Reports link regarding the facility fee

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Yes. Even if they don’t charge you a facility fee, if the doctor’s office just happens to be in a hospital, you may be charged with a hospital visit instead of an office visit. Even if you are making an office visit. To the doctor’s office. And are expecting to pay only a co-pay of $45 and not a hospital visit with a deductible of $500.

        I hate you so much BC of Michigan.

        Also, fix your damn systems. My husband’s name – let’s call him “MarkAlexander” for the sake of this p0st – should not be truncated in the name field, meaning I can’t find him when I go online. 1978 called and THEY WANT THEIR TEXT ENTRY FIELDS BACK.

    18. KR*

      Y’all, I mean this as non-politically as possible but…. Call your house rep. Call your senator. Tell them these stories and tell them the various negative ways it affects you (makes you not want to seek preventative care, not want to be honest with your doctors, delays diagnosis of diseases, ect). Light a fire under their butt and tell them that this is something that is important to you. You can leave a message or email so you don’t have to talk directly to them. But they are the ones who can push for change in our archaic medical system.

  10. Notsonormal*

    How long after a prolonged bad period in your life do you start to feel normal again?

    The last three years of my life have been super rough with a toxic draining job, health issues, marriage issues and family issues and a lack of support.

    I’m doing all the right things as prescribed but I still feel awful. I feel like I can’t remember what it feels like to feel normal and okay.

    1. Anon Here*

      I think you have to make it happen. You need a reset. Look into new and different ways to re-energize and get a fresh perspective. Try new things. Change will come.

    2. UbiCaritas*

      This may sound simplistic, but take care of yourself. Try to eat well and get enough sleep. Get some exercise. Be kind to yourself. Things WILL get better. (And it’s okay to vent here – this is a very caring community.)

      I don’t even know you, but I wish you all the best!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Agreed. It can vary by person. It took me years to get myself back and I don’t think all of me made it all the way back. In some ways I was stronger than I had ever been and in some ways I was weakened/humbled by what I saw and learned along the way.

        Stress pulls nutrition out of our bodies at a very high pace. So basically, part of recovery involves getting some nutrients into our bodies. Well if you think of stress as burning up energy and energy comes from proper nutrition, then this tends to make sense.

        Traumatic stuff impacts the levels that we live life on: physical, mental/spiritual and emotional. If it feels like no part of your life has gone untouched by recent events, that is probably correct. This stuff has touched all parts of your existence.
        Do small things to help each part of you. Do things to help your body, things to help your mind/soul and do things to help your emotions.
        Here’s the cool part, trust yourself to know what is the best thing to tackle this week. Just decide that you will probably pick out the most supportive thing you can do right now, and then go do it.
        Keep your choices simple so that the choices are doable. Add new routines or new practices one at a time so you can see how it is working out, but keep making these shifts. And not all of it is drudgery. You could decide that spending quality time with friend is a necessity for you. So you decide that once every week or two you deliberately get together with a friend. You can make shifts that give you immediate joy/smiles and still reclaim your life.

    3. Bg*

      Do you have professional support? That might help. Even just talking things out (a crisis line if you don’t have other options)
      This book/philosophy is based on a lot of good science. The Depression Cure: The 6-Step Program to Beat Depression without Drugs
      It’s not really a cure just good lifestyle.

      Daily gratitude and mindfulness/meditation have good outcomes for wellbeing.
      Everyone’s process is a little different. I wish you well on your journey.

    4. Sled dog mama*

      Not that it makes it any easier but it takes a while and may take some professional support.
      After my daughter’s death it took a good six months to stop being a total mess and nearly three years before I’ve felt very normal.
      She was 9 days old so obviously it was a sustained period of time but it was pretty major so experiences vary.

    5. anon attorney*

      I understand. When you’re doing the right things but don’t feel better, it feels never ending.

      Improvement is gradual. Your immune system has been getting a kicking from excess stress hormones. You probably aren’t going to wake up one day and feel back to normal. Sometimes we don’t notice small improvements but the wheel is turning in the right direction.

      Keep at the hydration and nutrition. For me, exercise, therapy, trying to eat well and most importantly forgiving myself for not being perfect have been the biggest anchors in moving forward from caregiving and bereavement. I’m still not 100 per cent three and a half years on, but I am unrecognisably better in how I feel and what I can do. This stuff takes patience. Be as kind to yourself as you would be to someone else. If a friend said “I’m not ok yet” wouldn’t you say something “hey its early days still, be good to yourself, hang on in there”? So can you say that to yourself too?

      1. NoLongerYoung*

        Great advice, all of this. I’m at 15 months out, and better a little each day. Nutrition, sleep, therapy, and finally exercise. (Added one thing at a time.) Always, working at forgiving. And reframing, changing the voices/tapes that otherwise wreck my thinking and inner peace.

    6. Prettynormal*

      I stayed at Toxic Job (which this comment is not about, honest!) for ten years and had the usual hail of home issues at the same time to compound the stress. I’ve heard it can take a whole year to recover from that but it took me three years after leaving. One lesson learned: if you’re scolding yourself for not snapping out of it and getting back to happy as fast as you think you ought, you’re just adding more stress and making the wait longer. It’s like the watched pot that never boils: You get better when you quit checking to see whether you’re there yet. You are normal and okay and you’ll feel that way again.

    7. The Other Dawn*

      It wasn’t a specific time frame for me, it was more just letting it go. I flicked a switch in my mind and I just told myself that it’s over and there’s no point in thinking about it anymore, and to stop worrying about something I can’t change. Then I just went on with life and starting getting back into my usual routines.

  11. Charlotte*

    Lately I’ve been feeling like I’m just…unnecessary.

    You ever get that feeling? I mean like, it’s not that people actively /don’t/ want you around, but they wouldn’t care (or notice) if you weren’t there?

    1. Shiny Infernape*

      Yep. All the time.
      About 60% of the time I have the kid sound to he would clearly miss me if I disappeared, but he spends a lot of the time he’s here telling me he wishes he saw his dad more (but I think that’s just down to him thinking it should be exactly 50%). But yeah mostly I feel like no one would gaf if I disappeared. It’s horrible and I’m sad you feel that way too.

    2. Ghost*

      Yes, I can completely relate. I quietly disappeared from social media about six months ago because I felt like none of my online “friends” would actually care, and indeed, no one has cared…. I logged on once or twice since then and there were no missing notifications or anything.

      I don’t really have any friends in the city where I live, but I thought I had at least a couple friends scattered around the country. However, I realized I was always the first one to reach out and initiate a convo on text… so I just stopped a few months ago to see if any of them would care enough to initiate and contact me first for once. Nope. It has been several months since I’ve heard from any of them.

      1. Ghost*

        And yes, I realize that it’s maybe unhealthy to “test” people like that, but I was just really curious if anyone actually cares because it seemed like they didn’t. The answer—which I suspected—was no.

        1. Jessa1*

          That is so painful I know, but try to remember most online stuff is very superficial, and if you could see into most people’s REAL lives you would find you are not alone in feeling this way. I think volunteering, church groups, crafting (in person) or other clubs/groups are key to making real friends who would most definitely miss you if you suddenly went silent.

        2. Filosofickle*

          I will share a slightly different perspective.

          Many years ago I noticed that it seemed like I did all the initiating with friends. I stopped calling, and watched how long it would take them to notice and call me. It took one friend a few months, when previously we talked probably every 2 weeks. It had also come to my attention that I talked “too much”, so I also started talking less to give other people more space. No one filled the space, conversations were harder and more strained. It was clear I’d been doing all the heavy lifting. My takeaway was that these were not good friends, they didn’t really want to talk to or spend time with me. I let them go.

          In hindsight I wonder if I misread some of that. When I think about it from their perspective, what they saw is that someone who frequently called them and carried the conversation suddenly stopped. From their perspective, I’m the one who walked away, not them. We had a relationship that operated on unspoken rules, and I changed the rules without saying anything. I’ll never know whether they felt relieved, or confused and rejected. (Now I understand that people choose me because I talk a lot! It’s a feature, at least sometimes.)

    3. !*

      Yes, I have been feeling this more and more lately as well. I’m very much a homebody (and an introvert), and the person I enjoy spending the most time with is my husband, but I also crave my alone time apart from him as well. That being said, I had for many years gone out of my way to attend the weddings, births, and other celebrations of my family members and always felt like an outsider. I am the only one of my siblings without children, so don’t have a lot of celebrations, but the one time I tried it just seemed to fall flat (and not many attended anyway). I don’t have any friends, literally, since I’ve lived in three different states so any friends I had made in the past are all gone now and we don’t keep in touch. I’ve lived in my current state for 20 years, and while I know people, have never called anyone to chat or make plans. I’ve always only ever had one friend at at time in my life, and for the last 20 years that person has been my husband. It’s an odd way to live, but since I’m so used to it, I have no idea how to branch out especially since I don’t generally have the same interests as other women, or at least other women I know. Even at work, I hardly ever talk to anyone at length, or, if I do, it’s almost always a man, since the women I work with and I don’t have much in common. I am not someone who enjoys small talk, but if something interests me, I can engage well. My job is very people-facing, and I’m good at it because it allows me to use my logical mind, but I find it hard to just shoot the breeze with people in general. If I left my company, I think the only thing that people would miss are my work abilities. One of my Facebook friends who I had known when I lived in a previous state, who posted a great deal (I hardly ever post anything), died this year. His postings were a comfort to me which I miss because I felt there was someone else out there in the universe with whom I could relate.

    4. Nessun*

      Yes. I’ve felt that way, and I expect I’ll feel that way again. I try to fill my life with things I value and enjoy, but I am not good at making romantic connections, so I often feel like a third wheel, or an unnecessary extension of the group. Most of the time, it passes. When it sticks, I comfort myself as best I can and try to remove the trigger, which is unfortunately usually someone else’s happy relationship in front of me. I have no answers, only sympathy.

    5. Wishing You Well*

      This could be depression thoughts/jerkbrain that Capt Awkward sometimes addresses. Jerkbrain tells you things that aren’t true. Winter is a tough time for those who have to fight off such thoughts, but it can be done. So many of us feel alone these days. It’s like a flu that’s going around.
      You DO matter and you have a right to be here and use resources. Keep on keepin’ on and be good to yourself.
      Sending hopeful thoughts for a better future.

    6. Tris Prior*

      Yes, I sometimes feel like people just forget about me and my partner. Like, if we show up for something, we’re greeted warmly and we have good conversation and have fun. So we don’t feel like no one likes us. More like we are…. unmemorable? Like people don’t intentionally shun us, often just don’t think to include us?

  12. New to the UK*

    Hi all!

    In short, I moved to London from a small town in the US several months ago. Overall I’m enjoying my new job and coworkers and all the cultural offerings! However, I’m making a non-profit salary and having issues socialising because London is Expensive. I’ve never lived in this big of a city before so I’m not sure what people do. Any suggestions?

    More details – overall I’m really struggling to go out on weekends. I’ve always been broke or broke-adjacent, especially because I put as much as possible towards my student loans every month on top of regular bills. In the US I lived in a fairly small and cheap town – it was easy to drive 10 minutes to meet up with friends. But because London is so big and so expensive it’s been difficult to justify the cost of public transport to go meet people and hang out outside of work (which often includes spending money on drinks or coffee, etc). As the only American in the office I’ve also realised that my student debt is seen as exceptional – I’m basically paying off my coworkers’ equivalent of their entertainment/eating out/drinks/shopping budget each month. I would love to join them when they go out, but I’ve been transparent that it’s not in the financial cards.

    This is complicated by my income being lower (seems like salary overall is lower than in the US?). I get great benefits and employee rights, but my partner and I both have lower salaries and higher bills. We’re fortunate that we have been able to make it work, but both of us feel rather isolated and restless, especially on weekends.

    Does anyone have similar experiences transitioning to life in a big, expensive place?

    1. Fellow US expat*

      Welcome to London!

      Student debt is not unheard of here, since there are now fees associated with attending university (Labour is pledging to abolish them). But yes, it is usually much less onerous.

      Also, as you have seen, London has a huge drinking after work culture. There is literally nowhere to sit at pubs after say 3-4pm on Friday. Try not to opt out of this. It is important socially that you participate at least some of the time.

      The one bit of good news is that you don’t need a car here, so you’ll at least save money on insurance, cay payments, and registration fees.

    2. Meercat*

      Hi hi! Former Londoner who is also not from the UK but moved there for grad school/stayed after graduating here. Unfortunately it is really tricky because UK students don’t have that high of student debt and a lot of London socialising involves spending money.
      I don’t know if this is in the cards for you at all, but it may be worth it to have a look over your student loan repayment plan and to see if there is an extra 50-100 Pounds a month you can pay off less, so that you can participate at least in some of the socialising; and then plan out what you’re going to go to.
      I know this sounds counterintuitive and I totally applaud you being so responsible and working hard to pay off your loans; but if it means that you can’t socialise, meet friends, and enjoy the city you just moved to, then you’re really not allowing yourself to live in the present and are missing out on a lot of things that can make this period of your life really precious for you.
      Also, someone on a thread further up suggested to think about volunteering – maybe look into that as well? You can meet people and do something lovely without spending money.
      Additionally, maybe have a think about your living situation? I know you’re probably already flatsharing etc., but if you can look for a place that is a bit further out and maybe the room is smaller, that can easily make a difference of 200 Pounds a month, which you can then spend on public transport and going out potentially? It will probably make your commute longer, true, but it may give you some more quality of life by being able to socialise etc.

      1. londonedit*

        Welcome to London!

        Part of the issue is probably that people don’t even think about student debt as a real thing – your student loan is taken straight from your salary like an additional tax. I know roughly how much I pay and how much I still owe, but it’s a manageable amount each month and our student debt doesn’t affect credit ratings or mortgage approval or anything so most people don’t think about it too much.

        Anyway. London is expensive! But there are cheaper things to do – I don’t know which part of the city you’re in but there are groups and clubs everywhere for all sorts of hobbies. And if you follow Londonist on Facebook they have a guide to all the free and cheap things to do in the city each week. Try to socialise with your colleagues – yes pubs are big for socialising but pubs are way more casual than American bars and you can happily go to the pub without having to drink loads or get drunk. Most people don’t really care if you’re drinking or not. And look into finding some local groups depending on what your interests are. London is a big city but it’s made up of little villages and towns – you want to feel connected to the place where you live first, and then to the wider city.

      2. Filosofickle*

        This is wise advice. Overpaying to get rid of debt is ideal, but not at the expense of building your network and life in the present. You don’t have to be reckless about it…a little extra spending money might make life a lot better.

    3. CrazyPlantLady*

      If your loans are at a reasonably low interest rate, it might be worth rethinking your budget to cut back a little on how much you’re paying toward them so that your overall quality of life is better. Yes, it sucks that you’ll have loans for longer, but if it allows you to be happier and have some social life, it might be worthwhile. If I were you, I would think through what a reasonable budget would be for relatively inexpensive night socializing (e.g. 1 drink plus dinner at a pub) and then plan for 1 night per week at that cost, reducing my loan payments by that much.

    4. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      American expat here in London and I’ve bounced in and out of this city a few times in my life. You aren’t wrong, the salaries ARE lower here, although sometimes the benefits make up for it. I am middle aged now, but I first moved here right after college and those broke years were better than the ‘i have a bit of money’ years. When no one has money you have to get creative – meet ups for picnics in the summer or get together for drinks at someones place before going out, etc. I would suggest you potentially look at a job move to a higher salary, though, once youve been there a year or 18 months. Finding a new job here takes aaagggesss, along with the notice periods being much longer than the US (mine is 3 months, for instance, I wish it was two weeks!).

      There is usually a lot of free stuff on any given day/weekend and most museums had free late nights or free days. But try some of the smaller museums off the beaten path. I also like to just walk and wander between two destinations and see all sorts of stuff Ive never seen before. There are lots of meet up groups for anything you may be interested in – we used to go to a puzzle meet up in a pub once a month just to socialize with others. Any hobby you do you can probably find others doing it too, even in the area local to where you are living.

      For transport – do you have a commuterclub card in order to pay monthly? It works more like a season ticket loan but you get advantageous rates and one month free for the same price you would pay with (i think) contactless. I dont need one right now, but I do borrow my partner’s on the weekend if he isn’t going out so at least I can zip around town to go do things.

      Definitely see if you can lower your US payments in the meantime to free up some extra cash for drinks because that really is a huge part of office life here, and the best way to meet new people. Weve met all sorts of folks as friends of work friends, who came along to drinks one night after work. My current place no one spontaneously goes for drinks because they are all extremely dull people, and it makes for a boring existence. You don’t have to stay for hours on end, but once or twice a month is a good start.

    5. Ra94*

      Another American expat in London here! In my very anecdotal experience, I feel like Londoners go out more but don’t necessarily spend as much when they do. After work, you can order a half pint for £2.50 at the pub and nurse it all evening, and you won’t look weird- the idea is more to be out and social, not necessarily to spend loads. Also, a lot of socializing, at least in my social circle, happens at home- dinner parties, house parties, etc. Or for a younger crowd, drinking at someone’s flat before going “out out” to a cheap club.

      I’d look into whether a monthly or yearly Oyster travelcard would make sense for you, both financially and psychologically- if you’ve already paid for unlimited transport ahead of time, there’s no disincentive to going out.

      On weekends, there’s tons of free stuff to take advantage of in London. As others have said, every major museum is free. Christmas season is full of free activities, like Winter Wonderland and the South Bank market. There’s tons of free or £3 comedy nights, often with very high calibre comedians trying out new material- check out listings on Chortle, or try the Camden Head or Invisible Dot. This season can get a bit muddy, but the outdoors is still beautiful to explore, and you can explore Hampstead Heath or Epping Forest to feel like you’ve escaped the city without leaving town.

    6. Lindsay*

      I’ve only visited London for two weeks, but definitely take advantage of the free museums and parks!

    7. DrTheLiz*

      As an ex-Londoner, can you get a bicycle? Halfords has a basic one for ~£90 and if you get a D-lock for ~£20 (do this or it *will* be stolen. Might be stolen anyway.) then suddenly you’re not paying for public transport any more. It’s totally socially acceptable to cycle to a pub/cinema/whatever, join in, then cycle off home.

      1. Nancy*

        Another ex-Londoner here. Do consider getting a bike! They are very socially acceptable, and cost-effective. And, you know, anything to avoid the tube at rush hour. I used two locks – D-lock and a heavy chain. Someone once told me using two different types of locks offers more of a deterrent.

    8. Sleepless*

      I haven’t lived in London but I’ve spent a little time there, and I was delighted at how many free activities there are. As the others have said, at least you’re saving the expenses of having a car…the last time I was there I spent the whole week riding around everywhere on the Tube and I did spend money on my Oyster card, but it was about what I would have spent for gas in my (moderate COL/very sprawling, congested American) city in that time.

    9. MissDisplaced*

      I suggest you call FedLoan Servicing to see if you can refinance or consolidate your student loans to a lower rate. Some plans are income-based, and with the lower salary you may qualify. I’ve had positive experiences working with them to keep my monthly payments at a manageable rate.

      London is such a fantastic city! I’m envious you’re getting to spend time there. Personally, just walking around and soaking up the history would do it for me, at least for a few months. Many museums are free or donation based. I’m sure there must be free concerts and such to go to. When I’m there I find the Tube to be reasonable to get around, but I’m sensing the cost of even that for you is too much? Would it be possible to get bikes? London seemed pretty bike friendly. And yes, Pub life! It seems an important part if socializing there, but I don’t know that you need to splurge beyond a beer or two.

    10. Nancy*

      Hello! I completely agree that London can be a challenge if you’re not earning much! I moved there in my late 20s, and worked in a not-well-paying part of the publishing industry, and it honestly was a struggle financially. Coming from elsewhere in the UK, it took me a couple of years at least really to feel comfortable in London. I mean, it’s just so big, both in terms of population and geography. And having to travel for more than an hour just to get to a friend’s house for drinks. Argh!

      But now that I’ve left, there are such a lot of things that I really miss. There are lots of free/cheap events and places to visit: museums, art galleries, parks, river bank walks, pub quizzes, markets. Do they still do the £10 tickets at the National Theatre? Walking along the South Bank, especially when the Christmas market is on. And my absolute favourite weekend of the year: Open House, in September, when buildings that aren’t open to the public are opened up, completely free: government ministries, offices, religious buildings, private houses etc etc. Years ago my partner bought me a book of London walks, and we used to set off on a Saturday and explore a new area. One of the most interesting was about hidden rivers of London, like the Westbourne and the Tyburn.

      Another thing is how easy it is to get out of London. I ended up getting one of these railcards offering 1/3 off or something. Family and Friends? Anyway, it has quite a good discount on national rail services, and we used it to go to places like Brighton, Box Hill, Winchester, Cambridge etc. There are loads of lovely places to visit that are not too far from London, and you feel like you’ve had a break from the city.

      Also (and apologies – this is turning into a real essay) London is definitely expensive for accommodation, and I don’t know what your situation is, but I’d definitely recommend moving away from a Tube line. That seems to make things a bit cheaper. We ended up in an area of South London that was on a national rail line going into London Bridge or Victoria, which was ok (or we could take the bus to the nearest tube). There’s also, I believe, an agency that arranges people to live in otherwise unoccupied buildings, for much reduced rent. I think it’s got Guardians in the name. I had a colleague who did that for a while, and he saved a lot of money.

      Gosh, I really miss London after writing all of this! I don’t want to generalise too much, but I think a lot of people find London hard at first – I know I did – but after a while you notice it’s got under your skin. All these layers and layers of history, and this sense of being at the centre of important stuff happening (probably not in a good way at the moment, but still).

      Good luck!

  13. New to the UK*

    Hi all!

    In short, I moved to London from a small town in the US several months ago. Overall I’m enjoying my new job and coworkers and all the cultural offerings! However, I’m making a non-profit salary and having issues socialising because London is Expensive. I’ve never lived in this big of a city before so I’m not sure what people do. Any suggestions?

    More details – overall I’m really struggling to go out on weekends. I’ve always been broke or broke-adjacent, especially because I put as much as possible towards my student loans every month on top of regular bills. In the US I lived in a fairly small and cheap town – it was easy to drive 10 minutes to meet up with friends. But because London is so big and so expensive it’s been difficult to justify the cost of public transport to go meet people and hang out outside of work (which often includes spending money on drinks or coffee, etc). As the only American in the office I’ve also realised that my student debt is seen as exceptional – I’m basically paying off my coworkers’ equivalent of their entertainment/eating out/drinks/shopping budget each month. I would love to join them when they go out, but I’ve been transparent that it’s not in the financial cards.

    This is complicated by my income being lower (seems like salary overall is lower than in the US?). I get great benefits and employee rights, but my partner and I both have lower salaries and higher bills. We’re fortunate that we have been able to make it work, but both of us feel rather isolated and restless, especially on weekends.

    Does anyone have similar experiences transitioning to life in a big, expensive place?

  14. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    Jamie – garlic-herb drop biscuits (aka shabby chic ass rolls) as requested !

    I actually start with Serious Eats plain drop biscuit recipe, then just add my garlic herb seasoning with the flour. Mine is Vik’s Garlic Fix from the Spice & Tea Exchange, which is a mix of dried garlic, chives, shallots, salt, pepper – you could just use garlic powder and Italian seasoning, or whatever sounds good, either sweet or savory. Can also put a bit of shredded cheese in for cheesy biscuits, a la Red Lobster. I don’t measure any of my add ins though, sorry, I just eyeball it!

    Ingredients
    4 ounces cold unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into 1/4-inch pieces and refrigerated
    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (8 ounces)
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1 teaspoon kosher salt
    3/4 cup whole milk (2% is fine, I’ve never tried lower than that)

    Directions
    1. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper; alternatively, grease the baking sheet with butter.

    2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

    3. Toss butter into dry ingredients until coated with flour. Working quickly, using your fingers or a pastry blender, rub or cut butter into flour until it resembles coarse meal. Alternatively, add flour mixture and butter to the bowl of a food processor and pulse 2 to 3 times to form pea-sized pieces; transfer to a large bowl.

    4. Add milk and stir with a fork until the mixture just comes together into a slightly sticky, shaggy dough.

    5. For small biscuits, use a teaspoon or a small cookie scoop to mound walnut-sized balls of dough onto prepared baking sheet. For large biscuits, use a 1/4-cup measuring cup to mound balls of dough onto prepared baking sheet.

    6. Bake biscuits until golden brown, about 15 minutes for small biscuits and 20 minutes for large ones. Let cool slightly, then transfer to a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

    1. anon24*

      Not Jamie, but thanks for this! I LOVE a good biscuit and I actually have Vik’s Garlic Fix – that stuff makes me drool instantly when I smell it – its my favorite premixed spice!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Oh! I almost forgot – because the Vik’s has salt in it, I don’t add as much salt as the base recipe calls for. Some of the comments on the base recipe found it on the salty side as-is. (I didn’t, but I like salty things so I am not a good judge.)

    2. Texan In Exile*

      Jamie, once you are done reading this recipe, go to your LinkedIn messages – I put a link to a Hello Kitty onesie on eBay for you. :)

    3. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      Copied this for my next trial. I found the red lobster mix for cheddar biscuits too salty, but love the buttery texture. This… this sounds wonderful!

  15. The Meow*

    Irrational anger thread:

    I didn’t get invited to an event I didn’t want to go and now I’m mad at the hostess for not inviting me.

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      I once got angry about the prices at my local cinema even though I never go to it because I don’t like watching films with other people. I went on a pretty long rant about it only to forget about it like an hour later.

    2. WellRed*

      She will probably serve cheap ass rolls so tell yourself you aren’t missing much and find something much better to do while you’re the event is happening ; )

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Why do I have to push 9 different buttons and levers to start my tractor?
      Why can’t I just push a button and go?
      Who thought that setting NINE different things was a GREAT idea when clearly it is so wildly inefficient.
      I think I should be able to just push a button and start mowing or plowing, whichever.

      [First world problem, NSNR, first world problem.]

      1. Claire (Scotland)*

        I got diagnosed with gallstones last week. :/

        I started having really sharp stabbing pains in my right side, kept getting worse and I couldn’t sleep Wednesday night so I went to the open surgery at my GP the next morning. He examined me, did a quick urine test and sent me to the hospital for further investigation. I was admitted through A&E, sent straight to the surgical observation unit (I thought I’d be waiting ages in A&E but nope) and then examined there immediately. They gave me morphine for the pain so I was a bit floaty. Senior consultant was pretty sure it was my gallbladder but needed ultrasound to confirm but they didn’t have any slots left for scans, so I had to go home (with strong painkillers) and go back on on the Friday for the ultrasound. Which I did, and the doctor who did the scan found gallstones immediately. So I saw the senior registrar and discussed treatment. They figured I had cholecystitis – inflammation of the gallbladder from the stones – so I’ve been on antibiotics for the past week. They said I’d get a clinic appointment to discuss elective surgery to remove the gallbladder. This morning I got the letter with my appointment – mid-afternoon on December 31st. Happy Hogmanay to me, I guess!

        Does anyone have any experience with gallstones, having surgery to remove the gallbladder, or advice on gallstone issues? I’ve never had anything like this before, have never had any surgeries, and haven’t needed to get in hospital before (I’m 43) so this is all weird to me.

        1. OperaArt*

          I’ve had my gallbladder removed. There were 4 or 5 very small incisions on the front right side of the torso. Some pain, but probably no worse or even less than you’re feeling now. I can’t remember the recovery time exactly (after 6 surgeries they kind of blur together) but it wasn’t all that long.

          The main after effect for me is that my body can’t process dietary fat. I had to reduce the amount, and that’s probably s good thing. Other people I know haven’t had the same problem.

          I felt so much better after having my gallbladder removed. I hope your surgery goes well.

        2. Fikly*

          My dad had his out due to gallstones. He got it done laparoscopically, so tiny incisions, in the hospital in the morning, home that afternoon. He was in his 60s by then, and he recovered pretty well, aside from the issue I’ll mention below.

          Your ability to digest fat may change after – he’s been lucky in that it hasn’t been affected much, but some people get very ill if they eat too much fat, so I’d advise starting with low amounts at first.

          My biggest takeaway from his surgery is be absolutely sure they check your bile duct for any stones that may be wandering down. They didn’t check his, then 12 hours after surgery (he was home by then) he developed severe pain, ended up in the ER with pancreatitis, and it turned out they missed over a dozen stones in his bile duct, and they had to go back in and deal with that.

          1. Liz*

            oooh, OUCH. while I didn’t have gallstones, I’ve had pancreatitis TWICE. a complication from a procedure to remove a benign polyp from right where the opening of the pancreatic duct is. So not fun and i would not wish it on my worst enemy!

      2. Clever Name*

        I have the same feeling about using the scan function on the copier at work. It takes 12 steps. I counted.

    4. Great Beyond*

      I’m still angry at a former colleague- whom I’d only talk to a handful of times and never worked with- for not inviting me to his party. The corker? If he had invited me, I probably would not have gone anyway! (My friend didnt go, so I would not have gone alone!) I’m still upset about not being invited though!

    5. MRK*

      The coffee shop got my order wrong yesterday morning, but close enough that it seemed petty so ask for it remade (wrong flavor, correct style.) Plus I hate making a scene and I hate wasting food so I just took it. And it was… fine.
      And I’m still grumpy and want my correct coffee.

    6. Dan*

      I got laid off from a job I liked but was thinking about leaving six years ago. One of the top employers in my field called me out of the blue to discuss a position that was not available to the general public (e.g., me when I looked at the website), and I was back on the payroll two months later. My income has almost doubled in the last six years, and I suffered no real “harm” for not having a paycheck. IOW, getting laid off was the best thing ever.

      And to this day I am still pissed that I got laid off. Unless threads like this pop up, I don’t think about it too much anymore. But when I do, my irrational anger kicks in.

      1. PseudoMona*

        Last year I was laid off from a job I was thinking of leaving, that had me living in a city I hated. I got a really nice severance package, got to take an extended break from work, and now live in a city I love and and my new job is a nice salary bump.
        And…I’m still mad about the layoff.

    7. Ra94*

      I was testing ideas for what to bring to Thanksgiving as dessert, and made delicious chocolate cookies. They turned out great! And now I’m angry that either I’ll eat them all and feel super unhealthy, or they’ll go to waste. (I definitely won’t be able to eat them all. It’s okay. I had to test the recipe. But irrational annoyance!)

    8. Hellophoebe*

      I went to a couples therapist to improve our relationship and then got really mad when she criticised my relationship.

    9. Lora*

      I had to get out the extension cord to vacuum in the hallway and then I left it laying in the hallway instead of picking it up and putting it away. Then an hour later when I was carrying a bucket of used (ie dirty) mop water down the hall to dispose of it, I tripped over the extension cord and slopped nasty muddy floor water everywhere. That horrible screaming GOD DAM M-F-ING PIECE OF FKING SHT you heard around 11am today, that was me.

      1. Liz*

        I’m so sorry that happened to you but i laughed my butt off because i have been known to yell similar things when i’ve done something that pissed me off.

    10. Thankful for AAM*

      I messed up and went to the wrong location for a half day workshop so I missed it. But then I got upset because I found out my boss and her boss also went but they carpooled and did not ask me to join them (we have a very informal workplace and it would have been very typical to include me) which made me want to blame them bc if they had asked me to carpool, I would not have been confused abput the location. But it was really my own fault.

    11. Oh such an anonymous moose*

      My family was trying to arrange my marriage with this guy and I was in a dark place with no hope of getting out of it. I gave them the o.k. to go ahead because I’d be miserable married to this stranger or not, but it’ll make my mother stop worrying about my future.

      months go by, we haven’t heard from this guy’s family, and I’ve moved from resigned to furious. I don’t want to marry him, and I am dreaming up creative ways to say no.

      And then after a year of nothing, we find out he’s engaged to another girl.

      And I’m feeling angry, hurt and rejected. How dare he dismiss me just like that, deny me the chance to say no? Am I not good enough for him?

    12. Sleepless*

      I got dumped by a guy I was about to break up with anyway. He dumped me for another girl. I was indignant and insulted, and mad at myself for even caring because, really, the only reason I hadn’t dumped HIM yet was that I really liked his friend group.

    13. Hrovitnir*

      This thread is great. My friend accidentally asked if we were going to fireworks “later” after we went to a mutual friend’s birthday brunch. He never followed up, because almost certainly the (other) mutual friend who invited him only wanted to invite him – I would not have gone, but feeling excluded stings.

      (The subtext for extra spice is a ridiculous situation where she has asked him out twice and he’s said no but goes along with a fairly high level of plausibly-deniable-dates, plus he has obliquely told her he likes me (which she told me), and I would be interested if I was single but I am not.)

  16. Jdc*

    It has been a busy week. I found a turkey for 50 cents a lb so even though I’m not cooking for thanksgiving that came home. Since I didn’t have freezer space I made a mini thanksgiving on Thursday. I also googled the Moist Maker sandwich recipe from Friends and am making that today. Likely followed by a nap. Haha.

    We put up Xmas lights yesterday. My husband wanted to wait until next weekend but there was likely to be snow and colder so I pushed to do it this weekend. Glad we did because an outlet apparently isn’t working so we can get it fixed today. We bought this stick thing that you clip the gutter or shingle clip on and don’t have to use a ladder. Ya don’t buy that. It doesn’t work. You are supposed to hook the lights but catching them but imagine threading a needle 29 feet in the air. I also found some YouTube videos saying the same thing. That is going back. My landlord not too long ago bought the property next door to us which is great as it was run down. He’s doing siding so he had the rolling scaffolding up. He happened to drive by and told us to use it. Life saver. Who knew I needed scaffolding in my life!

    Thinking the rest of the weekend will be relaxing mixed with an errand or two. Need to return this stick to Lowe’s and frankly i want to get it done before Black Friday weekend next weekend when it’s chaos.

    I am up crazy early because between two dogs burrowing for warms and my space heater husband I was soaked in sweat. That’s ok that, I have my post turkey sandwich nap planned later and i get to relaxed in quiet with some coffee. Haha. I’m kind of a zombie in the am so I appreciate a nice slow, quiet wake up.

    I’m also catching up on The Affair on Showtime. We got the app for free when we upgraded a phone recently. Woohoo because we watch Shameless, so now I can catch up. Not loving this season so far but curious where it goes.

    1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I had good luck with a “homemade” light-hanging stick that I threw together last year. It’s a mop handle with a plastic “keep a bag of chips closed” clip from Dollar Tree duct taped to the end (I think twist-ties may also be involved). I used this with the cheap lighting clips I’d bought the year before when I thought it would be easy to just get on a ladder because my new house is only one story (this is before I’d noticed how little of the area surrounding my house was free of things like rose bushes and also just how high the gutters on a single story roof still are).

      I’d stick the lights on the light clips, clip the top of the light clip into the chip bag clip, tie a ribbon onto a different hook on the light clip so I could get the bottom of the light clip open wider to fit over the gutter, and then raise the stick and pop the bottom of the light clip onto the gutter, keep tension on the ribbon, pull off the chip clip, and then use the now-free chip clip/mop handle to pull off the ribbon. For something comprised entirely of things from Dollar Tree, my junk drawer, and/or things I’d already bought before getting this particular idea, it worked pretty well. (Getting the clips down again worked much less well, and many of them just stayed up there all year. I got all the lights down just fine, though.)

      Most of my strings of lights aren’t working right this year for some reason, though. They’re all LED lights bought within the past 2 years, but most of the strings either won’t light up at all or only part of the string will light up. They were only up seasonally and then stored (inside) on the spools they came on, so I ‘m not sure what happened.

      1. Jdc*

        That sounds like a good invention. I should have husband rig something similar up for next time. Luckily Lowe’s is good about returns so it went back. Ya what the heck. LEDs are supposed to last a long time. That’s a bummer. I don’t trust the ones I bought this year will because they are cheap Walmart. They were the only one who had the lights I wanted though this year.

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          Mine were about $20-$25 a spool depending on sales, GE brand, and from Fred Meyers. Last year, I bought enough to outline the entire perimeter of my roof, plus part of the fence, because the only outdoor plug is in the backyard and I figured extra lighting around the entire house exterior isn’t a bad idea.

          I’m pretty cranky about it since I spent a few hundred dollars on something that I assumed I’d get long term use out of, and I’m not sure if I should try and figure out what’s wrong with them, buy new ones, or just not bother this year. (It’s awkward to just not bother, because my yard is in a pretty prominent location so a lot of people I know socially or at work would notice and comment that if I didn’t do a display at all this year. I am not spending $200+ on new lights every year, though.)

  17. A Non E-Mouse*

    I am hoping people with more difficult recurring or chronic conditions/diseases can give me some advice. Is there anything I can say – or should I even say anything – to convince my mother to pursue every treatment available? For several years now she has been dealing with Lupus along with another chronic condition that gives her constant pain which I am not naming for sake of anonymity (I think I’ve mentioned it here before). She also had a joint replacement surgery (think hip/knee) a couple years ago that was done badly and left her with more pain than she had before. Now I am being told she also has leukemia.

    Understandably all this pain has her pretty miserable. She is also pretty much alone – while she has friends, she is in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere in one state while I am in a big city on the other coast – so she refuses to be tested to even find out which version of leukemia she has until after the holidays, and after that I’ve been given the impression that she will only do very basic treatments – I don’t think she will even consider chemo or radiation. From what I understand from just general reading online (I don’t want to read too much and scare myself too badly until I have real hard facts about where she stands) even with the worst form of leukemia, the lowest rate of remission I saw was 60%. 60% of people who get treated go into remission, and with others she can easily have an 80-90% chance of remission. That sounds pretty great to me considering the other option is death. I have also read that chemo can be used as a treatment for the Lupus. So in my mind I can’t imagine why she wouldn’t want to try to treat both of these at once.

    I want to tell her to just go after it with everything science has given us and try to kill both of them. I also want to respect her decisions and her boundaries. But those two desires don’t really play well together. I am also certain that depression plays a big part in her decision to only do the minimum treatments, so I don’t want to feed that. So should I be pushing her? Should I let her be the adult she is and make her own choices? I just don’t know what to do. I am specifically asking people with similar conditions because I think you’ll understand better than I can where her mind might be. Thanks

    1. Anon for RA*

      As a person with RA (rheumatologists treat people with RA and lupus), I can say that being there for your mom and listening to her talk about how she feels will go a long way in having her feel supported. You can talk through the pros and cons of getting these treatments. Maybe she is scared the treatments will make her feel worse and it will be too much to bear. Maybe she is scared they will make her sick (vomit, etc.) and she doesn’t have the necessary support there to help her through the sickness. Depression and feeling overwhelmed by all the stuff you have to deal with when you’re chronically ill can keep you from doing anything extra that might help (and might make you feel worse in the short term). I hope your mom gets the help and support she needs.

      1. A Non E-Mouse*

        Thanks. I do need to call her more often so I will try to be better at that. She definitely doesn’t have support to help if she starts feeling worse but I recently found a program in her area that can potentially get her someone there 20 hours a week for free. Fingers are crossed.

    2. StellaBella*

      My mom had esophageal cancer. Her wishes and her management of her disease were to just do the treatments and see. She lived 2+ years longer than expected, and my family and I were thankful for that. A counselor can help, and good luck. I am sorry this is so difficult.

      1. Digley Doowap*

        Talk and listen. Don’t insist she do “everything” to stay alive as it is her life and her suffering. Some choose to do nothing and that is OK because it is her choice.

        Living with chronic pain is not living, only existing. Alone in a small town or alone in a big town is still alone.

        The only reason I’m still alive is my wife, as I’m not ready to bring the pain of my death upon her. But she knows my suffering as she also suffers. The end is usually painful and I believe a short end is prefered to a long one.

        Facing death and knowing that I can die at my hand is better than living in a no-care facility just to sustain my suffering, prolong death and wring dry wealth I’ve spent my life building.

        I know my family will miss me when I’m gone but I will be free of suffering on my terms.

        1. UbiCaritas*

          My husband has metastatic cancer and doesn’t want to be treated. It absolutely guts me (although I understand his choice) – I want him to be here for our kids and grands. But it’s hard.

          1. MatKnifeNinja*

            Close family member has lung cancer that is a tick below metastatic.

            He has decided to do nothing but ride it out through palliative care, then through hospice.

            Only 57, but he said what months/years he has left will not be spent looking at hospital walls and infusion pumps. Doesn’t want to bankrupt his family.

            He found an oncologist who is cool with the above. His previous one flipped out and discharged him from the practice.

            Treatment won’t cure him, and it may not buy that much more quality time.

            Right now he is traveling with his family, creating memories.

            I’m sorry to hear about your husband. It is hard just accepting a distanced relative’s decision, let alone a spouse. That’s gotta be so hard.

            *gentle internet hugs*

    3. Fikly*

      There is unlikely there is anything you can say to get her to change her mind.

      As to whether you should, ask yourself why you want her to. Is it for your benefit, so that she’s alive and can be in your life? Or is it for her benefit? Because she may just prefer treatment that is less likely to be as debilitating and painful, even if it comes with a much higher risk of death. And that is a terrible thing for you to face, when you want her in your life, but it’s also a legitimate choice for her to make.

      She is likely looking at quality of life as it currently stands, quality of life with various treatment options, and then, even if she does get past the cancer, quality of life for the rest of her life, and whether the trade off is worth it. I don’t know a ton about lupus, but my understanding is that while chemo may be a treatment, it’s just that, a treatment, not a cure. So when she stops the chemo, if it was helping the lupus, the lupus-related symptoms that it was helping would come back.

      And not to get overly political, but in a lot of chronic illness groups, given the illegality of assisted suicide in the the United States, there are discussions about if you get something that could be fatal, just letting it do it’s thing, if you are at the point where you do not want to live with your quality of life being what it is.

      1. Lcsa99*

        She’s definitely thinking about quality of life. She’s said so herself. But I’d like to hope that treatment can bring come of that back for her. I am likely just ignorant.

    4. UbiCaritas*

      Your mom is an adult and can make her own choices. But you can tell her how they impact you, how much you love her and want her to be around. It’s very difficult at such a distance – is there any way she could move closer to you?

      1. Lcsa99*

        We’ve discussed it in the past but since she grew up on this coast she has made it clear she looks at that option as a failure. Now that she’s looking at leukemia she might be willing to reconsider, but I worry about what “failure” bouncing around in her brain would do with the depression.

    5. Lucky black cat*

      I would suggest you stop reading online and get some really good support for yourself eg see if any relevant charity / advocacy orgs run support groups or anything like that.

      I’m sorry for what you’re going through.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        Good suggestion re in-the-tangible-world support groups, but AAM is also a source of community in its own way. I find it a bit abstract (in the sense that we connect only by internet), but also immensely hopeful and comforting from typing out or reading messages of good will and encouragement (because it reassures me that one can find fellow travelers in real time, even if we don’t share the same space).

        There are also occasionally stunningly spot-on suggestions re books or household skills or web sites.

    6. Jean (just Jean)*

      It’s very hard to watch people you love struggle with chronic or terminal illness. As long as people are not doing anything actively destructive to themselves or others (by which I mean causing harm beyond the effects of the illness….such as being unkind or abusive to others, or to themselves) I think we have to stay engaged and be supportive. It’s a balancing act. It’s not easy.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Not a chronic illness sufferer myself, but I have watched enough people struggle that I have changed my mind on a lot of things.

      You may find it helpful to put yourself in her shoes. I watched my father, mother, husband and inlaws all go through their own struggles. I decided that I do not want anyone telling me which treatment I should have or what pill I should take, etc. They are not the ones who have to deal with the side effects, I am the one who has to deal with the side effects. If living means laying in bed day after day, I am not interested in prolonging a life like that.

      My father had been pretty beat up by life. On top of that his bypass surgery was failing and he probably needed a redo. When he had bypass surgery long ago, it was not like what it is now. It was barbaric. And honestly, I was not impressed with the quality it supposedly added to his life.

      So he had all this life crap raining down on him and his heart starting having issues again. He said, “no more surgeries”.
      With a huge lump in my throat, I said, “Okay, dad, I understand.” Knowing full well, that this mean a shorter life for him. I said to myself, “Sometimes it’s not all about me.” And I cried.

      Loving someone enough to allow them their own choices is very hard. It’s probably the hardest thing we can encounter in life.
      People can reach a point where they don’t want to fight any more. I was not there yet, so I didn’t and still don’t fully understand their decision. But as I age, I do understand that at some point we can feel that we have done enough and we can make peace with it all.

      I was 34 when he died at 72. Looking back on my 30s I had more fight in me, I would have fought to live on. But in thinking about what he saw and went through, I can see where he felt he had a full life and he had done what he could do. I will be 60 next year and my push to fight so hard is not as high as it used to be.

      And here’s a bitter pill I had to swallow. His choices contributed to his early passing BUT most of us do the same. We do things that contribute to our own passing. My turn will come (decades from now, of course!). I will frustrate the heck out of someone because of my own choices. They won’t understand, they might be scared for me and a whole host of other emotions. Hopefully, they love me enough to respect my choices.

      The best you can do is keep her informed, “If you do X then you may have Y problem. If you do A then you may have B problem.” As long as she seems to be making choices with thinking/rationale behind the choices, then you can try to follow her train of thought and think along a similar line. In short, copy or mirror what her thinking is.

    8. Texan In Exile*

      I don’t have the conditions, but I can tell you that I watched my dad go through chemo for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and I would not wish chemo on my worst enemy. (Well. Maybe my worst enemy. But not my second worst.)

      It was horrible. It was brutal. It’s been 22 years since my dad died, 23 years since the chemo, and I still can’t think about it without feeling sick to my stomach with the horror of it.

      One of his doctors had a friend who had survived testicular cancer. The doc asked the friend, “Knowing what you know now – that ten years later, you would be alive, in remission, but knowing what chemo would be like, would you still go through chemo?”

      The friend said no. He would rather have died than have gone through chemo.

      Maybe your mom has seen that kind of chemo? I know chemo has improved a lot, but still.

      I am wishing you and your mom the best. This is an awful situation. I am sending you both AAM hugs and sympathy.

      1. J*

        Related to this comment, I think many people still think of chemo as how it was 20-ish years ago, when in reality, for most cancers and most chemos, doctors have gotten much much better at managing side-effects (as well as many chemo treatments actually being at lower doses than they used to be before as much research was done). I wonder if your mother might be thinking of how chemo was in the ’90s and basing her decision off of that? I have a family friend who had breast cancer in the late ’90s and had an absolutely horrendous experience with chemo, which I think was nearly universal at the time. When she was diagnosed with bone cancer a few years ago, she initially refused treatment because of how horrible her first experience was–she would, as Texan said, rather die than go through that again. However, after talking to people who had had cancer more recently, she decided to have treatment and couldn’t believe how mild the chemo experience was compared to how it used to be. In particular, doctors are SO much better now at managing nausea. She was actually able to carry on a fairly normal life while having chemo, albeit with more resting, but she was still able to enjoy her hobbies, meet with friends, and even work part time. The same was true of my mother when she had breast cancer. When my mother relapsed 3 years after her first bout, she actually found the chemo a mild enough experience that she said that she would be satisfied with her life even if she was going to continue relapsing and having to do chemo again every few years. Of course, everyone has a different experience and certain cancers have harsher treatments than others. No matter what, chemo is likely going to be a difficult experience, but it’s not necessarily going to be a horrible experience.

        All this to say, I wonder if your mother would benefit from talking to people who have had leukemia and recovered from it recently (i.e. within the last five years)? They would be able to give her the most accurate idea of how her treatment will likely affect her and it may really be that she’s imagining something more dire than what is in front of her. Maybe not, but it’s something to maybe probe her about. The other thing I would say is that most oncology offices have some kind of attached social worker or counselor, who are also often willing to talk to families (not about the patient specifically, but about what can be expected from treatment in general). It seems that your mother and you would benefit from seeking out advice from this person, whether or not your mother decides to go through with treatment.

    9. Alice*

      Ooof. My father was diagnosed with lung cancer last year and seriously considered not getting it treated. Statistically that would have been crazy – it was only stage 1, and there was every prospect of successful surgical treatment (meaning, no chemo needed).
      In the end he did have the surgery, but it was very hard to encourage him while also respecting his autonomy.
      I would encourage your mother to access a support group or some other form of counseling, with a religious leader if she’s not comfortable with a therapist.

    10. Squidhead*

      If your mother would be willing, she should see a palliative care practitioner. This is NOT the same as end-of-life/hospice care. They focus on quality of life and symptom management no matter what the treatment plan is. They can also help facilitate important conversations about goals of care and what the end of life might look like. These questions are hard to ask a loved one and the answers are sometimes hard to hear.

      Many cancer treatment teams include this type of practitioner, and they may be willing (if time and distance allow) to sit down with you as well. (My experience is in-hospital, so when a meeting like this takes place at the bedside it’s easy to see who is included. I’m not as sure about out-patient, and obviously the format needs to be something your mother is comfortable with, first and foremost.)

      Thinking of you both.

      1. No Name*

        My father died suddenly of a treatable heart condition a few years ago. He hated hospitals, hated going to doctors and dealt with it by not dealing with it at all. The thing is everyone talks about grief but they don’t talk about the anger and hurt you feel when someone chooses to die rather than stay with you for longer. I am very much like my father and to be honest, I can see myself making similar choices. I think that understanding made it easier for me to move past the bewilderment and accept it. My mother was devastated by his death and also very angry that he hid how bad it was rather than get treatment and be with us for longer. She eventually started therapy, and it has done wonders in helping her deal with her feelings in a healthy manner. She still grieves for my Dad and misses him but she has also mostly reached acceptance. I think therapy could be a very good option on for you. Even if your Mum does choose treatment, you are in for a rough time. You are going to need your own support while supporting your Mum no matter what she chooses. They can probably even help with talking to your mum so that you can tell her you want her try treatment without overriding her decisions or unintentionally emotionally dumping your feelings. All the best and be gentle to yourself too.

  18. MrsKelSci*

    Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate is a historical fiction based on Georgia Tann. (See book in comments). I thought it was very good.

    1. Maddy*

      And also Before and After: The Incredible Real-Life Stories of Orphans Who Survived the Tennessee Children’s Home Society
      by Judy Christie, Lisa Wingate

    2. HamlindigoBlue*

      The Criminal podcast did an episode on Georgia Tann not too long ago (episode 110, “The Baby Snatcher”). It was disturbing and heartbreaking, but it left me wanting to know more about what happened. I may check out Alison’s recommendation and yours.

  19. Loopy*

    I would love tips from anyone else who has experienced this particular type of anxiety! So, I’m about to travel on a big, much anticipated trip. Last week I came very close to a fall at the gym that would have likely ruined the trip with a severe sprained ankle (avoided it thankfully!).

    However, now I’m plagued by worries about disaster (using the word loosely) striking before my trip- bad sickness, car accidents, or airport paperwork issues (like I somehow missed a typo on my new passport), hotels having no idea who we are. My dad is coming in to town by plane right before we go and I’m ever scared HE’LL get sick on his flight and get us all sick. I’m generally comfortable with travel but I’m SO excited for this trip (not something we could do again for many years) I just can’t stop wanting to put myself and everyone around me in a bubble. Any ideas for managing this is in the 10 days before we go? I’m especially tired of being a paranoid germaphobe. I’m exhausting myself!

    1. ..Kat..*

      Can you get trip insurance?

      If you do get this insurance, make sure that you read the fine print to know what it covers.

      I hope your trip is wonderful and problem free.

      Have you considered therapy?

      1. Loopy*

        I looked into insurance but I think even if it were covered financially I’d be devastated about not going right now. It’s very hard for me to get this amount of time off work so it wouldn’t be easy to make happen again anytime soon. It’s a delayed honeymoon and it already took almost a year after the wedding to make it happen!

        I am a huge supporter of therapy but this isn’t a usual/on-going problem fortunately. Weirdly- I didn’t have near this level of anxiety before my wedding last year for example! Or any of our small trips/vacations. Also I wouldn’t be able to start before the trip, which is Dec 2! But both are great suggestions!

        1. WellRed*

          I think this is the crux. It’s not a small trip ( it’s first trip to Europe or some such, right)? AND it’s a honeymoon. The stakes feel higher, if you will. The downfall greater if any of the extremely unlikely happens.

    2. BethDH*

      I’ve traveled a fair amount internationally (academic research) and I still get very anxious about the kind of things you mention because there’s usually a reason I can only go at that time. Here are some things that help me:
      -not trying to stop being anxious entirely, but doing what I can and labeling the rest excitement.
      -making a list of what I can do and focusing on that instead of the unknowns or things I can’t control. So: eating well, drinking water, sleeping, etc. for worrying about illness; printing or downloading to my phone transit or lodging confirmation info
      -thinking through a few scenarios and figuring out what I would do. This may not help you if you will just come up with an endless list and things you can’t do anything about, but if it’s just knowing there are pharmacies near your hotel, that can help you realize that you won’t be helpless.

      1. Loopy*

        Thank you! Today I started by digging out the passports and checking out names against the airline ticket names and confirming they wont expire until well beyond 6 months after we return. I’m being super good about vitamins and drinking enough!

        I think right now illness is what I feel most helpless about because it’s blowing up everywhere I look- people dropping at work, a mumps outbreak at the local college. It’s just that season where everyone is talking about being sick or who they know that’s sick!

    3. Amey*

      I couldn’t pass this without commenting because I can so strongly relate. I suffer from some health and general anxiety and it’s really manifested around trips in exactly the same way.

      Last year, we had a big trip booked for the spring – it was our first big vacation since the kids were born. As it approached, there was basically a chicken pox epidemic at their daycare (I’m in a country that doesn’t have routine vaccination for chicken pox.) This lasted a couple of months and they didn’t get it and didn’t get it but I was convinced that they were going to come down with it. As we got near our trip I literally couldn’t think about the trip – I couldn’t plan for it, I couldn’t start packing, I definitely couldn’t allow myself to get excited. It was the worst manifestation of anxiety that I’d had in years. Then five days before we were due to fly, my son came out in spots and it felt like complete validation of my anxiety and I was devastated.

      The thing is, it was fine! My daughter came out with it in what would have been the middle of the vacation and I was so glad we weren’t dealing with it away from home. We did have insurance (please get insurance!) and it was a bit of a nightmare sorting it out but we ended up rebooking the vacation for the height of summer a few months later. We compromised on some things because it was much more expensive at that time of year – but it was fine! We had a wonderful life-changing vacation.

      I’m not sure that I have any words of advice, because I don’t think I deal with this well, but I completely understand and have this problem every time we travel and wanted to give you a bit of solidarity. It will be okay.

      1. Loopy*

        It helps just to know I’m not alone! I feel like everyone must think I’m being ridiculous.

        I think that part of the insurance issue is that it’ll cover the money part but rescheduling is such a nightmare around our jobs. This has already been pushed due to an unexpected forced job change so, I’m feelings pessimistic about the ability to reschedule. That’s also adding to the anxiety of course!

    4. Ron McDon*

      I never used to worry about travelling – although I have anxiety about lots of other things – but ever since we had a hellish connecting flight a few years ago I find myself becoming very anxious about travelling abroad. It didn’t help that we had terrible delays on the next two connecting flight trips we made! Now we’ve resolved to only fly direct which has helped with my anxiety a lot.

      But yes, I do find myself worrying about what ifs that will probably never happen. I just try to redirect my thoughts away and tell myself ‘it’s unlikely to happen, if it does you’ll deal with it, it will be ok’. Sounds easy, but it takes Herculean effort sometimes!

      It probably helps that – aside from huge delays on connecting flights – we’ve never had any illness/accident issues that have impacted our travels.

      If you can just take a deep breath when a thought like this pops into your head, and tell yourself it’s unlikely to happen and it’s just your anxiety brain talking, you might be able to redirect your thoughts so it doesn’t affect you as much.

      Good luck.

      1. Loopy*

        Oh I so relate! I refused layovers in the northern US because of storms. I know it impacts everywhere but I figured I could at least attempt to feel better. I’m from the southern US and our US layover is also in the south. So that’s on thing I tried HARD to minimize from the initial planning. I also was adamant about length of layover time. Why they had so many flights offering such short layovers, I don’t know but man did I put my foot down HARD on that.

        A coworker of my husband’s went recently and missed an ENTIRE DAY of her vacation due to flight issues. So I am hoping the layover I chose was strategic enough to get us off the ground on the same day at least!

        1. All Hail Queen Sally*

          The layovers! I am too old and out of shape to run from one end of the airport to the other, and that is how my flights always are. I insist on a decent layover so I can make it to my connecting flight without worrying about having a heart attack.

          1. Loopy*

            Yes, and I like a small cushion so if my flight is running 15-30 minutes behind I’m not sitting there panicking about making the connection. So, so many times I’ve literally sat at the gate and thought, thanks goodness my layover is X minutes long!

        2. Tris Prior*

          Yep, I paid extra to grab a seat on one of the few nonstop flights to our destination – because it will be February and there will be snow and just no thank you. Why make the stress worse!

          I have the rescheduling issue too; it is near impossible for my partner to get vacation time approved because his boss is an ass. I about fell out of my chair when I got the text from him saying that he’d gotten this time approved. The likelihood of that ever happening again….. yeah. Plus, he’s job hunting, so new job would make it even harder to get time off together!

        3. Sleepless*

          I can relate! I live in a major airline hub city so I can almost always find nonstops, and I’m willing to pay for them. Layovers can be the most stressful part of the trip.

          I injured my knee a few weeks before a trip where we were planning lots of hiking, and I had a complete freak-out. I was surprised at just how upset I was! Fortunately it healed up just fine and I had no problems on the trip, but I didn’t realize until then how afraid I am of something happening to mess up a trip.

    5. Relly*

      I don’t know if this helps at all, but I’ve never gone on a vacation that I didn’t want to cancel the night before in a blind panic. I’m not scared even of anything specific like a plane crash, just that somehow everything will be ruined and it will be all my fault. Anxiety sucks.

      1. Loopy*

        It does! And it does help to know I’m not alone because I don’t think anyone in my immediate life relates. And yes, the stress of it being my fault is real since I booked the flights AND hotels. But I think if I can get to the night before without anything major happening I will feel better!

    6. Anonymous*

      My mom slipped down the stairs fifteen minutes before the airport shuttle arrived to pick them up. Ultimate destination? Alaska, for a cruise.

      Dear reader, she went. Wheelchair in the airports, seat by the door to let her keep her foot up, and finally a trip to the ER in Juno to diagnose a broken foot. The cruise ship adjusted her room assignment for her wheelchair use. She didn’t get to see the whales, because that was a separate excursion and they never verified that it was wheelchair accessible.

      But on the whole, she had a great time. She did have trip insurance which covered the medical expenses on the way.

      You’ll be fine!

      1. Life is good*

        I tore my rotator cuff two weeks before going to Peru over Spring break with my husband this year. Hurt like hell, but people are so very nice when you ask for assistance. When my husband couldn’t be nearby to help lift my carryon into the bin, young people were more than willing to help. Honestly, I do not even remember hurting during this vacation to Machu Picchu. It was such an awe-inspiring experience, that the injury took a back seat. You will have a great time in Europe! As another said, just be healthy and give yourself some time to relax. Enjoy the journey, too. Even though we fly economy and it isn’t luxurious by any stretch of the imagination, I always marvel at the fact we can be on another continent in a matter of hours. How exciting for you! Have a great time!

    7. The Meow*

      Catastrophizing is a common symptom of anxiety and also very, very treatable. You are definitely not alone.

      My husband did this when he travelled alone for work. He was OK if we went on holidays together but was terrified of every possible bad scenario when travelling solo. He panicked for days about losing all his money, not having enough money, missing his flight, running out of credit on his phone and not being able to recharge, losing his passport, etc.

      I have so much I want to write on this as I have multiple family members with intense anxiety and I can so relate to what you’re going through. All I will say now is that a competent, experienced psychologist can and will help tremendously. My husband after several visits has improved so much. He still gets a tad nervous before solo travel but doesn’t stay awake at night panicking for days before his departure as he used to.

    8. Tris Prior*

      I don’t have any tips, but you’re not alone! We are planning a bucket-list trip in February. I am freaking out already that – in no particular order: we will not be able to get there because of a blizzard, we will not be able to get home because of a blizzard thus being away from our cats even longer, something will happen to one or both cats so we can’t go, one of us will get the flu so we can’t go, one of us will get diagnosed with something fatal so we can’t go….. the list goes on. I do have anxiety and I talk about this in therapy, but I’m not sure it is helping. I got insurance, but that won’t help with the feelings of devastation I’ll have if we can’t go.

      I don’t usually freak out this much about travel. I think the fact that this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip that I’ve been wanting to do but putting off for at least 20 years is making it feel really high stakes for me. Especially since now my partner and I are at ages where shit starts going wrong physically, and I want to make sure we get this in before we’re too sick or disabled to go!

      Sorry I only have commiseration to offer. It’s probably smart to at least take steps to stay healthy – make sure you’re getting enough sleep, wash your hands, eat well, drink water, lay off the booze. I try and ingest as much vitamin C as I can stand before I have a trip or event that it would suck to be sick at – probably just a placebo effect, if anything, but can’t hurt.

    9. Fiona*

      What helps me is taking my anxiety down the path of worst possible scenario. What would happen if everyone got sick or there was some other thing that got in the way? Imagine a situation where unfortunately you couldn’t take the trip. That would be so disappointing and sucky but it sounds like that’s the absolute worst possible scenario and if you can make peace with it being a possibility, sometimes it calms the nerves. (I get most anxious when it’s just an amorphous “bad” thing)

  20. Anon woman with breast cancer*

    Hi all – I am so thankful for this online weekend community. :) 2nd chemo (5-FEC is drug cocktail) is done, one more of these to go. Then on to Taxol. This round is a bit tougher with some nausea, but not horrid, and will improve in a few days. I was able to shave my head, too, this week – my hair was falling out in clumps finally (too late for a great Halloween zombie costume, alas – would have been perfect), so had a friend shave it off. It is cold and weird but nicer. And I got my port implanted! This will be great moving forward into more frequent (weekly) treatments in January – best thing was got to do it under local anaesthesia, not general.

    Sending out good vibes to everyone! Have a good weekend and I hope if anyone is planning thanksgiving that is goes well for you!

    1. UbiCaritas*

      Sending you good thoughts and hugs. Please keep us informed! I have some scarves, if you’d like – I don’t know how to give you my contact info.

      1. Anonymous*

        Thank you, that is very kind. I have like 30 scarves and a bunch of hats tho – so save yours for a friend closer maybe? :)

    2. fposte*

      It sounds like things are progressing and you’re making your way through it, and the port should make things a lot easier. Glad you found local anesthesia easier–it’s amazing how something like that can improve quality of life. Good luck to you with the next phases!

    3. Kuododi*

      Best regards during your treatment process.!!! I’m going to be done with treatment on Wednesday. It’s not been a nightmare. Nausea, vomiting, fatigue and some mild hair loss but nothing particularly ghastly. Sounds like things have been working out for you as well. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Grace and peace to you. Kuododi

      1. NoLongerYoung*

        Sending you warm thoughts as well. Zofran (Or the generic…) helped here for the nausea. YMMV. ♡

        1. Kuododi*

          Oh I love me some Zofran!!!! I have a standing order. Unfortunately, the insurance is being a bunch of poopy butt heads about covering the cost. We routinely have to do prior authorization and it’s still anyone’s guess if it will be covered. Grrrrr!!!

          1. Ann Onny Muss*

            I am flipping your insurance company the bird. Sorry they insist on making things more difficult than they already are.

            1. Kuododi*

              Appreciate the bird flipping!!! Apparently the insurance opinion is that since Zofran was originally developed for chemo nausea and pregnant women with hyperemesis gravidarum, they refuse to pay for the medication for me. (Keep in mind that I am unable to tolerate other anti nausea meds. My family doc thoroughly documented all my medication allergies however it was spitting in the wind for the insurance. I simply go self pay over at Costco pharmacy. I refuse to keep beating my head against the wall. Best regards.

      2. StellaBella*

        Ah Kuododi, sorry you had such side effects but I am thrilled your treatment will be done on Wednesday. You are in my thoughts as well. Will send you a huge ray of sunshine on Wednesday!!! xo

      3. Anon woman with breast cancer*

        That is very kind, Kuododi, thanks so much. I hope your last treatment Wednesday is the last in this speed bump of a health issue and that you recover 100% and look back on this as just a minor issue. And am glad you can say that the minor side effects are not too ghastly and it has not been a nightmare. Sending you good thoughts and light and grace, too for Wednesday and beyond!

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Major compliments to you on keeping your sense of humor, I just about choked reading your zombie quip. Sending luck!

      1. Anon woman with breast cancer*

        Thanks. Have to have some sort of sense of humour, I am just trying to get thru this. 2/3 of way thru this chemo round, then 9 infusions of Taxol. Gotta find some humour or will be lost in the dark winter days. :) By the end of Taxol, it will be getting lighter and after my surgery I can enjoy the spring I hope.

    5. NoLongerYoung*

      Sending my warmest thoughts. Hope you find a good way to keep the heat in(the head loses a lot of your body heat, just saying.). Bundle up and know you have support here (was spouses caretaker through many infusions). Gentle Hug.

      1. Anon woman with breast cancer*

        Thanks – I sleep with a soft cap and that helps and wear a cap/hat most of the day and thankfully live in an apartment that is warm. Thanks for the gentle hug too. All the best and thanks for caring for your spouse, too. I thank my friends and family here and abroad that are a huge help, as the cat is a bit too aloof on stuff like encouraging me to eat etc. :)

  21. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    A couple weeks ago I mentioned a November goal to crochet hexagons and write and submit 2 25-page papers before Thanksgiving. All the hexagons are crocheted (November 15), the first paper is in (18) and passed (21) with no need for revision, and I submitted the second (22) last night, leaving me with an unexpected free weekend!

    So today’s plan is to make pie (pumpkin), pie (pecan), more pie (key lime), homemade butter (plain, garlic-herb and honey-cinnamon, maybe spiced rum too?), shabby chic ass rolls, and possibly some cookies. I’ve had minced ginger “marinating” in a Tupperware of sugar for a couple of days as an experiment and I think I am going to use it to make lemon cookies and pumpkin cookies.

    I love with my kitchen. :)

    1. A Non E-Mouse*

      Yum yum yum. That sounds like an awesome day! I am tempted to do homemade butters too, but a lot of the group t

      1. A Non E-Mouse*

        Stupid phone. Sorry. A lot of the group for our thanksgiving is on diets or vegan due to allergies so it would be lost. But I am making chocolate red wine cupcakes and chai tea cupcakes for a work potluck so I am not too sad.

        This time of year is a lot of work but tons of fun.

    2. Not A Manager*

      What will you do with all those pies? Can you freeze a baked custard pie like pumpkin or key lime? Or are you celebrating early?

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        My husband and housemate will each eat a pumpkin pie solo in about two days, it’s the household favorite – one works in a warehouse and the other has a high metabolism :) the pecan pies are going to housemate’s mom for her thanksgiving dinner, as is most of the flavored butter (though that can be frozen), and we’ll all eat the key lime over the next few days. (I eat it for breakfast. It’s like yogurt, right? Health food? :) ) Basically everybody just eats too much pie at my house thanksgiving week because pie is my favorite thing to bake :)

        I don’t know if I’m actually going to make the biscuits today, but the cookies, I make the dough and ball it up and freeze it, then I do all my Christmas baking (from dough that I pre-made) closer to Christmas time. Makes it easier to do cookie boxes of varying sizes for different size families of friends :) I have 5 types in my freezer already that I’ve done in the last 6 weeks or so.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        It’s a joke from yesterday off the “cheap ass rolls” letter, and the recipe is linked above :) basically drop biscuits look rustic, which qualifies as shabby chic? Heh :)

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        It’s so easy, if you have a good mixer! Just make whipped cream and then keep going – it’ll eventually break into butter, then you pour off the buttermilk, rinse it under cold water and squeeze it out! I get about 12 ounces of butter and 14-16 ounces of sweet (not soured) buttermilk, roughly, out of a quart of whipping cream. Takes about ten minutes on highest setting in my stand mixer to get there.

    3. Alexandra Lynch*

      You also now have ginger sugar. That would be nice on molasses cookies or gingersnaps. (I would use it on my soft gingersnaps, personally)

    4. food*

      I feel the answer should be obvious but I don’t know, how or where do you keep the pies until Thursday? that seems like a long time.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        In the fridge? But I’m also not holding them til Thursday, we started eating them yesterday.

  22. Larka111*

    I would love advice from those who have tried medication after being diagnosed with ADHD as an adult. How did you know if it was effective? How long did it take to work? I’ve been on one on a few different doses prescribed by my doctor and honestly I feel like I might as well not be taking anything. Any advice or anecdotes would be welcome.

    1. Anonymous for this one*

      When I was first diagnosed, I frequently struggled with my college course reading, finding it very difficult to focus and comprehend the information. So, to test a new medication (here I am talking about the quick-acting stimulant types like Adderall, Ritalin, etc.), I would take the medication and after about an hour, pick up a book I had been struggling to successfully read and take notes on. The first time I did this with a new medication and simply sat at my desk, read and took notes for a couple of hours without inadvertently reading the same sentence over and over again, and afterward remembered what I had just read – I knew the medication was working. So my advice is to ask your doctor how long after a dose the medication should kick in, and at that time, do a task you normally struggle with or hope the medication will help with to observe any change.

      As a heads up, something I did not expect is that this can be a pretty emotional and even upsetting experience. The first time this happened I cried from the relief, and then felt angry that THIS was how easily my peers that I was being graded against could understand the written word?! I have since heard of lots of similar experiences from friends with ADHD, and for me the intensity of these emotions has faded over time.

    2. Alexandra Lynch*

      I knew fifteen minutes after I took it because my head went silent. It was amazing. I could think one thought straight through. But I was on Adderall.

    3. noahwynn*

      I’ve used Adderall since I was in jr high, so didn’t start taking it as an adult.

      However, there is a huge difference with and without. Honestly, I prefer my brain without, but I can totally see how much more I accomplish at work and home when I’m able to focus with the assistance of the medication.

      It also helps me stop procrastinating. That horrible procrastination that turns into an insurmountable obstacle. Things that should be easy are put off and then build up into a mountain. With the medication I can avoid that.

    4. LilySparrow*

      I feel the medication kick in within a half-hour or so of taking it. The difference is dramatic.

      The first day I took it, we were taking the kids to a large outdoor festival event related to their school. Normally I hate things like that – I get extremely overstimulated and can’t find/track the signs I need to get where I need to go, or I can’t see my husband or kids in the crowd and get freaked out.

      With the meds, I actually had a nice time – it was loud and crowded, but not overwhelming or confusing.

      On ordinary days, I can see a big difference, too – I don’t lose track of time as much, and it’s much easier to get started on tasks instead of procrastinating. I can work productively all day and do detail work with much better accuracy. It’s also easier for me to switch from one task to another without losing my place, which makes me far less irritable about interruptuons.

      I have combined subtype and am on Adderall. It’s very noticeable to me and to my family when it kicks in and when it wears off. (Unless I am also very sleep-deprived. If I didn’t get enough sleep, the meds keep me barely functioning, no real benefit over an unmedicated day.)

      I know everyone responds differently to meds. I’ve met some folks, including one of my doctors, who didn’t get any benefit from medication and relied on structural/behavioral supports instead.

    5. Arts Akimbo*

      Depressingly, I gave up on Adderall because it just didn’t seem to be doing anything but waking me up a bit. When I first got on it, it seemed to be improving my focus, but once the shine wore off, meh. Plus I would always get really tired after it wore off, which at first improved my sleep, but again, as the year wore on, this benefit seemed to fade as well.

      To be fair, my doc wanted to put me on Vyvanse, which is a newer, sexier adult ADHD drug, but it was way too expensive out of pocket. Adderall is generic, and super cheapo.

      I really wanted it to work. I really really did. If my placebo effects when I was first taking it would just last forever, I would be so happy.

      Good luck, and I hope you find one that works for you.

    6. LadyGrey*

      I didn’t notice straight away- but after a while I thought about it and realised I was having a constant streak of good days, I had one or two bad days over a month and the rest were good brain days. It was subtle- but that was low dose meds.

  23. Foreign Octopus*

    Last week I had to take my cat to the vet to have all her teeth removed (she’s doing great, btw; all of you who commented with your own experiences were so helpful, and thank you!); well, this week I had to go to the dentist. I was happily chewing on a toffee on Monday night when part of my molar broke off with it. I panicked. I thought I was about to lose all my teeth and that fixing it was going to bankrupt me; so, I went to the dentist on Wednesday and I was in and out in thirty minutes and only €60 lighter.

    I have been super impressed with how quick and efficient the medical side of Spain is. With both me and my cat, we’ve never had to wait for anything and it’s always cheaper than expected. I left the dentist feeling quite happy with myself.

  24. Christmas*

    I got a shock the other day. A friend of mine was showing me the new Facebook Dating feature, because someone she knows was on there, and my ex-boyfriend’s face popped up. I was aghast because, when he ended our otherwise-blissful relationship 5 months ago, he said that he “realized he wasn’t able to have a relationship” due to being a divorcée, that although I was his “perfect woman” he insisted he “will never date again,” adding “All I need in my life is my children.” If that’s what he wanted, okay. I packed up my things and left.

    But now he’s clearly dating again. I guess the problem wasn’t about him; it was me.

    For the past few months, I admit I’ve fanned an ember of hope that he’d eventually overcome his commitment fears and reunite with me. Evidently not. He wants to be with anyone but me, and is actively searching. When I saw his profile, including a flirty and detailed blurb, my blood ran cold. I couldn’t breathe.

    I loved this man, and thought he cared for me until the moment he shocked me by ending it. Now he’s managed to shock me again. I’m angry at him and myself. If he wants so bad to be with somebody NOW, why not be with the one he called his “perfect woman”?? Clearly he lied to me, right?

    1. Lcsa99*

      I am so sorry. It’s possible that he is on the site just for fun flirty dates or just sex and not for a full blown relationship but it’s also possible that he was trying to be nice when he broke up with you. But regardless of his reasons, you deserve to be with someone who WANTS to be with you. Who thinks of excuses to spend more time with you, rather than excuses to end it. He just wasn’t who you thought he was.

      I am sorry you had to see that.

    2. UbiCaritas*

      I’m so sorry. From where I sit, you dodged a bullet. I’ve been where you are, and it hurts. But he’s not the one for you and you deserve better. You WILL find someone right for you.

      1. tangerineRose*

        I think I remember your earlier post on this. I agree; you dodged a bullet. He sounded like he had a lot of issues and wasn’t making a lot of sense. Sorry you’re going through this.

    3. Lucky black cat*

      If YOU want to be with somebody, why not be with somebody who values you and feels lucky to have you?

      Don’t waste yourself on someone who doesn’t.

    4. WellRed*

      He does not want to “be with anyone but you,” he probably just doesn’t want to be with anyone specific at all.

    5. fposte*

      Oh, I’m sorry. But no, I don’t think he lied. I think that was the truth as he understood it at the time.

      I think it’s normal when somebody gives a reason for a breakup to mull over ways to overcome the objection and make things work again. But as with hiring, the reason given is much less important than the fact that they’ve decided they don’t want to be with you. Painful as it is, that’s the part that needs to be accepted.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Agreed. It was the truth at the time he said it. Since then he has had further thoughts.

        I will say, I had a male friend who used dating to have a social life. He wasn’t particularly interested in long term. It could be that there is an answer here that is a mix of what he said and what he is actually doing.

        For me, as much as this hurts, I think that if I took back a person like this, I would worry about him leaving again. A friend had a husband who just wandered off as in “I’m not coming home.” It involved police, ministers, psychologists etc before it was over. She stayed with the guy but for the remainder of her 50 something year marriage she wondered, “Will he do this again?”. That is one heck of a way to live.

    6. Anon time*

      He sounds cowardly. For whatever reason, he didn’t want to date you. But the problem isn’t you- it’s him. I’m so sorry you had to experience that.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This–he should have been more forthright. You can’t really tell someone you don’t see a future with them without hurting them. But people are afraid to do that, so they make excuses.

        Christmas, this doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. It only means he’s the wrong one for you.

    7. Parenthetically*

      Oh lord this guy again! I vividly remember you describing this scenario, so please just come on over and sit on my couch. I’m very good at commiserating. I’ll pour the wine and crank up the Alanis.

      Sorry he was such a drama queen, and sorry you’ve been hurt again by his emotional cluelessness.. It sucks and I’m sending you strength to power through it

    8. MatKnifeNinja*

      Bullet dodge.

      He might have written those things about you to save face. He could have been honest at the time, and decided he wants sex now or a dinner companion, an you aren’t that somebody. People have the right to change their minds.

      Still bullet dodge. You don’t need flakey in your life. I wouldn’t chase after him.

    9. LibbyG*

      Ugh! What a gut punch!

      I imagine him 6 months ago thinking, “Christmas is great, but I’m feeling like I want to end this relationship. If I don’t want to be in a relationship with Chris, then it must be that I don’t want to be in a relationship at all!”

      And then four or five months later he finds himself interested in dating and decides to give it a try.

      But please don’t fan that ember into a flame. If he wanted to try again with you, he would have gotten in touch. What you had was real and great, but it’s in the past.

    10. Sam Foster*

      Nope nope nope, this is NOT about you. This is still about him and his being a liar. It absolutely sucks that he put on a performance when he ended it with you but that says more about him than about you.

    11. The Meow*

      He just wasn’t that into you, and that’s okay.

      Even if you tick everything he wanted in a partner he didn’t have enough feelings (connection, chemistry, whatever) towards you that made him want to be with you. That doesn’t make him or you a bad person.

      It’s fine to be angry. We’ve all experienced rejection and it sucks. But if he doesn’t care for you the way you cared for him he did you a favour by ending it.

  25. Scared Anony Health*

    Hubs has T1 diabetes and celiac (diagnosed age 9 and 7–his doctors thought long undiagnosed celiac contributed to T1), and hypopituitarism (lack of growth hormone, so he took growth hormone to grow as a teen). His family definitely has celiac but not T1 or hypopituitarism. My family has eczema.

    We wanted to try for kids late next year but we’re worried about passing the T1. Dads with T1 have a 10% chance of passing it down. We saw a genetic counselor who took our family tree then said she’d discuss with a doctor after we left (eg. Does rotavirus vaccine really reduce incidence of T1 by 33%?) but frustratingly all we got was “it’s all chance.”

    Then I had a meltdown because I was terrified and wasn’t thinking of what our kids would look like—just how sick they’d be (I had eczema 13 years and it went improperly treated). I worried we’re putting our future kids through misery, saddling them with medical costs, test strips, eczema cream, hormones.

    The counselor did give us genetic testing options (kind of pricey). Hubs will do it in March. He says if there’s anything terrible he has 50%+ chance of passing down, he’d consider adoption. Also, using a sperm donor is possibly on the table (though I just finished reading a scary 2012 NY Times article on how a child got cystic fibrosis from a sperm donor even though the donor tested negative for the gene…..And a coworker’s daughter through sperm donation had to get physical therapy because one leg was longer than the other.

    1. What would you do?
    2. Anybody have a T1 dad? Or hubs? Were the kids T1?
    3. Is sperm donation ok? Is it exchanging known risks (T1) for unknown scarier risks (cystic fibrosis)?

    1. Anon for discussion of medical issues*

      Hi! I am a sick person. Being sick is not the end of the world. I have celiac disease and a rare chronic cancer, both of which run in my family, and both of which I’ve had since childhood. I also parent a kid with celiac disease. We live in a world where prenatal eugenics programs are not only normal but increasingly being seen as an essential health service, so our idea of whether or not it’s acceptable to have a sick child or be a sick person is increasingly coloured by cultural beliefs about normalcy rather than by listening to the lived experiences of people who are sick or different. Even if you do everything “right” to ensure that your child has no genetic predispositions, you don’t guarantee a healthy child. Stuff happens. Diabetes and celiac disease are inconvenient and often unpleasant, but we’re not talking about fatal conditions, here – there are diseases with widely available, effective treatments. If you’re worried that your family can’t afford the medical cost associated with a diabetic child, you should certainly reevaluate your choice to become parents, but the idea that a kid with an illness necessarily lives in “misery” is pretty wild. No matter what you do, your kid is going to get sick and hurt. Maybe mildly, maybe severely. There’s no way to know. You can listen to them and advocate for them and support them and love them, and you can try to make their life as happy and healthy as possible, but that’s all you can do. You can’t prevent illness from ever touching them, and the idea that you should is, in my opinion, one of our weirdest cultural fabrications.

    2. Fikly*

      I have type 1 and Celiac. Is it LADA or the more traditional type 1?

      Keep in mind that with all these autoimmune disorders (and both Celiac and type 1 diabetes are autoimmune) having the gene does not mean you develop it. There’s another factor involved that has to trigger it, and, well, we don’t know what that is yet.

      For example, my grandmother had an identical twin. Her twin had type 1 diabetes, my grandmother (now 94) has never had any type of diabetes. Same genes.

      Similarly, everyone with Celiac has the gene mutation for Celiac, but the majority are not Celiac from birth. Something happens to trigger it, and many people with the genes never develop it during their lifespan. So just testing positive for the gene doesn’t give you odds.

      Finally, as to sperm donation. My first thought is to ask what lab tested that sperm sample, because not all labs test to the same standards, and thus some are more accurate than others. Making sure you get the most accurate testing possible is the best way to know what you’re getting into. And for CF specifically, it’s recessive, so the other biological parent would have had to pass down a copy of the gene too, so there was a major screw up going on in that case.

    3. WhoAmI?*

      No history of T1 in my family. I developed it at age 29. Inconvenient and inexpensive? Yes, but I am not “sick” or feeble or not living my life. I’m not even using test strips thanks to advances in technology. (Also, that’s some…interesting … information you’ve gotten about T1, maybe stop researching it). There’s no guarantees of what we end up with.

    4. BRR*

      I’m T1 and my parents don’t. I’d worry less about “Causing” medicinal conditions for you future children. It’s not ideal (to have a few medical things), but there’s a lot of possible conditions and you can’t avoid them by adoption or sperm donation. It sounds like you would be extremely conscientious about monitoring your kids health and getting treatment if they need it and that’s what matters.

    5. Stephanie*

      Even if you didn’t have any of these kinds of genetic health concerns, there is no guarantee that your children will not have challenges. Things like autism, anxiety, allergies, learning disabilities. Or, just regular, everyday stuff, like social struggles and emotional sensitivity.
      There are always unknown risks with having kids. That’s part of the deal. But another part of it is that you love your kid, no matter what, and you adjust according to their needs.
      10% chance of passing down T1 diabetes seems like pretty good odds, to me.
      And for what it’s worth, I would definitely choose adoption over sperm donor.

    6. fposte*

      Is some of this possibly just a focal point for anxiety about having children, period? There is no eugenic family without any health problems. We’re at a weird place ethically with genetic information, in that it really influences people to think eugenically (despite the impossibility of the plan) while at the same time we abhor that approach. I would guess pretty much any kid born these days is going to undergo medical treatment or therapy for something; while I realize your eczema is probably severe, I think most people with eczema don’t wish they’d never been born because of it.

      I think it’s always valid to choose not to have children, and maybe that’s where you’ll land. It’s also worth considering exploring those feelings of guilt and culpability (do you think your parents have them about you? Is that something you could talk to them about?), maybe with a professional, to see if you can get some perspective on them. I’ll also say as an adoptee that 1) you absolutely still can eff up your adopted kid and 2) even if you don’t feel genetic guilt, you can suffer plenty about your responsibility for their welfare if you’re inclined toward that. So that’s another reason maybe to dig into this a little before proceeding in any fashion.

      I hope you find a direction that brings you both contentment.

      1. Agnodike*

        I would actually push back against the idea that we abhor eugenics, because in fact we’ve built comprehensive medical and social systems to support eugenic practices. I think what we mainly abhor is that idea that we’re like Nazis, the most famous eugenicists of the 20th century, so we pretend that we find the science of eugenics equally abhorrent. But our cultural fascination with genetic testing – from medical testing to recreational DNA exploration – really speaks to an essentialist understanding of genetics (your genes reflect essentially who you are and your place in the world) as well as an assumption of genetic perfectibility (genetic conditions should be detected and “treated”, i.e. eliminated, prenatally).

        As someone who provides prenatal care, engagement with (in my case state-sponsored, since I practice in Canada) eugenics programs like prenatal screening and testing is something I talk about a lot with patients and colleagues. It’s really pervasive, but we’re all pretending like it’s something from the distant past primarily practiced by bad people, not something we’re actively engaged with in our current (ableist!) society. There are absolutely cases in which the medical establishment uses genetic information to help individuals make the most informed decisions about their health and offer them options for treatments that improve their quality of life. No doubt! But when we’re talking about, for example, screening for Trisomy 21, what we’re really doing is trying to change the genetic makeup of our overall population in a way to make it more in line with an “ideal person” – and what we define as “ideal” certainly looks a lot more like what eugenics was aiming for in the 1930s than it does the inclusive present and future to which our culture pays lip service.

        I think parenting and medical choices are extremely personal and have to be made in a way that reflects each individual family’s values, needs, and resources, and I’m certainly not in a position to tell people how to do that in their individual lives. But we’re kidding ourselves if we don’t think we’re living in a society that values the principles of eugenics as a net positive and devalues the lives of people with physical or intellectual differences.

        1. fposte*

          That’s an interesting take, thanks. I think you make a good point that we consider it eugenics if it’s making a pure Aryan race but parental choice if we choose to terminate a pregnancy.

          1. Agnodike*

            Or choose not to get pregnant at all because of a risk of transmitting genetic conditions, as in the question above! The gap between forced sterilization for eugenic purposes (as the Nazis did) and choosing not to reproduce for eugenic purposes (more common today) is very, very, wide, but both practices are rooted in the same principle: that people with “defective” genetics should not reproduce.

            1. fposte*

              I think there’s more to it than that, though; parental decisions about something like trisomy 21 can be about personal capacity as well as societal opinion. I don’t think that means the latter is irrelevant–look at Denmark, where there’s a lot more support and a lot less medical cost than the U.S. and which is famously trying to eradicate Down syndrome. But I also think that a single low-income parent in the U.S. might have solid reasons belong ableism to choose not to deliver a baby whose medical costs are going to be beyond her imaginable capacity (I’m thinking of hypoplastic left heart syndrome as an example for no particular reason). Obviously the Canadian approach will be different there, and it’s also not necessarily an improvement to say “It’s not eugenics, it’s that you can’t economically have this child and provide the necessary medical costs.”

              1. Scared Anony Health*

                Thanks for this comment especially re: medical costs. I’m worried that should anything happen to either of us, God forbid, what if our future kids can’t afford medical care on their own? We don’t have much family nearby (and the ones we do are not responsible adults or almost-elderly with autoimmune conditions of their own and no job/borderline about to lose their home).

                1. fposte*

                  That question is not going to change with adoption, though. Can you think about why adoption feels like a solution if your kids would still be facing the same problem?

                2. Agnodike*

                  What if you have a perfectly healthy child and then you and your spouse die in a car accident that leaves your child paralyzed and in need of full-time care? What if you have a perfectly healthy baby who is diagnosed in childhood with a serious chronic illness that neither of you has? What if your baby is born with a congenital anomaly that’s not genetically transmitted, like spina bifida?

                  I’m not saying you’re wrong to think about the potential risks and costs here – of course you should, it’s part of contemplating parenthood. I’m just saying that these risks are not risks that can be eliminated if you are the parent of another human being. Something terrible could always happen to your kid, and fundamentally, you can try to make a bunch of contingency plans and do your best to make sure your child is taken care of, but that’s all you can do. Or you can choose not to be a parent.

                3. Not So NewReader*

                  Agreeing with fposte. Every being comes with something that needs extra care.
                  It’s not just about money. Sometimes that extra care just involves huge blocks of time.

                  Do you guys have the bandwidth to take on more? Can you picture your lives busier than your lives are right now?
                  Not the same thing but just food for thought. I am helping my older neighbor who was recently widowed. There are days where I say to myself, I am glad I do not have TWO elderly neighbors who need help. I don’t think I would be able to give two the time and attention they deserve.
                  This is something that is of no cost to me monetarily. I spend time. I spend emotions because this is a dear person to me. And I spend energy, like when her basement is 3 feet deep in water at 9 pm at night.
                  I could not do this for two people. But to just check with my one neighbor is no hardship for me at all. And I totally enjoy her company.
                  Think about what your lives look like now and how much more you can add.

                4. Scared Anony Health*

                  I think I’m worried because the other adults in my life have chronic conditions and don’t take care of themselves. One adult: more or less alcoholic, semi-employed, has celiac but binge-drinks beer and eats wheat despite it ravaging his body. Another adult: doesn’t believe allergies exist and has accidentally gotten another family member sick that way. I feel like nobody in my family will care about the health needs of future kids the way spouse and I will, and it’s the kids who will suffer

                5. fposte*

                  @Scared–okay, that sounds like a bit of a different anxiety, though, that’s more about having the support of extended family in child-rearing. And it doesn’t make any difference whether the kid has your genetics or not–you’re right that your relatives won’t care about the kid’s health the way you do, because that’s a parent obligation. This happens to all kinds of parents whether they have heritable conditions or not, and they draw boundaries, rely on friends, and live their lives.

                6. Ra94*

                  I do think you’re catastrophizing here a little. You’re imagining that your child is born with health issues AND you due AND your partner dies AND their new guardian/the state can’t pay for their medical treatment? A million things could go wrong, including both parents passing away, but medical concerns seem like a very specific focus. (Surely losing both parents would be a horrible tragedy for any kid, regardless of health?) Be responsible, look into life insurance etc and be prepared for contingencies, but this doesn’t seem like a rational reason not to have kids.

              2. Agnodike*

                Absolutely; we make all our decisions at the nexus of a complex array of factors ranging from big-picture cultural beliefs to individual family resources and values. That’s why I say above “I think parenting and medical choices are extremely personal and have to be made in a way that reflects each individual family’s values, needs, and resources, and I’m certainly not in a position to tell people how to do that in their individual lives.” I do think it’s worth examining why the options available to people don’t really extend beyond “pay all costs for this child” or “this child doesn’t exist,” but that’s a different discussion.

                Incidentally, many Canadian families are really struggling with a lack of resources for children with differences, since despite “universal healthcare,” many “add-on services” like OT/PT and other supports for kids with special needs are unfunded, since, you know, we don’t value people with differences in our society. So that’s a different facet of the eugenic argument – there’s a kind of generalized social view that if you choose to have the “wrong” kind of child, you should pay for that, rather than society (in the same way that there’s resistance to funding healthcare for people who have diseases like lung cancer that are perceived to be self-inflicted). Rather than taking the position that we value all kinds of people and believe it’s important to give every family what they need to live well, we provide care and resources proportionately to those we value over those we don’t.

                The economic argument for eugenics on a collective scale has always been part of the discussion, as well – people with differences are perceived to be a burden on the state, which has always been an argument for eliminating them. In the United States, bringing broader economic issues down to the family level and expecting individuals to shoulder the cost personally is de rigeur, so I understand that the situation and the decision look very different for the families who are personally affected. But what we’ve been talking about is whether our culture values or abhors eugenic principles, and the fact that Americans have made the choice to shift the cost for collective cultural values to individual families doesn’t, I think, change the content of the cultural message that’s out there.

                1. Scared Anony Health*

                  To add onto my earlier comment: I feel like nobody in my family will care about the health needs of future kids the way spouse and I will, and it’s the kids who will suffer. If I adopt, sure, they’ll be alone with them. But if they have complex health needs they could die at the hands of family/nearby folks if they’re not as vigilant as us—and that terrifies me the most.

            2. Ann O.*

              You are being super judgy here. Prenatal screening is not about advocating that people with “defective” genetics should not reproduce. It’s about the parents and what capacities they think that they have. There is a huge difference between people being prevented from making a choice that they want to make and people being supported in making a choice that they want to make.

    7. Anonforthisreply*

      My maternal grandmother had diabetes, but I think it was T2 and she also had a stroke in her 80s. My father’s family had lots of heart attacks, and I have asthma and eczema which has flared up on and off over the years. My spouse suffers from depression, and both of his parents had strokes before they died. I also have a very rare circulatory condition so decided not to get pregnant after consulting with specialists. We adopted and our child is physically pretty healthy but has some issues with mental health. Would I have gone through pregnancy if I could have, given the medical histories on both sides? Probably yes. But we are still glad we decided to have a child, and I know that there’s no guarantee that things won’t happen later on that could affect your future children’s health, no matter how they become a part of your family.

    8. Wishing You Well*

      1. I’d have kids if I wanted kids. I wouldn’t if I didn’t. (Please figure out if you really want kids. Your high anxiety might be hiding some other concerns.)
      2. No, but we have congenital blindness in our family.
      3. Sperm donation is unregulated and is a bigger unknown than using Hub’s.
      Please consider seeing a different therapist to map out your anxieties. I don’t think you can do it satisfactorily here. You have anxiety like a lot of future/current parents. Let’s be real: having children is scary. Anything can happen.
      Whatever you decide, I’m hoping for the very best for you and Hubs.

    9. Not A Manager*

      Everyone wants their children’s live to be perfect. Everyone wants to be able to control the uncontrollable. As you point out, none of your options is risk-free, and none of them guarantee a perfect life for your child.

      I strongly disagree with people who are shaming you for even caring, in advance, about your future child’s health. But I also think you are setting unreasonable expectations for yourself if you think that “being a good parent” means GUARANTEEING that your child is completely healthy in every way. And you are setting unreasonable expectations for your child if you think that “being completely healthy in every way” is a precondition for being a happy, productive member of society.

      In addition to the genetics consult, I think you and your husband could benefit from consulting with someone who can help you both talk through some of your expectations and anxieties more generally. What do you think is necessary to live a full, flourishing life? What do you think will happen if *anything* bad happens to your child, not necessarily a genetic condition, but say, a serious bike injury? How do you feel about your own lives now, and your own medical conditions, and how much of that are you projecting onto your future child?

    10. Marzipan*

      You seem very, very concerned with the possibility of a future child having any sort of health problem, and I would really encourage you to do some thinking about why that’s the case – if possible, talking it through with a therapist or similar.

      I can absolutely understand a wish to spare any future child from pain, but some of the things that are worrying you (like having one leg longer than the other) seem to me to be just things that fall on the spectrum of being a person – stuff happens, and we deal with it. As, indeed, is the case even with much more impactful illnesses and disabilities. But it sounds as though for you, at the moment, that thought I’d really frightening, and I’d really recommend exploring that more before making any decisions.

      As someone currently pregnant with a donor-conceived pregnancy (both sperm and eggs, because I am both single and old enough for my own eggs to suck) I am certainly not averse to the idea of donor conception in principle, but to me it seems like a disproportionate reaction to your situation. Bear in mind that a) the recommendation is to be as open as possible with donor-conceived children about their origins and b) even if you were to try to keep donor sperm a secret, there are myriad ways for children to find out anyway, in this fascinating modern age we live in. I’m not sure that the narrative you’d then be sharing with your child would be altogether an easy one (especially if, by chance, they happened to have some health problem of their own).

      With both of the very kind people who have donated to me, I have pretty minimal information about them, and my child won’t get their identifying details until age 18. He (with as much help as I can give him) is going to have to navigate growing up without knowing a lot about his genetic origins, and that’s a complicated thing. And, given how worried you are about the unknowable aspects of potential parenthood already, I would encourage you to think carefully about you would handle the unknowable aspects of donor conception. For example, you mentioned how worrying about possible medical complications meant you ‘weren’t thinking about what your kids would look like’ – I have literally nothing to go by, in terms of what my child might look like.

      If it helps at all, my paternal grandfather was type 1 diabetic, lived to a ripe old age, and none of his three children (nor any other descendant) are diabetic.

      1. Cat*

        My sperm donor baby is five days old and she’s perfect but yeah. I have a profile with self reported family medical history that could be faulty for any number of reasons. I feel ok about this but it’s because I am ok with some uncertainty, not because you can find a sperm donor that will remove that element for you.

        That said, while I think the industry should be better regulated I also think most sperm donor kids are fine, just like most kids in general. We all worry about worst case scenarios and some of them come to pass but most don’t. Having children is always a leap of faith that way.

    11. Christy*

      You are super catastrophizing here. And honestly, you’re doing it in a kind of hurtful way. Yes, sperm donation is ok. One scary article from 7 years ago about a kid ending up with CF doesn’t mean that sperm donation isn’t safe. Sperm donors are, overall, way healthier than the general population (or else the banks wouldn’t pay for their sperm). You don’t know that the two issues you have heard about were even caused by the sperm donor.

      You know about medical treatment. You’d advocate for your kids to get the care they need. You and your husband live fulfilling lives despite your medical issues, right? And frankly, stuff can happen to any kid, even one with perfect genes. You can’t control for everything. (And to be honest, if the idea of a lack of control is so scary, parenting itself is probably not the right path for you.)

      For context I’m a lesbian trying to get pregnant by sperm donation, so I’m probably more sensitive than many on this issue.

    12. Anonymous*

      Based on what you say, and I’m not a doctor, but your kids will likely have allergies or some kind of autoimmune something. This stuff is in the rise generally, it seems. I think you can do low cost common sense preventative things to proactively mitigate this likelihood – no smoking, maximize likelihood of the baby being full-term and delivered vaginally by following probably restrictions and stuff (BUT don’t go crazy!! A lot of this stuff is mediated by chance!!), feed them peanut butter from six months, local honey from a year, mitigate dust in your home, etc.

      In the mean time, I would delve into the studies myself first, to understand the genetic components and known triggers of the diseases. Like, go on pubmed and read. You might find that the uncertainly is much greater around that 10%.

      I think 10% for T1 is not terrible odds, esp relative to, say, 25% for CF. But I didn’t have to make the decision so I have no skin in this advice. Being a parent with a T1 child is challenging – I know one and read other parents’ accounts – but you’d still love him and he’d still go on to do things in the world to make you proud.

      So I’d probably still try for it…. Good luck!!

    13. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      One thing I think is important to point out, is that if you have a family history of a particular ailment, you’ll be much more aware of it manifesting in your children. If you have eczema, and your child breaks out in a rash, you’ll know what it looks like and what OTC lotions help soothe it, and you’ll be able to do that on your own before you visit the doctor for a formal diagnosis and prescription medications. Same with Celiac and diabetes symptoms.

    14. Pato*

      I have t1. Other than me, there’s a second cousin who has the condition.

      As your husband knows, t1 is no picnic. And in many parts of the world it is tragically a death sentence.

      What id say is this: While treatments are constantly improving, t1 is a really challenging disease for caretakers. It’s expensive. Really freaking and unnecessarily expensive. It’s a lot of battling with insurance companies. It’s many many many nights of interrupted sleep. It’s the risk of hospitalizations for things like a stomach bug or even just a persistent cold. It’s a lot of communication with your child’s school- teachers, nurses, administrators… and of course all of that and your loved one’s pain is emotionally draining for caretakers.

      If you decide that you don’t want to risk having a t1 kiddo because of these burdens on caretakers, I would completely and totally understand. It’s really truly a lot. Know this.

      However!! If you decide not to have kids for the kids’ sake because of all the pain and suffering they’ll experience… spare me. Yeah. Some people have it easier than me. Like I said t1 is no picnic. But my life is not just t1. It’s much bigger than a stupid autoimmune disease.

      With t1, I have traveled the world. I’ve hiked in Siberia, I’ve camped in Tanzania. With t1, I graduated college. I work full time. With t1, I’ve dated and with t1 I’ve found a wonderful partner who accepts me and supports me and whom I adore and who gives my life so much richness and beauty. All this I have and all this I do in spite of having a broken pancreas!

      Don’t write off your future kids because you think their lives will be miserable and not worth the pain.

    15. Quandong*

      From everything you’ve written here so far, I strongly recommend that before you make any decisions, you seek out therapy for yourself. I went through mandatory counselling as part of infertility treatments, and it was beneficial to me, even after I already had therapy for other reasons beforehand.

      It sounds like you’re extremely anxious about the health of any future child, biological or adopted. You also seem uncertain whether they will be loved and protected by anybody in your extended family or community. It does look like you expect the worst outcome at every stage, and that you perceive tremendous risks in store for your hypothetical child.

      Honestly there is a lot to unpack in what you’ve posted. The excellent folk of this forum are engaging with you, but I truly think you will be best served by getting support from a professional therapist at this time.

  26. Digley Doowap*

    Ending it his way was an easy cop-out for him and shows his true character. You dodged a life of lies and grief.

    You don’t want to stay with a person like this. Be happy you didn’t waste your life finding this out after 30 years.

  27. AllAlone*

    I’ve torpedoed another friendship with my overbearing ways. I get too pushy or bossy and don’t read clues. I have no idea I’ve done anything wrong until they’ve already put up the distance. I’ve developed social anxiety over the past five years because I don’t know the right things to do and say and apparently lack the instinct or filter in the moment.

    Any time I do something social, I come home and agonize over what I may have said wrong. I’ve started with a therapist who questions if it’s all in my head, meaning I am socially capable I just lack confidence. Nope. I finally asked my roommate, of several years, what was going on because she’s kept me at arms length for more than a year. I thought she was working through stuff but nope, it’s me.

    I would love to date but suck at it. I hurt so much. I’ve always struggled understanding the unsaid stuff or even the said stuff if it isn’t spelled out.

    1. fposte*

      Oh, I’m sorry; that’s very painful. I don’t have a specific resource to recommend, but I’m wondering if some online or print guides that give you specific tracks for improving social skills would be helpful in giving you some specific protocols to follow. I found a bibliography that I’ll post a link to in followup.

      The learning curve varies on social skills, and some people get more teaching in childhood than others, but I think there’s a reasonable chance you could feel more secure if you had some clearer internal guidelines on what to do rather than punished yourself about what not to do.

    2. Fikly*

      Why is it all your fault? Why can’t the other person in this relationship communicate directly, as opposed to just clues?

      A strategy I use is to say to people, I will miss your meaning if you hint at it, please just say directly what you mean. Some people will do this, some won’t. But at that point, the person torpedoing the friendship is them, not me.

    3. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      Do you live in the same geographic region/cultural group where you grew up? Because if you don’t, it’s entirely possible you’re speaking a totally different social “language” than the people you’re associating with now. Moving “back home” wherever that may be, could go pretty far in making you feel more comfortable socializing.

    4. Ra94*

      I’m sorry, this sound really tough and not easy. It sticks out that you’re really internalizing this- blaming yourself for torpedoing a friendship, analysing everything you say after a party- when the actual issue is external. It might feel awkward at first, but I wonder if it’s worth subtly checking in with people in the moment? E.g. instead of beating yourself up silently for being pushy, check in- “Sorry, I realise I just picked the movie without consulting you- do you want to watch this one? Let me know if I’m ever being a little bossy, I can get pushy when I’m excited!” Some people will respond badly to that kind of openness, but they’re probably not your group, anyways.

    5. Sparrow*

      Hi AllAlone,
      I sympathize so much with this. Like you, social skills didn’t come easily to me. I was book smart but not people smart as a kid, and remember feeling hurt and bewildered and alone many times, either because I said the wrong thing, or because I didn’t respond “correctly” to something that was said to me. I worked really hard at being more “normal,” which sort of worked, but basically means my guard is up and I’m very careful, say very little and edit myself a lot in public, and am only relaxed and vulnerable with a small handful of trusted people. That said, I feel like it was a very solitary process- there’s not much support or dialogue about challenges with social skills -and as a child I felt like adults couldn’t relate or help me with it. (Maybe there is more discussion about this in the context of being non-neurotypical/on the autism spectrum in certain corners of the internet these days. I feel that I am fairly neurotypical, but it may be something for you to explore).
      In any case, I am thinking good thoughts for you. I can tell this is painful, and your feelings are vaild. When you are ready, if you can reflect on the conversation with your roommate, or manage to have one more conversation with them, I think that might be helpful. Not just “it’s me,” but what things specifically? If you’ve been “bossy,” where and when does your bossiness show up? When you see your roommate, do you ask how they are and really listen to the answer, or do you talk about your own things? Did you apologize to your roommate, and do you think there’s enough goodwill left that they’d be willing to work with you, and give you gentle feedback on some of the things?
      I hope your therapist will be a good resource for this work- they should be able to help you with the feelings of shame and hurt. They also should adjust their approach now that you have “evidence” that there’s more than a confidence issue at play (not that you should have to prove your problems are real to a therapist, but I am trying to give them the benefit of the doubt). The therapist can also help you identify specific social challenges and strategies to work on them (perhaps role play would be helpful?)
      Captain Awkward has some good advice about social dynamics for us awkward folk that you may find useful
      Overall, this is really hard, but it is not your fault, and is something that you can work on. Please update us and let us know how it goes!

    6. matcha123*

      I don’t know your personality, but if someone spoke to you the way you speak to your friends, would you feel happy about it? Not saying your tone is wrong, but I use that for myself.

  28. Thinking about visiting Iceland*

    I’m considering visiting Iceland in January* for a few days. I’d particularly like to see the Gerðarsafn museum, because they have some contemporary works that look really interesting.

    I’m currently trying to come up with a budget. I plan on leaving from Boston (live in the Northeast), so that I only pay $350 for the flight over and then ~$150 for the flight back.

    I’ve heard people say that Iceland is really expensive in general, so I’m planning on staying at a hostel in Reykjavik. I’ve seen some places with rooms for $40 a night, which would be awesome. I don’t drive, so I’d be taking the bus/walking through town, and I’ve already confirmed that there would be a bus from the airport to Gerðarsafn. This means that I don’t have to worry about car rental fees or gas prices.

    Food seems to be my one blind spot. I went to r/Iceland to do some browsing, and it seems that, if you don’t want to spend a lot of money, you should either shop at Bonus, or rely on any free food the hotel/hostel has. I’ve stayed at a hostel before in Seattle, which had a kitchen and pantry, so I presume there might be food already in the hostel; but if not, I’m planning on getting food exclusively from Bonus.

    For this kind of travel, what do you advise budgeting for food/bus? Thanks!

    *This is also doubling as a late-twentysomething’s-first-long-overseas-international-trip. I’ve flown across the U.S. before, and I’ve taken a couple of trips into Vancouver, BC with my parents when I was younger; but other than the time they took me to France just after I was born, I really haven’t left U.S./Canada. I think this would be a good opportunity to build up confidence in case I have to do this professionally at some point, or even if I just want to do it again.

    1. Fikly*

      That sounds amazing! The only thing that stands out to me as a flag is “for a few days.” Long flights are exhausting, and you are likely to lose more time than you think just to travel. If the flights are the biggest expense, can you set aside a few more days to take your time?

      1. fposte*

        Iceland is weirdly close–it’s only 5 hours from Boston. Still great if Thinking can manage a little longer trip, but it would take her longer to get to Vegas than to Reykjavik, which is kind of a bizarre thought.

        1. Fikly*

          Wow, ok, I did not know it was that short a flight! I would still consider a full day as simply travel on each end, but yeah, less of an issue.

    2. LifeOrDeath*

      I am a native – you can buy a city card valid for 24, 48 or 72 hours for 3900 kr (24), 5500 (48hr) and 6700 (72hr) – in US 40-53 aprox. The card comes with VERY nice freebees like free entrance to the local swimming pools (do not skip a visit to them, we are hooked on our pools like those cute Japanese monkeys)
      https://visitreykjavik.is/city-card/how-it-works

      1. Arts Akimbo*

        Swimming and hot tubbing in Iceland was so great, and I would never have thought to go if I weren’t with a group who knew it was unmissable! :)

    3. Sandy*

      I went to Iceland last year. Everybody warned me about how expensive it is, and it didn’t sink in at all. IT IS SO SO SO EXPENSIVE. Like you will think the prices are typos.

      Even picking things up from Bonus will be pricey. Brace yourself.

      1. only acting normal*

        On the plus side it’s not a tipping culture so you don’t need to add an extra X% to every restaurant/bar/service bill.

      2. Courageous cat*

        Oh wow! What stood out to you? I’d love to hear some examples because now I’m very curious haha

    4. Lalage*

      How healthy do you need/want to eat during the trip? Because, well, that will have an impact on the food budget…
      One thing I like to do is to check on Google maps the surrounding of the place I will stay ( in your case, one or more of the hostels). What shops/ bakeries/ restaurants/ bars are there? It’s usually possible to find out a menu with pricing to understand if it’s affordable or not, which will help particularly the first few days, and just get a feeling for how expensive things are.
      Always a good idea to bring some snacks with you – for the trip, in case you get there late and jet-lagged and hungry, etc (if you have the space in the luggage!)

    5. fposte*

      When I was in Reykjavik I ate mostly grocery store food (my hotel was near a 10-11), bakery stuff, and hot dogs from stands. Unfortunately I don’t remember what my budget was. If you’re counting on food at the hostel, I’d check that in advance, because they vary wildly in what they provide. I walked the whole time and never took a bus (beyond dedicated tours), and that was fine, but it was also in April; January may be a bit more difficult to navigate.

        1. fposte*

          Oh, I didn’t even think about dark–good point! It looks like there are 5-6 hours of sun a day in January there, so factor that into plans.

          1. Cat*

            I went in January and it wasn’t too hard to navigate. There’s more twilight than the 5-6 hours of daylight made it sound like. And I remember everything being well lit.

            We did rent a car which was an adventure. A lot of the roads outside the city were pure ice and the wind was crazy. It wasn’t too much colder than January in Boston though (where I was living at the time.)

        2. Thinking about visiting Iceland*

          Good point. I’m going to try and take a mini-SAD light with me. I grew up in Hawai’i, and I’ve lived in both the PNW and the Northeast for some time, but I haven’t been *that* far north.

    6. Bluebell*

      I took my teen niece to Reykjavik in July and we loved it. Flying from Boston was an easy trip and we managed to stay up after we arrived around 8am. We bought groceries at Bonus, and that definitely saved us money. We didn’t buy a City Card but it looks like a great deal. The municipal pools are terrific- we went to Sundhollin. I also liked the Hafnarhus Art Museum, and the photography museum. Wanted to go to Marshall House which has Olafur Eliasson’s studio, but it was pouring that day!

      1. Thinking about visiting Iceland*

        Omigod Olafur Eliasson!!!!!!!

        I’ve been going down a rabbit hole about him and his mentor-ish, Einar Thorsteinn, over the last several days. I seriously did not know about this. Thank you!

      2. Thinking about visiting Iceland*

        (Sorry for the second reply, forgot this question the first time)

        What would you say a one-person per-diem budget at Bonus would run, and what kinds of things were you grabbing there?

        1. Bluebell*

          Also don’t forget the Harpa is designed partly by OE and you can go in there for free. I think that at Bonus we bought cheese, bread, tea, lettuce, tomatoes, a pack of 4 apples and all of that was maybe under 25? I can’t remember sorry. At least one day go to the Icelandic food restaurant where you can get unlimited soup in a bread bowl. So good and you’ll be full for the day. I did pack meal bars so we could snack on the go. At the art museum they had a free coffee machine- a nice little luxury! The main church often has people practicing on the organ so it’s like a free concert. Enjoy!

          1. Thinking about visiting Iceland*

            Thanks! That sounds like a pretty reasonable budget. A lot cheaper than what you get stateside. Wow.

            1. Bluebell*

              It was def more expensive than in US. One thing that is nice is that they have smaller amounts. There were 4 apples in a styrofoam tray. It’s like the anti-Costco. The box of tea was 5 dollars and it was less expensive than Boston! Pastry at Braud and Co was amazing and not too pricy.

    7. Not A Manager*

      The easiest way to find out about kitchen facilities at various venues is to ask. Send them an email. Almost anyplace will have an electric kettle available for boiling water. Many places will have some kind of shared refrigerator space. If you absolutely require access to a stove or a hot plate, I think you should really check on that upfront.

      If you’re only going for a few days, and if you get to check a bag, you might think about bringing some food with you in your luggage. I’d suggest packaged camping-type stuff. Ramen or instant noodles, packets of tuna, instant oatmeal, etc. Most countries will let you bring in packaged food. Obviously don’t try to bring fresh produce or deli meats.

      Don’t go nuts about it, you’re not preparing to live out of your luggage. (I say this more to myself than to you; I tend to be a bit insecure about access to food.) But most of that stuff is significantly less expensive in the U.S. than anywhere overseas, and it sounds like you’re very price-sensitive right now.

      When you’re in Reykjavik, don’t miss the concert hall, Harpa. It’s really lovely architecture.

      1. Thinking about visiting Iceland*

        Thanks!

        I’ve been thinking about Harpa too. The walls were designed by an architect, Einar Thorsteinn, who was inspired by Buckminster Fuller and Linus Pauling (the latter with regard to crystallography and solid geometry).

        I’m in the middle of a career transition between engineering and computer science, and really want to find ways to combine my math/coding with my art skills. I think looking at an example of a successful combination thereof would really be good for me at this point.

      2. Thinking about visiting Iceland*

        I’ll also work on a list of food to carry on the plane in case things don’t work out $-wise on the ground.

    8. Jackalope*

      If you can do this, here’s my suggestion. When I travel like that I’ll plan to have most of my meals on the cheap, but also budget for 1-2 at decent restaurants. That way I don’t spend too much money but I also get to experience local food and it makes it easier to stick to my budget since I know I’ll have a splurge-y meal a time or two.

    9. Pam*

      You could also throw some food/snacks in your suitcase and bring them along. I did a study abroad in London, and one student brought a bag- back when checked items were free- filled with ramen and snacks.

    10. Arts Akimbo*

      Oh my gosh, I recently was in the Westfjords and I loved it, 10/10 would go back again, want to move to Ísafjörður! <3

      I stayed in a few hostels in Reykjavik, and they were super fun! Reykjavik was expensive, but, I dunno, maybe it speaks to how inflated my home city currently is, it really didn't seem much more expensive than home. Drinking and clubbing is where you spend the most, or eating at restaurants, and if you have to purchase anything resembling luggage or camping supplies you'll pay a ton! If you need a sleeping bag or anything while you're there, consider renting– it's like $1 a day or something. Do be sure to bring a sleeping bag with you, because you will need it if you're staying in the hostels. There's a bring-your-own-linens culture, and you're expected to bring sheets or a sleeping bag, and a pillowcase.

      I 100% agree with those who recommend budgeting for at least a couple of restaurant meals! There is such great food there. But Bonus groceries and street hot dogs will be inexpensive. The hostels will likely *not* have communal food; everyone is expected to bring their own. I got a loaf of bread, a jar of rhubarb jam, a small jar of peanut butter, a head of lettuce, a few tomatoes, a pack of cold cuts, a pack of sliced cheese, carrot sticks and a tub of hummus, and that was my main fare for a whole week! Super cheap. So cheap that I got to splash out on intriguing licorice snacks, fruit and nut bars, hardfiskur, skyr, and good coffee. I wish I had the receipts in front of me to tell you, but if I spent more than $200 on groceries I will be very surprised. I'm sure it was less.

    11. LifeOrDeath*

      Ohh another unmissable thing is The Icelandic punk museum – directions to it seeing as it is underground smack in the middle of Reykjavík:
      The Icelandic Punk Museum

      Bankastræti 2, 101 Reykjavík
      Tel +354 568 2003

    12. Liz*

      I was in Iceland a few years ago. it IS expensive. Mine was for a milestone birthday so i saved and overbudgeted. But jsut to give you an example. I ate out every night. one night i had a grilled chicken sandwich and a glass of wine, $35; another a burger and glass of wine, about that, maybe a bit less. But my general rule of thumb is to have at least the minimum I think i will spend, and maybe a bit more, so i’m not constantly worrying about money and running out of it.

      trip advisor has forums on Iceland, and there’s a ton of info on there. that may give you some better info on cost of food, lodging etc. But its a beautiful place and I HIGHLY recommend it.

  29. Anon Here*

    Friends, I’m moving up. Literally. Up to the apartment on the second floor, which is bigger. It’s a big railroad one bedroom with an extra room behind the bedroom. I’ll have direct access to the backyard, which will be mostly mine. I’ll have a patio in front. A washer and dryer. And a bath tub. And lots of fun old building quirks. And the neighborhood couldn’t be better.

    Now I just need to focus on the Friday part of life. Everything else seems to be falling into place.

    1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      Congratulations! I’m in a similar boat- just got my own place and it’s amazing and I love it. Mine also has fun old building quirks, and big closets too. What’s a railroad apartment?

      It’s so fun to have everything settling into place isn’t it? I recently got a new job too so I’m really excited about all the great changes happening.

      1. Annonno Today*

        A railroad apt. is usually all rooms arranged in a line feeding into one another. Usually the bedroom is at the back.

        1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

          Cool, I have the same thing! Only mine is what they call a shotgun apartment around here, which means the bedroom is not at the back. You have to walk through it to get to the bathroom and kitchen. A bit awkward when I have guests over, but at least I’ll actually clean up my bedroom instead of hiding all the mess in it.

          1. Anon Here*

            Yes, my friends in New Orleans and Baton Rouge had shotgun houses and apartments. I think of it had a Louisiana thing, but I’ve seen them all over the South. (Though, of course, you could be anywhere – not trying to ID your location!)

          2. Chaordic One*

            In one place I lived there were a whole bunch of little one-story houses, almost like townhouses, like this. They were all built in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Some of the houses touched the house next-door to them on one side, but most of them had a space of about 2 to 3 feet between them on both sides.

            There was almost always a front porch, then you’d enter the living room, walk through the bedroom, then into the kitchen and the bathroom was at the very back of the house, usually beside the back porch. I always thought they were weird little houses and that the bedroom should be a dining room.

            1. Anon Here*

              Yeah. I would be tempted to put a bed in the kitchen or sleep on the back porch. I bet people convert the back porches to bedrooms.

              There’s an area here with these really cute one story brownstones. They’re attached to each other like normal row houses, and they have those funny plastic awnings that you see all over Brooklyn and Queens, but they’re TINY. And they all have front and back yards. Is it weird to say I have a crush on that neighborhood and I dream about living there?

          3. Fikly*

            I thought shotgun apartment meant that you could shoot your gun from the front room and the bullet could go out the back door without hitting anything if all the doors were open!

            1. Anon Here*

              That IS what it means! They’re long and narrow. I think railroad apts are basically the same thing but with a regional variation on the name.

        2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          …and now I finally understand that one TMBG lyric about a railroad apartment that never made sense to me as a teen. (There are still plenty of other TMBG lyrics that still don’t make sense to me, of course.)

          I don’t think we have a specific word for that style here.

      2. Merci Dee*

        Sounds like a de-luxe apartment in the sky!

        Hope you have much happiness in your new place! Let us know how you settle in! :)

      3. Anon Here*

        Also, congrats on your new job! I still have some work to do in that area, but I’m making good things happen. One thing at a time.

  30. deep cover*

    I am thinking of doing ancestry.com I can tell from blood type that my father is not my bio parent. I have known for years and am fine with it — but it is definitely not something I can bring up or just ask about (please do not suggest that). Any thoughts on this, especially from a similar situation? Any reasons why I might wish to reconsider? I do not plan to discuss this with anyone at all; I just want to find out. Thank you.

    1. Lucky black cat*

      I would talk to a therapist, if you can – not to discuss the decision you’ve clearly made, but to prepare for how you might handle whatever answer you do or don’t find.

      1. valentine*

        You’ll be opening a can of worms, if not Pandora’s Box. You’ll be essentially providing a sample to police, even if you wouldn’t, say, agree to provide one so they can determine if the person who stole a bicycle is your teen relative. Anyone who matches with you may contact your family, for whatever reason, including to discuss your paternity.

    2. WhoAmI?*

      I’m thinking of doing this! I will eventually. I identify with the … heritage I grew up with. However, my mom is adopted. I am wondering if it turned out I have, say, Jewish roots, or French, after growing up Irish/Polish, if that would create a sense of loss. Or could be really exciting!

      1. tangerineRose*

        I’ve done the Ancestry DNA thing, and so far they’ve changed what they thought my ethnic heritage is twice. So try not to get too attached to whatever they find about that – it might change. To be fair, it hasn’t changed all that much, but some of the changes were surprising.

    3. FuzzFrogs*

      My twin sister did it Ancestry and another one because we were conceived via a sperm donor. From that experience, I can tell you that Ancestry doesn’t always properly label your possible matches–it labeled someone as a “cousin” who was a half-sister, and the donor’s child from his marriage (which caused drama when my sister messaged her). On the other site she got another cousin who was again a half-sister, this time someone who was also conceived via donor. So keep that in mind, that they may not have all the exact facts straight.

      I think with this sort of thing, what you want to know and what you don’t want to know is different for everyone, and I would just say that whatever is best for you is perfectly fine. I decided I was happy to hear what my sister found without taking the test myself (Long story short, we could also be half-sisters, which I..find really weird! I don’t want to be half-sisters with my own twin!). Don’t put any pressure on yourself to find answers you think you’re expected to have if you don’t want them.

    4. Cat lady*

      I am not a geneticist but from what I understand of blood types there are several reasons why your blood type doesn’t seem compatible with your dads other than just him not being your bio dad. Obviously that is one answer but there could be others.

      1. Enough*

        Yeah it’s not as simple as A, B, O and AB. I have one child who is O negative and two who are A positive. My husband (A) and I (O) are both positives.

        1. fposte*

          Blood types are pretty genetically simple, though, and there are plenty of neat little charts online to show inheritance patterns. Your family is straightforward, since O and Rh-negative are both recessive traits. While there are rare weird exceptions, some patterns would be strong indications that there’s a different parent than the one named (AB+ kid with two O- parents, for instance). I’m betting that deep cover has looked at the possibilities.

        2. Cat*

          Just for fun here is the punnett square for you guys:

          ___|O+ | O-|
          A+ |A+O+| A+O-|
          O- |O+O- | O-O- |

          Sorry if the format turns out weird! Top is you (O+O-) left is your husband (A+O-) and the ones in the middle are your potential offspring (A+O+, A+O-, O+O-, O-O-).

    5. fposte*

      I did 23andme (adoptee, as mentioned above) and am considering doing Ancestry. However, I’d still suggest taking it with a massive grain of salt, especially when it comes to named relationships and included genealogical records–consider the findings a pointer, not a declaration, and always ask yourself what mistakes are here and what they’d mean to your conclusions.

      I’d say think while you can if there’s information you’d regret finding. Biodad went to prison for raping your mother? Biodad is an incestuous relative of your mother? Mother not biologically related either? Those are some extreme cases but they’re all things that happen. Though you don’t want to discuss it, can you envision a situation like the one above that would change that, or change how you deal with family?

    6. Fikly*

      FYI, ancestry’s genetic testing is not terribly accurate, for technical reasons. (They’re basically doing it on the cheap, and not replicating the samples enough, which makes it less reliable). So if you are trying to rely on the information, be aware that it is not going to give you an answer you can know is likely right.

        1. Fikly*

          There is vastly more accurate genetic testing out there, but it’s largely disease focused, and done through better labs, and much more expensive.

    7. matcha123*

      You do know that there are many babies born with a blood type that doesn’t match their parents with no cheating involved?

      1. Mimblewimble*

        I was an archivist for several years and often helped people with their genealogy research. Ancestry.com volunteers came each year to scan records for us, too.

        My advice for anyone doing genealogy is to go into it with an open mind as you never know what you’ll find. Family oral histories dong always match up with the historical record.

        Also, keep in mind that there are different types of DNA tests, which trace different genetics. For example, some DNA is only passed through the male or female line, so to get a full DNA profile you’ll want to think about getting any close male-line or female-line descendants tested too.

        Oh and I believe you need an Ancestry account in order to view your results with them. Just something else to keep in mind if you go with them.

      2. fposte*

        It’s not about whether it matches; it’s about whether it falls in the possibilities. It’s true there are weird genetic complications like the Bombay blood type and cis AB that can interfere with Cat’s Punnett square probabilities above, but they are genuinely rare.

  31. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

    I’m in my own apartment! I’m really happy with it and excited to have my own place.

    Anybody have tricks on how to put things on walls without putting holes in them? I want some hooks on the wall but command hooks are so ugly. And I really need a light above the kitchen sink.

    1. JDC*

      The command strips have never not ripped off my drywall FYI. They aren’t supposed to but every time it has.

    2. LittleBeans*

      I bought some rechargeable lights on amazon that are magnetic, and come with stick-on metal strips you can attach them to. For hooks, did you look at all the command options? They have some made of metal that look pretty nice

    3. Lucky black cat*

      What about command strips instead of hooks? You can’t see those – they just go between the wall and whatever you’re attaching to it.

    4. Pippa*

      Sewing maching needles are pretty strong and make a very, very small hole. Once my needles get dull, I set them aside for handing light pictures, etc. The hole is usually small enough to smooth closed with the back of a thumb nail. Some pins work too. The needles may not be the answer to your quest for hooks but most landlords allow a few things to be hung so the needles could be used in other areas to spare your hanging allowance.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      If the place has moldings, you can put hooks up there and drop a wire to the height where you want the picture. I’ve seen people just hide the hole above or in the molding, and I’ve seen hardware that clamps around the molding.,

      1. Clisby*

        Yes, I have picture molding in my 1925 house, and that’s how I hang pictures. I use the kind with hardware that hooks around the molding.

    6. CastIrony*

      I use painter’s tape to hang up paper pictures on the wall (no frames), and I saw something on Pinterest where they put tape over a paper clip on the wall, and put up a picture without frames with a magnet over the paper clip area.

    7. Elf*

      The OOK picture hanging hooks are awesome; they are insanely easy, cheap, reusable, can hold a ton of weight, and only leave a pinhole that could be painted right over or ignored.

  32. Smelly Apartment*

    Thank you to everyone who gave helpful suggestions with marijuana smell coming into my apartment from the neighbors. There were some wild and sad/scary developments. CW for domestic disputes.

    The management narrowed it down to three units it could be coming from based on the duct work. Two of the units are inhabited by people who have been living at the complex much longer than we have and have never had any complaints against them. They also both apparently travel a lot for work so the frequency of the smell doesn’t line up. This leaves the third unit.

    This unit is inhabited by the neighbor we share a wall with, who also works as an office staff member at the complex. He’s been here about 1 month, and apparently our first complaint to management lined up with the weekend he moved in. He had seemed kind of quirky to me, and would answer “how are you?” with “oh you know, missing you…”, which was really uncomfortable (but he apparently did this to everyone including males?). The manager told us he swore up and down that the smell wasn’t from him.

    Unfortunately last weekend at 3am we heard him SCREAMING at a female for upwards of 30 minutes. There was a lot of angry profanity and him trying to goad her into fighting back. We could hear word for word – he very clearly is not stable and I am incredibly uncomfortable that he has access to my phone number and presumably could get into my apartment if he wanted. Luckily the manager is awesome and after speaking to her we have a clear path forward on what to do if we hear anything like this again or smell any more weed. Not a great update, but I hope the woman is able to get somewhere safe and I’m thankful the manager was so responsive.

    1. Anon Here*

      WOAH. Please take extra measures to secure your apartment and stay safe on the complex if this guy still lives or works there. He may know that you said something about the smell. That plus the instability plus him having access to your apt is a worrisome combination.

      I’m glad to hear about the progress. But this has me really concerned.

    2. WellRed*

      How does he have access to your apartment? Surely you don’t all have the same key? As to the domestic, the clearest path is calling the police.

      1. Shiny Infernape*

        He works at the complex do presumably has access to everyone’s keys. Terrifying. I hope you’re ok and he goes quietly.

        1. WellRed*

          I missed that! If he’s smoking pot and screaming at women and generally disturbing paying tenants, I imagine he’ll be fired sooner rather then later. I’m kinda surprised he hasn’t been already.

  33. Caterpie*

    Anyone want to weigh in on some art ethics? I only dabble in a few creative outlets, but I’m curious to know what people think about a situation at my school’s annual art auction. I promise that ‘school’ isn’t the main focus of the topic, just the venue.

    Basically we put on a yearly auction of student (not undergrad), faculty, staff, and local artist work, and a set minimum percent of the proceeds go to a related charity with the artist keeping the rest. Someone submitted a beautiful painting that received a lot of interest, however on the last day of the auction an anonymous person taped up a copy of the ‘original’ with info on where to buy prints from the original artist for a much cheaper price. It seems like the piece at our auction was verrrrry heavily inspired by this other piece. The other piece isn’t ‘famous’, but seems to have gotten a lot of attention on deviantArt and has gotten the artist some online prestige (I’d never seen it before but the original is breathtaking too and I’d like to purchase a print next time I have some disposable income).

    The subjects and backgrounds are identical; it seems like our submission just changed the subject’s hairstyle, colors, and maybe the style is 5% more cartoon-like (not an insult, just my non-expert stylization guess). Is that ethical in the art world? I follow a lot of digital artists and it seems absolutely devastating when work is stolen or used heavily without credit.

    There was no credit to the original artist mentioned anywhere in the submission, and the artist will make a nice bit of cash from the sale. Is it worth bringing to the attention of the organizer, or the person who won and spent a good chunk of money on the piece? Where does inspiration stop and copying begin, especially when profit is involved?

    1. heckofabecca*

      Bring it to the attention of the organizer. It’s plagiarism at worst and shady at best. It’s one thing to recreate, say, a Van Gogh painting with a pop culture figure. Van Gogh isn’t losing any money over it. But essentially copying someone creating today, and not giving proper attribution?? That’s no cool.

      1. FuzzFrogs*

        Agreed–esp. if artist is part of the school, that could be really ethically gnarly.Tell the organizer. The organizer would hopefully be in a better position to talk to the artist, the buyer, and the school, and figure out what happened here and make it right, especially in regards to the money changing hands.

    2. anonforthis*

      I think the response will have to consider the status of the plagiarist. If it’s a student, it sounds like a pretty clear-cut academic honor code violation and the school should know so they can deal with it. If it’s faculty, there are different processes for dealing with it, but it’s also a BFD. If it’s a “friend-of-the-org” community member, the org will almost certainly need to cut ties with that person and never, ever accept work or be associated with them again.
      As for the person who bought the work, I think an explanation and refund are in order, though that’s just my gut feeling, and not based in any precedent.
      Why wasn’t the sale stopped, pending verification of the painting’s originality?

      1. WellRed*

        If the person who bought the painting genuinely loves it, they likely won’t care? (I am not addressing any of the other ethical concerns here).

      2. Reba*

        I think there are several confusing issues here. I’m an artist and have worked in some art sales settings.

        The painting isn’t a “fake” — it’s not purporting to be by the other artist from DeviantArt. If it were, if it had a false signature, then a refund is in order.

        The work is “an original” by the person who submitted in, in the usage of the word used in art sales — it is a hand made work, not a reproduction of a work. (it’s obviously not original in the sense of being a creative new idea, of course.) It doesn’t sound like there was misrepresentation of the facts. It’s just derivative.

        It is certainly not to the highest ethical standard, but it’s also not fraud.

        If the buyer bought it because they like how it looks, they still like how it looks. So I don’t think a refund is needed, although reaching out to the buyer to get their reaction is probably not a bad idea.

        And don’t work with this artist again. I do think there would be a different response needed for a student submission (teachable moment) versus an adult artist (don’t darken our door again because you know better).

        1. Chaordic One*

          Yes, you did put it very well.

          It is pretty well know that most artists have always stolen each others’ ideas. In the past I’ve seen very obviously derivative artwork being described as “in the style of…” or “inspired by…” or “influenced by…” in auction catalogs, which makes it clear that the artwork might not be the most original in concept. That is probably what should have happened, but didn’t, in this situation. Most people wouldn’t know enough about art to know that it was necessarily derivative, but I’ve never seen such artwork sell for an excessive amount of money. Usually, it sells for about the same price as a nice print of the original derived-from artwork.

          If the buyer likes the art, then there really isn’t a problem and since part of the money from the sale is going to charity, that could well be part of the motivation for buying the artwork and paying more than the art is probably worth.

    3. Pyrbennu*

      Just to check, are you sure this isn’t the DeviantArt artist? If they use a screenname on DA it could be them.

  34. BeanCat*

    I’m going to my wedding dress fitting today! My fiancé’s grandmother offered to go with me because she knows I’m not close with my family and I’m very thankful for the family I’m gaining. <3

  35. Anon Here*

    Whining dog update! I forgot to include this in my other post.

    We’ve made some progress. He’s getting more exercise and more play time. Every day, we go for a Run n Play on his extendable leash. I also got him more toys to play with at home. He’s appreciating it. We just had to adjust his workout routine for big city life.

    Now that he’s more satisfied in terms of exercise, he’s interested in learning new phrases. So I’ve taught him, “Quiet time,” and, “Sleepy time,” and, “Go to bed.”

    He sometimes gets some anxiety and needs a cuddle before his bed time. He’ll lie on the couch whining like he’s sad and scared. So I hug him and tell him how much I love him. Then he calms down and goes to sleep. I don’t think he’s purely attention-seeking. I think he really gets anxious about being alone. He always wants to have one paw on me and know that I’m right there and I won’t go away.

    He’s also learned, “Mommy has to go to work,” and, “Mommy has to go to the store.” If I tell him where I’m going and when I’ll be back, he politely lies down on the couch instead of barking and scratching at the door after I leave.

    He’s very smart, and extremely cute too. I’m so lucky to have him as a friend.

    1. Turtlewings*

      Your dog sounds amazing and very smart! I’m glad you figured out what was bothering him and how to calm him down.

    2. M*

      This is wonderful! Congrats on your sweet friend. How did you teach him to be quiet on command? I would like to train my own darling pup to do the same.

      1. Anon Here*

        We’re still working on it, but he knows what “Quiet,” means. When he’s barking or whining constantly, I get out a treat and hold it near his nose while saying, “Quiet.” When he is quiet for a few minutes, he gets the treat.

        However, he’s just started responding to this by licking his lips purposefully when he sees the treat. It’s like he’s saying, “Yeah, I’m training you too. When I smack my lips like this, you give me that treat.” He’s such a funny guy. Kind of sarcastic and full of attitude but nice on the inside, just like his mom.

          1. Anon Here*

            He’s adorable. He gets a lot of attention when we go for walks, and he’s very friendly. But he has that sarcastic smile just like his “mom.” I didn’t know dogs could have such a sense of humor until I met this one.

    3. MOAS*

      Adorable. Also NGL, I started by reading the 4th paragraph and was really wondering if it was a partner, a pet or child. A la scully of Brooklyn 99.

  36. Falling Diphthong*

    Book rant: At the library, picked up a couple of recent mysteries in a series I’d fallen out of. Reading the first one, I was reminded of what put me off the series: making the sidekick a full-blown psychic. (Also, her sister now seems to be a poltergeist?) There are ways to include a psychic element in a mystery that are fun rather than eye-rolling, but in this series it always reads as though the author believes that a fictional character having accurate psychic visions in a fictional universe will serve as evidence of things We Ken Not.

    I was motivated to write this when we finally got to this book’s psychic prediction from the other side and it wasn’t even an elaborate sonnet that will only make sense in retrospect, saving no one and rendering the psychic stuff useless. No, the prediction–I decided this isn’t a spoiler because it’s so ridiculous–is “Don’t go through the door.” Everyone reading this comment could, in six months, think back to how at some point they should not have gone through a literal or metaphorical door and marvel at my psychic predictions being born out in real life.

    The thing is, the rest of the story is quite well constructed–adding a scene in which poltergeist sister makes the radio turn on and off while talking about possible business consulting, and one in which prediction sister tells the heroine not to go through a door, adds absolutely nothing to the story. But there they are, flopping around the plot as “evidence” of the forces we ken not.

    1. Filosofickle*

      Paranormal seems to be popping up more and more. I can handle a little of it, but not much. I just read an Aunt Dimity book, where the lead mystery-solver “talks” to a dead friend by writing in a magic book. It was small enough I didn’t mind but I’m not dying to read another.

      It’s like books these days are being created by Genre Mad Lib. Someone made a list of “things that sell” or “things that women like” — romcom, fantasy, cooking, mystery, shopping, paranormal — then put them in a blender and out popped things like cozy mysteries with recipes and mediums.

      1. Alexandra Lynch*

        I get annoyed when the worldbuilding for the paranormal stuff clearly isn’t thought through properly. It CAN be done well (see Jean Johnson’s romance series for “done well”) but so often let’s stir up funny quirky witch stuff, teehee! and then you spend most of the book trying to catch up and figure out what’s going on.

      2. AcademiaNut*

        Amazon has a lot of this in their ebooks – entire weirdly specific genres. Paranormal/shape changing romances appear to be one of these. I suspect there’s a PhD thesis or two to be obtained analysing the trends and what they say about the human psyche.

        Also – if you’re googling any of the more bizarre micro-genres out of curiosity, do so in an incognito browser, unless you want to spend the next six months with Amazon recommending, say, dinosaur/human erotica. (And no, I did not make that up).

      3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        I suspect that this isn’t entirely a new trend. I remember a filk song from the 80s/90s or so (the tape I had of it was Joe Haldeman singing at a Bayfilk) making fun of this same kind of nonsensical “tropes in a blender” stuff in a SF short story context. I think the song was called “SF Editor’s Lament”.

    2. Fikly*

      I feel like the problem with whatever trope is popular in the moment is that weaker writers choose it to prop up their writing, and stronger writers who might not be particularly good at whatever that trope is feel pressured to add it so as to appeal to the masses.

      It’s lose/lose.

    3. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      My book rant: Why is all the fantasy I can borrow electronically through the library paranormal romance? Ok, not all, but there are an inordinate amount of books with a cheesy pun like “Love Bites” as the title and a guy with his shirt off on the cover. I like romance alright, but I prefer it as a side dish to dragons and magic swords and that sort of thing. And I am Done with a vampire or werewolf for the male lead.

  37. Donut bun*

    I feel like the older I’ve gotten and the less I travel, the more I’m getting…idk? Like.. every year my husband and I travel during thanksgiving to meet his family. It’s an 8 hour road trip for one week. And I usually begin to plan and pack one month before. I have a checklist on my phone. The actual packing takes a day or two but the planning is what drains me.

    For a one week trip, I have 6 bags. 2 for clothes 1 for gifts 1 for snacks to eat on the way 1 for shoes and 1 for medicine, makeup, electronics, books etc… this is only for myself. And this is a place that’s known and familiar. I could literally pop down to Walmart a block away and pick up something If I needed it.

    It’s just like… I literally have to plan ahead so much. If I don’t write down “fork to eat food with on the road trip”. I’ll forget it. I don’t remember ever having to need so many things listed out. Or having to pack so heavy. I get anxiety now if I don’t have my things. Like, it Doesn’t matter that I won’t use all 20 lipsticks n 1 week, I just have to have them just in case.

    Is this some random quirk or what.

    1. heckofabecca*

      Generally speaking, I think needing to be super prepared is a quirk, but I think if you wanted you could ease up on yourself to try and limit all the anxiety you have attached to packing. Happy to offer some (hopefully helpful!) suggestions if you’d like em :)

    2. WellRed*

      Are there you getting more risk averse and therefore won’t take any chances if not having what you need or not being comfortable? So you overplan? And overpack? My mom is definitely exhibiting some anxiety when in the past that was not an issue. I, on the other hand, have learned i can do with much less, as long as I am not headed to some outpost where I can’t pick up what I forgot.

      1. WellRed*

        Also, I don’t think needing to pack 20 lipsticks is a random quirk, but rather, a behavior that needs a closer examination lest it worsen.

        1. Donut bun*

          I mean…I love makeup and all and I like having options

          This is what I struggle with I guess, what’s a harmless quirk/interest/joy Vs what’s a real issue.

          1. lasslisa*

            The rule of thumb is whether or not it’s a problem. How does it feel if you try to pack less? Does all of this packing feel more like a burden or more like a fun thing, do the 20 lipsticks feel like exciting opportunities or like mandatory weights?

            The rule for whether something is a problem is always whether or not it’s a problem. It’s very circular. But the person you have to ask is yourself.

      2. Donut bun*

        Def fear of not being comfortable. 1) I’m a creature of routine and 2) I don’t always have the best time when visiting here for various reasons. So being prepared and having my “things” around calms the anxiety a little bit. But now I have anxiety about needing so much stuff.

        1. lasslisa*

          Does it help if you remember that the stuff is a choice and not a need? If you really feel like the stuff is a need rather than a choice, that sounds really painful.

    3. anonforthis*

      Have you always been a heavy packer/planner? One of my friends, as she’s aged, has gotten to where there is so. much. stuff. that she absolutely must have even for a weekend trip. To be clear, none of it is medically or otherwise necessary and much of it just makes things more difficult. (ie, now you have to haul twice as much crap into a hotel room when you’re just staying overnight). Another friend very rarely travels for similar reasons- can’t live without all this “stuff”, but doesn’t want to pack it, either.
      So, anecdotally speaking, yes it is a thing that happens for some people. Both of these folks are prone to anxiety in other areas of their life. One has a patient husband who will help pack and haul all the necessary stuff. The other just doesn’t travel anymore. Neither has sought to address any underlying issues that might be provoking this tendency.

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

      Not random at all. What you wrote regarding trip planning describes my wife and I to a tee.

    5. fposte*

      You’ve already talked about having a shopping problem; this seems like something that would be related to that. It seems like you have a hard time tripping the “Enough” trigger when it comes to material things (a lot of us can relate). That’s not something that you can magic into being, but maybe a short trip would be a time to experiment. What if you only packed one bag of clothes? What if you packed two snacks? Can you find some non-material goal to look forward to along the way, like a stop to walk in a nice park, to give yourself a different kind of reward?

  38. Victoria, Please*

    Hi y’all, is the “Clean My Mac” tool legitimate and effective? Or am I downloading trouble? Many thanks for any help!

    1. Lizabeth*

      Nope, nope, nope! Type “is Clean My MAC software safe to use” in your browser and read what turns up. Even on the Apple forums they say don’t use it.

    2. Victoria, Please*

      So in this case, how DOES one clean one’s Mac?! How do you clean up and sort out those system files that chew up all the GB’s?

      1. fposte*

        What makes you think you have system files that are chewing up GBs? What’s your computer doing that led you to believe that? (Conflicting extensions are usually the first place to go, FWIW.)

          1. fposte*

            But that’s just about how much is on your Mac. It doesn’t mean that those are interfering with your computer. How many Gb are they using and how big is the drive? What’s your computer doing that’s a problem?

    3. OperaArt*

      I’m puzzled by people saying it’s unsafe and malware. I’m legit curious, not trying to argue.
      I’ve used it successfully for years and it gets good reviews from the major Mac and tech magazines. One I just found said, “ Well, it’s notarized by Apple, has a Safety Database, and is safe enough to earn some serious awards from the Mac community.”

      What issues are people seeing?

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Just the fact that it loads as one of those “Got your browser!!!! The only way out is to click okay! … Or quit. Man, you’re a spoilsport” screams “scam.” Also that it likes to claim it has instantly, the moment the page appears, scanned my computer (how?) and detected these three viruses with scary names.

        When I google it, it comes up as malware. Which everything about the sales tactic (DANGER ALERT Click Okay now!!!!!!!!) indicated.

        1. OperaArt*

          I wonder if we’re talking about the same product. I’ve never seen any of the behavior you’re describing. I’m using CleanMyMac from MacPaw to remove unnecessary files.

          1. Victoria, Please*

            That’s what I was asking about, CMM from MacPaw. ..and you’re right, it doesn’t do those things Falling Diphthong is concerned about.

            Now I’m confused again. :-)

            1. fposte*

              When I Google around, I see some complaints about popups that won’t go away from CMM, but I also see a lot of comments about Mac Cleaner. Could be some cross-confusion, maybe?

          2. Jdc*

            Same. My IT guy who worked for Apple put it on my computer and it’s never been a problem or given me any of that.

    4. Sam Foster*

      Clean My Mac from MacPaw is a legit piece of software that I used for awhile but derived little benefit from. It didn’t have granular enough controls to do what I wanted to do. The one thing I did like was it did try to hunt down remnants of application that deinstalled poorly, which was nice, but, otherwise it ended up not being for me so I didn’t renew after the first year subscription.
      If you are referring to the “About My Mac” – “Storage” tab I wouldn’t worry about that until you have less than 10-20% storage left. At least that used to be a good general rule of thumb.
      Just poking around in there I saw that there is now a manage button there that seems to have possibly useful tools like “Optimize Storage” which removes movies and tv shows you’ve watched and there’s a “Reduce Clutter” feature that might be interesting to explore, it appears to find what it thinks are duplicate files and then gives you the option to delete some?
      My suggestion would be to check out sites like OSXDaily or Macworld for articles about maintaining a Mac and see whether you want to go through the effort of what they recommend. The Apple Community would be a my second-tier research. That’s always tough because there is often a lot more opinion than knowledge shared in those.
      But overall, Macs are pretty good about maintaining themselves so unless Clean My Mac does something super specific that you want it to do I’m not sure I’d try it.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        In my experience (and I’m someone who can poke about in system files and delete stuff and fix things if I do something wrong), you likely don’t need anything this. The biggest thing would be deleting library or preference files for apps you’ve deleted, and that’s not usually enough to be a major problem.

        Shutting down the computer and restarting occasionally is useful – when you restart a lot of temporary files will be cleaned up, although usually not more than a couple of gigs. And having your computer very short on disk space (as in you’ve less than 10 GB free) can make it run very slowly.

        When you look at the about my mac tab, it’s telling you about everything that’s on the computer, and a lot of that is stuff that is needed to actually run the computer. An average user doesn’t need to know about those files, but without them the computer is an expensive paperweight.

          1. fposte*

            So how much are the system files taking up? I’m on a MacBook Pro running 10.13.6 and my system files take up 178 GB. (Weird to remember going through grad school on a computer with 20 Mb.)

          2. Anonymous Educator*

            I would download GrandPerspective (free and open source), and see what exactly is taking up so much disk space.

          3. Sam Foster*

            Look at reducing length of time that Time Machine backups are kept. Look at your iTunes library especially for movies (~4GB each) and tv shows and delete any rentals or things that one can download again. Go through personal files and look for duplicates (do you really need 317 revisions of your resume?) or large files (RAW photos as an example) and potentially move them off to an external hard drive. Empty trash. Clear browser caches. Basically stuff I remember from articles from ages ago, definitely would check for more recent info.

            1. Anonymous Educator*

              Look at reducing length of time that Time Machine backups are kept.

              Aren’t Time Machines kept on an external drive? Shouldn’t take up the actual Mac’s storage.

              Look at your iTunes library especially for movies (~4GB each) and tv shows and delete any rentals or things that one can download again. Go through personal files and look for duplicates (do you really need 317 revisions of your resume?) or large files (RAW photos as an example) and potentially move them off to an external hard drive.

              This is what GrandPerspective is for. Instead of digging around guessing where stuff is taking up space, you let it show you where all the storage is being taken up.

  39. Ali G*

    Thanksgiving prep!! Last shopping day today. Tomorrow I prep mashed potatoes, French onion soup and duxelles for my beef Wellington (I am doing an alternative menu this year).
    I have to make sure to buy some fancy ass rolls today :)

    1. Parenthetically*

      I have to get my turkey out of the freezer today! Dry brining as I always do, so he needs to be prepped Tuesday night. My mom’s doing most of the final shopping today, but I’ll grab the last things (fresh herbs, jalapenos for the cranberry chutney, the vanilla I keep forgetting to buy) during our regular grocery shop tomorrow.

    2. Merci Dee*

      We’re getting ready for Thanksgiving this weekend, and we, too, are doing an alternative menu. My dad asked my mom to make her homemade lasagna for Thanksgiving this year, and I am soooooo excited. My mom’s lasagna is absolutely amazing, but it’s been years since she made it. She uses, like, 5 different kinds of cheese and the most amazing meat sauce.

      Since mom’s handling the main dish, kiddo and I are taking care of everything else. Dad asked us to keep it simple, so we’re going with a mixed salad, some Texas toast, and something for dessert. We initially tossed out the idea of peach cobbler with ice cream, but I’m thinking now that we’ll stay with the Italian theme and make a tiramisu. First time I’ve ever made that, so I’m scoping out recipes. I’m looking forward to making a new dessert and seeing how it turns out! I had great success with last year’s homemade cranberry relish with Granny Smith apples and Grand Marnier, so I’m hoping the tiramisu turns out equally delicious.

      Here’s the cranberry relish recipe I used last year, if anyone is looking for a good recipe. It calls for either Cointreau or Grand Marnier, and I went with the GM because it was a little less expensive. But the results were phenomenal. Don’t forget to pick over your bag of cranberries before you start cooking them. One bad, smooshy berry can ruin the whole batch. Also, if you’re trying to stay away from alcohol, you can squeeze the orange and lemon that you use for the zest, and add enough water to the juices to make up for the half cup of spirits.

      _____________

      Combine one 12-ounce bag cranberries, 1 diced peeled Granny Smith apple, 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup Cointreau or Grand Marnier, 1/2 cup water and 1/4 teaspoon each ground cinnamon and cloves in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the berries start to pop, about 10 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the grated zest of 1 each lemon and orange; chill.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        That’s pretty much exactly how I’ve done my cranberry sauce in the past, with the juice instead of the booze – you can crockpot it too, on low, if that saves you any hassle.

      2. Ali G*

        Lasagne is a great idea! We actually thought about it too, but I had this beautiful 3 lb whole beef tenderloin in the freezer and I couldn’t resist.

        1. Merci Dee*

          My mom’s going to make the lasagna on Wednesday and let it sit in the fridge overnight so we can re-heat on Thursday. Her recipe is fabulous any time you eat it, but it’s phenomenal on the second day. So I’m really looking forward to Thanksgiving lunch this year. :P~~~~ (drool, drool, drool)

    3. Zephy*

      I’m on pie duty this year! Apple and pecan were requested. I like to spiralize my apples rather than chop them into big chunks for apple pie; I feel like you get more apple per bite and the pieces cook much more evenly. I thought about getting vanilla ice cream to serve with, but given that it’s Thanksgiving, that feels a bit like gilding the (delicious) lily. And they’ll be served cold, anyway.

      I’m also taking over Grandma’s corn pudding, which is midcentury American “Cooking” at its finest: combine four canned foods in a dish and bake it, there u go good job u cooked. (For the curious: one box Jiffy cornbread mix, 1 can whole-kernel corn, 1 can creamed corn, 8oz sour cream. 350 for 30 minutes IIRC. It’s delicious but it also feels like cheating, lol.)

      1. GoryDetails*

        Zephy, I love your line about “midcentury American “Cooking” at its finest: combine four canned foods in a dish and bake it” – I recall so many church-social casseroles that fit this precisely! But I admit I am now really craving that corn pudding… it wasn’t among my family’s traditional dishes (we went more for the things that required condensed mushroom soup). I may give it a try!

        1. Zephy*

          Grandma submitted her corn pudding “recipe” to the church cookbook, which is full of similar things. So, you know, very on-brand.

          You should definitely make it. It keeps a good long while in the fridge, reheats well but also tastes just as good cold. The creamed corn and sour cream help to mitigate the natural inclination of the cornbread to crumble if you look at it too hard.

    4. LQ*

      I got assigned some kind of dessert. I decided with 10 out of the 35 people bringing desserts which we will be eating AFTER we go to a buffet where they will have desserts. I’m bringing something I’m going to love. Little tiny 2 bite cranberry-apple tarts, free form and very tart. I spent a bunch of time fussing about should I make a frosting or something to sweeten them up but decided, screw it. This way if I have leftovers I will have no concern about taking them home and having them with tea for the next 3 days. :)

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m going to my inlaws and have been asked to bring salad. I’m also going to attempt mamoul (a molded Syrian cookie). I decided not to try and surprise my MIL, I asked her for her favorite recipe.
      But I grew up with an Italian sister in law and was already getting nostalgic for her lasagna when Glove&Boots popped up in my feed talking about Italian-American Thanksgiving…. link in the reply.

      1. Ali G*

        I’m doing a simple salad: spinach and mixed greens, red onion, granny smith apple, pepitas (I would use nuts but I have a tree nut allergy), and maybe some sort of cheese. Homemade dressing – pretty much lemon juice, olive oil, dried parsley, garlic, salt & pepper. It’s pretty innocuous!

  40. Anonymous today :(*

    So, this is a super embarrassing problem for me. Certainly not life threatening or anything and I’m ashamed to even be so emotional about this, because I have so much to be grateful for, otherwise. I have female pattern baldness on the top of my head for the last ten years or so. All my life, my hair has been my crowning glory. I have been working with a dermatologist who prescribed fineasteride, which hasn’t grown new hair, but kept the thinning in check for the last couple of years. Wearing my hair in a certain way has kept my scalp concealed until now. This summer has been super stressful for me, though. I injured myself, which is taking a long time to heal, my SO got devastating news about his health and I’m overwhelmed at the office. I noticed a few weeks ago that my crown seems to be thinning again. It’s getting harder to cover the shiny scalp. My hairdresser is very kind and tells me this is a super common condition among women, but I’m just really bummed. I just had my annual physical with my GP, so I don’t think there is anything seriously wrong with me. I have an appointment with my dermatologist in a month (he is booked this time of year) to see if there is anything else I can do. I’m not holding my breath. Two years ago, he said the drug I’m on is kind of the last resort. Any other women have this condition? What did you do? Wigs? So superficial, I know and my dear husband is so supportive, but this really sucks.

    1. anon too*

      I have the same problem. You are not alone! I saw a few dermatologists (hoping to get a different answer…) but in the end, really all they suggested was Rogaine. I tried the generic version of Rogaine foam, but it eventually made my scalp so itchy that I had to discontinue it (on the plus side, the foam seemed to dye my hair?? I only had a few gray hairs, but they all disappeared!)

      Back at the dermatologist, they said people often reacted differently to other Rogaine formulations, so I tried the liquid generic version, and that’s what I’ve been using the last few years. I buy the men’s formation but just use it once a day rather than twice as a man would. No itchiness (and no gray hair cover-up, alas), and it seems to have stopped the visible thinning. My hair didn’t really grow back but now my hair just looks thin and limp rather than balding, so I’ll take it.

      But it’s really frustrating. I already decided I would have to get a really good wig if the Rogaine stops working. Options are limited. Men can just shave their head and go around like that as a last resort but I’m not sure I can.

      1. Anonymous today :(*

        Thanks for your kind comments! I feel so vain being so upset by this. I tried romaine, both the women’s and men’s versions, but all they do is make my hair greasy. And I had the itchiness problem, too. So glad I am not alone.

        1. anon too*

          Did you try different formulations? The liquid version (5% solution – NOT the foam) is what I use now, and it does not make me itchy. And it seems to have helped my hair actually grow back a bit, not just stop the thinning.

          I’m not usually vain at all but I was also really upset by this. Even now i don’t talk to anyone about it except a few very very close friends. So i totally get how you feel!! I hope you find something that helps.

    2. MMB*

      I don’t have any personal experience with this problem but Wendy at dearwendy has a rare form of alopecia and there’s quite a bit of information about it in one of her posts as well as a few discussions with other readers experiencing the same thing if you’d like to try multiple resources.

    3. Reba*

      I am so sorry you’re dealing with this on top of everything else. I don’t have alopecia, but looking at my family, I know there’s a good chance this is in my future. I worry about it because I am really vain about my hair :) Best wishes for finding a treatment.

    4. Anon today too*

      I have this. My derm prescribed spironolactone. I just started taking it so not sure yet how it will work. He also said rogaine works better for women but I haven’t tried that yet. I am not sure why but the idea of rogaine makes me nervous.

      1. Anonymous today :(*

        Maybe I will have that option given to me when I see the dermatologist next month. I’ll get reading up on that drug!

        1. Anon today too*

          I hope you find something that works! Just as a side note, I see an endocrinologist for a different reason and he also cosigned the spironolactone for hair loss. Figured I should mention that because it affects hormones they might have an endocrinologist sign off on it too.

    5. Anon Here*

      I’m sorry you’re going through this! Friends of mine have gotten into wigs and hair extensions. It would probably take some experimenting to find something comfortable and decent quality, but changing up your hair color every day could be fun.

      1. Anonymous today :(*

        Oh yeah. Thyroid is normal. But good suggestion. Maybe there could be another reason that the dr will suggest testing for.

    6. coffee cup*

      My friend Emma runs a blog called Lady Alopecia. It’s well worth checking out. She’s awesome, and she’s bound to have some advice and resources for you.

    7. Filosofickle*

      Oh, that sounds stressful for you. It’s ok to be emotional!

      Right now there’s a rising “body positivity” movement. I dearly hope this idea expands beyond weight and into other appearance aspects like skin and hair. We all feel so judged in the world about things we can’t control, when what we all need most is to feel beautiful just as we are.

      1. Anonymous today :(*

        This is so kind! Yes, we really do need to accept people (and ourselves) how we are. I needed this.

    8. Zephy*

      I’ve struggled with thinning hair for probably the last 15 years or so. Last year for Christmas, an esthetician friend of the family gifted me a year’s supply of a supplement called Viviscal Pro. My hair is still pretty thin–definitely not as thick as it was when I was young–but it’s visibly less so than it was at the beginning of 2019. I don’t know if that’s an option available to you, but you might ask your derm or your GP about it, see what they think.

      1. Anonymous today :(*

        I’ve never heard of this. I will definitely ask him about using it! Your experience with it is encouraging.

    9. Relly*

      This isn’t superficial. Don’t judge yourself so harshly. You love your hair, and you’re losing it. Allow yourself space to grieve that.

      (Also, my hair is my one good feature. If I were losing it, I would seriously Not Be Okay. So have some sympathy and Jedi hugs from me, if either of those are welcome.)

    10. WS*

      I presume the GP did full blood panels? I was severely hypothyroid and my very thick hair first stopped growing and then started falling out. Estrogen and testosterone levels can also be relevant.

      1. Natalie*

        A good friend’s thinning hair turned out to be caused by her previously undiagnosed Celiac disease.

    11. M*

      I had thinning hair at the temples (my doctor said it was “traction alopecia”) and had good results from daily doses of Biotin and Rogaine (I bought it at Walmart and it was pretty affordable).

    12. ...*

      Taking the Viviscal supplement helped me deal with a crazy bout of shedding. Also fish oil supplement. The Regenepure system also seemed to help with my scalp irritation. I’m not sure if your scalp is irritated but it might help? Other than that people say simple Minodoxil is really the best to help. Those are my suggestions I hope they help.

      1. Anonymous today :(*

        I am going to look this supplement up! Thank you all for your kind comments. I feel so much better knowing there are people out there who get my sadness at losing my hair. It doesn’t always bother me too badly, but sometimes I have “hair mares” where I’ve lost most of it and it puts me in a bad mood all day. I am encouraged that there may be some new therapies available when I see the dr next month. Thanks again kind people!

    13. LuJessMin*

      I have alopecia, and have worn wigs for nearly 30 years. There are a lot of really nice ones out there that aren’t terribly expensive (I just bought a new one for less than $200).

    14. Take control*

      Have you thought about shaving off your hair and going bald intentionally ?

      Taking control of your hair loss that way might be good for your mental health. Depending on how your friends and colleagues react. Donating your hair to someone who makes wings for cancer patients, if that’s an option, gives you a way to explain what happened without mentioning your hair loss, mitigating some hostile reactions.

      And a wig remains an option if you change your mind later.

      1. Anonymous today :(*

        Shaving my head might be too extreme for me, but boy, if I were the type who wanted to stand out (I definitely am not), that’s the way I’d go! You did give me a chuckle, though. I work in a very conservative industry. But, yeah I do need to get a handle on accepting this condition and making the best of it.

        Seriously, though, there are people who do lose their hair because of horrible illness instead of stupid genetics/menopause, whatever. I actually donated a two-foot long braid of my hair to Locks of Love when I was younger and had my below waist length hair cut as a young woman.

        Thanks to all who gave such gentle advice and suggestions. I don’t feel so alone.

    15. Jdc*

      Even my hairdresser has this. She’s doing an new thing where they use your plasma and next into your scalp. Perhaps worth looking into. It’s not silly. I don’t have the baldness but very thin hair and I’m very self conscious about it. You don’t have to be a supermodel but we all want to feel good. They do make toppers as well just for this. Not a full wig you just clip it on top.

    16. Courageous cat*

      I have a rare form of alopecia that presents like yours does. Get a scalp biopsy – you treat different kinds of alopecia differently. My hair has always been the love of my life so it’s been a very difficult time for me, but I’m holding out hope that I’ll get rich enough to afford a hair transplant one day.

  41. Back Scrubber*

    I thought someone posted on the open thread a few weeks/months ago about some kind of fabric thing to use in the shower, to get all the hard to reach spots. It was specifically mentioned as something that also dried out in between uses.

    I am probably using all the wrong keywords, but I haven’t been able to find this post in the search! Does anyone remember it and can send me a link? Or does anyone have any specific suggestions?

    We were using a back scrubbing brush that we leave in the shower but I just realized it stinks like mold/mildew, so that has to go. We also have a problem with towels getting stinky with the same smell so we really need something that will dry out fully in between uses, and can be tossed into the washing machine weekly. Please save us from the stink!

    1. Dancing Otter*

      Do you knit or crochet? I recently made myself a back scrubber using Scrubbie Sparkle yarn. It’s really just a long strip about six inches wide, and I added loops at the ends for hanging. I ball it up in my hand for places other than my back.

      It turned out much softer when wet than I expected from the feel of the yarn in the skein. Since it’s loosely knit, rather than tightly woven, it dries quickly. Maybe that’s being 100% polyester rather than cotton? Anyway, it goes through the washing machine just fine, though I think polyester is less likely to mildew than plant fibers like cotton or loofah.

      If you don’t knit or crochet, I think you could make a braid with a lot of strands of the yarn.

    2. WellRed*

      I posted a year ago about what to get my mom. Ended up finding a scrubber thing with a cushion that I believe can be tossed into washer. For your towels, if they are mildewed you might need to replace. But sometimes it’s not mildew, but cheap detergent that leaves a similar smell.

      1. Filosofickle*

        These are good! Japanese exfoliator towel thingies. They don’t hold water at all, so much less icky.

      2. NewReadingGlasses*

        Ah! I have one of these. It’s completely synthetic, doesn’t hold water. Just rinse it well after use, maybe flick it around to fling some water out (wringing it doesn’t do anything, it’s not squishy).

    3. Sometimes Always Never*

      It sounds like you need more ventilation in your bathroom. Is a bathroom fan a possibility? Or a small dehumidifier? A drier bathroom is easier to keep clean, your towels and the scrubber thing won’t get mildewed, and likely healthier, too. But I’ve rented some apartments where there wasn’t much I could do, and I think it affected my asthma.

    4. IntoTheSarchasm*

      That was me but I believe someone else provided the name – Salux. I buy them from Amazon. I think the different colors are different levels of exfoliating power but I can’t tell the difference and all packaging is in Japanese. They soften up over time but are not expensive. I use them with regular liquid soap.

    5. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I have had good luck getting funk out of my towels by soaking them in vinegar (and then rinsing them out with water) before washing them. (I don’t know what the funk specifically was, but I think it came home on my hands from a hotel where the hand towels in my bathroom smelled a certain way, because my home towels took on the same aroma after that convention. A solid round of vinegar seems to have cleared it up, except that I then re-infected everything a month or two later because I forgot about a certain towel the first time around. Second time’s the charm.)

      If your bathroom has poor ventilation, you can also make a habit of taking your towels out of the bathroom to dry. Make sure everything is dry enough not to drip, and you can spread them on a drying rack in a different room (or out on a patio) instead.

      Personally, I’ve invested in a big pile of cheap washcloths, so I can use a fresh one each day and still do laundry only once a week. 7 or 8 washcloths rather than 1 aren’t enough to be the tipping point for needing to run another load of laundry in my particular case, so it was basically a “free” upgrade in terms of ongoing costs once I’d spent the initial $20 or so buying a bunch of washcloths on sale. (Someone will probably have a good deal a multi-pack of washcloths over the holiday season.)

  42. Foila*

    Hi there hive mind, I’m hoping someone out there has relevant experience:
    I’m going to a stadium concert in June, but it’s not in a stadium, it sounds more like a sports field. I’ve never been to an event like this before, how does it work? If I show up early is there any way to reserve spots in the…field? How do I not lose my buddy? How much jostling should I expect? I don’t mind, but if it’s a lot I’d wear contacts so I don’t lose my glasses.
    Thanks!

    1. WellRed*

      Is it general admission or reserved seating? Is it a band that attracts a young group of crowd surfers or a more sedate audience? Is it likely to be sold out or a sparser crowd. Will it be really hot or is the temp more moderate where you are?

      1. Foila*

        It’s general admission. This is a band that routinely sells out 40k seats, though I can’t tell if this venue is that big. It’s in a smaller city that I guess doesn’t have a stadium, so the venue is not usually used for concerts. Definitely some crowd surfing! I don’t expect it to be too hot, it’s in Northern Europe.

        1. WellRed*

          The closer to the stage, the tighter it gets. Make sure you and buddy are on same page about how close you want to be. Have a place to meet up afterwards in the event you do get separated. Hold onto each other if moving through a crowd. Stay hydrated. Wear your contacts. Most important: have fun. warning: If you are female, you may be groped (sorry, but best be prepared). Signed, former stadium rock chick.

      2. Lemonish*

        If you’re willing to stand more to the side than the centre, you’ll possibly have the best of both worlds in that you can get fairly close while still being not entirely hemmed in. The downside is that you lose some visibility of a section of the stage. And you sometimes can actually feel the pulse of the bass until the sound gets balanced (this is a plus for some, a minus for others :)).

        Also, you can Google the venue and its standing/pitch capacity so you get an idea of what to expect.

        1. Foila*

          Thanks, that makes a lot of sense! That might be the strategy for us. Bass is good! If you queue earlier do you get more choice about where to stand?

          My googling of this venue has been weirdly uninformative, unless you want to use it for soccer practice.

          1. Sam I Am*

            If it’s general admission and without seating, you can stand wherever you want, but the closer to the stage the more tightly packed it will be as other attendees come in. If it’s GA with seats, then you’ll be able to protect your space somewhat.
            I don’t really like the crush of being close to the stage, but have wanted to check out some acts up close and personal, so I’ll go in early, get close, stay there for as long as I like, then move back or to the side where there’s more space; I like to be able to dance and a tight crowd can make that tough. Moving to the side, away from the center line, will give you more space but take away from the symmetrical view of the stage. Depends on what you like. Have fun!

  43. Lauren*

    I’m going to Toronto next week! I want to go to the Royal Ontario museum, Kensington market, Chinatown, Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, and some other places. Is there anything else that I should see? Also, any food recommendations are appreciated as well!

    1. spock*

      I really liked the Bata Shoe Museum. The Lockhart would be a fun bar to visit if you like Harry Potter. And if you have time, a day trip to Niagra Falls is worth it any time of year imo, I went when it was like -15c and still had a blast.

      1. Felicia*

        I was going to recommend Storm Crow Manor if you’re any kind of nerd and their butterbeer is the best in the city.

    2. Kira*

      Powwow in Kensington market has delicious food! Mother’s Dumplings in Chinatown. High Park is beautiful. Roncesvalles is a great strip to walk around (and near High Park).

    3. Toronto Lover*

      The Art Gallery of Ontario is an absolute must! The Bata Shoe Museum is a real treat. For food, I recommend The Carbon Bar on Queen Street. I still dream about the Tomato Mushroom Ragout and Grits!

    4. Felicia*

      Casa Loma because it feels like a castle and itll be all decorated for Christmas! Also the Distillery district for general fun place reason and their really cool Christmas market that’s on now.

    5. Ra94*

      I stayed in the Trinity Bellwoods area when I visited Toronto this summer and loved how much there was to do. Had a really great meal and beer at the Bellwoods Brewery, and Bang Bang was worth the wait for earl grey ice cream in a bubble waffle.

    6. Els*

      We went to Toronto in September, and there were some nice restaurants and a pub in Elm street. I liked particularly the Elm Tree restaurant. For coffee there is Jimmy’s (after Jim Morrison, Jimmy Hendrix, or whichever Jim you like). If the wheather is nice, you can take a ferry to Toronto Island and you will have a marvelous view of the Toronto skyline. If you need to relax and destress: visit the aquarium in the evening.

    7. Tomacco*

      Do you cook or will you be staying somewhere with a kitchen? If so, the St. Lawrence Market is a good place to visit. The Toronto Christmas Market in the Distillery District is open too, if that’s a holiday that you celebrate. (Avoid Friday nights). Grab a Now Magazine (or look it up online) for weekly listings. If you like films, the TIFF Bell Lightbox is a really nice place to watch movies (excellent sound etc.) If the weather is nice and you’d like to walk around a bit a walk around Cabbagetown is nice: it’s a neighbourhood of restored Victorian/Edwardian houses and cottages, with a lovely cemetery (The Necropolis) and a farm (Riverdale Farm). If the weather is cold enough there’s good skating at Nathan Philips Square, Harbourfront and The Bentway. There may also be stuff to do down in the Don Valley at the Evergreen Brickworks. If you’re in the Chintatown area and need to warm up inside for a bit you could grab coffee or a bite to eat and then check out the shops and galleries in the 401 Richmond building. The Junction is one of my favourite neighbourhoods: good shops, bars, cafes (The Sidekick is a comic book shop/cafe that opened up) etc.

      Some completely random food recommendations at places my friends and I like to go to:
      True True Diner
      The Caledonian (Scottish gastro pub with a fantastic Scotch selection and tasting flights)
      Santouku Ramen
      Manpuku (tasty, super cheap Japanese eats next to the Art Gallery of Ontario)
      Rasta Pasta (Jamaican Italian food in Kensington, very few seats)
      Bar Isabel
      Maha’s Egyptian Brunch
      SoSo Supper Club
      Le Swan

  44. Rebecca*

    Happy Saturday from sunny but cold Central PA! I’m spending my morning unf***ing my habitat, doing laundry, etc. and enjoying my cats, who never run out of silly things to do that amuse me. Last weekend I visited my daughter and son in law, it was SO NICE to get away!

    I’m starting to poke around up on my floor in the storage areas to see what I can find, OMG, what a mess…every closet, drawer, closet, storage space is filled with, well, stuff. Just random stuff. Drawers full of mom’s “notebooks”, handwritten notes, medical stuff, pamphlets from the 1970’s and 1980’s about whatever health woo was popular then, bill copies from decades ago, endless wicker baskets for flower arrangements (she gave that up over 25 years ago), old fabric, patterns, etc. I’d love to get a dumpster and just start dumping, but she won’t let me get rid of anything, but at the same time, she’s all “I have so much to do, I want out of here, I can’t leave until this mess is taken care of”, but she just spins her wheels, dithers, and does nothing. Whatever – I’m over it, and just going to control what I can control.

    So – I did find my Dad’s high school football letter sweater, his high school diploma, and I know where his yearbook is. I hope to frame it somehow or put it in some sort of keepsake box. I found a few other things too, like his original social security card. I’m going to put these things together in one spot as I gather them so I can keep a few things as momentos.

    And, I discovered how the light post in the yard was wired – literally, there is a heavy wire coming through the wall in the garage underneath the house, and Dad put in an outlet to plug it in manually. I bought a wifi outlet adapter so if I want to turn on the light, I don’t have to go to a dark corner of the garage to plug it in. I’m going to clean the glass and upgrade the light bulb from the dim 40 watt bulb that Mom allowed years ago to something brighter. I really feel a sense of accomplishment, and it makes me think of how ingenious Dad was, I mean, some of the things weren’t the easiest to figure out, but he got the job done. And thanks to my neighbor for her help with troubleshooting the motion detector light outside, too. It works again! I thought we’d have to replace it, and it probably should be updated to an LED and/or solar option, but for now, it’s nice to have a light pop on when I pull into the driveway.

    My 40th high school class reunion is coming up next year, so I joined the planning committee, found all 6 yearbooks from 7th – 12th grade, and updated my profile on our class’s website. It was nice to see old friends! Plus, it gives me something to think about, reconnect with old friends, maybe meet new ones, that type of thing.

    Hope everyone is well – I’m not liking the “dark days” but candles and lights help quite a bit! I ordered candles from Bath and Body works on Oct 20, they’re still not here, the arrival date keeps moving out, and the tracking number doesn’t track on the UPS site. I left them a 1 star review and said, either get these to me or cancel the order and refund my card. Maybe that will get someone’s attention.

    Other than the mama drama, everything else is good. My divorce has been final for 1 year now, and I am so much happier and more relaxed. It’s like I can exhale now.

    1. Enough*

      Re: mom’s stuff. Could you just remove one item at a time? It obviously would take forever but even 1 or 2 items less over time would be helpful.

      1. Rebecca*

        I think that’s a good idea. I need to just start moving things from upstairs to the basement, and when I take the next load of stuff to the landfill, toss it in.

        1. Anonymous*

          And also, assuming your mom doesn’t go upstairs (on your floor) anymore , can you just fill a couple upstairs wastebaskets with old papers (brochures, old bills etc.) each week, and just quietly add them to the weekly trash bag?

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            You’ll be doing her quite a favor if you find things like stock purchase records (before dot.com bust, that was the only record of your capital investment ), warranties, or receipts for major home improvements (are those still deductible when you sell a house?)

      2. All Hail Queen Sally*

        This is how we cleaned out my parent’s garage. My father was a hoarder (limited to the garage) and neither one was healthy enough to go out there due to mobility issues. It took forever, but they never noticed.

      3. Filosofickle*

        It’s worth a try. OTOH, I did that when visiting my grandmother (just before her dementia got so bad we had to move her) and she noticed and complained to my parents about it. Yes, I threw out some five-year old magazines stacked up in the laundry room while she was sleeping. I regret nothing!

    2. Dan*

      RE: the divorce thing

      Happy to hear that’s done with and you’re happy. (It’s a relief, isn’t it?) Apparently my ex is up to her old tricks, and the debt collector has been calling various family members of mine inquiring about her potential where-abouts.

      The one who called me last week needed to “discuss a business matter” with her (debt collectors are allowed to call people who know you, but they cannot say they are collecting a debt.) In my best “oh you poor thing” tone of voice that I could muster, I said, “I wish you the best of luck.” I was surprised when she said “thank you” and hung up. I expected a little bit more prodding.

      1. Rebecca*

        It is a relief! I expect the same thing with debt collectors at some point. It’s already happened a few times, and I just said “no idea, we’re divorced, so I can’t help you” and hung up. Glad I know about the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

    3. Anon time*

      For the candles, I’d follow up directly with the company. I’m sure they have a customer service number. Leaving a review unfortunately doesn’t seem like it does anything- I think typically those divisions aren’t really connected. Good luck!

    4. Mimmy*

      Is it possible the candles are on backorder and it’s taking them longer than expected to rebuild inventory? Agree with Anon Time, though, that you should call the place directly.

      1. Rebecca*

        Thanks Mimmy and Anon Time – I emailed Customer service back on the original “oh hey, your order shipped” email. I said, you know, it’s been a month, this is sort of ridiculous, you charged my card, where are my candles? Got an email back – in less than 12 hours, stating that another order is on its way to me.

        I suspect something got “stuck” someplace in the system, a UPS label was lost, probably a human shipping error. There’s probably someone out there with 4 odd aroma candles saying “I didn’t order this?? Where is my hand soap??”

    5. NoLongerYoung*

      Sending you a high five on the divorce-aversary. Yours was the first story line I followed on here, and you were so inspirational. I am sending you empowering hugs. And memorizing the debt collector info.
      I’m thinking that a stack underneath laundry in the basket every trip to the basement, wouldn’t be bad either. And, of course, if you shred some of “your” bills and stuff, it’s nearly impossible to identify as actually being from 1963, unless the paper is yellowed. LOL. I recently spent a couple hours shredding checks that pre-dated our relationship, and a file cabinet of invoice documentation from his small business from
      1991. Fun times.

  45. Tabby Baltimore*

    I know this is going to sound ridiculous, but, judging from the photos I’ve seen of the cats over the last several months, I have to say that it looks like Wallace really loves his mom.

    1. Windchime*

      I thought the same thing when I saw the picture. They look so cuddly together and it looks like he is now bigger than her.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        He’s now the biggest cat in the house! The other three are all nine pounds and he is 12 pounds (and I think still filling out). It has definitely helped him feel more confident around Eve, because he’s figured out he could take her.

  46. Parenthetically*

    Thanksgiving menu thread! For those who are celebrating, whatcha makin?

    We stick with simple and classic: turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, Brussels, cranberry relish, rolls, pumpkin pie and pecan pie. We are all very good in the kitchen so they’re all versions as superlative as we can make them.

    How about you?

    1. Not A Manager*

      Mushroom pate, turkey and gravy, two kinds of stuffing, two kinds of cranberry sauce, spinach souffle, candied yams. We are going nuts with the homemade desserts this year: pumpkin pie (can’t stand it myself), apple custard tart, cherry pie, ginger ice cream, peppermint ice cream, salted caramel ice cream, chocolate fudge sauce.

      This is because my husband and I both love to cook, and everyone in the family has some traditional thing that they are insistent on.

        1. Not A Manager*

          The apple custard tart comes from Mastering the Art of French cooking. You blind bake the crust, put the seasoned apples into it and bake them a little bit, and then pour over a custard mix that is basically cream, sugar, an egg and some flour. Bake until custard puffs.

          My husband make a cranberry sauce that is frozen sweet cherries, marsala, cranberries, and rosemary. The recipe is on Epicurious.

          The other cranberry dish is really a relish. I think the recipe is on the back of the Ocean Spray bag. It’s a bag of cranberries, some sugar, and a seedless orange. Grind it all up in a food processor. (I actually peel the zest off in strips, and then cut the pith off the flesh and discard the pith, using only the zest and the orange flesh. Otherwise the relish is sometimes bitter.) I think people sometimes put in almonds or liqueurs, but I never have.

          If you’d like any of the recipes posted on here, let me know.

          1. Parenthetically*

            Thank you! The apples this year have been particularly nice so I may do that one for a post thanksgiving dessert!

            I make a similar cranberry relish based on a recipe of my grandmother’s and it’s gorgeous. Cranberries, toasted pecans, a whole Meyer lemon (seeded), and a whole mandarin, plus sugar.

        2. Auntie Social*

          We have cheater’s cranberries. The local posh grocery does beautiful fresh cranberries. I add 18 oz jar of Smucker’s orange marmalade. Sooooo perfect. I’ve never told the in-laws what my secret is, and they think I’ve been cooking for days. Great-grandfather was Dr. Jeter (very close to cheater) so they think it’s an old family recipe. Ha!

      1. Ali G*

        Can you share the recipe for mushroom pate? I would love to have that on hand for my veggie friends (not vegan). Your menu is awesome!

    2. Zephy*

      Our usual spread includes a turkey, probably ham and/or lamb; mashed potatoes; green beans with slivered almonds; cranberry sauce; stuffing; corn pudding; some cheap-ass rolls brown-n-serve rolls; a jello salad of some kind; deviled eggs; roasted root vegetables; date-nut bread; and an assortment of pies. I’m on pie duty, bringing apple and pecan to the party. I also get to make the corn pudding this year.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Oh corn pudding! If we were having more guests, that would be the next dish. (And we’re doing Rhodes rolls, just one small step up from cheap-ass!)

    3. Clisby*

      Making nothing. We’re driving down to Gainesville, FL to spend Thanksgiving with our graduate-student daughter. She’s ordered most of the dinner from Whole Foods and is making a few things. We’re bringing beer, wine, soft drinks and planet-crushing paper plates, etc., so there’s almost no washing up afterward. We’ll also get to see our niece, who’s stationed with the Air Force in Florida.

      We volunteered to take everybody out to a restaurant with a good Thanksgiving buffet, but my daughter wanted leftovers – so Whole Foods it is.

        1. Jdc*

          Whole Foods for lunch is like heaven for me. Their cakes are so gorgeous. So miss living where is a Whole Foods.

    4. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      Gluten free dairy free brownies, chocolate chip pumpkin bread, Mac & cheese, slow-cooker chili

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I don’t know–it’ll be at my brother’s house probably. I don’t have a kitchen currently, and without my stuff (cookbooks, pans, etc.) I can’t think of anything to make.

      I could just bring some cheap ass rolls, lol.

    6. Ali G*

      We are doing a non-traditional menu this year:
      French onion soup
      Beef Wellington
      Roasted brussel sprouts
      Mashed potatoes
      Spinach salad (pepitas, onion, cheese, homemade dressing)
      Take and bake cheap ass rolls
      My MIL brings apple cake for dessert
      My SIL brings shrimp cocktail and deviled egg for apps

    7. LuJessMin*

      My sister and I are having a low-tech Dinner – roast chicken from Sam’s, instant mashed potatoes, jarred gravy, canned cranberry sauce, pie from Village Inn.

    8. Anon time*

      Making cranberry chutney with garlic, ginger, and shallots. Kinda want to add jalapeno but there are little kids so probably skipping that this year.

      Also green bean casserole, a yummy version using frozen green beans, baby bella mushrooms, and an easy cream sauce (using milk & cream cheese), and of course those classic fried onions. It’s from Budget Bytes and is delicious!

      And finally, steaming some green beans and pan frying them to finish with olive oil, garlic, sprinkle of lemon, almonds. That’s an alternative to the casserole since we have a couple dairy free people.

      If we didn’t have a young kid and I had more time I’d do more (we’ve made a gravy in the past from Ina garten with sage and onions that was super involved, and delicious, and I also love making roasted potatoes using the method of boiling them, bashing them about a bit, and then roasting them so there are plenty of crispy bits).. but no time this year. Maybe eventually!

    9. nonegiven*

      Turkey, dressing, giblet gravy, ice box rolls, deviled eggs, chocolate cream meringue pie, and raisin cream meringue pie.
      I’m also nuking ready made mashed potatoes and opening cans of corn, green beans, sweet potatoes, and cranberry sauce.
      I’ll pick up some salad mix and tomato. Mom is bringing fruit salad and some kind of pie or cobbler.

    1. Princesa Zelda*

      It was great! The best moment for me was Ez’s reaction to Callum and Reyla on the Spire. “Whaaaaa” indeed.

  47. Gifts for the Middle-Aged*

    My husband has asked for a juicer for Christmas. Any one have any recommendations? What sort of features do you consider crucial?

    My husband loves gadgets and smoothies, so I guess that’s why he wants a juicer. I think he’ll use it about 3 times max, so if anyone has any brilliant ideas for going in a different gift direction, I am all ears. (Last year, I got him tickets to see his favourite band and also tickets to see a comedy troupe he enjoys, but sadly I haven’t seen any concert/show announcements he’d enjoy.)

    1. Call me St. Vincent*

      You can literally have mine! Got as a wedding registry gift (a super nice one from Williams Sonoma). We have used it maybe 4 times in 6 years of marriage. It just takes up space. I think it’s a Breville.

      1. Gifts for the Middle Aged*

        That’s exactly what I’m concerned about!

        I might need to find the sweet spot between functionality and low price because this just does not seem like a regularly usable gift.

        1. Call me St. Vincent*

          A really good blender or food processor could be good? I feel like there are juicer attachments for food processors and maybe for the kitchen aid mixer? The kitchen aid is something I use all the time!

    2. Cruciatus*

      Are there juicers that are also something else? Like a food processor/juicer or juicer/blender? This would obviously only be useful if one or both of you would use the other half but if he stopped making juice then maybe you’d still at least be able to make hummus or milkshakes.

      If you’re still looking to go another direction can you get him an experience? Rock climbing, escape room, murder mystery, ax throwing, awesome restaurant gift certificate? Or maybe a subscription box to something (snacks, shaving, murder box–there are even tech subscription boxes, but this may not be the direction you want to go!)

      1. Gifts for the Middle Aged*

        Funny enough, he’s just after buying me a Cuisinart Food Processor. *facepalm* I don’t think it does juices though.

        Thanks for reminding me about general experiences. I am going to have to give that one some thought. I’ve gotten him a snack subscription for a birthday before and he loved that.

  48. Notinstafamous*

    Any good Christmas movie recommendations? Planning a movie marathon next weekend. Have seen Love Actually, Elf, and the Holiday too many times to count and need other options! Have all of the standard streaming services.

    1. WellRed*

      Christmas Story. Christmas Vacation. Christmas with the Cranks. Can you tell I have real high brow tastes?

      1. Scarlet Magnolias*

        I second Christmas Story, it’s not really Christmas season until I hear “Daddy’s gonna kill Ralphie” and my favorite movie mom soothing him.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        So is Gremlins. :)
        For serious Christmas movies, I’m all about the original “Miracle on 30th Street.”

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Serious nesting fail, this was in response to Sprechenzietalk’s Die Hard recommendation.

    2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas… if you have kids. Man that played non-stop on HBO back in the day…

    3. Merci Dee*

      I really like the animated Disney’s
      A Christmas Carol that Jim Carrey did all the voices for. The animation for the movie is just amazing, and it’s always spooky to me when Ebenezer is sitting alone in his room at night, hears commotion coming up the stairs…. and then Marley throws his ghostly chains through the walls of the chamber, and Scrooge sees just what is in store for him if he doesn’t change his ways.

      I love A Christmas Carol, anyway. It’s such a classic.

    4. All Hail Queen Sally*

      My traditional favoites:
      A Christmas Carol (1951 Alastair Sim version)
      Christmas in Connecticut (1945 Barbara Stanwyk version)
      Miracle on 34th Street (1947 Maureen O’Hara version)
      More recent favorites (all romances):
      The Christmas Card (2006)
      A Boyfriend for Christmas (2003)
      If You Believe (1999)
      Hitched for the Holidays (2012)

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I got to see his one-man show on Broadway …. probably my favorite theater performance I’ve ever seen.

      2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        I think the Christmas Carol-adjacent one I’ve seen the most times is Scrooged, but I haven’t seen it in over a decade so I can’t verify that it’s aged well.

        My family’s go-to favorite Christmas special is A Claymation Christmas Celebration, but I have no idea if that’s available streaming. Growing up, we watched it as a taped-off-the-air Beta tape, and at some point a DVD version was released and we upgraded to that. It’s mostly religious-Christmas rather than secular-Christmas if that’s an issue for you – it’s a bunch of animated shorts of various Christmas songs, most of which are traditional carols and thus religious in nature (things like We Three Kings or Joy to the World). It’s not actively preachy and my atheist father loves it and watches it every year, though.

        Other common Christmas specials to re-watch around here are the Peanuts special and the Garfield special. We have both of those on DVD after upgrading from the over-the-air Beta tapes at some point as well so I have no idea if they’re available streaming.

        Given access to lots of streaming services, you could also try and string together Christmas Episodes of various TV shows if that sounds fun to you. I can’t think of any particularly good ones offhand, though.

    5. Lizabeth*

      The three Grinch movies?
      Original Grinch animated show
      Jim Carry Grinch live action, lots of fun…
      Animated Grinch with Benedict Cumberbatch as the Grinch

    6. Elizabeth West*

      Definitely A Christmas Story, Home Alone, and Die Hard if you can find it. But I also always watch Edward Scissorhands.

    7. Earthwalker*

      I save reruns of Harry Potter and the Narnia series for Christmas. Christmas appears in both tangentially and the holiday is such a great time to be a kid and watch kid movies.

    8. Llellayena*

      White Christmas
      Last Holiday
      At some point I should buy Patrick Stewart’s A Christmas Carol. I have a (cassette) tape of him reading the book which I love. I should upgrade the format…

    9. Mimmy*

      Our annual favorites:

      -A Christmas Story (I think I’ve watched it every single year since it came to television)
      -Grinch (Jim Carrey version)
      -Elf
      -National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (more my husband’s favorite)

    10. Honoria*

      On the Second Day of Christmas–Mary Stuart Masterson is a pickpocket duo with a little kid, they get caught in a store and, because it’s Cristmas, sent home for the holiday with the cute security guard, a very young Mark Ruffallo. Such ridiculous. many cheese. Also with David Hewlett (Stargate Atlantis) as her ex, a pickpocket in a Santa Suit. I actually bought the dvd.

  49. OyHiOh*

    My sister really is a very talented woman. In the reply, see photo album link to the memory stuffie she did for my dinosaur obsessed dragon. She started from a creature branded for a certain popular movie franchinse involving dinosaurs, and added fabric from one of Mr. Oy’s flannel shirts. It’s beautiful.

    For fourteen years, I avoided any kind of discussion or conversation that might lead to Mr Oy and I discovering we disagreed with each other. Although we always argued and fought “clean” (stick to the immediate issue/not dredging up past hurt, words only, leave the room if you need to), I always walked away from arguments feeling like I’d been found in the wrong. Partly that was my own internal life – the weight of depression, anxiety, and crushing lack of confidence in myself – and partly, it was that Mr. Oy using his retired master sergeant skills for the worse rather than the better. So I avoided everything that could possibly get contentious, even incredibly low stakes things like a new philosophical concept I’d just run across for the first time.

    I’ve been forced to think about that mental habit of avoidance over and over again in the past week, as Neptune and I have come up against concepts where, due to differences in experience and education, we really disagree. Every time, it’s been a fairly low stakes thing – a matter of belief, a philosophical concept, order of priority in creative projects we’re both working on – and it feels very strange how different the conversational pattern is with him. We’re going along having a perfectly lovely conversation, discover a disagreement, hash that out, and then with never a raised voice or strong word, continue on to the next thing. It’s a pattern I Am Not Used To and remarkably revealing.

    I’d intended to be a NaNo Rebel this year (NaNoWriMo – national novel writing month) and set similar word goals but blaze through a bunch of writing appointments that have been hanging out in my files for up to a couple of years. With various chaos, hangups, and delays in other areas, that much writing simply isn’t getting done. But in this past week, three things that I wanted to sketch out enough to copyright the characters and plot did get done and I absolutely love them. The characters are funny and compelling and the plots approach familiar concepts from brand new angles. Trying to name age old fears without relying on Cold War era devices. They’re interesting challenges and I’m excited to see how they develop.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Very cool on the new conversation pattern. I always thought watch what a person does when things get a little tough and I could kind of figure how they would handle really difficult situations.

    2. NoLongerYoung*

      Great dinosaur, and how very special that your sis made it from Mr Oy’s shirt…it makes it a keepsake. (when my stepfather died, they took 4 of his favorite plaid shirts and made pillows of them, one for each child).

      And very nice to hear the encouraging steps with Neptune. Sounds like a great interaction pattern. You are definitely doing some new boundaries and are inspiring….

      1. OyHiOh*

        The afternoon after Mr Oy’s funeral, my sister and a friend (whom we call Friend-not-my-sister because at the funeral reception about six people asked if she was my sister, while my actual sister was across the street at the park with all the small children) pulled Mr Oy’s side of the closet out into the bedroom and sorted it. We ended up with a box of things I couldn’t decide what to do with (still in storage), a giant pile of donations, and half a suitcase of shirts she took home. In that photo link, the pic of a child sitting on a quilt – the quilt is made from t shirts she took home that day. She’s working on a set of t shirt animals, the dinosaur is just the first of three. So many hearts for a talented woman!

  50. Penny*

    What do you do to occupy your time while you’re laid up in bed? I’m not in bedrest but I’ve broken my leg and will have at least four weeks of minimal movement. I’ve got TV/movies, books, podcasts, and cross stitching. Any other ideas? Especially for crafts I could learn in bed, if I ordered supplies online.

      1. Mimosa Jones*

        And pictures! Get all your digital photos organized and backed-up. There will be deals on printed photo books at places like Shutterfly if you’d like to create an album or calendar or other thing. Or organize printed photos and put them in albums or other storage.

        1. Pamela Adams*

          I spent 3 months non-weight bearing, due to foot surgery. I read lots of books, did upper-body workouts, and learned to “walk” the dogs from a wheelchair.

          Oh yeah, and I got to level 1000 in Candy Crush! Awe