weekend free-for-all – November 9-10, 2019

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

Book recommendation of the week: Nothing to See Here, by Kevin Wilson. A 20something woman whose life hasn’t gone as planned moves to Tennessee to help take care of her friend’s twins, who their politician dad wants kept out of the public eye because they happen to burst into flames whenever they get upset. One of my favorite books of the year!

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

{ 1,381 comments… read them below }

  1. LGC*

    I’m up super early, so…I might as well talk about running, I guess! (Apologies to the rest of the commentariat.)

    The bad news is that I lost one of my favorite running gloves. The good news is that NYC went…amazingly, and it was the first time I actually paced a marathon properly. I’ll spare you the details in this post because I can go on literally all day, but if anyone wants to know what it’s like, I got deets. (It involves hopping out of a chartered bus in the middle of a traffic jam to start.)

    Oddly enough, I ran exactly the same time as I did last year – down to the second. It’s still my PR, so I can’t complain too much about it.

    1. LGC*

      (By the way, that was an invitation to AMA. I’ve done it twice. I’m going to do this to myself again next year. HMU.)

    2. Shocked Pikachu*

      WOW, great job !!! And this comes from me, the queen of lazy marathoners. I pretty much run, walk, run, walk as I feel like it. That’s why it takes me 6 hours to finish it :) Bit honestly, I am lazy person in nature, kind of sitting with a book and cup of tea and reading and reading person. So the fact I actually move forward for few hours straight is in itself a miracle.
      So big congrats on NYC :)

      1. LGC*

        Don’t hate me for this (for perspective, I ran under 3 hours this year), but I actually think it’s more impressive to finish a marathon after 6 hours or longer. I mean, my day was over around 12:30. The 6-hour guys didn’t finish until…like 5 PM. (For New York, you don’t get to sleep in.) That’s a really long time to be outside and moving forward!

        My cousin mentioned that one of her friends was running as well. She finished in 7 hours. And since NYC is the day we fall back to standard time, it was dark for the final hour.)

        1. Shocked Pikachu*

          Hate you ? I want to hug you :) I have been pushing myself little more lately. Got treadmill and it’s helping a lot. I am actually aiming to run Prague Marathon virtually ( I mean not gonna be fast but I want to run it all) And I think on treadmill ,which is much gentler on my knees, I can do it. I mentioned before I have this chronic health condition which can bring out all sort of other problems, and exercising helps. I just luck the drive to be competitive. My goal is to move without hurting myself. BTW – any runners out there loosing their toenails ? I have two that I keep recycling, black, lose, grew new, black …. I have tried different shoes and different shoes and those two just keep going at it.

          1. Grace*

            I don’t run, but I’ve lost toenails (both little toes) to bad hiking socks, and honestly? Once they’re damaged, in my experience, that’s just how they are. Every so often, even when I’ve done nothing to them, one of my little toenails will just… fall off. In bed or in the shower or something. It doesn’t hurt, and sometimes I don’t even notice it. I’ve damaged the nail bed, and if it hasn’t repaired itself yet after a decade, it probably never will.

          2. JobHunter*

            Yikes, I have never lost a toenail. I have gotten blood blisters on the bottom of my feet because of too-cushy shoes. I run in minimalist shoes with zero drop now.

        2. Lady Jay*

          Yeah, I think of this sometimes. I’m average-to-fast (ran my marathon in sub-4, and have placed in a handful of small races) but then I get to be DONE and relaxing, while other people are still out chugging away. The grit it takes to just keep moving is impressive.

        3. Third or Nothing!*

          You have the exact right attitude! I burn over 1,000 calories on my long runs just from being out there so long. For my first half on Saturday I burned 1,500 over 4 1/2 hours (got injured out there and had to limp over half the course, good times). It takes a lot of willpower to keep going when you’re using up that much energy. It takes even more willpower to do so when all the cheering crowds have left and you’re out there alone.

    3. londonedit*

      Awesome, congratulations!

      I’ve been suffering with a cold and hadn’t run for 10 days, but I did parkrun this morning (usual call for anyone who doesn’t know the amazingness of parkrun to check out parkrun dot org to discover how incredible it is) and despite having felt rubbish for the last two weeks I managed to come in just under 27 minutes, 26:57, which just about counts towards my goal of consistently staying in the 26s. The aim now is to get back into my regular running routine – I was down to 26:11 two weeks ago before this flipping cold ruined things, so I’d like to get back there as soon as I can!

        1. londonedit*

          Oh, sorry, it’s parkrun dot org dot uk for the UK website, got confused. Anyway it’s easy enough to Google.

    4. A bit of a saga*

      Congrats on your New York marathon – I watched most of it with my 4-year old. She wanted to know where I was in the crowd so I don’t think she really understood the concept. I was in Lisbon for work most of this week and took the opportunity to go for a sightseeing run with a guide. It’s also known as the city of 7 hills so I was pretty beat after 10 km. Londonedit – I wish I lived in a place that did Parkrun, love the concept. Alas, we’re not even on the list of places they’re looking into when I last enquired.

      1. londonedit*

        Yeah, it’s a huge undertaking setting up a parkrun, let alone being the first one in a new country or area. Because it’s all staffed by volunteers you need a serious core contingent of people who are willing to turn up every week to put the event on, and enough runners to make it worthwhile. It’s absolutely huge in the UK but it all started here and we’ve had 15 years of it getting bigger and bigger, especially in cities where you’ve got loads of people readily available. And even then a lot of parkruns struggle to get enough volunteers to safely put on the event every week. It is a fantastic concept, though, and I love being involved with my local ones!

        1. A bit of a saga*

          I know! I actually contacted them with a view to helping setting it up – I’m in a major city but we have two official languages and everything must, by law, be done in both so apparently that was one of the things that put them off (because it’s double up for the website, etc as well). I did get to do one this summer when I visited my parents and hopefully it’ll catch on here at some point too.

      2. LGC*

        Oh man, what time were you out and where were you at? You might have seen me – I was…pretty hard to miss. (I was a really tall guy with black and pink socks.)

        1. A bit of a saga*

          I watched it on tv – we’re in Europe! But I do really want to go and run it myself one day. For now, I’m trying to get into Berlin in 2020.

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

      Awesome! To complete a marathon under three hours at all is phenomenal. To do it at a perfect pace is incredible! The bus story sounds perfectly plausible. So many people, so much traffic! The last time I ran NYC, I took an early shuttle bus from the SI Ferry and *still* got nervous that there was no way we were going to fight through the traffic near Fort Wadsworth to get us to the start on time.

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

        Also, how funny is it that you finished at the *exact* same time as last year! I’ve always wanted to do that, for some reason. I’ve come within seconds, but I’ve never once duplicated a time from a previous race.

      2. LGC*

        I HAVE STORIES

        I took a charter bus from my town (advantages to living in a small town with multiple NYRR clubs based there: this), and we ended up stuck in traffic. Eventually, we had to get out and walk down to Fort Wadsworth. And by get out, I mean we walked out the bus on the expressway (fortunately, traffic was at a standstill). It was kind of wild.

        It was a bit stressful – I knew I was going to be there on time, but I like having a couple of hours to settle my nerves. (And to do bag check – I didn’t do it this year, which was a blessing.) I didn’t even have time to grab a hat this year.

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

          You walked on the Staten Island Expressway. Wild! Hopefully this was in the breakdown lane. Depending on where on the highway traffic ground to a halt, I’m imagining that being quite a walk.

          Since you skipped bag check, were you able to escape from Central Park immediately after the finish, and not have to do the long, slow crawl to the baggage pickup? Last time I ran the marathon, I didn’t have a bag either, but the NYRR personnel would not let me leave the park. I had injured my quadriceps (on top of the normal rigors of running 26.2 miles) and that endless shuffle in a massive crowd was absolute agony.

          1. LGC*

            We happened to be right by the ramp, so it wasn’t too bad! (And right by the breakdown lane, which made it even safer.) It was still a bit of a hike, though – but it wasn’t terrible. It was actually more of a goat rodeo when we got into the start because there were tens of thousands of people there already and I already have problems getting myself oriented – I was trying to remember how to find my way around from last year and it was just CHAOS.

            (One of my friends actually saw me from the TfK bus, apparently!)

            There’s another advantage to finishing faster than 3 hours: it’s a relative breeze to get out. By the time I finished, less than 1000 people had finished overall out of 53,000 (although 1000 would have been not too far behind me). From what I’ve heard, the median finish time is somewhere around 4 hours (so I think about what you would have run), and because of that it goes sideways. It’s still a pretty long walk, though. It wasn’t as bad as last year, but I also felt a lot better this year.

            The worst part about the poncho exit is that it is a lie. The signs say you can leave at 77th and then you get up and it’s like, “LOL NO WALK ANOTHER FIVE BLOCKS” and I was like, “yo fred why you do me like this :(”

            (Final note: I am a Strava junkie. Apparently, the 5th Ave. hill is called “Bad Fred Lebow, BAD!” This is now my new favorite segment name, usurping “Dodging The Rich White Folks.”)

    6. Lady Jay*

      Oh, is this our running thread, then. Fun to have it at the top. :)

      I ran a 25K trail run this am! 3 hours, 1 minute, and change. It was a little chilly (especially in the valleys, where the sun couldn’t reach) but *so* pretty this time of year.

      Now I’m home, washed and eating breakfast at . . . 12.45 PM, lol.

    7. coffee cup*

      Amazing! I don’t think I’ll ever run a marathon. I did run my fastest 5k the other weekend, though, which really pleased me.

    8. Ktelzbeth*

      Congratulations on the race! Give us the deets!

      I raced three weekends in a row in October. The first was a 10k trail run that I ran with a couple of friends who have a similar pace. It was maybe a little slower than if I pushed myself as hard as I could by myself, but the goal was to get out and have the socializing. The next weekend was a road 10k that I finished in just over an hour, which was amazing for me. I’d spent the summer hoping to get my 5k under 30 minutes, but never did, mostly because I only ran them in connection with triathlons, not any standalone. To wrap it up, I decided at the last minute to enter the 20k on the same course as the trail 10k. There were also 30 and 50k options, but that seemed like a little too much to bite off days before the race. My 20k time was less than twice my 10k time, which impressed me.

      Now, I’m not sure what’s next. I’m signed up for a half in the spring, but that’s a long time off.

      1. Beaded Librarian*

        Triathlon is so much any awesome races in your area. I always tell people to do Loveland Lake to Lake Triathlon personally.

    9. Nacho*

      It’s hard for me to run now that it’s getting cold. My legs always hurt even during short jogs. I’ve taken to hitting the gym for a quick half mile on the treadmill after work, so hopefully I can keep in shape until spring.

    10. LGC*

      Okay, self-answering because there’s a couple of things that I wanted to touch on. And by that: I’m writing a novel about the race experience. I think after doing NYC twice, I’ve settled on describing the race as one sleepover followed by five block parties.

      Pre-Race

      My big regret is not doing the top yet. (Long-term goal: get into the sub-elite field. That’s only…20 minutes away, about.)

      Of the major marathons, I’ve only done New York and Boston so far (I might do Chicago next year). Of the races…I much prefer the New York pre-race experience – you have bagels and coffee at the pre-race experience, the famous Dunkin’ Donuts hats (which I missed out on this year)…it’s actually kind of nice.

      The only problem is – you’re stuck outside. Both last year and this year, this wasn’t a problem since the weather was great. (It was a bit chilly this year, but I got there much later so it wasn’t that bad.)

      Course

      You get weirdness – my least favorite part of the course is Williamsburg, because there are so many people that cross – it’s one thing to run a marathon at sub-7:00/mi pace, it’s another to do it while dodging three little girls being sent by their dad (sir, if you’re reading this: can you not next year) – but in general, I like the quiet parts of the course because they make the loud parts that much more intense. (There is nothing like dropping off the Queensboro and almost running face-first into someone in your training group leaned over the barricade and screaming your name in your face.)

      I love the Bronx out of sentimentality, but I really love coming over the Madison Ave. Bridge back into Manhattan. And not just because I have an aunt that lives right there, so my family was out there! 5th Avenue is notorious (and will probably break you your first time – it broke me last year, but I tore it up this year), but Harlem is the most riotous part of the course by FAR.

      Post-Race

      This year, I opted not to do bag check – in NYC, you have the option to forgo bag check and get a poncho instead. This garment is literally the most amazing thing in existence. I would sleep in it every night if I didn’t feel weird about doing so. The other advantage is that you get to exit at 77th Street as opposed to 81st/85th (so a few blocks early), but what they don’t tell you is that you then have to walk back down to 72nd to actually get the Poncho Of Justice and get out of the park. (Needless to say, I was pretty mad about that!) What made it a bit better is that I met up with one of my friends who’d finished less than 3 minutes behind me – I’m a pretty slow walker, apparently!

      The huge flex, though, was heading back up to my aunt’s. Quite a few heads turned when I rolled up in running clothes and (again) my new favorite garment ever – if you’re able to watch the race afterwards, do it because people will treat you like a damn celebrity. (Including the police – shout out to the officer on 135th who pointed me in the right direction!)

          1. Majestik Moose*

            Haha, you’re not the only one. I thought it was a shiny new post modern art that’s in a museum somewhere. And made a mental note to Google it sometime.

        1. Short Time Lurker Komo*

          If you click on the picture, it goes to a separate page so you can see the file name, and Alison usually has the cat’s name and something about the picture. Sophie-In-Hammock is this week! Last week was Olive-Wants-Something.

  2. Glinda*

    Weighted Blankets – Yes or No?

    Good morning!

    My sister has fibromyalgia and a host of other things that keep her in almost constant pain. (arthritis, PCOS, acid reflux, frequent migraines, plus she has restless leg syndrome)

    I’m wondering if anyone has tried a weighted blanket and if it helped relieve any symptoms. They’re a bit pricier than my usual spend for her for Christmas, but if it will give her some relief on her bad days, I will do the splurge.

    Thanks!

    1. Everdene*

      A friend made me one a couple of years ago and I love it! I can’t use it just now and miss it. Definitely helped me sleep and sleep better than without it.

    2. Ann Onny Muss*

      I have a weighted blanket but I use it for insomnia, not pain relief. I can report it worked well for the insomnia. I’m curious how it helps with pain relief. My mom has severe back pain, so am now wondering if a weightex blanket might help.

    3. Fikly*

      I have both sensory issues and joint/chronic pain issues! (and so much more)

      When the blanket is in place I adore it. BUT, moving into place can be painful. Does she have someone who can put it on her? If not, it may be too heavy, but you can also try one of the ones on the lighter side if it’s returnable.

    4. misspiggy*

      If she’s anything like I am as a fibromyalgia sufferer, it could make things worse. Make sure it’s easily returnable?

      Magnesium bath flakes could be a good gift.

      1. Chaordic One*

        I’ve heard about magnesium bath flakes. Of course, a nice warm bath almost always makes you feel good. Do the flakes really add anything to the experience? (I’m not trying to be a smart ass. I really don’t know and I’m curious.)

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Magnesium is absorbed through the skin to the muscles, where it helps to relax them. (It can also loosen your bowels, same general reaction.) Magnesium ions are one of the signallers between cells that tell your muscles to relax or contract, and being low on magnesium can lead to muscle problems.

          I accidentally tested this just last night, where late in the (very hot) bath I realized that I had forgotten the salts while filling the tub. I decided to treat it as an experiment, as this has gotten to be an every night thing for me–relaxes muscles, reduces pain, makes it easier to sleep–and there was definitely less pain relief without the salts. So can confirm that they have an effect.

          My preference is to get a big bag of straight magnesium salt from Target. Most drug stores sell bags that do about 3 baths, with added scent and color; Dr Teal’s is the usual name brand.

          1. silverpie*

            And if you don’t see anything labeled “magnesium salt,” look for it under its old-school name of Epsom salt (=magnesium sulfate).

          2. London Calling*

            * (It can also loosen your bowels, same general reaction.)*

            I’ve been taking a magnesium supplement and your comment explains a lot, without going into TMI about bowel movements…..

          3. ouchie*

            Wow, my mom swears by her magnesium spray and I always thought it was just more snake oil (she’s always seeking the latest fad treatments for her fibromyalgia…) I stand corrected.

            1. misspiggy*

              Vegetables produced by modern methods, while more plentiful, are lower in key minerals. Being on the pill is also recognised as suppressing magnesium levels. I swear by my nightly magnesium tablets to reduce soreness and restless legs. (They should contain B vitamins to help absorption though.)

            2. London Calling*

              I take magnesium for night cramps. Could be placebo but it does seem to work and as a side effect, I sleep better and have more energy. Pretty certain my doctor wouldn’t recommend it if it was snake oil.

              1. Falling Diphthong*

                It was specifically recommended to me by a neurologist. (Including to take at night, as it tends to make you sleepy–I confirmed this the one time I tried splitting the dose.)

        2. Chaordic One*

          Thank you for all the replies to my question. I’m aware of a magnesium product that is sold in pill form as a pain reliever. The only thing that seemed slightly odd about it was that the directions stated that after taking the pills you should drink a whole bunch of water. Like 2 large glasses or so.

          Sounds like it is worth trying.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            Anywhere selling nutritional supplements will sell magnesium–if you are experimenting, I would suggest going simple with just a magnesium supplement. (Just make sure you don’t get manganese.) Advice from my doctor was to take it at night, as it usually makes you tired.

    5. HannahS*

      I have/had fibro. Ask her if she’d like it! I know gifts are nicer as a surprise, but people are so different from each other that it’s best to ask. Personally, I would find a heated blanket more helpful than a weighted one, but your sister may be different.

    6. Snarflepants*

      I’ve used a weighted blanket to help with insomnia and anxiety. Found the blanket to be beneficial in helping to stay asleep. Though I don’t reccomend a Costco blanket. My blanket zipper broke after only a month and a half.

    7. pandq*

      Mine seemed too heavy and warm- it kept me awake even more than my regular anxiety. I bought the weight according to the instructions – was it possibly the wrong one?

      1. Not a cat*

        I love my weighted blanket, I use it for anxiety and so I won’t wake up so often. I went w/ the 20lb and I am about 125 lbs. I can’t wait for it to cool down, so it is comfier. It’s going to be 90 yet again today. Friggin SoCal Santa Anas……

      2. fhqwhgads*

        I don’t know if this is correct but what I’ve read is depending on what you’re using it for, you’re not necessarily intended to sleep with it. You’re supposed to just use it before bed, when winding down, like if you’re watching TV or reading on the couch. Maybe try using it that way and see if that helps?

      3. ouchie*

        If someone could find a way to manufacture blankets made out of sleeping cats, that would be perfect.

    8. Glinda*

      Thank you everyone for your replies.

      I think I will get her one and make sure I can return it if she doesn’t like it. :)

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      How do you wash these? And what are the weights made of? My family is interested, but I’m not so convinced.

      1. Natalie*

        There are a few different washing methods that I’ve seen – you can machine wash them in a front loading washer, although you might need to use a commercial washer at a laundromat. You can hand wash them in the tub or a laundry sink, which sounds like hell on earth. Or you can have them dry cleaned. If you’re someone who wants to wash blankets a lot I imagine a cover would be a better idea.

        The weight can be made from a number of different things but various forms of plastic pellets is common.

      2. LilySparrow*

        Mine is weighted with tiny glass beads, almost like very coarse sand. Some use plastic pellets or other materials.

        They have a washable cover. Usually washing the weighted part is not recommended, just spot cleaning. But for the kind I have, I could theoretically put it through a gentle cycle if it were absolutely necessary.

      3. Alexandra Lynch*

        I have covers on ours, and as we sleep just under the blanket, no sheet, I change and wash the covers weekly. (Boyfriend and I never have shared covers, and now we each have our own weighted blanket.)

        I’m not sure what’s in ours; it’s something like sand, or pellets of about that size, in pockets of about two inches by two inches all over the blanket. I really want to avoid washing them if I can but will probably foist the problem off on the local dry cleaners once a year or so.

    10. Alexandra Lynch*

      I have fibromyalgia, arthritis, and migraines, and I love mine. I sleep deeper and have less morning pain when I use it.

    11. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      I would definitely ask her first. What I’ve observed of weighted blankets for folks is that they’re either amazing or horrific — there seems to be very little middle ground. I do very well with one, because I’m a restless sleeper and it restrains tossing and turning; someone with joint pain may find the pressure difficult to deal with.

  3. Anon woman with breast cancer*

    Hello lovely AAM commentariat! I wanted to share that I so appreciate the comments on the chemo thread last weekend -> the note from Breast Solidarity about how the tumour ached during chemo: yep! Same here, most of the week. My nurse said this was a good sign that the medicine is working. My side effects continue to be mild. For that I am grateful. Kuododi how is your radiation coming along? Hope all is proceeding well.

    Question on chemo ports: Anyone here have one of these? (Breast Solidarity I stocked up on more hard candies based on what you said last week). I am going to get a chemo port implanted soon, opposite side of body to the tumour (personally sticking it right near tumour and jabbing said bastard with a needle each time would be my preference but doctor was not too keen on my idea). Any advice on this? I will have it in until probably February, maybe March. I have 3 friends who have had one, all 3 had different experiences but nothing bad really.

    And a question on surgery: anyone ask for the surgeon to keep your tumour so you can see it? I know this sounds possibly odd to people but I am a biologist and I have seen lots of cool stuff but never a real-not quite live tumour of my very own. I will pose this to the surgeon in January when we meet next. For reference when I had my tubes ligated I got to see those in the sample jars, very cool.

    Staying strong with lots of tea, mild exercise, visualisation and counselling, friends, family, and the AAM folks here!

    Wishing each of you a pleasant weekend, too. We had a light dusting of snow in the hills near me, and it is getting very cold at night. For those dealing with extreme cold across the USA, stay warm, and I am wishing you loads of hot cocoa/toddies/tea/mulled wine/soup!

    1. Shocked Pikachu*

      Glad to hear your side effect are mild and hope it continues that way until full recovery. Sending healing vibes.

      As far for keeping the tumor to get a look at it. I didn’t ask for that specifically but I was very interested in how my surgery is gonna be done so my surgeon actually put up a mirror for me so I could watch. (carpal tunnel surgery – local anesthetic) I am not a biologist or any kind of scientist, just find it very interesting.

        1. Shocked Pikachu*

          I am bit weird, yes. And I kinda thought “zombie apocalypse preparedness”. Because according to movies, there will be lots of self surgeries involved. So getting ready for the visual ;)

    2. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      I have zero experience with breast cancer or tumors, but I think you should absolutely look at your tumor, if you would enjoy it. You should get something fun out of this whole nasty experience, right?

      (Also, maybe you could keep it in formaldehyde in a glass jar and label it something over the top like, “DEATH DEFEATED x/xx/2020”? It would be perfect mad scientist decor.)

      1. Anon woman with breast cancer*

        I love this idea! I also loved the “Vampire Hunting Kit” that was shared a while back here – so …. hmmmm, this could be a thing I do. Thanks for that. Could put it next to the family trinkets on the bookshelf :)

        1. Queer Earthling*

          Oh that was my kit! Oddly enough, my spouse has also had some tumors removed in surgery (both before we knew there was cancer) and we both were like, “I kind of wish we could see it?” but it was too late and had long since gone to pathology.

          Many years ago I saw a “Thing in a Jar” tutorial which sadly no longer seems to exist, but as I recall, you make a shape (a creature or, perhaps, a faux-tumor) out of polymer clay, put it in a jar, and fill the jar with yellow/brown-tinged water. I think they might have added some cornstarch to make the water foggier? You could always make a fake tumor that way. ;)

    3. Book Lover*

      The tumor will of course be kept – it goes to pathology. I don’t think you would be able to obtain it – it is important for it to be looked at for margins and any surprises in terms of pathology. Maybe a slide or two? It is worth asking.

      1. Quandong*

        As Book Lover said, the tumour will be kept for further testing – if you want a photo of it before it’s cross-sectioned etc definitely ask your surgeon beforehand.

    4. Valancy Snaith*

      Both my parents have/had chemo ports for their chemo. Both found them IMMENSELY more comfortable than being stabbed all the time. My mom especially was growing very sensitive and finding it very, very hard for the nurses to find the appropriate veins (especially considering she couldn’t eat/drink much) and found it much more comfortable. My dad still gets chemo twice a month and the port is absolutely no trouble at all for him. I think the absolute max worst part for both was some mild local itching when they were first installed.

      1. Snickelfritz*

        My roommate had a port installed recently (renal cell cancer in the lung) and she’s very happy with it. When the anesthetist, a Eurasian gentleman, came to her room to introduce himself pre-surgery, he pointed out that when they remove the port, she will be de-ported.

    5. Fikly*

      Curiously enough, I was just listening to a podcast interview yesterday with a breast surgeon/oncologist, and she was asked about people asking to see tumors. She said she’d never had someone ask to see their tumor, but people had asked to see benign things.

      Generally speaking, they can’t let you keep anything (it’s a biohazard and liability and pathology issue) but most will let you take a peek.

      Also, I don’t think you’re weird – I still have a screw that was removed from my foot a decade ago. (A surgical screw, that is, not one I randomly stepped on.)

      1. Anon woman with breast cancer*

        Interesting on the podcast. And am glad you could keep your screw! And I see that keeping the tumour is a problem for medical waste, safety stuff as you note.

    6. PhyllisB*

      My husband had a port when he was being treated for Lymphoma. It seems like they had to replace it one time; it’s hard to remember because that was 18 years ago. I’ll ask him when he gets home. I do know he said it made things much easier.

      1. Anon woman with breast cancer*

        A good thing to hear and glad he has had such a good outcome of so many years, too!

        1. PhyllisB*

          Thank you!! I told him about your query, and he said you will not regret getting a port; and he did not have to have it replaced. I’m just having faulty memory :-) He also sent you his regards and said he’s glad you’re not having a lot of problems with your chemo, and he wishes you a speedy recovery.

    7. Breast Solidarity*

      I have a port, and one thing they didn’t suggest that I found on my own is a seat belt pillow (will add link below). My port was actually really sore for an unusually long time after I had it placed (most people’s aren’t), but the seat belt cushion is a life-saver. I still use it so it doesn’t rub as the seatbelt goes right over my port. Will also use it when I have surgery. I am SO glad I have the port, and probably would have done it even if I didn’t have a full year of the monoclonal antibody therapy. Ask for a prescription for Emla cream to numb it before each infusion. It is just a needle, but it is a big one, so the numbing is nice. You can also ask for a shot of lidocaine each time they access the port, but the lidocaine burns as much as the needle, so I prefer the Emla.

      Re the tumor hurting — my tumor is now so small it can’t be felt, even by the breast surgeon whose specialty is finding tumors :) And this last round my breast didn’t hurt — hope that means there is nothing left at surgery :)

      The tumor is going to go to pathology, but perhaps someone in the OR could take a photo to show you? Though that will mostly show the fatty tissue around it as they will want clean margins. Perhaps you could also ask for photos of the histology slides?

      BEST OF LUCK with all of it. The port is really no big deal, though I couldn’t drive for a couple days after cause I was sore (I drive a manual transmission so need both arms)

      My surgery is in one month :) Which means I should be recovered from surgery and not starting radiation yet at Christmas, which is a nice time for a break for me :)

      1. R*

        I had gallstones removed a few years ago & got to keep them. Had them put into a piece of jewelry (a little “glass” canister on a delicate chain). I’m weird. But non bio hazard.
        Congrats on the shrinkage!

        1. Anon woman with breast cancer*

          My gall bladder and pancreas surgeries were in 2017 June and if I had thought of it then would have asked, but was so out of it that it was not remotely on my mind! Sounds cool tho!

      2. Anon woman with breast cancer*

        Thanks again for so much info. On the Emla, I have written this into my journal to ask about at my next appt.

        Good point on the seat belt, tho I do not have a car, I will try to bring a cushion with me if I am going to go in a car.

        Sending you loads and loads of good vibes too for your surgery and it’s terrific that the surgeon cannot feel that bastard lump! Very good sign!

    8. roki*

      I work in a pathology lab so I can echo others that have said it will need to be sent to pathology to assess for margins as well as other things. The operating room staff will never actually be able to see your tumor since normal tissue will also be taken all around it to make sure they get it all out, but it should be sent straight to pathology where they will paint the margins with special inks, and slice into it to expose the tumor to formalin fixative. (and for breast this needs to be done asap because some of the tumor markers that they test need that formalin exposure right away or the test may not work properly). Although, if you have a good response to the chemo, there may not actually be any tumor left to see. Some of the post-chemo breast surgery tumors that I see there is only scar tissue left.

      I’ve never had a patient wanting to see their tumor, but have had photo requests for other types of benign specimens before, and in places I have worked we try to accommodate (lab will take a photo and send to surgeon who will show to patient). I’ve also seen pathologists who are willing to sit down with patients to look at their slides with them although I don’t know that all pathologists are willing to do that, and I don’t think that happens very often.
      Hospitals will have different policies on releasing specimens after testing back to patients, especially since most are exposed to formalin which is carcinogenic, but I have seen it happen in some circumstances. Usually for religious or cultural reasons like burial or cremation of an amputation or miscarriage tissue.

      1. Mimmy*

        Just out of curiosity – If there is no tumor to be found at the time of surgery, would the surgery still go ahead?

        1. roki*

          Yup – there could still be microscopic tumour cells and the only way to be sure is removing the tumour bed area and examining it in pathology under a microscope. For breast cancers that’s standard, but there are some other types of tumours when they may just do chemo and/or radiation and then not need surgery if the other treatments were effective.

      2. Anon woman with breast cancer*

        Thanks so much for all of this detail, I had no idea. Really good to know and will help me to talk to the surgeon for other things, too. Again, thanks for sharing your expertise!

    9. CaptainMouse*

      I wanted to keep the bone removed from my hip replacement. Wanted to keep it on my desk like a paperweight. I was told no because of cleanliness/medical waste issues. Also it doesn’t come out in one piece. So my vision of a small Stone Age club wasn’t going to happen.

      But for soft tissue, they may be able to give it to you in a jar with preservative like a medical specimen—which it is. Certainly worth asking.

      1. A*

        I am a practicing pathologist in the U.S. It sounds a though you are receiving chemotherapy before your surgery, yes? That’s called neoadjuvant therapy. Not infrequently, neoadjuvant chemotherapy causes the cancer to entirely regress, leaving behind only scar tissue. Some types of breast cancer are more likely to completely “melt away” than others. So, depending on a variety of factors, there may not be any cancer left in the breast specimen that you will have removed surgically. You still need the surgery, as no one knows the extent of response until someone like me does a complete pathologic analysis of the tissue.

        Also, as mentioned by others, it will be extremely important for your pathologist to thoroughly evaluate your tissue to see, among other things, if there is any tumor left, if so how large is it, how much response to chemo has occurred, and, very importantly if any of the edges, what we call surgical margins, are involved by the cancer. As such, by the time the lab is finished working up your sample, there won’t be much left! Please ask your surgeon to have the pathologist take some photos for you.

        And, as also described by others, it is possible for patients to come to the lab and take tissues home with them. We have experienced that on occasion, for gallstones as mentioned, but also placentas. The tissue would be in a toxic solution called 10% neutral buffered formalin, which contains formaldehyde, a carcinogen. Our specimen containers have skull and bones biohazard warning symbols on their labels, with this admonition, “DO NOT DRINK.” !!!! As if anyone would do such a thing!

        1. Anon woman with breast cancer*

          Terrific details too, thank you. I may just ask for photos to go with the pet ct and mammogram imagery I have already. Maybe make a photo album. This could be useful to share as a teaching tool for the cancer support group too. Thanks too for explaining in more detail too. I love this community!

          1. A*

            As a pathologist, I have participated in our local breast cancer support group many times over the years. Most often, patients want to know how to “read” their pathology reports. These reports contain a wealth of crucial information about the cancer and how it impacts a patient’s prognosis.
            However, by necessity, the path reports are expressed in all sorts of medical terminology with which many patients are not initially familiar. On the other hand it is definitely my experience that, over time, breast cancer survivors become more knowledgeable about this disease than almost anyone else! Why don’t you ask your support group leader to invite one of the institution’s breast cancer pathologists to come and discuss “understanding your pathology report,” with the group?

            1. Anon woman with breast cancer*

              This is a good idea on the asking for help interpreting things. I will flag it in my journal and ask next week.

    10. Mimmy*

      Very happy to hear that your chemo side effects have been mild and that the tumor response has been good. Best wishes for your continued recovery!

    11. Quinalla*

      I had a fibroid on one of my ovaries and I asked for and got to see it and would ask for the same for a cancerous tumor, so not I don’t think you are weird at all! Hope you continue to have mild side effects and good luck!

    12. YHGTBK*

      I wanted my breast cancer tumour back. Partly curiosity, partly wanting to organise my own disposal as mass incineration of body tissue felt a little dishonouring of what was part of me (though not a part I was willing to let stay around and keep growing!).

      I live in New Zealand and it is part of our indigenous culture that people be buried whole. In practice this is about making sure every part of the body are returned after a PM. But it is not unknown for people to keep preserved limbs and be buried with them many years later. It meant my request could not be refused.

      I got my tumour back after the normal pathology process, sealed in heavy plastic. I wasn’t prepared for it being so psychedelic, I guess dye is used for contrast. Or it being so big. I did hold the mass near where it had come from several times and it seemed too big. I think the dying and preserving process may have swollen it.

      Obviously I don’t think your request is at all odd. I want to know and see everything. I am still disappointed I could not have the surgery done with local anaesthetic, and a big mirror above like at a cooking demonstration.

      1. Anon woman with breast cancer*

        Thank you for this perspective and insight into your culture. Very interesting too that it is the law in NZ and respects indigenous culture this way.
        Many thanks for your comment! And I am glad you are better too!

    13. Kuododi*

      Hello sweetie!!! Glad to see you are doing well with your treatment. I’ve never had to deal with a chemo port so I’m afraid I will not be any help with that issue.

      The radiation treatment is getting easier to deal with. Much less trouble with getting up on the table and getting positioned. The aftereffects so far are manageable. Problems with fatigue/nausea. I have meds to help with nausea and vomiting. I’m also being careful to go to bed early, eat well, lots of H2O and exercise.

      I’ve been involved with a Meetup women’s group and they’ve been a lovely source of support. The group leader is organizing a transportation schedule for members to help with rides to and from treatment. My LiveStrong program is still a great source of physical and emotional support. I’m very thankful for all of the love, prayers and support from the group here. DH and little Sister continue to be a source of strength and peace during the stress/anxiety of what’s been happening with my cancer diagnoses. Grace and peace to you. Kuododi

      1. Anon woman with breast cancer*

        I am glad to hear you are trucking along with a variety of good social and emotional and physical support in your radiation! Great news. :)

        Definitely sleep, exercise and have lots of fluids. My counsellor this week mentioned that she used aloe vera plant juice for both the radiation site ( rubbing it on every day) and inside (adding to smoothies every day). If you can get a plant or have one to use that may be something to ask your docs about to ease your discomfort.

        Best of luck and I hope it gets easier each time!! Big hugs!

    14. Owler*

      I asked for a momento from my port removal surgery (expecting a cell phone pic), and my surgeon gave me the port! Still have it….maybe I should make it into a necklace? Definitely ask, and maybe your surgeon or nurse will surprise you.

    15. Jaid*

      They wouldn’t let my co-worker keep her fiberoid, but recording the procedure shouldn’t be a problem. We both got pics from our surgeries.

    16. NoLongerYoung*

      So sending encouragement your way, Anon! I have very little help to add, since there are so many great suggestions. Just be extra gentle with yourself, not just with nutrition and sleep, but also with gentleness around everything else that “could” be stressful. This is such a good time to say no to any and all family drama and / or other places where boundaries are good. Don’t feel you have to prove anything to anyone. Just … listen to your body and do what is best for you. It is the best thing, to be selfish, guarding your time and energy for the healing and happiness you deserve.

      1. Anon woman with breast cancer*

        Thank you. I have begun to pull back in general from a lot of drama stuff, not family really but other things like work stuff and some anxious people and being kind to myself, keeping a journal etc. And I have a good counsellor who draws stuff out of me to help me recognise my strength amd acknowledge my fears. Emotionally cancer is tough for each patient plus their families, friends and colleagues. But, it is an individual’s journey to undertake and as such each of us must draw on our inner stores of strengths and not be distracted by others who add stress because of their own baggage.

        Thanks for your comment, it is appreciated.

    17. Squidhead*

      A tip my mom wished she’d figured out: Her cancer was in her left breast. She was left-handed and typically asked them to draw blood/start IVs on her right arm before she got a port. Her cancer had spread to her lymph nodes, necessitating a radical mastectomy on the left…which meant that her left arm became unavailable for needle sticks due to the risk of lymphedema. Meanwhile, the veins in the right arm had taken a beating already! Since you mentioned it will be a while before you get your port, it might be worth thinking about which arm to use in the meantime.

      Additionally, a friend of ours had a port but would choose to get her blood draws taken from her arm (colon cancer so both arms were okay) because the saline and heparin used to flush the port had a strong smell that nauseated her. (I’m a nurse and lots of patients can “smell” when I flush an IV). For her, it was worth it to get chemo through the port (it’s much more damaging to veins), but not routine blood draws.

      Thinking of you on this journey.

      1. Anon woman with breast cancer*

        Thanks for the interesting perspective – yes a port is better for the veins for sure. And thank you for your thoughts. :)

    18. Schmitt*

      If things seem any sort of off, make sure your port is clean. My mom’s had staph – she got super sick after chemo.

  4. The Other Dawn*

    Has anyone been to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse? I’ll be going tonight for the first time–husband made reservations for my birthday.

    I’m wondering what to expect in terms of dress. Their website mentions “business casual”; however, we all know how that plays out in the workplace. My thought is pants (skinny pants) with boots and a sweater or longer shirt. Does that seem OK? I know not to wear jeans. I checked their Facebook page, hoping I’d see some visitor pictures, but there really aren’t any.

    Also, any favorites on the menu? I checked it out and there’s SO MUCH I want to order (mostly the side dishes)! Problem is the weight loss surgery–only so much will fit in the stomach now, so dinner is over pretty quickly for me, and 90% will come home with me. Which is fine. It just means I get to keep on enjoying my meal for a couple more days.

    1. Anon woman with breast cancer*

      Once, in Seattle, yes. Your choices seem fine. In Seattle it was mostly men in suits after work hours when I went, and women in office outfits – wear what you feel good in, it is your birthday! Happy birthday! :) I cannot recommend food, cannot remember what I had (10+ years ago).

    2. LGC*

      It’s Ruth’s Chris. You should be fine wearing what you suggested. (In fact, you might be a bit overdressed, maybe? It’s a chain restaurant – a fancy-ish chain, but a chain nonetheless.) But then again, I think you can still be somewhat dressy in jeans. Browsing the site for the local one, the code seems to be more about what you can’t wear (sweatpants, halter tops) than what you can.

      To wit, Peter Luger is a bit fancier, and I showed up to that (on a Saturday afternoon) in chukkas, skinny jeans, and a button-down. No one cared. I might have been the most dressed up guy in our group. (To be fair, I’m probably the most fashionable guy in my friends group, which isn’t saying much!)

      In terms of dinner options: I can’t really provide too much assistance, but if you need it there’s a menu for special dietary needs as a starting point. (I mention that since you said you had weight loss surgery.)

    3. To Lurk, perchance to Post*

      I have been to Ruth’s Chris several times in all manner of dress, in different cities. It’s been fine! Wear what makes you feel good and enjoy yourself!

      I’m not actually a steak fan (I know, I know!) so I usually get the chicken dinner. I have gotten steak sometimes. Portions are big. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve ever had there.

      Happy Birthday and enjoy your dinner date!

    4. CAA*

      For the steak, you can ask the waiter for recommendations. The filet is the smallest and that’s what I got because I didn’t want tons of leftovers, but I thought the New York strip that DH had was more flavorful. You and your hubby could also go for one of the “for two” steaks so it’s served on a separate plate if that helps with portion control.

      For sides, I am totally in love with their roasted corn. The other veggies are all excellent too, but I didn’t think any of them were unique — everybody does creamed spinach, roasted brussels sprouts, etc. We were with a group of 8, so we shared a lot of different sides, and definitely the corn was the winner for me. The small fingerling potatoes were also a standout.

      1. Dan*

        Just a note on the filet vs strip — the blandness isn’t just your perception, it’s generally true. Filets to me are interesting because they’re one of the more expensive cuts, but they have the least amount of flavor. So if one orders a filet and wants some flavor, IMHO one should add a sauce or a rub. OTOH, something like a rib eye or a hangar steak has a lot of flavor in it, and needs very little extra “help”.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          I agree. I was always a strip fan, because it had more flavor. I do tend to like filet these days, mainly because I find my tastes have changed after weight loss surgery and it’s a smaller portion so I don’t feel like I’m wasting as much.

        2. Jdc*

          Strips have so much more flavor. I get my filets crazy rare for the most flavor. I like my cows to mooing still.

    5. The Other Dawn*

      My typical restaurant choice is the local diner or chain restaurant, so I’m always agonizing over what I should wear when I go to a nicer place. And my husband basically owns nothing but t-shirts, jeans, and combat boots so he always has to go to the store to get something “decent” when we go to a nicer place or a wedding.

      My experience has been that, even in the fanciest of restaurants and even weddings, there are always people who show up in torn jeans, sneakers, and a sweatshirt. So I guess I’ll be fine!

    6. TurtleIScream*

      We go to Ruth’s Chris semi-regularly. The first time was while sight-seeing in Philly, and we were very (very!) casually dressed. We were welcomed and treated very well, which is partly why we keep going back. I see a wide range of dress when we go, and your outfit sounds about right.

      Their BBQ shrimp is amazing!

    7. PhyllisB*

      Haven’t been to Ruth’s Chris in years, but I loved it. It’s been about 20 years ago so menu may have changed, but they had a creamed spinach dish that was divine. It was my husband, son, and I who went, and we each ordered different sides and sampled each others. The spinach is the only one I remember.

    8. Libervermis*

      Their garlic mashed potatoes and roasted Brussels sprouts are amazing. When I’ve gone I get the filet mignon because I don’t like the texture of more-marbled meats, but my family loves the ribeye. Regardless of steak cut, it comes sizzling in garlic butter and I have to stop myself from licking the plate.

    9. The Other Dawn*

      Sadly, my husband woke up sick this morning so we may need to postpone. It’s only a cold, but I’m sure other diners won’t appreciate the sneezing and runny nose. I’m trying to get that point across to him–he keeps going on about how “he” had has heart set on it, but I think he just doesn’t want me to be disappointed.

      Yes, I’ve been thinking about the creamed spinach. I was never a fan of cooked spinach until I went to a really nice steakhouse and had the creamed version. Divine! I’m sure it was 5,000 calories, but is was SO worth it!

    10. Forty Days in the Hole*

      Have not been to this chain but if it’s anything like the Morton’s of Chicago we dined at many (many) years ago (Tyson’s Corners), you should be fine, dress-wise. We rolled in in jeans, nice sweaters, w/o a reservation. Lots of guys in uber-power suits doing big deals, and casually dressed families. As long as you had the money and appetite (never seen such big meat/potato/veg portions in my life!), you were welcome. Enjoy!

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

      I’ve been to Ruth’s Chris. Another vote that you’ll be 100% be fine with what you’re planning to wear. Frankly, you’ll be fine wearing jeans.

    12. LilySparrow*

      It’s not super fancy. I’ve certainly seen folks in jeans and sweaters, or jeans & a blazer.

      Not your ratty yard work jeans, nice ones.

    13. Traffic_Spiral*

      Food: unless you’re a huge eater, split sides with other people – they’re all too great to miss but you can’t eat everything. Get the small steak if you aren’t eating it there, because leftover steak isn’t as good.

      Clothes: Assuming they’re nice boots and not workboots, you won’t be kicked out. That being said why not try and look nice? It’s your birthday – just happens once a year after all, and it’s not like you go to a place like this every day. Pull out a nice dress and some heels or something.

    14. SigneL*

      Ruth’s Chris is our favorite place! Portion are huge and they happily box up leftovers. I usually get the petite filet but sometimes I get a ribeye, which is fabulous. I also love the Caesar salad (again, HUGE, and that won’t keep well). My husband loves the sweet potato casserole.

      We usually dress up a little, but most people do wear “business casual,” although we’ve seen almost everything there. And do tell them it’s your birthday. We’re going next Tuesday for our anniversary!

    15. The Other Dawn*

      Thanks for all the replies. We didn’t end up going because my husband came down with a cold. Given he was sneezing (he’s NOT a delicate sneezer) and blowing his nose a lot, I convinced him to postpone until next weekend. Even though he was feeling OK, I’m sure no one wants to eat dinner next to a sick person!

  5. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    For the NaNoWriMo crowd: how’s the first full week been treating you?

    1. StellaBella*

      My writing these days is postcards to family, friends and government reps…and some blogging but nothing serious. Hope yours is going well.

    2. Troutwaxer*

      I’m still working on the “Orcs move upmarket” novel, but I’m taking a couple days off to recharge the batteries.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I decided to still write this new book but not blog/NaNo about it. I lost several days when I moved at the beginning of the month (the brain fog was unbelievable) and the pressure of word counts was just too much.

    4. Effie, who gets to be herself*

      I wrote down the outline of a story that wants to be told in manga form (no, I cannot draw, thanks inspiration) and that seems to have satisfied my creative impulses for now.

    5. FLuff*

      Made it the first week. I’m not hitting the word totals – though for me regularly doing it has been huge. And I think it’s stoking the old brain to be more creative. At my rate I’ll get my words in early Dec and that’s fine. NaNoWriMo keeps me pushing.

    6. Amethystmoon*

      11779 words. It’s been ok, but I forgot to e-mail myself my story on Friday. Have been writing at work during downtime. I got a little over 1000 words in yesterday, even going to a local sci-fi convention. Today, I worked on a PowerPoint for Toastmasters, so haven’t gotten anything done. Though the PowerPoint might go into a dream sequence so I don’t lose word count entirely for the day. Really weird dream sequences are great tricks for increasing word count, but not so great for advancing plot.

  6. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week?
    I’ve started playing Graveyard Keeper, and I’m loving it! Also started on the Ace Attorney Trilogy on PC and while that new graphical style took a bit of getting used to, I’m starting to dig it. I didn’t realise how much I’d missed these characters, been a while since I played the games.

    1. Shocked Pikachu*

      I suck as a gamer, the stuff I do is popping jellies and find words. Once upon a time, I got a game for PC, don’t even remember what it was. Fun lasted ten minutes and then I ended up surrounded with bunch of (I think) zombies. Armed with a broom stick. Very unsavory end to my character. I also tried a flight simulator game because I love aviation but upon first take off I crash landed immediately and the death count was about 900…. :(

    2. Vistaloopy*

      My gaming has taken a serious nosedive since my daughter was born, but I love Final Fantasy games and I want to start FFXV someday when I have time. Otherwise, I love room escape games!

      1. Shocked Pikachu*

        Room escapes games. That sounds intriguing. I was think of trying some sort of “puzzle” game. You know something when the focus is more on problem solving stuff. I am very open to suggestions.

        1. A.N. O'Nyme*

          You might enjoy Ace Attorney then, actually. Not escape room puzzles, but you are an attorney and have to prove your client’s innocence. Most of the puzzling is that gathering evidence part and then in court figuring out which statements are contradicted by the evidence you’ve got (to give an early game example: the witness claims seeing your client flee the scene of the murder and then stumbled upon the body themselves at time X…When according to the autopsy report, the murder took place a few hours later). While the cases can get serious (they’re usually murders, after all), the characters do bring enough comic relief to not get too dark. Also, almost all names are puns.
          For more general puzzle-solving, Her Interactive’s “Nancy Drew” games are generally pretty good. You play as Nancy and either are invited to solve a mystery or happen to stumble upon when, which you then have to solve by solving all kinds of other puzzles.

    3. Bilateralrope*

      I started playing Assassin’s Creed Origins recently. With all I’ve grumbled elsewhere about stealth games that give you options that they punish you for using with a morality meter or giving less xp if you use them on enemies, I have no idea why I’ve skipped all AC games so far.

      I’ve also got AC:Unity from when Ubisoft gave it away. If I end up liking the core gameplay*, I might end up buying most of the series.

      Pity I only get two days a week when I can play games right now.

      *I know that its bugs dont represent the rest of the series.

      1. T3k*

        Eh, Unity was meh to me (so far I’ve played all the main ones up to Origins). My favorite will always be Ezio’s storyline (2, Brotherhood, and Revelations). Most of the others are still pretty solid, just don’t waste your money on Rogue (or if you must, get it when it’s cheap).

        1. Bilateralrope*

          I never buy games before they hit a 75% off sale. I’ve yet to see any reason to rush in quicker for single player and I find multiplayer games to repetitive to enjoy.

    4. Nicki Name*

      Electronic: Back to finishing my hard run of Fire Emblem Awakening. I managed to get Chrom and Olivia paired up, woohoo!

      Tabletop: New KeyForge set! Prepare for very slow games as everyone gets used to the new mechanics! Also there are some cards that can cause very long turns.

    5. The Other Dawn*

      My gaming goes about as far as breaking out my Atari or playing Candy Crush and Words with Friends. Since my husband is sick and I have nothing planned, perhaps it’s time to bring out the Atari…

    6. Raia*

      All the board games!
      So far there’s been Call to Adventure, Monster Crush, Thanos Rising, Potion Explosion, Dresden Files. Probably playing Dice Throne, Wingspan, and Architects of the West Kingdom today.

      1. Kimberlee, No Longer Esq.*

        Have you been watching Dicebreaker, the new board and tabletop game focused youtube channel? I’ve been really enjoying it!

        1. Raia*

          I have not, but it sounds like I need to check it out! I follow GenCon and The Brothers Murph channels on YouTube and twitch.

    7. Zephy*

      I’m currently part of a 5e campaign, have another one starting next weekend, and I’m helping my bf build a character for a campaign that starts this afternoon.

      Ongoing campaign: I am a Chaotic Evil human bard that behaves like a rogue, and during what was supposed to be our Halloween one-shot that is now going to be a two-or-more-shot (because we have a newbie player and his turns take 37 freaking years while he recounts the entire battle and/or campaign up to that moment in time, out loud, to us, who were there when it happened, before declaring what he wants to do), I managed to get myself possessed by a little ghost boy. So I’ve got that going for me, which is nice. I also fought a broom.

      Upcoming campaign: I am a True Neutral half-orc monk, working for a shipping company as hired muscle to ensure the safe passage of goods on their trade routes. My companions are a dragonborn druid and an elven rogue, so this should be an interesting campaign. We have, like, half a healer and I’m an idiot (my INT is -2 and my Flaw is “if there’s a plan, I’ll forget it or ignore it.”)

      Boyfriend’s game: I honestly love his concept and almost want to tag along and kibbutz so I can see how he plays it. He was a necromancer and had his home/crypt wrecked by some cultists, but just before they killed him he Magic Jar’d into the body of one of the cultists. So he’s basically a poor-man’s lich in a meat puppet, and if anyone happens to cast Protection from Evil or Bless or a similar spell on him, he’s going to have a very bad time. Oh, also, the cultist he’s currently possessing is part of the cult that the heroes of this story are working to stop, so…

    8. Lemonish*

      I am addicted to playing Race for the Galaxy on my tablet. It goes so much faster than when you’re playing with humans and cards!

    9. Arts Akimbo*

      This is a bit silly because I’ve never actually enjoyed watching other people game (I want to be playing, myself!) but I have recently gotten so much fun out of watching the Outside Xbox people play Hitman, Gang Beasts, etc., on YouTube. It never fails to make me laugh out loud! They are just so funny and take the games about as unseriously as I always wish I would, but when I’m by myself I’m an obsessotron.

    10. Alexandra Lynch*

      Just messing about with ARK:Survival Evolved on single player.

      I tend not to play with others because I can’t guarantee that I’ll be able to sit down at X time and play for X long. I have family commitments and chronic pain, and so I just have fun riding dinosaurs in single-player.

    11. Queer Earthling*

      We just bought Katamari Damacy for our PS2 (because we still have a PS2) because I’m really not very good at the more storied video games that my spouse likes, and I wanted us to play together. (We pass the controller back and forth.) It’s very 2004 of us but we’ve been having such a good time. As a bonus, we’re about the same level of “okay” at it, so it really does feel pretty collaborative.

    12. Amethystmoon*

      I participated in FG-con earlier today and am in a non FG-con game tonight that is in the Gumshoe rule set. I’m also in a couple of alternating campaigns for 2E on Wednesdays. 2E came out recently for Fantasy Grounds, so of course, it’s popular right now.

    13. Urdnot Bakara*

      I started playing the Witcher 3. It’s fun and has all the elements of a fantasy/adventure RPG that I like, but good lord, you can tell no women or PoC were involved in the making of this game. Everyone is white, and all the important women are very sexy. Anyway, that’s frustrating, but I’m still enjoying it.

  7. Shocked Pikachu*

    That great typo other day (dick day) reminded me of a fun book – if any of you need to kill time sometimes. Damn, you autocorrect by Jillian Madison. Basically collection of screen shot with autocorrect fails and there are some glorious ones.

  8. Jdc*

    Errands today. Going to the commissary. Need a few things and am looking forward to checking out their Xmas stuff. Then to Aldi per usual. We usually do our errands on Friday but i felt like death thanks for a couple drinks. I can’t drink of my medication but doctor said if I want a drink just skip that dose. I don’t often but it’s annoying how two glasses of wine leave me feeling awful the next day. I don’t need to drink but still sucks to not be able to open a nice bottle. Grrr. I actually had stomach issues more than hungover so perhaps not related.

    I ordered my Xmas tree from an amazing place online the past few years. The tree was gorgeous, stayed healthy a long time. They cut it the day they ship. I was already looking because in the past, if you order before Black Friday they offer free shipping. You can choose your ship date after thanksgiving. I went on the website and they no longer are around. They had a note saying they are not doing it this year. So bummed. The tree was so much better than any lot tree and the same price. Plus I didn’t have to haul it. It even came with a big bag you put under the tree so once you are done you just pull the bag up and take it out. I looked at other delivery services but the shipping was more than the tree. I know amazon offers it now but haven’t looked at that yet. Sorta bummed. Was the most gorgeous tree I’d ever had.

  9. SpellingBee*

    A couple of recent stories (the one where the sister’s friend’s friend asked if their son could use the OP’s address for the son’s college records, and the one where the OP’s coworker asked them to stay for the weekend so they wouldn’t be alone in the house) got me thinking. What’s the most weirdly inappropriate thing an acquaintance – work or otherwise – has asked you to do?

    Mine is the time a work acquaintance, whom I had only known casually for a couple of months, asked if I’d be her health care proxy. As in the person listed first on her health care power of attorney to make life and death decisions for her in the event she was incapacitated! It’s not like we were even close at work, let alone had any relationship outside of that. I firmly declined and pointed out that it would probably be wise to pick someone who knew her better.

    1. Washi*

      This isn’t quite the same, but one time I was walking home (in a city!) and a man asked me if I could watch his donkey while he ran into a store to use the bathroom. I guess I looked the least likely to steal a donkey of everyone passing by!

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          There is definitely a short story hiding in here. Heck, multiple short stories (Washi, donkey owner, store owner, passerby, donkey, librarian) and a novel.

      1. WellRed*

        Ha! I was asked by a man with a kid in a stroller to watch her for a minute while he ran back into the library to return a book. To be fair, the steps of the Somerville public library are steep and numerous; )

        1. Caterpie*

          Someone asked this same thing of my mom at the airport (you know, that place with the frequent announcements not to watch things for strangers). They were at the arrivals pickup area and the lady wanted to go all the way back into the airport to get her stuff from baggage claim.

          Luckily another lady must have noticed how uncomfortable my mom looked and offered to watch the baby. I’m sure trying to navigate the airport with luggage and a baby is very stressful but to me it doesn’t seem remotely safe to leave a child with someone who could just hop into a taxi with the baby and be gone forever.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Waaaaay back the first time I ever went to London, a random man asked me to accompany his child on the tube to Westminster. I was eighteen and looked like a total nerd, so I guess I appeared safe, lol.

        The kid was about nine or ten and very polite. He was meeting his mum; I suppose dad had to be somewhere and just wanted to make sure he had someone to sit with.

    2. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      @SpellingBee

      I agree a coworker is not (usually) a good choice for a HCP. But I work in critical care and mostly see the opposite problem. I think a spouse or child is often also not a good choice because the HCP gets so invested in their own needs that the wants/needs of the patient get lost. A grieving spouse might agree to “do everything” to keep someone alive, even things that person specifically didn’t want, sometimes leading to prolonged suffering or intolerable quality of life for the patient.

      I don’t have a perfect solution for this problem but finding someone disinterested enough to follow your wishes but who knows you well enough to know what those are is a tough needle to thread.

      1. SpellingBee*

        This is an excellent point, and actually this exact situation arose with my MIL. My FIL panicked and went against her express wishes as outlined in her advance directive, with the result that she lived for another 2 years, bed bound and basically non-responsive, in a nursing home. He still second-guesses himself about it to this day.

      2. MsChanandlerBong*

        That happened with my husband’s grandmother. She wanted to be DNR, but her children talked her out of it. They had an 85-year-old woman with COPD, GI bleeding from a vascular issue, macular degeneration so bad she couldn’t see much of anything, and a heart valve problem on a VENTILATOR. Miracle of miracles, she came off the vent, but then she was slowly bleeding to death from the GI issue. When we visited, she begged my husband to put her in the back of our car and take her home to die. She never should have been on a vent–it just prolonged her suffering, but they couldn’t see that because they wanted to keep her around.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I keep having dreams that people hand me children to raise unexpectedly, and each time I go up to visit a triad of friends who already have four children among them and leave the extra one hidden in their house because what’s one more? After the last time I had such a dream, I made a public announcement that we all should know this is a bad idea, but just in case, please nobody leave me children, especially if they won’t fit underneath furniture.

      The actual weirdest thing I can think of off the top of my head was when my ex got absolutely furious at me because I didn’t need him to drive my moving truck. Like, we had separated and filed for divorce, he had already moved out of our apartment and I was moving into a new place, and he was just furious that I did not need him to drive my moving truck to my new place. (I dunno whether he was looking forward to telling me no, or wanted to scope out my new place or what. It was just weird.)

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Yup. He had a script for when regrets would kick in, and Red failed to say her lines correctly.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              Or he assumed she’d already hooked up with his replacement because no woman could move without a mannnnn, and got jealous.
              Glad it didn’t get ugly!

    4. MonkeyInTheMiddle*

      Dating co-workers. One left for vet school. They ghosted the other co-worker or he couldn’t take the hint they were over. When they graduated 4 years later, the co-worker who was still working went to that other co-worker’s parents place to take a pic of their dogs over the fence so he could get a picture commissioned to celebrate said graduation. I saw the painting. Not sure if he ever got it to them….

    5. Perbie*

      Uhg, i once had the unfortunate task of harassing (it felt like) a hcp who was only tertiarially involved with a comatose person we were thinking it was time to withdraw support from (when they were awake they’d said they didn’t want to be kept alive unconscious on a vent indefinitely but also kept insisting they’d get better when nothing was getting better)
      Thanks for declining that

    6. Forensic13*

      I had a coworker (an admittedly weird one) lift the tail of her shirt and try to get me to touch her stomach.

      She thought she had a fever and wanted me to check her stomach’s temperature to see.

      I, uh, declined.

      1. Liberry pie.*

        I had a co-worker pull down her pants while I was working the library reference desk so I could see the insect bite on her ass. I just shut my eyes and told her to go away. She did have a bad Brown recluse spider bite that needed medical attention but there was no need to moon me over it.

      2. Milk of Amnesia*

        My SIL asks me weird stuff. When she just gave birth we went the the hospital to see the new born spawn and she was having problems breast feeding. So with her family there she grabs my hand whips put her boob and sticks my hand on her boob so I could help with the latch. Another time when I got to her house she whips off her shirt to show me something on her chest.
        I get that I am a nurse, but not that kind of nurse as I work in the OR.

      3. Queer Earthling*

        When my spouse worked at a salon, they got in late, and everyone told them they missed the wonderful fun of everyone comparing their nipples in the back room. My spouse was not overly distraught.

        1. Shiny Flygon*

          I do have a friend who went to get her nipples pierced with a group of work colleagues – yes, all of them got it done. Which…. no. She has no regrets, so, *shrug emoji*

    7. I edit everything*

      I think I might have been the weird one here: I once asked a coworker to sniff me. I had a weird, unpleasant smell stuck in my nose, and I wanted to be sure it wasn’t actually me. She was someone I trusted to be honest and say, “Yeah, you smell,” if in fact it was me. It wasn’t.

      1. Sunflower Sea Star*

        I get something called “olfactory hallucinations” where I smell things that are not there. Usually sickly sweet artificial fruit smells, or barbecue sauce, or smoke. For me they tend to be a precursor (or lingering symptom) of a migraine.
        I was once teaching a class and smelled smoke. Because 99% of the time I smell smoke it’s not there, I ducked into the storage closet and took migraine meds while the class was watching a video. Turned out there really was a fire in a nearby building!

        1. Fikly*

          I too have migraines, and my neurologist keeps asking me if I smell weird/bad things that other people don’t. Last time I saw him, I told him I smelled fish at a concert, and he (older white dude) had to inform me it might have been someone vaping, not a hallucination. So now I’m under orders to ask nearby people if they smell what I smell.

        2. The punchline is that they had to evacuate a fire alarm factory*

          That makes two of us. Migraine-precursor phantom smells AND thinking an electrical fire was a migraine indicator.

        3. MsChanandlerBong*

          Huh, this happens to me a lot, but I don’t get migraines. I smell things that no one else can smell, and then the smells get stuck in my nose for hours on end. It’s usually a burning smell, too.

          1. Dusty Bunny*

            I have this, too. Burnt toast, where is the electrical fire, and neither of those things is actually happening. No migraines though, so that is a blessing.

        4. EH*

          I get these! Not as a migraine symptom, though – they’re a side effect of my anti-anxiety meds. My doc says the medication interferes with the information path to the brain, so the first impression my brain gets is sometimes way off. It usually self-corrects after a second or two, but it’s always weird to smell bbq or something, then try to smell it again and it’s gone.

          The med also gives me similar audio and visual effects (though, annoyingly, neither of them go away after a second or two, even once I realize they’re not real).

    8. Undine*

      A ex-coworker asked me to be his green card spouse. He phoned me up out of the blue and asked me. We weren’t friends or anything. He was really flighty too — he was not someone I would ever have wanted to be tied to legally.

      1. Parenthetically*

        As someone who went through the green card process with her (LEGITIMATE) spouse, just a PSA for anyone reading: do not do this, it is a terrible idea, the process is SO hard even for people who are legit, just say no, you do not want to invite this nightmare into your life unless you absolutely have to.

      2. MsChanandlerBong*

        An ex-coworker once offered me $10,000 to marry his friend so said friend could get a green card. I was EXTREMELY poor at the time (renting a room with no kitchen access, only making $12/hour in New York City, etc.), so it was tempting, but I declined.

    9. Thankful for AAM*

      I am actually the executor for a former coworker I barely know.

      FC has some mental health issues and has one friend and no family left. The one friend, who is my closest friend, was the intended executor but lives in another state. Former coworker and I both live in the same state. My state requires the executor live in the state. So I am the 3rd wheel in this relationship.

    10. LilySparrow*

      The first two that come to mind were the fellow mom I met at school pickup who wanted to bum a couple Adderall because she “forgot hers at home.”

      And the friend-of-a-friend, who I had personally witnessed having a severe manic episode, and who had recently been discharged from an extended involuntary stay in a psychiatric hospital, who wanted me to be a character reference for a pistol permit so she could “shoot skeet.”

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I just wrote similar below–why do some people think we would just give them controlled medications !?

    11. You can’t fire me; I don’t work in this van*

      Many years ago, I was dating a guy and we introduced our best friends to each other and they started dating. My boyfriend broke up with me, and a few weeks later his best friend was arrested for assaulting my best. The day after the arrest, I came home from work to a voice mail on my landline from my ex-boyfriend, saying that my best friend had made up the whole thing and begging me to call him and report what my best friend had told me about the situation to catch her in a lie.

    12. JKP*

      When I had just turned 21, I was working on-campus, and my actual boss wanted to buy my driver’s license to give to her underage daughter so she could get into bars. When I said no, she kept hassling me at every shift to sell her my license, “because I could just say I lost it and get a replacement.”

        1. JKP*

          In hindsight, I’m sure I could have found someone to report it to. But at the time, I was young and just focused on school rather than work, and didn’t want the hassle.

    13. Seeking Second Childhood*

      More than one person has asked me for some of my ADD pills. Um, no that would be ILLEGAL.

    14. ..Kat..*

      I feel sorry for the coworker asking you to be her health care proxy. Apparently, she had no one else. That sounds very lonely.

    15. matcha123*

      The one I can think of off the top of my head was from when I graduated high school and my ‘best friend’ was working with me. When she found out what university I’d be attending, she asked for my university ID and password so her family, who lived in a rural area, could access the university’s dial-up network.
      The university had that option for students living off-campus. I was living off-campus, but I wasn’t going to give her access to this information!
      Plus I am very sure that it was not a free service. She got very insistent about it and then kind of disappeared when I held my ground. I haven’t spoken to her since. And no, this was not an issue of poverty, her family owned their own home, were comfortable, etc. I lived in low-income housing and often had no money for food. She just assumed that she was entitled to what I had.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Reminds me of the co-worker”s story about online streaming access and her teenager’s friends learning the password…and sharing it. She couldn’t get on one day because max# users was exceeded. Her kid was in the room with her. IIRC she called and changed the password.

    16. Sleepless*

      I had a coworker who gave everybody a strange vibe. After he was fired, he messaged me asking if I could refill a prescription of Xanax for his dog’s storm phobia (I’m a vet). One of my coworkers had filled it before so, sure, this one time. A month or so later he asked for another refill. It was a pretty large quantity and we hadn’t been having any stormy weather, plus now it had been over a year since anybody at our place had examined his dog, so no. Got a bit of attitude from him about that. Over the next couple of years, anytime he saw me active on Messenger in the middle of the night (as I often am, see my username) he would send “hi! having trouble sleeping again?” This felt weirdly intrusive, but ok, whatever. So one night he sent the same message, then, “I’m out of gas.” Me: sorry to hear that, hope you find a ride. Him: sends me a Messenger request for $70. Whaa? Me: I can’t send you money either, budget’s really tight right now. I hope somebody can help. When I got up the next morning, I thought for a bit and blocked him from my phone and all social media. He lives near me so I hope I don’t run into him.

    17. MissMia*

      I had a 33 year old veteran student ask me if I could be his emergency contact. He was no contact with his mother, no real relationships after he was discharged, and the college made it mandatory that he have a contact. I was a clerk in Academic Support and just kind of shrugged and gave him my info. I did always think it was weird, but as someone who has to list friends as emergency contacts, I totally got where he was coming from.

  10. Lcsa99*

    Does anyone have any mental tools or tricks to get your brain to stop replaying events? I had some random stranger scream at me during my morning commute earlier this week, which was sorta a trigger for me. But instead of eventually calming down I replayed it the entire day, which just made it worse. And it’s not just trigger events. Any time I open my big mouth and say something stupid my jerk brain will replay it and I’ll beat myself up over it again and again.

    So has anyone found a way to successfully turn it off?

    1. Book Lover*

      I think this is what cognitive behavioral therapy is made for – there are books about it so you can look at some of the techniques maybe?

    2. Fran*

      I agree with book lover. One technique I read in a book that works for me is to focus your attention on a detail other than the triggering fact. Remembering the clothes you were wearing in detail was suggested.

      1. Lcsa99*

        I will look. Thank you! I’ve been able to use other meditation techniques for stress in the past so it might help.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Meditation helps me too. Also pretending my jerkbrain is someone I hate and telling that person to shut the f*ck up.

    3. Jules the 3rd*

      This is the #2 main symptom of my OCD, hate it so much! It does help to distance yourself from the thought. When it happens, form the words, ‘oh, I notice that I am having that thought again’ – can be to yourself, out loud, written. For me, writing ‘I am replaying that again’ works best, probably because it’s doubled distance – I have to think it first and then get a physical act involved. Then take a deep breath, (optional: I am done thinking about that for now) and get back to whatever you were doing when the intrusive thought hit.

      The idea is to rob the intrusive thought of its emotional impact, which will make it less likely to recur.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yes! “Oh, there goes Jerkbrain again, replaying that scenario/telling me X, how about that.”

        A therapist I follow on Insta posted a great thing about creating space between you and your thoughts this morning — maybe some of these will help?

        – a thought is just words/letters/stories/bits of language
        – “I’m having the thought that…”
        – “The story I’m telling myself is…”
        – Name the story and call it out. “Oh, there’s the ‘I’m a screwup’ story again, hi! Thanks for sharing!”
        – thoughts aren’t facts, threats, or orders, and you don’t have to obey them
        – we aren’t trying to get rid of the thoughts, we’re just acknowledging that they’re only a story

      2. Majestik Moose*

        I second distancing yourself from the thought.

        And if you’re a visual person, try to imagine it as something that you’re watching on tv, which you can then tune out (as you do annoying commercials), and gently bring your mind back to the task you’re currently doing (or your breath, if there’s nothing).

        It helps if you can bring some humor into it. ‘uh oh mind is replaying that scene again!’

      3. Lcsa99*

        I can definitely try this. I do have a meditation technique I’ve used for years for stress but this time the emotions took over too much. Distancing myself would have helped.

      4. Mimosa Jones*

        This is a big piece of my OCD as well. Something I’m trying is to acknowledge the emotion behind the event. If I’m rewinding something embarrassing I gently say to myself, “yes, that was embarrassing. These things happen to everyone” Often when I’m rewinding I’m also trying to stop myself from rewinding to avoid the emotion behind the event: usually shame or embarrassment. Recognizing the emotion usually stops the rewinding. Or in other situations I’ll intentionally take the thought to it’s conclusion. I did this thing and the other people involved will think badly of me and they’ll never like me and … That helps me see that I’m putting too much importance on a single event. and if I start rewinding again i can say, “oh you again, we’ve been through this. I need to get back to X now.”

        Another thing I’m doing is sharing the moment. I recently had an awful video meeting and I’ve turned it into the funny story of the week. Im not beating myself up in the telling, more sharing a very human moment and laughing at myself. As I’m telling it to people I also say that I’ve now made every mistake possible so the next one won’t be so bad. It’s really taken the sting out of it and I haven’t really rewind it. It also helps to remember the mistakes the people on the other end of the call made. Neither of us were really proficient at it. If you don’t want to share your story with other people, you could tell your pet or your reflection in the mirror or even the toaster.

        Another thing you can do is to set aside time specifically to rewind and only rewind. Give yourself 15 minutes a day and during that time worry your worries and rewind your tape. If your mind wanders away from it, bring your attention back to the event. It sort of sucks all the impact out of it. Something changes when you have to force yourself to review it. And if you start rewinding outside your designate time you tell yourself that you’ll do that later. The key here is you have to follow through and have your scheduled worry session.

    4. Sometimes Always Never*

      I was yelled at by a business owner for odd reasons. (He likely was upset I was informing him of a problem employee, but it was completely inappropriate.) I wrote (and sent) him a letter outlining what I wanted him to be aware of and pointed out he likely missed the important details because of his misplaced anger/focus. I felt so much better after that and was able to let it go. Obviously, you can’t send a letter to the stranger, but you can still write it. Include whatever details you would want them to know.

      1. TurtleIScream*

        Yes! For me, retelling the story (objectively) helps a lot. I used to rely on venting to a friend, which made me feel better, but I realised I was spreading too much negativity. So I switched to writing it out, with no intent of sharing it. It allows me to let go of the incident without harm.

        1. German Girl*

          Yes, writing it down and then tossing it absolutely helps me to get it out of my head and to distance myself from it.

    5. Purt’s Peas*

      What helps me enormously is talking to myself. I usually go through a list of statements/questions to myself like this:

      1. What happened? —“a man screamed at me on the subway.”

      2. Why am I thinking about this? —“it was embarrassing/scary/intense.”

      3. What lesson does my brain want me to learn from this? (This isn’t to imply that the rumination is happening for any reason except lizard-brain anxiety, but I find it helpful as an escape hatch out of the thought cycle.) — “That next time I feel scared like that I should do X.”

      I don’t know if this will work for you, but for me it’s helpful to use a strong inner voice (almost subvocalizing) to ask and answer these questions, like it’s taking electricity away from the memory cycle; to make a strong sensible reframing of the story, so it’s not “I’m the worst and that was embarrassing” but “I screwed up a bit and in the future I’ll try not to”; and to think about the future or something lateral to the memory as a bit of an escape hatch from the cycle.

      Good luck. That sounds like it was a memorable event that shook you, and it’s not unreasonable you’re ruminating on it.

      1. Avasarala*

        Yes, “what do I want to learn from this.”

        Also imagining a different ending, like your friend showing up and taking you away and handing you an ice cream cone, or as the dude is yelling the police come and drag him away, or you glare at him and he breaks down and apologizes. Whatever feels satisfying and final.

    6. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Finding something else to focus on helps sometimes. For something like you describe, maybe try reciting poetry or song lyrics to yourself, or random boring facts or arithmetic–I do things like try to remember the capitals of all 50 states, or prime numbers (“2 is prime, 3 is prime, 5 is prime…49 isn’t prime, it’s seven squared”), facts with very little emotional content.

    7. Auto Generated Anon*

      I do this too. This advice is a little odd, but, there is a podcast called ‘The Hilarious World of Depression”. The episode where he interviews Rachel Bloom —- she talks about how she handles this kind of thought and it’s kind of amazing.

    8. StrikingFalcon*

      I get the “replay the stupid thing i said for ever and ever” one.

      Honestly, anti-anxiety medications made the biggest difference. It just happens less now, and it’s less intense when it does happen.

      In terms of non-medicine things I’ve done, I learned to be a lot nicer to myself inside my head, and that also helped. I instituted a “if you wouldn’t say it to someone you love, don’t say it to yourself” rule. If I caught myself thinking something mean about myself, I deliberately changed the thought. I wasn’t stupid because I said something awkward, I was just a bit awkward. We’re all awkward sometimes! It took less time than I expected to make a big indent in the habit.

      My therapist also gave me a really helpful framework. She described shame as a fear response. What was I afraid I was losing by saying something I was so acutely embarrassed about? Was that fear actually reasonable? What could I do about it if it was? How would I respond if the worst came true? It might be hard, but could I deal with it? Then I would just really focus on putting it out of my head. Like “Yes my boss was offended by that thing I said, but I already apologized, and he’s not going to refuse me a reference when I leave because of it. But even if he did, I would find a way to manage! But he won’t, so now I’m going to put this aside and focus on something else. The next time I see him, I will just do my best to be cordial and professional and turn in good work, and with time, it won’t be a big deal.” Then I try to find something that takes all of my attention to do instead, because that also helps me break the thought pattern.

    9. Randomity*

      I think the techniques suggested are golden. However, if your brain is as contrary as mine and they don’t work, the only way I’ve been able to get rid of stuff like this without just waiting it out is deciding to think about it constantly. So whenever I catch myself not thinking about it thinking oh yes I need to think about that.

      It somehow tricks my brain into calming down and it stops auto-playing whatever crappy thing is going. It’s horrible, but it at least passes fairly quickly.

      Fingers crossed the nicer techniques work and you don’t have to try that :-|

    10. Not So NewReader*

      I treat brain repeats as a physical problem. I suggest a drink with electrolytes in it, as the body/brain can be low on minerals which would cause a tired mind. A tired mind gets stuck in loops like this. I also suggest extra rest, yeah, sleep it off.

      If this does not appeal to you, my last suggestion is to go instance by instance and hammer out a plan of what you will do the next time similar situations happen. This is a plan that will be easy to remember and in keeping with your personality.
      I know this is really tough.

      As far as a stranger yelling at me, my go-to is to walk away. For my own safety I don’t engage. It’s interesting to me that it only happens IF I have no one with me. I think it was last year, a woman yelled at me for not putting the shopping cart in the cart corral. I just shrugged and got in my car and locked the doors. Since my vertigo was acting up randomly, that cart was going to have to get moved by someone else. Just proof that we never know what another person is going through. Likewise, for my part here, I had no idea what caused her to think she was the cart police. She was verrry frustrated with me.

      The saying something stupid is easier to deal with than the yelling stranger situation. I consider myself well-practiced on how to deal with the aftermath of stupid things that come out of my mouth. I can honestly tell you this concerned dialed way back for me when I started doing a couple things:
      1) I pause before I speak. Most of the time people read that as “thinking” and it does not diminish a person.
      2) I decided that when I did say the wrong thing, I would apologize as so as I realized. This was a very freeing decision, I was able to let go of some fear/worry by just deciding to be responsible for cleaning up the mess I just made.

      What happened next was amazing. I stopped saying so many stupid things. And it was much easier to let go of stupid things that others said to me. I was able to say, “BTDT, it’s okay. I know what you meant.” Oddly, genuinely forgiving others, helped me to also forgive myself.

      I still say stupid things. But I now know that crap happens.

    11. Wishing You Well*

      I don’t know if you can get your brain to stop, but I just learned that these are “emotional flashbacks”. So when I have one, I think “Oh, that’s an emotional flashback.” Labeling the thought and realizing it’s normal and a common problem makes it less powerful and shortens its staying power.
      You’re not alone by a long shot! Sending good thoughts!

    12. ouchie*

      I don’t usually get stuck on thoughts, but there was one time that I did. There was a fatal fire in our neighborhood that killed two children (very tragic). The fire had started from an overloaded lint trap in their dryer. For a couple years, every time I cleaned out my dryer’s lint trap, I thought of that fire and those two children. It was a like a tic. Every single time. The thoughts themselves weren’t disturbing, just the repetitious nature of them.

      Turns out that the fire didn’t happen that way. Two years later, the mother was arrested and charged with arson. She had mental issues and confessed she had set the fire deliberately. My repetititious thoughts were instantly cured…

    13. Jarffe*

      Before I got treatment for depression I had this lots. As soon as I caught myself obsessing about anything I’d repeat a nonsense, usually fun phrase to myself over and over focusing on it so I had to stop thinking about the other stuff. Then, when I was focused om nonsense I would think about something else focusing on it very firmly and fully so I could distract myself until I felt better. I might focus on planning the rest of my day or think about something I enjoy. The nonsense phrase was usually something short, like ‘I like tacos’ or ‘today is Tuesday’ or ‘I like purple’ not anything with a deep meaning that would make you feel anything just something to concentrate on until you’re not overwhelmed.

    14. Jdc*

      Ugh I’m doing this with the other night. I finally said “eh whatever I don’t even know these people”. But obviously that doesn’t always work if you do know them.

    15. Donkey Hotey*

      I realize I’m a little late here. A few years ago, I heard Neil Gaiman read his story “Other People” and it changed my life as far as replaying bad/triggering events in my head. Had I less impulse control, I would’ve had “again” tattooed somewhere I could regularly see it. As it is, I only need to say, “Again.” and it breaks me out of my cycle.
      Here’s the text: https://a-sunsetinmyveins.tumblr.com/post/1462028133/a-story-from-fragile-things-short-fictions-and
      (Trigger warning: It’s a guy being tortured in hell.)

  11. What Even Is This*

    My body is falling apart. October sucked and November looks no better.

    1. If you’ve been heavily pregnant you may have experienced weird pains as though you’d accidentally sat on a knitting needle. I have these. I cannot be pregnant.

    2. I have had an upset stomach and there is a current salmonella outbreak here which I may well have been exposed to. I’m mostly better but around 90mins to 2 hours after eating any solid food I get crippling stomach cramps. I’m therefore delaying eating anything at all until I’m safely home for the evening. Mild cramps all day.

    3. Around four weeks ago I took an accidental blow to the chest. It felt bruised for a while, but now it’s actually slightly warm and aching in its own right.

    I expect I’m just run down and catastrophizing, but these three are keeping me up at night. Particularly 1 in combination with 2. It’s so like late pregnancy but literally can’t be. So what can it be?!

    I am not asking for actual advice. I know I should see my doctor (if only for 3) if I’m not better next week. But I’d really like a commentariat-stamped “that sucks”.

    Grumble grumble.

    1. DrTheLiz*

      That sucks! Time for warm blankets and relaxation mode of choice. Maybe try ginger tea. I hope you get better soon!

    2. Fikly*

      I’ve had three major health crises in the last week, including one 12 hour ER trip, and I’m putting off calling my doctor on a weekend to find out if I need to head back to the ER for an emergency spine MRI.

      It totally sucks.

      No advice, but hopefully you won’t mind if I say that number 1 sounds like classic nerve pain? Just to give you an avenue to investigate. Pregnancy can commonly trigger nerve pain, but so can many things.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Yes, it does, WellRed. I cracked 4(!!!) in a fall last December. There’s not really anything that helps with that except TIME. They told me to bind myself, but I didn’t because I get pneumonia easily and I know that’s not a good idea. Just mentioning this in case you go and they do tell you that’s what’s wrong.

        1. What Even Is This*

          I have cracked two ribs twice before (4 in total) and this feels different but they were on my back and not attached to my sternum so who knows!

          I am also prone to chest infections though so this is useful, thank you.

          1. blackcat*

            You may have dislocated it.

            Not that this will ease your “WTF this is like pregnancy” feeling, but my dislocated rib was due to pregnancy. It ached for a long time, but it got better rapidly once it was popped back into place (which, of course, had to wait until the parasite was out, or else he’d just kick it back out again).

    3. JDC*

      I get the needle pains randomly. Always have. It could be something but just saying easily nothing.

      Having a lot of experience with gallbladder wondering if it might be related for the stomach pain.

    4. LibbyG*

      Pulling out my suck-meter app … tap tap tap … yup, that 100% sucks.

      Here’s hoping for an easier time of it!

    5. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I get random stabby pains in my nether regions sometimes and there’s never a reason. Maybe you were sitting too long, or holding tension in your body in a strange way due to the stomach issues.

      But this totally sucks.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        Yes! Occasionally I’ve got those random stabby pains in the neither regions too. They don’t last long, but make you go OW! What the *%#*#%!
        So weird.

        1. MysteryFan*

          If the pains are Every Time you sit, I’d look into whether it might be fibroids or some other gyno issue. If it’s random.. I can only sympathize

    6. Alexandra Lynch*

      It does suck.
      Nerve pain is weird like that. I have fibromyalgia, and I wind up occasionally reexperiencing injuries from the past. It suddenly shows up, and five to ten minutes later abruptly flickers off, and there’s no real pattern to it. I can be comfortably seated with my knee in a neutral position, and suddenly it will decide I sprained it. Five minutes later, no pain.

    7. ..Kat..*

      For #2, if it was salmonella, you should also have fever, aches, chills and diarrhea. Whatever it is, please keep hydrated.

      For all of them, does your insurance have a nurse advice line?

      Sorry that you are going through this.

      1. What Even Is This*

        Yep, that was last week. I skimmed that part as TMI. It wasn’t as severe as I would expect salmonella to be which is why I’m mentally labelling it “a stomach bug” but it was pretty unpleasant.

        There is indeed an advice line, and the advice was to see my doctor in a few days if it doesn’t get better.

  12. DrTheLiz*

    There are a lot of options, I think you’ll need to find the one that will work for you. I’ve found that I do well with a balance between “dwell” time, in which I let my brain go down rabbit holes for a bit, and “distract” time, in which whenever I’m thinking about [problem] it’s time to think of something else. When getting started I think it’s a good idea to put hard time limits on “dwelling”, like “if I’m still thinking about this in five minutes, nope, it’s ‘what would Buffy the Vampire Slayer do on Instagram’ time!” (Adjust to taste).

    This is a slow process, but the overall goal is to train your brain out of the habit of spiralling off into “why am I so awful” or whatever by breaking the habit of letting it. Instead of [negative thoughts] it’s The Doctor meets Godzilla or Barbie on Mice or literally anything that’s not [negative thoughts] so that over time you come back to a more healthy pattern of “yeah, that wasn’t nice, I could have done [X thing] better and I’m done”. You may not get there! But closer is better.

    Hope that helps.

    1. Shocked Pikachu*

      I do something similar. And I think whatever technique Lcsa99 picks, there will be “training” period involved.

    2. River Song*

      This is exactly what a therapist has recommended by best friend! She gives herself x amount of time to think about it, about how awful it was or could be, anything. And then when that amount of time is up, she makes herself think of something else. And if her mind starts to go back there again, she reminds herself she’s done for now and can think about it tomorrow during her next scheduled freak out. It’s really helped her not spend her day obsessing about something

    3. Lcsa99*

      Thank you! This is definitely the kind of thing I was looking for. I’ll have to stock up on links to funny cat videos (and Buffy on Instagram!) so I can try this

    4. Parenthetically*

      YES stuff like this is SO great and has been so helpful with my anxiety. I do it both ways — either give myself a time limit to think about it and then *DING* time’s up, time to rewatch S2E1 of Fleabag again! OR saying, “In two hours I’m going to come back to this but right now I’m going to do something else.” 95% of the time it doesn’t matter in two hours.

    1. Aurora Leigh*

      We have 2 — Misfit Market for fresh produce and Billie for shaving razors. It’s so nice to have stuff delivered to the house! And the produce box makes us eat healthier and try new things.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, wow, somebody just last week mentioned another one of those misfit-produce services but it didn’t deliver in my area, but this one does! (I should have guessed since you and I are in similar areas.) So I think I’ll sign up with this one later this year when I can plan for produce arrival.

      2. Parenthetically*

        I think we might try Misfits over the winter until our normal bi-weekly CSA kicks in next April or May. And I’m just waiting to get through my Dollar Shave Club razors so I can start doing Billie! I mean, not that I’m shaving my legs during a record-cold November at 32 weeks pregnant, but, you know… for later.

      3. CoffeeforLife*

        Oh thank you! Just checked them out and they (Misfit) deliver to our area!

        Also, I’m going to do a razor subscription as a holiday gift.

    2. DrC*

      Book and a Brew (UK) – a hardback book and different teas every month. It means I get something new to read that I probably wouldn’t have picked up, and I love having a variety of teas.

    3. Teach*

      Ipsy for makeup – personalizable, cheap, fun.
      Pura Vida bracelets – cute collections, seasonal.

        1. Kimberlee, No Longer Esq.*

          Thirding Ipsy! Love it. It’s usually 50/50; I like enough of the stuff to make it well worth the $12 or whatever per month, but there’s usually some extra stuff too, that I keep and make lil gift bags out of for friends on their birthdays and whatnot.

    4. Bluebell*

      My husband gets stitch fix quarterly. It’s the perfect amount and I love that he can try everything on at home rather than traipsing to Kohl’s or Macy’s. I get the Sephora play box which is small but fun. And not exactly a subscription, but we get a local organic produce box every other week. This weeks delivery had Brussels sprouts on the stalk.

    5. PhyllisB*

      Is anyone familiar with Raddish? It’s a subscription sort of like Blue Apron (I think?) for kids. I have a 12 year old grandson who loves to cook and thinking of getting a subscription for him.

      1. Owler*

        My 12 year old is uninterested in the Raddish kits we received. Perhaps they’ve changed in two years, but we tried it when she was 10, and the lack of actual ingredients meant that the onus was on me, the adult, to shop and get the ingredients ready. I think it might have worked for us if it was like a meal subscription with the ingredients included. I guess make sure the parent is on board, otherwise the kits may sit on a shelf.

        1. PhyllisB*

          Thank you, Owler!! I’ll read the ad very carefully then check with my daughter to see if she’s okay with it.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, that’s an interesting one. It wouldn’t work for me for a few reasons, but it does make me think that I might want to set up a subscribe-and-save in Amazon for some dental stuff. There’s something about its just turning up that makes things easier.

      2. Detective Right-All-The-Time*

        I get quip too! I’ve had it for about 2 years and my dentist has been thrilled with my at-home care ever since. Literally he was like “you brush better on your right than your left… but I’m just nitpicking because this is fantastic.”

    6. Mockingjay*

      Spotify Premium. Worth every single penny. I started with the free service for a few years, but the perks with Premium are just outstanding. No commercials, more genres and playlists than I can ever hope to listen to in a lifetime. I have explored musical styles and artists that I would never heard of otherwise through Discover Weekly, Daily Playlists, and other Recommendations (Because you listed to Artist, here’s similar).

      I did try Pandora for awhile, but the algorithm kept selecting the same songs over and over. It was like been trapped in an elevator with a single Muzak loop.

      1. CastIrony*

        I just use my Kindle tablet for Spotify because I can’t afford Premium for how little I use it. The ability to select songs on any list (Computers and tablets) is enough for me,

        However, my little brother LOVES Premium. He listens to it all night and day, and even falls asleep to it. :)

    7. Old Biddy*

      I love the Dermstore subscription box – it lets me try fancy skincare products and usually has a good assortment of stuff. I have really sensitive skin and haven’t had any flareups from stuff in the box. If you join their private facebook page you can find out the contents before it ships and cancel it if you want, but so far I haven’t skipped any months.

    8. Katefish*

      LeTote (clothes rental). Everything they send fits, which is such a contrast from normal clothes shopping, online or otherwise. You’re not obligated to buy anything, but you can if you’d like. It’s not too terribly expensive, and you can pause it for 1 – 2 months anytime. I have unlimited monthly boxes with 3 pieces of clothing and 2 accessories in each.

    9. Amethyst*

      Magickal Earth’s box is awesome if you love crystals and astrology. Depending on the box you choose, you can get just crystals or the whole shebang: themes centered around the month, extra fancy stuff (I’ve gotten a mini cauldron and a small singing bowl from months past) + pendant necklaces and crystals. I love it so. I recently had to suspend my subscription due to finances but I want to restart it ASAP.

    10. Goldfinch*

      My husband loved his Microbrew of the Month Club, but we had to cancel it. The shipping company always ignored the signature restriction, just dumped the box on our porch and took off. Half the time it was skunked, the other half it had frozen and gone flat, and we were terrified of the liability risk with teenage neighbors.

      If you can get a shipping company that doesn’t suck, I’d recommend it. It’s a great way to try new flavors that aren’t local.

    11. Sleepless*

      We did The Mysterious Package Company’s Curios and Conundrums box for awhile. It was aimed at kids a tiny bit younger than mine (they are in late high school, it was probably more for middle school) but they thought it was a hoot and we all enjoyed it more than we expected.

    12. purple otter*

      The Sill (monthly plant in pretty planter)! I love houseplants, I also love that they ship the plants already potted in pretty and colorful pots. I now have too many plants between my house and my office that I’ve had to put my sub on hold.

      In the past, I’ve also had a few other subscription boxes, but canceled for various reasons. I had a Birchbox subscription for 5+ years, and in the beginning I absolutely loved the mix of skincare, makeup, and lifestyle sample items, but in the last year or so I wasn’t even liking anything I received, and I just ended up with too many samples I couldn’t use (skin allergies). I had BlueApron for a bit, but as I’m single, the food was just too much for one person and took too long to prep. It was nice to have it when my sister crashed with me for a couple weeks so we alternated or shared cooking duty and the food was eaten in a timely manner. I did like several of the recipes I got from Blue Apron, and still cook them from time to time, but scaled down for one person. Had the graze snackbox for a few months, but it ended up being not worth it price-wise. I’m currently trialing a 3-month sub to Silk + Sonder, a monthly planner with some journaling prompts and recipes. Kind on the fence about Silk + Sonder, but would be a nice gift item for people who like to be organized.

    13. LizB*

      I love ButcherBox! The meat is super tasty, and I love that it takes one element out of the meal-planning puzzle — okay, I have these meats in the freezer, what am I going to make with them this week? We get the beef and chicken box, plus we signed up during a month where they were doing a free bacon for the life of your membership promotion, so we get really really good bacon as well.

  13. Fikly*

    It’s been a week. Two depressing comments, but then, I swear, a funny story!

    First up, anyone know anything about the difference between annoying symptoms of spine nerve issues and emergency you need care ones?

    I have a known cervical compression issue, that got worse last July when I concussed myself, jamming my neck in the process. Been in PT ever since. Everything’s been improving.

    Ten days ago, my left first bit of my pinky went numb. Now it’s the whole outside edge of my left hand. More Then a several inch wide band of skin right under my breasts/on my upper abdomen went numb, plus super itchy, then burning pain, now stabby nerve pain. Then last 12 hours, random stabbing nerve pain on my hip or even knee/ankle. Not in love with the progression. I’ve been keeping my PT in the loop, but I’m unlikely to hear from her over the weekend.

    I can reach out to my physiatrist, but I don’t know who is on call this weekend, and honestly, they’re going to err on the side of caution and send me to an ER, and I have already spent 12 hours at an ER this week, and the experience included them literally losing me, taking 3 hours to go from “we’ll just get you your discharge papers” to handing them to me, and the first doctor not understanding why difficulty breathing was maybe a symptom to be concerned about.

    1. Bluebell*

      My one piece of anecdata says go to the ER. I had a friend on chemo and he had spreading numbness. He messaged his doctor on a Friday because he wasn’t to alarmed. They got back to him on Sunday and said “get to the ER now.” And they put him on a steroid IV, I think.

    2. misspiggy*

      I’d try to arrange a nerve conduction test. That should tell you whether there are any urgent issues. Then you’ll need a neurology appointment.

      Also, double check the indicators for shingles. If you think it could be that, get treated as soon as humanly possible.

      1. Fikly*

        No rash, and it’s been 10 days. Dr. Google says it should have come up by now. But what a horrifying thought!

      2. IntoTheSarchasm*

        That is what I would have suggested as well, had a bout of it a few years ago – but I think the rash should have manifested by now.

    3. Filosofickle*

      I get not wanting to go to the ER, but we are talking about nerve damage. Early on in my bad disc / pinched sciatic journey, I had a moment where I felt nerve loss travel all the way down from butt to foot. After many years and many treatments (incl. surgery) I eventually got most of the feeling back. Not all. Still some numbness in my calf/foot.

      For me, if there’s anything that could have been done to stop the nerve damage from spreading faster or reverse it, it would have been worth doing. We can’t know if waiting two more days will make it worse for you — it has already been 10! Consider what long-term nerve damage might mean to you and weigh it against your evidently lousy ER.

      If you’re not already on some sort of major anti-inflammatory or steroid you may need to be. If you’ve been in touch with your care providers, it would surprise me they haven’t done this already though. Numb body parts are never a good sign, especially if it’s spreading. I ended up with several rounds of Prednisone to try to release the nerve and Gabapentin to control the stabbing pain, both of which did help.

      1. Fikly*

        Ooh, good point. I am, actually, on large doses of steroids for adrenal insufficiency. So I guess that is covering that base!

        Sadly I cannot take gabapentin, neurontin, lyrica, or anything of that sort because they are all cross contaminated with gluten, and that put me in the ICU.

        You make an excellent point about reversing progression. I have been focusing more on the fact that I still have motor control, but numbness is not great, as a permanent thing. Thank you.

        1. fposte*

          Just curious–when you say “cross contaminated with gluten,” do you mean that they’re made in a factory that also has products including gluten so even gluten-free medications are a problem? I’ve only thought about cross contamination like that with food, so I was wondering. Is that true of the generics as well, or is the problem that it may not be true of all the generics but you can’t take the chance?

          1. Fikly*

            So the issue with this particular medication is that it’s in gel-caps, and the gel cap itself has been exposed to gluten – likely through some kind of wheat (or barley/rye) dust floating through the air and landing on the caps where they were made, then they get shipped to medication factory, where they are filled with the med, then I take it and the gluten gets into me, and voila, I almost die.

            Plus there is the issue of all the various inactive ingredients and what they’ve been exposed to before they even get to the factory where they are assembled into tablet pill. And these medication manufacturers don’t test the finished products, of course, because that would cost money and they aren’t legally obligated to do so, thank you FDA, which doesn’t even legally mandate they disclose allergens.

            So if you call a drug company, and ask if a medication contains gluten, the best answer will get is that no ingredient is specifically gluten containing, but they cannot guarantee it did not come into the factory containing gluten. And then you have to take the pill and hope, and every batch can be different! Isn’t Celiac fun?

            This all assumes you’re needing a medication during business hours when you can call, and they can get the info quickly. My sister broke her arm, ended up in a major NYC ER where the hospital has a freaking center that studies Celiac, and they couldn’t give her safe oral pain meds for it because it was after business hours.

            1. Kt*

              I had a friend with bad celiac on gabapentin and she had to get it from a compounding pharmacy. I know the rules have changed on compounding pharmacies in the intervening 10 years, though….

    4. fposte*

      To be clear here, I’m providing information, *not advising against the ER*. But I can tell you that with my spine problems numbness and tingling, especially if chronic, haven’t been perceived as an emergency; motor issues/weakness (and, as you note, respiratory or other systemic stuff) are what gets doctors worried. While it’s not impossible for cervical spine issues to affect the legs, that’s not the usual picture, either.

      What I’d do if it were me is call the physiatrist’s office to talk to the on-call person (my health system also has a patient advisory nurse that would probably be able to talk to an on-call emergency ortho/neuro for me), make a point of noting that breathing, motor skills, strength are all fine, and asking what signs would make it ER worthy. If they say “these,” then you go in. If they say “Sucks to be you but there’s no likely intervention, so Monday is fine,” you make your call.

      I do think that it’s worth considering a neurology appointment, not just a physiatrist, because it’s possible that there’s something else neurological going on and you don’t want to overlook that just because you’ve had an injury that’s nerve related. The itching/burning thing fits a few different neuralgias, for instance.

      Sorry. I hate it when stuff kicks up on the weekend.

      1. Fikly*

        You know what, better (but further away) ER has a virtual urgent care thing. I shall call them.

        And I shall call my physiatrist’s on call service if they advise it, and if not, on Monday. And one of my two neurologists as well (collect them all).

        Thank you, the perspective is helpful. It’s super hard to tell when something chronic becomes no, you need to do something about this now.

    5. Fikly*

      Thank you all! Did the virtual urgent care thing, which I had forgotten was an option.

      Was told that I am fine to wait until Monday, watch out for x concerning symptoms, and virtual urgent care them right back if anything new develops (they are available very quickly 24/7).

      1. fposte*

        I’m glad it worked out. An ER visit is costly in so many ways, but so is skipping one when it’s really necessary; it can be hard to figure out which is the right fork in that road.

  14. Fikly*

    Second depression issue! My roommate has turned out to be a passive aggressive turd of a dude, and has decided he wants me out of the apartment. I am not happy, but there’s not a lot I can do about it. I have a couple of months, at least.

    I stumbled into this apartment, and it was my first one. Any good resources for finding apartments in Jersey City? I’m feeling reluctant about getting burned on a roommate again, but I also really like my current apartment, and am feeling unhappy about the fact that going to a studio or 1 bedroom means paying several hundred more for the equivalent square footage to just my bedroom, and a lot less amenities. Extra points for tips of searching for an apartment that is accessible for someone who uses crutches/a cane a lot.

    1. WellRed*

      I think Craigslist is still your best bet for roommates. You’re at a bit of a disadvantage in that you’re the one needing a place. Do you meet with the potential roommate and really chat with them about lifestyles and housekeeping philosophies and pet peeves. I have a whole unofficial checklist of criteria and then just basic meshing of personality. Still a crapshoot but I mostly get it right.

    2. MissGirl*

      Have you thought about finding the apartment and then advertising for a roommate? That way you’re the one in control of the situation.

      1. Fikly*

        That would be ideal, but I can’t really afford that – frankly, I can’t afford to spend the money on moving for a second time in 12 months either, I’m still spending more than I earn each month due to healthcare expenses.

        I have a hard time evaluating people. I’ve decided I’m going to bring a friend I trust (who has lots of roommate experience) to meet people and help evaluate who might be a good fit.

    3. Thankful for AAM*

      My son found a great shared house using roommates.com. He “caved” and finally paid for a monthly membership, which was not expensive. He said it was great bc the small cost weeded out the less than serious people.

      1. Not a cat*

        I had to do an “emergency” downsize do to job loss and serious heart issues. I used roomates.com and found it to be a good resource. While the place is about 1/3 as nice as my old one, it’s spacious and my roommate is very nice and very quiet. Extra bonus she has a cat who I adore!

    4. LGC*

      You’ve already got good advice for finding an apartment (which I might use myself) – and depending on what your mobility is, you might want to look for first floor units. I’m not sure how many friends/acquaintances you have in the area, but I’d look to room with any of those if possible. (Like, basically someone where you’re almost certain things won’t go permanently sideways, or someone where it wouldn’t be that much of a loss.

      Specific to the area, I’m not sure if you’re looking in JC proper, but you might want to expand your radius. I’d suggest Bayonne or Harrison, for example (partly because of their transit connections – Bayonne has pretty regular HBLR service, Harrison has the PATH that’s about 10 minutes from Grove St). But Jersey City also kind of depends on what neighborhood you’re in – whether you’re downtown, in the Heights, or down in Greenville.

      I’ve also seen quite a few ads for affordable housing. (So like, the $30k-$50k range for singles.) So that could also be an option if you’d consider that.

      1. Fikly*

        I am pretty flexible in area, as long as it takes under an hour to get into Manhattan. And not via a bus. (I do not have the visual landmark locating ability to reliably get off at my stop, I’ve tried all the tricks, I just can’t do it.)

        Affordable housing is potentially interesting! $30-$50k a year is out of my budget, what does the 30-50k refer to? I shall also google. I may make slightly too much to qualify, but not actually enough to live comfortably, if you know what I mean. But thanks for the suggestions! I actually just contacted someone about a place in Harrison.

        1. LGC*

          Good luck!

          When I say $30-$50k, I mean single person income. So, basically, you’d have to make that range for the affordable housing units that I’ve seen advertised. Rents would be in the…low to mid $1000s/month, I think? (That’s what I’ve seen.) And if you’re making near the lower end of that, you likely qualify for housing subsidies.

          If you’re looking for an hour train ride into Manhattan…that’s a pretty wide range! That brings you well into Essex County, at least. But honestly, then you have to contend with NJ Transit, which is…a mess, and not cheap.

          1. Fikly*

            Ah, yeah, as I suspected, income slightly over. My rent budget is really $1200/month at max, but that’s because what I’m spending on healthcare a month is even more than my rent, so it’s not totally in line with my income if you’re looking at income as the only factor. And yes, I have health insurance.

            Yeah, I’d like to not use NJ Transit more than just the Light Rail and the PATH, which is what I’m using where I currently live. The search continues!

  15. WellRed*

    I’ve had a lot of trouble buckling down and focusing at work (keep procrastinating at making calls or writing stories). It’s also happening IRL, like paying bills or going to the store. I don’t know if it’s garden variety burnout/or mild depression/aging or something more. How do I determine if I might need to check in with my dr? I did look up executive functioning, but I think I am mostly OK there. I posted awhile back about a weird groove on my head that appeared this summer but isn’t causing any physical problems. I know this all sounds very vague but it’s not like me. I’ll be 50 soon.

    1. Lena Clare*

      I don’t know if you’re a woman; I found that I’m getting terrible memory and concentration lapses. Apparently it’s a menopause thing, and I am gong through the menopause.

      I think it’d be worth talking to your doctor about, if not just to put your mind at rest!

    2. Nicki Name*

      If it’s impairing crucial life activities, like work or bill-paying, it’s definitely time to see a medical professional.

      Same for if it starts seriously impacting your overall enjoyment of life.

    3. fposte*

      I say when in doubt, check in. Especially for mental stuff we often feel like we have to meet some bar of need, but I think that means we often delay care and lose time when it could have really helped us.

    4. LilySparrow*

      How are you sleeping? It’s amazing how much it affects you if you are waking up in the night, and it’s super-common at this age to sleep restlessly.

    5. Wishing You Well*

      Odd thought: “Digital dementia” was in the news lately. The theory is that too much screen time impairs decision making and kills our motivation to do anything else. The hunched-over posture doesn’t help our health, either.
      D.D. might not be your issue, so I’d check in with your doctor. Maybe have a blood test for thyroid, blood sugar, white cell count or iron, etc. Definitely have someone look at that groove and don’t let the doc take it lightly if you know it wasn’t there before.
      It’s reasonable to have a thorough health check around age 50. Ask about all the vaccines for adults: flu, shingles, whooping cough, pneumonia, tetanus booster, etc. It’s time to start seeing your doctor once a year, if only to check blood pressure, sugar and cholesterol.
      Take good care of yourself!

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      For what it’s worth, that’s one thing that seems linked to my Vitamin D levels tanking.

    7. Greymalk*

      I just reminded myself to get my sunlight spectrum lamp out last week for just this reason, and I did feel like it helped this week (circadian help or placebo effect, who cares?)

  16. Fikly*

    Ok, happy story, as promised! This is not my story, but it made me laugh, a lot, during my horrible no good week, so I’m sharing.

    To set the scene: you’re a grad student in comparative anatomy, studying whales. You’re conducting a study on whale vocal boxes. (some can be 15 feet wide!) Early one morning, you get a call that a whale has washed up on shore in New Jersey. The Smithsonian is coming for it, but they just want the bones, so if you can get there by 9:00 a.m., you can cut out the vocal box and take it for your study. You’ve never gotten to cut up a whale on a beach before.

    Well, it’s the late 80s, you don’t own a car, and the whale is 2 1/2 hours away. The local car rental places don’t open until 8:00 a.m.

    There you are, speeding down the Turnpike in Jersey, when you hear the sirens and flashing lights. You pull over, and because you are young and naive, you get out of the car. The cop is a bit taken aback. He asks why you were speeding. You quickly explain that there’s a whale stranded on the beach (and leave out the already dead detail), providing your student ID and waving your lab coat.

    He looks in the back of your car, and pales. You look too, and realize it’s full of everything you thought you could need – giant garbage bags, plastic sheeting, scalpels, knives of many sizes, machetes, ropes, duct tape, and plastic buckets. He asks for ID. You give it to him, and he tells you to stay put while he goes back to radio in.

    You have no cell phone, no way to contact anyone. It slowly dawns on you that you look like a serial killer. Slowly the cop walks back. He tells you that there was a cut up body found just yesterday in the area, but that he radioed down to the police that were by the whale, and that he will escort you to the whale.

    You get back into your rental, and the lights and sirens come back on, this time escorting you to the whale. Because he’s radioed ahead, even though it’s well after 9:00 a.m. when you get there, everyone is waiting, even the Smithsonian. Everyone stops what they’re doing and looks at you. You see the whale. It’s a small one, barely even 15 feet long. You grab your equipment and start climbing. As you begin to cut, the cop slowly backs away.

    And that is how you meet your first whale on a beach.

    1. River Song*

      That is great!
      My husband is a police officer and one of my favorite of his stories is when he pulled over a man for speeding, and then discovered he had warrants. The other thing the man had…was a monkey. There, in the car with him. Husband had only been an officer for a year, maybe two. Monkeys, my husband quickly discovered, are extremely territorial and bond with very few people. So there they are, on the side of the road, husband waiting as the man called any and everyone who could come pick up the monkey. Husband called animal control, and they literally laughed out loud before saying “no, we only take dogs” and hanging up. And monkey is getting more and more upset, and just going berserk in the parked car, doing circles and screeching everytime someone touched the car at all. Finally after about twenty minutes, they got ahold of someone who could come get the monkey and the car. Husband later complained that they never discussed that possibility in the academy, nor were there any department protocols on how to handle it.

      1. Fikly*

        I love it! I feel like that either got him mad respect, or a lot of mockery, from his fellow police, and I cannot predict which way it went.

        1. Donkey Hotey*

          Judging by the cops I know, there is -zero- chance that man didn’t receive monkey paraphernalia for every holiday until he retired.

    2. HBJ*

      Ooh, this reminds me.

      Years ago, my husband and I lived in an area of the country with a lot of hunting. Common butchering protocol if you don’t have time to do it all yourself or you don’t want to and/or you don’t need all the meat is to call a pal, ask them to help you cut it up, and then give them some of the meat. So that’s what we did – we helped a buddy butcher in exchange for some meat. Then, at 10:30 pm at night, we’re driving home with probably a solid 60 pounds of various small chunks of red meat sitting in tubs in the backseat to turn into ground/mince the next day.

      And that’s when we were pulled over for a busted taillight. And the cop sees it. “Uhh, that’s not your annoying roommate back there, right?” I’m not kidding, he actually said that. He didn’t give us any trouble, and we didn’t get a ticket either IIRC, or maybe just a correctable one. I guess he had all the info if a dead, mutilated body did show up in a couple days. And, again, everyone hunts in that area, and it was a known open season.

      1. Fikly*

        I have actually seen police pull over people on tv, see suspicious (but not illegal) things in their cars, and what they have said is exactly that. They make a note of ID, license plate, and what they saw, and if it comes up in connection with say, a homicide, they know where to start looking.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I drove home with a quartered doe in plastic bags in the trunk once and was praying I didn’t get pulled over, lol.

    3. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

      Love it!
      Reminds me of the time my dad – who used to do the special make-up for emergency services training (so not exactly Hollywood levels of SFX but good enough that, combined with some am-dram acting gave the police, paramedics, A&E intake staff something to work with) – was involved in a “major incident training event” at Manchester airport (it was being done out the back of Terminal 3, no flights interrupted, no impact on the normal running of the airport).
      To get to where they were doing the incident (complete with a real “fake” plane crash – so cool!), he still needs to go through security, along with his make-up kit. This make-up kit includes pints of fake blood, scalpels, pallet knives, *real* knives, scissors, tweezers – pretty much a check-list of forbidden items. Obviously, this goes through the x-ray machine (because it’s not being checked in for a real flight!) and dad’s very nearly involved in a “major incident” before it got started because no-one had told this particular security staff what was going on.
      Dad got off lightly – one of the “casualties” got a bit carried away with his am-dram and was very nearly arrested for real after he got a bit too “upset” with a police officer attending the scene.

  17. Vegan potluck recipes*

    Does anyone have an idea for a vegan potluck recipe? This is for adults and I am trying to find something that can be reheated in a microwave. Hoping to stay away from crudités, salads, raw veg. Thanks

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Black bean chili is vegan and can be very easily reheated. There are a ton of recipes out there, many of which add sweet potatoes.

      Lots of Indian dishes make great potluck options. Baingam bartha, aloo gobi, etc. Just use oil instead of butter if the recipe calls for it.

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      There are a lot of amazing vegan chili recipes out there. My meat-loving husband makes an awesome vegan chili that’s so thick and hearty you definitely don’t notice there’s no beef in it. I’ll see if I can hunt down the recipe and post it.

      1. Kimmy Schmidt*

        I make a black bean and lentil chili in my crock pot! Easy, hearty, and healthy, and you can dress it up with chives, sour cream, or cheese (for any guest who aren’t vegan).

    3. Grace*

      Curries?

      I had a veggie masala that was incidentally vegan last night – as in, no meat or dairy substitutes that non-vegans might find mildly suspicious, just the recipe as it’s meant to be, being vegan. You could bring rice and (very carefully) reheat it, or you could just load the curry with veg and serve it as-is.

    4. JediSquirrel*

      Seconding all the chili suggestions, although I have made it with red lentils to great acclaim.

      Check out the Minimalist Baker website. Lots of recipes just like what you are looking for.

    5. akaDaisy*

      Just about any curry can be made with veggie broth, coconut milk, and all veg rather than veg and meat. Recipes are plentiful. I eat mine in a bowl as a stew, others eat over rice.

      1. Koala dreams*

        I like a curry with spinach and red lentils. You can add more vegetables to make it more filling.

      2. AcademiaNut*

        Some Thai curry paste recipes are vegan – a vegetable green curry with some tofu or tempeh is very nice. On the Indian side, a chana masala (chickpea and tomato curry) is filling, reheats well and is easy to make, and a palak mushroom (mushrooms in spinach gravy) can be vegan as well.

    6. Overeducated*

      For a hearty side, Smitten Kitchen’s spinach and chickpeas is my go-to. It’s fine warm or at room temperature. If you want to make it more of a main, just add good bread, it’s got protein and vegetables.

    7. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Most vegetable side dishes are easily made vegan.

      Soups are another good option (butternut squash soup, cabbage soup, anything either vegetable broth based or puréed vegetable based).

      For something heartier, rice and beans are a classic combo and can be done up in lots of different seasonings/ways from more tropical/coconut to more regional Latin America.

      Roasted spaghetti squash with marinara sauce and fresh basil would be delicious too.

    8. cat socks*

      I recently made coconut curry lentils with spinach from Budget Bytes. It reheats well and I served it with rice.

    9. Cruciatus*

      I’m not vegan, but I made Budget Byte’s Chunky Lentil and Vegetable soup for a potluck at work and it was vegetarian approved (I’m assuming it would also be vegan approved)! It’s easy to heat up or just keep it in a crock pot if you have that available. It makes a lot, is filling, and is just plain tasty. I’ll have the link in a follow up post.

    10. Thankful for AAM*

      A quinoa salad packed with seasonal veggies (roasted, raw, whatever works best for those veggies), nuts/seeds, and dried fruit (again, whatever works with the season and dressing – raisins, cranberries, cut up apricots).

      Dressing can be oil and vinegar or a blended to creamy deliciousness nut dressing (which works well with curry seasonings).

      1. Bluebell*

        I was going to suggest quinoa with roasted root veggies and mushrooms. Use an Apple cider glaze and it’s seasonal and delicious!

    11. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      It does have “salad” in the name, but the chipotle butternut squash and quinoa salad from budget bytes is a hearty vegan dish and very seasonally appropriate.

      1. Kimmy Schmidt*

        Sweet potato is a good base for a lot of vegan options. Sweet potato and butternut squash soup, sweet potato and chickpeas, loaded sweet potato with black beans and salsa. I’ve been obsessed with a sweet potato/corn recipe where you mash all the ingredients up together and fry them into patties. I do use an egg and top with a yogurt dressing, but I think both could be omitted. The texture wouldn’t be quite the same but the taste would.

    12. Pieforbreakfast*

      Pasta with homemade pesto (leave out the cheese in the pesto if the recipe calls for it)
      Roasted vegetables or roasted potatoes

    13. Lore*

      Sweet potato and black bean tacos. I can’t find the exact recipe I like but there are plenty—seasoning is honey & lime & chili. Last time I made it for a taco party, I had to shoo the omnivorous guests away because they were so much better than the chicken ones. Delicious at room temp or heated.

    14. LibbyG*

      Some grain-based pilaf with nuts and dried fruit in it could be good. Reheats well and often tastes good at room temperature. I used to make a bulghur pilaf with finely chopped apricots and walnuts or pistachios.

    15. teashirt*

      pumpkin soup with coconut milk, and cumin/cinnamon. For dessert smitten kitchen’s coconut cake with oil and baking soda/vinegar. I added shredded coconut to it because even though there’s coconut milk in there, the taste is subtle. add vegan choco chips if you want.

    16. Ranon*

      Blow everyone away with awesome vegan gumbo: https://www.cilantroandcitronella.com/vegan-gumbo/

      The jambalaya and red beans and rice recipes on the same site are also pretty stellar.

      You can also do lentils + American taco seasoning to make a really good taco dip, for a potluck I might do it as a layered dip and sprinkle the typical American taco toppings on top after you heat it and serve with tortilla chips

    17. tamarack and fireweed*

      All good suggestions in the thread already. If you want an easy winter side dish, take a well washed Delicata squash, deseed, cut it into narrow strips (including the peel), dump in a glass dish. Also dump one yellow onion cut into thin strips. Add olive oil, salt, good amount of pepper. Bake at ~400 F / 200 C for about 45 min, or until the squash is done and the onions have slightly caramelized. (If the onions go dark, cover with aluminium foil. Also, stir once at about half-time. I adjust as I go.)

      I like that it’s super easy, comes out very fragrant and nicely peppery, and has just about 5 ingredients, none of which is animal-derived.

    18. Urdnot Bakara*

      If you have a slow cooker–I made a zucchini lasagna in my slow cooker once that was delicious and I was really proud of it! The version I made was not vegan because it included ricotta cheese and non-vegan lasagna noodles, but I did some googling and it looks like you can find vegan versions of those ingredients relatively easily. To make it, you keep layering tomato sauce, noodles, more sauce, cheese, sliced zucchini, and spinach until you fill the bowl, then cook on low 8 hours (I think?) or high for 4. It also reheated very well in the microwave!

    19. Donkey Hotey*

      Best veggie potluck recipe I ever had was a regular butter chicken recipe that I substituted Quorn Chik’n and coconut milk for the chicken and butter, respectively (plus veggie broth instead of chicken broth).

  18. DrC*

    You don’t realise how wonderful central heating is until you don’t have it. Boiler went out yesterday so we have no heating or hot water, and we have to wait till Monday for it to be fixed. I’m wearing several layers and a hat, and hiding under a blanket. Ordered a small electric heater which should come later today.

    1. WellRed*

      Hot beverages. Also don’t understand the warming power of moving around. Run a vacuum, water plants, fold laundry. I live in a drafty old place.

    2. StellaBella*

      Stove can help to boil water for a hot water bottle to make the bed warm. Also bake something and then use extra heat from the oven being on after done and the oven is off. Layers are good like you say. Socks help too! And a hat. Also place a rollednup towel by bottoms of drafty doors to block cool air too.

      1. CastIrony*

        Seconding the stove to heat water, but to fill a big bucket in your shower or bathtub with the warm water for showering/bathing! Then, you use a bowl or similar container to pour water on yourself with as you shampoo and use body wash to clean yourself with!

        It stinks, but sorry and good luck on the boiler issue!

        1. Alexandra Lynch*

          Fill a cooler with the hot water. It keeps the temp up.

          When our water heater went out and we had to wait a couple weeks to get the money together to replace it, I heated water in the turkey roaster, poured it into the cooler, and then put the cooler in the bathtub. Husband would come home from work, add cold water from the tap to suit, and use a large plastic mug to scoop the water out. It is still a sponge bath, but a pretty luxurious one.

          I used crockpots to heat water to wash dishes; if I started two crockpots of water when I started cooking, I had hot water to wash the dishes with and rinse them with, and it worked decently enough to be tolerable.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      If it drops below freezing in your area, now’s a really good time to do any backlogged baking. And drain pipes, if you can.
      But here’s hoping you’re “just” uncomfortable not pipe-worrying.

      1. Natalie*

        You can turn the faucets on very low (basically a trickle) and they won’t freeze. But any pipes that are inside are probably sufficiently warm that they’ll be okay.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          It depends on weather & house. Whichever former owner finished the basement room insulated it in a way that left the pipes for the upstairs on the OUTSIDE of the insulation. We had to cut holes in the basement ceiling to get enough airflow to keep it from happening again. (Decorative metal vents for the win.)

          1. Natalie*

            Gotta love DIY work sometimes. That sounds like they would have been at risk whether or not the heat was working, since the insulation would keep the heat from traveling to those pipes. But then again, I live in a very cold state so something like that would have made itself known pretty quickly.

    4. I'm A Little Teapot*

      electric blankets. Full size for the bed, throw size for the couch. Hope the fix isn’t too expensive!

      1. Not a cat*

        Do you have a heating pad? When you are sitting, put it in your lap.

        PS I’ve been doing this for years and have to fight two cats and a dog for the warm spot :)

  19. Supporting aging parent*

    TL:DR Advice on supporting an aging parent’s agency when the children disagree amongst themselves?

    Issue at hand is siblings disagree on caring for an aging parent (& on healthcare in general), so said parent wants non-family health care proxy & power of attorney. How to support this choice in ways that encourage sibs to collaborate? Note that parent is fully competent, fit, active, social, etc., & temperamentally *very*independent.

    Siblings are radically different, with radically different ideas of what is & could be needed, & what’s appropriate. Parent’s choice of non-child HCP & PoA would solve some inevitable infighting but create some fallout. Stories of what has worked well in families choosing non-family for these roles would be welcome, along with any stories of supporting the agency of a parent when the children disagree.

    1. Dainty Lady*

      Sounds like while the parent IS fully competent, he or she needs to put this in order and be very clear about intentions and wishes, leaving as little room as possible for disagreement. Have the lawyer meet with everyone and clarify everything. Don’t DIY this one.

      Is WHY the children disagree important? For instance will responsibility be disproportionate? Or are there values and identity differences? Maybe these are not important, just thinking.

    2. Anonyme*

      I work in critical care so I have seen more so the opposite – when things go badly. Parent should see a lawyer and get all documents drawn up well ahead of time. They should update emergency contact/next of kin info with the local hospitals. They then need to make sure that the people who understand and support their wishes have a copy of the documents.

      1. Yup*

        The documents should include durable power of attorney, Advanced Medical directive, a Trust and a will.

        1. Anonyme*

          Agreed. Also depending where you live, you can file your Advanced Medical Directive with the local health care system ahead of time. We’ve had people come in to the emergency department and retrieved this when we’ve had to have conversations with the families.

    3. Supporting aging parent*

      I should add that parent knows that things will need to be formal & legal. Parent is hoping to get kids to agree rather than arguing about their choices both now & should those formalities need to be implemented.

      Kids differ in roles, expectations, relative understanding of & familiarity with medical preferences, geography, etc. Hoping to help us toward “what parent wants” as the primary objective. Possibility of everyone being in the same place briefly in the summer, which would allow for moderated discussion if everyone would agree to it. We aren’t there yet.

      1. WellRed*

        I’m not sure how much the kids need to agree here at least not 100%. It’s not their life, at least as long as the parent is still fully functioning. This is why committees take so long to get things done. Someone needs to be in charge. Maybe that’s part of what you are talking about?

        1. fposte*

          Yes, I would agree. And the advantage of the non-family POA is it gives somebody external for the siblings to fight with. The best thing you might be able to do for your parent is break it to them that if they wait until everybody’s on board, they’ll never get these drafted, the kids will still be fighting, and their wishes won’t be honored.

      2. Fikly*

        I think parent needs to understand that they need to formalize things regardless of whether or not kids agree, and at most, that agreement is going to be, we need to respect parent’s legally binding choices.

        And parent needs to understand that they need to get everything legal and in writing sooner rather than later, because anyone can get hit by a car any day. Everyone should have these things in writing, frankly.

    4. Not A Manager*

      Yes of course Parent needs to nail this down legally asap. But also, Parent needs to be sure that they are selecting a health care proxy who is able and willing to exercise their judgment in the face of objections from at least one of the siblings. That’s harder than it sounds. It’s hard for emotional reasons – what non-family member wants to insist on stopping life support, or on not inserting a feeding tube, in the face of the strong objections of someone’s next of kin? But it’s also hard for legal reasons. No matter who has what papers, no matter who might or might not win in the end, NO hospital and probably no POA wants to be at the receiving end of a lawsuit from an upset relative. (The most likely action would be getting a TRO while the parent is still alive, and trying to litigate their care.)

      So the parent needs to be sure that they have all their legal ducks in a row, but also their emotional and relational ducks as much in a row as is possible. I would suggest three things:

      First, choose the right POA. Really talk to them about how they envision being the Final Decisionmaker if and when the kids disagree. Ask them what you can do now to make that process easier for everyone. Maybe consult with a therapist who has experience with families and end-of-life care.

      Second, speak frankly to the kids. You don’t need their permission, but everyone will be better off the more clear the parent is upfront. Talking to the counselor before talking to the kids can help with this. I would suggest, at a minimum, presenting why this is best for you (you want your wishes respected and you want to choose one person to ensure that, for example) but also why it is better for them (fighting over a parent’s care can cause serious rifts in a family and you want to avoid that; deciding to end care is hard and you want to avoid guilt and regret, for example).

      And third, in addition to any legal documents, try to write down your own personal end-of-life philosophy. You might have checked certain boxes regarding feeding tubes or “extraordinary measures,” but the more you can share with your children *why* you’ve made those choices, the easier it will be for them to accept them. And, as a practical matter, the easier it will be for your POA to push back against any resistance.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Parent needs to put everything in writing.

      The radically different ideas on what is, what could be and what is appropriate are all totally Irrelevant. What the parent wants is the top consideration only.

      My suggestion for building cohesion is for each sib to consider how they want to be treated when their time comes, first and foremost. This question opened my eyes a lot. Would I be willing to lay in a hospital bed month after month because someone else had decided that I SHOULD? hell no. Would I be willing to try an experimental drug so I can live another day/week/month? Absolutely not. So why-oh-why would I ask this of someone else. Others would disagree.

      Remind them that it is not about what they want. It’s about what Parent wants and how to clarify Parent’s wishes so the wishes can be properly carried out. Remind them that if some one trampled over their own wishes to inflict the proxy- person’s wishes, they would be pretty upset.

      Different stages of life also come with different perspectives. At 20 I was scared crapless of dying without having had an real life of any substance. (My own concern and NOT how I view other people who have passed away young.) Now as I am coming up on my 60th birthday, I think I actually have had taking a shot at living life, that heavy concern of dying before I had even begun to live is gone.
      You can ask your sibs to consider fast-forwarding up to Parent’s age and ask them how they might feel differently at that time.

      Last, the person in charge of your parent’s health decisions should be able to set aside their own thoughts and follow your parent’s written instructions. If they cannot do that, then they should not have medical proxy. So your parent can question each person by saying, “Do you feel that you can set aside your own thoughts and ideas and follow the instructions in this proxy?”

      If you look at some of these proxies online you will see they are pretty thorough. They anticipate many types of situations. I would think that even if the parent’s actually situation was not covered by the written proxy a thorough proxy would provide enough info that the medical guardian could piece together what Parent would want.

      Your parent may also want to consider just assigning one person as proxy. They can also name a second person should the first person not be able or chose not to do the work.

    6. LilySparrow*

      If the parent is competent and puts everything in writing, then they don’t need your support in order to have agency, and they don’t need the kids to agree.

      You just encourage them to get the paperwork done as soon as is feasible. Encourage them not to put it off waiting for magical agreement, which probably isn’t going to happen.

      Here’s the thing – if you do the papers, and the siblings get their acts together and grow up enough to do the right thing, then the papers are there to give guidance. They will cheerfully cooperate with the proxy, and all is well.

      If you get the papers done and the siblings disagree, then at least you have measures in place to make that disagreement irrelevant.

      There is zero downside to getting the papers done. They create clarity and take pressure off the family in a time of crisis.

      There is an enormous downside to not getting them done – both in terms of physical suffering to the patient, and in conflict that could permanently ruin relationships.

      And if the relationships are already so fraught that the very act of signing the papers will cause drama, it will be a freaking nightmare when they are full-on fighting about who controls the checkbook and who holds the morphine button.

    7. Washi*

      I used to work with the elderly, and usually in cases like this, the parents would get as much as possible in writing about their wishes, and appoint the child whose philosophy on end of life care most aligns with theirs. I realize this can also cause some strife, but if the parents are competent, it’s relatively easy to say “we do not want to be intubated. Kids A and B have said that they would intubate us against our wishes, so we are appointing Kid C as healthcare proxy.”

      If there’s an obvious non-family member, that’s great, and I’ve seen close friends and other relatives step into this role. I would recommend choosing someone local, ideally, since it’s already a big responsibility and being hours away makes it even harder. But for a lot of families, it makes the most sense for it to be the kids, and it’s easier to change the goal to “pick the one who will carry out our wishes” vs “make everyone agree.”

    8. Pieforbreakfast*

      Get their wishes in writing but also encourage them to talk openly and regularly about what they want to everyone involved.

    9. Earthwalker*

      Don’t wait to get the parent’s wishes written down. When my stepmom died I discovered that while Dad kept meticulous records of her last requests he had prepared none of his own. He declined so quickly after her death that I couldn’t get him to do PoA or resuscitation orders or any of it. I knew his wishes, though, and fortunately everyone took my word that I was the only family left and didn’t question my authority. I felt like I’d screwed up not assuring that we had proper PoA and all in place long before that point and we just got lucky. If you’re thinking about it, and you see problems ahead with the family, you’re probably already down to the wire on this. Don’t let your parent procrastinate on getting it in writing.

  20. AvonLady Barksdale*

    When we moved to our new city, I joined two groups for my main, performance-based hobby. One of the groups is organized, professional, welcoming, and with a very high level of skill. People take it seriously and I’m enjoying it immensely.

    The other? Hoo boy. I was in this group when I first lived in this area, 20 years ago, and some of the same people are still there– which is great for longevity but leads to laziness. There is a lot of commentary, sniping, talking during rehearsals– which I hate– and people are not very warm. Leadership is completely disorganized and has not figured out how to take advantage of current technology in a useful way. So I think I may have to quit. Which means my partner will quit too– he was also in the group years ago but gets annoyed by some of the same things– so I just feel bad.

    We’re going to stick it out through next weekend’s performance and then re-assess. But it’s a bummer. Part of me wants to tell them exactly why I’m unhappy, but somehow I don’t think it will make a difference.

    1. families!*

      I am annoyed at a choir I joined – when I joined they gave me the dates for all the rehearsals, extra ones close to the performance, all great. But then, they asked us to come in early/stay late for pieces that only involve certain voices; they scheduled extra weekend rehearsals. It is sort of voluntary but “please don’t miss it” is said a lot (and they don’t say “if you can make it”, as has been my experience with other voluntary extra practices at other choirs). I do things on the weekends! I have come to resent this extra work and what feels like an ambush. From the long-time people, this is common, so why not say it upfront?

    2. fposte*

      I was in a group rather like that; its value to me wobbled on the worth it/not worth it axis depending on how much was going on in my life otherwise.

      (And I hear you on the talking during rehearsals. Sshh, people.)

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Quitting things is usually a downer. And there is an extra layer of suckiness when you can see the potential that is just laying there, dormant. I’m sorry. It is hard.

      Going toward something else can help balance out the suck. Are there a couple people you want to remain in contact with as friends? Perhaps you can arrange something there.
      OTH, perhaps you and your partner can be The People who bring the new tech into the group. If you two offer and get rejected, then you have confirmation of your decision to leave.

    4. LilySparrow*

      Whew. Been there.

      Don’t bother telling them why. The folks who have been there for years aren’t going to change. They will just spin everything you say into a story about how you’re a hater, and a sellout, and you don’t appreciate the real, soulful values they embody because you’re shallow and only care about cheap, flashy effects and chasing ticket sales like the other group.

      Just be really busy the next time they call.

      1. Wishing You Well*

        I agree. Please be diplomatic and bow out gracefully. “My schedule has become impossible.” or something akin to that. Nothing good would come from your critique of this group.

    5. Me*

      I just had to quit a hobby group I put my heart and soul into for the past 3 years. I had been unhappy for most of this year and didn’t see things changing with the new season that’s just starting. It was a hard decision to make but I feel relieved that I made it.
      It’s not easy to quit something but if you’re only frustrated and get little to no enjoyment it is the better option.

  21. Marguerite*

    I didn’t want to write about it last week because I just couldn’t, but I had to put down my cat last week. He was around 14 years old and was having health issues, so it was time. I posted some pictures and stories about him on social media, but then my sister started posting pictures of her (very much alive) cat. I felt that it was a sort of insensitive of her to do that. Maybe I’m just upset, but it still sort of stinks.

    Anyways, I just miss my cat. He was the best. Non-cat people fell in love with him and he was extremely social.

    1. Grace*

      I’m so sorry.

      I lost one of mine last summer at twenty-one, and it was the end of an era, and I still cry about it – when I told someone and she started talking about her cats, both alive and dead, I just said “Not now” and walked out without waiting for an answer. It was incredibly insensitive and I couldn’t deal with it. I understand if someone else losing a pet makes you reflect on how much you care for yours, but you don’t do it in a way that rubs it in for the grieving owners.

    2. Yup*

      Completely understand how you’re feeling and I wish there was a way to ameliorate your sorrow. My wife and I have lost many cats due to health reasons over the years and I believe I truly miss them more than relatives that have died because they were ever present and always small and childlike.

      Currently dealing with my 11 year old male cat who has liver dysfunction, frequently throwing up and is scheduled for an ultrasound next week. Our 16 year old male cat is also not looking well and eating less and less everyday.

      When they die, I often think we shouldn’t get another cat because the grief so strong and long-lasting. But then I recall how they’ve given me their lives and their unconditional love, I realize it’s a trade-off
      I’m always willing to give, especially considering what their lives would have been like without us to rescue them – short and painful.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Very sorry for your loss. Yeah, at best your sis was not thinking when she posted. And part of grief is anger. Anger at anything at any time. Work with your own sorrow first and then decide about sis later. Hopefully, this will look different on a different day. If it doesn’t then you will still be in a better place to figure out how you want to handle it.

    4. North Wind*

      Oh Marguerite, I’m so sorry for your loss.

      My girl Anya is 14 and is living on borrowed time with lymphoma. I go through mini-grieves whenever I think she might be going downhill.

      What’s his name?

    5. Type 2*

      I’m so very sorry. I’m a dog person married to a cat person so we have 4 pets total. I have fallen in love with cats! They are wonderful pets, so your loss is enormous. Prayers and hugs coming.

  22. Frontline: In the age of AI*

    Has anyone watched “Frontline: In the age of AI”? Very chilling and frightening documentary about how AI, deep learning and automation are changing almost every aspect of the world in which we live.

    I was most surprised about how 50% of jobs will be eliminated within the next 10 to 15 years and mostly starting with white collar jobs that deal with data, collecting data, moving data or analyzing data. Data Analysts, reporters, HR will be eliminated. Many jobs held by women, such as cashiers, will also be eliminated through Self Serve kiosks.

    I’m glad I’m a retired Boomer, but I fear for my grandchildren’s future and the future of the human race. The rich will get richer and the poor will get vastly poorer.

    The show also covered how every aspect of our lives are monitored and datamined for the benefit of a very few corporations and how our activities are surveilled by the state.

    The future looks completely Orwellian in the worst possible way.

    1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      I just started a new job. We use floppy disks. We use them to get information onto expensive machinery that last a long time, but still, floppy disks. And we print out emails as a matter of policy.

      We may have the technology to replace 50% of jobs with AI in 10-15 years, but I seriously doubt that it will actually happen. Inertia is a powerful thing.

        1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

          Yep, actual floppy disks. It sort of makes sense-they have plenty of room on them for the files we use on the machines, and who wants to upgrade machinery that still works perfectly well.

          But you know. Floppy disks.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          I used to work for a manufacturer, and the machines used CAD on floppies. I had to order them from Staples.

      1. WS*

        Up until two years ago, I was also using floppy disks. To send information to the government. It was getting hard to find disks by the time they finally switched over to online. We still use faxes, though, because the secure health-related email system that has been coming any minute since 2005 still hasn’t happened.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I haven’t watched it, though it’s on my list – but I’m skeptical, to be honest. For example, with the rise of electronic medical records, there was a huge hue and cry that all the billing and coding of medical charts would become automated and we’d all be out of jobs – however, in practice, something like 40% of our charts are processed automatically without coders working them, and 70% of the errors/denials we get come from those 40% of charts. So we’re actually working on reducing our automation because the machines don’t have the ability to interpret or use their judgement the way the humans do.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        (Sorry, to clarify – I mean “we” as in, my hospital organization, which is the largest in my state and one of the 20 largest in the country.)

      2. Yup*

        I think the Healthcare System this unique because their prices are opaque and services rendered so varied that hey compete against each other. Watch the documentary and you’ll see the job loss is only about 20% what’s covered in the show.

        Every company is looking to increase efficiency and to be better than their competitors. The best way do that is to eliminate their workers, which consume at least 1/3 of the company budget. AI, machine learning and automation are coming for your job.

      3. Tau*

        I worked in digital health before as a software developer, and I am totally not surprised. Medicine is so *hideously* complicated and the developers almost certainly won’t have medical domain knowledge, there is an absurd amount that can go wrong here. Near the end, I was ready to make a drinking game for the next time the techie people came from outside the field with the Grand Idea That Would Revolutionise Everything only to fail miserably.

      4. Gatomon*

        Yes, I’ve been waiting months now for my insurance to reprocess a claim they denied in error due to “the machines.” This is the second time “the machines” have denied me coverage out of the blue. The original date of service was back in July, so I’ve long since had to pay out of my own pocket at the not-covered rate to keep from going to collections. I am going to have to call them again and escalate things.

    3. Anon Millennial*

      I’m skeptical. Every time people have said this, yes, the old jobs have largely gone, but new ones have come up to replace them. The issue becomes the people who were skilled in the old jobs not being able to retrain for whatever reasons (not enough time, money, support, etc).

      But don’t worry too much about that aspect of your grandchildren’s future – they won’t have a planet to live on anyway.

      1. Yup*

        Have you watched the show; doesn’t sound like you have. They want you to be skeptical and uninformed. These are new developments that have happened over the past 3 years with regards to AI and deep learning. Your past experience is no longer valid.

      2. Washi*

        I agree. If you told someone in the 1800s that in 150 years, only a tiny percentage of people would be farmers, they probably would have been similarly afraid for their kids’ future and wondered what the rest of the population would be doing for work. And yet, somehow here we all are, with similar (I think) employment rates!

        1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

          The US population in 1870 was just under 39 million; the US population today is 327 million. Even if the employment rate as a percent is similar, there are way more jobs today than there were in 1870.

          1. Washi*

            Isn’t that my point? There are way more jobs, and kinds of jobs today, than someone from the 1800s could have imagined, when so many people were connected to agriculture in some way.

      3. Anon Millennial*

        I appreciate how you’ve decided this documentary is the one source of truth and everything else is a lie.

    4. WellRed*

      I’ve heard the bit about reporters being replaced but I also recall somewhere … something showing the drawbacks to that. So far, machines can’t really write stories. At least not with any nuance or in a style people will want to read.

      1. Majestik Moose*

        Oh, my reasearch is in natural language processing, and I just laugh maniacally when people suggest that machines can write anything kind of free text on their own. Text generation errors can range from clunky grammar, hilarious redundancy, contradicting what they just wrote to thismightcauseworldwar3 wrong. The sad bit is that our models don’t understand the difference.

    5. Pony tailed wonder*

      I haven’t watched the show but after reading AAM for years, I get the sense that HR will always be around.

    6. Banana Pancakes*

      I can see some jobs like food service getting eliminated but am skeptical about all the hubaloo about positions like truck drivers getting replaced by machines. As for things like data analysis… I don’t see it especially in the insurance/financial fields. Almost all that language is written in COBOL which is a language that was really popular in the past, less so today. There is a huge need for COBOL developers where I live because they’re all retiring.

      1. CastIrony*

        Food service is actually on the rise as less people have time to cook for themselves, last I heard.

        Either that, or I just have a soft spot for food service, since I work in a cafeteria. On the other hand, though, if food service was gone, I wouldn’t be too upset lol

    7. Not So NewReader*

      What is not mention is that everyone will shut off their news stories because they are sick of the drama, the hand- wringing and the Eyeore stuff. [Insert rant about how media is defeating its own self here.]

      From what I am seeing, we track more and have MORE work because of computers. Here’s just a small example: A while ago I was looking at the books for a very old drug store- the books were from the late 1800s. Every purchase was written down and next to the purchase total was an indication if it was on account or if it was cash paid. It was all done by hand and very simple.

      Go into the drug store now and look at your receipt. It’s not a huge leap to realize that their computer is not only recording dollar amounts of sales but it’s also ordering stock replenishment. This has freed up time for stores to carry even more products than ever and insure employment of many people not even associated with the store who make or transport products and raw materials that go into the product. It’s more work not less.

      And then there is rural America. There are roads which are not far from me that will never, ever have internet access. For the most part cell phones do not work here, there is no reason to believe that will change any time soon, or anytime within the next ten years. A surprising percent of the population lives in rural America. These areas will wait a long, long time before any major impact is felt.

      Just in my own short life, I have seen so many changes. We went from a 5 day work week to a 24/7/365 world. With all our so called conveniences we actually work harder and longer. Growing up, I did not see any of my elders who had good jobs work any overtime. Now 60 hours a week or more seems the norm. People used to be able to keep up with their house and yard upkeep. And now, we hear more and more people saying it’s too much. There will be plenty of work on the local level for many communities. Prices for these services are already going up significantly around me. And other things will develop as communities figure out how to compensate for the lack of accessible technology in their own area.

    8. LQ*

      I mean…collecting data already happens a lot in an automated way. That’s what computers do really well. The jobs will go away over time. Like they already have and are. There are jobs that existed 20 years ago that aren’t a thing anymore. There are jobs that existed 70 years ago that aren’t a thing anymore. There will be new jobs (calling out data analysts is an interesting thing because while it’s certainly been around for a while, there is a huge boom in it right now because computers have all this data and there is an entirely new way of thinking about it, I fully expect that is a job that will morph a lot in the next decade). My concern is the bias of AI. https://hbr.org/2019/10/what-do-we-do-about-the-biases-in-ai https://www.technologyreview.com/s/612876/this-is-how-ai-bias-really-happensand-why-its-so-hard-to-fix/

      *No, I didn’t watch it. However, I do work in tech and I am planning for how we can integrate AI/ML/etc into our business. I suspect it will be about 10 years before we get something really robust that can do a bunch of stuff (we’ll be slow on this). We will eliminate jobs. The key jobs we will keep will be customer service kinds of jobs for dealing with complex situations, upset/unhappy customers, and working with people who most need help.

    9. teashirt*

      I’m a data scientist/ai person. I’d like to comment on: “every aspect of our lives are monitored and datamined for the benefit of a very few corporations and how our activities are surveilled by the state”.

      No, not every aspect of your life, but people do a lot to invite tracking. Don’t use loyalty cards/credit cards when you shop. Cash, it’s a thing, you can use it. To limit tracking by websites, use private/incognito every single time. There can still be data collected, but much less. Use firefox, not chrome or internet explorer. Turn off gps tracking on your phone. Use a phone for emergency only. As for the state: that depends on your state.

      1. Watch the show then you'll know*

        I watched the show and you can tracked via facial recognition and gait recognition; China is working on 100% population tracking within the next several years and is rapidly exporting this technology to other countries.

        To me it sounds like most commenters have not watched the show and that’s exactly what the government and corporations like – a population of sheeple.

        Per LQ, most commenters can be comforted to know they have a customer service job to look forward to.

        1. teashirt*

          Yes, facial/ gait recognition is not new or news, particularly. What about being scared of faked audio Or video that’s so good it’s nearly impossible to tell from actual audio or video: that exists now. Isn’t the USA going through an election cycle at the moment?

    10. matcha123*

      I haven’t seen that show, but I am skeptical of claims that all sorts of jobs will be replaced by robots.
      There are over 7 billion people on the earth. If the vast majority of jobs are replaced by robots, that puts a huge number of people out of work. That many people out of work will lead to widespread unrest, which is not something that any country wants.
      I live in Japan now, and there are tons of “jobs” that seem to be in place just to give someone a job. What may happen is that wages continue to stagnate.

    11. AW*

      I work with some of the tools that are automating jobs. There’s nothing new here, It was in the 1800s that’s the luddites were smashing up machinery in the mills because they didn’t want the machines taking their jobs.

      ATM machines haven’t made bank tellers redundant. Spreadsheets haven’t made bookkeepers obsolete it just save a lot of manual work.

      Jobs change over time, 20 years ago no one wanted to work in digital marketing or search engine Optimisation as they didn’t exist. Whatever’s coming next will be a change but nothing society hasn’t dealt with before.

      1. Yup*

        Curious if you watched the show since your post seems to contradict the information presented by the documentary.

    12. Earthwalker*

      Anyone remember Kurt Vonnegut’s Player Piano? IIRC he imagined an automated future where everyone had all they needed thanks to the productive bounty of automation but they were unhappy with their boring pointless lives of leisure. It looks like Vonnegut had it all wrong. In real life it seems like the more productivity we get from automation, the less leisure people have and the poorer the poor become.

  23. Decima Dewey*

    Thursday of this week I had an endocrinology appointment and I caught the 38 bus to get to work. It stops three blocks from a neighborhood cat park. Residents of the neighborhood took a vacant lot and put in planters full of cat friendly flora, some houses for cats to hide in, put up signs telling visitors that the cats roaming around aren’t homeless. I had time to kill, and took a seat in the park. An orangeboy let me pet him, a black cat hung around my ankles for pettins, and a brown/gray tabby headed straight for my lap. Other cats wandered around. It was a lovely break. Oh, and if you want to see it on Google maps, the park is on Natrona Street, between Brandywine and Haverford, zip code 19104.

    1. Coffee Bean*

      Hey you’re in my area!! The park sounds lovely, I’ll have to check it out. Hope your appointment went well :)

    2. Jaid*

      I work on the other side of Market St, I’m sad I’ll never get to the cat park. Please give a kitty a pet forme!

  24. On the subject of adult onesies*

    My birthday was this week and as a joke my hubby got me an adult sized onesie with paw prints on it, I laughed for 20 solid minutes. This was especially funny because he gave it to me the day Alison posted the suggestion to wear the adult sized onesie on the poster’s last day.

    1. Llama Face!*

      That is awesome! Your hubby has great timing. Of course now I’m hoping you mean the full leg onesie and not the diaper bottom kind like some of the commenters on that post mentioned… :D

      I have secretly wanted an adult-sized footed onesie- specifically with the attached feet- for ages but they are hard to find, especially for an above average height woman.

      1. On the subject of adult onesies*

        He does have amazing timing, it was even better because he doesn’t read AAM so I was rolling and trying to explain at the same time.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My daughter has one complete with tail that keeps making me think of “Hyperbole and a Half”….unfortunately she is getting annoyed that she thinks it’s a dragon and I keep calling it a dinosaur. (No wings & 2 limbs, I’d call it a wyvern. But no wings & 4 limbs=dinosaur to me!)
      She refused to wear it for Halloween.

  25. WellRed*

    Going to a 50th anniversary party for a friends parents and kinda dreading it. It’s one of those times where I will vaguely know people but am not friends with? Sometimes it seems easier to go someplace where you don’t know anyone. A couple of other good friends will be going so it will be OK, right? And I can always leave.

    1. Boomerang Girl*

      I suggest offering help serving drinks and food at the party. Having something useful to do will make the time go faster and give you a reason to talk to people.

    2. LilySparrow*

      It will be totally fine. Also there will likely be some very old folks and some very young kids there. I find they are the easiest to strike up informal yet interesting conversations with. They have the best stories!

    3. Wishing You Well*

      Yes, you’ll be fine. Make sure you can leave the moment you feel like it. Knowing that will help you enjoy the party for however long you stay.

    4. WellRed*

      Thx guys, it went even better than I thought. It usually does which is how I get myself out there. And the guests of honor were totally surprised and had a great time working the room etc.

  26. BeanCat*

    Our new couch finally arrived! We got one of those rearrangeable sectionals and it’s SO comfortable! Our original couch was a hand-me-down of a hand-me-down, so I’m happy to have one that’s ours :) plus we currently have it set up like a big pit and you can drape a blanket over it to make the awesome fort I never got to have as a kid!

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

    Car maintenance questions:
    (1) I drive very low mileage each year, but about half of the mileage I do is in city traffic. It’s been a long time (6 months) but not much mileage-wise (1800 miles) since my last oil change. The monitor on the dashboard says I have 70 percent oil life left. Is getting an oil change a waste in this case? My father once blew an engine (the same type of engine I have in my car) because he only changed his oil once per year, even though he also drives pretty low mileage. I’d rather pay $40 for an oil change than $4000 for an engine (or $24,000 for a new car). But I also know that there’s a waste/environmental aspect to changing oil unnecessarily.

    (2) In general, will a check-engine light go out on its own when the problem that triggered it resolves, or does it need to be reset by a professional? My mechanic told me that my check-engine light was activated due to using poor-quality gas after my catalytic converter needed to be replaced. Several fill-ups of 93 octane premium gas and 1000-ish miles later, the light is still on. I can’t notice a darn thing wrong with how the car is running. Gas mileage and acceleration are as good as before.

    If it matters for either question, car is 12+ years old – a 2007 Honda. Thanks!

    1. Dainty Lady*

      Check the oil and see if it’s dirty or low. Yes, you will need to get a mechanic to reset your check engine light. But I don’t know if I believe your mech. I drive a cheap 2007 honda fit, get the cheap gas, and have never had any problem at all.

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

        Thanks much. The mechanic showed me the codes, so I did see first hand that it was due to bad fuel according to his reader. Whether the engine computer threw an accurate code or not, that’s a different story.

        Do you like your Honda Fit? That’s been one of the top contenders in my mind when I need to replace my current car (a CR-V, which is a great car, but too big for my taste). But I’m concerned that with its very small engine, it might be noisy and lack power.

        1. Blue wall*

          I went from a CRV to a Fit and it’s great! CRV was too big for me. Fit is capable and I like it better.

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

            Good to know, thank you. I’ve never actually driven one (only been in one at the auto show) but I’m impressed that it’s such a versatile car that has such a small footprint.

        2. Dainty Lady*

          Oh dear…no, I don’t love my Fit. I keep it because it is fully functioning. You are absolutely right about the small noisy engine that fails to accelerate upon demand! Also it doesn’t get nearly good enough gas mileage for being so small, in my opinion.

          But it’s a 2007, the first year of the model; perhaps newer ones are better. I myself rather long for a Subaru, because, Love. (I *know*, I know, I’m falling for the schtick.)

          1. Admiral Thrawn Is Still Blue*

            I love my 08 Fit. Fun and zippy. It seems quiet to me. However I admit acceleration is not there, only 107 hp. Newer models are faster but not so much fun. Its capacity to fit stuff in the back is amazing.

          2. Elf*

            I have both a 2010 and a 2016 Fit, and the engine in the 2016 is much more powerful (I’m very fond of both, but I think that even people who wouldn’t like an older model because of power would like the newer one). I just wish you could get it with a roofrack; once I put two kids with carseats into the car I’m shy of cargo room, and I’m not switching to a minivan.

        3. Jaid*

          I drove my Dad’s Fit on the turnpike yesterday. It was super windy and I was fighting the steering wheel. That said, I’m looking at it (used, naturally) because I am needing something easier to get out of and it rides fine on regular streets.

        4. frockbot*

          Chiming in a bit late to say that I have a 2011 Fit and I like it very much. Acceleration and engine noise are mostly fine, except when I’m on the highway; trying to get above 70 miles per hour or so is sometimes a daunting task, especially when there’s hills involved. But everyday noodling around, it’s quiet and smooth. I get about 33 miles to the gallon, but it’s only a 10 gallon gas tank, so I have to fill up about once every two weeks. And I like that there’s a surprising amount of space inside once you lay the seats down. When I was doing a bunch of furniture buying on Craigslist a couple years back, I’d often see this look of “oh, here we go” on the seller’s face when I rolled up in my itty bitty car. But I’d always get to watch it turn to amazement when I opened the trunk to reveal 5 feet of empty space!

          Clearly I love talking about my car, so, AMA! :)

      2. university minion*

        Regarding the light, disconnect the negative battery cable. Leave it disconnected for a little while to drain any capacitors, then reconnect.

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

          Thanks… that’s advice I heard a long time ago (when I drove another car whose check engine light was on constantly) and forgot about.

          1. Wishing You Well*

            Disconnecting my battery CAUSED a check engine light on my Chrysler. Had to take it in to shut it off.
            Sheesh.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      1) I’m in your same boat – I finally went to get the oil changed in my CRV when the oil percentage was at 30%, 19 months and about 6,000 miles after I bought the car. When I got to the appointment at the Honda dealership, the guy was like “you’re only at 30%, you don’t actually need the oil changed til 10-15%, do you want to come back later?” I pointed out that it had been 19 months, and he said that as long as I’m being mindful of the maintenance on the car in general, I really should be fine just going by their percentage because it takes other engine factors into consideration as well anyway. I ended up having him do the oil change anyway since I was already there and planned for it, but in the future I’ll just wait for the 20% mark.

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

        Interesting. I guess I’m old school. I’m pretty fearful of going that long between oil changes, although I know oil technology has gotten a lot better over the years, and perhaps engines lose less oil between changes than before.

        1. Filosofickle*

          My car has a 1 year / 10K mile recommendation. I drive about half that mileage, but figure an oil change once a year seems like a reasonable thing to do. It’s inexpensive preventive maintenance just to keep my care safe and happy.

    3. Jdc*

      Yes you should get an oil change. If you are driving such low miles I’d just make sure to twice a year. It gets dirty. If you are running on synthetic, once a year would probably be ok but you should check the oil.

      1. valentine*

        If you are driving such low miles I’d just make sure to twice a year. It gets dirty.
        This is what my service rep recommended and they always have coupons.

    4. Gaia*

      If your car is like mine, the oil life indicator is actually pretty sophisticated. It evaluates oil quality, amount of driving, type of driving, and environmental factors and tells me when it change it. Mine is about once a year. The first year, I doubted this and checked it regularly and found it was clean and full and about when it started looking iffy, the oil change indicator said to change it. This drives my grandfather crazy as he insists I should still change it every 3 months.

      I also drive very few miles (I’ve had my car just over 3 years and just broke 15,000 miles – and that includes two 1000+ mile road trips). My car is 10 years newer than yours, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn Honda had this tech earlier than others.

      For the check engine light – was the catalytic converter actually replaced? If so, the mechanic should have reset the light. I believe it does need to actually be reset.

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

        Oddly, the light came on *after* the catalytic converter was replaced! It was definitely replaced — the engine was louder than a rocketship taking off before I made the repair, but oddly enough, the light never came on.

      2. LibbyG*

        I think newer oils maintain their viscosity longer than older ones did. So the passage of time isn’t as impactful.

    5. Hooray College Football!*

      You can buy a computer code reader for auto diagnostics. I picked one up one Amazon for less than $20. It is easy to use to read the error codes off your car’s onboard computer. Then you can search for the code to get an idea of what it could mean. These devices also let you turn off the check engine light. Was quite handy with my 17 year old Jeep XJ with 237K miles.

      1. Hooray College Football!*

        Also, an old gas cap can cause problems. If you get an Evap code from your onboard computer, start with a new gas cap to see if that resolves the issue.

    6. Dan*

      #1 “My father once blew an engine…” I don’t really need an answer to this, but how long ago was that? Things have changed a lot over the years.

      I’ve never driven a car with an oil change monitor, so I can’t say how reliable that is. However, the “3 mos/3,000 mile” standard that Jiffy Lube pushes is old school. My owners manual says that I can go 6 mos/7500 miles depending on the type of driving that I do. TBH, it takes me a year to put on that many miles, so I just go in every year. FWIW, city driving is harder on cars than highway driving.

      Also, you shouldn’t blow an engine with no warning. With my last car (a ’99 Chevy) I was on the year plan for quite awhile, and in the last couple of years, the shop said sludge was building up in the engine and they needed to flush it. That should have been my sign to change the oil more often, but hey. (The flush cost like $100 on top of the oil.)

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

        His engine failure was back in 2007, but with the same (or similar) 2.4 liter four cylinder engine that’s in the CR-V. To be fair, his engine never really ran totally right from day one, so it could be comparing oranges and pears. I know that three months/3,000 miles is definitely too much (unless you’re an executive at Jiffy Lube who benefits from all that extra business)!

    7. Enough*

      Have high mileage cars that no longer are as heavily used (retired). Mechanic said change the oil once a year if you don’t reach mileage before. So we have it changed when we have the cars inspected.

    8. Alex*

      I drive about the same–mostly for errands on the weekends, and the occasional road trip 2-3 times per year.

      I get my oil changed twice per year, just to be on the safe side. My car is 15 years old.

      In my experience, yes, you need to do something in particular to clear that check engine light, but you might be able to figure out how yourself.

    9. Insurance mom*

      Maybe it doesn’t need the oil change but while your regular mechanic has it he will look at such as the hoses,belts ,antifreeze ,brakes , tires and battery connections, any one of which can cause big trouble if neglected. Even if you know your way around your car, a second set of eyes can save you a lot of hassle. Spend the $40.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      If the monitor says you have 70% oil life left, I would go a while longer. You are actually giving it fairly light use. My husband used to average between 500-700 miles per week. He changed the oil every 3 months because the vehicle had rough use. I changed the oil once a year on my own vehicle, but it had a lot less mileage per year.
      (Our cars were from the early 2000s like yours.)

      Gas. I would not know this unless I had seen it first hand. In my area some gas places do not change their underground tanks on a routine basis. I noticed when I bought gas at X store, the car seemed to run rougher. But when I went to Y store the car ran okay. I did this for quite a while before the dots connected. The underground tanks need to be swapped out every so often as they leak water, they rust, etc. I later found out that my state does not have many regs regarding underground gas tanks. Turns out that the state was looking at how Y store handled their underground tanks responsibly to start to set statewide guidelines for all underground gas tanks. How the stores maintain their tanks matters. It’s worth your while to know about the company that you routinely buy gasoline from.

      1. purple otter*

        There are general US EPA regulations about underground storage tanks, but it is generally set at a state level. Ideally, underground storage tanks should be replaced every 25-30 years or even shorter, but quite often they are not replaced in a timely manner due to lack of strict state regulation, lack of proper inspection every 3-5 years, lack of money to replace old tanks with more expensive new ones that are double-walled and have automated systems to detect leaks etc, and so on. If you really want to know about a gas station and if they have violations or are in incompliance, send a FOIA request to your state’s environmental quality department (or equivalent).

    11. LilySparrow*

      Check-engine light can also mean that you’re due for scheduled maintenance, like changing the air filter or other consumables. Your owner’s manual should have a listing of what services are recommended at different mileages.

      These aren’t indicative of an active problem, but something you should get done relatively soon.

      Possibly you just happened to hit a milestone number at the same time the other issue cropped up. It’s pretty common in older cars for those things to come up.

      The light doesnt go off by itself. When it’s been serviced, the mechanic should reset it. It doesn’t have to be the mechanic – it’s usually a combination of pushing in the odometer and trip-odometer stems at a specific time in the startup cycle. You can probably look yours up. But I’d get it checked for maintenance recommendations, and get your transmission, steering, and brake fluid checked as well.

      Your octane recommendations should also be listed in the owner’s manual. You may have had a bad batch from an unreliable vendor or something, but using too high an octane long-term isn’t great either, IIRC. If it says 93, then yeah you should use it. But if it says 89 in the manual, 93 isn’t better.

    12. Anon Here*

      Since it’s an older car, you should err on the safe side with oil changes. I would check the oil via dipstick right away and top it off if it’s on the lower side.

      I wouldn’t worry as much about the check engine light. They can be set off by minor things, including computer glitches. My last car had that light on for 220,000 miles and it was nothing. Just get it serviced regularly so they can tell you if anything is wrong.

  28. Handy Nickname*

    I got a new kitty! She’s very scared (been shuffled around a lot the last month) and I would love any suggestions on what I can do to make her more comfortable and hopefully friendly.

    Details:
    She’s 3 years old. I have her in a separate room with minimal furniture but a few hiding spots + her kennel with a blanket is still in there. I took her out of her kennel when I brought her home and she stayed in my lap being petted for almost an hour until I moved, then she freaked out and ran. Hid in one spot for the first 48 hours and wouldn’t eat anything (put out wet and dry food, water, and 2 litter boxes). I got her out of that hiding spot (scared her a little) and she ran back to her kennel. I put a bowl of tuna by the open kennel door, and when I checked a couple hours later she’s eaten about half the tuna and used the litter box. She was moving around between different hiding places last night.

    Any advice welcome! I’ve been told she’s a very sweet kitty, just had a really stressful few weeks and needing time to adjust and feel safe.

    1. Nicki Name*

      Is there somewhere you can sit comfortably in there? Go sit and read in there for an hour or so at a time (or bring your phone, gaming console, or whatever to amuse yourself). Don’t keep trying to pry her out of her hiding places, just be present and let her approach you if she wants. It may take a few days.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes! This is what I did when I was fostering Eve and her brothers. Just brought my computer in there and worked from that room all day, ignored them, let them come out and investigate at their own pace. It gives them time to see you are safe.

      2. Fikly*

        Yes, the best way to get a cat to like you is to pretend you want nothing to do with them. My mom has terrible allergies, genuinely does not want them approaching her, and they always go right to her.

    2. cat socks*

      If she’s been moved around a lot it may just take her some time to get comfortable. Try spending some time in her room just hanging out and reading so she gets used to your presence. Try playing with her like wand toys like Da Bird to help draw her out and build confidence.

      I follow @myfosterkittens on Instagram. For some of her spicier fosters she wraps them in a blanket and says to “pat like you mean it”. I’ve seen it help some of her less friendly fosters get used to humans.

      You could also try a Feliway plugin or spray Feliway on her bedding or different areas of her room.

      Thanks for giving this girl a second chance!

    3. Ali*

      Sounds like it will just take time! Maybe add some large cardboard boxes into the room to create more hiding spaces? Congrats on having a new kitty!

      1. tangerineRose*

        I agree. Having plenty of hiding places seems to really make kitties more comfortable when they’re nervous.

    4. Animal worker*

      I adopted a shy cat this year too, so I’ll toss out a few things that helped me. First, you say the room she’s in has minimal furniture – my cat started out in a place with both a bed and chest of drawers she could hide under and I think having so much of the room where she could hide and felt safe was really important in her feeling in control. If you don’t have that option, create as many hiding areas as you can (box tunnels, covered cat bed, boxes with ‘doors’ cut in for her to hide in, etc.). Also she probably won’t use it now, at least around you, but if you can get a cat tree or other elevated platform by a window to give her that option which she’ll probably only do when you’re not there for a while but which may make her new home more positive.

      And I have a three step process that I use and have taught to others in my zoo job to use with shy and fearful animals. The steps are 1) food preference test, 2) limited window of opportunity, and 3) proximity training. For the food preference test, try to find out her really high value foods (like the tuna you already tried). Suggestions include canned tuna, canned salmon, canned chicken, meat baby food (make sure that there are no additives), the high end cat treats that are basically dried meat, and if you’re a carnivore yourself some pieces of unseasoned cooked meat from your meals. Put small portions of 2-3 different options on a plate and see which ones she tends to eat most quickly. You might need to guess at that if she won’t eat with you in the room yet, but with some sleuthing you should be able to find 2-3 high value options that you can use for training.

      Step 2 is limited window of opportunity – so take the high value treat item and put in a bowl in her room, then leave for 30 minutes. When you come back, if she has eaten it, great. If not, remove it, put it in the fridge, and try again later. The goal here is to teach her that she has to eat the treat (which is why it’s important it’s high value to encourage this) within a certain amount of time or she’ll lose the chance at that time. And it’s important for this step that you leave the room so that she doesn’t have to worry about both getting the food and coming out around you at the same time (that comes in step 3). Once she eats the food within the 30 minutes a few times, reduce the time to 20 minutes. Once she does that a couple of times, to 10 minutes, and then down to 5. For all these steps, she gets access to the food with no people present. Once she’s eating the favored foods within 5 minutes, move to the next step.

      Step 3 is proximity training – this is adding your proximity to her while she gets offered the favored food. By focusing on getting her to eat the favored food within 5 minutes first, it allows you to start working on the next step without having to dedicate huge blocks of time to do so. So for this step put in the favored food, then move as far away from the bowl as is possible in the room/environment she’s in, to see if she’ll go eat the favored food with you present but as far away as is feasible, within 10 minutes (even though she was doing it in 5, I usually give more time at this next step to start). It’s important that you are quiet and still, so find a comfortable place to sit or stand, and just leave her be (I don’t recommend talking to her a lot here) to have a chance to eat the favorite food with your presence but it being as non-threatening as possible. Again, if at 10 minutes she hasn’t eaten the food, take it away and try again later (of course if she’s moving to it at the 10 minute mark and you think she’s getting ready to eat, you can wait that out a little longer). Once she is eating the food within 10 minutes, reduce it to 5 minutes and remain at the furthest point away from her bowl. Once she’s responding within 5 minutes, gradually move closer (for this, put down the food and move to a little closer to the bowl but then be still and quiet again, don’t move during the attempt, find a spot and stay). Keep repeating the 5 minute attempts, take the food and leave if she doesn’t respond; once she’s responding consistently be a little closer the next one. During these later steps, you could also have a bowl of high value food with you in addition to the one you put out for her, because as she gets more comfortable she may eat the food and then come towards you for more.

      Sounds like a lot of work but it actually moves pretty quickly. Most importantly, she’s in control of the process and you only move forward when she shows you she’s ready. Many shy animals respond much better to this than to us being in their comfort zone too quickly. Good luck, and thanks for taking her in!

      1. Handy Nickname*

        That’s really helpful, thanks for the step by step. Thankful she’s finally eating some food (tuna, canned w/ gravy, and a little dry. The room she’s in has a few hiding places but I’ll add some more boxes. It has a window with a wide enough windowsill too that she’s been sitting in.

    5. Jessen*

      Are you familiar with feliway at all? In addition to what people said, it’s a diffuser that you can plug in with calming cat hormones. It can help her feel calmer.

      But in general taking a few days to not hide all the time is pretty normal for cats in a new environment.

      1. Venus*

        It depends on the cat’s history. The experience of numerous people is that Feliway does not help if the cat was feral or outdoor for too long. It seems to work well for stress, but not for basic fear.

    6. Kuododi*

      It was some time ago when we adopted a skittish silver tabby. She was also very afraid so DH recommended we put her in a separate room with her supplies. I would go in and sit with her starting at one hour/day. Then I would slowly increase the time spent in her room as she became more comfortable. She was never a sociable cat but she imprinted on me like a baby duck. She decided I was her human and she endured DH bc she knew he kept food and water dishes full if I was briefly unavailable.

  29. Advice Needed*

    So…how do you talk to good parents about something that’s hurting you without hurting them?

    I’m in a position where my sibling’s family experience is very different to my own and our shared parent seems…unable to address that. It’s no one’s fault it turned out that way, but it’s having a pretty bad effect on my mental health and I’m going to have to raise the topic.

    Literally, the stepparent who came into my life when I was an adult seems more concerned about the issue than my parent does. Or at least makes more of an effort to connect.

    Help?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      What are you looking for in the outcome? By which I mean, is this a problem that can be solved now? Are you looking for an apology for something, or just acknowledgement? Having some idea of what you want to come out of the situation can help guide the most effective way to go into it.

      1. Advice Needed*

        I guess I want the problem solved and also my parent not to feel guilty?

        It is solvable, but hinting* hasn’t worked and I think I’m going to have to come out and say it. Even if it’s a smack in the face (figuratively, not literally).

        *Both me and stepparent have made suggestions that have been brushed off, but I suspect it’s due to parent not getting how much this has affected me.

        1. I edit everything*

          Maybe it’s OK if your parent feels guilty? It’s not bad for people to feel bad, have regrets, or experience guilt when facing up to a problem or situation they might have made better.

          1. valentine*

            Good parents will be okay with being hurt if it raises the overall happiness/health. They will recognize that both of you being at 90 is better than them being at 100 while you’re struggling at 70.

            But stopping them feeling something isn’t always a good goal. It sounds like they know what’s going on and are in denial and have their spouse and you walking eggshells because they don’t want to give you what you need. Be prepared for that, and for if they try to stop you finishing what you need to say. Consider what kind of relationship you’re willing to settle for.

    2. Anoning for this*

      I can only offer my perspective as the child who was severely abused, while my sister was less so. My parents are in severe denial about the abuse, and will only come as close to admitting it as to say any problems I had with them weren’t their fault because they didn’t know I was autistic.

      I love and adore my sister. I do not blame her for being treated better by my parents. I have talked with her about my experience with our parents, and she has talked with me about her experience. We have validated each other. And we recognize and accept that we each have very different relationships with them. She is in contact with them, and visits regularly. I will “speak” only occasionally over a text-based medium I control, and no in person meetings, and they do not know my address.

      One thing we do is work hard not to bring up the other when speaking to our parents. Because they are incapable of recognizing what the situation actually was. That is just how it is. My parents aren’t evil or bad people. They are both abusive because of their own mental health issues. My mother was abused herself, and it’s classic cycle of abuse. But that doesn’t make the abuse ok, and that doesn’t mean I have to expose myself to the abuse. But I don’t judge my sister for having a different relationship with them if she’s able to keep herself safe in it.

      I think you have to ask what benefit you will get by talking with them. Do you honestly think it will change anything? Or are there actions you can take to protect yourself and improve your mental health that don’t involve talking to someone who, from what you say, seems unable to address the issue? Things like firm boundaries, and certain topics you do not discuss, can be very helpful.

      1. Advice Needed*

        I’m so sorry you had to go through that and still /are/ going through it. I’m glad for you that you’re still able to have a relationship with your sister and that it’s a healthy one.

        In my case it’s not abuse, just very different life circumstances. My family’s literally gone from immigrants fleeing war to well-off expats in under a generation, thanks to my parent’s work.

        I just wish I could talk about it without causing pain, but I think it will improve things, just the initial part will be hard. But then, not talking about it is hard too, but why not try and fix it, I guess.

        1. Washi*

          My best friend has had a similar experience. Her parents were immigrant teen parents who were very poor for her early childhood. Her sister is 10 years younger, and my friend had to babysit her every moment she was not in school. My friends parents started doing well financially when my friend was about to go to college, and my friend’s sister has had a completely different childhood from age 5 – present: no responsibilities, no angst about money, more liberal, engaged, aware parents (both siblings have had mental health issues, and my friend got no support while her sister has had therapy, etc.)

          It’s tough because my friend recognizes that her parents were under a lot of stress and were practically children themselves when they had her….but she also had a tough childhood, and is now watching her sister have everything she always wanted. And my mom actually went through something similar – immigrated here as a child and had a much younger sibling who had a much easier time (minus the mental health stuff.)

          I don’t know if this rings true and I don’t have any advice…but from what I’ve seen, it’s not uncommon to see a parenting gap between the early survival mode period and the calmer, more adjusted period. I’m sorry you’re going through this- I’ve seen how painful my mom and my friend find it and the way it affects their relationships with family. Tbh neither of them have had a lot of success talking about it, since the parents involved don’t feel like they could have made any different choices and don’t fully understand the impact. But you could certainly try and I think there’s value in getting it out in the open.

    3. Mimosa Jones*

      You probably can’t do this without them hurting. You can’t manage their feelings and trying will probably deny you the results you want. Which you also can’t manage. The value has to come from the telling. And then there may be pain and awkwardness and hopefully apologies and resolution. And then more awkwardness until it all settles and you’re all able to move forward. Like Atoning says, this might be better accomplished with boundaries.

    4. Asenath*

      Maybe you can just accept the fact that your life and your siblings were different? I had a slightly different situation when I realized that the sibling closest in age to me had quite different memories and interpretations of experiences than I do. I was initially tempted to try to make our views the same, or reconcile them to a single view, or something, but decided in the end that it was quite natural for different people to remember and experience things differently.

    5. Parenthetically*

      I REALLY think you need to abandon the idea of trying to do this without hurting your parent! Taking responsibility for your parent’s emotions is only going to entangle you in this in an unhealthy way. Focus on speaking your truth, and let your parent manage their own response — the fact is that we can only control our choices, not the outcomes, and trying to manage outcomes gets in the way of making authentic choices. That doesn’t mean not being thoughtful or considerate, it just means not expending your emotional energy grasping for things outside your control.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Totally agree. This is like you are trying to protect Parent from you. It’s not going to work. I’d suggest instead for you to commit to being your #1 ally.

        Since you and your stepdad have tried to open the subject with no success, I suggest that you face the subject candidly. And I’d like to caution you that she still may not get it.
        My friend is 60 something years old. Her daughter informed her that my friend did X and the daughter was hurt and had long term impact by X. This was a very candid conversation. My friend laughed and gave it the hard eye roll. She told her daughter, “What do you want me to do about that now?”

        I was dismayed with my friend. My friend is a good person who has uncharacteristically underestimated this situation.
        If I were talking to that daughter I would recommend that the daughter tell her mother, “How about saying you are sorry or that you regret things went that way?” For whatever reason, the obvious is not obvious to my friend. Her setting is so disconnected that my friend did not even seek the advice of others regarding this problem with her daughter. This too is uncharacteristic. I felt my friend was using an ivory tower approach with her daughter.

        Do spend sometime reading some books on mother-daughter relationships. I found these books to be more of a “mother” to me than my own mother. One of the themes that seemed to recur in many of the books was that the daughter had to try to see it from the mother’s perspective. At first I resented this. But if the mother is NOT going to change and the daughter WANTS change then guess who has to move first? The daughter. Right, that’s not fair. But if you wait then it will never happen.
        It is helpful to read about what other daughters have gone through and their thoughts on things as they went through their process. Reading might help to ward off or lessen feelings of isolation or abandonment- just to know that others have had their own things that they saw. Some of the stories may parallel your setting in some way.

    6. Wishing You Well*

      Don’t do this without a few sessions with a licensed therapist. You need to determine BEFORE you act what the likely outcome will be and whether it’s worth it. No amount of talking will get certain personality types to “fix” or sincerely apologize for a problem. Without guidance and support, you risk being re-traumatized.
      You also don’t need to convince a sibling that your experience was different from theirs. If they bring up nice memories, a simple “That was not my experience.” should do without further comment. If needed, leaving might be preferable to pointless arguing. Seek validation outside your family.
      I hope you can get what you need. Some parents and siblings just aren’t capable of giving us what we need or soothing past hurts. We find ways to take care of ourselves.
      Sending good thoughts.

    7. LilySparrow*

      You can’t really control how they feel about the conversation. You can only control your own choices, like when to have it, who else is there and how you frame it.

      You can’t guarantee they won’t be hurt, but you can be kind and thoughtful.

      I agree with others that practicing with a therapist or at least with the supportive parent would be helpful.

      And when it comes to the point, you can start nearly any topic by saying, “There’s something I want to talk over with you that’s been on my mind. It isn’t easy, but I feel like it’s important. Will you hear me out?”

  30. Betty*

    Does anyone have any idea what % of questions Alison receives end up being posted on the site? I feel like she must get absolutely loads and sorting through them must be a job in and of itself but I don’t know how true that is.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I get 60-75 questions a day on weekdays (far fewer on weekends), and I answer about 34 questions a week here … so a bit under 10%, give or take. (Ugh, I don’t like that, so now I will wipe that number from my mind.) I will say, though, that a lot of the ones I don’t answer are repeats or require a lot more details to answer in a useful way, and others aren’t answerable without including a thousand caveats, so if you leave those out, the percentage would be higher. But yes, sorting through them is a job in itself! (I enjoy doing it though, and I do read everything people send.)

      1. Betty*

        Thank you! Gosh, that’s even more questions than I had imagined. I had assumed that lots of them would be about the same things, though, or that you would have some which were to specific and complicated to be good ones to answer on the blog.

        I’d be very interested to know what you get asked about the most.

      2. Earthwalker*

        Whenever you answer a question there are lots of us who share the problem but haven’t spoken up, so your answers go a long way.

  31. Something Blue*

    Hi! If we’re looking for comments from the original letter writer in the responses, how do we search for that?

    I know Allison recently added a way to make that easier.

    1. Gaia*

      If they use OP as their name, you can search OP* and it will find any comments with that username (incidentally it works with all usernames, it seems). Now we just need to get the OPs to use OP as their user name consistently :)

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yep — add an asterisk right after the user name you’re searching for. (For example, if you search for OP*, that way you won’t get every word with “op” in it.)

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Hmmm, that is strange. You’re saying using a space after it brings up user name OP? Because it shouldn’t! Will you try both methods on this post (where the OP commented as OP) and tell me which method takes you to the OP’s comments? (And if it takes you *just* to their comments, or to every instance of “op”?) Try it here:

            https://www.askamanager.org/2019/11/im-in-recovery-and-my-office-just-moved-above-a-bar.html

            Also, what phone and browser?

  32. matcha123*

    I’m mid-30s and don’t want kids. I was asked to heavily invest in my parent’s emotional health, help with family finances, and help with raising a younger sibling…I’m done with ‘child-rearing’ and that’s that.
    Unfortunately, I have 2 or 3 female friends in my age group who are fixated on getting married and having kids. When they message me, they sometimes touch on how they want to be moms (I don’t want to be one), how they know men don’t want to be with women our age (I don’t really care…I’m a minority and the majority of men around me are not interested in me), and more about aging and kids that I really honestly do not care about.
    I have tried gently to explain that while I don’t want kids and am happy where I am, I wish them luck. But their way of speaking assumes that I am also desperately searching for a man to impregnant me.

    One friend in particular has been pretty dismissive of my past and is quick to write off my problems. This person is pretty close to being a millionaire and I have much less patience for her ‘woe-is-me’ speech than the other friend.

    I don’t know if I need advice or a rant.

    1. Fikly*

      I feel like there might be two issues here?

      The first is, can you find a way to support friends who want different things than you/are going through different things? I don’t think this is fundamentally impossible, though it is very common to find friendships difficult to maintain once some people are couples/having children and some people are single, or childless, especially by choice.

      The other issue is your friends invalidating your choices. That is not ok! And something that I would be very upset about too. If they get to have different goals/wants, so do you. I’m not sure if this would work, but I might try something like, “Wanting something and feeling like it’s impossible to achieve is super frustrating.” And then rather than explain why you don’t want what they want, can you share something different that you want, but feel similarly that you can’t get? Because then it’s a shared feeling, even if it’s about a different thing.

      1. matcha123*

        Giving some support is something I can do, but I don’t see myself as a dried up husk who will die alone in the streets with no child and spit on by men or something like that. I have my own insecurities that I am upfront about, but I think both of them are unwilling to look objectively at themselves.
        And the topic isn’t brought up by me, since I’m not interested in having kids. But they will bring it up randomly, and I have nothing to say and redirect…or I will encourage them to do some random thing they’ve brought up as a solution.
        I guess I feel like the people that have trouble maintaining friendships when they couple off or have kids are people who can’t understand others. Very frustrating.

        1. Fikly*

          I didn’t mean to imply you were a dried up husk! I am also childless by choice, and relationshipless by choice.

          It sounds like redirecting or suggesting solutions isn’t working. Perhaps that isn’t what they’re looking for? I have great luck asking people directly what kind of support they want, for example, would you like to vent and just have me nod at you, would you like empathy, or would you like to brainstorm solutions? A combination is also ok!

          On the other hand, if you aren’t getting what you need from your friends, it is ok to move on to other friends.

          1. matcha123*

            Oh, no! I know you were not trying to imply that! One of the friends seems to be fixated on what she sees as some kind of basic knowledge that by 35 all women are seen as undesirable to men. I wasn’t raised with that culture and I know there are plenty of people out there.

            1. valentine*

              Time for new friends? Or at least not these two? Because the attitude that your life is their worst nightmare can’t be good for you. If they won’t reset and they don’t share your values, why continue contact?

    2. Gaia*

      Also in my mid-30s also do not want kids and also have people who love to invalidate that choice. It is incredibly frustrating.

      Now that I’m firmly in my 30s, I get the added “you better have one soon before it is too late” haha – jokes on you, I can’t wait until it is “too late!”

      I have plenty of friends who do want kids and I fully support them in that, I just ask that they support my choice to not have kids. This seems to be complicated by the fact that I ADORE babies and will play with them happily for as long as I can (until they cry – then back to their parents). People take this to mean that I secretly do want kids or some nonsense.

      All that to say, no advise but much support.

      1. Forty Days in the Hole*

        Hearing you on this. Hubby and I married (mid-20s), nearly 40 years ago; we had that long, continuing talk about kids/no kids and how we’d handle the fallout from whatever decision we’d made. We opted to be kiddo-free for a number of reasons -none of which were anyone’s business. The main thing was we were lock-step in our supporting each other in our decision to be a 2-person family and generally folks were like, “ok,” and didn’t press/question/comment. One family member (boundary-stepper/unfiltered commentary, as he thought – as the self-appointed patriarch – he could just say as he pleased)…hard shutdown. Different than the time I was on my military leadership course (age 30-ish)and sharing barracks with a number of other women; sitting in the common room cleaning your kit, you do that comparing thing – where’re you from/previous posts/married/kids? Comes my turn – nope, no kids. Then a couple of my course mates go all nuclear “Madame Defarge” on me: why don’t you have kids? Why don’t you want kids? Why did you get married then? Aren’t you being selfish? Etc etc. The other women just sat there – watching, listening, waiting. A couple women piped up that it was personal and a choice, but holy spit shine, Batman! I just said “our choice, our business” and retreated to my room. So much for “collegial” and “collaborative” leadership.
        Don’t ever feel bad, or let others make you feel that you’ve made the wrong choice; there is only one right choice – yours

        1. Gaia*

          It’s so weird to me that people 1. Feel personally offended in someone else’s choice to not have kids and 2. Feel it is selfish to not have kids. Who is it selfish against? A kid that never existed? I think it would be selfish for me to have a kid sin s the only reason I would have one (not the only reason ANYONE would, the only reason I would) is to take care of me when I’m old.

        2. Gaia*

          Btw thanks. It is helpful to hear from someone with more experience that still believes it was the right choice. I know it’s the right choice for me but holy hell everyone acts like I’m some deviant. I think it’s worse because I also don’t seem to be particularly anxious to get married. Not opposed but just not seeking it. But again, that’s MY life choices, right?

      2. Thankful for AAM*

        I have a friend who is in the same age range as you and also is not interested in being a parent.

        Here is what I notice:
        1. She cultivates friends who respect her view and that includes me. I made a very deliberate choice to become a parent and it is a big part of my life. She has made a deliberate choice not to be a parent. We actively respect each others choices so it is not just about finding people who are not parents.

        2. Relationships are about wanting the other person to get what they want in life – but it does not mean you have to provide it. This goes both ways. They should be able to value what you want for you and you should be able to value what they want for themselves. If not, go back to #1 and think about new friends. It also means being direct with them about what you want and not assuming that what they want for themselves is what they want for you. Speak up if they do push you to want what they want.

        3. Society does assume we all want the same things, to be parents, and I really admire you and other women your age who are changing that.

        Best to you!

        1. Gaia*

          Thanks. Luckily the people who mean the most to me are very supportive. Some have kids (some deliberately, some surprised), some don’t (some want, some don’t). We all actively support each other. I have good women in my life and I’m lucky for that.

          It is the people on the peripheral that seem incapable of understanding that my choice doesn’t invalidate their choice.

    3. Asenath*

      Well – sometimes it’s important to listen to a friend talk about something that’s important to them but not to you, and sometimes that thing is children, or their difficulties in finding a good man, or aging or…well, lots of things.

      Now, if they ONLY talk about their biological clocks or expect that you feel (and will express) exactly the same concerns, by all means limit your responses to sympathetic noises, and if they continue, change the subject. I’ve been on both sides, not always regarding children actually, and sometimes I’ve given a more or less sympathetic ear to other’s problems, and at least once, I went along with a change of subject when a good friend pointed out very clearly that I’d been moaning about something long enough and couldn’t we talk about something else? (Only a good friend can get away with that kind of response, which is why good friends are very useful to have).

      1. matcha123*

        I agree. And I know I can rant on things for a long time, and I know people have their limits, which is why when I’m on the phone or chatting, I’m very aware of how much time I spend on my personal dramas. One friend will literally spend 3.5 hours out of a 4 hour phone conversation talking about her own personal drama and gets irritated when I try to bring up anything in my life.
        I have drastically limited much of our phone conversations and try to give shorter replies to chats that I don’t really have the ability to go into depth with.
        Since we are close in age, I really feel they are assuming that I must feel the same and I am just pretending not to care…even after I try to explain clearly the reasons why I am calm. I live in a place where tremendous pressure is put on women to have kids, which adds to my irritation.

    4. LibbyG*

      My 30s were when I really had to grapple with opportunity cost. Like, in my 20s I felt like I could radically change my life and career if I wanted (I didn’t, but still). And in my 30s I had a stronger sense of branching paths that only went one way.

      It sucks that people (and especially women) who don’t want kids get so much crap. But maybe there’s some common ground around the shared life-stage experiences and you and your friends can support one another on that basis.

    5. Not A Manager*

      I’m a little bit confused? Are they talking about themselves and their own fears, and you hear it as being applied to you as well, or are they actually telling you that you want a spouse and children but, like them, will never find one?

      To the extent that they are talking about themselves, maybe try listening to them sympathetically but not validating the underlying thinking? If they are trying to pull you into their narrative, though, I think you can say something mildly disengaging like, “oh you know I don’t feel that way about it, but it certainly sounds like you’re very upset.”

      I think it’s possible that when you get deeper into explaining to them that, in fact, you are not desperately searching for a man to impregnate you, what they are hearing is that you think that THEY also should not be searching for that. It probably makes them feel a little bit judged and defensive. I think the more you can uncouple talking about your own reproductive preferences, from their concerns about their own, the better off you’ll be.

      1. matcha123*

        Since I don’t live near either of them, the majority of our conversations are over chat. One friend, for example, will rant about work (which is fine, we all need a rant) or rant about family (again, I get it), and then she’ll go into her desire to be a mom (which, whatever) but it takes this nuance of “and you, too” that the previous rants about work or family didn’t take.
        The other friend also will nuance her thoughts about being a mom with the assumption that I feel similarly. They also both talk about how they (we) can’t do certain exercises or other things because “we” are ‘older,’ which I totally disagree with.
        I try to be very careful with my words and explain that while I, personally, do not feel the same, I sense where they are coming from and try to offer words of encouragement…pointing out what I see as their various strengths.
        Ranting about family is something I can do, but I wasn’t raised to believe that women are only good for making babies or that having a man is the only way to achieve happiness in the way they were.

    6. LQ*

      I went through this with all my close female friends going through “clock ticking” periods. I’m now in my late 30s and it has all mostly quieted down. One had a kid, the others didn’t. But they seem to mostly be talking about other things now.

      Their fixation may feel like it is aimed at you, but it is just a tidal wave of fixation that will catch you in the mix. As long as I mostly let the stuff about them be about finding men/having/trying to have babies they rarely then went, “Ok now LQ we are going to spend the next hour talking about you and getting you a man and babies.” There was a lot of “try this dating app!” “try this diet that attracts men!” “you could get a man!” “how do you track your fertility cycle?!” “try this diet that makes you more fertile!”…whew. But “eh I’m good” went a long way, though it had to be repeated frequently.

      It was about 3 years of getting through it before it all quieted down (it was primarily 3 friends, but I don’t have a lot so I wanted to try to hold onto them while they went a little off the weird end, and they’ve all come back to being normal, even the one who went full bridezilla in the most I don’t even know who this person is kind of way).

      So I guess I’m saying, decide if you want to hang in there and let the wave wash over you knowing it’s not about you, because it’s not. Or step away for a while.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This.
        When I was 17-18, I had several friends whose main topic of conversation was man and babies. I found it concerning that they were not able to talk about other topics for any length of time. However, I hung in there and hoped it would change. It didn’t. In the end, my life blew up in a spectacular manner and the whole situation was moot. I was on a wildly different road than they were and we no longer could relate to each other’s stuff.

        Looking back on it, I probably should have moved toward people who had goals similar to mine. Or at least i should have blended people into my collection of friends who had more similar goals. Life was such that I did not figure that out until much later.

    7. The Meow*

      When my friend was going through similar rants it got to a point where redirecting wasn’t enough. I literally stopped responding to her. Thankfully in our group I had one other friend who was also just as exasperated as I was. So whenever the same complaints came up we simply stopped eye contact with her and just talked to each other about the weather or something. We did not respond to her messages in our group chat on this topic. Eventually I think she got the message as she stopped complaining about it.

    8. coffee cup*

      Are they actually assuming that or are you assuming that they are? I have many concerns about the way my life is going at my age and without kids, and not necessarily because I even know if I want them. Which creates its own anxiety!

      It’s very hard when this kind of thing is on your mind and it sounds as if they want you to be there for them. Unfortunately, friends don’t always have everything in common, but it’s still possible to support them even if it’s not your own choice. If they’re talking about it too often, maybe discuss that with them or try to do other things with them to take their minds off it? But I don’t think inherently there’s anything wrong with a woman who wants kids talking about that to a friend who doesn’t.

      1. matcha123*

        This is just a guess, but I get the feeling that both of them think that me not actively searching for a man or wanting a baby is offensive in that I should be able to get one if I just tried? And they sometimes want to project their insecurities on to me and want me to feel as stressed as they do.
        One in particular is quick to snap at me for pointing out my lack of well-paying job and family support as one of the many reasons I don’t want kids, but she gets defensive if her family doesn’t like the men she dates. It seems like she views this as a race to status and since she’s gotten everything she wants in life so far, she can’t fathom why she doesn’t have a man and kid. I can only offer so much support to someone who isn’t really willing to support me in other areas.
        And, well…I guess I can’t understand why not having kids would cause anyone to feel stress or anxiety? It’s an incredibly difficult, mentally exhausting endeavor. Why put yourself through that just so you can flex on your friends and family?

        1. WordNerd*

          You say “I guess I can’t understand why not having kids would cause anyone to feel stress or anxiety?”, and yet you want them to understand your perspective? It seems like you and your friends are all pretty dismissive of one another’s feelings.

          1. WordNerd*

            Sorry, that came out a bit harsh. Sometimes friendships run their course. Maybe that’s what’s happening, and that’s why you’re all having a harder time connecting and being there for each other.

          2. matcha123*

            In my view, at least, I have tried to understand their specific circumstances and provide thoughtful advice when they bring up the topic. When I bring up my frustration with job prospects and such, they get very dismissive, even when I clearly explain my reasons.
            I can understand why someone who grew up with a loving, supportive family would want to recreate that. Heck, I might if that were me. But I can’t understand this thoughtless desire to have kids or get married just because other people are doing it. My life hasn’t panned out in the way I wanted, and I can’t really just…I don’t know, turn over and give up. No one is going to help me except me. Both of them have said they are happy to be single moms, which is another issue I have. They are talking about finding any random guy to get pregnant by just so they can have a kid with no regard for how they are going to raise the kid and what kind of life they can give the kid and more. I know both of their financial situations, one is pretty wealthy and could do that. The other is doing okay.

            Generally I am very critical of people who have kids without thinking.

            1. Fikly*

              It sounds like they are thinking a lot about kids though. And it sounds like you want them to be supportive of your choices, while you are being very critical and judgemental of theirs. It has to go both ways, and their behavioral may be a reflection of yours.

    9. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      So personally, when my friends start taking steps towards parenthood, I mentally write them off as friends. It sounds harsh! But people who are good friends, will still be good friends (albeit in a different way) after they have kids, and instead of being irritated that they don’t have time to spend with me, I can be glad that they have so many demands on their time and are still willing to have lunch with me every four months or so during the 90 minute window when their baby or little is willing to cooperate enough to be in a public place without embarrassing everyone.

      1. matcha123*

        I do the same. I do offer to help with what I can and more. Going out drinking until late or going clubbing has never been my thing, so that’s not an issue. The more level-minded people seem happy to talk about non-kid stuff and I’m happy to ask about and play with their kids.
        But, it takes time to suss out who is going to act like a friend and who is going to act like they can’t talk to anyone that isn’t a parent.

  33. Gaia*

    Back in September I had a little skin scare with an atypical mole that had to be removed and needed an excision with clean margins. All went well and it healed up nicely.

    The last few days I’ve noticed the scar itching like crazy. I’ve never had anything even remotely surgical done (except getting my tonsils removed when I was 5) – is this normal? Why is it itching now? The sutures were removed almost two months ago and it has been fine.

    Also….ARRRGGGGHHHH it itches!

    1. families!*

      Is it possible that the nerve endings went numb at the time of operation and now are “waking up”?

        1. fhqwhgads*

          It can be normal to experience this for up to a year after surgery, not usually continuously, but the sensation cane come and go, but everyone’s different. So said my surgeon.

    2. OperaArt*

      I’ve had 6 surgeries. Almost all of the scars have itched at one time or another. The itching goes away, but might pop up again every so often, even years later, for a day or two.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      In normal settings itching occurs so that we scratch and we stimulate blood flow. Could it be that you just need to massage it a little and get some blood flow going on?

    4. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      Did your surgeon accidentally transfer part of his soul to you during the surgery? Should we be concerned that He Who Must Not Be Named is back more powerful than ever?

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I had an accident that required stitches on my scalp and follow-on itching turned out to be a ingrown hairs. It popped back up every few years for probably 15 years before that follicle gave up or tunneled to freedom. Hoping your spot is more accessible than mine if this is the case.

      1. Gaia*

        Dead center between my shoulder blades. Literally the one spot I can’t reach on my back. I look like a bear scratching on a tree lol

    6. A Frayed Knot*

      I had the exact same procedure and the exact same itching. It does eventually subside, but it was several months. When I asked the dermatologist, she said she could give me steroids to help with the itch, which I declined. It was annoying, but not severe.

  34. families!*

    I’m having trouble parsing my feelings on this small thing. Thanksgiving is coming. I asked my friend if they had plans for thanksgiving and they replied “no, what should we do?” and for some reason I am so angry at this response. I’m not sure if it’s about the assumption I don’t have plans (but I mostly don’t, I may volunteer early in the day). Or this feeling (perhaps just because I am angry) that they are saying I need to organize something. Or maybe because why didn’t they reach out to me? And I guess lately it feels like I am reaching out more. I also often feel they do fun stuff with other people but are miserly with me, i.e., they go to the opera with other people but we’ll go the corner diner because it’s cheaper. But they never ask me if I’d be into going to a concert or such (and I guess I don’t ask them either). I don’t know something feels off and I can’t figure it out.

    1. WellRed*

      There may be some imbalance in the friendship but you also sound difficult to please here. No matter your friends response, it sounds like it would have been the wrong one. Can you ask yourself what would you ideally have had them say? What would you like to do on thanksgiving?

      1. valentine*

        They hit a button, but what is the button? What are you really angry about, not having plans or being exposed as such?

        What if they took the question as an invitation?

    2. KR*

      I don’t know about how you and your friends talk but generally if I ask my friends if they have plans a certain day I’m also saying by extension “If not let’s potentially plan something.” So they probably interpreted your question as “families! wants to do something that day and likely has something in mind.” I’m sure you could just respond to your friend something like, “I was about to ask you the same question! Let’s brainstorm.” and they might throw out some ideas.

    3. Courageous cat*

      I dunno, sounds like a pretty innocent comment to me. I get your concerns otherwise and would maybe touch on that with them sometime, but I don’t think what they said in this case is the issue.

    4. Parenthetically*

      Sounds to me like you’re generally frustrated with what you see as a lack of equality in your friendship. The comment itself sounds really innocuous, but given the rest of the context, I can see how it could have hit a sore spot.

      If the friendship matters to you, why not say, “Hey, I’d love to do more fun things with you, like XYZ, but I feel like I’ve taken more responsibility for organizing stuff lately. What would you think about organizing X or Y types of outings in the next couple months?”

      Regardless, I’d leave this Thanksgiving comment alone, and figure out what, if anything, you’d like to do with this person and move forward from there. It’s a separate conversation and issue from the broader one you’re feeling, IMO.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Picture other people saying this to you. Pick several random people and go one by one, what is your response/feeling as you picture them saying this to you.

      This might help you find out if you are just reacting because of your own personal stuff or if you are reacting because of something with this friend in particular.

      As others suggested what type of answer from this friend would satisfy you. This is telling because if you decide that nothing would satisfy you, then it could be your own internal restlessness (we all have some of this from time to time at least) and nothing to do with her. However if you think of several responses where she suggests ideas, it could be that you just want her to actively participate in the friendship more.

  35. PhyllisB*

    Haven’t been to Ruth’s Chris in years, but I loved it. It’s been about 20 years ago so menu may have changed, but they had a creamed spinach dish that was divine. It was my husband, son, and I who went, and we each ordered different sides and sampled each others. The spinach is the only one I remember.

  36. PhyllisB*

    Y’all, my heart is breaking. Some of you have read my comments on my grandson (17) who’s been in jail for over a year. His attorney appealed to the State Supreme Court to have case remanded back to Youth Court. (He had been certified as an adult offender.) Well, just got word that Supreme Court denied it. So I don’t know what the next step is.

    1. Gaia*

      I’m sorry, that must have been very hard news to receive. I don’t know the details of the situation so I don’t have any advise on next steps.

      I hope whatever happened, your grandson gets the help he needs to get through this and re-enter society in a productive manner. And I hope your family has help going through this process.

    2. Thankful for AAM*

      I am so sorry! My heart goes out to you and your grandson and family. Please keep us updated so we can at least support you moving forward.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      So it looks like he will be tried in adult court, right?

      Well, just in talking around, I see that most judges want to offer the defendant every chance to salvage the situation. I think in all likelihood you will see the case drag out a little BECAUSE of this exact reason, everyone is hoping that time will help him in some way.

      Of my friend’s kids who had cases resolved quickly and the kids who had cases resolved slowly, it was the slower cases that came to a conclusion more favorable for the kid. This could be community service, counseling or similar activities. The cases that were resolved quicker usually ended with the kid going to jail.

      When I say, “I hope this drags on”, I hope you can see I am wishing him the best possible outcome. It’s rough on you, though, to keep waiting and waiting.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Thank you Not So New Reader (and to all of you who have been so kind. I really do appreciate it.)
        Yes, it does look like he will be tried in adult court. I kind of agree that the longer this drags on, maybe the better it will be; but he told his mother he’s frightened and doesn’t like being in the other inmates, so he does things to get himself put in lock down. They finally put him in front in a holding cell so he doesn’t have to be in with the regular population.
        Also aside from the fact I hate he’s in jail, he’s not getting any education. When he was in Juvenile, he was getting schooling, but at the county jail they don’t even offer GED programs.
        We aren’t even allowed to send him books anymore. They were allowing books sent directly from a company, but some started sending contraband inside books. (Even sewing drugs inside the pages of Bibles!!) So now, nothing. I know he brought this on himself, but he was sent to adult jail when he was just shy of 16, just turned 17 in Oct. Essentially, his schooling ended at 9th grade.
        I can’t help but feeling somewhat angry at his attorney; this was $6,000.00 just wasted. Of course, if it HAD worked, I would feel different, but I think he just wanted a chance to present a case to the State Supreme Court.
        Now we don’t know what’s going to happen. His attorney said he could possibly be facing 20 years. That’s why we took the chance on the Supreme Court.

        1. WellRed*

          Oh Phyllis I’m sorry. Also sorry you’re in an area where they are so short sighted. No books or edu? wtf? How is that helpful to society at large?

        2. Agnodike*

          I would gently challenge the idea that “he brought this on himself.” Your nephew may have chosen to do something illegal, but he didn’t choose the way the prison-industrial complex treats inmates. Stepping outside the bounds of social behaviour shouldn’t entail being treated as less than human, without social or educational needs. I’m so sorry this is happening to your family.

          1. Gaia*

            For context, I am a firm believer in consequences for actions and I also believe some crimes committed by juveniles necessitate stronger sentences than juvenile courts warrant.

            That said, I agree with Agnodike. I don’t know what your grandson is accused of, althought it sounds like it might be something society deems particularly harmful (given the case going to adult court and the potential length of sentence) but it also sounds like he was maybe 15 years old?

            Our prison system isn’t capable of properly handling the needs of fully grown and developed adult inmates, let alone the needs of someone still developing their cognitive abilities around reason, logic, and consequences or their emotional abilities. Your grandson, even if convicted and given the full weight of a 20 year sentence, will have an entire life ahead of him when he is out of this. And, unfortunately, unless he is very lucky and works very hard he will be ill prepared for being released.

            I’m very sorry for everyone involved in this situation. Even if he did what he is accused of (whatever that may be), he is still a person, a young man, and your grandson. And one day he will be free again and it behooves us all to make sure that when he is back in society he has been prepared properly so that this pattern doesn’t repeat.

            Take heart, not all hope is lost. Even in adult courts sometimes there is leniency if it is a first offense or because of his age.

        3. Not So NewReader*

          I am not sure if you answered this before. What level court is he being returned to? I am thinking with facing a 20 year sentence, he is probably being returned to a county level court?

          The reason I ask is because in my state if they keep felonies or misdemeanors in a local court that means they plan on doing the hard work of getting him on track as opposed to putting him in jail. This could mean court ordered evals and court ordered counseling, a friend went through well over a year of this stuff before their kid was finally sentenced.

          I am kind of optimistic that the State Supreme Court accepted the case. They must have seen some merit to the case. What I am saying is your lawyer thought there was enough with this case that he should go to the Supreme Court AND the Supreme Court initially agreed with your lawyer. While I understand your anger with your attorney, I also bet he is NONE too happy with that judge either.

          The judge(s) should have given the lawyer a written copy of their decision. This will explain why they said NO. Probably your grandson’s mom or perhaps you can get to read the decision yourselves. While there is a bunch of legalese to wade through you might also get the gist of what happened and why. You can go over this with the attorney, too. You may or may not find points for discussion as you read along. It would be good to read it and watch for points that are misunderstood, misrepresented OR neglected entirely.

          At 17, the human body is not fulled out to an adult body yet. I am sure being around full-grown tough adult males IS very scary for him. And they are well-versed in a world that he does not fully know about. Are there any advocacy groups in your area? If you can find one say what you have said here about inability to continue his education and acting out so he goes into isolation. These are two really important talking points. (You may have other talking points not mentioned here, be sure to cover them also.)

          This is one of those times where one hopes for the best, braces for the worst. I suspect the answer will be some where between those two extremes. Not much comfort, I know. One day at a time, right?

        4. Earthwalker*

          Have you spoken to your lawyer about that aspect of his incarceration? I read something this week about the rights of American children to education and wonder if there’s any case that a lawyer might make about those rights not being met in his case.

        5. Anono-me*

          Even if he isn’t a person who follows a particular faith path, one of the jail chaplains may be able to offer your grandson some emotional support and advice on day by day stuff. (My friend who is a chaplain only talks about faith when it is welcomed by the other person*.)

          Does the jail have an internal library? If so, maybe your grandson can find some sort of GED study book there. (If he does this, tell the lawyer in case it is helpful.)

          Good wishes and prayers if welcome.

          *obv. your mileage may vary.

    4. NoLongerYoung*

      So sorry to hear, I know you were hopeful. A very hard place to be in, know we are thinking of you.

    5. Jean (just Jean)*

      No words of wisdom, just sympathy. Stay in touch with him as much as possible — I’m sure he appreciates it even if he has to put on a “tough guy” facade.
      I hope he can stay calm and work on self-education. The prison chaplains mentioned by others might be a good resource.

  37. Anon, anon, anon*

    We made it through the first marking period without any calls from my 10 year old’s school! Then the day after conferences…. (**POSSIBLE TRIGGERS**)

    My son told a girl on the bus that another classmate wanted to see her naked. That wasn’t true, but even if it were, telling her was so not okay. So, my husband came home from work early, and we got to have the full-blown conversation about sexual harassment, consent, respecting other people’s bodies, etc. It was so hard to balance making sure he understood this was serious, without shaming him.

    Fortunately, my husband was on the same page as me. My near daily harassment started in 4th grade from “boys being boys”, and I am so glad those attitudes are changing. I know a simple comment without accompanying behaviour would not always be taken seriously, but I know that this is where it starts.

    I am a little frustrated at the hoops I had to jump through to let the school know I would be driving my son, instead of having him ride the bus. Obviously, that won’t solve all the problems, but I hope removing one source of loosely supervised contact will help the girl feel safer, and heard.

    Sorry this is so rambly. I haven’t been able to talk about with very many real-life friends, because I don’t want them to judge him, or pull him away from his friends as the “bad influence.” Ugh, parenting is hard!

    1. Gaia*

      Thank you for taking this seriously. You are right that this is where the behavior begins in boys and where girls begin to feel unsafe. Your son needs to know this behavior is not okay (I can imagine this may have come about from being at an age where he’s starting to be curious about girls) and the girl needs to know that this behavior is not okay and when reported it will be taken seriously so she can feel safe.

    2. sequined histories*

      My best wishes to you. It must be hard as a parent to treat something like this incident with appropriate gravity while also maintaining a positive, supportive relationship with your son. Good for you for making your best effort and not just ignoring or minimizing this.

    3. Observer*

      I think you’ve handled it well.

      Just one thing – don’t be too worried about shaming him. I don’t mean in a “you’re a terrible person who no one will ever want to talk to again” kind of way. But shame and guilt are not always bad emotions. Shame and guilt are emotions that keep us from doing things. When the things we feel (a reasonable amount of) shame or guilt about are things that we SHOULD NOT be doing, that’s a good thing.

    4. Nita*

      You are amazing for taking on the extra commute to help the girl feel safer. And, lots of sympathy. Working hard over here to make my usually mature, kind almost seven-year-old see how his occasional bursts of casual jerk-ness affect the people close to him (so far, I feel like I’m failing, but time will tell).

  38. Anonymous for this*

    Just need to cry/vent some place. The past week has been pretty bad luck. To start:
    I ordered a new HDD as my current is nearing its limits. Got it, hooked it up, then nothing. Computer wouldn’t recognize it at all. Tried all basic troubleshooting suggested, still nothing. Yep, I got a DOA one. Had to send it in for an RMA.
    I lost my car’s driver side mirror last month, but with the GM strike that’d been going on, they didn’t get the part until this week. Went in, waited over 2 hours, told it’s now fixed. Only, turned out they ordered the wrong side, they forgot to mention that, so it’s not actually fixed, and now I have to wait another unknown time for the correct piece to come in.
    I need to move in just a month (lease running out at current place, can’t stay). Found 2 others also looking for a place but they don’t have a deadline. We started looking a couple months ago, but couldn’t find a place that matched all our individual needs and wants. I finally found a place that was perfect, but as my messages weren’t going through to the place, had one of the others view it and start the application process. Only, they forgot to send in the application and by the time I asked if he’d heard back several days later, the place had just been rented out to someone else.
    So yeah, not too happy with things right now and the 2 potential roommates are looking at a rental soon that meets most specs except it’s in an area that makes it hard to get to the nearby cities easily and I’ve stressed this several times that if they’re going to try that, the place would have to be very cheap (it’s not). I’m hoping a few I’m also checking today will match everything we’re looking for (and are more centrally located).

  39. Doggone It*

    I’ve always been a dog person (but like cats, too). But I think I’m done with dogs. We have two right now, and I’m so weary about them for very different reasons. One is my first child. He’s 16+ years old and cannot be left alone for longer than 3 hours or he’ll have an accident in the house (except that when we’re home, he doesn’t), he cannot get into the yard without being carried, and is clearly not very happy. But he’s also not unwell enough to be at *that point*, you know? So every time I look at him, it’s a little bit of heartbreak, because he’s lost and worried and only semi-mobile. But he still loves his dinner, and he still loves me, and when he snuggles up next to me on the couch, life is good. And I can’t imagine not having him there next to me.

    The other one is younger, and she’s mostly a wonderful dog, except for her crippling fear/anxiety/discomfort with thunderstorms. Our thunderstorms usually come through at night, and she cannot sleep through them, requires constant company and comforting, paws, pants, paces, for hours. I cannot count the number of nights I was up until three, four, five in the morning with her. I can’t function on that little sleep, and none of the solutions we’ve tried have helped enough to allow human sleep (drugs, thundershirt, herbs, cbd, music).

    I’m just done. I’ll stick by my pets to the end. I love my pooches. I swear I’m not a horrible person. I’m just…done.

    1. Gaia*

      You’re not a horrible person. I had my Ludo for 9 1/2 years. He was my everything and I loved and still love him dearly. But he was exhausting.

      He had a myriad of small health issues (which got worse in the last few months of his life and ultimately are what led me to let him go), he was terrified of thunderstorms and would bark non-stop at them, and while he could be left alone it would often lead to a build up of energy that took days of long walks to get out.

      And, in the end, the decision and the moment of letting him go was probably the worst thing I’ve ever gone through. It has been 2 1/2 years now and I literally cried about it again last week. I have so many beautiful and happy memories of my time with him, but I have frustrating and exhausting ones too.

      I love him and I’ll never regret the part of my life I got to spend with him. And I adore other dogs. I’ll never have another one, though.

      I’m not a terrible person for this, you’re not a terrible person. You’re just recognizing that while your love for these dogs made up for the sacrifices you’re making, that might not extend to other dogs and that is okay. You’re allowed to make that choice.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Many people go through this same thought process.
      I have watched family member say similar things.
      I fully expect at some point, I will say I am done also.
      You are not alone and you are still a good person.

    3. All monkeys are French*

      You’re not a terrible person. I totally get it. A few years ago I lost several animal and human family members in a short period of time and it was exhausting. By the time my last dog was having health problems I was pretty ready for it to be over. She was in a similar place to your dog when we decided to let her go. It was an agonizing decision, but I still feel like we did right by her and the whole family.
      I wish you peace and strength and joy in your dog’s company for as long as that feels right.

    4. Goldfinch*

      You’re not a horrible person. I am fed the hell up with high-maintenance pets, myself. Being aggravated about it is only natural. Do yourself the kindness of not policing your feelings. Your actions are what matter.

    5. NoLongerYoung*

      Understand. I totally do. I did take a break, then had “new” rules when I adopted this time. I had to have a relatively young, healthy dog (I’d fostered older, senior, and problem dogs for most of the last 15 years), from a known, vetted foster situation where I could know the behavior issues (or supposed lack of) were correctly reported, and they had to be a rescue that would take the dog back, if it was not a match.

      That doesn’t mean she won’t have problems eventually as she ages, but I “should” have a long spell of companionship and activity, instead of years of being the doggie hospice nurse. I loved each one of them, truly, but too much death in this house, and too many tears (lost husband a year ago)…. I needed the break, and I needed time to be okay with a different approach and a different dog. During my hiatus I donated to a rescue I did support, but never looked at their site or went in.

      Not saying you might ever change your mind. But know it is okay – however you feel – if you say no forever, or just for as long as you want.
      (hug)

    6. Nita*

      I understand. I’m done too. I think I failed my dog pretty badly at the end of his life, and I don’t want to have pets ever again.

  40. Myrin*

    I’ve been laughing for what feels like ten years about a message my sister sent me recently. She had left the following comment on a Youtube video (it was a video in English, so this isn’t just my translation but actually verbatim what was written):

    I love him for ending this with the Sonata facile, this man’s a damn genius

    The “Sonata facile” is Mozart’s 16th piano sonata. I did not know that, but my sister is a music nerd (she sings in two choirs, among other things) and apparently recognises such things as they get played as background music in a random comedy video.

    In any case, another person answered this:

    Yes, that sonata facile does every time.You’re the type of libtard who would go down on maxine waters and munch out on her putrid, greasy, convoluted bat- eared muffin.

    The text my sister sent me to commentate on this was simply “what the fucketh is happening here xD”. I concur.

      1. Myrin*

        Yeah, we were thinking that as well. But I honestly don’t even care, the randomness is exactly what makes this so funny. (And I also and somewhat inexplicably find any instance of “what the fucketh” absolutely hilarious. 11/10, would start to cry from laughing again.)
        But like Anon below me, I actually also know several people who make comments which sound pretty much exactly like this one and they’re definitely real people (albeit ones sounding like nonsense-bots) so who even knows anymore.

    1. Anon Here*

      I actually know someone who makes a lot of internet comments like that. A real person who I know in person. Basically the type you would expect.

      Yes, his phone number is blocked and we are not friends. He actually is nice about half of the time, but he says things like that in person too. I lost my cool once and told him to stop being [insert appropriate explatives] and yes, he cried and played the victim and said I was a horrible person for using “bad words.” Words that he uses all the time. I don’t understand people.

      Could be someone from that general type of crowd or even the same person! Yikes.

    2. The Kerosene Kid*

      Okay, I straight-up chortled. I don’t know you or your sister, but I’m guessing I’d like you both.

  41. Anony Mouse*

    I have doctor-skin test diagnosed cat and dog allergies. Hubs and I want to adopt a cat, but the most hypoallergenic species—Siberian—seems only available through (yes reputable and certified) breeders. I know it’s weird, but I’m mourning the loss of my dream of adopting an orange tabby cat from a nearby animal shelter and realizing the only way of owning a cat may be against the ethics of cat adoption that’s been hammered into me all these years by teachers, friends, neighbors.

    If owning a cat (with minimal medication or some medication) is only possible through a breeder, would you do it? (Allergenic cats make me sneeze and give me puffy eyes, highly dangerous due to preexisting autoimmune eye condition that puts me at 30% risk of blindness)…

    1. I edit everything*

      Probably not, but mostly because of expense. Reputable breeders are fine to purchase from. It’s the ones who have litters of kittens without thought of genetics, without screening the people who take home those kittens (and potentially add to the stray/feral population), or who breed their cats over and over for pet stores and profit, etc., that are problematic.

      I don’t know if you want suggestions, but would a monthly trip to a local shelter to snuggle kitties help your craving, or make it worse? Or do cats have breed-specific rescues, the way dogs do?

      1. Anony Mouse*

        Thanks… we’ve been to a cat cafe 4 times and pet adoptable cats and kittens 3 other times. We want our own cat. Or something :/

    2. Courageous cat*

      Hmm, I’m not sure, and don’t take this as medical advice, but every person I’ve ever known with a cat allergy has been able to adjust to specific cats if they are exposed to them for longer periods of time. My ex was extremely allergic but he lived with my cat just fine after a week or two of adjustment. My best friend is allergic and lives with 2 and has no issues, but has issues with my cats.

      So, maybe not wise depending on the extent of your allergy, but it’s not impossible to have a cat in this scenario.

      1. Courageous cat*

        Also I missed the last part about the autoimmune condition which probably makes this all moot. But hopefully it’s useful to someone!

      2. LilySparrow*

        My brother on the other hand, has lived with his wife’s generations of cats for 20 years and is still just as allergic as ever. His can be controlled with meds and he doesn’t have the autoimmune component.

      3. Clever Name*

        This has been my experience as well. My allergy symptoms decrease with exposure to a particular cat. I also take Flonase for seasonal allergies and I have nearly no symptoms at all.

      4. blaise zamboni*

        +1. I was very allergic to cats when I got my first cat, and I took allergy pills everyday. I’m not sure how long it took to adjust, but I’m just not allergic to him anymore. I’m also not allergic to his sister, or to the other cat I had before his sister. As an added bonus, I’m less allergic to other cats now too, though I definitely still see a reaction with them (but my whole face doesn’t swell up anymore which is awesome!). I still take allergy pills if I know I’ll see a ‘stranger’ cat but I don’t need it with my own cats, and I regularly put my face in their fur for the heck of it.

        Maybe related, I have an autoimmune condition which causes my body to react as though it’s deathly allergic to like…life, in general. My body thinks it’s allergic to sunlight and strenuous activity. So I’m not sure how I built up so much tolerance for cats, but I’m really glad I tried it out and have my furry babies in my life.

        It sounds like you’re pretty far into the adoption process with your Siberian, so I say go for it! Hopefully you’ll have great success with that kitty, and maybe that will give you enough exposure to safely adopt a shelter cat later on. I hope you and your spouse get everything you want out of your future pets!

    3. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      Maybe you could work with a responsible breeder to adopt a retired animal or older kitten that had to be returned? Or contact some breed associations to see if they ever help rescue groups place purebred cats taken from mill type breeding operations?

      1. tangerineRose*

        Or get a pet-quality kitty from a breeder? Pet-quality should be cheaper (maybe free) because although they’re purebred, they can’t be shown.

      1. Sometimes Always Never*

        This! There are individual cats and some breeds that produce less of the allergens, but there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic cat. This is the first time I’ve heard Siberians suggested as a possibility. I have allergies and asthma and see a doctor and get allergy shots. And a cat ;) Maybe foster a likely cat to see how you do? (If it goes well, could be a failed foster!) Maybe also talk to the doctor about strategies? My doctor has told me that a few times in his career he’s had to tell someone that they absolutely couldn’t have a dog/cat because it was too dangerous. There are new medical advances in the pipeline that I’ve read about, so this could still work out for you in the future, if not now.

    4. Thankful for AAM*

      YMMV but my son is allergic to cats and dogs and he has asthma. When he was 6, we discovered he was not allergic (or did not react to) his best friend’s dog – a pure breed of some kind (I forget which). When that dog died, they got another from the same breeder and my son was immediately and clearly allergic to it.

      So the hypoallergenic cat may still cause you to react. It’s a really fine balance and more complex than people think it is, I find.

      I hope you get a wonderful cat!

    5. Lucette Kensack*

      I don’t know much about the cat world (are unethical “backyard breeders” and “kitten mills” a thing for cats?), so I’ll give you my dog-focused answer: No, I would not buy a dog from a breeder, even if it meant I could never have a dog.

      I’m a hardliner on adoption/anti-breeding. My reasoning is that by purchasing an animal from a breeder — even a responsible breeder — you are supporting the breeding industry, which creates the demand that leads to backyard breeding and puppy mills. If there were no demand for bred puppies, those folks would go out of business.

    6. All monkeys are French*

      Are allergy shots an option for you? They worked for my mother-in-law. I think it took several months to a year of regular shots but now she lives with a cat (that she admires but doesn’t handle) and can visit my three cat household without a problem.
      My ethics wouldn’t allow me to buy from a breeder. I would just be sad and catless until I could find an adoption solution.

    7. Anono-me*

      If the only way to have a cat and not die is to go with a reputable breeder a(nd you have the funds to do so); I say go for it.

      I would suggest checking first to see if there are any rescue groups for this particular breed before you purchase a kitten from the breeder.

      You might also find it helpful to your peace of mind to make a sizable donation to your local animal shelter or cat rescue group.

      I do think that the people who have raised concerns about your allergies still being triggered may have a point. You might want to see if there is a breed specific local group that will help you experiment with contact with these type of cats.

      As background, my thoughts in general are if you want to bring an animal to your home, you should look hard at trying to adopt from a local shelter or rescue group. If for some good reason (not just vanity) adoption won’t work, then that’s when you look into buying a purebred from an ethical breeder.

      However you find the kitty portion of your family, once you do I hope you will post some pictures.

    8. Ann O.*

      Yes, I would. But I know people who breed Siberians, and the world of Sibieran catteries seems very different from puppy mills. I would do my due diligence, though. Also, the Siberian breeders I know are doing it specifically to help cat lovers with allergies have cats, so they have very specific protocols to maximize chance of success. I would only consider a breeder who has similar protocols, especially in your case where it is so crucial that you don’t react.

      1. WS*

        +1. I have a friend with similar allergies and the Siberian cattery was very thorough in allergy testing before she was actually able to adopt a cat. They sent samples of hair with dander and also saliva to make sure that she wasn’t going to react, because some people do react to even these cats. In her case, she was fine, and she now has two delightful cats, but it’s not the case for everyone.

    9. Deschain*

      I love animals and have always had a cat and dog even though I’m allergic to them. I took shots and medication at various times and thought that was enough. About 12 years ago, I started having severe stomach pain, constant diarrhea, and eventually, pain all over my body. I was diagnosed with IBS, fibromyalgia, arthritis, etc. Turns out that I’d developed something called cat-pork syndrome (yes, it’s real. Rare, but real). By that time, I was in so much pain. Cat albumin is similar to pigs, so now I have a pork, lamb, and beef allergy (because it went undiagnosed for a year and morphed into a more severe allergy). It took months before I was well even after I stopped eating those meats. And I do have IBS now thanks to the allergy. And I have trouble with a lot of medical procedures (dyes for X-rays, MRA, etc., some vaccines) because of the porcine ingredient. And getting rid of the cats wouldn’t have helped after the fact (although I don’t know that I could have—they are my babies). I still have them and love them very much. But if I knew then what I know now, I obviously wouldn’t have had cats as pets.

    10. Johanna*

      We got our Siberian second hand, a relative got one for allergy reasons and it still activated his allergies (or however you say it). But they’re such a good breed.

    11. AcademiaNut*

      Yes, with the caveat of a *reputable* breeder, but in a case like yours, I would make sure there was an ethical way to get rid of the cat if you are allergic to it – hypoallergenic cats are less likely to cause problems, but it’s not guaranteed. If you buy a cat through a breeder only to dump it on a shelter a couple months later, that’s not good.

    12. IntoTheSarchasm*

      I am very much an “adopt don’t shop” person, worked in rescue for years and have two rescues on the couch right now, but I would acquire a dog from a breeder in a similar situation. If you were taking the easy way out or making excuses, that would be one thing. But if this is the only way, then it is the only way. We benefit so much from our relationships with animals that you may find this to be your best path. And hopefully you will find a rescue that meets your particular needs.

    13. Book Lover*

      I have a Siberian adopted from a woman who shows cats – so she breeds them and adopts out the ones that aren’t for show. I did quite a bit of searching and a number of breeders seem like that. They don’t make money from the cats they adopt out, they mitigate their costs a bit. I went to her house, met her cats (there were not a billion of them, all were social and adorable), we talked and I filled out forms and it was obvious she felt strongly that she wanted them to be happy.
      I had never gone to a breeder before and I have always been happy with our cats but I have no regrets. Our Siberian is amazing – she will follow us around to see what we are up to, hop onto our laps when we sit down, and sleeps beside us without waking us up. She does shed of course and I do get itchy eyes if I pet or brush her and then touch my face.

      1. Book Lover*

        Oh, also – most Siberian breeders have a significant wait list. I would be suspicious if they didn’t. And if they didn’t want you to visit (one breeder said no visiting because it is their house and they have plenty of customers, but then you are adopting a cat for the appearance without any first hand info about how they really are with people). And our breeder usually has a one week ‘return’ window where if you find that it isn’t working you bring the cat back, and she would also take the cat back at any time (without refund presumably) if circumstances changed. No giving your cat to a random person or abandoning it – no questions asked.

        1. Anony Mouse*

          Thanks—good to know! We’re actually meeting the breeder at her house and we’re meeting the kittens’ parents so I can see how I react to fur/Siberian dander.

          I love cats, and I’m so scared I’ll be allergic to even Siberian cats. No allergies to birds, so I was contemplating a pair of budgies, but spouse wants furry creature and so do I, if possible.

          This is how it’s looking (ie. If horribly allergic to #1, try #2. And so on…
          1. Hypoallergenic Siberian
          2. Rex less-allergenic rabbit or
          3. Pair of budgies or lovebirds or
          4. If absolutely allergic to everything, a hamster or gerbil or pet fish

          …we’ll love our pet no matter the species.

          1. Book Lover*

            We were looking at bearded dragons. But they are a lifelong commitment and we wanted something furry.

    14. Anony Mouse*

      Update: I went to the cattery. Lovely sweet creatures. NO runny nose, no sneezing, no red eyes in the hour and a half I was there! Zero symptoms! The breeder has celiac, asthma, and dog/cat allergies and we identified with her so, so much. The cats were angelic and sweet.

      The only thing I felt were a slight throat twitch and eye twitch when I got in the car from all the fur rubbed on me (house had air filtration system but car obvi does not).

      Next step: put open fur sample under pillow, sleep with it for a week.

      If I survive, time to reserve a kitten(!!!!!!)

      1. Venus*

        That’s great!

        My opinions seem to line up with quite a few others’. I have worked with animal rescue for years, and believe that if you aren’t going to be able to adopt from a shelter then there’s no reason not to go to a breeder. I’m not nearly as thrilled with cat breeding, as there are so many cats in shelters, yet many of them do work to support rescues (at least the ones in my area do) and the problem is more society’s rather than the breeders. The breeders have so few cats in comparison to the wild and outdoor population – a realistic rescue will be more frustrated by the idiots who won’t spay/neuter their pet.

        With dogs I pretty much encourage people to go to breeders. I live in a part of the world (think north-east US) where rescue dogs are in big demand, and a puppy with our rescue can easily get 30-50+ applications, so the likelihood of adopting a healthy, young dog from a rescue is small. Even old, grumpy, unhealthy dogs get adopted. People complain about wanting a rescue, but not being successful. So I don’t judge at all if someone adopts a dog from a breeder.

        In all cases the key is to visit the breeder, to know that they aren’t puppy or kitten-mills. If someone does due diligence, then I’m supportive!

  42. Free Meerkats*

    I hadn’t realized how much I needed a con. But this weekend I’m at Orycon in Portland and really enjoying myself.

    Time to break out Gandalf the Pink for the day.

    1. Free Meerkats*

      I just met someone from this community in late-night Open Filk. I won’t out them here.

      We’re a wide ranging tribe.

  43. Jessen*

    I’d like to say thanks to everyone who suggested hiring a housekeeper a while back – it’s really been a lifesaver! I don’t know how much of the problem for me has been ADHD itself, and how much is just that I never really got taught good habits and it’s just impossible to learn all of them in chaos. But it’s so much better being able to hire someone else to come and deal with the mess so I don’t have to.

    The cat objects though.

    1. PharmaCat*

      I got a housekeeper every 2 weeks, after my doctors literally told me I was damaging my health trying to do it all. Also, I was never very good at it – I tried different organizational techniques, followed blogs, bought books, but I seem to just be incapable. Even though I had very low standards, my family never really helped. Now we pre-clean for the cleaners, and it is wonderful.

      1. Clisby*

        We do this every 2 weeks also, and it’s great. None of us is really interested in cleaning, but just having the house brought up to a basic standard of cleanliness every 2 weeks keeps us from getting too bad. Plus, it lets me concentrate on things the cleaning service just doesn’t do, like cleaning out the refrigerator and the cabinets.

        1. Alexandra Lynch*

          Once we have two employed people in the house instead of just one, I am going to have someone come in weekly to do the work that absolutely tanks me, personally. That will give me more spoons for everything else.

  44. Lemonish*

    Thank you all for the amazing recommendations for Paris. My 8yo and I had an awesome time. He achieved his goal of going to the top of the Eiffel Tower and eating escargot. I had a great time showing him the impressionists in the Musee D’Orsay. He also loved the aquarium and the Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition at the Louvre, and he tolerated the boat tour but I loved it.

    1. Loopy*

      Thrilled you had a good time (I have never been so I was not among those who helped!). I am going in December and we have tickets to the Leonardo exhibition. So happy to hear it was enjoyable- we snagged them without looking into it much but it seemed like a unique opportunity!

      1. Lemonish*

        It was great – very crowded but great.

        If you’re interested in the audio tour, it’s quite good and provides a lot of context. If there’s a way to book the audio tour ahead of time, I would recommend doing it. It was kind of a hassle to get the audio tour because you had to wait in a queue to pay at a kiosk and then wait in another queue to collect the audio tour, which was the same queue people returning the audio tour used as well. (Also, you have to provide an ID as collateral for the Nintendo DS that the audio tour is played on.) Although we were there the first weekend, so maybe they’ll have worked out a better queueing system, but the touchscreen kiosk was pretty bad and took a bit of time to use.

        Also, the tickets for the exhibit only get you into the exhibit and not into the rest of the Louvre. I was fine with that, but then my kid wanted to see the actual Mona Lisa and we couldn’t on our tickets (and the box office was closed at that point because it was 30 mins before the museum closed.)

        1. Loopy*

          oooo thanks for the info. Did the audio tour cost extra? We will be going super early in the morning so I’m guessing others will have our idea and there will be crowds, but luckily no one returning audio tours yet!

          Yeah the crazy thing is the exhibit costs as much as admission to the entire rest of the Louvre! Always frustrating when you realize things like that after the fact (happens to me a lot!)

          1. Lemonish*

            Yeah, the audio tour was an additional 5 euro.

            I remember reading that they’d sold quarter of a million tickets before the exhibition even opened, so I don’t think there will be a non-busy day! :)

            The crowdedness wasn’t terrible, it was just a little hard to keep track of my kid, who wanted to rush to find the next item with an audio tour segment.

    2. Square Root Of Minus One*

      I don’t remember if I commented on your original thread but I’m glad you had a good experience here.
      In another recent experience from someone else (an admittedly terrible one) France got somewhat bashed in the comments and I must admit it made me sad. Thank you for the counterpoint.

    3. Fikly*

      I’m so glad you had a wonderful time!

      I had a terrible time, but I realize that was because I was in a lot of a pain and on crutches, and that was not the fault of Paris.

      1. Lemonish*

        He loooooved it. He said it tasted like something, maybe monkfish, but he wasn’t entirely certain. I think it probably tasted like butter, but he insisted it tasted like something else.

        He’s so much more adventurous in eating than I ever was. :D

  45. E. Shellstrop*

    Happy Saturday! I’m going to be in the market for a new vacuum. Looking for something light but powerful, with a decent length cord. Actually have a few bucks to spend on it. Suggestions?? Thanks, all!! :)

    1. No Lie*

      We bought a Hoover Wind tunnel about 4-5 years ago that’s used daily in a sorority that houses 52 women. Works like a charm and is very light weight.
      If you have dog/pet hair a Bissel pet hair vac works wonders, but can be heavy.

      1. Earthwalker*

        We replaced our ten year old Wind Tunnel with new Wind Tunnel two years go. It’s more powerful and even lighter and smaller, just a tiny wheelie carriage to roll its clip-off dirt box around. There’s hardly any room for a motor so I can’t imagine where all that vacuum is coming from. But I dump about two weeks worth of dirt from its dirt box every week (where did all that come from??) so it seems very effective. The dirt box empties neatly and doesn’t get dirt all over me. It was remarkably inexpensive too.

    2. LQ*

      My mom who was a professional cleaner highly recommended the Miele. It’s a vacuum that makes me feel like maybe I should be better at vacuuming, which is weird. I decided I wasn’t meticulous enough to keep a bagless vacuum clean. I was concerned it would fill up the bags fast, but I haven’t gone through any yet and I’ve had it a few months. I do have “wood” floors and not a lot of deep pile carpet, which is the place it is apparently less recommended.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      We have a very expensive Miele but we also have a much cheaper Shark Navigator (which we just got to avoid lugging the heavy Miele upstairs), and honestly I like the Shark better. It’s easier to navigate and sucks up everything. This is the one we have:
      https://amzn.to/2KkRKJ9

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I got a Miele also. I agree that I probably would have been happier with a Shark. And it would have been 25% of what I paid.

    4. MatKnifeNinja*

      Commerical grade Royal upright.

      It’s not light, but the cord length is excellent.

      I have dogs and birds. The carpet looks great.

      If I had some serious cash, I would get the Miele.

      I maybe biased because I have some serious allergies, and need the junk sucked up.

    5. Peasblossom*

      I love (love, love, love) my shark. Got a great price on it via bed bath and beyond (goes on sale once or twice a year, plus their 20% off coupon). Most powerful vacuum I’ve ever had, very long cord, relatively light. Excellent for pet hair and dust.

    6. Anono-me*

      If you go with a bagless model, please consider looking for one with washable filters. (I had trouble finding replacement filters, before I gave up and got my current vac.)

      I’ve been very pleased with my Bisel that is 2 steps up from the cheapest. It has lasted years longer than more expensive vacs did. And we have pets.

    7. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      We got the Shark Rotator a few years back. It’s the best vaccum that I’ve ever had/used.

    8. Fikly*

      I blame this thread for the weird dream I just had where someone was trying to pitch me a Shark vacuum.

    9. Jdc*

      Sears canister vacuum. Seriously. Do it. Had my last one for 15 years. I don’t know why people are against bags now you still have to empty to canisters into a bag, then the dust flies around.

    10. Clever Name*

      I have a shark, and I adore it. I bought if after reading tons of reviews. Basically it’s the top vacuum if you don’t want to pay $600 for a Dyson.

  46. Person from the Resume*

    I tried hot yoga this week. A friends loves, loves, loves her yoga studio and they offered an amazing trial deal.

    Any hot yoga fans out there?

    I hated it. We live in the Deep South. The outdoor temperature have finally cooled off and I’m working out indoors with the heat cranked? The studio and owner and staff are lovely and WOC. They’re kind and encouraging but I feel like I’m dying. Tried it twice and I’m done.

    It may inspire me to give reasonable temperature yoga try.

    TBH when my friend gushed about her yoga studio the fact that it’s hot yoga and only hot yoga didn’t come up so I was a bit surprised. I knew before going to my first session but committed to trying it before I knew it was hot yoga.

    1. Thankful for AAM*

      I know lota of ppl love hot yoga but it is not part of traditional yoga practice which is about bringing balance. For example, Iyengar yoga teachs poses that cool you in warm weather and warm you in cool weather.

      So you might really like another types of yoga.

    2. Middle School Teacher*

      I love it. For me it’s much more stress-relieving than regular yoga.

      I also live in Canada and today we’re getting 10cm of snow, so being able to go somewhere warm, even for an hour, is important to me.

    3. Detective Right-All-The-Time*

      I love hot yoga, but it really is agonizing in the moment. For me, the heat forces me to focus on my breathing in a way that i just don’t in regular yoga. And the sense of accomplishment afterwards is exhilarating to me. But I know that not everyone enjoys it. If it’s not for you, it’s not for you! And that’s okay.

    4. Not A Manager*

      Doing yoga in an overheated room is like something out of a Sartre short story. Never again for me.

    5. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      If it makes you feel better, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends for safety that cardio spaces be between 68-73 degrees, and hot yoga is usually 90-100 degrees. Now obviously you’d want a somewhat warmer room for yoga so your muscles stay loose, but not 20 degrees warmer. Doing exercise in hot spaces is a safety risk for dehydration, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, heart attack, etc., so it’s totally normal to not be comfortable exercising in the heat.

    6. LilySparrow*

      I’m with you.

      Also from the deep south. When it finally stops being 100 degrees, it’s time to go outside.

      Can’t stand a sauna or a steam room. I have half the year for that nonsense. Just getting into my car in summer is a sauna. Why would I seek it out?

      Never tried hot yoga, it sounds like torture.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      Ugh, my sister loves it but I, a former figure skater, am used to exercising when it’s cold. I do walk outside in the heat, but I can’t imagine doing that in an enclosed room. No thanks. I’d love to try a yoga class, just not the hot stuff.

    8. purple otter*

      I actually don’t like hot yoga. Regular yoga (usually vinyasa or ashtanga based for me) in room temperature or just a *tiny* bit above room temperature, I love to bits and practice all the time. While it does seem like hot yoga opens up my body more, it also feels a little unsafe to me, because there’s kind of a perception that you should push yourself harder in hot yoga than in regular yoga where they tell you to listen to your body and be kind to yourself.

    9. Clever Name*

      I hate hot yoga. I had to leave the last hot yoga class early because I felt unwell. Like I was afraid I was going to faint and I felt off the rest of the day. Not good.

    10. Trixie*

      Hot yoga is definitely not for everyone, and not ideal of folks brand new to yoga. I say that because yoga can challenging by itself as can the heat by itself. Combined, it’s just a double-whammy. Some immediately know it’s not for them. I think two or three times allows for the shock of the heat to pass and focus more on the yoga. It’s not “cleansing” or detoxifying but feels like it.
      My local place offers warm yoga which is just about perfect for those who are need less intensity.

  47. All monkeys are French*

    Etiquette question:
    My nephew got married in June but I was unable to attend the wedding. I wrote a note with regrets and congratulations with my mailed RSVP and then gave a generous monetary gift through a website where the couple had a honeymoon registry. I wrote another brief congratulatory message on the registry website. I didn’t send a card.
    The website took my money, but I never heard a peep from my nephew or his wife, so I don’t know for sure that they got the money. He’s always been very conscientious and polite, so I was surprised not to get a thank you, but I also know life is hectic and things slip through the cracks.
    I think I’m equal parts miffed at the lack of thank you and worried that the website didn’t deliver the money.
    Nephew and I have a friendly but distant relationship and we live far apart. Should I ask him about the gift (and if so, how) or just let it go?

    1. Myrin*

      Are you close to your sibling who is your nephew’s parent? Is there any way to find out discreetly through them?

    2. fposte*

      I think you totally get to ask about the gift. Life is hectic, but you thank people who give you stuff. In the airport on the way to the honeymoon they helped buy, preferably. Myrin’s idea of asking the parent is a reasonable route, but I think you can also check in with the nephew. There’s a small chance of a screwup so it’s both reasonable and a reasonable cover story (that everyone will see through, but that’s fine) to make this about the unreliability of such registries and that you wanted to check with them before you complained.

      (But then I also think it’s okay if he feels guilty about this–he should.)

    3. The Other Dawn*

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with asking about it. You could frame as wanting to make sure he got it because you know sometimes these things don’t always work the way they’re supposed to (online gift giving).

      I sent a check to my niece since I couldn’t make the wedding. I made sure to check as to whether she got it about a week after I sent it, saying that just wanted to make sure it arrived safely since “I’d been having mail issues lately.” (In my case, I was worried the fiance might make off with it. But that’s another story.) She said she got it and thanked me.

    4. Loopy*

      My worst fear after our wedding was the a thank you would get lost in the mail or somehow missed despite how careful I was. I know when invites got lost in the mail I was distraught because I didn’t want people to think I forgot but blamed it on some lame excuse to cover that up.

      If he’s generally good about these things, I’d ask someone close to him to put out feelers if they have sent out all their thank yous. I got married almost a year ago and the thought there is someone out there who never got their thank you still makes me sad.

    5. WS*

      Yes, ask (either nephew or your sibling who is his parent) and phrase it that it’s in order to check up on the website! People understand that sometimes online things go wrong.

  48. Thursday Next*

    I’ve had such a difficult year emotionally and physically, and am feeling quite down. One of my children kicked off the year with a serious mental health crisis (which has been addressed successfully, hurray!), and then I had a terrible lupus flare that took months to wrestle into control. The immunosuppressives to control it have left me open to opportunistic infections, and I’ve had a random illness almost every month—from shingles to water-borne illnesses that have left doctors scratching their heads and asking me if I’ve traveled to 3rd world countries. I’ve been to the ER repeatedly for IV fluids and medications when I can’t keep things down. I’ve never had to do that before. My cardiovascular health has taken a hit from the lupus itself as well as the inactivity that came from immobility, and the appetite increase from nearly half a year of prednisone. I’m a wreck, bleah.

    I’m constantly reacting to things rather than proactively moving forward. It’s hard to make plans when some unexpected infection will knock me out for a week or two at a time, and I’m feeling very discouraged.

    I feel guilty for writing such a long complaint, but I could use some kind thoughts and virtual hugs!

    1. Llama Face!*

      Here are some internet hugs!

      I know this feeling: “I’m constantly reacting to things rather than proactively moving forward.”
      It’s rough when you are stuck in that place and a slog to get out of. When it happens to me I try to focus on the small picture stuff and make teeny improvements and just keep building on those until I work up steam to tackle bigger changes.

      Hope the rest of your year and next starts heading back uphill!

      1. Thursday Next*

        Thank you! You’re absolutely right—I need to focus on something small and manageable. I’ll mull over some goals tonight.

    2. Not A Manager*

      That sounds really discouraging. Can you plan some lower-impact treats and nice experiences, that are easy to do at home or to postpone? Sometimes when my life is one big crisis, it helps to have something to look forward to at the end of the day or over the weekend, even if it’s just a hot bath or a new book.

      I am sending you good thoughts and virtual hugs.

      1. Thursday Next*

        I really should give myself something to look forward to. I’m going to text a friend to meet up!

    3. Anono-me*

      This too shall pass. Probably like an ginormous kidney stone while you’re at an intolerably boring long work function, but it shall pass.

      Sending you kind thoughts, good wishes, and virtual warm squishy hugs.

      1. WordNerd*

        I rolled my eyes at “this too shall pass”. Luckily they rolled back down. Thanks for the laugh. I’m definitely borrowing this.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Warm thoughts and hugs.
      My four pawed buddy will give you a lean against your leg if you like virtual doggie cuddles.

      1. Thursday Next*

        Four-legged hugs are most welcome! I have been employing frequent topical applications of purring kitten. :)

  49. The Other Dawn*

    I’d like to hear about your experience with medical MJ (trying not to trip the mod filter). Did it work for you? What do you use it for? What forms do you use?

    I’m headed to the orthopedic on Monday morning to talk lumbar fusion; it’s time. I’ve been using Percocet for several months and I’m doing fine with it, but I’d like to cut down a bit and try MJ, mainly because I worry about building a tolerance, which can make good pain relief difficult after surgery. I was reading the state laws and it appears my condition may qualify, which I hadn’t realized, so I want to ask about it. I know the office has a formal process in place, so I’m not worried about any judgement around it. (I know I shouldn’t worry about that in this day and age, but I do.)

    My hope is, if approved, I can find something mainly for bedtime. I need sleep and pain relief together. Typically my back starts hurting after I’ve been in bed about 15 minutes. Since I like to read in bed, I’m usually in bed at least an hour or more before I shut off the phone and go to sleep. (I realize I can read sitting up, but sitting is a trigger for back pain, too.) So I take my Percocet when I head upstairs and I’m good until it’s sleep time. I then usually wake up around 3 or 4 am and my back is already bothering me. I can usually go back to sleep, but I wake up about two hours later in more pain. And that’s how my day starts. I take the Percocet as needed during the day. I’d love MJ for the daytime, but I can’t be high at work.

    1. fposte*

      I’ll be interested to see the answers. However, I can’t remember–have you messed around with your bed at all to see if you can make things any better there? For me the bed thing is huge (I did sleep on the floor with padding for some time after surgery). I find latex particularly good, though it’s a pain to handle in larger mattresses–can you go to a nearby mattress factory and try different ones out?

      1. The Other Dawn*

        My bed is only about two years old and it’s a Sleep Number. I’ve played around with the settings, trying softer, firmer, in the middle–doesn’t seem to make a difference at all. Once in a while, maybe twice a week, I wake up without back pain, but once I get moving for the day the pain starts again. There seems to be no rhyme or reason as to why I wake up with less pain or no pain on some days, but feel like a train wreck most other days.

        1. fposte*

          Ah, there’s probably nothing to be done there, or at least nothing that’s worth the phenomenal PITA that would be trying different mattresses for a while. Sometimes I think Mattress Acquisition Management could be a decent business if you had enough achy people with some money and no time, ability, or vehicle to haul stuff back and forth in your neck of the woods.

    2. All monkeys are French*

      If medical is legal in your state, do have access to a dispensary? The folks who work there are usually very knowledgeable about what would work best for you, since there are loads of different strains and delivery methods.

      My personal experience is limited but I have used edibles for pain with good results, and my partner has found a lot of relief from back pain from edibles as well as inhaled. The trick is getting dosage right since I hate feeling really high. I’m currently using a CBD cream (THC-free) that is really helpful, but I’m not sure if it’s available outside California. The brand is Shikai.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Medical is legal in my state and I would have access to the dispensary if approved for an MMJ card. They’re by appointment only, so I can’t go in unless I have an appointment AND the card. Yes, I know they’ll work with me. I’m just curious what others use, how, effectiveness, stuff like that. I’m hoping I qualify and that I can find something that works for me. I’d rather cut down on the Percocet. I mean, I have no objection to using it when I need it, but an alternative would be nice.

    3. MatKnifeNinja*

      If you do decide on medical MJ, just be darn sure ALL your doctors are on board.

      It’s legal in my state, but many doctors will refuse to write out anything more than suped up Motrin for pain, if they know you take med mj.

      My ortho punts all his med mj patients to a pain clinic, who then request you be off of it to be seen by them. My internist will no see any med mj patients. Those get shift to a practice that has a pain specialist and psychiatric services.

      Just because it’s legal, doesn’t mean all doctors are on board with it.

      My friends’ horror stories about how hard it is trying to find an accepting doctor, who is still a decent are numerous.

    4. Southern Yankee*

      My mother has major back issues with multiple surgeries over many years and major nerve pain. She’s been trying various formulations since medical use became legal in her state about a year ago. It hasn’t been a success. No formulation has been effective for pain, although MJ is not particularly known for straight pain relief and my mother is definitely on the very high end of the chronic pain scale, so YMMV. I thought she might be able to use it for sleep, at least, like you describe, and a few of the options did make her sleepy. But she had issues with weird/scary dreams and hallucinations and after one particularly bad experience stopped trying. I can’t say her experience is typical, and I assume experiences can be varied, and could be very different for smoking vs pills/oil/etc. Based on her experience, and her Dr.’s comments after the fact that he was hoping it might help her but wan’t surprised it didn’t, I would definitely discuss it with your doctor and/or expert in medical MJ options who might have some more specific information about what formulation or delivery might be most likely to help with what you want i.e. sleep. Best of luck!

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I would say my chronic pain is definitely on the lower end of the scale, probably a 3-4 most of the time. I would describe it as annoying and distracting, which makes it hard to focus at work, sit at my desk, take long car rides, and things like that. It’s near-constant ache unless I’m walking around a lot, but even then the sciatic nerve is pinching.

          1. Southern Yankee*

            Thanks, I appreciate that. I hope you have better luck! Google popped up a few results for med mj for pain with a few studies and suggestions on formula & delivery if you haven’t already gone to google.

    5. Fikly*

      I have no personal experience, but I have a friend who has massive chronic pain issues, and it has been tremendously helpful for her.

      The one major thing I have learned from her is that it takes a huge amount of trial and error to learn both what strains, and also what, um, forms? ie, how you ingest it, treat what type of pain for her, and that the individual dispensaries, at least where she is, are not terribly reliable at having any given strain in stock at any given moment. So she has a whole system of if they don’t have A, then B can work in a pinch if I also add some C.

      So I guess prepare yourself for some frustration and a steep learning curve, but my takeaway is that if it helps, it’s worth it, because she is on both less opioids and in less pain overall.

    6. dinoweeds*

      I manage a recreational dispensary in CO, and I agree with other commenters saying that you need to find a really solid dispensary to start with. There are a LOT of options out there to help you with pain as well as sleeping and you should start by finding a highly rated dispensary with very informed budtenders (online reviews are very helpful). The budtenders will be able to give you advice and some good suggestions from products to start with. Keep in mind that you will go through a trial and error in order to find what works for you, but a good place to start is with edibles or tinctures that are have a higher ratio of CBD to THC. Good luck! I hope that you can find the remedy to you are looking for :)

    7. Jaid*

      A friend of mine says making tea out of the MJ really helps her. You just have to let it simmer a long time, though.

      WikiHow: Grind the buds, mix with butter or coconut oil (because it’s fat soluble), and steep. Use a tea ball, tea bags sold for loose tea, or even a coffee filter and tie it off. Simmer for half an hour. If you want a flavor, add a regular tea during the last three minutes of steeping. Stir in sweetner to taste. WikiHow says it’ll be effective in 45-60 minutes.

      Me, I love my adjustable bed. The sucker vibrates, too.

    8. Alexandra Lynch*

      I use edibles that I make at home. (Fudge, because I can make it sugarfree and cut regular pieces to even out the dose.) I don’t find that the strain I’ve been able to get makes me high. (Which is good, cause I HATE being high.) It just… makes the pain back down, and relaxes me. I use it more or less as a rescue med. On some high pain days, I take a bite of the fudge every hour or so and just sort of space out a low-grade effect to just keep myself off the couch. Some nights there is fudge before bed.

      The main issue with edibles that I find is that I am a supertaster, and MJ doesn’t taste good at ALL. And it’s no good to me if I find something that eases my pain but makes me gag to even try to get it down.

    9. NoLongerYoung*

      So I’m not answering the question you asked (Because it didn’t work for my family member who tried it). But… what did work for them – and for my mother (who has back disc, and sciatica problems, and arthritis in the spine as well)… is the Rx grade (prescription) Lidoderm/ topical Lidocaine patches. We started mom with a half a one, and then went up to one full one…You can stack up to 3 of them if needed. 12 hours on, 12 hours off. It basically numbs the area. We used it to help mom get and stay asleep – the pain was waking and keeping her up, and she was miserable.

      We haven’t tried the OTC (4%?) ones yet, because she has access right now to the rx ones. We may have to switch when her drug coverage changes this year.

      But the family found out about them when a different family member had to be weaned off of the controlled substance pain killer and the pain management clinic had this as one of the items to help manage pain without drugs. (Acupuncture was actually quite effective as an adjunct, but the phenomenal practitioner – eastern trained and Stanford med school – is too far to take mom to).

      Wishing you the best.

      1. Kuododi*

        Per my internist at the time, the OTC patches called Salonpas are the same dosage as prescription Lidocaine patches. I mention this only to say if $$$ or insurance is an issue for Lidocaine patch…there’s at least a Plan B available OTC. Hope this helps!!!

      2. The Other Dawn*

        I have those patches, which are the prescription strength, and tried them. They didn’t really do anything for me. But thanks anyway!

    10. Jdc*

      I broke my femur many years ago. I would be fine, then experience a pain flare up. My doctor would basically drug me up and have me sit around for a few days, wash and repeat. The MJ changed it completely. I never touched another pill (hated how they made me feel anyway) and got back into running.

      Sadly it now makes me feel icky so I don’t anymore but truly miss the pain relief. I highly recommend at least giving it a shot.

    11. Meepmeep*

      My mother used it for severe back pain and she said it’s the only thing that made it possible for her to sleep during that time. She used a tincture before bedtime.

    12. Dino*

      I have fibromyalgia, a back injury and a job that is hard on my body. I’m a regular user of cannabis for medical reasons, although I’m in a rec state so I am not technically an MMJ patient. I didn’t have luck with CBD-only products. I use 1:1 edibles (equal amounts of THC and CBD) when I’m having a flare or my injury is acting up and my goodness, does it work for me. But it’s so individual, you just have to try a bunch of things to see what works for you. Good luck!

  50. Lucette Kensack*

    Looking for advice from heterosexual couples: how do you manage “life management” responsibilities?

    My husband and I have been together for 11 years, married for 8. Our marriage is easy and happy, but there’s one nut we haven’t managed to crack: how to divide responsibility for everything that goes into managing a life and home, outside of our paid work.

    Early in our relationship, we talked about our shared belief that the ideal isn’t that we each do 50% of the work, but rather that we both put 100% effort into our shared life. If one of us has less to give at any given time, that’s ok — we’re both doing everything we can. I still believe that, but we live in a society that values men’s time more than women’s, and we are not immune to that, and the result is that I do way, way more than he does.

    We’ve talked about it and made adjustments and tried different arrangements over the years, but it always drifts back to something like what we’re doing now.

    Right now we’re grappling with an additional complication: my husband currently has a much more demanding job than I do. We didn’t anticipate how many hours he’d be working when we took it, but it wouldn’t have changed our decision for him to go for it — he loves it, and it is great for his career in a way that benefits both of us ($$, plus future flexibility to move closer to family).

    Anyway, there’s so much more to say, but I’d love to hear how others have grappled with it and what systems you’ve used to figure out who does what, and how you rebalance when life circumstances change (or if you want to change circumstances — like what would we do if I stepped into a more intense role at work?).

    1. Not A Manager*

      There are a lot of ways to tweak the relationship stuff, which I have found more or less successful at different times. My very best advice, though, if you have some disposable income, is to outsource some of the most frustrating chores. It doesn’t have to be the most obvious things, like housecleaning. Talk to him and see what are the points of the most tension and disagreement between you, and then see if you can pay someone else to do them.

      1. Lucette Kensack*

        We do some outsourcing (house cleaning, snow shoveling, landscaping). The stuff that feels most frustrating is the things that we can’t outsource, either because it’s so small and daily (like sorting the mail) or because it’s mostly about decision-making or managing relationships with people and institutions (planning meals for the week, finding a contractor to replace the shower pan, taking the sick dog to the vet and checking back in when the treatments don’t have the desired effect, etc.)

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Oh, my comment below won’t help with that. I think that’s stuff that so often ends up falling to the woman (in typical heterosexual marriages) because (in very general terms) we’re socialized to notice it more, care more, and act on it more. It’s very hard to get the other person to notice and act on that stuff with any sense of urgency if they aren’t already naturally that way, and I think it’s really hard to solve :(

          Meal planning might be one you could transfer, though, because it’s a concrete thing that comes up every week, rather than something the person has to notice in an ad hoc way.

        2. Not A Manager*

          I think it’s worth really taking a look at your feelings around all of this. Do you actually not mind doing these things, but you feel unappreciated or taken for granted? Are some of these chores just irritating and annoying in themselves, and you would never want to do them under any circumstances? Do you feel overwhelmed and you don’t care what gets taken off your plate so long as some things are?

          I think how you proceed with this will depend on what your feelings are and where they’re coming from.

          One thing that has worked in my relationship is scheduled weekly check-ins. We make a list of one-off action items (contractor, vet) and ongoing decisions (meals for the week). Once we have that list, then we each commit to which one we’ll be responsible for. You can also include certain kinds of emotional labor like “your mother keeps texting me about Thanksgiving, can you please get back to her?”

          The check-ins, for me, are also a good time to feel less unappreciated. If you literally tell your partner what you did in the past week to keep the ship afloat, then they have an opportunity to express appreciation for that. And, of course, you can do the same for them.

          The other nice thing about check-ins is that they make nagging somewhat less likely. If you know that you have a time and place for talking about household things, then you’re less likely to bring it up whenever you trip on the drain pan.

          1. Lucette Kensack*

            Thank you for this comment. I think this is a big part of what’s going on — it’s less about the actual labor of it than the fact that it isn’t noticed/appreciated. It makes me crazy when we talk about this kind of thing and he’ll say “Well, I worked from home last Thursday to deal with the carpet installers were here,” apparently having not realized that I worked from home the day the tile guy was here, the day the dog needed medication every three hours, the day the new couch was delivered, and so on.

        3. Thankful for AAM*

          I used to do all the little things. But in thinking about an answer here, I realize that over time I just stopped. I never check the mail, for example, so DH checks it. If he notices something is not getting done, he initiates a convo about it.

          I have learned that there are lots of things that won’t cause a disaster if they don’t get done. And if I don’t enjoy doing them, I stopped. It naturally leads to a discussion. Basically, I stopped assuming anything was my responsibility and I had no idea how much that was true till you raised this question.

        4. ThatGirl*

          For meal planning, after a lot of trial and error, we sit down every Sunday morning and come up with 5 meals for the week (we eat out fri & sat). I do the shopping based on those meals and other things we need, and I choose which meal for which day. He handles household goods and goes to Target.
          I know in a perfect world he’d figure it out on his own, but can you assign him things? “Please find a contractor” or “can you handle the vet?” and then let him take care of it?

        5. Ann O.*

          This is definitely an issue in my relationship, and I wish I had a great solution. One thing that I’ve found helps a bit is having a shared to-do list app. I do notice and think about improvements in a way that my husband just doesn’t, and it takes some of my resentment away to put it into a shared space, where it then becomes a discussion point about who does what.

          It’s also helped shift some of the burden of the daily tasks. My husband just doesn’t notice things that needs doing (this is partially gendered, but also partially personality–he’s a classic engineer), but once he processes something as “his” task, he is super reliable about it.

          Another thing that I realized, though, is that just as I get frustrated with my husband for not noticing the things I do, I also was taking his routine tasks for granted. I do still do more home maintenance than a 50/50 split, but it’s not as dramatic as I felt. So that was a surprising outcome of making our tasks more visible.

        6. Ranon*

          I do the decisions, my husband does the execution. E.g. I decide we need to call the cable company to reduce rates, he makes the call. Or I meal plan, he shops & cooks. I unsubscribed us from basically everything that could be unsubscribed from down to Red Plum newspaper inserts which fixed most of the mail.

          So in your examples, I find the contractor, he calls, who goes to the very is split but he would make the appointment and follow up call even if I provided the call content. It works for us since my husband has more flexibility for daytime phone calls and I’m efficient at deciding things

      2. Thankful for AAM*

        Yup, outsourcing! And doing what we are best at more than working at divoding things evenly.

        We have a cleaner 2x a month and moved to an HOA neighborhood that maintains the front yard. We still have issues about the very small side and backyards and are about to outsource that care too.

        As for other things, our situation is different bc my husband’s job is not so demanding.

        I used to make all the financial decisions, do all the bill paying, most of the childrearing, and all of the cooking. He always did all his clothing management/laundry.

        Over time, as my work responsibilities outside the home increased, things changed.

        He now does all the bill paying.
        We make big financial decisions together.
        He does all his own cooking and laundry.
        I do all my own cooking and laundry.
        We both make sure the household laundry gets done weekly.

        What that means for cooking is we often eat at the same time but not the same food. He does not eat leftovers so he cooks every meal! I make big batches on the weekend. He does more of the dishes than I do, mostly because he is in the kitchen so much more.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      One framing that I’ve found useful for this is to look less at who is doing what percentage of household stuff and more at making sure you have roughly equal amounts of leisure time.

      1. Natalie*

        Similar amounts and also spread out through the week similarly. For me, at least, if I’m the only person that does chores/cooking/etc on work nights, I’m going to be pissed even if I never have to lift a finger all weekend.

      2. Lucette Kensack*

        This is really helpful framing, thank you. It doesn’t get at the “mental load,” but it helps me think about how much of the day-to-day stuff is reasonable for me to pick up because I work substantially less than he does.

    3. NB*

      I’ll tell you about my own experience, even though it probably doesn’t apply to your situation.

      I often feel overwhelmed by my home responsibilities, and as I’m washing a mountain of dishes or sweeping the floor, I can feel as though it’s all on my shoulders. But then I remember all the things my husband does that I hardly ever do–scoop the litter box, feed the cats, empty the dishwasher, take out the trash, mow the lawn, shovel snow, household repairs, carrying laundry baskets up from the basement, driving kids hither and yon (especially night-time driving), helping with math homework, and more. It’s true that I do most of the dishes and most of the laundry, but I don’t do most of the work. This is brought home to me on the rare occasions he travels for work. We each make significant contributions to the running of our household. I’m not sure it comes out evenly, but even though our efforts are sometimes invisible to the other, we both do a lot.

      Family life goes through phases. I think you’re right to revisit this topic from time to time and make adjustments that suit the phase you’re in.

    4. Parenthetically*

      Yeah, I think this is one of those things that needs more or less continuous tweaking — it’s not about finding a system that works long-term, but about identifying what needs to be done and adjusting who does it depending on what season you’re in. Some of the stuff might stick for a longer period (a few years?) but other things might need re-evaluating in 6 months. Approaching it like that, as a naturally oscillating/flexible system rather than something we need to nail so it never has to change, means there’s less time for resentment to build up — we both recognize that things like that *need* to change regularly so asking for or offering change isn’t a big deal. We have a toddler and I’m pregnant with our second kid, and before that we had tons of immigration stuff (husband isn’t American) and the long-term unemployment that went with it and when I was the breadwinner, a period where we were both working, another period of unemployment, a period where I was working part-time and he was working full-time… we’ve gone through a LOT of life changes in the last 5 years. So we’ve gotten good at shifting things around to suit where we are now.

      It’s always worked for us to plan meals together, and because we hate different household chores we mainly split the chores in the same way. But a lot of other stuff shifts all the time.

      1. Lucette Kensack*

        This is really helpful, thank you — a reminder that it’s a constant tweaking, not a one-and-done solution.

    5. Washi*

      In my experience, assigning chores works better than a sort of “we both share everything” type of thing. This goes for easy to isolate chores, like vacuuming, but also for other stuff. For example, my husband is in charge of household admin – bills, banking, car insurance, etc. All important pieces of paper that come in the mail are tackled by him. I do the day to day tidying of making sure that surfaces are clear, etc.

      Rather than relying on someone to notice that a chore needs to be done, we’ve just agreed on a designated person and frequency, if applicable, and have tweaked as necessary. Initially we were sharing the cooking, but I hated it so much that my husband agreed to trade some cleaning chore in exchange for doing all the meal prep and cooking. There have been a few different times when things have felt lopsided, so we’ve sat down and redistributed a little. But yeah, it’s an ever-evolving process!

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yes, absolutely. “We share all the tasks” for most people is going to HAVE to mean “we list out and actually divvy up all the tasks between us and then do ‘our’ tasks on a mutually-agreed-upon schedule” not “we both are responsible for noticing what needs to be done and doing it.” The former will still need to be re-addressed and tweaked from time to time, but the latter is, IMO, a recipe for every kind of frustration and resentment.

    6. Agnodike*

      We sort by magisteria. Food is my purview: I meal plan, I shop, I cook. Home and car maintenance are spouse’s thing. I do laundry, he does ironing. I do scrubbing, he does floors. And so on. I find it really helps to assign “domains” because for me, the biggest part of any chore is the mental load involved in managing it. Like, going to the grocery store can be a schlep sometimes, but the thing that really takes energy is figuring out what to make. Taking the car to the mechanic doesn’t take a ton of energy, but tracking when it needs an oil change and troubleshooting what to do if it makes a weird noise does. So everyone gets assigned their own realms over which they are fully responsible: tracking, planning, execution, everything. At times when I’ve had the more demanding job, he’s temporarily been granted a dukedom over one of my areas, and now that I work part-time, I have gradually annexed some of his by mutual consent.

      The keys to our success in this area have been: 1) Making sure everyone has the same mental picture of what “done” looks like. If I think the ironing is “done” when it’s put away and he thinks it’s “done” when it’s folded in the basket, we’re going to have conflict. 2) Making sure no one person owns the biggest kingdoms. Car and home maintenance take up less time and energy than food preparation, and kitchen cleaning takes up more than plant watering. We try to make sure there’s a good balance of big stuff and little stuff in our respective portfolios. 3) Regular state-of-the-union meetings. We have monthly household meetings where we review budget, upcoming schedules, and how the household’s running. Really makes it easier to stay on the same page if we check in frequently.

      It’s not a small amount of work to keep the system running, but it has made life SO much easier and more pleasant for us, especially now that we live in a house that includes a toddler.

      Also, if you can afford it in terms of both time and money, I would recommend seeing a relationship counsellor. We were pretty good entry-level relationship-havers for a long time, but started going to learn some advanced relationship skills, and it’s been amazing. Our communication is so much better, we understand each others’ perspectives more, and it really helps us stay on the same page. It’s not just for “relationship problems” – it’s a great way to learn skills that help keep stuff good.

      1. Sunflower Sea Star*

        I really like your comment about what you said about what “done” looks like, and that’s good wording to use when I talk with my partner about that AGAIN.

    7. LuisainDallas*

      There is a new book on this subject – Fair Play by Eve Rodsky. It includes a step-by-step plan for dividing up family/household responsibilities. I haven’t tried her method yet, but she makes some good points, especially about getting agreement on shared values and (this is the game changer) spelling out the emotional/invisible labor that is part of many chores .

    8. cat socks*

      I do the majority of household tasks because I’m able to work from home as needed and I can easily take time off during the day for appointments, etc. My husband works pretty standard 8-5 hours, but he is an HVAC tech at a large office building so he physically has to be present for his job.

      I take care of all the cat stuff because I want to and I enjoy taking care of them. Food and litter is all on auto-ship from Chewy so I don’t even have to think about that. I handle all the vet appointments, because it’s easy for me to work from home and take an hour out of of my day. A couple of my cats (who have since passed) had to see specialists at the university hospital that is about a 40-50 minute drive. I would take them and bring my laptop so I could work in the lobby during their appointment. My husband would have to take a half day of vacation to do that.

      I do the meal planning because I follow a lot of food blogs and make note of what recipes to try. Sometimes we’ll go grocery shopping together, but a lot of times I’ll do it myself. I also cook, but my husband helps with dishes and cleaning the kitchen.

      I pay all the bills online, which doesn’t take much time at all. What little mail we do get is mostly junk and it gets a quick look and goes into the recycling bin.

      My husband takes care of all the household maintenance, lawn care, and technical stuff. We each take our own cars in for regular oil changes, but my husband has a friend at the dealership and will often work with him and will often get a discount when we need more complex work needed.

      We don’t have kids, which makes things easier and our lives are pretty simple. What AAM said above is key – even though I do more cooking and cleaning, I still feel like I get enough leisure time.

    9. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I do most of the everything – cooking, shopping and general household errands – because I mostly prefer to. I handle big household maintenance because it’s my (not our) house. Housemate takes out the trash, husband does the dishes. We all split the cost of a house cleaner. Everybody takes care of their own pets and private spaces (bedroom/office).

      Anything else that comes up, I assign it to someone and it gets done. Like, my calendar is the one that has “replace alarm and doorbell batteries” on it, and when that day comes up, I’ll delegate the alarms to someone who can reach the smoke alarms without climbing on a chair, but probably take the three minutes to replace the doorbell battery myself.

    10. LilySparrow*

      We have traded off the primary breadwinner role over the years. So principle #1 is that the one who works fewer hours does more of the general housekeeping/childcare. Right now that’s me (hasn’t always been).

      General housekeeping includes weekly cleaning, cooking breakfast & dinner on weekdays, getting the kids ready for school & picking them up, supervising chores & homework, and washing the sheets & towels.

      Whoever didn’t cook dinner does the dishes.

      Aside from that, we have personal chores based on what we like, are good at, or mind less than the other one. We both have ADHD, so for some things it’s a question of ability to get it done or not.

      I pay bills and manage the budget, do meal planning & grocery shopping, and deal with general organizing like decluttering or swapping seasonal wardrobes.

      He deals with yardwork, most of the garden stuff (we grow veggies and fruit), and home maintenance and repair. We have a good deal of maintenance, as it’s an older home and we’ve had drainage issues. So while it’s less day-to-day, they are pretty physically intense: redigging the drainage ditch, installing the sump pump and the bathroom vent fan, putting a new roof on the shed, that kind of thing.

      We’ve had some conflict over the years about one or the other of us feeling overworked or unsupported. We’ve also each dealt with injuries or illnesses that seriously limited our ability to do things, sometimes for many months.

      We’ve reached a good place where we both feel that we’re doing the best we can, and we trust each other to not take advantage. And we’d much rather let stuff slide (if possible) than have it become a wedge between us.

    11. Alexandra Lynch*

      My relationship is very ’50s in the way most stuff is handled, but we chose that; he works, I am home, and I like being a homemaker. BUT…. I have chronic pain and several other health issues, and so I am aware that I need to do things in such a way that I can hand over to Boyfriend or Girlfriend if I wake up and can’t get out of bed that day.
      We have an index card file. I have cards, he has cards, she has cards. If we have to redistribute cards for a day or a week or a few months, we can. (The original system we use is based on the one in Sidetracked Home Executives)

      We’ve also discussed what happens if… because I like to plan and feel more secure when I plan. And we talk a lot about what things nurture our relationships and how to keep this happening. We outsource a few things (lawn care mostly) that are too physically demanding (we all have bad backs to varying degrees). If I got hurt, Girlfriend can cook my recipes, and she and Boyfriend between them can handle my work, along with hiring someone for the grunt work of cleaning. (Girlfriend has a ruptured disc, and can’t scrub a tub.)

  51. Detective Right-All-The-Time*

    Looking for TV show recommendations! What have you been watching lately and really loving? I’ve seemingly run out of interesting shows, and keep starting something and just not getting into it. I’ve got Netflix, Prime, and HBO – so shows on those platforms are much appreciated!

    1. Melody Pond*

      I just binged all of the show “Undone” (on Amazon Prime) last night. It was… thought-provoking, and beautiful and deep. Maybe check out a trailer and see if it looks like something you’d be into, because I could see it not being for everybody – but Mr. Pond and I both really enjoyed it.

    2. Lena Clare*

      Drama:
      Can you get BBC? Dublin Murders is good.
      If you can get Spiral on there too (Engrenages in French) that’s a good one!
      Criminal (3 episodes each set in UK, Spain, Germany, and France) and Border Town (Finnish) are all excellent. I recommended watching these in the original languages with English subtitles. The dubbing is just… rubbish. They’re all on Netflix.
      If you can get Unforgotten on there too, that’s good (a British cop show).

      Comedy:
      The Good Place, Kim’s Convenience m, and Schitt’s Creek are all good (Netflix).

      Have fun!

      1. Detective Right-All-The-Time*

        I should figure out how to get BBC, because I love British television! I watched Criminal (UK) and really loved it, so I should look into the other countries. Thank you!

          1. Detective Right-All-The-Time*

            Unfortunately I don’t pay for my prime – it’s a household account that my parents pay for. I’ll have to see if I can get it added but charged to me instead?

        1. Fikly*

          Another non-US but mostly English language (they also have some European but subtitled shows) streaming service is Acorn. It’s $5 a month, I think, and they have some really interesting stuff, and a wide variety. They’ve got British, Canadian, and Australian shows, largely.

      2. Arts Akimbo*

        Seconding Kim’s Convenience! It’s one of the funniest shows I’ve ever seen, plus I really love the portrayal of family relationships!

    3. Thankful for AAM*

      I just binge watched Evil. It was scary and yet not too scary for me. I think bc the main character is rather blase about all the scary stuff it made it less scary.

    4. Middle School Teacher*

      I was late to the party, but I really loved Fleabag on Prime, and Derry Girls on Netflix.

    5. Parenthetically*

      Stuff I’ve loved in a variety of genres:
      Fleabag
      Endeavour
      The Good Place
      Abstract
      Grand Designs

      But also, we watch a bunch of YouTube series: Foodie things — Bon Appetit videos are a major favorite (particularly videos with Brad, Claire, Carla, and/or Chris), and we also love Alex French Guy, Binging with Babish, and Worth It. Low-dialogue, chill, buildy-type things: the incredibly meditative Primitive Technology, Rescue & Restore, and Frank Howarth/Frank Makes are delightfully low-key things to dip into. The great thing about YouTube shows is that they vary in length, so once you figure out which ones you like, you can grab a 12-minute Babish while you’re folding laundry and then really settle in to watch your hour-long drama right before bed.

    6. catsaway*

      Comedy: I really enjoyed Los Espookys (HBO). It’s hard to describe, but basically a group of friends who live in an unnamed Latin American country start a business of creating spooky/horror sets/scenarios for clients. Only 6 30-minute episodes in season 1 so it’s a quick watch as well.
      I’ve also really been enjoying Derry Girls on Netflix. It’s a teen comedy, but the girls live in Derry/Londonderry during the Troubles. 2 seasons, 25 minute-ish episodes.
      Dark Comedy: End of the f***ing world (Netflix). I don’t know how to describe it succinctly so I’ll just recommend watching the trailer.
      Drama: History of a Clan (Netflix). 1 season dramatization of the story of the Puccio family, a well to do Argentinian family who kidnapped rich people for ransom in the 1980s. As you could suspect given the topic it’s pretty dark and intense, and the head of the family isn’t portrayed an some sort of anti-hero, he’s just something of a psychopath.

    7. carrie heffernan*

      Unbelievable is amazing. Also I was super late to the Nurse Jackie party but it is on Netflix and I binged it like crazy. SO GOOD.

      1. Her name is Anne, she has no other*

        Second recommend for Unbelievable.
        I’m currently watching Mary Kills People which reminds me quite a bit of Nurse Jackie.

    8. Fikly*

      I mentioned it a few open threads ago, and someone recommended it to me here as well, but Big Dreams, Small Spaces on Netflix is a charming British show about people building gardens.

      Also on Netflix is a great Canadian competitive glass blowing reality show, called Blown Away, of course. And you can’t go wrong with The Great British Baking Show, if you’ve somehow missed that.

      The White Rabbit (Netflix again, are you sensing a trend?) is a show with the three non-Adam and Jamie folks from Mythbusters, Tory, Grant and Kari. Each episode explores top most interesting x. Topics have included escapes, scams, crazy WWII weapons, and more. The stories are super fascinating, including one about French officers in a Nazi prison camp who not only tunnelled out, but were brazen enough to film the entire thing with a smuggled camera. The footage survived!

      And finally, if you haven’t seen it, The West Wing is leaving Netflix in a few months to a niche streaming service, so take advantage!

    9. Sometimes Always Never*

      After Life. Stars Ricky Gervais. Was sweet and odd and funny and made me cry. Focus is on Gervais’ character who has just lost his wife and how he negotiates his life after the loss. Didn’t expect to like it!

    10. Horsin' Around*

      I’d put Bojack Horseman (Netflix) up against just about anything for quality of writing, with a few caveats.

      1. The first four (maybe six) episodes are significantly less polished than the rest of the show.
      2. The comedy can go fairly black; they’re also not adverse to working blue.
      3. The sixth (and final) season is only half released, so what’s available currently ends on a cliffhanger.

    11. Chronic Overthinker*

      If you have read the Watchmen series comic, then check out Watchmen on HBO. It is set 30 years after the events of the comics and definitely hits on a lot of themes that we are dealing with in the world today. It’s kind of a anti-superhero/vigilantism, and has lots of Easter eggs if you enjoyed the comics.

      If you are into DC. I recommend DC Universe. Doom Patrol is an awesome series. Very interesting “superhero” show based on the Grant Morrison run of the series. Dark yet lighthearted, weird and wonderful.

      Titans is another great DC Universe series. Centers around adult Dick Grayson after he leaves Batman. It’s really good.

      For Netflix bingeing, I happen to love the great British Bake Off, the new She-Ra series, and Aggretsuko.